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Judge says Pulse lawsuit may be tossed out of federal court

Mike Schneider, Associated Press

Updated 3:08 pm, Sunday, March 26, 2017
  • Judge Says Pulse Lawsuit May Be Tossed Out Of Federal Court

Photo: Joe Burbank, AP

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FILE – In a Monday, July 11, 2016 file photo, visitors continue to flock to the Pulse nightclub to their pay their respects, in Orlando,, Fla. Forty-nine people were shot and killed at the club, June 12. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra said says a lawsuit brought by victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre against the gunman’s employer and wife may be tossed out of federal court. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) A judge says a lawsuit brought by victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre against the gunman’s employer and wife may be tossed out of federal court.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra[3] last week issued an order raising questions about whether federal court was the proper jurisdiction for the lawsuit. The judge gave the plaintiffs 10 days to file a revised lawsuit or he said he would dismiss the complaint.

Attorneys for the Pulse victims didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Sunday.

Almost five dozen victims and families of the deceased filed the lawsuit last week in federal court in South Florida against security firm G4S and the wife of Omar Mateen[4], claiming they could have stopped the gunman before the attack last June but didn’t.

Forty-nine people died in the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history, and dozens more were injured.

The lawsuit was seeking an undisclosed amount of money.

The complaint said that G4S bosses knew Mateen was mentally unstable yet continued to employee him as a security guard and didn’t seek to have his firearms license revoked, even after he was investigated by the FBI in 2013 for telling co-workers he had connections to terrorists and a mass shooter. He later told his bosses he had made that up to get his co-workers to stop teasing him about being Muslim and the FBI determined he was not a threat.

A spokeswoman for G4S last week said the lawsuit was without merit and that the company would vigorously defend itself. A company spokeswoman on Sunday didn’t immediately respond to an email inquiry.

The lawsuit also said that Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman[5], knew her husband was going to carry out the killings ahead of time yet did nothing. Salman currently is in jail awaiting trial in a separate criminal case. She has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of aiding and abetting her husband, and obstruction of justice.

The federal judge said cases should be brought to federal court because of “diversity jurisdiction” only if the lawsuits are between residents of different states, U.S. residents and residents of a foreign nation or residents of different states in which other parties may be subjects of foreign countries.

Although G4S is a British company, its principal place of business is in Florida, the judge said. He added that Salman was a Florida resident, as were many of the Pulse victims and their families, raising question about whether federal court is the proper venue.

References

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Shut down Nunes’ investigation

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on Monday denounced what he described as the illegal leak of classified information concerning conversations between associates of Donald Trump and Russian officials. He insisted that those who described those contacts to the press be tracked down and prosecuted. He demanded that FBI Director James Comey confirm that such revelations “violate . . . a section of the Espionage Act that criminalizes the disclosure of information concerning the communication and intelligence activities of the United States.”

Forty-eight hours later, Nunes himself held a news conference in which he cited a confidential source to describe what clearly appeared to be classified information about intercepted communications involving Trump associates. He did this outside the White House, where he had rushed to brief the president about the intercepts even though the House Intelligence Committee he chairs is supposed to be investigating the Trump campaign s possible connections with Russia.

We ve said before that it was doubtful that an investigation headed by Nunes into Russia s interference in the election could be adequate or credible. The chairman s contradictory and clownish grandstanding makes that a certainty. His committee s investigation should be halted immediately and Nunes deserves to be subject to the same leaking probe he demanded for the previous disclosures.

Nunes s behavior provoked head-scratching from Republican colleagues, in addition to denunciations from Democrats; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called it “bizarre.” But there was nothing really irrational about the representative s actions: He was simply doing everything in his power to protect President Donald Trump, for whom he has become a fierce, if erratic, guard dog. In denouncing leaks Monday, Nunes was doing his best to deflect attention from what appears to be a substantial ongoing FBI investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

In offering his own leak Wednesday, Nunes was trying to provide cover for Trump s false claim that his campaign had been wiretapped on orders of President Barack Obama a statement that Comey flatly described as groundless. Unsurprisingly, Trump declared hours later – again, falsely that Nunes had proved him right.

In fact, as Nunes himself acknowledged, the intercepts he described were legal and appropriate, the result of routine surveillance of foreign targets, or that were approved by a secret court. The identities of the Americans who were picked up in the conversations were mostly masked Nunes said he was able to figure out they were Trump associates because of the context. Quite possibly, the chairman revealed the same intelligence that sources described to The Post when it reported on conversations between Michael Flynn, then Trump s nominee for national security adviser, and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak a disclosure Nunes tarred as criminal.

Nunes s antics serve only to underline the urgency of a serious, nonpartisan and uncompromising investigation into Russia s interference in the election and any contacts between Moscow s agents and the Trump campaign. The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also conducting a probe, may make a useful contribution, but as McCain said, “no longer does the Congress have the credibility to handle this alone.” It is time to discuss the formation of an independent, nonpartisan commission with full subpoena power, like those that investigated the attacks of 9/11 and the intelligence failures in Iraq. In the meantime, House leaders should put an end to the embarrassing travesty being directed by Nunes.

Maryland women’s basketball is fueled by regret ahead of Sweet 16 …

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. Each time she recalls how last season ended for the Maryland women s basketball[1] team, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough speaks with a tone of regret. If only she had done more, then perhaps the Terrapins would have been able to send out their seniors amid much more palatable circumstances.

That loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament continues to trouble fellow senior Brionna Jones as well, to the point where she and Walker-Kimbrough indicated they ve been dedicating this season to last year s seniors. The inspiration has pushed Maryland (32-2) one round deeper in this NCAA tournament, where the third-seeded Terrapins will play 10th-seeded Oregon (22-13) on Saturday. The winner of that Bridgeport regional semifinal will face either Connecticut, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, or fourth-seeded UCLA on Monday for a spot in the Final Four in Dallas.

[Steinberg: For Terps, ailing 7-year-old is like our little sister [2]]

We will never forget how we felt last year, Walker-Kimbrough said. How we sent our seniors out, it shouldn t have went that way, especially all the hard work they ve put in for their four years, so part of us, we ve been playing for them. Like I said, I remember how I felt, so I never want our six freshmen to feel that way.

That s why me and Bri try to lead by example and definitely try to make a statement every time we step on the court. That intent was clear during the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, with Maryland winning by an average of 35 points. During a second-round win against No. 6 seed West Virginia[3] on Sunday in College Park, Jones had 22 points and 11 rebounds for her 24th double-double this season and 57th of her career.

The reigning Big Ten tournament most outstanding player has three straight double doubles and scored at least 22 points in each of her last four games.

I m not sure we ve seen a better post player all year, Ducks Coach Kelly Graves said of Jones. It s incredible. Her positioning, patience, balance, strength, I mean she s the whole package, and I m assuming she s going to have a heck of a pro career.

[Ducks are Sweet 16 neophytes, but with a blue-chip freshman class[4]]

Walker-Kimbrough, meanwhile, had 28 points on 12-for-18 shooting (67 percent) during a 103-61 victory over No. 14 seed Bucknell[5] in the first round at Xfinity Center. The three-time Big Ten first-team selection has scored at least 19 points in 10 of her last 11 games. Both players also have 681 total points this season, six short of the Maryland single-season record. Vicky Bullett scored 686 in 1988-89.

That s what you expect from your senior leadership, is to bring that kind of experience and then layer it within your team, Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. I can t say enough for what the two of them have done all season long and continue to do. You can feel their presence on both ends of the floor. I think Bri and Shatori are playing the best defense I ve seen. The Terrapins have limited opponents to 34 percent shooting combined in the NCAA tournament, including just 8 for 32 from three-point range. They ve also forced 38 turnovers in the NCAA tournament while managing to place a premium on their own ball security.

Maryland s 19 turnovers in the first two rounds combined are its fewest over any two-game stretch this season. During the first round, the Terrapins committed five turnovers, their fewest in a game this season, thanks in large part to the poise of freshman point guard Destiny Slocum. The Big Ten freshman has 15 assists and four steals with four turnovers in the NCAA tournament. Slocum is one of six players in program history to log at least 200 assists in a single season. She s also one side to perhaps the most intriguing matchup on Saturday, when Slocum will battle Ducks point guard Sabrina Ionescu, also a freshman. Ionescu was the top-rated point guard coming out of high school last season, according to ESPNw.com, and was selected Pac-12 freshman of the year after collecting four triple-doubles, one short of the conference single-season record.

Slocum was the No. 3 rated point guard as a high school senior and indicated she s somewhat familiar with Oregon s program following an unofficial visit to Eugene when she was in the process of selecting a school. Slocum initially had committed to Washington before reopening her recruitment and deciding on Maryland.

Slocum is part of Maryland s top-rated recruiting class last season that also features Kaila Charles, the 2015-16 Washington Post All-Met Player of the Year. Ionescu was the centerpiece of Oregon s third-ranked class that includes two other freshman starters in 6-foot-4 forward Ruthy Hebard and 6-5 forward Mallory McGwire.

They can score on all three levels, but they re poised, Charles said of the Ducks. They like to run clock. They like to run through their plays, but we like to push the ball. We are poised, but our game is running the floor and pushing the tempo, so if we keep doing that and just play our game, we ll be fine.

References

  1. ^ Maryland women s basketball (stats.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ Steinberg: For Terps, ailing 7-year-old is like our little sister (www.washingtonpost.com)
  3. ^ against No. 6 seed West Virginia (www.washingtonpost.com)
  4. ^ Ducks are Sweet 16 neophytes, but with a blue-chip freshman class (www.washingtonpost.com)
  5. ^ 103-61 victory over No. 14 seed Bucknell (www.washingtonpost.com)
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