Hofstra Law Review


Neumeier v. Kuehner is a case of exceptional importance. There is every reason to expect that its impact on choice-of-law decisions throughout this country will be as telling and profound as that of Babcock v. Jackson. Indeed it may turn out that Neumeier will overtake Babcock as the seminal conflicts case. Babcock announced to the world the official demise of the First Restatement and the rejection of rigid, broad-based choice-of-law rules. To replace it the court began charting a policy-centered or interest analysis approach. Neumeier officially heralds the news that the most sophisticated conflicts court in the nation has become somewhat disenchanted with interest analysis. The court chose the occasion of Neumeier to turn its back on pure interest analysis for very good reason. The fact pattern in Neumeier when placed under the scrutiny of interest analysis yielded no rational resolution to the choice-of-law question. In fact, what was worse, it yielded no real interests for the court to evaluate. It was simply an anathema to the court to make the statement that it had before it a simple interstate accident case for which the host-guest policy of neither of the two contact states was relevant. In this instance interest analysis had gone bankrupt. It takes uncommon intellectual honesty to state that "the emperor is wearing no clothes." Especially after admiring the fine silk and splendid colors of the fabric, the investment in one's own pronouncements is usually too great for the retraction to be made by its original protagonist. Yet, in Neumeier, Chief Judge Fuld, the author of Babcock, explicitly questioned the very foundations of interest analysis. The reverberations will be felt for a long time to come.

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