Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Strikes a Deathblow to Substantial Factor Causation in Most Cases; Is Asbestos Litigation Next?

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Attorneys Christian J. Singewald, Rochelle Gumapac and Timothy J. Keough discuss Doull v. Foster.

March 22, 2021
Christian J. Singewald, Rochelle Gumapac & Timothy J. Keough - White and Williams LLP

In Doull v. Foster, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) addressed the proper causation standard in a medical malpractice case. In reaching this issue, the SJC reached far beyond the medical malpractice case before it. The SJC concluded that the substantial factor test for causation, which had been regularly employed in the Commonwealth for decades, was “unnecessarily confusing.” In doing so, the SJC effectively ended the use of the substantial factor test in all negligence cases going forward, except in toxic tort litigation. However, the SJC openly questioned its usefulness in toxic tort litigation and all but welcomed a direct challenge to its use there.

Reprinted courtesy of Christian J. Singewald, White and Williams LLP, Rochelle Gumapac, White and Williams LLP and Timothy J. Keough, White and Williams LLP

Mr. Singewald may be contacted at
Ms. Gumapac may be contacted at
Mr. Keough may be contacted at


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