A Mississippi jury awarded $150 million in actual damages to five people who contended that their health problems could be traced to the diet-drug cocktail known as fen-phen. Jurors were still to determine punitive damages. The trial may have a major impact on a proposed national settlement of thousands of lawsuits over the drug combination alleged to cause heart and lung damage. The suit accused American Home Products, which made the diet drug fenfluramine--the "fen" in fen-phen--of putting profit before health concerns.

The federal judge conducting the Microsoft antitrust trial has rejected the software giant's request to prevent a Harvard University law professor from submitting a "friend of the court" legal brief addressing whether the company's behavior violated antitrust laws. Microsoft had argued that the professor, Lawrence Lessig, "may not be an impartial friend of the court with regard to legal issues in the case." The company cited Lessig's comment in a recent radio interview that some of Microsoft's actions are a "threat to innovation." But in a ruling issued Monday night, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson wrote that he "is confident of [his] ability to assess Professor Lessig's submission critically without being affected by any occult bias of which he might be possessed."

MMAR Group has dropped its libel suit against Dow Jones & Co. over a 1993 Wall Street Journal article that allegedly caused the investment firm's demise, Dow Jones officials said. MMAR had initially won a record $200 million in punitive damages from a jury, but a U.S. district judge in Houston tossed out the award, stating that it wasn't supported by the evidence at trial. In April, the judge went further and threw out the $22.7 million in compensatory damages awarded by the jury, citing MMAR's failure to turn over documents and audiotapes that would have helped Dow Jones with its defense. The judge ordered a new trial, but MMAR agreed yesterday to officially walk away from the matter.

A man who hacked into America Online's computers and replaced their programs with his own was sentenced to a year in jail--and five years without a home PC. In pleading guilty to computer tampering, Jay Satiro, 19, of New Rochelle, N.Y., violated the terms of his probation for an earlier offense: using bogus money orders to pay for computer equipment. Dulles-based AOL would not disclose how access was gained or what effect it had but said the damage cost $50,000 to repair. AOL detected the intrusion, traced it to Satiro's computer and notified authorities.

Oracle and Boeing are discussing a possible joint venture that would create an online parts supply network for the world's largest jetmaker. The database-software maker wants to build an online aerospace marketplace with Boeing as its anchor, allowing the airplane maker to track prices and availability of the 3 million parts used to manufacture airplanes, and to give its 31,000 suppliers the ability to see what parts are needed and to bid for contracts over the Internet.

Residents and interns at Boston Medical Center voted 177 to 1 to have their union membership recognized under federal law, a move that could set a precedent for 96,000 other U.S. doctors-in-training. It was the first time residents and interns at a private hospital cast ballots for federally protected union representation. The hospital had recognized the 430 staffers as union members, but they did not have the protection of federal labor law before yesterday's vote, which was made possible last month when the National Labor Relations Board ruled that residents and interns should have the same rights as other workers, even though they are students.

General Motors said it had finalized a deal to buy the rights to market and distribute the Hummer, the civilian version of the military's tank-like "Humvee" all-terrain vehicle. Terms of the deal between GM and AM General, the owner of the Hummer name, were not disclosed. GM said it would release more details in the first quarter of next year.

Top executives of Coca-Cola knew about widespread bias against black workers as far back as 1995, lawyers pressing a racial discrimination lawsuit against the firm said. The revised suit alleges that retiring chairman and chief executive Douglas Ivester and senior managers knew for years that black workers routinely received less pay--an average $26,830 per worker less in 1998--fewer promotions and fewer favorable performance reviews than white employees. Ivester announced earlier this month that he would retire next April.

IBP said it has agreed to buy privately held meat and poultry processor Corporate Brand Foods America for $261 million plus assumption of debt. South Dakota-based IBP is the largest U.S. fresh-meat processor. Houston-based Corporate Brand Foods specializes in processed products such as sliced deli meat and sausage.

EARNINGS

Dean Foods reported a profit of $27 million for its fiscal second quarter, on strong results from its ice cream and specialty foods businesses. A year earlier, the firm had posted net income of $105 million, which included a gain on the disposition of its vegetables business of $83.8 million.

Goldman Sachs Group said it had net income of $723 million in its fiscal fourth quarter, thanks to fees generated by mergers and acquisitions and initial public stock offerings. The fifth-largest U.S. investment bank reported a pro forma loss of $8 million in the fourth quarter of last year, when the company was still privately held.

Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea, operator of A&P and other supermarket chains, said it earned $21.4 million in the third quarter, turning around an $8.7 million loss a year earlier when it embarked on a restructuring.

LOCAL BUSINESS

CAIS Internet of Washington, which specializes in delivering Internet access to hotels and apartment buildings, said it will receive an investment of up to $200 million from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts of New York. KKR will initially make a $100 million investment in CAIS by buying its convertible preferred stock, and has agreed to a one-year option to purchase an additional $100 million. The initial purchase will give KKR a 16.5 percent stake in CAIS. If KKR makes the second investment, it will own 26.4 percent of CAIS.