Van Dusen v. Barrack Case Brief by Mythri


									In the case of Van Dusen v. Barrack 376 U.S. 612 (1964), there was an airplane crash. The plane was headed to Philadelphia, but crashed into Boston harbor. Suits were brought in both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania Federal courts. The defendants filed to transfer all the suits to Massachusetts based on convenience (28 USC § 1404). Judge Van Dusen granted the transfer. It was appealed to the US Supreme Court.

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The suit was for wrongful death, which was created by Statute. A lot of States put a $$$ cap on these suits. Massachusetts has a $10k cap, Pennsylvania had not cap. Conflict of laws has a principle called lex loci delicti (aka "law of the place where the tort was committed"). US Supreme Court found that according to 28 USC § 1404, the judge can determine the forum. However, transfer is simply for the convenience of the parties. When there is a transfer under 28 USC § 1404, the transferee court will act as the transferor court, and apply the same laws that would have applied in the judicial district where it was originally filed. o This means that the Federal district judge in Massachusetts should apply the laws of Pennsylvania! o It got even more complicated than that, since the US was one of the defendants, and suits against the US use the laws of the place where the negligent act occurred. The Court found that the fault for the crash was the air control tower in Rhode Island, so they had to apply Rhode Island law!

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