National Roundup

Top court finds firing attractive assistant is legal

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday stood by its ruling that a dentist acted legally when he fired an assistant because he found her too attractive and worried he would try to start an affair.
Coming to the same conclusion as it did in December, the all-male court found that bosses can fire employees they see as threats to their marriages, even if the subordinates have not engaged in flirtatious or other inappropriate behavior. The court said such firings do not count as illegal sex discrimination because they are motivated by feelings, not gender.
The ruling upholds a judge’s decision to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit filed against Fort Dodge dentist James Knight, who fired assistant Melissa Nelson, even while acknowledging she had been a stellar employee for 10 years. Knight and his wife believed that his attraction to Nelson — two decades younger than the dentist — had become a threat to their marriage. Nelson, now 33, was replaced by another woman; Knight had an all-female staff.
The all-male court issued its revised opinion Friday in the case after taking the unusual step last month of withdrawing its December opinion, which had received nationwide publicity, debate and criticism.
Nelson’s attorney, Paige Fiedler, had asked the court in January to reconsider, calling the decision a blow for gender and racial equity in the workplace. She had warned the opinion could allow bosses to legally fire dark-skinned blacks and replace them with light-skinned blacks or small-breasted workers in favor of big-breasted workers.
The court had only granted reconsiderations five times in the last decade.

Ecuadoran couple sues lawyer for emotional pain

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court hasn’t issued a ruling on whether a couple from Ecuador may sue a lawyer for emotional pain for giving them bad advice. The advice caused the couple to be separated from their children and grandchildren in Iowa for at least a decade.
The Iowa Court of Appeals ordered a new trial last year to determine whether Des Moines attorney Michael Said should pay for emotional distress. Said appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, which was expected to rule Friday but instead will publish it later.
Said told a Klever Miranda and Nancy Campoverde in 2005 they might become U.S. citizens if they returned to Ecuador and filed certain documents. Once in Ecuador federal rules prohibited them from returning to the U.S. for 10 years.

West Virginia
Radio company wants judge off media-rights suit

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Radio Corp. wants a judge disqualified from hearing its lawsuit over a West Virginia University media-rights contract, arguing he has a personal bias against an attorney for its parent company, Greer Industries.
The motion filed Thursday in Monongalia County Circuit Court says Judge Phillip Gaujot’s impartiality is questionable because of a long-standing bias against attorney Robert Gwynne.
The Dominion Post says Gaujot and Robert Gwynne clashed at a July 4th party in 1987.
The dispute centered on a guest that Gwynne had invited. The motion says Gaujot took the man’s presence as an insult and refused to accept Gwynne’s apology. It also contends the judge warned Gwynne, “paybacks are hell.”
The judge wasn’t in the office and didn’t immediately comment.
West Virginia Radio sued last month to try to stop both IMG and West Virginia Media Holdings from participating in bidding on a 12-year contract for multimedia rights to certain WVU sports events.
WVU announced Thursday it had awarded the deal to North Carolina-based IMG College and will reap at least $80 million from it.
WVU’s broadcast rights currently are handled by the university-operated Mountaineer Sports Network, which works closely with West Virginia Radio. The network owned by Morgantown businessman John Raese called the bidding process a sham.
It was WVU’s second attempt to strike a deal.
It was forced to rebid the contract after a review by the state attorney general’s office found “significant errors and sloppiness” in how the first deal with IMG was crafted. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey questioned the involvement of two WVU Board of Governors members but said he found “no evidence of intentional wrongdoing.”
The new partnership is effective this fall.

Pastor, wife want underfed kids charges tossed

SMETHPORT, Pa. (AP) — Attorneys for a northwestern Pennsylvania pastor and his wife want a judge to throw out child endangerment charges filed against them for allegedly withholding food from their three adopted children as punishment.
State police charged 43-year-old Mark Hooper and 40-year-old Susan Hooper in March, a month after their 9-year-old daughter ran away and told authorities she wasn’t allowed to eat until she correctly finished her math homework while being homeschooled. A district judge in April agreed there was enough evidence for the couple to stand trial after the children — another girl, age 11, and her 10-year-old brother — testified about begging for food from neighbors and being fed oatmeal laced with red pepper flakes.
The Bradford Era reports defense attorneys contend there wasn’t enough evidence presented at the hearing to justify sending the charges to court.

Judge orders  settlement on Jesus portrait

JACKSON, Ohio (AP) — A tentative settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit challenging the display of a portrait of Jesus that had been in a southern Ohio school for decades.
The Columbus Dispatch reports a U.S. district judge ordered the two sides to submit the settlement within 90 days. No details were disclosed.
American Civil Liberties Union spokesman Nick Worner says the group is pleased there is a tentative agreement. He says its primary concern is that the portrait come down and stay down.
An attorney for Jackson City Schools declined to comment.
The school had taken the portrait down in April, but court filings say it returned on the school lawn for a prayer meeting and was visible to those entering an art-storage area.


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