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Dinardo v. Kohler, 2023 Pa. LEXIS 1583, 2023 WL 8102948 (S. Ct. November 22, 2023) (Todd, C.J.)

Cosmo DiNardo (“DiNardo”), who suffers from various mental infirmities, confessed to killing four individuals, and pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder. He subsequently filed a complaint against his treating psychiatrist and health care providers, claiming that his criminal conduct was the result of his psychiatrist’s grossly negligent treatment, and seeking compensatory damages, indemnification for judgments levied against him by his victims’ families, and counsel fees. In this appeal by allowance, we consider whether the “no felony conviction recovery” rule — which prohibits an individual from benefitting or profiting, via the civil laws, from his own criminal conduct — precludes DiNardo’s cause of action. As we find that the rule bars the medical malpractice claims at issue in this appeal, we affirm the order of the Superior Court.

In short, our case law, while somewhat limited, firmly establishes that, under both the no felony conviction recovery rule and the in pari dlicto doctrine, persons convicted of serious crimes must bear the losses stemming from their criminal acts, and, as a matter of public policy, will not be permitted to shift responsibility for these losses to others. Stated another way, injuries that flow from volitional criminal conduct cannot provide a basis for recovery in tort. The court stressed that the rule is founded upon public interest that arises from the premise that injuries arising from volitional criminal conduct should not provide a basis for recovery in tort.