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Law School Case Brief

Neumeier v. Kuehner - 31 N.Y.2d 121, 335 N.Y.S.2d 64, 286 N.E.2d 454 (1972)


The Highway Traffic Act of Province of Ontario, R.S.O. ch. 172, § 105(2), provides that the owner or driver of a motor vehicle is not liable for damages resulting from injury to, or the death of, a guest-passenger unless he is guilty of gross negligence.


Plaintiff filed a wrongful death action as administratrix of her husband who died while he was a guest-passenger of an automobile of Arthur Kuehner. The latter also died in the accident and in the course of the trial, defendant Kuehner's estate pleaded as an affirmative defense the Ontario guest statute and the defendant railway also interposed defenses in reliance upon it. 


Is the owner or driver of a motor vehicle liable for damages for death of the plaintiff pursuant to the Ontario law?




The court reversed and reinstated the judgment of the trial court, finding that plaintiff's motion should have been denied because the guest statute was applicable to the action. On appeal, the court noted that although the host-driver was domiciled in New York, the guest passenger, for whose estate plaintiff was suing, was a domiciliary of Ontario. The court further noted that the place of the accident was Ontario, which also was the jurisdiction that had enacted the Act to protect the host from liability for ordinary negligence. The court found that New York had no legitimate interest in ignoring the public policy of a foreign jurisdiction and legislation that was addressed to a resident of that jurisdiction who was riding in a vehicle traveling within its borders.

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