NJ Judge: Yelling about mask mandate is assault
A New Jersey judge has ruled yelling at someone over having to wear a mask during a pandemic should be considered assault.
The ruling from Superior Court Judge Robert C. Wilson came in a lawsuit against a customer who screamed at bank employee when she was told she had to wear a mask inside a Citibank branch in Englewood.
Lilach Kuhn's tirade was among the a series of mask related viral videos that were circulating at the height of the pandemic.
Kuhn's lawyer argued her tirade was protected free speech, and no assault could have occurred because she was separated from the bank employee by a plexiglass barrier. But the judge disagreed, and is allowing the lawsuit to proceed.
On November 20, 2020, Kuhn went into the bank without a mask. When employee Sanaa Rami asked her to wear a face covering, Rami says Kuhn just exploded. At one point, the video shows Kuhn yelling, “I am a scientist! There is no corona!"
Police were called to the scene, but Kuhn was not criminally charged. According to New Jersey's criminal code (2C:12-1(a)), a person can be charged with Simple Assault without physical contact if you attempt to put another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Simple Assault is typically treated as a disorderly person's offense.
Kuhn's lawyer told NJ.com they will likely appeal the judge's ruling, and accused the bank employee of “clearly trying to take advantage of the pandemic and what is going on in the world.”
The bank employee's lawyer told the website while they are not suing for a specific dollar amount, Rami just "wants her day in court."