The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEALON
In this diversity action, plaintiff, a Pennsylvania minor, seeks contribution from defendant, the owner of a Maryland tavern where plaintiff was served intoxicating beverages, for damages paid to a third party injured when struck by plaintiff's automobile. Presently before the court is a motion by defendant to dismiss or for summary judgment on the grounds that the law of Maryland applies and under that law no claim lies against the defendant. The motion is construed as brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). It will be granted.
Defendant, a Maryland resident, owns and operates a restaurant and tavern, known as the Maryland Line Inn, in Baltimore County, Maryland. This tavern is close to the Pennsylvania border. On December 17, 1976, plaintiff, a resident of Pennsylvania and a minor under both Maryland and Pennsylvania law, drove from Pennsylvania into Maryland and visited the Inn. There she was served liquor. After she became intoxicated the employees at the Inn continued to serve her intoxicating beverages. Upon leaving the Inn, she returned to Pennsylvania where she negligently operated her automobile causing a collision with an automobile operated by David Hanle, a Pennsylvania resident. As a result of this accident, plaintiff (or her liability insurance carrier) paid Mr. Hanle $ 25,000 for the personal injuries and property damage he sustained. A full and complete release was obtained from him for all claims he might have against plaintiff or the Maryland Line Inn.
In this diversity action the court looks to Pennsylvania's conflict-of-law rules to determine which state's law applies. See Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Elec. Mfg., 313 U.S. 487, 61 S. Ct. 1020, 85 L. Ed. 1477 (1941).
. . . Pennsylvania has, generally speaking, adopted the "interest analysis' approach to conflict-of-law questions. Griffith v. United Air Lines, 416 Pa. 1, 203 A.2d 796 (1964); Cipolla v. Shaposka, 439 Pa. 563, 267 A.2d 854 (1970). Under that approach, we should apply the law of the predominantly concerned jurisdiction, measuring the depth and breadth of that concern by the relevant contacts each affected jurisdiction had with . . . "the policies and interests underlying the particular issue before the court" ". Suchomajcz v. Hummel Chemical Company, 524 F.2d 19, 23 (3rd Cir. 1975).
Initially, I think this case represents a false conflict
because Pennsylvania has no interest in having one of its residents receive contribution from an out of state Inn keeper when the Pennsylvania resident went to the other state, was served intoxicating beverages there, returned to Pennsylvania intoxicated, negligently injured another Pennsylvania resident and settled that other Pennsylvania resident's claim. Pennsylvania has no interest in having defendant be a joint tortfeasor here.
The point of permitting a civil recovery against a business person who serves a minor or one already intoxicated is to deter the appropriate Pennsylvania residents and/or licensees from violating the liquor code and to compensate those Pennsylvania residents who are injured as a result of the violation. Here the injured person is not suing and has already been compensated. And the defendant is not a Pennsylvania resident. Hence, Pennsylvania, in the conflicts-of-law sense, has no concern in regulating his behavior. There are no allegations that defendant purposefully attempts to attract Pennsylvania residents or that defendant knew or should have known that plaintiff was from Pennsylvania and would be returning there. To reiterate, I do not believe that by providing for a civil recovery against one who serves liquor to a minor or one already intoxicated Pennsylvania has evidenced any concern that the person served receive contribution when she settles a claim with one who was injured as a result of the service of the liquor.
Maryland, on the other hand, does have an interest which is involved here. It has decided that its residents who are owners of taverns and who unlawfully serve liquor in Maryland shall not be held civilly liable for injuries resulting from that unlawful act. Apparently Maryland has elected to promote its liquor industry and to financially protect its residents who are tavern owners from civil liability. Defendant is a Maryland resident and tavern owner and, therefore, Maryland's interest is implicated here. Since Pennsylvania has no interest in its laws being applied, see supra, Maryland law must control.
As stated supra, Maryland's interest here is in not having its tavern owners suffer economic losses in a civil action for serving minors or intoxicated persons. Its primary contact with this action is that the alleged tort or unlawful act, the serving of liquor to plaintiff, occurred there. The relationship between plaintiff and defendant existed only in Maryland. I believe this case comes within the reasoning applied by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Cipolla v. Shaposka, 439 Pa. 563, 267 A.2d 854 (1970). There a resident of Pennsylvania was injured in Delaware while riding as a guest in a car registered in Delaware and owned and operated by Delaware residents. Delaware had a guest statute and Pennsylvania did not. The court decided that Delaware law was to be applied and stated:
. . . it seems only fair to permit a defendant to rely on his home state law when he is acting within ...