A mental-health patient’s threat to kill someone does not impose uponpsychiatrists a duty to warn the intended victim, according to a June 24 Texas SupremeCourt opinion.

In Thapar v. Zezulka, the court held that a psychiatrist’s duty to preservethe confidentiality of patient communications trumps the risk that a patient may harmsomeone. The holding absolves Renu Thapar of liability to Lyndall Zezulka, whose husbandwas murdered by Thapar’s patient, Freddy Ray Lilly. According to the court’sopinion, Lilly told Thapar in August 1988 that he felt like killing Henry Zezulka and didso shortly thereafter. Thapar, the court noted, did not warn the police or the Zezulkasabout the threats.

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