Filed 03/29/10 USDC Colorado
Judge Philip A. Brimmer
Civil Case No. 07-cv-01844-PAB-KLM
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT TASER’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Moreover, Taser’s argument that temporal proximity may not be considered as evidence of causation is unavailing. As the Court has already stated in resolving Taser’s motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. Rosenbaum, to so find would mean that Taser would be entitled to a special causation rule by which the default assumption is that TASERs cannot cause cardiac arrest, not only as a matter of science, as it would argue to a trier of fact, but as a matter of law, somehow barring consideration of otherwise reliable evidence supporting causation.
In an effort to achieve the adoption of such a rule, Taser applies an overly broad and logically flawed interpretation of post hoc ergo propter hoc, the logical fallacy that because an event follows another, it was necessarily caused by the earlier event. Taser is correct that application of such false reasoning can blind one to alternative possibilities, many of which will be as or more plausible. In this case, for instance, such a fallacy would be at work if plaintiffs’ theory of causation was that, because Officer Harris opened his patrol car door not long before Mr. Wilson’s death, the opening of the door must have caused his death.
Taser, however, is seeking to have this Court apply a rule of logic that may also yield inaccurate results, i.e., that sequence is not relevant to causation. That is not necessarily true. This is not a case of mere temporal proximity, but rather of near temporal synchrony: Mr. Wilson collapsed at the same time he was struck by at least one TASER probe. To the extent certain events occur nearly simultaneously – for instance, a baseball bat making contact with a person who immediately falls over – the causal connection between them becomes quite strong.
The Judge is applying the simplest, and yet most devastating, counter-argument, a form of Reductio ad absurdum (Latin: "reduction to the absurd").
For those keeping score, this isn't going well for Taser International.
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