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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff and wire reports
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published February 28, 2002

    Mother whose toddler died sues day care and owner

    TAMPA -- The mother of a toddler who died after being left in a day care center van for seven hours in November has filed a lawsuit in state court against the center and its owner.

    Sedrika Green, mother of Tyrese Green, contends that Lotta Lovin Child Care Center and its owner, Shawana Stacy, were negligent and did not take "reasonable care" to prevent the death. "Their job is to look after children, and they didn't do that," said Green's lawyer, Colleen Nestor, who filed the suit Monday. "It boggles the mind that this could have happened."

    Stacy could not be reached.

    Stacy picked up 17-month-old Tyrese in a day care center van at 7:30 a.m. Nov. 8, according to police reports, and mistakenly left him strapped in his car seat after the other children got out.

    Stacy discovered the toddler when she picked up another batch of children after school at 2:30 p.m. Temperatures reached 77 degrees that day, the van's windows were rolled up and Tyrese was wearing a jacket.

    Florida law requires day care workers to maintain a log of children being transported in a vehicle. The driver must mark each child off when the child gets out and inspect the vehicle. Another day care employee must verify the log and inspect the vehicle.

    The suit says Stacy and the day care center violated those requirements.

    Judge throws out suit on dwarf-tossing ban

    TAMPA -- As expected, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday threw out a lawsuit Wednesday that challenged the state law banning the tossing of dwarfs in barroom shows.

    Merryday said in his order that while the state had asked the Florida Department of Professional Regulation in 1989 to make rules banning dwarf tossing, "no such rules are presently on the books." Accordingly, the case is "without controversy," he said.

    Dave Flood had alleged that his constitutional right to equal protection was violated with the passage of a law. The 3-foot-2 entertainer, who appears using the moniker Dave the Dwarf on WFLZ-FM 93.3's MJ Morning Show with MJ Kelli, said the law offended him.

    When he heard Merryday's reasoning for throwing out the case, Flood said he planned to arrange a tossing event after he returns from a New York talk show appearance.

    Electric problem blamed for Cedar Key High fire

    CEDAR KEY -- Fire investigators think an electrical malfunction or overload sparked a fire Monday night that destroyed Cedar Key High School.

    A spokeswoman for the state Fire Marshal's Office said arson has been ruled out as a cause.

    About 100 students and teachers displaced by the fire will finish the school year in portable classrooms.

    Car hits school bus full of sixth-graders

    TAMPA -- Seven Eisenhower Middle School students were taken to the hospital for observation Wednesday morning after their school bus was struck by a car on Morris Bridge Road near Verges Road, authorities said.

    The bus carrying 54 sixth-graders was headed to the environmental learning lab Nature's Classroom about 10:15 a.m. Wednesday for a student field trip.

    As it turned into the Nature's Classroom entrance off Morris Bridge Road, a 1989 Ford Taurus driven by James Mathis, 46, struck the left side of the bus, said Hillsborough Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter. Mathis was ticketed for improper passing.

    Four children were taken to Southbay Hospital in Sun City Center, and three children were taken to Brandon Community Hospital.

    Carter said one student suffered a minor head injury. The other students complained of aches and pains.

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