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Health Notes


Men sue for return of DNA in Cape Cod slaying case

Cape Cod men who voluntarily gave DNA samples during the investigation into the murder of fashion writer Christa Worthington are suing to have the samples returned.

A class action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLU) in Suffolk Superior Court accuses District Attorney Michael O’Keefe with failing to make good on a promise to return or destroy the samples.

O’Keefe, however, said that all of the DNA samples provided voluntarily were either returned or destroyed by March 15, 2007.

The samples were taken to exclude the men from the investigation. A trash collector, Christopher McCowen, was later convicted in the fatal stabbing in 2002.

The lawsuit alleges O’Keefe refused to confirm that the samples were destroyed, and the director of the State Police Crime Lab said the samples would not be destroyed without a request from O’Keefe.

12 people in Mass. sickened by tomatoes

Public health officials say 12 cases of salmonella in Massachusetts have been linked to a nationwide outbreak associated with certain types of raw tomatoes.

There have been no deaths but at least two of the cases have required hospitalization, the state Public Health Department announced last Friday.

More than 550 people have gotten ill nationwide.

The Massachusetts cases were identified through DNA matching of the outbreak strain with samples submitted by health care providers.

All of the cases were reported between May 30 and June 8. The youngest person to get sick was a 5-year-old girl and the oldest was a 39-year-old woman.

There were four victims each from Middlesex and Norfolk counties, two from Suffolk County and one each from Plymouth and Worcester counties.

BMC settles state allegations

Boston Medical Center and its health insurance plan have agreed to pay the state $562,000 to settle allegations of improper marketing to consumers.

Attorney General Martha Coakley says the bulk of the settlement total will go to the state’s program to help people buy medical insurance.

Coakley and Boston Medical Center entered an agreement in Suffolk Superior Court after the state took issue with letters the hospital sent to 2,600 patients.

Coakley alleged the hospital improperly used medical coverage data to determine which patients to target with letters promoting BMC’s own plan. Coakley says the letters falsely stated consumers would have to switch to the hospital’s plan to continue getting care at BMC.

The hospital issued a statement saying it regrets any confusion the letters created.

(Associated Press)