John Doe A v. Penn State
First Penn State scandal lawsuit says Coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused a boy more than 100 times and the abuse was enabled by the school's "negligent oversight."
Bradley v. Lohan
Former Betty Ford Center employee sues Lindsay Lohan for assault, alleging the actress threw a phone at her and yanked her wrist while refusing to be breathalzyed.
N.D. v. New York Post
Hotel maid allegedly raped by French politician sues the New York Post for falsely reporting that she is a prostitute who "routinely traded sex for money" with male guests.
Reinhart v. Mortenson
Two Montana residents allege the author of "Three Cups of Tea" "fabricated material about his activities and work in Pakistan and Afghanistan" to sell the book.
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• Maryland appeals court says dog owners can be held strictly liable for pit bull attacks. "Because of its aggressive and vicious nature and its capability to inflict serious and sometimes fatal injuries, pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls are inherently dangerous." Tracey v. Solesky

• Woman who has been diagnosed as a sex addict sues a school district for failing to prevent her from having sex with male students on the school bus when she was in 11th grade.
Barksdale v. Egg Harbor Township Bd. of Ed.

• Civil rights activist challenges Georgia's "stand your ground law." "By not defining what actions create a reasonable perception justifying the use of deadly force, the Act[] potentially deprives all Georgia[n]s of the right to life without due process of law." Hutchins v. Deal

• Former patient of a Rhode Island doctor sues him for featuring her in a book about drug addiction. "Plaintiff had expected, as any reasonable patient would, that her private conversations during her treatment sessions with the Defendant would remain private and confidential."
Lisnoff v. Stein

• Class action alleges the YMCA deceives consumers by representing that it practices "Christian" values while allowing its gyms to be used for gay sex trysts. "YMCAs around the country ... are currently being used as brothels for cruising, with the YMCA's knowledge and implicit consent."
Keister v. YMCA

• Social workers are not liable for a sexual assault on a 5-year-old boy by a 16-year-old male placed in an adoptive home. "To rule against the individual defendants in this case would definitely break new ground."
Doe v. Braddy

• Student sues college for refusing to grant her the "reasonable accommodation" of a single room after she complained about her roommate's exhibitionist behavior.
Blankmeyer v. Stonehill College

• School district can be sued over a guidance counselor's sexual relationship with a student who was over the age of consent. "The inherent imbalance of power between a guidance counselor in a public school and a student may render opportunistic sexual predation sufficiently shocking, even with a 'consenting' student over sixteen, to form the basis of a substantive due process claim."
Doe v. Fournier

• Utah judge finds a "credible threat" that Utah County officials will prosecute a polygamist and his wives for bigamy. The officials' acts "suggest that an actual prosecution of Plaintiffs is forthcoming."
Brown v. Herbert

• Louisville, Ky., strip club sues a competitor for displaying an electronic sign outside a convention center that said "Don't go to Godfathers, their girls are ugly and have crabs."
The Godfather v. Trixie's Lounge

• A lawyer cannot sue two women he dated for posting derogatory comments about him on liarscheatersrus.com. "[W]hen viewed within the larger context of the website on which they were posted, there can be no doubt that a reasonable reader would understand the comments to be opinion." Coulotte v. Ryncarz

• Oglala Sioux tribe sues beer makers and Whiteclay, Neb., bars for enabling alcohol abuse on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The illegal trade in alcohol has "caused devastating injuries to the Lakota people and massive financial damages to the [tribe]."
Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Schwarting




Alltop_125x125.jpg







Chuck Yeager Tries Again to Stretch Right of Publicity Print

Opening a new front in a misguided legal attack, famed test pilot Charles “Chuck” Yeager has sued computer chip maker Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) for comparing the release of a new product to his breaking of the sound barrier.

AMD issued a press release in March 2000 when it became the first manufacturer to ship a chip with a speed over 1GHz, that is, one billion clock cycles per second. The release quoted CEO W.J. Sanders as saying,

Just as the achievement of Chuck Yeager signaled the beginning of a new era in aviation, the 1GHz processor ushers in a new era of information technology.

In a complaint filed last month, Yeager says AMD has continued to misappropriate his name and identity for advertising purposes, leaving “the clear impression upon the public that there was an implied endorsement by General Yeager of AMD's new product line.”

This is not Yeager's first attempt to claim monopoly control over any mention of an historic achievement that was the work of many -- including engineers, scientists and pilots working for the military –- and is part of the public domain. In November 2007, he sued Cingular Wireless (now AT&T Mobility) after the cell phone company suggested in a press release that the launching of a new hurricane response service was comparable to the breaking of the sound barrier.

The fate of both cases could now depend on a motion for summary judgment in which AT&T argues that Yeager “cannot monetize his achievements by requiring parties to pay him money any time his name is mentioned. Allowing Plaintiff to do so would stretch both the right of publicity and trademark law well beyond their lawful bounds.” The motion is set for a hearing Oct. 30.

Yeager is suing AMD only on California state law claims of violation of publicity rights, false advertising and unfair business practices. The AT&T case includes a federal claim for false endorsement under the Lanham Act.

AMD's sales pitch for the 1GHz Athlon processor, Yeager says, has “focused primarily upon a subliminal suggestion of endorsement by General Yeager and an implied connection between General Yeager's personal accomplishments and AMD's new product.”

In June 2008, U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell denied a motion to dismiss the AT&T case. Accepting as true the allegation that AT&T's press release was “really an advertisement,” he ruled, “[T]he complaint sufficiently alleges that defendant used plaintiff’s name and reputation for its own advantage to promote an unrelated product or theme.”

But in the summary judgment motion, AT&T says Yeager has provided no factual support for his allegations and has admitted during discovery that the press release “does not propose any commercial transactions” and “does not offer for sale any products [or] services.”

The allegation that the release was likely to confuse consumers, AT&T says, is “idle speculation supported by no evidence whatsoever.” Yeager's wife said in a deposition she spoke to people “who believed he was affiliated with AT&T” but was unable to identify any of them.

AMD's press release also mentioned other historic “firsts,” including Neil Armstrong's moon walk, Roger Bannister running the four-minute mile, and Edmund Hillary climbing Mt. Everest. Hopefully, Damrell will now refrain from setting a chilling precedent and agree with AT&T that Yeager “may not, in the guise of a false endorsement claim, assert a monopoly on all mentions of a historic event.”

UPDATE

  • As On Point reports here, U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell denied AT&T's motion for summary judgment in a Dec. 7, 2009 ruling.


  • This story linked by:


    By Matthew Heller
    10/5/09


     

    Editor's note: On Point's RSS feed has moved to this link.

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