Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Leichtman v. WLW Jacor Communications, Inc. case brief

Leichtman v. WLW Jacor Communications, Inc. case brief summary
634 N.E.2d 697 (1994)

Plaintiff guest brought an action against defendants, radio studio, host, and smoker, for battery, invasion of privacy, and a violation of Cincinnati, Ohio, Bd. of Health Reg. § 00083. The Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas (Ohio) dismissed the guest's complaint. The guest sought review.

The guest entered the radio studio to make a public radio appearance with the host. At the host's urging, the smoker repeatedly blew cigar smoke in the guest's face. The guest contended that his complaint was sufficient to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.


  • The court held that the trial court erred in dismissing the battery complaint because when the smoker intentionally blew cigar smoke in the guest's face, under Ohio common law, he committed a battery. 
  • The court held that no matter how trivial the incident, a battery was actionable, even if damages were only one dollar. 
  • The court held that the guest's other claims, invasion of his privacy and violation of a local non-smoking regulation, were not sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. 
  • The regulation created rights for nonsmokers that did not exist at common law. 
  • There was no implied private remedy for violation of the non-smoking regulation because sanctions were provided to enforce the regulation. 
  • The court held that whether the radio station was liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior because its employee was acting within the scope of employment was a question of fact.

The court affirmed the portion of the judgment dismissing the guest's claims of invasion of privacy and violation of a local smoking regulation but reversed the dismissal of the battery claim. The court remanded the cause for further proceedings.

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