583 A.2d 1242 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1991)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Appellant truck leasing company sought review of an order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Philadelphia County (Pennsylvania) that sustained appellee property owner's demurrer in appellant's negligence action against appellee and other defendants. Appellant contended that the appellee's negligence in permitting combustible trash to accumulate on her property was a substantial factor in causing appellant's damages.
-Appellant truck leasing company filed a negligence action against appellee property owner and other defendants for property damage.
-Appellant incurred its damages when a partially demolished building caught fire and collapsed on a truck owned by appellant.
-The structure that collapsed on appellant's property was adjacent to the property of appellee property owner.
-Appellant maintained that appellee property owner was negligent by allowing combustible trash and debris to accumulate on her property and in otherwise failing to prevent the occurrence of a fire.
-The trial court found that her alleged negligence, even if proved, was not a substantial factor in causing the appellant's loss.
-On appeal, the court determined that even if appellee property owner had been negligent in allowing combustible trash to accumulate on her property, such accumulation was too far removed factually and chronologically from appellant's to be a legal cause thereof.
-Her negligence was passive and harmless until acted upon by an independent force. Accordingly, the trial court's order was affirmed.
The following considerations are in themselves or in combination with one another important in determining whether the actor's conduct is a substantial factor in bringing about harm to another:
- (a) the number of other factors which contribute in producing the harm and the extent of the effect which they have in producing it;
- (b) whether the actor's conduct has created a force or series of forces which are in continuous and active operation up to the time of the harm, or has created a situation harmless unless acted upon by other forces for which the actor is not responsible;
- (c) lapse of time.
CONCLUSION: The trial court's order was affirmed. Even if appellee property owner was negligent in allowing combustible trash to accumulate on her property, her negligence was not a substantial factor in causing appellant truck leasing company's damages.
Interested in learning how to get the top grades in your law school classes? Want to learn how to study smarter than your competition? Interested in transferring to a high ranked school?