The question is whether the full faith and credit which the Constitution requires to be given to a Massachusetts workmen's compensation statute precludes California from applying its own workmen's compensation act in the case of an injury suffered by a Massachusetts employee of a Massachusetts employer while in California in the course of his employment.
Petitioner, an insurance carrier, under the California Workmen's Compensation, Insurance and Safety Act, for the Pacific Coast branch of the employer, Dewey & Almy Chemical Company, a Massachusetts corporation, filed its petition in the California District Court of Appeal to set aside an award of compensation to an employee by the California Industrial Accident Commission. The grounds of the petition were, among others, that the employee, because he was regularly employed at the head office of the corporation in Massachusetts and was temporarily in California on the business of the employer when injured there, was subject to the workmen's compensation law of Massachusetts, and that the California Commission, in applying the California Act and in refusing to recognize the Massachusetts statute as a defense, had denied to the latter the full faith and credit to which it was entitled under Article IV, § 1 of the Constitution. The order of the District Court of Appeal denying the petition was affirmed by the Supreme Court of California. 10 Cal.2d 567; 75 P.2d 1058. We granted certiorari, 305 U.S. 563, the question presented being of public importance.
The injured employee, a resident of Massachusetts, was regularly employed there under written contract in the laboratories of the Dewey & Almy Chemical Company as a chemical engineer and research chemist. In
He instituted the present proceeding before the California Commission for the award of compensation under the California Act for injuries received in the course of his employment in that state, naming petitioner as insurance carrier under that Act; the Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company, as insurer under the Massachusetts Act, was made a party. The California Commission directed petitioner to pay the compensation prescribed by the California Act, including the amounts of lien claims filed in the proceeding for medical, hospital and nursing services and certain further amounts necessary for such services in the future.
By the applicable Massachusetts statute, §§ 24, 26, c. 152, Mass. Gen. Laws (Ter. Ed. 1932), an employee of a person insured under the Act, as was the employer in this case, is deemed to waive his "right of action at common law or under the law of any other jurisdiction" to recover for personal injuries unless he shall have given appropriate notice to the employer in writing that he elects to retain such rights. Section 26 directs that without the notice his right to recover be restricted to the compensation provided by the Act for injuries received in the course of his employment, "whether within or without the commonwealth." See McLaughlin's Case, 274 Mass. 217; 174 N.E. 338; Migues' Case, 281 Mass. 373; 183 N.E. 847.
Petitioner, which as insurance carrier has assumed the liability of the employer under the California Act, relies on the provisions of the Massachusetts Act that the compensation shall be that prescribed for injuries suffered in the course of the employment, whether within or without the state. It insists that since the contract of employment was entered into in Massachusetts and the
We may assume that these provisions are controlling upon the parties in Massachusetts, and that since they are applicable to a Massachusetts contract of employment between a Massachusetts employer and employee, they do not infringe due process. Bradford Electric Light Co. v. Clapper, 286 U.S. 145, 156, et seq. Similarly the constitutionality of the provisions of the California statute awarding compensation for injuries to an employee occurring within its borders, and for injuries as well occurring elsewhere, when the contract of employment was entered into within the state, is not open to question. Alaska Packers Assn. v. Industrial Accident Comm'n, 294 U.S. 532; New York Central R. Co. v. White, 243 U.S. 188; Mountain Timber Co. v. Washington, 243 U.S. 219.
While in the circumstances now presented, either state, if its system for administering workmen's compensation permitted, would be free to adopt and enforce the remedy provided by the statute of the other, here each has provided for itself an exclusive remedy for a liability which it was constitutionally authorized to impose. But neither is bound, apart from the compulsion of the full faith and credit clause, to enforce the laws of the other, Milwaukee County v. White Co., 296 U.S. 268, 272; and the law of neither can by its own force determine the choice of law to be applied in the other. Cf. Ohio v. Chattanooga Boiler & Tank Co., 289 U.S. 439. Petitioner, pointing to the conflict between the provisions of the two statutes, insists that the full faith and credit clause requires recognition of the Massachusetts statute as providing the exclusive
To the extent that California is required to give full faith and credit to the conflicting Massachusetts statute it must be denied the right to apply in its own courts its own statute, constitutionally enacted in pursuance of its policy to provide compensation for employees injured in their employment within the state. It must withhold the remedy given by its own statute to its residents by way of compensation for medical, hospital and nursing services rendered to the injured employee, and it must remit him to Massachusetts to secure the administrative remedy which that state has provided. We cannot say that the full faith and credit clause goes so far.
While the purpose of that provision was to preserve rights acquired or confirmed under the public acts and judicial proceedings of one state by requiring recognition of their validity in other states, the very nature of the federal union of states, to which are reserved some of the attributes of sovereignty, precludes resort to the full faith and credit clause as the means for compelling a state to substitute the statutes of other states for its own statutes dealing with a subject matter concerning which it is competent to legislate. As was pointed out in Alaska Packers Assn. v. Industrial Accident Comm'n, supra, 547: "A rigid and literal enforcement of the full faith and credit clause, without regard to the statute of the forum, would lead to the absurd result that, wherever the conflict arises, the statute of each state must be enforced in the courts of the other, but cannot be in its own." And in cases like the present it would create an impasse which
It has often been recognized by this Court that there are some limitations upon the extent to which a state may be required by the full faith and credit clause to enforce even the judgment of another state in contravention of its own statutes or policy. See Wisconsin v. Pelican Insurance Co., 127 U.S. 265; Huntington v. Attrill, 146 U.S. 657; Finney v. Guy, 189 U.S. 335; Milwaukee County v. White Co., supra, 273 et seq.; see also Clarke v. Clarke, 178 U.S. 186; Olmsted v. Olmsted, 216 U.S. 386; Hood v. McGehee, 237 U.S. 611; cf. Gasquet v. Fenner, 247 U.S. 16. And in the case of statutes, the extrastate effect of which Congress has not prescribed, as it may under the constitutional provision, we think the conclusion is unavoidable that the full faith and credit clause does not require one state to substitute for its own statute, applicable to persons and events within it, the conflicting statute of another state, even though that statute is of controlling force in the courts of the state of its enactment with respect to the same persons and events.
This Court must determine for itself how far the full faith and credit clause compels the qualification or denial of rights asserted under the laws of one state, that of the forum, by the statute of another state. See Alaska Packers Assn. v. Industrial Accident Comm'n, supra, 547. But there would seem to be little room for the exercise of that function when the statute of the forum is the
Bradford Electric Light Co. v. Clapper, supra, on which petitioner relies, fully recognized this limitation on the full faith and credit clause. It was there held that a federal court in New Hampshire, in a suit brought against a Vermont employer by his Vermont employee to recover for an injury suffered in the course of his employment while temporarily in New Hampshire, was bound to apply
Here, California legislation not only conflicts with that of Massachusetts providing compensation for the Massachusetts employee if injured within the state of California, but it expressly provides, for the guidance of its own commission and courts, that "No contract, rule or regulation shall exempt the employer from liability for the compensation fixed by this Act." The Supreme Court of California has declared in its opinion in this case that it is the policy of the state, as expressed in its Constitution and Compensation Act, to apply its own provisions for compensation, to the exclusion of all others, and that "It would be obnoxious to that policy to deny persons who have been injured in this state the right to apply for compensation when to do so might require physicians and hospitals to go to another state to collect charges for medical care and treatment given to such persons."
Full faith and credit does not here enable one state to legislate for the other or to project its laws across state
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.