A family’s attempt to apply Illinois law in an Indiana traffic fatality failed to overcome state court precedent, which has established that laws of the state where an accident happened govern the conduct of the parties.
The family of Arnold Rexroad Sr., a resident of Illinois, filed an interlocutory appeal after Marion Circuit Court determined Indiana law would apply to their negligence claim. Rexroad’s wife, five children and two step-children filed a lawsuit against Greenwood Motor Lines Inc. and tractor-trailer driver Richard Maples, a resident of Ohio, after Maples caused an accident which killed Rexroad on Interstate 70 in Hendricks County.
In a memorandum filed with the court, the Rexroad family requested that Illinois law, rather than Indiana law, be applied to the case. Unlike Indiana, Illinois permits recovery by all of the deceased’s children, adult as well as minor.
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the determination in Cathy Rexroad, et al. v. Greenwood Motor Lines, Inc., d/b/a R+L Carriers, R&L Carriers Shared Services, LLC, and Richard C. Maples, Sr., 49A04-1408-CT-391.
Pointing to Simon v. U.S., 805 N.E.2d 798, 804-5 (Ind. 2004), the Court of Appeals held the presumption of applying the lex loci delicti rule is strong and difficult to overcome. In particular, automobile accidents are generally not intended to fall under the exception.
Quoting from Simon, the COA held, “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.”