Ford Motor was ordered by a Texas jury to pay $225 million to the families of two people who died after being thrown from the truck they were riding in. The case was the first to go to trial involving allegedly defective roof and door latches in Ford's F-150 extended-cab pickup, both sides said. Paul Alaniz, 35, and Laura Benavides, 20, were killed when the truck rolled over in July 2001. The jury awarded $110 million to Alaniz's family and $115 million on behalf of Benavides. The verdict is the largest compensatory-damage award in a personal-injury or wrongful-death claim against Ford, the second-largest automaker. Ford denied that the doors were defective.
American Airlines Drops Standby Fee
American Airlines, matching a move by United Airlines, said that it won't charge a $100 fee for passengers who seek to fly standby on later or earlier flights the same day as their reservations. United, bowing to customer pressure, said last week that it wouldn't charge the fee as planned on Jan. 1. Fort Worth-based American initially said it had no plans to change its fee but relented over the weekend. Houston-based Continental Airlines also said that it intended to pull its planned $100 standby fee for competitive reasons. It, too, was scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1. But US Airways, which pioneered the fee after it filed for bankruptcy in August, is keeping the $100 charge, which is part of a series of moves intended to boost revenue.
M&T Bank shareholders approved a $3.1 billion buyout of Allfirst, a U.S. subsidiary of Allied Irish Banks that was rattled in February by a currency-trading scandal.
The Commerce Department sped approval for moving one of the Internet's 13 traffic-management computers after VeriSign urged the government to declare a "national security threat and blow past the process," according to federal officials' e-mails. Watchdog groups say it is increasingly popular for companies to say requests need approval to avoid risks to national security. The department took two days to approve the October request to move one of the 13 computer servers that manage global Internet traffic. Technology experts and senior government officials said the change corrected a poor design decision made five years earlier.
General Motors expects the popularity of no-interest loans for the past two years to cut the U.S. auto industry's sales next year by as many as 400,000 vehicles, because the incentives coaxed some consumers to buy cars and trucks earlier than they intended. The loans, introduced by automakers to spur sales after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, prompted about 1 million consumers to buy before they would have or make purchases that they otherwise wouldn't have made, said Paul Ballew, General Motors' director of market and industry analysis.
Dynegy is betting that junk-bond investors have become confident enough to lend money to an energy trader whose shares have fallen 96 percent this year and that has posted $2.3 billion in losses. Five months after canceling a $325 million bond offering for its Illinois Power unit, Dynegy plans to sell $500 million of eight-year Illinois Power notes this week.
T-bill rates rose. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday rose to 1.2 percent, from 1.195 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills rose to 1.26 percent from 1.245 percent. The actual return to investors was 1.219 percent on three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,969.70, and 1.286 percent on a six-month bill selling for $9,936.30. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield on one-year constant-maturity Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, dipped to 1.47 percent last week.
Comcast, which became the largest U.S. cable television company by buying AT&T's broadband unit, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell as much as $10 billion in securities. The filing allows Comcast and its affiliates to register the securities in advance and then sell them when market conditions are favorable or when financing needs arise.
Northrop Grumman expects annual sales to more than double, to $30 billion, by 2005 from 2001, helped by last week's purchase of satellite maker TRW. Northrop, the No. 3 U.S. defense contractor, forecast sales of $25 billion to $26 billion in 2003 and growth of at least 10 percent in 2004 and 2005, chief executive Kent Kresa told a news conference after closing the $10.7 billion TRW acquisition.
Global Crossing said its net loss in October narrowed to $150 million, from $157 million in the previous month, as revenue at the fiber-optic network operator climbed 0.8 percent.
Dell Computer, the world's largest maker of personal computers, said it has completed an options program that forced it to buy back its shares for more than the market price. Outstanding "put" obligations covering 9.3 million shares with an average exercise price of $50.44 per share for a total of $467 million were settled in the current fourth quarter, the company said.
U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon postponed the sentencing of David B. Duncan, formerly the top Enron auditor for Arthur Andersen, for the third time, to May 16. Duncan pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in April for instructing his Enron audit staff to destroy unneeded documents before the energy giant failed last year. Prosecutors asked Harmon to delay the sentencing so they could continue interviewing Duncan as their investigation into Enron and Andersen continues. Duncan's cooperation is a condition of his plea deal.
European farm ministers endorsed a proposal to permanently ban the use and import of growth-promoting hormones in farm animals. The World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the United States and Canada in 1998 that an earlier EU ban, declared in 1989, was not justified by scientific evidence. The European Parliament is expected to vote on the proposal by mid-2003.
A Norwegian teenager who wrote software for breaking the copy protection on DVDs harmed movie studios by circulating it over the Internet and should have his computers taken away, prosecutors in Oslo contended. Prosecutors also called for Jon Leech Johansen, 19, to pay $1,400 in court costs.
Newsweek said it plans to launch a Chinese-language edition magazine in China and Hong Kong sometime next year. Newsweek is owned by The Washington Post Co.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.