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May 22, 2015

NY can ban ‘Choose Life’ license plates as DMV program upheld

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – A divided federal appeals court gave New York
wide authority to regulate the content of custom license plates,
and reversed a lower court ruling ordering the state to let an
adoption advocacy group put the words “Choose Life” on its own
plates.

By a 2-1 vote, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said
the commissioner of the state Department of Motor Vehicles had
“broad discretion” to decide which plates to permit, and did not
violate the First Amendment free speech rights of the Children
First Foundation in rejecting the “Choose Life” plates.

May 22, 2015

Lawsuit revived against big debt collection firm in New York

May 22 (Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Friday made it
easier for consumers to challenge interest rates in debt
collection cases, as it revived a lawsuit in New York against
units of Encore Capital Group Inc, one of the largest
U.S. debt collectors.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said
Encore’s Midland Funding and Midland Credit Management units did
not qualify as national banks, and did not deserve protections
such banks get against claims brought under state usury laws.

May 21, 2015

HSBC wins reversal of $2.46 billion Household judgment

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Thursday
reversed a $2.46 billion judgment against HSBC Holdings Plc
in a long-running securities fraud class action
stemming from a consumer finance business it bought more than a
decade ago.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said HSBC
and three former Household International Inc executives were
entitled to a new trial over whether “firm-specific, nonfraud
factors” contributed to the stock price decline that was the
basis for the shareholder lawsuit, which began in August 2002.

May 21, 2015

New York’s Westchester County settles U.S. water safety lawsuit, pays record fine

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – New York’s Westchester County will spend roughly $12 million to settle a federal government lawsuit alleging that its failure to properly treat drinking water exposed thousands of residents to greater risk of severe gastrointestinal illness.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on Thursday said that under a consent decree, the county will spend about $10 million on capital improvements in Water District No. 1, which serves about 175,000 residents of Yonkers, White Plains, Mount Vernon, Scarsdale and North Castle – all suburbs north of New York City.

May 21, 2015

NY’s Westchester County settles US water safety lawsuit, pays record fine

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – New York’s Westchester County will spend roughly
$12 million to settle a federal government lawsuit alleging that
its failure to properly treat drinking water exposed thousands
of residents to greater risk of severe gastrointestinal illness.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on Thursday said that under a
consent decree, the county will spend about $10 million on
capital improvements in Water District No. 1, which serves about
175,000 residents of Yonkers, White Plains, Mount Vernon,
Scarsdale and North Castle – all suburbs north of New York City.

May 20, 2015

JetBlue believes it could not predict ex-pilot’s midair meltdown

NEW YORK (Reuters) – JetBlue Airways Corp believes
it had no way to know it should have grounded a former pilot
before his midair meltdown forced an emergency landing, and that
his $14.9 million damages lawsuit should be dismissed.

“There is absolutely nothing JetBlue could have done to
prevent the unforeseeable and scary events” caused by Clayton
Osbon’s erratic behavior on the March 27, 2012 flight he had
been co-piloting, lawyers for JetBlue said in a joint filing on
Wednesday with Osbon’s lawyer in Manhattan federal court.

May 20, 2015

Multi-state accord to aid consumers with credit report errors

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – The three major U.S. consumer credit reporting agencies have agreed to improve their approach to fixing mistakes on consumers’ reports and address disputes more effectively, under a settlement with 31 state attorneys general announced on Wednesday.

Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, which have credit data for more than 200 million Americans, will also pay $6 million to the states for consumer education and other costs.

May 20, 2015

Benjamin Lawsky to step down as top NY financial regulator

NEW YORK, May 20 (Reuters) – Benjamin Lawsky is stepping
down as New York state’s top financial regulator in June, after
four years of running the newly created agency and bringing
cases against a variety of defendants on Wall Street.

Lawsky is leaving the New York State Department of Financial
Services (NYSDFS) after helping extract record settlements from
major banks, and often proving a thorn in the side of other U.S.
authorities who have expressed frustration at his negotiating
tactics and at times his going after banks over alleged
misconduct without coordination.

May 20, 2015

ConAgra pleads guilty, pays record fine tied to peanut butter recall

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – A unit of ConAgra Foods Inc pleaded
guilty to a criminal misdemeanor and will pay $11.2 million to
end a federal probe into a 2007 recall of peanut butter,
including the Peter Pan brand, linked to a salmonella outbreak
that sickened hundreds.

According to court papers made public on Wednesday, ConAgra
Grocery Products Co pleaded guilty to one count of introducing
adulterated food into interstate commerce.

May 20, 2015

U.S. SEC fines BHP Billiton $25 mln in 2008 Olympics bribery probe

May 20 (Reuters) – BHP Billiton Plc will pay $25
million to settle charges that it violated a U.S. anti-bribery
law by failing to properly monitor a program under which it paid
for dozens of foreign government officials to attend the 2008
Summer Olympics in Beijing.

The accord resolves U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
charges that BHP, one of the world’s biggest mining companies,
violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act when it sponsored the
attendance of officials who were “directly involved with, or in
a position to influence” its business and regulatory affairs.

    • About Jonathan

      "I cover legal and regulatory matters, and am based in New York. I have covered banking, finance, Warren Buffett and corporate bonds."
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