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Hurtado v. Superior Court

Supreme Court of California
522 P.2d 666 (1974)


Facts

Antonio Hurtado was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his cousin, Manuel Cid Hurtado (Hurtado) (defendant). Antonio’s  car collided with a truck parked on the side of the road. The truck was owned by Jack Rexius (defendant). Antonio, who was a resident of Mexico but temporarily in California, was killed in the crash. Antonio’s wife and surviving children (plaintiffs), filed a wrongful death suit against Hurtado and Rexius in California state court. Antonio’s wife and children were residents of Mexico. Hurtado and Rexius were residents of California. Hurtado moved for a separate trial, arguing for application of a Mexican law that limited the amount of damages recoverable in a wrongful death action. California law did not have a maximum damages amount. The trial court granted Hurtado’s motion and took judicial notice of the Mexican statute but ultimately held that California damages law applied. Hurtado filed a writ of mandate with the California Court of Appeal asking the appellate court to direct the trial court to vacate the ruling and apply Mexican damages law. The appellate court granted the writ and directed the trial court to apply Mexican law. Antonio’s wife and children petitioned the Supreme Court of California for review, and the court granted certiorari. 

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Sullivan, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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