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BANKRUPTCY Judge OKs Halliburton asbestos settlement A judge has approved a settlement between Halliburton Co. and its insurance companies, clearing the way to end a year-long asbestos bankruptcy case for some of the conglomerate’s subsidiaries. Judith Fitzgerald, a visiting judge in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, approved the $1.5 billion settlement. In July, she had approved a reorganization plan for Halliburton subsidiaries, but some insurance companies appealed the decision. The plan includes a $4.8 billion settlement of asbestos claims. Halliburton’s $4.8 billion asbestos settlement is made up of $2.8 billion in cash and 59.5 million Halliburton shares. Halliburton has said that the insurers will cover part of the cash payment. -ALM BUSINESS TORTS Drug maker pays $150M to settle Lupron suits Chicago (AP)-TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc. has agreed to pay $150 million to settle suits over the marketing and pricing of its drug Lupron, pushing the company’s payouts for the prostate cancer drug to more than $1 billion. In 2001, the Lake Forest, Ill.-based company pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Prescription Drug Marketing Act through the sale of drug samples. The plea was part of a global settlement that required it pay $875 million to resolve criminal charges and civil liabilities. The recent cases, which were consolidated over the past three years, accused TAP of selling Lupron to physicians at steeply discounted prices, guaranteeing doctors large profits on prescriptions. The agreement will resolve cases brought by patients and health insurers alleging that they were bilked out of millions of dollars’ worth of the drug. FRAUD AIG to pay out $126M to settle two federal probes Washington (AP)-American International Group Inc. has agreed to pay $126 million to settle allegations by federal authorities that the insurance giant helped two customer companies commit accounting fraud. Under an agreement awaiting Securities and Exchange Commission approval, New York-based AIG will pay a $46 million fine to the SEC to settle issues surrounding transactions that helped Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group Inc. pump up its earnings. AIG will pay another $80 million to the Department of Justice to settle a related investigation and avoid prosecution. In September 2003, AIG settled a case with the SEC, agreeing to pay a $10 million fine to resolve allegations that it had fraudulently helped cellphone distributor Brightpoint Inc. of Plainfield, Ind., to falsify its earnings report and hide losses. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE $16M award in botched surgery, diagnosis case Crown Point, Ind. (AP)-A Lake County judge has awarded $16 million to a Gary woman who claimed that a misdiagnosis and a botched surgery left her a paraplegic. Karen DeHart, 46, sued a doctor at the now-defunct Prompt Medical Center in Merrillville, Ind., claiming that her back tumor was misdiagnosed, and a neurosurgeon excised part of her spinal cord, not the tumor. But DeHart will only receive a fraction of the amount because Indiana’s medical malpractice law imposes a cap on such awards. DeHart was 37 when she began having lower back pain. Dr. Venustiano Borromeo told her she had a back sprain and simply needed bed rest. DeHart saw Borromeo 21 times over five months, yet he failed to order any diagnostic studies. When her legs gave out, she was taken to the Methodist Hospitals in Merrillville, where doctors discovered the tumor. Dr. K.V. Pillay, a neurosurgeon, removed part of her spinal cord instead of the tumor, leaving her with permanent paralysis of her legs. NEGLIGENCE N.Y. hit for $42.4M over unfinished guardrail Albany, N.Y.-New York state has been hit with a $42.4 million tort verdict in a case in which the defense was limited by a judge because of alleged foot-dragging by the attorney general’s office. Judge Judith A. Hard of the New York State Court of Claims said she refused to permit the state to present expert testimony regarding a New York Thruway accident because the state’s lawyers, apparently assuming that the state would prevail on a collateral estoppel argument, neglected to follow her scheduling order. In 1992, Barbara Church and her family were traveling to visit relatives. Churchill fell asleep at the wheel and the car went over an embankment. Nine-year-old Ned suffered severe injuries resulting in quadriplegia. The plaintiffs sued New York state claiming that the roadway lacked a suitable guardrail. The judge ruled that the state had failed to ensure that the 312.5-foot guardrail was fully installed. The award includes $5 million in pain and suffering, $34.4 million for lifetime care and assistance and $2.9 million for past medical expenses. -ALM POLICE BATTERY City pays $6M to settle with paralyzed man Baltimore (AP)-A man who was left paralyzed after his neck was broken during a 1997 arrest by Baltimore police has agreed to a $6 million settlement with the city. This year a jury awarded $39 million to Jeffrey Adrian Alston, 39, a quadriplegic receiving around-the-clock care at an Ellicott City, Md., nursing home, but the payout could have been reduced or delayed by appeals. In his suit, Alston alleged that, after being taken into police custody for speeding, he “was handcuffed, put in leg irons, strip searched, put in a headlock/choke hold and then thrown headfirst” into the back of a police van. Police claimed that Alston had repeatedly rammed his head into a plastic window separating police from passengers.

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