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Week in review: 10/19/12

2 schools, $2M grant

The highly promoted strategic partnership between the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Maryland Baltimore has yielded its first tangible result: a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for continued development of a tiny robot to be used in brain surgeries. Researchers from both institutions have been developing the robot prototype — known as MINIR, the “minimally invasive neurosurgical intracranial robot” — for about five years. The project, which combines College Park’s engineering prowess with Baltimore’s medical expertise, is a concrete illustration of progress stemming from collaboration, they said.

Family sues Montgomery in stun-gun death of man

The family of a 65-year-old Montgomery County man who died after allegedly being stun-gunned, beaten and pepper-sprayed by police officers is suing the county for $145 million. Karrem Ali’s sister and father filed suit this week in the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, claiming the use of stun guns is “routine” in the county and that officers are not properly trained or supervised in their use. Renee Coates and Cicero Satterfield describe Ali, a Silver Spring resident, as 5 feet 4 inches tall, 225 pounds and “mentally challenged.”

Father awarded $720K in custody interference

A jury has awarded an Anne Arundel County father $720,000 in his lawsuit against his former wife and three other people, in which he claimed his ex-wife encouraged their 16-year-old daughter to run away and allowed her to marry rather than honor a court order granting him custody. James E. Nicholson sued for interference with his custody of Ashley Nicholson, civil conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud and fraudulent concealment.

Bombardier gets contract for two MARC train lines

The Board of Public Works approved a $204.7 million, five-year, eight-month contract that will shift operation of MARC’s Camden and Brunswick passenger lines to the Pennsylvania subsidiary of a Montreal-based rail company, finally ending a process that began more than two years ago. Bombardier Transportation Services USA Corp., a subsidiary of Bombardier Inc., won the contract over Keolis Rail Services America LLC, a subsidiary of the French national railroad. The contract award was delayed this month when the Maryland Transit Administration asked for the item to be pulled from the board’s agenda following a dispute over the minority business participation rate for subcontracts.

Lawsuit says church covered up abuse claims

Three female plaintiffs claim in a lawsuit filed this week in Montgomery County that an evangelical church group covered up allegations of sexual abuse against children, failed to report accusations of misconduct to the police and discouraged its members from cooperating with law enforcement. The lawsuit was filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries, a 30-year-old family of churches — founded in Gaithersburg — with about 100 congregations. Most of its churches are in the U.S., but it has churches in about 21 countries.

Marriott sues Eden Roc over attempted takeover

Marriott International Inc. has sued the owner of the Eden Roc Renaissance Hotel in Miami Beach over accusations it attempted a hostile takeover of the hotel. The suit accuses Miami-based Eden Roc of trying unsuccessfully to oust Renaissance Hotel Management Co. as manager of the hotel during an “egregious raid in the pre-dawn hours” Sunday, according to a complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Bethesda-based Marriott is seeking injunctions preventing Eden Roc from taking any action to remove, replace or interfere with Renaissance as manager of the hotel.

Spawning of striped bass down, DNR measure says

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources said that the 2012 striped bass juvenile index — a measure of striped bass spawning success in the Chesapeake Bay — is below the long-term average this year. This year’s striped bass juvenile index came in at 0.9, the lowest on record. That contrasted with last year’s survey, which had the fourth highest result in the 59-year history of the index. The long-term average is 12. Officials said while they do not view this year’s low value as an imminent problem, they would carefully monitor the results of future surveys. Three consecutive years of poor reproduction would trigger mandatory conservation measures, officials said.