In the Region Ravens are found in breach of contract...

BUSINESS DIGEST

April 11, 2001

In the Region

Ravens are found in breach of contract over stadium ads

A Baltimore Circuit Court jury found yesterday that the Baltimore Ravens breached a contract with a company hired to install plasma screens at PSINet Stadium, and ordered the football team to pay $410,000 to the company.

The Ravens and New York-based Digital Media Technologies Inc. were supposed to split revenue earned from selling advertising on the screens, which are situated on the club level and at Gate A. The jury found that the Ravens did not sell advertising or allow DMT to sell advertising on the screens over a two-year period, according to attorneys.

James L. Quarles, attorney for DMT, said the Ravens did not pay DMT any upfront fees to install the screens, and that the company expected to earn money through advertising sales through 2003, as per the contract. Ralph S. Tyler, attorney for the Ravens, said the team has not decided whether it will appeal the verdict.

Hopkins moves to head off disruptions of ceremonies

Johns Hopkins University asked the National Labor Relations Board yesterday to seek an injunction blocking the Service Employees International Union, now bargaining with Johns Hopkins Hospital, from disrupting the university's homecoming and graduation.

Dr. William R. Brody, university president, said the school supports "free discussion" and does not object to activities such as handing out leaflets. In the past few weeks, the union has picketed at a campus entrance and held a rally with the Rev. Jesse Jackson. But, Brody said, "they have basically stated in handouts that they wish to disrupt the ceremonies," and the school did not want "students, parents and alumni being held hostage" to a labor dispute with the hospital.

Robert Moore, president of District 1199E-DC of the SEIU, which represents about 1,600 service workers at the hospital, said, "I don't think we're planning to be disruptive. We're just planning to get information out to alumni and others attending the events."

State Web site gives access to Maryland officials

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development has unveiled a Web site that gives users real-time access to state officials.

The Web site, developed by e.magination of Baltimore and Computer Sciences Corp. of California, also has a section on international business development with translation in eight languages.

DBED is hoping to create an interactive marketing system through the Web site, www.choosemaryland.org. The next phase of the site, which is to be unveiled in the fall, will give users access to a statewide site selection database and will give virtual tours of commercial sites.

Elsewhere

Prudential's price tag put at $4.4 billion in sales-tactics dispute

Prudential Insurance Co. of America said it ultimately set aside $4.4 billion to resolve allegations that its agents used illegal practices to sell policies.

In 1997, the nation's largest life insurer settled a class action lawsuit stemming from the sales abuses. The company that year estimated that it would pay $1.2 billion to settle claims brought under the class action case, a projection that didn't include administrative and other costs. Attorneys representing the plaintiffs suggested that the remedies alone could run as high as $3.4 billion.

The company put a final price tag on the problem in documents filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering, reporting that the remedies and administrative costs together totaled $4.4 billion.

Jury admits big error in calculating award

The jury in a copyright infringement case against online music service MP3.com has admitted that it botched the math in calculating the damages it awarded Friday. The jury - including a math teacher - told a federal judge in New York on Monday that its $296,873 verdict was one-tenth of what it intended for online music provider Tee Vee Toons, which had sued MP3.com for intentionally violating its music copyrights.

Tee Vee Toons had asked for $8.5 million damages. MP3.com had suggested that $333,000 would be fair. The judge is now considering whether to declare a mistrial, let the jury decision stand or change the award to the jury's intended total of $2.9 million.

Nextel is considering cutting jobs to pare costs

Nextel Communications Inc., a wireless telephone company whose stock is down 81 percent in the past year, may cut jobs to reduce costs, Chief Executive Officer Tim Donahue said yesterday.

Last month, Nextel said it will add 500,000 customers in the first quarter. That is less than the 521,000 added in the fourth quarter and below Nextel's earlier forecast of 530,000 to 540,000.

The company is reviewing its technical operations and facilities. Nextel has about 16,000 employees.

Executive vice president resigns at Reebok

Reebok International Ltd., the second-largest U.S. maker of athletic shoes, said Angel Martinez, its executive vice president and chief marketing officer, has resigned.

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