finding that although misconduct occurred in New York, New Jersey was the locus of the tort because that was where plaintiffs' injuries occurredSummary of this case from Mejia v. O'Neill Grp.-Dutton, LLC
Argued February 7, 1985
Decided April 30, 1985
Appeal from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department, Albert P. Williams, J.
David Jaroslawicz for appellants.
Franklin N. Meyer for Boy Scouts of America, Inc., respondent.
William P. Ford and Stuart C. Levene for Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis, Inc., respondent.
Plaintiffs, Richard E. and Margaret Schultz, instituted this action to recover damages for personal injuries they and their sons, Richard and Christopher, suffered because the boys were sexually abused by defendant Edmund Coakeley and for damages sustained as a result of Christopher's wrongful death after he committed suicide. Coakeley, a brother in the Franciscan order, was the boys' school teacher and leader of their scout troop. Plaintiffs allege that the sexual abuse occurred while Coakeley was acting in those capacities and the causes of action before us on this appeal charge defendants Boy Scouts of America, Inc., and the Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis, Inc. (sued as Franciscan Brothers of the Poor, Inc.), with negligently hiring and supervising him.
Plaintiffs are domiciled in New Jersey and some of the injuries were sustained there. Thus, a choice-of-law issue is presented because New Jersey recognizes the doctrine of charitable immunity and New York does not. Defendants contend New Jersey law governs this litigation and that its courts have already determined that plaintiffs' claims are barred in a separate action against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark ( see, Schultz v Roman Catholic Archdiocese, 95 N.J. 530, 472 A.2d 531). Following the rationale of Babcock v Jackson ( 12 N.Y.2d 473) and similar cases, we hold that New Jersey law applies and that plaintiffs are precluded from relitigating its effect on the claims they assert.
In 1978 plaintiffs were residents of Emerson, New Jersey, where their two sons, Richard, age 13, and Christopher, age 11, attended Assumption School, an institution owned and operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. By an agreement with the Archdiocese, defendant Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis, Inc., supplied teachers for the school. One of those assigned was Brother Edmund Coakeley, who also served as the scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 337, a locally chartered Boy Scout troop sponsored and approved by defendant Boy Scouts of America. Richard and Christopher attended Coakeley's class and were members of his scout troop.
In July 1978 Coakeley took Christopher Schultz to Pine Creek Reservation, a Boy Scout camp located in upstate New York near the Oneida County community of Foresport. The camp was located on land owned by Peter Grandy, who was also a resident of Emerson, New Jersey. The complaint alleges that while at the camp, Coakeley sexually abused Christopher, that he continued to do so when Christopher returned to Assumption School in New Jersey that fall and that he threatened Christopher with harm if he revealed what had occurred. The complaint also alleges that Coakeley sexually abused Richard Schultz and made similar threats to him during a scout trip to Pine Creek Reservation on Memorial Day weekend in 1978. Plaintiffs claim that as a result of Coakeley's acts both boys suffered severe psychological, emotional and mental pain and suffering and that as a result of the distress Coakeley's acts caused, Christopher Schultz committed suicide by ingesting drugs on May 29, 1979. They charge both defendants with negligence in assigning Coakeley to positions of trust where he could molest young boys and in failing to dismiss him despite actual or constructive notice that Coakeley had previously been dismissed from another Boy Scout camp for similar improper conduct.
Edmund Coakeley, Peter Grandy and the Pine Creek Reservation were also named as defendants in the action. Grandy died after it was commenced and Coakeley never appeared.
The complaint contains four causes of action. In the first two, plaintiff Richard E. Schultz, as administrator of Christopher's estate, seeks damages for Christopher's wrongful death and for his psychological, emotional and physical injuries prior to death. In the third cause of action, plaintiff Richard E. Schultz, suing as father and natural guardian, seeks damages for similar personal injuries on behalf of his son Richard. In the fourth cause of action, plaintiffs seek damages for their own injuries, including destruction of their family life, expenditures for medical and psychological care and treatment, mental anguish and psychological injuries.
After answering, defendants moved for summary judgment, urging that plaintiffs' claims were barred by New Jersey's charitable immunity statute (NJ Stat Ann § 2A:53A-7) and that plaintiffs were collaterally estopped from relitigating the application of the statute because of the prior New Jersey judgment. In opposition, plaintiffs contended that under applicable choice-of-law principles, New York should apply its law, not that of New Jersey, and, alternatively, that even if the New Jersey charitable immunity statute applies under choice-of-law rules, the New York courts should refuse to enforce it on public policy grounds. Special Term granted defendants' motions, severing plaintiffs' causes of action and dismissing the complaint against them on collateral estoppel grounds, implicitly finding New Jersey law applicable. A divided Appellate Division affirmed.
The choice-of-law question presented in the action against defendant Boy Scouts of America is whether New York should apply its law in an action involving co-domiciliaries of New Jersey when tortious acts were committed in New York. This is the posture of the appeal although defendant is a Federally chartered corporation created exclusively for educational and charitable purposes pursuant to an act of Congress ( see, 36 U.S.C. § 21) that originally maintained its national headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey, but moved to Dallas, Texas, in 1979. New Jersey is considered defendant's domicile because its national headquarters was in that State ( see, Rosenbaum v Union Pac. R.R. Co., 2 How Prac [NS] 45, affd 100 N.Y. 617; 13 N.Y. Jur 2d, Business Relationships, § 146, at 421). Its change of domicile after the commission of the wrongs from New Jersey to Texas, which no longer recognizes the doctrine of charitable immunity ( see, Howle v Camp Amon Carter, 470 S.W.2d 629 [Tex 1971]), provides New York with no greater interest in this action than it would have without the change. Our decision recognizing a postaccident change in domicile in Miller v Miller ( 22 N.Y.2d 12) is distinguishable because in that case the defendant's domicile was changed to New York, which was the forum and also the plaintiff's domicile.
The question presented in the action against defendant Franciscan Brothers is what law should apply when the parties' different domiciles have conflicting charitable immunity rules. The Franciscan order is incorporated in Ohio and it is a domiciliary of that State ( see, Sease v Central Greyhound Lines, 306 N.Y. 284, 286; 13 N.Y. Jur 2d, Business Relationships, § 142, at 416-417). At the time these causes of action arose Ohio, like New Jersey, recognized charitable immunity ( see, Williams v First United Church, 40 Ohio App.2d 187, 318 N.E.2d 562, affd 37 Ohio St.2d 150, 309 N.E.2d 924; Gibbon v Young Women's Christian Assn., 170 Ohio St. 280, 164 N.E.2d 563; but see, Albritton v Neighborhood Centers Assn. for Child Dev., 12 Ohio St.3d 210, 466 N.E.2d 867 [abolishing common-law doctrine of charitable immunity for nonhospital charities]). The Ohio rule denied immunity in actions based on negligent hiring and supervision, however ( see, Gibbon v Young Women's Christian Assn., supra), whereas New Jersey does not ( see, Schultz v Roman Catholic Archdiocese, 95 N.J. 530, 472 A.2d 531, supra). For this reason, no doubt, defendant Franciscan Brothers does not claim Ohio law governs and the choice is between the law of New York and the law of New Jersey.
As for the locus of the tort, both parties and the dissent implicitly assume it is New York because most of Coakeley's acts were committed here. Under traditional rules, the law of the place of the wrong governs all substantive issues in the action ( see, Kaufman v American Youth Hostels, 5 N.Y.2d 1016), but when the defendant's negligent conduct occurs in one jurisdiction and the plaintiff's injuries are suffered in another, the place of the wrong is considered to be the place where the last event necessary to make the actor liable occurred ( see, Poplar v Bourjois, Inc., 298 N.Y. 62; Conklin v Canadian-Colonial Airways, 266 N.Y. 244; Hunter v Derby Foods, 110 F.2d 970 [2d Cir]). Thus, the locus in this case is determined by where the plaintiffs' injuries occurred.
The first and fourth causes of action, the wrongful death of Christopher and plaintiffs' own psychological and other injuries respectively, allege injuries inflicted in New Jersey. New York's only interests in these claims are as the forum State and as the jurisdiction where the tortious conduct underlying plaintiffs' claims against defendants, i.e., the negligent assignment and failure to dismiss Coakeley, occurred. Standing alone, these interests are insufficient to warrant application of New York law, at least when the relevant issue is a loss-distribution rule, like charitable immunity, rather than one regulating conduct ( cf. Long v Pan Am. World Airways, 16 N.Y.2d 337, 342-343). The second and third causes of action seek damages for the psychological, emotional and physical injuries suffered by Christopher and Richard Schultz, injuries which occurred in both New York and New Jersey, because a fair reading of the complaint indicates that both boys suffered injuries when Coakeley molested them and also after they returned home. These two causes of action sufficiently implicate New York's interests to require a resolution of the choice-of-law problem in the case.
Historically, choice-of-law conflicts in tort actions have been resolved by applying the law of the place of the wrong. In Babcock v Jackson ( 12 N.Y.2d 473, supra), we departed from traditional doctrine, however, and refused to invariably apply the rule of lex loci delicti to determine the availability of relief for commission of a tort. In doing so, we applied New York law to an action involving New York parties in which recovery was sought for injuries received in an automobile accident in Ontario, Canada. Ontario's guest statute barred recovery by the plaintiff passenger but we refused to apply Ontario law in the New York action, holding that "controlling effect" must be given "to the law of the jurisdiction which, because of its relationship or contact with the occurrence or the parties, has the greatest concern with the specific issue raised in the litigation" ( Babcock v Jackson, supra, at p 481). Employing this "grouping of contacts" and "interest analysis", we noted that New York was where the parties were domiciled, where the automobile involved was garaged, licensed and insured, where the guest-host relationship arose and where the trip began and was to end, whereas Ontario's only contact with the case was the "purely adventitious" occurrence of the accident there ( see, Babcock v Jackson, supra, at pp 482-483). Key, however, was New York's interest in requiring a tort-feasor to compensate his guest for injuries caused by his negligence. That concern would have been completely thwarted if Ontario's laws were applied to the action, whereas the application of New York's law would not threaten the policy underlying Ontario's statute, its interest in preventing fraudulent claims against its defendants and their insurer ( see, id., at pp 482-483).
The analysis was flexible and to the extent that it may have placed too much emphasis on contact-counting without specifying the relative significance of those contacts, the necessary refinements were added in later decisions of this court. In four of the five subsequent tort cases presenting the same Babcock-style fact pattern of common New York domiciliaries and a foreign locus having loss-distribution rules in conflict with those of New York we reached results consistent with Babcock and applied New York law ( see, Tooker v Lopez, 24 N.Y.2d 569 [Michigan guest statute]; Miller v Miller, 22 N.Y.2d 12, supra [Maine damage limitation in wrongful death action]; Farber v Smolack, 20 N.Y.2d 198 [North Carolina statute on vicarious liability of automobile owner for negligence of driver]; Macey v Rozbicki, 18 N.Y.2d 289 [Ontario guest statute]). In the fifth case, the first decided after Babcock, we applied the law of the foreign locus, including its restrictive guest statute ( see, Dym v Gordon, 16 N.Y.2d 120). Although our opinion in Dym attempted to distinguish Babcock, we subsequently concluded that our reading of the Colorado guest statute in Dym was "mistaken" ( see, Tooker v Lopez, 24 N.Y.2d 569, 575, supra). In each of the five cases, however, the court rejected the indiscriminate grouping of contacts, which in Babcock had been a consideration coequal to interest analysis, because it bore no reasonable relation to the underlying policies of conflicting rules of recovery in tort actions ( see, Tooker v Lopez, supra, at p 576; Miller v Miller, supra, at pp 15-16). Interest analysis became the relevant analytical approach to choice of law in tort actions in New York. "[T]he law of the jurisdiction having the greatest interest in the litigation will be applied and * * * the [only] facts or contacts which obtain significance in defining State interests are those which relate to the purpose of the particular law in conflict" ( Miller v Miller, supra, at pp 15-16; see also, Tooker v Lopez, supra, at pp 576-577; Macey v Rozbicki, supra, at pp 296-298 [Keating, J., concurring]). Under this formulation, the significant contacts are, almost exclusively, the parties' domiciles and the locus of the tort ( see, Tooker v Lopez, supra, at pp 576-577; id., at pp 584-585 [Fuld, Ch. J., concurring]; Neumeier v Kuehner, 31 N.Y.2d 121, 128 [adopting the three governing rules proposed in Tooker, the first and third of which are pertinent to the facts of this appeal]).
Thus, under present rules, most of the nondomicile and nonlocus contacts relied on in Babcock v Jackson ( supra), such as where the guest-host relationship arose and where the journey was to begin and end, are no longer controlling in tort actions involving guest statutes ( see, Tooker v Lopez, supra, at pp 577, 579, n 2). Both Tooker and Neumeier continued to place some importance on where the automobile involved was insured ( see, Babcock v Jackson, supra, at pp 482-484), but this is not inconsistent with the present rule because usually a defendant host's automobile will be insured in the State of his domicile and also because it reflects a recognition that the insurer, rather than the individually named defendant, is often "the real party in interest" ( Miller v Miller, supra, at p 21). Insofar as issues of liability insurance might also be relevant in a case such as the one before us involving charitable immunity, the record provides no relevant information on the subject.
These decisions also establish that the relative interests of the domicile and locus jurisdictions in having their laws apply will depend on the particular tort issue in conflict in the case. Thus, when the conflicting rules involve the appropriate standards of conduct, rules of the road, for example, the law of the place of the tort "will usually have a predominant, if not exclusive, concern" ( Babcock v Jackson, supra, at p 483; see, Restatement [Second] of Conflicts of Law § 145 comment d, at 417-418) because the locus jurisdiction's interests in protecting the reasonable expectations of the parties who relied on it to govern their primary conduct and in the admonitory effect that applying its law will have on similar conduct in the future assume critical importance and outweigh any interests of the common-domicile jurisdiction ( see, Babcock v Jackson, supra, at pp 483-484; Restatement [Second] of Conflict of Laws § 145 comment d, at 417-418; id. § 146 comments d, e, at 431-433; see also, Miller v Miller, 22 N.Y.2d 12, 19, supra). Conversely, when the jurisdictions' conflicting rules relate to allocating losses that result from admittedly tortious conduct, as they do here, rules such as those limiting damages in wrongful death actions, vicarious liability rules, or immunities from suit, considerations of the State's admonitory interest and party reliance are less important. Under those circumstances, the locus jurisdiction has at best a minimal interest in determining the right of recovery or the extent of the remedy in an action by a foreign domiciliary for injuries resulting from the conduct of a co-domiciliary that was tortious under the laws of both jurisdictions ( see, Tooker v Lopez, supra, at p 576; Miller v Miller, supra, at pp 18-19; Babcock v Jackson, supra, at p 482). Analysis then favors the jurisdiction of common domicile because of its interest in enforcing the decisions of both parties to accept both the benefits and the burdens of identifying with that jurisdiction and to submit themselves to its authority.
New York's rule holding charities liable for their tortious acts, or its rule of nonimmunity as the dissent characterizes it, is also a loss-allocating rule, just as New Jersey's charitable immunity statute is.
These considerations made the need for change in the lex loci delicti rule obvious in Babcock, but the validity of this interest analysis is more clearly demonstrated in the split domicile case of Neumeier v Kuehner ( 31 N.Y.2d 121, supra). In Neumeier we applied Ontario's guest statute in an action on behalf of an Ontario decedent against a New York defendant at least in part because the Ontario statute, which contained reciprocal benefits and burdens depending on one's status as either host or guest, was "obviously addressed" to Ontario domiciliaries such as plaintiff's decedent ( id., at pp 125-126). In Babcock New York had an important interest in protecting its own residents injured in a foreign State against unfair or anachronistic statutes of that State but it had no similar interest in Neumeier in protecting a guest domiciled in Ontario and injured there.
As to defendant Boy Scouts, this case is but a slight variation of our Babcock line of decisions and differs from them on only two grounds: (1) the issue involved is charitable immunity rather than a guest statute, and (2) it presents a fact pattern which one commentator has characterized as a "reverse" Babcock case because New York is the place of the tort rather than the jurisdiction of the parties' common domicile ( see, Korn, The Choice-of-Law Revolution: A Critique, 83 Colum L Rev 772, 789).
Although most of our major choice-of-law decisions after Babcock involved foreign guest statutes in actions for personal injuries, we have not so limited them, but have applied the Babcock reasoning to other tort issues as well ( see, Miller v Miller, 22 N.Y.2d 12, supra [damage limitation in wrongful death action]; Farber v Smolack, 20 N.Y.2d 198, supra [vicarious liability of automobile owner for negligence of driver]; Long v Pam Am. World Airways, 16 N.Y.2d 337, supra [survivor statute and wrongful death damages]; Oltarsh v Aetna Ins. Co., 15 N.Y.2d 111 [statute authorizing direct action against liability insurer]; see also, O'Connor v Lee-Hy Paving Corp., 579 F.2d 194 [2d Cir], cert denied 439 U.S. 1034 [exclusivity of workers' compensation death benefits for industrial accident]; Rosenthal v Warren, 475 F.2d 438 [2d Cir] [damage limitation in wrongful death action], on remand 374 F. Supp. 522 [SDNY] [charitable immunity]). Nor is there any logical basis for distinguishing guest statutes from other loss-distributing rules because they all share the characteristic of being postevent remedial rules designed to allocate the burden of losses resulting from tortious conduct in which the jurisdiction of the parties' common domicile has a paramount interest. There is even less reason for distinguishing Babcock here where the conflicting rules involve the defense of charitable immunity ( see, Rosenthal v Warren, 374 F. Supp. 522 [SDNY], supra; Restatement [Second] of Conflict of Laws § 145 comment d; id. § 168 comment b; Korn, supra, at 787, 824). Both plaintiffs and defendant Boy Scouts in this case have chosen to identify themselves in the most concrete form possible, domicile, with a jurisdiction that has weighed the interests of charitable tort-feasors and their victims and decided to retain the defense of charitable immunity. Significantly, the New Jersey statute excepts from its protection actions by nonbeneficiaries of the charity who suffer injuries as a result of the negligence of its employees or agents ( see, NJ Stat Ann § 2A:53A-7). Plaintiffs and their sons, however, were beneficiaries of the Boy Scouts' charitable activities in New Jersey and should be bound by the benefits and burdens of that choice. Additionally, the State of New Jersey is intimately interested in seeing that the parties' associational interests are respected and its own loss-distributing rules are enforced so that the underlying policy, which is undoubtedly to encourage the growth of charitable work within its borders, is effectuated.
Thus, if this were a straight Babcock fact pattern, rather than the reverse, we would have no reason to depart from the first Neumeier rule and would apply the law of the parties' common domicile. Because this case presents the first case for our review in which New York is the forum-locus rather than the parties' common domicile, however, we consider the reasons most often advanced for applying the law of the forum-locus and those supporting application of the law of the common domicile.
The three reasons most often urged in support of applying the law of the forum-locus in cases such as this are: (1) to protect medical creditors who provided services to injured parties in the locus State, (2) to prevent injured tort victims from becoming public wards in the locus State and (3) the deterrent effect application of locus law has on future tort-feasors in the locus State ( see, Comments on Babcock v Jackson, A Recent Development in Conflict of Laws, 63 Colum L Rev 1212, 1222-1226, 1237-1238; Korn, supra, at 841, 962). The first two reasons share common weaknesses. First, in the abstract, neither reason necessarily requires application of the locus jurisdiction's law, but rather invariably mandates application of the law of the jurisdiction that would either allow recovery or allow the greater recovery ( see, Macey v Rozbicki, 18 N.Y.2d 289, 295, supra [Keating, J., concurring]; Dym v Gordon, 16 N.Y.2d 120, 133, supra [Fuld, J., dissenting]). They are subject to criticism, therefore, as being biased in favor of recovery. Second, on the facts of this case neither reason is relevant since the record contains no evidence that there are New York medical creditors or that plaintiffs are or will likely become wards of this State. Finally, although it is conceivable that application of New York's law in this case would have some deterrent effect on future tortious conduct in this State, New York's deterrent interest is considerably less because none of the parties is a resident and the rule in conflict is loss-allocating rather than conduct-regulating.
Conversely, there are persuasive reasons for consistently applying the law of the parties' common domicile. First, it significantly reduces forum-shopping opportunities, because the same law will be applied by the common-domicile and locus jurisdictions, the two most likely forums. Second, it rebuts charges that the forum-locus is biased in favor of its own laws and in favor of rules permitting recovery. Third, the concepts of mutuality and reciprocity support consistent application of the common-domicile law. In any given case, one person could be either plaintiff or defendant and one State could be either the parties' common domicile or the locus, and yet the applicable law would not change depending on their status. Finally, it produces a rule that is easy to apply and brings a modicum of predictability and certainty to an area of the law needing both.
As to defendant Franciscan Brothers, this action requires an application of the third of the rules set forth in Neumeier because the parties are domiciled in different jurisdictions with conflicting loss-distribution rules and the locus of the tort is New York, a separate jurisdiction. In that situation the law of the place of the tort will normally apply, unless displacing it "`will advance' the relevant substantive law purposes without impairing the smooth working of the multi-state system or producing great uncertainty for litigants'" ( Neumeier v Kuehner, supra, at p 128). For the same reasons stated in our analysis of the action against defendant Boy Scouts, application of the law of New Jersey in plaintiffs' action against defendant Franciscan Brothers would further that State's interest in enforcing the decision of its domiciliaries to accept the burdens as well as the benefits of that State's loss-distribution tort rules and its interest in promoting the continuation and expansion of defendant's charitable activities in that State. Conversely, although application of New Jersey's law may not affirmatively advance the substantive law purposes of New York, it will not frustrate those interests because New York has no significant interest in applying its own law to this dispute. Finally, application of New Jersey law will enhance "the smooth working of the multi-state system" by actually reducing the incentive for forum shopping and it will provide certainty for the litigants whose only reasonable expectation surely would have been that the law of the jurisdiction where plaintiffs are domiciled and defendant sends its teachers would apply, not the law of New York where the parties had only isolated and infrequent contacts as a result of Coakeley's position as Boy Scout leader. Thus, we conclude that defendant Franciscan Brothers has met its burden of demonstrating that the law of New Jersey, rather than the law of New York, should govern plaintiffs' action against it.
As the dissent notes, we rejected the notion that the parties' reasonable expectations of the applicable law was determinative in Miller v Miller ( 22 N.Y.2d 12) and Tooker v Lopez ( 24 N.Y.2d 569). Our discussion here is limited to application of the "uncertainty" standard of the third of the Neumeier rules ( see, Neumeier v Kuehner, 31 N.Y.2d 121, 128-129) to defendant Franciscan Brothers.
Plaintiffs contend that even if the New Jersey charitable immunity statute is applicable to this action, it should not be enforced because it is contrary to the public policy of New York.
The public policy doctrine is an exception to implementing an otherwise applicable choice of law in which the forum refuses to apply a portion of foreign law because it is contrary or repugnant to its State's own public policy ( see, Paulsen Sovern, "Public Policy" in the Conflict of Laws, 56 Colum L Rev 969). The doctrine is considered only after the court has determined that the applicable substantive law under relevant choice-of-law principles is not the forum's law. Having found that, the court must enforce the foreign law "unless some sound reason of public policy makes it unwise for us to lend our aid" ( Loucks v Standard Oil Co., 224 N.Y. 99, 110 [Cardozo, J.]).
The party seeking to invoke the doctrine has the burden of proving that the foreign law is contrary to New York public policy. It is a heavy burden for public policy is not measured by individual notions of expediency and fairness or by a showing that the foreign law is unreasonable or unwise ( Loucks v Standard Oil Co., supra, at p 111). Public policy is found in the State's Constitution, statutes and judicial decisions and the proponent of the exception must establish that to enforce the foreign law "would violate some fundamental principle of justice, some prevalent conception of good morals, some deep-rooted tradition of the common weal" expressed in them ( Loucks v Standard Oil Co., supra, at p 111; see also, Matter of Walker, 64 N.Y.2d 354; Shannon v Irving Trust Co., 275 N.Y. 95, 103). In addition, the proponent must establish that there are enough important contacts between the parties, the occurrence and the New York forum to implicate our public policy and thus preclude enforcement of the foreign law ( see, Paulsen Sovern, supra, at 981).
The United States Supreme Court has recently reaffirmed that "the Full Faith and Credit Clause does not require a State to apply another State's law in violation of its own legitimate public policy" ( Nevada v Hall, 440 U.S. 410, 422). It has also stated unequivocally that for a State to either choose its substantive law or refuse to apply a sister State's law "in a constitutionally permissible manner, that State must have a significant contact or significant aggregation of contacts, creating state interests, such that choice of its law is neither arbitrary nor fundamentally unfair" ( Allstate Ins. Co. v Hague, 449 U.S. 302, 313; see, id., at p 308, and n 10; see also, John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co. v Yates, 299 U.S. 178; Home Ins. Co. v Dick, 281 U.S. 397). There thus is some doubt whether we could constitutionally choose to apply New York law in this case although in view of our disposition we need not decide the question.
When we have employed the exception in the past and refused to enforce otherwise applicable foreign law, the contacts between the New York forum, the parties and the transaction involved were substantial enough to threaten our public policy. Thus, in Kilberg v Northeast Airlines ( 9 N.Y.2d 34), we found the law of the place of tort, Massachusetts, appropriate to a wrongful death action but refused to apply its statutory limit on damages because it was contrary to New York public policy, expressed in our State Constitution, prohibiting limitations on such damages. Insofar as the decedent was a resident, who had purchased his ticket and boarded his flight in New York and the defendant carried on extensive operations here, New York's interest in providing its residents with full compensation for wrongful death was jeopardized and led us to reject the Massachusetts limitation.
Similarly, in Mertz v Mertz ( 271 N.Y. 466) and Straus Co. v Canadian Pac. Ry. Co. ( 254 N.Y. 407), this State's public policy was seriously threatened because it was intimately connected to the parties and the transaction. In Mertz we refused to follow Connecticut law that permitted a wife to sue her husband for negligently inflicted injuries caused there because New York's law was just the opposite and the parties were both New York domiciliaries. In Straus Co., we refused to enforce a contractual provision releasing the defendant shipper from liability for its own negligence, valid under otherwise applicable British law but invalid under the laws of New York, when the plaintiff was a New York company, the final place of shipment was New York, and the defendant had chosen to do business here by way of shipping goods into the State.
Thus, although New York discarded the doctrine of charitable immunity long ago ( see, Bing v Thunig, 2 N.Y.2d 656, 667) and enforcement of New Jersey's statute might well run counter to our fundamental public policy, we need not decide that issue because there are not sufficient contacts between New York, the parties and the transactions involved to implicate our public policy and call for its enforcement.
IVFinally, defendants contend that inasmuch as New Jersey law governs this action, plaintiffs are estopped under the doctrine of third-party issue preclusion from relitigating the effect of the New Jersey charitable immunity statute by their earlier New Jersey court action.
The full faith and credit clause of the Federal Constitution requires the courts of each State to give to the judgments of other States the same conclusive effect between the parties as such judgments are given in the States in which they are rendered ( Semler v Psychiatric Inst., 575 F.2d 922, 927 [DC Cir]; see, Durfee v Duke, 375 U.S. 106, 109; Restatement [Second] of Conflict of Laws § 95). Our decision therefore will be determined by whether the courts of New Jersey would hold plaintiffs barred by the prior action.
New Jersey has adopted the general principles governing third-party issue preclusion set forth in Restatement (Second) of Judgments § 29 ( see, State v Gonzalez, 75 N.J. 181, 188-190, 380 A.2d 1128, 1132; United Rental Equip. Co. v Aetna Life Cas. Ins. Co., 74 N.J. 92, 101, 376 A.2d 1183, 1188). For collateral estoppel to apply, therefore, three criteria must be met: (1) the issue must actually have been litigated and determined by a valid and final judgment in a separate action, (2) that determination must have been essential to the judgment and (3) either the party to be precluded had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the prior proceeding or other circumstances do not justify affording him an opportunity to relitigate it ( see, Restatement [Second] of Judgments §§ 27, 29; State v Gonzalez, supra, at pp 188-192, at pp 1132-1133; see also, Koch v Consolidated Edison Co., 62 N.Y.2d 548, 554-555).
The issue presented to us, whether plaintiffs' claims against these defendants are barred by the New Jersey charitable immunity statute, was actually litigated and determined by a final judgment of its courts. A comparison of plaintiffs' complaint in the New Jersey action and the one before us demonstrate that they are the same except for minor differences reflecting the different defendants. One of the specific issues contested in New Jersey was whether its statute provided immunity in actions alleging negligent hiring and supervision and the court dismissed the complaint ( Schultz v Roman Catholic Archdiocese, 95 N.J. 530, 472 A.2d 531, supra). Moreover, plaintiffs have never disputed that defendants are charitable organizations entitled to the protection of the New Jersey statute, nor have they presented any facts warranting a conclusion that they lacked a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the prior action or that other circumstances justify according them an opportunity to relitigate it in New York. On the contrary, the record indicates that plaintiffs relied on their New Jersey action and vigorously pursued their claims there. Although they commenced this action approximately one month before the one in New Jersey, plaintiffs requested and obtained a stay of it pending final determination of their New Jersey action and they were given the opportunity to fully present their arguments against application of the charitable immunity statute before that State's highest court. Plaintiffs are correct that collateral estoppel would not apply if we applied New York law or refused to enforce the New Jersey statute on public policy grounds ( see, State v Gonzalez, supra, at pp 188-192, at pp 1132-1133; Schwartz v Public Administrator, 24 N.Y.2d 65, 72; Restatement [Second] of Judgments § 29 ). We have resolved those issues against them, however.
Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division should be affirmed, with costs.
Chief Judge WACHTLER and Judges MEYER, KAYE and ALEXANDER concur with Judge SIMONS; Judge JASEN dissents and votes to reverse in a separate opinion.
Order affirmed, with costs.
I respectfully dissent. In my view, the majority overstates the significance of New Jersey's interests in having its law apply in this case and understates the interests of New York. While I agree with much of the majority's general exposition of the rules governing conflicts of law, nevertheless I believe that its application of these rules to the facts of this case and the resulting analysis are uneven. By casting the issue almost exclusively in terms of New Jersey's law of charitable immunity and the policy purposes represented thereby, the majority preordains its decision that the application of New Jersey law would best serve the interests deemed relevant. A more balanced approach, which recognizes that the conflict in this case involves not only New Jersey's law of charitable immunity but also New York's law of charitable nonimmunity, and which accords a proper analysis and fairer significance to the policies underlying the latter, would dictate a different result. Because New Jersey's interests in having its law of charitable immunity apply are rather attenuated in this case and, by sharp contrast, New York's interests as the "locus-forum" in applying its rule of charitable nonimmunity are overriding — especially in light of the heinous nature of the alleged tortious conduct involved and the repugnancy of immunizing those responsible from liability — it is my view that New York law should govern this case. A brief highlighting of those factors which I believe to be most pertinent illustrates what, in my view, the majority has either understated or overlooked.
New Jersey's interests, denominated by the majority as loss-distribution, are hardly pressing under the circumstances. While it is true that laws providing for charitable immunity typically are intended to serve the purpose of protecting and promoting the charities incorporated within a state's jurisdiction, that function is virtually irrelevant in this case. Presently, neither corporate defendant is a resident of New Jersey. The Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis (the Franciscan Brothers) has at all relevant times been a resident of the State of Ohio, a jurisdiction which recognizes only a limited charitable immunity that does not extend to negligence in the selection and retention of personnel. ( Williams v First United Church, 40 Ohio App.2d 187, 318 N.E.2d 562, affd 37 Ohio St.2d 150, 309 N.E.2d 924; Cullen v Schmit, 139 Ohio St. 194, 39 N.E.2d 146.) The Boy Scouts of America, although originally incorporated in New Jersey at the time of its alleged tortious conduct, has since relocated in Texas, a State which has wholly rejected charitable immunity. ( Howle v Camp Amon Carter, 470 S.W.2d 629 [Tex].) While ordinarily a change in residence subsequent to the events upon which a lawsuit is predicated ought not to affect the rights and liabilities of the parties in order to avoid forum-shopping, there is no such reason to deny giving effect to the change in residence here. Rather, a defendant's post-tort change in residence — as opposed to that of a plaintiff — is often critical insofar as it affects state interest analysis. ( See, Weintraub, Commentary on the Conflict of Laws § 6.28, at 331, 334 [2d ed]; Sedler, The Governmental Interest Approach to Choice of Law: An Analysis and a Reformulation, 25 UCLA L Rev 181, 241-242; Note, Post Transaction or Occurrence Events in Conflicts of Laws, 69 Colum L Rev 843, 865.) Indeed, as this court stated in Miller v Miller ( 22 N.Y.2d 12, 21-22): "To the extent that the [foreign State's] limitation evinced a desire to protect its residents in wrongful death actions, that purpose cannot be defeated here since no judgment in this action will be entered against a * * * resident [of that State. It] would have no concern with the nature of the recovery awarded against defendants who are no longer residents of that State and who are, therefore, no longer proper objects of its legislative concern. It is true that, at the time of the accident, the defendants were residents of [that State] but they would have no vested right to the application of the law of their former residence unless it could be demonstrated that they had governed their conduct in reliance upon it ( Griffith v. United Air Lines, supra) — a reliance which is neither present nor claimed in the case at bar. Any claim that [the foreign State] has a paternalistic interest in protecting its residents against liability for acts committed while they were in [that State] should they move to another jurisdiction, is highly speculative."
It simply cannot be disputed that New Jersey presently has a much diminished interest, if any at all, in shielding the Boy Scouts of America from liability — let alone the Franciscan Brothers which has never been a New Jersey resident. The majority does not question that conclusion, but merely states that the change in residence does not enhance New York's interest. (Majority opn, at p 194.) While the latter may be true in the abstract, the point, of course, is that New Jersey's interest in the application of its charitable immunity law has been substantially reduced.
Consequently, because the majority cannot in actuality rely upon New Jersey's interest in protecting resident charities — into which category neither corporate defendant now falls — the decision today is, in effect, predicated almost exclusively upon the plaintiffs' New Jersey domicile. What emerges from the majority's holding is an entirely untoward rule that nonresident plaintiffs are somehow less entitled to the protections of this State's law while they are within our borders. Besides smacking of arbitrary and injudicious discrimination against guests in this State and before our courts ( see, Ely, Choice of Law and the State's Interest in Protecting Its Own, 23 Wm Mary L Rev 173, 186-187; cf. Tooker v Lopez, 24 N.Y.2d 569, 575; Smith v Loughman, 245 N.Y. 486, 491-492, cert denied 275 U.S. 560), such a position, without more, has severely limited, if any, validity in resolving conflicts questions. ( See, Neumeier v Kuehner, 31 N.Y.2d 121, 131 [Breitel, J., concurring]; Rosenthal v Warren, 475 F.2d 438, 445 [2d Cir]; Juenger, Choice of Law in Interstate Torts, 118 U of Pa L Rev 202, 209-210; Weintraub, supra, § 6.23, n 13; Ausubel, Conflict of Laws Trends — Torts, 19 De Paul L Rev 684, 692; cf. Labree v Major, 111 R.I. 657, 306 A.2d 808; Hurtado v Superior Ct., 11 Cal.3d 574, 522 P.2d 666.) This is especially so where, as here, the defendants' contacts with the foreign State are insignificant for the purposes of interest analysis while, at the same time, the parties' contacts with New York are so clear and direct, and the resulting interests of this State so strong.
There can be no question that this State has a paramount interest in preventing and protecting against injurious misconduct within its borders. This interest is particularly vital and compelling where, as here, the tortious misconduct involves sexual abuse and exploitation of children, regardless of the residency of the victims and the tort-feasors. ( See, New York v Ferber, 458 U.S. 747, 756-760, on remand 57 N.Y.2d 256.) Despite the majority's denial, New York's law in question is intimately connected to this overriding interest.
As the majority stresses, a charitable immunity law such as New Jersey's typically serves a loss-distribution purpose reflecting a legislative paternalism toward resident charities. But that is obviously not true with regard to a rule, such as New York's, which denies charitable immunity. Consequently, it is mistaken to adjudge the propriety of applying the latter law by giving weight only to the interests served by the former. ( But see, e.g., majority opn, at p 200.) A closer attention to the specific policy purposes of New York's charitable nonimmunity rule is essential to a more appropriate resolution of the conflict.
These purposes, to which the majority refuses to accord any significance ( see, e.g., majority opn, at pp 200, 201), are preventive, protective and compensatory. Indeed, in Bing v Thunig ( 2 N.Y.2d 656), where New York's prior rule of charitable immunity was abolished, this court held that "[i]t is not alone good morals but sound law that individuals and organizations should be just before they are generous, and there is no reason why that should not apply to charitable [institutions] * * * Insistence upon * * * damages for negligent injury serves a two-fold purpose, for it both assures payment of an obligation to the person injured and gives warning that justice and the law demand exercise of care." ( Id., at p 666 [emphasis added].)
As previously discussed, there can be little doubt that New York has an interest in insuring that justice be done to nonresidents who have come to this State and suffered serious injuries herein. There is no cogent reason to deem that interest any weaker whether such guests are here for the purpose of conducting business or personal affairs, or, as in this case, have chosen to spend their vacation in New York. ( See additionally, Korn, The Choice of Law Revolution: A Critique, 83 Colum L Rev 772, 789, n 40.) Likewise, it cannot be denied that this State has a strong legitimate interest in deterring serious tortious misconduct, including the kind of reprehensible malfeasance that has victimized the nonresident infant plaintiffs in this case. Indeed, this deterrence function of tort law, whether it be in the form of imposing liability or denying immunity, is a substantial interest of the locus state which is almost universally acknowledged by both commentators and the courts to be a prominent factor deserving significant consideration in the resolution of conflicts problems. ( See, Cavers, The Choice of Law Process, at 144; Weintraub, supra, § 6.10, at 288; Horowitz, The Law of Choice of Law in California — A Restatement, 21 UCLA L Rev 719, 757; Baade, Counter-Revolution or Alliance for Progress? Reflections on Reading Cavers, The Choice of Law Process, 46 Tex L Rev 141, 156; Restatement [Second] of Conflict of Laws § 145 comment c; Rosenthal v Warren, 475 F.2d 438, 445, supra; Bray v Cox, 39 A.D.2d 299, appeal dismissed 33 N.Y.2d 789; Hurtado v Superior Ct., 11 Cal.3d 574, 522 P.2d 666, supra; Gagne v Berry, 112 N.H. 125, 290 A.2d 624; Hunker v Royal Indem. Co., 57 Wis.2d 588, 204 N.W.2d 897.) While the majority mentions New York's interest in deterrence, it dismisses that interest in short fashion by referring to the "rule in conflict" as being "loss-allocating rather than conduct-regulating." ( See, majority opn, at p 200.) Of course, there is not one but two rules at issue, and the majority's characterization is accurate only with regard to New Jersey's law granting immunity, not with regard to New York's rule denying the same. ( Bing v Thunig, supra, at p 666.)
Moreover, New York's strong interest in deterring injurious misconduct, as well as in providing compensatory justice and protection to persons victimized by wrongdoing within this State, is reflected in the traditional principle of lex loci which, despite the majority's sub silentio disavowal, remains in this State "the general rule in tort cases to be displaced only in extraordinary circumstances". ( Cousins v Instrument Flyers, 44 N.Y.2d 698, 699; see also, Neumeier v Kuehner, 31 N.Y.2d 121, 129, 131-132, supra; Tooker v Lopez, 24 N.Y.2d 569, 585, supra.) Indeed, despite the so-called "choice of law revolution" ( see, Korn, supra), lex loci is still acknowledged almost universally as a central factor in determining the state, or states, in which the significant interests lie. ( See, Restatement [Second] of Conflict of Laws § 145  [a], [b]; § 146.) This rule ought not to be applied mechanically or rigidly to reach absurd results. But, neither ought it to be disregarded indiscriminately, without giving due consideration to the nature or extent of the relationship which accrues between the tort in question and a particular jurisdiction because that jurisdiction is the locus state. ( See, Reese, The Second Restatement of Laws Revisited, 34 Mercer L Rev 501, 513-515.)
Here, there are no extraordinary circumstances justifying displacement of the usual rule of lex loci and the consequent disregard of New York's interest as the jurisdiction in which the infant plaintiffs were victimized. The majority merely discounts New York's interests as the locus state by characterizing the parties' contacts in New York as "only isolated and infrequent". Reliance on such characterization, however, is both factually and legally misplaced. The infant plaintiffs' visit to New York with defendants' tort-feasor was entirely deliberate, planned and not merely transitory. They visited in order to remain for a period of time. Defendants are alleged to have permitted their tort-feasor to take the children into New York, failed to supervise him while the children were in his care in New York, authorized or sponsored the scouting activity at a campground in New York which they approved, and failed to prevent the sexual abuse of the children taking place in New York. The nexus of the parties and the alleged torts with New York can hardly be gainsaid.
This is clearly not a case in which the locus can be discounted as purely fortuitous or adventitious. ( Cf. Long v Pan Am. World Airways, 16 N.Y.2d 337, 342, n 3; Babcock v Jackson, 12 N.Y.2d 473, 483; Kilberg v Northeast Airlines, 9 N.Y.2d 34, 39; contrast with, Dym v Gordon, 16 N.Y.2d 120, 125.) The infant plaintiffs and the defendants' tort-feasor were not merely in transitu in New York. Rather, they were here for a stay, albeit a short one, and as such they deliberately submitted themselves to the protections and responsibilities of this State's laws which should now govern the consequences of the tortious conduct committed while within New York's borders.
Contrary to what the majority states, it is hardly clear that the parties' only reasonable expectation was that New Jersey's law would apply despite the contacts with this State. Indeed, it would surely seem that the parties who came to New York, and those who sponsored their visit here, would have been quite surprised to learn that their conduct while in New York, or that which had a direct impact in New York, was not governed by the laws of this State. In any event, this court has unequivocably rejected the notion that the fictional expectation of the parties should determine the choice of law in tort cases. ( Tooker v Lopez, supra, at p 577; Miller v Miller, 22 N.Y.2d 12, 20, supra; see also, Cavers, The Choice of Law Process, 119, 302, supra.) Consequently, in my view, the majority does not adequately explain why the law of New York, the locus state, ought not to govern this case.
Additionally, apart from the foregoing, I believe that this court ought not to apply New Jersey's law of charitable immunity by reason of its incompatibility with this State's settled public policy. Almost 30 years ago, when this court abolished charitable immunity for this State, we explained that the rule was inherently incongruous, contrary to both good morals and sound law, out of tune with modern day needs, unfair and confused. ( Bing v Thunig, 2 N.Y.2d 656, at pp 663, 666-667, supra.) Surely, a rule deemed so archaic and anachronistic by this court ought not now to be given effect and, thereby, insulate defendants from whatever responsibility they should bear for the heinous acts of misconduct performed in this State.
Indeed, this court has not hesitated in the past to refuse a request to apply a foreign law considered contrary to established public policy. We have held unequivocally that where a conflict exists, this State's public policy prevails. ( Erlich-Bober Co. v University of Houston, 49 N.Y.2d 574, 580; see also, Zeevi Sons v Grindlays Bank [ Uganda], 37 N.Y.2d 220, 227; Kilberg v Northeast Airlines, 9 N.Y.2d 34, 40, supra.) Likewise, the commentators have recognized the validity, indeed the wisdom and propriety of the forum state's refusal, on public policy grounds, to apply an anachronistic or aberrant rule of the foreign State whose law would otherwise apply. ( See, e.g., Weintraub, supra, §§ 6.6, 6.27; Leflar, American Conflicts Law § 107, at 214 [3d ed]; Freund, Chief Justice Stone and The Conflict of Laws, 59 Harv L Rev 1210, 1216; Paulsen Sovern, "Public Policy" in the Conflict of Laws, 56 Colum L Rev 969; Cheatham Reese, Choice of the Applicable Law, 52 Colum L Rev 959, 980; Restatement [Second] of Conflict of Laws § 6  [b], [e]; Juenger, supra, at 230-235.) Similarly, the courts of other jurisdictions have noted the imperative of avoiding application of a foreign state's law that is repugnant to the forum state's public policy or that is fairly deemed to be obsolete or senseless. ( See, e.g., Clark v Clark, 107 N.H. 351, 355, 222 A.2d 205, 209; Conklin v Horner, 38 Wis.2d 468, 484-485, 157 N.W.2d 579, 587; see also, Tiernan v Westext Transp., 295 F. Supp. 1256; Skahill v Capital Airlines, 234 F. Supp. 906, 907; Schneider v Nichols, 280 Minn. 139, 158 N.W.2d 254; Mitchell v Craft, 211 So 2d 509 [Miss]; Arnett v Thompson, 433 S.W.2d 109 [Ky].)
As this court has already held, the charitable immunity law is one which is anachronistic, obsolete and senseless, and it appears that there is virtual judicial unanimity among the States that this is so. ( See, Prosser and Keeton, Torts § 133, at 1070 [5th ed]; Ann., 25 ALR2d 29; 25 ALR4th 517; see also, Restatement [Second] of Torts § 895E, providing that charities ought not to be immunized.) It is not surprising, therefore, that other courts which have considered the immunity doctrine in a conflict of laws context have held that its application should be avoided as violative of New York's public policy. ( See, e.g., Rosenthal v Warren, 374 F. Supp. 522, 525-526; Rakaric v Croatian Cultural Club, 76 A.D.2d 619; Dowd v Boy Scouts of Am., NYLJ, Mar. 21, 1984, p 13, col 1 [Trial Term, Kings County]; cf. Pearson v Northeast Airlines, 309 F.2d 553, 561.) This court ought now to hold the same. Having already held that charitable immunity is "out of tune with the life about us, at variance with modern-day needs and with concepts of justice and fair dealing" ( Bing v Thunig, supra, at p 667 [emphasis added]), it would now be incongruous, in my view, for this court to apply it here to deny compensatory justice to nonresidents who were injured while vacationing in New York.
Finally, I find no merit to defendants' arguments for the application of collateral estoppel. First, as the majority acknowledges, collateral estoppel is not a bar to a second action in a different forum where the latter applies its own law or refuses to give effect to the law of the first forum on public policy grounds. ( See, Gilberg v Barbieri, 53 N.Y.2d 285, 292; Restatement [Second] of Judgments § 29.) Inasmuch as New York law should be applied in this case by reason of this State's significant interests and because application of New Jersey's law would contravene this State's public policy, collateral estoppel is inapplicable. Secondly, plaintiffs' allegations, the parties, and the precise issue in this litigation — i.e., whether New York law provides plaintiffs with a remedy for injuries suffered in this State from defendants' alleged tort-feasance — are not the same as those involved in the prior litigation in New Jersey. ( See, Schultz v Roman Catholic Archdiocese, 95 N.J. 530, 472 A.2d 531.) Necessarily then, the prerequisites to the application of collateral estoppel have not been satisfied. ( See, Ryan v New York Tel. Co., 62 N.Y.2d 494, 500-501; Schwartz v Public Administrator, 24 N.Y.2d 65, 71.)
For all these reasons, I would reverse the order of the Appellate Division, apply the law of New York denying immunity to defendant charities, and permit plaintiffs to proceed on their complaint.