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Negligence is a matter of relation between the parties, and must be founded upon the foreseeability of harm to the person in fact injured.
Plaintiffs were all shot and seriously injured by Hinckley in his attempt to assassinate President Reagan. The defendant was the psychiatrist who had been treating Hinckley. Plaintiffs filed a negligence suit against defendant therapist and alleged that the therapist failed to treat his patient in conformity with reasonable standards of psychiatric care and that the therapist had a duty to warn law enforcement of his patient's potential for violence. The therapist brought a motion to dismiss the complaint. Defendant argued that the duty to control the violent acts of another did not arise absent specific threats directed to a reasonably identifiable victim.
Was the defendant liable for the injuries caused to plaintiffs by his patient?
The defendant therapist was not liable for injuries inflicted upon the plaintiffs absent specific threats to a readily identifiable victim. Nowhere in the injured parties' complaint were there allegations that the patient ever threatened anyone. The injured parties' injuries were not foreseeable. There was no relationship between the therapist and the injured parties that created any legal obligation from the therapist to the injured parties.