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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.

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Haiti police deny attempt on Aristide’s life

David Mcfadden and Evens Sanon, Associated Press

Updated 8:06 pm, Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Photo: Dieu Nalio Chery, AP

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Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, center right, walks with former presidential candidate Maryse Narcisse outside the courthouse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday March 20, 2017. Judge Jean Wilner Morin is questioning Aristide as a witness about the case of Jean Anthony Nazaire who’s implicated in money laundering. Supporters of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide chant while he leaves the courthouse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday March 20, 2017. Judge Jean Wilner Morin is questioning Aristide as a witness about the case of Jean Anthony Nazaire who’s implicated in money laundering. ( AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery) Supporters of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide hold up pictures of him outside the courthouse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday March 20, 2017. Judge Jean Wilner Morin is questioning Aristide as a witness about the case of Jean Anthony Nazaire who’s implicated in money laundering. ( AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) Haitian police on Tuesday rejected claims by ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide[7]‘s lawyers and associates that the twice-elected, twice-ousted former leader was the target of an assassination attempt.

Shots were fired at the former president’s motorcade Monday as it passed through an intersection in downtown Port-au-Prince. Aristide ally Yvon Feuille and lawyers have described the incident as an “assassination attempt” and allege the shooters were police.

But in an interview with The Associated Press[8], Deputy Commissioner Jean Alix Pierre-Louis[9] said Tuesday that the chaos was caused by partisans of two political factions who hurled rocks and fired guns when Aristide’s motorcade passed by following his testimony at a court hearing.

A cellphone video made public by Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas political movement doesn’t capture the full incident, but shows rocks raining down on police officers, who take cover behind cars. At least two officers are clearly seen firing their weapons toward the opposite side of the intersection.

Police Inspector Prenel Duval[10] said that officers with the Motorized Intervention Brigade fired live rounds, but he asserted the intention was to disperse people. He said there was considerable panic among the crowd and “a lot of shooting from different directions.” He acknowledged that the officers with the unit do not have training to deal with crowds.

The officers appeared to be taken by surprise by the confrontation between roughly 20 partisans of President Jovenel Moise[11]‘s Tet Kale party and a much larger crowd of Lavalas faithful surrounding Aristide’s motorcade.

Two people standing in front of Aristide’s car were wounded during the violence, including a security guard who was shot in the wrist. Investigators say it is not clear who shot them.

“I can assure you the guys traveling in that motorcade had guns. They had more guns than we did,” said Duval.

The incident is under investigation, Pierre-Louis said at his office a few blocks from the intersection where the violence took place. But he flatly rejected the assertion that Aristide was the target of an “assassination attempt.”

“That is nonsense. It was nothing like what they are saying,” Pierre-Louis said.

Aristide’s U.S. lawyer, Ira Kurzban[12], has said the shots were “fired by uniformed police directly at the vehicle in which President Aristide was a passenger.”

The incident occurred after Aristide appeared as a witness in a court hearing involving an associate who is facing a money laundering probe.

Although he hasn’t been in power since 2004, Aristide remains a highly divisive figure in Haiti, popular with some and reviled by others.

He emerged as a leading voice for Haiti’s poor and became the troubled country’s first democratically elected president in 1990, despite opposition from the army, Haiti’s elite and the United States following the 29-year Duvalier family dictatorship.

Aristide was toppled twice from power, his second term ending amid a violent rebellion and allegations of corruption. He spent seven years in exile in South Africa.

The former Roman Catholic priest insisted he wouldn’t get involved in politics upon his return to Haiti in 2011. But he actively campaigned for Maryse Narcisse[13], the Lavalas presidential candidate who finished fourth in a presidential election redo in November. Moise won in the first round with over 50 percent of the votes.

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David McFadden on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dmcfadd[14]

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Security guard assaulted in Trumbull robbery attempt

TRUMBULL – There was an attempted robbery of a private security guard Thursday night while he was on duty in the Oakview Drive area of town, police said. Police said the guard received minor injuries during an altercation with the robbery suspect. Lt. Keith Golding[1] said the incident happened around 7 p.m. when the guard was stopped behind a silver colored Toyota[2] Corolla, parked in the area of 100 Oakview Drive

He exited his vehicle, and was approached by the suspect, who was the operator of the Toyota. The suspect asked the guard for a light and when the guard looked away, the suspect struck him in the face and said Give me what you got, Golding said in a statement.

A scuffle ensued, the suspect broke free and fled the scene in his vehicle driving off toward Old Town Road, Golding said.

The suspect was described as an African American male, approximately 5 8″, 150 pounds, with short facial hair. He was wearing a dark colored hoodie at the time.

Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to contact the Trumbull Police Department[3] directly at 203-261-3665 or via the anonymous and confidential Tip Line on our website: trumbull-ct.gov/police.

References

  1. ^ Keith Golding (www.ctpost.com)
  2. ^ Toyota (www.ctpost.com)
  3. ^ Trumbull Police Department (www.ctpost.com)
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