Proximate Cause, Intervening Cause

For a plaintiff to prevail in most civil suits, it must prove that the defendant’s conduct proximately caused the complained of damages. “Proximate cause” typically exists when any harm is the “natural and probable result” of certain conduct. Tompkins v. Cervantes, 917 S.W.2d 186, 190 (Mo. Ct. App. 1996).

Whether proximate cause exists is usually a fact question for a judge or jury at trial. Coin Acceptors, Inc. v. Haverstock, Garrett & Roberts LLP, 405 S.W.3d 19, 24 (Mo. Ct. App. 2013). Defendants will often argue that an intervening cause breaks any causal chain. An intervening cause — a defense by a defendant that the harm was caused by something or someone else — breaks the chain of causation and can negate a plaintiff’s lawsuit. SKMDV Holdings v. Green Jacobson, PC, 494 S.W.3d 537, 546 (Mo. Ct. App. 2016).

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