Tort Causation 101

Smith v. Christus St. Michaels presented a wrongful death claim about an elderly man, who suffered from recurrent cancer, who died from a fall in the hospital while being treated for a blood disorder.  No. 12-40057 (Nov. 13, 2012) (unpublished).  The trial court granted summary judgment under the “lost chance” doctrine, finding a lack of evidence that the man would have been likely to survive his cancer.  The Fifth Circuit reversed because it found his death was caused by a fall unrelated to his cancer or other treatment protocol.  Id. at 8. The Court also reversed a ruling that the plaintiffs’ expert testimony on causation was conclusory, finding that it “sufficiently explained how and why” as to the allegedly inadequate monitoring of the patient’s bedside at night.  Id. at 10.  The opinion provides a general nuts-and-bolts summary of Texas tort causation law.

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