Restatement (First) of Conflict of Laws

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Restatement (First) of Conflict of Laws
§ 377. The Place Of Wrong

The place of wrong is in the state where the last event necessary to make an actor liable for an alleged tort takes place.


a. Each state has legislative jurisdiction to determine the legal effect of acts done or events caused within its territory (see § 64). If consequences of an act done in one state occur in another state, each state in which any event in the series of act and consequences occurs may exercise legislative jurisdiction to create rights or other interests as a result thereof (see § 65). Thus, both the state in which the actor acts and the state in which legal consequences of his act occur have legislative jurisdiction to impose an obligation to pay for harm caused thereby. If any state having legislative jurisdiction so to do imposes a right-duty relation delictual in character, other states will recognize the existence of such relation under the rules stated in §§ 377 to 390. What acts and events are necessary to constitute a tort is a question of the law of Torts and that law varies in different states. Although by statute, the state in which any event in the train of consequences, starting with the act of the wrongdoer and continuing until the final legal consequences thereof, may make the event a wrong, the situation is, in most cases, governed by the common law. The common law selects some particular point in the train of events as the place of wrong. In the following Note are stated rules which represent the general common law as to what constitutes the place of wrong in different types of torts. These rules can be, but ordinarily are not, changed by statute.


Summary of Rules in Important Situations Determining Where a Tort is Committed.

1. Except in the case of harm from poison, when a person sustains bodily harm, the place of wrong is the place where the harmful force takes effect upon the body.

Such a force is first set in motion by some human being. It is quite immaterial in what state he set the force in motion. It must alone or in cooperation with other forces harm the body of another. The person harmed may thereafter go into another state and die from the injury or suffer other loss therefrom. The place where this last event happens is also immaterial. The question is only where did the force impinge upon his body.


1. A, standing in state X, fires a gun and lodges a bullet in the body of B who is standing in state Y. The place of wrong is in Y.

2. When a person causes another voluntarily to take a deleterious substance which takes effect within the body, the place of wrong is where the deleterious substance takes effect and not where it is administered.


2. A, in state X, mails to B in state Y a package containing poisoned candy. B eats the candy in state Y and gets on a train to go to state W. After the train has passed into state Z, he becomes ill as a result of the poison and eventually dies from the poison in state W. The place of wrong is state Z.

3. When harm is caused to land or chattels, the place of wrong is the place where the force takes effect on the thing.


3. A, standing in state X, throws a stone with which he breaks a mirror in state Y. The place of the wrong is state Y.

4. A, in state X, throws out noxious fumes from a chimney which destroy the grass of B in state Y. The place of the wrong is in Y.

4. When a person sustains loss by fraud, the place of wrong is where the loss is sustained, not where fraudulent representations are made.


5. A, in state X, makes false misrepresentations by letter to B in Y as a result of which B sends certain chattels from Y to A, in X. A keeps the chattels. The place of the wrong is in state Y where B parted with the chattels.

6. A, in state X, owns shares in the M company. B, in state Y, fraudulently persuades A not to sell the shares. The value of the shares falls. The place of wrong is X.

5. Where harm is done to the reputation of a person, the place of wrong is where the defamatory statement is communicated.


7. A, broadcasting in state X, slanders B. B is well and favorably known in state Y and the broadcast is heard there by many people conversant with B's good repute. The place of wrong is Y.

The rule here stated is confined to situations in which the cause of action in tort is the harm to reputation. There may be a criminal libel where there is no harm to the reputation. Such a situation is outside the scope of this rule.

§ 378. Law Governing Plaintiff's Injury

The law of the place of wrong determines whether a person has sustained a legal injury.


a. As to the meaning of the word "injury," see Restatement of Torts, § 7.

b. It is not every harm which a person sustains which is recognized in the law as an injury. Except in a few situations, for example, emotional distress such as fright or anxiety does not constitute an injury which is a legally compensable harm unless some physical harm or pecuniary loss accompanies the distress. Whether a particular harm which a plaintiff has sustained constitutes an injury for which he may recover compensation is determined by the law of the place of wrong. It is immaterial whether by the law of the forum, or by the law of the place where the actor acted, the harm in question was or was not a legal injury.

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