Court Round Up

Kansas: Relatives seek custody of boy found in attic
DE SOTO, Kan. (AP) — The grandparents of a 6-year-old found in the attic of his mother’s home are seeking custody of the boy and his siblings.

The Kansas City Star reported that the boy was discovered this past week after the grandparents asked the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office to check on him.

The grandparents’ attorney, Sarah Swain, says her clients had not seen the boy in about four months and were concerned.

She says the grandparents didn’t know what led to the boy, who has Down syndrome, being put in the attic.

The boy’s mother, 26-year-old Rachel Perez, has been charged with aggravated child endangerment and child abuse. It’s unclear if she has an attorney.

The attorney says Perez also is the mother of two girls, ages 8 and 5, and is pregnant with another child.

A court hearing in the custody case is scheduled for October.

Minnesota: Minneapolis to pay $165K to settle ‘zombie’ lawsuit
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The city of Minneapolis is paying $165,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by seven people who were arrested in 2006 after they dressed up as zombies.

The seven said they were protesting what they called mindless consumerism. They had white powdered faces with dark makeup around their eyes and were walking in a stiff, lurching fashion.

They carried stereos in their backpacks. Because the bags had wires sticking out, police said they looked like simulated weapons of mass destruction.

The seven were jailed for two days but never charged.

Minneapolis City Attorney Susan L. Segal told the Star Tribune that even though she thinks police acted reasonably, the settlement approved Friday was in the city’s best interest because juries can be unpredictable.

Minnesota: Wrongful death suit in Wis. hotel fire dismissed
WINONA, Minn. (AP) — A second wrongful death lawsuit has been dismissed against the owner of a hotel in Independence, Wis., that burned in February 2009, killing three men.

The Winona Daily News reports the lawsuit was dismissed after a “minor” settlement with building owner Corazon Peterson, also known as Corazon Moen, and her insurance companies.

The lawsuit was filed by the families of Gerardo Reyes Perez and Humberto Hernandez Vanegas, who both died in the apartment building fire.

The amount of the settlement is unknown and Trempealeau County Circuit Court Judge John Damon approved sealing documents related to the case.

The Hotel Tap building in Independence had failed fire inspections before the blaze. Moen has acknowledged the failed inspections but has said the problems were fixed before the fire.

Kentucky: Advocacy group files lawsuit against agency
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — An advocacy group seeking records relating to the deaths of disabled adults who died in state care has filed suit against the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The move came after the cabinet denied the group access to records about investigations and follow-up activities related to the transfers of two disabled men to community homes and their deaths.

Cabinet officials denied the request, saying such information is confidential.

The council’s executive director, April DuVal, says the state agency should be “more transparent” when people are dying.

Cabinet spokeswoman Vikki Franklin declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

The council’s lawyer, David Tachau, said in the lawsuit that a confidentiality argument in the case of children who die in state care was rejected by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd, who ordered the cabinet to release records about the death of a toddler who drank drain cleaner at an alleged methamphetamine lab.
Tachau said the system should operate no differently for disabled adults.

DuVal said the council has concerns about two disabled men who died last year after being moved to different facilities. She said while both deaths appear to be natural, the council wants to make sure they had appropriate care in their new settings.

“If there’s no public accountability, there’s no opportunity to make sure the system is even working in the first place,” Tachau said.