A New York nature study society operates a camp in upstate New York. A truckload of campers goes on a nature study trip to Massachusetts. There, the truck driver's negligence seriously injures a camper. Under New York law, the camper may recover damages from the society; under Massachusetts law, the society is immune from liability. But which law is to apply? Legal scholars in twelfth-century Italian city states grappled with choice-of-law decisions, and choice of law perplexes American jurists today.
In The Choice-of-Law Process David F. Cavers of Harvard Law School, after a brief historical review, discusses the far-reaching changes taking place in that process. American legal scholars writing in the last thirty years have undermined the traditional method of deciding choice-of-law cases. With increasing frequency courts are now reexamining choice-of-law process and doctrine. Cavers uses the camper's case and four other imaginary cases—before a court whose judges plainly resemble certain contemporary scholars—to illustrate methods of deciding choice-of-law cases that are currently competing for acceptance.
After an evaluation of these methods, Cavers suggests the judicial development of principles of preference to guide courts in resolving "true conflicts" and submits examples of such principles. Concluding chapters consider the roles of the federal courts, statutes, treaties, and civil procedure. In this period of transition, Cavers’s book is timely and constructive.
The Thomas M. Cooley Lectureship, established in honor of the University of Michigan Law School's first great legal scholar, is designed to stimulate research and bring its results to the attention of the general public as well as of the legal profession.