Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. EDT

BOGUS EPILEPSY

$2.8 million verdict in 2nd trial over bogus epilepsy

DETROIT (AP) — A lawyer says a jury has awarded nearly $2.8 million to a young woman who accused a Detroit-area doctor of misreading tests to come up with an epilepsy diagnosis when she was a child.

The verdict by a Wayne County jury is the second against Dr. Yasser Awaad and Oakwood Healthcare. Lawyers for 18-year-old Claire Linzell say she was one of 250 children who were misdiagnosed.

The verdict was returned Tuesday. The award could be reduced by a judge because it exceeds a cap under Michigan law.

Awaad said he had discovered abnormal brain activity in Linzell during electroencephalograms, or EEGs. She was treated with an anti-seizure medication, but it turned out that the epilepsy diagnosis was wrong.

Attorney Brian McKeen says Awaad was “grossly incompetent or completely lacking in ethics.” Awaad’s attorney said there was no intentional wrongdoing. Oakwood, now part of Beaumont Health, will appeal.

ABORTION RIGHTS

Whitmer, Democrats propose undoing abortion restrictions

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is joining Democratic lawmakers to support a repeal of Michigan’s abortion restrictions and regulations.

The legislation introduced Tuesday won’t advance in the Republican-led Legislature. But the Democratic governor said it’s important to advocate for the proposed Michigan Reproductive Health Act because residents “value a woman’s right to choose.”

The bills would repeal an unenforced 1931 law that bans virtually all abortions, remove a parental consent requirement and lift a 24-hour waiting period.

The legislation would reinforce abortion rights at a time states have passed restrictions conservatives hope will lead the Supreme Court to review Roe v. Wade.

Michigan anti-abortion groups are circulating petitions to significantly restrict a common second-trimester procedure and ban abortion as early as six weeks. The Legislature could bypass Whitmer and enact the measures.

MICHIGAN BUDGET

Whitmer to GOP: Negotiate budget without limiting powers

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is urging Republican legislative leaders to negotiate a budget without trying to restrict her powers.

It’s been four weeks since she signed a $59 billion spending plan but vetoed nearly $1 billion after having no input following a breakdown in talks.

The funding can’t be restored until Whitmer and Republicans reach a deal.

Whitmer wrote a letter to GOP leaders Tuesday saying she’s happy to negotiate a solution that restores funding for public health and safety needs and rescinds “certain” fund transfers she ordered. She says she wouldn’t veto items Republicans may add to supplemental budget bills and, in the future, wouldn’t unilaterally shift funds when there are negotiated budget agreements.

Republicans responded by introducing bills that would limit her authority to unilaterally move funds.

DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT-FOUNDERS

Founders co-owner: Discrimination suit ‘biggest challenge’

(Information from: The Grand Rapids Press:MLive.com, http://www.mlive.com)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A Founders Brewing co-owner says the backlash the western Michigan brewery has faced over a former worker’s racial discrimination lawsuit has been the “biggest challenge.”

Tracy Evans, who is black, filed the lawsuit last year saying workers at the Grand Rapids-based brewery repeatedly used racist language around him. He says the company fired him in retaliation for complaining to human resources, but the company denies that.

MLive cites a Detroit Metro Times report that says Founders general manager Dominic Ryan, who fired Evans, told Evans’ lawyer in a case disposition that he didn’t know Evans was black.

The Detroit Free Press report s that several bars have stopped serving Founders’ beers in response to the disposition.

Co-owner Dave Engbers told MLive that he’s trying to rebuild trust and that he wants to reassure the Detroit community that Founders celebrates “people of all different backgrounds and ethnicities.”

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COUNSELING BILLS

Whitmer signs bill to let counselors still treat patients

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Licensed professional counselors will continue to be able to diagnose and treat patients after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation updating their scope of practice.

Whitmer says the law enacted Tuesday will ensure that more than 150,000 people can still receive mental health care and protect 10,000 counselors from losing their ability to practice as they currently do.

The legislation was sparked by concerns that the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will change counseling regulations in a way that affects counselors’ work.

The agency has said the current rules are outdated and the old law did not let counselors diagnose and use psychotherapy techniques, even if they have been doing so for many years.

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Online:

House Bill 4325: http://bit.ly/2OUAyx2

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT-STRATEGY

Regional group seeks input on economic development strategy

DETROIT (AP) — The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments is seeking input on regional economic development strategy.

Interactive sessions are scheduled in November and December in Monroe, Livingston, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties.

The sessions will include discussions on creating and marketing quality places, anticipating demands for land use, fostering a competitive business climate, advancing innovation and technology, investing in critical infrastructure, and preparing and connecting talent with jobs.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments supports coordinated local planning with technical, data and intergovernmental resources. It serves Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties.

STATE POLICE-OPIOIDS UNIT

State police unit to focus on illegally prescribed opioids

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan State Police has announced a new task force that will look into medical professionals suspected of illegally distributing controlled substances, like opioids.

The diversion investigation unit’s work already has led to criminal enterprise, conspiracy to manufacture illegal prescriptions and other charges against a nurse practitioner in Lansing. A doctor in Mason also has been charged with manufacturing illegal prescriptions, possessing controlled substances and health care fraud.

State police Director Col. Joe Gasper says “prescribing medically unnecessary controlled substances pushes highly addictive drugs on to … streets impacting public and patient safety.”

RIVER BODY-TRIAL

Dismemberment evidence allowed in murder trial

(Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, http://www.yankton.net/)

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota judge has ruled that dismemberment evidence can be used in the trial of a man accused of killing his girlfriend and dumping her remains in a river in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The attorney for 45-year-old Robert Falkenberg argued the evidence might prejudice a jury against his client who has pleaded not guilty to killing Tamara LaFramboise last March.

The nude torso of the 46-year-old Yankton woman was found in the Little River in Michigan’s Menominee Township, near Falkenberg’s family farm weeks later. Her head and hands had been removed and are still missing.

The Yankton Press and Dakotan says defense attorney Clint Sargent argued that the dismemberment was performed days after the murder and did not serve to show intent. Judge Cheryle Gering denied the motion Monday.

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AUTOMAKERS-FUEL EFFICIENCY

Automakers side with Trump in legal fight with California

WASHINGTON (AP) — General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and many others in the auto industry are siding with the Trump administration in a lawsuit over whether California has the right to set its own greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards.

The companies and the Association of Global Automakers say they plan to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Defense Fund against the administration over California’s ability to set standards that differ from federal rules.

The new move widens the gap between the industry and four other automakers, Ford, BMW, Volkswagen and Honda. They have sided with California in what is shaping up to be an epic legal battle over the state’s right to control pollution. At least a dozen other states follow California’s greenhouse gas emissions standards.

APPLES RECALL-LISTERIA

Potential listeria contamination leads to apples recall

AURORA, Ill. (AP) — A county health department in Illinois says a Michigan company voluntarily is recalling nearly 2,300 cases of apples due to potential listeria contamination.

Kane County health officials say Tuesday that North Bay Produce of Traverse City also is recalling two bulk bins of apples.

Recalled varieties include McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Jonathan, Fuji, Jonamac and Red Delicious. The recalled apples were shipped Oct. 16-21 to wholesalers, retailers and brokers in Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.

They were sold in plastic bags under Great Lakes and North Bay Produce Pure Michigan brands. They also were sold unbranded in clear plastic bags, white paper tote bags, and individually from retail displays.

Listeria usually causes mild illness but can be dangerous to pregnant women or people with weak immune systems.