ARTICLE: On Causation and Comparison: Medical Malpractice and other Professional Negligence After Steiner Corp. v. Johnson & Higgins * Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2002 Brigham Young University
BYU Journal of Public Law

ARTICLE: On Causation and Comparison: Medical Malpractice and other Professional Negligence After Steiner Corp. v. Johnson & Higgins *

* Copyright (c) 2002 Ryan M. Springer. The author would like to thank Christine Durham, Kif Augustine-Adams, and Denton M. Hatch for their assistance and guidance with this note. Any errors, however are solely the responsibility of the author.


16 BYU J. Pub. L. 355


Ryan M. Springer


Now God cannot be directly the cause of sin, either in Himself or in another, since every sin is a departure from the order which is to God as the end . . .. In like manner, neither can He cause sin indirectly. For it happens that God does not give some the assistance, whereby they may avoid sin, which assistance were He to give, they would not sin . . .. It is therefore evident that God is nowise a cause of sin. 1

God has many names, but fortunately for organized religion, "The Initial Tortfeasor" is not one of them. 2 According to the Christian philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas, apportioning any liability to God for the sins of mortals would be entirely inappropriate since, as a matter of law, "God cannot be directly the cause of sin." 3 Certainly, such a conventional interpretation of the statement presents an intriguing theological idea. This note, however, offers a less reverent reading of Aquinas' proposition.

It posits that when read in the context of tort law, Aquinas' reasoning bears a striking resemblance to that employed by the Utah Supreme Court in Steiner Corp. v. Johnson & Higgins ("Steiner Corp. III"). 4 The statement not only explains that God is not liable for the sins of humankind, but also provides an analogy that may be used to understand the complicated doctrine of comparative negligence.

Steiner Corp. III dealt with Utah's comparative negligence ...
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