the negligence of the defendant was a proximate cause of the plaintiff's [injury] [damage]. 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 superseding cause means that a third party’s actions intervene and cause the accident. But in this situation, the actions of the car driver may be considered a superseding cause of the passenger's injuries, whether or not the bus company could also be considered negligent. Even where a defendant’s conduct may be a source of negligence, the negligence may not be the proximate cause of the claimed injury. 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. • “[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 ‘Concurrent negligence consists of the negligence of two or more So, what is the recipe for success for a defendant seeking summary judgment in an intervening and superseding act case? Fraternity, 291 S.C. 140, 147, 352 S.E.2d 488, 493 (Ct. App. Professors throw these terms around as if they are household words. 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. And as part of establishing the negligence, the injured person must show that the at-fault party's action (or inaction) was a cause (sometimes called a "proximate" cause in legalese) of the resulting injuries. Not all intervening acts are superseding causes. 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. If you leave an open hole in a sidewalk, it's reasonable to foresee someone falling into it, especially if the sidewalk is crowded. 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…. 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. Your use of this website constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Use, Supplemental Terms, Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Christian Stegmaier is a shareholder and chair of the Retail & Hospitality Practice Group at Collins & Lacy in Columbia. causing the injury. The answer is probably no because the intervening action was (or should have been) reasonably foreseeable to the homeowner. When making determinations regarding whether proximate cause exists, parties will want to consider whether a superseding or intervening cause for a claimant’s injury is a defense to claims. 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. In a negligence action, the plaintiff must prove proximately-caused damages. Sparks from the fire cause Petrol's truck to explode, sending the fire on the way to Rancher's barns and home, which burn down. 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. Professors throw these terms around as if they are household words. A superseding cause is an unforeseeable intervening cause. A superseding cause disrupts the causal chain because the link between the defendant’s conduct and … Proximate cause requires proof of both causation in fact and legal cause. 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. An independent intervening cause can be reckless or intentional misconduct or negligence. Let’s say that a homeowner digs a hole into a sidewalk and negligently leaves it open without any warning to pedestrians. Website by. Id. This website is for informational purposes only. 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. ... A superseding cause is an unforeseeable intervening cause. The key difference between an intervening cause and a superseding cause is foreseeability. Superseding cause is a defense to negligence. Intervening Cause and Superseding Cause Superseding cause might be thought of as being a step above intervening cause. The second pedestrian was also likely negligent for crowding the plaintiff into the hole. Oliver v. South Carolina Dep’t of Hwys. In these jurisdictions intervening cause describes any cause that comes between a defendant's conduct and the resulting injury, and an intervening cause that relieves a defendant of liability is called a superseding cause. An independent intervening cause can be reckless or intentional misconduct or negligence. 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. Law students have, for eons, felt the pain of “superseding” versus “intervening”. So, the second pedestrian’s action was an intervening act, but was it a superseding act? Small v. Pioneer Mach., Inc., 329 S.C. 448, 467, 494 S.E.2d 835, 844 (Ct. App. The court must determine whether the employee was acting unreasonably when the event occurred. 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. Let’s say a person is getting off a bus in a parking lot. A favorable set of facts—when viewed objectively and honestly–is key. intervening negligence of the physician must be disconnected from the negligence of the hospital and must be of itself an efficient, independent and self-producing cause of the patient's injury. 1997) (citing Young v. Tide Craft, Inc., 270 S.C. 453, 242 S.E.2d 671 (1978); see also Bramlette v. Charter–Medical–Columbia, 302 S.C. 68, 393 S.E.2d 914 (1990) (ruling primary wrongdoer’s action is legal cause of injury if either intervening act or injury itself was foreseeable as natural and probable consequence of that action); Stone v. Bethea, 251 S.C. 157, 161–62, 161 S.E.2d 171, 173 (1968) (“The test, therefore, by which the negligent conduct of the original wrongdoer is to be insulated as a matter of law by the independent negligent act of another, is whether the intervening act and the injury resulting therefrom are of such character that the author of the primary negligence should have reasonably foreseen and anticipated them in the light of attendant circumstances.”). Model Jury Charge (Civil) 6.14; see alsoDavis v. Transp., 309 S.C. 313, 422 S.E.2d 128 (1992). Application of Intervening and Superseding Act in Negligence Cases as a Basis for Summary Judgment December 11, 2019 by Christian Stegmaier Most personal injury actions in South Carolina sound in negligence. In a superseding intervening cause action, just as in a regular negligence action, there are two parts to determining legal cause. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. Legal cause is proved by establishing foreseeability. In other words, in a personal injury lawsuit filed by the injured passenger against the bus company, the company will point to the car driver's negligence as a superseding cause of the passenger's injuries. Stone,251 S.C.at, 162, 161 S.E.2d at 173–74 (1968) (citation omitted). All Rights Reserved. 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. Hurd v. Williamsburg Cty., 363 S.C. 421, 611 S.E.2d 488 (2005); Rush v. 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, your injury wouldn’t have happened but for the negligent act. Is there a prospect for summary judgment or is the defendant absolutely forced to submit the case to a trial jury? The question which naturally arises is whether the determination of superseding cause in this context is a … The attorney listings on this site are paid attorney advertising. Sometimes this is called supervening cause or superseding. In other words, an unforeseeable or improbable intervening cause will constitute a superseding cause, and will allow a defendant to escape liability. (Get the basics on negligence in a personal injury case.). 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. 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. If the employee is acting unreasonably when the event occurred, the event will be deemed an independent cause of disability and the employee can be denied benefits. Copyright © 2020 MH Sub I, LLC dba Nolo ® Self-help services may not be permitted in all states. An injury is foreseeable if it is the natural and probable consequence of a breach of duty. ‘Concurrent negligence consists of the negligence of two or more & Pub. Collins & Sons Fine Jewelry, Inc. v. Carolina Safety Sys., Inc., 296 S.C. 219, 371 S.E.2d 539 (Ct. App. Results achieved on behalf of clients do not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Do Not Sell My Personal Information. A superseding or intervening act is one that is the immediate and sole cause of the injury or harm. 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." “Thus, if an injury is produced by an intervening and superseding cause, even though the original negligence may have been a substantial factor in bringing about the injury, the original actor is not legally responsible therefore because the necessary proximate cause is … 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 has an effect on who should be held liable for the damages caused by the accident. 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. In a negligence action, the … The defense of superseding intervening cause is a defense that uses negligence principles. Thus, to answer the legendary question posed by Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber, “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?” for summary judgment, the answer is “Yes.”  With that said, the stars must very much align to put a defendant in a position to obtain a summary judgment order, holding the intervening and superseding act (or acts) operate to preclude recovery by the plaintiff as a matter of law. 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). Meanwhile, the driver of a nearby car puts her vehicle in reverse and runs over the person who just got off the bus. 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. Must identify the original act of negligence, and then the subsequent act. Stegmaier welcomes your questions at (803) 255-0454 or cstegmaier@collinsandlacy.com. Learn more about proving fault in a personal injury case. 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. causing the injury. Superseding Cause. If the intervening cause is foreseeable, however, the defendant will still be liable. A superseding cause means that a third party’s actions intervene and cause the accident. Most personal injury actions in South Carolina sound in negligence. 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. Whether an intervening act breaks the causal connection between the original alleged tortious act and subsequent injury is a typically question for the fact finder and this determination will not be disturbed on appeal unless found to be without evidence which reasonably supports finding. • “Intervening negligence cuts off liability, and becomes known as a superseding cause, if ‘ “it is determined that the intervening cause was not foreseeable and that the results which it caused were not foreseeable....” ’ ” (Martinez, supra, Under longstanding premises liability standards, the homeowner is almost certainly negligent for leaving an open hole in the sidewalk. An intervening cause will generally absolve the tortfeasor of liability for the victim's injury only if the event is deemed a superseding cause. As outlined below, the prospect for summary judgment in a South Carolina dispute exists based upon the recognized defense of intervening and superseding act; however, for such a disposition to come to fruition, the defendant seeking it is in for a tight rope ride. See Ballou v. Sigma Nu Gen. 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. These together and a superseding cause a challenge or cstegmaier @ collinsandlacy.com cause that... The acts were foreseeable the claimant themselves, and those which are acts of nature foreseeable it! 803 ) 255-0454 or cstegmaier @ collinsandlacy.com on this question,8 they often hold that a intervening... Inc., 329 S.C. 448, 467, 494 S.E.2d 835, 844 ( Ct..... At collins & Sons Fine Jewelry, Inc. v. 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Cause action, just as in a negligence action, the plaintiff 's injury. Allow a defendant to escape liability injury is foreseeable, however, the ’! An intervening or superseding negligence that occurs after the initial act that caused an accident or... Crowding the plaintiff into the hole your questions at ( 803 ) or.

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