Groups sue Louisville police over response to protests

The NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky have filed a lawsuit alleging use of force and intimidation by Louisville police against protesters.

The lawsuit alleges use of tear gas, pepper balls and batons against protesters as well as mass arrests in recent weeks.

Protests over the shooting of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police erupted downtown in late May, leading to continuing clashes with law enforcement.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court on behalf of state Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville, and several others and names as defendants the metro government, Mayor Greg Fischer, police officials and several officers. Scott previously filed a complaint that she was pushed by an officer and hit with tear gas during a downtown protest.

The plaintiffs seek to have the use of “crowd control weaponry” banned from being used on peaceful protesters as well as monetary damages.

“The complaint raises very important issues as we, as a city and a nation, work through the complexities of balancing personal and public safety with a person’s First Amendment right to protest,” said Jean Porter, a spokeswoman for Mayor Greg Fischer. “We’ll work with the Jefferson County Attorney’s office on any further response.”

The police department referred requests for comment to the county attorney’s office.

“The complaint was filed late Thursday afternoon and we are reviewing it on behalf of our clients,” said Josh Abner, spokesman for Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell. “Our response will be filed with the court.”

Victims of Kentucky pipeline explosion sue line operator

A lawsuit filed on behalf of those who were injured or who had property damaged in a fatal Kentucky pipeline explosion alleges the operator failed to maintain and repair the line.

The lawsuit filed Thursday by Danville attorney Ephraim W. Helton listed more than 80 people affected by the blast last August near Junction City, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Lisa Denise Derringer, 58, died and at least five others were hospitalized following the explosion, according to a federal report.

The lawsuit accused operator Texas Eastern Transmission LP, a subsidiary of Canadian energy company Enbridge, and others of “failing to properly build and maintain the line, failing to identify and correct hazardous conditions, operating the pipeline at a dangerously high pressure and not having an adequate emergency plan,” among other allegations, the newspaper said, citing the lawsuit.

The 30-inch-wide pipeline moved natural gas under such high pressure that the flames reached about 300 feet (91 meters) in the air and could be seen throughout the county, Kentucky State Police spokesman Robert Purdy said at the time.

The flames damaged or destroyed more than a dozen homes and scorched 30 acres (12 hectares) of land, according to authorities.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating whether corrosion could have caused the blast, and the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration announced in an April report that there were defects in the pipeline that the operator missed, the Herald-Leader said. The agency ordered the operator to review two decades’ worth of tests to determine whether there could be additional remaining defects in the line.

An Enbridge spokeswoman said the company had no comment on the lawsuit, according to the newspaper.

The investigation by federal authorities remains ongoing.

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