Mariah Kerlick
Danielle Gouch

Tarasoff v.Regents of University of California
California Supreme Court
Argued/Decided 1976
Background: In October 1969, Prosenjit Poddar murdered Tatiana Tarasoff after confiding to his therapist, Dr. Lawrence Moore at Cowell Memorial Hospital of the University of California that he intended to harm Tarasoff. Prosenjit Poddar was briefly detained after Dr. Moore alerted the police, but was later released after being deemed rational. Tatiana Tarasoff’s parents brought suit against four psychiatrists at Cowell Memorial Hospital and campus police for failing to warn Tarasoff and them of the threat made by Poddar.

Decision: The California Supreme Court held that a physician should exercise “reasonable care” to protect the foreseeable victim of danger. The court concluded that the physicians did not exercise “reasonable care” to prevent the murder of Tarasoff in relation to their patient, thus deeming them responsible. The case of the campus police varied differently. The state statute relieves public employees from liability of injury that occurs from exercising duties according to established policies. The campus police was afforded immunity in the suit.

Impact on Teaching: It is a teacher’s responsibility to create a safe learning environment for our students and our colleagues. We are to report cases where students bully or make threats against one another; even if the threat may seem empty we are still legally obligated to report it. If a student comes to us in complete confidentially to hurt themselves or others we must report it to prevent the act from occurring.

Question: T/F
A teacher can break confidentially when the safety of a student is at risk?