Breaking Local News

Sate's High Court Rules on Sidewalk Case

The West Virginia Supreme Court says a jury should decide whether a man was trespassing when he strayed off the sidewalk and injured himself at a Cross Lanes casino. It reverses a Kanawha County judge's decision to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling that the man was trespassing when he left the sidewalk and fell off a 6-foot retaining wall. In 2013, David Ragonese filed a lawsuit against the Racing Corporation of West Virginia, which does business as the Mardi Gras Casino. The Charleston Daily Mail reports that Ragonese alleged the casino was negligent in protecting guests from the retaining wall. The casino's attorneys argued that Ragonese knew the wall was there and was trespassing when he walked off the sidewalk and down the hill that led to the wall.

Punitive Damages Bill Killed by Senate

State senators have voted down a proposal to cap punitive damages from civil lawsuits in the state. On Wednesday, two Republican senators broke party lines to help Democrats kill the measure in a 16-18 vote. The proposal would have capped punitive damages from lawsuits at $500,000 or three times the compensatory damages, whatever is greater. Republican Sens. Chris Walters and Daniel Hall voted against the bill alongside Democrats. The bill was one of several legal reforms being pushed by the newly minted Republican legislative majority.

Video Contest for Students Centers on Constitution

The West Virginia Department of Education and the state bar are sponsoring a student video contest with the star billing going to the U.S. Constitution. Budding film students can win as much as $500 for their work. The original 3-minute videos should address this theme: "The Constitution and You: How the Constitution Has Affected Your Life." The contest is open to West Virginia residents in grades 6 through 12. Entries will be divided by middle school and high school. First place in each category receives $500, while second place wins $250. Submissions will be accepted until March 27.

Lawmakers React To Federal Emission Regulations

West Virginia lawmakers have passed a bill letting the Legislature approve state plans to meet proposed federal carbon emission standards. Senators passed a proposal 24-10 Wednesday requiring the GOP-led Legislature's vote before the state sends compliance plans to the Environmental Protection Agency. It requires a state feasibility report 180 days after EPA's rule is finalized. The House passed a similar bill Feb. 6. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said legislative approval would restrict environmental regulators. Coal industry groups said lawmakers should be included. EPA's anti-global warming proposal aims to drop emissions from existing coal-fired plants by 30 percent nationally by 2030, compared to 2005. West Virginia's reduction would be 19.8 percent by 2030, compared to 2012. State plans are due June 2016, or 2017 with extensions.

Snow Leads to More School Closures

Another one to two inches of snow are possible today, in addition to what's already on the ground from earlier in the week. The heaviest snow has fallen in southern West Virginia, with up to 14 inches in spots along the I-64 corridor. More schools are closed today, including the districts in Kanawha, Lincoln, Mingo, Logan, Raleigh, and Putnam counties. Cross Lanes Christian School is also closed today.

Train Derailment Investigation Continues

Federal investigators are looking into what caused Monday's train crash near Montgomery. There's no cause for the derailment just yet, but they're looking at how the train was handling prior to the crash, the cars and the track...likely also the weather as they consider all factors in the moments before the crash. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a State of Emergency after the crash and the crude oil spill, which sent the National Guard into action. So far tests at West Virginia America Water have come back negative for any evidence of crude oil and the Montgomery water treatment plant is running again.

Medical Malpractice Bill Passes House

The WV House of Delegates passed legislation Tuesday that will expand medical malpractice liability caps to cover more health care agencies like nursing homes and pharmacies. Though the bill passed, some amendments were rejected that would have waived caps on non-economic damages like pain and suffering, in some malpractice suits in cases. The Senate also passed a version of the bill, and now the House version goes back to the Senate so the two versions can be reconciled.

Emergency Shelters Remain Open After Train Derailment

Between one and two thousand people are in the evacuation zone after Monday's train derailment near the Fayette-Kanawha County line, and they are staying in emergency shelters. Again, those spots are: the Fallsview Community Center, Valley High School, Armstrong Creek Community Center, and the Montgomer Fire Department. Those shelters will be open as long as they're needed.

Sheriff's Office Investigates Phone Scam

Another scam is being investigated by the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office. The caller in this scheme identifies himself as a detective with the Sheriff’s Tax Investigation Unit, and the sheriff's office says the calls are not legitimate. If you get a call like that, contact the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office at 304-357-0169 and if you can, make a note of the numbers on caller ID and any names given by the callers.

Committee Considers Adding Water Protections

Environmentalists want lawmakers to keep drinking water protections for rivers and streams across the state. And there were citizen groups that turned out Monday to ask members of the House Judiciary Committee to approve the state Department of Environmental Protection’s plan to extend those protections to the part of the Kanawha River that runs through downtown Charleston, according to the Charleston Gazette. There were several references to last year's chemical spill in the Elk River that contaminated drinking water supplies for 300-thousand. Many industry groups oppose adding drinking water protections The House Judiciary Committee may act on the DEP water quality bill this week.

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