An intense feud between two 53-year-old women — who have spent years trading bizarre insults and unintelligible lawsuits — spilled into bloodshed this week as one allegedly stabbed the other in Vancouver's B.C. Supreme Court building.
Jing Lu was on the cusp of appearing before a judge Tuesday morning to argue that Catherine Shen should be imprisoned for contempt of court when Shen allegedly attacked her — sending Lu to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Shen left the building in handcuffs, charged with aggravated assault — not what Lu could have envisaged when she filed the application that brought the women face to face in one of only a few encounters where the rivals have actually met in person during their ongoing battle.
'Old aunt selling bus tickets'
The incident raises questions about security inside the downtown courthouse, where members of the public can access most proceedings without being checked for weapons.
Lu and Shen have been swapping hyperbolic jabs on Chinese-language online forums since 2005, when the pair met over the internet while they were both preparing to emigrate from China to Canada.
They have each accused each other of self-importance and underhanded sneakery, attacking their respective families, with Shen allegedly calling Lu's son's high school to verify whether he had really been accepted into Harvard.
Lu claimed Shen called her "too poor to buy a house"; Shen claimed Lu accused her of wearing "loose sportswear making her look like an 'old aunt selling bus tickets.'"
The fight inevitably made its way into court, where the two women sued and countersued each other for defamation.
Both are self-represented and have filed volumes of largely incomprehensible applications and affidavits to back up their allegations.
In April 2020, Justice Elaine Adair attempted to untangle the roots of the conflict.
"Both of these women, for reasons that remain largely a mystery, have demonstrated conduct that is flagrant and extreme. Indeed, much of it could be described as obsessive and bordering on the irrational," Adair wrote in her decision.
"Each of them claims that the behaviour of the other has inflicted serious harm on her. However, neither recognizes that they are, in many respects, mirror images of one another."
Adair ultimately concluded that both women felt "bullied, abused and harassed by the other."
She said each of the women had been defamed: Lu for being called "a liar, a slut and a bitch, and someone who deceives and swindles others" and Shen for being called "the most famous cheap woman of Shanghai."
But where damages were concerned, the judge said it was "difficult to imagine that anyone, apart from Ms. Lu and Ms. Shen themselves, cares whether Ms. Lu is right or Ms. Shen is right or cares about Ms. Lu's and Ms. Shen's opinions about one another."
The judge more or less split the baby down the middle, ordering Lu to pay Shen $8,500 and Shen to pay $9,000 back to Lu.
The extra $500 was because Shen kept posting insults online even after Lu filed the first lawsuit.
'Full mouth lie evil person'
According to court documents, Lu applied to the court last month to have Shen "most severely punished" for allegedly failing to pay the final $250 of her damages and for refusing to delete nasty threads from online forums.
"Defendant never ever respect any judges court and law," Lu wrote. "Put defendant [in prison]."
Shen shot back in a rambling 25-page response in which she accused Lu of being a "full mouth lie evil person."
The alleged attack happened around 10 a.m. PT when the two women were scheduled to appear before a judge on the third floor of the court building.
According to police, the sheriffs who provide security for the building rushed to take Shen into custody after she allegedly stabbed Lu.
Shen made a brief appearance in Vancouver Provincial Court on Wednesday. She remains in custody and is scheduled for a bail hearing on Friday morning.
A spokesperson for the B.C. attorney general's office told CBC it is aware of the incident and is reviewing the details to see if any further security measures are warranted.
All weapons are strictly prohibited from the courthouse, but sheriffs don't routinely check the public when they enter the building aside from during some high-profile criminal cases, like those involving gang members or the extradition proceedings for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.