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Conflict of Laws Keyed to Brilmayer
Hurtado v. Superior Court
Citation:11 Cal. 3d 574, 522 P.2d 666, 114 Cal. Rptr. 106 (1974)
On January 19, 1969 in Sacramento County, California, Antonio Hurtado died as a result of a car accident. Antonio was a passenger in a car owned and operated by his cousin, Manuel Hurtado. Manuel’s car, which was being driven along a two-lane paved road, collided with a pickup truck owned and operated by Jack Rexius. Jack’s car was parked partially on the side of the road and partially on the pavement. Upon impact, Jack’s pickup truck collided with another parked car that was operated by Jack’s son but owned by Jack.
Antonio, his wife, and his children were all residents and domiciliaries of Mexico. Antonio, at the time of the accident, was in California temporarily as a visitor. All of the vehicles involved in the accident were registered in California. Manuel, Jack, and Jack’s son were all residents of the state of California.
Plaintiffs, Antonio Hurtado’s widow and children, brought suit in California state court for damages for the wrongful death of Antonio. Defendants, Manuel Hurtado and Jack Rexius, both denied liability. Hurtado moved for a separate trial on the issue of whether the measure of damages was to be applied according to the laws of the state of California or the laws of Mexico. The trial court granted Hurtado’s motion, and during the trial, the trial court took judicial notice of the relevant Mexican law prescribing the maximum limitation of damages for wrongful death. The trial court established that the maximum amount recoverable under Mexican law would be $1,946.72. The trial court then filed a memorandum opinion ruling that it would apply a measure of damages in accordance with California law and not Mexican law. Hurtado appealed. The Court of Appeal found in favor of Hurtado, and directed the trial court to apply Mexican law. Antonio’s widow and children appealed to the California Supreme Court.
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