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The Regents of California vs Tarassof

259 views 8 pages ~ 1973 words

The aim of this study is to explore in detail a mental health issue that includes an ethical and legal dimension. In our study, we will concentrate on the University of California case of Tarasoff versus Regents. This is a case in which the California Supreme Court insisted that it is the duty of mental health experts to protect persons who have been endangered by certain patients with such bodily harms. The initial decision taken in 1974 was to alert people who were vulnerable. In 1976, there was a rehearing of the incident by the California court of law to protect the intended fatalities. In a decision made by the supreme court, a professional can discharge the duty in various ways like notifying the police, warning some intended victims and taking some reasonable steps so as to protect a threatened individual.

Tarasoff versus the Regents of California involves Tatiana Tarasoff's parents who emphasized that the four psychiatrists who were at Cowell Memorial Hospital of California University. They had the duty to warn them and their daughters of some threats that were made by their patient namely Prosenjit Poddar (Cohen, 1978). The superlative Court of California dismissed that Plaintiff action was to sustain the demurrer to the second amendment of the complaint due to the failure of stating some valid claims against the police, the therapists and the Regents of the University of California who were the defendants. Plaintiffs then sought to review the case. From the rule of law, the defendant had the duty to care for people who were foreseeable threatened by his conduct on some risks that made the behavior quite dangerous (Gurevitz, 1977). In the situation where the evasion of possible harm requires the defendant to control the conduct of another individual, or even to warn of a particular behavior, accountability is introduced when the defendant endures some exceptional relationship to the dangerous person or towards the possible victim.

The case is dated October 1969. During this period, Prosenjit Poddar assassinated Tatiana Tarasoff. Plaintiff, who were Tatiana's parents, resisted that only for a short while is when Poddar could express his purpose to do so (Kaplan, 1975). They alleged that Prosenjit had disclosed to his therapist that Dr. Lawrence Moore who was a psychologist and employed by the University of California. They also supposed that Dr. Moore had cautioned the campus police of Poddar about their intentions, the police later detained him and released him. Plaintiff was quick to assert to some double grounds due to their actions of failing to confine Poddar despite his expression of intentions of Killing Tarasoff and failing to warn Tarasoff and her parents. The defendants maintained that they unsettled to no duty of caring for the victims. They were immune from the suit.

This mental health issue aims at determining whether the defendants owe a particular duty to the victims so as to make them liable for their harm. From the case, it is evident that the court insisted that Plaintiffs could change their grievance so that they could bring some valid causes of actions against the Regents and the therapists of the University of California for breaching their duty to exercise some reasonable care (Seligman, 1977). The court of law was quick to determine that the police did not have any requisite of a special relationship with Tarasoff and was sufficient to impose the duty of warning her about the Poddar intention.

The Discussion

From Tarasoff, the Superior Court of California decided to address one of the main complicated areas of the tort law that concerns the duty owed. The analysis of the court required a balanced test between the need of protecting some of the privileged communication that was between the therapist and his patient and also the protection of the high society that was against some possible threats. The court was to analyze the issue by addressing the issue about "the special relationship" that was to impose the duty of some individuals who were to control each other (Seligman, 1977). From section one of the law, it is clear that "A function of some particular relation between the actors of the individual relationship and the third person who had imposed the tax upon one of the actors. The duty was to control the conduct of the third party. The second duty was to create a special relation between the actor and the other individual which was to give one the right to protection. Such a consideration was quite critical towards the circumstances that were in Tarasoff. About the general proposition, it was clear that when a hospital contains some knowledge or notice about some facts from where it can reasonably conclude that the patients can harm himself, then some measures were taken (Stone, 1976). The hospital, in this case, was to use some reasonable care in such a circumstance to prevent the harm. In a more precise situation, the court was keen to explain that through the attempt to forecast on whether the patient can present some serious dangers of violence, then the court requires a therapist to make accurate determinations and render some perfect performances. In this case, the therapist is keen to ensure that there are a reasonable knowledge and skill and also care about some ordinals exercise and possession of the members who are under such a particular profession.

The court also addressed the issue pertaining the contending consideration policy. The court first noted that once the therapist determined or is under some applicable specialized standards, then there was a reason to determine that the patient contains some serious dangers of violence to other people. The patient also bears the duty of exercising some reasonable care that will aim at protecting the foreseeable victims of the threat (Wise, 1978). In such a situation, the discharge of the duty of due care varies depending on some facts depending on the case. Looking at different instances of conduct of the therapist, it is important to measure the traditional standards of the negligence of the rendition of some reasonable care under various circumstances. The court was quick to conclude that a physician should never reveal the confidence that is well entrusted to him during the medication period and during the period of attending to the medication circumstance unless one is led by the law. This should not also happen unless it is important so as to protect the individual's welfare and well-being of the community.

From the case, it is evident that Plaintiffs has the permission of stating the causes of actions that against the defendant therapists for neglecting the failure of protecting Tatiana. In this situation, the second cause of action affirms that it can be amended for alleging that the death of Tatiana was as a result of proximate results from the negligent of failure to warn Tatiana and others to apprise her of some of her dangers. Plaintiffs contend that as it was amended, such allegations of the proximate and negligence causation with the resulting damages could establish some cause of actions (Cohen, 1978). The defendants were, however, ready to cope with the situation that some of the circumstances of the present case owed the fact that no duty of care to Tatiana and her parents in the absence of the obligation were free to act in careless disregard of the life and safety of Tatiana. This issue shows that we all bear in our minds that the legal duties are never discoverable through the facts of our nature. We conclude that in the case of such a liability, then we should impose for any damage that occurs. For instance, as it was stated in Dillon versus Legg, "An assertion that the responsibility can be repudiated when a defendant does not bear any duty to the plaintiff, then it is important to beg for some essential questions (Seligman, 1977)." This can occur when the interests of the plaintiff are entitled towards some legal protection against the conduct of the defendant. From this argument, the duty can never be sacrosanct in itself. It is an expression of the total considerations of policies that lead the law to state that there is a particular plaintiff that is entitled to some protection.

From this case, we learn the need of some fundamental principles. It is important to have a balancing number of various considerations starting from some major ones. The primary concern in such a case is foreseeable to harm towards the Plaintiff. The degree of the certainty, in this case, is that the Plaintiff suffers some injury. The closeness between the conduct of the defendant and the suffered injury has to blame some morals that are attached towards the behavior of the respondent. In this case, it is necessary to create a policy that will prevent some future harm. It is also significant to come up with some extent of the burden to the consequences of the community and the defendant. The city should impose a duty that will help to exercise some care with the resulting liability for the breach, the cost, prevalence and the availability of some insurance for the risk that is involved (Stone, 1976). The defendant owes a duty to consider the establishment of responsibility that is foreseeable. In a case where the avoidance of the predictable has some harm that requires the defendant to control his conduct of another individual, then the common law needs to impose some liability that the defendant will bear especially when there is some special relationship to the dangerous person. We should also never decide on whether the foreseeability is sufficient to the creation of duty that will exercise some reasonable care that will protect the potential victim of another conduct.

In respect to some potential liability of the police officers, the court, therefore, decided that under the state statute (Wise, 1978). He says that "any public employee is not liable in case such an injury occurs due to his omission or act where the omission or act is the result of the exercise of the discretion that is vested in him. If this occurs, then the discretion is abused (Gurevitz, 1977). A line exists in between the discretionary policy decision that enjoys some statutory ministerial and immunity administrative and acts which never make such decisions. From section eight hundred and twenty it is clear that immunity is only for "some fundamental policy decisions." The protection was finally afforded to the police officers.

Summing up, the failure to warns can never fall within the zone of immunity that is created by section eight hundred and twenty. The next section provides a section that it is not the public entity nor the employee of the public is liable for any injury that occurs due to the failure of providing some traffic signs, marks or devices that describe the code of a vehicle. It is always important to take caution of a dangerous situation that endangers the safety of a movement of the traffic and which can never anticipate an individual to exercise some care. The legislature on its part concludes that the failure of warning of any inherent danger can never be an immunized discretionary omission.


Cohen, R. N. (1978). Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California: The Duty to Warn: Common Law & Statutory Problems for California Psychotherapists. Cal. WL Rev., 14, 153.

Gurevitz, H. (1977). Tarasoff: Protective privilege versus public peril. The American journal of psychiatry.

Kaplan, R. B. (1975). Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California: Psychotherapists, Policemen and the Duty to Warn-An Unreasonable Extension of the Common Law. Golden Gate UL Rev., 6, 229.

Seligman, B. S. (1977). Untangling Tarasoff: Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California. Hastings LJ, 29, 179.

Stone, A. A. (1976). The Tarasoff decisions: suing psychotherapists to safeguard society. Harvard Law Review, 358-378.

Wise, T. P. (1978). Where the public peril begins: A survey of psychotherapists to determine the effects of Tarasoff. Stanford Law Review, 165-190.

August 09, 2021
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