It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this medical malpractice case could just as easily occur at any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser Permanente, UC Davis Medical Center, Mercy, or Sutter.
(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this wrongful death case and its proceedings.)
In order to prove causation, Plaintiff must establish a causal link between the harm complained of and the Defendants’ actions. See Keen v. Prisinzano (1972) 23 Cal.App.3d 275, 279; Frantz v. San Luis Medical Clinic (1978) 81 Cal.App.3d 34, 39. A plaintiff cannot recover where there is only a mere possibility a defendant’s alleged negligence caused the wrong. Morgenroth v. Pacific Medical Center (1976) 54 Cal.App.3d 521, 533. The mere possibility that the Defendants’ treatment was the cause of Plaintiffs injury is insufficient to establish a prima facia case. There can be many possible “causes,” indeed, an infinite number of circumstances which can produce an injury or disease. A possible cause only becomes probable when, in the absence of other reasonable causal explanations, it becomes more likely than not that the injury was a result of its action. Bromme v. Pavitt (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 1487, 1498.
California has adopted the “substantial factor” test for proving cause-in-fact, or actual cause, in negligence cases. Viner v. Sweet (2003) 30 Cal.4th 1232, 1238; Rutherford v. Owens-Ill., Inc. (1997) 16 Cal.4th 953, 968.) Per CACI 430, a substantial factor is one that a reasonable person would consider to have contributed to the harm suffered by the plaintiff. As reiterated most recently in Mayes v. Bryan (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 1075: A substantial factor in causing harm is a factor that a reasonable person would consider to have contributed to the harm. It must be more than a remote or trivial factor. Id. at 1095. For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.
Ordinarily, the actor’s negligent conduct is not a substantial factor in bringing about harm to another if the harm would have been sustained even if the actor had not been negligent. Bromme v. Pavitt, supra, 5 Cal.App.4th at 1497-1498. If the conduct which is claimed to have caused the injury had nothing at all to do with the injuries, it could not be said that the conduct was a factor, let alone a substantial factor, in the production of the injuries. Doupnik v. GM Corp., (1990) 225 Cal.App.3d 849, 861.
Plaintiffs mental health history and any role the military played in contributing to mental health problems is incredibly relevant to the issue of causation because such evidence indicates that David Hill arrived at the hospital with a pre-existing condition (PTSD, trauma from his tours of duty, etc.) that had nothing to do with defendants. Decedent’s mental health issues, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts were the result of years in the military, but his stay at Sacramento Medical Center was a mere 12 hours. Decedent’s military involvement (and PTSD as a result) cannot be erased from the picture.
For all the reasons articulated above, Defendants should be able to put forth evidence of the US Military being the cause or a contributing factor to Mr. Hill’s demise because the military released Mr. Hill to full duty despite knowledge of his poor mental health.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.