Law and order
MIAMI - A Florida jury has slammed the nation's No. 2 cigarette maker, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., with $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996.
The case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 tossed out a $145 billion class action verdict. That ruling also said smokers and their families need only prove addiction and that smoking caused their illnesses or deaths.
CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs have filed a lawsuit against several people whom the team accuses of being behind a fake mascot that has been engaging in bad behaviour near Wrigley Field, including getting into a bar fight that was captured on video and posted online.
The team filed its lawsuit on Friday in federal court in Chicago against John Paul Weier, Patrick Weier and three other unnamed individuals whom the team says dress in the bear costume, the Chicago Sun-Times reported (http://bit.ly/1nWkpTD ).
THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Forensic teams fanned out across the Netherlands on Saturday to collect material including DNA samples that will help positively identify the remains of victims killed in the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine.
Police said in a tweet that 40 pairs of detectives from the National Forensic Investigations Team would be visiting victims' relatives over the coming days.
Dozens of former players joining a lawsuit against the NFL say teams kept handing out powerful painkillers and other drugs with few — if any— safeguards as recently as 2012. That extends by four years the time frame for similar claims made in the original complaint and could open the door to a criminal investigation.
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Five former NFL players, including six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Neil Smith, are suing the union for not providing accurate information about the risk of head injuries.
The lawsuit on behalf of Smith, Ladell Betts, Anthony Davis, Christian Ballard and Gregory Westbrooks was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, with the plaintiffs claiming the NFL Players Association "withheld information from the players about the risks of head injuries."
NEW YORK, N.Y. - A black actor who accused Macy's of racially profiling minorities as shoplifters is settling his civil rights lawsuit, one of several cases that drew attention last year to long-simmering complaints about how big retailers treat minority customers.
Rob Brown's case has been "settled in principle," Macy's Inc. said in a statement Friday; a federal judge also indicated in a filing Wednesday that an agreement was in the works.
MILAN - An Italian appeals court on Friday acquitted former Premier Silvio Berlusconi in a sex-for-hire case, reversing a lower court conviction that had carried a seven-year prison sentence and a lifetime ban on holding political office.
The case has grabbed global attention, offering an unseemly peek into the 77-year-old three-time premier's private life with witness testimony revealing raunchy, sex-fueled bunga-bunga parties at his private villa attended by a bevy of aspiring showgirls.
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut has settled a federal lawsuit filed by five women who claimed the school responded to their sexual assault complaints with indifference.
The bulk of the settlement, $900,000, will go to a former UConn hockey player who joined the federal lawsuit last December, a month after it was originally filed by four other women. She alleged she was kicked off the team after reporting she had been raped by a male hockey player in August 2011.
The other four women will receive payments ranging from $125,000 to $25,000.
TELLURIDE, Colo. - A lawsuit accusing Oprah Winfrey of blocking access to hiking trails near her property above Telluride, Colorado, has been dismissed.
The Telluride Daily Planet reports (http://bit.ly/1zOSt98 ) that a judge dismissed the case from San Miguel County District Court, saying that it should have been filed in Mountain Village Municipal Court.
Seventh Judicial District Judge Steven Patrick said there was little case law to support claims by Charles D. Goodman, who owns property next to a 66-acre parcel that Winfrey's Yellow Brick Road closed on in March.
CORBIN, Ky. - Police in southern Kentucky say they got a surprise delivery after charging a man with shoplifting — five pizzas showed up at the station.
Officers say 29-year-old Michael Harp asked to make a call on his cellphone Tuesday afternoon while being booked in Corbin. A short time later, police say, a pizza delivery driver showed up to deliver to "Officer Wilson," the name of the officer who arrested Harp.