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News Briefs

Agency OKs Placement of King Memorial on National Mall

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

A federal agency Thursday gave final approval to the site for a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the historically hallowed ground of the national Mall -- where it will join monuments to America’s most revered presidents.

“Only in America can the grandson of former slaves end up on the Mall in a prominent position,” said John Carter, project manager for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit group that has led the drive to build the monument. “This site puts Dr. King in a place of tranquillity, vision, historic significance and in a visual line of leaders between Lincoln and Jefferson.”

The monument will be close to the site of the 1963 March on Washington, at which King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Unlike four Mall presidential memorials -- among the most popular tourist attractions in the nation’s capital -- the King monument will be the first to honor a black American.

The National Capital Planning Commission’s 10-0 vote removed the last federal obstacle to placing a monument to the slain civil-rights leader among the pantheons of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt on the verdant area at the heart of the Mall.

California Court Rules In Medical Arbitration Case

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- SAN FRANCISCO

The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that medical malpractice victims who are bound by arbitration agreements can still go to court to obtain orders that prohibit health care providers from certain deceptive consumer practices.

However, the court also held such victims must litigate their claims for financial compensation before arbitrators -- private judges paid by the litigants.

The 4-3 ruling shut down a legal avenue that plaintiffs lawyers had hoped to use to get around arbitration clauses in civil disputes. Many trial lawyers believe juries are more likely than arbitrators to award substantial damages, particularly when a plaintiff’s case is emotionally compelling.

The compromise decision was called “a strong victory for consumers” by attorney Anthony Kornarens, who represented the plaintiffs in the case before the court. “The court is saying that a private contract cannot trump a law enacted for a public purpose.”

At the same time, the defendant, Cigna Healthplans of California, also described the ruling as a consumer victory, contending that arbitration agreements keep health care costs down.