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 Walker 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


Jurors' Comments Fuel New Trial Bid in Bullying Case Print

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.

Glenmount Elementary School

The post-verdict comments of two jurors strongly suggest jury deliberations were infected by “extraneous considerations” that denied the parents of two alleged bullying victims a fair trial of their $1.3 million negligence case against the Baltimore City school board.

“We realized what we did would affect systems nationwide,” juror Carl Armstrong told the Baltimore Sun after a four-day trial.

“We took that heavily into consideration,” he continued, “because we knew we could open the possibility of lawsuits — from past, present and future parents of students — against schools across the country, and Baltimore City would have been at the forefront.”

The jury returned its verdict Dec. 22, finding that the Baltimore district was not liable for the harassment that the special-needs son and older daughter of Edward and Shawna Sullivan allegedly suffered at the Hazelwood and Glenmount elementary schools. The Sullivans claimed that the schools' principals ignored their complaints.

“We don't need a blow to the system,” another juror, Major Wilkes, said. “They would have had to pay a lot of money that would take away from other kids.”

Plaintiffs' attorney Donna M.B. King of Towson, Md., has now moved for a new trial, arguing that the jurors' comments

demonstrated that the jury's verdict was not based on the facts presented, but rather, was based on their fears that the Baltimore City public school system would have to divert money away from classrooms in order to pay a judgment, and that their verdict would set a precedent nationwide.

“These extraneous considerations ... tainted the verdict and amount to a miscarriage of justice,” King says in the motion.

The Sullivans' son, who has disabilities from a brain injury he suffered at 13 weeks old, was allegedly choked unconscious outside of Hazelwood as a first-grader and beaten by older classmates at Glenmount in the second grade. The family said his sister was bullied at Hazelwood for defending him.

The lawsuit alleged that the siblings, who are white, were harassed because of their race. According to the SchoolDigger website, Hazelwood's enrolment is 98.5 percent African-American and Glenmount's is 88 percent African-American.

To hold the school district liable for negligence, the Sullivans had to show that the schools had actual knowledge that their children were subjected to severe and pervasive harassment. They were seeking $1.3 million in damages.

King argued that school officials were “deaf” to the Sullivans' complaints. “The Sullivans were treated like they were annoying," she told the jury. "Because no action was taken, the children suffered and were damaged.”

At Glenmount, the suit said, staff suggested keeping the boy safe by putting a cardboard box around him.

According to the district, however, there was insuffiicient evidence of negligence because the Sullivans did not document, or have witnesses to, the bullying incidents. The jury, apparently, agreed.

“Evidence was lacking, and there were way too many holes,” Armstrong said. “Emotional-wise, they had us. But evidence-wise, they just didn't have it.”

But an expert witness testified that the officials at Hazelwood and Glenmount failed to follow Maryland's anti-bullying policies. In his own testimony, Hazelwood Principal Sidney Twiggs was remarkably cavalier about the problem.

“If a child injures another child, that's one direction — bullying is something different,” he said. “The word bullying didn't come about until another child was killed in another municipality. This recently has become a buzz word. Before, when a child had a problem, it was called 'bothering' or 'picked on.'”

The jurors' post-verdict comments indicate the jury was, in fact, “heavily” motivated by the negative impact they thought a verdict for the Sullivans could have on educators. Public policy concerns had no place in their deliberations and they should not have appointed themselves the protector of school districts.

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