O’Brien v. Bruscato

The Court of Appeals held that Victor Bruscato was entitled to continue pursing a claim for medical malpractice against his psychiatrist, Dr. Derek O'Brien, based at least in part on an agreement that Bruscato brutally killed his mother as a result of deficient psychiatric treatment from O'Brien. Following the murder, Bruscato brought a malpractice claim against O'Brien and the trial court granted summary judgment for O'Brien, ruling that, among other things, public policy would not allow Bruscato to benefit from his wrongdoings. The Court of Appeals reversed and this court subsequently granted certiorari to determine whether the Court of Appeals properly ruled that Bruscato's claim for damages was not barred by Georgia public policy. After reviewing the case, the court held that the public policy issues were correctly examined and determined by the Court of Appeals and generally adopted the Court of Appeals' analysis where an individual's psychiatric disorder prevented him from exercising a reasonable degree of care to prevent himself from taking improper and illegal actions. In this case, a question of fact remained as to whether Bruscato knowingly committed a wrongful act because there was considerable question regarding his sanity and competency at the time the wrongful act was committed. As of this time, it could not be said that, should Bruscato's claim against O'Brien be successful, he might profit from knowingly committing a wrongful act. Thus, O'Brien's motion for summary judgment based on such an argument could not succeed. Moreover, Bruscato's lawsuit was not wholly related to his act of murder and it was not wholly designed to profit from that act where Bruscato was seeking damages from the allegedly improper treatment he received from O'Brien. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals was affirmed. View "O'Brien v. Bruscato" on Justia Law