of the multistate system or producing great uncertainty for litigants. Defendants cannot do so.
Although applying New York law would advance the general goal of keeping minor accident claims out of the tort system, applying New York's stricter threshold requirement would impair the multi-state system "by appearing to favor the local party." Heisler, 884 F. Supp. at 131-32; see Cooney, 595 N.Y.S.2d at 923-24. But see Reach v. Pearson, 860 F. Supp. 141, 143 (S.D.N.Y. 1994) (without discussing Neumeier rules, court applied New York law of remedies to action brought by New Jersey plaintiffs against New York defendants for injuries sustained in accident that occurred in Quebec).
Moreover, displacing Connecticut law would cause uncertainty for litigants. Plaintiff purchased her policy in New Jersey and she was in Connecticut when the accident occurred. She had no relevant contacts with New York such that she would have expected New York law to govern her rights with respect to an accident occurring in Connecticut. In contrast, defendant Gregory Somoza voluntarily associated with Connecticut by driving there.
Both New York and New Jersey have an interest in protecting the expectations of their respective domiciliaries and furthering the purposes of their no-fault laws. Where the interests of each state in enforcing its loss-allocation rule are roughly equal, the law of the "situs of the tort is appropriate as a 'tie-breaker' because that is the only State with which both parties have purposefully associated themselves in a significant way." Cooney, 595 N.Y.S.2d at 923; see Esco Fasteners, Co. v. Korea Hinomoto Co., 928 F. Supp. 252, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8398, No. CV-95-4818, 1996 WL 328036, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. June 12, 1996); Heisler, 884 F. Supp. at 131-32. As Connecticut is the only state that both parties have voluntarily associated with, it is fair that Connecticut law govern.
Because defendants have not shown that applying New York law will further the relevant substantive law purposes without disturbing the multi-state system or causing uncertainty for litigants, the law of Connecticut applies to the issue of whether plaintiff can recover damages for pain and suffering.
2. The Public Policy Exception
The Somozas also argue that New York law should be applied because applying Connecticut's $ 400 threshold in this case would frustrate the public policy underlying New York's no-fault statute. Although New York eliminated its dollar threshold to prevent inflation of expenses, the public policy exception should not be applied simply because New York's statutory scheme differs from that of another state. Cooney, 595 N.Y.S.2d at 285. Rather, "in view of modern choice of law doctrine, resort to the public policy exception should be reserved for those foreign laws that are truly obnoxious." Id. As it cannot be said that the $ 400 threshold is "truly obnoxious" to New York's public policy, defendants' argument is rejected.
For the reasons set forth above, Connecticut law governs plaintiff's ability to seek non-economic damages. Accordingly, plaintiff's motion for a declaration that Connecticut law applies is granted and defendants' cross-motion for a declaration that New York law applies is denied.
Dated: New York, New York
July 25, 1996
United States District Judge