Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Supervisor accused of assault and battery sues for defamation – $15,000 Verdict

Supervisor accused of assault and battery sues for defamation – $15,000 Verdict

Both the plaintiff and defendant were federal government employees in June 2013. At that time, the defendant had been subject to an internal complaint by his supervisor, the plaintiff, due to aggressive behavior at the workplace. Shortly after the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendant filed his own internal complaint alleging that the plaintiff rubbed his genital area on the defendant’s shoulder at defendant’s workstation eight months prior. The defendant then filed a criminal complaint with the local magistrate alleging the same.

Following a trial in which the plaintiff was tried with assault and battery in general district court, he was found not guilty. He then filed suit in general district court alleging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution. The plaintiff had no treatment expenses. The defendant was found liable on all three counts and ordered to pay $12,000. He then appealed the verdict.

Shortly before the trial in circuit court, the defendant’s motion to withdraw his appeal was denied, and the judge granted the plaintiff’s request to increase damages from $25,000 to $50,000. The defendant then dropped all of his counterclaims.

After the plaintiff’s case in chief, the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was dismissed because the court did not find the plaintiff’s mental anguish of recurrent nightmares sufficient to satisfy the extreme element of the cause of action. The court also found that the allegation did not constitute defamation per se. During the trial, plaintiff’s counsel emphasized the height of the chair and the height of the plaintiff as making the alleged act highly unlikely.

At the end of a daylong trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $7,000 in compensatory damages and $8,000 in punitive damages. The defendant did not appeal.



Type of action: Personal injury
Injuries alleged: Claims: defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution; counter claims (withdrawn before trial): battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress
Name of case: O’Berry v. Massey
Court: Frederick County Circuit Court
Case no.: CL14000535-00
Tried before: Jury
Judge: Clay Athey
Date resolved: Feb. 9, 2015
Special damages: $7,000 in attorney and private investigator fees for criminal and civil general district court proceedings
Demand: $25,000, increased to $50,000 in circuit court
Offer: Withdraw appeal of $12,000 verdict in general district court
Verdict or settlement: Verdict
Amount: $15,000
Attorney for plaintiff: Carroll “Beau” Correll Jr., Winchester
Attorneys for defendant: John Bradley, Winchester


Leave a Reply