Indian Hill mansion fire case heading for trial

Published: Sunday, August 20, 2017 @ 2:00 PM


            More than 80 firefighters worked Jan. 10, 2014, to put out the blaze that swallowed a 10,000-square-foot residence in Indian Hill. BRYCE ANSLINGER/WCPO
            BRYCE ANSLINGER / WCPO
More than 80 firefighters worked Jan. 10, 2014, to put out the blaze that swallowed a 10,000-square-foot residence in Indian Hill. BRYCE ANSLINGER/WCPO(BRYCE ANSLINGER / WCPO)

U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott has set aside up to 20 days for an Oct. 10 jury trial that could unravel some of the remaining mysteries from a 2014 fire that destroyed an Indian Hill mansion and spawned a $60 million lawsuit.

Homeowners Jeffrey and Maria Decker are trying to force Chubb National Insurance Co. to cover damages from the fire of undetermined origin at 9645 Cunningham Road. The damage claims have been revised downward since the lawsuit was filed in 2015.

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The Deckers are now seeking $15.3 million in “contract damages” from their claim, plus $30.5 million in punitive damages. They argue Chubb’s aggressive fire investigation caused humiliation and emotional distress.

Chubb filed a counterclaim to recover more than $700,000 paid to the Deckers as advance payments on the insurance claim, which it later denied, alleging the Deckers made false statements and concealed facts about the fire.

Judge Dlott has filed a 47-page trial preview outlining legal issues and disputed facts that remain in the case. The document also provides a witness list that includes Joel Gemunder, former CEO of Omnicare Inc., who considered buying the Decker’s house several years ago.

Arnold Barnett, former chairman of the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, could also be called as a witness. Chubb is trying to keep Barnett from testifying about Chubb’s investigation of a past insurance claim. The Deckers view it as evidence of “bad faith conduct” by Chubb.

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The jury is also expected to see the video deposition of James Stafford, the founder and former owner of Stafford Jewelers. He was found dead on the Deckers’ property in November 2016, five months after he told Chubb’s attorneys that Decker was trying to sell his Indian Hill home before it caught fire.

“It was just too much house for him,” Stafford testified.

According to the deposition, Decker was a Stafford Jewelers customer and partner in a real estate venture with James Stafford. Stafford testified that Decker once confided that he spent $5.5 million to build the home and was trying to sell it for up to $12 million. Chubb had the house appraised at $5 million.

The Deckers are seeking $10.7 million in damages for the dwelling itself and more than $2 million for its contents, including $29,000 for jewelry, $23,000 for furs and $5,700 for fine arts.

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One of the big remaining disputes in the case involves Chubb’s use of cell phone records to support its allegation that Jeffrey Decker “was in the area of his residence, not at his alibi location” just 16 minutes before the fire was discovered by a neighbor.

Decker’s attorney Gary Franke claimed in a December filing that “Chubb employees in Philadelphia” admitted in a deposition that Decker’s “actual location could not be determined.”

The Deckers hired their own expert, who said Chubb’s method of analyzing call records “can only establish that an individual was within a 21.75 mile radius of a cell phone tower, well within the radius-area consistently asserted by Mr. Decker as to his whereabouts.”

Man infested with tapeworms after eating sushi: Hoax or real?

Published: Thursday, September 25, 2014 @ 10:33 AM
Updated: Friday, September 26, 2014 @ 3:30 PM

Update: Snopes.com states that this story is not accurate, and that the shocking images may be associated with a case from earlier this year involving raw pork or beef, not fish.

 

Original story: The man went to his doctor when he couldn’t get rid of stomach pains and itchy skin.

 

After an examination and x-rays, he was told the problem was tapeworms.

 

Lots of tapeworms.

 

Doctors at Guangzhou No. 8 People's Hospital in Guangdong Province in eastern China told the man it was likely he picked up the parasites by eating slices of raw fish, called sashimi.

 

The Journal Canadian Family Physician reports infestations like this are on the rise around the world.

 

Nancy Craig wrote, “The widespread popularity of Japanese sushi and sashimi is a contributor."

 

It’s expected the man will be fine because treatment for the condition is simple and effective as long as the infection doesn’t reach the brain.

 

If it does, doctors say it can be fatal.

 

James Comey to teach ethical leadership course at College of William & Mary

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 9:50 AM

James Comey Testimony: Key Points

Former FBI Director James Comey will teach an ethical leadership course for his alma mater, Virginia’s College of William & Mary, starting in the fall, the school announced Friday.

>> Read more trending news

Comey, who was dismissed as director of the FBI by President Donald Trump in May 2017, was named an executive professor in education at William & Mary on Friday. School officials said he will teach ethical leadership during the fall 2018, spring 2019 and summer 2019 semesters with Drew Stelljes, an executive assistant professor of education and assistant vice president for student leadership at William & Mary.

“Our students will benefit significantly from his experience and wisdom,” William & Mary President Taylor Reveley said in a news release. “He understands to the core of his being that our leaders must have an abiding commitment to ethical behavior and sacrificial service if we are to have good government.”

>> Related: Comey told Trump 3 times he was not under investigation

The course will be taught predominantly in Washington, D.C., at the William & Mary Washington Center, school officials said. One class will be live-streamed to students in Washington, D.C., and taught at the William & Mary School of Education in Williamsburg, Virginia.

"I am thrilled to have the chance to engage with William & Mary students about a vital topic — ethical leadership,” Comey said in a news release. “Ethical leaders lead by seeing above the short term, above the urgent or the partisan, and with a higher loyalty to lasting values, most importantly the truth. Building and maintaining that kind of leadership, in both the private sector and government, is the challenge of our time.”

>> Reports: Trump's controversial decisions in office under scrutiny by Mueller

Comey ran the Richmond, Virginia, division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia f om 1996 to 2001, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. During that time, he also worked as an adjunct law professor at the University of Richmond, the news site reported.

President Barack Obama appointed Comey as director of the FBI in September 2013.

Former FBI Director James Comey leaves a closed session with the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. Comey said that President Donald Trump pressured him to drop the FBI's investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and demanded Comey's loyalty during the one-on-one meetings he had with president. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

He faced criticism during and after the 2016 presidential election for his handling of an FBI investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time in office. His decision to release a letter to Congress informing lawmakers of newly uncovered Clinton emails just weeks before the election had a strong impact on the vote, according to analysts.

>> Related: FBI opens investigation into new Clinton emails

Comey said two days before the election that nothing new or incriminating was found in the emails.

Comey was fired by Trump amid an ongoing investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to Trump campaign officials.

>> Related: Trump tweets: 'I am being investigated for firing the FBI director'

In congressional testimony, Comey said he felt the president tried to get him to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign less than a month into his tenure after it was revealed that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with Russian officials.

>> Related: Read James Comey’s complete testimony before the Senate committee

The White House denied that the dismissal was related to the Russia investigation, although Trump later told NBC News that he had “this Russia thing” on his mind when making the decision.

Comey earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and religion at William & Mary in 1982.

Man who dove off his fishing boat when motor boat crashed into his vessel files $372k lawsuit

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 9:43 AM

Fisherman Involved In Near-Death Boat Crash Files Lawsuit

A fisherman who had to jump into the Columbia River to avoid being crushed in a boating crash has filed a lawsuit against the person who was captaining the other vessel.

Clatsop County Sheriff’s Department said that the motor boat driver, Marlin Lee Larsen, 75, was sitting down while driving his boat and that he couldn’t see over the dash when he crashed into the fishing boat that Bryan Maess, 47, and two other friends were on, Oregon Live reported.

>> Read more trending news 

A GoPro camera captured the crash that happened in August. Christopher McMahon, one of Maess’ friends, waved his arms and yelled, trying to get Larsen’s attention. When that didn’t work, and it was apparent that the larger boat was going to crash into theirs, Maess, McMahon and Roni Durham jumped into the water.

Investigators found that if they had not abandoned ship, the friends would have been injured or even killed.

Maess, however, was injured by jumping into the water and being hit by debris, including injuries to his ankle, leg and arm, vision problems and headaches. He still wears a knee brace, according to the lawsuit, in which he is suing Larsen for $372,500, Oregon Live reported.

McMahon and Durham have not filed suit yet, but have started the process. Both are said to have suffered hypothermia and cuts. Durham claims she has suffered psychological trauma and hasn’t been on a boat since the accident.

Larsen’s son-in-law was on the boat driven by Larsen at the time of the crash. He told police that he warned Larsen to pay attention and that he had seen his father-in-law on his cellphone in the past, including the day of, but not at the time of, the accident.

Larsen told Oregon Live that he wasn’t using the device while he was driving the boat and that the allegations were “fake news.” He also said that the lawsuit, in his opinion, was not necessary since the other people were not hurt badly.

Larsen also has a criminal case filed against him, in which he has pleaded not guilty to reckless operation of a boat, fourth-degree assault and recklessly endangering the lives of others, Oregon Live reported.

FILE PHOTO: The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.(Natalie Behring/Getty Images)

Unattended cooking sparks Dayton house fire

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 9:35 AM
Updated: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 9:55 AM

A house fire on Iola Ave has left a resident displaced

UPDATE @ 9:55 a.m. 

Unattended cooking has been blamed for causing a house fire on Iola Avenue in Dayton Friday. 

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Firefighters reported flames and smoke coming from the rear of a home in the 900 block of Iola Avenue around 9:25 a.m. Friday. 

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The home’s occupant left the home, leaving cooking food on the stove, investigators said. The damage to the home will displace the occupant. 

Firefighters have not been able to get in contact with the occupant. 

No injuries were reported. 

FIRST REPORT

Firefighters have responded to reports of a house fire on Iola Avenue in Dayton Friday morning. 

Crews were dispatched around 9:25 a.m. to the 900 block of Iola Avenue and reported fire coming from the back of the structure. 

We have a crew on the way and we’ll update this page as we learn more.