Court Roundup


2 lawsuits filed over parasite-tainted organs

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- The families of two transplant patients who received organs from an unidentified donor with a rare, undetected parasite have filed lawsuits against Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Ellecia Small of Canton died Feb. 3, 2010, after being removed from life support. Another patient, who received an organ, had only been identified by UMMC as an Alabama man. The Clarion-Ledger reports that a lawsuit identities him as Kinyata Johnson.

Johnson's attorney, Joe Tatum of Jackson, said the man was released from UMMC in May 2010 but requires constant care and is partially blind.

Tatum has filed separate lawsuits in Hinds County Circuit Court on behalf of each family. The lawsuits seek unspecified damages.

"Both defendants were aware that the kidney donor was infected with encephalitis before the subject kidney was transplanted into Ellecia Smith. And as a result, Ellecia Small, developed severe encephalitis, neurological damage and died," the lawsuit says.

UMMC said in court papers that Small's death was attributed to her previous medical conditions.

"While we're sympathetic to the patients, their families and the health care professionals involved in this tragic incident, we're unable to comment on pending litigation," UMC spokesman Jack Mazurak said.

The lawsuit involving Small is scheduled for trial next year.

Tatum said Circuit Judge Tomie Green recently consolidated the two lawsuits for discovery evidence, but it doesn't mean they will be consolidated for trial. .

Christy Jones, an attorney for UMC, said in court papers that the cases should be consolidated because they arise out of the same event and the discovery evidence will be virtually the same.

Discovery is the process in which both sides in a case get evidence from each other before a trial.


Man pleads guilty in artifacts trafficking case

MOAB, Utah (AP) -- A southeastern Utah school teacher has pleaded guilty to charges that he illegally sold a Native American turkey feather blanket and a prehistoric women's apron.

Blanding resident David A. Lacy entered the plea Friday in U.S. District Court as he faced three misdemeanor counts of trafficking stolen artifacts. Prosecutors say Lacy sold the artifacts to an undercover informant in December 2007.

Lacy is set for sentencing in December.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Samuel Alba also sentenced two other people in the ongoing trafficking case.

The 58-year-old Kevin Shumway of Blanding was ordered to 12 months of probation for his role in helping Lacy sell the artifacts.

The 50-year-old Rulon Kody Sommerville of Monticello was ordered to 12 months of probation for selling a Native American knife to an undercover agent.


Reputed mobster goes on trial in Conn.

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A reputed mobster is going on trial in Connecticut on charges of extorting a landscaper out of $300,000 in loan sharking deals.

The Advocate of Stamford reports that 79-year-old Nicola Melia of Stamford, an alleged Gambino crime family associate, is set to go on trial Monday in federal court in New Haven. His lawyer, Victor Sherman, declined to the comment on the allegations.

Melia's long criminal record includes racketeering and loan-sharking convictions.

Federal prosecutors say the Fairfield County landscaper received several high-interest loans from Melia from 2000 to 2011 and had trouble paying the money back. Authorities say Melia forced the man to sign a promissory note for $375,000 under the threat that Bonanno crime family members would kill him if he didn't.


Man convicted in parts scam to represent self

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A man convicted in a military procurement fraud case in Virginia has won a judge's approval to serve as his own lawyer as he continues to fight the charges.

U.S. District Judge John Gibney granted Robert Charles Day Jr.'s motion to represent himself Monday.

A jury in Richmond last month convicted the 47-year-old Day on multiple fraud counts for selling more than $4.4 million in bogus or defective parts to the U.S. military. However, the former New Jersey resident is pressing his claim that the case should be dismissed because the U.S. government acquiesced to his brutal treatment in a Mexican prison as he was fighting extradition. A hearing is set for Sept. 28, and Day's sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 14.

Published: Tue, Sep 20, 2011