State Briefs

Friday June 14, 2002

UC Davis staffer named top teacher 

by The History Channel  


SACRAMENTO — The History Channel has named a University of California teaching consultant the nation’s top history teacher of the year. 

Myron Piper was presented with The History Channel Outstanding History Educator Award for 2002 at an award ceremony in Washington, D.C., Thursday. 

The ceremony marked the end of the annual National History Day Program, in which more than 700,000 students and 40,000 teachers across the country participated in programs to enhance history learning. 

Through a University of California, Davis, program, Piper works with at-risk children in the Sacramento and Elk Grove school districts. 

Piper, a former teacher at Norte Vista High School in Riverside County, won the award because of his efforts to bring the National History Day program into low-performing school districts around California. He also worked with students in South Africa and Brazil. The award carries a $5,000 prize. 

Libby O’Connell, The History Channel’s historian in residence, said the award recognizes teachers who get students excited about history. 

“In most cases, in most peoples’ lives, there is a wonderful teacher who has encouraged or influenced us in some way,” she said. “This recognizes that.” 


State Supreme Court again upholds  

uninsured motorist initiative 


SAN FRANCISCO — Interpreting Proposition 213 for the third time, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that private companies are immune from paying hefty damages to uninsured motorists injured by the companies’ negligence. 

Approved in 1996, the measure says uninsured motorists injured in an automobile accident cannot collect damages for pain and suffering, even if the accident was not their fault. Pain-and-suffering damages can run into the millions. 

But the dispute in Thursday’s case, and two others already decided, involves more than just a lawsuit between an insured motorist and an uninsured motorist.  

At least two high court justices said Thursday the law was only designed to resolve that type of dispute. 

In that scenario, an uninsured motorist could only recover medical expenses, lost wages and other out-of-pocket costs from an insured motorist who created an accident.  

No pain-and-suffering damages would be allowed because the law was designed to punish and encourage the uninsured to get auto insurance. 

Thursday’s case dealt with whether an uninsured motorist could collect pain-and-suffering damages from a private contractor who created a hazardous roadway while building a bus stop in Los Angeles County.