Monday, September 16, 2013

Proximate Cause: Tragic Events Underlie Causation Issue.

Thanks to my colleague Robert Bird for sharing this news story.

The Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star reports that a Nebraska man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against WalMart and the maker of the plastic bags into which WalMart associates bag groceries.  Apparently, the man's wife purchased two 42 ounce cans of a Lachoy product and a 2 lb. bag of rice.  The WalMart cashier allegedly put all items into one bag without double-bagging.  In the way to the car, the bag broke, one of the cans fell out breaking the victims toe and causing a gash.  Eventually the gash became infected and subsequently resulted in the victim's death nearly a year later.

Assuming the cashier's failure to double-bag the groceries is a breach of the duty of care, and assuming that the plaintiff was not more than 50% negligent for not double bagging it on her own or using a grocery cart to move the groceries to her car, was the injury a natural and probable and foreseeable result of the breach of duty? Is there a sufficient legal nexus or proximity between the duty breach and the death? It sounds like a law school exam question.

See other posts on causation here and here.

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