National Roundup

Family of patient who died sues state hospital

LAKEWOOD, Wash. (AP) — The family of a patient at Western State Hospital has sued the state, alleging that negligent medical care at the psychiatric facility led to his death.

The News Tribune reports that Lavonn Williams II’s family said he died from a pulmonary embolism in December 2014, less than six months after he was committed to the hospital. That’s according to tort claims they filed as a precursor to their lawsuit.

They argue he didn’t get proper, timely care after he collapsed at the psychiatric hospital several years ago. The lawsuit says by the time he was taken to another local hospital for medical care days later, it was too late.

DSHS spokeswoman Kelly Stowe says the agency would not comment on pending litigation.

New Mexico
City owes $700K in lawyer fees over case of TenCommandments

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A northwest New Mexico community is considering using online fundraising to pay the $700,000 it owes from a lawsuit that stemmed from a dispute over a Ten Commandments monument that was formerly located outside of Bloomfield City Hall.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 sided with a lower court that ordered the monument’s removal, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution and represented a government endorsement of religion, the Farmington Daily Times reported .

The city of Bloomfield must now pay the legal fees for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the complaint in 2012 on behalf of two Bloomfield residents, Janie Felix and Buford Coone.

Bloomfield has until June 30, 2021, to pay the $700,000 it owes for the American Civil Liberties Union’s legal fees, City Manager Eric Strahl said.

If the city is unable to raise money through donations to pay the $700,000, it will have to pay the sum out of its general fund, Strahl said.

The monument was installed in front of City Hall in 2011. Shortly afterward, Felix and Coone sued the city alleging it violated their constitutional rights and represented a government endorsement of religion.

The city maintained that the monument was placed in front of City Hall by a local group that is not connected to the city.

The city petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, but the high court declined the case.

The city asked the organization that owned the monument to move it off city property. It has since been relocated to property owned by a Baptist church.

State to pay fees for same-sex couples attorney

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The state of Arkansas has been ordered to pay more than $71,000 to the attorney for same-sex couples who won a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the state’s birth-certificate law was unconstitutional.

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox ruled Friday that the state must pay attorney Cheryl Maples for her work leading to the ruling that Arkansas must issue birth certificates to married lesbian couples that list both spouses as the parents of their children.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s spokeswoman, Jessica Ray, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the ruling is being reviewed. The state could appeal the order.

Maples filed the lawsuit in 2015 which led to the Supreme Court ruling last June that Arkansas’ birth certificate law is unconstitutional because it defines parents by gender.

North Carolina
Confederate ­statue toppling cases start with a dismissal

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina judge trying protesters accused of toppling a Confederate statue has dismissed the criminal case against one of them.

Dante Strobino was tried Monday on charges including defacing public property and conspiracy in the August 2017 toppling of the monument outside a Durham government building. Seven others are expected to be tried individually after Strobino.

After testimony from investigators and other witnesses, the defense moved to dismiss the case. Durham County District Court Judge Fred Battaglia then ruled prosecutors had failed to identify Strobino as a perpetrator and hadn’t shown there was a conspiracy. The cases are being heard before Judge Battaglia without a jury.

The Durham Confederate statue was pulled down in the days after a deadly violence at a Charlottesville, Virginia, rally started by white nationalists.

Lawmaker delays resolution ­seeking judge’s removal

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma lawmaker isn’t pushing for a vote on a resolution to oust a judge who approved probation for a man who admitted raping a 13-year-old Texas girl at a church camp in southern Oklahoma.

Republican Rep. Mike Ritze tells The Oklahoman newspaper he’s putting the resolution on hold so lawmakers can focus on other issues, including the state budget.

The resolution wouldn’t be legally binding. But it asks the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary to begin proceedings to remove District Judge Wallace Coppedge.

It says Coppedge neglected his duty in accepting a plea agreement with Benjamin Petty, who was sentenced to 15 years’ probation after pleading guilty to the 2016 attack.

The prosecutor in the case says he didn’t seek prison time because Petty is legally blind. The prosecutor resigned amid backlash.

Coppedge hasn’t commented on the case.

Attorney general sues opioid ­distributor

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s attorney general has filed another lawsuit against a pharmaceutical distributor linked to a pipeline inundating the state with highly addictive opioid painkillers.

Ohio-based Cardinal Health on Monday became Attorney General Andy Beshear’s latest target. Based on its market share, Beshear says Cardinal Health distributed tens of millions of doses of prescription opioids in Kentucky during a yearlong period ending Jan. 31.

Beshear accuses the company of using misleading business practices to flood the state with opioids and failing to report suspiciously large volumes of the shipments to authorities.

Cardinal Health did not immediately respond to a call and email seeking comment.

Beshear recently filed a similar suit against another opioid distributor.

More than 1,400 people died from drug overdoses in Kentucky last year, up 39 percent in three years.