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Google has agreed to pay $700 million and make several other concessions to settle allegations that it had been stifling competition against its Android app store — the same issue that went to trial in another case that could result in even bigger changes.

Although Google struck the deal with state attorneys general in September, the settlement’s terms weren’t revealed until late Monday in documents filed in San Francisco federal court. The disclosure came a week after a federal court jury rebuked Google for deploying anticompetitive tactics in its Play Store for Android apps.

The settlement with the states includes $630 million to compensate U.S. consumers funneled into a payment processing system that state attorneys general alleged drove up the prices for digital transactions within apps downloaded from the Play Store. That store caters to the Android software that powers most of the world’s smartphones.

Like Apple does in its iPhone app store, Google collects commissions ranging from 15% to 30% on in-app purchases — fees that state attorneys general contended drove prices higher than they would have been had there been an open market for payment processing. Those commissions generated billions of dollars in profit annually for Google, according to evidence presented in the recent trial focused on its Play Store.

Eligible consumers will receive at least $2, according to the settlement, and may get additional payments based on their spending on the Play store between Aug. 16, 2016 and Sept. 30, 2023. The estimated 102 million U.S. consumers who made in-app purchases during that time frame are supposed to be automatically notified about various options for how they can receive their cut of the money.

Another $70 million of the pre-trial settlement will cover the penalties and other costs that Google is being forced to pay to the states.

Although Google is forking over a sizeable sum, it’s a fraction of the $10.5 billion in damages that the attorneys general estimated the company could be forced to pay if they had taken the case to trial instead of settling.

Google also agreed to make other changes designed to make it even easier for consumers to download and install Android apps from other outlets besides its Play Store for the next five years. It will refrain from issuing as many security warnings, or “scare screens,” when alternative choices are being used.

The makers of Android apps will also gain more flexibility to offer alternative payment choices to consumers instead of having transactions automatically processed through the Play Store and its commission system. Apps will also be able to promote lower prices available to consumers who choose an alternate to the Play Store’s payment processing.


Double-amputee Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was granted parole on Friday, more than a decade after shooting his girlfriend through a toilet door at his home in South Africa in a killing that jolted the world.

He will be released from prison on Jan. 5, but will be constantly monitored by parole officials for five years until his sentence expires, the Department of Corrections said.

Pistorius’ parole will come with other conditions, Department of Corrections spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said outside of the prison where Pistorius has been incarcerated in the South African capital, Pretoria, for killing Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius won’t be allowed to leave the area of Pretoria where he is set to live without permission from authorities. He will also attend a program to deal with anger issues and another program on violence against women. He will have to perform community service.

“Parole does not mean the end of the sentence. It is still part of the sentence. It only means the inmate will complete the sentence outside a correctional facility,” Nxumalo said. “What will happen is that Mr. Pistorius will be allocated a monitoring official. This official will work with him until his sentence expires.”

Nxumalo said the monitoring official would need to be notified of any major events in Pistorius’ life, including if he wants to move to another home or get a job.

“We have to be informed of each and every activity,” Nxumalo said.

Pistorius won’t wear a monitoring bracelet as that is not part of South African parole procedure, Nxumalo said. Pistorius’ sentence will expire on Dec. 5, 2029.

The decision to grant parole was made at a hearing at the prison earlier Friday.

Pistorius, who turned 37 this week, has been in jail since late 2014 for the Valentine’s Day 2013 killing of model Steenkamp, although he was released for a period of house arrest in 2015 while one of the numerous appeals in his case was heard. He was ultimately convicted of murder and sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison.


The California Supreme Court has left intact a ruling that allows customers to sue Amazon.com for failing to warn buyers that some products it sells may contain hazardous substances such as mercury.

The court in its decision Wednesday denied a request by Amazon’s lawyers to review a lower court ruling that said Amazon violated the state’s Proposition 65, which requires companies to warn consumers about products they make or sell that contain chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive harm or birth defects.

The case involved a lawsuit filed in Alameda County that said the online retail giant knowingly allowed skin-lightening creams to be sold on its website for years despite being aware of concerns about toxic mercury levels in such creams.

Mercury can harm pregnant women and their fetuses. The suit alleged that some of the products produced by third parties but sold on Amazon contained mercury levels that were thousands of times the U.S. federal legal limit.

Amazon said in a statement Thursday that safety is a top priority and that the products in question have long since been removed.

“We require that all products comply with applicable laws and regulations, and we have proactive measures in place to prevent suspicious or non-compliant products from being listed and we monitor the products sold in our stores for product safety concerns,” the statement said.

The Supreme Court’s action allows the previous court ruling to be used as precedent in state courts.

However, California has such a large market share that any actions Amazon takes to comply with Proposition 65 could have a much wider impact on consumers, said Rachel Doughty, a plaintiff’s attorney in the suit.


A man and two companies in Alaska have been sentenced to three years probation and a $35,000 fine for violating the Clean Air Act involving asbestos work at a shopping center more than five years ago, a judge said.

The work was performed at the Northern Lights Center in Anchorage, the former location of an REI store. Reports of potential asbestos exposure at the time closed the store for a day back in 2015, authorities said.

U.S. District Court Judge Joshua Kindred sentenced Tae Ryung Yoon, 64, on Friday to probation, fined him $35,000 and said he owes $30,000 in restitution for medical monitoring of the four workers who claimed they were exposed to asbestos, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The owners of Yoo Jin Management Company Ltd. and Mush Inn Corp. were also sentenced after agreeing to plead guilty to a charge of violating the Clean Air Act’s Asbestos Work Practice Standards. Both companies are owned by Chun Yoo, who is in his 80s and has “serious medical conditions,” and his wife, attorney Kevin Fitzgerald said. The couple still owns the center.

The case centers on workers who said they were exposed to asbestos during improperly conducted renovations involving an old boiler room. The work was stopped when two of the workers raised concerns.

High levels of asbestos exposure can cause lung disease or cancer.

Prosecutors said in a statement that the building owners and manager relied on a contractor who was not a certified asbestos abatement contractor and “failed to inform the contractor of the possibility of asbestos in the old boiler room.”

Fitzgerald argued that an assessment indicated no evidence of asbestos when his clients bought the center in 2006. Yoon was the building’s property manager at the time.

Documents show the boilers were replaced by another company in 2012 and the old ones were removed in 2014 to make more room. Some of the workers took photos of what they thought was asbestos and emailed them to the property management company that employed Yoon.



Virginians will elect members of the House of Delegates using a map seen as favorable to Democrats, according to ruling Monday by the Supreme Court.

The 5-4 decision was perhaps telegraphed by the fact that the justice previously allowed election planning to go forward with the new map. Virginia held its primary last week, and the November general election will be the last time the state uses this map because legislative districts will need to be redrawn to account for results from the 2020 census.

The political boundaries are important because Republicans currently control the House by a 51-49 margin.

The justices let stand a lower court decision putting in place the new map, saying Republicans in the state House did not have right to appeal to the Supreme Court. The state could have decided to bring the case but did not, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote.

“One House of its bicameral legislature cannot alone continue the litigation against the will of its partners in the legislative process,” she wrote. The four justices who joined her were Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch, a lineup that included conservatives and liberals. Dissenting were Chief Justice John Roberts and three other justices — Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh.

The case stemmed from a map drawn by Republican lawmakers in 2011, after the last census, and used in the four elections since. Democratic voters sued in 2014, accusing Republicans of packing black voters into certain districts to make surrounding ones whiter and more Republican.

A lower court ruled 2-1 last year that the previous, legislative-crafted map improperly factored race into the drawing of 11 of the 100 House districts. After lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement on a redistricting plan, the lower court chose a new map from a series of proposals submitted by a special master.


The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed a lower court to take another look at a lawsuit that involved Google and privacy concerns and ended in a class-action settlement.

The high court said in an unsigned opinion that a lower court should address whether those who sued had the right to do so. The Google users who sued argued that the search engine sends website operators potentially identifying information when someone clicks on a link produced by a search. They said the practice violates users’ privacy under federal law.

Google eventually agreed to include certain disclosures about its practices on three webpages and settle the class action for $8.5 million. Of that amount, $2.1 million went to lawyers, $1 million paid administrative costs and $5.3 million was set aside for six organizations that deal with internet privacy issues. The individuals who initially sued received $5,000 each, but the millions of Google users they represented received nothing. If all 129 million people had been paid, they would have gotten 4 cents each.

The justices had taken the case because it raised issues of fairness in the rare instances in which courts approve a “cy-pres” settlement, roughly translated as near as possible, and find it’s impractical to send money to the very large class of affected people.

But the court’s opinion Wednesday didn’t deal with that issue. The justices said a lower court needed to address whether the individuals who sued were entitled to do so. The justices said a federal trial court or the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should resolve that issue.


The tiny balloon was supposed to stretch open a blocked artery on Charles Riegel's diseased heart. Instead, when the doctor inflated the balloon, it burst.

The patient went on life support but survived. His lawsuit against the manufacturer of that arterial balloon did not.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Medtronic, among the world's largest makers of medical devices, setting a precedent that has killed lawsuits involving some of the most sophisticated devices on the market.

The device that harmed Riegel had cleared the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's most rigorous review, known as "pre-market approval." To reach consumers, Medtronic provided regulators with documentation that the Evergreen Balloon Catheter would be safe and effective.

In Riegel v. Medtronic Inc., the justices grappled with whether Medtronic had any liability. They ruled that devices that have received pre-market approval are effectively immune from product liability lawsuits in state courts, where juries can award huge sums. The reasoning: Congress wrote that states couldn't add safety requirements beyond what the FDA imposes.

Since the Supreme Court ruling in 2008, rare is the case when a manufacturer must pay suffering, lost wages and other compensation to patients who claim they were injured by a pre-market approved device. Patients who believe they've been harmed can still sue device makers in federal court.


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