Florida could cut premiums employers must pay to cover on-the-job injuries by rewarding employees who don't use the workers' compensation system, a legislative panel member suggested Tuesday. "How radical would that be? Can we make the employee a partner?" Sen. Fred Dudley, R-Cape Coral, asked the Senate Select Committee on Workers' Compensation Reform. Dudley also suggested cutting the employers' share of the workers' compensation coverage they must provide by charging employees a deductible or co-payment, similar to those for other forms of health insurance. The panel heard Tuesday from experts on medical costs that soak up more than half of employers' premium dollars.
Customer raped by robbers at
Pizza Hut sues the restaurant
JACKSONVILLE _ A 20-year-old college student raped at a Jacksonville Pizza Hut has sued the restaurant chain, alleging it doesn't do enough to protect customers from violence. The lawsuit, filed as Jane Doe vs. Pizza Hut of America, accuses the chain of negligence in the April 1992 rape and robbery at one of its Jacksonville restaurants. Rob Doughty, a Pizza Hut spokesman at the company headquarters in Wichita, Kan., said he couldn't comment on the lawsuit. Rutledge Liles, the woman's attorney, said she entered the restaurant about 20 minutes before its 11 p.m. closing to pick up a pizza. Three robbers showed up at the same time. They forced the woman at gunpoint into a walk-in cooler, where two of them "stripped (her) of her clothing and then sexually assaulted, battered and robbed" her, the lawsuit said. All three men were caught and convicted.
Jury ready in trial of sheriff
charged in drug-selling ring
JACKSONVILLE _ A jury has been seated to hear the federal drug trial of former Nassau County Sheriff Laurie Ellis, accused of using confiscated drugs to supply a distribution ring. Federal prosecutors say Laurie Ellis and his chief deputy, Rocky Mistler, supplied cocaine and marijuana to Callahan rancher Tony Peterson, who turned it over to a drug network. The ring operated from mid-1990 to late 1991. Opening arguments are set for Wednesday. Ellis is accused of 10 counts, ranging from drug conspiracy to obstruction of justice. When the supply of seized drugs ran low in Nassau County, Ellis turned to other sheriff's departments, agents said. He asked other sheriffs for some of their confiscated drugs, ostensibly to be used in undercover operations.
Man is determined to have ex-wife killed, police say
ORLANDO _ Woodson Poe doesn't like his ex-wife, and police say he has tried to hire hit men to do her harm, including murder. "He is just adamant about doing away with her," said sheriff's inspector Bill Morris. The woman, Montilee Duffy, is alive because the would-be hit men have gone to the police instead. On Monday, Poe was charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder. He had offered a fellow jail inmate $800 to kill Ms. Duffy, Morris said. According to investigators and court records, Poe was in jail on a spouse-abuse charge last July when he offered a fellow prisoner $2,000 to slice up his former wife's face and then kill her. He pleaded no contest to solicitation to commit second-degree murder. In February, on the day he was sentenced to house arrest, he used a pay telephone at his probation office to call and threaten the woman, Orlando police said. Mrs. Duffy, 43, who works in police records, refused to comment.