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CIVIL RIGHTS Three disabled women to get $12.3M from N.M. Albuquerque, N.M. (AP)-Three mentally disabled women who lived for more than two decades in the home of a housekeeper and her husband will receive $12.3 million from the state of New Mexico under the settlement of a civil rights suit that alleged they were abused and neglected. The women, identified in the lawsuit only as Cheryl, Catherine and Elisa, are unable to care for themselves. They were transferred to the home of Gloria and Juan Garcia in 1979 and 1980 under a foster care program that the state hospital then operated. The federal lawsuit, filed in 2003, said that the women lived with the Garcias for 20 years without proper medical and social services, and that although the state was alerted in 1984 that two of the women became pregnant, officials left them in the home. DEFAMATION Music instrument maker gets $16.7M in settlement Boston (AP)-Boston-based musical instrument maker First Act Inc. will receive $16.7 million in a settlement with Brook Mays Music of Dallas. First Act sued Brook Mays after the retailer sent a flier to band directors and consumers claiming that First Act instruments were of poor quality and that repair parts might not be available. First Act called the flier “a calculated smear campaign.” First Act’s strategy of selling instruments through mass retailers instead of traditional music stores upset many in the band-instrument market. A Massachusetts federal jury in 2005 awarded First Act nearly $21 million. NEGLIGENCE Merrill Lynch to settle Enron suit for $29.5M Houston (AP)-Merrill Lynch & Co. has agreed to pay Enron Corp. $29.5 million to settle its portion of a lawsuit filed against 10 banks accused of failing to prevent the energy company’s collapse. New York-based Merrill Lynch also agreed to give up collection of $73.7 million in claims against what’s left of Enron, which filed for bankruptcy in December 2001, but could receive about $10 million in other claims that were outside the settlement. RECORDS INSPECTION Newspaper owner to buy out partner for $129M Orlando, Fla. (AP)-A Florida federal judge has ordered the owners of the Daytona Beach News-Journal to pay $129.2 million to buy out their corporate partner, Cox Enterprises Inc. Cox Enterprises Inc., which owns nearly half of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, had sued the newspaper’s board of directors, accusing it of wasting $13 million for naming rights to a community arts center in Daytona Beach. U.S. District Judge John Antoon II said that the purchase of the naming rights to the arts center “made little sense from a business perspective.” REGULATORY ACTION Credit card firm to pay $11M to settle probe Albany, N.Y. (AP)-A Georgia-based credit card company has agreed to pay $11 million in restitution to New Yorkers to settle a New York state investigation into its practices. Columbus Bank and Trust Co. and CompuCredit Corp., a marketing and collection company, agreed to reform practices for its subprime credit cards held by 60,000 New Yorkers, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said. The cards are marketed to consumers with low incomes or poor credit history who are willing to pay higher rates and fees to secure credit cards. Conflict of interest claims settled by bank for $25M New York (AP)-Wachovia Corp. will pay &$25 million to settle charges that it failed to prevent conflicts of interest for its stock analysts, potentially resulting in biased research. Securities regulators claimed that Wachovia failed to supervise its employees in connection with potential conflicts and sometimes offered research only on companies that were considered potential clients. The bank also was accused of impeding the investigation by lacking systems to locate and retrieve backup files efficiently. STRIKES AND LOCKOUTS Grocery chain to pay $70M over illegal hiring Los Angeles (AP)-Ralphs Grocery Co. has agreed to pay $70 million in restitution and fines as part of a plea agreement involving charges of illegally hiring hundreds of workers under fake names during a 2003 strike and lockout. As part of the deal with federal prosecutors, the chain, a unit of Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., will plead guilty to conspiracy and identity fraud as well as violation of laws involving employee benefits and record-keeping for the Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service, the company said. The company will pay $50 million in restitution for Ralphs employees who were locked out during the labor dispute and filed a claim for back pay. Local union chapters can also collect restitution if they paid lockout benefits. Some 19,000 Ralphs workers were kept from their jobs at Southern California stores.

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