National Roundup

California
Jury awards $13M to former patients of psych hospital

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — A jury has awarded more than $13 million to three women, finding they were harmed and did not consent to sexual contact by an employee of a California psychiatric facility.

The Ventura County Star reports the jury found Monday that the Aurora Vista del Mar Hospital in Ventura, its parent company Signature Healthcare Services and former employee Juan Valencia all bear responsibility.

The three women said the sexual contact occurred in 2013 while they were patients of the facility.

Lawyers for the hospital had argued the contact was consensual.

Valencia has pleaded guilty to three criminal charges for sexual contact with patients.

Rhode Island
Trial begins over insurance for ‘suspicious’ boat sinking

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A civil trial getting underway in Providence will determine whether insurance companies should cover Nathan Carman’s $85,000 claim for his boat that sank off New England in 2016.

Insurers are refusing to pay the claim, saying Carman made suspicious alterations to the 31-foot vessel before leaving Rhode Island with his mother on a fishing trip.

Carman, who lives in Vermont, was found eight days later in a life raft near Martha’s Vineyard.

Linda Carman is presumed dead.

The federal judge hearing the non-jury trial that began on Tuesday says testimony will be limited to questions surrounding the insurance claim.

Nathan Carman, who has denied doing anything to make the boat unseaworthy, has also been named a “person of interest” in the 2013 shooting death of his 87-year-old grandfather in Connecticut.

Arizona
Copper mine ruling expected to have national repercussions

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A federal court ruling against a planned Arizona mining project is expected to have national repercussions if upheld by higher courts, experts said.

The mining industry has decried the ruling against the proposed $1.9 billion Rosemont Mine, The Arizona Daily Star reported .

The U.S. Forest Service’s approval of plans for the new copper mine in southeastern Arizona was overruled July 31 by U.S. District Court Judge James Soto.

Conservation and tribal groups praised the ruling, saying it recognized the Forest Service’s failure to protect public land and resources.

Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals Inc. has said it would appeal the ruling blocking construction of its project southeast of Tucson.

The mining project was planned to be a half-mile (0.8 kilometers) deep and a mile (1.6 kilometers) wide and spread across federal, state and private land. The mountainous area is home to endangered jaguars and cougars, black bears and deer, as well as the Madera Canyon, one of the premier U.S. bird-watching spots.

If upheld, the ruling would make opening a large mine on public lands very difficult, said John Leshy, a former Interior Department solicitor and retired law professor.

The hard-rock mining industry has lived under a favorable legal climate since Congress passed the 1872 Mining Law to encourage mineral exploration of public lands. The ruling will almost certainly force the industry to push Congress to overturn the law, he said.

The mine was expected to create 500 full-time jobs and 2,500 construction jobs, but would disturb 5.7 square miles (14.8 square kilometers) of national forest.

Two lawsuits filed by opponents of the Forest Service approval — four environmental groups and three tribes — successfully argued that only public lands directly above valuable mineral deposits are covered by the 1872 law’s definition of mining rights.

Soto found the Forest Service erred in approving the mine without determining the validity of claims on public land where Hudbay Minerals planned to dump waste rock and tailings.

“This ruling affirms the fundamental principle that nobody gets a free pass to destroy our public lands,” said Stu Gillespie, an attorney for environmental law firm Earthjustice.

Mining company attorneys said the ruling usurps the role of government agencies, could bring chaos to federal mining reviews and will add delays in permitting.

The order is “likely the most significant federal court decision on federal mining law in several decades,” Phoenix-based mining industry lawyers James Allen and Michael Ford wrote in an online article.

They said the ruling “will likely be received with shock throughout the hard rock mining industry.”

Illinois
Judge approves settlement in concussion suit against NCAA

A federal judge has approved an amended settlement in a class-action concussion lawsuit against the NCAA that will establish a 50-year medical-monitoring program for college athletes.

The settlement was announced Monday by Hagens Berman, the law firm representing the plaintiffs. The case originated with a claim against the NCAA in 2011 by former Eastern Illinois football player Adrian Arrington.
The case was later consolidated with other claims. Initially, a settlement was reached in 2016. It created $70-million fund for monitoring of current and former college athletes for brain trauma.
Arrington opposed that agreement because it did not pay damages.

According to Hagens Berman, the settlement approved by U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee changes the NCAA’s approach to concussion treatment and establishes a $5 million fund for concussion research.

Alabama
Foster parent sentenced to 25 years for abuse

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) — A former foster parent in Alabama was sentenced to 25 years in prison for sexually abusing and torturing 11 children he and his wife adopted or fostered.

News outlets report 50-year-old Daniel Spurgeon was sentenced Monday as part of a deal with no option for parole or early release.

Lauderdale County Circuit Judge Gil Self told Spurgeon the plea was for the benefit of the victims so they wouldn’t be “re-traumatized” by the trial process.

Spurgeon and his wife Janice were charged two years ago in Florida with 700 counts of child abuse and other crimes.

Janice Spurgeon’s trial is set for October.
 

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