Dan Margolies

Health Editor

Dan Margolies is editor in charge of health news at KCUR.  Dan joined KCUR in April 2014. In a long and varied journalism career, he has worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star and Reuters. In a previous life, he was a lawyer. He has also worked as a media insurance underwriter and project development director for a video production firm.

Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long…

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The Platte County Courthouse, ordinarily a sleepy rural outpost, is abuzz these days with intrigue. 

That's because a leading candidate to be the next U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri is the subject of an ethics complaint that questions the propriety of his conduct in a sexual abuse case prosecuted by his office.

A federal judge says he plans to block Missouri’s abortion clinic restrictions in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last June.

In a “Memorandum to Counsel” on Monday, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs said he would grant the preliminary injunction requested by Planned Parenthood, but would give the state additional time to avoid “unintended damage” to standard medical regulations.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: Local and federal officials have determined the cause of a massive fire that destroyed an unfinished four-story apartment complex Monday and damaged many nearby homes to be accidental. 

"Based on an examination of the scene, interviews of witnesses and other information obtained during the investigation, investigators are confident the fire was caused by the accidental ignition of wooden building material ignited by a welder conducting hot work on the site," said Overland Park Fire Marshall Mark Sweany.

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A former general manager of the Hillcrest Country Club in Kansas City has lost his quixotic lawsuit against Time Inc. seeking $12 million in damages for defamation and emotional distress.

A federal judge last week granted summary judgment to Time, ruling that statements made about Terry J. Clark in an article on Time’s GOLF.com website were neither false nor defamatory. U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree also found that Clark had failed to show he had sustained an injury because of the article.

United States Mission Geneva / Wikimedia Commons

Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius says she thinks it will take the state “decades” to recover from the effects of the state’s current financial woes.

In an appearance Friday on KCUR’s Up to Date, Sebelius was asked by host Steve Kraske what she made of the state today.

“Well, it breaks my heart,” Sebelius says, noting that the state’s revenue stream had always been “a carefully balanced dance, with a third coming from property tax, a third coming from sales tax and a third coming from income tax.”

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons-Flickr

In what is certain to shape up as one of its most important decisions in years, the Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday morning on whether the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights enshrines a right to abortion.

The case is on appeal from the Kansas Court of Appeals, which, in an evenly divided decision last year ruled that the state Constitution recognizes a “fundamental right to abortion.”

kslegislature.org

A Kansas senator who compared Planned Parenthood to Dachau doubled down on his statement and called Planned Parenthood worse than Nazi concentration camps.

Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, Republican of Leavenworth, told KCUR on Monday that he saw nothing wrong with the comparison, which he made in a letter to Planned Parenthood after a woman made a donation to the organization in his name.

Asked if he thought Planned Parenthood was akin to a Nazi concentration camp, he replied, “Worse. Much worse, much worse, much worse."

www.justice.gov

Tammy Dickinson, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is among top federal prosecutors ordered to resign by the Trump administration.

Don Ledford, a spokesman for the office, confirmed that Dickinson was among the 46 U.S. Attorneys who were told to submit their resignations.

Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Larson, a veteran federal prosecutor, will serve in her place until a presidential appointment is confirmed, Ledford said in an email.

Ledford said that Dickinson would not be making any public comments.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

ProPublica and three other journalism websites are teaming up to fact-check the accuracy of responses by members of Congress to constituents’ inquiries about Obamacare and its future.

And the first member of the House or Senate it fact-checked was Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who responded to California resident Meg Godfrey’s query about the health care law with the reasons he supports its repeal, buttressed with various statistics.

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This story was updated at 1:26 p.m. Thursday to include the comments of Michael Barrett, head of the Missouri public defender system.

Last July, Shondel Church was arrested in Kansas City for allegedly stealing a generator and tool box from his stepmother.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

It’s mid-Friday afternoon at Wendell Phillips at Attucks Elementary School and the gym is buzzing. It’s Score 1 for Health day at the school at 24th and Prospect in Kansas City, Missouri, and kids here are getting free health screenings from medical students at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, or KCU.

For these mostly second-year med students, the program offers invaluable hands-on experience. For some, the program is what appealed to them about KCU, an osteopathic medical school near downtown Kansas City.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Bryan Sheppard, who was convicted for the explosion that killed six firefighters in 1988 and was given a life sentence without parole, was resentenced Friday afternoon to 20 years, meaning he will soon be a free man.

As U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. pronounced the sentence in the federal courthouse in downtown Kansas City, family and friends of Sheppard’s began weeping audibly. Sheppard lowered his head.

Charles Riedel / AP

As expected, the Kansas Supreme Court on Thursday morning ruled that the state’s school funding formula is inadequate under the Kansas Constitution.

In a unanimous 83-page decision, the court gave the Legislature until June 30 to address the state’s public education financing system.

The decision comes after the court ruled earlier that the school funding formula had failed to meet the equity prong of the Kansas Constitution.

Elana Gordon / KCUR 89.3

A lawsuit alleging Cerner Corp. improperly failed to pay hundreds of employees overtime wages has been certified as a class action.

Jackson County Circuit Judge W. Brent Powell issued the ruling Tuesday, finding that common issues predominated over individual ones and there were enough would-be class members to warrant class certification.  

The suit was filed in 2015 by Laura Scott and alleges that Cerner exempted so-called delivery consultants and system analysts from overtime pay.

Johnson County sheriff's office

The suspect accused of shooting and killing a man in an Olathe, Kansas, bar last week and wounding two others made his initial appearance in Johnson County District Court Monday via closed circuit television.

Judge Timothy McCarthy appointed a public defender to represent Adam Purinton, 51, of Olathe, who is charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

During his brief appearance, Purinton stared straight ahead as McCarthy asked him his name, whether he had a copy of the criminal complaint and whether he had counsel.

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A federal judge today threatened to jail Johnson County businessman Joel Tucker after he failed to comply with orders requiring him to disclose details of a payday lending scheme.

The Federal Trade Commission has accused Tucker of selling bogus debt to collection agencies, which used them to get consumers to pay debts they didn’t owe.

Tucker is the brother of Leawood businessman and race car driver Scott Tucker, who pleaded not guilty a year ago to criminal charges of running a $2 billion payday lending scheme.

David Slusky and Donna Ginther

The Affordable Care Act has been credited – and blamed – for lots of things, but lowering the divorce rate generally hasn’t been one of them.

Not until now, anyway. A paper co-authored by two KU economists suggests that states that expanded Medicaid saw fewer so-called medical divorces than states, like Kansas and Missouri, that didn’t expand Medicaid.

How so?

Used to be Medicaid had an asset limit. The program’s income eligibility requirements limited the maximum amount of assets and income individuals could possess.

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A decision by the Missouri Supreme Court Tuesday will allow Missouri to recover $50 million in withheld tobacco funds.

The 37-page ruling upheld a decision by a St. Louis Circuit Court judge that found an arbitration panel had exceeded its powers in withholding the money.

The complicated case deals with the terms of a multibillion-dollar settlement agreement reached by 46 states, including Missouri, and four major cigarette manufacturers in 1998.

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Missouri corrections officials are not required to disclose the identities of the pharmacists who supply the state’s lethal execution drugs, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Reversing a lower court judge who had ordered the Department of Corrections to reveal their names, the Missouri Court of Appeals found that the DOC did not violate the state’s Sunshine Law by refusing to provide them.

A torrent of civil lawsuits over alleged sexual abuse by a former employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Leavenworth is expected now that a federal judge has refused to dismiss one of the cases.

Three more lawsuits were filed this week in federal court, bringing the total to 15 so far, and dozens more are expected to be filed in coming months.

The suits by military veterans accuse Mark E. Wisner, a one-time physician’s assistant at the hospital who held himself out as a doctor, of sexually molesting them during physical exams.

cancer.gov / wikipedia--CC

Reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases in Kansas City, Missouri, rose last year, in some cases dramatically, in part due to increased testing and outreach by health authorities.

Preliminary data from the Kansas City Health Department shows a nearly 27 percent increase in reported cases of gonorrhea, 8 percent in chlamydia and 7.6 percent in syphilis.

The figures reflect national trends, with reported STDs reaching an unprecedented high in the United States in 2015.

Rachel A.K. / Creative Commons-Flickr

For the second time, a judge has dismissed a challenge to a Missouri prison policy that conditions early inmate release on participation in programs requiring belief in a deity.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. ruled that the plaintiff, one-time Missouri inmate Randall Jackson, did not meet the requirements for filing a class action and that, in any case, his claims were moot because he was released from prison in December 2014.

Courtesy HCA Midwest Health

The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City has settled its long-running case against hospital giant HCA for $160 million.

The settlement comes after a state appeals court earlier this month reduced a trial court judgment in favor of the foundation from $434 million to $188 million.

Coupled with an earlier settlement in the case that netted the foundation $13.5 million, the foundation will end up getting about $173.5 million from HCA – bringing the foundation’s total assets to about $700 million.

www.law.umkc.edu

The longtime dean of UMKC School of Law has stepped down. 

Ellen Suni led the school for 13 years – among the longest-serving law school deans in the country. She was planning to step down at the end of this semester, but an unexpected hospitalization earlier this month led her to move that up.

Courtesy HCA Midwest Health

This story was updated at 2:41 to include comments from the Health Care Foundation and HCA.

An appeals court has cut by more than half the $434 million in damages awarded to the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City in its breach-of-contract lawsuit against hospital giant HCA.

Kansas doctors who mistakenly diagnose a case of child abuse are not liable for malpractice, a court has ruled.

In a case of first impression, the Kansas Court of Appeals found that the Kansas law requiring health providers to report suspected cases of physical, mental or emotional abuse of children protects physicians and other health providers from civil liability.

The case involved the parents of a nine-month-old girl who brought her to The University of Kansas Hospital for a respiratory infection.

Photo courtesy Hostess Brands

Kansas City-based Hostess Brands is voluntarily recalling its Holiday White Peppermint Hostess Twinkies due to a concern about possible salmonella contamination.

Although no illnesses have been reported and none of the affected products have tested positive for salmonella, Hostess says it’s initiating the recall “out of an abundance of caution.”

The confectionary coating used on the Twinkies was previously recalled by its maker, Valley Milk Products, prompting Hostess’ recall. No other Hostess products are affected by the recall.

Photo courtesy of Cornerstones of Care

Five Kansas City area agencies that provide treatment and support services for children and their families have merged.

The five – Gillis, Healthy Families, Marillac, Ozanam and Spofford – already operated under the Cornerstones of Care umbrella. The merger gives them one board of directors instead of five and allows them to consolidate their programs.

“We believe that as one organization we can deliver an even higher quality of consistent care,” says Denise Cross, president and CEO of Cornerstones of Care.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon today granted pardons to 18 individuals, including 16 clergy members and activists who were convicted of trespassing after they staged a protest in the Missouri Senate gallery over Missouri’s decision not to expand Medicaid.

The so-called Medicaid 23 – several of them well-known African-American ministers from Kansas City – refused to leave the gallery during their protest in May 2014 after they were ordered to do so by Capitol police.

Michael Coghlan / Creative Commons-Flickr

The Kansas Federal Public Defender says federal prosecutors have failed to turn over all attorney-client phone calls that were recorded at the pretrial detention center in Leavenworth to a special master looking into their legality.

In a court filing Wednesday, the public defender identified recorded calls to at least two attorneys that were not disclosed by prosecutors.

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