sufficient cause

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Sufficient cause, or good cause, refers to a legal determination that there exists sufficient reason to support a case or decision. Sufficient cause is tied to causation but varies depending on legal context. For example, in torts, sufficient cause for a negligence case requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant's failure to meet a certain standard of care directly caused the plaintiff's injury. Tort law also has a special rule for when multiple sufficient causes independently, but concurrently, produce a result. Namely, if a defendant causes a result that another actor would have caused regardless (e.g., fatally injuring a victim that is subsequently fatally injured by a third party), then the defendant will nonetheless be liable despite their actions not being the but-for cause of the result. 

Sufficient cause is also often the subject of employment law and is generally more flexible in this context. Indeed, employers may prescribe, through employment contract, conduct that will constitute a sufficient cause for an employee's dismissal. For example, in cases between teachers and school boards, sufficient cause to discharge exists where the teacher's deficiency is irremediable and (1) materially and substantially affects the teacher's performance, or (2) lacks any positive or educational aspect or legitimate professional purpose. For example, where a teacher refuses to administer alternative testing for special education students to comply with federal legislation, there exists sufficient cause to suspend the teacher for insubordination. 

Lastly, in immigration law, "good and sufficient" cause is often a topic of contention as the statutory provision governing the revocation of a visa (8 U.S.C. section 1155) provides that: "The Secretary Homeland Security may, at any time, for what he deems to be good and sufficient cause, revoke the approval of any petition . . . ." Under this standard, determinations of sufficient cause is at the complete discretion of the Secretary, and as a result, not subject to judicial review

[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]