The Third Department determined the defendant Rehabilitation Support Services’ (RSS’s) motion for summary judgment in this negligence, negligent supervision, medical malpractice, negligent infliction of emotional distress action was properly denied. Plaintiff was kidnapped and raped by Jose Marlett who was under the care and supervision provided by RSS, a rehabilitation and recovery program for persons who have mental illness and substance abuse issues:
Marlett had been an outpatient client at RSS for approximately one year and had been a resident in its apartment program for approximately one to three months prior to his receipt of personal recovery services. Marlett’s application for RSS services included his diagnoses of bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, and a history of delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal and homicidal ideations and incarceration. RSS identified Marlett’s risks as suicide and violence, and noted that he had a history of physical altercations, threatening and attempting to harm others and was a danger to himself and others. In order to receive RSS services, Marlett was required to forego other psychiatric and mental health treatment and RSS essentially became the exclusive provider of Marlett’s medication management, clinical counseling, therapy and psychiatric assessments. * * *
… [W]e find that defendants failed to prove a lack of duty to take reasonable steps to prevent Marlett from harming members of the general public. * * *
[Re: medical malpractice] Defendants failed to submit a competent expert medical opinion, instead submitting a speculative and conclusory affidavit by its nonphysician director that failed to provide any factual basis showing that they complied with professional standards … .* * *
“A cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress generally requires the plaintiff to show a breach of a duty owed to him or her which unreasonably endangered his or her physical safety, or caused him or her to fear for his or her own safety” … . “Unlike intentional infliction of emotional distress, … the Court of Appeals has not stated that extreme and outrageous conduct is an essential element of a cause of action to recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress” … . Doe v Langer, 2022 NY Slip Op 03957, Third Dept 6-15-22
Practice Point: Here defendant provided rehabilitative and recovery services for persons with mental illness and substance abuse problems. A person, with a violent past, was under defendant’s care and supervision when he kidnapped and raped plaintiff. Defendant did not demonstrate that it did not have a duty to protect members of the general public from a violent person under its care and supervision.