Kennedy Lawyer Assails Nurses Jobs, Hospital Policies

(Port Chester Patch) Douglas Kennedy’s attorney aggressively looked for whatever flaws he could find when he questioned Northern Westchester Hospital nurses Anna Lane and Cari Luciano during the second day of Kennedy’s trial for child endangerment and harassment charges. Specifically, they included the integrity of the hospital’s policies and Lane’s job performance during the incident.

Lawyer Robert Gottlieb, during his Tuesday morning questioning in Mount Kisco Justice Court, repeatedly brought up what he saw as lapses in Lane’s and Luciano’s performances as nurses, and probed for any gaps between what NWH nurses told Mount Kisco police following the alleged Jan. 7 scuffle over Kennedy’s newborn son, Bo, and more recent descriptions.

Lane testified for much of the trial day – she continued from her start on Monday – with Luciano beginning her testimony towards the end of the businesses day. Another witness, fellow nurse Marion Williams, was also called.

In his cross examination of Lane, Gottlieb questioned whether she checked up on Bo after Kennedy fell backwards after allegedly kicking fellow nurses Cari Luciano after he left through a stairwell exit on the maternity ward floor. As an example, he got her to acknowledge that she checked on Luciano while Kennedy headed for the stairs, where he was met by hospital security.

“You’re not looking at the baby, are you?” Gottlieb asked?

“At this point, no,” Lane replied. The nurse, when she first took the stand on Monday, described infant safety as important to her.

The prosecution, by contrast, painted the nurses as folks who care about their the baby’s safety.

Assistant District Attorney Amy Puerto asked Lane whether she checked on the baby’s condition after Kennedy fell during his alleged kick of Luciano. Lane replied that she did by looking. Lane also admitted that she checked after the incident to see if the baby was okay and following up with a neo-natal care head for an update. She also stated that she asked for the baby to be examined.

Gottlieb also took issue with what he saw as inconsistent statements between Lane’s discussion with police and later on. Examples he brought up included specifics on how Kennedy held Bo, not mentioning a brief conversation she had with fellow nurse Angela Adamo and that she did not disclose having post-traumatic stress. Gottlieb also asked Lane whether she received any bruises from Kennedy allegedly twisting her left arm to remove to hand from the stairwell door knob, and to which she replied that she did not.

The defense lawyer also focused on the minutiae altercation timeline when questioning witnesses, demanding answers on how many seconds some of the incidents occurred. Examples included Kennedy’s fall after allegedly kicking Luciano.

At multiple points, Gottlieb raised his voice loudly to make his points, and quickly made a demonstration for how fast seconds would pass during examples he brought up. In one instance, he quickly looked at his watch and counted to five.

“Does that shock you?” he replied to Lane

Gottlieb spent considerable time going after Luciano’s credibility, citing a guilty plea to a 2002 incident of driving while ability impaired (DWAI), asking whether she had any responsibility for security camera footage being leaked (unauthorized) to the media, and getting her to admit that she checked medical history of the patient. He also stated that NWH did an internal investigation over whether private material, such as the video was leaked.

When asked by Patch about whether Luciano was disciplined in connection with the investigation, Gottlieb replied that he did not know what happened, although he stated that she was found in violation by the hospital for having accessed the patient’s medical information.

Luciano declined to take questions form reporters when she exited the Mount Kisco courthouse.

Gottlieb also made aggressive attacks on the infant removal policy of NWH and Lane’s performance in the context of it. He got her to answer that the mother, whom she referred to as “the primary caregiver,” is the one who can consent to removing a baby against medical advice, rather than the father. Additionally, Gottlieb also asked Lane whether she checked with Kennedy’s wife Molly about his request to take Bo outside for refresh air. Lane replied that she did not.

Prior to Kennedy’s interaction with Luciano, witnesses who saw the dispute at the stairwell door, after it opened, described Bo’s head as bobbing.

“The head was bouncing around,” Lane said.

“it looked like the baby was unsteady,” Luciano said, adding it looked like the baby was not being securely held.

Tearfully recalling her interaction with Kennedy, Luciano said she reached to grab Bo, to protect and steady him, describing her action as “instinctive.”

Luciano then described Kennedy kicking her with his foot, which Lane and Williams also claimed in their testimony, and said she “just went flying back.” Luciano then testified that she went to the emergency room for treatment.

“I was in shock,” Williams said about Luciano being kicked.

Lane testified that Kennedy, earlier in their conversation, he did not wish to discharge Bo, and that there was no reason to discuss hospital policy then. Assuming there was, in response to a Puerto question, there would be a talk with the “whole family,” and with a physician and supervisor.

Puerto also attempted to steer the focus away from the letter of NWH policies and to their intent. She noted that Lane, who has been with the hospital since 2002, served on an internal steering committee for policy, and asked about the intent of the Code Pink status – which deals with abduction of infants from the maternity ward – which Lane requested. Gottlieb, in his examination, responded that the hospital’s various policies discussed predate Lane’s arrival at NWH, thus removing her from original intent of them.

“The intent of the code pink policy is to keep infants safe and to keep them on the unit,” she said.

Puerto also asked whether the policy was considered with scenarios beyond a stranger taking the infant, to which Lane agreed. She also admitted that a Code Purple status called for Kennedy – it is directed towards people believe to be aggressive and violent – can be applied more broadly, which Lane also agreed with.

Gottlieb asked whether a baby’s father is an unauthorized person in terms of removing a baby patient. Lane responded that a father would be considered unauthorized prior to discharge.

Williams described Kennedy’s request to remove Bo, so that he could take him outside for fresh air at night, as an unusual request.

“We had never dealt with that before,” she said.

Kennedy’s attorney also sought to emphasize that breaking hospital policy and breaking the law are not one in the same, asking whether people have been arrested in the past in connection with doing so. Puerto, before ending her examination, asked whether there have been arrests over cases such as Lane’s arm being alleged twisted or the alleged kick of Luciano, to which Lane replied no.

“Nothing further” Puerto quickly replied.

The trial was adjourned around 5 p.m. while Gottlieb was still questioning Luciano. It will resume tomorrow at 1 p.m. and it appears that Luciano will continue to testify.