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Peete v. Blackwell

Alabama Supreme Court
504 So.2d 222 (1986)


Dr. Robert Peete (defendant) hospitalized one of his patients for a severe nosebleed. As part of the patient’s treatment, Dr. Peete applied anterior and posterior nasal packs to control the bleeding. The patient was released from the hospital, but subsequently returned complaining of continued bleeding. When Dr. Peete arrived at the hospital he found that one of the nasal packs had failed and that the patient was bleeding profusely. Because the patient was in danger of suffocating, Dr. Peete sought to retrieve the pack using a suction machine to remove the blood from the patient’s throat so that he could visualize the pack. Beverly Blackwell (plaintiff), a nurse in charge of the floor on which the patient had been hospitalized, assisted Dr. Peete in performing the procedure. At one point, Dr. Peete struck Blackwell on the forearm and demanded that she “turn on the [goddamn] suction.” Blackwell filed suit against Dr. Peete for assault and battery and seeking compensatory and punitive damages. At trial, Blackwell testified that no physical injury resulting from Dr. Peete striking her. However, there was other evidence suggesting that Dr. Peete had a history of insulting hospital staff, yelling and cursing, and throwing things. The jury held for Blackwell and awarded her $1 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages. Dr. Peete’s motions for a new trial and judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) were denied by the trial court. Dr. Peete appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Torbert, C.J.)

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