National Roundup


Appeals court orders new trial in hotel death

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- The Arkansas Court of Appeals has ordered a new trial over the alleged wrongful death of a man who drowned in a North Little Rock hotel pool.

The court this week found that the trial judge improperly excluded evidence surrounding the 2008 death of 48-year-old Guy Douglas Bishop of Scott.

The ruling said Scott's widow should have been allowed to introduce evidence that the Howard Johnson Hotel allegedly didn't meet a safety regulation that required the pool have a rope dividing the deep and shallow portions of the pool.

The suit says Bishop had his 8-year-old son on his shoulders when he apparently slipped while unexpectedly walking into the pool's deep end. He went under and, despite attempts to revive him, he died three days later.


Atty: Cassavetes did nothing wrong in poker game

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- An attorney for director Nick Cassavetes says there was nothing improper about a 2007 poker game that sparked a lawsuit over winnings by his client.

Attorney Ronald Richards said Wednesday he will either seek to resolve the nearly $73,000 claim against Cassavetes for a lower amount or fight the case.

Cassavetes is among several celebrities, including "Spider-Man" actor Tobey Maguire, who have been sued in Los Angeles bankruptcy court.

The legal actions claim the poker matches were played between 2006 and 2009, and that card players won hundreds of thousands of dollars from Bradley Ruderman, architect of a Ponzi scheme.

The lawsuits aim to recoup more than $4 million invested in the scheme.


State Supreme Court upholds ruling on amendment

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld a circuit judge's ruling that a state constitutional amendment that raises the state's interest rate limit is constitutional.

In a majority opinion released Thursday, the court said the ballot title of the amendment that was approved by voters in November "does not constitute a manifest fraud on the public."

April Forrester of Jacksonville filed the lawsuit over proposed Amendment 2. The amendment raises the state cap on interest rates on business and government loans and also allows bond funding for energy efficiency projects.


Parents group files lawsuit over school vouchers

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (AP) -- A group of parents has filed a lawsuit against Douglas County Schools against the district's voucher program.

The group calls itself Taxpayers for Public Education. Spokeswoman Anne Kleinkopf tells the Denver Post tax dollars must be used for public schools.

On Tuesday, three civil liberties organizations filed a separate lawsuit also challenging the school district's voucher plan.

That lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

ACLU Colorado director Mark Silverstein said the plan violates the Colorado Constitution's religious liberty provisions, which bar the use of public funds for religious schools.

District officials say students should be empowered to find their best educational fit.


Lawsuits say Lutheran church knew about sex abuse

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Three men have filed Los Angeles lawsuits claiming Lutheran church leaders knew a Bell Gardens pastor was a pedophile but tried to cover it up and silence the victims.

Frank Brundige was relieved of his ministry at Lutheran Church of San Pedro y Pablo in 1997 and the 51-year-old disgraced pastor is now serving a 24-year prison sentence for child molestation. He was pastor at the Bell Gardens church from 1989 until his arrest.

Three men filed Los Angeles lawsuits on Wednesday seeking compensation from the church.

Attorney Anthony DeMarco tells the Los Angeles Times that his clients, who are now 32, 20 and 19 years old, suffered abuse at various ages and times.

Pacific Southwest District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod president Larry Stoterau says he cannot comment.

West Virginia

5 lawsuits challenge state's home rule project

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A pilot project that gives four West Virginia cities greater freedom to decide their own destinies is being challenged in court.

The Herald-Dispatch reports that five separate lawsuits were filed Wednesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court against Huntington and the state Municipal Home Rule Board. Each complaint targets Huntington's occupation tax on the salaries and wages of people who work in the city.

The state board approved the tax in March. Huntington is one of the cities participating in the home rule pilot. The others are Bridgeport, Charleston and Wheeling.

The lawsuits contend that the tax is unconstitutional because it only applies to people working in Huntington. The complaints also ask the court to declare the state board and all the home rule powers it's granted as null and void.


Lawsuits claim Meriden police brutality, cover-up

MERIDEN, Conn. (AP) -- Two men taken into custody by Meriden police last year have filed federal lawsuits accusing Officer Evan Cossette of brutality and his father, Police Chief Jeffry Cossette, of covering up the alleged misconduct.

The lawsuits were filed Wednesday by Pedro Temich and Robert Methvin.

Temich says he suffered a serious head injury when Evan Cossette pushed him while he was handcuffed in a police department jail cell and he fell on a concrete bench. Methvin says he also suffered a serious head injury when Evan Cossette used excessive force on him during an arrest.

The lawsuits also claim Jeffry Cossette and other department officials covered up or ignored the alleged wrongdoing.

State prosecutors, the FBI and an independent investigator hired by the city are looking into the allegations.

Published: Fri, Jun 24, 2011