96 N.J.L.J. 449
April 19, 1973
Conflict of Interest
Representing Husband - Driver
and Wife - Passenger
This inquiry concerns representation of claims of a
husband-driver and his wife-passenger in a rear-end collision of
their parked car. Each suffered injuries. The inquirer is filing
suit on the wife's behalf. The husband is represented by other
counsel. The question is whether the wife's attorney may also
represent the husband with respect to his derivative claim for loss
The doctrine of interspousal immunity has recently been discarded by our Supreme Court Immer v. Risko, 56 N.J. 482 (1970), France v. A.P.A. Transport Corp., 56 N.J. 500 (1970). A Supreme Court directive, October 8, 1970 (93 N.J.L.J. 712), provides:
Until further order of the Supreme Court, the policy statement with reference to the representation of driver and passenger will not apply with respect to husband and wife or parent and child. The problem of common representation in such situations will depend upon the circumstances of each case.
In our Opinion 248, 96 N.J.L.J. 93 (1973), this Committee stated that one attorney may represent both spouses only where the liability question is obvious. Under the conditions of the above directive and of our Opinion 248, the wife's attorney may represent the husband's per quod claim provided the husband consents.