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Continued: Inside Track: Betting future suits on 3 trials

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  • Last update: July 27, 2008 - 10:21 PM

The first of three trials concerning the drug Mirapex and its alleged linkage to compulsive gambling is underway in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis before Judge James Rosenbaum, who will preside over all three "bellwether" jury trials. The trials will be used by the 200-plus plaintiffs and defendant Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals to determine the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases.

Mirapex is used to treat Parkinson's disease and is marketed as a medication that helps people who have restless leg syndrome. But a number of users of the drug complained that a side effect was compulsive behavior, often in the form of gambling. Lawsuits against the drug's maker were consolidated in Minnesota as a class action.

The outcome of the three cases, to be tried back-to-back-to-back, likely will affect disposition of the remaining cases, including the size of any class settlement should the juries go against the manufacturer.

Storied trial lawyer Mike Ciresi and the law firm Robins Miller Kaplan & Ciresi are lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

The future is now

In April 2005, Tom Petters was the subject of a long and overwhelmingly positive profile in MinnesotaBusiness magazine. His face graced the cover under the headline, "Minnesota's Next Heavyweight."

In a column inside, then-Editor in Chief Kenan Aksoz took the opportunity to praise Petters and cite his achievements as a learning lesson for all. "Entrepreneurs that lack the aptitude to utilize their resources could find themselves at the helm of a sinking ship," he wrote, beneath a photo of himself shooting pool with Petters.

Those words now seem eerily prophetic. Three years later, Aksoz did, indeed, find himself at the helm of a sinking ship -- Metropolitan Media Group, which published MinnesotaBusiness. Unable to pay its employees, Metropolitan Media sold its key assets, including its 16 lifestyle magazines, for an undisclosed sum.

The buyer? None other than Petters, chairman and CEO of Petters Group Worldwide, which has a controlling stake in Sun Country Airlines and Polaroid.

Petters said he plans to breathe new life into MinnesotaBusiness. "It's become a very thin publication in the past few months," he said.

The Israeli market

The Minnesota Trade Office will lead the state's first trade mission to Israel in November with a focus on the high-tech sector, a speciality of the Israeli economy, according to trade officials.

The trade office isn't sure who or how many will accompany Executive Director Tony Lorusso on the seven-day mission, but the office does know that Minnesota companies currently export $121 million worth of goods to Israel annually.

Cost of the mission is $5,000 per participant. It is co-sponsored by the American-Israeli Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Minnesota and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Just call Arby's

Maybe it's another sign of tough economic times. Catering for corporate events and meetings can get expensive, depending on the menu.

Now there's a lower-price option in Minneapolis: Arby's. (That's not a typo.)

The roast beefery entered the catering business this month at 20 of its Minneapolis stores.

Each restaurant will provide catering services within a 5-mile radius of the store's location. Arby's chose Minneapolis for its first catering venture because of its long history in the market and its strong presence -- more than 70 stores.

Would you like some sauce with that roast ham and swiss?

DAVID PHELPS, CHRIS SERRES

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