Sheldon Adelson sues Jewish Democratic group


Sheldon Adelson is suing the National Jewish Democratic Council for defamation.

Lawyers for Adelson, the casino magnate and major Republican donor, had sent a warning letter to the NJDC and to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last week after each body publicly stated that Adelson had approved of prostitution at his properties in Macau, China. That allegation appeared in a lawsuit file by a former Adelson employee, Steven Jacobs, who had managed Adelson’s Macua business until being fired in 2010.

The DCCC apologized last week for referencing the allegation in press releases sent June 22 and July 2 that called on Republicans not to take Adelson’s money. But NJDC has refused to excise the allegation from an online petition calling on Republicans to stop accepting money from Adelson.

Adelson filed the defamation lawsuit this week; the NJDC shared news of the lawsuit in a statement sent to reporters.

“Referencing mainstream press accounts examining the conduct of a public figure and his business ventures—as we did—is wholly appropriate,” NJDC said in a statement. “Indeed, it is both an American and a Jewish obligation to ask hard questions of powerful individuals like Mr. Adelson, just as it is incumbent upon us to praise his wonderful philanthropic endeavors.”

The statement called Adelson’s lawsuit a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or SLAPP, a term used for legal maneuvers aimed not at obtaining justice but silence.

“We know that we were well within our rights, and we will defend ourselves against this SLAPP suit as far and as long as necessary,” NJDC said. “We simply will not be bullied, and we will not be silenced.”

Adelson’s publicist, Ron Reese, had no immediate comment.

Man can sue over anti-Semitic comments though not Jewish


A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that a man can sue for enduring anti-Semitic slurs from former employers despite not being Jewish.

Myron Cowher, a former truck driver for Carson & Roberts Site Constructions & Engineering Inc., sued the company and former supervisors after allegedly enduring anti-Semitic comments for more than a year. His suit alleges discrimination that resulted in a hostile work environment.

The Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court reversed a Superior Court judge in a 3-0 decision. The appeals court stated that the “proper question” is what effect the derogatory comments would have on “a reasonable Jew,” not on Cowher, who is of German-Irish and Lutheran background.

Experts say the ruling will expand the scope of who can sue for discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination by allowing anyone, not just a member of the protected class, to pursue the claim. This significantly broadens the interpretation of the law, which typically has protected people based on their actual age, race, religion or sexuality.

Gregg Salka, an associate at Fisher & Phillips law firm who works with small-business clients, told The Star-Ledger newspaper that “Anyone can pretty much bring a claim, even if they’re not a member of a protected class. It moves the focus more towards the discriminatory comments rather than the actual characteristic of the plaintiff.”

Cowher, of Dingmans Ferry, Pa., said he was the subject of anti-Semitic banter from January 2007 until May 2008, when he left the company for unrelated reasons. His supervisors admitted to directing anti-Semitic slurs at Cowher but insisted that it was part of a “locker-room type exchange” in which Cowher “willingly participated.”

Facebook vs. ‘Mark Zuckerberg’


Israeli “entrepeneur” Rotem Guez is being sued by Facebook for creating a “Like Store” where businesses can buy fake “likes” for their Facebook pages.

In a move that, to be kind, very few people would have envisioned, Guez legally changed his name to “Mark Zuckerberg” in what will possibly be the basis for the sequel to “Face/Off.”

“I wanted that once they sue me, they’ll face suing ‘Mark Zuckerberg,’” the former Guez said, according emails obtained by The Huffington Post.

Student sues UC Davis over Jewish fraternity hazing


A former University of California at Davis student has filed a lawsuit against the university. His claims include negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and creating a hostile educational environment — all stemming from the university’s refusal to address his complaints about hazing at a Jewish fraternity on campus.

According to the court papers filed on behalf of Ryan Clifford, he was forced to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol laced with drugs and was subjected to violent and sexual abuse. Clifford says that Alpha Epsilon Pi pledges were required to attend a retreat at Lake Tahoe, where senior members forced them to drink “inordinate amount of alcohol” laced with narcotics. Clifford says he was also forced to undress in front of everyone there and that some of the fraternity members touched his penis and made sexual comments. The lawsuit lists other instances of abuse, including one that resulted in Clifford’s suffering a broken bone requiring two orthopedic surgeries.

In addition, Clifford alleges that he was “specifically targeted for the harshest form of hazing, known as ‘ratfucking,’ because of his non-Jewish religious affiliation.”

Clifford says that the university did not initially respond to any of his complaints. Eventually, it did put AEPi on “conditional registration” status for seven month. Clifford claims, however, that the university did not monitor the fraternity and that the abusive behavior continued as before.

Eventually Clifford left the fraternity and filed suit against it. At that point, Clifford claims the university advised him to withdraw from his studies, despite his being only 6.5 credits away from graduation. Clifford did so and then sued the university.

Ohio family sues school for anti-Semitism, bullying


The family of a 14-year-old Ohio girl is suing school officials in the state for allowing bullying and anti-Semitic attacks aimed at their daughter.

The lawsuit alleges that officials at Green High School did nothing to curb years of bullying by classmates, which included being called a “dirty Jew” and told she would “rot in hell” for not believing in Jesus Christ, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

The parents brought the case to U.S. District Court last month after transferring their daughter to another public school district. The name of the family is being withheld to protect the identity of the girl.
In the lawsuit, a bus driver, guidance counselor, two principals and two superintendents are identified as doing nothing to stop the bullying or acting to punish the aggressors.

In 2008, the girl reportedly was called a “[f—-ing] Jew” by several boys and was spat on while riding a school bus, the Akron newspaper reported. The lawsuit maintains that the bus driver neither disciplined the boys nor filed a report with the district about it. 

“She’s been victimized for a number of years because there’s very few Jewish people in that district and there’s a lot of people apparently who have a problem with Jews,” said the family’s Cleveland attorney, Kenneth Myers.

Other instances of bullying described in the lawsuit involve being assaulted by a boy in the choir room, being stabbed in the leg with a pencil and the creation of a Facebook page devoted to disparaging the girl.

The lawsuit also accuses Mark Booth, the principal of Green Intermediate School, of telling the girl’s mother that her daughter “enjoyed the attention.” He reportedly told the girl to fight one of the boys who was bullying her.

Green Superintendent Michael Nutter said of the lawsuit, “Our lawyers at the insurance company are reviewing it and we’ve been advised from them at this point not to comment on it until they’ve reviewed all of it. We have our [bullying] policies, they’re all online, but that’s all I can say right now about it.”

Green is a northeastern Ohio suburb of nearly 26,000 located midway between Canton and Akron.

Prodded by Danon, U.S. lawyers set to sue Goldstone


A group of American Jewish lawyers is set to file a civil lawsuit against Richard Goldstone initiated by Israeli lawmaker Danny Danon.

The class action suit against the author of the Goldstone Report, a United Nations document about Israel’s conduct during the monthlong Gaza war in the winter of 2008-09, is set to be filed next week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan by attorney Steve Goldberg, according to a statement issued Wednesday from Danon’s office.

Danon met with the attorneys during a recent visit to the United States, the statement said. It gave no further information on Goldberg or the other attorneys involved in the suit.

The lawsuit will demand that Goldstone publicly apologize to the State of Israel and pay a symbolic amount of damages for the accusations he made in the U.N. Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict report.

“The Goldstone Report is nothing less than a modern version of the infamous blood libels against the Jewish people,” said Danon. “The distorted image that Judge Goldstone spread about Israel and the Israel Defense Forces has caused immeasurable damage to our citizens, and it will continue to do so for many years to come. I call on Goldstone to publicly apologize for his erroneous report with the hope that perhaps this will begin to repair some of the immense damage that has been inflicted on the international standing of the State of Israel.”

The Jerusalem Post reported that Danon said he plans to file a similar lawsuit in Israel that would go into effect if Goldstone visits the Jewish state. Goldstone said he will visit Israel in July after being invited by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai.

Goldstone, a former South African judge, wrote in an Op-Ed last weekend in The Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the Goldstone Report.

“We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report,” Goldstone wrote. “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”

In the wake of the Post Op-Ed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a host of Israeli officials and organizations have called on the United Nations to cancel the Goldstone Report, which accused Israel of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

Goldstone told The Associated Press Wednesday that he will not seek to quash the report, which was presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2009.

Gibson arrester can sue over incident


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Shul’s Stormy Saga


With its prominent location at one of Hancock Park’s busiest intersections, at Third Street and Highland Avenue, Congregation Etz Chaim’s boxy, domed building constantly reminds area residents of a decade of ongoing tensions.

The current focus of the dispute is a lawsuit that has reached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Neighbors sued in 2003, saying the congregation skirted due process and violated local zoning laws when it razed a 3,600-square-foot home and built an 8,200-square-foot structure with a main sanctuary, a library and a mikvah (ritual bath) in the basement.

But the conflict has even deeper roots, to when the congregation still met at the June Street home of Rabbi Chaim Rubin. Even then, neighbors contended that the daily and Shabbat services violated residential zoning laws. Then, in 1995, Congregation Etz Chaim moved from Rubin’s house, where it had been meeting for 30 years, since his father founded the congregation, to the house on Highland Avenue. In 1996, after the city, at the behest of the neighbors, tried to prevent the congregants from holding services on Highland Avenue, Etz Chaim sued the city in federal court for violating its religious freedom.

The zoning board, city council and federal court all ruled against Etz Chaim. But the shul got an 11th-hour reprieve by citing a federal law, enacted in 2000, that exempts religious institutions from local zoning. The city and Etz Chaim then entered into a settlement, permitting worshippers in the building. The pact also allowed for limited renovations that would retain the structure’s residential look.

In 2002, the congregation razed the 3,600-square-foot home. The city obtained a temporary stop-work order, saying the demolition and new construction violated the settlement, but courts later lifted that order. The congregation moved forward with the $1 million project, erecting its 8,200-square-foot structure, which its leaders say was designed to blend in with other homes – a claim some neighbors find laughable.

That brings matters to the current lawsuit, which is awaiting a trial date before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2003, the League of Residential Neighborhood Associations, composed of area residents, formed to sue Etz Chaim and the city. In the suit, residents assert that the settlement itself was illegal – that it went around city procedures designed to include neighbors in such decisions, since zoning laws should have forbidden the congregation from meeting in that location.

Meanwhile, the city also sued the congregation, saying the new construction violated the settlement agreement. That suit is also before the Ninth Circuit.

Etz Chaim, for its part, is arguing that the settlement is valid, that it did not violate the settlement and, that, in any case, federal law exempts it from zoning regulations.