Choices of law cases are one of the most confusing scenarios that in turn are capable of creating legal imperfections that even courts at times, find hard to fix. Our source claims that sometimes, the very law that was created to protect the innocent is also the same one that produces unlikely results to injured persons who otherwise should have been protected if not for the confusing nature of these kinds of laws. Although the country is divided into several states that have different policies on choices of law cases, they must deliver the fairest results in cases to protect all those who the most need coverage and defense. This next case is about conflicting laws of different states and how an innocent victim can get sidestepped because of confusion from conflicting laws.
In October 1964, three Michigan State University students decided to go on a trip in a Japanese sports car owned by Marcia Lopez. The sports car was a gift from his father and was registered and insured under her name in New York City. Susan Silk invited Marcia Lopez to visit her home in Michigan for the break when another passenger, Catharina Tooker, asked to hitch a ride with her classmates to visit some of her friends near the area where they were going. The three were taking academic courses in the university where they also stayed and lived in one dormitory. While driving in Michigan, Ms. Lopez lost control of the vehicle which caused it to overturn and killed her and Ms. Tooker. Ms. Silk sustained serious injuries from the car accident. Ms. Lopez and Ms. Tooker were both from New York. According to our sources, when an accident that involves persons of different domiciles, usually, the choice of law is determined by “lex loci delicti” or to apply the laws of the place wherever the tort happened.
The father of one of the injured passengers, Oliver Tooker, Plaintiff, moved for an action of wrongful death against the father of the driver, Myer Lopez, the Defendant in a New York City Court. The Defendant then insisted that he had no liability over the death of the other’s daughter by issuing the Michigan guest statute as an affirmative defense, or plainly, to prevent the Plaintiff from being entitled to claims. To be able to determine which law must be upheld, several cases were cited and used as reference to establish the choice-of-law, and whether it is fair to use the doctrine of “lex loci delicti”. Under these governing rules, it was clear that although the accident happened in Michigan, since the driver of the car and one of the passengers lived in New York, the laws of the State should be implemented. Under New York laws, the injured person, in this case the deceased, is entitled to claim damages from the deceased driver defendant, in this case as represented by her father from accidents arising from guest-host relationship, whereas the Michigan guest statute does not permit an injured guest for recovering damages from a host driver under normal circumstances. The driver will only be liable if he or she committed gross negligence and willful misconduct.