It is reported that UFC straw-weight Angela Magana is planning on suing Cris Justino (better known as Cyborg) after being struck at last weekend’s UFC fighter retreat in Las Vegas.
Video of the incident shows one punch being thrown and presumably landed.
Cyborg is being cited for misdemeanor battery by authorities in Nevada. The crime carries a potential sentence of six months in jail and $1,000 fine but the relatively minor nature of this battery likely would warrant a far lesser punishment if the prosecution proceeds and succeeds.
Magana has now stated her intention to sue Cyborg as well. This is a bit of a curious move given that following the incident Magana posted a photo seemingly minimizing any harm the punch caused
So can Magana successfully sue? Yes. Is it worth it? Unless she has meaningful injuries it is hard to see why.
Magana can sue for the common law torts of assault and battery. The assault would cover any apprehension of being struck as the punch was being thrown. Battery would cover any harm caused by the punch landing. The following legal summary from Switzer v. Rivera is illustrative
To establish an assault claim, a plaintiff must show that the actor (1) intended to cause harmful or offensive physical contact, and (2) the victim was put in apprehension of such contact. Restatement (Second) of Torts, § 21 (1965). To establish a battery claim, a plaintiff must show that the actor (1) intended to cause harmful or offensive contact, and (2) such contact did occur. Id. §§ 13, 18.
These are called ‘intentional torts’ and generally damages don’t have to be proven for a lawsuit based on intentional torts to succeed. That said, absent any meaningful injuries damages assessed would be minimal. Magana would be entitled to her reasonable out of pocket expenses (such as the cost of her hospital visit following the incident). She further can obtain general damages for her pain and suffering but these would be modest unless she can prove meaningful injury. If something more than transient injury is proven other heads of damage can come into play.
The altercation took place with a backdrop of Magana mocking Cyborg after posting a picture of her doing charity work for children suffering from Cancer.
While this provocation would not be a legal defense for Cyborg, these facts very well may prove persuasive in a court assessing damages on the lower end of any applicable spectrum. Interestingly Nevada has a law on the books making it a crime in and of itself to provoke an assault. Mocking an individual on social media does not meet this test but Magana’s unsavory conduct gives context and will influence the lens through which the judicial system scrutinizes Cyborg’s actions.