While traditional notions of battery suggest that direct, person to person physical contact is involved, technology has complicated the picture to the point that sending messages that trigger certain conditions may have to be considered in the same vein. Confining the definition of battery to a hand to hand assault would arguably reflect a failure of the law’s ability to adapt to the times and to the reality that technology brings with it certain dangers that the law did not have to deal with in the past.
A civil suit instigated by journalist Kurt Eichenwald, brought by the Washington, D.C. law firm of Rothwell Figg, claims that a twitter user sent him a flashing GIF, with the message: “You deserve a seizure for your posts” accompanying it. Eichenwald, whose epilepsy is public and well-documented, proceeded to suffer a seizure after seeing the message. Eichenwald has been vocal in his criticism of President Donald Trump in his postings, and the flashing GIF was sent in retaliation to these criticisms by John Rivello.
Rivello’s attorneys attempted to argue that there could be no battery claim, as there was no physical contact between Rivello and Eichenwald. U.S. District Judge James Bredar, however, ruled differently, concluding that the definition of physical contact cannot be so constrained. The fact that the light waves from the screen entered his retina and caused the seizure is enough, according to Bredar. Bredar pointed to precedent where second hand smoke or a loud noise can constitute battery, finding them sufficiently analogous to allow this suit to move forward. As the events of this case unfold, it will be interesting to see how other traditional categories of tort law may be affected by judges willing to expand definitions beyond their traditional meanings.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a battery, you may be entitled to significant monetary relief. To discuss your potential battery suit, act now and contact one of our expert personal injury attorneys here at the Law Offices of Gilbert R. Hoy, Jr. and Affiliates. Call us today at 617-787-3700 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for your free and private consultation. Your needs are our top priority!