Illinois law applies to accident in that state involving Hoosiers

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A trial court properly held that Illinois substantive law is applicable to a collision that occurred in Illinois between two Indiana residents, the Court of Appeals concluded Tuesday.

Stacy Stephens was driving a car in Illinois within the course of her employment when a semi-truck driven by James K. Melton in the course of his employment with Perdue Foods struck her car at an intersection as Stephens attempted a left turn. Melton argued he was attempting to pass her at the time of impact and she failed to signal her turn as she approached the intersection.

Stephens and her husband, Chad, filed a lawsuit against Melton, Perdue Foods and FFP Business, alleging that the companies negligently failed to train Melton how to properly operate the commercial vehicle and that Melton drove the semi-truck when he was not properly medically certified as physically qualified to do so.

The parties argued which state’s law is applicable in this case – the Stephenses claimed Illinois law is applicable; the defendants believed Indiana law applied because the allegedly negligent actions by the businesses occurred in Indiana. The trial court ruled Illinois substantive law is applicable to the collision.

The appeals court based its decision on the multi-step inquiry outlined in Hubbard Manufacturing Co. Inc. v. Greeson, 515 N.E.2d 1071 (Ind. 1987), to determine which state’s law will apply.  

“Because the drivers’ conduct in operating their motor vehicles prior to the collision will be the focus of attention to determine liability, and that conduct was governed by the rules of the road of the state in which the accident occurred, we conclude that the presumption of the lex loci delicti remains significant and is not overcome,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote.

“Moreover, recognizing that the issues presented by Stephens are substantial and not merely remedial or procedural, the conduct must be necessarily governed by Illinois’ Rules of the Road as ‘people do not take the laws of their home state with them when they travel but are subject to the laws of the state in which they act.’ Based on the circumstances before us, we conclude that the place of tort is significant to the action.”

The judges determined that even if they deemed Illinois, as the place of the tort, to be an insignificant contact, an analysis of the additional Hubbard factors would still lead to the decision that Illinois law is applicable.

The case is James K. Melton, Perdue Foods, LLC f/k/a Perdue Farms Incorporated and FPP Business Services, Inc., et al. v. Chad Stephens, Guardian of the Person and Estate of Stacy S. Stephens and Chad Stephens, 14A01-1308-CT-356.


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.