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People v. Arzon

Supreme Court of New York County
401 N.Y.S.2d 156 (1978)



Arzon (defendant) intentionally set fire to a couch on the fifth floor of an abandoned building. The New York City Fire Department was unsuccessful in bringing the fire under control. As two of the firemen were attempting to evacuate the building, they encountered thick smoke that was later found to have been coming from a fire started on the second floor. There was no evidence that Arzon set the fire on the second floor. As a result of the smoke, a fireman sustained injuries and later died. Arzon was indicted for third-degree arson and second-degree murder for, under the circumstances, evincing a depraved indifference to human life and recklessly engaging in conduct which created a grave risk of death to another person, thereby causing the fireman’s death. Arzon moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that there was no causal link between the fire that he set and the fireman’s death.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Milonas, J.)

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Questions & Answers

How is the operation of the hernia different from the second floor fire?

How is the death caused by the hernia operation described in Case Two different from the death caused by the fire on the second floor? In both cases, the victims would not have faced the situation leading to death "but for" the actions of the defendant, but the actual cause of death was missing a link in the chain of causes which resulted in the victim's death.

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