By Peter Rudegeair
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A son of slain U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was sued for assault on Tuesday by two nurses at a New York hospital who say they sustained injuries while trying to stop him from leaving the maternity ward with his newborn son.
The $200,000 civil suit also accuses Douglas Kennedy, 45, of negligence, battery and emotional distress and comes a week after a criminal court judge acquitted him of child endangerment and harassment charges related to the incident.
Two maternity ward nurses, Cari Luciano and Anna Lane, tried to physically block Kennedy from taking his boy outside for some fresh air on January 7 in Westchester County, just north of New York City. That led to a seven-minute confrontation in which Kennedy kicked Luciano into the air and twisted Lane's arm, according to the civil complaint.
Kennedy, a Fox News correspondent and the 10th child of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, categorically denies all allegations the nurses have made and expects to be completely exonerated, his attorney Michael Bono said.
The attorney representing Luciano and Lane did not immediately return calls requesting comment.
Kennedy's actions violated Northern Westchester Hospital's policy on transporting infants, Mount Kisco Town Justice John J. Donohue said in a ruling on the misdemeanor charges released on November 20, but did not rise to the level of criminality.
Kennedy's kicking of Luciano was a spontaneous response to her attempts to physically retake his baby, and Lane's allegations of arm-twisting were "not supported by any evidence except her own testimony," Donohue wrote in his ruling.
On the charges of child endangerment, there was no evidence to suggest "that the mere act of taking his child outside the building would likely be injurious to the child's physical welfare," Donohue wrote.
In a February appearance on NBC's ‘Today' show, Luciano and Lane said Kennedy physically hurt them during the incident and that they were seeking a public apology from him.
There was "no basis at all for the nurses to lay claim to one penny from Douglas," said Robert Gottlieb, the attorney who represented Kennedy in the criminal suit.
It was an "utter disgrace that the nurses continue to abuse" the justice system, said Gottlieb, who is not representing Kennedy in the civil suit.
(Additional reporting by Chris Francescani; editing by Daniel Trotta and Todd Eastham)