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Flashcards in Causation Deck (22):

Barnett v Chelsea and Kensington Hospital

Factual Causation

- Hospital breached duty of care owed to a patient.
- Doctor failed to carry out proper examination.
- Patient died of arsenic poisoning after drinking poisoned tea.
- Evidence showed he would have died even if doctor HAD examined him.
- Little or no chance that necessary medicine would have been administered on time.
- No factual causation. 'But for' test could not be satisfied.


Wilsher v Essex

Multiple Independent Causes

- Premature baby suffered condition that caused him to go blind.
- Evidence to suggest blindness could have been caused by 1 of 5 factors, including doctor's negligence (therefore 1 tortious & 4 non-tortious factors).
- Applied 'but for' test.
- Could not prove on balance of probabilities (51%) that blindness caused by breach as opposed to other factors.


Hotson v East Berkshire Health Authority

Loss of Chance (medical negligence)

- Child fell from tree and broke leg.
- Hospital was negligent in its treatment and child left paralysed.
- Medical evidence showed 75% risk of paralysis even if hospital treatment perfect.
- 'But for' failed - C could only prove 25% chance breach caused paralysis.
- Originally awarded 25% of value of the claim, but H of L rejected this. Claim failed.


Gregg v Scott

- Rejection of claim for loss of life expectancy due to negligent failure to diagnose claimant's cancer which reduced survival rate by half.
- Courts reluctant to apply 'loss of chance' argument to medical negligence situations.


Allied Maples Group v Simmons & Simmons

- SS negligence meant that C lost chance to negotiate a better deal.
- Courts allowed claim. Causation successful as C able to prove real and substantial chance seller would have agreed to the clause.


Bonnington Castings v Wardaw

Multiple Cumulative Causes

- C contracted respiratory disease from dust exposure at work.
- Claimed compensation in negligence from his employers.
- Some exposure deemed to be natural consequence of work being carried out (non-tortious).
- Some exposure due to D's breach of duty.
- Non-tortious and tortious factors operated together.

- Apply 'but for' --> but for dust exposure, C would not have contracted the disease.
- Fails 'but for' though because can't tell how much of the loss was caused by the tortious exposure.

- Material contribution test introduced.
- If D's breach can be proved to have materially contributed to C developing the disease, D would be liable for the loss.
- Material contribution means 'more than negligible'


Bailey v Ministry of Defence

- Showed that material contribution test can be applied to more than just industrial cases.
- C suffered brain damage due to cardiac arrest.
- Cardiac arrest either caused by natural progression of C's condition (non-tortious) or negligent lack of care by D (tortious).
- Medical experts could not say if negligent treatment was on B of P the cause.
- But able to prove the tortious/non-tortious factors worked together.
- Factual causation satisfied - the breach materially contributed to the brain damage.


McGhee v National Coal Board

- What happens when you don't know whether the multiple causes acted independently or cumulatively?
- C contracted dermatitis due to brick dust exposure.
- Worked with brick dust during working hours - no breach re: exposure (non-tortious cause).
- But D did not provide washing facilities to wash off at end of day, so time on skin extended (tortious).

- But for dust exposure, D would not have contracted dermatitis.
- Important difference to Bonnington.
- Medical evidence could not establish that dermatitis was a cumulative condition - could have been due to single exposure. Could have been caused by non-tortious dust or tortious dust.
- BUT could establish that longer dust on C's skin, greater risk of contracting dermatitis.

- Distinguish from Wilsher in that there was more than one causal agent, whereas here there was one (dust).


Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd & Others

- D worked for numerous employers at different times in 1960s.
- 25 years later developed form of lung cancer associated with asbestos exposure.
- Science could not establish if disease caused by cumulative exposure to A or single asbestos fibre.
- C of A decided one fibre to blame.
- 'But for' failed - could not prove which employer exposed C to single fibre.
- C might have been exposed to single fibre before started working for D.
- Held that D materially increased the risk.

KEY POINT: Weigh fact that D might be held liable for damage he did not cause against fact that people who suffer harm due to employers' breach need to be compensated for their loss.


Bonnington Castings v Wardlaw; McGhee v National Coal Board

- In both Bonnington and McGhee, D was held 100% liable for loss despite non-tortious factor.


Fitzgerald v Lane & Patel

- C crossing road when lights were red.
- First D driver collided with him, C thrown into road where run over by second D driver.
- Both drivers held negligent.
- But C also negligent.
- Each held one third to blame - C by 50%, two Ds 25% each.


Humber Oil Terminal Trustee v Sivand

- Acts of God/Natural Events

- D's tanker negligently collided with and damaged C's dock - property damage.
- During repair further expenses occurred when seabed collapsed.
- Further expenses caused by sea bed collapse still recoverable - collapse not a NAI as it was in realms of foreseeability.


Meah v McCreamer

- C suffered injury in road accident leading to personality disorder.
- Disorder led C to commit various criminal acts including rape.
- Disorder linked to original tort, could not break chain of causation.
KEY POINT: if later act can be linked to D's breach, no break.


Knightley v Johns


- First D caused road traffic accident.
- Police inspector negligently handled traffic afterwards.
- Negligence led to claimant police officer being killed (ordered to drive down tunnel against traffic flow).
- First D argued negligent handling broke chain of causation. Police inspector's actions unforeseeable.


Scott v Shepherd

- If 3rd party acted instinctively i.e. heat of the moment, no break in chain of causation.


Robinson v Post Office

- C injured through D's negligence and given anti-tetanus injection which he was allergic too.
- Doctor should have carried out allergy test.
- Did not break chain of causation as not considered 'palpably wrong'.
- Doctor's actions foreseeable and connected to original breach.
- Could not break chain.
- D liable for initial injuries and extent to which they were made worse by doctor's subsequent actions.


Spencer v Wincanton

- Strike balance between allowing Cs to live lives free from criticism and imposing to onerous liability on Ds.
- Emphasised importance of fairness - taking into account if further injury is caused by the claimant not the tortfeasor (who caused original injury).


McKew v Holland

- C's leg sometimes gave way without notice due to injury caused by D's negligence.
- Advised to be careful going down stairs etc.
- Carrying child down steep stairs, fell, further injuries.
- Test used - unreasonable and unforeseeable? Yes, not fair to hold D responsible for these additional injuries.


Wieland v Cyril Lord Carpets

- C had neck brace due to D's original negligence.
- Fell down some stairs.
- Should D be responsible? Yes, she was not doing something so unreasonable/taking extra risk. Would not have fallen down stairs if not for D's original negligence.


McFarlane v Tayside HA

- Wrongful life claims now restricted - unlikely claim will succeed resulting from birth of healthy baby due to failed sterilisation.
- But again here refusal to have abortion not a NAI.


Reeves v MPC

- Actions of C will not be treated as NAI where duty of care on D requires them specifically to prevent C taking certain actions.
- Police under duty to ensure prisoner did not commit suicide (known suicide risk).
- Prisoner killed himself due to failings by custody officers.
- Prisoner's actions did NOT count as NAI.


Corr v IBC Vehicles

- C suffered head injury in accident at work.
- Physical injuries and also PTSD.
- Six years later killed himself.
- Employer held responsible, although no specific duty to prevent C's suicide.
- Rare for courts to find acts of C breaks chain as C's contribution to loss can be dealt with by contributory negligence defence.