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.