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Babcock v. Jackson

Court of Appeals of New York

January 23, 1963, Argued ; May 9, 1963, Decided

No Number in Original


 [*476]  [**280]  [***745]    On Friday, September 16, 1960, Miss Georgia Babcock and her friends, Mr. and Mrs. William Jackson, all residents of Rochester, left that city in Mr. Jackson's automobile, Miss Babcock as guest, for a week-end trip to Canada. Some hours later, as Mr. Jackson was driving in the Province of Ontario, he apparently lost control of the car; it went off the highway into an adjacent stone wall, and Miss Babcock was seriously injured. Upon her return to this State, she brought  [*477]  the present action against William Jackson, alleging negligence on his part in operating his automobile. 1

At the time of the accident, there was in force in Ontario a statute providing [****9]  that "the owner or driver of a motor vehicle, other than a vehicle operated in the business of carrying passengers for compensation, is not liable for any loss or damage resulting from bodily injury to, or the death of any person being carried in * * * the motor vehicle" (Highway Traffic Act of Province of Ontario [Ontario Rev. Stat. (1960), ch. 172], § 105, subd. ). Even though no such bar is recognized under this State's substantive law of torts (see, e.g., Higgins v. Mason, 255 N. Y. 104, 108; Nelson v. Nygren, 259 N. Y. 71), the defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the law of the place where the accident occurred governs and that Ontario's guest statute bars recovery. The court at Special Term, agreeing with the defendant, granted the motion and the Appellate Division, over a strong dissent by Justice Halpern, affirmed the judgment of dismissal without opinion.

 [***746]  The question presented is simply drawn. Shall the law of the place of the tort 2 invariably govern the availability of  [**281]  relief for the tort or shall the applicable choice of law rule also reflect a consideration of other factors which are relevant [****10]  to the purposes served by the enforcement or denial of the remedy?

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12 N.Y.2d 473 *; 191 N.E.2d 279 **; 240 N.Y.S.2d 743 ***; 1963 N.Y. LEXIS 1185 ****; 95 A.L.R.2d 1

Georgia W. Babcock, Appellant, v. Mabel B. Jackson, as Executrix of William H. Jackson, Deceased, Respondent

Prior History:  [****1]   Babcock v. Jackson, 17 A D 2d 694.

Appeal from a judgment of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Fourth Judicial Department, entered July 27, 1962, affirming, by a divided court, a judgment of the Supreme Court, entered in Monroe County upon an order of the court at Special Term (William G. Easton, J.) granting a motion by defendant to dismiss the complaint.

Disposition: Judgment reversed, with costs in all courts, and matter remitted to Special Term for further proceedings in accordance with the opinion herein.


conflict of laws, contacts, cases, law of the place, rights, guest statute, passengers, courts, center of gravity, traditional rule, occurrence, gross negligence, choice of law, principles, residents, grouping, immunity, parties, guest

Civil Procedure, Federal & State Interrelationships, Choice of Law, Forum & Place, Torts, Procedural Matters, Conflict of Law, Place of Injury, Preliminary Considerations, General Overview, Significant Relationships, Types of Damages, Compensatory Damages, Transportation Torts, Motor Vehicles, Jurisdiction, Jurisdictional Sources, Statutory Sources