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ANTITRUST Microsoft settles DOJ suit, state class actions Washington (AP)-The U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia unanimously approved the landmark antitrust settlement Microsoft Corp. negotiated with the Justice Department. The complex settlement allows computer makers to hide Microsoft’s built-in Web browser so as to enable consumers to use rivals’ software. Microsoft General Counsel Bradford L. Smith said the June 30 decision, following settlements involving other antitrust allegations, was the most important in resolving the company’s U.S. antitrust woes. One such settlement came last week, when a Maricopa County, Ariz., state judge gave preliminary approval to a proposed $104.6 million payout in a suit accusing Microsoft of violating Arizona’s antitrust laws. And, in a settlement announced on July 1, Microsoft agreed to pay up to $241.4 million to end a class action brought by Minnesota computer users who claimed that the software company overcharged them. BANKRUPTCY Boxer has to turn over winnings to creditors Las Vegas (AP)-Mike Tyson will have to fight to get out of debt, despite the prospect of a $14 million payment from promoter Don King to settle his claims against King. Tyson will drop his $100 million suit against King in exchange for the payment, but the former heavyweight boxing champion will see none of the money. It will go toward the payment of the $38.4 million that Tyson owes various creditors, the Internal Revenue Service and his ex-wife, Monica. To pay off the rest, Tyson’s attorneys have laid out a plan in federal bankruptcy court in New York City under which the boxer will fight seven times over the next three years. Tyson has fought only twice in the last three years for a total of about eight rounds. According to the plan, Tyson will contribute the $14 million from King, an estimated $4.2 million from the sale of his two houses in Las Vegas and $19.5 million from future fight purses to a fund to pay creditors. The settlement with King is a key part of solving Tyson’s financial problems. If the bankruptcy judge approves, King will pay $8 million up front, with another $3 million in January 2005 and $3 million more in January 2006. MOTOR VEHICLES $440M refund to drivers after premium reductions Raleigh, N.C. (AP)-Motorists across North Carolina will receive refunds of at least $440 million on their automobile insurance premiums, after the state Supreme Court upheld a 13% rate reduction. The justices affirmed a lower court ruling last year that backed a decision by state Insurance Commissioner Jim Long to lower rates for 2001. Ray Evans, who manages the agency that represents the state’s 170 auto insurers, said many of the state’s 5 million insurance policyholders should expect to receive checks sometime in the fall. The auto insurance industry in North Carolina had sought a 10.6% rate increase in 2001, but Long disagreed, and the two sides ultimately went to court. Evans’ organization, the North Carolina Rate Bureau, was allowed to raise rates by 5% while the appeal was heard in the courts. State law requires that the difference between what the industry collects and what the commissioner approves has to be held in escrow pending the outcome of an appeal. The industry will have to repay motorists what’s been held back, plus interest. MUTUAL FUNDS Before merger, bank has to settle with regulators Chicago (AP)-Bank One Corp. moved to clear its name with regulators before relegating it to history, reaching a settlement over improper mutual-fund trading practices just before last week’s acquisition by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Bank One agreed to a deal that will cost it $90 million: $40 million in civil penalties, $10 million in restitution and $40 million in fee reductions for investors over the next five years. Mark Beeson, the 46-year-old former president and CEO of the company’s One Group mutual funds, was ordered by the Securities and Exchange Commission to pay a civil penalty of $100,000 and barred from the mutual-fund industry for three years. The SEC said that Beeson and the Bank One unit violated federal securities laws by allowing hedge-fund manager Edward J. Stern to engage in excessive short-term trading, which increased Bank One’s fees. PRODUCTS LIABILITY Brain-damaged victim of ephedra awarded $7.4M Houston (AP)-A jury awarded $7.4 million to a woman who suffered brain damage in a stroke two years ago after taking a diet supplement that contained the now-banned herbal stimulant ephedra. The jury found that San Diego-based marketer Metabolife International acted maliciously when it falsely told state and federal regulators that its Metabolife supplement had no adverse effects and that the company had comprehensive safety monitoring procedures. Rhea McAllister was awarded $2.4 million in actual damages and $5 million in punitive damages. Ephedra was once widely used for weight loss and bodybuilding. The amphetamine-like stimulant has now been linked to 155 deaths, and the federal government banned it in April.

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