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Johnson & Johnson Settles Suit With Texas

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A Johnson & Johnson subsidiary says a lawsuit that Texas filed against the health care giant has been settled for $158 million.

Texas had been seeking up to $1 billion from the drug maker.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., one of the J&J subsidiaries that had been sued, says in a statement it will pay $158 million in full resolution of all claims in Texas.

The settlement represents a resolution to claims brought by the State in 2004 for alleged Medicaid overpayment during the years 1994-2008, and will circumvent potentially lengthy and costly appellate activities.


Forth Worth Seeks Pros and Cons of Saltwater Disposal Wells

The city of Fort Worth is hosting five public hearings on gas drilling “saltwater disposal wells”. The first one was Thursday night. Fort Worth’s moratorium on such wells is set to expire April 30th.

Rick Trice, the city’s Gas Wells Division director, says the hearings have a two-fold purpose: to educate about the wells that hold the “used” fracking, or hydraulic fracturing water; and get public input.

Trice: And then to come back with a proposed ordinance, or just a proposal, which may be that we prohibit salt water disposal within the city limits. That’s an option. Or to have some other regulatory oversight of saltwater disposal wells, and lift the moratorium at some point.

The City Council is expected to decide in March if it will let the moratorium expire.

The next hearing is January 26th At the Tarrant County College Student Center on Campus Drive.

Feb. 2: Lost Creek Country Club in Aledo.

Feb. 9: Tarrant County College Opportunity Center on Fitzhugh

Feb. 23: Forth Worth City Council Chambers

BJ Austin, KERA News

Appeals court hears challenge to Voting Rights Act

Appeals court judges are showing concern about whether to overrule Congress' determination that southern states still need federal election monitoring to protect minority voting rights.

Alabama's Shelby County is appealing a lower court decision. The court said governments with a history of discrimination need federal approval to change even minor election procedures under the federal Voting Rights Act.

An attorney for the county argues the South has changed and says extraordinary oversight is no longer needed.

But two of three judges on the appellate panel asked why they shouldn't defer to Congress. They point out Congress renewed that provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2006, after finding that discrimination still exists, which the district judge endorsed.

The arguments came Thursday in federal appeals court in Washington.


Nobody hurt in fire at UT Southwestern

Nobody has been hurt in a fire near the top of a 12-story research and administrative building at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

UT Southwestern spokesman Jeff Carlton says the fire was contained about an hour after being reported around 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Carlton says about 100 people were in the new building, where staffers already work but some floors are still under construction, and all were safely evacuated.

Carlton says fire department personnel say the blaze happened between the 12th floor and the roof. Authorities are trying to determine what started the fire.

School officials sent an email to students and staff saying firefighters responded to the blaze, on the north part of the campus, and to stay clear of the area.


Man gets life in prison over 1989 sex assault

A North Texas jury has sentenced a man to life in prison over an aggravated sexual assault committed 23 years ago.

Robert Warterfield was sentenced Thursday, a day after his conviction in the sexual assault of a 7-year-old girl in 1989. He's also charged in the assault of a 9-year-old girl that year.

Warterfield was implicated in the crimes after DNA tests led to the exoneration of another man in a separate sexual assault case. Stephen Brodie had served 10 years in prison before his release in 2010.

Investigators tested DNA from other cases related to the so-called "North Dallas Rapist" and linked Warterfield to two of them.


Retail gasoline prices up penny across Texas

A survey finds that retail gasoline prices across Texas have gone up a penny this week.

AAA Texas on Thursday reported that the average price per gallon has reached $3.23.

Nationwide gasoline prices held steady this week at $3.38 per gallon.

The association says Dallas and Fort Worth have the most expensive gasoline in Texas, at an average $3.28. El Paso has the least expensive gasoline, going for $3.04 a gallon at the pump.

AAA says market oil prices continue to increase due to ongoing international tensions with Iran.


Mavericks assistant coach arrested in Calif.

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials say an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks basketball team has been arrested on an outstanding warrant from Las Vegas.

Sgt. James Brown says Darrell Armstrong was arrested and booked Tuesday in a case involving non-sufficient funds. Details about the case weren't immediately available.

Armstrong's bail was set at $40,000, and someone posted it Wednesday morning.

Sheriff's officials say Armstrong was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for a traffic violation in Marina Del Rey on Tuesday. A deputy determined there was an outstanding warrant for the 43-year-old.

The driver and another passenger were not detained.

The Mavericks declined to comment.