Federal roundup: Case actions include Blount, Neilson

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Wendell Blount, a former Calhoun County businessman, will forfeit a $10,000 bond taken out Nov. 3, 2009, upon his arrest in the manslaughter death of a Natchez Trace cyclist.
The bond, for which $1,000 was paid down, was conditioned on his appearance in court to answer the charges against him.
But not long after his conviction by a federal jury, Blount took off from house arrest. Months later, U.S. marshals found him in Louisiana and returned him to Oxford.
Senior U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers ordered recovery of the money, plus interest and court costs, until it is paid.
Blount is serving a 120-month sentence in the Lafayette County Detention Center.
His conviction is on appeal.
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Scores of criminal and civil cases assigned to U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. recently were transferred to other judges because of Pepper’s death Jan. 24.
Those cases now are under the jurisdiction of Chief Judge Michael P. Mills, Judge Sharion Aycock, and senior judges Neal Biggers and Glen Davidson.
Pepper died of a massive heart attack.
Among the transferred cases is the multi-million-dollar judgment to Monsanto Co. against Lee County agribusinessman Mitchell Scruggs and others.
Mills took over its jurisdiction after Aycock removed herself from the case Feb. 6.
The case continues in the North Mississippi district because Monsanto asked for enhanced damages against the defendants.
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A dead trucker’s widow agreed to settle her 2011 wrongful death lawsuit with H&M International Transportation Inc.’s insurance company and a driver.
Filed Feb. 8, the agreement with Rita Marie Bruce stated that Brookwood Insurance Co. paid her $59,957.39 on behalf of her husband, James L. Bruce, and “a willingness to pay” her $15,000.
H&M’s insurance carrier also negotiated a compromise settlement of “a confidential sum of money” as compensation for Bruce’s injuries and death, in excess of available worker’s comp benefits, the court order noted.
Bruce sued the company and driver Isaac Whitlock after a July 21, 2009, fiery accident killed her husband on Highway 78 near the Myrtle exit in Union County.
Her lawsuit claimed a transport truck driven by Whitlock was moving so slowly and without proper lighting that her husband’s truck rear-ended it.
She sought $5 million actual damages, plus punitive damages.
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Former Oxford FBI agent Hal Neilson’s civil lawsuit looks a bit shorn against former U.S. attorney James Greenlee.
Neilson first sued Greenlee in circuit court in Lafayette County, claiming Greenlee had a vendetta against him and set out to ruin his career and his health.
Greenlee moved the lawsuit to federal court in late January, with two judges and a magistrate judge removing themselves from the case.
Then on Feb. 1, new U.S. Attorney Felicia C. Adams was added to the case and Greenlee was removed individually and officially.
One day later, the United States was substituted as the defendant, with all issues dismissed against Adams and Greenlee.
That leaves Senior Judge Neal B. Biggers to deal with “all further proceedings.”
In light of the dismissal, it’s unclear what options remain for Neilson against Greenlee individually.
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Anna Kathryn Edwards of Tupelo settled her lawsuit against Walgreens earlier this month, and her attorney, Jason Herring, says she’s satisfied with the result.
Edwards claimed she took valuable slides to Walgreens to have photo prints made from them, and everything was lost.
In her lawsuit, she said she was especially distressed by the situation because the slides were of her son, who was killed years before in an auto accident.
While Herring did not offer details about the settlement, he said they are “pleased with Walgreens’ response.”
The Dec. 20, 2011, complaint was moved from Lee County to federal court by Walgreen Co.
Judge Sharion Aycock dismissed the action because of the settlement.
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Brooke Rutledge’s lawsuit against social media giant Facebook Inc. moves from North Mississippi to California, where other similar actions are consolidated.
Rutledge of Lafayette County sued in October 2011, claiming Facebook improperly tracked her conduct on the Internet after she logged out of her account.
The order transferring her lawsuit said the goal was “to centralize” the litigation of 11 actions pending in 10 federal court districts.
“No party opposes centralization,” the order stated.
The consolidated lawsuits are renamed “Facebook Cookies Litigation,” which the order says brings common questions of fact together in the Northern District of California, where “relevant documents and witnesses are located.”