Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Causation and Foreseeability in legal malpractice action


Causation — Foreseeability

The causation element of a professional negligence claim is met when a jury is presented with pleading and proof that establishes a direct causal link between the actions of the attorney, the injury suffered, and the damages awarded. Haynes & Boone v. Bowser Bouldin, Ltd., 896 S.W.2d 179, 181 (Tex. 1995).

Proximate cause consists of two elements — cause in fact and foreseeability — neither of which can be established by mere conjecture, guess, or speculation. Akin, Gump, 299 S.W.3d at 122; Doe, 907 S.W.2d at 477. Cause in fact is established by proof that the negligent act or omission was a substantial factor in bringing about the injury and without which the harm would not have occurred. Akin, Gump, 299 S.W.3d at 122; Marathon Corp. v. Pitzner, 106 S.W.3d 724, 727 (Tex. 2003).

The test for foreseeability is whether "the actor, as a person of ordinary intelligence, should have anticipated the dangers that [his] negligent conduct created for others." Byrd, 891 S.W.2d at 701 (citing Nixon v. Mr. Prop. Mgmt. Co., 690 S.W.2d 546, 550 (Tex. 1985)). Generally, a third party's criminal conduct is a superseding cause which relieves the negligent actor from liability. Byrd, 891 S.W.2d at 701; Nixon, 690 S.W.2d at 550. However, the actor's negligence will not be excused where the criminal conduct is a foreseeable result of the actor's negligence. Byrd, 891 S.W.2d at 701; Nixon, 690 S.W.2d at 550.

SOURCE: SAN ANTONIO COURT OF APPEALS - 04-13-00239-CV - 8/29/2014