“ ‘[F]alse conflict’ really means ‘no conflict of laws.’ If the laws of both states relevant to the set of facts are the same, or would produce the same decision in the lawsuit, there is no real conflict between them.” R. Leflar, American Conflicts Law § 93, p. 188 (3d ed. 1977). See also E. Scoles & P. Hay, Conflict of Laws § 2.6, p. 17 (1982) (“A ‘false conflict’ exists when the potentially applicable laws do not differ”). The absence of any direct conflicts here distinguishes this case from decisions such as Home Ins. Co. v. Dick, 281 U.S. 397 (1930), and John Hancock Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Yates, 299 U.S. 178 (1936), where the interstate legal conflicts were clear, conceded, and dispositive."

Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Shutts, 472 U.S. 797, 838 n.20 (1985).

"We believe, however, that this case presents what has come to be called a false conflict because we conclude that the relevant legal principles are the same in both states with respect to the issue that we find dispositive." Leonards v. Southern Farm Bureau Cas. Ins. Co., 279 F.3d 611, 612 (8th Cir. 2002)

"Initially, we must determine whether a true conflict exists between the application of New Jersey law and Pennsylvania law. According to conflicts of laws principles, where the laws of the two jurisdictions would produce the same result on the particular issue presented, there is a “false conflict,” and the Court should avoid the choice-of-law question." Berg Chilling Systems, Inc. v. Hull Corp., 435 F.3d 455, 462 (2006)

But see Hammersmith v. TIG Ins. Co., 480 F.3d 220, 229 (3d Cir. 2007): "Our review of the case law indicates there is some inconsistency in the way Pennsylvania and federal courts have defined a false conflict.One line of cases provides that a false conflict exists if there are no relevant differences between the laws of the two states, or the laws would produce the same result. If there is a false conflict under this definition, the court does not have to engage in a choice of law analysis, and may refer to the states' laws interchangeably. . . . A different line of cases holds that a “false conflict” exists “if only one jurisdiction's governmental interests would be impaired by the application of the other jurisdiction's laws.” Id. at 229 [footnotes omitted].

and . Eric J. McKeown, Simon Says: Time for a New Approach to Choice-of-Law Questions in Indiana, 82 Indiana L.J. 523, 528 n.42 (2007): "Because only New York was interested in the application of its law in this case, it is a perfect illustration of a false conflict. False conflicts arise when only one jurisdiction is truly interested in the application of its law to the legal issue presented."

In my view, the Supreme Court was correct in Phillips Petroleum, and the court of appeals in Hammersmith and law-student McKeown were wrong. Under the second Hammersmith and the McKeown approaches, the court is already engaged in conflict analysis, using the Currie governmental interests system. “False conflict,” in my view, means that the court need not engage in conflicts analysis at all. And the Supreme Court agrees with my preferred definition.

 

HHP