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1986 Minnesota Session Laws

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                         Laws of Minnesota 1986 

                        CHAPTER 380-S.F.No. 2135 
           An act relating to liability; limiting the civil 
          liability of practitioners for the violent acts of 
          patients; providing immunity from liability for 
          disclosure; amending Minnesota Statutes 1985 
          Supplement, section 626.556, subdivision 4; proposing 
          coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 148. 
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
    Section 1.  [148.975] [DUTY TO WARN; LIMITATION ON 
LIABILITY; VIOLENT BEHAVIOR OF PATIENT.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [DEFINITIONS.] (a) The definitions in this 
subdivision apply to sections 1 and 2. 
    (b) "Other person" means an immediate family member or 
someone who personally knows the patient and has reason to 
believe the patient is capable of and will carry out the 
serious, specific threat of harm to a specific, clearly 
identified victim. 
    (c) "Practitioner" means a psychologist, school 
psychologist, nurse, chemical dependency counselor, or social 
worker who is licensed by the state or who performs 
psychotherapy within a program or facility licensed by the state 
or established pursuant to rules adopted under section 245.69, 
subdivision 2. 
    (d) "Psychotherapy" means the professional treatment, 
assessment, or counseling of a mental or emotional illness, 
symptom, or condition. 
    (e) "Reasonable efforts" means communicating the serious, 
specific threat to the potential victim and if unable to make 
contact with the potential victim, communicating the serious, 
specific threat to the law enforcement agency closest to the 
potential victim or the patient. 
    Subd. 2.  [LIABILITY STANDARD.] No monetary liability and 
no cause of action may arise against a practitioner for failure 
to predict, warn of, or take reasonable precautions to provide 
protection from, a patient's violent behavior, unless the 
patient or other person has communicated to the practitioner a 
specific, serious threat of physical violence against a 
specific, clearly identified or identifiable potential victim. 
    Subd. 3.  [DUTY TO WARN.] The duty to predict, warn of, or 
take reasonable precautions to provide protection from, violent 
behavior arises only under the limited circumstances specified 
in subdivision 2.  The duty is discharged by the practitioner if 
reasonable efforts are made to communicate the threat to the 
potential victim. 
    Subd. 4.  [DISCLOSURE OF CONFIDENCES.] No monetary 
liability and no cause of action, or disciplinary action by the 
state board of psychology or board of nursing may arise against 
a practitioner for disclosing confidences to third parties in a 
good faith effort to discharge a duty arising under this section.
    Subd. 5.  [CONTINUITY OF CARE.] Nothing in subdivision 3 
shall be construed to authorize a practitioner to terminate 
treatment of a patient as a direct result of a patient's violent 
behavior or threat of physical violence unless the patient is 
referred to another practitioner or appropriate health care 
facility. 
    Subd. 6.  [EXCEPTION.] This section does not apply to a 
threat to commit suicide or other threats by a patient to harm 
the patient, or to a threat by a patient who is adjudicated 
mentally ill and dangerous under chapter 253B. 
    Sec. 2.  [148.976] [OPTIONAL DISCLOSURE; LIMITATION ON 
LIABILITY.] 
    Subdivision 1.  [OPTIONAL DISCLOSURE.] Nothing in section 1 
shall be construed to prohibit a practitioner from disclosing 
confidences to third parties in a good-faith effort to warn 
against or take precautions against a patient's violent behavior 
for which a duty to warn does not arise under section 1. 
    Subd. 2.  [LIMITATION ON LIABILITY.] No monetary liability 
and no cause of action, or disciplinary action by the state 
board of psychology or board of nursing may arise against a 
practitioner for disclosure of confidences to third parties, for 
failure to disclose confidences to third parties, or for 
erroneous disclosure of confidences to third parties in a 
good-faith effort to warn against or take precautions against a 
patient's violent behavior for which a duty to warn does not 
arise under section 1. 
    Sec. 3.  Minnesota Statutes 1985 Supplement, section 
626.556, subdivision 4, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 4.  [IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY.] (a) The following 
persons are immune from any civil or criminal liability that 
otherwise might result from their actions, if they are acting in 
good faith: 
    (1) any person making a voluntary or mandated report under 
subdivision 3 or assisting in an assessment under this 
section; and 
    (2) any social worker or supervisor employed by a local 
welfare agency complying with subdivision 10d; and 
    (3) any public or private school, facility as defined in 
subdivision 2, or the employee of any public or private school 
or facility who permits access by a local welfare agency or 
local law enforcement agency and assists in an investigation or 
assessment pursuant to subdivision 10. 
    (b) A person who is a supervisor or social worker employed 
by a local welfare agency complying with subdivisions 10 and 11 
or any related rule or provision of law is immune from any civil 
or criminal liability that might otherwise result from the 
person's actions, if the person is acting in good faith and 
exercising due care. 
    (c) This subdivision does not provide immunity to any 
person for failure to make a required report or for committing 
neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse of a child. 
    Sec. 4.  [EFFECTIVE DATE.] 
    Section 3 is effective the day following final enactment.  
Sections 1 and 2 are effective August 1, 1986, and apply to 
causes of action arising on or after that date. 
    Approved March 19, 1986

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