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NORTHLAND INS. CO. v. TRUCKSTOPS CORP. OF AMERICA

November 21, 1995

NORTHLAND INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
TRUCKSTOPS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, d/b/a TRUCKSTOPS OF AMERICA, Defendant. SUSAN MAE SMITH, as Special Administrator of the Estate of WILLIE EARL POWELL, Deceased, Plaintiff, vs. TRUCKSTOPS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, a foreign corporation; TRUCKSTOPS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, d/b/a TRUCKSTOPS OF AMERICA, a foreign corporation; B. P. EXPLORATION AND OIL, INC., a foreign corporation; and BRITISH PETROLEUM AMERICA, INC., a foreign corporation, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MORAN

 Willie Powell, the decedent herein, was a Wisconsin resident and at the time of his death was employed as a truck driver by Gateway Transportation, Inc., (GT) a Wisconsin trucking company. While in the course of his employment decedent stopped at the facility of defendant Truckstops of America, an Illinois company, just south of the Illinois state line, to have some brake work done on his truck. When the work was completed decedent continued on his trip to Tennessee, where the next day he was killed when his brakes allegedly failed. A Wisconsin state court declared the minor Ian Willie Powell to be the decedent's son; the Wisconsin employer paid workers' compensation; an estate was opened in Wisconsin; and the estate's administratrix, Ian's mother, brought this wrongful death and negligence action in an Illinois state court, where it was removed to this federal district court.

 In a memorandum and order on August 18, 1995, this court held that Illinois substantive law applied to the damages issue, but the question as to what law would apply to the issue of contributory and comparative negligence was left open. Before us now is defendants' motion in limine to determine which state's substantive law is to govern the issues of decedent's employer's contributory negligence and plaintiff-employee's comparative negligence. For the reasons set forth below, the comparative fault law of Tennessee applies.

 DISCUSSION

 A. Choice of Law Rules

 A federal court sitting in diversity must decide which state's substantive law is to govern the action. Generally, the substantive law of the forum state will apply. However, if the forum state's law is challenged by one of the parties we must apply the forum state's choice of law rules to select the applicable substantive law. Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Electric Mfg. Co., 313 U.S. 487, 85 L. Ed. 1477, 61 S. Ct. 1020 (1941); Pittway Corp. v. Lockheed Aircraft Corp., 641 F.2d 524, 526 (7th Cir. 1981).

 Illinois choice of law rules dictate that the law of the state where the injury occurred (i.e., lex loci delicti) shall apply "unless another state has a more significant relationship to the occurrence or to the parties involved." Miller v. Long-Airdox Co., 914 F.2d 976, 978 (7th Cir. 1990) (quoting Ferguson v. Kasbohm, 131 Ill. App. 3d 424, 475 N.E.2d 984, 986, 86 Ill. Dec. 605 (Ill. App. 1st 1985)); Ingersoll v. Klein, 46 Ill. 2d 42, 262 N.E.2d 593 (Ill. S. Ct. 1970). See also Restatement (Second) of Conflicts § 146. Illinois' significant relationship test is more qualitative than quantitative -- we do not merely count the number of contacts each state has to the controversy, we apply what is known as "interest analysis," which requires us to isolate the individual issues, determine the conflict in the competing state policies, and examine the contacts of the various jurisdictions to decide which state has a superior interest in having its policy or law applied. Mitchell v. United Asbestos Corp., 100 Ill. App. 3d 485, 426 N.E.2d 350, 55 Ill. Dec. 375 (Ill. App. 5th 1981). Illinois follows the interest analysis in the Restatement (Second) of Conflicts § 6:

 
(2) When there is no [statutory] directive, the factors relevant to the choice of the applicable rule of law include:
 
(a) the needs of the interstate and international system
 
(b) the relevant policies of the forum,
 
(c) the relevant policies of other interested states and the relative interests of those states in the determination of the particular issue,
 
* * * *
 
(e) the basic policies underlying the particular ...

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