A Texas jury ordered Volkswagen’s Audi unit to pay $124.5 million to an 11-year-old boy who was left brain damaged in a 2012 rear-end collision.
The parents of Jesse Rivera Jr. claimed that the seat back of the 2005 Audi A4 was too weak to withstand a rear-end crash. The front seat collapsed and the driver, the boy’s father, slid backward, hitting his head on his son’s in the back seat, said the family’s attorney, Jeff Wigington.
Audi denied any defects or fault for the boy’s injuries. Audi is “not pleased with the verdict and we will evaluate the next steps to be taken,” said Mark Clothier, a company spokesman.
The San Antonio jury Wednesday found Audi 55 percent responsible, assigning 25 percent blame to the driver who rear-ended Rivera, and 20 percent to the father. Audi is liable for the whole award under Texas law, Wigington said in an interview.
Jesse Rivera Jr. was also partially paralyzed and blinded in his right eye, Wigington said. The accident occurred as Jesse Rivera Sr. stopped for a school bus, the lawyer said. The father wasn’t injured.
The verdict doesn’t include punitive damages.
— Bloomberg News
A Florida city is testing whether it can save millions of dollars in road-building and other public transportation expenses by subsidizing the cost of rides with Uber Technologies.
On March 21, Altamonte Springs, an Orlando suburb, will become the nation’s first city to pay a part of the fare for all trips with Uber within its limits, said Christine Mitchell, Uber general manager in Central Florida.
Altamonte Springs has budgeted $500,000, partly from local businesses, for a year-long study during which it will pick up 20 percent of all Uber rides in city limits, and 25 percent for those to or from its SunRail commuter rail station.
“It is infinitely cheaper than the alternatives,” said City Manager Frank Martz. “A mile of road costs tens of millions of dollars.”
Some economics and public policy experts disagree.
“I see this plan as blowing [the city’s] budget out of the water,” said Joann Weiner, an economics professor at George Washington University. Subsidies usually cause costs to increase because someone else is picking up part of the tab, she said.
● U.S. productivity fell in the final three months of 2015 at the fastest pace in nearly two years. Labor costs jumped in the fourth quarter at the fastest pace in a year. The Labor Department says productivity — the amount of output per hour of work — fell at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the October-to-December period. Preliminary data had reported a 3 percent drop. Labor costs rose at a rate of 3.3 percent, revised from an initial 4.5 percent estimate. For all of 2015, productivity increased 0.7 percent, marking the fifth straight year of weak gains. That is a troubling development given that productivity is a key ingredient needed for rising living standards.
● Amazon.com announced it plans to stop supporting on-device encryption for Fire tablets running Fire OS 5, the latest version of its operating system for the gadgets. An Amazon spokeswoman told Reuters, “It was a feature few customers were actually using.” On-device encryption allows the user to protect the device, with a password or other means, from thieves or others seeking access to the data on the gadget. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
● New orders for U.S. factory goods increased by the most in seven months in January, in another hopeful sign for the troubled manufacturing sector. The Commerce Department said Thursday new orders for manufactured goods rebounded 1.6 percent after an unrevised 2.9 percent drop in December. That was the largest increase since June and followed two straight months of declines. Factory activity, which accounts for about 12 percent of the economy, has been slammed by a strong dollar and weak global demand.
● ● Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which houses the former Hewlett-Packard Co.’s corporate hardware and services division, reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit, helped by strength in its hardware business. Revenue in HPE’s enterprise group business, from which it derives more than half of total revenue, rose about 1 percent, to $7.1 billion, in the first quarter ended Jan. 31, from a year earlier. The company, headed by Meg Whitman, also maintained its 2016 adjusted profit forecast of $1.85 to $1.95 per share. Net earnings fell to $267 million, or 15 cents per share, in the first quarter from $547 million, or 30 cents per share, a year earlier. After adjustments, the company earned 41 cents per share. Revenue fell to $12.72 billion from $13.05 billion.●
— From news services
● 8:30 a.m.: Labor Department releases employment data for February.
● ● 8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases international trade data for January.
— From news services