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







Three Suits Allege Debt Collectors Are Cyber-Bullies Print

Plaintiffs in three states have recently filed privacy lawsuits over what may be a new form of cyber-bullying -– using the Internet to harass debtors, in one case even creating a website in the debtor's name.

The defendants include a Phoenix car loan company, Auto Financing Network (AFN), and two collection agencies working for other auto lenders, Assets Recovered and Universal Tracing Services. All of the alleged Internet harassment has occurred since January, suggesting an unnerving new trend in the noble profession of debt collection.

In two of the cases, the creativity of collection agencies allegedly extended to intruding on the MySpace page of one debtor and the MySpace page of another debtor's daughter.

Jennifer Dicks's troubles began when she missed payments on a Chevrolet Cavalier she had bought from AFN. According to a complaint filed April 24, the lender used a hidden GPS device to locate the car and repossess it in January.

Dicks then made a payment to regain possession but after she again missed a payment, AFN allegedly created a website with the domain name "jenniferdicks.com.” The site's content is identical to that of AFN's website (goafn.com) except for the heading, which states, “Jennifer Dicks isn't paying for her Cavalier!”

“Because Defendant uses Plaintiff's full name, and references her private financial situation, as well as her automobile, this action amounts to an invasion of privacy, an intrusion into private affairs, and public disclosure of private facts,” the suit says.

The "jenniferdicks.com" domain name is registered to AFN President Michael Fischer, a co-defendant in the case who allegedly harassed Dicks with text messages.

In one of the MySpace cases, a Michigan auto lender hired Assets Recovered to collect overdue payments on a 2005 Chevrolet Impala from Paula Newland of Edwardsburg, Mich. The collection agency's methods allegedly included “Posting information regarding Plaintiff's indebtedness on Plaintiff's 'MySpace' page” and “Using or threatening to use a 'shame automobile' and 'camp out all weekend' in front of Plaintiff's house.”

Newland says in her complaint that both those methods violated her privacy and the Michigan Collection Practices Act, which prohibits “Using a shame card, shame automobile, or otherwise bring[ing] to public notice that the consumer is a debtor.”

The alleged shaming of James Ricobene, who sued Universal Tracing in Chicago earlier this month, was less direct. According to his complaint, a senior investigator for the collection agency posted a message on his daughter's MySpace page asking her to “contact our office immediately so we can discuss the peaceful recovery” of his 2007 Mercedes GL450.

The suit identifies JP Morgan Chase Bank as the lender on the vehicle. “Failure to contact me will result in further action against your father,” the investigator, Chris Flanagan, warned Gina Ricobene.

Because friends and family members saw the MySpace message, James Ricobene says he was “humiliated, embarrassed and suffered substantial emotional distress.” He also alleges that “Chase was aware that Universal used this method of collecting debts and repossessing collateral because it was an effective collection practice.”

In an e-mail sent to the TechSpank website, Universal Tracing denied the allegations, saying it “never had an employee by the name of Chris Flanagan” and no employee “has ever posted anything on anyone's MySpace page ... We are also preparing a countersuit against both James Ricobene and Gina Ricobene.”

Gina Ricobene filed a separate suit against Universal and Chase. “She is not responsible for the debts or acts of her father,” it says.

UPDATE

  • Since this article was published, jenniferdicks.com has been taken down.



  • By Matthew Heller
    4/30/09


     

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

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