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 Walker 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


Girl's Slaying in Virgin Islands Tests Cruise Line Liability Print

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.

Liz Marie Chaparro

A trial judge dismissed the wrongful death case last year, finding that Carnival Cruise Lines had no duty to warn Liz Marie Perez Chaparro and her family not to take an excursion to the Coki Beach/Coki Point area of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

Chaparro was fatally shot July 12, 2010 as she was riding in an open-air bus leaving Coki Beach. Her family alleged Carnival knew or should have known that a funeral for a deceased gang member was being held at a nearby cemetery and there was a high risk of an attempted gang revenge killing at the funeral.

The family's allegations, U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham ruled, did not meet the test of Carlisle v. Ulysses Line Ltd., 475 So.2d 848 (1985), which limits a cruise line's duty to warn to “dangers known to exist in the particular place where the passenger is invited to, or reasonably may be expected to visit.”

Graham also cited Koens v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, 774 F.Supp.2d 1215 (2011), in which another Florida federal judge said allowing a negligence claim based on similar facts “would improperly expand a cruise line's duties to its customers.”

But in an appellate brief, Chaparro's family say their case “fits squarely within Carlisle, and avoids the problems of the complaint in Koens” since it alleges that a “specific area in St. Thomas was unreasonably dangerous.”

“Carnival knew about a specific danger (violent crime) in a specific area (Coki Beach/Coki Point) where it had reason to believe its passengers would go,” the brief argues.

Chaparro, her parents and her brother took a seven-day Caribbean cruise on Carnival's M/V Victory to celebrate her “quinceañera.” According to the lawsuit, an employee on the boat “highly recommended” that they visit Coki Beach.

But as the tour bus passed the cemetery adjacent to the beach, the suit said, “rival gang members began shooting at one another.” Bullets sprayed the bus, hitting Chaparro, who died in her father's arms.

“[A] warning to the Plaintiffs and any other passengers that the area in and around Coki Beach  and Coki Point was known to be dangerous, as a place of frequent criminal activity, would have sufficed to ... warn the Chaparro family not to travel to Coki Beach, thereby saving Liz Marie Perez Chaparro’s young life,” the family alleged.

In dismissing the case, Judge Graham noted that the plaintiffs in Koens “were robbed at gunpoint [in Nassau, The Bahamas] while on an excursion purchased at the excursion aboard the defendant's ship.”

“The same conclusion [that liability would improperly expand a cruise line's duties] must be applied here,” Graham said.

But the Chaparro family, whose appeal is now pending before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, appear to have a good argument that their allegations were more specific than those in Koens and therefore meet the Carlisle test.

The complaint in Koens, they argue,

alleged generally that the entire port of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, was dangerous. It did not allege that a specific area in the city was dangerous.

Here, in contrast, there are specific allegations that Carnival Cruise Lines knew or should have known that the area in and around Coki Beach and Coki Point had been the scene of rampant gang violence and that, therefore, this specific area in St. Thomas was unreasonably dangerous.

By Matthew Heller


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