Nation & World Briefs 07-31-14 Attorney sues GM on behalf of 658 plaintiffs hurt or killed in crashes

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DETROIT -- A Texas lawyer has filed a lawsuit against General Motors on behalf of 658 people who were injured or killed in crashes allegedly caused by faulty ignition switches.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in New York City names 29 people who were killed in crashes and 629 who were hurt. All the crashes occurred after GM emerged from bankruptcy protection in July of 2009. That makes them exempt from GM's efforts to shield itself from claims due to crashes that occurred before the bankruptcy, attorney Robert Hilliard said in a statement.

Hilliard also said he will ask judges for permission to file another 248 cases from before the bankruptcy, including 21 deaths.

The lawsuit alleges that GM knew about the defective switches that can cause engines to stall since as early as 2001, yet it didn't recall any cars until this year. The switches can cut off the engine, knocking out power steering and brakes and disabling the air bags, which wouldn't protect people in a crash. The lawsuit seeks in excess of $75,000 in damages for each plaintiff.

Archbishop won't resign: The head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says he won't resign, despite criticism that he and other local Roman Catholic Church leaders concealed allegations about abusive priests, and he again dismissed allegations of sexual misconduct of his own. In a wide-ranging interview with Associated Press, Archbishop John Nienstedt said Wednesday that he doesn't believe he has mismanaged the scandal. He said he was shown memos about problem priests, but didn't fully grasp the scope of the troubles until last fall, after a former archdiocese employee went public with her concerns.

Indy mayor backs tax: Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard proposed tax increases Wednesday to hire 280 additional police officers over the next four years and help respond to the city's surge in violence by targeting links between poverty and crime. Ballard said the plan wouldn't be an overnight fix for the capital city, which with 80 homicides so far this year could be on track to rival 1998, when the city had a record 162 killings. But the mayor said his plan would help address some of the root causes of crime in the city, in part by expanding preschool access and fighting the high school drop-out rate.

Would end NSA phone records collection: Sen. Patrick Leahy on Tuesday introduced a bill to end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records, a proposal that goes further than a similar House measure and has drawn support from civil liberties groups, the White House and Republicans. The bill represents the latest step in fulfilling a January promise by President Barack Obama to end the NSA's collection of domestic calling records. If enacted, it would represent the most significant change to come in the wake of the leaks of once-secret surveillance programs by former NSA systems administrator Edward Snowden. The measure was co-sponsored by Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

FBI fugitive captured: Jose Manuel Garcia Guevara on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in connection with a 2008 rape and homicide has been captured and brought to Louisiana, where the crime took place. The FBI reported on its website that Guevara surrendered to authorities in Mexico and was returned to Lake Charles, La., Wednesday morning. Guevara is accused of breaking into 26-year-old Wanda Barton's home in Lake Charles on Feb. 19, 2008, raping her and then stabbing her to death in the presence of her then-4-year-old stepson. Guevara was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list last year. His was the 499th name to be added to the list, which was started in 1950.

Putin allies targeted: The European Union targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle for the first time Wednesday for the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine, subjecting three of his long-time associates to EU-wide asset freezes and travel bans. A total of eight people were added to the EU's sanctions list for allegedly undermining Ukraine's sovereignty or profiting from Moscow's takeover of Crimea, the EU's Official Journal showed. Three companies were also blacklisted.

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