Paul v. National Life
In Paul v. National Life, 177 W. Va. 427, 352 S.E.2d 550 (1986), the Court held that foreign automobile guest passenger statutes, which operate to immunize a tortfeasor from liability, violate the public policy of this State and will not be applied in our courts. Syl. Pt. 2, Paul.
Paul involved West Virginia residents who were killed in a single vehicle automobile accident in Indiana. The estate of the passenger brought a wrongful death action against the driver's estate in West Virginia. The estate raised Indiana's guest passenger statute, which immunized a driver from liability for the injury death of a passenger in the vehicle.
The Court, relying on our abolition of tort immunities in various circumstances, refused to apply the statute based on our strong public policy against providing tort immunity. Paul, 177 W. Va. at 433-34, 352 S.E.2d at 556.
Specifically, the Court stated "It is the strong public policy of this State that persons injured by the negligence of another should be able to recover in tort." Id. at 433, 352 S.E.2d at 556.
The Court accentuated that "comity does not require the application of the substantive law of a foreign state when that law contravenes the public policy of this State." 177 W.Va. at 433, 352 S.E.2d at 556.
The Paul Court recognized the "strong public policy of this State that persons injured by the negligence of another should be able to recover in tort." Id.
The Court also declared "that automobile guest passenger statutes violate the strong public policy of this State in favor of compensating persons injured by the negligence of others." Id. at 434, 352 S.E.2d at 556.
Based upon that recognition of public policy, the Paul Court specifically stated that "we will no longer enforce the automobile guest passenger statutes of foreign jurisdictions in our courts." Id.