NY Conflicts of Law
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Judgment entitled to full faith and credit if:
(1) Judgment must meet the full faith and credit requirements, and
(2) No valid defenses apply.
Under Full Faith and Credit, what if judgment is MODIFIABLE, rather than FINAL?
- If judgment is modifiable, it is not final and does not get full faith and credit.
- HOWEVER, it will usually still be enforced under principles of comity.
- Two modifiable judgments: future alimony, future child support. BUT judgments for amounts already
- accrued and in arrears are final judgments.
Full Faith and Credit Clause Requirements
- (1) Valid jurisdiction in the rendering court over both the parties and the subject matter of the litigation.
- (2) Judgment was a final judgment
- (3) Judgment must have been rendered on the merits, not on a procedural or technical issue.
- Default and consent judgments ARE considered to be on the merits for full faith and credit purposes.
Conflict of Laws: Defenses that Work?
(1) The judgment is penal–a judgment rendered for an offense against the public. Winner must be the government.
(2) Extrinsic fraud–bribery of a judge
Conflict of Laws: Non-Defenses that Don't Work?
- (1) Judgment is a tax judgment.
- (2) Judgment is based on a cause of action that violates forum’s public policy.
- (3) Mistakes by the judge in the earlier trial–Remedy for such mistakes is to appeal .
- (4) Inconsistent judgments–RULE: Enforce the last judgment in time.
- Two parts:
- (1) Jurisdiction must have been proper; and
(2) Fair procedures must have been used in the foreign country proceeding.
(1) Three types?
- (1) Ex parte divorce–Only need one of the spouses to be validly domiciled where divorce is granted
- (2) Bilateral divorce–Where one spouse is validly domiciled where divorce is granted, and both spouses are subject to personal jurisdiction there.
- (3) Consent divorce–where both want out of the marriage and go together somewhere to get it. NOT VALID because you don’t have domicile of at least one of the parties.
When will an interested person be estopped from attacking divorce decree?
(1) When attacker was subject to a personal jurisdiction—e.g. spouse in a bilateral divorce cannot later attack that divorce;
(2) Where the attacker may not have been subject to personal jurisdiction in the earlier proceeding, but the attacker played a meaningful role in the granting of the divorce.
(3) Persons who are in privity with a party to the divorce. This includes children.
(4) Spouse who remarried in reliance on the earlier divorce.
Grounds for attacking divorce decree
Any interested person who is not estopped can attack a divorce decree for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
PJ in Property Awards
Court granting alimony or child support must have personal jurisdiction over the spouse whose property rights are in issue.
Where must a child custody case be brought?
Valid jurisdiction for determining child custody lies only in the child’s home state
Divisible Divorce Doctrine [Very Common on the Exam]
If a decree has some parts that are good and some that are bad, you keep the good and ignore the rest.
Test for Whether Someone is Domiciled in a Particular State
- Two-Part Test:
- (1) Physical presence in the state–presence can be for a short period of time.
(2) Intent to remain there indefinitely–What you DO counts for more than what you say.
May a party change domicile for the sole purpose of escaping jurisdiction?
YES. The motive for going to another state to acquire a domicile is irrelevant.
What is a person has no legal capacity to choose a domicile?
If a person has no legal capacity to acquire a domicile of choice that person will be assigned one by operation of law.
(1) Domicile of a child: If a child does not have legal capacity to get a domicile of choice, the child will have the domicile of her child’s parents. If parents are divorced, domicile is that of the parent who has physical custody.
(2) Domicile of a married woman living apart from her husband in a different state can obtain a domicile of choice, just like anyone else.
What are the constitutional provision(s) governing choice of law?
(1) Due Process and (2) Full Faith and Credit
Conflict of Laws: Test to satisfy Due Process and Full Faith and Credit?
One test for both: The state chosen must have a significant contact(s) with the parties or the subject matter of the litigation which give it a legitimate interest in seeing its law applied.
EXAM TIP: Easy test to satisfy. State the rule and say it will pass the test.
Conflict of Laws: Situations where we WON'T meet the test for DPC and Full Faith and Credit?
Two situations that do NOT meet the test:
(1) If, after the event in question, someone to moves a new state, and that move creates the only contact with that state, then it would be unconstitutional to apply that state's law.
(2) If the only contact with the parties or the litigation is that the suit is brought in a state then it would be unconstitutional to apply that state's law.
Vested Rights Approach to Conflict of Laws
Traditional territorial approach: The law to be applied is the law where the rights of π vested.
Torts: Apply the law of the place where the injury occurred, or the place of the wrong (place of
Contracts: Apply the law of the place of making of the contract.
Governmental Interest Analysis Approach to Choice of Law
Five-Step Babcock Approach
(1) List the factual contacts
with each state.
(2) Note the different state laws
(3) Find out the policies underlying each
state’s law by consulting legislative history and court decisions. EXAM TIP
: Find out which state’s law would favor π and which would favor D.
(4) Relate the facts to the policies
to see if the state has an interest in seeing its law applied. EXAM TIP
: Does the party being favored by a state’s law reside in that state? If so, that state has an interest.
- (5) Apply the law of the state with the greatest governmental interest in the outcome. Characterize the conflict:
- (a) False conflict where only one state has an interest is having its law applied—Apply the law of the only
- jurisdiction with an interest in the outcome of the litigation.
- (b) True conflict where two or more of the states involved have an interest in the litigation, and one of them is the forum state—apply the law of the forum state unless the interest of the other state is much greater.
- (c) Disinterested forum case where two or more states have an interest in having their law applied and the forum is not one of them—court can either (1) Apply the law that is closest to NY law; or (2) apply the better law. Most NY courts will apply (1).
- (d) Unprovided-for case where no state has an interest in applying its own law—then courts most often will just apply the forum’s law.
Conflict of Laws: Governmental Interest Approach to Tort Law
1. Is the law a rule regulating conduct
or a rule on loss distribution
2. If a rule regulating conduct
, apply the law of the place of injury
Neumeier Rule Two
- 3. If a rule on loss distribution, discuss the Babcock 5-step method and the 3 Neumeier rules and apply the law of the state indicated–
- Neumeier Rule One: Same domicile rule—When π and ∆ are domiciled in the same state, the state’s law will be applied.
: When π and ∆ are domiciled in different states
, then if the law of the place where the accident occurred helps its citizen
, that state’s law will be applied.
- Neumeier Rule Three: When the π and ∆ are domiciled in different jurisdictions and the law of
- the place where the accident occurred DOES NOT help its citizen, then you still apply the law of the place of the injury unless the other jurisdiction has a greater interest in the outcome.
- EXAM TIP: Rule Three situation is called the “unprovided-for case.”
Conflict of Laws: What are Loss Distribution Rules?
Most torts rules are loss distribution rules, those that determine which party will bear the loss.
- Apply the Babcock/Neumeier analysis to all loss distribution rules.
- EXAM TIP: Assume this applies to any tort choice of law problem
Conflict of Laws: Governmental Interest Approach in Contracts: Matters of Contract Construction
Parties can always choose the law in the contract for matters of contract construction. It can be any law.
Conflict of Laws: Governmental Interest Approach in Contracts: Contract Validity
- Parties can choose the law to govern matters of contract validity if:
- (1) The choice can’t be contrary to a fundamental policy of a state with a greater interest than the chosen state.
- (2) There must be substantial relationship to the parties or the transaction.
- (3) Choice must be free of duress.
See separate card re: NY Special Statute for Large Contracts
Conflict of Laws: Governmental Interest Approach: NY Special Statute for Large Contracts
If contract is for > $250K, the parties can choose NY law, even if the contract has no connection to NY.
If contract is for ≥ $1M, then parties may also put in a clause specifying that NY may be the forum.
What are the Choice of Law Rules if Parties Don't Choose the Law in the K
Apply the 5-step Babcock
When interest analysis is applied to contracts, we call the state chosen the “state with the most significant relationship to the contract.”
Choice of Law for Property Matters
For real property, the law of the situs of the property governs.
Most personal property dealt with in the same way EXCEPT if passing personal property intestate, then use the law of the state where the decedent was domiciled at death.
Choice of Law for Inheritance Matters
A non-NY domiciliary can choose NY law in a will to apply to the disposition of NY assets, EVEN when it would oust a spouse from an elective share.
Conflict of Laws Rules for Family Law: Marriages and Divorce
- General Rule: If a marriage is valid where performed, it is valid everywhere.
- EXCEPTION: If marriage would violate the strong public policy of a state, then it may not be recognized even though it was valid where performed.
- General Rule: Marriages void where performed are void everywhere.
- EXCEPTION: if a marriage is void because it failed to void to comply with some technical requirement of the state where performed can still be recognized in NY IF it would have complied with the NY rule.
are governed by the law of the plaintiff’s domicile
Defenses to Choice of Law
- (1) The law chosen is procedural**, not substantive.
- (2) The law is against the public policy of the forum state.
- (3) The law is a penal law—one that imposes a criminal judgment or civil fine.
**Includes SoL, but watch out for NY Borrowing Statute: apply the shorter SoL
of the state where a cause of action arose
UNLESS π is a NY resident
Use of State Law in Federal Courts
A federal court sitting in a diversity case must use the choice of law rules of the state in which it sits
Notice and Proof of Foreign Law
Courts will take judicial notice of sister-state and federal law, but the law of a foreign country is a fact which must be pleaded and proved.
If the foreign law cannot be determined, then a New York court will apply New York law, so long as there is no injustice.
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