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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Julianna Willis Technology



• 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 "[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


Couple Sue Diner Over Son's 'Severe' Hot Sauce Injury Print

The parents of a Tennessee boy are bringing some legal heat against a restaurant where a “reckless” waiter allegedly served him a condiment without telling him it was the ultra-fiery Blair's Mega Death Hot Sauce.

Restaurants are often sued for serving customers with contaminated food or food adulterated with “foreign objects” ranging from cockroaches to condoms. But the lawsuit filed last month against a Steak 'n Shake restaurant in Cleveland, Tenn., may be the first to allege a hot-sauce injury.

While dining with his parents on Oct. 9, 2009, the suit says, Timothy Caleb Gann (who goes by Caleb) suffered a “severe physical reaction” to an order of chili mixed with what a waiter had only identified as “hot sauce.” After he was rushed to the hospital, his father called the restaurant manager who told him “the deleterious substance given to Timothy Caleb Gann had been identified as 'Mega Death Hot Sauce.'”

The product's manufacturer has claimed it “contains ingredients 500 times hotter than a jalapeño chile” and that it is "not recommended for use without dilution.” The ingredients include habañero, cayenne and chipotle chiles and one user has reported that “Just one tiny drop is fiery beyond belief.”

Caleb's parents, Tim and Mary Gann, are seeking at least $60,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, arguing Steak 'n Shake was negligent in hiring the waiter and is vicariously liable for his actions. They are also suing the waiter, identified only as John Doe.

“Defendant John Doe encouraged and induced Timothy Caleb Gann to consume the substance,” the suit says.

Steak 'n Shake, a unit of Biglari Holdings, is a 500-store diner-style chain located mostly in the South and Midwest. A manager at the Cleveland, Tenn., location told On Point that “the only thing we have is a pepper sauce” and Blair's Mega Death is not “on our menu.”

The Ganns say the waiter asked their son “if he would like 'hot sauce' with his order” and then “gave a bottled substance to [him], which he described as 'hot sauce.'” Soon after ingesting the chili, Caleb suffered “hives on his skin, difficulty breathing and severe pain and inflammation of his digestive system including his mouth and throat.”

The suit indicates that the waiter “substituted” Blair's Mega Death for the restaurant's regular hot sauce. Steak 'n Shake had a duty to “warn customers, including the plaintiffs, of the nature of substituted food products that were served,” the Ganns say.

Causation is often a problem in food injury cases but Caleb had immediate symptoms and Steak n' Shake can hardly argue it was not reasonably foreseeable that a customer would suffer a severe reaction to Blair's Mega Death.

As far as vicarious liability, the Tennessee Court of Appeals has held that “a master is not liable for the wilful acts of his servant who steps aside from his master's business and commits an act wholly independent and foreign to the scope of his employment.” Averill v. Luttrell, 311 S.W.2d 812 (1957).

But when he served the Ganns, Steak 'n Shake's waiter was performing an act “commonly done by such an employee.” And as the New York Court of Appeals has said, “[T]he employer need not have foreseen the precise act or the exact manner of the injury as long as the general type of conduct may have been reasonably expected.” Riviello v. Waldron, 47 N.Y.2d 297 (1979).

Whichever way you look at it, Steak 'n Shake appears to be in a real legal pickle.

By Matthew Heller


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

  • Hotel Sued Over Slaying of Escort by 'Craigslist Killer'

    The mother of a prostitute slain by the “Craigslist killer” at a Marriott hotel in Boston has alleged in a first-of-its-kind lawsuit that the hotel's operator is liable for her daughter's death because it failed to prevent prostitution from occurring on its premises.
  • Court Extends Doctors' Liability for Prescription Gaffes

    The Utah Supreme Court has given a boost to the battle against prescription drug abuse by ruling that medical professionals can be sued over injuries to a nonpatient that were allegedly caused by  drugs they carelessly prescribed to patients.
  • Girl's Slaying Tests Cruise Line Liability

    The family of a 15-year-old girl who was killed in the crossfire of a gang shootout on a Caribbean island has asked an appeals court to reinstate a lawsuit that tests the liability of cruise ship operators for onshore injuries to passengers.
  • Bystander Claims "Swoon and Fall" Injuries at Church

    In yet another “swoon and fall” case against a church, an Illinois woman claims she was injured during a church service when a parishioner who was receiving the “spirit” fell backward, knocking several other worshippers into her.
  • Jurors' Comments Fuel New Trial Bid in Bullying Case

    Jurors may have opened the door to a new trial in a Maryland school bullying case by saying they returned a verdict for the defense because they were afraid of setting a bad precedent for school systems throughout the country.
  • Abuse Victim Can Sue Ex-DA Over 'Sexting' Messages

    A Wisconsin judge has protected a domestic violence victim from a rogue prosecutor, finding that she can sue him for sending her text messages in which he pressured her to have sex with him.
  • Four Loko Maker Says Users Knew of Health Dangers

    The maker of Four Loko has previewed its defense of a slew of product liability lawsuits, arguing that the physical effects of the energy drink's mixture of alcohol and caffeine — far from being an undisclosed risk to consumers — are precisely what made it so popular.

U.S. v. Arpaio
Subject: Civil rights
Document: Complaint

Schultz v. Medina Valley
Subject: School prayer
Document: Non-Kumbaya order

Chopourian v. Catholic Healthcare
Subject: Sexual harassment
Document: Verdict

Jackson v. Paula Deen
Subject: Sexual harassment
Document: Complaint

Marsh v. Air Tran Airways
Subject: Roaches on a plane
Document: Complaint



Peterson/Pryde v. Thyden
Court: Montgomery (Va.) Circuit
Subject: Virginia Tech shootings
Verdict: $8 million

Sheridan v. Cherry
Court: L.A. Superior
Subject: Wrongful termination



Brown v. Herbert
Date: 12/16/11
Court: USDC, Utah
Hearing: Motion to dismiss polygamy case