A Foul Notion

Jan. 7, 2009
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In November, the Great American Insurance Co., based in Cincinnati, sought a declaration in federal court in Houston that it was not liable to pay the death benefits from a 2007 office fire because the three victims did not die from “fire.” The company pointed to an exclusion in the policy for death by “pollution”—thought by most people to cover only toxic industrial discharges—and argued that the three victims were actually asphyxiated by smoke, which is “air pollution.”

Least Competent Criminals
(1) April Westfall, 40, was arrested in Reno, Nev., in December for DUI. An ambulance crew called the Highway Patrol after spotting her driving down U.S. Highway 395 at 4:30 a.m. with a gas station’s nozzle and severed hose protruding from her gas tank. (2) Jeremy Aron, 33, was arrested for DUI on Thanksgiving night in Portsmouth, N.H., when an off-duty police officer spotted him driving down Lafayette Road with a fire hydrant stuck to his bumper.

The Continuing Crisis
In November, Maryland lobbyist and former state assemblyman Gilbert Genn was attacked by a deer outside his home, butted to the ground and repeatedly stabbed by the buck’s antlers in the chest and groin. Genn told WTOP Radio that he finally subdued the animal by grabbing its antlers long enough to tire it and cause it to flee. Though he was bleeding badly, Genn said he disregarded his wife’s admonitions to get to the hospital. Instead, he dressed the wounds himself and headed to a scheduled meeting in Annapolis with Speaker of the House Michael Busch. Genn told a reporter, “There was no way I could miss this meeting.” Only afterward did he report to the emergency room.


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