National Briefing

Toll said cancellations fell to the lowest rate in more than two years despite economic headwinds.
Toll said cancellations fell to the lowest rate in more than two years despite economic headwinds. (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)
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Friday, September 5, 2008

LEGAL

Comcast Appeals FCC Ruling

Comcast asked a federal appeals court to overturn an FCC ruling that the company is improperly managing customers' online traffic.

On Aug. 1, the Federal Communications Commission found that Comcast had improperly blocked peer-to-peer programs, such as BitTorrent, that are used to share videos and other files. The company said it temporarily slowed some users' service when its network was congested.

"The commission's action was legally inappropriate and its findings were not justified by the record," Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen said in a statement. Cohen said Comcast, the biggest U.S. cable-TV operator, still intended to "comply fully" with the FCC order.

"I'm certainly disappointed they ended up appealing," FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin said. "The commission has done a very thorough job on investigating the complaint," he said. "We thought we needed to step in and protect consumers' access to the Internet."

Mervyn's Sues Over Buyout

Mervyn's has sued the private-equity firms involved in the leveraged buyout of the department store chain from Target, alleging the deal stripped the retailer of its real estate assets, forcing it into bankruptcy proceedings.

Mervyn's says in the suit that the investment group, which included Cerberus Capital Management and Sun Capital Management, bought Mervyn's in 2004, acquired its real estate and leased it back to the company at substantially increased rates. According to the suit, the pumped-up rent contributed to Mervyn's financial woes, pushing its into filing for bankruptcy protection this July.

A spokeswoman for Sun Capital said the suit had no merit. Target said in a statement that it "emphatically disagrees with the claims against Target in this lawsuit."

Representatives from Cerberus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ex-CEO of Refco Starts Sentence

Former Refco chief executive Phillip R. Bennett entered a federal prison to begin a 16-year sentence for cheating investors out of $2.4 billion. Bennett, 60, surrendered to the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Dix, N.J., according to a Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman. In February, Bennett pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering stemming from an eight-year scheme to deceive banks, auditors and investors.

Once the biggest independent U.S. futures trader, Refco collapsed in October 2005, two months after raising $670 million in an initial public offering.


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