Tarasoff v. Regents of University of California

Supreme Court of California551 P.2d 334 (Cal. 1976)

Facts

Tatiana Tarasoff was a student at the University of California, Berkeley, under the leadership of the Regents of University of California (Regents) (defendant). She and her fellow student, Prosenjit Poddar, briefly shared a romantic interaction on New Year’s Eve 1968. After that, Tarasoff was unresponsive to Poddar’s advances and dated other men. This all aggravated Poddar, and he went to see Dr. Lawrence Moore, a psychologist employed at the university’s medical center. Poddar confessed to Moore that he intended to kill Tatiana. Moore diagnosed Poddar as suffering from a mental disorder and recommended he be involuntarily committed for a short time. Poddar was released, however, after he appeared rational. Moore’s boss allegedly told him not to have any further involvement with the case. At no point did anyone associated with the Regents warn Tatiana or her parents of possible danger. On October 27, 1969, Poddar killed Tatiana in her home. Tatiana’s parents, the Tarasoffs (plaintiffs) brought suit against the Regents alleging they were negligence in failing to warn them of the danger to Tatiana. The trial court held for the Regents, and the Tarasoffs appealed.

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