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E-MAIL $50,000 settlement in $20M spammer suit Albany, N.Y. (AP)-New York authorities have settled a lawsuit filed against an electronic mail marketer for allegedly sending unsolicited and deceptive “spam” messages on behalf of clients. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said that the marketer, Scott Richter, and his company, OptInRealBig.com, paid $40,000 in penalties and $10,000 in investigative costs under the agreement. The company also agreed to provide Spitzer’s office with customer information as well as all advertisements it sends and promised to use proper identifying information when registering domain names. When Spitzer filed the civil suit against Richter and OptInRealBig.com in December 2003, the attorney general said he was seeking $20 million in penalties. Steve Richter, father and lawyer of Scott Richter, said that the settlement basically involved a “no harm, no foul” situation from Richter’s standpoint. The fact that the attorney general settled for $50,000 while initially talking about $20 million in damages “speaks for itself,” Steve Richter said. EMPLOYMENT Sex discrimination suit is settled by Boeing Seattle (AP)-Boeing Co. has agreed to pay between $40.6 million and $72.5 million and to change some of its practices to settle allegations that the aerospace giant discriminated against female employees. The settlement received preliminary approval in U.S. district court on July 16. It calls on Boeing to change the way it determines starting salaries, modify its performance-evaluation tools and monitor salaries and overtime to reduce the risk of gender discrimination. The company’s behavior will be watched by attorneys for the next three years to ensure Boeing is meeting terms of the settlement. The class action, filed in 2000, was resolved in the spring with a preliminary agreement. Under the settlement, women who are part of the Seattle-area class will receive a minimum payment of $500. The payouts will depend on how many years the women worked at Boeing, and in what job. Some women could receive tens of thousands of dollars. FIRST AMENDMENT $30,000 award for crime writer who sued DA New York (AP)-A federal jury awarded crime writer and former prosecutor Robert Reuland $30,000 for the humiliation he suffered when the Brooklyn, N.Y., district attorney demoted him because of comments he made in a magazine article. New York had quoted the homicide prosecutor and first-time crime novelist as saying, “Brooklyn is the best place to be a homicide prosecutor. We’ve got more dead bodies per square inch than any place else.” Reuland was demoted by District Attorney Charles J. Hynes following the publication of the magazine article in February 2001. He sued Hynes, alleging that his demotion and his forced resignation four months later violated his right to free speech. The jury found that the district attorney had demoted Reuland because of the article, but it left open the question of whether this violated his First Amendment rights. It found that he was not forced to resign because of his statements. HEALTH CARE Aetna settlement with dentists is approved Miami (AP)-A judge approved a $5 million settlement on July 20 between Aetna and the nation’s dentists to settle their claims that the insurance company underpaid them or was slow on claims reimbursements. U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno approved a $4 million award to as many as 200,000 dentists serving Aetna members since 1995 plus $1 million to an American Dental Association foundation. But he expressed reservations about $1.25 million in fees for the dentists’ attorneys and asked for paperwork to justify the award. “This will benefit not only the dentists at Aetna but most importantly the patients,” said Aetna attorney Richard Doren. “The dentist can spend more time focused on patient care.” There was no immediate comment from attorneys for dentists. Aetna, based in Hartford, Conn., provides dental coverage to 11.3 million people. No one objected to the settlement between the insurer and the ADA, which received preliminary approval last March. Aetna agreed to change its business practices on claims processing by committing to pay undisputed claims filed electronically in 15 days and paper claims in 30 days. Dentists will be able to track their claims on the Internet. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Lindows, Microsoft settle name infringement suit Seattle (AP)-Microsoft Corp. settled all of its trademark infringement suits against Lindows Inc. with a $20 million payment to the Linux operating system upstart, which agreed to change its name to Linspire. Details of the settlement were disclosed in documents Lindows filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission as part of its plans for an initial public offering. “We are pleased that Lindows will now compete in the marketplace with a name distinctly its own,” said Tom Burt, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel. Microsoft had sued San Diego-based Lindows in 2001, alleging that the name infringed on its trademark for the ubiquitous Windows operating system. Microsoft then filed similar complaints in Europe and Canada. It won preliminary injunctions in the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden, before settling the Dutch case. In April, Lindows changed the name of its products to Linspire after U.S. District Judge John Coughenour refused to halt the trademark infringement cases outside the United States. But it had, until now, stuck with Lindows as a corporate name. Lindows makes a computer operating system that competes with Windows but is based on the Linux operating system.

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