The Future of 'The Duty to Protect': Scientific and Legal Perspectives on Tarasoff's Thirtieth Anniversary

18 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2007

See all articles by Ann Hubbard

Ann Hubbard

University of Cincinnati - College of Law


Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, the seminal case establishing a therapist's civil liability for her patient's violence toward third parties, is as significant today as it was controversial in 1976. Tarasoff has had a unique impact both on law-and-mental-health scholarship and on day-to-day mental health practice, yet legal decision makers and commentators remain divided on the wisdom and proper application of Tarasoff. Therefore, the medical, scientific and policy judgments that undergird Tarasoff decisions need to be revisited regularly. This Symposium brings together some of the nation's leading experts on law and mental health to discuss the most recent scientific advances and best practices in violence risk assessment and mental health care and to contribute fresh ideas about the principles supporting or opposing the imposition of this tort liability. They examine legal and ethical principles that justify or undermine Tarasoff liability, developments in violence risk assessments that make violence predictions more realistic and reliable, and changes in mental health practices that may make Tarasoff interventions less onerous for some patients.

In short, the papers in this Symposium examine the application and implications of Tarasoff - past, present and future - and analyze its virtues, shortcomings, risks and promises.

Keywords: Tarasoff, mental health, risk assessment, tort liability

JEL Classification: K32, K13

Suggested Citation

Hubbard, Ann, The Future of 'The Duty to Protect': Scientific and Legal Perspectives on Tarasoff's Thirtieth Anniversary. University of Cincinnati Law Review, Vol. 75, No. 429, 2006, U of Cincinnati Public Law Research Paper No. 07-22, Available at SSRN:

Ann Hubbard (Contact Author)

University of Cincinnati - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210040
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0040
United States

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