Boeing has agreed to pay $30 million to settle a lawsuit by California residents who alleged that pollutants from a company lab caused them to develop cancer.

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Boeing has agreed to pay $30 million to settle a lawsuit by California residents who alleged that pollutants from a company lab caused them to develop cancer.

The settlement, agreed to in September but not immediately disclosed, ends an eight-year dispute with neighbors of Boeing’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

The plaintiffs said dozens of years of nuclear and rocket-engine testing at the 2,668-acre hilltop lab near Simi Valley was responsible for a wide range of cancers, autoimmune disorders and tumors afflicting residents.

Nuclear research was halted at the lab in 1990.

Boeing spokesman Inger Hodgson declined to comment Wednesday. The settlement included a confidentiality agreement between Boeing and the 133 plaintiffs in the case.


Another Nasdaq

delisting warning

NeoRx was warned by the Nasdaq Stock Market that its stock faces delisting, according to a regulatory filing Thursday.

It is the third such warning the Seattle biotechnology company has received since 2002.

The company’s stock traded below the exchange’s $1-per-share minimum for 30 consecutive trading days, prompting the warning.

For NeoRx to regain compliance, its shares must trade at or above $1 for 10 trading days in a row before July 10. It closed at 84 cents Thursday, down a nickel.

Nation and World

United Airlines

Accord reached

with creditors

United Airlines’ parent company said Thursday it had resolved its differences with a committee representing unsecured creditors, moving the airline one step closer to its planned exit from bankruptcy next month.

United said both sides had settled objections over the company’s Chapter 11 reorganization plan, including its controversial management stock plan.

Thursday’s announcement keeps the nation’s second-biggest airline on schedule to emerge from Chapter 11 in February. Company executives called it “a major step forward in concluding our restructuring.”


Most film cameras

near end of roll

Nikon, which helped popularize the 35mm camera five decades ago, will stop making most of its film cameras to concentrate on digital models.

The Japanese company said it will discontinue seven film-camera models, leaving in production only the top-line model, the F6, and a low-end manual-focus model, the FM10. It will also stop making most of its manual-focus lenses.

Nikon did not give firm dates for the discontinuation of its products, but said that sales will cease as supplies are depleted.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Seattle Times

business staff




tapes disallowed

The upcoming fraud and conspiracy trial of Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling won’t feature audio tapes of Enron traders discussing how they gamed California’s power system for high profits when the state was plagued by rolling blackouts and skyrocketing power prices in 2000 and 2001, a judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Sim Lake sided with defense arguments that such inflammatory evidence had no place in the Jan. 30 trial because neither Lay nor Skilling are charged with illegal trading or market manipulation in California.

Skilling faces 35 counts of conspiracy, fraud, insider trading and lying to auditors. Lay faces seven counts of fraud and conspiracy. Both have pleaded not guilty.


Bankruptcy filing

made in New York

Musicland, which operates the Sam Goody music and video stores, filed Thursday for bankruptcy protection.

The company said it will use a $75 million loan to continue operating as it is restructured.

Musicland filed for Chapter 11 protection in New York, said spokeswoman Brenda Adrian. The company is a unit of buyout firm Sun Capital Partners.

Musicland said in a statement that its financial difficulties are due to shrinking retail demand for music and movies, increased electronic downloading of music and competition from larger retailers.

Under the restructuring, Musicland will “streamline operations and get the company to a size to make it profitable,” Adrian said.

General Motors

Worldwide sales

best in 27 years

General Motors said Thursday it sold 9.17 million vehicles worldwide in 2005, the most it has sold in 27 years.

Sales were up 2 percent from the 8.99 million vehicles sold in 2004, the company said.

It was only the second time the world’s largest automaker has sold more than 9 million vehicles.

The company set an all-time sales record of 9.5 million vehicles in 1978.

But the news was dampened by GM’s performance in its home market. U.S. sales were down 4 percent in 2005, and GM lost billions of dollars in its North American operations.

The company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings Jan. 26.

GM’s 2005 figures raise the bar for Toyota, which is close to surpassing GM in worldwide sales.

Toyota produced about 8.1 million vehicles in 2005 and has announced plans to build 9.06 million vehicles in 2006.

Home Depot

SEC to look into

vendor credits

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has opened an informal inquiry into how Home Depot, the nation’s largest home-improvement-store chain, records credits it receives from vendors for defective merchandise, a company spokesman said Thursday.

The company complied with the SEC’s request several months ago for information related to Home Depot’s return-to-vendor procedures, spokesman Jerry Shields said.

The status of the inquiry is not clear.

Shields would not elaborate on the inquiry.

When customers return defective merchandise, Home Depot sends it back to the vendor, which gives the company a credit to cover the cost.

Home Depot said those credits don’t boost its net profit.

SEC spokesman John Heine declined to comment.

Federated Dept. Stores

Lord & Taylor

chain will be sold

Federated Department Stores said Thursday it will sell its upscale Lord & Taylor department-store chain, saying the business no longer fits with its expansion strategy for its larger Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s chains.

“We have concluded that Lord & Taylor does not fit with our strategic focus for building the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s national brands,” said Federated Chief Executive Terry Lundgren in a statement.

The decision to sell Lord & Taylor was not an unexpected move by Federated.

The nation’s biggest department-store retailer said in fall last year it would rebrand all stores under the name of Marshall Field’s, the famed Chicago-based retailer, to Macy’s later this year.

Lord & Taylor, based in New York, operates 55 stores mostly in the Northeast, in addition to Illinois, Virginia, Michigan, Missouri and Florida.

The business generated sales of $1.566 billion last year.

Federated shares rose $1.32 to $72.95 Thursday.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News