RULING MAKES SMOKER CASES HARDER TO MAKE
An appeals court ruling has set new legal hurdles for 4,400 federal lawsuits pitting Florida smokers or their survivors against cigarette companies. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision Thursday could limit whether juries must accept as fact in each case that tobacco companies sold dangerous products and hid smoking risks from the public. The Florida Supreme Court decided in 2006 that smokers wouldn't have to prove those facts in individual cases when it tossed out a record $145 billion class action award in favor of separate trials. Smokers instead must prove an addiction to cigarettes, fault and damages owed. The ruling could eventually affect several thousand cases pending in Florida state courts.
FORT WALTON BEACH
Car thief dumps vehicles in water
Panhandle authorities are looking for the "wet bandit" they say may have stolen four vehicles in the past month and dumped them in the water. The Fort Walton Beach Police Department says it doesn't have any leads. A sport utility vehicle was stolen June 28 and found in about 8 feet of water with a PVC pipe wedged onto the gas pedal. The fourth vehicle was found Monday.
Man found dead next to toddler son
Sheriff's deputies were called 52 times in two years to the home of a man who was found dead with his three boys alone with the body for two days. Flagler County deputies found 24-year-old John Jason Uriarte lying on a mattress this week. His 3-year-old son — one of a set of twins — was curled up next to him. In 2008, a man told deputies he was babysitting when one of the babies fell out of bed. Doctors said the baby — the same twin beside his father's body — suffered brain damage caused by shaken baby syndrome. The man has been charged with aggravated child abuse. Details about the other calls were not available.