Family of SeaWorld trainer asks judge to block video of death

ORLANDO

Judge asked to block SeaWorld video

Relatives of a SeaWorld trainer dragged into the water by a killer whale last month will suffer severe harm if video of her death is made public, their attorney told a judge Wednesday.

Dawn Brancheau, 40, died Feb. 24 when the whale named Tilikum grabbed her by ponytail and thrashed her around after a show. The whale has also been involved in two other deaths, one of a trainer at a Canadian park and the other of a man who snuck past security and was found draped over the whale's body at SeaWorld. Circuit Judge Lawrence Kirkwood did not immediately rule on the request for the permanent injunction. He had issued a temporary injunction last week to prevent the release of the video, which was turned over to law enforcement.

TALLAHASSEE

Kottkamp challenges Obama to debate

Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, who is seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general, issued a public challenge Wednesday to President Barack Obama, who is widely regarded as a highly skilled orator and debater. Kottkamp said he wants to debate the merits of a new space exploration program with the president, who is scheduled to be in Florida next month for a space summit.

Obama's recommended budget for fiscal year 2011 calls for an end to the space shuttle program, which could lead to several thousand jobs being lost at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

TALLAHASSEE

Court will not create innocence commission

The Florida Supreme Court has declined to create an innocence commission by rule but may do so by administrative order.

Chief Justice Peggy Quince also wrote that the high court is "very much interested in the cases of actual innocence" in a letter Wednesday to former Florida State University President Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte.

D'Alemberte, also a former American Bar Association president, filed a petition signed by 68 lawyers including three former justices asking for such a rule.

The attorneys noted at least 11 innocent people have been wrongfully convicted in Florida of crimes including rape and murder in recent years.

FORT LAUDERDALE

Jury awards $20M to widow of smoker

A jury has awarded $20 million in punitive damages to the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer. Robin Cohen's attorney, Adam Trop, says the six-person jury in Fort Lauderdale found that Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds each shared a third of the responsibility for Nathan Cohen's 1994 death at the age of 68. The jury found on Wednesday that Cohen shared a third of the responsibility.

The panel also awarded Cohen $10 million in compensatory damages, to be divided among the three responsible parties.

Associated Press

Family of SeaWorld trainer asks judge to block video of death 03/24/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 11:15pm]

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