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Kansas follows traditional choice of law principles and the Kansas Court of Appeals has no hesitation in finding that the lex loci delicti rule applies in tort cases notwithstanding that the injuries are incurred in a foreign country.
Kaley Raskin and Jenna Turnbaugh, both minors, received personal injuries resulting from a collision of the water craft they occupied and a water craft operated by Chad Leathers in the ocean waters off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Kaley's and Jenna's parents filed this action individually and as next friends to their minor daughters against Ken and Karen Allison individually and as guardians ad litem for their minor son and stepson, Chad Leathers. The daughters' claims were framed on the theories of negligence and negligent entrustment. The daughters argued that the law of Mexico should not be applied, because: (1) all the parties were residents of Kansas; (2) Kansas never invoked the lex loci delicti rule in a case where a foreign country's law would apply; and (3) the rule of comity required that Kansas protect its own residents and apply Kansas law. Following its choice-of-law finding, the trial court granted plaintiffs' application for an interlocutory appeal under K.S.A. 60-2102(b).
Did the trial court err in finding that the substantive law of Mexico governed the claims in this personal injury action where the injuries occurred in Mexico although all parties were Kansas residents?
The appellate court found that: (1) Kansas consistently applied the rule of lex loci delicti in tort cases, even when all parties were Kansas residents; (2) the lex loci delicti rule applied in tort cases, notwithstanding the fact that the injuries were incurred in a foreign country; (3) Kansas cases indicated that the "public policy" exception in the choice-of-law context was limited and generally not triggered because of limitations on damages or higher burdens of proof; and (4) the trial court correctly determined that the substantive law of Mexico governed the claims in this personal injury action.