Kurt Niland

5240 posts

Kurt Niland has been a professional editor and writer for 15 years. He is the author of four books and a number of articles for trade journals, newspapers, magazines, and web blogs. He attended New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico, and Auburn University Montgomery, where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English. His lifelong interests in geography, anthropology, political science, literature, and religion fuel his writing and inspire him to travel at every opportunity. Originally from Connecticut, Kurt has resided in Montgomery, Alabama since 1991.

Family of boy killed in Rhino rollover establishes memorial fund

“I am downstairs sitting in my recliner watching TV. The recliner is in our little living room right at the base of the stairs. Sometimes I can see J.T. just out of the corner of my eye coming down. I hear the squeak of the third stair and see a flash of blonde shaggy hair. I find myself washed in a sense of relief until I turn to welcome him and find he wasn’t there and the sharp pain of disappointment stabs me back into reality. Do you ever do that?” Those words were written by Heidi Crow, whose 9-year-old ... Read More

Indiana man sues after leaking fuel tank forces him out of house

A leaking underground storage tank (or LUST) is the basis of a lawsuit in which a Muncie, Indiana, man accuses his neighbors of failing to warn him about an old tank on their property that was slowly but steadily contaminating the ground. Jeffrey Wray, a computer technician for a local hospital, alleges that his neighbors, the owners of a former gas station, failed to warn him that the ground and water beneath his house had been contaminated by fuel from a LUST. According to the lawsuit, the problem continued unabated for years, finally forcing Wray out of his home. “The ... Read More

Massachusetts town converts fuel-contaminated land into park

Cleanup efforts are underway at the site of a former gas station in Marshfield, Massachusetts. A Gulf gas station once occupied the site but was demolished in the late 1990s. Tests conducted on the property revealed the soil and water to be contaminated by fuel. The city of Marshfield is using $50,000 in funds from Massachusetts’ Leaking Underground Storage Tank Release Prevention Program to pay Coler & Colantonio, an environmental engineering firm that is assessing the extent of damage to the land and water table on the site. The city and civic groups plan to convert the land into a ... Read More

Toxic Chinese drywall used in many Florida homes

Florida homeowners whose walls are made of a defective and toxic brand of Chinese drywall have filed a class action lawsuit. The Florida Department of Health has received a flood of complaints from homeowners who suspect problems with their drywall, prompting Florida senator Bill Nelson to petition the Consumer Products Safety Commission and Environmental Protection Agency for an investigation. The lawsuit alleges that the manufacturers used fly ash, a waste byproduct of Chinese power plants, in making the drywall. The drywall emits “one of several sulfur compounds including sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide,” the suit claims. In addition to imparting ... Read More

Jury awards $3 million to woman injured in sweeping vehicle crash

Bobbie Wakefield was driving her employer’s van along I-35 in Duluth, Minnesota, when she ran into something akin to a brick wall. She had struck a street sweeping vehicle operated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The vehicle was traveling 22-23 mph on an interstate where the minimum speed is 40 mph without an “early warning” vehicle traveling behind it. Wakefield filed a claim earlier against the state of Minnesota, which made a $300,000 settlement – the maximum it could be held legally liable. She also sought $1 million from an underinsured motorist claim against Auto Owners Insurance Co., which ... Read More

Native Americans face discrimination applying for disability

Columnist Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota and founder of three newspapers, recently wrote a heartbreaking piece about Andy Torres, a fellow Sioux who had served his country faithfully for many years, only to have his country turn its back on him when he became injured and needed help. I read Giago’s column about Torres in the Native American Times. First, some background. Torres, obviously, is a Native American. As a Sioux Indian, he is a member of a people whose land and culture, so rich with ancient wisdom and vibrant traditions, has been trampled over by generations of new Americans. ... Read More

Chimp owner and state of Connecticut may be held liable for attack

Legal experts say that a woman whose pet chimpanzee attacked and mutilated her best friend could face a civil law suit. The state of Connecticut may also face a lawsuit for failing to take action. 55-year-old Charla Nash of Stamford, Conn. suffered extensive debilitating injuries to her face and hands when her friend’s chimp attacked her unexpectedly. Nash had arrived at her friend’s house to help her lure the chimp back inside the house when she was attacked outside of the house. Nash required more than seven hours of surgery by four teams of doctors. She remains in critical condition ... Read More

Unum second on list of the worst American insurance companies

The American Association for Justice (AAJ) recently ranked Unum number two in its published list of Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America. The report opens with an overview of the insurance industry’s staggering assets and wealth, which amount to just under $4 trillion – higher than the gross domestic product of every country in the world except for the U.S. and Japan. But despite the riches, despite the $1 trillion in annual premiums, and despite enormous profit margins, many insurance companies continue to employ “Deny, Delay, Defend” strategies in dealing with their policyholders. “Some companies have discovered that they can ... Read More

Jury sides with plaintiffs in Staples class action lawsuit

Misclassification of store managers is a ruse sometimes used by businesses to avoid paying certain employees overtime. As we reported in December, a federal appeals court upheld a $35.6 million judgment against Family Dollar Stores, Inc. for wrongly classifying store employees as managers and then denying them overtime pay. Last week, a federal jury in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey ordered Staples, Inc., the world’s largest chain of office supply stores, to pay nearly $2.5 million to 343 plaintiffs because of similar violations to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The store managers, represented in the class action lawsuit ... Read More

Class action lawsuit against Tyson Foods will proceed

The U.S. District judge for the District of Kansas ruled this week that thousands of meatpacking workers may move forward against Tyson Foods, Inc. as a class action suit. The workers allege that they were denied overtime and other forms of compensation by the company. The ruling was a positive development for the workers, comprised mainly of Latin American immigrants who couldn’t afford to proceed individually. Hourly wage workers from Tyson’s slaughterhouses in Holcomb and Emporia, Kansas, originally filed the case in May 1006. Together, the Kansas operations employ some 3,300 hourly workers. The workers allege that Tyson owes them ... Read More