LAWSUIT REINSTATED OVER FLIPPING OFF POLICE: NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court in New York has reinstated a lawsuit brought by a man who was arrested after giving the finger to a police officer and sued for what he calls a malicious prosecution.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday restored the claim brought by John Swartz and his wife after their May 2006 encounter with police as they drove through the upstate New York village of St. Johnsville, 50 miles west of Albany. The couple is seeking unspecified damages.
A lower court judge in Albany had tossed out the claim after police maintained they stopped Swartz's car because they feared the finger gesture was a sign of a domestic dispute.
The appeals court says such a conclusion is unreasonable given "the nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult."
BRONZE DOORS WORTH $8,000 STOLEN FROM OLD PA. TOMB: PITTSBURGH (AP) — Police say a set of bronze doors worth more than $8,000 has been stolen from a century-old tomb in a Pittsburgh cemetery.
The doors and a stained-glass window were reported missing Thursday from Union Dale Cemetery, the resting place of notables including World War I-era madam Nettie Gordon, post-Civil War Republican Congressman Thomas McKee Bayne and a 700-pound man known as P.T. Barnum's Illinois Giant Boy.
The theft was reported by the cemetery superintendent. He tells investigators he doesn't believe the doors are engraved with the family name that's on the mausoleum.
CONN. EMPLOYEE ALLEGEDLY SHOWED GUNMAN'S BODY: HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An employee at Connecticut's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into an allegation she let her husband view the body of the man who killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
A state employee with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on Thursday that Jean Henry, a processing technician, is accused of showing Adam Lanza's body to her husband on Dec. 16, two days after the shooting. Henry's husband does not work for the state. The employee spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is under way.
The 20-year-old Lanza shot and killed his mother inside their Newtown home before driving to Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 first graders and six staff members, then killing himself. His body has been claimed by his father, who made "private arrangements" for the remains, a family spokesman has said.
FAA: TEEN BROKE RULES WITH LATE-NIGHT PLANE FLIGHT: JASPER, Ala. (AP) — Federal authorities said Thursday a student pilot wasn't following regulations when he took off with two friends on a late-night flight New Year's Day that crashed in north Alabama and killed everyone aboard.
Federal Aviation Administration records show that the pilot, 17-year-old Jordan Ryan Smith of Jasper, received a student pilot certificate in February 2012. The FAA pointed to regulations that say "a student pilot may not act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying a passenger."
FAA regulations also require a pilot to have a multi-engine rating to fly a twin-engine plane like the Piper PA 30 that crashed shortly after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday in a swampy, wooded area about a mile south of the Walker County Airport.
Smith's mother, Sherrie Smith, said Wednesday he was one test away from having his pilot's license. She said she talked to him by cell phone about 10 p.m. Tuesday and he said he would be in by his 11:30 p.m. curfew. She said she knew he was out with friends, but did not know they had gone to the airport.
Also killed in the crash were 17-year-old Jordan Seth Montgomery and 19-year-old Brandon Tyler Ary, both of Arley.
SHELL DRILLING BARGE SUFFERED DAMAGE TO GENERATORS: ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Royal Dutch Shell PLC drill vessel aground off a remote Gulf of Alaska island is upright and stable but has suffered damage to generators and its upper deck.
Shell incident commander Sean Churchfield says a salvage team found open hatches that allowed water to enter the Kulluk, which drilled in the Beaufort (BOH'-fort) Sea during the 2012 open water season.
The Coast Guard says there's no indication of a fuel leak.
The drilling barge ran around Monday night after it lost a line to its main towing vessel and couldn't be controlled by a tugboat.
Churchfield says damage to the barge's generators means salvagers may have to bring external generators on board or work without power. He says the salvage is in the assessment stage and it's too early to tell when the vessel can be moved.
BILL TO HELP FOSTER YOUTHS WITH SCHOOL RECORDS: MIAMI (AP) — Federal lawmakers have passed a bill that will give social workers better access to school records in an effort to improve dismal education outcomes for foster children.
Social workers had been required to get a court order to access a foster child's school records under a law meant to protect the child's privacy. But advocates said the extra red tape made it difficult for social workers because foster youths change schools frequently as they move between different homes.
When child welfare agencies cannot access school records, children often don't have a way to bring those documents to new schools because foster parents may not be legal guardians entitled to access those records. Some students end up taking the same classes over because credits are lost or don't transfer.