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Richard Shekter featured on AdvocateDaily.com: Case clarifies causation conundrum

Nov 28, 2017

An Ontario Court of Appeal decision will help clarify a long-standing debate in personal injury law, says Toronto litigator Richard Shekter.

“It clarifies to some degree the causation conundrum, which has been vexing lawyers and judges for 50 years,” says Shekter, partner with Shekter Dychtenberg LLP.

“It also provides a considerable degree of clarity to the kinds of questions that juries ought to be asked in the context of a jury trial and I think it will have a salutary effect on how trials are run,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com.

In the recent case, the court dismissed an appeal of a medical malpractice decision even after finding the trial judge had not given the appropriate questions to the jury.

The court said the jury should have considered whether a delay resulting from the defendants’ breach of the standard of care “caused or contributed” to the plaintiff’s injuries, rather than simply “caused” them.

“I like this decision,” says Shekter, “because it allows me to go to a jury and say, ‘Look, we can establish a failure on each of these people's parts. What we can't do is point to each one individually and say if they hadn't screwed up, this terrible result wouldn't have happened. But we can say that their combined negligence caused this. And it's up to you, ladies and gentlemen the jury, to figure out which defendants caused or contributed to the injury and the damages sustained by the plaintiff.' 

“The fight, in this case, was over that language — 'caused or contributed,'” adds Shekter who comments generally and did not act on the matter.

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Richard and Alden, are without a doubt, a pleasure to work with. When a car accident tragically took my parents, the tragedy was multiplied by the fact that my parents cared for my mentally handicapped brother, Mike. While I was busy making new living arrangements, and dealing with estate and guardianship issues, Richard and Alden took the reins, and charged forward to protect my brother’s future.  It was critical to get Mike the largest settlement possible. Not unusual in Down Syndrome kids, Mike started to show signs of early onset Alzheimer’s during this process, causing more concern for his future wellbeing and security. This laid more financial burden on myself by causing me to take a leave of absence from work, and eventually to hire a live-in caregiver. All the while, Richard and Alden plugged away taking care of matters with minimal phone calls and visits to the office. Everything was carefully explained, and Richard was beside me, whether dealing with the insurance company, talking to annuity specialists, or dealing with my own investment bankers. In the end, the settlement was finished in a timely manner, with some money to relieve my financial burden, but more importantly, enough money to ensure that Mike can keep his current standard of living and remain financially independent well into the future. It took an enormous amount of pressure off me, and I can never thank Richard and Alden enough for all they did. For the time that I’ve known Richard and Alden, I’ve found them to be honest, reliable, hardworking, conscientious, and courteous.

I would highly recommend this firm to my family, and have in fact recommended them to a close friend.

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