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


TV Anchor's Ex Seeks Return of $78,000 Ring Print

Monica Malpass

After an engagement that lasted less than a month, the ex-fiancé of a Philadelphia TV news anchor has sued her for the return of a very expensive “conditional gift” -- a $78,000 diamond engagement ring.

Stephen Thorne, an auto-parts dealer, believes he is entitled to recover the 5.06 carat rock under a “bright line rule” of Pennsylvania common law. But Monica Malpass of WPIV-TV has allegedly refused to return it since he “unequivocally” advised her in January that they would not be getting married.

“The ring was a conditional gift made to Malpass,” Thorne says in a complaint filed in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas last month. “The condition for the making of the gift, marriage, did not occur and will not occur in the future.”


  • Court records indicate that the case was settled March 16, 2007.

  • According to the suit, Thorne, 52, actually broke up with Malpass, 45, in July 2006, but -- to spare her “undue public embarrassment as a result of the breakup of such a short engagement” -- agreed she could keep the ring until she was “'comfortable' with the public's perception of her broken engagement.

    Once he sensed Malpass had become comfortable, the chivalrous Thorne asked her several times to return the ring. Now his patience has apparently run out and he is willing to subject her to the public embarrassment of a suit for “replevin” (recovery of personal property claimed to be unlawfully taken) and unjust enrichment.

    Under the Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent of Lindh v. Surman, 742 A.2d 643 (1999), the giving of an engagement ring is conditional on performance of a marriage ceremony, not acceptance of a marriage proposal, and the donor may recover it no matter who is at fault for the breakup.

    In a similar case filed in 2005, a Pennsylvania woman argued she was not liable for selling her $35,000 engagement ring because her ex-fiancé had presented it to her in the fulfilment of a contract. The case of Mele v. Grace settled before a judge could rule on that defense.

    Thorne alleges his ex is also trying to find a way round Lindh. Citing a letter he wrote her shortly after he first called off the engagement,

    Malpass apparently contends that Thorne's sensitivity to her feelings about the brevity of the engagement converted the engagement ring into an unconditional gift.

    The donor of an unconditional gift has no expectation of receiving anything in return. Whatever was in his letter, Thorne says he expected Malpass would

    either (a) give back the ring, (b) give back the ring after receiving some amount of money from Thorne or (c) sell the ring and give some or all of the proceeds to Thorne.

    Lindh was a close case, decided on a 4-3 vote with one of the dissenters saying "fairness dictates" that the innocent party in an "ill-fated romantic connection" should retain the engagement ring. Thorne, a divorced father of two, says he jilted Malpass after changing his mind about wanting to have children with her.

    Pennsylvania State Sen. Joe Conti reacted to the Mele case by saying he would draft legislation to educate couples about the implications of Lindh. But he has yet to introduce a bill.

    By Matthew Heller

    With New Yorkers already banned from smoking and eating trans-fatty foods in restaurants, you'd think the courts would give them a break and finally abolish a Prohibition-era restriction on social dancing. But alas, no judicial relief appears to be in sight.

    A New York appeals court last month affirmed a trial judge and rejected a constitutional challenge to the 1926 law, which requires bars and restaurants to be licensed as a cabaret before three or more patrons can dance. Mayor Rudy Giuliani stepped up enforcement in the late 1990s as part of his campaign to clean up the Big Apple.

    “Recreational dancing is not a form of expression protected by the federal or state constitutions,” the Appellate Division, First Department ruled, and the challenged regulations “bear the requisite rational relation” to the legislative purpose of protecting public health, safety and welfare. Festa v. New York City

    The law may seem “grossly ridiculous,” as one blogger put it, and the plaintiffs -– four social dancers and the Gotham West Coast Swing Club -- are considering an appeal to the state’s highest court. But they have so far not managed to convince a court that social dancing deserves the same heightened protection as performance dancing.

    “[P]laintiffs ... offer no consistent, practical framework that would classify social dancing as expressive conduct while excluding other physical, athletic, or recreational activities that are arguably similar to social dancing,” Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Stallman said in his April 2006 decision summarily dismissing the case.

    A North Carolina woman who claimed the First Amendment protected her dirty-dancing gyrations suffered a similar defeat in 2005 as the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled she was “not a performer in any meaningful sense.” Willis v. Town of Marshall, 426 F.3d 251

    Given the legal landscape, New York dancers might be better off focusing on legislative action. Stallman suggested as much, saying, “The Big Apple is big enough to find a way to let people dance.”

    But city legislators may be too preoccupied with other matters –- such as banning the use of the N-word –- to worry about accommodating social dancers.

    By Corie Rosen


    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