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Personal Injury

No treble damages for troubling cover-up

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court upheld the appeals court’s finding that the Los Angeles Unified School District is immune from treble damages sought by a student who was sexually assaulted by a teacher's aide. Though there is evidence that the employer covered up the employee’s past abuse, state laws shield public entities from enhanced, explicitly punitive damages that are not compensatory in nature.

Professor defamation

GRETNA, La. — An appeals court in Louisiana reversed the trial court’s denial of Loyola University New Orleans’ motion to strike a professor’s defamation lawsuit against the university after the student newspaper published a series of articles, editorials and letters alleging racism on the professor’s part. The publications are protected by the university’s speech rights and the professor does not challenge the statements’ truthfulness.

Homophobic child abuse

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland’s appellate court upheld a lower court’s determination that the father of a trans child and a gay child has inflicted mental injury on the gay child as strongly evidenced by texts, emails and reports of conversations where the father has said, for example, “Please please do not allow these demons you are surrounded by influence you.” Because the gay child feels unsafe around the father, he is ordered to stop abusing and threatening the child and may not enter the child’s home until the child is comfortable seeing him.

Doctor to answer for inmate’s death

BATON ROUGE, La. — A federal court in Louisiana declined to dismiss the wrongful death and civil rights suit brought against a parish jail’s doctor by the family of a prisoner who died of brain cancer. They adequately argued that the doctor’s refusal to give an Optune medical device to the prisoner, despite “full knowledge” the inmate needed it to live, constituted deliberate indifference and violated both state human rights law and his constitutional right to medical care.

Gym harassment

PHILADELPHIA — A federal court in Pennsylvania did not allow LA Fitness to dismiss or to compel arbitration on a female gym member’s lawsuit alleging that a male janitor sexually harassed her and other women at the gym. Her claims are not barred by the statute of limitations.

Sheriff may be liable in teen’s killing

NEW ORLEANS — A federal court in Louisiana rejected the Jefferson Parish sheriff’s argument that he cannot be held personally liable for the death of an autistic teenager who was suffocated by deputies outside of a laser tag center. Though he was not physically present at the scene of the 16-year-old’s death, the Fifth Circuit has held that police supervisors can be held liable for failure to adopt policies and to supervise or train subordinates.