Huh? How is a doctor fucking up foreseeable?
A woman told her friend that she believed she had a peanut allergy, although it had not been diagnosed. In an attempt to prove her long-held theory that peanut allergies do not really exist, the friend decided to surreptitiously give the woman some peanuts. The friend invited the woman over for lunch, assuring her that the lunch was peanut-free. In fact, the friend had substituted peanuts for pine nuts in the pesto on their sandwiches. After they finished eating, the friend began to feel guilty and admitted to her plan. When the woman saw hives forming on her arm, she decided to go to the doctor. The doctor told the woman that the hives were likely due to anxiety, but that he would provide an ointment. Due to a mix-up, the doctor ordered the nurse to provide the woman with an antibiotic to which the woman was allergic. The woman suffered a severe reaction to the antibiotic. The woman has sued her friend and her doctor for negligence. The friend has filed a motion to dismiss the claims against her.
Is the friend likely to succeed in having the claims against her dismissed?
A. No, because the doctor’s error and the resulting harm were foreseeable.
B. No, because the friend’s actions were the direct cause of the woman’s injuries.
C. Yes, because the doctor’s error was the direct cause of the woman’s injuries.
D. Yes, because the doctor’s error was a superseding cause of the woman’s injuries.
Incorrect: Answer choice A is correct. To succeed on a negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove proximate causation. Proximate cause exists when the defendant’s actions are a direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Or, if an intervening force occurs between the defendant’s act and the plaintiff’s injury, the defendant still may be liable if the intervening force was foreseeable. Medical malpractice is a foreseeable intervening force. In this case, the doctor’s error was foreseeable after the friend intentionally gave the woman a food to which she may have been allergic. Accordingly, the friend was the proximate cause of the woman’s injuries. Answer choice B is incorrect because the doctor’s negligence in providing the woman with the wrong medication was the direct cause of the woman’s injuries. Answer choice C is incorrect because, although the doctor’s error was the direct cause of the woman’s injuries, the doctor’s actions were a foreseeable intervening force. Accordingly, the friend is unlikely to succeed in having the claims dismissed. Answer choice D is incorrect because the doctor’s actions were not a superseding cause of the woman’s injuries. When an intervening cause is unforeseeable, it may become a superseding cause and cut off the defendant’s liability. Medical malpractice is foreseeable, however. Thus, the doctor’s actions were not a superseding cause.