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POSTED December 21, 2012 9:32 p.m.

PHILLY TEEN SUES SCHOOL OVER ROMNEY T-SHIRT FLAP: PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The family of a Philadelphia teenager who says she was mocked by her geometry teacher for wearing a Mitt Romney T-shirt to class has sued the teacher and the school district.

The lawsuit claims the district ignored 16-year-old Samantha Pawlucy's right to free speech.

The lawsuit claims the district let other students harass Pawlucy and subjected her to emotional distress. It seeks unspecified damages.

Teacher Lynette Gaymon has apologized to Pawlucy. A telephone message left Friday for Gaymon hasn't been returned.

Pawlucy says the teacher questioned why she was wearing the shirt and called others to the room to laugh at her in September.

Romney called the girl's family and said he appreciated her courage.

OHIOAN SETTLES SPITTING SUIT WITH PA. BURGER KING:

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A black Ohio trucker has settled his federal civil rights lawsuit against a Burger King franchise in northwestern Pennsylvania where he contends a white employee spit on his Whopper Jr. in 2008. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Glenn Goodwin of Cleveland filed the civil rights lawsuit against Fast Food Enterprises, which operated the restaurant along Interstate 90 in Fairview.

Burger King's attorneys had argued there's no proof of the spitting or that the worker was motivated by racial prejudice if the spitting occurred. Furthermore, the attorneys wanted the lawsuit thrown out, along with the burger — which a state trooper who arrived to take Goodwin's complaint that night did after examining the burger. The trooper reported finding saliva in the burger but didn't charge anyone because no DNA testing was done to determine if it belonged to a specific employee.

In refusing Burger King's request to dismiss the lawsuit in May, U.S. District Judge Sean McLaughlin in Erie wrote that it would be unfair to dismiss the lawsuit because the trooper, not Goodwin, was responsible for throwing away the burger — which would have been the key piece of evidence for both sides.

AUTHORITIES: 3 SET DEADLY IND. BLAST FOR INSURANCE: INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Three people charged in a gas explosion that devastated an Indianapolis neighborhood deliberately set up the deadly blast to collect a big insurance payout, authorities said Friday.

The home's owner, Monserrate Shirley; her boyfriend, Mark Leonard; and his brother, Bob Leonard, were arrested Friday and charged with murder, arson and other counts in the Nov. 10 blast that killed two people.

Shirley, 47, was facing mounting financial woes, including $63,000 in credit card debt and worsening bankruptcy proceedings, court documents say. And a friend of Mark Leonard's told investigators Leonard said he had "lost a ton of money" — about $10,000 — at a casino some three weeks before the explosion.

Investigators believe the trio had actually tried but failed to blow up Shirley's home the weekend before the successful timed explosion, according to Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry. The fiery blast destroyed five homes, including Shirley's, and caused widespread damage to dozens of others in the Richmond Hill subdivision in the far south side of the city.

Curry called the explosion a "thoroughly senseless act" that killed Shirley's next-door neighbors. He said the victims, John Dion Longworth, a 34-year-old electronics expert, and his 36-year-old wife, second-grade teacher Jennifer Longworth, were "in the prime of their lives."

ALA. WOMAN SLEEPS THROUGH TORNADO RIPPING OFF ROOF : MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama woman said Friday she fell asleep on the couch and didn't realize a tornado had ripped off part of her roof and damaged most of the home until firefighters and neighbors came to check on her.

Betty Russell, who will turn 77 on Dec. 26, said she slept through the violent storm Thursday night after she dozed off on the sofa watching TV. She was woken by sirens from rescuers in the area afterward.

"I didn't know I was that heavy a sleeper," she said. "It had caved in the south side of my house and honestly I didn't hear it. I cannot believe I didn't hear it but I didn't."

Russell walked threw her debris-strewn house and looked at the hole in the ceiling of her bedroom, where she usually sleeps.

"There is a huge hole right where her bed is," her grandson, Scott Russell, 13, said. "She usually goes to sleep in that bedroom, but for some reason she didn't do it this time and she was saved."

WOMAN JOINS HUSBAND ON MAINE ZUMBA SEX CLIENT LIST: KENNEBUNK, Maine (AP) — Police in Maine say a woman has joined her husband on the client list of a Zumba dance instructor charged with using her studio as a front for prostitution.

She became the first woman to be identified Friday by police out of a list at least 64 men already charged with engaging a prostitute in the case. Police say the woman's husband was charged in October with being a client in the seaside town of Kennebunk.

Twenty-nine-year-old Alexis Wright has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts including prostitution, invasion of privacy, tax evasion and other charges. Her business partner also has pleaded not guilty.

JUDGE OKS SETTLEMENT IN BP CLASS ACTION SUIT: NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge on Friday gave final approval to BP's settlement with businesses and individuals who lost money because of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP PLC has estimated it will pay $7.8 billion to resolve economic and medical claims from more than 100,000 businesses and individuals hurt by the nation's worst offshore oil spill. The settlement has no cap; the company could end up paying more or less.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who gave his preliminary approval in May, made it final in a 125-page ruling released Friday evening.

 

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