A nursing supervisor’s grab at the wrist of a surgical technician to ensure she wearing fake nails did not present prima facie claims of assault and battery, said a Brooklyn appellate court.
Stony Brook University Medical Center has a policy barring operating room staff from wearing artificial nails, but surgical technician Michelle Gabriel had violated the rule more than once before the June 2007 incident. Kathryn Scheriff, an assistant director of nursing, asked Gabriel to show the supervisor her hands, which were under a blanket.
Gabriel refused, and Scheriff tugged at her right wrist. Gabriel said the force of Scheriff’s grab caused her immediate, intense pain. Scheriff said in a deposition that Gabriel admitted she was wearing fake nails.
Gabriel sued Scheriff, asserting claims including assault and battery. In March 2012, Acting Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Denise Molia (See Profile) denied Gabriel’s summary judgment motion on liability, noting factual questions on the “level of contact, and whether such contact was wrongful” given the circumstances. The Appellate Division, Second Department unanimously affirmed on Wednesday.
Regarding the battery allegation, the panel said Gabriel failed to show that Scheriff meant to cause contact “that a reasonable person would find offensive.” As for the assault claim, the panel said Gabriel did not establish that Scheriff meant to “either to inflict physical injury or ‘to arouse apprehension of harmful bodily contact. ‘”
Richard Kaufman of Port Jefferson represented Gabriel. Assistant Attorney Generals Steven Wu and David Lawrence represented Scheriff.