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West Nile suspected in Panhandle woman's death

Compiled from Times wires
Published September 10, 2003

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Health officials suspect West Nile virus caused the death of a woman from Gulf County, but were awaiting completion of a case history Tuesday before making a final determination.

The 84-year-old woman died Sunday at Bay Medical Center here, said Gulf County Health Department administrator Doug Kent..

If West Nile caused her death, it would be the first confirmed human death from West Nile in Florida this year. So far there have been 27 confirmed infections.

Officials continue to investigate the death of a 51-year-old man in St. Johns County, said Lindsay Hodges, a spokeswoman for the state Health Department. He tested positive for West Nile, but had another medical condition and the cause of death remains undetermined.

Kent is also awaiting lab results to confirm whether a another Gulf County resident, a 57-year-old man, has the virus. Last year, West Nile killed two of 28 people diagnosed with the virus in Florida.

West Nile causes swelling of the brain. Mosquitoes spread it to victims they bite after feeding on the blood of infected birds.

Court says man harassed by city can seek damages

MIAMI - A man who became the target of a city investigation after finding violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act at its new municipal building has the right to sue for damages, an appeals court ruled.

An individual has the right to sue public agencies for retaliation under the 1990 federal law codifying the rights of disabled people, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday in reinstating the lawsuit by ADA consultant Frederick Shotz.

A Plantation city councilman asked Shotz as a favor to evaluate a new community center for ADA compliance. Shotz returned with a list of violations.

He alleged that officials of the Fort Lauderdale suburb then hired a private investigator to look into his criminal, credit, medical and driving history, including a dispute with a neighbor, and videotaped him. The information was released to reporters, exposing Shotz to "public humiliation and shame," the court said.

Other federal appeals courts have hinted at a right to sue for damages over retaliation by public officials, but the 11th Circuit is the first to resolve the question, said Shotz's attorney, Miguel de la O. "It means they are now protected from overzealous government officials who want to intimidate people who enforce the law," he said.

E. Bruce Johnson, attorney for Plantation, said the city may ask the full 11th Circuit for a review or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Governor's aide Turbeville leaves to become lobbyist

TALLAHASSEE - Another former top adviser to Gov. Jeb Bush has quit to be a lobbyist.

Greg Turbeville, 32, resigned as Bush's policy director Aug. 25, and started work this week as a lobbyist in the firm of Smith & Ballard. The firm is headed by former Secretary of State Jim Smith and Brian Ballard, Smith's son-in-law, who was chief of staff to Gov. Bob Martinez.

The lobbying firm represents hospitals, nursing homes, financial service companies and local governments. Its clients include the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Power & Light and Sun Microsystems.

"He'll be lobbying legislative issues for us," Ballard said. "He's obviously going to steer clear of the governor's office."

By law, Turbeville is prohibited from lobbying his former employer for two years.

Asked how much Turbeville will be paid, Ballard said: "More than he made in government."

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