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ANTITRUST Hospital bed maker to settle discounting suit Indianapolis (AP)-Hospital bed and casket maker Hillenbrand Industries Inc. has agreed to pay $337.5 million to settle an antitrust class action that challenged its “bundled pricing” discounting of specialty hospital beds. Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System of Spartanburg, S.C., sued Hillenbrand in June 2003, alleging attempted monopolization of the hospital-bed market with discounting practices that violated federal antitrust rules. Under the settlement, Batesville, Ind.-based Hillenbrand agreed to pay $50 million to an escrow account. The company will pay the remaining $287.5 million when the settlement is finalized. That is expected to occur early next year. Microsoft to pay $30M to South Korean firm Seoul, South Korea (AP)-Microsoft Corp. has reached a $30 million settlement with a South Korean firm that accused it of breaching trade rules by tying its instant messenger software to Windows. Microsoft will pay Internet portal Daum Communications Corp. $10 million in cash, another $10 million in an advertising commitment and $10 million in other business agreements. BREACH OF CONTRACT Enron, electric utility end $300 million dispute New York (AP)-Enron Corp. and leading Nevada electric utility Sierra Pacific Resources have agreed to settle a long-running battle involving more than $300 million in contracts. Sierra said it has agreed to pay Enron $129 million for electricity contracts that were terminated in 2002, and in exchange, Enron agreed to grant Sierra an unsecured claim of $126.5 million in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. Enron, whose collapse in 2001 led to charges of fraud and other crimes against its former top executives, said the settlement will result in a net $100 million to the company’s estate. Sierra said it plans to recover at least 30% of its $126.5 million claim and pay less than a net $89.9 million for its part in the settlement, once everything is finalized. CLASS ACTION Boeing to pay $72.5M to settle discrimination suit Seattle (AP)-The Boeing Co. has agreed to pay $72.5 million to thousands of women to settle a class action involving allegations of gender discrimination. More than 20,000 current and former female employees said Boeing discriminated against them at Seattle-area plants between 1997 and 2000. Women typically earned $1,000 to $2,000 less each year than men for similar jobs. PRICE FIXING Swiss, U.S. firms end stock-buildup dispute Geneva (AP)-Swiss drug maker Roche Holding A.G. said that it has ended a dispute with U.S. biotechnology company Gilead Sciences Inc. over the manufacture of Tamiflu, in what was a joint effort to build up stocks of the drug in the face of a threatened flu pandemic. Foster City, Calif.-based Gilead charged Roche with failing to promote and produce the drug. Roche will pay Gilead $62.5 million in retroactive royalty adjustments. This is reimbursement for contractual cost of goods payments in 2004 as well as updating this year’s royalties. Some experts consider the drug the most efficient treatment in case of an outbreak of human influenza. PRODUCTS LIABILITY Ford must pay $61M to family of rollover victim Miami (AP)-A Florida state jury ordered the Ford Motor Co. to pay more than $61 million to the family of a 17-year-old boy killed in a rollover that occurred when his friend dozed off behind the wheel of an Explorer. Ford was liable in the accident because it sold a vehicle with poor handling and stability, the jury determined. The family of Lance Crossman Hall claimed that Ford knew the Explorer was prone to rollovers and failed to warn consumers about the vehicle’s defects. Hall was reclining in the front passenger seat and wearing his seat belt when the Explorer rolled over four times on State Road 93 in Collier County on April 20, 1997. He was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. The driver of the 1996 Explorer, Melahn Parker, was charged with careless driving. PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY Doctors to pay $18M over needless surgeries Sacramento, Calif. (AP)-Two doctors from Redding, Calif., accused of performing unnecessary heart surgeries, have settled lawsuits against them for a total of $18 million. The money will be split among about 650 patients who claimed that the doctors performed unnecessary cardiac catheterizations and bypass surgeries while practicing at Redding Medical Center before 2002. The two heart surgeons, Dr. Fidel Realyvasquez, 57, and Dr. Kent Brusett, 46, authorized their insurance carrier, The Doctors Co., to settle the cases as part of an agreement with the federal government. In return, the U.S. attorney’s office agreed not to file criminal charges.

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