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BREACH OF CONTRACT Canceled Vegas show costs Rod Stewart $2M Las Vegas (AP)-A Nevada federal jury has decided that singer Rod Stewart should pay a Las Vegas casino $2 million plus interest for a canceled show in December 2000. The seven-member panel found that Stewart should not have kept an advance he was paid for the New Year’s weekend show that he said he was unable to perform at the Rio hotel-casino because of throat surgery several months earlier. Stewart was paid $2 million in advance in January 2000 for the December 2000 show. He and his doctors testified he was later diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had two tumors surgically removed in May 2000. One was cancerous, one was benign. CLASS ACTION Medical material supplier to set up $16.5M reserve Jacksonville, Fla. (AP)-PSS World Medical Inc., a distributor of medical products, said that it has agreed to settle a long-running shareholder class action and will set up a $16.5 million reserve to resolve the litigation without admitting any wrongdoing. PSS World has been embroiled since 1998 in the suit, arising out of its acquisition that year of Gulf South Medical Supply Inc., a supplier to the elder care industry. PSS World said it expects to recover $13.2 million of the $16.5 million from insurance and had previously established a $2.6 million pretax reserve for potential uninsured losses. HAZARDOUS ACTIVITY Road race car lawsuits settle for $3 million Lincoln, Neb. (AP)-Lawsuits filed by eight people who were injured when a race car left a downtown Hastings, Neb., course and careened into a crowd in 2002 have been settled for $3 million. Of the $3 million, $800,000 will be paid by the city of Hastings, $2 million from insurance owned by race organizers and $200,000 from insurance held by the car driver who crashed, Michael Baures of Casper, Wyo. The $3 million will be divided among the eight injured spectators based on the severity of their injuries. The settlement ends eight lawsuits pending in both state and federal courts. Thirteen people were injured when the race car spun out of control after coming through a stretch of obstacles during the 2002 spady.com Motorsport Mile race. NEGLIGENCE Killing of police chief’s wife will cost city $12M Tacoma, Wash. (AP)-The Tacoma city council has approved a $12 million payment and other provisions to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of a woman slain by her police chief husband. Crystal Brame was fatally wounded in April 2003 by her estranged husband, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame, who then killed himself. The killings prompted numerous investigations and lawsuits, with allegations that Brame had been promoted despite a failed psychological examination and a rape claim against him. The family’s legal actions included contentions that officials never investigated allegations that Brame abused his wife. NURSING HOMES Chain must pay $2.5M and boost nurse staffing San Francisco (AP)-A nursing home chain that operates 18 California facilities has been ordered to pay $2.5 million and boost nurse staffing for violating an order to improve elder care, the state attorney general’s office has announced. Sun Healthcare Group Inc. of Irvine, Calif., which operates 100 nursing care facilities nationwide, violated numerous parts of a permanent injunction requiring the company to improve care in its California facilities, State Attorney General Bill Lockyer said in a statement. Lockyer successfully prosecuted Sun in October 2001 after two nursing home patients died and six others suffered dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke in a Burlingame, Calif., facility. He also settled a civil action against Sun alleging violations of state and federal quality of care regulations. PRISONERS’ RIGHTS N.J. detainee abuse case settles for $2.5 million Newark, N.J. (AP)-Immigrants who claimed that they were abused at a detention center won a $2.5 million settlement from a private company that operated the center for the federal government. The detainees were being held at the Elizabeth, N.J., center between August 1994 and June 1995 by what was then called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Many have since been deported. The center was operated by Esmor Correctional Services, then based in Melville, N.Y., until shortly after a June 1995 riot, caused, detainees claimed, by physical abuse and other inhumane conditions. The INS closed the center and fired Esmor after its investigation found that poorly trained guards abused the detainees, gave them bad food and deprived them of sleep. RECKLESS CONDUCT Transit authority, family settle suit over death Boston (AP)-The family of a Massachusetts man who suffered a fatal heart attack on a commuter train that continued to make stops to pick up passengers has settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Amtrak for $3.9 million. James R. Allen, 61, an internationally recognized coastal scientist who worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, was stricken on July 30, 2002. Allen boarded the train at the Wellesley Hills station and lost consciousness before reaching the next stop. The commuter train he was on continued to make scheduled stops despite pleas from other passengers to seek medical help. More than 20 minutes after Allen collapsed, paramedics unsuccessfully used a defibrillator at the Back Bay station to try to revive him. The MBTA blamed Amtrak for Allen’s death and said it would sue the federal agency to recover the full amount of the settlement. Amtrak contracted with the MBTA to run the commuter rail system and it was an Amtrak conductor who allegedly refused to stop the train. SHAREHOLDER SUIT Oracle’s Ellison donates $100M to settle suit Redwood Shores, Calif. (AP)-Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison has agreed to donate $100 million to charities to settle a lawsuit concerning a $900 million gain that he made by selling some of his company stock after the dot-com bust. Under the agreement, Ellison will make the donations on behalf of Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle during the next five months. The charities will be selected by Ellison and Oracle. The case concerns some of the Oracle stock that Ellison sold in 2001 after he and other top executives predicted that the business software maker would produce better results than the company ultimately delivered. Like many other high-tech companies, Oracle’s sales sagged that year amid the aftershocks of the dot-com implosion that wiped out hundreds of companies. Oracle’s share price plunged by 52% in 2001, wiping out about $85 billion in shareholder wealth. Ellison’s cashing out sparked a wave of suits alleging that he was attempting to capitalize on projections about Oracle’s sales outlook that hadn’t been made available to other investors. WAGES AND HOURS Grocery chain settles class action for $19M Los Angeles (AP)-Grocery chain Smart & Final Inc. said that it has reached a tentative $19 million agreement in a class action claiming employees were not properly paid. The suit, filed in May 2001, was certified as a class action in 2004 with about 13,000 potential plaintiffs who include current and past employees of California stores. The employees alleged that the Los Angeles-based chain failed to calculate overtime pay properly and also neglected to pay for all hours worked. The grocery chain currently operates 238 stores in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and Mexico. WHISTLEBLOWER LAW N.J. firm pays $1.1M to settle defense fraud case Newark, N.J. (AP)-A company that manufactures, overhauls and repairs helicopter hoists and hooks will pay the federal government $1.1 million to settle charges that it falsified certifications about the quality of its work. Breeze-Eastern of Union, N.J., was named in a 2003 whistleblower case brought by an employee, Lorenzo Marrero, who will get more than $220,000 of the settlement. According to the settlement, Breeze-Eastern submitted claims for payment based on contracts with government agencies including the Defense Department and the U.S. Coast Guard for overhaul and repair to helicopter hoists and hooks. According to the court complaint, certifications about the work were falsified. WRONGFUL DEATH Blood disease death costs BP Amoco $13.3M Independence, Mo. (AP)-A Missouri state jury ordered BP Amoco to pay the family of a former Sugar Creek, Mo., resident $13.3 million because of a rare blood disorder that killed her. Nancy Ryan lived within 500 feet of the former Amoco oil refinery in Sugar Creek for four years before she moved to Independence. She died in November, and her family claimed that benzene from petroleum products that had leaked into the ground and surface water was the cause. Ryan, who was 69 when she died, had lived in Sugar Creek from 1956 to 1960.

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