Court Roundup

Massachusetts

Passenger hurt in Boston trolley crash wins $1.2M

BOSTON (AP) -- A passenger on a subway train that crashed moments after its driver sent a text message to his girlfriend has been awarded $1.2 million in the first civil trial stemming from the 2009 accident.

Colleen Fyffe, of Scituate, filed the lawsuit against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, saying she was unable to return to her job with Delta Air Lines at Logan International Airport as a result of the neck injury she suffered when the trolley slammed into the back of another train in an underground tunnel.

The trolley operator, Aiden Quinn, admitted he was texting his girlfriend just before the Green Line crash. He was fired from his job and later pleaded guilty to negligence. He was sentenced to two years of probation and community service.

Fyffe's case went to trial after her lawyer turned down a $100,000 settlement offer from the MBTA. The Suffolk Superior Court jury delivered its verdict last week.

Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the MBTA, told The Boston Globe that the transit system plans to appeal the award. Lawyers for the T acknowledged fault but questioned the severity of Fyffe's injuries.

Of the 24 lawsuits filed in connection with the crash, nine have been settled for an average of about $31,000 each, Pesaturo said.

Nearly 50 passengers were hospitalized after the crash.

Maryland

Couple sues police, town over pit bull shooting

BALTIMORE (AP) -- An Elkton couple has sued the town, the police department and the Cecil County SPCA for $5 million in the shooting death of their pit bull.

Nakia McCourry and Kenny Bedwell, who owned the dog, named Shiloh, filed the suit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

According to The Daily Record, the lawsuit says police went to their home in October when Shiloh broke through a fence and got into the front yard. The complaint alleges a police officer shot the dog multiple times in a display of excessive force.

The accident prompted the MBTA to ban operators from using or even carrying cellphones while on the job, the strictest such policy for any transit agency in the nation at the time.

California

Judge tosses priest's testimony in assault case

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- A judge on Monday tossed out a priest's testimony against a man charged with assaulting him after the reverend invoked his right to avoid self-incrimination as it became clear he may be accused of lying on the stand.

The man accused of attacking the priest, William Lynch, claims Father Jerold Lindner raped him and his brother decades ago. Lindner has denied the accusations.

Lynch, 44, is accused of beating Lindner in May 2010 at a Los Gatos retirement home for priests near San Jose. Lynch claims Lindner raped him in 1975 when he was 7 years old.

Lindner had already testified 40 minutes for prosecutors and faced cross-examination before deciding suddenly to stop, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge David Cena allowed Lindner to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.

But Cena tossed Lindner's previous testimony after Lynch's attorneys argued that it would be unfair to allow it to stand if they could not cross-examine the priest.

The statute of limitations has run out on the alleged molestations, but Lynch's attorney says the priest could be charged with perjury for denying the molestations on the stand.

Prosecutors concede Lindner is lying when he denies he molested Lynch and Lynch's then 4-year-old brother during a church camping trip, but also argue that's no defense against assault charges. The Catholic Church earlier settled a civil lawsuit the brothers filed.

Lindner's refusal to testify was the latest disruption in the case, coming just moments after a judge rejected defense motions for a mistrial.

The defense attorneys had said that a prosecutor committed misconduct in handling the priest's testimony. The defense attorneys accuse the prosecutor of knowingly allowing false testimony, known as "suborning perjury."

Prosecutors knew, based on an interview with the priest, that he would testify that he did not molest the boys, the defense argued.

The trial began Wednesday in a courtroom filled to capacity with dozens of spectators claiming to be sexual abuse victims of the Catholic Church.

Several more demonstrated outside with large signs decrying the church's abuse scandal.

Published: Wed, Jun 27, 2012

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