Zamstein v. Marvasti

In Zamstein v. Marvasti, 240 Conn. 549, 559-61, 692 A.2d 781 (1997), the Court concluded that "imposing a duty on mental health professionals, who have been engaged to evaluate whether there has been sexual abuse, a duty of care running to the benefit of the alleged sexual abuser would be contrary to the public policy of this state." The Court held: "We conclude that imposing a duty on mental health professionals . . . would carry with it the impermissible risk of discouraging such professionals in the future from performing sexual abuse evaluations of children altogether, out of a fear of liability to the very persons whose conduct they may implicate. Such a result would necessarily run contrary to the state's policy of encouraging the reporting and investigation of suspected child abuse, as expressed in General Statutes (Rev. to 1995) 17a-101, because effective evaluation and diagnosis of children is a necessary component of discovering the abuse in the first instance. In addition, imposing such a duty creates too high a risk that, in close cases, mental health professionals would conclude that no sexual abuse had occurred because they feared potential liability to the suspected abusers, rather than because of their professional judgment that, in all likelihood, no abuse had occurred." The legislature has expressed the strong public policy of encouraging medical professionals and other persons to report actual and suspected child abuse to the appropriate authorities and agencies. General Statutes (Rev. to 1995) 17a-101 requires medical professionals and other persons to notify the state commissioner of children and families, or local or state police, whenever they have 'reasonable cause to suspect or believe' that a child under the age of eighteen has been abused. Subsection (b) of 17a-101 provides that such persons shall be fined up to $ 500 if they fail to make such a report. Subsection (h) of 17a-101 provides that persons who make such reports in good faith 'shall be immune from any liability, civil or criminal,' that may result from making the report.