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Can Ryan Seacrest Sue Sacha Baron Cohen?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 27, 2012 1:51 PM

How many of you wish that you, too, could throw the fake ashes of Kim Jung-Il in Ryan Seacrest's face?

Sacha Baron Cohen's red carpet stunt was perhaps the unofficial highlight of last night's Academy Awards. Dressed as a generic dictator, the comedian approached Seacrest with an urn containing the North Korean leader's fake ashes. He then purposely spilled them all over the E! host.

People now want to know if Ryan Seacrest can sue Sacha Baron Cohen for the prank.

Seacrest can probably sue Baron Cohen for civil assault, which occurs when a defendant intentionally causes the plaintiff to be in fear of harmful or offensive contact. The plaintiff must have been in actual fear that such contact was imminent.

While tossing powder on Ryan Seacrest wasn't harmful, it was offensive by societal standards. And Seacrest has repeatedly said he knew something was coming, especially when he saw the urn getting closer to his chest. These facts seem to fit the legal requirements for an assault claim.

And if Seacrest can sue for assault, he can sue for battery. Battery occurs when an individual intentionally makes harmful or offensive contact with another's body. There's no doubt the comedian and his fake ashes were all up in Seacrest's personal space.

If the above claims fail, Ryan Seacrest can still sue Sacha Baron Cohen for the cost of replacing, or dry-cleaning, his tuxedo. If you intentionally or negligently damage another person's property, you're on the hook for any resulting costs.

So yes, Ryan Seacrest can sue Sacha Baron Cohen. However, it's unlikely that he will. There was so little damage done that legal action probably isn't worth his time or money. But it sure would be fun to see them actually face off in court, now wouldn't it?

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