World/Nation Briefs

Toyota settles bellwether wrongful death lawsuit

LOS ANGELES – Toyota Motor Corp. has settled what was to be the first in a group of hundreds of pending wrongful death and injury lawsuits involving sudden, unintended acceleration by Toyota vehicles, a company spokesman said Thursday.

Toyota reached the agreement in the case brought by the family of Paul Van Alfen and Charlene Jones Lloyd, spokeswoman Celeste Migliore said. They were killed when their Toyota Camry slammed into a wall in Utah in 2010.

Migliore would not disclose the financial terms, and plaintiffs’ attorney Robert Krause did not immediately reply to a phone message.

The remaining lawsuits are not affected by the settlement, Migliore said.

Toyota issued a statement saying that the company and its attorneys may decide to settle select cases, but “we will have a number of other opportunities to defend our product at trial.”

Boeing plans to carry on with 787 production

(AP) – Boeing plans to keep building its flagship jetliner while engineers try to solve battery problems that have grounded most of the 787 fleet.

It’s not clear how long the investigation – or the fix – will take. But it won’t be cheap for Boeing or for the airlines that had sought the prestige of flying the world’s most sophisticated passenger plane – a marvel of aviation technology that right now can’t even leave the tarmac, let alone cross continents and oceans.

Boeing’s newest jet was grounded worldwide Thursday after one sustained a battery fire and another had to make an emergency landing because pilots smelled something burning. Airlines and regulators canceled all Dreamliner flights.

U.S. home construction is highest in 4 years

WASHINGTON – U.S. builders started work on homes in December at the fastest pace in 4½ years and finished 2012 as their best year for residential construction since the early stages of the housing crisis.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that builders broke ground on houses and apartments last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000. That’s 12.1 percent higher than November’s annual rate. And it is nearly double the recession low reached in April 2009.

Horse meat in burgers horrifies United Kingdom

LONDON – In Britain, a horse is a horse – not a main course.

Tesco, the country’s biggest supermarket chain, took out full-page newspaper ads Thursday to apologize for an unwanted ingredient in some of its hamburgers: horse meat.

Ten million burgers have been taken off shop shelves after the revelation that beef products from three companies in Ireland and Britain contained horse DNA. Most had only small traces, but one burger of a brand sold by Tesco had meat content that was 29 percent horse. The contrite grocer told customers that “we and our supplier have let you down, and we apologize.”

Mary Creagh, environment spokeswoman for the opposition Labour Party, reflected the feelings of many when she said Thursday that eating horse meat is “strongly culturally taboo in the United Kingdom.”

Associated Press