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U.S. Fifth Circuit, applying Texas Law, Dismisses Death Case against Phone Provider for Failed 9-1-1 Service

A seven-month old was injured after falling from a daybed. His babysitter dialed 9-1-1 three separate times from her T-Mobile cell phone. She was placed on hold each time, for a total of more than forty minutes. Unable to connect to a dispatcher, she eventually called the child’s grandmother, who drove him to an emergency room, where he was pronounced dead.

Quoting from a 2016 Texas Supreme Court case, the U.S. Fifth Circuit held that the Estate has failed to plead facts that could support a finding of proximate cause:

“Proximate cause requires both cause in fact and foreseeability. For a condition of property to be a cause in fact, the condition must serve as a substantial factor in causing the injury and without which the injury would not have occurred. When a condition or use of property merely furnishes a circumstance that makes the injury possible, the condition or use is not a substantial factor in causing the injury. To be a substantial factor, the condition or use of the property must actually have caused the injury. Thus, the use of property that simply hinders or delays treatment does not actually cause the injury and does not constitute a proximate cause of an injury.”

 

Alex v. T-Mobile, No.18-10555, 2019 WL 2406704 (5th Cir. June 6, 2019).