One psychiatrist on a physician blog site recently wrote:
“If you’re a shrink and your patient kills someone, be prepared for being sued for your defective clairvoyance….
What we do is this: we help patients who come to us and want to be helped.
We are not some kind of extrajudicial, unconstitutional, coercive agents of social control.
We’re not society’s last, best line of defense against rampage killings.
We don’t have magic Jedi powers to make people do our bidding.”
Here’s what triggered the response.
James Holmes was an ex-University of Colorado student who killed many at a Colorado movie theatre. Dr. Lynne Fenton was James Holmes’s psychiatrist while he was a student at the University. The widow of one of the victims just sued Dr. Fenton and her employer, the University of Colorado. The lawsuit alleged Dr. Fenton knew Holmes “was dangerous” and had a “duty to use reasonable care to protect the public at large” from him.
“Fenton was presented with the opportunity to use such reasonable care when the Colorado University Police offered to apprehend James Holmes on a psychiatric hold,” the lawsuit stated. “Fenton breached her duty to use reasonable care.”
Fenton testified she treated Holmes, 25, more than a month before the shooting and that her professional relationship with him ended weeks before the massacre.
It’s unclear how this will play out. As a state employee and a state institution, the defendants might be shielded by sovereign immunity.
Here is summary of portions of the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act:
The maximum amount which may be recovered, whether from one or more public entities and public employees resulting from any single occurrence is $150,000 for injury to one person and $600,000 for two or more injured persons (however, no single person may recover more than $150,000).
This could explain why the movie theatre is also being sued.
The Aurora Theatre shooting was a tragedy. Collateral damage from the James Holmes horrific acts continues.