California judge to hear hundreds of Toyota suits
MIAMI — A federal judge in Southern California was chosen yesterday to preside over more than 200 lawsuits filed against Toyota in the aftermath of the automaker's sudden acceleration problems, which could potentially mushroom into one of the nation's biggest product liability cases.
A judicial panel consolidated the ever-growing list of cases before U.S. District Judge James V. Selna, 65, a 2003 appointee of former President George W. Bush. Selna's court is in Orange County, Calif., near Los Angeles and close to Toyota's U.S. headquarters.
Attorneys estimate that if Toyota were to settle the cases for even a modest payout to affected motorists, it could cost the company at least $3 billion and possibly much more.
In comparison, drugmaker Merck & Co. has paid more than $4.8 billion into a settlement fund for tens of thousands of claims from people who used its withdrawn painkiller Vioxx.
PHILADELPHIA PAPERS AUCTION ON SCHEDULE
PHILADELPHIA — A U.S. appeals court yesterday denied creditors of Philadelphia's two largest newspapers a rehearing on a key issue that could determine who wins the company at an upcoming bankruptcy auction.
The ruling means the owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News can almost certainly proceed with the auction scheduled for April 27.
The creditors had asked the full 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals to review whether they can bid for the company with the $300 million owed them instead of cash. They said that is the prevailing standard in bankruptcy law and have pledged to take their appeal over so-called "credit bids" to the U.S. Supreme Court.
UNITED, US AIRWAYS UNIONS REJECT MERGER
MINNEAPOLIS — Some of the biggest unions at United Airlines and US Airways are signaling opposition to the idea of combining the two carriers.
The union that represents flight attendants at both airlines called the idea of combining them "absurd."
The United and US Airways units of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said the carriers should focus on current issues, including new contracts.
The union said its opposition was because of unresolved labor issues at both carriers, which are both negotiating contracts with their flight attendants.
United pilots have said they don't oppose a merger that helps the careers of United pilots, but said a deal with US Airways doesn't appear to meet that standard.