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Arkansas Choice of Law Rules Dictate Arkansas Law to Control Wrongful Death Suit
Description Federal court held that Arkansas Choice of Law rules would govern a suit filed by heirs of a person killed in a plane crash in Arkansas. While the deceased and the heirs are from California, Arkansas law dictates that its interests in resolving tort matters that occur within the state mean that Arkansas law will be applied.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Choice of Law; Conflicts of Law; Diversity
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Sattari was killed on an American Airlines' flight from Dallas that crashed in Little Rock. She was from California, her survivors are from California, and her estate is being probated in California. Her survivors sued American in state court in Arkansas. Due to diversity of citizenship, the case was moved to federal court. American argued that California law should apply to the case; plaintiffs argued that Arkansas law should apply. California law would reduce the scope of damages that could be sued for compared to Arkansas law. The trial judge had to decide the choice of law issues.
Decision Arkansas law applies. When a federal court in a diversity-of-citizenship case originally filed in a state court makes a choice-of-law determination, the rules of the state in which the case was originally followed will be followed. Under Arkansas law, the "Leflar choice-influencing factors" test, rather than the "most significant relationship" test of the Restatement (Second) of Conflicts of Law used in most states, will apply. Under the Leflar test used in Arkansas, the focus is on Arkansas interests that favor application of its law, so Arkansas law will apply. Arkansas has strong interests in applying its law to tort injuries suffered inside the state.
Citation In re Air Disaster at Little Rock, Arkansas on June 1, 1999, - F.Supp.2d - (2000 WL 1868147 (E.D. Ark., 2000)

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