Exxon Co., U. S. A. v. Sofec, Inc., 517 U.S. 830, 10 (1996)

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Cite as: 517 U. S. 830 (1996)

Opinion of the Court

sequent loss of a patient's life, few judges would impose liability." Petition of Kinsman Transit Co., 338 F. 2d 708, 725 (CA2 1964), quoted in 1 Schoenbaum, supra, 5-3, at 164.

In ruling upon whether a defendant's blameworthy act was sufficiently related to the resulting harm to warrant imposing liability for that harm on the defendant, courts sitting in admiralty may draw guidance from, inter alia, the extensive body of state law applying proximate causation requirements and from treatises and other scholarly sources. See Keeton 279 (" 'The best use that can be made of the authorities on proximate cause is merely to furnish illustrations of situations which judicious men upon careful consideration have adjudged to be on one side of the line or the other' ") (quoting 1 T. Street, Foundations of Legal Liability 110 (1906)).


Exxon's argument that the District Court erred in rendering judgment against Exxon on its breach of warranty claims fares no better. Exxon implicitly argues that because the respondents breached various contractual warranties, they were "best situated" to prevent the loss of the Houston; and Exxon invokes a passage from Italia Societa per Azioni di Navigazione v. Oregon Stevedoring Co., 376 U. S. 315 (1964). In Italia Societa, we held that a stevedore breaches its implied warranty of workmanlike service to a shipowner when the stevedore nonnegligently supplies defective equipment that injures one of its employees during stevedoring operations. That case does not purport to deal with the proximate causation limitation for damages on a warranty claim and is not relevant to the question presented here.

We agree with the Ninth Circuit that where the injured party is the sole proximate cause of the damage complained of, that party cannot recover in contract from a party whose breach of warranty is found to be a mere cause in fact of the damage. Although the principles of legal causation some-


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