State Digest

STATE DIGEST

December 14, 2006

Estate scores victory in NFL pension case

The estate of Mike Webster, the Hall of Fame center for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s and 1980s who suffered from a severe brain injury and led a peripatetic life in retirement marked by living out of his car and sleeping in train stations, beat back a legal challenge yesterday to more than $1.5 million in additional pension benefits awarded to the estate by a Baltimore federal judge last year.

The ruling from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., could boost the chances of other professional football players trying to challenge the pension payout system, said Cy Smith, the estate's lawyer.

The National Football League benefits board acknowledged that Webster, who died in 2002, suffered from total and permanent mental disability in September 1995, four years after his retirement, but argued against more lucrative benefits provided to players whose disabilities begin while they are in uniform.

In yesterday's appeals court decision, the 4th Circuit upheld U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr.'s order that required the NFL's pension plans to pay Webster's estate benefits retroactively to 1991.

Matthew Dolan

Maryland

Cardin, Steele raised nearly $1.1 million late in race

Maryland's top two U.S. Senate candidates raised almost $1.1 million in the 15 days before the election, reflecting the race's importance in deciding control of the chamber.

Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin raised more than $619,500, and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the Republican nominee, gathered $466,000, according to 48-hour notices of contributions and loans received between Oct. 23 and Nov. 6 that the campaigns filed.

The reports are filed on contributions of $1,000 or more received after the 20th day, but more than 48 hours before the day of the election. They are available on the Federal Election Commission Web site.

Raising about $1.1 million between them in such a short time "must be a record" for Maryland, said Matthew Crenson, professor of political science at the Johns Hopkins University.

"What it probably means is that by that point in the election, it became evident to everybody nationwide that the control of the Senate was up in the air," he said.

Democrats won control of the U.S. Senate and House in the midterm election Nov. 7. Maryland's Senate seat was among the most hotly contested in the country. The seat became open because Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes announced he was retiring after 30 years in office.

Cardin won in Maryland with 54.2 percent of the vote. Steele, the lieutenant governor, got 44.2 percent, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Capital News Service

Kent Island

Nevada lawyer buying historic Kent Island lighthouse

A tilted lighthouse south of Kent Island now belongs to a lawyer from Nevada.

Michael Gabriel of Carson City, Nev., will pay $100,000 cash for the 125-year-old lighthouse and says he hopes to restore it for public visits.

Gabriel was the highest bidder in a government auction. "Unless someone stepped forward to preserve it, it would just slip under the waves," Gabriel told The Star Democrat in Easton.

"My intent is to restore it over the next few years and offer it to the lighthouse society or the Maryland Historical Trust so the public can see it," he said.

Associated Press

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