In September, 2014, a Colorado woman was arrested for allegedly pointing a rifle at an 11 year old boy practicing the clarinet in a neighbor’s backyard. Cheryl Pifer, 60, was charged with menacing, child abuse and prohibited use of a weapon. While pointing the rifle at the child, the disgruntled music critic reportedly yelled “fire in the hole.”

Even though the rifle was not discharged, the child playing the clarinet could recover damages based on a cause of action for assault. The distinction between assault and battery is that a battery involves an unlawful striking of a person, whereas an assault involves putting the person in apprehension and fear of harm.

Of course, any lawsuit for assault would require the boy’s attorney to prove that he sustained significant damages because of Ms. Pifer’s conduct. Some persons who are assaulted are only annoyed or disturbed for a few days. Others experience more serious psychological problems, including post traumatic stress disorder.

If this act occurred in Idaho, the boy would also be able to bring a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress against Ms. Pifer. Four elements must be proved in order to win a case of intentional infliction of emotional distress. These are:

1) the conduct must be intentional or reckless

2) the conduct must be extreme and outrageous

3) there must be a causal connection between the wrongful conduct and the emotional distress and

4) the emotional distress must be severe

For more information on this this type of claim, see the Idaho Supreme Court case of Curtis vs. Firth, 123 Idaho 598, 601, 850 P.2d 749, 752 (1993)