Derdiarian v. Felix Contracting Corp.

Quick Facts

–          Derdiarian (Plaintiff – injured employee) vs. Felix Contracting Corp. (Defendant – employer).

–          Defendant appealed the decision that there negligence was a proximate cause of the workers injuries. – the appellate court affirmed the:

1 – Defendant was negligent.

2 – Some other act happens after the defendant’s negligence (driver passing out).

3 – Two acts together lead to the injury of the plaintiff.

–          Defendant argues that independent act was a superseding cause.


–          Felix Contracting Corp. (D) – James dickens suffered an epileptic seizure, lost consciousness, allowing his vehicle to careen into Felix Contracting Corp.’s work place.  Dickens hit Derdiarian (P), who got hot enamel on his face.  The plaintiff  was burned badly, and somehow survived.

–          Derdiarian (P) – Defendant had negligently failed to take adequate measures to insure the safety of its workers on the excavation site.

  • Brought in testifying expert:
    • Usual and accepted method of safeguarding workers is to erect a barrier around the excavation site – such a structure would keep cars out of the excavation site and protect workers from on-coming

–          D – Argues that P was injured by a freakish injury brought upon solely by Dickens’ negligence and therefore there was no casual link as a matter of law, between Felix breach of duty and plaintiff’s injuries..


Is the unforeseeable nature of the epileptic seizure an intervening cause that would render the company not negligent?




The intervening act may not serve as a superseding cause, and relieve an actor of responsibility, where the risk of the intervening act occurring is the very same risk which renders the actor negligent

Court reasoning

–          Where the defendant could not anticipate the precise manner of the accident or the exact extent of injuries, however does not preclude liability as a matter of law where the general risk and character of injuries are foreseeable.

–          Working in the street, with out the appropriate barriers, poses the exact risk that happened, a worker getting injured.

  • It doesn’t matter how it happened, (seizures) as long as it was foreseeable scope of harm which it was.

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