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Paul v. National Life

Supreme Court of West Virginia
352 S.E.2d 550 (W.V. 1986)


Facts

West Virginia residents Eliza Vickers and Aloha Jane Paul were driving in Indiana when Vickers lost control of the car and crashed, killing both. The administrator of Paul’s estate (plaintiff) sued Vickers’s estate and the National Life Accident Company (defendants) in West Virginia state court. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that because there was no evidence of willful or wanton misconduct by Vickers, Indiana’s guest statute barred recovery against a gratuitous host (meaning an unpaid driver giving the guest a ride for free) for mere negligence. Summary judgment was granted under Indiana’s guest statute, with the trial court applying the doctrine of lex loci delicti to the conflicts of law issue. The administrator of Pauls’ estate appealed to the Supreme Court of West Virginia.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Neely, 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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