National Roundup

California

Former autoworkers get $6M settlement

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Toyota Motor Corp. and the company that ran California's only auto manufacturing plant have agreed to pay $6 million to settle a lawsuit by former workers who claim they were illegally denied severance benefits.

Seven workers who were on medical leave in the six months before the New United Motor Manufacturing plant in Fremont closed last year allege that NUMMI and Toyota violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by refusing to give them bonuses that were offered to employees who worked during that time.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the settlement Thursday. NUMMI will give $3.8 million and Toyota will contribute $2.2 million to a fund for all workers who missed out on the bonuses.

"Toyota's intention, from the beginning, was to mitigate the effects of NUMMI's closure on the plant's employees," Toyota spokesman Javier Moreno said late Thursday, noting that the carmaker had paid nearly $280 million to help NUMMI employees who lost their jobs when the plant closed in 2010.

If a federal judge approves, the deal could bring the plaintiffs about $31,000 each.

Nebraska

State Supreme Court revives lawsuit in train death

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- The Nebraska Supreme Court has reinstated a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the mother of a 13-year-old boy struck and killed by a train at a Union Pacific crossing.

Manuela Domingo Gaspar Gonzalez sued the Omaha-based railroad over the 2005 death of her son, 13-year-old Efrain Ramos-Domingo. The boy was struck at a crossing near a school in Schuyler.

Her lawsuit claimed that Union Pacific failed to ensure railroad crossings were safe for pedestrians and that she was pressured into signing a document releasing the railroad from liability. The lawsuit says Gonzalez does not speak English.

A Colfax County District Court judge dismissed her wrongful death claim. But the Nebraska Supreme Court said in an opinion released Friday that Manuela has alleged facts sufficient to state a claim for relief.

Iowa

Court ruling leads to review of sentences in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- State prison officials are recalculating the sentences of about 3,200 prisoners because of an Iowa Supreme Court decision last month that said inmates who had their probation revoked should be given credit for time served while under supervision of the Department of Corrections.

Corrections department spokesman Fred Scaletta tells The Des Moines Register that hundreds and maybe thousands of inmates will have to be paroled or released early because of the decision.

The ruling was in the case of a convicted sex offender who violated his probation while under home confinement.

The court ruled defendants who are under the supervision of the Department of Corrections and have their probation revoked shall get credit for time served.

Scaletta says the decision applies to all defendants whose probation was revoked.

California

Former Raiders cheerleader sues City of Vacaville

VACAVILLE, Calif. (AP) -- A former Oakland Raiders cheerleader who became a Vacaville police officer is suing the city, saying she was sexually harassed by fellow officers.

Thirty-five-year-old Nicole Rosenstiel says officers joked about her looks and made snide comments about the fact that she used to be a cheerleader.

A sergeant allegedly asked during a shift change for a show of hands from officers who wanted to see Rosenstiel naked.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

Vacaville city spokesman Mark Mazzaferro said the complaint is without merit, and the city intends to fight it in court.

Rosenstiel, who is being represented by Oakland civil rights lawyer John Burris, has been on unpaid leave since 2009. Her lawsuit seeks $1.5 million in damages.

Illinois

Jury rules in favor of owners of dog killed by cop

CHICAGO (AP) -- A federal jury has awarded $333,000 to a family whose dog was killed by Chicago police during a drug raid.

The lawsuit claimed brothers Thomas and Darrell Russell were at home in February 2009 when officers announced they had a warrant to search a two-flat building.

Thomas Russell opened the door to find officers with guns drawn. According to the lawsuit, when Russell's Labrador approached the officers with his tail wagging, Officer Richard Antonsen shot the dog.

Although arrested for obstructing police, Thomas Russell was later found not guilty. Although drugs were found in the building's other unit, none were found in the Russell apartment.

Chicago law department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle tells the Chicago Tribune that the city is disappointed by the jury's action and is reviewing options.

Mississippi

Judge asked to reconsider 'The Help' lawsuit

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- An African American housekeeper wants a judge to reinstate a lawsuit against Kathryn Stockett, author of the bestseller "The Help."

The novel, which was made into a movie that opened last week, is about relationships between white families in Mississippi and the black women who worked for them in the 1960s.

Ablene Cooper, who currently works for Stockett's brother, claims a character in the book, Aibileen, was based on her without permission.

Hinds County Circuit Judge Tommie Green ruled Tuesday that a one-year statute of limitations elapsed between the time Stockett gave Cooper a copy of the book and the lawsuit's filing in February.

The motion for reconsideration argues Cooper didn't read the book and file the lawsuit sooner because Stockett told Cooper the character was not based on her.

Connecticut

Man gets life in prison for killing young girl

MILFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A Connecticut man who killed a 7-year-old girl in West Haven has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release, after a state prosecutor declined to seek the death penalty.

Milford Superior Court Judge Richard Arnold imposed two life sentences Friday on 34-year-old John Billingslea, who pleaded guilty to capital felony and murder earlier this month in the April 2009 rape and asphyxiation of Ariana Uberti.

The New Haven Register reports the sentencing came after Ansonia-Milford State's Attorney Kevin Lawlor decided against seeking the death penalty, which would have required a trial. Lawlor said he considered several factors, including that the girl's family wanted to avoid a lengthy trial.

Authorities say Billingslea was a neighbor of Ariana and killed her while babysitting her.

Published: Mon, Aug 22, 2011