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Archive for July, 2010

M.S. was a 15-year-old male student in 36-year-old Colleen McGraham’s English class. He was also involved in the poetry club and theater group, for which McGraham was an advisor. She loaned him books such as "Catcher in the Rye" and "Fahrenheit 451," but also let him borrow "Harold and Maude," a 1972 movie about a sexual relationship between a teenage boy and an older woman. McGraham eventually asked him if it was "crazy" to "think that there was something between us." M.S. told another teacher, who advised him to tell the principal. Later, M.S.’s mother and an investigator posed as M.S., eliciting more responses from McGraham, who wrote of her distress that M.S. had stopped talking to her:

Because we have both been confused, I have wanted us to talk. But that seems to create problems for both of us. When I have tried to talk to you, you seem to run a bit in the opposite direction. And my nervousness leads me to maybe not be entirely forthright. There is so much I would like to tell you, to discuss with you. But even now writing this, there is fear. You, I am sure, understand the risks involved for me. But you have no idea how happy it makes me to hear from you. And as far as where I am standing, there is only one place I would like to be standing. God, help me!

McGraham told an independent hearing officer that she had learned her lesson and was seeking therapy. The officer then suspended her for 90 days and transferred her to another school.

The New York City School District then filed suit against McGraham for additional punishment, and the trial court vacated the suspension and remanded the case for a more severe penalty. On appeal, however, the 1st Appellate Division of New York reversed the decision, ruling that the suspension and transfer constituted sufficient punishment, noting the following:

The penalty imposed here is not so lenient as to be arbitrary and capricious. The hearing officer’s conclusion that [McGraham] was not like to repeat her actions was necessarily a determination based on [her] credibility, and he was in far superior position than [the trial court] to make that determination.

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Kansas City police officers, Melody Spencer and Kevin Schnell, arrested Sophia Salva on suspicion of using a fake temporary license tag on her car. Salva complained several times during the arrest that she was three months pregnant, bleeding, and needed to see a doctor. The officers disagreed. Spencer said Salva was merely having her period and declined Salva’s invitation to check her underwear: "It’s called a menstrual cycle. I understand. OK? ‘Cause I am a woman." Likewise, Schnell believed that Salva had a case of "jailitis," in which a suspect will invent a reason to go to the hospital to avoid incarceration. Unfortunately, Salva really was pregnant, and the next morning she delivered a premature baby who did not survive. The police department fired the officers for failing to take Salva to the hospital, for the way they treated her, and for failing to recover the counterfeit tag. Spencer and Schnell filed suit to contest the firings. The trial court upheld the firings, and the appeals court agreed, noting the following:

[I]t was within the board’s discretion to terminate [the officers] for violating the department policies by failing to seek medical help for Salva when she requested medical attention . . . and by treating Salva in a discourteous and undignified manner.

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Supreme Lobster and Seafood Company tried to register that trademark for "fresh and frozen salmon"; however, the National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council opposed the slogan as too close to its trademark for pork, "the other white meat." The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled refused to rule that the salmon slogan would cause confusion, but it did determine that it would dilute the pork industry’s trademark. Survey information shows that 80-85% of consumers are familiar with the "other white meat" slogan, and 70% correctly identify it with pork. A "dilution survey" showed that 35% of respondents who heard the salmon slogan incorrectly associated it with the pork slogan. Accordingly, the board refused the slogan because it is too similar to the pork industry’s trademarked phrase.

For the full story, click here.

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