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




Alltop_125x125.jpg







'Monster-in-Law' Suit Ends in Monster Award to Defense Print

A woman who claimed the movie “Monster-in-Law” ripped off a screenplay she wrote has learned a painful lesson about “idea theft” lawsuits as a judge ordered her to pay $894,983 in attorney fees to the film's stars — including Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez — and producers.

Sheri Gilbert of Wilson, N.C., who describes herself as an aspiring screenwriter, alleged there were “substantial similarities” between the roles Fonda and Lopez played in “Monster-in-Law” and her script based in part on her own experience of an over-controlling mother-in-law.

Hollywood is bedeviled by copyright infringement suits over hit movies and TV shows, many of them completely meritless. In November 2009, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner of Los Angeles dismissed most of Gilbert's case, finding that any similarities between her work and “Monster-in-Law” paled “in comparison to vast differences in characters, plot, mood, and themes.”

Prevailing parties in copyright infringement cases can recover attorney fees. And after a further year of litigation, Klausner has brought the hammer down on Gilbert.

“Plaintiff’s lawsuit was objectively unreasonable and motivated by bad faith,” he said in his order. “A fee award is justified in order to deter Plaintiff, and those similarly situated, from prosecuting meritless claims for copyright infringement.”

In a departure from the usual litigation scenario of corporate Goliaths burying plaintiffs under paperwork, Klausner found Gilbert had “engaged in a concerted effort to make the present lawsuit as expensive as possible for Defendants” by, among other things, continually amending her complaint to avoid a ruling on motions to dismiss.

The award compensates four attorneys and two paralegals at the high-powered firm of White O'Connor Fink & Brenner in Los Angeles for more than 3,000 hours of work on the case. The attorneys' hourly rates ranged from $185 to $450.

Gilbert was represented by her husband, attorney Willie D. Gilbert, who filed the original complaint in North Carolina in May 2008 — three years after the release of “Monster-in-Law.” The suit named no fewer than 51 defendants, including Fonda, Lopez, screenwriter Anya Kochoff, and theatrical distributors New Line Cinema and Warner Bros.

“I felt like I'd seen it before,” Sheri Gilbert said of her first viewing of “Monster-in-Law.” “I felt I could predict what would happen in the next scene.”

The course of the litigation was also somewhat predictable. Gilbert had copyrighted three versions of a screenplay in which a woman tries to keep her son from marrying his new girlfriend, but Klausner said the “issue of substantial similarity between Plaintiff’s works and [the film] ... is not a close one.”

“Plaintiff was only able to point to some generic similarities between the two works that were not  protected under copyright law,” he added.

The judge also agreed with the defense lawyers that they deserved an award of attorney fees because of Gilbert's “vexatious” litigation strategy. “Between 2008 and 2009,” he noted, “Defendants filed two Motions to Dismiss which were rendered moot after Plaintiff filed amended complaints ... Plaintiff’s tactical decisions served to maximize the cost of the lawsuit.”

Gilbert has appealed the dismissal of her case and the fee award but her prospects of a reversal are slim and she risks having the appeals court award more fees against her if she loses.

In a similar case brought by a woman who claimed the “Matrix” movies stole from her work, a judge in 2006 awarded $305,235 in attorney fees to the defense after more than three years of litigation.

This story linked by:


By Matthew Heller
1/20/11


 

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

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RC_OnFile

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

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RC_OnTrial

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

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RC_OnTheDocket

Brown v. Herbert
Date: 12/16/11
Court: USDC, Utah
Hearing: Motion to dismiss polygamy case

more