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  • Bozeman jury decides against parents in wrongful birth lawsuit

    Published On: Feb 11 2016 04:01:39 PM MST   Updated On: Feb 11 2016 11:10:12 PM MST
    BOZEMAN, Mont. -

    A Bozeman jury returned a verdict against Bozeman parents who sued for wrongful birth on Thursday in about two hours after they were dismissed for deliberation.

    The court clerk read the verdict submitted by the jury, who had to answer the question of whether the nurse and doctor caring for Kerrie Evans, the mother, failed to follow accepted standards of health care. The answers came back both as "no."

    Evans, who is from Gardiner, testified that she would have had an abortion if she had known her daughter, who is now 5 years old, would be born with the genetic disease Cystic fibrosis, which typically affects a person's lungs and pancreas.

    For closing arguments, Evans' attorneys claimed the health care providers did not properly communicate and record vital information that could have changed her decision about her pregnancy.

    "It's abysmal record keeping. It's a system failure, no one is keeping track of the information they're supposed to keep track of," said E. Casey Magan, one of Evans' lawyers.

    Magan added that emotional distress will last beyond the potential death of the child.

    "So this is the day to day…the day a day of unending suffering, bittersweet, awfulness of knowing what's going to come," said Magan.

    The defense lawyers responded by arguing Evans failed to read a Cystic fibrosis pamphlet given to her before the birth. They also said Evans opted not to go through genetic counseling, which might have warned Evans of any risks in having a child.

    They also said Evans' nurse should not be blamed for any miscommunication.

    "We've heard all about patient confusion, not one complaint was brought before you that any patient in the history of Peggy's career has ever claimed I was confused (or that) I was confused at my pre-natal visit," said John Scully, the attorney for the nurse.

    Evans' attorney calls her one of the most courageous people she has ever met, and that this loss did not come without some victory.

    "We're terribly disappointed, but Kerrie Evans feels like she's already won by virtue of the health care providers having made changes to their checklists," said Magan.

    A teenager with Cystic fibrosis was in the courtroom, hoping to show that having the disease has not stopped him.

    "Just because you have CF, it doesn't mean it holds you back. I'm a fifteen-year-old who hunts, who skis and who is active. I don't let CF hold me back. There were doctors in the trial that said you can do anything you want, (that) CF can't hold you back and that's absolutely true," said Carsten Manring.

    Evans' lawsuit initially sought $14.5 million in damages. But during closing statements Thursday, Evans' attorneys asked for just under $2.4 million. Evans has the right to appeal the decision made by the jury, but her attorneys are waiting for her to decide.

    This case gave NBC Montana an opportunity to learn more about wrongful birth cases. Since the mid-70s, more than 20 states have recognized wrongful birth actions that let parents collect some or all of their child's expenses if they prove negligence.

    NBC Montana found multi-million dollar verdicts for parents in Florida, Oregon and Washington state, where $50 million was awarded to a Seattle area couple in 2013. Their son was born with a chromosomal defect. The parents sued a medical center for not telling the lab where to look for a genetic defect.

    Last year, a total of 13 states banned wrongful birth lawsuits.

    NBC Montana asked five and six o'clock viewers if they think Montana should follow suit. The results were that 68 percent of those voting said "yes," while 32 percent said "no."

    For more background on wrongful birth cases, click here, here and here.

  • Hung jury in case of man who shot home intruder

    Published On: Feb 11 2016 09:10:15 AM MST   Updated On: Feb 11 2016 03:44:39 PM MST
    HELENA, Mont. -

    A Lewis and Clark County jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case of a Helena man charged with shooting and killing a home intruder.
    Jurors deliberated for more than nine hours Wednesday and Thursday before telling District Judge Kathy Seeley that they could not reach a unanimous verdict on whether James George Stiffler was justified in shooting and killing Henry Thomas Johnson in May 2013 or if he committed deliberate homicide.
    Prosecutors said evidence indicated Johnson was shot in the back as he fled the home, but Stiffler says he shot Johnson as he moved toward him threateningly and that he feared for his life.
    A status hearing is set for Feb. 25 to determine if prosecutors will re-try the case.

  • Ravalli Co. man accused of kidnapping, assaulting wife

    Published On: Feb 11 2016 08:30:42 PM MST   Updated On: Feb 11 2016 10:45:07 PM MST
    MISSOULA, Mont. -

    A Ravalli County judge set bail at $500,000 for a man accused of kidnapping and beating his wife, sparking a statewide missing person alert on Tuesday.

    Kevin Frost was arraigned Thursday in Ravalli County Justice Court on charges of aggravated felony kidnapping.

    Investigators said on Tuesday morning Frost, masked and armed with a stun gun, hid in waiting for his estranged wife. They say he kidnapped her, assaulted her in a barn and forced her to drink alcohol.

    Hours later, after the missing person alert was issued, Frost dropped his wife off at the hospital and then turned himself in.

    Deputy Ravalli County Attorney Angela Wetzsteon initially asked the judge to set bail at $1 million.

    "At this point, given the defendant's volatility, unpredictability, essentially being in jail is probably the only place where I would feel comfortable," Wetzsteon explained. "There have been incidents leading up to this, including the defendant's arrest for disorderly conduct back in June of this year. He essentially appears to have reached a point where he is just completely off the rails, and I fear he thinks he has nothing really to lose."

    Frost's attorney argued in court that there was another side to the story, and asked for bail to be set at $50,000.

    Frost is scheduled to appear in Ravalli County District Court in three weeks.

  • Butte receives funding to create disability-inclusive healthy communities

    Published On: Feb 11 2016 06:50:40 PM MST   Updated On: Feb 11 2016 08:55:15 PM MST
    BUTTE, Mont. -

    The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors selected five states and communities to collaboratively build healthy communities specifically designed to include people with disabilities. Butte and Helena were the only two Montana communities selected.

    The project is called Reaching People with Disabilities Through Healthy Communities.

    Kristina Burnaby is one of those who will be helped from the project.  She has cerebral palsy, which doesn't slow her down much.

    "I work here four days a week, and then I go to cooking class Wednesday nights, and that's pretty fun," said Burnaby. "I like to go to the movies."

    She said it's sometimes difficult for her to get around.

    "I feel like I'm being limited into where I can go. Some places, it's hard for my chair to get into," said Burnaby.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding Reaching People with Disabilities Through Healthy Communities. The group gave $22,800.

    Butte-Silver Bow Health Officer Karen Sullivan and Butte Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator Todd Hoar will be trained on how to include people with disabilities in the community and how important those projects really are.

    There are several locations around Butte that have handicap accessible features, like a zero-entry pool at the YMCA, which gives people in wheelchairs the chance to get in the water and splash around. Hoar said the funding will allow them to access the installation of disability inclusive items in the future.

    "My hope is the assessment will give us the tools to make sure when we're doing a project, we're not missing something on the inclusive and making sure everyone is involved in the community," Hoar said.

    "It gives other people without disabilities an insight of what it's like to be a person with disabilities," said Burnaby.

  • Missoula school student data breach included alumni records

    Published On: Feb 11 2016 07:28:20 AM MST
    Attorney says Hellgate data leak could be costly
    MISSOULA, Mont. -

    Missoula County Public Schools says a data breach that affected more than 1,100 students also included private information on alumni and deceased students.
    The district initially said Hellgate High School students' information had been compromised after an assistant principal included the information in a December email to parents. Superintendent Mark Thane said in a Jan. 18 letter that information on former Hellgate students had also been released.
    Staff charged with informing those affected by the data breach found that about 200 people weren't registered as current students. They also sent letters to at least two former students who have died.
    Thane says the data dated back to the 2012-13 school year.
    The email included an attached document containing students' academic, medical, disciplinary and criminal information.

  • Video Forecast: Increasing clouds and showers by the weekend

    Published On: Feb 11 2016 08:27:34 AM MST   Updated On: Feb 11 2016 06:53:17 PM MST

    We are tracking a cold front that will bring a chance of showers to the region tonight through the weekend. The best chance will be focused on northwest Montana from north of Missoula into the Kalispell areas.  Increasing clouds with showers and sprinkles developing late this afternoon and last through early Friday morning.  After a break, more showers will develop late Friday and Friday night and last periodically through the weekend.  There will only be a slight chance for showers across southwest Montana around Butte and Bozeman.

    Mild temperatures will continue.  Normal highs for mid February should be in the mid to upper 30s.  Instead, we will see highs in the 40s to around 50.  Lows in the upper 20s to lower 30s.

    The unsettled weather pattern will continue into next week with similar temperatures.

  • Video Forecast: A wet weekend ahead

    Published On: Feb 11 2016 04:54:26 PM MST

    Increasing chances of rain through the weekend.

  • Ravalli Co. man accused of kidnapping, assaulting wife

    Published On: Feb 11 2016 10:44:42 PM MST