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Alabama Great Southern R.R. Co. v. Carroll

    Brief Fact Summary.
    Carroll (Plaintiff) worked as a railroad brakeman, and was injured in Mississippi due to the failure of other employees’ to inspect the brakes in Alabama.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.
    Where a negligent act is committed in one state, but causes injury in a different state, an action seeking damages for injuries resulting from the act may be brought only in the state where the result occurred, and not where the act was committed.

    Facts.
    Carroll (Plaintiff), a resident of Alabama, was injured in Mississippi due to a break in a defective railroad car link.  The Railroad’s (Defendant) employees had been negligent in their duty to inspect the links in Alabama.  Plaintiff sued the Defendant in Alabama under a state statute that authorized recovery.  Mississippi would have denied recovery as it had no similar statute.

    Issue.
    May recovery be obtained for a tortious act in the state where the breach of duty occurred, but not the injury?

    Held.
    (McClellan, J.)  No.  The general rule is that recovery cannot be made in one state for the injuries to the person sustained in a different state unless the infliction of the injuries is actionable under the law of the state where the injuries were received.  In this case, up to the time the train passed from Alabama, no injury had resulted.  The Alabama statute has no efficiency beyond state lines.  Only Mississippi could apply proper jurisdiction over the claim. There may have been a different result if Carroll had been injured in Alabama but suffered in Mississippi.  As for an argument that the Railroad (Defendant) was under a contractual duty to Carroll (Plaintiff), which arose in Alabama, the Alabama law will govern only occurrences of the employment relationship and not with any specific contractual obligations.  Reversed and remanded.

    Dissent.
    Under the First Restatement, where a tort is involved the choice of law focuses on the situs of the wrong—that is, where the last incidence required to make the defendant liable took place.  This will usually be the place of plaintiff’s injury.


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