Charlottesville Breaking News

Not over: Both sides appeal in Lester v. Allied Concrete

The lawsuit that resulted in one of the largest wrongful death jury awards in Virginia has been appealed– by both sides.

Plaintiff Isaiah Lester, widower of 25-year-old Jessica Scott Lester, who died when an Allied Concrete truck rolled onto her car in 2007, saw his $8.6 million award slashed by $4.1 million by a judge, who also sanctioned him for $180,000 for destroying evidence. Also punished was attorney Matt Murray who was hit with a $542,000 sanction. Murray represented Lester but then resigned abruptly in July from Allen & Allen after the defense accused him of misconduct.

The insurance company for Allied Concrete, which asked for over $900,000 in sanctions against Lester and Murray for the removal of a Facebook photo of Lester wearing an "I [heart] hot moms" t-shirt, apparently wasn't happy with the reduced award and sanctions either, and its attorneys filed an appeal November 17 as well.

Nor was a juror on the case happy when Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Edward Hogshire reduced Lester's award, calling it "so excessiv...

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Rotunda rehab: Good-bye and good-riddance to magnolias?

As UVA gears up to begin a $4.7 million roof replacement project for the Rotunda, part of a planned $50 million restoration of Thomas Jefferson's famous centerpiece on the Lawn, a major visual transformation of the UNESCO World Heritage site (along with Monticello, one of only four in the country) could take place before the first piece of old sheet metal is removed.

According to a statement by University architect David Neuman, the six 100-year-old magnolias in the two courtyards that flank the Rotunda need to be removed, both because they have become a danger to the structure and because of the need to erect scaffolding for the roof work. What's more, according to UVA'a leading Lawn historian, the giant magnolias, which have grown to the roof line and crowd the Rotunda's curved walls, would mostly likely displease the structure's original architect, who preferred that his major buildings "stand up and stand out" against the horizon.

However, according to over 3,000 people who signed an online petition opposing the removal of the trees, they should stay up and stay put.

As one petitioner put it, "I don't want to stand idly by as they trample over common sense and due decency in the name of sycophantic adherence to the plans of a man who's been dead for almost two hundred years."

As a result, UVA has done some backpedaling. A week ago, President Teresa A. Sullivan fired off an email to students, who initiated the petition...

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Male fondler: Intruder targets UVA men

Women may be the most common targets of sexual predators, but a series of recent break-ins should serve as a wake-up call for men. According to Charlottesville police, at least five male UVA students have been victimized by a home invader who sneaks into their darkened bedrooms late at night and fondles their genitals until they awaken.

"In all the cases, he entered through an unlocked door," says Charlottesville police spokesperson Lt. Ronnie Roberts, who says the intruder, described as a thin black male in his 20s or 30s, flees upon his victim awakening.

The first incident occurred September 29 in a University Circle apartment. The intruder struck again on October 15 and 22 on 17th Street NW and on October 21 on Virginia Avenue. The last reported incident took place November 13 on Wertland Street.

"It's not the norm for a man to become a victim to something of that sort," says Roberts, who fears that men may be less likely to report such assaults out of embarrassment or simply because they're less aware than women of the need to report a sexual assault.

"There may be more," says Roberts, who hopes that by putting out a public alert, other victims may come forward with information that could lead to an arrest.

While male-on-male sexual assault is less common than male-on-female assault, it's not the first time that male UVA students have been targeted. In separate incidents in 2004 and 2005, a local hairstylist was convi...

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Discounted deal on Garth



R B C Bank USA to Onyx Tenth LLC, 1701 Bundoran Drive, $1,850,000

Owen & Rachel Norment to Guy & Joan Barnocky, 1247 Courtyard Drive, $324,000

NVR Inc. to Jamie & Phillip Zimmerman, 1646 Wickham Way, $311,964

Jimmie & Patricia Mullins to Neil Rutan, 5003 Watts Passage, $305,000

Guy & Joan Barnocky to Sly Sleuth LLC, 233 Harvest Drive, $240,000

Page Turner to Phillip & Jane Hearne, 4365 Taylor Creek Road, $235,000 (foreclosure)

Alison Threatt to Martha Pliska, 5207 Havenwood Lane, $230,000

Toni Jones to Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, 2388 Whitney Court, $139,233 (foreclosure)


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The week in review

Latest George Huguely ruling: A judge says November 18 that defense attorneys may see slain student Yeardley Love's medical records.

Biggest issue for UVA students I: The magnolias slated to be cut down over the winter holidays as part of the Rotunda roof repair have sparked students to petition to save them, despite the abundance of magnolias and the rarity of Rotundas. The Cavalier Daily has the story.

Biggest issue for UVA students II: The Sierra Student Coalition wants to shut down the university's coal-fired heating plant as part of the group's "Beyond Coal" initiative, according to Charlottesville Tomorrow. The plant was renovated in 2008 for $78 million, cleans 99.9 percent of particulate emissions, and does not use mountain-top removed coal, says UVA chief facilities officer Donald Sundgren.

Worst fire in a historic structure: The West Range Cafe at UVA ignites from an electrical cable– not a quake-damaged fireplace, use of which were recently banned– November 20, causing significant damage to the cafe.

More electrical cable news: Campers with Occupy Charlottesville have tapped into a city electrical post at Lee Park and have run the power bill up to $36.24, ...

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