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American Truck Leasing, Inc. v. Thorne Equipment Co.

    Powered by 583 A.2d 1242 (Pa. 1991)
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    Brief Fact Summary.

    American Truck Leasing, Inc. sued Thorne Equipment Co. when property owned by Thorne fell on and damages vehicles owned by American Truck Leasing.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A plaintiff must show that negligent conduct was a substantial factor in causing harm to the plaintiff, and there was no intervening act to break the causal connection in order to recover for a negligence action.

    Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

    Factors for the court to consider in determining whether an actor's conduct is a substantial factor in bringing about harm to another are: (a) the number of other factors which contribute in producing the harm and the extent of the effect which they have in producing it; (b) whether the actor's conduct has created a force or series of forces which are in continuous and active operation up to the time of the harm, or has created a situation harmless unless acted upon by other forces for which the actor is not responsible; and (c) lapse of time.

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    Facts.

    A fire started in a building owned by Gross, and spread to property owned by Tartaglia and JACTCO. After the fire, the City of Philadelphia (City), contracted with Thorne Equipment Company (Throne) to demolish an elevator in a building owned by Tartaglia. In demolition, the elevator fell and damaged property owned by American Truck Leasing, Inc. (American). American filed suit to recover damages, and the trial court dismissed American’s claim against Gross.

    Issue.

    Whether a plaintiff must show that negligent conduct was a substantial factor in causing harm to the plaintiff, and there was no intervening act to break the causal connection in order to recover for a negligence action?

    Held.

    Yes. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed. The damage to American’s property was caused by the intervening act of the demolition contractor, not the combustible trash accumulated on Grosse’s property.

    Discussion.

    A plaintiff must show that negligent conduct was a substantial factor in causing harm to the plaintiff, and there was no intervening act to break the causal connection in order to recover for a negligence action.


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