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PERSONAL INJURY: Supreme Court affirms wrongful conduct as a bar to tort action

The court holds that public policy precludes a plaintiff from claiming that a defendant has a duty to protect a plaintiff from potential criminal prosecution.

The plaintiff had been a minor patient/client of the defendant, a social worker, when the plaintiff began viewing and downloading child pornography.  The defendant allegedly failed to treat the plaintiff after the defendant disclosed the conduct to the social worker, and the plaintiff alleged that he thereafter continued to view and download the pornography until the police raided his domicile.

The court states that the plaintiff cannot recover for mental distress and economic damages arising from the criminal conduct and affirms the granting of a motion to strike.  The court states that if the plaintiff had alleged injuries independent of the legal consequences of his criminal acts,  the public policy bar would not apply.

Greenwald v. Van Handel, SC 19100 (April 15, 2014)