Sunday, May 23, 2021

Court in Alabama holds suicide is not a superseding cause

In many other jurisdictions, a decedent's conduct in committing suicide is considered a superseding cause, presumably based on the notion that it is always unforeseeable that someone would commit suicide. 

But we all know that this statement is simply not true.  Depending on the circumstances, whether someone might commit suicide is as foreseeable as any other intervening event.  And, for that reason, it is not convincing to hold as a matter of law that suicide is always unforeseeable.  Yet, that is what many courts do.

I am writing about this today because I just read in Courthouse News that an appeals court in Alabama recently ruled that a man accused of sexually assaulting a college student who later killed herself can be sued for wrongful death, finding that suicide arising from an alleged sexual assault does not “absolve the alleged assailant of liability.”

The case is Rondini v. Bunn and you can read the decision here.

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