Student Banned From Prom Because Of Confederate Flag Dress

Texanna Edwards, a high school student in Dyer, Tenn., arrived at the prom but was told she could not enter because of her clothing.

Her dress resembled a Confederate flag.

Edwards, who says she helped make the dress, doesn’t understand why students are allowed to don the rebel flag on clothing during school, but she was not allowed in the door.

“We asked why they thought that, but they kept saying the same thing over and over. We kept asking people walking inside – black and white – and everyone said they loved it. Two black women even went off on the principal. They were upset with the principal. No one was upset with me,” said Edwards.

“Its heritage, not hate,” answered a black student when asked about the fashion statement.

Edwards wore a camouflage dress to a previous school function.

“That’s all I’ve ever wanted is rebel flag and camouflage, and I’m all about my horses,” the senior said in her defense.

Odd-Shaped Galaxy Puzzles Astronomers

PASADENA, Calif. (UPI) — Most galaxies are either round or are flat, slender disks like our Milky Way, but one nicknamed the Sombrero galaxy manages to be both, U.S. astronomers say.

The Sombrero galaxy, which in visible light looks like its namesake wide-brimmed hat, is a round elliptical galaxy but has a thin disk embedded inside, making it one of the first known to exhibit characteristics of the two different types, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported Tuesday.

Astronomers have used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to capture an infrared image of the galaxy that reveals it unusual structure.

“The Sombrero is more complex than previously thought,” Dimitri Gadotti of the European Southern Observatory in Chile said. “The only way to understand all we know about this galaxy is to think of it as two galaxies, one inside the other.”

While it is tempting to think the giant elliptical swallowed a spiral disk, astronomers say this is highly unlikely because that process would have destroyed the disk structure.

Instead, they say, the giant elliptical galaxy may have been inundated with cosmic gas more than 9 billion years ago, with the gas being pulled into the galaxy by gravity and falling into orbit around the center and spinning out into a flat disk.

“This poses all sorts of questions,” ESO astronomer Ruben Sanchez-Janssen said. “How did such a large disk take shape and survive inside such a massive elliptical? How unusual is such a formation process?”

The answers could help piece together how other galaxies evolve, the researchers said.


Study: Bees Affected By Selenium Pollution

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (UPI) — Honeybees’ foraging behavior and survival could be impacted by the chemical element selenium at polluted sites, U.S. scientists say.

Although selenium in very low concentrations is necessary for the normal development of insects — and humans — it becomes toxic at only slightly higher concentrations, researchers at the University of California, Riverside, said.

In many Pacific Rim countries and near coal-fired power plants worldwide, selenium occurs most often in soluble forms, such as selenite, which can be taken up by plants that then incorporate the element into their nectar and pollen that the bees gather, the researchers said.

Bees feeding on these food sources can inadvertently take in significant amounts of selenium, researchers said.

“Nature has not equipped bees to avoid selenium,” entomology Professor John T. Trumble said in a university release. “Unless the rates of concentrations of selenium were extremely high in our experiments, the bees did not appear to respond to its presence.”

Bees that had been fed selenate in the lab were less responsive to sugar (as sucrose), which interfered with their foraging behavior.

“The selenium interfered with their sucrose response,” researcher Kristen R. Hladun said. “Such bees would be less likely to recruit bees to forage because they wouldn’t be stimulated to communicate information about sucrose availability to the sister bees.”

Also, forager bees that were fed selenium in moderate amounts over a few days in the lab died at a significantly younger age, the researchers said.


Study: More Plastic In Ocean Than Thought

SEATTLE (UPI) — Research on how much plastic litters the oceans may vastly underestimate the true amount because it only looks at the surface, a U.S. researcher says.

University of Washington oceanographer Giora Proskurowski said he was on a research cruise in the Pacific Ocean and noticed the water surface was littered with tiny bits of plastic — until the wind suddenly picked up and the plastic “disappeared.” Taking water samples from 16 feet he discovered the wind was pushing the lightweight plastic particles below the surface.

The finding suggests data collected from just the surface of the water commonly underestimates the total amount of plastic in the water by an average factor of 2.5, a university release reported Wednesday.

“That really puts a lot of error into the compilation of the data set,” Proskurowski said.

Proskurowski and his study co-authors have developed a simplified mathematical model to match historical weather data, collected by satellites, with previous surface sampling to estimate more accurately the amount of plastic in the oceans.

“By factoring in the wind, which is fundamentally important to the physical behavior, you’re increasing the rigor of the science and doing something that has a major impact on the data,” Proskurowski said.



Judge Views BP Settlement Favorably

NEW ORLEANS (UPI) — A U.S. district judge in New Orleans said during a preliminary hearing he viewed a $7.8 billion oil spill settlement from BP in favorable terms.

BP announced last week it reached a definitive agreement for $7.8 billion, paid to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, to settle the bulk of the claims related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier was quoted by The Daily Telegraph newspaper in London as saying he was “leaning in favor” of the settlement claims from the British oil company.

BP attorney Rick Godfrey said the courts were considering whether the settlement was “reasonably fair and adequate to justify sending out notices.”

BP still faces fines from the U.S. government for violations of the Clean Water Act.

A former engineer with the company was accused this week of obstructing justice by destroying electronic documents that suggested the company was giving misleading information about the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico following the 2010 accident.

The judge, sitting in New Orleans, said it would likely be November before he issues a final approval.

Pieces Of Meteorite Found In California

LOTUS, Calif. (UPI) — A NASA astronomer says he found fragments of the meteor that exploded in a giant fireball over California Sunday morning.

Petrus Jenniskens said he found fragments of the object Wednesday in a parking lot of Henningsen Lotus Park, located in the small town of Lotus in El Dorado County near California’s historic Sutter’s Mill.

“This meteor itself must have been big,” Jenniskens told the San Francisco Chronicle, “probably in the kiloton range. But now we need to find more fragments so we can begin to understand how it broke apart and what was inside it.”

Scientists from the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., have been searching throughout the week, he said.

Four years ago Jenniskens trekked across Africa’s Nubian Desert to recover fragments of a small asteroid and bring them to the United States.

He says the public can help in the search for fragments of the California meteor.

“Now we’re hoping that anyone who has any videos or amateur photos of the explosion itself will contact us so we can begin to understand the meteor’s trajectory before it exploded.”

Expert: No Such Thing As A Healthy Tan

NEWMARKET, Ontario (UPI) — A Canadian dermatologist cautions that a healthy tan is no tan at all and that there is no sunny side when it comes to tanning.

Dr. John Turner, dermatologist at the Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ontario, said he has seen melanoma in patients as young as 14.

“Contrary to common belief, skin cancer is not an older person’s disease. Young people today associate tans with attractiveness, thanks to television shows and magazines that glorify the bronzed look, but the truth is that there is no such thing as a healthy tan,” Turner said in a statement. “A tan is actually the body’s response to irreparable skin damage at the cellular level and each time a person gets a tan, his or her risk of skin cancer rises.”

Tanning beds, in particular, often used by those as young as in their teens, can emit up to five times more harmful ultraviolet rays than the sun and studies show that use of tanning equipment before the age of 35 increases melanoma risk by 75 percent, Turner added.

The main way to prevent skin cancer is to avoid too much ultraviolet radiation — from either the sun or tanning beds — especially if excess exposure begins in adolescence or young adulthood.

Those at greatest risk of developing melanoma are people with fair skin, freckles, red or blond hair, a history of severe sunburns even as a child, an unusual number of moles, a family history of melanoma, and excessive ultraviolet exposure from the sun or tanning beds, the Canadian Dermatology Association said.


Vitamin D May Help Lower Blood Pressure

LONDON (UPI) — A study showed giving vitamin D supplements in Europe in winter can help lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension, Danish researchers said.

Study leader Dr. Thomas Larsen and a group of researchers studied 112 patients visiting the Holstebro Hospital in Denmark — at the 56th northern latitude, about the same latitude as Glasgow and Moscow. The study participants had initial levels of vitamin D measured, and then were given either vitamin D or a placebo for 20 weeks. At the beginning of the study, 92 of the 112 patients were found to have low levels of vitamin D.

The researchers found those patients taking the vitamin D supplement showed a significant reduction in central systolic blood pressure, when compared to the placebo group.

There was also a reduction in ambulatory blood pressure — blood pressure measured at the upper arm, where several measurements are taken during the day — in those patients who were originally vitamin D deficient, although this reduction was of borderline significance.

“Probably the majority of Europeans have vitamin D deficiency, and many of these will also have high blood pressure. What our results suggest is that hypertensive patients can benefit from vitamin D supplementation if they have vitamin D insufficiency,” Larsen said in a statement. “Vitamin D would not be a cure for hypertension in these patients, but it may help, especially in the winter months. However, it is important to stress, that this was a small study, and that larger studies are needed to provide solid evidence.”

The findings were presented at the European Society of Hypertension meeting in London.

Kids: Obesity, Higher Blood Pressure Link

LONDON (UPI) — Children who are heavier early in life are at an increased risk of hypertension and cardiometabolic problems later in life, Australian researchers say.

Professor Lawrie Beilin of the University of Western Australia in Perth and colleagues tracked 1,186 children from birth to age 14 for weight and blood pressure.

The study found the top 32 percent of the children with rapid weight gain from birth to age 14 experienced abnormal blood pressure had increased blood pressure detectable as early as age 3.

“By following this group of children from birth to adolescence, we have shown that increasing fatness in the early years, particularly the years from birth to age 3 were associated with higher blood pressure and cardiovascular risk later life,” Beilin said in a statement. “If we could both reduce the number of overweight babies, and reduce amount of fat which children accumulate in early life, then we would see lower levels of risk for hypertension and diabetes, and other metabolic conditions.”

The findings were presented at the European Society of Hypertension conference in London.

Berries May Reduce Brain Decline

BOSTON (UPI) — Blueberries and strawberries — high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties — may reduce brain decline in older adults, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Elizabeth Devore of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston said flavonoids, found in plants, have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The researchers used data from the Nurses’ Health Study — 121,700 female registered nurses ages 30-55 who completed health and lifestyle questionnaires beginning in 1976. Since 1980, participants were surveyed every four years regarding their frequency of food consumption.

The study published in the Annals of Neurology found women with a higher berry intake delayed cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years.

The authors cautioned that while they did control for other health factors in the modeling, they cannot rule out the possibility that the preserved cognition in those who eat more berries also may be influenced by other lifestyle choices, such as exercising more.

“We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women,” Devore said in a statement. “Our findings have significant public health implications as increasing berry intake is a fairly simple dietary modification to test cognition protection in older adults.”

Unintended Pregnancies Spike In 20s

NEW YORK (UPI) — Half of pregnancies among all U.S. women are unplanned, but among unmarried women ages 20–29 two-thirds of pregnancies are unintended, researchers say.

Mia Zolna and Laura Duberstein Lindberg of the Guttmacher Institute in New York said nearly 10 percent of unmarried women ages 20-29 — 95 per 1,000 — experienced an unintended pregnancy in 2008, a slight increase since 2001, when it stood at 92 per 1,000.

“One of the most powerful ways that we can improve the health and well-being of women and their families is to make contraception easier and more affordable to use,” says Guttmacher policy expert Adam Sonfield. “Expanding insurance coverage and public funding for the most effective methods of contraception — and for the counseling and education needed to help women and couples choose the method that is best for them — can go a long way toward reducing unintended pregnancies and births in this high-risk age group.”

In 2008, black and Hispanic women had rates of unintended pregnancy twice those of their white counterparts, while rates among poor women were more than four times the rate for women in the highest income group, the researchers.

“Young people typically have sex for the first time around age 17, but generally don’t marry until their mid-20s, putting them at high risk of unintended pregnancy and birth for a decade or more,” Lindberg said. “We can’t just focus on reducing teen pregnancies anymore.”

Foreclosures Up In Half Of U.S. Cities

IRVINE, Calif. (UPI) — Roughly half of 212 U.S. cities tracked by market researchers saw foreclosure activity rise in the first quarter of 2012, a private firm said.

RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties, said 114 of 212 cities with populations above 200,000 experienced increased foreclosure activity January through March.

In larger cities, the ratio held with 26 out of 50 metropolitan areas experiencing increases. City increases were led by Philadelphia, up 49 percent; Indianapolis, up 37 percent, and New York, up 24 percent.

The largest quarterly decreases among the 50 largest U.S. cities were Portland, Ore., where foreclosures fell 28 percent quarter to quarter; Las Vegas, down 26 percent, and Providence, R.I., down 24 percent.

Although up from the previous quarter, in 64 percent of the 212 areas tracked, foreclosure activity dropped from the first quarter of 2011.

“First quarter metro foreclosure trends were a mixed bag. While the majority of metro areas continued to show foreclosure activity down from a year ago, more than half reported increasing foreclosure activity from the previous quarter — an early sign that long-dormant foreclosures are coming out of hibernation in many local markets,” said Brandon Moore, RealtyTrac’s chief executive officer in a statement.

Stockton, Calif., experienced the highest foreclosure rate among U.S. cities in the first quarter with one in every 60 housing units involved in foreclosure processes.

Modesto, Calif., posted the second highest foreclosure rate and 10 other California cities were among the top 20, the firm said.

But the largest annual increases were outside California. From the first quarter of 2011, foreclosure activity rose 52 percent in Orlando, Fla., 41 percent in Indianapolis, 38 percent in Hartford, Conn., 37 percent in Miami and 33 percent in Philadelphia, RealtyTrac said.

First-Time Jobless Claims Virtually Still

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. Labor Department said first-time jobless claims dropped by 1,000 in the week ended Saturday with 388,000 initial claims filed.

It was the second consecutive week gains were marginal. In the previous weekly report, the department said 2,000 fewer first-time claims were filed.

To put it into perspective, the gains are so small that this week’s revision summarily wipes them out.

Last week’s report said 386,000 first-time claims were filed. The figure is frequently revised and this week the Labor Department corrected the figure to 389,000, canceling out two weeks of marginal improvements.

The four-week rolling average, which gives a steadier figure, rose by 5,500 last week and by 6,250 this week, the department said. The four week rolling average this week stands at 381,750.

The biggest increases in initial jobless claims for the week ended April 14 were in New York ( up by 3,352), California (up by 3,060) and Georgia (up by 2,179).

The largest decreases were in Washington state (down by 5,700), Pennsylvania (down by 5,362) and Oregon (down by 3,649).

The U.S. unemployment rate is 8.2 percent, unchanged from February to March.

Consumer Confidence Flat In Europe

BRUSSELS (UPI) — The European Commission said Thursday economic confidence was flat in the European Union and in the eurozone in April.

Revising figures released in a previous “flash estimate,” the Economic Sentiment Indicator for the EU in April now stands at 93.2, unchanged from the previous month, the commission said.

For the eurozone, the 17-nation regions that shares the euro as currency, the index fell by 1.7 points to 92.8.

In the eurozone, confidence in the industrial and service sectors weakened, while confidence improved for the retail sector.

In both regions, the index “remains well below its long term average,” the report said.

The index assigns the 1990-2009 average a numerical value of 100. Below 100 indicates confidence has fallen below that 20-year average.

Among the seven largest economies in Europe, confidence fell sharpest in Italy (down 5.7 points), Poland (down 2.3 points) and Spain (down 1.8 points).

The index improved in the Netherlands (up 1.2 points) and in Britain, where the index jumped 4.2 points.

Only Germany maintains a confidence level higher than its long-term average. In Germany, the index fell 1 point in April, the report said.


Mortgage Rates Remain Low

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Average U.S. mortgage rates for long-term, fixed-rate contracts held near all-time lows in the week, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. said.

In the week ending Thursday, average rates for 30-year contracts dropped from 3.9 percent to 3.88 percent with 0.7 point. Thirty-year mortgage rates averaged 4.78 percent the same week of 2011.

Average rates on 15-year contracts averaged 3.12 percent, down from 3.13 percent in the previous week and one tick above the record low of 3.11 percent.

A popular contract for refinancing, 15-year mortgages averaged 0.6 point. A year earlier, rates for 15-year mortgages averaged 3.97 percent.

Five-year adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.85 percent in the week, up from 2.78 percent with an average 0.6 point. A year earlier, five-year adjustable rate contracts averaged 3.51 percent.

Average rates on one-year treasury-indexed adjustable mortgages fell from 2.81 percent to 2.74 percent with 0.6 point. A year ago, rates for these loans averaged 3.15 percent.

Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft said interest rates remained low while investors waited for word from the U.S. Federal Reserve on monetary policy, which was left unchanged, the Fed announced Wednesday.

In additions, “The housing market has also shown some improvement as well. The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s purchase-only house price index rose at a monthly rate of 0.3 percent in February,” he said in a release.

Class Of 2012 Faces Improved Job Market

CHICAGO (UPI) — The U.S. job market shows a critically promising sign for college graduates, as more than half of employers indicated they plan to hire, a recent study found.

In an annual survey conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by CareerBuilder, researchers found 54 percent of employers indicated they had plans to hire a freshly minted college graduate this year.

The figure is a solid jump from the 46 percent from a poll taken a year earlier and 44 percent in the poll taken in 2010, CareerBuilder said.

The survey of 2,000 hiring managers conducted Feb. 9 through March 2 found 20 percent of employers indicated their starting wage was less than $30,000, while 30 percent indicated salaries started at $30,000 to $40,000 and 28 percent said salaries would exceed $50,000 for recent college graduates.

Twenty-one percent indicated starting salaries fell between $40,000 and $50,000.

Thirty-nine percent of hiring managers indicated they were seeking a candidate with a business degree, while 24 percent indicated someone with a computing and information services degree was on their hiring list.

Twenty-three percent indicated an engineering degree would help. From there, the demand for various degrees drops.

Thirteen percent of hiring managers indicated they are seeking a job candidate with a math or statistics degree, matched by the health profession (13 percent) and followed by communications (12 percent) and liberal arts (9 percent).

Those numbers don’t directly match up with responses to the question, “What jobs are employers targeting college grads to fill?” CareerBuilder said.

Respondents indicated the jobs available involve information technology (25 percent), customer service (23 percent), sales (21 percent), finance or accounting (18 percent), marketing (17 percent) and business development (17 percent).

Insurers To Pay $1.3 Billion In Rebates

OAKLAND, Calif. (UPI) — Early estimates indicate U.S. insurance firms will pay $1.3 billion in rebates in 2012 for non-compliance with a new federal statute, a watchdog group said.

The Affordable Care Act that began in 2011 stipulates large insurers must return 85 percent of premium dollars to customers and smaller firms must reach an 80 percent threshold, the Kaiser Family Foundation said in a statement Thursday.

The law says no more than 20 percent and 15 percent of premiums, respectively, can be used to cover administrative costs or for company profits.

Preliminary estimates indicate insurers will pay rebates of $541 million in the large employer market, $377 million in the smaller business market and $426 million in the individual insurance market, the foundation said.

As many as 92 percent of individual policy holders in Texas and 86 percent in Oklahoma can expect rebates while individuals in several other states can expect no rebate, the group said.

Nationwide, 215 insurance plans expect to issue rebates to 3.4 million individual market customers.

The largest per-person rebates are expected in Alaska, Maryland and Pennsylvania with rebates averaging $305, $294 and $243, respectively.

The 80 percent and 85 percent thresholds are known as the industry’s medical loss ratio.

The rebates are expected by August, the statement said.

Ugandan Man Fathered 158 Children

KATEERA, Uganda, (UPI) — A 103-year-old Ugandan man died after fathering 158 children and amassing around 500 grandchildren.

Jack Kigongo of Kateera village fathered his children from 20 wives, with the oldest child being 60-years-old and the youngest being 15, The New Vision, Uganda, reported Wednesday.

Patrick Bulira Kigongo said his father, who is believed to have fathered the highest number of children in Uganda, was wealthy after serving in World War II but fell on hard times following the five-year bush-war that brought the NRM/NRA to power in Uganda.

Patrick Kigongo said 22 of his brothers died in the war.

“Three of my brothers are in the army — a captain, a sergeant and a lieutenant,” he said.

He said a number of Kigongo’s widows and children live in his mansion, which still bears damage from the war.

Puppy Leads NYC Airport Staff On Chase

NEW YORK, (UPI) — A 14-month-old puppy escaped from her carrier while being loaded onto a plane in New York and led workers on a 10-minute chase.

Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said the Rhodesian ridgeback puppy, named Byrdie, was being loaded onto a Delta flight to Memphis Wednesday morning at LaGuardia International Airport when the pooch got loose and led workers on a chase around the airport, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.

Austin Varner, 26, the dog’s owner, told the Memphis Commercial Appeal she was approached by LaGuardia and Delta staff shortly after boarding the plane.

“They took me physically outside the plane and said, ‘Ma’am, your dog got loose and we’re trying to catch her,'” Varner said. “The staff at LaGuardia and Delta were great. They kind of had detained her; they took me out there and she came right to me.

“I don’t think there’s any way to know if the kennel was the issue or the door was opened,” Varner said. “When we finally got her back in her cage, they put 10 Zip Ties on it.”

Varner said Byrdie had ridden in airplanes four times prior to Wednesday without any incidents.

Cab Driver Refuses To Take Shoplifters

SALEM, Mass., (UPI) — Police in Massachusetts said two suspected shoplifters were busted when a taxi cab driver refused to give them a ride home with their ill-gotten gains.

Salem police said they were called to the Walmart store about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on a report of two shoplifters fleeing the store with four cases of beer, two cases of diapers and a case of baby formula, the New Hampshire Union Leader in Manchester reported Wednesday.

Investigators said the men had called a cab to pick them up at the store, but the driver, sensing something was up, refused to give them a ride.

Officers chased Shaun Klier, 29, of Lawrence, Mass., to the parking lot of a nearby gas station and John Murphy, 46, of Lawrence, was arrested in the parking lot of a nearby fitness center.

Klier was charged with theft and a probation violation. Murphy, who allegedly lied to officers about his name, was charged with theft, false reports to law enforcement and resisting arrest.

Man Knocked From Scooter Chair, Ticketed

WATERBURY, Conn., (UPI) — A 76-year-old Connecticut man who was knocked from his scooter chair when it was struck by a car was ticketed by police.

Police said Thomas Galvin was driving his motorized chair north in the southbound lane of Thomaston Avenue in Waterbury about 4 p.m. Tuesday when he was struck by a 1992 Ford Crown Victoria exiting a gas station, the Waterbury Republican American reported Wednesday.

An ambulance took Galvin to Saint Mary’s Hospital, where he was treated for non-serious injuries.

Galvin was issued citations for improper operation of a motor-driven cycle on the roadway and violation of a permit provision. Police said Galvin does not have a medical prescription for the chair.

The driver of the Ford, who remained at the scene until police arrived, was not ticketed.

Dalai Lama Loves Bush ‘As A Human Being’

ROCHESTER, Minn., (UPI) — The Dalai Lama told CNN host Piers Morgan during an interview in Minnesota he loves former President George W. Bush “as a human being.”

The Tibetan leader, who spoke to Morgan in Rochester following his annual physical, said he did not agree with all of Bush’s policies, but he loves him “as a human being,” CNN reported Wednesday.

“Of course as individual, individual person. I love President Bush,” the Dalai Lama said in the interview, which is set to air during Wednesday night’s broadcast of “Piers Morgan Tonight.”

“As a human being. Not as president of America. Sometimes his policy may not be very, very successful. But as a person, as a human being, very nice person. I love him,” the spiritual leader said. “After he sort of start the Iraq sort of crisis then my other occasion meeting with him, I expressed to him, I love you, but your policies concerned, I have some reservations. I told him.”

Hospital To Pay $755,000 For Infection

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., (UPI) — Michigan’s Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital was ordered by a judge to pay $755,000 to a woman who developed a flesh-eating bacteria.

Last week, a jury in Grand Rapids awarded Kelly Robinson $755,000 in her lawsuit against the hospital and a physician’s assistant there, The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press reported Thursday.

Robinson’s attorney, Kevin Lesperance, told the court that on Nov. 15, 2008, the woman went to Spectrum Health seeking treatment for a sore throat. She was given pain medication and told to come back if the symptoms grew worse.

Lesperance said the woman returned to the hospital later that day, complaining that her sore throat became worse. Robinson was sent home again with more painkillers but no antibiotics.

On Nov. 16, 2008, Robinson returned for a third time after her condition became much worse. She was then diagnosed with a bacterial infection, Lesperance said, which progressed from a Group B strep to a flesh-eating bacteria, the newspaper said.

Lesperance questioned the way the situation was handled, saying, “The physician’s assistant needs to recognize that something is wrong, get information to a doctor and needs to ask the doctor to see the patient.”

After being awarded the $755,000 by the jury, Lesperance said he and Robinson were pleased, but that the trial was about patient safety in general.

“What happened to Kelly knocked this lady off her feet,” he said, speaking of her years-long recovery. “Kelly doesn’t want this to happen to anybody else.”

A spokeswoman for the hospital said Spectrum Health plans to appeal the decision.