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Law School Case Brief

Rupert v. Stienne - 90 Nev. 397, 528 P.2d 1013 (1974)

Rule:

Nev. Rev. Stat. § 1.030 provides that the common law of England so far as it is not repugnant to or in conflict with the Constitution and the laws of the United States or the constitution and laws of this state shall be the rule of decision in all courts of this state. Despite § 1.030, courts may reject the common law where it is not applicable to local conditions.

Facts:

Plaintiff Stienne filed a suit against her spouse and the defendant after sustaining injuries in a vehicle collision involving the vehicles of the defendants. The district court granted the respondent husband's motion for summary judgment based solely upon the doctrine of interspousal immunity. The family members appealed.

Issue:

Does interspousal immunity preclude tort action by one spouse against another?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The  Nevada Supreme Court reversed the decisions as applied to claims arising out of car accidents, overturning the court's previous rulings that upheld the doctrine of spousal and parental immunity. The court overturned the doctrine for several reasons, including faith in the judicial system to uncover fabricated claims, the allowance of interspousal suits to recover under contract, the right of a person to be compensated for an injury, and the state's automobile insurance laws, which required that owners purchase insurance to cover injuries to family members.

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