MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: First step in Target data breach lawsuit
The massive court case surrounding the Target data breach got underway yesterday (Wed), with more than 100 lawyers from across the country filling a federal courtroom in the Twin Cities. The lawsuits were filed after 40 million Target shoppers had their credit and debit card data stolen over the holiday shopping season. The cases have been split into three groups - a cluster of 111 consumer lawsuits, a group of 29 cases filed by banks and credit unions, and a much smaller group of four cases that involve shareholder lawsuits. Unless the suits are settled, the initial timetable calls for an early 2016 trial date. It’s not yet clear whether class-action status will be granted in the case.
Target’s chief marketing officer posted a blog he entitled “The Truth Hurts” on the networking site LinkedIn early this week, which has now gone viral on Facebook , Twitter, and other social networking sites. Jeff Jones wrote about the chain’s “rough patch” and the need to change the way they do business in order to bring respect back to the brand. He vowed to embrace Target’s critics and use what they share to challenge the culture of the retailer. Jones says Target has a lot of work to do - “The kind of work that will be uncomfortable, in order to make Target irresistible.”
Federal prosecutors say a Hennepin County corrections officer and a Minneapolis schools food service employee conspired to buy guns for gang members that used them in robberies and drug deals. The feds say at least seven weapons and large amounts of ammunition were purchased over several months, and they later turned up in local crimes. Former corrections officer Jacquelyn Burnes of Maple Grove is now a wanted fugitive; she was fired in March after her involvement with the gang members was reported to authorities. Also arrested was Angela Carter, a cook at South High School in Minneapolis
A woman and a child were injured in an apparent domestic dispute in Minneapolis. Police were called to the hospital when a vehicle showed up at the emergency room with the windshield and a side window smashed out and found three small children inside, and discovered that the woman and another child were seriously hurt. Police say they were attacked by an enraged man who first smashed a window and then fired a gun at the car as the woman drove away. The child is being treated for glass lodge in her eye and may also have suffered a glancing bullet wound to her head. 21-year-old Diontre Hill and 22-year-old Myles Estes were arrested and charged with first degree assault. The injured girl may lose her sight.
A new trial has been ordered for a former Iowa officer imprisoned on a conviction for setting fire to the police station where he worked and stealing a coworker’s assault rifle. The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled that former Forest City officer Thaddeus Ellenbecker’s confession can’t be used because investigators hadn’t read his rights. Ellenbecker was shot during a struggle after he walked out of a police interview and confessed while he was in the hospital, but later maintained his innocence at trial. The appeals court ruled that Ellenbecker was in police custody during the struggle and at the hospital, and should have been read his Miranda rights. Ellenbecker lived in Rochester before he took the job with the Forest Lake Police Department.
The owners of an RV that contained the body of an Anoka man are not considered suspects in his death. 22-year-old Kevin Casserly was found dead in an outside storage compartment of the RV by members of a bachelor party who had rented the RV for a trip to the Kentucky Derby. They found the body when they stopped to pick up friends in Winona. Casserly had been missing for about six months.
Federal authorities say the staff at the Tortilleria Jalisco restaurant in Rochester could face charges after they allegedly used the names and employment information of several illegal immigrants to file bogus tax returns. The restaurant was raided more than a year ago, and agents carried out documents that apparently show more than $1 million worth of fraudulent tax returns were filed. No charges have been filed yet.
State officials release April unemployment numbers later this morning (10am Thurs). In March the state's jobless rate held steady at 4.8 percent, and state job analyst Steve Hine says Minnesota's labor force surpassed the three million mark for the first time in Minnesota history. Hine says the state hit two million jobs in November 1978, two-and-a-half million 15 years later in 1993 -- and it took over 20 years for Minnesota to gain an additional half-million jobs to reach the three-million mark. Minnesota's unemployment rate remains below the national jobless rate of 6.3 percent.
Do legislative leaders have an agreement on a bonding bill yet? That's the question at the Minnesota Capitol with four days remaining for lawmakers to finish their business. Senate bonding committee Chairman, Plummer Democrat Leroy Stumpf says he hopes they have agreement with Republicans and many of his colleagues are "pleasantly surprised" with the proposal. Lead Republican on the bonding committee, Rochester Senator Dave Senjem, says for the most part, the votes are there from Senate Republicans -- but he points to less certainty in the House. Senjem says he thinks the fire-sprinkler issue is still "an important one for House Republicans, and we'll have to see whether they stand their ground." Governor Dayton says he'll veto the bonding bill if it removes the requirement for fire sprinklers in high-priced new homes.
Minnesota House and Senate negotiators continue trying to reach a compromise on a medical marijuana bill with only four days remaining for the state legislature to finish its business. Governor Dayton says the couple dozen sites around the state in the Senate proposal, to grow medical marijuana and sell it in leaf form, is a "big, big opening" through which the drug will quickly get into hands where it's not intended. Dayton notes the House proposal -- one manufacturing site if necessary in Minnesota, plus a distribution center thet people could order from -- is "probably the most efficient, most cost-effective way of handling it." And would Dayton agree to a single medical marijuana manufacturing site but multiple dispensaries around the state? The governor says that "depends on what they're dispensing," and adds that growing and distributing leaf marijuana is "fraught with peril."
Congress is getting closer to closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in order to protect Minnesota waters from the invasive Asian carp. Minnesota Senator Al Franken says the lock and dam closure is part of an eight-billion-dollar water infrastructure bill that would fund improvements in ports and waterways, flood protection, and other such projects. The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation this week and the House next week, and it has strong bipartisan support and is expected to pass both chambers.
This is Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Day (5/15) and officers from across the state are standing guard at the Peace Officers Memorial on the State Capitol grounds in Saint Paul. The observance started last (Wed) night and runs 24 hours through this evening (Thurs7:30pm). Commander Kevin Torgerson says officers from dozens of departments are taking shifts. Torgerson says the officer recites the name of the fallen officer after ringing the bell. There's also a wreath laying ceremony and Honor Guard members walking "the blue line." The observance ends with a candlelight vigil and march across the Wabasha Street Bridge.
A Ponsford man now faces federal murder charges for a house fire on the White Earth Reservation that claimed the life of his girlfriend. Forty-nine-year-old Charles Jones was already charged with murder and arson in the December 30th blaze in Becker County. Jones admitted to a sheriff's investigator that he started the blaze while 35-year-old Shalonda Clark was asleep on her couch. She died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Jones was found at a neighbor's house with burns and singed clothing.
The top two winners of the state Health Department's UVideo challenge will air during tonight's season finale of "The Vampire Diaries." MDH spokeswoman Michelle Strangis says the main objective was to create 30-second videos where teens could explaining the risks of indoor and outdoor tanning to their peers. Strangis says they did it in "really creative ways" and they're excited with the results of the competition. The winner of this year's challenge -- 18-year-old Scott Svare, a senior at Burnsville High School -- will receive a thousand-dollar cash prize from the Minnesota Dermatological Society.