Proximate Cause in Civil Damages Act Cases

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2 William Mitchell Journal of Law & Practice 6, 2009


This article focuses on the proximate cause standard the court adopted in Osborne. It offers a slightly different standard for resolving proximate cause issues that is consistent with Osborne, but more clearly separates proximate cause into causation and legal limits components. The real problem will not be with the application of the substantial factor test. Given the baggage the test carries, a move away from that standard to the simpler but-for standard is not likely to occur, but understanding that the other part of the substantial factor test – the scope of liability issue – is distinct from the cause-in-fact issue, will permit a clearer focus on the essential issue that has to be answered, which is whether a bar’s responsibility should extend to the kind of injury that ultimately occurred.