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Emerich v. Philadelphia Center for Human Development, Inc.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
720 A.2d 1032 (1998)


Facts

Teresa Hausler and Gad Joseph lived together as boyfriend and girlfriend. For an extended period of time, both had undergone treatment for mental illnesses and drug problems. Hausler and Joseph were each counseled by Anthony Scuderi (defendant) at the Philadelphia Center for Human Development, Inc. (PCHD) (defendant). Scuderi diagnosed Joseph with having post-traumatic stress disorder and explosive and schizo-affective personality disorders. It was additionally well known to Scuderi that Joseph had a history of physically and verbally abusing Hausler. Subsequently, Hausler decided to end her relationship with Joseph and moved out of their apartment and relocated to a different city. During a therapy session thereafter, Joseph told Scuderi that he would kill Hausler if she came back to the apartment to get some of her things. One morning, Joseph called Scuderi and informed him that he was going to kill Hausler. Scuderi immediately scheduled and carried out a therapy session with Joseph later that morning. During the session, Joseph indicated that his anger was getting worse and repeated his desire to kill Hausler. However, later Joseph stated he was in control and would not harm Hausler. Shortly thereafter, Scuderi telephoned Scuderi to inform him that she was back in town to get some of her clothes from her old apartment. Scuderi told Hausler not to go to the apartment and instead to immediately leave town. Hausler ignored Scuderi’s suggestion and, upon entering the apartment was shot and killed by Joseph. Joseph was subsequently arrested and convicted of murder. Ronald Emerich, as administrator of Hausler’s estate (plaintiff), filed a wrongful death action against Scuderi, PCHD, and others. The trial court granted defendants’ motions for a judgment on the pleadings and dismissed the complaint. Emerich appealed.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Cappy, J.)

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