19 Duq. L. Rev. 1 (1980-1981)
Some Reflections on Proximate Cause

handle is hein.journals/duqu19 and id is 13 raw text is: Duquesne Law Review
Volume 19, Number 1, Fall 1980
Some Reflections on Proximate Cause
David E. Seidelson
I. THE DEFINITIONAL PROBLEM
Black's Law Dictionary offers this primary definition of proximate
cause: That which, in a natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by
any efficient intervening cause, produces injury, and without which the
result would not have occurred.' One could hardly fashion a more suc-
cinct definition for one of the most elusive concepts in the law.2 And,
as is frequently the case when subtle concepts are reduced to terse
verbalization, one could hardly fashion a sentence of equal length con-
taining so many conclusional words and phrases. What is a natural se-
quence? What constitutes a natural and continuous sequence? And
when is an intervening cause       ''efficient? Those questions are not
raised to condemn Black's; they are intended only to suggest the near
impossibility of imputing to the concept of proximate cause a brief
definition which will be of meaningful assistance to a court confronting
a proximate cause issue.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The author is Professor of Law at The National Law Center of The
George Washington University. B.A., University of Pittsburgh (1951); LL. B., University
of Pittsburgh School of Law (1956). Professor Seidelson wishes to acknowledge the con-
tribution made by the following authors to the subject of proximate cause. While the ap-
proach of this article is relatively original, scholars have never regarded this area of law
as a static one and the diversity of their views attests to this fact. See, e.g., A. BECHT &
F. MILLER, THE TEST OF FACTUAL CAUSATION IN NEGLIGENCE AND STRICT LIABILITY CASES
(1961); G. CALABRESI, THE COST OF ACCIDENTS (1970); L. GREEN, THE LITIGATION PROCESS IN
TORT LAW (1965); J. HENDERSON, JR. & R. PEARSON, THE TORTS PROCESS (1975); R.
KEETON, LEGAL CAUSE IN THE LAW OF TORTS (1963); C. MORRIS & C.R. MORRIS, JR., MORRIS
ON TORTS (2d ed. 1980); R. POSNER, ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF LAW (1977); W. PROSSER, THE
LAW OF TORTS (4th ed. 1971); Epstein, A Theory of Strict Liability, 2 J. LEGAL STUD. 151
(1973).
1. BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 1103 (5th ed. 1979).
2. See W. PROSSER, THE LAW OF TORTS (4th ed. 1971) [hereinafter cited as PROSSER]
for this assertion:

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