N.J. Judge Won't Delay Vioxx Trial
A New Jersey judge rejected Merck's request to postpone the next Vioxx trial for 45 days. The drugmaker had cited the "media blitz" that followed the first Vioxx trial, which ended Aug. 19 with a Texas jury awarding $253.4 million to the widow of a man who took the painkiller for eight months. The second trial, set to start Sept. 12 in Atlantic City, involves Frederick "Mike" Humeston, 60, a postal worker who suffered a nonfatal heart attack shortly after he began taking Vioxx.
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol E. Higbee, who is overseeing nearly 2,500 Vioxx cases filed in the state, also denied Merck's motions to exclude Vioxx marketing materials and other evidence about Merck's conduct.
SEC Settles Fraud Suit
The Securities and Exchange Commission said it settled accounting fraud charges against four former Waste Management executives for $30.8 million. The Houston-based company, the world's largest trash hauler, said it would pay $26.8 million to avoid additional legal costs, and the executives would pay $4 million.
Company founder Dean Buntrock will pay $2.3 million of the executives' share -- the largest fine ever imposed on an individual in an SEC accounting fraud case. The SEC accused him of leading a fraud that cost shareholders $6 billion.
New Entertainment News Service
Tribune Co. said it will produce an entertainment news service with Reed Elsevier Group's Variety publications. The news service, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 26, will include stories from Daily Variety, Weekly Variety, Variety.com, Video Business and Vlife, a lifestyle magazine about entertainment industry celebrities.
Police Vests to Be Replaced
Armor Holdings, the largest U.S. supplier of body armor, said it will pay about $19.4 million in the third quarter to replace protective vests made with Zylon fiber. The National Institute of Justice, a Justice Department agency, has suspended its safety certification of vests containing Zylon. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company also said it will stop making vests with Zylon, although it "remains fully confident in the safety and performance capabilities" of Zylon armor.
NYSE Member Charged
A member of the New York Stock Exchange was arrested for allegedly threatening another member who sued to oppose the Big Board's takeover of electronic rival Archipelago Holdings. Edward A. Reiss, 65, who owns one of the exchange's 1,366 seats and was an active floor trader until last year, was charged with one count of aggravated harassment, a misdemeanor, for allegedly telephoning fellow seat owner William Higgins and threatening to blow up his car.
Directors' Pay Rose in 2004
Directors' compensation at the 350 largest public U.S. companies rose 18 percent in 2004, to a median of $155,000, according to the annual survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Recruiting independent directors has become more difficult, and the pool of individuals willing to participate has dwindled because of several accounting scandals and the increased regulatory scrutiny that followed, the survey showed.
T-bill rates rose. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday increased to 3.495 percent, from 3.46 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills rose to 3.705 percent from 3.69 percent. The actual return to investors is 3.575 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,911.65, and 3.828 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,812.69. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, fell to 3.88 percent last week from 3.89 percent the previous week.
Compiled from staff and news service reports
Lawyer Christopher Seeger represents Humeston in his suit.