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Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 6 posts ] 
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 Post subject: Torts and Causation
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 7:38 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:09 am
Archived Posts: 10
I am hoping there is someone who can help me understand causation. Cardoza has his own foreseeability analysis in determining duty involving a zone of danger. Then there is the proximate cause analysis of foreseeability. Is there a difference between these two? Is Cardoza looking at foreseeable harms and the Proximate cause analysis looking at whether the type of accident is foreseeable? What does this mean and would the analysis of these two foreseeability tests be different in the Palsgraf case?
Thanks for any help


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 8:10 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2006 4:36 pm
Archived Posts: 232
Wow... this brings me back.

Cardozo's (note the last o!) little talk about foreseeability in Palsgraf is a subset of the general proximate cause doctrine. There are several types of unforeseeability that would excuse liability, including unforeseeable harm (e.g. eggshell plaintiff), superseding cause (e.g. third party intervention), and unforeseeable victim (e.g. Palsgraf).

Cardozo is trying to figure out if the victim in the Palsgraf case is a foreseeable victim of the harm. Would a small explosion at one end of a train platform likely cause a scale to fall on a person standing at the other end of the platform? His answer was no... the victim was not within the zone of danger of the explosion and so it is not foreseeable that the victim would be hurt.

Take a step back and view the totality of your proximate cause notes. Then it should make more sense how Palsgraf fits in.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 8:49 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 4:18 pm
Archived Posts: 866
When Cardozo was discussing foreseeability in Palsgraff he was actually discussing a foreseeable plaintiff in the context of Duty. He held that D did not owe a duty to P since she was not foreseeable. He didn't even get into Proximate Cause.

However Foreseeability is only important in the plaintiff and type of harm. Like jhett said, unforeseeable degree of harm and unforeseeable manner of the harm is not important.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 9:34 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:38 pm
Archived Posts: 2225
Yea, foreseeability really muddies the waters.

You have foreseeability in Duty - the foreseeable plaintiff
You have a sense of foreseeability in breach and unreasonably risk - B<PxL (Probability is somewhat related to foreseeability); and
You have foreseeability in causation - was the type of harm foreseeable (the two approaches are the direct approach and the the foreseeability approach to causation).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 12:32 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2007 6:47 pm
Archived Posts: 68
Causation and Proximate Cause are two very different things.

Causation is the actual cause of the harm. In Palsgraff, the actual cause was the package exploding. When looking at causation alone, it would seem that LIRR would be liable. The but-for test and the substantial factor test would both support LIRR's liability.

However, when looking at the proximate cause, it is clear that LIRR should not be responsible. To check proximate cause follow these steps:

1. Ask - what was the negligence? In Palsgraff, the negligence was the LIRR employee pushing the passenger and causing him to drop the box.

2. Ask - what was the risk created from that negligence? In Palsgraff, the risk from pushing the passenger was that the passenger himself could have been hurt if the push was really hard or that the employee's push could cause damage to the contents of the box that the passenger was holding.

3. Ask - was the injury that occurred a result of the risk that was created from that negligence? In Palsgraff, the harm was not within the scope of the risk (see above). Thus, it was not foreseeable. Pushing someone on to a train with a package in their hand does not create a risk that a bystander will be hurt by an explosion. LIRR only would have been liable for damage to the passenger who was pushed on the train and possibly for the contents of the package that was dropped.

This analysis will work to check proximate cause every time. If the answer to any of the questions is no, there is no proximate cause and no liability.

Be careful using general terms like foreseeability. Explain why or why not something is foreseeable. The three questions above will guide you through a tight analysis on an exam.

Causation itself has nothing to do with foreseeability. It just shows that harm/injury ocurred.

People have mentioned duty in some other responses. Proximate cause is a separate element of negligence from duty. Be careful not to mix up the elements on an exam question. You will lose points if you crosswire and talk about duty if it is really a proximate cause issue and vice versa.

I hope this helps.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 8:35 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:38 pm
Archived Posts: 2225
Quote:
Cause in fact and Proximate Cause are two very different things.


Fixed that for you.

Quote:
However, when looking at the proximate cause, it is clear that LIRR should not be responsible. To check proximate cause follow these steps:

1. Ask - what was the negligence? In Palsgraff, the negligence was the LIRR employee pushing the passenger and causing him to drop the box.

2. Ask - what was the risk created from that negligence? In Palsgraff, the risk from pushing the passenger was that the passenger himself could have been hurt if the push was really hard or that the employee's push could cause damage to the contents of the box that the passenger was holding.

3. Ask - was the injury that occurred a result of the risk that was created from that negligence? In Palsgraff, the harm was not within the scope of the risk (see above). Thus, it was not foreseeable. Pushing someone on to a train with a package in their hand does not create a risk that a bystander will be hurt by an explosion. LIRR only would have been liable for damage to the passenger who was pushed on the train and possibly for the contents of the package that was dropped.

This analysis will work to check proximate cause every time. If the answer to any of the questions is no, there is no proximate cause and no liability.


Exactly. Of course, this only checks the "foreseeability" approach to legal (proximate) causation. The OP's prof may want him to also analyze the case according to the "direct" approach (the Polemis case). If so, this won't work.

Quote:
People have mentioned duty in some other responses. Proximate cause is a separate element of negligence from duty. Be careful not to mix up the elements on an exam question. You will lose points if you crosswire and talk about duty if it is really a proximate cause issue and vice versa.


Yea. To the OP - Duty asks about the foreseeable plaintiff. Legal Cause asks about the foreseeable type of harm.


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