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Business news in brief

In the Region

Casey wants train crash prep

U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey (D., Pa.), reacting to growing anxiety over fiery railroad derailments of crude-oil tankers, pushed Monday for legislation that could provide new resources and training to emergency personnel. "This legislation is a commonsense approach that could give our first responders more training and the additional resources they need," Casey said at a news conference in Philadelphia. The RESPONSE Act, written by U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.), would establish a subcommittee under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Advisory Council to address training of first responders, particularly in smaller communities. The panel would recommend emergency responder training and resource allocation to Congress within 12 months. - Andrew Maykuth

J&J loses Topamax appeal

Johnson & Johnson's Janssen unit lost its appeal of an $11 million jury verdict over claims the antiseizure drug Topamax caused birth defects. Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld a 2013 jury finding that Janssen failed to adequately warn doctors for Haley Powell, a stay-at-home mother, of the risks of Topamax before she gave birth to a son with a cleft lip. There is "no basis" to disturb the verdict, the state court said. The court dismissed Janssen's argument blaming the FDA for rejecting the company's petition to include on the drug's label more robust wording about birth defects. The court also rebuffed the company's claim that the award was excessive in light of the injuries to Powell's son, who had his cleft lip repaired and has a faint scar. - Bloomberg News

Ocean gas terminal debated

Some New York City elected officials and environmentalists rallied on Monday against a plan to build a liquid natural gas terminal near New York Harbor and urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto the proposal they deemed an environmental danger. Liberty Natural Gas wants to build a deepwater port in federal waters 19 miles off Jones Beach, N.Y., and 29 miles off Long Branch, N.J. - AP


Homebuilder confidence slips

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders unexpectedly fell in March to an eight-month low as prospective buyers were in little rush to shop for properties ahead of the busier spring selling season. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo sentiment gauge dropped to 53 from 55 in February, figures from the Washington-based group showed Monday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a gain to 56. - Bloomberg News

Exxon CEO to visit Moscow

Exxon Mobil Corp. leader Rex Tillerson is visiting Moscow this week for meetings with Russian oil producer OAO Rosneft and government officials amid talk of further sanctions, according to sources. Tillerson, who increased Exxon's drilling rights in Russia fivefold last year, has plans to meet with officials on Wednesday. The trip comes even as the United States and Europe consider further sanctions on Russian companies and individuals over the annexation of Crimea one year ago. - Bloomberg News

Few January airline delays

Flights were more likely to be on time and less likely to be canceled in January than they were a year earlier, when winter storms wrecked airline schedules. The U.S. Department of Transportation said Monday that 76.8 percent of flights were on time in January, up from 67.7 percent in January 2014. About 2.5 percent of flights were canceled, down from 6.5 percent a year earlier. Delta Air Lines topped the on-time rankings at 86.1 percent. Envoy Air, which operates many American Eagle flights for American Airlines, finished last, at 60.4 percent. - AP

McDonald's worker complaints

McDonald's workers in 19 cities have filed complaints over burns from popping grease, a lack of protective equipment, and other workplace hazards, according to labor organizers. The burns and other hazards were detailed in complaints filed with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration in recent weeks. McDonald's Corp. said its independent franchisees are committed to providing safe working conditions for employees, and will review the allegations. - AP

Factory production drops again

Factory production in the U.S. declined in February for a third consecutive month, signaling cutbacks in manufacturing will hold back economic growth this quarter. The 0.2 percent decrease at manufacturers followed a 0.3 percent drop in January that was initially estimated as a gain, figures from the Federal Reserve showed. - Bloomberg News

BlackBerry works on tablets

BlackBerry Ltd. introduced a modified Samsung Electronics Co. tablet computer that lets government and corporate users access consumer applications such as YouTube and WhatsApp while keeping confidential work-related information away from spies and crooks. - Bloomberg News