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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Santeria Priest Attacks Animal Slaughter Ban Print

Fourteen years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Florida city's ban on religious animal sacrifice, a similar legal battle is shaping up in Texas between a Santeria priest and a city which prohibits all animal slaughter.

While the priest, Jose Merced, claims Euless, Texas, is interfering with the free exercise of his religion, the city has responded by arguing that it would be unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause to exempt Santeria from the animal slaughter ordinance.

“If the local government officers, before they enforce a general ordinance, were forced to question people's beliefs and practices, that would be entanglement in religion, which is clearly unconstitutional,” the city's attorney, William M. McKamie, told the Dallas Morning News.

The ordinance makes it unlawful “to slaughter or to maintain any property for the purpose of slaughtering any animal in the city.”

As Merced was preparing to perform a sacrifice at his home in May, an animal control officer stopped by and informed him the ceremony would be illegal. “The complete prohibition of blood sacrifice on private property and therefore of the Santeria religion inside the City of Euless serves no legitimate interest,” Merced says in a complaint filed in December.

The suit invokes the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, under which any land-use regulation that “imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person” is subject to strict scrutiny review.

In 1993, the Supreme Court applied that standard to a ban on animal sacrifice in Hialeah, Fla., finding that it was not narrowly tailored toward achieving the city's interests “in protecting the public health and preventing cruelty to animals.” Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993)

But in a motion to dismiss, the city of Euless argues that RLUIPA's regulation of land use is “in derogation of constitutionally reserved states' rights” and that

for a unit of local government to base official policy or action upon knowledge of [Santeria] religious practice would necessarily invite violation of the Establishment Clause.

The Supreme Court has not heard a case on the land-use provisions of RLUIPA. But in the prisoner rights case of Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709 (2005), it found that the law fit within the “corridors” of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses.

“RLUIPA does not differentiate among bona fide faiths,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court. “... It confers no privileged status on any particular religious sect, and singles out no bona fide faith for disadvantageous treatment.”

Merced could certainly argue that the city of Euless would not be favoring Santeria by allowing animal sacrifice since the same accommodation would be available to any sect which follows that practice as an essential part of its religious expression.

By Matthew Heller
2/8/07

 

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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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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    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.
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  • 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.
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RC_OnFile

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

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RC_OnTrial

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

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RC_OnTheDocket

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

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