Firm News

On Proximate Causation and Foreseeability

By Will Jordan

Apologies for the radio silence. We vowed not to allow this much time to pass in between posts, but the past week brought a trip to NY for a conference and a jury duty summons and, before we knew it, the vow was broken. But we’re back on track. Today we look at a case examining the proximate causation element of the legal malpractice claim and, specifically, the necessity of foreseeability. Client filed a legal malpractice suit alleging Attorney negligently advised her to draw a check on an account that she owned (but on which she was not a signatory) and deposit the funds into another account she owned. Client alleged that following Attorney’s advice exposed her to a prosecution for criminal forgery. The Court affirmed dismissal of the malpractice suit, holding that Client could not establish proximate causation. The Court noted, “[A]n attorney could not reasonably foresee that the district attorney would prosecute a depositor for manipulating her own accounts containing her own money to which no one else had any claim [because] a key element to the crime of forgery is intent to defraud, and a depositor cannot intend to defraud herself.” When attacking causation, don’t forget foreseeability!

Kumaraperu v. Feldsted, B253978 (Cal. Ct. App., May 26, 2015).

Here is the full opinion.