Torts – Liability of Physician Erroneously Certifying Insanity

A physician certified plaintiff to be insane, when in fact she was sane; she was thereafter committed to a state sanitarium. Upon her release, she sued the physician for negligence in examination. Defendant’s demurrer for failure to state a cause of action was sustained. On appeal, held, affirmed. Quoting almost the entirety of an analogous 1900 decision from the same jurisdiction, the court held that defendant had owed no duty to plaintiff. Because the administration of the law “should not be obstructed by the fears of physicians that they may render themselves liable to suit,” certifying physicians “should be exempt from liability.” Furthermore, because commitment had been upon order of a judge, defendant’s negligence, if any, was not the proximate cause of plaintiffs confinement. Mezullo v. Maletz, (Mass. 1954) 118 N.E. (2d) 356.