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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Halliburton Takes Supreme Swing at Alleged Rape Victim Print

Perhaps befitting the former employer of Dick Cheney, KBR/Halliburton has taken the low road in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to bar a former employee from having a public trial of her claims that she was gang raped by co-workers in Iraq.

Jamie Leigh Jones

Jamie Leigh Jones won a notable victory in September when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a private arbitration provision in her employment contract did not cover several tort claims arising from the alleged gang rape while she was employed by KBR as a clerical worker in Baghdad.

The assault was not “related to” Jones's employment and did not arise “in the workplace,” the court said in Jones v. Halliburton, 583 F.3d 228. Jones was allegedly raped after work hours in her barracks bedroom.

KBR devotes most of a petition for Supreme Court review to the argument that the 5th Circuit contravened “the rule that arbitration clauses must be given the broadest pro-arbitration reading of which they are susceptible.” But in Cheney-esque fashion, it couldn't resist taking a gratuitous swing at Jones.

“Jones has gone to great lengths to sensationalize her allegations against the KBR Defendants in the media, before the courts, and before Congress,” a footnote to the petition says, citing her lobbying efforts on behalf of legislation that bans defense contractors from enforcing arbitration agreements in sexual assault cases.

The footnote continues:

Many, if not all, of her allegations against the KBR Defendants are demonstrably false. The KBR Defendants intend to vigorously contest Jones’s allegations and show that her claims against the KBR Defendants are factually and legally untenable.

Whether or not Jones's allegations are sensationalized or false has nothing to do with the arbitrability of her claims. In addition, as Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones points out, “[I]f KBR has been wrongly accused in such public forums as Congress and the media, wouldn't it be better off fighting the charges someplace it could be publicly vindicated?”

Attorney Stephen B. Kinnaird (Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker, Washington, D.C.)  authored the Supreme Court petition. In an apparent expression of concern for sexual assault victims in general, he also says:

While Jones desires a jury trial for her claims, many employees would prefer the confidentiality of arbitration to filing public court complaints and enduring public jury trials on claims of sexual assault.

In another footnote, Kinnaird refers to the embarrassment and shame of some rape victims and quotes from a study which found that less than 5 percent of campus rapes in the U.S. are reported to police.

This argument is shameless since what also prevents rape victims from coming forward is the fear of being further victimized by defense lawyers -– in much the same way that Kinnaird attacks Jones in his brief.

Jones, who filed her lawsuit in May 2007, alleges she was drugged, beaten, and gang-raped by several co-workers following a social gathering outside her barracks where alcohol was consumed. The outcome of her case could affect that of Dawn Leamon, another former KBR employee who alleges in a suit filed last week that two co-workers sexually assaulted her in Iraq.

In a case that was handled privately, an arbitrator recently awarded $2.9 million in damages to Tracy Barker, a mother of five who alleged she was sexually assaulted while working for KBR in Iraq. Because of Title VII caps on damages, the final award was reduced to $1.4 million.

UPDATE

  • KBR withdrew its petition March 11. 2010, citing the so-called Franken Amendment, which prohibits any award of defense contracts to a company that requires employees to accept mandatory arbitration of harassment claims.



  • By Matthew Heller
    2/1/10


     

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

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