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


Golfer Gored by Gator Sues Course Over Pond Design Print

A golfer whose arm was torn off by an alligator during a round of golf in South Carolina has sued the course's owner under the novel theory that the design of the course created an alligator hazard.

Ocean Creek Golf Club

Fripp Island is a barrier island along the South Carolina coast with luxury homes and three golf courses. James Wiencek of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was playing a round at the Ocean Creek Golf Club in October 2009 when a 10-foot, 400-pound alligator pounced on him, pulling him into the pond at the 11th hole and ripping his arm off.

A property owner cannot be held liable for an attack by a wild animal that has not been “reduced to possession,” but exists in “a state of nature.” Alligators are indigenous to South Carolina and signs warning people about them are posted at lagoons on Fripp Island, which is a nature reserve.

But Wiencek argues that Fripp Island Resort, Inc., and several subsidiaries created not only an attraction for golfers, but an “artificial habitat” for alligators. The Ocean Creek course was designed by PGA champion Davis Love III.

The defendants were negligent “in designing, building, and maintaining the 11th hole pond such that it had dark, brackish water, steep banks, and thick vegetation rendering it difficult or impossible for golf patrons to see or notice the presence of large and aggressive alligators,” Wiencek said in a lawsuit filed last week in Beaufort, S.C.

Certainly, the pond is an “artificial habitat” in the sense that it did not exist until the golf course was built. But in a similar case, a Florida appeals court said a recreational park was not liable for an alligator attack because it had not “reduced the alligator to possession before the attack.” Palumbo v. Game & Fresh Water Fish Com'n, 487 So.2d 352 (1986).

“There is no property in wild animals until they have been subjected to the control of man,” one authority on torts has noted. “If one secures and tames them, they are his property; if he does not tame them, they are still his, so long as they are kept confined and under his control.”

According to Wiencek, the 11th hole at Ocean Creek features a “large and deep pond” near the green. He hit his ball “near, but not in” the pond, he says in his suit, and when he reached his right arm toward the ball, “without warning a large 10 foot long alligator sprung from the brackish and dark water and attacked Plaintiff, biting and holding Plaintiff’s right arm.”

“The alligator then pulled Plaintiff into the water and attempted to initiate a roll, pulling Plaintiff underwater,” he continues. “Plaintiff struggled with the alligator, and the alligator tore Plaintiff’s right arm off in a violent and vicious manner above the elbow.”

Other golfers pulled Wiencek out of the water. Wildlife officials killed the alligator and were able to retrieve his arm but the suit does not say whether surgeons were able to reattach it.

Wiencek bases his case in part on the golf course operator's alleged failure to warn him of the danger at the 11th hole. Before the attack, he alleges, “residents of nearby homes had noticed the alligator’s large size and aggressive behavior and had alerted the Defendants to its presence and behavior.”

But the suit also says the defendants are strictly, or automatically, liable, "for the injuries and damages sustained by the Plaintiff through their construction, designing, and maintaining a golf course that created an artificial habitat that attracted large and dangerous alligators.”

Courts have occasionally stretched liability for injuries caused by wild animals. The North Carolina Supreme Court, for example, said a landowner who put lame wild geese on a pond and kept food and bait on and around it “for the purpose of attracting wild geese” could be sued for damage the geese inflicted on a neighbor's crops.

“The defendant knew, according to the allegations in the complaint, that wild geese are attracted to a pond where food is placed and where lame wild geese are maintained,” the court noted in Andrews v. Andrews, 88 S.E.2d 88 (1955).

But Wiencek's case is likely to be a wild goose chase since there is nothing in his complaint to suggest the pond at the 11th hole was designed “for the purpose of attracting” alligators. Ocean Creek is not a zoo and the course owner's mere act of providing a habitat does not amount to “capturing” or “confining” the alligator.

According to wildlife officials, there have been ten confirmed alligator attacks in South Carolina within the past 25 years. "These kinds of attacks are very, very unusual and very, very unfortunate," an alligator removal specialist told the Island Packet newspaper.

By Matthew Heller


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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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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