Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
The strong policy of New Jersey is to allow a guest-passenger to be compensated by his host-driver in cases of ordinary negligence.
Plaintiff, a Connecticut domiciliary, was injured in Iowa while a passenger in an automobile driven by a New Jersey domiciliary and owned by a New Jersey corporation. Iowa has a guest statute which provided that a host-driver was not liable to his passenger-guest for ordinary negligence. The defendants pleaded, inter alia, the Iowa guest statute as a defense. On plaintiff’s motion, the Law Division struck the defense, holding that the New Jersey law requiring a host to use at least ordinary care for the safety of his guest was applicable. The Appellate Division ruled that the Iowa guest statute applied to the case and accordingly reversed and reinstated the defense. Plaintiff petitioned for certification.
Did the Iowa guest statute apply to the present case, thereby preventing the plaintiff to maintain an action for ordinary negligence against the defendants?
The court reversed and struck the defense. Because Iowa had no interest in the litigation, and the substantive laws of Connecticut and New Jersey were the same, the case presented a false conflict and plaintiff had the right to maintain an action for ordinary negligence. Principles of comity and the equal protection and privileges and immunities clauses of the constitution dictated that plaintiff should have been afforded the same protection a New Jersey plaintiff would have been given.