interest of the State of Pennsylvania which would suggest that its laws, rather than New Jersey's, should apply to the measure of damages recoverable by one of its residents injured in a New Jersey automobile accident.
N.J.S.A. 39:6A-12 has been referred to as an "exclusionary evidence rule," id. at 563, which raises the issue of whether Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 82 L. Ed. 1188, 58 S. Ct. 817 (1938) requires that it be applied to a diversity case pending in federal court. Generally the Federal Rules of Evidence apply to all cases heard in a federal court, even where the application of the forum state's evidentiary rules would yield a different result on a particular item of proffered evidence. See discussion and cases cited in 9 Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2405 (1971 and Supp. 1992). While the rationale of these cases vary, it is most often grounded either in the notion that evidence rules are "procedural" rather than "substantive" or on the paramountcy of the Federal Rules of Evidence by virtue of their effectiveness having been dependent on the approval of Congress. See In re Air Crash Disaster near Chicago, 701 F.2d 1189, 1193 (7th Cir. 1983).
By their express terms the Federal Rules of Evidence yield to state law in at least three specific areas when the rule of decision in the matter is governed by state law: the effect of a presumption (Rule 302); privileges asserted by witnesses (Rule 501); and the competency of witnesses (Rule 601).
However, the federal courts have also held that where a state evidence rule is "intimately bound up" with the rights and obligations being asserted, Erie mandates the application of the state rule in a federal diversity suit. E.g., DiAntonio v. Northampton-Accomack Memorial Hospital, 628 F.2d 287, 290 (4th Cir. 1980); Conway v. Chemical Leaman Tank Lines, Inc, 540 F.2d 837, 839 (5th Cir. 1976). Although N.J.S.A. 39:6A-12 can be described as a rule of evidence, by limiting the damages recoverable by a plaintiff it is "intimately bound up" with the respective rights of the parties:
To the extent that the state evidentiary rule defines what is sought to be proved - here, the measure of damages - it may bind the federal court under Erie principles.
In re Air Crash Disaster Near Chicago, Ill at 1193.
A state's view of the measure of damages "is inseparable from the substantive right of action," (id. at 1194), and we hold that Erie binds a federal court to apply the limitations contained in N.J.S.A. 39:6A-12 to a diversity negligence action pending in the federal courts.
For the reasons set forth above, defendants' motion in limine to bar evidence at trial of medical expenses payable under the PIP provisions of N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4 is granted. An appropriate order will be prepared by the court.
JOSEPH E. IRENAS
DATED: August 10, 1992
ORDER GRANTING MOTION IN LIMINE - August 10, 1992, Filed
This matter having been opened to the Court on August 10, 1992, on the motion of defendants West Jersey Health Systems and Barbara Wilson, by their attorneys Horn, Goldberg, Gorny, Daniels, Paarz, Plackter & Weiss, Esqs. (Marc L. Hurvitz, Esq. appearing), in the presence of Evan Edward Laine, Esq., attorney for plaintiff Ann D'Orio, and the Court having considered the argument of counsel and the briefs filed by the parties and for the reasons set forth in a written Opinion and in open court;
IT IS on this 10th day of August, 1992
ORDERED that defendants' motion in limine to bar evidence at trial of plaintiff's medical expenses is granted.
JOSEPH E. IRENAS