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Big Tobacco’s Net Worth Not a Cap To Damages, Florida Judge Tells Jury (access required)

The judge in the landmark Florida smokers trial yesterday told the jury it could award punitive damages well beyond the $15.3 billion the nation’s five biggest tobacco companies claim is their combined net worth.<br /><br />The tobacco companies had asked Circuit Judge Robert Kaye to cap punitive damages at that figure, culled from their 1999 annual reports. They disputed the assessments by witnesses for the smokers that the industry could afford to pay as much as $157 billion.

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Hopkins Pledges $4.5M to Address Heath Needs in East Baltimore (access required)

Members of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution family are uniting to better serve the East Baltimore community.<@SM><@SM><TAB>Hopkins is pledging $4.5 million over five years to the formation of an Urban Health Institute to identify and better address the health needs of its surrounding neighborhoods, the organization said yesterday.

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Botched Up Coupon Deals Let ‘Net Shoppers Grab Free Goods (access required)

The Fourth of July meant freedom from paying for goods at some online sites, where botched coupon deals let shoppers waltz out with free or nearly free deals.<@SM><@SM><TAB>During the last several weeks, computer glitches and pricing errors hit Buy.com Inc., Staples.com Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.-backed crafts retailer eZiba.com Inc. Watchful Net bargain hunters who trade tips on special message boards soon swooped in to load up on the steeply discounted or free goods. A malfunction at CMGI Inc.’s Web portal AltaVista Co. also falsely gave customers the right to claim freebies.

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Low Unemployment Rate Means Driver Shortages for Cab Companies (access required)

Maryland taxicab companies are experiencing their worst driver shortages in years, and despite offers of bonuses and freebies for qualified drivers, many cabs remain idle.<br /><br />The problem stems, company officials say, from the strong economy, which gives would-be cab drivers a multitude of other entry-level jobs to choose from.

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Perdue Chicken Catchers Vote on Unionization (access required)

Chicken catchers working for Perdue Farms Inc. were to decide in federally The labor election marks the first campaign to organize catchers working for Perdue, the third-largest poultry producer in the nation.<@SM><@SM>

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