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The US supreme court set aside a $1.5 billion settlement of Fibreboard Corp.'s liability for asbestos-related claims. The decision was seen making it more difficult for manufacturers and other defendants to obtain settlements of lawsuits in which members of a class of litigants are not equally benefited. The justices, on a 7-to-2 vote, ruled that a lower-court judge in Texas wrongly allowed a settlement involving Fibreboard, a vinyl-siding manufacturer. Judges lack authority to allow a class-action settlement in a lawsuit that would be denied class-action status in a trial, the high court said.

A lengthy effort to acquire a life-insurance company ended in success for Europe's most profitable retail bank, as Lloyds TSB of London announced it will pay $11.1 billion for Scottish Widows Group. The deal will give Lloyds more than $125 billion in assets under management, making it Britain's largest bank-insurance company. Scottish Widows, based in Edinburgh, also is heavily involved in pension programs.

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