22 19 after a very thorough and able consideration of

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22 [19] After a very thorough and able consideration of proximate cause and the many cases (including its own decisions) that have sought to give it validity, the Chief Justice concluded that the central issue in the case was one of duty rather than proximate cause: “Did defendant Sager owe a duty of care to plaintiff or to a class of persons of which he is a member?” 23 [20] The Chief Justice found the duty, which had been rejected for a century, in one of the purposes expressed in the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act — “to protect the safety of the people of this state.” 24 Courts in states in which such a duty is not defined by a civil code, as it is in Cal- ifornia, can and do find the same purpose in modern common law. 6 1 6 Prosser § 42, at 250. Dean Prosser indicates the classes of problems dealt with as soluble by the proximate cause approach. The list, he says, is not exclusive. In concluding his list he adds that “[o]nly the first of these problems [causation in fact] has anything whatever to do with the factual relation of cause and effect. The attempt to deal with the others in terms of causation is at the bottom of much of the existing confusion.” 7 1 7 Louisiana, in Celeste Hill v. Lundin & Associates, Inc. 256 So.2d 620 (La. 1972), appears to be the most recent. See Stewart v. Jefferson Plywood Co., 255 Ore. 603, 469 P.2d 783 (1970); Wells v. City of Vancouver, 77 Wash. 2d 800, 467 P.2d 292 (1970). See also Probert, Causation in Negligence Jargon, A Plea for Balanced Realism , 18 U. Fla. L. Rev. 369 (1965); Note, Causation, Duty and Negligence , 45 Ore. L. Rev. 124 (1966). 8 1 8 Judges Holmes and Cardozo preferred the phrase: “The law does not spread its protection so far.” See, e.g. , Robins Dry Dock & Repair Co. v. Flint, 275 U.S. 303, 309 (1927). See also Page v. St. Louis S.W. Ry., 349 F.2d 820 (5th Cir. 1965); H.R. Moch Co. v. Rennsselaer Water Co., 247 N.Y. 160, 159 N.E. 896 (1928). 9 1 9 Texas Pattern Jury Charges §§ 2.02, 2.03. 0 2 0 See Prosser §§ 41-45. 1 2 1 5 Cal. 3d 153, 486 P.2d 151, 95 Cal. Rptr. 623 (1971). 2 2 2 Id. at 157, 486 P.2d at 153, 95 Cal. Rptr. at 625. Only a few years before, in Cole v. Rush, 45 Cal. 2d 345, 289 P.2d 450 (1955), the California Supreme Court had withdrawn a forthright opinion imposing liability, and rein- stated and accepted as the basis of liability the cliché that it was the drinking and not the selling of the intoxicant that was the proximate cause of the victim’s injury.The most difficult task the courts have is to get rid of numerous like statements by the courts of the 1800's, which in this century are considered nonsense, as the basis for denying tort liability. 3 2 3 5 Cal. 3d at 165, 486 P.2d at 159, 95 Cal. Rptr. at 631. 4 2 4 Id. 245
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[21] In recent years the courts generally have come to realize that a similar question arises in many cases in which the duty of a defendant is involved. It may be a most difficult question to resolve. It calls for the important exercise of a court’s power to determine the limits of law, both common law and statute, as a means of protection. It is a function that only a court can perform with precision and a high degree of finality. Any merits proximate cause has had in indicating
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