In law the proximate, and not the remote, cause is to be regarded
This maxim is of general application, excepting in cases of fraud, and refers to injury, damage, or loss sustained, and for which compensation in damages, or other equivalent, is sought, when the question arises as to whether or not the act complained of was the immediate cau'9 of the injury or damage, or was too remote to render the defendant liable. As, in tort, for libel, or slander, where a third party seeks to take advantage of the words spoken, or the matter published, as having thereby sustained some injury or lost some expected gain ; or in contract, where damages are sought for loss of some expected gain or advantage ; as where two parties have made a contract, which one of them has broken, the damages which the other party ought to receive in respect of such breach should be such as may reasonably be expected to arise from such breach of contract itself, or such as may be supposed to have been in contemplation of both parties at the time they made the contract.
Thus, in an action by the manager of a theatre against the defendant for a libel on an opera singer who was under an engagement with the plaintiff to sing at his theatre, but who was deterred by reason of the libel, whereby the plaintiff lost the benefit of her services ; the damage was held to be too remote to sustain an action by the plaintiff, the loss not arising directly from any act of the defendant, but from some fear of ill-treatment on the part of the person libeled . So, where slanderous words uttered by one are repeated by another, the original utterer is not responsible for the consequences of their repetition ; as, where the slanderous words were addressed to A., and A. at a subsequent time and place, and without authority from the defendant, repeated them to B., who in consequence refused to trust the plaintiff ; it was held that the repetition of the words were the immediate cause of the damage, and not the original statement, and that the action was not maintainable. But in such case, if special damage accrue, the republication of the slander is actionable, and it is no justification merely to give up the name of the original utterer. But where the injury sustained is the natural and necessary consequence of the original act done, there the original mover in the injury is responsible for all the natural consequences of his act ; as, where the defendant threw a lighted squib into a market-house during a fair, and the squib fell upon a stall, and the stall-keeper, to protect himself, threw the squib across the market-house, where it fell upon another stall, and was again thrown, and exploded near the plaintiff's eye and blinded him ; it was held that the original thrower was responsible for the injury sustained by the plaintiff, all the injury having arisen from the first act of the defendant.
In, an action of tort founded upon a contract, for breach of the contract, the measure of damages is the damage apparent at the time the contract is made, whether by inference or by special information to the contracting parties ; and speculative damages arising from loss of contemplated profits cannot be recovered. But where plaintiff told the defendant that the Admiralty contracts were out for coals, and inquired if he had any tonnage to offer, which he having, chartered a ship of him, but the ship not being ready in time, the plaintiff engaged another ; it was held that he was entitled to recover, as damages for breach of the charter, the extra expense incurred by him in so forwarding the coals.