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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Widow Loses Bid to Use Late Husband's Sperm Print

 

Joseph Kievernagel

Joseph Kievernagel is not going to be a posthumous father –- despite the wishes of his widow, who claims she is entitled to conceive a child with his frozen sperm.

The Sacramento County, Calif., sheriff's deputy was killed in a July 2005 helicopter crash, leaving behind a vial of sperm that his widow, Iris Kievernagel, described in a court document as an “asset of no financial value” but “of immense sentimental value.”

The couple had begun in vitro fertilization at a fertility center and, after Joseph's death, Iris filed a petition in probate court to have the sperm distributed to her.

But in their contract with the clinic, Joseph checked the box indicating the sample should be discarded upon his death rather than donated to Iris. And the California 3rd District Court of Appeal this week upheld a probate judge who denied her petition.

“[I]n determining the disposition of gamete material, to which no other party has contributed and thus another party’s right to procreational autonomy is not implicated, the intent of the donor must control,” the opinion said.

Joseph's parents opposed the petition, arguing that the contract was a valid expression of his wish not to father a child posthumously.

In the seminal (pun intended) case of Hecht v. Superior Court, 16 Cal.App.4th 836 (1993), a California appeals court found that a deceased man possessed a sufficient interest in his frozen sperm to bequeath it to his girlfriend. William Kane had indicated in his will that he wanted to have posthumous children with Deborah Hecht.

Iris Kievernagel argued that a surviving spouse has a right to procreate and the appeals court should follow the precedent of a case in which a divorcing couple could not agree on the disposition of cryogenically-preserved preembryos stored by a fertility clinic.

The Tennessee Supreme Court applied a balancing test in Davis v. Davis, 842 S.W.2d 588 (1992), ruling that “Ordinarily, the party wishing to avoid procreation should prevail, assuming that the other party has a reasonable possibility of achieving parenthood by means other than use of the preembryos in question.”

But the 3rd District refused to deviate from the donor intent rule of Hecht and weigh Iris Kievernagel's interests against those of her late husband. “The probate court found by a preponderance of evidence that it was Joseph’s intent that his sperm be discarded upon his death,” Justice Fred K. Morrison wrote. “That finding was sufficient.”

The case, Morrison concluded, was distinguishable from Davis because “there is only one gamete-provider ... Only Joseph had 'an interest, in the nature of ownership, to the extent that he had decisionmaking authority as to the use of his sperm for reproduction.'”

An attorney for Iris Kievernagel said the court failed to consider “the near-impossibility of determining someone's intent when they pass away” and leave no will. But any appeal to the California Supreme Court is unlikely to overcome the evidence of the checked box.

Joseph Kievernagel, 36, died while on aerial patrol with another sheriff's deputy. The probate judge found he was opposed to having children, but agreed to fertility procedures because of his wife's strong desire for children.

By Matthew Heller
9/16/08


 

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Court: USDC, Utah
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