Wednesday, May 09, 2007

State Supreme Court agrees with Court of Appeals that no private right of action exists for allegedly failing to warn of child abuse

Under South Carolina statutory law, "A physician … shall report in accordance with this section when in the person’s professional capacity the person has received information which gives the person reason to believe that a child’s physical and mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect." In Doe v. Marion, Doe, who was a victim of Dr. Marion, argued that argued the statute imposed a duty on Dr. Graf to report Dr. Marion’s predilection for sexual abuse and/or molestation of children to the appropriate authorities and that a private right of action was created in Doe's favor. The Supreme Court disagreed, noting that purpose of the statute is the protection of the public and not with the protection of an individual’s private right. The Court also rejected a common law duty in this case. The Court noted that Dr. Graf was not aware of a distinct, specific, overt threat of harm which Dr. Marion made towards a particular victim.

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