Catfights are not uncommon in the modeling industry. Indeed in my modeling days, I saw a few. Where assault and battery is concerned, however, the criminal justice system (if it gets that far) usually steps in to deal with the allegations of criminal violations and criminal conduct.
With such amplified focus, for the most part, on the criminal justice system, many are unaware or forget that if you have been assaulted or battered, you can also sue in the civil court system for damages that you suffered as a result of the assault/battery.
In this case, the Plaintiff exercises her right to sue in civil court. The facts as reported and alleged is that Victoria’s Secret fashion model Selita Ebanks got into a physical altercation last year with Telemundo’s Liz Irizarry. Irizarry sustained injuries, time off work and medical expenses to make herself whole; and she is now suing to recover monies for all of the expenses, including the pain and suffering Ebanks put her through.
You all get to read the excerpt on the reported lawsuit. But first, let’s talk about the legal issues present.
Area of Law: Tort Law Meets Fashion Law
Specific Legal Issues: Intentional Tort of Battery and Assault
What Does Irizarry have to do to Show Battery
Generally speaking, Irizarry has to show:
1. There was an act (hitting) by Selita Ebanks against her;
2. This hitting (act) was a harmful or offensive contact to Irizarry’s person;
3. At the time Ebanks made the contact, she INTENDED for it to be HARMFUL or OFFENSIVE;
4. AND, the harmful or offensive contact caused her injury.
In the fact pattern below, there is a discussion on broken and bleeding nose. Irizarry would need witnesses that saw Ebanks make this harmful/offensive contact to boost her claim and credibility. She will need the police report which would be very helpful, her medical records, among other important documents.
What About Assault? What would Irizarry have to Show?
1. She has to show that actions by Ebanks made her REASONABLY APPREHENSIVE of IMMEDIATE harmful or offensive contact. If Ebanks makes a threat to break Irizarry’s nose in future, then the “immediate” part is not satisfied. Also note the distinction between battery and assault. Battery, you have actual physical contact. Assault, there is no physical contact. Instead you put someone in fear of actual harmful/offensive contact. If you are walking down the street and people based on your race, physical size etc. presume you will hit them, that does not count. #justsaying
2. Irizarry has to show it was Ebanks INTENT to make Irizarry feel that immediate apprehension; and
3. It caused the damages Irizarry suffered.
FASHIONENTLAW.com Final Comments
As a practical matter, Ebanks should be looking to settle this matter. It is bad publicity for her and could potentially affect the relationship she has with Victoria’s Secret and other third parties.
Also, do note that for Irizarry, she need not PROVE the actual damages she suffered on her assault and battery case. She can make her “prima facie” case without necessarily proving the actual damages she suffered.
Now the Excerpt
“Two of the entertainment world’s hottest models hopped from the catwalk into a catfight over a guy — and now one is suing the other for her injuries.
Telemundo model Liza Irizarry, 34, says that Victoria’s Secret stunner Selita Ebanks broke her nose after Ebanks took offense to Irizarry offering a less-than-chaste hello to Ebanks’ boyfriend, BET host Terrence J, inside a Miami nightclub last year.
“I was in so much pain,” Irizarry, of the Bronx, told the Daily News on Monday, days before she plans to file her civil suit. “My pillow was covered in blood.”
Irizarry said she was heading inside Miami’s Dream nightclub at about 5 a.m. last November when she came upon an exiting Terrence J. She said they had been friends for years, so she greeted him with a warm kiss on his cheek. But a drunken Ebanks, who played a phoenix in Kanye West’s 2010 video, “Runaway,” saw the smooch a different way, Irizarry said.
“When she saw me, she said, ‘Don’t be kissing my man,’ Irizarry said in an interview in lawyer Edward Steinberg’s Manhattan office.
“I said to myself, ‘So what, that’s my friend.’ That’s when she hit me on the nose. I went to swing back — that’s when all her friends jumped in. I felt hair pulling and fists coming at me.”
A male friend who witnessed the fracas broke up the fight. Irizarry was bleeding; she went to the bathroom and cleaned herself up. The next day, she awoke to a busted nose.
She then came back to New York, and went to the doctor, who told her she had a complex nasal fracture and nasal obstruction that required surgery days later.” – Full Story on New York Daily News.
Photocredit: Porter Hovey
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FASHIONENTLAW blog, authored by Ms. Uduak, was first established in 2010. It is now incorporated, in 2021, as part of the FASHIONENTLAW LAW FIRM blog. The blog is for informational purposes only and provides legal commentary and analysis on the intersection of mainstream America pop culture and the law. It also provides updates on Ms. Uduak’s speaking engagements and press activities. For inquiries on topics covered please email (email@example.com).