Sunday, February 3, 2013

Boone v. Boone case brief

Boone v. Boone case summary
546 S.E.2d 191 (S.C. 2001)
Tort Law

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: In appellant wife's personal injury action against appellee husband, the Berkeley County Circuit Court (South Carolina) granted appellee's motion to dismiss based upon interspousal immunity. Appellant challenged the judgment.

FACTS: Appellant was injured in an automobile accident in Georgia. At the time, she was a passenger in an automobile driven by appellee, her husband. She filed a personal injury action against appellee in South Carolina, where they resided. The trial court dismissed the action, holding that Georgia's interspousal immunity law barred it.

On appeal, the instant court reversed, holding that interspousal immunity in personal injury actions violated South Carolina's public policy.

It was the public policy of the state to provide married persons with the same legal rights and remedies as unmarried persons. Had the parties not been married to each other, appellant could have maintained her action against appellee. The court found that it was contrary to "natural justice" to hold that because of appellant's marital status she was precluded from maintaining her personal injury action against appellee. Therefore, the court refused to apply Georgia's interspousal immunity law.

Interspousal immunity is a common law doctrine based on the legal fiction that husband and wife share the same identity in law, namely that of the husband. Accordingly, at common law, it is both morally and conceptually objectionable to permit a tort suit between two spouses.

CONCLUSION: The judgment was reversed because Georgia's interspousal immunity from personal injury law violated South Carolina's public policy.

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