Legal challenge sought
A lawyer who lost her leading role in a legal challenge to Gov. John Kasich’s private nonprofit job-creation agency has asked Ohio’s high court to allow her to argue the case against JobsOhio on her own.
Former ProgressOhio attorney Victoria Ullmann told the Ohio Supreme Court in recent court filings that two politically opposed think tanks have formed a suspicious alliance that may be designed to undermine the lawsuit’s chances.
Ullmann said the libertarian 1851 Center for Constitutional Law has virtually nothing in common with liberal ProgressOhio, yet center director Maurice Thompson has been assigned to argue the case in her place.
Home prices see rise
U.S. home prices jumped in January, a sign the housing market is gaining momentum as it nears the spring selling season. Home prices rose 9.7 percent in January from a year ago, according to data released Tuesday by CoreLogic. That’s up from an 8.3 percent increase in December and the biggest annual gain since April 2006.
Prices rose in all states except Delaware and Illinois. And prices increased in 92 of the 100 largest metro areas, up from 87 in December. In Ohio, prices rose 3.1 percent in January from a year ago.
J.C. Penney shares fall
Shares of J.C. Penney fell 10.6 percent on Tuesday to a four-year low after media reports said a large shareholder sold a chunk of the struggling retailer’s stock. The stock lost $1.78 to close at $14.96, its lowest price since March 2009.
Vornado Realty Trust, once the company’s second largest shareholder, sold almost half its stake, or 10 million shares, at $16.40 per share through Deutsche Bank AG, according to a Bloomberg News report citing unnamed sources. That price would be a 2 percent discount to the stock’s closing price of $16.74 on Monday.
Best Buy changes rules
Best Buy Co. has ended its program that allowed corporate employees to control their schedules and how often they showed up at the company’s Richfield, Minn., headquarters.
Known as Results Only Work Environment, or ROWE, the company evaluated employees solely on performance versus time worked and office attendance. Employees worked when they wanted and wherever they wanted.
Now most corporate employees will work the traditional 40-hour week, though managers still have discretion to accommodate some workers. ROWE, which the company launched in 2005, did not apply to Best Buy’s store employees, who make up the majority of the retailer’s 168,000-person global work force.
Chinese question food quality
Chinese authorities say they have destroyed nearly two tons of chocolate cake imported by Sweden’s Ikea for violating food quality standards. The Shanghai quarantine bureau said this week that Kraft cream cheese and 2.7 tons of Nestle chocolate bars also were among dozens of imported products destroyed in its latest round of quality inspections.
Chinese authorities have stepped up food inspections in recent years. The disclosure in December that suppliers of KFC violated rules on drugs used in poultry caused sales for the chain to plunge. KFC estimated sales in January dropped 37 percent and announced tighter quality control measures.
The Shanghai quarantine bureau said it destroyed 4,100 pounds of chocolate almond cake imported by Ikea that it said had excessive levels of coliform bacteria.
Ikea spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson said the cakes were destroyed in November and December but the company’s head office had only found out about it on Monday.
Juice claims challenged
Coca-Cola Co., the world’s largest soft-drink maker, must face a consumer lawsuit challenging the labeling of its Simply Orange, Minute Maid Premium and Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice brands, a judge said.
The consumers allege in court filings that Coca-Cola has marketed Simply Orange as “100 percent pure squeeze” and “not from concentrate” since 2006, when in truth the juice is “chemically flavored, heavily processed, designed and modified and is not “100% pure squeezed,” “simply orange,” “pure” or “natural.”
Such labeling is deceptive and violates state consumer-protection laws, according to the consumers. The Atlanta-based company has made misleading representations about Minute Maid products too, for which it is liable for breaches of contract, according to the complaint, which combines 13 different cases.
Compiled from staff and wire reports