Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Pennsylvania Superior Court Addresses Duty Of Mental Health Providers to Warn Others of Dangers Posed by Psychiatric Patient Who Threatens

In the case of Maas v. UPMC, 2018 Pa. Super. 195 (Pa. Super. June 29, 2018 Bowes, J., Stabile, J., Ford Elliot, P.J.E.) (Op. by Bowes, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court denied a Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment involving a case on the duty of  psychiatric treatment providers to warn others of dangers posed by psychiatric patients. 

According to the Opinion, the psychiatric patient threatened to kill “neighbors” and described a sufficiently ascertainable group such that the law imposed a duty upon the treatment providers to warn those persons of the threats.  

 The court noted that a duty to warn exists under these circumstances where the target is identifiable, not just identifiable by name, such that the mental health professionals must use reasonable efforts to identify the potential victims and provide them with warnings.  

In the case, the court noted that the potential group of victims was about 20 people, which was deemed to be manageable of people to warn.  

To review this case, please click HERE. 

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia office of Reed Smith for bringing this case to my attention. 

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