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Published Nov. 27, 2009

An appeals court says the apartment complex where a former University of South Florida student was abducted and shot three times has to pay up on a huge jury award: $10-million in punitive damages. The 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld a jury's 2004 finding that the owner of Remington Apartment Homes, Southstart Equity and property manager Brookside Properties failed to protect student Lai Chau. Her attorney, Barry Cohen, hailed the decision as a victory for renters. "Jurors are punishing these businesses that lie to these people about the safety and security they provide them," he said.

Debate over manatees touches a few nerves

Crystal River's cash cow, the endangered manatee, took center stage Wednesday night as dozens of people in an emotional crowd of more than 120 offered a wide range of ideas on how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should manage the manatee viewing experience in Crystal River. Local dive business owners urged more enforcement of existing rules to curb abuses by a small number of people and praised the swimming-with-manatees experience for creating a generation of people who want to save the protected animals. Conservationists called for new rules to limit the numbers of people in the water and prohibit swimmers from touching the animals. For more information on Wednesday's meeting, visit and read Friday's St. Petersburg Times.

State ban logs off Internet hunters

Internet hunting may sound like a video game, but it isn't. And it won't be coming to Florida. The practice originated in Texas several years ago with a Web site that allowed hunters to shoot captive animals by lining up a shot on their computer monitor and controlling a gun with their mouse. The carcass then would be shipped to the customer. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Wednesday made Florida the 35th state to outlaw Internet hunting.