CARRIER STARTS TAMPA FLIGHTS TO PENSACOLA, FORT WALTON BEACH: Continental Connection carrier Gulfstream International Airlines will begin flights from Tampa International Airport to Pensacola on Monday and to Fort Walton Beach on Feb. 17. Gulfstream will fly three daily round-trips to each city using 19-seat and 30-seat turboprop aircraft.
COMMITTEE REVISITS HURRICANE DEDUCTIBLES: Less than a month after turning down pleas to exempt condominiums from the state's new requirement that insurance companies charge only one deductible during hurricane season, House Speaker Allan Bense said Monday a fix is in order. Bense, speaking at the inaugural meeting of the joint legislative committee on hurricane insurance, said he feared the new single-deductible requirement will have a negative impact on reinsurance costs for high-rise condominium associations and their owners. The new committee, charged with looking at Florida's insurance market after the 2004 hurricane season, is expected to produce legislative proposals by Feb. 10.
BOUGHT A CAR FROM STATE FARM? Florida motorists may be eligible for refunds up to $20,000 under a nationwide agreement detailed Monday to benefit those who unknowingly bought damaged or stolen cars from State Farm. The agreement is part of a $40-million settlement reached between the insurance giant and the attorneys general of 49 states, including Florida, and the District of Columbia. The deal affects motorists who bought vehicles from State Farm after the company took title to them from policyholders due to damage or unrecovered theft. Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist said current owners of eligible vehicles should be contacted by this fall after research into vehicle titles. Nationwide, up to 40,000 consumers may be eligible for payments from $400 to as much as $20,000. Most payments are expected to range from $800 to $1,850. NEWS CORP. WANTS MORE FOX SHARES: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., moving to regain full control of its majority-owned Fox television properties, is offering to buy the remaining publicly held shares of Fox Entertainment Group Inc. in a nearly $5.9-billion stock deal. Fox shares surged nearly 10 percent, topping the value of Murdoch's offer and suggesting that investors expect to be paid more. The exchange offer announced Monday would solidify Murdoch's control over the Fox assets, which include the Fox broadcast network as well as Fox news and sports channels, the 20th Century Fox movie studio and a controlling interest in satellite television giant DirecTV.JUDGE DELAYS HEALTHSOUTH FRAUD TRIAL: A judge delayed the corporate fraud trial of fired HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy by one week Monday but rejected an initial defense bid to bar a secretly recorded Scrushy conversation from being allowed as evidence. In a brief order, U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre said she "reluctantly" agreed to a defense request to delay opening statements until Jan. 25, granting Scrushy lawyers more time to sort through potential evidence recently turned over by prosecutors.