Washington Case Law Update: Speculation Does Not Create Issue of Material Fact
From the desk of Kyle Riley: In order to establish negligence, the plaintiff must prove that the alleged negligent act or omission caused his or her damages. But where the evidence shows only that the allegedly negligent act or omission may have caused the plaintiff’s damages, has the plaintiff established causation? Read on to learn more.
Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of a car accident, the Court of Appeals held that summary judgment was appropriate where the evidence did not conclusively establish causation. The case provides insight on how courts analyze the element of causation in negligence claims, an important consideration for insurers and attorneys defending negligence claims.
Kane v. City of Seattle, No. 74638-3-I, Washington Court of Appeals, Div. I (March 27, 2017) (unpublished)
Around 11:30 pm on a July night in 2014, Mitchell Kane (“Kane”) was driving his moped in the Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle when he was struck by a car. He sustained a broken leg and pelvis and injuries to his head and chest. Jonathan Hilton (“Hilton”), the driver of the car that struck Kane, told police that he failed to stop at a stop sign before proceeding into the intersection. Hilton had a Breathalyzer reading of .116, and he later pleaded guilty to vehicular assault.
Bethany Community Church (“Bethany”) is located at the intersection where the accident occurred, and it also owns a crabapple tree located on one of the intersecting streets. Photographs showed that the branches of the tree obscured the stop sign facing Hilton at various points on his approach to the intersection.
Kane sued Bethany, along with Hilton and the City of Seattle (“Seattle”), alleging that Bethany breached a duty to maintain the tree so that the branches did not interfere with the ability of drivers using the street to see the stop sign. Kane claimed that his damages were a direct and...