In May 1997, Own, a domiciliary and resident of Ontario, Canada, invited Pas, also a domiciliary and resident of Ontario, to take a ride in Own’s new automobile. Own and Pas drove across the border into New York and had several drinks in a Buffalo tavern. On leaving the tavern, they met their friend, Fri, who accepted Own’s invitation to ride back to Canada with them. While still in Buffalo, Own lost control of the car, which went over a curb and hit a telephone pole. Pas and Fri were both seriously injured.
Fri, a domiciliary and resident of Buffalo, duly commenced an action against Own in the United States District Court, seeking $100,000 in damages. Fri’s complaint alleged that the accident was caused solely by Own’s negligence. Own was personally served with a summons and complaint in Buffalo while he was visiting friends. After a trial, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of Fri for $25,000. Own moved to set aside the verdict on the ground that the amount of the verdict failed to satisfy the jurisdictional requirement of the court. The court (1) denied the motion and entered judgment for Fri against Own for $25,000.
Thereafter, Pas commenced an action against Own in New York Supreme Court to recover $150,000 in damages. Pas’ complaint alleged that the accident was caused solely by Own’s negligence. Own was personally served with a summons and complaint in New York. Own’s answer, in addition to a general denial, asserted the Ontario Guest Statute as an affirmative defense. Under that statute, a guest passenger cannot recover damages for personal injuries arising out of an automobile accident against the host owner, unless the host owner was grossly negligent. Pas duly moved to dismiss Own’s affirmative defense on the ground that such defense was insufficient as a matter of law. Own duly cross-moved to dismiss Pas’ complaint on the ground of forum non conveniens. The court (2) granted Pas’ motion and (3) denied Own’s cross-motion.
Thereafter, Pas duly moved for summary judgment, asserting that the prior judgment in favor of Friday conclusively established Own’s liability to Pas. Own opposed the motion on the grounds that (a) the prior judgment did not have such effect, and that (b) in any event, the question of fact as to Pas’ damages precluded summary judgment. The court (4) denied Pas’ motion on both grounds.