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A person is not liable for another person's injury or damages unless the person's conduct legally caused the other person's injury or damages. Even if the person's conduct was wrongful, the conduct may be too remotely connected with another person's injury or damage to constitute legal causation. A person is not legally responsible for remote results of his wrongful acts. Union Pump Co. v. Allbritton, 898 S.W.2d 773, 775 (Tex.1995)
In order for a person's wrongful conduct to be considered a legal cause of another person's harm, the person’s wrongful conduct must have been a substantial factor in causing the other persons harm. A great number of events or conduct may have been a cause of the harm in the “philosophic sense." However, to be a substantial factor in causing harm to incur legal liability, the person's conduct must have had such an effect in producing the other person's harm that reasonable men would regard the conduct as a cause of the harm, in the popular sense of the word "cause." Union Pump Co. v. Allbritton, 898 S.W.2d 773, 775 (Tex.1995). Legal cause is not established if a person's conduct or product does no more than furnish the condition that makes the other person's injury possible. Id.
In most cases, the applicable standard of legal causation is “proximate cause.” For violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and selling defective products, the applicable standard of legal causation is “producing cause.”
"Proximate cause" is a legal term for the type of causation that must be proved before a person can be found to be legally responsible for another person’s injury or damage to the person’s property. This is not a term the average person is familiar with. As a law student, I had difficulty understanding the concept.
“Proximate cause” is usually defined to juries as follows:
“That cause which, in a natural and continuous sequence, produces an event, and without which cause such event would not have occurred. In order to be a proximate cause, the act or omission complained of must be such that a person using ordinary care would have foreseen that the event, or some similar event, might reasonably result therefrom. There may be more than one proximate cause of an event."
Proximate cause consists of two parts, both of which must be proved. The parts are (1) cause in fact and (2) forseeability. Doe v. Boys Clubs of Greater Dallas, Inc., 907 S.W.2d 472, 477 (Tex. 1995).
"Cause in fact" is an essential element of every tort recognized in Texas. Crum & Forster, Inc. v. Monsanto Co., 887 S.W.2d 103, 130 (Tex. App.--Texarkana 1994, no writ). Cause in fact means that the act or omission complained of was a substantial factor in bringing about the injury or damages, and without the act or omission, no harm would have occurred to the plaintiff. Doe v. Boys Clubs of Greater Dallas, Inc., 907 S.W.2d 472, 477 (Tex. 1995).
Cause in fact cannot be established by mere conjecture, guess, or speculation. Doe v. Boys Clubs of Greater Dallas, Inc., 907 S.W.2d 472, 477 (Tex. 1995). It cannot be shown if the defendant's negligence did no more than furnish a condition that made the injury possible. Doe v. Boys Clubs of Greater Dallas, Inc., 907 S.W.2d 472, 477 (Tex. 1995).
The issue of forseeability only arises once it is established that the defendant's conduct was one of the causes in fact of the plaintiff's injury. Forseeability requires a court to determine a question of legal policy--whether the defendant should be responsible for the plaintiff's injuries. City of Gladewater v. Pike, 727 S.W.2d 514, 518 (Tex. 1987).
The inclusion of the forseeability element in proximate causation analysis represents judicial recognition that "[a]t some point in the causal chain, the defendant's conduct or product may be too remotely connected with the plaintiff's injury to constitute legal causation." Union Pump Company v. Allbritton, 898 S.W.2d 773, 775 (Tex. 1995). As the Texas Supreme Court has observed: