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3.1-6  Proximate Cause - Intervening Cause

Revised to January 1, 2008

In this case, the defendant asserts that (he/she/it) did not legally cause the plaintiff's injury because another cause, proceeding entirely from an independent source, intervened to produce that injury after the defendant's own alleged act[s] of negligence had already occurred.  In particular, the defendant claims that the plaintiff's injury was legally caused by <describe the alleged conduct which the defendant claims to have been an intervening cause of the plaintiff's injury>.

Negligent conduct can be a proximate cause of an injury, even if it is not the nearest or the most immediate cause of the injury.  Thus, when the act of a third person or some other intervening cause operates actively to produce the injury after the defendant's negligent act or omission has been committed, the defendant's negligence is a proximate cause of the injury if the following (two / three) part test is satisfied:

First, the defendant's negligence must have been a substantial factor in bringing about the plaintiff's injury.  <See Proximate Cause - Substantial Factor, Instruction 3.1-4.>

Second, the plaintiff's injury must have been harm of the same general nature as that which a reasonably prudent person in the defendant's position should have anticipated.  <See Proximate Cause - Foreseeable Risk, Instruction 3.1-7.>

<Read the next section only in cases where evidence of superseding cause has been introduced.>

Third, the intervening cause which actively operated to produce the injury after the defendant's negligent act or omission was committed must not have been a superseding cause of the plaintiff's injury.  <See Proximate Cause - Superseding Cause, Instruction 3.1-8.>


Fleming v. Garnett, 231 Conn. 77, 86 (1994), citing Doe v. Manheimer, 212 Conn. 748, 758 (1989).


An intervening cause is any cause proceeding entirely from an independent source that "breaks the line of causation" from the defendant's allegedly wrongful act to the plaintiff's complained-of injury.  See generally Edwards v. Tardif, 240 Conn. 610, 615 (1997).  A superseding cause, by contrast, relieves a negligent defendant of legal responsibility for the plaintiff's complained-of harm without breaking the line of causation between the negligence and the harm.


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