Legal Memorandum: Conflict-of-laws Analysis

Issue: Under Federal law as applied in New Jersey in a diversity case, where there is a conflict between the forum state (New Jersey) and another state (Delaware), should all necessary conflict-of-laws analysis be conducted using New Jersey conflict law?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Choice-of-law rules of the forum state; Governmental interest
Jurisdiction: Delaware, Federal, New Jersey
Cited Cases: 750 F. Supp. 1222; 963 F. Supp. 409; 679 A.2d 106; 795 F. Supp. 720; 418 A.2d 968; 282 A.2d 625; 66 F.3d 647; 669 A.2d 108; 607 A.2d 637; 848 F. Supp. 1170
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 01/01/2000

           "As a federal court sitting in diversity, this Court is obliged to apply the choice-of-law rules of the forum state—in this case, New Jersey."  Capone v. Nadig, 963 F. Supp. 409, 412 (D.N.J. 1997).  Accord General Ceramics Inc. v. Firemen’s Fund Ins. Cos., 66 F.3d 647, 652 (3d Cir. 1995); Schreiber v. Camm, 848 F. Supp. 1170, 1174 (D.N.J. 1994).  New Jersey applies the "governmental-interest" approach to deciding conflicts questions, "which requires application of the law of the state with the greatest interest in resolving the particular issue that is raised in the underlying litigation."  Gantes v. Kason Corp., 679 A.2d 106, 109 (N.J. 1996).

New Jersey’s Supreme Court has described how courts should apply the governmental interest analysis to answer choice-of-law questions.  Veazey v. Doremus, 510 A.2d 1187, 1189 (N.J. 1986).

Under that analysis, the determinative law is that of the state with the greatest interest in governing the particular issue. . . . The first step in the analysis is to determine whether a conflict exists between the law of the interested states.  Any such conflict is to be determined on an issue-by-issue basis. . . . If an actual conflict exists, the next step is to identify the governmental policies underlying the law of each state and how those policies are affected […]

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