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2nd Kennedy Nurse Testifies, Recalls Scuffle

Cari Luciano comes to the stand, while defense lawyer questions her credibility and paints her as a law breaker.

Northern Westchester Hospital nurse Cari Luciano sobbed as she testified Tuesday at Douglas Kennedy's trial in Mount Kisco, while recalling the altercation between her and Kennedy as he tried to move his newborn son from the maternity ward.

Luciano recalled the moment on Jan. 7, 2012, when Kennedy opened a stairwell doorway with his son Bo in hand, an event that made her fear for the baby's safety.

"It looked like the baby was unsteady," she said.

Luciano said that she then attempted to reach for the infant to protect and steady him. Once the attempt was made, Luciano stated, Kennedy kicked her with his foot, and then she "just went flying across the floor."

Kennedy went flying in the other direction, she added.

"He flew backwards," she said, and stated that he landed on his back, which was near the stairwell area and on the other side of the door.

Lane, in her testimony, agreed with Luciano's account of the scuffle, as did fellow nurse Marion Williams, who said she was "in shock" after the kicking incident.

Luciano, who has been an NWH nurse for more than a decade, recalled that she was finishing her shift, just after 7 p.m. that, night, when she heard about activity on the floor surrounding Kennedy's request to take Bo outside for air. When fellow nurse Anna Lane, who talked to Kennedy about his request and disputed whether he was allowed to remove the baby, headed inside an elevator to stop Kennedy from using it, Luciano testified that she stood in the elevator doorway to stop him from leaving. She also explained that she did not see Kennedy then twist Lane's left arm to get her hand off of the stairwell door knob, citing the two of them blocking her view as a reason.

Kennedy defense attorney Robert Gottlieb made Luciano's credibility a central issue in his cross examination, just as he did with Lane when she testified on Monday and Tuesday.

He questioned why Luciano would be concerned about reliving the ordeal at a trial when she discussed it in a Feb. 26 "Today Show" interview. Luciano responded that she made the appearance to help her reputation, which she felt was being defamed in the wake of publicity about her role in the incident.

Gottlieb portrayed Luciano as someone who disregards law and policy. As an example, he cited a guilty plea to driving while ability impaired (DWAI) that followed a 2002 drunk driving arrest. He also questioned Luciano about how surveillance footage of the incident was leaked to the media and to her and Lane's attorney, Elliot Taub, arguing that the to do so violates federal patient privacy law.

Luciano denied leaking the footage but said that she showed it to Taub after getting a copy from the hospital upon request. 

"I did not give a copy to anyone," she said when the question was brought up by the prosecution.

Gottlieb also stated that footage leaked to NBC had a disclaimer saying it was property of Taub's law firm, and that her ex-husband had a role in the footage's dissemination.

One of the prosecutors, Assistant District Attorney Amy Puerto, attempted to object when Gottlieb asked whether Luciano spoke with her husband about a leak, questioning relevance. 

"Oh, this is relevant, this is relevant!" Gottlieb said loudly. The lawyer raised his voice multiple time during the questioning, with tensions between he and Puerto rising.

Gottlieb got Luciano to admit that she later accessed medical information about Bo.

"I went into his demographics, yes," she said.

Responding, Gottlieb pressed her further, bringing up whether she violated the law.

"I wasn't think abou the law, sir," Luciano said about her action at the time.

Gottlieb argued that her action was unauthorized. He also told Patch that Luciano was found to have made a privacy violation, although he was not sure whether she was disciplined. 

Luciano declined to comment to reporters when she existed the Mount Kisco courthouse on Tuesday afternoon.

aph47 October 25, 2012 at 12:10 AM
So now the relevant facts come out: the nurse tried to physically take this baby from its father and the father kicked her. The nurse's own testimony establishes that she was the aggressor. That's justification, plain and simple. If someone tried to take your child, what would you do? As the baby's legal parent Kennedy had a right to take his baby for some fresh air, and these nurses should not have tried to physically stop him. Moreover, it appears they knew who he was - he had been there for days and asked the nurse first for permission to leave. This is not a case of protecting a baby from abduction, its a case of nurses trying to enforce a hospital policy over the rights of this baby's legal parent.
C.O. October 26, 2012 at 01:00 AM
@aph47 - so glad you were at the baby's conception and can definitively prove Kennedy is the legal father. In the hospital setting unless the mother is deemed incapacitated the mother is the only person allowed to make legal decisions for the infant - know the facts before pontificating
aph47 October 26, 2012 at 01:47 AM
@C.O. I responded to your other comment about this, but you clearly don't understand how parental rights operate for married couples. The husband is the legal father of ANY child born in the marriage. Mom could had an affair and the husband (not the father) is going to be the legal parent. He was married so he's the legal parent. You can look at a U.S. Supreme Court case that shows this principle being applied against the rights of a biological father. See, Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 110 (1989). You should know that law before pontificating. I'm not an attorney, but I am a law student at Georgetown studying family law. You are plain wrong on the law here.
C.O. October 27, 2012 at 11:21 AM
I am well aware of parental right legality BUT perhaps you should do some homework on the view of hospital maternity wards and their view of parental rights due to liability. The need for tort reform and settlement capitation has forced institutions to limit who can make such decisions for the newborn. Yes the issue could be pushed and the father take the hospital to court to allow him the ability to make those decisions. I love law students - try distancing yourself from your love of the Kennedy's who can do no wrong and look at the other factors - the ER physician does not have any decision making ability for the infant's plan of care, there are safety policies in place to protect the infant - who would be deemed liable if the infant were to die of cold stress (only takes brief exposure) related to inability to thermoregulate at such an early age, what if he had tripped with the infant and caused harm? The hospital would be liable and the nurses would be the liable parties for allowing him to leave the unit with the infant
aph47 October 28, 2012 at 06:45 PM
@ C.O. - I don't disagree with you that the hospital has liability concerns. In this case they might be concerned about liability for ignoring the rights of a legal parent (though they did not appear to be) and liability if the baby was to get sick. However, there's no theory of liability that Kennedy could pursue against the hospital if his baby were to get sick from the cold. The effect of a parent signing out a baby against medical advice is to waive liability because the hospital is warning the parent that there is a risk. But there is no legal requirement that such a warning be given in writing. Kennedy only needed to be warned that it was cold and that could be bad for his baby. After that it was his prerogative, not the hospital's. This whole situation irritates me not because he is a Kennedy, but because the rights of fathers get run over all the time when it comes to children. The hospital should be forward looking here and should get information at intake that lets them establish who is and who is not a legal father. Then, legal fathers could be issued bracelets just like the mother is. One commenter here says that this hospital actually did that for him. If the hospital had just done that, there would never have been a problem. I would not be surprised if Kennedy went after the hospital (when/if) he wins because they're lack of (obvious) forward thinking caused this mess.

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