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


Hotel Sued Over Slaying of Escort by 'Craigslist Killer' Print

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.

Philip Markoff and Julissa Brisman

Julissa Brisman, 25, was shot to death April 14, 2009 at the Marriott Copley Place. Her killer, medical student Philip Markoff, had arranged to meet her there after responding to her “erotic services” ad on Craigslist.

Brisman's mother, Carmen Guzman, sued Marriott International for wrongful death earlier this week. “Marriott's inadequate and negligent security was the proximate cause of Ms. Brisman's death,” she alleges.

The complaint says the attack on Brisman was foreseeable because Markoff had robbed another prostitute at gunpoint at a neighboring hotel four days earlier and “sex workers are commonly violently victimized by their clients.”

Moreover, says Guzman, noting that Marriott properties in Washington, D.C., were reportedly the “hotels of choice” for “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey,

Marriott had an apparently rich history of criminal sexual activity occurring in its hotels both locally and regionally, in the days, weeks and months leading up to Ms. Brisman's death.

Hotels generally have a duty of care to protect guests from the foreseeable criminal acts of third parties. A critical hurdle for Guzman will be showing that the duty extends to a guest who is engaged in criminal activity.

Friends of Brisman have said she was an aspiring actress who only offered masseuse services. But her mother's suit specifically states that she rented Room 2034 at the swanky Marriott Copley Place on April 13, 2009 “with the express purpose of providing illegal sexual services for compensation.”

According to the suit, Brisman's appointment with Markoff was the last of four she had booked with male clients on April 14. After entering her room, he tried to bind her hands with a plastic cord and rob her. As she struggled with him, he “smashed [her] in the head with his pistol and then shot her three times in the torso.”

Markoff was arrested April 20, 2009 and charged with Brisman's murder but he killed himself in his jail cell in August 2010 while awaiting trial. He was also charged with the robbery of Trisha Leffler at the Boston Westin Copley hotel on April 10, 2009.

Guzman, who is seeking unspecified damages, alleges Marriott knew or should have known what her daughter was up to because Room 2034 “had steady flows of male clients coming and going in the hours leading up to her death.”

The hotel was also on notice of the Leffler robbery, the suit says, and that the FBI and local police had conducted prostitution sting operations, arresting several women, at two other Boston-area Marriotts in February 2009.

“Marriott had a duty to take reasonable measures to prevent criminal activity, including prostitution, from occurring within its hotels in the hours, days, weeks, and months leading up to Ms. Brisman's tragic death,” Guzman argues.

A Pennsylvania judge ruled last year that a guest who paid for sex with a prostitute at a Motel 6 did not assume the risk of being attacked several hours later by the prostitute's pimp. The evidence indicated that the guest was not “subjectively aware” of any risks in deciding to pay for sex, the judge said in refusing to dismiss the guest's suit against Motel 6.

But as a “sex worker,” Brisman should have been subjectively aware of the risks of getting paid for sex. And if her mother's claim was to succeed, what would stop a drug dealer who was ripped off by a client in a hotel room from suing the hotel for inadequate security?

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