News In Brief

A San Francisco jury awarded a former smoker $50 million in punitive damages in her lawsuit against cigarettemaker Philip Morris, bringing the total judgment in her case to $51.5 million. A day earlier, the jury ordered the company to pay $1.5 million in compensatory damages to Patricia Henley, who has been diagnosed with cancer, to cover medical expenses, plus pain and suffering. The overall award was the largest to date in a tobacco liability suit filed by an individual. Other awards have been overturned on appeal. The plaintiff had requested a settlement of $15 million.

By the end of next month, 15 struggling banks in Japan will receive $66 billion in taxpayer funds to help ease their difficulties, Tokyo newspapers reported. Formal notification of the move is expected today from the government's Financial Restructuring Committee, under terms of legislation OK'd by parliament last October. The largest chunk - $8.85 billion - will go to Fuji Bank Ltd., the reports said. The 15 banks, and numerous other lenders, have been waging an uphill battle to write off uncollectible loans since Japan's economic boom collapsed in the late 1980s, leaving little money to lend to businesses now.

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