Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Genius of the Common Law

The genius of the Common Law is in its ability to adapt general legal principles to specific, often unpredictable, factual circumstances.

According to the New York Post, the son of a resident in a Long Island, New York nursing home discovered among his mother's possessions a picture of his 85 year-old mother stuffing money into the underpants of a male stripper.  According to allegations, the son determined that the nursing home had on more than one occasion provided male strippers as entertainment for the residents.  In his lawsuit, it is alleged:

“Plaintiff Bernice Youngblood was placed in apprehension of imminent, offensive, physical harm, as she was confused and bewildered as to why a muscular, almost nude man, was approaching her and placing his body and limbs, over [her],”

That sounds like the language of an assault claim.  I imagine, there is likely a negligence count as well. Intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress are also potential claims based on extreme and outrageous conduct.

The plaintiff probably has some problems of proof.  If it is true as described in the article that "Youngblood’s attorneys argue she 'lacks the mental and physical capacity' to protect herself," then it may be difficult for her to testify as to any damages that were suffered.  Even if the lawsuit is not ultimately successful, it hopefully serves as notice to other similarly situated businesses about conduct that might create liability exposure. Hopefully our Legal Environment courses help students to recognize that in the great number of businesses the suggestion of "hiring strippers" should send up a whole host of red flag warnings.

The quote below comes from the website of the East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. I am not sure if patients understood the facility's meaning of "therapeutic recreation."

·                   Therapeutic Recreation
    At Cassena Care, we believe in the power of socialization and recreational activities as part of our efforts to restore health. Our therapeutic recreation program helps our patients work on mobility and other skills outside of their other speech, physical, or occupational therapy sessions, and it also gives them a chance to develop friendships essential to feeling joyful and self-confident.

Here is the photo that ignited the lawsuit:

Video report:

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