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BUSINESS
March 25, 2014 | By Ricardo Lopez, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
The maker of Four Loko, the malt liquor beverage that once was made with caffeine, on Tuesday agreed to sharply curb its marketing of the fruit-flavored drinks as part of a legal settlement with 20 state attorneys general and San Francisco City Atty. Dennis Herrera.  The settlement comes nearly four years after Phusion Projects, based in Chicago, voluntarily removed caffeine from its drinks in 2010 shortly before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration definitively banned the stimulant as an ingredient in alcoholic beverages.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 24, 2014 | By Jean Merl
The nearly 3.8 million Californians who have applied for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act  will get help registering to vote under an agreement reached with several civil rights groups, officials announced Monday. The agreement heads off a potentially costly and time-consuming lawsuit and helps see that a sizable chunk of state residents can complete or update their registration in time for the June 3 primary election, advocates of the settlement said. It also brings the nation's most populous state into complicance with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which requires that certain state offices provide clients with voter registration opportunities.
BUSINESS
March 21, 2014 | Tina Susman and Jerry Hirsch
A federal judge ratified the landmark deal in the criminal prosecution of Toyota Motor Corp. over safety defects in its vehicles, but not without a tongue-lashing about the "reprehensible picture" of corporate misconduct the automaker displayed. "Corporate fraud can kill," Judge William H. Pauley III said Thursday as Christopher P. Reynolds, the chief legal officer of Toyota Motor North America, stood silently before him in a lower Manhattan courtroom. "I sincerely hope that this is not the end but only a beginning to seek to hold those individuals responsible for making these decisions accountable," Pauley said.
BUSINESS
March 21, 2014 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - Ratepayers of Southern California Edison Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. could be in line for a share of more than $1 billion in refunds as part of a possible financial settlement from the closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. Both Edison and another party to the negotiations, the Utility Reform Network (TURN), a consumer advocacy group, confirmed that a settlement conference is scheduled Thursday at the San Francisco headquarters of the California Public Utilities Commission.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 19, 2014 | By David Zahniser
The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to pay $185,000 to end a lawsuit over a rear-end collision involving a city car driven by Councilman Jose Huizar. On a 14-0 vote, council members signed off on the payout to David Ceja, a former Huntington Park police officer whose vehicle was struck by Huizar's city-owned SUV in 2012. The council approved the agreement without comment. Because the settlement was treated as a consent item, lawmakers did not discuss the case -- either in open session or behind closed doors -- during the meeting.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 19, 2014 | By Emily Alpert Reyes and Corina Knoll
The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to pay a $500,000 settlement in a case centering on the 2011 death of a 2-month-old boy who was killed when a driver overran the curb and plowed into pedestrians during the Downtown Art Walk. In a 2012 legal complaint, Jimmy and Natasha Vasquez, of Montebello, alleged that their son's death was the result of the city's “failure to properly design and create safe walking areas for pedestrians and/or place sufficient barriers and protections for pedestrians from vehicles” at the downtown event.
BUSINESS
March 17, 2014 | By E. Scott Reckard
California victims of alleged foreclosure abuses will get $268 million in relief from a $2.1-billion national settlement with Ocwen Financial Corp., the nation's largest non-bank provider of mortgage customer service. Ocwen broke state law by improperly denying loan modifications, failing to honor modifications granted by prior servicers and charging unauthorized fees, according to the California Department of Business Oversight. "Californians should not lose their homes because of deceptive and poorly executed mortgage servicing practices," Commissioner of Business Oversight Jan Lynn Owen said Monday in a news release.
BUSINESS
March 14, 2014 | By Tim Logan
Three community groups sued Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, demanding he restore more than $350 million in mortgage settlement funds that were used to plug state budget holes two years ago. The money - from California's slice of the $25 billion national mortgage settlement with banks in 2012 - was supposed to fund housing counseling and foreclosure relief programs. But with the state facing a $16-billion budget deficit that spring, Brown diverted it to the state's general fund and to pay down interest on housing bonds.
BUSINESS
March 4, 2014 | By Michael Hiltzik
No dice, BP.  That's what a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans told the giant oil company in a ruling issued late Monday . The judges rejected BP's motion to block payments to victims of the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill under a settlement the oil company itself had agreed to in 2012. If you're keeping track, that makes one U.S. District judge and two separate three-judge panels of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that have rejected BP's effort to rewrite its own negotiated settlement.
BUSINESS
February 23, 2014 | Michael Hiltzik
It would be perfectly proper for BP, the giant British oil company, to feel a sense of corporate remorse. After all, the firm was responsible for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and well blowout that took 11 lives and created "immense environmental damage" in and around the gulf. (Those words were uttered by a Department of Justice official just over a year ago, when BP pleaded guilty to a dozen felony charges and agreed to pay $4 billion in penalties and fines.)
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