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This Hour: Latest Alabama news, sports, business and entertainment

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Jury awards woman $4 million in malpractice suit

JASPER, Ga. (AP) - A Walker County jury has awarded a Carbon Hill woman millions of dollars in a medical malpractice suit against a doctor who mistook symptoms that led to her husband's heart attack for a stomach illness. reported Wednesday the jury awarded Donna Hallmark $4 million in the suit against a Walker Baptist Medical Center emergency room doctor. Hallmark's husband died after visiting the hospital in January 2008.

The suit said Hallmark's husband, Terry Hallmark, complained of stomach and chest pain for three days and was released from the emergency room after a few hours. Hallmark collapsed clutching his chest Jan. 15 and died.

The doctor's attorney Edward Jackson says it would be premature to comment on the case until he and his client decide what they'll do going forward.


Ex-Ala. fire official sentenced on ethics charges

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama's Attorney General says the former assistant chief of the Autaugaville Volunteer Fire Department has been sentenced on ethics charges.

Attorney General Luther Strange said Wednesday Mack Cell Harmon is ordered to spend 30 days in the Autauga County jail followed by 18 months of probation.

Harmon is also ordered to perform 150 hours of community service, pay court costs, make a payment to the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Fund and more.

Prosecutors have said Harmon used his official position in 2012 to illegally take a $500 donation intended for the fire department.

The department's former chief and former county commission chairman Danny Chavers pleaded guilty in March to ethics and theft charges. An ethics charge and a theft charge are pending against Ernest Terry Stoudemire, another former department chief.


Meredith Corp. to buy Mobile FOX TV affiliate

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - The Meredith Corp. is planning to buy a south Alabama FOX affiliate from Media General, Inc.

In a statement Wednesday, Meredith Corp. CEO Stephen Lacy said WALA-TV is a high-performing station that's expected to boost corporation's earnings.

WALA-TV covers the Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida areas. Meredith officials say buying the station is the latest in a series of strategic broadcast acquisitions.

The Des Moines, Iowa-based corporation bought television stations in Phoenix and St. Louis earlier this year, and recently announced a plan to buy a station in Springfield, Massachusetts. The corporation also operates on print and digital platforms.

Meredith officials say they're expecting to pay about $86 million. The transaction is expected to close when Meredith merges with LIN Media LLC and the sale gets final regulatory approval.


Health care company expanding in Opelika

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) - A health care company has announced plans for a multimillion expansion of its manufacturing plant in Opelika.

Officials from Baxter International, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Opelika officials announced the nearly $300 million expansion of its Opelika manufacturing facility on Wednesday.

Baxter officials say the expansion will help meet a growing need for dialyzers, which are a component of hemodialysis therapy for kidney disease patients.

Officials say the company expects to hire an additional 200 new employees in 2016 to support the expansion. The facility currently employs 170 people.


Teacher accused of shooting re-enactment on leave

SELMA, Ala. (AP) - Dallas County schools officials say a teacher accused of having sixth grade students re-enact the shooting of an unarmed Missouri man has been put on paid administrative leave.

County schools superintendent Don Willingham told the Selma Times-Journal Wednesday that he's conducted interviews with the teacher, a parent who criticized the lesson in a Facebook post, and the principal of Brantley Elementary School.

Willingham says the district is investigating and has not released the teacher's identity.

Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri Aug. 9 and the incident led to a series of protests and a federal investigation into the death of the 18-year-old man.

Willingham says he expects the district's investigation to be done by Thursday.


Bench trial in endangered frog habitat suit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal judge is considering the claim that federal wildlife officials made an illegal land grab by listing 1,500 acres of private land in Louisiana as critical habitat for an endangered burrowing frog: the dusky gopher frog.

District Judge Martin Feldman told lawyers for landowners, the U.S. government and an environmental group Wednesday that he'll rule as soon as possible.

Feldman told the lawyers his biggest concerns include whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service followed proper procedures, and the agency's estimate that the designation could cost landowners up to $33 million.

Justice Department attorney Mary Hollingsworth says that's an unlikely extreme if the owners wanted to develop the timberland.

Weyerhaeuser Co. attorney Zach Hiatt says that's not out of the question, since the land is near a developed area.


Alabama's infant mortality rate declines

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama's infant mortality rate declined in 2013 and the infant mortality rate for black infants fell to its lowest level ever.

The state Department of Public Health said Wednesday that the 2013 rate for all infants was 8.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. That was down from 8.9 recorded in 2012.

The department says the infant mortality rate among black babies was 12.6, which was the lowest since the state began keeping records in 1950. The rate among white infants rose from 6.6 in 2012 to 6.9 in 2013.

State Health Officer Don Williamson says Alabama's medical community has worked to decrease elective early deliveries, which has produced better outcomes. He says other factors include increased care during pregnancies and better family planning with the advent of long-acting reversible contraceptives.


Byrd eager to test back, mesh with Saints defense

MANDEVILLE, La. (AP) - Saints safety Jairus Byrd has rarely been so eager to hit and be hit, if only to reassure himself that his surgically repaired back is a healed as doctors believe.

Byrd, the top free agent acquisition by New Orleans this offseason, has been cleared for contact this week, allowing him to practice with no limitations for the first time since he signed a six-year, $56 million contract in March.

Byrd says he plans to play his first preseason game Saturday night in Indianapolis, and that he'll spend the next couple weeks working to get in synch with the secondary he'll be expected to help lead.

The Saints hope Byrd will help them produce more turnovers. The three-time Pro Bowl safety has 22 interceptions in his first five NFL seasons.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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