It Figures

February 24, 2008

$79.5 Million

The Oregon Supreme Court for a third time upheld a $79.5 million punitive-damages judgment against Philip Morris, an award twice struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, which suggested it was excessive, the Associated Press reported. A Portland, Ore., jury originally made the award in 1999 to the family of a former Portland janitor who died six months after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He had started smoking in the 1950s while in the army and died in 1997. In the recent ruling, the Oregon Supreme Court alleged that Philip Morris and the tobacco industry worked during the 1950s on a “program of disinformation” to create doubt about the dangers of smoking.

2

If a group of Arizona lawmakers has its way, Mexican workers would be allowed to work in the state legally for up to two years through a proposed state-run temporary worker plan. The plan would allow employers who experienced labor shortages and can’t find local employees to recruit workers through Mexican consulates in Arizona, the Associated Press reported. An approved foreign worker would get an ID card valid for two years and could travel to and from Mexico through ports of entry in Arizona, but they could not legally travel to other American states. Criminal background checks would be required of the foreign workers, who would be disqualified if they were convicted of U.S. crimes or Mexican violations that would be felonies in this country. Plan proponents say many of the state’s businesses have suffered labor shortages as result of the crackdown on illegal immigrants.

$100 Million

Repairs and lost business that resulted from a fire in the Monte Carlo hotel-casino in Las Vegas in January will cost close to $100 million, casino operator MGM Mirage Inc. said. The Associated Press reported that it is not clear how much of the loss will be covered by the company’s insurance. The fire’s cost is not expected to affect the overall outlook for the casino company, which has experienced similar disruptions in the past, such as the closure of its Beau Rivage property in Mississippi due to Hurricane Katrina and its later recovery of $635 million in insurance proceeds.

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