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Toyota to pay $10 million in runaway case

LOS ANGELES — Toyota Motor Corp. agreed to pay $10 million to the family of four people killed in a runaway Lexus crash that led to recalls of millions of the automaker's vehicles, attorneys said Thursday.

John Gomez, a lawyer who represents the victims' family, and Larry N. Willis, who represents the dealership that lent the Lexus to the family, confirmed the settlement amount of $10 million.

Toyota, which did not admit or deny liability in the settlement, fought to keep the settlement amount confidential, but the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press argued that the public's interest in the case outweighed confidentiality concerns.

A Superior Court judge on Monday agreed, but imposed a gag order in case the family wanted to appeal. They did not appeal, allowing lawyers to release the amount.

Obama will change wilderness rules

DENVER — The Obama administration plans to reverse a Bush-era policy and make millions of undeveloped acres of land once again eligible for federal wilderness protection, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday.

The agency will replace the 2003 policy adopted under former Interior Secretary Gale Norton. That policy — derided by some as the "No More Wilderness" policy — stated that new areas could not be recommended for wilderness protection by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and it opened millions of acres to potential commercial development.

That policy "frankly never should have happened and was wrong in the first place," Salazar said Thursday.

Salazar said the agency will review some 220 million acres of BLM land that's not currently under wilderness protection to see which should be given a new "Wild Lands" designation — a new first step for land awaiting a wilderness decision.

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