Now, the New York State Court of Appeals has ruled in Hain v. Jamison that it should be up to a jury to decide whether the farm owner should be liable for its failure to keep or retrieve its cattle. The lower courts have gone back and forth on the issue. The calf had gotten loose in the roadway as an apparent result of the defendant’s failure to keep it property enclosed or to come find it after it had escaped. The farm argued its error in letting the calf escape and also its failure to find it in time wasn’t a proximate cause of the woman’s death. The trial court denied the motion. But the appellate division reversed, finding the farm’s negligence provided the occasion for – but did not cause – the woman to enter the road, where she was then hit by the defendant driver. The New York State Court of Appeals reversed, finding the farm did not meet its proof burden in showing an absence of issues of material fact. Specifically, the question of what proximately caused the decedent’s death was a matter to be decided by the jury – rather than the judge.
That means the plaintiff, the decedent’s widowed husband, may continue with his wrongful death claim against all originally named defendants.