Nation digest 01/15/02

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Judge rules ban on video poker unconstitutional

ATLANTA -- A judge overturned Georgia's new ban on video poker machines Monday, calling the law unconstitutionally vague and the result of lawmaking that "poses a real threat to liberty."

The Legislature passed the law during a special session last summer, responding to complaints that companies moved thousands of video poker machines to Georgia after they were banned in neighboring South Carolina two years ago.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger wrote that "the law criminalizes a game when it is being played and operated as a game."

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation report estimated there are between 15,000 and 20,385 video poker machines in Georgia.

CEO settles Sunbeam suit for $15 million

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Former Sunbeam Corp. chief executive Al Dunlap has agreed to pay $15 million to settle a shareholder lawsuit accusing him and other executives of inflating stock prices.

The civil trial had been scheduled to start Monday. The settlement was reached Friday, Abraham Rappaport, one of the shareholders' attorneys, said Monday.

The lawsuit, brought on behalf of tens of thousands of shareholders, had accused the appliance maker and its officers of misleading investors about the company's sales and earnings in 1997 and 1998.

The lawsuit alleged that Sunbeam use inflated stock prices to complete mergers with Coleman, Signature Brands USA Inc. and First Alert Inc.

Pilot's comments lead to suspension from job

PHILADELPHIA -- A US Airways pilot accused of making "inappropriate" comments at an airport security checkpoint has been suspended from his job, an airline official said Monday.

Elwood Menear, 46, will be suspended pending the outcome of an investigation, said airline spokesman David Castelveter.

Menear, 46, was released from jail Monday, the day after he was arrested for making what authorities said were "inappropriate" comments at Philadelphia International Airport. Police charged him with making terroristic threats and disorderly conduct.

Officials refused to give specifics about what he said. Sources familiar with the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, have said Menear suggested he could take down the plane without a weapon.

Ex-wife wants $320,000 a month in child support

LOS ANGELES -- The ex-wife of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian is asking a court for the biggest child-support award ever in California -- $320,000 a month -- to care for their 3-year-old daughter.

In court documents, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian lists monthly expenses for daughter Kira including: $144,000 for travel; $14,000 for parties and play dates; $7,000 for charity; $4,300 for food, plus $5,900 to eat out; $2,500 for movies, theaters and outings; $1,400 for laundry and cleaning; $1,000 for toys, videos and books; and $436 for care of Kira's bunny and other pets.

Lisa Kerkorian, a 36-year-old former tennis pro, said her 84-year-old ex-husband promised to take care of Kira's every need, according to a 33-page court declaration obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Kerkorian has an estimated $6.4 billion fortune.

-- From wire reports

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