Pl. was injured when blade of a mechanical trencher he was using struck Def.’s underground electrical cable that was marked “safe” by an employee of Def.’s company who came out earlier.
The question of foreseeability can be relevant both to the element of duty (the existence of which is a question of law) and the element of proximate causation (question of fact).
-Foreseeability relates to duty and proximate causation in different ways and to different ends.
[Duty element] focuses on whether the def.’s conduct foreseeably created a broader “zone of risk” that poses a general threat of harm to others. (minimal threshold legal requirement for opening courthouse doors)
[Proximate causation element] is concerned with whether and to what extent the Def.’s conduct foreseeably and substantially caused the specific injury that actually occurred. (much more specific factual requirement that must be proved to win the case once the courthouse doors are open.)
-A legal duty will arise whenever a human endeavor creates a generalized and foreseeable risk of harming others.
-Foreseeability is concerned with the specific narrow factual details of the case, not with the broader zone of risk the defendant created.
-It is immaterial that the Def. could not foresee the precise manner in which the injury occurred or its exact extent.
There is sufficient evidence in this record that would justify a reasonable jury in concluding that McCain’s injury was proximately caused by a breach of a duty imposed by law.
Substantial Factor Test
-Generally ignores foreseeability.
-Considers whether the contribution of a party’s act was relatively important compared with other but-for causes in producing the harm suffered by the Pl.
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