Ford must pay $2 billion to dealers in class action

Ford Motor Co. must pay nearly $2 billion in damages to thousands of dealerships in a 2002 class-action lawsuit that said the automaker violated dealer agreements, an Ohio judge ruled Friday.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Peter Corrigan in Cleveland issued the ruling based on a Feb. 11 jury determination that the company overcharged dealers for commercial trucks over an 11-year period.

The $2 billion award covers more than 3,000 dealerships and about 474,000 trucks. It includes a judgment of about $781 million and about $1.2 billion in interest.

Severe weather may cost Travelers $1 billion or more

The Travelers Cos. Inc. said that severe weather in April and May will likely cost the company between $1 billion and $1.05 billion.

Travelers said Friday the cost estimate stems from several catastrophes including tornadoes and hailstorms in the Midwest and Southeast where it had issued business and personal insurance policies. The amount is after taxes and reinsurance.

Due to the costly damages, Travelers says it will limit share repurchases to less than $250 million in the second quarter and another $400 million in excess of operating income for the second half of the year.

Procter & Gamble settling lawsuit over diaper rashes

Procter & Gamble says it has agreed to settle a lawsuit by parents who claimed a new version of Pampers diapers caused skin rashes and other problems for their babies.

P&G will pay the parents’ attorney fees, estimated at $2.7 million, and give each child of the 59 plaintiffs $1,000 under terms subject to final approval in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. The company also will spend $400,000 to create a pediatric resident training program and provide skin rash education, including on the Pampers website.

P&G said it isn’t paying the plaintiffs damages, and a federal probe found no specific link between the new diapers and babies’ skin problems. The company also will indicate on the diapers’ packaging how to get more information about rashes.

Obama chooses FDIC No. 2 to succeed Bair as chairman

President Obama said Friday that he will nominate Martin J. Gruenberg to become chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Gruenberg would succeed Sheila Bair, who plans to end her five-year term as one of the nation’s top banking regulators on July 8. Bair was a holdover from the Bush administration and one of several regulators who helped shape the federal response to the 2008 financial crisis.

Gruenberg’s nomination will require Senate confirmation.

A longtime Democratic Senate staff member, he has been No. 2 at the FDIC since August 2005.

Toyota predicts its profit will fall 31 percent in year

Toyota forecasts its annual profit to dive 31 percent, hammered by production disruptions from parts shortages, but its outlook Friday projects a robust recovery from the earthquake and tsunami.

Toyota Motor Corp. forecast a $3.5 billion profit for the fiscal year through March 2012.

Court upholds costly verdict against Walmart, Sam’s Club

A $188 million class-action verdict against Walmart Stores Inc. and Sam’s Club over payment to employees for rest breaks and off-the-clock work was upheld Friday by a Pennsylvania appeals court.

A three-judge Superior Court panel said there was sufficient evidence at trial to conclude there had been a breach of contract, unjust enrichment and violations of labor laws.

The judges also ruled in a 211-page opinion that the presiding Philadelphia judge erred in determining some of the plaintiffs’ legal fees, and sent that part of the case back for recalculation.

The 2006 trial, which lasted 32 days, resulted in an award of $46 million in attorneys’ fees.

—From news service reports