Dickinson v. Jones

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtSCHAFFER, J.
Citation163 A. 516,309 Pa. 256
Decision Date28 November 1932
PartiesDICKINSON v. JONES et al.
163 A. 516
309 Pa. 256

DICKINSON
v.
JONES et al.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Nov. 28, 1932.


163 A. 517

Appeal from Court of Common Pleas, Erie County; Samuel E. Shull, Judge.

Action by E. Maude Dickinson, administratrix of the estate of Robert Clark Dickinson, deceased, against Paul W. Jones and another. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendants appeal.

Affirmed.

Argued before FRAZER, C. J., and SIMPSON, KEPHART, SCHAFFER, MAXEY, DREW, and LINN, JJ.

Marsh & Eaton, of Erie, and Francis Chapman, of Philadelphia, for appellants.

Charles A. Mertens, Jr., and Gunnison, Fish, Gifford & Chapin, all of Erie, for appellee.

SCHAFFER, J.

The question which confronts us on this appeal is: May a suit be maintained in a Pennsylvania court by an administrator appointed in this state of a decedent who was killed in the state of New York by the negligent act of the defendants? The court below decided that it may be, and from this ruling defendants appeal.

The action to recover damages for wrongful death is the creation of statute. The common law afforded no remedy. With us the Act of April 26, 1855, P. L. 309, and its amendment of June 7, 1911, P. L. 678 (12 PS §§ 1602, 1603), give the right of recovery to the surviving husband, widow, children, or parents of the deceased. In New York, "The executor or administrator duly appointed in this state, or in any other state, * * * of a decedent who has left him or her surviving a husband, wife, or next of kin, may maintain an action to recover damages for a wrongful act, neglect or default, by which the decedent's death was caused, against a natural person who, or a corporation which, would have been liable to an action in favor of the decedent by reason thereof if death had not ensued." New York Laws 1920, c. 919, § 1, Consolidated Laws, c. 13 (Decedent Estate Law), § 130. The law further provides (Consolidated Laws, c. 13, § 133) that: "Damages recovered in [such] an action * * * are exclusively for the benefit of the decedent's husband or wife, and next of kin; and, when they are collected, they must be distributed by the plaintiff, or representative, as if they were unbequeathed assets, left in his hands, after payment of all debts, and expenses of administration."

The decedent was injured in New York on November 8, 1929, as the result of an automobile accident, and died in that state on November 10, 1929. His administratrix was appointed by the register of wills of Erie county, Pa., in which the decedent was domiciled. She brought this action in the court of that county. On the trial, at the close of the testimony, defendant's counsel moved for the dismissal of the proceeding, assigning as the reason that the plaintiff was not qualified to maintain it in the courts of this state. This motion was overruled, as was a point for binding instructions for defendant, and thereupon a verdict was rendered in plaintiff's favor for an agreed-upon sum; defendant's negligence not being denied.

No question is raised that had the administratrix been appointed in New York her action would lie. This is ruled in our cases1 and is the course which appellant's able counsel contends should have been pursued. The New York statute, however, provides that the action may be maintained by the administrator appointed in that state or in any other state. The argument is made that to permit an administrator raised here to sue in our courts is against our public policy. It is a little difficult to see why this should be so in the case of an administrator subject to the control of our courts, when a foreign administrator over whom they can exercise no authority may maintain such an action. There would certainly be an anomaly in permitting a recovery by an administrator of a foreign state over whom we could exercise no direction or control, and denying it to an administrator created here and fully subject to our jurisdiction.

We start with the proposition, not disputed, that: "The general rule is that the law of the place where the tort resulting in death is committed (lex loci delicti) will determine whether an action can be brought therefor, and the party who is to bring it." Minor, Conflict of Laws, § 108, p. 239. See, also, the same author, § 201, p. 493; 2 Wharton, Conflict of Laws (3d Ed.) §§ 480d and 480e. The American Law Institute Restatement, Conflict of Laws, in § 427 states that "The law of the place of wrong governs the right of action for death," and in § 430, that "A person designated in the death statute of the state of wrong to bring suit may sue in any...

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9 practice notes
  • Foley v. Pittsburgh-des Moines Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • 17 Octubre 1949
    ...Conflict of Laws, §§ 378, 383, 391; Rosenzweig, Administratrix v. Heller, 302 Pa. 279, 153 A. 346; Dickinson, Administratrix v. Jones, 309 Pa. 256, 163 A. 516, 85 A.L.R. 1226; Mackey v. Robertson, 328 Pa. 504, 195 A. 870; Sudol v. Gorga, 346 Pa. 463, 31 A.2d 119. It is that law which prescr......
  • Foley v. Pittsburgh-Des Moines Co., 1123
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • 26 Septiembre 1949
    ...Conflict of Laws, §§ 378, 383, 391; Rosenzweig, Administratrix, v. Heller , 302 Pa. 279, 153 A. 346; Dickinson, Administratrix, v. Jones, 309 Pa. 256, 163 A. 516; Mackey v. Robertson , 328 Pa. 504, 195 A. 870; Sudol v. Gorga , 346 Pa. 463, 31 A.2d 119. It is that law which prescribes the st......
  • Griffith v. United Air Lines, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • 14 Octubre 1964
    ...354, 49 A.2d 689; Mackey v. Robertson, 328 Pa. 504, 506, 195 A. 870; Mike v. Lian, 322 Pa. 353, 185 A. 775 (1936); Dickinson v. Jones, 309 Pa. 256, 163 A. 516, 85 A.L.R. 1226 (1932); Barclay v. Thompson, 2 Pen. & W. 148 (1830); Julian v. Tornabene, 171 Pa.Super. 333, 90 A.2d In the recent c......
  • Racicot v. Erie Ins. Exchange
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • 9 Agosto 2005
    ...870 (1938); Mike v. Lian, 322 Pa. 353, 185 A. 775, 777 (1936); Singer v. Messina, 312 Pa. 129, 167 A. 583, 585 (1933); Dickinson v. Jones, 309 Pa. 256, 163 A. 516, 517 (1932); Rosenzweig v. Heller, 302 Pa. 279, 153 A. 346, 348 (1931); Roberts v. Freihofer Baking Co., 283 Pa. 573, 129 A. 574......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Foley v. Pittsburgh-des Moines Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • 17 Octubre 1949
    ...Conflict of Laws, §§ 378, 383, 391; Rosenzweig, Administratrix v. Heller, 302 Pa. 279, 153 A. 346; Dickinson, Administratrix v. Jones, 309 Pa. 256, 163 A. 516, 85 A.L.R. 1226; Mackey v. Robertson, 328 Pa. 504, 195 A. 870; Sudol v. Gorga, 346 Pa. 463, 31 A.2d 119. It is that law which prescr......
  • Foley v. Pittsburgh-Des Moines Co., 1123
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • 26 Septiembre 1949
    ...Conflict of Laws, §§ 378, 383, 391; Rosenzweig, Administratrix, v. Heller , 302 Pa. 279, 153 A. 346; Dickinson, Administratrix, v. Jones, 309 Pa. 256, 163 A. 516; Mackey v. Robertson , 328 Pa. 504, 195 A. 870; Sudol v. Gorga , 346 Pa. 463, 31 A.2d 119. It is that law which prescribes the st......
  • Griffith v. United Air Lines, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • 14 Octubre 1964
    ...354, 49 A.2d 689; Mackey v. Robertson, 328 Pa. 504, 506, 195 A. 870; Mike v. Lian, 322 Pa. 353, 185 A. 775 (1936); Dickinson v. Jones, 309 Pa. 256, 163 A. 516, 85 A.L.R. 1226 (1932); Barclay v. Thompson, 2 Pen. & W. 148 (1830); Julian v. Tornabene, 171 Pa.Super. 333, 90 A.2d In the recent c......
  • Racicot v. Erie Ins. Exchange
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • 9 Agosto 2005
    ...870 (1938); Mike v. Lian, 322 Pa. 353, 185 A. 775, 777 (1936); Singer v. Messina, 312 Pa. 129, 167 A. 583, 585 (1933); Dickinson v. Jones, 309 Pa. 256, 163 A. 516, 517 (1932); Rosenzweig v. Heller, 302 Pa. 279, 153 A. 346, 348 (1931); Roberts v. Freihofer Baking Co., 283 Pa. 573, 129 A. 574......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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