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Paul v. National Life

    Brief Fact Summary.

    National Life and Vickers moved for summary judgment in a suit initiated by Paul claiming that Indiana’s guest statute barred recovery against a gratuitous host who was not engaged in willful or wanton misconduct.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Lex loci delicti does not require the application of a foreign state’s geust statute when it is contrary to the state’s public policy.

    Facts.

    Vickers and Paul were driving in Indiana when Vickers lost control of the vehicle, killing both Vickers and Paul. Paul’s estate sued Vickers’ estate National Life Accident Company (National Life). National Life and Vickers moved for summary judgment claiming that Indiana’s guest statute barred recovery against a gratuitous host who was not engaged in willful or wanton misconduct. Summary judgment was granted to the defendants.

    Issue.

    Whether Lex loci delicti requires the application of a foreign state’s guest statute when it is contrary to the state’s public policy?

    Held.

    No. Summary judgment is vacated and the case is remanded. West Virginia will not apply foreign law that contradicts their own public policy. West Virginia permits recovery for those injured due to the negligence of others.

    Discussion.

    The doctrine of lex loci delicti determines that the controlling law is the law where the injury has occurred.


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