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




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Customer "Upskirted" at Store Loses Privacy Lawsuit Print

A customer at a T.J. Maxx store in upstate New York has lost her lawsuit against the retailer for allowing a man to take photos up her skirt by using her as “human bait” in a sting operation.

Security workers did not warn customers that they were surreptitiously videotaping the man as he visited the store in Watertown, N.Y. Svetlana Van Buren, who sued the parent company of T.J. Maxx for premises liability and invasion of privacy, alleged she “unwittingly became a sex crime victim” by walking into the trap they had set for him.

“TJX knew it, in bushel baskets full, that this was a bad guy who was preying on women in their store,” Van Buren's attorney told a Jefferson County Supreme Court jury. She was seeking at least $75,000 in damages.

Under tort law, a business owner has a duty to take “reasonable precautions” to make its premises safe if it “either knows or has reason to know from past experience 'that there is a likelihood of conduct on the part of third persons ... which is likely to endanger the safety of the visitor.'”

But after a three-day trial, the jury cleared TJX Companies (NYSE: TJX) of any liability. The defense argued that it took “reasonable precautions” by, among other things, videotaping the suspected predator and calling police after he took an “upskirt” photo of an unidentified woman in the store.

It was “unfortunate” that between the time police were called and the time they arrived, “he did it again” to Van Buren, defense counsel Craig M. Dolinger said.

With Van Buren as the complainant, Jeremiah L. Williams was convicted of violating a New York law that prohibits “upskirting” and sentenced to two to four years in prison. If Van Buren was harmed in any way, Dolinger argued, it was “not the result of actions of the TJX company, it's the result of the actions of Jeremiah Williams.”

As Van Buren argued, however, she “walked onto a stage” set up by T.J. Maxx. And the company is very fortunate it was not sued over its cavalier disregard for customers' safety by the unidentified “upskirting” victim.

According to trial testimony, T.J. Maxx security hatched the plan to catch Williams in the act of “upskirting” after an employee, Robert Amell, observed him in the Watertown store eight or nine times previously and figured out what he was doing.

Amell testified that on June 14, 2006, he videotaped Williams taking a photo up the skirt of the unidentified woman and immediately called police. While officers were en route, he saw him approach Van Buren and also “upskirt” her.

Van Buren attorney James T. Snyder argued that instead of using a customer as “human bait” to catch Williams, the store should have deployed an undercover female police officer or investigator. At a minimum, he said, Amell should have approached Van Buren and warned her about Williams or inserted himself between them.

Dolinger countered that TJX did not have the resources to station an undercover officer in its stores at all hours on the chance Williams might come into one. It is not clear why the company was not able to catch him by using video from in-store surveillance cameras.

Van Buren, formerly of Ogdensburg, N.Y., and now a Nebraska resident, testified she has suffered anxiety and depression because of the incident at T.J. Maxx and is afraid of what might happen when Williams is released from prison. He is scheduled to be paroled in June.

Other Sources



By Matthew Heller
3/10/10

 

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