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


Student Loses 'Brokeback Mountain' Sex Scene Case Print

A teacher at a Chicago school did not act outrageously in screening part of the movie “Brokeback Mountain” — including gay sex scenes — to a class of seventh- and eighth-graders, a jury has found in rejecting an unusual emotional injury lawsuit.

Jessica Turner, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at the time, and her grandparents claimed she suffered “severe emotional distress” as a result of seeing the R-rated Oscar winner at Ashburn Community Elementary School. They sued the substitute teacher, Marnetta Buford, and the Chicago Board of Education in May 2007 for at least $500,000 in damages.

Buford showed the film in, of all things, a math class, allegedly after warning students that “what happens in Ms. Buford's class stays in Ms. Buford's class.” The school allows only G-rated movies to be shown to students and requires teachers to get the principal's permission before screening a film.

But after a three-day trial, On Point has learned, a Cook County Circuit Court jury last month cleared Buford and the school board of liability, finding the teacher's behavior did not meet the “outrageousness” standard of claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

According to trial testimony, Buford screened the first 44 minutes or so of the film during the final period of the school day on May 26, 2006. That segment includes the film's most explicit scene as the two cowboys played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal begin a homosexual relationship while herding sheep in the Wyoming wilderness.

But perhaps crucially, there was no evidence to support the plaintiffs' allegation that Buford “deliberately screened only the sexual segments of 'Brokeback Mountain.'”

“The sex scenes were not specially screened or specially highlighted,” Joseph D. Gergeni, an assistant general counsel for the school board, tells On Point. “They were shown in the context of the movie as a whole.”

The children in Buford's class viewed two scenes of Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) making love in their tent. During the first 44 minutes of the film, there are also glimpses of male nudity along with some drinking and swearing.

“[S]ubjecting Jessica to view an 'R' rated movie with adult themes and strong homosexual content was extreme and outrageous,” Turner and her grandparents said in their complaint.

In Illinois, the legal test for intentional infliction of emotional distress “is met only if the distress inflicted is so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it.” Buford did not testify in the trial, leaving her motives for showing “Brokeback Mountain” unclear.

“The evidence was that Ms. Buford did not seek permission [from the principal],” says Lisa Decker Hugé, co-counsel for the board. “No one knew she was going to show the movie.”

The jury wasn't swayed by the plaintiffs' argument that Turner and her classmates were particularly vulnerable at their age. The evidence of emotional trauma was also somewhat flimsy — Turner had an initial visit with a counselor but did not return for a therapy appointment.

“The counselor testified that she was not qualified to make a diagnosis,” Hugé says.

A judge dismissed Turner's other claims for negligent hiring and false imprisonment before the trial. Her lawyer asked the jury for only $40,000 in damages.

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