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Archive 2001 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

MONTGOMERY WARD FALLOUT JEWELER, CUSTOMERS SPAR OVER UNPAID BILLS

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

February 9, 2001

When giants fall, little people get squished.

The casualties are mounting around here – courtesy of the collapse of retail mammoth Montgomery Ward.

Trapped under the carcass: customers who paid for merchandise they can’t get and subcontractors who can’t get paid for the work they’ve done.

At this point, they’re starting to club each other.

In the main arena: Stephen Mahanes, 48, master jeweler, Wards subcontractor and owner of Bench Jeweler, located in the Cypress Point Shopping Center on Diamond Springs Road in Virginia Beach.

His opponents: dozens of angry Wards customers who accuse Mahanes of holding their jewelry hostage to pressure Wards to pay his labor bill.

The first lawsuit was filed Wednesday.

The first picket sign was hoisted Thursday.

The first threats were hurled weeks ago – shortly after Wards declared bankruptcy on Dec. 28 and left Mahanes holding 68 pieces of fine jewelry he’d worked on for the chain.

It was a gig he’d been handling for 12 years. People bought jewelry at Wards, then Wards would pay him to resize, clean or repair it. Mahanes said his paychecks didn’t always arrive promptly but that Wards was reliable. Sooner or later, the checks showed up.

None came in December. Mahanes kept working – finishing up the batch of now-disputed jewelry one day before Wards hit the rocks. Since then, he’s refused to release any of the pieces. They remain tucked inside a sealed bag and locked in his store safe.

“A lot of mad people have come in here,” Mahanes said. “They’ve cussed at me. Threatened to beat me up. Threatened to kill me. One tried to have me arrested for grand larceny. But I’m not changing my mind. I’m a victim here, too. I’m doing what I have to do to get paid, but no one seems to understand that.”

Samuel Hood doesn’t. The 52-year-old Norfolk security guard bought a $190 birthstone ring for his mother-in-law at the Janaf Wards, and he wants it back. He’s willing to pay 10 times the cost of the ring to make that happen.

“I told him it was crazy to hire a lawyer for something like this,” said Michael Goodove, Hood’s attorney, “but he just flipped open his checkbook and said it was the principle of the thing.”

The lawsuit, filed Feb. 7 in Norfolk General District Court, asks for the return of the ring, plus $2,000 in damages and legal fees. A hearing is scheduled for March 13. Both sides think they’ll win.

And then there’s Portsmouth’s Charlie Frye, 56. Frye planned to marry his sweetheart on board a cruise ship on Jan. 6. But Mahane wouldn’t hand over the $1,500 sparkler Frye had purchased to place on her finger.

Frye found himself with an upset fiancee and a postponed wedding.

“It’s enough to make a man mad, you know?” he said.

So Frye made himself a picket sign and headed to Bench Jewelers after work Thursday.

“I’ll keep this up as long as I have to,” he said. “My girlfriend says she’s not getting married without that ring.”

Wards says it has promised Mahanes enough money to cover the cost of his work on the captive jewelry if he’ll agree to return it to their customers.

Bankruptcy rules prevent the retailer from forking over the rest of what it owes Mahanes – $6,000, by his account.

Mahanes doesn’t trust the company: “I’d have to see the money first.”

Wards doesn’t understand why.

“Ninety-nine percent of our jewelers have been fine with this arrangement,” said Chuck Knittle, the company’s vice president of corporate communications.

Mahanes said he “feels bad” for the customers, but won’t give back their jewelry even if they pay for the work themselves – a compromise that’s been achieved at other jewelers.

“That’s just too risky,” he said. “I have no way of knowing if they’ve paid Wards in full. I could find myself in trouble with Wards.”

Mahanes’ lawyer is analyzing his position. In the meantime, Mahanes has been compiling a list of Wards customers who have been “decent” to him.

“When the stores close for good, I’ll call those customers and tell them to come get their jewelry. I won’t even charge them for my work.

“But the people who treated me like dirt, the ones who talked to me like I was some kind of animal, I’ll be sending their jewelry back to corporate headquarters.”

Reach Joanne Kimberlin at 446-2338 or at jkimberl(AT)pilotonline.com.

Caption:
Color Photo
Charlie Frye of Portsmouth…

Copyright (c) 2001 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 0102091164

Categories
Archive 2000 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

FIRM SUES TO RECOUP COUPLE’S WINDFALL COMPUTER GLITCH BOOSTS STOCK FUND BY ABOUT $8 MILLION

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

Author: MARC DAVIS, STAFF WRITER

What would you do if you suddenly found $8 million in your stock fund?

That happened recently to John and Cindy Elliott of Colonial Place. In February, a computer glitch turned 0.895 shares of an investment fund into 89,500. That’s 100,000 times its real value.

What happened next is a matter of dispute.

According to a lawsuit, the Elliotts took their new money and invested it in stocks and mutual funds. Within two months, the Elliotts had lost $400,000 and the investment company had figured out its mistake.

Now, First Union Securities Inc. wants its money back – and then some.

The securities firm, owned by the same parent company that owns First Union Bank, sued the Elliotts last week in Norfolk Circuit Court, accusing the couple of fraud.

First Union wants $2.2 million. That’s $400,000 for the lost money, plus $1.2 million in triple damages – tripled because of the alleged fraud – plus $600,000 in punitive damages.

First Union says the Elliotts knew the money wasn’t theirs, yet they misled the securities firm for weeks. John Elliott talked twice a day with a First Union broker to direct the fund’s management, the lawsuit says.

First Union declined to comment Friday. The company said it did not know how the computer error happened. “That is a question we are looking at very carefully,” said First Union spokesman Tony Matera.

And who is responsible for the error – the Elliotts or the broker? “That is an issue that has to be looked at,” Matera said.

The Elliotts insist they did nothing wrong. They blame First Union, but they declined to discuss the matter in any detail Friday. They said their attorneys advised them not to talk.

The lawyers, Michael Goodove and Franklin Swartz, also declined to comment.

According to the lawsuit, here’s what happened:

John Elliott, a building contractor, opened a brokerage account at First Union in July 1999 with $10,000. It doubled in value in several months.

First Union then asked the Elliotts to transfer more money into the account, and John Elliott did. He transferred an account from Merrill Lynch to First Union in February.

After the transfer, it appeared that the Elliotts owned 89,500 shares of the Nuveen Tax Exempt Unit Investment Trust, worth about $8 million. Actually, the Elliotts owned 0.895 shares.

John Elliott then told First Union to redeem about $2.5 million of the Nuveen shares and invest it in stocks and mutual funds.

On April 4, a First Union broker noticed that the Elliotts’ account had a negative balance. First Union’s Norfolk branch asked Elliott if he really owned 89,500 shares of Nuveen, and Elliott said yes.

Finally, First Union realized the mistake. Elliott told First Union to sell his portfolio, but it didn’t cover the negative balance.

The account is still in the red for $400,000, and First Union must pay that to Nuveen, the lawsuit says.

First Union says the Elliotts intentionally hid the fact that they did not own the Nuveen shares. The lawsuit accuses the Elliotts of fraud and conspiracy.

The Elliotts have three weeks to file a reply. No hearing date is set.

Reach Marc Davis at 446-2303 or mdavis(AT)pilotonline.com

Caption:
Graphic
What the bank says: First Union says the Elliotts knew the $8
million wasn’t theirs, yet they misled the securities firm for
weeks.
What the couple says: They insist they did nothing wrong. They blame
First Union, but declined to discuss the matter.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 0005200291

Categories
STS&G News

HURT RIDER OF MONSTER TRUCK SUES 3 PARTIES

A teacher who lost the use of her right hand after a monster truck flipped last year at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront while carrying 13 thrill-seekers is suing the truck’s driver, owner and the truck show’s organizer.

Joy Kubitza, 28, of Virginia Beach, was a paying passenger in the 4×4 monster truck, called the Grave Digger, when it suddenly flipped on the beach while doing high-speed twists and turns at a Monster Truck Show on Oct. 17.

She seeks $15 million in damages.

At the time of the crash, police said none of the thrill-seekers was seriously hurt. After the truck overturned, all 13 passengers were dangling upside down, strapped into their seats. Six passengers, ranging in age from 2 to 52, were treated at a hospital and released.

Kubitza said her right arm was crushed between the truck and the sand as it flipped. She was treated at a hospital, but she said doctors did not realize at the time how serious the hand injury was.

A few days later, Kubitza’s arm swelled to about three times its normal size. Since then, she has undergone four surgeries, with a fifth scheduled for later this month. She has spent 12 weeks hospitalized and has medical bills totaling more than $100,000.

She wears a “fixator” device, a series of rods to keep her wrist steady. And she has developed a condition in which her fingers have become twisted and useless.

As a result, Kubitza had to quit her job as a preschool teacher at the Norfolk Naval Base Child Development Center. She continues to suffer constant, burning pain up and down her arm.

“It’s all the time, the pain,” Kubitza said. “It’s burning, sharp, intense. It’s like somebody is constantly putting a fire under my arm.” She takes pain medication, “but nothing seems to take the burning away,” she said.

Her attorneys, O.L. “Buzz” Gilbert and Michael L. Goodove, filed suit last week in Norfolk Circuit Court. They believe this is the first lawsuit stemming from the accident, and that Kubitza was the worst-injured passenger.

The lawsuit names three defendants: the truck’s driver, Troy L. Vinson of Chesapeake; the truck’s owner, Gravedigger 4×4 Inc. of North Carolina; and the truck show organizer, Cellar Door Entertainment Inc. of Virginia Beach.

The accident happened at the first Monster Truck Show at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Thousands of spectators came that day to cheer on trucks with names like Carolina Crusher, Nitemare and The Undertaker that raced over manmade sand dunes.

Farther down the resort strip, customers paid $5 each to ride in the Grave Digger, billed as “the world’s best-known monster truck” – a 1950 Chevrolet panel van with skull, crossbones and tombstone images painted on its sides. The cab is more than 10 feet off the ground.

As the truck raced around the beach, something went wrong. One passenger said at the time that the truck was “doing doughnuts” – tight turns in the sand – and was going fast when he thought, “Gee, we could tip over.” And then it did.

Another driver at the show said a wave caught the Grave Digger’s right rear tire and flipped the truck. Gilbert, however, said Wednesday that other witnesses did not see a wave and that the truck did not flip at the shoreline.

Police later said Vinson was driving at an unsafe speed, but because the accident did not happen on a road, he was not charged.

Kubitza declined to say how the accident happened.

The lawsuit accuses Vinson and the Gravedigger company of negligently operating the truck. It accuses Cellar Door of negligently supervising the truck and negligently selecting and preparing the site and production.

Vinson and officials from Gravedigger could not be reached for comment. Cellar Door officials declined to comment.

Despite the accident, the Grave Digger is scheduled to appear again at this year’s Monster Truck Show, Oct. 15 to 17 at the Oceanfront.

Kubitza has advice for anyone thinking of riding in the truck: “No way. Don’t go on it.”

Categories
STS&G News

BEACH PUTS BRAKES ON POLICE CHASES

Police Chief Charles R. Wall has banned all police pursuits in the city except for cases involving violent felons armed with guns.

The order, effective immediately, could eliminate nearly all police chases using motor vehicles, officers said Thursday. Police officers can no longer pursue drunken drivers, car thieves, burglars or other non-violent criminals who flee, according to the new order.

The June 2 memo from Wall was distributed to officers Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Some officers still had not seen the memo as of late Thursday. A copy was given to The Virginian-Pilot.

No other Hampton Roads jurisdiction has such a strict pursuit policy. The new order will affect other jurisdictions that chase fleeing motorists into Virginia Beach. Wall said those officers will be allowed to continue a hot pursuit in Virginia Beach, but they would not get help from his department’s officers unless the pursuit was justified under the new criteria.

The order is an interim step. Department officials are rewriting the pursuit policy, and the city’s officers will be given a chance to comment on a draft of the proposed orders. But Wall said he expects the final orders to be similar to the interim policy.

The new order is a sharp departure from the former policy, which allowed officers discretion as to when to begin a pursuit. The Police Department has in recent years allowed officers more latitude to aggressively halt fleeing motorists. Officers have been trained to use tire-deflating spikes and to box in fleeing vehicles with rolling roadblocks.

Also, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision made it very difficult for citizens to sue police in federal court for damages or injuries resulting from pursuits.

Wall said it was the safety of the community, and not the Supreme Court decision, that guided him.

“I am very concerned, as you should be, about the dangers inherent in police pursuits of vehicles,” Wall said in the memo. “The conflict between our efforts to protect the lives of citizens . . . and engaging in high-speed pursuits through city streets should be obvious.”

The new order will allow a pursuit only when an officer believes a car’s occupant or occupants have used a gun or a bomb to commit, or to try to commit, a violent felony.

“All other pursuits are prohibited,” the memo said.

Wall said Thursday the decision to curtail pursuits wasn’t taken lightly. He and others studied the pursuit policies of jurisdictions in at least seven states. They also consulted with national experts on police pursuits.

The chief said, after the review, he and his staff determined a more restrictive policy will be safer for the public and the police officers.

The new rules come against a backdrop of several controversial police pursuits in Virginia Beach, including some that have killed innocent people.

On Jan. 21, 1995, a drunken driver eluded police for 15 miles before the van he was driving slammed into a sports car in Norfolk and killed two people. Although state police had taken over the pursuit, the chase started in Virginia Beach. That chase would not be allowed now.

On March 25, 1997, Bruce V. Quagliato led police on a low-speed pursuit that ended when his car and at least two police cars collided on Independence Boulevard. He died after several police officers shot him, thinking he was armed. He wasn’t.

Twice in 1997, motorcyclists being chased for traffic or equipment infractions died after crashing at high speeds. Neither pursuit would be allowed now.

On Feb. 6, police said a 14-year-old girl was driving a stolen car when she sped from a police officer on Shore Drive. She and a companion survived a crash that killed an innocent motorist, 56-year-old Michael Boynton, a retired Navy SEAL and war hero. That pursuit would not be allowed today.

On March 14, five teen-agers in a stolen car crashed after trying to elude police. The car’s driver and one passenger, both 14, died. That pursuit would not be allowed today.

“We considered (these crashes) and we considered the danger to our officers,” Wall said. “We have looked at this for quite a while.”

Mary Boynton, wife of the man killed by the 14-year-old car thief, said Thursday she never blamed the police because they were doing their job. She said she instead blames the teen-agers who stole a car and killed her husband.

The new policy drew mixed reactions.

“I think it is great. It is something they should’ve done a long time ago,” said attorney Jim McKenry, who represents Quagliato’s family. Quagliato was shot to death at the end of a police pursuit when he refused to comply with officers’ orders. Under a strict interpretation of the new policy, a similar pursuit would not be initiated now.

His client “would still be alive and well,” McKenry said. Quagliato’s family is suing the city for $5 million.

But Mike Goodove, president of Southside MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said he is concerned about any policy that could hamper police from aggressive DUI enforcement. Under this policy, police can’t chase a drunken driver who flees.

“The Virginia Beach Police Department should first of all be applauded for its efforts to combat impaired driving,” he said. “We would certainly interpret impaired driving as a violent offense because of the potential injuries and death the drunk driver would cause. Because an impaired driver poses a serious threat to others on the roadway, the proposed policy change to ban pursuits, with respect to drunk driving, gives us some concern.

“We are confident that the Virginia Beach police department will allow its officers to remove impaired drivers from the roadway while protecting the safety of those on the road,” Goodove said.

Lillian DeVenny, state president of Virginians Opposing Drunk Driving, said she can see both sides of the issue. An advocate for stringent police enforcement of DUI, she also knows a family whose son was killed in a police pursuit.

“In a way, (the new policy) angers me, but I have had ambivalent feelings on that matter for quite some time,” she said. “I feel the police officers have been doing their jobs as best as they can, but when I look at the other side of the coin, and see the victims of pursuits, I have second thoughts.”

The city’s new policy represents exactly the kinds of police guidelines that Wyoming-based STOPP, or Solutions to Tragedies of Police Pursuit, lobbies for. That group studies police pursuits and ways to reduce them.

“That is wonderful,” said STOPP’s Jeff Maceiko of the Virginia Beach policy. “We don’t want them to ban all pursuits, per se, but we do want to ban all except for the pursuits of violent felons. This exactly what we want.”

Several police officers contacted Thursday said the new policy will limit their effectiveness, and it may cause more motorists to run because they know the police won’t chase. They said drunken drivers, unlicensed drivers and other criminals would probably take the chance to escape. Many officers said only law-abiding drivers would stop for them now.

Wall said he doesn’t think that will happen.

“Every place we have looked that has similar policies, we found that simply has not been the case,” Wall said. “They reported that was not the result.”

Before Thursday, the decision to chase a suspect was left to the individual officer. The officer would have to consider, among other things, the risks involved, the severity of the offense, and the possibility of catching the motorist at a later time. Now, most of that discretion is eliminated.

“While none of us likes the thought of letting someone go who has committed a violation and compounded that by fleeing when we signal them to stop,” the memo said, “the overriding factor guiding all of our actions must be our concern for the safety of the officers involved and the citizens of the community, as well as the violators themselves.”

One of the city’s police-union representatives, Officer Bobby Mathieson, said his organization doesn’t yet have an opinion on the new policy.

“We welcome the public input on this,” he said. “The public should be a big part of this, to see if they support (the new rules), or if they don’t.”

Although the Supreme Court has granted police departments more protection, Virginia Beach is one of many agencies across the country adopting more restrictive pursuit policies.

Authorities in Florida said Hampton Roads fugitive Carl Douglas Consolvo outran a police officer because the Miami Shores Police Department doesn’t allow pursuits. Federal authorities said Consolvo then continued his crime spree, which included a wave of bank robberies and the shooting of a Utah police officer.

But even though police may sometimes fail to catch criminals, no-pursuit policies could save more than 100 innocent lives a year, advocates said.

In 1996, the latest year for which complete national statistics are available, 377 deaths resulted from police pursuits. Of those deaths, 111 were innocent third parties. The remaining 266 were in the fleeing cars.

Some states have tried to quell the number of police pursuits. Some of those efforts have targeted the motorists, and some have curbed the police.

Oregon lawmakers, for example, made it a felony instead of a misdemeanor to run from police. Other state lawmakers, like those in Delaware, are trying to craft statewide pursuit policies that all municipalities must follow.

Categories
Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot Archive 1998 STS&G News

SOBER STUDENTS GET LESSON ON DRUNK DRIVING

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

June 7, 1998

Rebecca Dorschel’s eyes flew open and her body tensed as the car swung wide and slammed to a stop, dragging an orange cone along with it.

Rebecca, 15, was a backseat passenger in a car driven by her cousin, Joel Webb,. She had ridden with Joel before, but never on a ride like this one where everything felt out of control.

Rebecca and Joel were two of the hundreds of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy upper school students who experienced, firsthand but in total safety, a drive with a drunk driver.

The frightening but enlightening rides were in the Drunk Driving Simulator, a 1996 Dodge Neon that the Chrysler Corporation has modified with an on-board computer programmed to delay the car’s steering and braking response time, simulating the slowed abilities of a driver under the influence.

“It felt really weird when the brakes weren’t working at all and the steering locked up so I couldn’t control it,” Joel said.

“And he is normally a very good driver,” Rebecca added loyally.

The Simulator was developed in 1988 to allow sober drivers, and passengers, to experience the dangers of drinking and driving while on a controlled course with a trained instructor in the car. The instructor enters the driver’s weight and the number of hypothetical drinks needed to reach a blood alcohol level of approximately .13 to .15 and the computer takes over. A blood alcohol level of .08 is the legal limit in Virginia.

A separate kill brake allows the instructor to disengage the computer or shut down the engine when necessary.

Kerry Dunaway, Simulator instructor, said that his wisecracks and the upbeat music that filled the parking lot are all intended to make the experience a fun, but memorable one. The nervous laughter and joking around that he normally hears from the teens turns to serious thought after they have knocked down a few pop-up pedestrians along the course.

“I love this job because it gives you an opportunity to maybe make a change in someone’s life,” he said.

It took an entire year for NSA’s 75-member SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) club to bring the Simulator to the Academy, but their timing was good. Spring partying for proms and graduations makes the “don’t drink and drive” lessons most relevant.

“Overall I find that teenagers are receptive and responsible, more so than the adults,” Dunaway said.

Joel agreed, noting that most of the NSA students understand the importance of a designated driver.

Karen Konefal, a parent volunteer who helped register students to drive or ride in the Simulator, has a son and daughter in the school.

“You can talk to them until you are blue in the face but it is not like actually driving like you are out of control,” she said. “Hopefully this way they will remember to anticipate and not get caugt in the moment of a bad situation.”

Caption:
Staff photos by MICHAEL KESTNER
Sarah Smith is all smiles at the wheel of the Drunk Driving
Simulator, but her back seat passenger looks a little apprehensive.

Yikes! A student driver nails a pylon on a tight turn while
operating the Drunk Driving Simulator.

Memo:
Statistics drive home need to stay sober when driving

Mike Goodove, a Norfolk attorney whose brother was killed by a drunk driver in Charlottesville eight years ago, is also president of the South Side MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. MADD is a supporter of the Simulator program. Goodove quoted the following statistics for 1996, the most recent available:

In Virginia in 1996 there were 7206 drivers under 21 involved in crashes. Alcohol was a factor in 346 of those.

Of the 3427 drivers under 21 involved in crashes in which there were personal injuries, 183 were alcohol impaired.

Overall, 39.8 percent of all traffic fatalities in Virginia that year were alcohol related.

Copyright (c) 1998 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 9806050302

Categories
STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot Archive 1998

Beach puts brakes on police chases now officers can’t pursue non-violent fleeing criminal

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

Author: MIKE MATHER, STAFF WRITER

The Virginia Beach Police Department’s new pursuit policy will allow pursuits for cases involving violent crimes against people, or for crimes involving guns or bombs. A headline in Friday’s newspaper only referred to the violent crimes.

Police Chief Charles R. Wall has banned all police pursuits in the city except for cases involving violent felons armed with guns.

The order, effective immediately, could eliminate nearly all police chases using motor vehicles, officers said Thursday. Police officers can no longer pursue drunken drivers, car thieves, burglars or other non-violent criminals who flee, according to the new order.

The June 2 memo from Wall was distributed to officers Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Some officers still had not seen the memo as of late Thursday. A copy was given to The Virginian-Pilot.

No other Hampton Roads jurisdiction has such a strict pursuit policy. The new order will affect other jurisdictions that chase fleeing motorists into Virginia Beach. Wall said those officers will be allowed to continue a hot pursuit in Virginia Beach, but they would not get help from his department’s officers unless the pursuit was justified under the new criteria.

The order is an interim step. Department officials are rewriting the pursuit policy, and the city’s officers will be given a chance to comment on a draft of the proposed orders. But Wall said he expects the final orders to be similar to the interim policy.

The new order is a sharp departure from the former policy, which allowed officers discretion as to when to begin a pursuit. The Police Department has in recent years allowed officers more latitude to aggressively halt fleeing motorists. Officers have been trained to use tire-deflating spikes and to box in fleeing vehicles with rolling roadblocks.

Also, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision made it very difficult for citizens to sue police in federal court for damages or injuries resulting from pursuits.

Wall said it was the safety of the community, and not the Supreme Court decision, that guided him.

“I am very concerned, as you should be, about the dangers inherent in police pursuits of vehicles,” Wall said in the memo. “The conflict between our efforts to protect the lives of citizens . . . and engaging in high-speed pursuits through city streets should be obvious.”

The new order will allow a pursuit only when an officer believes a car’s occupant or occupants have used a gun or a bomb to commit, or to try to commit, a violent felony.

“All other pursuits are prohibited,” the memo said.

Wall said Thursday the decision to curtail pursuits wasn’t taken lightly. He and others studied the pursuit policies of jurisdictions in at least seven states. They also consulted with national experts on police pursuits.

The chief said, after the review, he and his staff determined a more restrictive policy will be safer for the public and the police officers.

The new rules come against a backdrop of several controversial police pursuits in Virginia Beach, including some that have killed innocent people.

On Jan. 21, 1995, a drunken driver eluded police for 15 miles before the van he was driving slammed into a sports car in Norfolk and killed two people. Although state police had taken over the pursuit, the chase started in Virginia Beach. That chase would not be allowed now.

On March 25, 1997, Bruce V. Quagliato led police on a low-speed pursuit that ended when his car and at least two police cars collided on Independence Boulevard. He died after several police officers shot him, thinking he was armed. He wasn’t.

Twice in 1997, motorcyclists being chased for traffic or equipment infractions died after crashing at high speeds. Neither pursuit would be allowed now.

On Feb. 6, police said a 14-year-old girl was driving a stolen car when she sped from a police officer on Shore Drive. She and a companion survived a crash that killed an innocent motorist, 56-year-old Michael Boynton, a retired Navy SEAL and war hero. That pursuit would not be allowed today.

On March 14, five teen-agers in a stolen car crashed after trying to elude police. The car’s driver and one passenger, both 14, died. That pursuit would not be allowed today.

“We considered (these crashes) and we considered the danger to our officers,” Wall said. “We have looked at this for quite a while.”

Mary Boynton, wife of the man killed by the 14-year-old car thief, said Thursday she never blamed the police because they were doing their job. She said she instead blames the teen-agers who stole a car and killed her husband.

The new policy drew mixed reactions.

“I think it is great. It is something they should’ve done a long time ago,” said attorney Jim McKenry, who represents Quagliato’s family. Quagliato was shot to death at the end of a police pursuit when he refused to comply with officers’ orders. Under a strict interpretation of the new policy, a similar pursuit would not be initiated now.

His client “would still be alive and well,” McKenry said. Quagliato’s family is suing the city for $5 million.

But Mike Goodove, president of Southside MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said he is concerned about any policy that could hamper police from aggressive DUI enforcement. Under this policy, police can’t chase a drunken driver who flees.

“The Virginia Beach Police Department should first of all be applauded for its efforts to combat impaired driving,” he said. “We would certainly interpret impaired driving as a violent offense because of the potential injuries and death the drunk driver would cause. Because an impaired driver poses a serious threat to others on the roadway, the proposed policy change to ban pursuits, with respect to drunk driving, gives us some concern.

“We are confident that the Virginia Beach police department will allow its officers to remove impaired drivers from the roadway while protecting the safety of those on the road,” Goodove said.

Lillian DeVenny, state president of Virginians Opposing Drunk Driving, said she can see both sides of the issue. An advocate for stringent police enforcement of DUI, she also knows a family whose son was killed in a police pursuit.

“In a way, (the new policy) angers me, but I have had ambivalent feelings on that matter for quite some time,” she said. “I feel the police officers have been doing their jobs as best as they can, but when I look at the other side of the coin, and see the victims of pursuits, I have second thoughts.”

The city’s new policy represents exactly the kinds of police guidelines that Wyoming-based STOPP, or Solutions to Tragedies of Police Pursuit, lobbies for. That group studies police pursuits and ways to reduce them.

“That is wonderful,” said STOPP’s Jeff Maceiko of the Virginia Beach policy. “We don’t want them to ban all pursuits, per se, but we do want to ban all except for the pursuits of violent felons. This exactly what we want.”

Several police officers contacted Thursday said the new policy will limit their effectiveness, and it may cause more motorists to run because they know the police won’t chase. They said drunken drivers, unlicensed drivers and other criminals would probably take the chance to escape. Many officers said only law-abiding drivers would stop for them now.

Wall said he doesn’t think that will happen.

“Every place we have looked that has similar policies, we found that simply has not been the case,” Wall said. “They reported that was not the result.”

Before Thursday, the decision to chase a suspect was left to the individual officer. The officer would have to consider, among other things, the risks involved, the severity of the offense, and the possibility of catching the motorist at a later time. Now, most of that discretion is eliminated.

“While none of us likes the thought of letting someone go who has committed a violation and compounded that by fleeing when we signal them to stop,” the memo said, “the overriding factor guiding all of our actions must be our concern for the safety of the officers involved and the citizens of the community, as well as the violators themselves.”

One of the city’s police-union representatives, Officer Bobby Mathieson, said his organization doesn’t yet have an opinion on the new policy.

“We welcome the public input on this,” he said. “The public should be a big part of this, to see if they support (the new rules), or if they don’t.”

Although the Supreme Court has granted police departments more protection, Virginia Beach is one of many agencies across the country adopting more restrictive pursuit policies.

Authorities in Florida said Hampton Roads fugitive Carl Douglas Consolvo outran a police officer because the Miami Shores Police Department doesn’t allow pursuits. Federal authorities said Consolvo then continued his crime spree, which included a wave of bank robberies and the shooting of a Utah police officer.

But even though police may sometimes fail to catch criminals, no-pursuit policies could save more than 100 innocent lives a year, advocates said.

In 1996, the latest year for which complete national statistics are available, 377 deaths resulted from police pursuits. Of those deaths, 111 were innocent third parties. The remaining 266 were in the fleeing cars.

Some states have tried to quell the number of police pursuits. Some of those efforts have targeted the motorists, and some have curbed the police.

Oregon lawmakers, for example, made it a felony instead of a misdemeanor to run from police. Other state lawmakers, like those in Delaware, are trying to craft statewide pursuit policies that all municipalities must follow.

Wall said the final version of revised orders could be approved and in place by next month.

More on PILOT ONLINE: Do you agree with the restrictions on Virginia Beach police pursuits? Cast an instant-poll vote and tell your reasoning in TalkNet at

http://www.pilotonline.com

Copyright (c) 1998 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 9806050663

Categories
Virginian-Pilot Archive 1998 STS&G News Goodove in the News

Parents feel pressure of teen drinking, too

The school year is winding down, proms and summer vacations are looming, and parents at Norfolk Collegiate School are talking about peer pressure and underage drinking.

Not just pressure on their kids. Pressure on themselves, the parents.

Pressure to be the nice guys and not the cops with their children and their children’s friends when it comes to them experimenting with alcohol. Pressure to want their kids to like them, to think they’re cool. Pressure to not look like a prude in front of other parents.

A mother with 14- and 17-year-old sons complained that she was the only parent she knew who checked to see if other parents were chaperoning parties in their homes. If she raised the question of alcohol use, the other parents often shrugged and said the kids were going to drink anyway. Better that it be under their roofs.

“They looked at me like I was nuts,” she said.

More than 50 parents of students at this private school met in its cafeteria Monday night for a panel discussion on underage drinking. What are the legalities? What can parents do to discourage it?

“I was kind of hoping to get some ideas on how to handle it,” said George M. Kemp of Virginia Beach, who’s struggled over the issue with his 17-year-old son. “Prohibition doesn’t work.”

Maybe not, but don’t give up, panel members told the crowd.

For one thing, giving or even unintentionally allowing your children to use alcohol – such as by retreating upstairs behind a closed bedroom door while the kids party unsupervised downstairs – is against the law, reminded Judge James H. Flippen Jr. of Norfolk’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. It’s called contributing to the delinquency of a minor. And it’s punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

“It’s serious business,” the judge said.

Helping children “get used to” drinking before they, say, head off to college sends a confusing and immoral mixed message, said Michael L. Goodove, a lawyer and president of the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

MADD calls for zero tolerance for underaged drinking. Goodove’s brother was killed at college by an underaged drunken driver. Parents, he and the other panel members said, need to repeatedly talk with their children about why drinking is inappropriate as well as illegal for them.

But don’t try horror stories – they won’t work on savvy teens, said Richard H. Jaglowski, a therapist who’s coordinator of the Child and Adolescent Program at Maryview Psychiatric Hospital.

A firm, consistent and honest stand against their drinking – parents can at least control their own homes – and a game plan to deal with slip-ups is what’s needed.

“There’s nothing you can do to stop your child from drinking,” Jaglowski told the parents. “Nine out of 10 kids, by the time they reach 17, have had alcohol. Forty percent have tried marijuana.

“The only way that’s not going to happen is if you Velcro your kid to your hip.”

Mary Gauthier knows this. The mother of four teenagers and a Norfolk Collegiate faculty member, she regrets not taking a harsher stand when she caught her oldest son with a beer in ninth grade. She cared too much about what her children thought of her.

Years later, on one of the son’s visits home, friends came over late. There was drinking that Gauthier didn’t know about until one of the son’s underaged college friends drunkenly called her the “coolest mom” because she didn’t get angry.

“I was really ashamed of myself,” Gauthier said.

The National High School Senior Survey, an annual study by the University of Michigan, showed in 1995 that illegal drug use was rising among American high-schoolers, and alcohol use was remaining fairly stable, although increasing slightly for seniors.

In 1995, almost 81 percent of seniors had tried alcohol, and 55 percent of eighth-graders had. Thirty percent of 12th-graders had had five or more drinks in a row in the two weeks before the survey; 15 percent of eighth-graders had. More than 63 percent of the seniors had been drunk at least once in their lives, and more than a quarter of the eighth-graders had.

Students at Monday’s discussion agreed that alcohol was prevalent – at parties, driving around, at homes after school when parents weren’t home. Start alcohol education when children are 11 and 12, they said. Talk to children, but don’t come down too hard – they’ll rebel, the youngsters said.

Parents were hoping for more answers. “We know our kids are going to drink,” said Stephen B. Ballard Sr. of Norfolk. “I did it. I imagine nine out of 10 here did it.”

“It’s a tough issue,” the father of two said later. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

One of his friends serves alcohol to teens, Ballard said. Going the other way, parent Kemp and his wife stopped drinking at home, believing that setting responsible examples was the key.

Roz Klein’s oldest child is 14, so it’s still easy for Mom and Dad to lay down a black-and-white line concerning alcohol. But it won’t always be, Klein acknowledged.

“I agree with one of the parents who said your kids aren’t going to like you no matter what, so you might as well do what’s right.”

Caption:
Graphic
WHO IS DRINKING
Percent of students who …
Have tried alcohol:
12th grade – 80.7 percent
10th grade – 70.6 percent
8th grade – 54.6 percent
Have been drunk:
12th grade – 63.2 percent
10th grade – 48.9 percent
8th grade – 25.3 percent
Drink daily:
12th grade – 3.5 percent
10th grade – 1.7 percent
8th grade – 0.7 percent

Source: University of Michigan’s National High School Senior
Survey of about 16,000 students in 144 public and private schools
nationwide, December 1995.

Copyright (c) 1996 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 9605080396

Categories
Virginian-Pilot Archive 1998 STS&G News Goodove in the News

Hospital settles lawsuit filed by abortion patient

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital has settled an unusual medical malpractice lawsuit that accused the hospital and a nurse of mistreating an abortion patient in 1994.

The lawsuit, filed in 1996, accused a labor-and-delivery nurse who opposed abortion, Nancy C. Benson, of criticizing and harassing a patient who was about to undergo an abortion.

The lawsuit accused Sentara of not protecting the patient from the nurse and of negligently hiring, supervising and training her.

The case was settled confidentially last week. It is not known how much money Sentara paid to the complaining patient, who was identified in court papers as Jane Doe.

“We were very satisfied with the resolution of this matter,” said Doe’s attorney, Michael L. Goodove. “We felt we were dealt with very fairly by Sentara.”

The nurse’s attorney, Dante M. Filetti, said his client did not participate in the settlement. She was voluntarily dismissed from the case just before it was settled.

“I’m just really happy that the matter is closed,” Filetti said. “It was a tough matter for her.”

Sentara’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

This is the second lawsuit concerning this particular abortion and this nurse. The first case was a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by Benson against Sentara. Benson claimed she was forced out of the hospital because she refused to help with abortions. Benson lost that case in January 1997 when a judge ruled she was properly suspended for her unprofessional behavior and “complete lack of judgment” in this particular abortion.

The incident happened Dec. 22, 1994. The patient was 4 1/2 months pregnant with a deformed fetus. Benson was assigned to help her prepare for an abortion.

In her lawsuit, the patient said Benson did not help. She said Benson criticized her for choosing the abortion, told her she would never get over it, and said she would have to celebrate her dead child’s birthday just as she celebrated her living child’s.

Then, the lawsuit said, the nurse started crying and said she was opposed to abortion, acknowledged that she had never assisted in an abortion before and told the patient that she – the patient – would have to help her – the nurse – through the difficult procedure.

The patient and her husband complained, Benson was taken off the abortion and suspended. She quit a few days later.

Benson has said in an interview and court papers that the hospital knew she opposed abortions, yet constantly pressured her to help with them. She said she refused several times, then finally was forced to help with this one.

Benson said she did not harass the patient but tried to help the woman understand what she was about to go through. She said the hospital forced her out of her job because of her religious beliefs.

In January 1997, U.S. District Judge John A. MacKenzie ruled that the nurse was wrong.

“Benson was not fired for refusing to care for an abortion patient,” MacKenzie ruled. “Quite the opposite, she was disciplined for the type of care that she did render to the patient. In fact, the discipline of suspension came about for her complete lack of judgment in the 15 minutes” in which she cared for the patient. “By her conduct,” the judge wrote, “Benson created anxiety in the mind of a patient awaiting sensitive surgery and she created a customer service disaster for her employer.”

Benson appealed, then settled with Sentara before the appeal could be heard.

The patient then sued Benson and Sentara in December 1996. The lawsuit said Benson was negligent for forcing her personal beliefs onto a patient about to undergo an abortion, for criticizing the patient’s decision to have the abortion, and for failing to provide nursing care and comfort. Benson and Sentara denied the charges.

Even though the case was 14 months old, it was never set for trial.

Caption:
Graphic
FACT
This is the second lawsuit concerning this abortion and this nurse.
The first case was a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the
nurse, Nancy C. Benson, against Sentara. Benson claimed she was
forced out of the hospital because she refused to help with
abortions.

Copyright (c) 1998 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 9802120524

Categories
Virginian-Pilot Archive 1996 STS&G News Goodove in the News

Nurse, Sentara sued over traumatic abortion

The patient felt nervous enough. She was 4 1/2 months pregnant with a deformed fetus, lying on a hospital bed, waiting for an abortion. She knew it would be traumatic.

Into her room walked a nurse who, she says, turned her morning into a horror.

The nurse criticized the patient for choosing the abortion, told her she would never get over it, said she would have to celebrate her dead child’s birthday just as she celebrated her living child’s, the patient says.

Then, she says, the nurse started crying and said she was opposed to abortion. The nurse said she had never assisted in an abortion and told the patient that she would have to help her through the difficult procedure.

That was in December 1994. This month, the patient – using the pseudonym Jane Doe – sued Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and the nurse, Nancy C. Benson of Norfolk, for medical malpractice and other alleged misdeeds.

She is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.

This is the same abortion that prompted another lawsuit earlier this year. In that case, the nurse sued the hospital, claiming religious discrimination: She says she was fired for refusing to help with the Doe operation. That case is pending in federal court.

All sides agree that the nurse was taken off the abortion soon after the incident, suspended, then quit a few days later.

The patient sued Dec. 6 in Circuit Court under a pseudonym to protect her privacy. She says, in court papers, that she feared the nurse would withhold pain medication and would not help her through the procedure.

“This really doesn’t come down to whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice,” said Doe’s attorney, Michael L. Goodove. “She (the patient) has made a lawful decision to terminate a pregnancy and she should not be subject to someone else’s views. . . . A professional nurse should never, ever subject a patient to this kind of treatment.”

Sentara agrees that the nurse was out of line, even though it is a co-defendant in the new case. The company says it took swift action against the nurse for acting improperly.

“Sentara suspended (Benson) for imposing her views and judgment on a patient,” says a legal brief by Sentara’s attorney, William M. Furr, in the discrimination case. “(The nurse’s) conduct was totally inappropriate.”

The nurse’s attorney did not return repeated phone calls.

Taken together, the two lawsuits put Sentara and the nurse in awkward legal positions.

First, it means Sentara must defend itself against two lawsuits involving the same abortion. The suit filed by Benson says Sentara acted too strongly against the nurse. The suit filed by the patient says Sentara didn’t act strongly enough to protect her from the nurse.

Second, the two lawsuits put the nurse in an odd spot: She is suing Sentara in one case, but she is a co-defendant with Sentara in the other.

“Litigation makes strange bedfellows,” said a Sentara attorney, William E. Rachels Jr.

“The hospital is certainly caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Goodove, the patient’s attorney.

The nurse’s lawsuit was filed in March and is pending in federal court in Norfolk. A judge heard arguments last week and will rule soon on Sentara’s motion to throw the lawsuit out. The trial is scheduled for Jan. 14.

Court documents, including sworn depositions by the nurse, patient and her family, spell out what happened in the hospital room the morning of Dec. 22, 1994.

Jane Doe was about 20 weeks pregnant – halfway to her baby’s birth – but there were problems. Medical examinations found severe abnormalities in the fetus, including spina bifida, water on the brain and clubfeet, Goodove said.

After much agonizing, the patient and her husband decided to abort.

At Norfolk General, Nancy Benson was one of five nurses in the labor-and-delivery unit. She was assigned to the abortion.

Benson did not want to do the abortion, she says in her lawsuit. She says she had strong religious and moral objections. She says Sentara knew her feelings, yet ordered her to help with the Doe abortion.

Sentara says in court papers that Benson never told her supervisors how she felt and certainly never filed her objections in writing. If she had, Sentara says, the nurse never would have been assigned to abortions. Sentara also says that Benson could have swapped assignments with another nurse.

Benson says there was not enough time and, anyway, it violated her religious beliefs to ask someone else to help with an abortion.

About 7:30 a.m., Benson started an intravenous line and began giving the patient medications. What happened next is spelled out in Sentara’s legal brief in the discrimination case:

The nurse said, “I don’t do these,” meaning abortions. The nurse told Jane Doe that the abortion would always be with her, that she would never forget it, that it might be traumatic and it might come up later in her life.

The nurse also told Doe that she would need to celebrate the dead child’s birthday the same as her living child’s.

The nurse questioned the fetus’ deformity, according to the legal brief. She told Doe that there are boys and girls at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters born with this defect and they are beautiful. She told Doe there was some doubt as to the fetus’ birth defect and asked if Doe had gotten a second opinion.

At that point, the brief says, Doe asked Benson if she was opposed to abortion, and Benson said yes. The nurse started crying, told Doe she would have a hard time dealing with this and said she might never get over it. She asked the patient to help her – the nurse – get through the procedure.

John and Jane Doe complained and the nurse was removed. She was later suspended and eventually quit.

Benson says she was forced out because of her religious views. Sentara says Benson’s conduct was intolerable.

“Health care providers have a right to their religions,” Sentara’s legal brief states, “but they do not have a right to impose their religious views on their patients.”

The new lawsuit has not yet been served on Benson or Sentara, so they have not yet replied.

Meanwhile, a third lawsuit involving abortion at Norfolk General has been settled out of court.

In that case, another nurse – Deborah J. Michael of Gatesville, N.C. – claimed Sentara fired her for refusing to help with abortions. It was filed in March at the same time as Benson’s lawsuit and was scheduled for trial this month.

“Sentara was ready and willing to take this case to trial,” Furr said, “but agreed to a resolution of this case when Ms. Michael decided to conclude the lawsuit for personal and emotional reasons.” Further details are not available.

Copyright (c) 1996 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 9612200471

Categories
STS&G News

Drunken driver to pay victim’s school $100 a year for 14 years, sentence is in addition to a $100,000 insurance settlement to the family.

A drunken driver who killed a teenager on New Year’s Day has agreed to an unusual settlement of the lawsuit against him: He will pay $100 to the boy’s school every year on the anniversary of the teen’s death.

And he will do it for 14 years – once a year for every year of the dead boy’s life.

The settlement was the idea of Michael L. Goodove, a Norfolk lawyer who lost his own brother to a drunken driver in Charlottesville in 1990.

The settlement also gives $100,000 to the dead boy’s family, the maximum under the driver’s insurance policy, before lawyer fees are deducted. The $100-a-year payment is above and beyond the insurance.

Norfolk Judge John E. Clarkson approved the settlement Friday.

“I insisted on something from the driver personally,” said Goodove, who represents the dead boy’s family and is chairman of the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “It sends a message to him, it sends a message to other offenders, and it memorializes the victim.”

The victim was 14-year-old Ernest “Smokey” Hunt of Chesapeake, an articulate, well-liked honor student at Deep Creek Middle School. He was sleeping in the back of a car driven by his brother when a drunken driver plowed into the car’s rear, pinning the teen inside.

“He did everything right,” Goodove said. “He was an honor student, he was college-bound. By all indications, he was going to make it. Then a drunk driver got him.”

The accident happened at 3 a.m. New Year’s Day on Interstate 264 near the Berkley Bridge.

The drunken driver – Steve F. Morris, 23, of Chesapeake – pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence. He was sentenced to two years and 11 months in prison.

Morris had an extensive driving record, including four previous convictions for speeding and one for driving on a suspended license, Goodove said.

At Morris’ sentencing in August, Hunt’s relatives described the devastation the accident caused their family.

“My father just sits around thinking of things to do to get his mind off of Smokey,” said Hunt’s brother, Chantalle, in a written statement. “Most of the time my dad keeps to himself. That hurts knowing how he feels. . . It is hard living in a house that nobody wants to be in. I had plans to move out, but now I’m scared to.”

The boy’s mother, Edna R. Floyd, wrote, “There is no more joy and laughter in my household, only the pain and lots of tears. My family is very, very afraid that I die, too, because my pain is so great. My husband watches over me at night so that I will not hurt myself.”

Teachers wrote about what an extraordinary student Ernest was. He was a member of the National Junior Honor Society and the school’s XLR-8 team.

“He was a very positive, upbeat young man who was willing to give of himself. Whenever anything needed to be done, he volunteered,” wrote one teacher, V.E. Valentine.

“Ernest was a joy to teach and was an exemplary student,” wrote five teachers in the XLR-8 program. “Academically, Ernest maintained the honor roll every year of his life. He worked diligently to reap these honors. His polite and trusting manner brought a smile to the faces of his teachers.”

The boy’s future seemed bright. Last year, he wrote an upbeat poem about himself titled “Me.” In it, he described himself as “a young, ambitious black male” who feels sadness in the world but tries to “touch the hearts of everyone around me.”

“I dream every night I go to bed. I try to make the best out of life. I hope everything I want will soon be mine,” he wrote.

Hunt’s family sued Morris for the boy’s “wrongful death” in Norfolk Circuit Court. Normally, such cases are settled for whatever insurance is available.

In this case, however, Goodove insisted that Morris write a check to Hunt’s school every year on the anniversary of Hunt’s death, as a reminder to himself and the community of the teen’s life.

It is not known what the school will do with the money.

“My son believed that education was the key to success and to a bright future,” his mother wrote in June. “Therefore, I feel that part of Mr. Morris’ sentence should be to donate his income to Deep Creek Middle School, towards education so that we can have better people and less crime.”

Morris will write the first check on Jan. 1, 2000 – the first New Year’s Day that he will be free from prison.