In other items: More airlines add broadband service; and data-management firm Axio Research splits from parent.

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A proposed class-action lawsuit was filed yesterday against Boeing and Aetna Life Insurance, charging that valid employee-disability claims were systematically denied.

The suit was filed in federal court in Seattle. Boeing spokesman Ken Mercer declined to comment, saying the company had not seen the complaint.

Aetna spokesman Fred Laberge said, “It is Aetna’s policy to review each disability claim based on its own merits, and to make appropriate decisions based on the terms of the Boeing plan.”

Aetna’s handling of disability claims was an intentional, companywide approach motivated by a desire to increase profits, the attorney for the plaintiffs, Fred Langer, said in a statement. He estimated the lawsuit would include 300 to 500 disabled employees. It was

filed on behalf of Boeing employees who have been denied disability benefits by Aetna since 1998.


More airlines add broadband service

Availability of Boeing’s in-flight broadband Internet service, Connexion, is slowly but steadily expanding.

Yesterday Lufthansa, the German airline that in May launched Connexion, introduced the service on two more routes: Munich to San Francisco, and Munich to Miami. SAS, which operates Scandinavian Airlines also started using the service on selected routes from Copenhagen.

Last week, Japan Airlines (JAL) introduced Connexion on flights between Tokyo and London.

Boeing has definitive Connexion service agreements with China Airlines, All Nippon Airways, JAL, Lufthansa, SAS and Singapore Airlines.

Axio Research

Data-management splits from parent

Axio Research, a 25-year-old biostatistics and clinical data-management firm in Seattle, has emerged from its parent company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and recast itself as an independent firm.

Solutia, Axio’s bankrupt owner, sold most of Axio’s assets to a private investor group, including some past investors in Axio, for $200,000. Axio Chief Executive Lee Hooks will stay, and the company plans to retain its 31 employees.

Hooks said the firm has about $3.5 million in annual revenue. He said he hopes to build Axio into a $12 million- to $15 million-a-year company, with 90 to 100 employees over the next five years.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and Bloomberg News