Tort Law (Causation and Remoteness)

Tort Law (Causation and Remoteness) - Causation and...

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Causation and Remoteness Two questions have to be asked: Did the Defendant cause the damage suffered? Is the damage a foreseeable one? Proving causation of damage -- Causation is essentially a question of fact -- Plaintiff must prove that on a balance of probability, the Defendant’s breach of duty caused his damage. 1) Where there is a single cause of damage Task is to identify the cause. If Defendant’s act is the cause, he is liable for the full extent. If Defendant’s act is not the cause, he is not liable at all even if his action was a breach of duty. “But For” Test: Plaintiff has to prove that “but for” the Defendant’s breach of duty, harm would not have occurred Barnet v Chelsea (1969) (Deceased had persistent vomiting and went to the hospital at 8am. Doctor told the nurse to tell the Plaintiff to go home to bed and consult his own doctors. By 2pm, the deceased had died from arsenic poisoning.) Held that hospital was negligent as their doctor had failed to examine the patient and treat him However, given the circumstances, even without negligence, treatment would not have been administered before the death. Negligence did not cause death. Robinson v Post Office (1974) (Plaintiff cut his leg and went to a doctor who gave him an anti-tetanus injection. Doctor tested for allergic reaction but waited for half a minute instead of the stipulated half an hour for a reaction. Plaintiff was allergic to the serum and developed encephalitis.) Held that the doctor’s negligence in failing to test for allergic reaction before giving a full dose of anti-tetanus injection did not cause damage because the test would not have revealed the allergy in time. The reaction would only have been apparent after 9 days.
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Yeo Peng Hock Henry v Pai Lily (2001) (Plaintiff consulted Defendant doctor on 18 Dec complaining of fever, aches and giddiness; she was prescribed some medicines. On 23 Dec, she consulted the Defendant again and he suspected she could have a detached retina but did not advise her of the urgency to go immediately to the hospital. Plaintiff had a rare bacterial infection which caused the loss of her left eye) Court of appeal held that the Plaintiff failed to prove on a balance of probabilities that had she gone to the hospital on 23 Dec, her eye would have been saved. She could not show correct diagnosis would have been made by the hospital. Adopt Wilsher. 2) Where there are multiple potential causes Wilsher v Essex Health Authority (1986) (Plaintiff was born premature and contracted RLF which caused his blindness. RLF may be caused by excessive concentration of oxygen to a premature baby (there was negligence in the management of his oxygen supply). But RLF may be caused by other conditions that premature babies suffer from.) The Plaintiff had to prove that the breach of duty was at least a material cause of the harm. The House of Lords held that the Defendants were not liable. There was no
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This note was uploaded on 02/07/2012 for the course LGST 101 taught by Professor Hsu during the Spring '11 term at Singapore Management.

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Tort Law (Causation and Remoteness) - Causation and...

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