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Johnson v. English - 34322 ( La. App. 2 Cir 12/20/00), 779 So. 2d 876

Rule:

To constitute an assault, threats, coupled with the present ability to carry out the threats, are sufficient when one is placed in reasonable apprehension of receiving an injury.

Facts:

Plaintiff Viola Johnson was involved in an altercation in which she claimed her supervisor, defendant Kerry English, shoved her. As a result of the incident, plaintiff and her husband filed suit against defendants, her employer and the supervisor, for the intentional torts of assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional harm. The jury found that English committed an assault on Viola Johnson, but did not commit a battery or intentionally inflict emotional harm. The jury also found that defendants' actions did not cause a compensable injury to plaintiffs, and refused to award damages. The trial court denied plaintiffs' motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV).

Issue:

Was the jury finding that while there was an assault, it was not a compensable injury, supported by substantial evidence?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court affirmed. The record showed Viola was not immediately upset after the contact, and neither she nor her union representatives felt that the incident was serious enough to warrant a grievance. Additionally, there were no witnesses to the confrontation. Based on the facts, the jury was not manifestly erroneous in finding that the supervisor's actions did not constitute intentional infliction of emotional harm or a battery. Therefore, the trial judge was correct in denying appellants' JNOV motion.

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