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10/7/97 - 10/27/97

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MBI Wants Aetna Insurance to Pay Housing Discrimination Costs

by Edmund Tsang

Despite reaching settlements in three recent lawsuits involving charges of discrimination in its apartment rental policies and selling all its apartment units in summer, 1996, Mitchell Brothers, Inc. (MBI) finds itself once again in court over the matters related to these lawsuits. This time, MBI is the plaintiff, and the defendant is the Aetna Insurance Company. MBI wants the court to rule that its policies with Aetna require the insurance company to pay for the litigation costs incurred in two of the recent housing discrimination lawsuits.

One of the cases, Lowman vs. MBI, was a class-action lawsuit joined by the U.S. Department of Justice, which alleged that MBI used coded cards to identify African-American applicants for purposes of discrimination in renting apartments managed by MBI. This case was settled in August, 1996 for $1.7 million, in which MBI paid a $75,000 fine and allocated $250,000 to start a fair-housing center in Mobile. [_Full_Story_]

Unlicensed Law Case Ends with a Bang and a Whimper

by David Underhill

Motion granted, case dismissed! said the judge.

Thus ended the peculiar prosecution of Jerry H. Pogue for practicing law without a license. This affair serves as a reminder of the need to insert the word alleged in a description of the charges against any defendant. Pogue's attorney, James D. Wilson, didn't even offer a defense. At the conclusion of the prosecution's attempt to assemble mole hills of evidence and testimony into an alp of accusation, Wilson simply moved for dismissal. The state hadn't presented a case worth pestering the court any further. Judge Dominick Matranga swiftly agreed. [_Full_Story_]

Experimental School, Experimental Community:

The Marietta Johnson School Of Organic Education In Fairhope, Alabama

by Joseph W. Newman

Half a mile from the shops and restaurants that line the business district of Fairhope, Alabama, the Marietta Johnson School of Organic Education sits tucked away down a side street, perched atop a piney-woods bluff. Once the very heart of a community of reformers, intellectuals, and freethinkers, today the school is set some distance apart, struggling to survive while it tries to recapture the spirit of its past.

The four main buildings mimic the architecture of the white-frame Bell Building, the centerpiece of the old downtown campus the school occupied for eighty years before selling in the late 1980s in a bid for financial security.

The school still hums with the activity of sixty students, all but one of them white, most of them upper-middle class and from the immediate area. All seem happy to be there. Some of the students have had difficulty getting along in more traditional settings, but most have parents who simply want a different kind of education for their children, something less regimented, less hurried, less competitive.

The Organic School tries to fill this niche in the educational marketplace of the 1990s -- a small niche, apparently, even in an artsy community like Fairhope -- by offering pupil-teacher ratios of 10 to 1, generous individual attention, and, yes, glimpses of Marietta Johnson's original vision. [_Full_Story_]

The Harbinger, Mobile, AL