Causation: Cause in Fact and Policy Tests and their applicability in the Philippine Jurisdiction

October 23, 2018 | Author: Pearl Ashleigh Magbanua | Category: Causation (Law), Negligence, Proximate Cause, Tort, Causality
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This paper aims to determine the applicability of cause in fact and policy tests in the Philippine jurisdiction in deter...

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I. INTRODUCTION In the ordinary days of our lives we encounter dierent people and we

engage in dierent activities. As human as we are, we may not be able to control everything that will happen around us. No matter how we try to be careful, there is the law of nature that calls for our fault. To do fault is easy but to do better is dicult. This goes without saying that indeed we, as human being, were not born perfect. Thus, regardless of the eort to !eep away ourselves from doing harm to others, we still in"ure someone without or not even reali#ing it. $onversely, even if we manage to secure ourselves from harm or in"ury, still there is that force that causes us in"ury.  %ence, in order to balance these con&icting interests, interests, the law provides for a remedy in order for a person in"ured by another to recover from his loss losses es due due to such such in"u in"ury ry.. $iti $iting ng Arti Articl cle e '()* '()* of the the $ivi $ivill $ode $ode of the the Philippines, it provides that whoever by act or omission causes damage to another there being fault or negligence is obliged to pay for the damage done. This very provision of law aords an aggrieved person to see! redress for his right that has been violated by another. +ut before an aggrieved person may recover, the law also provides that he must rst prove that such person who caused damage to him is indeed the one liable for the same. The law see!s not only to help a person in"ured by another by compensating him his losses but also to protect a person alleged to be liable for the damage by aording the latter his rights to due process in order to be able to defend himself from possible prosecution. In so doing, it is but necessary for the aggrieved party to rst convince the court that the three elements of -uasi delict are present before an alleged tortfeasor may be held answerable for his his acti action on.. Thes These e elem elemen ents ts are/ are/ (0th (0ther ere e must must be an act act or omis omissi sion on cons consti titu tuti ting ng faul faultt or negl neglig igen ence ce,, '0 dama damage ge caus caused ed by the the said said act act or omis omissi sion on,, and and 10 caus causal al relat elatio ion n betw betwee een n the the dama damage ge and and the the act act or

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omission. %ence, proving negligence and damage alone will not suce to consider the defendant liable. 2$orre $orrecti ctive ve "ustic "ustice e presu presuppo pposes ses that that the defend defendant ant has caused harm to the plainti. It is this doing of harm that needs to be cor correcte ected. d. 3o ther there e must must be a caus causal al lin! lin! betw betwee een n the the defend defendant ant4s 4s conduc conductt and the plaint plainti4 i4s s loss5. loss5. %ence, %ence, witho without ut proof of causation, the action for damages based on tort fails.

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Proof of causation is essential to established that someone4s act or omission is indeed the pro6imate pro6imate cause of the in"ury suered. +ased on the foregoing, our main consideration is how do we determine pro6imate cause in negligence cases7 8hat are the things to be considered in order to obtain armative relief when we come across a situation where we will be proving negligence of someone7 Are there factors which we could weigh against to 6 or limit the liability of the tortfeasor after establishing that his action is the causeinfact of the in"ury7   These -ueries are what this paper aims to answer. This paper will disc discus uss s two two test tests s whic which h are are comm common on law law in orig origin in used used in dete deterrmini mining ng pro6imate cause of the in"ury. In addition, the paper aims to consider the applicability of these two tests in the Philippine "urisdiction. These tests are the causeinfact test and the policy test. In determining determining the pro p ro6imate 6imate cause of the in"ury, it is necessary to determine if defendant4s negligence was the causeinfact of the damage to the plainti. If defendant4s negligence was not the causeinfact, the in-uiry stops/ but if it is a causeinfact, the in-uiry shif shifts ts to the the -ues -uesti tion on of limi limitt of liab liabil ilit ity y of the the defe defend ndan ant. t. The The latt latter er dete deterrminat minatio ion n of the the e6ten 6tentt of liab liabil ilit ity y invo involv lves es a -ues -uesti tion on of poli policy cy.. $onsideration of public policy may be given due weight in 6ing the limit or scope of legal liability and practical considerations must at times determine

( A-uino, Timoteo +., 2Torts and damages5, '9(1 :dition, p. 1()

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omission. %ence, proving negligence and damage alone will not suce to consider the defendant liable. 2$orre $orrecti ctive ve "ustic "ustice e presu presuppo pposes ses that that the defend defendant ant has caused harm to the plainti. It is this doing of harm that needs to be cor correcte ected. d. 3o ther there e must must be a caus causal al lin! lin! betw betwee een n the the defend defendant ant4s 4s conduc conductt and the plaint plainti4 i4s s loss5. loss5. %ence, %ence, witho without ut proof of causation, the action for damages based on tort fails.

(

Proof of causation is essential to established that someone4s act or omission is indeed the pro6imate pro6imate cause of the in"ury suered. +ased on the foregoing, our main consideration is how do we determine pro6imate cause in negligence cases7 8hat are the things to be considered in order to obtain armative relief when we come across a situation where we will be proving negligence of someone7 Are there factors which we could weigh against to 6 or limit the liability of the tortfeasor after establishing that his action is the causeinfact of the in"ury7   These -ueries are what this paper aims to answer. This paper will disc discus uss s two two test tests s whic which h are are comm common on law law in orig origin in used used in dete deterrmini mining ng pro6imate cause of the in"ury. In addition, the paper aims to consider the applicability of these two tests in the Philippine "urisdiction. These tests are the causeinfact test and the policy test. In determining determining the pro p ro6imate 6imate cause of the in"ury, it is necessary to determine if defendant4s negligence was the causeinfact of the damage to the plainti. If defendant4s negligence was not the causeinfact, the in-uiry stops/ but if it is a causeinfact, the in-uiry shif shifts ts to the the -ues -uesti tion on of limi limitt of liab liabil ilit ity y of the the defe defend ndan ant. t. The The latt latter er dete deterrminat minatio ion n of the the e6ten 6tentt of liab liabil ilit ity y invo involv lves es a -ues -uesti tion on of poli policy cy.. $onsideration of public policy may be given due weight in 6ing the limit or scope of legal liability and practical considerations must at times determine

( A-uino, Timoteo +., 2Torts and damages5, '9(1 :dition, p. 1()

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the bounds of correlative rights and duties as well as the point beyond which the courts will decline causal connection.'  In other words, the -uestion of pro6imate cause does not only involve cause and eect eect analysi analysis. s. It also also involv involves es policy policy consid consider erati ations ons that that limit limit the liability of the defendants in negligence cases. II. THIRD ELEMENT OF NEGLIGENCE: CAUSATION As earlier pointed out, proof only of negligence and in"ury in negligence

cases will not suce to render the defendant liable. The plainti must prove that there is a causal relation or lin! between the defendant4s negligence and the plainti4s loss or in"ury suered. $ourts in the ;nited 3tates, $anada, and +ritain have long struggled with the slippery slippery concept of causation.   In the case of 

' A-uino, Timoteo +., 2Torts and damages5, '9(1 :dition, p. 1'[email protected] $omstoc! v. 8ilson, )* A.K0 > A-uino, Timoteo +., 2Torts and Lamages5, '9(1 :dition, p. 1()

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Bataclan vs. Medina 5, the 3upreme $ourt provides for a more comprehensive denition of pro6imate cause which provides that, 2the pro6imate legal cause is that acting rst and producing the in"ury, either immediately or by settling other events in motion, all constituting a natural and continuous chain of  events, each having a close causal connection with its immediate predecessor, the nal event in the chain aecting the in"ury as a natural and probable result of the cause which rst acted, under such circumstances that the person responsible for the rst event should, as ordinarily prudent and intelligent person, have reasonable ground to e6pect at the moment his act or default that an in"ury to some person might probably result therefrom.5  This denition of pro6imate cause includes the element of foreseeability. Eoreseeability involves the -uestion of probability. The 3upreme $ourt e6plain that there is negligence 2if a prudent man in the position of the tortfeasor would have foreseen that the eect harmful to another was suciently probable to warrant his conduct or guarding against its conse-uence.5* @cite specic event in this case0 Philippine +an! vs. $ourt of Appeals)  also denes pro6imate cause which included the element of foreseeability which goes this way= 2The concept of pro6imate cause is well dened in our corpus of "urisprudence as Many cause which in natural and continuous se-uence, unbro!en by any ecient intervening cause, produces the result complained of and without which would not have occurred and from which it ought to have been foreseen or reasonably anticipated by a person of ordinary case that the in"ury complained of or some similar in"ury, would result therefrom as a natural and probable conse-uence.5 B +ataclan vs. Fedina, .. No. 3$A >1B @(KK>0

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It is believed that these denitions, which include the element of  foreseeability, are misleading and inconsistent with the provisions of the New $ivil $ode. The actor is liable for the damages which resulted from his acts, whether the same is foreseen or unforeseen.? +. Proximate cause distinguished from other terms i. Listinguished from emote $ause.  The pro6imate cause is distinguished from remote cause which is dened as that cause which some independent force merely too! advantage of to accomplish something not the natural eect thereof. A remote cause cannot be considered the legal cause of the damage. K Indeed, not all causes that occur prior to the damages can be considered pro6imate. Eor e6ample, in the lobby of the second &oor of  a building, there are several &ower pots placed therein which if it will fall may cause in"ury to someone wal!ing in the rst &oor underneath.  Guan, a "anitor of the building while cleaning that lobby accidentally shoves one of the &ower pots and causes it to fall harming a woman standing in the rst &oor "ust below the lobby where the &ower pots e6actly are. If we follow the theory that causes prior to the damage be considered pro6imate then it would lead to an absurd conclusion that the owner of the building who placed the &ower pots in that lobby would be held liable. Thus, a remote cause cannot be considered the legal cause of the damage. ii.

Listinguish from Nearest $ause  The word 2pro6imate5 is dened as 2being in immediate relation with something else/ ne6t and near.(9  %ence, the impression that is being given by the word is that it is the nearest cause. $ontrary to the

? A-uino, Timoteo +., 2Torts and Lamages5, '9(1 :dition,p. 1(? K A-uino, Timoteo +.,Ibid.

(9 8ebster4s Lictionary, (KK' :d.

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impression being given by the term, however, pro6imate cause is not necessarily the nearest cause. Pro6imate cause is not necessarily the last lin! in the chain of events but that which is the procuring ecient and predominant cause.(( As the 3upreme $ourt in one case, the re-uirement is that the act was the pro6imate cause, 2not implying, however, as might be inferred from the word itself, the nearest in point of time or relation, but rather the ecient cause, which maybe the most remote of an operative chain. It must be that sets the other in motion and is to be distinguished from a mere pree6isting condition upon which the eective cause operates, and must have been ade-uate to produce the resultant damage without the intervention of  an independent cause.5('  This rule is illustrated in odrigue#a vs. Fanila ailroad $ompany.(1 In the said case, embers were negligently emitted from one of the trains of the defendant resulting in the re in one of the houses near the trac!s @house (0. +ecause of the wind, re was communicated to another house @house '0 and then to another @house 10. ne of the arguments of the railroad company in trying to escape liability to the owners of 2houses ' and 15 is that the re did not come directly from its train but from 2house (5. The 3upreme $ourt re"ected the argument ruling that what was important was the admitted fact that the re originated

in

the

negligent

acts

of

the

defendants

and

the

circumstance that re may have been communicated to the two other houses through the rst house instead of having been directly

(( Pennsylvania Eire Ins. $o. J. 3i!es, (** A>

'1 A-uino, Timoteo +., 2Torts and Lamages5/'9(1 :dition, p.

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the cola while reviewing the document. 8hen he goes to grab the open can of cola, he accidentally !noc!s it over, destroying the rare document. +ut for :rnie !noc!ing over the can of soda, the document would not have been destroyed. Fore than one defendant4s action might be the reason why the plainti  is harmed. Two actions might be necessary for an accident to occur. The 2but for5 test does not re-uire there be only one action that brings about an in"ury. %owever, if there is more than one action, then each action must be a 2but for4 cause @necessary cause0 of the in"ury. The more contributors to an in"ury and the more events necessary to cause an in"ury, the less helpful the butfor test is. The butfor test should not be used when there are two or more causes to an in"ury, either one of which, by itself, would have been enough to cause the in"ury.  The Finnesota 3upreme $ourt, in  !nderson v. Minneapolis# Saint Paul

) Sault Sainte Marie *ail+a , adopted a test which was designed to better handle the determination of cause in fact in cases involving multiple causes.  This test considers whether the defendants action was a Omaterial elementO or a substantial factor  in producing the plaintis in"ury.'>

ii. Substantial Factor &est  3imilar to the Obut forO test, this substantial factor or material element test included the notion that the defendants act or ob"ect needed to be possessed by the defendant and produced the plaintis in"ury. According to the Finnesota 3upreme $ourt and a ma"ority of courts that adopted Finnesotas approach, the substantial factor test was the minimum re-uirement for assessing liability. 'B  The substantial factor test as!s the following= was the defendant a substantial factor, or big contributor, in causing the in"ury to the plainti7 '> Qwier, Paul G., O$A;3: IN EA$TO IN TT 1 The dierence between this "urisdiction, however, with that of other "urisdictions is that the New $ivil $ode contains a chapter on Lamages which species the type of damage for which the defendant may be held liable as well as the limit to such liability. In other words, the policy on the !ind of damage to be awarded to the plainti is already e6pressed in statutory provisions.>> A. Applicable Cause-in-Fact Test in the Philippines  There is no statutory provision in this "urisdiction that mandates the use of a particular causein fact test. %owever, there is no -uestion that the but%for6  test is being applied in this "urisdiction. The denition of pro6imate cause includes a statement that indicates the applicability of the but%for6  test. The denition of +ataclan v. Fedina>B includes a statement that the cause should be that without which the damages would not have resulted.

>( 3angco, G $esar 3., Philippine K indicates the applicability of the foreseeability test=

>* 3ee Philippine abbit v. $ourt of Appeals, .r. No. **(9', August 19, (KK9 >) :pstein, p.>*? >? A-uino, Timoteo +., 2Torts and Lamages5, '9(1 :dition,p.1>> >K .. No. )1>K.

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upon it. 8hile other courts may use one type of tests in its "urisdiction to derive at a solution in a case the same may not be applicable in other "urisdictions. %owever, since natural law dictates, that each action or omission may have the same eects in two or more countries or "urisdictions, the $ourt in another country may refer or used the same test as applied by another $ourt in one 3tate as it may deem applicable in a particular case within its "urisdiction.  Thus, the tests discussed above, causeinfact and policy tests and their dierent types, were used for so long in dierent "urisdictions in resolving negligence cases. $ausein fact test usually had been used to determine the cause of an in"ury created or as a result of a defendant4s action or omission towards the plainti. It determines whether

or

not

indeed

committed

the

act

complained

of

by

ascertaining whether the in"ury and the negligence of the defendant has a causal relationship. n the other hand, by determining causein facts, does not necessarily mean that the defendant4s negligence is the pro6imate cause of such in"ury. The policy tests e6plains that, a defendant may be a causein fact of an in"ury but the law may limit or 6 its liability and the court by practical considerations must at times determine the bounds of correlative rights and duties as well as the point beyond which the courts will decline causal connection. In other words, attendant facts and circumstances in a particular or given case must be measured in order to determine the degree of defendant4s negligence. There is no hard and fast rule in these cases. This gives us an idea that "ustice may not be at all times dispense by nding an alleged tortfeasor liable when his acts or omission is found to be a cause in fact but rather we must consider policy as a matter of law if  not to negate liability of the defendant but to mitigate the same if  called by circumstances of the case.

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 The Philippine "urisdiction had been using some of these tests to decide negligence cases despite the absence of a particular statutory provision to that eect. %igh accord should be given to our $ourts in applying these tests in determining liability in negligence cases. It is also recommended that may be our $ourts would try to study some of  these test as they would certainly be helpful and applicable in our  "urisdiction. :ven though our New $ivil $ode already included chapter on damages which provides for specic type of damage which the defendant may be held liable, nevertheless, the foregoing tests as discussed may strengthen the disposition of negligence case if our $ourts would endeavour to study them for a successful dispensation of   "ustice. I. CONCLUSION 8hat are the things to be considered in order to obtain armative

relief when we come across a situation where we will be proving negligence of someone7 Are there factors which we could weigh against to 6 or limit the liability of the tortfeasor after establishing that his action is the causein fact of the in"ury7  These -uestions as posed in the introductory statement may now attain their satisfying answers. +ased on the above discussions, we come into conclusion that an in"ured person must always determine the cause of his in"ury, who causes his in"ury, and what are the factors which one way or another severs his in"ury. Action for damages may be futile if these instances cannot be proven or identied before an aggrieved person rests his case. Thus,

it

is

but

necessary that the plainti should !now the defendant in the rst place. The $ourts cannot settle a case when in the rst place there is no accused therein. In our "urisdiction of course, it is but the duty of the K0 1. Forissette, :mily B >.Palsgraf v.
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