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







Colorado Judge Fumes Over Ban on Theatrical Smoking Print

A first-of-its-kind Colorado Supreme Court decision upholding the state's ban on theatrical smoking has inspired a dramatic dissent from a justice who disputed that a fake or prop cigarette is an adequate substitute for real smoking.

Anne Archer as Mrs. Robinson in production of "The Graduate"

“A single puff of talcum powder, or a prop cigarette with a reflective tip or light placed at the tip, can hardly depict the 'boozy veil of smoke' necessary to 'Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'” fumed Justice Gregory J. Hobbs. Blowing into a talcum cigarette causes a puff of talcum powder to be emitted.

“Neither prop nor talcum cigarettes allow an actor to dramatically exhale a puff of smoke, as Mrs. Robinson does in 'The Graduate,'” Hobbs added.

Both “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “The Graduate” were cited by three non-profit theaters in their First Amendment challenge to the Colorado Clean Air Act, which prohibits smoking in any indoor area, including a theater. They argued that theatrical smoking is expressive conduct and the law leaves them without adequate alternate channels for their expression.

Colorado’s ban on indoor smoking, as Hobbs noted, is among the most restrictive in the country. Of the 24 states that have such bans, at least twelve have exemptions for theatrical performances or grant exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

The Supreme Court's Dec. 14 decision is the first involving a free-speech challenge to a state smoking ban. Writing for a 6-1 majority, Justice Nathan B. Coats concluded that “the state’s legitimate interest in preserving and improving the health, comfort, and environment of the public is furthered by limiting the public’s exposure to environmental smoke, even from tobacco-free alternatives.”

As far as whether the use of a fake or prop cigarette has the same dramatic impact “as an actual, burning, smoke-producing cigarette,” Coats said,

it, like the theatrical use of substitutes for virtually every other type of dangerous or illegal conduct, is capable of amply communicating to an audience an intended message. Especially in the context of a theatrical performance, where the message is typically conveyed by imitation rather than by scientific demonstration, some resultant lack of realism cannot be considered fatal to the regulation of conduct.

In his dissent, Hobbs eloquently expressed his sensitivity to thespian interests:

In a play’s performance, smoking becomes a form of expression that is distinct from the act of smoking itself; it is used to communicate meaning and thus "to convey a particularized message." The characters and plots would lack depth and expressive force without the hovering smoke on stage, the poignant exhale of a puff of smoke, and even the ability or inability to smoke.

He also chastised the majority for finding that the state also has “'a weighty, essentially [a]esthetic interest in proscribing intrusive and unpleasant formats for expression' sufficient to justify a content-neutral restriction on expression.”

“[T]he majority’s use of aesthetic grounds to totally ban on-stage smoking constitutes censorship in violation of the First Amendment,” Hobbs said. “What other aspects of Mrs. Robinson’s dress, speech, or actions might be considered unacceptable on aesthetic grounds?”

The plaintiffs are considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. "Obviously, we're very disappointed and don't agree with the decision," the artistic director of the Curious Theater Company said. "It doesn't appear that the court recognizes the negative impact this smoking ban has on live theater."

Other Sources



By Matthew Heller
12/15/09


 

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

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