With briefing completed by Lauren S. Harbour and argument delivered by B.J. Bell, the Serpe Andrews appellate team successfully persuaded the Court of Appeals that the biological parents failed to present any evidence that the foster parents’ actions—the care they provided to their foster child, including allowing him to ride the school bus—were the proximate cause of the foster child’s death. The Court concluded the foster parents’ actions simply resulted in the child’s presence at the location of the injury, and, therefore, were too attenuated to the foster child’s death, because the driver’s criminal conduct was “entirely different.” The court also rejected the biological parents’ proximate cause argument, because the foster parents did nothing more than provide a condition making the injuries possible. Acknowledging the biological parents’ flawed logic, the Court reasoned “there is some risk involved for any pedestrian crossing a roadway, whether that person is a child or an adult.” But that does not amount to foreseeability; rather, the foster parents would need to foresee the “danger of injury from crossing the roadway once the [school] bus was stopped in the opposite lane of traffic with its red lights and stop arm activated, signaling to all other drivers that schoolchildren were disembarking the bus and crossing the roadway.” The summary judgment evidence showed, as the Court found, that the driver’s “extraordinary criminal circumstance was foreseeable only if viewed in retrospect.” As a result, the foster parents’ summary judgment was affirmed on the basis of causation. Because each of the three summary judgment grounds were dispositive in their own right, the appellate court declined to rule on the remaining issues.
To view the court’s opinion, please click here.