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Jury Finds Against Arizona Paper, Awards $1 Million in Libel Sui

May 1, 1995

Jury Finds Against Arizona Paper, Awards $1 Million in Libel Suit

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A federal jury awarded $500,000 each to two former heads of a federal anti-crime unit after finding that The Arizona Republic libeled them in a 1984 article.

Richard Crane and James Henderson alleged that their reputations were damaged after they were quoted in the Phoenix newspaper in an Aug. 1, 1984, story on corruption.

The jury found April 24 that reporter Jerry Seper juxtaposed their comments to make the two seem to contradict each other when they were asked if there had been a congressional investigation into their affairs.

Daniel Barr, who represented the paper and Seper, said he would consider a motion for a new trial. Seper now reports for The Washington Times.

The article wrongly gave the impression ``that these men are liars when confronted with the allegations (and that) there is likely something to the allegations,″ said their attorney, Brian O’Neill.

The reporter actually spoke to Henderson several weeks before he talked with Crane, O’Neill said.

The Justice Department Organized Crime and Racketeering Section in Los Angeles coordinates federal, state and local efforts against organized crime. Crane headed the strike force from 1973-75; Henderson was chief from 1975-85.

Both were officially cleared in 1985 of any wrongdoing.


Police: Arrested Men May Have Been Trying to Kidnap Former Publisher

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Two men arrested on weapons charges may have been plotting to kidnap a radio talk show host and a former newspaper publisher, police said.

Sean Patrick Bottoms, 35, and his brother Brian Scott Bottoms, 33, were arrested April 24 after federal agents raided their home and found three pipe bombs and materials to make others, Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said. Two legal, high-powered rifles and ammunition also were found.

Aaron said the raid came after another brother, Kevin Bottoms, 39, told a police officer the men kept a cache of explosives at their home and had talked of kidnapping John Seigenthaler, former publisher of The Tennessean, and WLAC radio host Les Jameson.

``We took it seriously enough to notify both men,″ Aaron said.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is investigating the kidnapping possibility, Aaron said. He would not say what was found in the residence in addition to the weapons, or what police protection Seigenthaler and Jameson were being provided.

Jameson said he was aware of the threat and was taking precautions. Seigenthaler, chairman of the The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, said he was pleased with the police work.

Seigenthaler said he has added extra security both at work and home.

The two suspects were released on $500 bond each April 25 after they were charged with misdemeanor explosives possession offenses. The two also could face federal charges.


Reporter Loses Carpal Tunnel Lawsuit Against IBM, Atex

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ IBM and Atex Inc. are not to blame for the painful wrist condition a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter developed after hours at computer keyboards, a federal jury ruled.

The jurors deliberated two hours April 25 before deciding that neither production defects nor design flaws in keyboards the two companies marketed caused Larry Lewis’ carpal tunnel syndrome.

The case was only the second in which a jury has considered whether keyboards are linked to repetitive stress injuries. In the first, a Minnesota jury cleared IBM in injuries suffered by former secretary Nancy Urbanski.

Lewis, 53, has been a reporter for 30 years, 13 with the Inquirer. He underwent operations on both wrists in 1993.

``We put a lot of effort into this,″ he said. ``I would like to have shown that you can get carpal tunnel from a computer keyboard. It’s pretty obvious to me where you get it from.″

His lawyer, Moshe Maimon, said he did not know whether he would appeal.

Atex and IBM lawyers said the ruling again exonerates the manufacturers.

``This is the second time; we have two clear jury findings that IBM’s judgment about its computers is what it says it is,″ IBM lawyer Michael A. Cerussi said.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is an inflammation of the sheath covering nerves in the wrist. When the tunnel becomes inflamed, it can press on nerves, causing problems ranging from soreness to inability to use the hands.

The U.S. Labor Department says the number of new cumulative trauma or repetitive stress injuries more than doubled from 1989 to 1993, rising from 147,000 to 302,000. An increasing number of the injuries are occurring in the white-collar service sector.

Thousands of similar lawsuits have been filed against computer makers.

In the first to reach a jury, IBM in March won a lawsuit filed by Urbanski, who accused the computer giant of negligence in designing keyboards and warning users about the injuries.


Bomb Squad Explodes Grenade Found Outside Albuquerque Paper

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) _ The police bomb squad exploded a hand grenade that was discovered in a newspaper vending box outside the Albuquerque Journal.

The device had no detonating pin, and authorities said they weren’t sure whether it would have gone off.

Circulation worker Andrea Barnes said she found the grenade April 25.

Bomb squad Sgt. Ben Wyne said a note, partly written in German, was attached to the grenade. He declined to reveal what it said.

Officer Gary Faerber, dressed in a black protective suit, used a 15-foot-long pole to carefully remove a few newspapers from the box. When he saw there were no wires attached to the grenade, he reached in and removed it. He placed it in a plastic bucket and carried it to a field across the street, where it was destroyed by an explosive countercharge.

The Journal’s newsroom, located near the front of the building and close to the box, was evacuated. The rest of the building was not.


Electrical `Flashover’ Injures Five At Star-Ledger Plant

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) _ An electrical ``flashover″ during a routine maintenance procedure at The Star-Ledger of Newark’s printing plant burned five workers, two critically.

Utility and newspaper officials described the problem as a sudden electrical discharge that occurred when the plant’s electricity was about to be shut off to allow the maintenance work.

The incident, which happened the morning of April 30, was confined to the plant’s control room.

The flashover produced heavy smoke but no fire, officials said.

Four of the injured worked for Public Service Electric & Gas Co. The fifth worker was employed by Schoonover Electrical Co., a permanent maintenance subcontractor with the newspaper.

The cause of the accident was under investigation.

Editor Jim Willse said the accident would not cause any production disruptions.


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