Douglas Kennedy and his wife Molly are fighting back against the Northern Westchester Hospital nurses who claimed that he injured them as he moved his newborn son, Bo from the maternity ward last January. They are also suing the hospital itself.
In a 45-page complaint dated Jan. 4, the Kennedys have 17 causes of action, which include defamation, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, malicious prosecution, breach of confidentiality and deprivation by the hospital of due process rights under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
The Kennedys, who are Chappaqua residents, are seeking an unspecified amount in damages, including punitive damages, along with legal costs. They have retained a new law firm for the case, Douglas & London, PC.
The lawsuit, including counter-claims against the nurses, comes a month and a half after the nurses filed their own lawsuit against him, and nearly two months after he was acquitted in a bench criminal trial in Mount Kisco related to the matter.
Gary Douglas, a lawyer for the Kennedys, told Patch that they are prepared to aggressively defend against "a frivolous lawsuit" brought by nurses, Anna Lane of Brookfield, CT and Cari Luciano of Hopewell Junction, NY. For the counter action, Douglas described the new lawsuit as being "about principles," arguing that people who not be allowed to "burden" the legal system with false claims.
The complaint is long on details for the claims.
In his cause of action for assault, Douglas Kennedy, who was accused of intentionally kicking nurse Cari Luciano when they were by a stairwell as she reached to grab his baby, in turn claims that she "aggressively lunged" towards Kennedy in trying to remove the baby and caused each of them to fall to the ground. It adds that Luciano was there "with her arms extended in an aggressive posture causing a forceful and violent encounter" with the plaintiff.
Kennedy's legal counsel argued during a trial involving the alleged incident that his instinctively pushed her away, rather than intentionally kicking her, to protect Bo.
Molly Kennedy, in the complaint, is suing Luciano, fellow nurse Anna Lane and NWH for intentional infliction of emotional distress; the nurses are named because of the alleged scuffled involving them and her husband, and the hospital because it is their employer. She is also suing NWH under another claim of distress, one in which they are claimed to be directly liable, and claims that an employee told her later on during the night of the alleged incident, that Douglas Kennedy would be arrested if he returned, and that she was being harassed because she was told that her son could not leave NWH after his medical discharge because of a child protective services investigation. Douglas Kennedy was later cleared of wrongdoing by CPS.
Newly Public Claims Are Included in the Lawsuit
Molly Kennedy, who did not testify during the trial last fall, adds newly public information to the lawsuit with her allegations against NWH. The new claims include Marla Koroly, the hospital's chief medical officer, stating that Luciano should not have place her hands on Douglas Kennedy, and that Lane should not have tried to stop him from exiting.
The nurses, along with the Westchester County District's Attorney's office, argued that Kennedy's conduct in his desire to take his son outside for fresh air went against the hospital's policy of patient removal. Kennedy's legal team argued that NWH has no specific policy for a father who would want to take his son outside for air, a matter that Mount Kisco Judge John Donohue agreed with in his acquittal ruling for the criminal trial.
In the suit, Molly Kennedy also stated that she told her patient advocate, more than four hours after the alleged incident, that she wanted to leave "because of her perceived harassment and intimidation" by hospital staff. The request was denied, she claims, adding in the suit that she told the patient advocated "that she felt like a prisoner being held against her will."
Media Statements, Release of Security Footage, Play Major Parts
In his defamation claims, Douglas Kennedy took issue with the nurses' public claims in early 2012, including statements made to Mount Kisco Police and a March 1, 2012 interview they gave on NBC's The Today Show, occasions in which they gave summaries of their accusations against him.
Also named as a defendant is Luciano's spouse, Steve Luciano, for giving two interviews to The Daily News in which he recapitulated the nurses' claims, which were that Kennedy twisted Lane's arm and intentionally kicked Luciano; Kennedy denies both accusations.
NWH, due to its employment of Lane and Luciano, is also listed as a defendant for defamation.
Molly Kennedy is suing NWH for negligence and breach of confidentiality because of information about the alleged incident, including security camera footage of Kennedy and Lane by an elevator becoming public. The claim is that Cari Luciano, Steve Luciano and Elliot Taub, the nurses' attorney, improperly obtained the information.
Meanwhile, Douglas Kennedy alleges in the suit that the nurses engaged in "malicious prosecution," while both Kennedys claim that NWH engaged in negligent hiring, training and supervision of personnel.