(CN) – A mental health agency is not liable for the actions of a former patient who went on a hammer-wielding rampage before being killed by his own daughter, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled.
Adam Cummins spent three years under treatment at ComCare after he threatened to kill members of his family. Doctors diagnosed him with “bipolar disorder, manic with psychotic features.”
Cummins began a pattern that would see him be discharged from the hospital, refuse to take his medication, make more violent threats, and then land in the hospital again.
Finally, ComCare closed the books on Adam because he refused to avail himself of its services.
Nine months later, Adam called his mother, Katherine Adams, and daughter, Alexandra Cummins. They were frightened by his threats and called the police, who advised them to simply keep their doors locked.
Adam arrived and kicked the door down. When he attacked Katherine with a hammer, Alexandra shot her father and killed him.
The survivors sued Segwick County, which operates ComCare, and the doctors. A lower court ruled that the defendants did not owe Adam’s family a duty of care, and the state high court agreed.
Even during hospitalization, ComCare was not equipped to protect Adam’s family members from him, Justice Luckert ruled.
“When Adam was not a danger to others, he was entitled to the least restrictive environment possible, an environment which the defendants lacked the ability to exercise the type of dominion that would have prevented the harm to the plaintiffs,” Luckert wrote.