Police Officer 3

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Q: My husband was a police officer.  The department was alerted to a disturbance at an apartment occupied by an outpatient at a municipal mental health clinic.  He discovered that the patient had locked herself in the bathroom.  My husband then approached the bathroom door and attempted to talk her into surrendering.  When the door suddenly opened, she lunged at him with a knife.

A: Where a municipality engages in a proprietary function, such as providing psychiatric care, it is held to the same duty of care as private institutions engaging in the same activity.  The city was bound to properly monitor this outpatient and take whatever reasonable steps were available to prevent her from harming others.

Suppose that the record reflects that two weeks prior to this tragedy, the outpatient’s case manager had advised her supervisor that the outpatient was acting inappropriately while shopping at a local grocery store in that she was swearing and stating that she no longer was going to take her medication.

Suppose that the record further reflects that a failure to follow the outpatient’s medication regimen would result in aggressive behavior.

Such a record gives you winning arguments respecting both breach of duty and proximate cause.  Even if the clinic asserts that it had behaved within its ‘medical judgment’ – exercised after careful examination of the outpatient – your attorney should be able to find ways to demolish that assertion.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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