Articles Posted in Crime Victims

Parents send their kids to school to receive a good education. They expect that the school will not only teach them but be a safe environment for their kids to learn. Unfortunately, sometimes this is not the case and abuse may occur by a teacher or school administrator. In a recent lawsuit, two girls claimed that they were molested by physical education teacher, Abdol Hossein Mehrdadi. According to the case, the school had policies and training in development for teaching young students as well as their staff how to identify and respond to cases of molestation. However, the school district never followed through with this plan. One juror stated that, “They set the standards, but they didn’t spend any money to have those standards met. In particular, they said they were going to do age-appropriate training for kindergarten through third grade on what to do about molestation, and they completely blew it off.”

One of the girls in the case identified by Jane Doe, now fifteen, claimed to have been sexually assaulted four times at school by the physical education teacher, Abdol Hossein Mehrdadi. The abuse was stated to have begun in 2004 and ended in 2007. The other girl identified as Susan Doe, eleven, claimed to have been molested once by Mehrdadi in 2007. Mehrdadi, sixty-three denied the molestation and was never arrested or criminally charged. Jane Doe’s stepfather had been arrested and charged with molesting her. It was argued that his relative coerced Jane Doe into changing her story and implicating “Coach M”. The charges were then dropped against her stepfather.

The jury has awarded both girls a total of $4.025 million and has awarded $3.625 million of it to Jane Doe. Sixty-three percent of the responsibility was placed on the teacher and thirty-seven percent on the school district. The district will only have to pay $1.35 million. The jury awarded Susan Doe, $400,000 and split the responsibility fifty-fifty between the teacher and the school district. City spokesman for the school district, Gabe Ross has said that “the district has empathy and compassion for the terrible ordeal the victims in this case have been through.”
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When a person drives while they are intoxicated and this results in the serious injury or even death of another person, this rises many questions and concerns about how is responsible for this injury or death. In a tragic recent case in Tennessee, twenty-two year old Rebecca Benson got in her car early on February 22nd, 2012, and headed south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 65. Police believe Benson was intoxicated when she collided with Steffanie Leonard, who was twenty-nine. Leonard died and Benson has been charged with vehicular homicide. The police also state that anyone who sold alcohol to Benson could face legal problems as well.

he Nashville police department stated that where Benson was before the crash is important to the investigation. According to the Nashville police department bar liability laws vary from state to state. In twenty-one states and the District of Columbia vendors can be held liable when adults become intoxicated. In fourteen other states they cannot be held liable. In Tennessee, the laws fall in the middle having limited vendor liability for adults becoming intoxicated. According to this case, Tennessee “puts most of the responsibility on the individual for their behavior, but a bar, restaurant or convenience store can be held liable and have been in the past,” There’s two exceptions. One is when a minor is served alcohol and that minor causes personal injury or death, and the other one is when you sell alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person and that person causes injury or death.”

Tennessee’s alcohol-serving laws faced more litigation before the state passed new dram shop laws in the 1980s. These laws presumed that the person consuming alcohol is at fault, not those who sold the alcohol. These more lenient laws were passed because bar and restaurant owners struggled to pay for or get liquor liability insurance.
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In Tennessee and in many other states across the country, there is often times where the statute of limitations may have expired on a particular case or crime. In these cases, if the statute of limitations is unclear, then the court may determine if they have expired or not. Sometimes these cases involve old claims of sexual abuse. According to a new case case, two men, one of them forty-three year old Ralph West, made claims to ESPN that Bobby Dodd the former president of the Amateur Athletic Union or AAU abused them in the 1980s when they were players on his youth basketball teams at a YMCA in Memphis. Ralph West claimed that Dodd attempted to fondle him or masturbated in front of him at Dodd’s residence in Memphis and also at AAU events in Indiana, Florida, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Both alleged victims claim to have been encouraged to come forward with their claims after the sexual abuse case at Penn State.

Tennessee state law currently states that adults claiming sexual abuse have one year to file a lawsuit after turning eighteen. The results of a Memphis investigation as well as a pending decision before the Tennessee Supreme Court may determine whether alleged victims are allowed to file a lawsuit decades after their claims of abuse.

The case involving the Tennessee Supreme Court is a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Memphis filed by Norman Redwing in 2008 claiming that he had faced abuse from a priest in the 1970s.
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In Tennessee and all over the country, when people go into the hospital or another medical facility for treatment, they expect to be well taken care of and protected from any further harm. Unfortunately, sometimes incidents happen and can leave patients being harmed by other patients and people who may enter the facility when proper safety measures are not taken or policies for reporting incidents are not properly followed.

According to this lawsuit against HCA, a woman claims that she was sexually assaulted by a male patient who took her out of the shower while she was brushing her teeth, while in the hospital at Skyline Madison Campus, as a psychiatric patient. The lawsuit also states that the hospital failed to report the incident to police or to her family. A 2008 law requires a “certificate of good faith” from a medical expert, typically a doctor, during the first stages of a lawsuit. The HCA was successful in getting the lawsuit dismissed because no certificate was filed.

Now the case is back in court after the Tennessee Court of Appeals determined that the lower court made a mistake when it applied the rules of the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act, claiming that the issue does not involve treatment given by a medical professional. The Appeals Judge Richard H. Dinkins stated that, “The complaint speaks of supervision that could be provided by a security guard or some other person who does not have a specialized training in medical science or the adoption of other appropriate non-medical safeguards.” The HCA acknowledged in its statements that a male patient was found hiding in the woman’s shower. The hospital has also noted that the facts are in dispute regarding the alleged assault. The woman filed her lawsuit last year seeking $3 million in damages.
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In Tennessee and all across the United States, many people unfortunately get behind the wheel of a vehicle after they have been drinking. Unfortunately, many times this careless action leads to someone being seriously injured or even dying. If you or someone you care about has been injured or affected by a drunken driving accident, then you should talk to a Tennessee personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

In this case, Charles, “C.J.” McAlhaney, 23, died after a drunken driving car accident in 2006. The defendant in this lawsuit pled guilty to three felony counts which related to McAlhaney’s death in 2010. The defendant received a nine year prison sentence, with three years suspended. This was one of the largest personal injury verdicts awarded in the state in 2011. The case was taken on a pro bono basis after a referral from the Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The judge awarded Robin Chaplin, McAlhaney’s mother, $3 million for the loss of an adult child.
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Justice – 6, Boy Scouts – 0 could have been the score for a recent Oregon court ruling that settled a years’ long sexual abuse case. Six men who accused their leader of sexual molestation agreed to a settlement that may figure in the millions. A need to have it over and to get on with their lives was part of the motivation to settle.

These men, all members of the same troop, claimed that they were abused by a former leader back in the 80’s. Their attorney says he hopes the ruling will give other victims of abuse the courage to speak up and be heard. One of the plaintiffs was awarded $20 million back in April for compensatory and punitive damages with The Boy Scouts of America to pay the vast majority of that amount. A jury found that the Boy Scouts failed to protect the plaintiff from a pedophile assistant scoutmaster. This was the largest award to a single victim of sexual abuse in the nation’s history. The likelihood of an appeal by the BSA led to the settlement.

One bright note, six weeks after the verdict, the BSA implemented major changes to their youth program designed to keep children safer. These changes include volunteers undergoing mandatory youth protection training and hiring a former San Antonio police detective with experience in sexual abuse investigation to oversee the youth protection program.
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Against our parents wishes, many of us may have played the game “ding dong ditch” when we were younger. It is a prank game where you go around to houses and ring doorbells and then leave. However, sometimes this game can turn into much more than just a simple prank and some fun, and people wind up getting hurt, which is actually what did happened in Clarksville, Tennessee on Memorial day weekend.

The Clarksville police said that four teenagers ages fifteen to seventeen were playing the game on Saturday May 29th when Joseph Robinson, one of the boys playing the game, got shot in the leg by Carl Jerome Edmonds one of the homeowners whose door they knocked on. Jeff and Sherri Robinson, Joseph’s parents have filed a lawsuit in the amount of 2.5 million against Edmonds.

The attorney for the Robinsons, Mark Olson accuses Edmonds of acting reckless and in a negligent manner, because Edmonds was not threatened and his property was not in danger. The parents of Joseph Robinson are also claiming that the use a gun was excessive and not a legal use for the weapon.

The bullet is still embedded in Joseph’s leg and the lawsuit claims he will have a permanent disability and have more medical bills as a result of being shot. Punitive damages and the costs for civil action are being asked for, for a total of 2.5 million. A court date has been set for July 2, 2010 and no criminal charges have been filed against Edmonds.
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In recent years, we all have heard about school shootings and violence in schools and on campuses. These reports have affected everyone across the country, including the residents of Tennessee. Security measures have been taken on campuses to help protect the students and staff, but there are always things you can do to help protect yourself against crime. Here are some tips to help make you more aware of crime on your campus and how to better protect yourself and your friends from it now and in the future.

The first thing you should do is go online or ask a school official what there plan is in case of emergency or crime. It is helpful to know where you would need to go, or what you may be asked to do in these situations. Check for the following to make sure your campus is well prepared for emergency and crime situations:

• Classroom door locks are secure or have been modified for better security • Video surveillance is in place around the campus (i.e. cameras that are monitored regularly)

Boy Scouts of America is an organization across the country that teaches young boys and men wilderness skills, life skills, and teaches them how to be responsible people that can have fun and do the right thing. Unfortunately, in the case involving Kerry Lewis who was formerly from Portland, Oregon, the Boys Scouts of America failed to protect him from and even allowed the former assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes to keep in contact with his troop after Dykes had admitted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints back in 1983 that he molested seventeen boy scouts. Dykes was convicted three times of various sexual abuse charges involved with the boy scouts and had admitted to abusing Lewis. Due to their failure to act and their reckless actions involving this case, the Boy Scouts of America must pay $840,000 or sixty percent of the 1.4 million and the Cascade Pacific Council will pay fifteen percent or $210,000 and finally, the church already paid its portion of $350,000.

The spokesman for the Boy Scouts, Deron Smith, said, “We are saddened by what happened to the plaintiff. The actions of the man who committed these crimes do not represent the values and ideals of the Boy Scouts of America”.

There are still nine other claims pending against the Boy Scouts of America and a separate trial to help determine if the organization will owe $25 million in punitive damages. The Oregon Supreme Court also released in February more than 1,000 files the Scouts kept on alleged pedophiles from 1965- mid 1984 that were used in this trial.
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http://hhpfirm.comAccording to an article on, a Youth Minister from a church in Lebanon, Tennessee has been arrested on multiple charges of child rape involving two young boys. The youth minister worked at the church and gained the trust of the children and their families, as reported in the article.

Tavaria Merritt, formerly the youth minister at Lebanon’s True Vine Church, allegedly used the families’ trust to allow the children to occasionally spend the night at his home under the guise of his position as youth minister.

Apart from the obvious criminal elements of this case and the prosecution of Mr. Merritt on the child rape charges, there are also civil lawsuit ramifications that will likely be involved. Similar to the cases brought against the Catholic church for abuses by priests and other staff, the question can turn to what the church knew or should have known about it’s employee and his wrongful actions.

These types of cases are very difficult to pursue and involve a subject matter that is ultimately very private. Other sexual assault victims have not stepped forward with allegations at this time and it may be limited to the victims referenced in the indictment.
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