Vanderbilt Law Review

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Conflict of Laws--Torts--Lex Loci Delicti Is Proper Law When Parties Are Domiciled in Different Jurisdictions Unless Displacing That Law Advances Forum State's Substantive Law Purposes Without Impeding Interstate Relations or Predictability of Result

Plaintiff, an Ontario domiciliary, brought an action in New York for the wrongful death of her husband, also a domiciliary of Ontario,who was killed in a collision in that province' while a passenger in an automobile driven by defendant's intestate, a New York domiciliary. Defendant pleaded as an affirmative defense the Ontario guest statute, which restricts a guest's recovery to damages for injuries sustained only as a result of his host's gross negligence. Plaintiff argued that because it conflicted with the policy of the New York guest statute, the Ontario statute was inapplicable, and moved to dismiss the defense. The Special Term of the Supreme Court denied plaintiff's motion, and the Appellate Division reversed. On appeal to the New York Court of Appeals, held, reversed. When a tort action involves parties domiciled in different jurisdictions, the law of the place of the tort controls unless displacement of that rule would advance the substantive law purposes of the forum state without impeding the multistate process or producing litigants' uncertainty.


Constitutional Law--Fifth Amendment--Self-Incriminatory Information Supplied on a Federal Income Tax Return Cannot Be Used in a Criminal Prosecution Unrelated to Federal Income Tax Laws

The fifth amendment grants a privilege against compelled self-incrimination to every individual. Determining the applicability of the privilege to disclosures of information required by regulatory statutes and delineating the constitutionally permissible uses to which legitimately exacted information subsequently may be put are problems courts have encountered with increasing frequency. Although it has not ruled on the specific question of whether information required by a governmental regulatory scheme may be used in unrelated criminal amendment in relation to disclosure problems.' In United States v.Sullivan,' the Court held that a taxpayer whose income was largely derived from illegal liquor sales could not refuse to file an income tax return on fifth amendment grounds, although by way of dicta the Court indicated that the taxpayer could have refused to answer certain incriminatory questions in the return. Subsequently, in United States v. Lewis, the Court held that self-incriminatory information required by registration and occupational tax laws for gamblers was not privileged on fifth amendment grounds.


Constitutional Law--First Amendment--Section 15 of the Hatch Act Is Impermissibly Vague and Overbroad in Violation of the First Amendment

Plaintiffs, the National Association of Letter Carriers and six federal employees,' initiated a class action on behalf of all federal employees covered by section 9 (a)2 of the Hatch Political Activities Act of 1939, which forbids covered employees to take an active part in partisan political activities. Plaintiffs sought relief both in the form of a judgment declaring section 154 of the Act unconstitutional and an injunction prohibiting its enforcement by defendants. Plaintiffs con-tended that section 15, which defines prohibited political activity by government employees, is both vague and over broad and therefore impermissibly restrains their first amendment rights of political expression. Defendants argued, first, that men of common intelligence know what is comprehended by active and partisan political conduct, and secondly, that a prior Supreme Court determination of the constitutionality of the statute was controlling. A three-judge federal court for the District of Columbia held, judgment for plaintiffs. Section 15 of the Hatch Act is impermissibly vague and over broad in violation of the first amendment. National Association of Letter Carriers v. United States Civil Service Commission, 346 F. Supp. 578 (D.D.C. 1972), appeal docketed, No. 634, U.S., Oct. 31, 1972.


Constitutional Law-Juries--Non-unanimous Verdicts in State Criminal Proceedings Do Not Violate Due Process

The Louisiana Constitution' and Code of Criminal Procedure provide that a twelve-man jury may return, by at least a nine-three vote, a verdict of guilty or not guilty on criminal offenses that require punishment at hard labor. Following his conviction by a nine-three vote, appellant sought state post-conviction relief, alleging that the Louisiana procedure is violative of the due process clause. Appellant reasoned that since the fourteenth amendment requires a state to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a nonunanimous verdict implicitly demonstrates juror reasonable doubt and therefore violates due process. The Supreme Court of Louisiana adopted the State's contention that unanimity is neither a requisite of due process nor a sine qua non of proof beyond reasonable doubt, and thus affirmed appellant's conviction. On appeal to the United States Supreme Court, held, affirmed.


Federal Rules of Civil Procedure-Class Actions--Each Class Member in a Rule 23(b)(3) Class Action Must Satisfy Independently the Jurisdictional Amount Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)

Plaintiffs, owners of lakefront property' who sought damages for impairment of their property rights caused by defendant's alleged pollution of the lake initiated a Rule 23(b)(3) class action in federal court on the basis of diversity of citizenship. Although they purported to represent a class of more than 200 similarly situated riparian landowners, the named plaintiffs were the only members of the proposed class who met the 10,000-dollar "matter in controversy" jurisdictional amount requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); plaintiffs nevertheless alleged that their claims satisfied the requirement for the entire class. The district court, sustaining defendant's contentions that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the unnamed plaintiffs for their failure to meet the requisite jurisdictional amount, ruled that the action was not maintainable as a class action under Rule 23(b)(3). On appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, held, affirmed. Rule 23(b)(3) requires that each class member must satisfy independently the "matter in controversy" jurisdictional amount of 28 U.S.C.§ 1332(a).