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KC lawyer wins $7.2 million verdict in Iowa copter crash

Kansas City lawyer Gary Robb added another notch to his belt of helicopter-crash lawsuits with a $7.2 million victory on Monday in Polk County, Iowa. The jury verdict was on behalf of Kathy Schlotzhauer, a Lenexa, Kan., woman whose husband was killed while filming a movie scene. "We hope that this verdict serves as a wake-up call to the movie industry that safety must always come first," Robb said in a press release. He noted that the entire budget for the film was $7 million.

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Nixon vetoes caseload cap for public defenders

Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed legislation giving public defenders greater control over their caseloads. Under the provisions of the bill, the director of the public defender system would have been able to notify the court in certain circumstances that the public defender is unavailable, leaving any person who is eligible for services on a waiting list. The measure was seen as the biggest legislation affecting the state agency that provides defense for indigent clients.

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Petition filed to change Missouri Plan

Just as Judge Sonia Sotomayor sat down in Washington to experience the federal system's method of approving court nominees, a group in Missouri said the state should vet its judges in a similar way. Better Courts for Missouri said Monday that it has filed an initiative petition that would replace the Nonpartisan Court Plan with one modeled after the federal "advise and consent" system.

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New chief to focus on court’s outreach role

Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry wants the public to know what judges do. So as she begins her seven-year term as chief judge of the St. Louis-based federal court, she says she wants to focus on the court's outreach efforts. Perry is the third consecutive woman to serve as chief judge of the District Court in St. Louis. Judge Carol E. Jackson, whom Perry follows, became chief in 2002 after Judge Jean C. Hamilton completed her seven-year term.

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Judge says ALJs to stay on the job until trial

A Cole County circuit judge has issued a preliminary injunction that prevents three administrative law judges from being forced out. Henry Herschel, Matthew Murphy and John Tackes (pictured) sued in June to prevent Gov. Jay Nixon's administration from dismissing them. While Nixon said they were let go for budgetary reasons, an attorney for the judges says the move violated statutes that lay out a specific dismissal process. In a ruling issued Thursday, Judge Jon Beetem granted the injunction, which "shall remain in effect until a full adjudication of Plaintiffs' claims on the merits or until further order of this Court." (Click here to view a PDF of the injunction.)

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Worker with HIV settles with bank over disclosure

First Bank agreed to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by an HIV-positive man who alleges bank employees disclosed his confidential health information, gossiped about him and created an "abusive" work environment. The settlement is confidential, said defense lawyer William Lawson, of the Lowenbaum Partnership. The plaintiff, identified only as K.M., worked as a bank teller at First Bank's Four Seasons branch in Chesterfield.

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