The answer is probably no because the intervening action was (or should have been) reasonably foreseeable to the homeowner. Oliver v. South Carolina Dep’t of Hwys. All Rights Reserved. However, “scintilla of the evidence” does not mean “suspend all judgment” or give license to the court to refuse to critically examine the fact pattern to determine if a genuine issue of material fact exists. superseding cause — An act of a third person or other force which by its intervention prevents the actor from being liable for harm to another which his antecedent negligence is a substantial factor in bringing about. Donegan v. Collins & Sons Fine Jewelry, Inc. v. Carolina Safety Sys., Inc., 296 S.C. 219, 371 S.E.2d 539 (Ct. App. The independent intervening cause in this case was due to the Carpenter’s own conduct in refusing to take his medication in accordance with his doctor’s instructions. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. He is also active in the firm’s professional liability and appellate practices. The California Supreme Court recently has considered the superseding intervening cause cases, as one eminent scholar in the field of torts has declared courts should do, fn. In a negligence action, the plaintiff must prove proximately-caused damages. In a negligence action, the plaintiff must prove proximately-caused damages. The court must determine whether the employee was acting unreasonably when the event occurred. An intervening act, which is a normal response created by negligence, is not a superseding, intervening cause so as to relieve the original wrongdoer of liability, provided the intervening act could have reasonably been foreseen and the conduct was a substantial factor in … In other words, an unforeseeable or improbable intervening cause will constitute a superseding cause, and will allow a defendant to escape liability. Only when the evidence is susceptible to only one inference does it become a matter of law for the court.”) (citations omitted); Leon Green, Rationale of Proximate Cause 132 (1927) (“Causal relation is one of fact. Website by. Put all these together and a defendant pursuing such an outcome has a fighting chance. 2009), aff’d, 395 S.C. 129, 716 S.E.2d 910 (2011) (affirming the Circuit Court’s grant of summary judgment, which included the conclusion that, as a matter of law, the defendant’s negligence exceeded any negligence on the part of the defendants); see also Bloom v. Ravoira, 339 S.C. 417, 422, 529 S.E.2d 710, 713 (2000) (holding If the sole reasonable inference that may be drawn from the evidence is that the plaintiff’s negligence exceeded fifty percent, the circuit court may determine judgment as a matter of law in favor of the defendant); Small v. Pioneer Mach., Inc., 329 S.C. 448, 464, 494 S.E.2d 835, 843 (Ct. App. The attorney listings on this site are paid attorney advertising. Id. Most personal injury actions in South Carolina sound in negligence. Please reference the Terms of Use and the Supplemental Terms for specific information related to your state. Transp., 309 S.C. 313, 422 S.E.2d 128 (1992). 380, 383, 502 … As the Supreme Court of Georgia pointed out, the effect of intervening or superseding causes depends upon whether the act of a third party will render the earlier act too remote to maintain the liability of the defendant. A defendant's superseding intervening cause argument was characterized by that court as "nothing more than an improper attempt to inject comparative negligence principles into this strict product liability action." Intervening Cause and Superseding Cause Superseding cause might be thought of as being a step above intervening cause. A superseding cause, also known as an “intervening cause,” may be proven to have substantially caused the accident. An independent intervening cause can be reckless or intentional misconduct or negligence. An intervening cause is elevated to the status of intervening superseding cause when a subsequent act breaks the causal chain of the original negligent act and the P's harm. An independent intervening cause can be reckless or intentional misconduct or negligence. the negligence of the defendant was a proximate cause of the plaintiff's [injury] [damage]. The defense of superseding intervening cause is a defense that uses negligence principles. Not all intervening acts are superseding causes. Petrol's negligence is an intervening cause which gets Flameout off the liability hook. The critical issue of fault in a personal injury case usually comes down to proving that someone was negligent in connection with the underlying accident or incident. This is because our courts have held generally that when, between original negligence and the occurrence of an injury, there intervenes a willful, malicious, and criminal act of a third person producing the injury, but that such was not intended by the negligent person and could not have been foreseen by him, the causal chain between the negligence and the accident is broken. In contrast to an intervening cause, which does not relieve the original defendant of liability, a superseding cause usually does relieve the original defendant of liability. Although the courts are divided on this question,8 they often hold that a negligent intervening An intervening cause can be the action of another person (who is generally called a "third party"), and it can also be an act of nature, such as a branch falling from a tree or a weather-related event. • “[A]n intervening act does not amount to a ‘superseding cause’ relieving the negligent defendant of liability if it was reasonably foreseeable: ‘[An] actor may be liable if his negligence is a substantial factor in causing an injury, and he is Understanding Independent Intervening Causes. Causation in fact is proved by establishing the plaintiff’s injury would not have occurred “but for” the defendant’s negligence. Defenses against Negligence A. Superseding, or Intervening Event: only liable for foreseeable events B. So, the second pedestrian’s action was an intervening act, but was it a superseding act? The key difference between an intervening cause and a superseding cause is foreseeability. In a superseding intervening cause action, just as in a regular negligence action, there are two parts to determining legal cause. As well, the adroit use of discovery devices from the inception of the case such as well-drafted requests to admit and carefully crafted deposition questions built to engender admissions from the plaintiff and material witnesses, which support the conclusion that the evidence is susceptible to only one inference, is mission critical too. Thus, for an intervening act to be a superseding cause that relieves an actor from liability, the intervening act must be a cause that could not have been reasonably foreseen or anticipated. “An intervening act will be deemed a superseding cause and will serve to relieve defendant of liability when the act is of such an extraordinary nature or so attenuates defendants negligence from the ultimate injury that responsibility for the injury may not be reasonably attributed to the defendant (see, e.g., Martinez v. at 316, 422 S.E.2d at 130. superseding cause n. the same as an "intervening cause" or "supervening cause," which is an event which occurs after the initial act leading to an accident and substantially causes the accident. Small v. Pioneer Mach., Inc., 329 S.C. 448, 467, 494 S.E.2d 835, 844 (Ct. App. If the original negligence continues to the time of the injury and contributes substantially thereto in conjunction with the intervening act, each may be a proximate, concurring cause for which full liability may be imposed. 1988); This above-cited case law alone creates a tall hurdle for defendants seeking summary judgment in intervening and superseding act cases. Filed Under: Blog, Legal Alerts, Retail & Hospitality Law Blog, Spotlight Tagged With: Christian Stegmaier, retail & hospitality. This has an effect on who should be held liable for the damages caused by the accident. causing the injury. Must identify the original act of negligence, and then the subsequent act. If you leave an open hole in a sidewalk, it's reasonable to foresee someone falling into it, especially if the sidewalk is crowded. It can be achieved, but it’s a challenge. An intervening cause is elevated to the status of intervening superseding cause when a subsequent act breaks the causal chain of the original negligent act and the P's harm. Christian Stegmaier is a shareholder and chair of the Retail & Hospitality Practice Group at Collins & Lacy in Columbia. So, a key part of the definition here is that the intervening cause has to occur after the defendant’s negligent action or inaction. Professors throw these terms around as if they are household words. Law students have, for eons, felt the pain of “superseding” versus “intervening”. 3. This is the biggest difference between an intervening cause and a superseding cause. Other jurisdictions do not use the term superseding cause. Meanwhile, the driver of a nearby car puts her vehicle in reverse and runs over the person who just got off the bus. In other words, a superseding cause is an intervening act that is legally sufficient to transfer blame for the harm in question from the defendant to a third party, or to a natural event. The first part of the analysis is the cause-in-fact analysis, which is a determination of whether the defendant’s actions were a “cause-in-fact” of the injuries. Fraternity, 291 S.C. 140, 147, 352 S.E.2d 488, 493 (Ct. App. The information provided on this site is not legal advice, does not constitute a lawyer referral service, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or will be formed by use of the site. Let’s say a person is getting off a bus in a parking lot. A superseding cause is an unforeseeable intervening cause. Collins & Sons Fine Jewelry, 296 S.C. at 229, 371 S.E.2d at 545 (Ct. App. Arguably, the lack of foreseeably analysis becomes easier for the moving party when the intervening and superseding act in question is of an intentional and/or criminal nature. • “ [A]n intervening act does not amount to a ‘superseding cause’ relieving the negligent defendant of liability if it was reasonably foreseeable: ‘ [An] actor may be liable if his negligence is a substantial factor in causing an injury, and he is not relieved of liability because of the intervening act of a … It is always for the jury, except when the facts are such that they will support only one reasonable inference.”) (footnote and emphasis in original omitted). Voting Absentee in South Carolina in the 2020 Election, Announcing THE LEGAL BENCH, Our New Podcast, South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission to Reactivate Fines for Reports and Forms on May 1, 2020. The bus passenger who got hit sues the bus company for failing to provide a safe place for passengers to disembark. In some states, the information on this website may be considered a lawyer referral service. Model Jury Charge (Civil) 6.14; see alsoDavis v. (Get the basics on negligence in a personal injury case.). There can’t be any independent intervening causes that break the chain of causation. Hurd v. Williamsburg Cty., 363 S.C. 421, 611 S.E.2d 488 (2005); Rush v. Blanchard, 310 S.C. 375, 426 S.E.2d 802 (1993). The California Supreme Court recently has considered the superseding intervening cause cases, as one eminent scholar in the field of torts has declared courts should do, fn. Superseding cause is when an independent event occurred during an accident that keeps the negligent party (the defendant) safe from liability. You’re right in the middle of one of the hardest parts of Torts (the proximate cause nightmare) and weird words are exactly what you need…. INTERVENING NEGLIGENCE and difficult when that act is a negligent one.7 The question then becomes: Should the intervening negligence of X be regarded as a "superseding cause," relieving D of liability? Additionally, getting the motion in front of a presiding trial judge with a reputation to being even-keeled and open to grant summary judgment when the circumstances warrant is also a fundamental requirement. An intervening cause may break the connection between the injury and the defendant’s action, and thus destroy a negligence claim. 1997) (“The particular facts and circumstances of each case determine whether the question of proximate cause should be decided by the court or by the jury. In contrast to an intervening cause, which does not relieve the original defendant of liability, a superseding cause usually does relieve the original defendant of liability. In tort law, an intervening cause is an event that occurs after a tortfeasor's initial act of negligence and causes injury/harm to a victim. Intervening cause — An intervening cause is a potential defense to the tort of negligence, if it is an unforeseeable, and therefore superseding intervening cause, rather than a foreseeable intervening cause.For example, if a defendant had carelessly spilled gasoline … Wikipedia Thus, notwithstanding Hancock’s “scintilla of the evidence” standard, the trial court’s discretion to engage in a critical analysis of the facts, as articulated in Bass, Bloom, and Small remains good law in South Carolina. Hurd v. Williamsburg Cty., 363 S.C. 421, 611 S.E.2d 488 (2005); Rush v. The term superseding cause refers to some event that occurs after the initial act that caused an accident, or some other injury. This website is for informational purposes only. An independent intervening cause is an act or event (by a party other than the defendant) that happens after the negligent act and injures the plaintiff. Sign up to receive our e-mail newsletters straight to your inbox! Like an intervening cause, a superseding cause occurs between the defendant’s action and the plaintiff’s injury, … labelling superseding cause as "an act of a third person or other force which by its intervention prevents the actor from being liable for harm to another which his antecedent negligence is a. substantial factor in If it is the recipe for success for a defendant to escape liability they often hold that a homeowner a... Intervening acts of wrongdoing do not necessarily indicate similar results can be reckless or misconduct... Mach., Inc., 296 S.C. at 428, 611 S.E.2d at 545 ( Ct. App, S.C.. Of duty means that a negligent intervening or superseding negligence causing the injury throw these Terms around as if they household... 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