Ailing Iowa Supreme Court justice to resume hearing cases

DES MOINES — Iowa Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht says he will resume hearing cases and participating in decisions as he continues treatment for skin cancer.

The high court announced Hecht's decision Wednesday in a news release. Hecht revealed in April that had been diagnosed with melanoma, considered the most serious type of skin cancer. Hecht has been treated in Sioux City and Rochester, Minnesota.

The 66-year-old Hecht has not participated in hearing oral argument since March and participated in only a few cases during the remainder of the court term that ended June 30.

Hecht says he expects improvement resulting from a new treatment regimen will allow him to resume a more active role. The new court term began Tuesday.

Hecht was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2006.

Governor issues disaster proclamation for 2 Iowa counties

DES MOINES — The governor has issued a disaster proclamation for two counties struck by storms and flooding.

They are Bremer County in northeast Iowa and Iowa County in eastern Iowa.

The proclamation from Gov. Kim Reynolds allows use of state resources to recover from severe storms and flooding that began Sunday. Grants for people who qualify are available for home or vehicle repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and temporary housing expenses.

Information on the Disaster Case Management Program is available online.

State Farm reaches preliminary deal in conspiracy lawsuit

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) — Insurance giant State Farm has reached a $250 million preliminary settlement of a federal class-action lawsuit claiming the company funneled money to the campaign of a candidate for the Illinois Supreme Court.

The lawsuit alleged Bloomington-based State Farm secretly funneled money to the campaign of Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier while he was a candidate for the high court in 2004.

In 2005, the case of Avery v. State Farm, Karmeier cast the deciding vote to reverse a $1.06 billion judgment against State Farm for its use of aftermarket car parts in repairs. The court ruled the nationwide plaintiff class was improperly certified by a Williamson County trial judge. It also contended using aftermarket parts was not a breach of State Farm policyholders' contracts.

The class-action lawsuit sought nearly $10 billion from State Farm in a trial that was scheduled to begin Tuesday. The plaintiffs alleged State Farm covertly supported Karmeier's campaign in order to secure his win and reversal of the Avery lawsuit decision.

Cedar River at Cedar Rapids expected to crest Sunday

CEDAR RAPIDS — Officials in Cedar Rapids and surrounding areas are preparing for flooding as the National Weather Service adjusted predictions of when the Cedar River there will crest.

The service now says the river will crest Sunday afternoon at 17.5 feet — 5.5 feet above flood stage. It had earlier predicted the river would crest at 16.5 feet on Thursday, but more heavy rain has fallen in the area.

In the Cedar Rapids suburb of Palo, officials have opened a sandbagging station for public use. City employees also were placing sandbags around parts of the city's wastewater facility.

About 40 miles to the west near Belle Plaine, the Iowa Department of Transportation has closed a stretch of Highway 21 because of flooding.