A Florida man sued five religious and charitable organizations alleging a former youth pastor kept young boys as sex slaves. 

     Dignity Health will cough up $37 million to settle allegations that it submitted false claims to Medicare by admitting patients it could have treated as outpatients.

     Privelege does not shield video surveillance that companies conduct on employees after an alleged injury, a divided Iowa appeals court ruled. 

     I have nothing against Bram Stoker's "Dracula" or its free publicity for my native Transylvania. But Universal Pictures' latest vampire flick, "Dracula Untold," attempts something no other vampire tale did before: to understand the man behind the myth.
     As devoid of humor and sensuality as critics accuse it to be, the new version revives the historical figure that inspired Stoker's protagonist: Vlad III aka the Impaler, a 15th-century prince who briefly ruled Wallachia, a Romanian province between the Danube River and the Carpathian Mountains.
     Dracula's Faustian pact in the movie - the price he pays to defend his land and family - is not far from the historical truth. During his three short reigns, Vlad defended Wallachia's autonomy against the Ottoman Empire and the Hungarian Kingdom, using every weapon in his arsenal: politics, guerilla warfare, fear and intimidation.
     Was the real Dracula as monstrous as the legends portray him? You bet.
     But he was also one of the most revered leaders in Romanian history. Here is what most people don't know: Vlad the Impaler was far more terrifying than vampires. He was a psychopathic killer, but just what his country and Europe needed at a time when Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, was pressing against Christian Europe like a tsunami wave, ready to swallow it. With a few thousand men, he kept Mehmed's impressive army at bay for years, while fighting scheming nobles and contenders to the throne at home.
     In the most notorious episode in Vlad's anti-Ottoman campaigns, Mehmed retreated south of the Danube after finding 20,000 of his soldiers impaled outside the Wallachian capital. The forest of decomposing cadavers greeted Mehmed's army as they approached the city of Tirgoviste, after marching for days through burned villages with poisoned fountains. Mehmed gave up, saying: "I cannot take the country away from a man who fights so hard to defend it, and who deserves so much more."
     Vlad used fear as a tactic, and it worked. He did not hesitate to impale, burn and bury his enemies alive. The justice-obsessed ruler applied the same principles to dishonest noblemen and commoners at home. A legend says people drank water from a public fountain with a golden cup that never disappeared as long as Vlad ruled. If a purse was found on the side of the road, it was immediately returned to its owner or to Vlad's palace. The finder knew better than to lie about the amount of money inside. The boyars who plotted against Vlad were quickly eliminated. Vlad invited them to feasts, and served them stakes for dessert.
     Vlad was no rarity in a medieval Europe dominated by the likes of the Borgias and the Spanish Inquisition, and he certainly did not invent impaling. The Saxon legends that gave him the name of Dracula - and inspired Stoker - may have exaggerated his reputation. Transylvanian Saxons hated Vlad, who challenged their trade privileges in Wallachia and asked for reciprocity. But they might have done him a favor by building him up to his enemies.
     He did not bow to pressure, even when he had everything to lose. Noblemen betrayed him. Turks either used or fought him. His cousin, the ruler of Transylvania, turned his back on him. And still, he held the shield high. People respected him because he never gave up. It eventually cost him his life, but Vlad never let anyone off the hook for dishonesty, betrayal or lack of patriotism. He talked to the Sultan as an equal, and when the Turkish envoys refused to remove their hats before him, he had them nailed to their heads.
     Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu invoked the Impaler in a 19th century poem dealing with the problems of his day: dishonest and cowardly politicians responsible for instability and a servile foreign policy. This was a testament to Vlad's legacy: He reined in corruption, gained the respect of large empires, and kept the Turks at the gates of Europe.
     I cannot help but wonder, how would Vlad deal with today's chaos?
     He would probably impale half of the Islamic State and make the rest of them fight each other to death.
     Putin would think twice about making empty threats toward the West.
     As for cowardly or self-serving politicians, well ... you probably guessed that one.
     OK, maybe a psychopathic mass-murderer - even a well-intentioned one - is not the answer to our problems. How about principles, or the courage to be unpopular? Here's a theme for this Halloween and election season.

     Word from the NFL players union will be a deciding factor in whether a federal judge tosses a class action accusing the league of doping up players. 

     Arizona's weapons unit botched another arms-walking operation at the border, Justice Department investigators said Thursday. 

     Lindsay Lohan swiped an idea for an online market for fans to walk into the "virtual closet" of their favorite celebrities, a company claims in court. 

     In a $500 million class action, a surgeon claims Kimberly-Clark recommends its medical gowns for healthcare workers treating Ebola patients, though it knows they do not protect against the virus. 

     The makers of Gerber Good Start Gentle formula cannot substantiate claims that the product prevents infants from developing allergies, federal regulators say. 

     Barclays bribed a Saudi prince and betrayed a client to nab a "rare and lucrative contract," Mideast real estate giants claim in a $10 billion lawsuit. 

     Environmentalists sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking to stop the killing of Cormorants, birds blamed for a decline in sports fishing populations. 

     Legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan incited the 1984 genocide of thousands of Sikhs to avenge the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a human rights group claims in a federal class action. 

     A grand jury on Wednesday accused a Texas veterinarian of keeping a woman's dog alive for months to harvest blood from it, while telling her the animal had been euthanized.  

     A former staff attorney with Georgia's campaign ethics commission accused her former boss of retaliating against her after the settlement of a whistleblower lawsuit. 

     In a federal class action, four civil rights activists claim they were sexually harassed and subjected to filthy conditions in the Alameda County jail. 

     Dozens of Filipino workers who claim they were duped into debt bondage can make their case in Texas, an appeals court ruled. 

     No more than five felony criminal cases will be dropped due to Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson's absence, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney announced Wednesday.

     A divided Illinois Supreme Court upheld a pension board's decision that former police captain and alleged torturer Jon Burge is entitled to his $4,000 a month pension. 

     Police won a court injunction blocking the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times from obtaining a list detailing complaints against officers in the Windy City. 

     A casino in the Sierra foothills will remain closed for now, as the threat of violence from a tribal civil war persists that could endanger the gambling public.

     Having a bank teller put money in a bag doesn't amount to robbery, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled, reducing a getaway driver's conviction to theft. 

     A North Carolina man arrested last summer as he attempted to fly to Syria has pleaded guilty to attempting to aid international terrorists.

     A man accused of setting up a sexual rendezvous with children through an undercover police officer won't be released from prison while he awaits his retrial. 

     Supreme Court precedent does not interfere with claims related to a drop in Amgen share prices amid safety concerns over anemia drugs, the 9th Circuit ruled Thursday. 

     A rural Pennsylvania couple sees their failing farm as the latest "chapter in the sad history of government exploitation of Native American people and their land." 

     Fourteen financial firms secretly conspired to manipulate the ISDAfix benchmark rate from January 2006 to January 2014, a county says.

     A licensed counselor for Terros Inc. working at Partners in Recovery repeatedly had sex with a depressed patient at her home, she claims in Maricopa County Court. 

     Giant Sports Products spikes its Giant Sports Delicious Protein with nitrogen instead of real, and costlier, protein, a class action claims in Federal Court. 

     El Paso Corp., accused of paying bribes to Saddam Hussein that funded terrorist attacks on Americans, could not persuade a federal judge to re-examine the lawsuit's merits. 

     Video that Democrats say shows a Republican politician making racist and sexist remarks is unlikely to be released before Tuesday's election.

     Civil rights leaders want the Justice Department to investigate why a high school football team was allowed to perform a post-game ritual involving watermelon and "monkey sounds."

     The African lion has been proposed as a threatened species in response to a petition from animal welfare groups. 

     Reports of leaks by the grand jury investigating the Ferguson, Mo., police shooting of Michael Brown had the prosecutor spitting fire Thursday. 

     A suspect has been arrested in connection with the Tuesday shooting at a North Carolina courthouse that left two men wounded.

     Geneva Thomas, a star of the Bravo reality show "Blood, Sweat and Heels," filed a $25 million summons with notice against her co-star. 

     One of the dozens of pro se complaints filed by Regina Lewis was transferred Thursday to a federal court in New York where she was just convicted of threatening to kill a federal judge.

     Certain 2006-09 model years Triumph 675 motorcycles have defective suspension systems that crack and fail, a class action claims in Federal Court. 

     Vemma Nutrition Co. pushes its products with false and unsubstantiated claims that they contain a "clinically studied" and "doctor formulated" formula, a class action claims in Federal Court.