July 15, 2006 in Nation/World

Jury awards both Jackson, ex-adviser

The Spokesman-Review

In a split decision Friday, a civil court jury awarded a former Michael Jackson adviser $900,000 – far less than he claimed in the money dispute – and awarded the pop star $200,000 in his cross-complaint.

F. Marc Schaffel originally sued for $3.8 million, but his claims were later reduced to $1.6 million, and his attorney ultimately asked the jury for $1.4 million in commissions, unpaid loans and expenses.

The trial delved into claims involving work Schaffel did to produce two videos aired on Fox that were intended to rehabilitate Jackson’s image in the aftermath of a damaging documentary, and claims involving an ill-fated Jackson song intended to raise funds for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Salem, Va.

Carbon monoxide leaks into dorm

Carbon monoxide leaked into a Roanoke College dormitory early Friday, sickening more than 100 teens and adults attending summer programs. One man was found dead.

People staying in the dorm contacted campus police.

Walter J. Vierling, 91, a retired pastor from Pearisburg, was found dead in a dormitory room, said college spokeswoman Teresa Gereaux. The medical examiner had not determined the cause of death.

Fire officials were trying to determine the source of the leak, and said they were focusing on a gas hot water system as a possible cause.

Yucca Valley, Calif.

Crews struggling as wildfires merge

Thousands of firefighters aided by aircraft worked Friday in fierce heat to keep two big wildfires from gaining a foothold in the heavily populated San Bernardino Mountains, where millions of trees killed by drought and bark beetles could provide explosive fuel.

The lightning-caused fires, covering more than 95 square miles combined, merged Friday afternoon. Wildfires can grow more unpredictable after merging, but in this case “there was no cataclysmic event,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jim Wilkins said.

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