TIME Courts

Kimberly-Clark Faces $500 Million Lawsuit for Ebola Protection Claims

Law firm Eagan Avenatti says millions of the gowns have been sold since 2011, putting healthcare workers and patients at “considerable risk"

Kleenex tissue maker Kimberly-Clark Corp is being sued for more than $500 million for allegedly falsely claiming their surgical gowns protect against Ebola.

California law firm Eagan Avenatti filed the suit Wednesday saying Kimberly-Clark continued to claim the “MICROCOOL Breathable High Performance Surgical Gown” provided the highest protection, despite failing industry tests for protection against infectious diseases, including Ebola.

The law firm says millions of the gowns have been sold since 2011, putting healthcare workers and patients at “considerable risk,” reports Reuters.

“Kimberly-Clark needs to immediately recall these gowns and come clean with the FDA, CDC, healthcare professionals and the general public,” lead attorney Michael Avenatti said in a statement. “The risks associated with continued concealment of the truth are far too great.”

Eagan Avenatti is seeking a class-action lawsuit alleging fraud, false advertising, negligent misrepresentation and unfair business practices and is brought on behalf of lead plaintiff and surgeon Hrayr Shahinian and 500,000 others.

Kimberly-Clark has said it does not comment on ongoing litigation cases.

[Reuters]

TIME Crime

Accused Cop Killer Eric Frein in Police Custody

Handout of Matthew Eric Frein, 31, of Canadensis, Pennsylvania
Matthew Eric Frein, 31, of Canadensis, Pennsylvania, is shown in this undated handout photo provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Transport September 16, 2014. Reuters

Pennsylvania State Police, ending a seven-week manhunt, have captured a man accused of ambushing two troopers, leaving one dead and seriously injuring the other.

Eric Frein, 31, was taken into custody Thursday, state police said. They released no details of his capture.

Frein is charged with opening fire outside the Blooming Grove barracks on Sept. 12, killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson and seriously wounding another trooper.

Police said they linked him to the ambush after a man walking his dog discovered his partly submerged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles from the shooting scene. Inside, investigators found shell casings matching those found at barracks as well as Frein’s driver’s license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

Saying Frein was armed and extremely dangerous, officials had closed schools and urged residents to be alert and cautious. Using dogs, thermal imaging technology and other tools, law enforcement officials combed miles of forest as they hunted for Frein, whom they called an experienced survivalist at home in the woods.

They pursued countless tips and closed in on an area around Frein’s parents’ home in Canadensis after he used his cellphone to try contacting them, and the signal was traced to a location about 3 miles away. At times police ordered nearby residents to stay inside or prevented them from returning home.

Trackers found items they believe Frein hid or abandoned in the woods — including soiled diapers, empty packs of Serbian cigarettes, an AK-47-style assault rifle and ammunition and two pipe bombs that were functional and capable of causing significant damage. They also discovered a journal, allegedly kept by Frein and found in a bag of trash at a hastily abandoned campsite, that offered a chilling account of the ambush and his subsequent escape into the woods. The journal’s author described Dickson as falling “still and quiet” after being shot twice.

Police spotted a man they believed to be Frein at several points during the manhunt, but it was always from a distance, with the rugged terrain allowing him to keep them at bay. Police said he appeared to be treating the manhunt as a game.

Frein allegedly held anti-law enforcement views for many years and expressed them both online and to people who knew him. But the source of his alleged vendetta remains unclear. His criminal record appears limited to a decade-old misdemeanor case involving items stolen from a World War II re-enactors event in upstate New York, for which he spent 109 days in jail.

Police found a U.S. Army manual called “Sniper Training and Employment” in the suspect’s bedroom at his parents’ house, and his father, a retired Army major, told authorities that his son is an excellent marksman who “doesn’t miss,” according to a police affidavit. Authorities believe he had been planning a confrontation with police for years, citing information they found on a computer used by Frein.

Frein belonged to a military re-enactor’s group, playing the part of a Serbian solder. He had a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

The FBI named him to its 10 most wanted list.

His 18-year-old sister, Tiffany Frein, earlier acknowledged that her brother “did something messed up” but told NBC News that he is “not a psycho.”

Frein is charged with first-degree murder and various other offenses, including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction filed after police discovered the pipe bombs.

At his funeral, Dickson was called a devoted husband and father and “impeccable” ex-Marine who took his work seriously but also enjoyed making wooden toys for his young sons and finding humor in everyday situations. Trooper Alex Douglass was shot in the pelvis and critically injured in the ambush, which took place during a late-night shift change.

Douglass remained hospitalized until Oct. 16, when he was discharged to a rehabilitation facility.

TIME natural disaster

Hawaii Calls In National Guard as River of Lava Creeps Onward

Hawaii Kilauea Volcano Lava
The lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano burns vegetation as it approaches a property boundary near the village of Pahoa, Hawaii, on Oct. 28, 2014. US Geological Survey—Reuters

Intended to protect residents from looters

A delegation of 83 National Guard troops headed to Hawaii on Thursday to provide security for the Big Island community of Pahoa as a stream of lava from the Kilauea volcano continues to creep toward the small town.

Though the lava is traveling at less than 5 yd. per hour and has been approaching for the past several weeks, residents fear that looters will raid evacuated houses. Residents of about 50 houses in what officials are calling “a corridor of risk” have been told to be ready to leave, according to Reuters.

The Kilauea volcano has erupted persistently since 1983 from its Pu’u O’o vent. The latest flow of lava started on June 27.

[Reuters]

TIME justice

Philadelphia Cops Offer Safe Space for Craigslist Exchanges

Man handing woman US dollar banknotes, close-up
PM Images/Getty Images

Residents of the suburb of Conshohocken can swap their used futons for cash in the safe surroundings of their local police station

A police department in the Philadelphia suburb of Conshohocken is offering its lobby and parking lot as a venue to buy and sell items from Craigslist and other online marketplaces. The location is well-lit and has 24-hour surveillance so that you can feel safe exchanging your used futon for money.

“I figured there’s got to be a better place for people who don’t know each other to complete these transactions,”Conshohocken Police officer Steve Vallone said, the AP reports. “Why not allow people to complete their online transactions from here? It seems like the perfect match.”

The offer came shortly after an alleged rapist was charged with killing a local man he met through Craigslist, according to NBC News in Philadelphia.

Similar measures have been taken in Hillsborough County in Florida, where residents can visit four of the police station’s parking lots to engage in cash transactions.

[NBC]

TIME Accident

Kansas Airport Plane Crash Kills 4

Wichita Airport-Crash
Firefighters try to put out a fire at Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita, Kan. on Oct. 30, 2014 shortly after a small plane crashed into the building killing several people including the pilot. Brian Corn—AP

Approximately 100 people were in flight safety center when airplane plowed into it

A small airplane plowed into the top of a flight safety center at an airport in Kansas after losing engine power on takeoff Thursday, killing at least four people, injuring five and leaving four others missing, officials said.

The twin-engine Beechcraft King Air reported trouble after taking off from Mid-Content Airport in Wichita around 10 a.m. ET. It hit a two-story FlightSafety International building while trying to return to the runway, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The crash sent up thick plumes of black smoke that could be seen for miles.

“There wasn’t a loud bang, there wasn’t a loud…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Education

Science Teachers Need Training Before Fiery Chemistry Displays, Panel Says

After three fires in the last two months

A federal board seeking to improve safety in science classrooms recommended Thursday that teachers undergo more training before performing fiery, explosive chemical experiments beloved of high schoolers.

After investigating three fires in the last two months, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board found that the teachers lacked safety training, used too much of the flammable chemicals, and did not put up see-through safety barriers between themselves and their pupils.

The three incidents, in Nevada, Colorado and Illinois, badly injured students and teachers but did not lead to any deaths. At the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno, 13 people received burns. All three cases involved demonstrations of flames using methanol.

The panel’s chairperson, Rafael Moure-Eraso, said it was not attempting to take the fun out of the classroom. “When performed safely these kinds of demonstrations can engage students and visitors and stimulate their interest in science,” he said. “But methanol… is classified as a highly flammable liquid, and users should adopt strict safety controls.”

TIME ebola

Nurse’s Bike Ride Defying Ebola Quarantine Could Set Legal Precedent

Kaci Hickox, Ted Wilbur
Nurse Kaci Hickox and her boyfriend Ted Wilbur are followed by a Maine state trooper as they ride bikes on a trail near her home in Fort Kent, Maine, on Oct. 30, 2014 Robert F. Bukaty—AP

The standoff in Maine may influence policy around the nation

A morning bike ride in a rural Maine town may have set in motion a chain of events that could determine how state and local governments respond to outbreaks of contagious diseases.

Kaci Hickox — a Maine nurse who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa — has remained at odds with state health officials after she was placed under quarantine even though she tested negative for the virus and has not shown any symptoms.

On Thursday, Hickox defied Maine’s isolation order, leaving her Fort Kent home for a bike ride with her boyfriend. They were trailed by state police, but the officers were powerless to stop her.

That’s because the quarantine issued by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services is considered “voluntary,” meaning the state needs a court order to prevent Hickox from actually leaving her home. State officials have filed an order to make it mandatory, and on Thursday, Governor Paul LePage tried to broker a compromise when he told ABC News that the state would drop the quarantine if Hickox submitted to a blood test for the disease. By Thursday evening, however, LePage announced that negotiations between Hickox and state health officials had failed.

“As a result of the failed effort to reach an agreement, the governor will exercise the full extent of his authority allowable by law,” LePage’s office said in a statement released Thursday. “Maine statutes provide robust authority to the state to use legal measures to address threats to public health.”

The episode could set a precedent for how infectious diseases are dealt with in the future. Public-health experts say that depending on how the court decides, the case could either further establish that states have wide latitude in deciding who can be quarantined, or bolster the argument that the civil liberties of those who have no symptoms cannot be unduly restrained, even in a time of a public health emergency.

“The court could be plowing new legal ground,” says Robert Field, a professor of law and public health at Drexel University. “The decision would only be binding in Maine, but it could influence the thinking of courts around the country.”

A court order would force the state to show that Hickox’s confinement is justified and based on medical science, but that could be difficult considering Hickox has yet to show symptoms of Ebola. She says she has been tested twice since her return to the U.S. on Oct. 24 and the result came back negative each time.

Emory University law professor Polly Price says if the court decides in favor of the Maine health officials, other states may “feel free to post armed guards outside of asymptomatic people’s houses, or confine them in an institution.”

If a judge finds in favor of a mandatory quarantine, Hickox can still appeal based on her constitutional right of due process, and her lawyers have pledged to do so.

Either way, some experts fear that the case may also have a more short-term impact on Americans still looking to help Ebola patients in West Africa, where almost 5,000 people have died from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s a knee-jerk reaction that won’t do very much to protect the people of Maine or the U.S.,” says Susan Kim, a Georgetown University law professor. “It will, however, hurt efforts to contain the epidemic in West Africa if we treat returning health care workers like pariahs.”

TIME

The Teacher-Tenure Debate

I wrote in my last Editor’s letter (“Honor Thy Teacher,” Nov. 3) about the vital role teachers play. Recognizing and rewarding great teachers should be a national priority. Union leaders, however, are charging that by writing about legal efforts to remove bad teachers from classrooms, with the cover line “Rotten Apples,” TIME has insulted all teachers; some of them have launched protests and petition drives. In fact, TIME has nothing but admiration for America’s dedicated teachers and their commitment to excellence. We view education as crucial to America’s success, and it concerns me if teachers who have not had a chance to read our coverage have heard it mischaracterized.

Our mission is to spur discussion of important issues, and in the interest of an informed debate, I am making the story free for all readers on TIME.com, (time.com/teachers), so everyone can judge for themselves. I also invited union leaders, students, parents, teachers and administrators to share their views. Many factors play a role in student success, which ensures that there are many views and agendas at play in the debate over school reform. Visit time.com/teachertenure to read their responses.

Nancy Gibbs, EDITOR

 

TIME natural disaster

9 Photos of Molten Lava Destruction From Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano

Lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii's Big Island flowed close enough to residents this week that officials warned of evacuations. See how the lava continues to creep closer to civilization and threaten the village of Pahoa

TIME People

Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino Dies at 71

Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino
Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino W. Marc Bernsau—Boston Business Journal

Menino was the city's longest-serving mayor, who led for more than two decades

Thomas M. Menino, the beloved former mayor of Boston who led the city for more than two decades, died Thursday. He was 71, and his passing was confirmed in a statement on his Facebook page.

Menino, who served five terms in office to become the city’s longest-serving mayor, was diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer soon after stepping down earlier this year. Last week, Menino announced that he would stop chemotherapy treatment — and suspend a tour to promote his book Mayor for a New America — to spend more time with his family and friends.

“At just after 9:00am this morning the Honorable Thomas M. Menino passed into eternal rest after a courageous battle with cancer,” the statement said. “He was surrounded by his devoted wife Angela, loving family and friends. Mayor Menino, the longest serving Mayor of the City of Boston, led our city through a transformation of neighborhood resurgence and historic growth — leaving the job he loved, serving the city and people he loved this past January. We ask that you respect the families’ privacy during this time and arrangements for services will be announced soon.”

Menino is credited with overseeing the ascent of Boston’s skyline and leading the city through economic downturns to become a hub for business and technology. The city’s first mayor of Italian descent, according to the Boston Globe, Menino’s old-school political style won him the support of the city, leaving office with an approval rating of nearly 80%. A 2008 Globe poll found that more than half of the Boston respondents said they had met him personally.

Read TIME’s 2013 profile of Menino here: The Last of the Big-City Bosses

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