Polukard v. 1160 Inc. and Quick Service Taxi Co., Inc. v. Kaplowitz, PICS Case No. 10-1737 (Ct. Comm. Pl. Lehigh Co April 9, 2010) (Ford, J.)

Taxi company's failure to respond to intoxicated individual's request for service was not the proximate cause of individual's subsequent death while walking home.

In this case, two men were killed when struck by a motor vehicle while crossing a street. This is an appeal from a grant of summary judgment in favor of Quick Service on the issue of causation. The plaintiffs failed to show the necessary causal connection between Quick Services's alleged breaches of various duties and the deaths of the brothers. The decedent called Quick Service to request a taxi to drive the decedents home but did not give the address since it was not known to him and the Quick Service dispatcher said he would not send a taxi until he had a destination address. The decedents eventually decided to walk home, during which they were struck and killed by a motor vehicle. The court affirmed its decision that Quick Services's failure to provide a taxi in response to the decedent's call was not a legal cause of these deaths. The plaintiffs failed to show that the taxi's failure to arrive was the proximate cause of the deaths. The test for proximate causation is whether the defendant's acts or omissions were a substantial factor in bringing about the plaintiff's harm. Liability is contingent upon the probability or forseeability of the resulting injury, not merely the possibility that it could occur. Here, Quick Services's actions were too remote and attenuated from the accident and it would, therefore, be wrong to attribute legal responsibility to Quick Service for these deaths.

Case Law Alert - 1st Qtr 2011