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Paul v. Holbrook

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Paul and Holbrook work together at PMP. Holbrook has made sexual statements direct to Paul and tried to massage her shoulder from behind twice at PMP. Paul complained to PMP, and PMP scheduled Paul and Holbrook to work two different shifts. Paul brought suit against PMP and Holbrook. The trial court granted summary judgment for Holbrook and PMP.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A battery cause of action does not require that the plaintiff prove that the defendant intended to and actually caused harmed as long as the plaintiff has provided evidence that the defendant intentionally touched the plaintiff in a manner that the plaintiff deemed offensive.

    Facts.

    Meredith Paul and Paul Holbrook both worked together at Professional Medical Products, Inc. (PMP). On many occasions, Holbrook made sexually charged statements to Paul. Two times, Holbrook approached Paul from behind and tried to massage her shoulders. Immediately, Paul pulled away from Holbrook both times. Later, Paul complained to PMP, and PMP scheduled Paul and Holbrook to work different shifts from then on. Paul brought suit against Holbrook and PMP on the grounds of assault, battery, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring and retention. The trial judge granted summary judgment to defendants on all claims. Paul appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether a battery cause of action requires that the plaintiff prove that the defendant intended to and actually caused harmed as long as the plaintiff has provided evidence that the defendant intentionally touched the plaintiff in a manner that the plaintiff deemed offensive.

    Held.

    No, a battery cause of action does not require that the plaintiff prove that the defendant intended to and actually caused harmed as long as the plaintiff has provided evidence that the defendant intentionally touched the plaintiff in a manner that the plaintiff deemed offensive. 

    Discussion.

    The trial court improperly granted summary judgment in regards to Paul’s battery claim, but properly granted summary judgment on her other claims. A battery cause of action does not require that the plaintiff prove that the defendant intended to and actually caused harmed as long as the plaintiff has provided evidence that the defendant intentionally touched the plaintiff in a manner that the plaintiff deemed offensive. In tis case, a reasonable juror could find that Holbrook’s attempts to massage Paul’s shoulders constituted an offensive battery.


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