Louisiana news briefs
Appellate court rules against NOPD in records case
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Police Department has been ordered to pay the Innocence Project New Orleans $8,600 after a state appellate court upheld a ruling against the department for its failure to turn over public records.
The Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal group that seeks to exonerate wrongfully convicted defendants, sued the police department earlier this year after it was denied access to investigative files from a 1991 aggravated rape and burglary case. State law requires a response to the request within three days, but 65 days elapsed before City Attorney Sharonda Williams’ office responded, mostly denying the request.
A state judge ordered the records released and awarded the group $5,000 in civil penalties and $3,607 in litigation fees and costs. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the judgment Wednesday.
Boy robbed after
stepping off school bus
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Police in New Orleans say they are investigating the robbery of a 16-year-old boy who was confronted by a gunman as he got off a school bus.
The teen was robbed at gunpoint after he got off a school bus in eastern New Orleans on Wednesday afternoon.
Police said a man armed with a gun approached the boy from behind as he got off the school bus and demanded his cellphone. There is no other information on the suspect.
La. becoming a safer place
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A national group is recommending that the state cut workers’ compensation rates by 5 percent because of fewer workplace claims among other factors.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance has filed documents with the Louisiana Department of Insurance saying businesses in the state should pay lower rates because workers’ compensation claims declined in 2011.
According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, employers across the state saw lighter losses in 2010 and 2011.
The NCCI says those improvements can be attributed to a decrease in the number of workplace injuries and a reduction in the average cost per claim.
The NCCI recommends additional cuts in manufacturing by 7 percent, contracting by 5 percent, office and clerical by 6 percent, goods and services by 6 percent and miscellaneous industry groups by about 3 percent.
If the insurance department adopts the lower rates, they would take effect May 14.
Causeway Bridge to get landmark designation
MANDEVILLE (AP) — The American Society of Civil Engineers has selected the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge to receive the designation of National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
In a ceremony today, the bridge will be honored by the group for the “innovative construction techniques used in building the bridge.” Officials say design and construction of the bridge, which connects the north and south shores of Lake Pontchartrain, was a major step forward in modern engineering.
The bridge becomes only the fourth structure in the state to receive the designation. The other three are the Huey P. Long Bridge, the McNeill Pump Station in Shreveport and The Eads South Pass Jetties.
Jindal offers list of suggestions to president
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to New Orleans, Gov. Bobby Jindal offered suggestions on where the president should change course.
He said Thursday the president should drop his administration’s lawsuit against Louisiana’s voucher program, agree to repeal his signature health care law and reverse new limits on coal-fired plants.
None of those things seemed likely. And it wasn’t clear if Jindal would discuss the ideas with Obama personally.
Jindal said he’ll be at the airport to greet the president upon his arrival Friday. He wouldn’t say if he will meet privately with Obama.
Jindal didn’t list the rising costs of flood insurance as a top issue for Obama to tackle. When questioned about the omission, Jindal said Congress would need to take action to stop the insurance hikes.
Judge refuses to delay CNSI lawsuit against state
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A Maryland company fired from its $200 million Medicaid contract can continue to move forward with its wrongful termination lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, a Baton Rouge judge ruled Thursday.
State District Judge Tim Kelley rejected a request from the attorney general’s office to delay witness interviews and evidence-gathering until January in the case filed against the state by Client Network Services Inc., or CNSI.
Assistant Attorney General David Caldwell argued the delay was needed to protect a state grand jury investigation into the awarding of the contract to CNSI. He said the attorney general’s office has limited staff and needed time to work on its criminal investigation without worrying about the separate civil lawsuit.
Interim coroner named
SLIDELL (AP) — St. Tammany Parish has a new coroner.
The parish council on Thursday appointed Dr. Pramod Menon to serve as interim coroner.
Menon takes over for Dr. Peter Galvan, who recently resigned and pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. In April, St. Tammany voters will choose someone to fill the remainder of Galvan’s term.
Before resigning, Galvan had been under a harsh media spotlight for months following reports of lavish spending and the federal investigation.
From The Associated Press.
Menon is a partner at Cardiovascular Associates in Covington and is part of the Louisiana Heart Hospital Physician Group in Lacombe. He is also vice-chief of staff at Lakeview Regional Medical Center.