Richardson v. Hennly

434 S.E.2d 772 (1993)


P had been working as a receptionist at D for a number of years when Hennly (D), an administrative officer, began working at P’s branch about 30 feet from P. Hennly (D) had been a pipe smoker for a number of years and continued to smoke his pipe at work. P immediately began to have difficulty with Hennly's pipe smoke, to which she apparently had an allergic reaction that caused nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, loss of weight, headaches, and anxiety. Several air cleaners were purchased, which were placed in the interior of Hennly's office and adjacent to his door. Hennly switched to cigarettes, which did not bother P as much, but he resumed smoking his pipe, stating that he wished to avoid becoming addicted to cigarettes. P was twice hospitalized because of her adverse reactions. Shortly after P returned to work from her second hospitalization, her employment was terminated, primarily for excessive absenteeism. P sued First Federal (D) alleging a violation of the Georgia Equal Employment for the Handicapped Code, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional harm. She also named Hennly, against whom she alleged claims of battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and interference with contractual relations. Ds moved for summary judgment. P presented medical evidence attributing her adverse reactions to the pipe smoke. This evidence was not rebutted. Hennly was aware of P's adverse reactions to his pipe smoke and that she was twice hospitalized. Hennly moved for summary judgment as to P's claim of battery on the ground that pipe smoke is an immaterial substance incapable of battering another. P maintains the trial court erred by granting partial summary judgment to Hennly on this claim.