6th Circuit Injury & Tort Law News - U.S. Sixth Circuit
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In a set of consolidated cases, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted some relief against a county mortuary employee who sexually abused dead bodies at the mortuary over a period of 25 years.

While admittedly under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, Kenneth Douglas sexually abused "an untold number" of dead bodies at the Hamilton County Morgue in Cincinnati between 1982 and when he was finally caught in 2007. The plaintiffs -- relatives of three of the deceased whose bodies Douglas abused -- sued Douglas as well as Hamilton County.

The case against the county therefore centers around what Douglas' supervisors knew or should have known. How much should they have known? Apparently, a lot. Douglas' supervisor knew or should have known about his alcohol use because Douglas drank at work; he also knew that Douglas had sex with live women at the morgue, "something he apparently did with some frequency."

Whew. Even when you know a dangerous and terrible precedent is likely to be overturned, it's never over until it's over, right?

Well, it's over, barring en banc or U.S. Supreme Court review. Both of those seem like long shots, considering the Sixth Circuit's opinion falls in line with every other circuit to consider Communications Decency Act (Section 230) immunity.

Sarah Jones, a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and teacher who slept with a student, took umbrage at user-submitted gossip on TheDirty.com (calling her promiscuous, STD-ridden, and not so easy on the eyes). The the law seemed clear before her case was decided: Websites aren't liable for what their users say. A district court, however, botched the law completely, and held TheDirty.com liable for the gossip.

Yesterday, the Sixth Circuit thankfully and predictably reversed.

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Battery is an intentional tort.

Malpractice is negligence-based tort.

One requires intent. The other is failing to meet the reasonable standard of care. Any 1L could tell you this. Why is this case in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals then?

Dean Foods and Suiza were the two largest bottlers and processors of milk in the United States. In 2001, they merged, with the approval of the Department of Justice.

The DOJ, however, required certain concessions to be made. The new Dean Foods would have to divest a handful of plants to the Dairy Farmers of America (a cooperative) and the two entities would have to agree to supply contracts that allowed DFA to supply Dean with milk for some of its plants.

The divested plants, as well as five others, were combined into a new competing company, National Dairy Holdings, which was owned by two former Suiza executives, a former business partner of DFA's chief executive officer, and DFA itself, which owned 50 percent of the company and had veto rights.

Our first take on this case was that it seems to be pretty cut and dried: the Kentucky-based federal district court misinterpreted the Communications Decency Act when it held gossip site TheDirty.com could be held liable for users' scurrilous comments about Sarah Jones, a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader.

The comments discussed her rumored sexual habits and certain sexually transmitted diseases that she was alleged to have acquired.

This isn't our usual appellate fare, but a local district court case may interest you, especially if you've been following other swirling legal conflicts between religious rights and healthcare.

In a lawsuit headed for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, a plaintiff, Tamesha Means, alleges that a local Catholic hospital negligently denied her proper healthcare, and exposed her to unnecessary pain, due to mandates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which issues the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services."

This case has everything: a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader, who slept with (and later became engaged to) a student, sued a gossip website over posts submitted by users claiming that she had multiple sexually transmitted diseases and that she had slept with the entire Bengals football team.

Yes, that's a very loaded sentence, as is the case. Actually, check that: this wouldn't be a loaded case, were it not for a district court judge misapplying the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a law which has unanimously (at least, outside of this single Kentucky-based federal court) been interpreted as protecting websites from being sued for user-submitted content.

CSI dropped the ball. The insurance brokerage company knows it made a mistake, it admits it, and in all likelihood, it'll be held accountable for it. But the question is: will that accountability come via the tort of negligence or for breach of contract?

When National Pastime, a company that runs promotions for Major League Baseball teams, contacted CSI about a series of Kids Nights at the Cleveland Indians baseball park, they explicitly stated that an inflatable slide would be used. CSI instead procured a policy that didn't cover inflatables, and when the slide collapsed onto two nearby people (killing one), the team was left without coverage.

Anthony Sowell Civil Lawsuit Appealed to 6th Circuit

The families of Tonia Carmichael and Nancy Cobb -- two of convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell's 11 victims -- announced Tuesday that they are appealing a federal court's dismissal of their civil lawsuit filed against the City of Cleveland over potentially shoddy police work in the case.

Central to the lawsuit are allegations that the Cleveland and Warrensville Heights police refused to take the families' missing persons reports seriously.

The lawsuit, first filed in May 2012, was dismissed as frivolous. But the families have now appealed to the Sixth Circuit.

Make no mistake about it: this judge, much like the Pampers at issue, is pissed.

Pampers made a special line of diapers called DryMax. Consumers alleged that the ultra-absorbent product caused frequent diaper rashes. Government agencies investigated and found no proof of the defect. Nonetheless, twelve class-action lawsuits were filed.

After "hard-fought" negotiations, and "strenuous" litigation (which included no depositions, no discovery, and no response to Proctor & Gamble's motion to dismiss), a settlement was reached: the named plaintiffs would get $1,000 per affected child, the lawyers would get $2.73 million, and the class members would get refunds (if, five years later, they kept their receipts and UPC codes), warning labels, and a few paragraphs on a website.