Statewide: Triad region, September 2014

 In 2014-09

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Reynolds redress is likely to go up in smoke

A Florida jury ordered R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to pay Cynthia Robinson, a widow of a smoker, punitive damages totaling more than three-fourths the company’s market value and a sum that would make her the 16th-richest American. But the award will never materialize, based on precedent. The $23.6 billion jury verdict is the third biggest tied to smoking-related health problems and deaths, but past appeals have cut actual payouts to no more than $79.5 million. The case, involving a smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996, was part of a class-action lawsuit filed against tobacco companies in 1994. The Florida Supreme Court overturned the $145 billion verdict in the case — Engle v. R.J. Reynolds — in 2006 and said plaintiffs had to seek claims through individual lawsuits. An appeal was filed by R.J. Reynolds, a subsidiary of Winston-Salem-based Reynolds American Inc., which was valued at $30.5 billion in late June. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that punitive damages should be no more than nine times actual damages, though some judges have made exceptions. In the Reynolds case, the jury awarded Robinson $16.8 million in compensatory damages. The verdict came three days after Reynolds American said it would buy Greensboro-based Lorillard Co. for $25 billion in cash and stock.


Briefs

MOCKSVILLEBank of the Carolinas raised $45.8 million by issuing common stock to private-equity investors who paid 10 cents a share for it. The community bank used proceeds to increase its capital and repay its Troubled Asset Relief Program obligation. Based here, it has eight branches in the Piedmont and had $428 million of assets March 31.

HIGH POINT — Greenwich, Conn.-based XPO Logistics will acquire New Breed Holding for $615 million. Founded in 1968, New Breed provides logistics services including management and billing and employs 6,800 people at 71 locations nationwide, including 670 at its headquarters here.

MEBANEGeneral Electric will invest $5 million and add 60 jobs at its plant here, where it manufactures lighting panels, motor components and electric-vehicle charging stations. Wages weren’t disclosed. The Fairfield, Conn.-based conglomerate employs more than 500 at the 400,000-square-foot plant.

WINSTON-SALEM — The N.C. Department of Insurance ordered Chicago-based Old Republic International, parent of Republic Mortgage Insurance, to pay $125 million to settle claims stemming from the housing crash. Republic, based here, stopped selling home-loan guarantees in 2011 but services existing policies.

REIDSVILLE — Debbie Green was named president of 110-bed Annie Penn Hospital as well as 80-bed Cone Behavioral Health Hospital in Greensboro, where she had been interim president more than a year. Both are part of Greensboro-based Cone Health. At Annie Penn, she succeeds Mickey Foster, who became president of the health system’s flagship The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in June.

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