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




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Kids in Custody Battle Lose Bid to Hire Own Attorney Print

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has found that court-appointed guardians adequately protect the interests of minors in divorce proceedings, denying a request by two children to be represented by their own counsel.

The children of Richard and Cheryl Stapleford have no statutory or due process right to intervene as parties in their parents' divorce case, the court's opinion said in an endorsement of the “guardian ad litem” (GAL) system used to represent minors' interests.

“If children were allowed to intervene, they could participate in discovery, depose and cross-examine witnesses, and appeal the court’s ruling,” Justice Gary E. Hicks wrote. “Should siblings disagree among themselves, they could each hire their own attorney to advocate for their individual preferences.”

“We need not further detail the chaos that would ensue if we were to hold that every mature minor has a due process right to intervene in their parents’ divorce litigation,” he added.

But Hicks completely ignored what a Colorado Supreme Court justice has called the “problems inherent” in the legal relationship between a guardian ad litem and a child.

The relationship “is not the same as between an attorney and an adult client,” Justice George E. Lohr said, dissenting in In re the Marriage of Hartley, 886 P.2d 665 (1995). “In certain circumstances, this 'difference' may militate in favor of having independent legal representation for a child.”

The Stapleford children moved to intervene after their guardian ad litem recommended, against their wishes, that they live primarily with their mother in Milford, N.H. Richard Stapleford had hired an attorney on their behalf, but the guardian argued that intervention would unduly empower them.

The trial court judge denied the motion and the Supreme Court affirmed, finding “the children’s interests are well protected by the existing process” and that

the adversarial nature of a divorce proceeding provides an effective check and balance system. A parent who opposes the GAL’s recommendation will likely expose any mistakes made by the GAL, through cross-examination or otherwise.

Justice Hicks cited the similar ruling of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Miller v. Miller, 667 A.2d 64 (1996). The majority in Hartley also denied an intervention request.

But Hicks's concerns about “chaos” are overstated. Courts, after all, could still have the discretion to allow intervention only in particular cases where it was clearly warranted.

“Even though the GAL may be careful to advise the court of the child's contrary opinion, the risk is high that the strength and earnestness of that opinion, and the factual basis for it, will be diluted or obscured by the GAL's own opinion and recommendation,” Justice Lohr wrote in Hartley.

“To ensure that the child's own independent perspective, untainted by the opinions of others, is presented to the court,” he said, “the retention of independent legal counsel in a particular case may assist the trial court to determine what that child's best interests truly are with respect to custody, visitation, and support.”

By Matthew Heller
On Point


 

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

rc_insidestories
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    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.
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RC_OnFile

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Document: Complaint

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Document: Complaint

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RC_OnTrial

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

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