Judge Sabatino’s Ruling That Choice of Law Decisions Can be Made Defendant-by-Defendant is Affirmed by the Supreme Court

Ginsberg v. Quest Diagnostics, Inc., 227 N.J. 7 (2016).  Last year, the Appellate Division, speaking through Judge Sabatino, issued a lengthy opinion in this choice of law case.  That decision, reported at 441 N.J. Super. 198 (App. Div. 2015), was summarized here.  The Supreme Court granted review and, in a per curiam decision, affirmed the Appellate Division’s ruling substantially on the basis of Judge Sabatino’s opinion.  I

n brief summary, the Court agreed that, “in the majority of cases,” choice of law decisions are to be made defendant-by-defendant, so that different state law can apply to one defendant than to another.  That approach, the Court said, best furthers the scheme of the Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws, whose “most significant relationship’ principles the Court has generally adopted in making choice of law decisions, see P.V. v. Camp Jaycee, 197 N.J. 132 (2008), and does not make trials impractical.  The Court observed, however, that in complex cases with many defendants from multiple different states, trial judges retain the discretion not to go defendant by defendant.

Here, the laws of only two states, New York and New Jersey, were at play.  The Court thus endorsed Judge Sabatino’s ruling and remanded to the Law Division for further proceedings.