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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 1, 2006

BUSINESS BRIEFS
Filings drop 73% for bankruptcy

Advertiser Staff

Bankruptcy filings in Hawai'i fell 73 percent from the 2005 level to 87 in March, according to figures available yesterday afternoon from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Honolulu.

Through the first three months of the year, filings are down 77 percent from last year. Bankruptcies statewide spiked last year in advance of a change in federal bankruptcy laws making it tougher for people to erase debt.

Before last year, bankruptcy rates had fallen since 2001 during an economic expansion driven by strong real estate, construction and tourism.


SAFETY MEASURES URGED FOR JETS

WASHINGTON Government safety investigators urged regulators to order fire safety measures taken aboard some Bombardier regional jets, saying there have been six fires aboard the aircraft within six months.

The National Transportation Safety Board said none of the fires aboard the 50-seat CRJ200s resulted in death, but that the potential exists for an uncontrolled fire to develop into a critical situation. The NTSB said it wants Bombardier to find a way to protect the devices from short circuits caused by moisture.

Mesa Air Group, which plans to start its new interisland airline go! on June 9, will fly CRJ200 aircraft on its local service. Mesa, which flies the same jets on some of its Mainland routes, has made note of the NTSB's recommendations, said Mesa spokesman Joe Bock.


SPENDING SLOWS IN FEBRUARY

WASHINGTON Consumer spending slowed to the weakest pace in six months in February, while incomes grew at the slowest rate since November.

The Commerce Department reported yesterday that personal consumption spending rose by a weaker-than-expected 0.1 percent after the huge 0.8 percent increase in January, which had been aided by a mild winter.

Personal incomes were up 0.3 percent in February, less than half the 0.7 percent January jump, boosted by government pay raises and cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients.


COURT RULING A MERCK SETBACK

NEW YORK Merck & Co. suffered a significant legal setback yesterday when an appeals court ruled a nationwide class-action lawsuit can go forward that allows health insurers and others to sue to recover the billions of dollars they spent on Vioxx.

Merck attorney Ted Mayer called the ruling "deeply flawed" and said the company would appeal the unanimous decision by the three New Jersey Appellate Division judges to the state Supreme Court.

If the case does go forward, Merck faces substantial financial risk because under New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act the company would have to pay triple damages to the plans. The plaintiffs allege Merck deliberately misrepresented Vioxx's safety.