Conflict of Laws                                   M.H. Hoffheimer 
Final Exam                                           University of Mississippi 
                                                               Law School 
                                                               Spring 2000 

General instructions

                This is a closed book exam. Do not speak with any person other than the faculty member who is administering this exam until you have turned in your exam. Do not remove any exam materials, questions, or blue books from the room during the exam. After you complete the exam and turn in your blue books, you may take the questions with you when you exit the room.

                The exam consists of two parts. You will have three hours to complete the exam, and recommended times are indicated for each part. Answer all questions.

                Identify yourself on your blue books only by your exam number. By placing the exam number on your blue book and by submitting your blue book for credit, you are agreeing to the following pledge (as required by law school policy):

                "On my honor I have neither given nor received improper assistance. And I will report any improper assistance that I am made aware of."

Definitions, terms, and conditions

                Reference to the first Restatement means the Restatement [first] of the Law of Conflict of Laws (1934). The term "state" means a state of the United States. The term "country" means a sovereign power that is neither a state of the United States nor the government of the United States.

                No effort has been made to achieve legal verisimilitude, and laws that are included in questions should be considered accurate only hypothetically and for purposes of answering the questions on this exam. Do not assume any additional fact or law, except those laws studied in the course, without stating explicitly your assumption and explaining why such additional information is necessary for your answer.


PART I. SHORT ANSWERS (60 minutes for this part--or an average of ten minutes for each question)

Instructions. Write a coherent literate response to each of the following problems. Each problem in this part can be answered adequately with a response that is no longer than one paragraph.

                1.     Don and Pat, both residents of the state of East Dakota, set out on an around-the-world balloon trip in a hot air balloon with an open cockpit. While traveling over the sovereign country of Lilliput, Don flew into a hale storm as a result of which Pat was seriously injured.

                For purposes of this question please assume that piloting the open-cockpit balloon into a hale storm was negligent. However, the Ballooners Association of Lilliput had just recently succeeded in lobbying their Parliament to enact a statute, effective at the time of Pat's injury, that bars all claims of negligence against balloon pilots. The purpose of the immunity was to reduce the costs of ballooning, and it was not intended to have any effect on the risks created by ballooning activity.

                In contrast, the state of East Dakota has no statute exempting balloon pilots from civil liability for their negligent conduct. East Dakota still follows the traditional approach of the First Restatement. Lilliput follows the governmental interest analysis approach to choice of laws.

                Pat commences a civil action in Lilliput asserting that East Dakota law should apply. Don moves to dismiss arguing 1) Lilliput law applies, and 2) even if East Dakota law applies, East Dakota would apply the law of Lilliput, so Lilliput law still applies. Please rule on the defendant's motion and explain.

                2.     Same facts. The Lilliput court instead dismisses the action under the Lilliput statute of limitations.

                Pat finds and tags Don in the state of Mississippi and commences a second civil action in Mississippi state courts for exactly the same claim dismissed in Lilliput. Don moves to dismiss on grounds of res judicata. Rule on the motion and explain.

                3.     Same facts. If the action is not dismissed, explain what law Mississippi should apply.

                4.     Same facts. Before the parties learn of the judge's ruling, they agree to settle the case. Don agrees to give Pat $10,000. Pat agrees to relinquish all claims arising from the accident.

                The settlement agreement further provides: "Any lawsuit concerning claims arising from this settlement agreement must be commenced only in a court located in the state of East Dakota. All disputes arising out of this settlement agreement shall be governed by the law of East Dakota."

                The agreement did not state whether it was to be kept confidential by the parties. Under the law of Mississippi, in the absence of an express agreement, there is no implied obligation to keep the terms of a settlement agreement confidential. In contrast, under the Civil Litigation Limitation Act of East Dakota, the terms of all settlement agreements must be kept confidential unless there is an express waiver of confidentiality.

                Pat wants to publicize the terms of the settlement, and Don has commenced a civil action in Mississippi Chancery Court seeking to enjoin Pat from publicizing the terms of the settlement agreement. Pat moves to dismiss the action under the mandatory forum-selection clause. Please rule on the motion and explain.

                5.     Pierre LaFite, citizen of Louisiana, was admitted to the University of Alabama on a football scholarship. Four winning seasons later, he graduated with honors.

                When LaFite returned to Louisiana and tried to enroll in graduate school, he was informed that he was ineligible because he could not read or write at the college level.

                Furious, LaFite has sued the state of Alabama in Louisiana state court on various theories of fraud, breach of contract, and breach of trust for the state's failure to provide a college education. The state of Alabama removed the action to federal court, and LaFite has moved for a remand to state court. Rule on the motion and explain.

                6.     Same facts. In the alternative, the state of Alabama has moved for a ruling that full faith and credit and due process prohibit the application of Louisiana law. Please consider the constitutional standards and discuss their application to this case.



Instructions. Write coherent, literate essays in the Blue Book that respond to the following problems.

                A.     The Case of the Bad Bet (60 minutes)

                Pam Penniless, resident of Dusty Plains in the state of West Dakota, is a compulsive gambler. For a year driving to and from her daily job in West Dakota as a computer programmer, she passed large billboards advertising casinos in Mississippi. The ads displayed happy winners with pockets full of money and prominently announced "loose slots" and "more millionaire winners."

                One Friday driving home from work with her paycheck in her purse, Pam looked at the happy faces on the billboards. She felt lucky and could not resist the temptation to try her luck just one more time.

                Pam drove straight to the Money Pit Casino in Mississippi without stopping to eat. When she arrived, she cashed her paycheck in the amount of $2500.00 and played continuously for five hours until all her money was gone. During that time the casino served her free alcoholic beverages and provided at no cost an unlimited amount of the casino's specialty snack, fried salt. The snack made Pam very thirsty and caused her to drink more and more alcoholic drinks.

                After losing all the proceeds of her paycheck, Pam got credit advances from the casino in an amount of $3000.00 charged to her credit cards. She played for another three hours until all her money was gone.

                Then Pam asked the casino for an unsecured loan of $5000.00. After a quick Internet search determined that Pam had a job and owned a house and car, the casino manager agreed to the loan. Pam signed a "marker," a note agreeing to pay the casino $5000.00 plus $500.00 interest within three weeks from the date signed. The marker provided that it was to be "governed by the law of Mississippi."

                Pam played for another two hours until all her money was gone. She went out and slept in her car before driving home.

                Pam has paid off her credit card debt for the cash advances. But she refuses to pay the casino for the "marker" or note despite repeated attempts to collect. She feels that the casino took advantage of her and that they did not lose any money since she lost it all at the casino any way.

                Under the law of West Dakota, contracts entered into while intoxicated are voidable. Moreover, gambling is a misdemeanor in West Dakota, and debts incurred for the purpose of gambling are void as unlawful and as contrary to public policy. You may assume for purposes of this question that Mississippi would recognize no similar defenses to the note under these facts. West Dakota follows the First Restatement approach to conflict of laws.

                Please evaluate 1) what law Mississippi courts would apply in an action to collect on the note; 2) what law West Dakota courts would apply in an action to collect on the note; and 3) whether either state would have to recognize a judgment from the other.


B. The Case of Punctilious Punctuality (60 minutes)

                Missy, resident of Mississippi, and Drippy, resident of Atlantis, were roommates at the University of West Virginia. On January 6, 1998, Missy and Drippy decided to go shopping in Wheeling, West Virginia. While they were driving in West Virginia, they were rear ended by a truck operated by Big Trucking Corp. Big Trucking is incorporated in Delaware with its principal place of business in New Jersey. Both Missy and Drippy were killed in the collision.

                Neither Mississippi nor West Virginia limits the amount of damages in wrongful death actions. But Atlantis limits damages recoverable for wrongful death to an amount equal to $25,000.00. The statute of limitations for wrongful death actions in West Virginia is two years. The statute of limitations for wrongful death actions in Atlantis is six years. The statute of limitations for wrongful death actions in Mississippi is three years. West Virginia follows the First Restatement approach to conflict of laws. Atlantis follows the Better Rule approach.

                On February 6, 2000, the estates and personal representatives of both Missy and Drippy commence civil actions against Big Trucking Corp. in Mississippi state courts for wrongful death. Big Trucking Corp. removes the actions to federal court. Then the defendant moves to dismiss both actions arguing that they are time barred under the West Virginia statute of limitations. In the alternative, the defendant moves for an order declaring that its total liability for the death of Drippy cannot exceed $25,000.00 under Atlantis law.

                Please rule on the motions and explain fully.