Court majority holds that State lifeguard's failure to act cannot be "the" cause of drowning
The William T. Beals family attempted to sue the State of Michigan after Beals drowned in a state-operated pool. It was apparently undisputed that the sole lifeguard on duty was "distracted from his duties, not in his designated position, and ignored several calls for help." The State argued that regardless of the failure of due care by the lifeguard, the State could not be responsible because the lifeguard was not "the" cause of death; it argued that some other event triggered the drowning episode and the lifeguard's response, however inadequate, couldn't be the primary cause of death. The trial judge rejected this argument and the State appealed. The case ultimately ended up before the State Supreme Court where the majority of the Justices ruled that the lifeguard's negligence was legally irrelevant because it was not "THE" cause of death.