In this wrongful death action and survival action, the plaintiff contends that the substantive law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania governs the resolution of two issues even though plaintiff's decedent was domiciled in and resided in New Jersey. Because New Jersey has no governmental interest related to that contact in having New Jersey law apply, and all other
contacts are with Pennsylvania, this court holds that Pennsylvania substantive law applies as to both issues. This opinion is intended to supplement this courts earlier oral opinion. R.2:5-6(c).
The relevant facts are as follows. The decedent, Lewis V. Bary, Sr., was domiciled and resided in Williamstown, New Jersey. He was employed for ten years as a tractor-trailer driver by the Overnight Transport Company and had always worked out of its terminal in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. He commuted, in his own vehicle, from his home to the terminal and back. Mr. Bary had a regular route which he drove several times a week. It took him from the Bensalem terminal to a terminal in Danville, Virginia and back to Bensalem. This route did not include any travel in New Jersey.
On September 10, 1988, Mr. Bary was killed while driving from Danville, Virginia to Bensalem, Pennsylvania. The accident happened on Interstate Route 95 in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Interstate 95 is an elevated highway. Mr. Bary was driving in the center lane of five northbound lanes when the truck-tractor suddenly veered sharply to the right, crossed two lanes, and struck and partially climbed the guardrail. The tractor hit the guardrail at almost a right angle and was virtually destroyed. Mr. Bary was propelled from the cab of the truck-tractor to the street below. He sustained fatal injuries and died about an hour later. The Philadelphia police officer who investigated the accident found the driver's seat belt beneath the seat cushion in the truck-tractor, which is evidence that Mr. Bary may not have been wearing the seat belt at the time of the accident.
In this action, the executrix of Mr. Bary's estate alleges that the proximate cause of the accident and Mr. Bary's injuries and death was a design defect and/or manufacturing defect in the steering system of the truck-tractor that Mr. Bary was driving. That truck-trailer was manufactured by the defendant, Mack Trucks, Inc. (Mack) at the Mack Macungie Assembly Facility in
Macungie, Pennsylvania. Mack has its World Corporate Headquarters in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Bary's wife is receiving workers compensation benefits pursuant to Pennsylvania law from the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. The payments are made through the offices of the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company in Bluebell, Pennsylvania.
There are two areas of possible conflict between the laws of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They are whether evidence that Mr. Bary was not ...