The last two weeks Hartford courts have been fairly quiet, but there are at least two class action lawsuits and one libel lawsuit of note.

The first class action filed in U.S. District Court on Dec. 18 alleges Sallie Mae Corporation engaged in discriminatory practices in the underwriting of private student loans. The plaintiff’s attorney M. Hatcher Norris, argues that Sallie Mae also attempted to cover up its discriminatory practices in order to continue “its exploitation of minority applicants.” The alleged practice has “resulted in minority applicants being charged disproportionately higher interest rates and fees than those charged to similarly situated non-minority applicants” the lawsuit states.

A class action filed Friday in U.S. District Court alleges the civilian state Board of Firearms Permit Examiners is ignoring the constitution and state regulations that govern it by not hearing pistol permit appeals in a timely manner. It also alleges that the Department of Public Safety is revoking or returning pistol permits before the civilian board reviews an appeal, usurping the authority of the civilian board.

According to the lawsuit, The State Public Auditors determined from 2001 to 2002 the estimated wait time for a hearing before the civilian board increased from three months to 14 months.

“In their continued effort to make it appear as though the Board was hearing numerous appeals, when in fact the Board had abdicated its authority to DPS,” the plaintiff James Goldberg through his attorney Rachel Baird states in the complaint. Baird alleges the current wait time for a hearing is more than 22 months. The tentative date given to Goldberg, who filed his appeal in July 2007, was May 14, 2009.

In Hartford Superior Court, Nancy Burton, who ran as the Green Party’s candidate for Attorney General in 2006, is suing The Day Publishing Company, a reporter, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, and the father of a deceased infant for defamation and libel. Burton, director of the Coalition Against Millstone, an anti-nuclear organization, alleges The Day libeled her when it published an article Dec. 15, 2007 entitled “Parents Say Anti-Nuclear Group Exploited the Death of Their Child.”

The lawsuit says the infants father, Patrick Gauruder, contacted Burton on Dec. 5 to inform her that a posting on the web site was wrong. The posting referred to a number of young people Burton thought died from cancer caused by radiation exposure from the nuclear power station. Burton’s lawsuit says Gauruder told her his son was stillborn and that the umbilical cord was around his neck when he was delivered. Burton then removed his name from the site, but not before Gauruder contacted The Day and Blumenthal about Burton’s mistake.

The Day’s Dec. 15 article says Burton “did not respond to several e-mails and phone calls seeking comment.” Burton alleges she sent the reporter a statement, which was not published in the article. Burton says in the lawsuit that the continued statements made about the article by commenters on The Day’s web site “constitute a bad-faith assault upon community nuclear whistle blowing and conscientious efforts to protect our most vulnerable population.”

Since Burton filed the lawsuit, The Day has followed up on the story by contacting relatives of the other infants and young people listed on the Mothball Millstone web site. In an article published on Dec. 23, The Day discovered that at least three other infants and young adults were also mistakenly listed on Burton’s web site. Click here to read that article. The Dec. 15 article is no longer available free of charge on the web site.