Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Recovery Against Negligent Third Parties For Suicide Not Recognized in Pennsylvania (Absent Special Duty)

In his recent July 2, 2012 decision in the case of Ferris v. Cleaveland, No. 3:10-1302 (M.D.Pa July 2, 2012 Mannion, M.J.), Federal Middle District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion addressed the law of causation and negligence of third parties in terms of injuries sustained by an alleged suicide attempts.

The Ferris case stems from a pedestrian/motor vehicle accident where the plaintiff was alleging a left knee injury. During discovery, the plaintiff allegedly attempted suicide. As a result of his suicide attempt, the plaintiff allegedly suffered an anoxic encephalopathy, which left him with severe cognitive injuries.

The plaintiffs, through their neuropsychological expert, claimed that the suicide attempt was a result of the injuries sustained and stressors placed upon the Plaintiff as a result of the pedestrian/motor vehicle accident.
The defendant filed a Motion in Limine to preclude the claims for mental and cognitive injury that occurred as a result of the suicide attempt.
Federal Magistrate Judge Mannion granted the motion holding that absent a special duty (generally related to mental health professionals and employers) recovery against negligent third parties for suicide is not recognized in Pennsylvania.
Anyone desiring a copy of this Opinion may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.
I send thanks to the prevailing defense attorneys Seth Black, Esq. and Thomas McDonnell of the Pittsburgh law firm of Summers, McDonnell, Hudock, Guthrie & Skeel, P.C. for forwarding this interesting decision in the Ferris case to my attention.

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