CACI 503B Affirmative Defense—Psychotherapist’s Communication of Threat to Victim and Law Enforcement
California Civil Jury Instructions CACI
503B Affirmative Defense—Psychotherapist’s Communication of Threat to Victim and Law Enforcement
[Name of defendant] is not responsible for [[name of plaintiff]’s injury/the death of [name of decedent]] if [name of defendant] proves that [he/she/nonbinary pronoun] made reasonable efforts to communicate the threat to [name of plaintiff/decedent] and to a law enforcement agency.
Derived from former CACI No. 503 April 2007; Revised June 2013, May 2020
Directions for Use
Read this instruction for a Tarasoff cause of action for professional negligence against a psychotherapist (Tarasoff v. Regents of Univ. of Cal. (1976) 17 Cal.3d 425 [131 Cal.Rptr. 14, 551 P.2d 334]) if there is a dispute of fact regarding whether the defendant made reasonable efforts to communicate to the victim and to a law enforcement agency a threat made by the defendant’s patient. The therapist is immune from liability under Tarasoff if the therapist makes reasonable efforts to communicate the threat to the victim and to a law enforcement agency. (Civ. Code, § 43.92(b).) CACI No. 503A, Psychotherapist’s Duty to Protect Intended Victim From Patient’s Threat, sets forth the elements of a Tarasoff cause of action if the defendant is not immune.
In a wrongful death case, insert the name of the decedent victim where applicable.
Sources and Authority
•Limited Psychotherapist Immunity. Civil Code section 43.92(b).
•Failure to inform a law enforcement agency concerning a homicidal threat made by a patient against his work supervisor did not abrogate the “firefighter’s rule” and, therefore, did not render the psychiatrist liable to a police officer who was subsequently shot by the patient. (Tilley v. Schulte (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 79, 85–86 [82 Cal.Rptr.2d 497].)
•“When the communication of the serious threat of physical violence is received by the therapist from a member of the patient’s immediate family and is shared for the purpose of facilitating and furthering the patient’s treatment, the fact that the family member is not technically a ‘patient’ is not crucial to the statute’s purpose.” (Ewing v. Goldstein (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 807, 817 [15 Cal.Rptr.3d 864].)