Judge dismisses Pennsylvania woman's lawsuit against Bill Cosby

2016-02-08 15:01:04

A U.S. federal judge on Thursday dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by a Pennsylvania woman against Bill Cosby, which contended the comedian smeared her character when he accused her of lying in claiming he had sexually assaulted her in the 1980s.Renita Hill, 48, had claimed she was defamed her when the comedian and his representatives called her a liar and extortionist as he defended himself after she went public in 2014 with allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct.Hill, a Pittsburgh resident, sued in October over three comments made by Cosby and his representatives. The three statements in question "do not support a claim for defamation as defined by Pennsylvania law," U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab said in his dismissal ruling, court documents showed.Hill's attorneys have said Cosby mentored her when she was a young woman, and paid for her education at Temple University and Spelman College. They said he also arranged meetings in Atlantic City, New York and Denver, where he sexually assaulted her. Hill's first public accusation of sexual assault came in a 2014 interview with a Pittsburgh TV station. Her lawsuit concerned statements Cosby and his representatives made in response to that interview. Schwab said the remarks were protected under free speech rights, and that Hill did not prove the comments harmed her. More than 50 women have come forward to accuse Cosby, 78, of sexual assault. The allegations date back as far as the 1960s, making most of them too old for criminal prosecution. Hill and several other women have sued Cosby.Cosby's attorneys welcomed the judge's decision in a statement and said they hoped it would influence the outcome of other pending lawsuits. "The Court found opinionated speech by a defendant's attorney is protected and not actionable as defamatory," the attorneys said. "It is our hope that courts in other jurisdictions with similar matters will respond in like manner."The drumbeat of accusations has toppled Cosby from his cultural status as one of America's most-admired comedians. He built his career on family-friendly humor and was best known as the loving but often befuddled father in the 1980s television hit, "The Cosby Show."The only criminal charges against Cosby were filed last month, over the alleged sexual assault of Andrea Constand in 2004.Cosby, who has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, is free on $1 million bail. His lawyer has said he is not guilty and will not consider a plea bargain. (Editing by Scott Malone, Frances Kerry and David Gregorio)

More pulled out alive after Taiwan quake, about 120 people still trapped

2016-02-07 08:31:04

TAINAN, Taiwan Rescuers in Taiwan pulled more people alive from a collapsed apartment tower on Sunday, a day after a strong earthquake shook the island, and kept searching for about 120 people still believed trapped in the ruins of the building.Those found alive include a 20-year-old identified by Taiwan media as Huang Kuang-wei and another man in his 20s surnamed Kuo, who was able to walk out from the rubble, supported by rescuers. Both were sent to hospital.Firefighters, police, soldiers and volunteers combed through the ruins, some using their hands, watched anxiously by dozens of the victims' family members who wore thick jackets, woolen hats and scarves on a chilly morning."She's not answering my phone calls ... I am trying to hold my emotions and stay strong. I'll do that until I find her," said a woman surnamed Chang, 42, waiting to hear from her 24-year-old daughter who lived on the fifth floor of the complex. "Nothing matters but to get her out. The lady living across the hallway was rescued yesterday. I know they will find her, but I have also planned for the worst. It's been more than 20 hours now."At least 23 people are known to have died in the quake, which struck at about 4 a.m. on Saturday, at the beginning of a Lunar New Year holiday, including 16 found in the collapsed Wei-guan Golden Dragon Building in the southern city of Tainan.Around 120 people are still beneath the rubble of the commercial-residential block, with most them trapped deep in the wreckage, the government said. Bodies continue to be found, including those of two sisters, aged 18 and 23, Taiwanese media reported.The building's lower floors pancaked on top of each other in the 6.4 magnitude quake and then the whole structure toppled, raising immediate questions about the quality of materials and workmanship used in its construction in the 1990s.QUESTIONS Speaking earlier in the day, Tainan Mayor William Lai told reporters efforts were focusing on 29 people who are closest to the rescuers, with lighter equipment like drills being used."The other 103 are believed to be at the lower floors of the building, and we can't find an accessible route to those areas at the moment." The extent of damage to the Golden Dragon Building has raised questions. Liu Shih-chung, Tainan city government deputy secretary general, said television footage of its ruins suggested the possibility of structural problems related to poor-quality reinforced steel and cement.However, city officials have said it is too early to say for certain if poor construction was a factor in the collapse.Authorities said the building had 96 apartments and 256 registered residents, though more people were inside when it collapsed.Rescuers wearing red and yellow overalls pulled more than 240 survivors from the ruins and inserted huge supports under slabs of leaning concrete as they searched for additional survivors.Buildings in nine other locations in the city of 2 million people had collapsed and five were left tilting at alarming angles. (Additional reporting by J.R. Wu, Carol Lee and Pichi Chuang; Writing by Mark Bendeich; Editing by Ben Blanchard, Robert Birsel and Himani Sarkar)

League hit with rising concussions, brain trauma news

2016-02-06 03:31:05

SAN FRANCISCO Former quarterback Troy Aikman says he is fortunate to have gotten out of the NFL in good health as news of brain trauma in recently deceased former players is mounting, and he knows others are suffering."I know there's people that I played with and against and those before me that are really battling some tough times as a result we assume from having played the game," the three-time Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys told Reuters on Thursday."It obviously is a real concern for our game," the Hall of Famer added.An autopsy confirmed that former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Fred McNeill was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) when he died last year at 63, CNN reported on Thursday. Two days before, a specialist said a study of former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler's brain following his death last year showed signs of CTE, which is closely associated with the repeated head blows common in boxing, hockey, football and other contact sports.Stabler's brain was the 90th of 94 former NFL players studied by Boston University researchers to show indications of CTE."It's a violent game. Big physical guys colliding and creating these collisions with the head injuries. As much as the league has done to make the game safer, I saw that this year the concussions were way up," Aikman said.Last week the National Football League said there were 182 reported concussions this past season, a rise of 58 percent over 2014 after two seasons of declining incidents. Jeff Miller, NFL vice president for health and safety policy, said the league was exploring reasons for the hike."The number of players screened for concussions doubled this year," Miller told reporters at the Super Bowl Media Center suggesting increased vigilance as one possible factor.Miller noted the league has instituted nearly 40 rule changes to cut down potential head injuries in recent years and believed that greater attention to the problem by officials and players themselves probably contributed to the rise.He noted increased numbers of medical staff at games keeping eyes trained for signs of concussion, and that players were self-reporting symptoms to team physicians. "That's a positive trend relating to the culture change," said Miller at an NFL display of research initiatives aimed at improving player safety."Those are positive developments. Players that need the care from suffering those injuries are getting the care."The NFL Players Association seemed to agree."When we have players who now step up and self-report, we take that as positive news that players are now empowered, wanting to know what is going on and taking steps to protect themselves," NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said. Executive committee member Matt Hasselbeck, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, said: "One thing we're proud of, we tried to change the culture of our game."When I got into the game it was a no-no to be honest with the medical professionals on the sideline. You felt like you were a wimp if you were honest with the team doctor."Aikman, who just turned 34 when he retired after 12 seasons, recounted a scary incident from his own playing days."I had two significant head injuries. One was my rookie year. I was knocked out for 10 minutes and then one was in the 1993 NFC championship game against the 49ers," he said."Still to this day I have no recollection of having played in that game. I have complete amnesia from the game. I stayed the night in the hospital and played the next week in the Super Bowl.""It's obviously a different time. Now if you say you couldn't remember having played in the game the week before, I don't think there's any way I'd be allowed to play in the Super Bowl seven days later. Just tells you how far we've come." (Editing by Steve Keating.)

Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards

2016-02-05 18:30:06

Apple Inc won the dismissal on Thursday of a lawsuit accusing it of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook laptop computers that contained "logic boards" it knew were defective, and which routinely failed within two years.U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, Uriel Marcus and Benedict Verceles, failed to show that Apple made "affirmative misrepresentations," despite citing online complaints and Apple marketing statements calling the laptops "state of the art" or the "most advanced" on the market."Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Apple's logic boards were unfit for their ordinary purposes or lacked a minimal level of quality," Alsup wrote. "Both plaintiffs were able to adequately use their computers for approximately 18 months and two years, respectively."Alsup gave the plaintiffs until Jan. 22 to amend their lawsuit, which sought class-action status, against the Cupertino, California-based company. Omar Rosales, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a similar request.The plaintiffs claimed that Apple's sale of MacBooks since May 20, 2010, violated consumer protection laws in California and Texas, where the lawsuit began last May before being moved.They also contended that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was told about the defective logic boards in 2011, but did nothing. Logic boards contain computer circuitry and are sometimes known as motherboards.A separate and still pending lawsuit in California accuses Apple of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook Pro laptops in 2011 that contained defective graphic cards, causing screen distortions and system failures. MacBooks are part of Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop computers. The company reported unit sales in that business of 18.91 million in its latest fiscal year.The case is Marcus et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-03824. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

Fantasy sports legal in Rhode Island, attorney general says

2016-02-04 23:31:07

Paid fantasy sports games are legal in Rhode Island, the state's attorney general said on Thursday, urging legislators to develop laws to regulate the fast-growing industry.The games, in which players assemble rosters of real athletes and win points and money based on how they perform in real-world competitions, contain elements of both skill and chance, state Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said.The multibillion-dollar industry, dominated by DraftKings and FanDuel, has attracted more regulatory scrutiny over the past year, with officials in states including New York, Illinois, Texas and Nevada challenging their legality.The challenges have typically hinged on whether daily fantasy sports are games of chance that run afoul of state gambling laws. "It is clear that DFS, like most games, is a mixture of these factors," Kilmartin wrote in an open letter to Governor Gina Raimondo. "Nevertheless, it is my very strong suggestion that the legislature, this year, enact a statute which governs the operation of DFS in this state."That law, Kilmartin said, should ensure that criminal organizations do not get involved in the games and that underage players are barred. The attorney general of neighboring Massachusetts has proposed a series of regulations on the games, which would ban people under 21 from playing, prohibit the promotion of the games on college campuses and shut down games based on college sports.Through an attorney, DraftKings said it agreed with Kilmartin's call for state regulation of the games. "We are working actively with legislators in Rhode Island and across the country to enact thoughtful and appropriate regulations that allow our fans to continue enjoying the contests they love," said David Boies, an attorney for the company. (Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by David Gregorio)

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