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Proximate Cause

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Case:  Kenneth E. King v. Anderson County, Tennessee

Facts:  After Inmate was erroneously left in jail following a court order for his release, Inmate was injured by his cellmate.  The trial court found the county 55% at fault and the Inmate 45% at fault for provoking the assault.

Appellate Decision:  The COA upheld the verdict, determining that the county breached its duty to release Inmate from jail (rather than the higher standard of protecting Inmate from other inmates), and finding proximate cause due to the dangerous inmates with whom Inmate was placed.  The court also concluded that the evidence does not preponderate against the apportionment of fault where “it is unclear exactly what the link is between” Inmate’s actions and his injuries.

Issues:  Did the county’s failure to release Inmate proximately cause his injuries?  Did the trial court correctly find the county 55% at fault?

Review Granted:  April 9, 2013.

Prediction:  Ben thinks the Supreme Court will reverse the COA because he disagrees that the failure to release Inmate was the proximate cause of the injury (as opposed to merely the cause-in-fact).  It may be foreseeable that an inmate will be injured, but Ben suggests wrongful imprisonment does not enhance this foreseeability.