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After years of delays, state of Minnesota’s lawsuit against 3M goes to trial

Plus: lawmakers expected to look at banning hand-held devices in cars; St. Paul native is part of first Nigerian women’s bobsled team; missing pregnant woman found dead in northern Minnesota; and more.

REUTERS/Mike Blake

MPR’s Kristi Marohn writes, “many … across Minnesota and the U.S. will be watching closely this week as the state’s $5 billion lawsuit against 3M for polluting natural resources finally goes to trial after years of delays. Jury selection is expected to start Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis. The trial is expected to last four to six weeks. The state alleges that 3M knew decades ago about risks linked to its chemicals that wound up in the groundwater in the east metro. Whether those chemicals have actually caused health problems for Minnesotans is expected to be a key question in the trial.”

Driving toward a ban. Says Tim Harlow of the Strib, “Momentum has been picking up over the past year for the measure to make Minnesota the 15th state, plus Washington, D.C., to outlaw drivers’ use of hand-held devices. … On Thursday, several families that have lost loved ones in crashes involving a distracted driver and backers of the bills will rally at 10:30 a.m. in the State Capitol rotunda to deliver a strong message to lawmakers.” 

A pastor.  For WCCO-TV, Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield reports, “we’ve learned much more about the driver who was going the wrong way down a Twin Cities highway last night when he killed the driver of another car.  The wrong-way driver was a pastor of a church. The victim was a 911 dispatcher. The State Patrol says 30-year-old Jenna Bixby was driving to work at the Minneapolis 911 Center around 8 last night when the crash happened. … They say that driver is Richard Shaka, the pastor of a Northeast Minneapolis church — and they believe he had been drinking and driving.”

So not inspiring a lot of confidence, then. Says Dave Orrick for the PiPress, “Minnesota’s computer system that handles vehicle registrations and titles is a mess. To fix it, state information technology officials say they need $43 million — and some of it right away. … Adding tension to the situation: The same departments that rolled out MNLARS — MNIT and the Department of Public Safety — are working against an October deadline to get a new driver’s license program working to meet federally required ‘Real ID’ security standards.”

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One of us. The Star Tribune’s Chip Scoggins has the story of Minnesota’s own Akuoma Omeoga: “The St. Paul native, graduate of Irondale High School and former Gophers track athlete is part of the first Nigerian women’s bobsled team at the Olympics. Competition begins Tuesday (5:50 a.m. Central time). Omeoga is a first-generation immigrant to parents who came to the United States for college, fell in love, married and raised four daughters, Akuoma their youngest. Omeoga, 25, serves as the brakeman on the two-woman team.”

Coulda been worse. Nick Ferraro of the PiPress has this: “A south-metro motorist got quite a surprise Wednesday when a large piece of plastic sheeting flew off a dump truck and ‘enveloped’ his sport-utility vehicle, according to the Minnesota State Patrol. The State Patrol on Friday shared a trooper’s dash-cam video of the incident, which played out on U.S. 52 in Inver Grove Heights.” 

A sad conclusion. Paul Walsh’s Strib story says, “A 27-year-old pregnant woman missing for more than two weeks has been found dead in the woods in northern Minnesota, authorities said Sunday. The body of Kara Blevins was located about 8:15 p.m. in the Chippewa National Forest in Shingobee Township, not far from her hometown of Akeley, according to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office. … The Sheriff’s Office has not disclosed any details about what may have led to Blevins’ death.”

Today in Wells Fargo follies. For MarketWatch Leslie Albrecht writes, “The father of nudge theory says Wells Fargo is using “sludge” theory to avoid refunding customers’ money. Behavioral economist Richard Thaler, who won the 2017 Nobel Prize in economics, called Wells Fargo ‘slimy’ in a tweet Thursday …. Thaler was referring to the bank’s method of reimbursing 110,000 customers who were improperly charged monthly fees. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the bank will offer to reimburse those customers by mailing them form letters and asking customers to opt in to receive repayment and mail back a form to get their check. Because so few people typically respond to form letters from businesses, Wells Fargo expects that only ‘half or fewer’ of the people it owes money to will take the bank up on the refund offer, the Journal reported.”