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Hofstra Law Review

Abstract

A car, owned and driven by a New York resident and registered and insured in New York, collided with a train in Ontario, Canada. Both the New York host-driver and the Ontario guest-passenger were killed in the accident. The Ontario passenger's estate brought a wrongful death action in New York against the New York driver's estate. Under New York law, ordinary negligence on the part of the deceased host-driver would suffice to entitle the guest-passenger's estate to recover damages for wrongful death. Ontario, however, has a guest statute which provides that the owner or driver of a motor vehicle is not liable for damages resulting from injury to, or the death of, a guest-passenger unless he was guilty of gross negligence. This law-fact setting pits an Ontario plaintiff, who is suing in New York on the basis of New York law (the lex fori), against a New York defendant, who seeks to rely on Ontario law (the lex loci delicti) as a defense. Could any of those "learned but eccentric professors who theorize about mysterious matters in a strange and incomprehensible jargon," i.e., Conflict of Laws teachers, ever aspire to construct a tort conflicts case better suited for classroom discussion?

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