Battery Liability for Offending Unusually Sensitive Sense of Personal Dignity

Mark Malachowski, Esq.

canstockphoto26748309Under new rules, promulgated by the powerful American Law Institute, offending ultra-sensitive people now carries battery liability. In the olden days, battery was considered an offensive “unwanted touching” based on the reasonable person standard, for example, grabbing a menu out of someone’s hands, knocking off their hat, or stepping on their blue suede shoes. Now, someone smoking a cigar, wearing perfume or having body odor could offend an “unusually sensitive person” and be subject to liability for the tort of battery.

If a man tapped a Muslim woman wearing a hijab on the shoulder and asked for directions, the man is liable for battery because Muslim women should not be touched by any man but their husband, father or brothers. However, a Muslim woman could tap a Christian man on the shoulder and ask for directions, and she would not be liable for the tort of battery.

A hospital could be liable for battery for not honoring a patient’s request not to be touched by a doctor or nurse of a particular religion, because the hospital is no longer protected by public policy in this instance. Insurance often does not cover battery.

About the author:

Mark Malachowski, Esq.
The Law Office of Malachowski & Associates

Related article:

Thin-Skinned and Upset? Call a Lawyer
An influential law group wants the tort of battery redefined to protect the ‘unusually sensitive.’
Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2015