This Article discusses the California Supreme Court’s affirmance of summary judgment for the defendants in Saelzler v. Advanced Group 400, a case in which a victim was attacked on property where she worked because of negligent security measures. Normally, these tort cases are resolved by looking at the element of “duty,” but this case was decided on causation grounds. The author begins by analyzing the Saelzler case and its implications on future litigation. She argues that the decision erodes the balance between judge and jury and conflicts with every goal of tort law, whether corrective, compensatory, or deterrent. The author also points out that little has been written about this decision, possibly because the evidence required to survive a summary judgment motion is very complex or because the decision purports to affirm a long line of lower appellate authority and therefore may seem futile. The author concludes that courts must recommit themselves to the principles of proof and causation and to the jury’s role in deciding issues of fact. The author also suggests that courts need to better maintain the distinction between duty and cause in fact.
Undercutting Premises Liability: Reflections on the Use and Abuse of Causation Doctrine,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol40/iss3/6