News

Hospitals won’t get bailout cash

MIAMI — An effort to secure up to $100 million in emergency funding for Miami’s struggling major hospital system has failed.

Jackson Health System’s CEO spent Thursday in Tallahassee lobbying for rescue cash. The system, which provides the only round-the-clock trauma care in Miami-Dade, says it is nearly insolvent.

Legislators told Eneida Roldan they were sympathetic, but couldn’t help financially with the state’s own budget deficit of up to $3.2 billion.

Miami legislators did say they’d try to help Jackson receive the average $77 million it gets in state money every 30 days in 15-day increments instead of monthly.

Smoker’s widow gets $17.5 million in lawsuit

GAINESVILLE — The widow of a Florida smoker has been awarded $17.5 million in damages by a Gainesville jury in a lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The jury on Friday awarded Amanda Hall $12.5 million in punitive damages, adding to $5 million in compensatory damages awarded Thursday. Hall’s husband Arthur died in 1995.

R.J. Reynolds said it will appeal the verdict.

Doctor charged with murder in overdose deaths

WEST PALM BEACH — A West Palm Beach doctor has been indicted on three counts of first-degree murder in the overdose deaths of three patients.

Dr. Sergio Rodriguez was accused of illegally distributing prescription drugs and arrested in 2008. Palm Beach County sheriff’s officials said it was the culmination of an 8-month undercover investigation.

Authorities say Rodriguez had a West Palm Beach pediatric office but also saw adult patients and prescribed the drugs without examining them.

He was indicted on Friday and remains held in the Palm Beach County jail.

Elderly man charged with robbing banks released

TAMPA — The 73-year-old man charged with robbing three Tampa banks to pay his mortgage has been released from jail.

James Bruce was released on his own recognizance at a court hearing Friday, without having to post bail. His lawyer argued that Bruce has health problems and couldn’t post bail.

The judge ordered Bruce not to return to any banks while on release. Prosecutors did not object.

Bruce had pleaded not guilty Thursday to three counts of strong-armed robbery.

Boy accused of killing father, a TSA manager

PENSACOLA — A 14-year-old Panhandle boy is charged with shooting and killing his father, a TSA airport security manager.

Pensacola police say 14-year-old Warren Williams called 911 around 7:30 p.m. Thursday and said there had been a shooting at his Pensacola home. Emergency responders found the father, 55-yer-old William Williams, dead.

The elder Williams, a retired Marine, was assistant federal security director at Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport.

The boy was arrested on-scene, accused of shooting his father several times.

Driver in fatal bus crash once deemed unfit for job

TALLAHASSEE — A newspaper has obtained a memo showing the driver of a full school bus that crashed and killed a student once admitted having a medical condition that barred him from the job.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported Friday that Timothy Kelly told school administrators in June he was an insulin-dependent diabetic.

State law prevents drivers from having that condition because it can cause unconsciousness or disorientation.

After being told he couldn’t work, Kelly gave the Gadsden County School District a doctor’s note saying he was taking other medication.

Death row inmate dies of apparently natural causes

VERO BEACH — A Florida death row inmate who murdered a Treasure Coast couple nearly 30 years ago has died in state prison.

The Florida Department of Corrections reports that 55-year-old Jim Chandler died last Friday at Union Correctional Institute in Raiford. An autopsy is pending, but the death appears to be from natural causes.

Chandler was convicted in May 1981 of first-degree murder in the deaths of Harold and Rachel Steinberger. Chandler bludgeoned the couple to death at their Sebastian home in July 1980.

Girl injured after playing with fire in shed

NAVARRE — A 12-year-old Panhandle girl suffered serious burns after playing with gasoline and fire in shed outside her home.

The Holley-Navarre Fire Department reports that the girl received second-degree burns on her right arm and third-degree burns on her right leg after the shed caught fire Wednesday evening.

The girl’s parents were not home when the fire occurred.

The girl was taken to a Pensacola hospital.

— Herald wire services

  Comments