Court Round Up

North Carolina: Federal agency sues company for religious bias
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — A federal agency is suing a North Carolina educational testing company after a worker said she was fired after saying she couldn’t work on Saturdays because of religious beliefs.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Friday the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Durham-based Measurement Inc. last week. The lawsuit alleges the company discriminated against team leader Jacqueline Dukes.

The lawsuit states Dukes told the company she was a member of a Christian denomination that observed the Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, but the firm told her in 2008 she would need to work Saturdays.

Measurement Chief Executive Officer Henry Scherich says the company is looking forward to get the matter settled. The company says Duke had been hired full-time in 1993.

Virginia: Ex-lobbyist pleads not guilty to illegal donations
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — The owner of a now-defunct defense lobbying firm has pleaded not guilty to charges that he funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions.

Paul Magliocchetti entered his not guilty plea Friday at federal court in Alexandria, Va. Prosecutors allege that Magliocchetti, who had close ties to the defense subcommittee’s former chairman, Rep. John Murtha, funneled contributions to members of Congress under other people’s names.

His son, Mark Magliocchetti, has already entered a guilty plea in federal court and is expected to be a witness at his father’s trial.

A trial date for Paul Magliocchetti was set for Oct. 5.

Paul Magliocchetti, of Amelia Island, Fla., declined to comment after Friday’s hearing.

California: Overdose of morphine costs nursing facility $3M
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — An Orange County jury says a nursing home patient given a brain-damaging morphine overdose should get more than $3 million from the Santa Ana facility and a podiatrist.

Barbara Lefforge entered the St. Edna skilled nursing center in September 2007 to recuperate from tendon repair surgery and less than six hours later she was given the morphine overdose.

Jurors decided Thursday that the 57-year-old Long Beach woman should get $3.1 million as well as punitive damages, which will be set Tuesday. The jury found that St. Edna is 90 percent responsible and podiatrist Wesley Kobayashi is 10 percent responsible.

Court records show Kobayashi mistakenly ordered 50 mg of morphine for pain instead of 50 mg of Demerol. But Lefforge?s attorney Ted Wacker says St. Edna’s personnel should have caught the mistake.

Texas: Murder charge reinstated over 1986 killing
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A murder charge thrown out in 2006 has been reinstated in the case of a 1986 shooting death in Austin.

The 3rd Court of Appeals has ordered 59-year-old Jimmie Dale White to stand trial.

An attorney for White, who is accused of killing his roommate, could not immediately be reached for comment. The body of 23-year-old Michael DesJardins was discovered in a parking lot.
White was arrested in 2003.

An outgoing state district judge, on Dec. 31, 2006, dismissed the case. Judge Jon Wisser said he did not think White could get a fair trial after so many years and the death of many potential defense witnesses.

The Austin appeals court Thursday said dismissal was improper because the 17-year delay between the crime and White’s arrest was not intentional.

Hawaii: Kennedy favors civilian courts in terrorism cases
KAANAPALI, Hawaii (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said last week that most terrorism cases should be tried in civilian courts.

Kennedy addressed participants in the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference on Maui, where a panel discussion earlier this week reached a consensus in favor of using civilian courts instead of military commissions in most terrorism cases.

“Article III courts are quite capable of trying these terrorist cases,” Kennedy said, agreeing with the conclusion.

Kennedy also praised the hundreds of attorneys attending the four-day conference at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa for taking up “one of the most crucial, dangerous and disturbing issues of our time — terrorism.”

It was clear, he said, that an “attack on the rule of law has failed,” referring to the use of military tribunals to try terrorist suspects, often before panels in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The justice is often considered the swing vote on the ideologically divided high court. During a question-and-answer session, Kennedy was asked how new Justice Elena Kagan would bring change to the high court.

“It will be a different court,” Kennedy said, without elaborating.

The 9th Circuit includes federal trial, appeals and bankruptcy courts, as well as district courts in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington state, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Nearly 400 judges preside in 9th Circuit courts.

Pennsylvania: Woman sues furniture store over bedbugs 
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A Philadelphia-area woman is suing a furniture store claiming it leased her furniture infested with bedbugs and refused to take it back when she complained.

The suit filed Thursday by Robin Boyd claims Aaron’s Sales and Lease in Norristown rented her the contaminated furniture a year ago. Boyd says she immediately began suffering from bites that eventually led to hair loss, anxiety and depression.

Attorney Barry Gultanoff says Boyd, now of Pottstown, asked the store to pick up the furniture and void her lease, but the store refused.

Bed bugs feed on human and animal blood and can be difficult to eradicate. They are active mostly at night and hide during the day near where people sleep. Adults can survive more than a year without eating.

Maryland: Baltimore seeks to block slots developer
BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland’s slot machine commission is trying to block a Canadian real estate developer from continuing his efforts to build a casino in Baltimore.

The slots commission says in court papers that Michael Moldenhauer appears to lack “the requisite financial stability, integrity and responsibility” to be granted a license to operate slot machines.

City officials are asking a judge for a quick resolution to the legal battle with Moldenhauer. He filed a $100 million lawsuit after the commission rejected his bid to build a casino on Russell Street near M&T Bank Stadium. The city countersued, saying Moldenhauer missed deadlines and failed to make millions of dollars in payments.

California: LA-area hospital sued over alleged sex harassment
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles-area hospital is being sued over claims that an employee sexually harassed co-workers and that one woman was fired for complaining.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit Wednesday against Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park.

The federal sex discrimination and retaliation suit claims that at least three women were subjected daily to vulgar sexual remarks and inappropriate touching by a co-worker who also made obscene comments about underage female patients.

The suit says one woman was fired after complaining and two quit.

Arkansas: Trial set for Ark. woman who won hormone lawsuit
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge has set an Oct. 1 trial date for an Arkansas woman who is seeking punitive damages against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals because she got breast cancer after taking hormone replacement therapy.

A federal jury awarded $27 million in punitive damages to Donna Scroggin of Little Rock, but a federal judge struck down that award. U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson issued an order Thursday with the new trial date.

Wilson said in the order that he expects the trial to last eight days.

A federal jury found that Wyeth inadequately warned Scroggin that its Premarin and Prempro drugs carried an increased risk of breast cancer.

Louisiana: Jailed psychiatrist pleads guilty
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 58-year-old psychiatrist involved in two clinical trials evaluating the drug Paxil's safety and effectiveness in children and adolescents has pleaded guilty to 15 federal counts of failing to prepare and maintain records, with intent to defraud and mislead, in connection with those clinical trials.

Dr. Maria Carmen Palazzo was a clinical investigator for SmithKline Beecham doing business as GlaxoSmithKline. Prosecutors say that during those studies she included psychiatric diagnoses inconsistent with patients' psychiatric histories; prepared multiple psychiatric evaluations on study patients which contained different diagnoses and reported symptoms she knew the study subject did not demonstrate.

She was sentenced her to 13 months in prison.