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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 sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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