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


Fisherman Cites Mexico Dangers in Suing Tour Operator Print

A Portland, Ore., real estate developer who was shot during an “exotic angling” trip to Mexico has filed a negligence lawsuit that tests whether tour companies have a duty to warn customers about dangerous destinations.

Trophy Bass Lodge fishing boats at their Lake Huites dock

Thorndike “Dike” Dame booked his trip to Lake Huites, a prime bass fishing destination in the state of Sinaloa, through Fishin' Expeditions, which specializes in providing “fishing adventures of a lifetime.” Guests stay at the company's Trophy Bass Lodge.

But Dame's adventure turned sour Nov. 14, 2009 when he was shot in the face and seriously wounded by an unidentified gunman who had approached him in a small boat while he was fishing on the remote lake with another Portland man and a Trophy Bass Lodge guide.

Sinaloa has been severely affected by Mexico's endemic drug-related violence. In 2010, its murder rate was 81.3 per 100,000 of the population, the third-highest of all Mexican states.

That is the context for Dame's suit against Fishin' Expeditions and Trophy Bass Lodge, which seeks $4.8 million in damages, including $800,000 in past and future medical expenses.

“[D]efendants were negligent in failing to warn or advise plaintiff of the dangerousness and lawlessness existing in the State of Sinaloa generally, and of the dangerousness and lawlessness  existing in the Lake Huites region particularly,” the complaint alleges.

The case could set an important precedent since, as an Ohio judge noted, there is little case law “concerning a travel agent's duty to warn clients of any unusual or unreasonable hazards at destinations to which they are traveling.” Fling v. Hollywood Travel and Tours, 765 F. Supp. 1302 (1990).

Courts have split on the issue, with U.S. travel agents or tour operators being held liable for assaults on customers in the Bahamas and Jamaica but not for similar attacks in the Virgin Islands and Italy.

“[W]here tour companies are not owners or occupiers of property where plaintiffs are injured, the tour operator owes no duty to tour members to inform them of the possible hazardous conditions which may exist on the property of others,” a New York judge said in Loeb v. U.S., 793 F.Supp. 431 (1992).

According to Dame, he was assaulted on Lake Huites by two men, one armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, a weapon favored by drug cartel members. His fishing partner, Chip Laizure, told Willamette Week that he fell to the deck of their boat after a bullet hit him in the cheek.

“These guys are racing towards us and yelling 'kneel down' and 'get our hands up.' They board the boat and rob us,” Laizure recalled. After stripping the Americans and their guide of their valuables, the robbers demanded to be taken to the remote end of the lake, where they jumped off the boat and disappeared into the jungle.

Dame eventually reached a hospital in the city of Los Mochis six hours later. “As a direct result of defendants' negligence, plaintiff suffered the aforementioned assault, and the gunman left plaintiff to die in the bottom of the fishing boat,” he says in his suit.

The U.S. State Department currently advises travelers to defer unnecessary travel to parts of Sinaloa, noting that one of Mexico's “most powerful” drug trafficking organizations is based in the state. Dame says if Fishin' Expeditions had warned him of the dangers of Sinaloa, “he would not have traveled to the Trophy Bass Lodge for a fishing vacation.”

But in the Fling case, general crime statistics were not enough to make a travel agent liable for an attack on tourists near their hotel in the Bahamas. “[U]nless plaintiff shows evidence of special circumstances, e.g. prior attacks or exposure to a 'high crime area,' no duty is imposed [on] defendants to investigate potential vacation sites or to warn travelers absent knowledge of a dangerous condition,” U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd ruled.

At least until the attack on Dame, Lake Huites appears to have been relatively safe. “Headed to Huites with a group on 2/7,” one angler posted on a messageboard in January 2009. “Last time down, felt very safe. Hoping for another awesome experience.”

Dame obviously had an awful experience but tour operators might be chilled from booking anyone on a trip to Mexico if Fishin' Expeditions could be held liable for his injuries without evidence that Lake Huites, specifically, was a “known, high crime area.”

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By Matthew Heller


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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