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Conflicts of Law
Wayne State University Law School
Sedler, Robert A.

Conflicts of Law
Meaning of domicile
·         Toll v. Mariner
o   Someone here on a special visa as employee of international organization
o   Can stay indefinitely but not a permanent resident visa
o   Court says he's a resident of Maryland because this is where he lives so entitled to instate tuition
·         H1V1 VISA
o   Use this for immigration to get foreign workers with special skills because cant find Americans to do the specialized work
o   Has dropped considerably after the recession
o   Visa is good for 3 years and renewed for 3 years and good chance of getting a green card
o   Is a guy with all this in Detroit a resident of MI for purposes of taking the bar exam
o   Under tradition domicile he fits the bill
o   Board of bar examiners gave up
·         Camden story
o   Business and voted in Camden but lived in Philly
o   Both states want to tax his estate
o   SC says both states can double tax – enough money to cover tax bills of both states – they said they wouldn’t decide it
o   Its only where the multiple taxation will exhaust the estate that the SC will determine where the party is domiciled
·         Can take the risk to be found of being domiciled in both states when dealing with estate tax
·         In practice domicile does mean different things for different purposes
·         Not going to use a voting case for inheritance case
·         Sometimes statutes use the term residence and sometimes that means domicile and sometimes means something different
·         Most of the time there's no issue as to where a particular person is domiciled, its where the person resides
·         Foreign law as Datum
·         Case scenario
o   2 Michigan drivers get into an accident in England
o   Michigan law states that Michigan law applies and one party is liable to another if there is negligence.
o   Who is negligent under Michigan law, M1 driving on the left hand side in accordance with English law or M2 who was driving on the right hand side in accordance with Michigan law
o   Look to English law however to determine the rules of the road – to answer a factual question that is relevant to Michigan law
o   Looking to forum law as datum and not as decision
·         Case scenario
o   First cousins marry in MA and then go to MI
o   General rule – Validity of a marriage is determined by the law of the domicile
o   Under MI substantive law, MI will recognize a marriage where it was made even if not validly made in Michigan
o   Did they marry in a state where their marriage was valid?
·         Case Scenario
o   How about a lesbian couple?
o   Will their marriage be valid in MI
o   General rule is that validity of a marriage is determined by the law of the domicile but as a matter of substantive law of the domicile the domicile will look to the state where the marriage was celebrated and would recognize it unless to do so would be against its public policy
·         Lovings v. Virginia
o   Interracial married couple in D.C. that moves to Virginia
o   Virginia said it was illegal
o   SC ruled it was unconstitutional
·         Pakistani guy dies in California with 4 wives back in Pakistan
o   Status of women under Paki law have status of wife then purpose would be served by allowing them to inherit
·         Court applying in a certain way that would result
·         Characterization
o   Characterization of principle question
o   In Carol case made it one of tort but could have characterized it as one of contract
o   Characterization of the principle question would determine which broad state rule would apply
·         Levi Case
o   Connecticut law imposes vicarious liability which are objectives of tort law
o   Lease was in CT, vehicle was supposed to be returned to CT
o   Court characterized it as one of contract bringing it into CT law since the contract was signed there
o   Court uses escape device to reach result which is functionally sound
o   Follow law of where contract was made even if another state and accident is in another state
·         Plaintiff from CT
o   Company does business in CT but also in MA
o   Renter/driver is a CT person and car breaks down in MA. Leaves it in repair shop there and rents a car to drive back to CT where accident happens injuring the CT plaintiff.  CT bring suit in CT against and defendant says have to apply MA law because precedent of Levi, because contract was in MA
o   Policy of CT is to deter dangerous conduct and provide a financially responsible defendant and doenst matter if vehicle came from MA because vehicle in CT.  Can say contract was to be performed in CT even though signed in MA so CT law should apply
·         Crucial factor is that have CT plaintiff and CT defendant
·         Policies of compensation and deterrence are advanced regardless of where the contract was made or the accident happened. 
·         Hamcshild Case
o   CA where accident occurred had no interest of applying its law
·         Where court does decide to displace its own law, it will follow its own procedure, but apply out come determinative rules \
·         Grant v. McCullough
o   2 parties from California in separate cars involved in an accident in Arizona
o   AZ had old common law rule that cause of action does not survive tort-feasor
§  To protect tort-feasors estate – that it should not be liable
§  AZ policy to protect estate of deceased and insurance company
o   CA policy that can still bring suit in Cali
§  Advances CA policy and not AZ policy
·         2 residents of a state, the law which allows recovery, in a state in which the law does not allow recovery, – bring suit to home state.  If apply the way it traditionally should be applied then home state loses
·         Judge made rules superseded by statutes
·         Foreign executed wills
o   Designed to deal with split succession – movables and land
o   Could be valid at place of execution, place of death
·         Statutes do not deal with anything going to substantive validity
·         Appropriate relation to the forum
·         No fault
o   MI –
§  Driver family and passengers
§  Coverage extends as long as accident occurs in US or territory
§  Out of staters not covered by MI no fault law
o   Exemption to most states is accidents occurring in MI
·         Ohio victim by MI driver in Ohio
·         Functionally restrictive substantive rule
o   Rule or statute by own force, expressly or legislative intended, is limited to state in which it was enacted
·         Volunteer firefighter case
o   No recovery under Maryland law for wrongful death but MI law allows it
o   Maryland applies to wrongful death cases only happening in Maryland
o   Couldn’t be brought on MD wrongful death act because act of negligence didn’t occur in MD
o   Was brought in MI and no conflict of laws in MI
o   Whenever statutes involved look at the statute and see if it says anything about its applicability
o   Relates to matter if there's a conflict of laws and if there isn’t then there is no need for choice of law decision
·         Functionally restrictive cha

ce they chose to put their property there
o   Can also argue expressed choice by bank book but harder argument
o   Ct said were parties put money in NY financial institutions for safe keeping or investment and expressly or impliedly intent that NY apply, the parties created a right of survivorship
o   Doesn't violate NY rule against perpetuities
o   Intended NY law to apply and can have whatever transaction you want even though it would violate the law of your domicile
o   Party autonomy being used to establish NY as a financial center
·         Hutchison v. Ross
o   Ended up with a trust and wanted to cancel the trust and couldn’t do it because under NY law could revoke it
o   But if non-resident party wants to avoid application of NY then chose some other state
o   If put money in NY bank will accommodate any financial arrangement you want
·         Hunter v. Brewer
o   Ct upheld a trust that would have been valid in Scotland but not in NY
·         Concerned with party autonomy cases
·         Estate of Crichton
o   A new york domiciliary to establish a trust in another state
o   NY law says NY interprets marital domiciliary rights even with interest in another state
o   NY policy to protect right of NY spouse even if property is in Louisiana
o   Recognize right to take against the will
·         State v. Clark
o   Descendent domiciled in West Virginia
o   Also where he was his wife and mother
o   Leaves wife an allowance but bulk of his estate to his mother
o   Have expressed choice of NY law, property is NY and transaction is valid under NY as long as he's made reasonable provision for the wife
o   Under WV law she has the right to take against the will
o   NY court turns around and says WV law applies
o   The difference between the NY and WV reflects a difference in thinking about marriage and money
o   Represents commitment of two people to get involved in financial matters
o   NY law says can make adequate provisions and destroys her right to take away from the will – says relationship between husband and wife is not as important, its his money and can do what he wants with it
o   Under WV rule has right to take against the will – protecting the marriage and relationship between husband and wife – more matter of equality that she has an interest of the wealth that the husband has obtained during the relationship
o   NY court new the result it wanted to reach
o   One thing to let people come into NY and avoid rule of their domicile on some points like law of perpetuities but very different matter when husband tries to take advantage of NY rule to strip the rights of the wife under the law of the marital domicile
o   Interest of marital domicile
o   Distinction is not between trust and wills but NY recognizing strong policy of marital domicile
o   Clark represents an exception to Wyatt