National Roundup


Boy not liable for exuberant hello that injured aunt

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut jury on Tuesday rejected a woman's bid to sue her 12-year-old nephew for injuries she says she suffered from his exuberant greeting at his birthday party four years ago.

New York City resident Jennifer Connell claimed the Westport boy acted unreasonably when he jumped into her arms at his 8th-birthday party, causing her to fall and break her wrist. She sued in Bridgeport Superior Court for $127,000.

The Connecticut Post reports that the six-member jury found that the boy was not liable. The newspaper reported that she ignored shouted requests for comment as she passed reporters outside the courthouse.

Connell, a 54-year-old human resources manager, had testified that she loves her nephew but thinks he should be held accountable. She said when the child jumped she tumbled to the ground as she tried to catch him.

"I remember him shouting, 'Auntie Jen I love you,' and there he was flying at me," she testified.

Connell argued that her injuries severely disrupted her life in Manhattan. She told jurors last week that she was at a party recently, and "it was difficult to hold my hors d'oeuvre plate," the Post reported.

Her lawsuit said: "The injuries, losses and harms to the plaintiff were caused by the negligence and carelessness of the minor defendant in that a reasonable 8-year-old under those circumstances would know or should have known that a forceful greeting such as the one delivered by the defendant to the plaintiff could cause the harms and losses suffered by the plaintiff."

The boy, the only defendant, appeared in court with his father, Michael Tarala. A listed phone number couldn't be found for Tarala. The boy's mother died last year.


Woman believed to be homicide victim found alive

JONESTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Police say an eastern Pennsylvania woman they thought was dead after finding decomposing remains in 1973 is actually alive, leaving them confused about whose remains were found.

The Reading Eagle says state police recently had an expert craft a forensic bust of the victim, in hopes her appearance might spur leads into the killing.

Those leads led to a woman named Betsy Langjahr, but police determined she's still living.

The woman's remains were found under a tarp and branches in Union Township, Lebanon County, near Jonestown. That's about 90 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

A state game warden found the remains on Oct. 9, 1973. Forensic evidence suggests the victim was 16 to 20 years old, leading police to believe the victim may have been a runaway.

New York

Parents charged with beating son to death in church

NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (AP) - A central New York couple has been charged with fatally beating their 19-year-old son inside a church and four fellow church members have been charged with assault in an attack that also left the young man's brother severely injured, police said Tuesday.

Bruce Leonard, 65, and Deborah Leonard, 59, of Clayville, were charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of their son Lucas, said Lt. Timothy O'Neill of the New Hartford Police Department. O'Neill said Lucas Leonard died Monday after he was beaten at Word of Life Church in New Hartford, which is 80 miles northwest of Albany.

His 17-year-old brother is hospitalized in serious condition with injuries from an assault.

The six church members were arraigned Tuesday and sent to Oneida County Jail. At the arraignment, it was revealed that both teens suffered injuries to their abdomens, genitals, backs and thighs. Bail for the Leonards was set at $100,000 each and for the four other defendants at $50,000 each. All pleaded not guilty.

Police said more arrests are expected as the investigation continues. Details about the attack or what may have led up to it have not been disclosed.

The investigation began at about 12:30 p.m. Monday when family members brought Lucas Leonard to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Investigators determined that the Word of Life Church was the scene of the crime, and the building was surrounded by special operations teams from state and local police agencies.

Police eventually entered the church, a three-story brick building on a residential street that originally housed a school. Several church members were interviewed, and several children were turned over to child welfare officials.

In addition to the Leonards, police arrested David Morey, 26, of Utica; Linda Morey, 54, of Utica; Sarah Ferguson, 33, who lives at the same address as the Leonards; and Joseph Irwin, 26, who lives in the church building.

Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara declined to comment on a motive or other details of the case. He said a preliminary hearing for all six defendants is scheduled for Friday.


@ROUND UP Briefs Headline:<t-1f$>Lawyer for victims' kin vows to sue railroad

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A lawyer for relatives of most of the 47 people killed in an oil train derailment in Canada described a Canadian railroad's refusal to contribute to a settlement fund as "reprehensible" and vowed to pursue a lawsuit.

Canadian Pacific contends it bears no responsibility for the fiery disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec, in 2013 and puts the blame squarely on the railroad whose runaway train derailed.

But attorney Peter Flowers, who's based in Chicago, said on Tuesday that Canadian Pacific knew the crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken region was unstable before handing it off to another railroad, which he described as "incompetent."

Canadian Pacific declined to comment on Tuesday.

Much of downtown Lac Megantic was destroyed when a runaway train operated by Maine-based Montreal, Maine & Atlantic with 72 oil tankers derailed on July 6, 2013, setting off powerful explosions and causing raging fires. The Maine railroad filed for bankruptcy, and the settlement fund is part of those bankruptcy proceedings in the U.S. and Canada.

Wrongful-death lawsuits were put on hold pending approval of the settlement, which is valued at $338 million in U.S. currency, or $446 million in Canadian currency. Judges in Maine and Quebec have given their approval to the fund, which includes about $110 million in Canadian currency to settle wrongful-death claims brought by victims' families.

Canadian Pacific declined to contribute to the settlement fund, opening itself up to lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions, unlike settlement contributors that were offered legal protections.

Canadian Pacific, which transported the oil shipment from North Dakota to Quebec, had fought the settlement until it obtained a judgment reduction provision that allowed it to drop its opposition.

Published: Thu, Oct 15, 2015