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Conflicts of Law
University of South Carolina School of Law
Felix, Robert L.

Conflicts Outline – Felix
I.                   Overview
a.      Three primary areas of Conflicts issues
                                                              i.      Jurisdiction
1.      States or International
a.       Eg, France: base jurisdiction on nationality, not situs.  Could sue in France for accident in OR with French national.
2.      Jurisdictional jurisdiction is power of the court to enter a judgment which binds the D personally or affects D’s interest in property.
a.       Limits set forth by DPC. 
b.      Exercise of jurisdiction doesn’t violate DPC if there are sufficient contacts between the forum state and the D, the transaction, or the property involved. 
3.      Personal Jurisdiction v. SM Jurisdiction:
a.       Personal jurisdiction: power over the D personally;
b.      SM jurisdiction: power of a court to hear and determine special types of cases. 
4.      General Jurisdiction:
a.       If claim unrelated to specific D-contact with forum, court must have general jurisdiction over the D. 
b.      Contacts must be “substantial” in the forum. 
                                                            ii.      Choice of Law
1.      Largest area
2.      Once courts of forum have jurisdiction, deciding whose body of law governs. 
                                                          iii.      Recognition of Judgments
1.      Courts have decided on the law, have reached decision:
a.       What effect does the judgment have?
2.      Full faith & credit clause
a.       Aren’t many exceptions to it
                                                                                                                                      i.      Doesn’t matter how bad the decision was.
b.      BUT: A judgment rendered by a court which lacks jurisdiction within the meaning of the DPC is void where rendered.  Not entitled to recognition in other states under FF&C.
3.      Other constitutional considerations: DPC, etc.
b.      History:
                                                              i.      Holmes developed the “vested rights” theory. 
1.      Slater v. Mexican RR: everything happened in Mexico, but suit in Texas, applied Texas law.  SCOTUS reverses: must apply Mexican law b/c source of the obligation was where the transaction occurred (Mexico). 
2.      Broad guidelines:
a.       Tort: Lex Loci: law of the place of accident.
b.      Contract: Law of the place of making
c.       Realty: law of situs
                                                            ii.      Beale: territorial approach. Mechanical rules lead to certainty/predictability, but don’t take into account justice/fairness. 
1.      10 states still follow Beale.
                                                          iii.      By 1985, new phenomena: personal law.
1.      lots of choice of law litigation b/c end of predictability.
c.       Domicile is very important concept in conflicts:
                                                              i.      Does not equal residence.  Can only have one domicile at a time.
                                                            ii.      Person starts out life with domicile of origin:
1.      determined by parents. 
                                                          iii.      Acquire a domicile of choice when abandon the domicile of origin; the domicile of choice continues until the acquisition of another domicile of choice. 
1.      Domicile of choice: acquire when abandon previous domicile, arrive in the new domicile (must have some physical presence), and intend to remain in new domicile for indefinite period of time or lack of present intent to leave at a specific time. 
                                                          iv.      Also, domicile by operation of law:
1.      relates to a minor. 
a.       Domicile of the legitimate minor child is father’s.
                                                                                                                                      i.      Illegitimate child: mother’s domicile controls
b.      if parents are divorced, goes to guardian parent.
2.      military personnel: lack capacity to acquire a new domicile of choice since they can’t control the location or the length of a station; generally retain prior domicile, but if buy a house, etc., may acquire enough for domicile of choice. 
I.                   Traditional Approaches
d.      Torts
                                                              i.      Traditional approach: law of where the injury occurs.
                                                            ii.      Non-intentional Torts
1.      Alabama Great Southern RR v. Carroll (AL, 1892):  P is citizen of AL, D is employer and also AL corporation.  P was brakeman on trains, injured when link broke and injury occurs – MS.  Evidence was that link was already defectively inspected in AL. 
a.       P has case for recover under Employer’s liability act in Al, but no law in MS.  No cause of action (negligence of fellow servants) there.
b.      P can’t use AL for recovery b/c injury occurred in MS, cause of action arose in MS.  MS doesn’t have employer’s liability act, so P’s out of luck.
c.       AL could create cause of action between AL employee and AL employer – amend the employer’s liability act to put in a choice of law provision; probably constitutional.  But they didn’t, so P can’t recover from MS injury.
                                                          iii.      Intentional & intangible torts
1.      Bealian approach doesn’t work as well here.
2.      Some states distinguish between intentional & unintentional torts (important for punitives). 
3.      Marra v. Bushee
a.       Issue: should law of where the affections were alienated apply, or where the harm occurred to the wife? 
b.      No cause of action under NY law (where wife was), but there was in VT where the alienation occurred. 
c.       Court: conduct was in VT, so VT law applies.
e.       Contracts
                                                              i.      Two main issues:
1.      issue of validity governed by the place of making
2.      issue of performance (and excuses) governed by law of the place of performance.
                                                            ii.      Complication: contract-family law distinction (capacity issues).
                                                          iii.      1st Restatement of Conflicts:
1.      law of the forum deci

& household goods there, went back to WV.  Michael died.
2.      Issue: domiciled in WV or PA for purposes of distributing the estate?
a.       PA.  Even the short presence there was enough. 
b.      Domicile of origin may shift to domicile of choice. 
                                                          iii.      In re Dorrance: wealthy man with house in Camden, NJ; bought big house in PA and lived there most of the year.  Business in NJ, vote in NJ, but most of the year in PA.  Where is he domiciled?
1.      each state held they had the domicile.
a.       PA looks at physical residence; NJ looks at intent.
b.      To avoid double taxation, strip house in PA to the walls, put all real assets in NJ.  Pay tax there, refuse to pay in PA.  If PA wants more money, they can sue in NJ or try original jurisdiction of the SC.
                                                          iv.      Diaz v. Martinez
1.      Diaz was minor in PR in accident.  At 18 moves to NY, where he’s adult.  In PR would be minor without emancipation (requiring documentation from parents).  Wants to sue in diversity for PR accident. 
2.      Issue: have to decide if kid is a minor or an adult.  Can’t decide case if don’t know where he’s domiciled…but can’t decide where he’s domiciled unless we know if he’s a minor or an adult.
3.      Have to break the circle somewhere. 
4.      Federal common law governs…forum is PR.  As general principle, forum state has to use its own law when choice of law question arises. 
a.       But is this correct result under Erie RR? No.  Under Erie, ift he case started in NY, would look to NY’s choice of law rule; if NY had case looking to where minor s tarted from, MIGHT look to PR, or might apply NY’s law b/c he’s at age of majority. 
b.      Another option: use law of jurisdiction that favors diversity, or the law of the jurisdiction where the kid moves.
5.      review this case.
g.      Marriage
                                                              i.      Traditional rules in marriage are still (mostly) good law.
                                                            ii.      Starting point: validity of marriage is determined by the place of celebration. 
                                                          iii.      In re May’s estate:
1.      children filed for letters of administration of estate; husband objects.  Children attack validity of marriage so that father can’t be administrator of the estate. 
2.      In NY, marriage of half-uncle & niece is invalid; in RI is valid if good under Jewish law.  Couple domiciled in NY, just went to RI to get married.