Court Roundup

Missouri: Son of woman killed by train sues nursing home
SIKESTON, Mo. (AP) — The son of a 71-year-old southeastern Missouri woman killed by a train is suing the nursing home he says failed to adequately tend to his mother.

KFVS-TV of Cape Girardeau reports that Keith Kinder’s lawsuit filed Monday in Scott County names Hunter Acres Caring Center in Sikeston and a dozen other defendants, six months after Nancy Kinder’s death.

Nancy Kinder was hit and killed by a train on March 18.

According to the 34-page lawsuit, Hunter Acres Caring Center failed to provide a safe environment and proper care to Nancy Kinder.

A message left Wednesday with the nursing home was not immediately returned.

California: Ex-Mills College exec. sues school after dog bite
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The former executive assistant to the president of Mills College has filed a lawsuit against the Oakland school, alleging she was laid off after reporting that her boss’s dog bit her.

Pamela Reid filed the wrongful termination lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court.

The 62-year-old Pleasant Hill resident claims she was dismissed last January in retaliation for reporting the dog as a vicious animal to Oakland Animal Services five months earlier.

Reid says the Chihuahua-terrier mix bit her left calf as she prepared for an event at President Janet Holmgren’s on-campus home in August 2009.

The lawsuit seeks lost wages and unspecified damages.

College officials called the suit “meritless claims.”

The whereabouts of the dog are unknown.

New Jersey: Fed court gives state jails leeway on strip searches
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A federal court has ruled in favor of two New Jersey jails in a case involving strip searches of arrestees.

The class-action suit was brought by a southern New Jersey man who said he was strip-searched at county jails in Burlington and Essex counties after being arrested for not paying a traffic fine.

A federal judge in New Jersey ruled in Albert Florence’s favor last year, and the counties appealed.

In a 2-1 ruling published Tuesday, the Third Circuit in Philadelphia held that the jails have the right to strip-search arrestees regardless of whether or not they have been arrested for a violent crime.

In federal cases in other states, courts have been divided over what circumstances are necessary to justify the searches.

Minnesota: Award in case against Tubby Smith cut to $1M
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A judge has reduced the amount of money the University of Minnesota must pay to a former Oklahoma State basketball coach who sued the school and coach Tubby Smith after they decided not to hire him.

In court documents Tuesday, Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu denied a request for a retrial, saying there was a reasonable basis for the jury’s verdict. She said alleged misconduct by Jimmy Williams’ attorneys was minor and did not prejudice the jury.

The judge reduced the money award from $1.25 million to the $1 million limit of the university’s insurance policy.

Williams claimed Smith falsely represented he had the authority to hire him when the two talked in 2007 about an assistant coach position in Minnesota. Williams quit at Oklahoma State, but he wasn’t hired by Minnesota after Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi said Williams had NCAA recruiting violations in his past.

General Counsel Mark Rotenberg says the university is pleased the judge reduced the award but still plans to appeal.

Maine: State high court rules in data breach suit
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Victims of the Hannaford supermarket chain’s massive data breach cannot sue for damages if they didn’t suffer financial losses, physical harm or identity theft, the Maine supreme court said Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby last year asked the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to decide if consumers who had been reimbursed for losses from stolen credit card numbers have the right to seek damages for the time and effort it took to straighten out their accounts.

In a unanimous decision Tuesday, justices ruled that time and effort alone do not constitute an “injury” for which damages may be recovered under Maine law.

“Contrary to the plaintiffs’ contention, our case law does not recognize time and effort as a compensable injury in the context of the plaintiffs’ negligence claim. We decline to expand recovery in negligence in these circumstances,” Justice Joseph Jabar wrote in the ruling.

The case now goes back to Hornby for final judgment based on the supreme court decision, said Peter Murray, a Portland lawyer representing plaintiffs. Barring an appeal, the decision in effect puts an end to a lawsuit against the Scarborough-based supermarket giant.

The data breach that came to light in March 2008 allowed hackers to access more than 4 million credit and debit card numbers. At least 1,800 numbers were stolen and used without authorization.

Arizona: Mismailed lawsuit bounced when it arrives too late
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s two-year deadline to file civil damage suits doesn’t mean two years plus extra time it took to file a lawsuit that was mailed with insufficient postage.

The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a Navajo County Superior Court judge’s decision to dismiss a woman’s automobile-accident lawsuit in 2008 because it arrived after the deadline.

The envelope containing the lawsuit was returned to her lawyer’s office for insufficient postage the day before the deadline. The office staff re-mailed it with sufficient postage, but it arrived at court one day late.

The woman appealed the judge’s ruling. The Court of Appeal’ opinion expressed sympathy but ruled against the woman, saying there’s no exception for inadvertent mistakes.

Idaho: Supreme Court tosses civil case in student slaying
POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Supreme Court has thrown out a lawsuit filed against an eastern Idaho school district by the family of a high school student stabbed to death by two classmates.

The wrongful death lawsuit emerged from the 2006 slaying of 16-year-old Cassie Jo Stoddart by fellow Pocatello High School students Brian Draper and Torey Adamcik.

Draper and Adamcik were convicted in separate jury trials and are serving life sentences with no chance for parole.

After their trials, relatives of Stoddart sued the school district, alleging negligence and claiming administrators should have known Draper and Adamcik posed a threat.

A lower court dismissed the district from the lawsuit last year, but Stoddart’s relatives appealed.

Idaho Supreme Court Justices found that the school district was not negligent because the actions of Draper and Adamcik were not foreseeable. The ruling concluded it would pose an enormous burden on the school to indefinitely monitor any student who expresses a predisposition to violence.

During the trials, prosecutors used evidence that included a videotape made by Draper and Adamcik, in which they talk about a plan to kill Stoddart.

Illinois: ACLU sues state police on privacy of citizens issue
CHICAGO (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Illinois State Police to obtain records on how the agency is protecting the privacy of citizens while combing through databases for evidence of crime.

The Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center was created in the wake of 9/11 as a way to better gather and share information at the state, local and national about suspected criminals and criminal activity.

The ACLU’s concern prompted the organization to make a Freedom of Information Act request in September 2008 seeking documents about the center’s privacy policy, among other things.

The ACLU says authorities held back some information, hence the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court.

Florida: ACLU challenges jail’s postcard only inmate policy
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union says a Panhandle jail’s policy of limiting inmates’ outgoing mail to postcards violates free speech rights.

The ACLU and the Florida Justice Institute filed a federal lawsuit on Sept. 13 on behalf of three Santa Rosa County Jail inmates, who had complained about the policy. They claim restricting outgoing mail to postcards infringes on the privacy of inmates.

The groups want the inmates to be allowed to send letters in envelopes. But Sheriff Wendell Hall says the policy saves taxpayers money, improves security and is legal.

Pennsylvania: Lawsuit argues that vulgarity rule is full of garbage
PALMYRA, Pa. (AP) — A central Pennsylvania man accused of violating a township ordinance on vulgarity says the rule is a load of garbage.

David Kliss has filed a federal lawsuit against East Hanover Township claiming officials trampled his First Amendment rights by issuing him a zoning violation over signs he put up protesting a mandated sewer tie-in.

Kliss put up signs that read “$10,000 To Take A Crap.” He says he covered the last word with paint after the township told him he violated a zoning rule.

The suit claims the rule doesn’t adequately define vulgar. Attorney Aaron Martin tells The Philadelphia Inquirer that his brief cites a 1993 episode of Seinfeld in which “crap” is used four times in 15 seconds.

Township solicitor Scott Wyland declined comment, saying the matter is under review.