Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Supreme Court Hands Down Rulings on Business Issues

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Supreme Court Hands Down Rulings on Business Issues

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court on Monday allowed states to file criminal charges against companies accused of neglecting the health and safety of workers and limited Alaska's efforts to control offshore energy exploration. In another business-related decision as the court opened a new term, the justices refused to take up an antitrust controversy stemming from the once-planned acquisition by Thomas J. Lipton Inc. of Kraft Inc.'s Celestial Seasonings Inc. two years ago.

Competitor R.C. Bigelow Inc. had claimed in a federal lawsuit that a merger would create a monopoly. A federal judged favored Lipton, but an appeals court reinstated the suit, saying the deal, which was later canceled, was in apparent violation of antitrust laws.

In the worker-safety decision, the Supreme Court let stand a ruling in an Illinois case that federal workplace regulations don't bar state prosecutions.

Five officials of Chicago Magnet Wire Corp. await trial on charges of recklessly injuring 42 workers by exposing them to toxic chemicals, extreme heat and other unsafe conditions at a wire-coating plant.

But Chicago Magnet Wire officials argued criminal charges should be dropped because the federal government pre-empted state prosecutions when it enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The company said worker safety should be part of uniform national standards.

The Illinois Supreme Court last February ruled that state criminal law ``can provide a valuable and forceful supplement to insure that workers are adequately protected.''

In the case involving Alaska, the high court left intact rulings that allowed the federal government last year to sell leases on 5.6 million acres of Bristol Bay, off Alaska's southwestern coast.

The court turned away warnings by Alaska Gov. Steve Cowper and others that an oil spill in Bristol Bay could do more environmental harm than the massive Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound last March. …

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