Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, September 4:
- Summit County warns against vaping;
- Cuyahoga jail to get anti-suicide blankets;
- Polce departments large and small receive money for bulletproof vests;
- Federal court allows Friday purge of 200,000 voters;
- Judge: Drugmakers, others can face trial over opioid crisis;
- Oberlin College seeks new trial after order to pay $25M;
- Medical Board to review nearly 2,000 'sexual boundary' cases;
- Pool crew leaves behind trail of blue on Lake Erie cliff;
- Woman hit by falling branch is park's 3rd death this summer;
- Aging culvert closes Sand Run Parkway;
Summit County warns against vaping
Summit County health officials have issued a stark warning about the dangers of vaping. In a statement Tuesday, the department urged residents to stop vaping immediately following a rash of teenagers and young adults being hospitalized with severe respiratory illness. Ohio is among 16 states reporting high numbers of hospitalizations related to vaping. The statement warns that e-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine, cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals and chemical flavorings linked to serious lung disease. Officials said the long-term health effects of these products are unknown.
Cuyahoga jail to get anti-suicide blankets
Cuyahoga County plans to buy more than 2,000 special blankets and gowns to help prevent suicides at the county jail. Cleveland.com reports the anti-suicide blankets are made with heavy material that can't be fashioned into a noose. Five inmates have died from hanging since last year. Up to 750 inmates deemed high risk for self-harm will receive two blankets, and all regular sheets will be removed from cells. The total costs is expected to be around $118,000.
Police departments large and small receive money for bulletproof vests
One of Summit County's smallest law enforcement agencies has purchased 10 new bulletproof vests with the help of a $15,000 state grant. The Reminderville Police Department also used the grant to help save money, which went to improving 10-year-old computer systems. The department told the Beacon Journal that although it’s small, it's still susceptible to dangerous situations — it dealt with the state's biggest methamphetamine bust near Boston Heights last year. Reminderville Police Department has 10 employees. The grant funded bulletproof vests for a dozen Summit County communities. Akron got nearly $30,000.
Federal court allows Friday purge of 200,o00 voters
A federal court has ruled Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose can remove more than 200,000 voters from the rolls Friday as planned. The Ohio Democratic Party had ask the court to block it, saying thousands of voters could be improperly removed. The list includes registered voters who have died, moved or have been inactive. U.S. District Judge James Graham said the Ohio Democratic Party hasn’t provided enough evidence to support its claims that there are thousands of eligible voters on the list because of mistakes involving vendors.
Judge: Drugmakers, others can face trial over opioid crisis
A federal judge overseeing litigation related to the nation's opioids epidemic has ruled that claims against Purdue Pharma and other drug companies can move to trial as the OxyContin maker tries to reach a settlement. The ruling was one of several issued Tuesday in Cleveland by U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster, who is preparing for trial set to begin next month over claims from Cuyahoga and Summit counties. It’s the first federal trial seeking to hold drug companies accountable for an addiction crisis that has killed more than 400,000 Americans since 2000. The judge also ruled that claims can move forward against generic drugmakers and smaller distributors, who had argued that they should be let off the hook.
Oberlin College seeks new trial after order to pay $25M
Oberlin College is asking for a new trial after being ordered to pay $25 million to the owners of a market, who accused the school of ruining their business. The store claimed Oberlin encouraged protests and branded the owners racists after a shoplifting incident involving black students. Oberlin now alleges a variety of legal errors, including the jury awarding "excessive damages." The college said those errors led to "wildly excessive verdicts influenced by passion and prejudice." The shop owners oppose the retrial request, calling it "baseless." A jury this summer awarded the shop owners $44 million. A judge cut that to $25 million.
Medical Board to review nearly 2,000 'sexual boundary' cases
The State Medical Board of Ohio plans to review nearly 2,000 closed cases involving alleged "sexual boundary" violations by doctors over the past 25 years to see if any involved evidence of criminal misconduct was ignored. Gov. Mike DeWine requested such a review after learning credible evidence was ignored in a 1996 investigation of an Ohio State University team doctor, now accused of widespread sexual abuse. DeWine asked the board to review about 1,500 closed cases involving sexual assault allegations. But the board is casting a slightly wider net to include any with allegations of "sexual boundary" violations. That could include improper, nonphysical interactions that aren't necessarily a crime, such as a doctor asking a patient out for a date.
Pool crew leaves behind trail of blue on Lake Erie cliff
Police said a crew coating a swimming pool near Cleveland got caught "blue-handed" dumping waste over a cliff into a river. Authorities in Rocky River said a paddle boarder alerted them to the dumping last week after seeing bright blue streaks running down the rocky cliff. Police said the pool waste was being dumped over the cliff and into the Rocky River where it meets Lake Erie. Officers arrested a member of the crew that was working on the swimming pool. More charges could be filed after investigations by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Woman hit by falling branch is park's 3rd death this summer
A 44-year-old woman died after she was hit by a falling tree branch while visiting Hocking Hills State Park. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is investigating the Monday death of Chillicothe resident Victoria Schafer. It’s the third death at the park this summer and the second in two weeks on the trails near Old Man's Cave. A 22-year-old hiker died after apparently losing his footing and falling from a cliff there two weekends ago. In June, the body of a 55-year-old woman was recovered from a remote part of the park's Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve.
Aging culvert closes Sand Run Parkway
A portion of Sand Run Parkway on Akron’s West Side is closed indefinitely. The stretch between Portage Path and Merriman Road is closed because of an aging culvert. The park district is considering options for replacing or removing the culvert and will seek public input on potential solutions at a later date.