W.R. Grace reaches deal to settle suits, clear bankruptcy

The Baltimore Sun

Asbestos victims offered billions

W.R. Grace & Co. said it has reached a deal that could be worth more than $3 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits by people who say they were sickened by exposure to the company's asbestos products. The deal could enable the Columbia chemicals maker to emerge by year's end from one of the most complex bankruptcy reorganizations in U.S. history.

Visit a doctor at drugstore

Doctors with Columbia's MedStar Health soon will provide urgent care at area Rite Aid stores. Starting this summer, MedStar PromptCare clinics will roll out in four drugstores, two in the Baltimore region and two in the Washington area. The companies hope to add 12 more programs nationwide after studying results of the pilot program.

BGE customers due $170 rebate

BGE customers will get one-time rebates of $170 and other benefits totaling $2 billion in the coming years under a settlement with the utility's parent company approved by the General Assembly. The deal passed after the Senate reversed course on an amendment seeking to partially reregulate Maryland's electric utilities.

Area salaries outrun inflation

Average salaries in the Baltimore area have been increasing faster than the sapping power of inflation -- but just barely in some counties. Weekly wages rose $2 in Baltimore City from the summer of 2006 to the summer of last year, after factoring in the mounting cost of living. The second-smallest increase -- $7 a week -- was in Anne Arundel County.

Home sales fall 34 percent

Home sales in the Baltimore area last month fell 34 percent from a year earlier, the seventh straight month of declines in that range. The average sales price slid almost 3 percent to about $297,700 -- $8,900 less than a year ago. "Pretty bleak," declared John McClain, a senior fellow at George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis.

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