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Archive for Thursday, September 6, 2001

Nation Briefs

September 6, 2001

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Salt Lake City: Kmart sued for selling gun to suicide victim

Not long before his suicide, Ryan Eslinger appeared to be responding to treatment for paranoid schizophrenia. He told his mother he felt like he was waking from a coma. He told his father he loved him.

But on May 23, the 19-year-old committed suicide with a shotgun he'd bought the previous day at Kmart. Eslinger's parents blame the store and they've sued the Troy, Mich.-based retailer for wrongful death saying their 17-year-old clerk should not have sold him the gun.

During opening arguments Wednesday, Kmart attorney Rodney Parker told jurors Ryan Eslinger, though mentally ill, was responsible for his own deliberate act.

But Sandra and Phil Eslinger allege Kmart violated federal gun laws when their sales clerk a high school acquaintance of Eslinger's sold him the shotgun without seeing proper identification. Eslinger used his passport that did not show his address, a requirement for gun-sale paperwork.

The Eslingers also allege Kmart was negligent in its hiring and employee training.

Montana: Rain aids battle against wildfire

Desperately needed rain began falling Wednesday on a wildfire that burned into Glacier National Park, giving firefighters hope and breaking more than two weeks of hot, dry and windy weather that favored the fire.

"God's smiling down on us," Bill Paxton said as he and other fire information officers watched the rain from a fire camp in Columbia Falls, just outside the park.

But fire bosses warned that the showers were not enough to drown flames that have burned 64,000 acres in northwestern Montana, including more than 14,000 acres in the park.

"This rain is going to stop the (growth) to almost nothing," said fire information officer Bob McKinney. "It won't put it out, but it won't spread very much either."

Baltimore: CSX pays businesses affected by derailment

CSX Transportation Inc. has paid nearly $100,000 to businesses affected by a train derailment in a downtown tunnel and plans to distribute 1,300 Orioles tickets to emergency workers who responded to the accident.

Since the July 18 derailment, which sparked a fire and an acid spill that brought much of the city to a standstill, CSX has processed about 50 of the 200 claims submitted by merchants for compensation of losses, and doled out an average of $2,000 to each.

Federal investigators have not determined the derailment's cause and CSX has not admitted fault.

"We see it as the right thing to do and as an opportunity to give back a little bit," company spokesman Rob Gould said.

Salt Lake City: Mormon church to pay millions to abuse victim

The Mormon church has agreed to pay $3 million to an Oregon man who claims the church did too little to protect him from sexual abuse by a pedophile.

Despite the settlement announced Tuesday, church attorney Von Keetch said the denomination's officials are not accepting any blame for the abuse. He said the payment was simply cheaper than pursuing the case in court.

Jeremiah Scott, 22, sued The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after a fellow church member was convicted of repeatedly sexually abusing him in Portland, Ore., when he was 11.

The suit claimed Gregory Lee Foster, then a bishop of the church, knew Franklin Richard Curtis had a history of sexually abusing children dating back to the 1970s, but did not warn Scott's mother before she allowed Curtis to move into their home. The case was scheduled to go to trial this fall.

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