Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Addresses Liability of Mental Healthcare Providers To Warn Others Regarding Patient

In the case of Maas v. UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, No. 7 WAP 2019 (Pa. July 21, 2020) (Op. by Dougherty, J.)(Baer, J., Dissenting), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressed the duty of a mental health treatment provider to warn individuals who may be the subject of their patient’s threats.

According to the Opinion, a mental health patient lived in an apartment building and repeatedly told his doctors and therapist that he would kill an unnamed “neighbor.”

Unfortunately, the mental health patient ultimately carried out his threat, killing an individual who lived in his building, a few doors away from his own apartment.

In a subsequent wrongful death litigation filed by the victim’s family, the Defendant medical providers argued that they had no duty to warn anyone about the patient’s threats because he never expressly identified a specific victim.

The trial court rejected this argument and denied the medical providers’ Motion for Summary Judgment.

The case went up on appeal and the Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s finding.

With this decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court also affirmed and found no reversible error.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of the Majority Opinion in this decision may click this LINK.

The Dissenting Opinion by Justice Baer may be viewed HERE.

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