Establishing Causation

Written by Joseph Collison on . Posted in Legal Updates, Third Party Automobile Liability Cases

Case: Estate of Kenneth Gene Owens v. Mantha Mgmt. Group, Inc.
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )
Judges: Per Curiam – Murphy and Jansen; Concurrence – Ronayne Krause

Establishing causation entails proving two separate elements: (1) cause in fact, and (2) legal cause, also known as “proximate cause.” .  The cause in fact element generally requires showing that “but for” the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff’s injury would not have occurred. On the other hand, legal cause or “proximate cause” normally involves examining the foreseeability of consequences, and whether a defendant should be held legally responsible for such consequences. A plaintiff must adequately establish cause in fact in order for legal cause or “proximate cause” to become a relevant issue. Circumstantial evidence and reasonable inferences arising from the evidence can be utilized to establish causation. But it is not sufficient to proffer a causation theory that, while factually supported, is, at best, just as possible as another theory.  A plaintiff must present substantial evidence from which a jury may conclude that more likely than not, but for the defendant’s conduct, the plaintiff’s injuries would not have occurred. Litigants do not have any right to submit an evidentiary record to the jury that would allow the jury to do nothing more than guess.