I love this story, because according to Newsweek, the scene didn't end there!
"The cameras cut off as she fell to the ground. But the scene didn’t end there. An eyewitness saw Wendi back on her feet, grab the pie plate, and shove it right back into the face of her husband’s attacker, who later described the “rage” in her eyes. As police dragged him away, she pummeled him with punches..."
The various news outlets that ran this story kept referring to her as a "loyal wife" and "fiercely protective" of her husband. Can we just give this woman kudos for being a bad bitch? She is a 6 foot tall lady! She grew up on mainland China where her parents were "devout Communists." She later went to Yale for her MBA. Everything about her so far says, "Fear me." (at least to me anyway)
If I were her, I wouldn't be thinking, "I must perform my marital duties." In my imagination, it went a little something like this: "Oh hell no, this is a parliamentary hearing. Where is security? Look at this joker, a shaving cream pie? Unarmed? I can take you." That's when she smoothed her pink blazer, rose to full height and watched the fear in his eyes as she not only pied him, but pummeled him with punches in a room full of people. You don't mess with someone like that.
So come on news outlets, this is a powerful woman. We can handle this nowadays right? Don't play down her strength by talking about her loyalty as a wife.
Oh yeah, let's put this through the cursory bar analysis. There's a possibility for a tort suit.
Pieman's claim against Wendi
Battery. Battery is when there is an offensive contact and the person who made the contact had a specific or general intent to make such contact. Specific intent is when the person's goal was to bring about the eventual consequence and general intent is when a person is substantially certain the consequence will occur.
Here, we have a clear case of battery, because Wendy: grabbed the guy's head, slapped him, threw a pie at him, and "pummeled" him. She had the specific intent, because she seemed pretty mad at him for trying to throw a pie at her husband. Her goal was probably to make contact with the guy's head and body and use the pie to make contact with his head or body.
Damages are presumed when there is an intentional tort. He can try to recover for compensatory damages (personal injury in this case), nominal damages, and punitive damages to punish Wendi for her malicious act.
Assault. Assault usually goes hand in hand with battery. A person is liable for assault when she causes reasonable apprehension of imminent offensive contact in another. She must have had specific or general intent to cause the apprehension.
In this case, Wendi lunged at Pieman more than once. A reasonable person would have perceived these actions and understood them to be attacks or threats of imminent harm. Wendy performed the act and probably knew with substantial certainty that her actions will cause someone to think that he was about to be attacked. Thus, we have general intent which is enough for a prima facie case of assault.
Defense of others. A person is privileged to use the same amount of force to defend another as she is allowed to use to defend herself. She must reasonably believe the other person has the right to to defend himself and must use reasonable force.
Reasonable belief that the other person had the privilege of self-defense. Rupert was not the initial attacker. He had the right to use force in self-defense. Wendy had a reasonable belief that Rupert would have been able to use force, because she was present at the meeting. She saw someone run up to Rupert and reasonably believed that the person was about to attack him. She had the right to defend him.
Reasonable force. However, the pummeling was probably not reasonable. The subsequent pie in the face may not be reasonable. Wendi could have used reasonable force necessary to defend Rupert, which means that her initial actions, grabbing Pieman's hand and hitting him, were probably reasonable in this circumstance. They were enough to thwart the pie in the face and the slap would deter him from proceeding further. However, she did not need to throw the pie in his face and pummel him after the attack was over and he was restrained by the police.
Because Wendi went beyond the scope of a reasonable amount of force to defend against an attack, she may be liable to Pieman for damages.