Jury finds Bayer Corp. not liable in $560 million suit

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- A jury cleared Bayer Corp. of liability Tuesday in a $560 million lawsuit that accused the pharmaceutical giant of ignoring research linking the cholesterol-lowering drug Baycol to dozens of deaths.

The jury deliberated for 2 1/2 days before returning the verdict. It was the first of about 8,000 cases against Bayer to go to trial.

"The verdict validates Bayer's assertion that the company acted responsibly in the development, marketing and voluntary withdrawal of Baycol," Bayer said in a statement.

The lawsuit was brought by Hollis Haltom, an 82-year-old engineer who said a muscle-wasting disease caused by Baycol severely weakened his legs. His attorneys had produced e-mails and internal documents to argue that Bayer didn't adequately warn doctors about the possible side effects of the drug before it was pulled off the market.

Republicans fail to break Estrada filibuster again

WASHINGTON -- Republicans failed for a third time to break a Senate filibuster of federal judicial nominee Miguel Estrada, but said they would continue to require Democrats to vote to keep the Hispanic lawyer off the federal bench.

Senate Republicans, with a 55-45 vote on Tuesday, failed again to get the 60 votes they needed to move to a final confirmation vote on Estrada, who wants a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said it was the first time in the Senate's history that three votes to move to the confirmation of a president's nominee had failed on the Senate floor.

"If we continue to filibuster this man, the Senate will be broken, the system will be broken and I think we will have to do what we have to do to make sure that executive nominations get votes once they get on the calendar," Hatch said.

Republicans have accused Democrats of treating Estrada unfairly because he is a conservative Hispanic.

Major snowstorm shuts down parts of two states

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- A blizzard paralyzed parts of Wyoming and Colorado on Tuesday, shutting down state government, airports and hundreds of miles of highway as snowdrifts piled up to 5 feet high.

About 1,000 people were stranded at Denver International Airport, where United canceled all flights until later today. Other airlines followed suit, and airport spokesman Steve Snyder said only a few taxis and shuttles were on the road.

Both states needed the moisture after months of drought conditions.

Residents were advised not to travel in Cheyenne, where the wind-driven snow piled into deep drifts and forced all state offices, schools and the U.S. Postal Service to close. F.E. Warren Air Force Base at Cheyenne was closed to all but essential personnel. The University of Wyoming canceled classes and postponed its NIT men's basketball game from today to Thursday.

Anti-abortion extremist convicted in slaying

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- An anti-abortion extremist was convicted of second-degree murder Tuesday in the 1998 sniper slaying of an abortion doctor after an unusual trial in which no jury was used and both sides agreed the defendant fired the fatal shot.

James Kopp, 48, had waived a jury trial in favor of much shorter proceedings in which the judge issued a verdict based on a list of facts agreed to by the prosecution and defense.

After the verdict was read, Kopp, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, smiled at his attorney.

"Jim and I were disappointed by the verdict but not shocked by it," said his attorney, Bruce Barket. An appeal was planned.

Kopp had claimed he had intended only to wound his victim to prevent him from performing abortions.

--From wire reports

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