State Choice of Law Clauses

Where the state law is being adopted by the federal court under its admiralty jurisdiction, a federal choice of law rule must be applied in choosing which state substantive law should be adopted.[i]  In making a choice of law determination, a federal court sitting in diversity must engage in a two-step inquiry in which the court determines whether a particular matter is procedural or substantive for Erie purposes.  If the matter is procedural, then federal law applies; if the matter is substantive, then the court follows the law of the forum state.[ii]  However, where the jurisdictions involved would apply the same law, or would reach the same result under their respective laws, a choice-of-law determination is unnecessary and the laws of the forum state apply.[iii]

[i] In re Litigation Involving Alleged Loss of Cargo from Tug Atlantic Seahorse, etc., 772 F. Supp. 707 (D.P.R. 1991)

[ii] Smith v. Strongbuilt, Inc., 393 F. Supp. 2d 1254 (W.D. Okla. 2005)

[iii] Elkins v. Am. Int’l Special Lines Ins. Co., 611 F. Supp. 2d 752 (S.D. Ohio 2009)


Inside State Choice of Law Clauses