National Round Up

Arkansas: State AG sues 2 Web payday loan companies, owner
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has sued two online loan companies and their owner, claiming that they are providing illegal payday loans carrying interest rates far over limits allowed by Arkansas law.

An announcement Tuesday from McDaniel’s office said he had filed suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court against Arrowhead Investments Inc., Galaxy Marketing Inc., and Christopher Hodes. According to the suit, Hodes controls the two companies, which market payday loans to Arkansas consumers through various websites.

The suit says that contracts provided to the attorney general’s office by consumers show the companies have lent money to Arkansans at an interest rate of 782 per cent.

The lawsuit seeks to bar the defendants from offering or collecting upon high-interest loans. In addition, the suit seeks cancellation of all high-interest loans made by the defendants and the return of all payments to borrowers.

Louisiana: Appeals court date set in Kaplan school case
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the ACLU’s challenge of the single-gender programs at a Kaplan middle school.

A federal district judge ruled in April that the all-boys and all-girls classes at Rene Rost Middle School could continue under court-mandated conditions addressing errors in the program’s planning and implementation in the 2009-10 school year.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana filed a lawsuit in September that claimed the program was discriminatory and violated students’ rights to an equal education and other federal regulations.

Oral arguments have tentatively been set for the week of Oct. 4, according to the court’s notice to attorneys, filed Monday.

School board attorneys filed a motion in June asking the court to dismiss the appeal because the ACLU’s allegations were directed at the 2009-10 program, which ended in May. That motion will be considered during oral arguments, Calvin Woodruff, attorney for the Vermilion Parish School Board, said Tuesday.

“We look forward to presenting our argument to the court,” Woodruff said. “We think it’s a good one. We have a lot of confidence in the 5th Circuit and we think the decision will be upheld.”

In June, the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Women’s Law Center filed separate friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the ACLU’s appeal.

Woodruff said the school has complied with U.S. District Judge Richard Haik’s ruling, which set guidelines for the planning and implementation of the 2010-11 single-gender program, Woodruff said. Students begin classes Monday.

The judge also cut the size of the program, allowing only one all-boys and one all-girls class per grade level. Interest outnumbered the seats available in the single-gender classes and a lottery for admission was held earlier this summer, Woodruff has said.

Virginia: Theater settles fatal concert shooting lawsuit
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The owners of a theater in Norfolk have settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a man who was fatally shot during a concert in 2007.

The settlement was filed Tuesday in Norfolk Circuit Court. According to the settlement, the family of Thomas Holmes will receive $1 million from the owners of the Granby Theater.

Holmes was in a vegetative state after he was shot several times during a concert at the theater on March 28, 2007. He died in August 2009.

Joseph Reid III was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the shooting.

About three-fourths of the settlement will be used to pay legal and medical bills. Another $238,000 will go into a trust fund for Holmes’ 5-year-old son, Dominic.

Idaho: State to reap $1.9M in drug settlement
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho is due $1.9 million from four pharmaceutical companies accused of inflating the price of drugs paid for by the state’s Medicaid program.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office is awaiting approval from Fourth District Court for its settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., Barr Laboratories, Inc., Ivax Corporation, and Ivax Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Wasden says taxpayers that cover Medicaid are significantly harmed when companies report false or misleading prices.

The companies admitted no wrongdoing.

This is the sixth such case that Wasden has settled with drug makers since 2005.

Altogether, these pacts have resulted in about $7 million recovered for taxpayers.

Another three cases involving 25 drug makers are pending.

Indiana: Woman charged with fatally poisoning husband
COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) —     A judge has entered a not guilty plea for a southern Indiana woman charged with fatally poisoning her estranged husband with morphine and muscle relaxants to collect on a $100,000 life insurance policy.

Fifty-one-year-old Tami Duvall of Jeffersonville was in a Bartholomew County court for an initial hearing Tuesday on charges of murder and insurance fraud for the 2007 death of Alan Duvall at her then-home in Columbus.

Court documents say Alan Duvall’s blood contained more than 82 times the maximum therapeutic level of morphine. His death was initially called accidental alcohol poisoning based on his blood-alcohol level of 0.436 percent and Tami Duvall’s accounts that he essentially drank himself to death.

Authorities say she possibly stole the drugs and poisoned food she made for Duvall.

Mississippi: Teen accused in coast dog breeder’s death
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — A 19-year-old faces capital murder charges in the shooting death of a professional dog-handler, groomer and breeder.

Pascagoula Police Chief Kenny Johnson says Rodney Phillip McKenzie is accused of shooting Johnny McArthur Bullock while trying to rob him early Tuesday.

Authorities say Bullock, owner of Bullock’s Kennel, was found dead in his van after it crashed into a power pole guy wire.

McKenzie was being held without bond.