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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Restaurant Claims Critic "Vendetta" in Libel Suit Print

A food critic's alleged misidentification of what he ate at a Philadelphia steakhouse –- and his refusal to print a correction -- may give the restaurant owner a shot at overcoming the obstacles to a successful defamation suit.

As the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has noted, restaurant reviews are “the well recognized home of opinion and comment.” But the owner of Chops alleges critic Craig LaBan of the Philadelphia Inquirer made an actionable statement of fact by writing in a brief Feb. 4 review that he ate a “miserably tough and fatty strip steak.”

“In reality, Laban ... ate a steak sandwich without bread, not a strip steak, and therefore had, and has, no personal knowledge of the quality of the Chops strip steak,” restaurateur Barry Plotkin says in a complaint filed last month.

Chops “purchases only the highest quality meats for its customers,” Plotkin also claims, accusing LaBan of fabricating the review as part of a “long-standing vendetta” against him.

Libel cases against restaurant reviewers don't normally get very far (see table) because of the strong protection for statements of opinion and the difficulty of proving actual malice. “The natural function of the review is to convey the critic's opinion of the restaurant reviewed,” the 2nd Circuit said in Mr. Chow of New York v. Ste. Jour Azur, 759 F.2d 219 (1985).

But Plotkin's claims may be supported by the precedent of Terillo v. New York Newsday, 519 N.Y.S.2d 914 (1987), in which a New York City judge said a restaurant reviewer could be liable for incorrectly listing the ingredients of a cassoulet dish and then refusing to correct the error.

“Integrity is not only standing up for one's rights of free expression but also owning up to one's wrongs, even if eating humble pie (cassoulet),” Supreme Court Justice Norman C. Ryp reasoned.

In 2005, the owner of Il Mulino in Dallas dropped a defamation case against the Dallas Morning News after the paper agreed to publish a re-review of the restaurant. The settlement did not include any money for damages and the paper said a new review of Il Mulino was due anyway.

Plotkin says in his suit that he has demanded a retraction from LaBan, but the critic, while admitting he did not eat a strip steak at Chops, has not complied.

LaBan -- who has been called the "the most influential voice on dining out" in the Philadelphia area -- could still argue he honestly thought he was eating a strip steak. And how malicious could the review possibly be when LaBan also praised the crabcake as “excellent?”

UPDATE

  • The case was dismissed April 8, 2011 after the parties reached a settlement.



  • By Peyton Burgess (CNS)
    3/11/07

     

     

     

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

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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.
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      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.
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