The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES McCLURE, Senior District Judge
This consolidated diversity action arises out of a
multi-vehicle accident in Indiana allegedly caused in some part
by a tractor-trailer operated by an employee of defendant Roadway
Express, Inc. Plaintiffs are the administrators, respectively, of
the estates of a driver and passenger of one vehicle involved in
the accident. On April 19, 2005, the court denied defendant's motion to
dismiss and its alternative motion to transfer. On June 23, 2005,
the court denied defendant's motion to amend that order to
provide for interlocutory appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b).
Now before the court are the parties' motions in limine, in
which the parties request a choice of law determination as to
whether Indiana or Pennsylvania law applies. By advancing these
positions, the parties agree that no other state's law should
apply.*fn1 For the following reasons, the court will find
that Pennsylvania law applies to any substantive liability and
compensatory damage issues in the case, and that Indiana law
applies to any claims for punitive damages in the case.
On August 13, 2004, a motor vehicle accident between the
parties occurred in Terre Haute, Indiana. The accident involved a
collision between a tractor-trailer and a pickup truck, but also
involved several other vehicles and occurred in a construction
zone. Immediately before the accident both parties were heading
east on Interstate-70. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Lester
Jackson, was an employee of defendant and was acting in the course of his employment at
the time of the accident. The defendant, Roadway Express, Inc.,
is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in
Akron, Ohio. Audrey Longnecker and Barbara Jo Buck, the driver
and passenger of the pickup truck, respectively, were killed in
the accident. Both Longnecker and Buck were Pennsylvania
residents, and were returning to Pennsylvania after a short
vacation to Missouri.
Defendants contend that several non-parties also contributed to
the accident. These non-parties include the State of Indiana and
the construction company working on a construction project at the
scene of the accident.
Sitting in Pennsylvania, we must apply Pennsylvania
choice-of-law rules to determine which state's substantive law
governs. See Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Elec. Mfg. Co.,
313 U.S. 487, 496-97 (1941); On Air Entm't Corp. v. Nat'l Indem. Co.,
210 F.3d 146, 149 (3d Cir. 2000). Under Pennsylvania's
choice-of-law approach, we must first analyze the governmental
interests of the interested states to determine if this case
presents a true or false conflict of laws, or if it is an
unprovided-for case. See Budget Rent-A-Car Sys., Inc. v.
Chappell, 407 F.3d 166, 170 (3d Cir. 2005); Cipolla v.
Shaposka, 267 A.2d 854, 855-56 (1970).
A true conflict exists when the governmental interests of the
interested states would be impaired if their law were not applied. Budget,
407 F.3d at 170. If a true conflict exists, the court must apply the
law of the state having the most significant contacts or
relationships with the issues of the case. Id. The court
determines which state has the most significant contacts or
relationships by conducting a qualitative comparison of the
contacts each state has with the facts of the case in light of
the public policies underlying the issues of the case. See
id.; Laconis v. Burlington County Bridge Comm'n,
583 A.2d 1218, 1222-23 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1990).
A false conflict exists if only one state's governmental
interests would be impaired by the application of the other
state's law, or if the laws of the two states would yield the
same result, thereby rendering the choice-of-law question
unnecessary.*fn2 See Williams v. Stone, 109 F.3d 890,
893 (3d Cir. 1997); Lacey v. Cessna Aircraft Co., 932 F.2d 170,
187 (3d Cir. 1991). Of particular importance to the facts of this
case, a false conflict exists "where the accident is fortuitous
and the state where the accident occurred has no interest in the
regulatory standard at issue." LeJeune v. Bliss-Salem, Inc.,
85 F.3d 1069, 1071 (3d Cir. 1996) (quoting Reyno v. Piper Aircraft
Co., 630 F.2d 149, 170 (3d Cir. 1980)). When presented with the
first type of false conflict, the court "must apply the law of
the state whose interest would be harmed if its law were not
applied." Lacey, 932 F.2d at 187.
In an unprovided-for case, no state's interests would be
impaired if its law were not applied. Budget, 407 F.3d at 170.
In such a case, the court must apply the law of the place where
the wrong occurred. See id. (citing Miller v. Gay,
470 A.2d 1353, 1355-56 (Pa. Sup. Ct. 1983)).
We have no difficulty in first concluding that there are
significant differences between Indiana and Pennsylvania laws as
they pertain to this action. For instance, Indiana law permits
comparative fault to be apportioned to non-parties, while
Pennsylvania law does not. Compare Ind. Code § 34-51-2-1 with
Pa. C.S.A. § 7102. Indiana has barred joint and several
liability, while Pennsylvania permits such liability in certain
cases. Compare Ind. Code § 34-4-33-1 with
42 Pa. C.S.A. § 7102(b.1) (3) (iii). Also, Indiana only permits wrongful death
claims in this circumstance, while Pennsylvania permits both
wrongful death and survival claims. Compare Ind. Code §§
34-23-1-1, 34-9-3-4 with Pa. C.S.A. §§ 8301-02.
More towards the crux of the parties' motivations in filing
their motions in limine, Indiana and Pennsylvania law on claims and damages
greatly differ. Indiana's wrongful death statute prohibits awards
in cases of the death of unmarried adults for a person's grief.
Ind. Code § 34-23-1-2(c)(2)(A). Punitive damages are not
recoverable in a wrongful death action in Indiana. Ind. Code §
34-23-1-2(c)(2)(B); Durham v. U-Haul Intern., 745 N.E.2d 755,
757 (Ind. 2001) (stating punitive damages not recoverable under
wrongful death statute Ind. Code § 34-23-1-1). Indiana also
imposes a $300,000 cap on damages for the loss of an unmarried
adult's love and companionship. See Ind. Code §
34-23-1-2(d).*fn3 In contrast, Pennsylvania law permits
awards for pain and suffering in survival actions, see Teamann
v. Zafris, 811 A.2d 52, 64-65 (Pa. Commonw. Ct. 2002), and
Pennsylvania's wrongful death and survival actions statutes ...