At common law neither spouse could maintain an action against the other. With the passage of the Married Woman's Acts in the mid-nineteenth century it was agreed that a cause of action would then lie for property torts, but there was confusion as to whether the statutes gave a new cause of action for personal torts between the spouses. It therefore became a question of statutory interpretation, with the terminology of most of the statutes being consistent with either conclusion. The first courts to interpret the statutes held that no cause of action had been conferred and thereby laid the foundation for what subsequently became the majority view-that immunity was still the rule as to personal torts between spouses. However, a forceful dissent to a United States Supreme Court decision indicated that a new cause of action had arisen with the enactment of the statutes, and the minority view thus evolved. The result is that today much confusion exists, with a majority of the courts still recognizing the interspousal immunity rule as to personal torts, but an ever-increasing minority allowing such action between the spouses.
Interspousal Immunity-Automobile Negligence,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
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