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Ohio court to decide if ex-player can sue over concussions
Headline Topics | 2018/04/04 12:28
The Ohio Supreme Court will decide whether the widow of a former University of Notre Dame football player can sue the school and the NCAA over allegations her husband was disabled by concussions from his college career in the 1970s.

Steve Schmitz was suffering from dementia and early onset Alzheimer's disease when he and his wife, Yvette, filed a lawsuit in Cuyahoga County in October 2014. The lawsuit alleged both institutions showed "reckless disregard" for the safety of college football players and for their failure to educate and protect players from concussions.

The lawsuit said the link between repeated blows to the head and brain-related injuries and illnesses had been known for decades, but it was not until 2010 that the NCAA required colleges to formulate concussion protocols to remove an athlete from a game or practice and be evaluated by doctors.

Steve Schmitz died in February 2015. The lawsuit said the Cleveland Clinic diagnosed him in 2012 with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a brain disease attributed to receiving numerous concussions.

A judge ruled that too much time had passed for Schmitz to sue, a decision overturned by a state appeals court. The state's high court planned to hear arguments from both sides on Wednesday.

A ruling in favor of Schmitz's widow would allow her to return to court and argue the specific allegations regarding the impact of concussions on her husband, a running back and receiver.

Notre Dame and the NCAA argue the statute of limitations for Schmitz to have sued date back to his playing days when he first realized he suffered head injuries. As such, the two-year window for filing a personal injury claim had long passed, the institutions say.



Expensive, partisan Wisconsin high court race nears end
Headline Court News | 2018/04/03 16:03
An expensive and openly partisan race for Wisconsin's Supreme Court neared an end Tuesday, with voters choosing between a conservative appointed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker and a liberal who drew support from former Obama administration officials.

The race between Sauk County Circuit Judge Michael Screnock and Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet was nonpartisan in name only, with both sides eager to win the 10-year seat on a high court whose ideological split has been on public display in recent years.

Conservatives held a 5-2 majority going into the election, so control wasn't at stake. But Democrats hoped to build on a surprising victory in January in a special state Senate election, especially with two more special legislative elections coming this summer.

The race was closely watched as a potential bellwether of voter attitudes in Wisconsin ahead of the fall midterms, although results of past Supreme Court elections have not consistently proven to be predictive of what will happen in November. President Donald Trump won the state by less than 1 percentage point in 2016.

Screnock, 48, was appointed circuit judge by Walker in 2015 and counted the conservative state chamber of commerce, a variety of anti-abortion groups and the National Rifle Association among his supporters.

Dallet, 48, was elected judge in 2008 after working 11 years as a prosecutor. She benefited from spending by a group started by former Democratic U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and was endorsed by trade and teacher unions, Planned Parenthood and more than 200 Wisconsin judges.

Both candidates argued the other couldn't be trusted to serve as an independent voice on the state's highest court because of partisan campaign support.

Spending on TV ads in the race was expected to approach $4.5 million, about what was spent on the 2016 race, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which tracks spending on court races nationwide.

Dallet ran with a tough-on-crime message, focusing on her prosecutorial experience followed by 10 years working as a judge in Milwaukee. She argued that the conservative-controlled Supreme Court is "broken," and criticized the justices for not adopting a recusal rule forcing them to step down from cases involving large campaign donors.

Screnock said he was devoted to the rule of law and a strict interpretation of the Constitution, arguments that winning conservative candidates have used in recent state Supreme Court elections


Ex-Missouri governor urges court to allow wind-energy line
Headline Topics | 2018/04/03 16:02
Missouri's former governor is urging the state Supreme Court to overturn a decision blocking a 780-mile power line that would carry wind energy across the Midwest.

Former Gov. Jay Nixon led arguments Tuesday before the high court on behalf Clean Line Energy Partners. The Houston-based company wants to build a $2.3 billion transmission line from western Kansas across Missouri and Illinois to an Indiana power grid serving eastern states.

Missouri regulators appointed by Nixon rejected the power line last year, citing a court ruling that they said first required utilities to get approval from local governments.

Nixon's term as governor ended in January 2017. Two of the seven judges hearing the case Tuesday had been appointed by Nixon. They didn't recuse but also did not ask questions.



Supreme Court rejects appeal from Middle East attack victims
Blog Updates | 2018/04/02 16:02
The Supreme Court is rejecting an appeal from American victims of terrorist attacks in the Middle East more than a decade ago.

The justices are not commenting Monday in ending a lawsuit against the PLO and Palestinian Authority in connection with attacks in Israel in 2002 and 2004 that killed 33 people. A lower court tossed out a $654 million verdict against the Palestinians.

The Trump administration sided with the Palestinians in calling on the high court to leave the lower court ruling in place. The federal appeals court in New York said U.S. courts can't consider lawsuits against foreign-based groups over random attacks that were not aimed at the United States.

The victims sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act, passed to open U.S. courts to American victims of international terrorism.


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