Homeowners sue over defective drywall

Attorneys for a group of homeowners have filed a potential class action lawsuit against homebuilders in Nevada, claiming the companies installed and used defective Chinese drywall. The complaint names US Home Corp., Greystone Nevada LLC, Lennar Nevada, Georgia-Pacific Gypsum LLC and Georgia-Pacific LLC.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, seeks more than $10,000 in damages and class action certification.

Between 3,000 and 5,000 local homeowners may be eligible for the class, said Eric Fuller, a nonattorney spokesman for the plaintiffs’ La Jolla, Calif.-based Fuller Jenkins law firm.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs are claiming negligence, product and strict liability, breach of contract and breach of implied warranty. They allege their clients suffered from a variety of medical problems as a result of the defective drywall, also known as Chinese-Manufactured Drywall.

Wynn tip-pooling case reconvening in October

The Wynn Las Vegas tip-pooling hearing in front of state Labor Commissioner Michael Tanchek will reconvene in October, the commissioner’s office said Friday.

The commissioner has set aside two more weeks in October beginning Oct. 5, but could continue for a third week beginning Oct. 19.

Tanchek has been hearing testimony this week, beginning Tuesday, on a series of wage claims filed against the resort when it changed its tip-pooling policy in September 2006 to include floor supervisors, called casino service team leads.

The dealers believe the policy breaks state labor laws. Wynn Las Vegas dealers are asking Tanchek to find the resort’s tip-pooling policy illegal under state law and award $35 million in back pay and penalties to nearly 500 dealers.

Attorneys for Wynn maintain the policy follows state law by sharing the dealers’ tips with other front-line employees, similar to the relationship between busboys, bartenders and waiters in a restaurant.

This week’s hearing is a continuation of three days of hearings in early July.


Feds search broadly for buyers for banks

The federal government is casting more broadly as it seeks buyers for a growing number of failed banks, including entertaining bids from foreign firms and seeking to attract new investors to the industry by easing restrictions.

The results were on display Friday, as regulators seized Guaranty Bank of Texas and immediately sold its branches, deposits and most of its assets to Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria.

The failure of Guaranty, with $13 billion in loans and other assets, was the 10th-largest in U.S. history and the fourth-largest since the financial crisis began last year.

The resulting spike in failures appears at odds with other signs that the economy is starting to mend, but analysts say the failures actually are an important step toward recovery. The seizure of a bank is in many ways the end of a problem, as the federal government absorbs the losses before selling the healthy parts to a new owner, setting the stage for renewed lending.


Talks between GM, government bog down

Talks between General Motors Corp. and the German government over which two bidders will take control of GM’s Opel unit have run into “serious challenges,” according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.

GM’s board, in a telephone conference call meeting Friday, made no decision between bids from a consortium led by Canada’s Magna International Inc. and Brussels-based investor RHJ International SA.

The board instead questioned the aid package offered by the German government in the deal because it only included an option to fund the Magna group, said the person, who didn’t want to be identified because the talks are ongoing.

The government has been clear it wants the Magna group, which includes Russian lender Sberbank, to gain controlling interest in Opel. GM has said it would prefer RHJ because the Magna-Sperbank bid raises the possibility of GM patents and other intellectual property falling into competitors’ hands.

A German government official said the government “regrets” that the board didn’t make a decision and said talks will continue next week.


Oil prices climb to reach 10-month high

Oil prices jumped Friday to a new high for the year after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the U.S. economy is nearing a recovery and other economic data backed him up.

Benchmark crude for October delivery rose 98 cents to settle at $73.89. After Bernanke spoke at an annual Fed conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., prices briefly neared $75.


Apple denies rejecting Google voice program

Apple Inc. told federal regulators Friday that it blocked the Google Voice program from running on the iPhone because it alters important functions on the device — yet Apple denied that it has rejected Google’s application outright.

The FCC is looking into Apple’s block on the Google Voice app as part of a bigger examination of the consumer implications of practices in the wireless industry. It sent questions to Apple, Google and AT&T Inc., the only wireless carrier to offer the iPhone in the United States.

There is widespread speculation that Apple and AT&T saw a Google Voice app for the iPhone as a potential competitor that would keep users from eating up minutes on their cell phone plan.

Airline to add bag fee on international flights

American Airlines, the world’s second-biggest carrier, will charge $50 to check a second bag on most international flights to help increase revenue as travel declines and fuel prices rise.

The change, effective for tickets starting Sept. 14, applies on trans-Atlantic flights to, from or through India, England, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Switzerland and to U.S. territories. Those flights represented about 16 percent of American’s capacity this year through July.

The checked-bag charge for the AMR Corp. unit is its first on international routes, and follows increases last month in the fee to check bags on domestic flights.


Dow Jones index could get new name

The Dow Jones industrial average could get a new name.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that its publisher, Dow Jones & Co., is considering selling its stock-market indexing business and has reached out to potential buyers. A sale of the unit would open the door for the new owner to rename the 125-year-old Dow Jones industrial average, one of the world’s best-known stock-market benchmarks.

The Journal, citing unnamed sources, said the process is still preliminary, and could result in a joint venture or no sale at all.

Dow Jones & Co. is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. In an e-mail message, Dow Jones spokesman Howard Hoffman said, “We’re not commenting on speculation of this sort.”

The sale of a prime Dow Jones asset would be among the first since News Corp. bought the publisher in 2007 for $5.7 billion after a long effort to persuade the families that controlled Dow Jones & Co.

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