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COMMUNICATIONS LAW Clear Channel reaches indecency settlement Washington (AP)-The nation’s largest radio chain has agreed to a record settlement to resolve indecency complaints against Howard Stern and other radio personalities, federal regulators announced last Wednesday. The Federal Communications Commission’s $1.75 million deal with Clear Channel Communications Inc. is the largest settlement negotiated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and a broadcaster. It narrowly tops the $1.7 million that Infinity Broadcasting paid in 1995 for indecency violations by Stern, whose New York City-based radio show features sexually explicit talk and off-color humor. FCC Chairman Michael Powell praised the settlement as a victory for the American public. “Clear Channel has now formally admitted that it violated the law and has made binding commitments to clean up its act,” Powell said in a statement. He said the radio giant would train its on-air personalities and employees on indecency laws, and suspend and fire those who violate the rules. The agreement settles fines proposed by the agency against Clear Channel for remarks Stern made in an April 2003 broadcast. It also covers dozens of open investigations and pending cases stemming from listener complaints lodged against shows on Clear Channel stations. San Antonio-based Clear Channel said the settlement allows the company to wipe the slate clean and move forward. “We didn’t agree that all the complaints were legally indecent, but some clearly crossed the line and for those we have taken full responsibility,” said Andrew Levin, Clear Channel executive vice president and chief legal officer. The settlement comes on top of a $755,000 fine that Clear Channel agreed to pay earlier this year for graphic discussions about sex and drugs aired on the Bubba the Love Sponge program. Clear Channel fired disc jockey Todd Clem because of the discussions. The FCC had previously proposed a $495,000 fine for Stern’s show, which aired on six of Clear Channel’s 1,200-plus stations. The company has yanked Stern from its airwaves, though he’s still heard on dozens of Infinity’s stations. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Lionel trains to appeal misappropriation ruling Chesterfield, Mich. (AP)-Model train maker Lionel LLC said last week that it would appeal a jury’s ruling that it must pay a rival for misappropriating designs. The Eastern District of Michigan federal jury, sitting in Detroit, on June 7 ruled that Lionel and others must pay $40.8 million to Mike’s Train House Inc. Mike’s Train House, based in Columbia, Md., sued Lionel in 2000, saying Lionel sold trains made from designs stolen from a South Korean manufacturer hired by Mike’s Train House. The jury found that Lionel, along with its supplier, Korea Brass Co. Ltd., and an individual, Yoo Chan Yang, earned millions of dollars by misusing designs that belonged to Mike’s Train House. Lionel said it intends to appeal and is reviewing its appellate options. “Lionel remains confident that it will prevail in this matter,” the company said. WHISTLEBLOWER Bay State engineer wins sick-building lawsuit Boston (AP)-A state engineer who claimed he was punished for calling attention to hazardous conditions inside a Massachusetts state office building has been awarded $750,000 in damages after a Suffolk County, Mass., jury found his superiors violated laws. Bijan Mohammadipour, 51, director of engineering at the Bureau of State Office Buildings, warned of asbestos and fire safety problems at the Saltonstall building in Boston, site of a long and costly asbestos cleanup. He sued the state in 1999, claiming he was punished for reporting the problems. The court awarded him $550,00 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitives on June 4 after the jury found that the state and his ex-boss violated his civil rights and a 1994 state law protecting whistleblowers from retaliation. “It’s a great feeling to be validated,” Mohammadipour said, adding that he hoped the verdict will give other state workers the courage to point out potentially dangerous situations. His attorney, Eric S. Maxwell, said the jury recognized his client’s heroism and that its verdict provides a level of comfort for other state employees who want to report problems and wrongdoing. “Now, other workers can have some comfort that when they go out on a limb, they can be protected,” Maxwell said. Leslie Greer, the special assistant attorney general who represented the state, and Dennis R. Smith, Mohammadipour’s former boss who is now New England regional administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration, said the state may appeal. “The verdict was not supported by the facts and the law,” Greer said. “The odds are that this will probably not be the end of the matter.” Mohammadipour first discovered potentially dangerous asbestos in an air supply duct in the Saltonstall building in 1994. When a state employee assigned to clean the problem instead exacerbated it when he turned on a fan, Mohammadipour asked supervisors to close the area until it could be tested. But the recommendation was ignored and employees worked for several more days until testing was completed. Mohammadipour’s office was moved to a garage, then moved back into the Saltonstall building just as others were moving out because of the asbestos concerns, Maxwell said. His responsibilities were also reduced, he said. The building, now known as 100 Cambridge, closed in 1999 after the asbestos problems and was given a $186 million renovation.

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