Negligence: Cause-In-Fact Flashcards Preview

Torts (James) > Negligence: Cause-In-Fact > Flashcards

Flashcards in Negligence: Cause-In-Fact Deck (11):


Is there a causal connection between the Δ's unreasonable conduct & the Π 's harm?


"But For" Causation

Consider what did happen versus what would have happened if not for Δ's action.


"But For" Causation Considerations

1. Π can't recover if several possible causes are just as reasonable. NY Central RR v. Grimstad.
2. Π can’t recover if Δ could not, by exercise of due care, prevent accident from occurring. Sowles v. Moore.
3. Π isn’t required to offer evidence excluding every other possible cause of the accident. Ingersoll v. Liberty Bank of Buffalo.
4. Sufficient that Π shows facts/conditions from which negligence of Δ & the causation of the accident from which negligence may be reasonably inferred.


“Substantial Factor” Causation

Δ's negligent conduct is a legal cause of harm to another if
it’s a substantial factor in bringing about the harm
no rule of law relieving the actor from liability


Informed Consent Causation

Subjective (MINORITY): Π has to prove he would not have consented but for the failure to obtain information
Objective (MAJORITY): Jury decides whether reasonably prudent patient advised of material would have consented


Loss of a Chance Causation (HARD)

(Matsuyama v. Birnbaum)
1. Π must produce sufficient evidence that a reasonable jury could find Δ's careless conduct was cause-in-fact of the injuries.
2. Then, Π must persuade the jury to determine that more likely than not cause-in-fact is established.
* The preponderance requirement problematic in situations where equity & policy may call for an exception.
i.e. a physician's malpractice further reduces a patient's already <50% chance. Herskovits v. Group Health Cooperative.
3. Restatement Rule 2d: Once Π introduces evidence that Δ’s negligent act or omission increased the risk of harm to a person in Π’s position & that the harm was in fact sustained, whether or not that increased risk was a substantial factor in producing the harm is a question for the jury. Hamil v. Bashline.


Multiple-Party Causation

If two or more independently negligent parties cause a single, indivisible harm, courts generally hold each Δ liable for the entire harm; Π only gets one recovery of damages, not double. Fugere v. Pierce.
Three categories:
1. "True" Joint Liability
2. Vicarious Liability
3. Independent Liability


"True" Joint Liability

Parties deliberately engaged in a joint tort, even though the harm was caused by only one party.


Vicarious Liability

Employer-employee & principal-agent liability.


Independent Liability

Δs treated as jointly & severally liable when dealing with difficult causation.
A. Divisible: Distinct, multiple injuries by separate Δs (burden of proof on Δs)
B. Sequential: Δ1's negligence caused Δ2's negligence (burden of proof on Π)
C. Joint: No certain way to apportion damages


Alternative Liability

(Summers v. Tice)
–Burden of proof must shift to Δs as both are wrongdoers that created a situation where one injured Π .
1. Π can’t prove who is at fault.
2. Δs have better access to the facts.
3. One Δ is guilty.
4. All Δs were negligent.
–Requiring Π to point out which one caused the harm is an unfair position.
–If Δs are independent tortfeasors & thus each liable, Δs should work out apportionment between themselves.