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


SeaWorld Blasts 'Improper' Suit Over Trainer's Death Print

The operator of SeaWorld Orlando has lashed out at a lawsuit over a killer whale's drowning of a trainer, arguing that the parents of a 10-year-old boy who witnessed the tragedy have made “an improper attack” on its reputation.

Tilikum the orca with trainer Dawn Brancheau

The death of trainer Dawn Brancheau on Feb. 24 was a public relations nightmare for SeaWorld. During the “Dine With Shamu” show, the orca Tilikum grabbed her by the ponytail and dragged her under the water in front of horrified spectators including the Connell family from New Hampshire.

Suzanne Connell and her husband Todd sued SeaWorld in August, alleging it is liable for the psychological injury inflicted on their son as a result of witnessing the attack because it “failed to ensure that the wild animals it utilized in its shows, including Dine With Shamu, were trained so that they did not present a dangerous and/or deadly threat to the SeaWorld trainers.”

But SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment last week filed a motion to dismiss the case in which it describes the Connells' complaint as “read[ing] more like a press release than a legal pleading” and argues that they cannot recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress [NIED] because their son did not have a “close personal relationship” with Brancheau.

“Permitting Plaintiffs to proceed with this action would open the courtroom doors for every other opportunistic claimant who witnesses an accident,” the motion says.

SeaWorld attorney G. Mark Thompson of Orlando also aimed several barbs at the Connells, questioning why they “did not immediately remove their 10-year-old son from the [viewing] area as opposed to letting him witnesss 'much of what transpired' — only to later subject him to media attention.”

Under the NIED tort, a bystander can sue a negligent party by showing a physical injury caused by emotional distress and a close personal relationship to the directly injured victim.

The Connells' suit appears to break new legal ground by claiming such a relationship can be formed between a performer and a spectator. Brancheau “was delightful and personable and, as intended, bonded with [the plaintiffs' son], making a very deep, positive impression during the performance,” the complaint alleges.

The horror at SeaWorld Orlando, it says, has left the boy “with mental scars that have manifested to physical impairments which will be with him for the rest of his life” and SeaWorld was negligent in part because it knew Tilikum “had brutally killed its trainer once before and exhibited aggressive behavior towards many others.”

The Connells were referring to the drowning of a trainer by three orcas at Sea Land of the Pacific in British Columbia in 1991.

For its part, SeaWorld says “the bond between a performer and audience member clearly is not the type of relationship contemplated by [NIED] case law. Any argument to the contrary is specious.”

“If a cause of action existed here,” the motion to dismiss continues,

it also would exist for thousands of football fans who witness the death of a player due to a helmet alleged to be negligently designed; it would exist for thousands of fans who see a singer collapse at a concert due to alleged negligent overmedication; it would exist for thousands of fans who witness an obsessed person run onto a tennis court and stab a professional player due to alleged negligent security; it would exist for hundreds of thousands of fans who witness a racecar driver die in a crash due to a car or track alleged to be negligently designed.

Attorney Thompson also argues that SeaWorld is not liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress because its conduct was not outrageous. The Connells' complaint, he concludes, is a “thinly-veiled attack on the good faith SeaWorld has built in the community through an excellent record of safety and compassion for animals.”

Federal regulators have fined SeaWorld $75,000 for “willfully” endangering Brancheau's life but the company has appealed.

This story linked by:

By Matthew Heller


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  • 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