Should a smoker's license to freely blow his smoke be limited by the sensitivity of non-smokers?
[634 N.E.2d 698] [92 Ohio App.3d 233] Kircher, Robinson, Cook, Newman & Welch and Robert B. Newman, Cincinnati, for appellant.8
Strauss & Troy and William K. Flynn, Cincinnati, for appellees WLW Jacor Communications, Inc. and William Cunningham.9
Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley, Stanley M. Chesley and Paul M. DeMarco, Cincinnati, for appellee Andy Furman.10
The plaintiff-appellant, Ahron Leichtman, appeals from the trial court's order dismissing his complaint against the defendants-appellees, WLW Jacor Communications ("WLW"), William Cunningham and Andy Furman, for battery, invasion of privacy, and a violation of Cincinnati Bd. of Health Reg. No. 00083. In his single assignment of error, Leichtman contends that his complaint was sufficient to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and, therefore, the trial court was in error when it granted the defendants' Civ.R. 12(B)(6) motion. We agree in part.12
In his complaint, Leichtman claims to be "a nationally known" antismoking advocate. Leichtman alleges that, on the date of the Great American Smokeout, he was invited to appear on the WLW Bill Cunningham radio talk show to discuss the harmful effects of smoking and breathing secondary smoke. He also alleges that, while he was in the studio, Furman, another WLW talk-show host, lit a cigar and repeatedly blew smoke in Leichtman's face "for the purpose of causing physical discomfort, humiliation and distress."13
Under the rules of notice pleading, Civ.R. 8(A)(1) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." When construing a complaint for failure to state a claim, under Civ.R. 12(B)(6), the court assumes that the factual allegations on the face of the complaint are true. O'Brien v. Univ. Community Tenants Union, Inc. (1975), 42 Ohio St.2d 242, 71 O.O.2d 223, 327 N.E.2d 753, syllabus. For the court to grant a motion to dismiss, "it must appear beyond doubt from the complaint that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts entitling him to recovery." Id. A court cannot dismiss a complaint under Civ.R. 12(B)(6) merely because it doubts the plaintiff will prevail. Slife v. Kundtz Properties, Inc. (1974), 40 Ohio App.2d 179, 69 O.O.2d 178, 318 N.E.2d 557. Because it is so easy for the pleader to satisfy the standard of Civ.R. 8(A), few complaints are subject to dismissal. Id. at 182, 69 O.O.2d at 180, 318 N.E.2d at 560.14
Leichtman contends that Furman's intentional act constituted a battery. The Restatement of the Law 2d, Torts (1965), states:15
"An actor is subject to liability to another for battery if
"(a) he acts intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact with the person of the other * * *, and
"(b) a harmful contact with the person of the other directly or indirectly results[; or]
[92 Ohio App.3d 235] "(c) an offensive contact with the person of the other directly or indirectly results." (Footnote added.)
[634 N.E.2d 699] In determining if a person is liable for a battery, the Supreme Court has adopted the rule that "[c]ontact which is offensive to a reasonable sense of personal dignity is offensive contact." Love v. Port Clinton (1988), 37 Ohio St.3d 98, 99, 524 N.E.2d 166, 167. It has defined "offensive" to mean "disagreeable or nauseating or painful because of outrage to taste and sensibilities or affronting insultingness." State v. Phipps (1979), 58 Ohio St.2d 271, 274, 12 O.O.3d 273, 275, 389 N.E.2d 1128, 1131. Furthermore, tobacco smoke, as "particulate matter," has the physical properties capable of making contact. R.C. 3704.01(B) and 5709.20(A); Ohio Adm.Code 3745-17.17
As alleged in Leichtman's complaint, when Furman intentionally blew cigar smoke in Leichtman's face, under Ohio common law, he committed a battery. No matter how trivial the incident, a battery is actionable, even if damages are only one dollar. Lacey v. Laird (1956), 166 Ohio St. 12, 1 O.O.2d 158, 139 N.E.2d 25, paragraph two of the syllabus. The rationale is explained by Roscoe Pound in his essay "Liability": "[I]n civilized society men must be able to assume that others will do them no intentional injury--that others will commit no intentioned aggressions upon them." Pound, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law (1922) 169.18
Other jurisdictions also have concluded that a person can commit a battery by intentionally directing tobacco smoke at another. Richardson v. Hennly (1993), 209 Ga.App. 868, 871, 434 S.E.2d 772, 774-775. We do not, however, adopt or lend credence to the theory of a "smoker's battery," which imposes liability if there is substantial certainty that exhaled smoke will predictably contact a nonsmoker. Ezra, Smoker Battery: An Antidote to Second-Hand Smoke (1990), 63 S.Cal.L.Rev. 1061, 1090. Also, whether the "substantial certainty" prong of [92 Ohio App.3d 236] intent from the Restatement of Torts translates to liability for secondary smoke via the intentional tort doctrine in employment cases as defined by the Supreme Court in Fyffe v. Jeno's, Inc. (1991), 59 Ohio St.3d 115, 570 N.E.2d 1108, paragraph one of the syllabus, need not be decided here because Leichtman's claim for battery is based exclusively on Furman's commission of a deliberate act. Finally, because Leichtman alleges that Furman deliberately blew smoke into his face, we find it unnecessary to address offensive contact from passive or secondary smoke under the "glass cage" defense of McCracken v. Sloan (1979), 40 N.C.App. 214, 217, 252 S.E.2d 250, 252, relied on by the defendants.19
Neither Cunningham nor WLW is entitled to judgment on the battery claim under Civ.R. 12(B)(6). Concerning Cunningham, at common law, one who is present and encourages or incites commission of a battery by words can be equally liable as a principal. Bell v. Miller (1831), 5 Ohio 250; 6 Ohio Jurisprudence 3d (1978) 121-122, Assault, Section 20. Leichtman's complaint states, "At Defendant Cunningham's urging, Defendant Furman repeatedly blew cigar smoke in Plaintiff's face."20
With regard to WLW, an employer is not legally responsible for the intentional torts of its employees that do not facilitate or promote its business. Osborne v. Lyles (1992), 63 Ohio St.3d 326, 329-330, 587 N.E.2d 825, 828-829. However, whether an employer is liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior because its employee is acting within the scope of employment is ordinarily a question of fact. Id. at 330, 587 N.E.2d at 825. Accordingly, Leichtman's claim for battery with the allegations against the three defendants in the second count of the complaint is sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss under Civ.R. 12(B)(6).21
By contrast, the first and third counts of Leichtman's complaint do not state claims upon which relief can be granted. The trial court correctly granted the Civ.R. 12(B)(6) motion as to both counts. In his first count, Leichtman alleged a tortious invasion of his privacy. See, generally, Restatement, supra, at 376, Section 652B, as adopted by Sustin v. Fee (1982), 69 Ohio St.2d 143, 145, 23 O.O.3d 182, 183-184, 431 N.E.2d 992, 993. A claim for invasion of privacy may involve any one of four distinct torts. Prosser, Privacy (1960), 48 Cal.L.Rev. 383. The tort that is relevant here requires some substantial intrusion into a plaintiff's solitude, seclusion, habitation, or affairs that would be highly [634 N.E.2d 700] offensive to a reasonable person. See, e.g., Restatement, supra, at 378-379, Section 652B, Comments a to d; Killilea v. Sears Roebuck & Co. (1985), 27 Ohio App.3d 163, 166, 27 OBR 196, 198-199, 499 N.E.2d 1291, 1294. Leichtman acknowledges that he willingly entered the WLW radio studio to make a public radio appearance with Cunningham, who is known for his blowtorch rhetoric. Therefore, Leichtman's [92 Ohio App.3d 237] allegations do not support his assertion that Furman, Cunningham, or WLW intruded into his privacy.22
In his third count, Leichtman attempts to create a private right of action for violation of Cincinnati Bd. of Health Reg. No. 00083, which makes it illegal to smoke in designated public places. Even if we are to assume, for argument, that a municipal regulation is tantamount to public policy established by a statute enacted by the General Assembly, the regulation has created rights for nonsmokers that did not exist at common law. Bd. of Health Reg., supra, at Sections 00083-7 and 00083-13. Therefore, because sanctions also are provided to enforce the regulation, there is no implied private remedy for its violation. R.C. 3707.99, 3707.48(C); Franklin Cty. Law Enforcement Assn. v. Fraternal Order of Police, Capital City Lodge No. 9 (1991), 59 Ohio St.3d 167, 169, 572 N.E.2d 87, 89-90; Fawcett v. G.C. Murphy & Co. (1976), 46 Ohio St.2d 245, 248-250, 75 O.O.2d 291, 293-294, 348 N.E.2d 144, 147 (superseded by statute on other grounds).23
Arguably, trivial cases are responsible for an avalanche of lawsuits in the courts. They delay cases that are important to individuals and corporations and that involve important social issues. The result is justice denied to litigants and their counsel who must wait for their day in court. However, absent circumstances that warrant sanctions for frivolous appeals under App.R. 23, we refuse to limit one's right to sue. Section 16, Article I, Ohio Constitution states, "All courts shall be open, and every person, for an injury done him in his land, goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and shall have justice administered without denial or delay."24
This case emphasizes the need for some form of alternative dispute resolution operating totally outside the court system as a means to provide an attentive ear to the parties and a resolution of disputes in a nominal case. Some need a forum in which they can express corrosive contempt for another without dragging their antagonist through the expense inherent in a lawsuit. Until such an alternative forum is created, Leichtman's battery claim, previously knocked out by the trial judge in the first round, now survives round two to advance again through the courts into round three.25
We affirm the trial court's judgment as to the first and third counts of the complaint, but we reverse that portion of the trial court's order that dismissed the battery claim in the second count of the complaint. This cause is remanded for further proceedings consistent with law on that claim only.26
DOAN, P.J., and HILDEBRANDT and GORMAN, JJ., concur.28
 Harmful contact: Restatement of the Law 2d, Torts (1965) 25, Section 13, cited with approval in Love v. Port Clinton (1988), 37 Ohio St.3d 98, 99, 524 N.E.2d 166, 167.29
 Offensive contact: Restatement, supra, at 30, Section 18. See, generally, Love at 99-100, 524 N.E.2d at 167, in which the court: (1) referred to battery as "intentional, offensive touching"; (2) defined offensive contact as that which is "offensive to a reasonable sense of personal dignity"; and (3) commented that if "an arrest is made by a mere touching * * * the touching is offensive and, unless privileged, is a 'battery.' " Id., 37 Ohio St.3d at 99, 524 N.E.2d at 167, fn. 3. See, also, Schultz v. Elm Beverage Shoppe (1988), 40 Ohio St.3d 326, 328, 533 N.E.2d 349, 352, fn. 2 (citing Restatement, supra, at 22, Chapter 2, Introductory Note), in which the court identified an interest in personality as "freedom from offensive bodily contacts"; Keister v. Gaker (Nov. 8, 1978), Warren App. Nos. 219 and 223, unreported (battery is offensive touching).
Should health care professionals be allowed to administer life-saving, emergency treatment when there is a possibility that the patient would have refused?
475 N.W.2d 4262
Docket No. 123785.9
190 Mich.App. 141, 475 N.W.2d 42610
Court of Appeals of Michigan.11
Submitted Jan. 16, 1991, at Lansing.12
Decided July 8, 1991, at 9:05 a.m.13
Released for Publication Oct. 28, 1991.14
[475 N.W.2d 427] [190 MICHAPP 141] Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, P.C. by Stanley S. Schwartz and Richard L. Groffsky, Southfield, for plaintiffs-appellants.
Stroup, Johnson & Tresidder, P.C. by Charles W. Johnson, Petoskey, for Michael V. Taylor, M.D.16
Before NEFF, P.J., and SHEPHERD and McDONALD, JJ.17
Plaintiffs, Cindy K. Werth and donald [190 MICHAPP 142] E. Werth, appeal as of right from an order of the circuit court granting summary disposition pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(10) in favor of defendant, Michael V. Taylor, M.D. We affirm.19
Plaintiffs filed a civil battery claim against defendant Taylor based on his authorization of a blood transfusion for Cindy Werth despite plaintiffs' refusals. Plaintiffs also filed a medical malpractice claim against Taylor and other defendants. The medical malpractice claim is not the subject of this appeal.21
The facts are not in dispute. Cindy and her husband Donald are Jehovah's Witnesses. It is unquestioned that they are both devoted adherents to the tenets of their chosen faith. According to Cindy Werth's deposition testimony, one of the most deeply held of these tenets is the belief that it is a sin to receive blood transfusions.22
In August 1985, Cindy, the mother of two children, became pregnant with twins. About two months before the expected date of delivery, Cindy went to Alpena General Hospital to preregister. She filled out several forms, including a "Refusal to Permit Blood Transfusion" form. Cindy went into labor on May 8, 1986, and entered Alpena General Hospital on that date. While she was being admitted, Donald signed another "Refusal to Permit Blood Transfusion" form.23
Cindy gave birth to her twins on the evening of May 8, 1986. Following delivery, Cindy was found to be bleeding from her uterus. Around 11:30 p.m., Dr. Cheryl Parsons was called. She performed a pelvic examination and discovered a great deal of clotting and a fair amount of bleeding. Dr. Parsons [190 MICHAPP 143] then discussed performing a dilation of the cervix and curettage of the uterine lining (D & C). As a result, Dr. Parsons began discussing with plaintiffs their refusals of blood transfusions.24
Following this discussion, Cindy was taken to surgery. In the early hours of May 9, 1986, she was placed under general anesthesia, and Dr. Parsons proceeded to perform a D & C. The bleeding, however, continued. Defendant Taylor, an anesthesiologist, was then called to the hospital to examine Cindy. Cindy's blood pressure had risen significantly. At approximately 1:30 a.m., defendant Taylor observed mottling and cooling of the skin peripherally, premature ventricular activity, oozing of crystalloid material from her eyes, and a fairly rapid and significant fall in blood pressure. These observations prompted defendant Taylor to determine that a blood transfusion was medically necessary to preserve Cindy's life. He ordered the transfusion of packed red blood cells, but before the transfusion was given, Dr. Parsons informed him that Cindy was a Jehovah's Witness. Dr. Parsons testified that defendant responded by saying something like "that may be, but she needs the blood." A blood transfusion was then given.25
Plaintiffs thereafter filed their medical malpractice action, alleging negligence by various defendants, including Taylor, and alleging battery against defendant Taylor.26
Defendant Taylor filed a motion for summary disposition pursuant to MCR 2.116(C)(10), arguing that because Cindy's refusal was not conscious, competent, contemporaneous, and fully informed, defendant did not commit a battery in deciding to infuse blood. The trial court granted this motion and entered an order dismissing plaintiffs' claim against defendant Taylor.27
Plaintiffs contend that the trial court erred in granting summary disposition where their refusal of a blood transfusion [475 N.W.2d 428] was made deliberately and voluntarily. They also contend that defendant's decision to perform that procedure with knowledge of this express refusal resulted in a battery, as well as a violation of the hospital's promise to honor plaintiffs' religious convictions, and that the potentially life-threatening situation did not alter plaintiffs' conscious, deliberate, and unequivocal refusal. Plaintiffs also claim that the court erred in holding that society's interest in preventing minors from becoming wards of the court could override plaintiffs' religious beliefs.29
Defendant Taylor, on the other hand, contends that the trial court did not err in granting summary disposition, because plaintiffs did not unequivocally refuse the blood transfusion. He claims that, in the face of a life-threatening emergency, without a fully conscious and contemporaneous refusal, his decision to transfuse blood was appropriate and the court did not err in finding an implicit consent to the procedure authorized by him. Defendant Taylor also contends that the state's interest in preserving life authorized him to override plaintiffs' right to refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds. He claims that, while a patient may knowingly decline treatment, the patient has no right to demand inadequate treatment, and the courts will not require that such be committed.30
Summary disposition based on MCR 2.116(C)(10) may be granted where, except for the amount of damages, there is no genuine issue regarding any [190 MICHAPP 145] material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.32
A motion for summary disposition under this subrule tests whether there is factual support for a claim. Dumas v. Auto Club Ins. Ass'n, 168 Mich.App. 619, 626, 425 N.W.2d 480 (1988). The party opposing the motion has the burden of showing that a genuine issue of disputed fact exists. Pantely v. Garris, Garris & Garris, P.C., 180 Mich.App. 768, 773, 447 N.W.2d 864 (1989). Giving the benefit of any reasonable doubt to the nonmovant, the court must determine whether a record might be developed which will leave open an issue upon which reasonable minds could differ. Dumas, supra. All inferences are to be drawn in favor of the nonmovant. Dagen v. Hastings Mutual Ins. Co., 166 Mich.App. 225, 229, 420 N.W.2d 111 (1987). Before judgment may be granted, the court must be satisfied that it is impossible for the claim asserted to be supported by evidence at trial. Peterfish v. Frantz, 168 Mich.App. 43, 48-49, 424 N.W.2d 25 (1988).33
A competent adult patient has the right to decline any and all forms of medical intervention, including lifesaving or life-prolonging treatment. Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dep't of Health, --- U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 2841, 111 L.Ed.2d 224 (1990); In re Quinlan, 70 N.J. 10, 355 A.2d 647 (1976). See anno: Patient's right to refuse treatment allegedly necessary to sustain life, 93 A.L.R.3d 67. Indeed, the whole concept of informed consent to treatment leads to an inference of its converse--informed refusal of treatment. Put another way, a competent adult may choose to give or withhold consent to medical treatment.35
[190 MICHAPP 146] However, the law implies the consent of an unconscious patient to medical procedures needed to preserve the patient's life. Delahunt v. Finton, 244 Mich. 226, 229, 221 N.W. 168 (1928). See alsoYoung v. Oakland Gen. Hosp., 175 Mich.App. 132, 139, 437 N.W.2d 321 (1989). If a physician treats or operates on a patient without consent, he has committed an assault and battery and may be required to respond in damages. Id.; Banks v. Wittenberg, 82 Mich.App. 274, 279, 266 N.W.2d 788 (1978). Consent may be expressed or implied. Young, supra; Banks, supra, p. 280, 266 N.W.2d 788. It has been held that consent is implied where an emergency procedure is required and there is no opportunity to obtain actual consent or where the patient seeks treatment or otherwise manifests a willingness to submit to a particular treatment. Young, supra; Banks, supra.36
Here, the trial court determined that Cindy's refusals were made when she was contemplating merely routine elective surgery and not when life-threatening circumstances, were present and concluded that it could not be said that she made the decision to refuse a blood transfusion while in a competent state and while fully aware that death would result from such refusal. The record reflects the unexpected development of a medical emergency requiring blood transfusion to prevent death or serious compromise of the patient's well-being.38
The decision of the trial court is supported by one reached by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in In re Estate of Dorone, 517 Pa. 3, 534 A.2d 452 (1987). In Dorone, the patient was a twenty-two-year-old Jehovah's Witness who required a blood transfusion during a cranial operation to [190 MICHAPP 147] relieve an acute subdural hematoma. Without the operation or transfusion, death was imminent. The patient was unconscious, and his parents refused consent to the blood transfusion. The court overruled the parents' refusal, stating:39
Turning to the ultimate decisions the judge rendered, we feel that they were absolutely required under the facts he had before him. Those facts established that medical intervention, which necessarily included blood transfusions, could preserve Mr. Dorone's life. When evidence of this nature is measured against third party speculation as to what an unconscious patient would want there can be no doubt that medical intervention is required. Indeed, in a situation like the present, where there is an emergency calling for an immediate decision, nothing less than a fully conscious contemporaneous decision by the patient will be sufficient to override evidence of medical necessity. [Id., p. 9, 534 A.2d 452.]40
Here, both plaintiffs signed "Refusal to Permit Blood Transfusion" forms. Following Cindy's delivery of twins, Dr. Parsons discussed these refusals with both plaintiffs. Cindy recalled their conversation as follows:41
She--okay. We told her--she said, "I understand that you're one of Jehovah's Witnesses and that you won't take blood," and Don and I both said, "That's correct." And she said, "You mean to tell me if your wife's dying on the table that you're not going to give her blood?" And we said--Don said, "That's--well, I don't want her to have blood, but I don't want her to die. We want the alternative treatment."
* * * * * *
She said there would be no problem. It was a routine D & C, there was no problem with the blood.
* * * * * *
[190 MICHAPP 148] The idea of a blood transfusion, she made it sound that it wouldn't even be a problem. Blood wouldn't come into the picture. That's how I understood it.
Donald also testified regarding the conversation as follows:43
At the time of the consent form, she gave it to my wife and had her look it over and read it, and she said--she acknowledged us as being one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and then she said, "Would you accept blood?" And we replied, "No." And then she made the remark, "Even if she was to die, you'd let her die?"
And at that point, I questioned, I said, "Well, how serious of a, you know, condition was she?" And the reason why we asked that is because, like I say, in different situations like there are Witnesses who have gone to hospitals, you know, if there was some type of real emergency, a lot of times they're shipped out or flown out. Different ones have gone to Ann Arbor and other places.
So at that time, I was just kind of questioning, well, how serious was it, you know. First of all, you say it's a routine D & C; then you mention that if she was to die, and so that's why I questioned it, and then she reassured us that there was no problem, nothing to it.
The following colloquy then occurred between defense counsel and Donald:45
[475 N.W.2d 430] Q. So you never answered the question.
A. Oh, as far as the idea of dying?
A. I said no. The answer was no.
Q. Even if she was to die, you said "No blood."
Q. What did your wife say to that?
[190 MICHAPP 149] A. Well, she was right there and that was her feeling also.
Q. But you didn't have the feeling that that was part of the problem or a possibility? It was kind of an academic discussion, that she might die?
A. Well, she said it in a joking manner. It wasn't done as a serious matter. Being with a joking manner, that's why I asked her how serious it was and then she just--"Oh, there's no problem."
Q. Okay. So you weren't really biting the bullet because it didn't seem to be part of the problem that she was going to die or there was a risk of her dying?
A. At that point, no.
Dr. Parsons testified to the conversation as follows:47
I recall discussing with her and her husband the fact that they were Jehovah's Witnesses and that she indicated that this was true. And I said, "Is it true that you do not want any blood transfusions?" She said, "No." He looked at me and said, "Do you think it's that bad?" And I said, "Not right now." And I didn't get any further answer from him in terms of whether he felt that if it became that bad he might change his mind. And I left it at that.
She also described Donald's response as "wishy-washy."49
Following this discussion, Cindy underwent surgery. She was placed under general anesthesia, and Dr. Parsons performed a D & C. Cindy did not regain consciousness again until after the operation and transfusion of blood were performed. Defendant Taylor testified that he was aware, before deciding to infuse blood, that Cindy was a Jehovah's Witness. No attempt was made to bring Cindy to consciousness in order to obtain her approval, and defendant Taylor testified that this [190 MICHAPP 150] option was "foolhardy." No attempt was made to discuss his decision with Donald because defendant saw nothing to be gained from it. He did not believe Donald could give or deny permission for a blood transfusion.50
We agree with the principle in Dorone that it is the patient's fully informed, contemporaneous decision which alone is sufficient to override evidence of medical necessity. The fact that defendant did not obtain the consent of Cindy's husband does not preclude the granting of summary disposition. It is undisputed that Cindy was unconscious when the critical decision regarding the blood transfusion to avoid her death was being made. Her prior refusals had not been made when her life was hanging in the balance or when it appeared that death might be a possibility if a transfusion were not given. Clearly, her refusals were, therefore, not contemporaneous or informed. Thus, a record could not be developed regarding Cindy's refusal which would leave open an issue upon which reasonable minds could differ.52
Our holding in this case is narrow. Without contemporaneous refusal of treatment by a fully informed, competent adult patient, no action lies for battery and summary disposition was proper.53
Because of our resolution of this case, we need not address the issue whether the trial court erred in holding that the state had a valid interest in preventing Cindy's death.55