The opinion of the court was delivered by: MILTON I. SHADUR
Third-party defendant CooleyHighHarmony, Inc. ("Cooley") has moved under Fed. R. Civ. P. ("Rule") 56 for summary judgment on the Third-Party Complaint brought against it by defendant Guest Quarters Suite Hotel ("Guest Quarters"). For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order, Cooley's motion is granted and it is dismissed from this action.
This action stems from the death of Rhoderick Roundtree ("Roundtree") while he was a guest at Guest Quarters. Californian Roundtree was employed by Cooley as the road manager for musical group Boyz II Men. Roundtree's personal representative Vivian DeMyrick has sued Guest Quarters for alleged negligence in failing to provide adequate security (Roundtree was shot and killed at the hotel), and Guest Quarters seeks contribution from Cooley.
Cooley's current motion poses no controverted factual issues. What is in dispute between Cooley and Guest Quarters is whether the existence of Roundtree's coverage under the California workers' compensation statute, under which benefits have been and continue to be paid to Roundtree's estate, bars Guest Quarters' third-party claim.
Because the case is in this District Court under its diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction,
Illinois law -- importantly including its choice-of-law doctrines -- provides the rules of decision ( DeValk Lincoln Mercury, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 811 F.2d 326, 329 (7th Cir. 1987)). In tort actions such as this the Illinois Supreme Court decided nearly a quarter century ago in Ingersoll v. Klein, 46 Ill. 2d 42, 45, 262 N.E.2d 593, 595-96 (1970) that the traditional lex loci delicti rule was too inflexible and should be supplanted by the "most significant contacts" approach of what was then Tentative Draft No. 9 of Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws ("Restatement") § 379.
As this Court has explained in Vantassell-Matin v. Nelson, 741 F. Supp. 698, 702-03 (N.D. Ill. 1990), Illinois cases since Ingersoll have clarified the approach mandated by Ingersoll in terms of the more sophisticated process of "interest analysis" (sometimes termed depecage). That process calls for the isolation and individual treatment of the issues in the case, with the interests of the respective states examined in terms of the particular issue under scrutiny. As Restatement § 145 (now the relevant section) explains:
(1) The rights and liabilities of the parties with respect to an issue in tort are determined by the local law of the State which, with respect to that issue, has the most significant relationship to the occurrence and the parties under the principles stated in § 6.
(2) Contacts to be taken into account in applying the principles of § 6 to determine the law applicable to an issue include:
(a) the place where the injury occurred,
(b) the place where the conduct causing the injury occurred,
(c) the domicil, residence, nationality, place of incorporation and place of business of the parties, and
(d) the place where the relationship, if any, between the parties is centered.
These contacts are to be evaluated according to their relative importance with respect to the particular issue.
In this instance the issue is whether Cooley, which as Roundtree's employer provided him with workers' compensation coverage wherever the performance of his duties might take him (note that Roundtree, as the road manager for a musical group, was by definition required to provide services in many locations), is to be subjected to the laws in effect anywhere that a compensable injury might occur -- rather than its liability being governed by the law of the jurisdiction where it provided ...