Plaintiffs sued Defendant for damages when injured at the Defendant’s hotel. Defendant argued that Mexican law was applicable, while Plaintiffs argued New York law was applicable.
Under New York’s choice of law doctrine, the public policy exception will not be applied to cases of personal injury where the governments balance of interests tips in favor of the foreign government.
George and Delores Feldman (Plaintiffs), residents of New York, sued Acapulco Princess Hotel (Defendant), incorporated under the laws of Mexico, for damages after he was injured at the hotel. The parties disputed over whether New York or Mexico law should control the award of damages, Plaintiffs arguing it would violate public policy to apply Mexican law. Mexican law would limit the possible amount awarded for disability, pain, and suffering, whereas New York law would not.
Under New York choice of law doctrine, does public policy prohibit the application of Mexican law to the Plaintiff’s award of damages?
No, the Mexico law governing damages is proper in this case.
Walking through choice of law precedent and rejected the more rigid application of lex loci delicti, the Court determined that the Neumeier rules applied to determination of damages in tort cases. Under these rules, Mexican law was appropriate in this case because, balancing the government interests, Mexico had a greater interest in protecting its tourist industry and protecting its sovereignty from foreign nations. Additionally, the Court declined to apply the public policy exception because Mexican law did not violate any New York constitutional provision.