Exceptions to the general rule that a person with mental disabilities is generally held to the same standard of care as that of a reasonable person under the same circumstances will arise where the factual circumstances negate the factors supporting imposition of a duty, particularly with respect to the nature of the parties' relationship and public policy considerations.
A certified nursing assistant sued an Alzheimer's patient for injuries she suffered when he kicked her while she was trying to put him to bed. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the patient. On appeal, the decision was reversed. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Indiana.
Should the general duty of care be imposed upon adults with mental disabilities?
The Court found that there was no genuine issue of material fact as to patient's mental capacity: he was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's and was unable to control or appreciate the consequences of his actions. Thus, it held that the patient should not be liable because the relationship between the parties and public policy considerations were such that the patient owed no duty of care to the nurse.