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


Is There Room on Web for Two "Funky" Chicks? Print

In a colorful legal battle between “personal” bloggers, “Funky Brown Chick” will have to show more than surface similarities between her eponymous website and “” to prevail on her trademark infringement claims.

"Funky Brown Chick"

Both “chicks” write about their lives on their blogs, with “Funky Brown” (aka Twanna A. Hines) describing herself as “a New York-based writer, sociologist, blogger and sexpot.” The rather more demure “Funky Black” (aka Yesha Callahan) says she is “a 30-something blogger based out of the DC Metro area.”

Their lives and blogging styles appear quite different -– the more high-profile Hines mixes with celebrities and dispenses sex and dating advice. But Hines filed a suit in Maryland last week, accusing Callahan of “using the confusingly similar mark Funky Black Chick in connection with services strikingly similar to those provided by Plaintiff under Funky Brown Chick.”

The suit seeks injunctive relief and unspecified damages for false designation of origin and unfair competition under the federal Lanham Act and trademark infringement under Maryland law.

“Defendant's unauthorized use of the Funky Black Chick designation in connection with Defendant's service is likely to cause and has actually caused consumers to mistakenly believe that Defendant has an affiliation with Plaintiff, or that Defendant's is sponsored or approved by Plaintiff, or that Defendant is otherwise associated with Plaintiff,” the complaint says.

In applying the “likelihood of confusion” test, courts look, among other things, at the similarity of the two marks, the similarity of the goods and/or services the marks identify, and the defendant's intent. The precedent of an Internet domain name case involving the late Rev. Jerry Falwell suggests Hines will have a hard time meeting that test.

Christopher Lamporello did not infringe on Falwell's trademark rights by operating the "" gripe site, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, in part because “although Lamparello and Reverend Falwell employ similar marks online, Lamparello’s website looks nothing like Reverend Falwell’s; indeed, Lamparello has made no attempt to imitate Reverend Falwell’s website.”

“Most importantly, Reverend Falwell and Lamparello do not offer similar goods or services,” the court stressed in Lamporello v. Falwell, 420 F.3d 309 (2005).

“Funky Black” provides services “strikingly similar” to “Funky Brown's” only in the superficial sense that they are both African-American women blogging about their lives. In recent postings, Hines opined on the weighty subject of “Men Who Like BBW Sex” while Callahan named Sarah Palin her “Dumbass of the Week.”

Callahan's site, moreover, displays her domain name as [Fung'ke] [Blak] [Chik] and also includes the disclaimer, “This blog and writer is not associated with any other 'funky (insert random color or ethnicity name) chick' (or similar) domains, blogs or screen names.”

As a Wisconsin judge recently ruled in a similar case,

While the effectiveness of a disclaimer may generally be a question of fact, “a disclaimer expressly declaring that the seller is ‘not affiliated’ with the owner of the trademark or is ‘not an authorized distributor’ of the trademark owner’s products has been held to be an effective means of preventing confusion in the minds of consumers as to affiliation with the owner of the trademark.” Standard Process, Inc. v. Banks.


  • U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis denied Hines' motion for a preliminary injunction in an Oct. 13, 2009 order, finding that "on the current record, it appears that both Plaintiff and Callahan would have reasonable chances to prevail on the merits."

  • The case was dismissed March 12, 2010 after the parties reached a settlement. Perhaps not coincidentally, Callahan has shut down "" and now operates ""

  • Callahan resurfaced in February 2011 as the woman who outed Rep. Chris Lee as a "Craigslist Romeo."

  • This story linked by:

    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