- The Washington Times - Friday, March 5, 2004

Woman finds thumb in restaurant salad

CHICAGO — An Ohio woman was served a salad containing part of a restaurant worker’s thumb, sliced off while chopping lettuce, a health official said yesterday.

The woman “thought it was gristle or something like that” when she tried to chew the unexpected garnish, said William Franks, health commissioner for Stark County, where the incident occurred earlier this week.

Stark County officials did not release the woman’s name. The restaurant worker accidentally sliced off the tip of his thumb while chopping the ingredients on Monday night at the Red Robin restaurant near Canton, Ohio, Mr. Franks said.

Gibson sues firm over ‘Passion’ piracy

LOS ANGELES — Hollywood star Mel Gibson’s company has sued a movie post-production firm where workers reputedly made pirate copies of his hit movie “The Passion of the Christ,” court documents showed yesterday.

Mr. Gibson’s production company, Icon Distribution, charged that Lightning Media Inc. is responsible for the action of three employees who last month were charged by prosecutors with copying the films at the facility.

In the suit filed in Los Angeles, Icon is seeking more than $150,000 in damages and an order barring the post-production company and its employees from copying or distributing the controversial “Passion.”

Authorities on Feb. 12 charged Lightning Media workers Richard Young, Victor Ochoa and Frank Pelayo with illegally making their own copies of copyrighted pre-release movies, at least one of which ended up on the black market.

Crematory trial begins in Georgia

ROME, Ga. — A former crematory operator accused of dumping 334 bodies on his property and passing off cement dust as ashes broke a sacred trust, the plaintiffs’ lawyer said yesterday.

In her opening statements, Kathryn Barnett urged jurors to punish the operator of the family-owned Tri-State Crematory for engaging in a culture of “disrespect for the dead that stretched from father to son.”

Ray Brent Marsh reputedly stopped performing cremations in 1997, when he took over the family business from his father. In 2002, dozens of decomposing corpses were found stacked in storage sheds and scattered in woods outside the crematory in rural northwest Georgia.

The suit seeks unspecified damages against Mr. Marsh for about 1,600 people who accuse him of negligence and fraud. He also faces 787 felony charges for the uncremated bodies. The lawsuit also names some of Mr. Marsh’s family members who served as officers at the crematory and five funeral homes that sent corpses there.

Man to stand trial in student kidnapping

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — A convicted rapist was ordered yesterday to stand trial on charges he kidnapped a University of North Dakota student who was last seen at a shopping mall in November.

A magistrate judge ruled that prosecutors presented enough evidence to try Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. At a separate hearing, Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to the charge. A trial date was not immediately set.

Miss Sjodin, 22, of Pequot Lakes, Minn., disappeared Nov. 22 and investigators believe Rodriguez abducted her from a Grand Forks mall parking lot. Miss Sjodin was last heard from in a cell phone conversation with her boyfriend, Chris Lang.

Investigators have said they believe Miss Sjodin is dead. But Rodriguez’ attorney, David Dusek, has said that Rodriguez denies any involvement in her disappearance.

Truck damages marker at Gettysburg

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — A truck crashed into a 2-foot-high historical marker at Gettysburg National Military Park, the third time in six months a driver has hit a park landmark, officials said.

The pickup veered onto the Civil War battlefield Wednesday before hitting the marker and two fence posts, said Katie Lawhon, spokeswoman for the National Park Service. The marker, posted in 1887, showed where the 4th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was positioned during the battle, Miss Lawhon said.

No charges have been filed against the driver. All three wrecks were accidental and the combined damage was estimated at $40,000, park officials said. The crashes last fall destroyed a century-old cast-iron cannon carriage and a monument to the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry.

The park was established 109 years ago to commemorate the decisive, three-day Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

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