Remoteness Doctrine In Damages Claims Against Tobacco Manufacturers for the Cost of Treating Smokers

In County of Cook v. Phillip Morris, Inc., 353 Ill. App. 3d, 55, 817 N.E.2d 1039 (2004), the court held that the remoteness doctrine, also referred to as the direct injury test, barred the county's action seeking damages against tobacco manufacturers for the cost of treating smokers. In so doing, we explained as follows: "Proof of a causal relationship between a defendant's action and a plaintiff's injury is essential in every tort 'because the consequences of an act go endlessly forward in time and its causes stretch back to the dawn of human history.' Thus, the concept of proximate cause was developed to limit the liability of a wrongdoer to only those harms with a reasonable connection to the wrongdoer's actions." County of Cook v. Phillip Morris, Inc., 353 Ill. App. 3d at 59, 817 N.E.2d at 1043. Justice Andrews, in his famous dissent in Palsgraf v. Long Island R. R., 248 N.Y. 339, 352, 162 N.E. 99, 103 (1928) (Andrews, J., dissenting), wrote: "What we do mean by the word 'proximate' is that, because of convenience, of public policy, of a rough sense of justice, the law arbitrarily declines to trace a series of events beyond a certain point. This is not logic. It is practical politics."