Paul v. National Life
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
177 W.Va 427, 352 S.E.2d 550 (1986)
Eliza Vickers and Aloha Jane Paul, both residents of West Virginia, took a trip to Indiana. Vickers, who was driving, got into an accident, and both women died. The administrator of Paul’s estate (plaintiff) sued Vickers’s estate and the National Life Accident Company (defendants) in a West Virginia court. Defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds that Indiana law controlled because Indiana was the place of the accident, and Indiana law contained a guest statute requiring proof of willful and wanton misconduct in order for a passenger to establish liability against a noncommercial driver. The court granted summary judgment to defendants, holding that the doctrine of lex loci delicti required application of the law of the place of injury, i.e., Indiana, and further holding that the Indiana guest statute barred recovery because there was no evidence of willful or wanton conduct by Vickers. The administrator of Paul's estate appealed, arguing that West Virginia’s highest court should abandon its lex loci delicti conflicts doctrine in favor of a more modern approach.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Neely, J.)
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