If a Case Involves Two States Then the Law of the State Whose Contacts Predominate Prevails

In Ardieta v. Young, 22 AD2d 349, 256 N.Y.S.2d 199 [4th Dept 1965], the plaintiff, a New York resident, was a passenger in an automobile owned and operated by New York residents when an accident occurred in Ontario involving an Ontario motorist. The plaintiff sued the Ontario motorist in Ontario through Ontario counsel, and during its pendency, a settlement was effected with the Ontario defendant and his insurance carrier. A stipulation was entered into between Ontario counsel for both sides, and upon this settlement, the action was ordered dismissed by the Ontario court. A release was given, which contained an agreement by the plaintiff not to make any claim or take any proceedings against any other person or corporation who might claim contribution or indemnity from the person released. In New York state court, the plaintiff then sued the owner and operator of the car he was in at the time of the accident. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the release of the Ontario driver also released the claim against them. Under New York law, the defendants would be released, but under Ontario law, they would not. The Court found that the contacts in Ontario predominated: the action was instituted and settled in Ontario with an Ontario defendant; the stipulation was entered into between Ontario counsel for both parties and the action was dismissed by an Ontario court; the release was prepared in Ontario, signed and acknowledged in New York state in accordance with the directions of the Ontario counsel, and returned to counsel in Ontario where it was delivered to the Ontario defendant; and the settlement was paid in Ontario, the proceeds of which were remitted to plaintiff in New York state. Thus, the Court concluded, "[i]n view of the predominance of the Ontario contacts ... the law of Ontario must be applied to the release" (22 AD2d at 352).