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  • Duty To Control Patient

  • Duty To Control Patient



    No. 1495 -- August Term 1993

    Argued: May 13, 1994 Decided: May 13, 1996

    Certified Question

    Answered: April 16, 1996

    Docket No. 93-6334







    Before: NEWMAN, Chief Judge, JACOBS and LEVAL, Circuit Judges.

    Appeal from the November 16, 1993, judgment of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Warren W. Eginton, Judge) dismissing a suit against the United States, brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act.


    Michael P. Koskoff, Bridgeport, Conn. (Mark

    C. Durkin, Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, Bridgeport, Conn., on the brief), for plaintiff-appellant.

    Nancy L. Griffin, Asst. U.S. Atty., New

    Haven, Conn. (Christopher F. Droney, U.S. Atty., New Haven, Conn., on the brief), for defendant-appellee.

    (William B. Wynne, Middletown, Conn.,

    submitted a brief for amicus curiae Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Inc.).


    On this appeal from a judgment of the District Court for the District of Connecticut (Warren W. Eginton, Judge), dismissing a suit against the United States, brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671-2680 (1994), we certified two questions of Connecticut law to the Connecticut Supreme Court ("the Court"). See Fraser v. United States, 30 F.3d 18 (2d Cir. 1994). After some delay occasioned by the Court's request for a certification of a statement of the relevant factual circumstances and the parties' efforts to agree on an appropriate response to the Court's request, the matter was ultimately argued before the Court on December 5, 1995, and a decision was released on April 16, 1996.

    After slightly reformulating the two questions we certified into one question -- "In the circumstances of this case, does a psychotherapist have a duty to control a patient being treated on an outpatient basis in order to prevent harm to third persons?" -- the Court answered the question in the negative. Fraser v. United States, 236 Conn. 625, 627 & n.3 (1996). Since Connecticut law governs the substantive issues of liability in this FTCA suit, the Court's authoritative ruling on Connecticut law defeats the plaintiff's claim that the United States is liable for the death of plaintiff's decedent because employees of the West Haven Veteran's Administration Medical Center breached a duty of control alleged to be owed to the plaintiff's decedent.

    Accordingly, the judgment of the District Court is affirmed.

    *** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***

    **The laws cited may not apply in your jurisdiction - Consult a local lawyer.**

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