Brief Fact Summary.
Leichtman is a guest of the radio studio to make a public radio appearance with the host. At the host’s urging, a smoker repeatedly blew cigar smoke in Plaintiff’s face.
Plaintiff filed a case against the radio station and the host for battery, invasion of privacy, and a violation of Cincinnati, Ohio, Bd. of Health Reg. § 00083. The main issue here is whether intentionally blowing cigar smoke at another suffice the element of contact.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Tobacco smoke has the physical properties capable of making contact, thus a person can commit a battery by intentionally directing tobacco smoke at another.
Contact which is offensive to a reasonable sense of personal dignity is offensive contact.View Full Point of Law
Ahron Leichtman was a nationally known antismoking advocate. WLW Bill Cunningham radio talk show invited him to talk about the harmful effects of smoking on a radio talk show hosted by William Cunningham. While Leichtman was at the studio, Andy Furman, another host on the talk show lit a cigar, and repeatedly blew smoke in Leichtman’s face. Leichtman claimed that the host William Cunningham urged Furman to do that. Leichtman contended that Furman’s act constituted a battery. He contended that Cunningham should be liable too because her urged the smoker. The radio company also should be liable for its employee’s intentional act.
The trial court dismissed Leichtman’s complaint. Leichtman appealed to the Ohio Court of Appeals.
Did Furman commit a battery by intentionally directing tobacco smoke at Plaintiff’s face?
The Court confirmed that Furman committed a battery by intentionally directing tobacco smoke at another.
The Court reversed the dismissal of the battery claim and remanded the cause for further proceedings, but confirmed the dismissal of the other two claims—invasion of privacy and violation of a local smoking regulation.
The main issue in this case is whether blowing tobacco smoke at another person fulfills the “contact ” element of a battery. The Court adopted a rule from the Ohio Supreme Court, pointing out that the requisite “harmful or contact” for battery is contact that is offensive to a reasonable sense of personal dignity. It has defined “offensive” to mean “disagreeable or nauseating or painful because of outrage to taste and sensibilities or affronting insultingness. The Court also deemed that tobacco smoke has the physical properties capable of making contact. The Court confirmed that Furman’s intentional blew, which caused Plaintiff’s discomfort and distress, constituted a battery.
Another question the Court addressed is, a battery is always actionable no matter how trivial the incident, even if damages are only nominal. This is to ensure that no one’s right to sue is limited.