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This Hour: Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

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HAVRE FATAL

Woman killed in crash near Havre

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Highway Patrol says a woman was killed and two men were injured when a minivan crashed east of Havre.

The Great Falls Tribune reports the Dodge Caravan drifted off U.S. Highway 2 shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday.

The highway patrol says the vehicle traveled down a steep embankment.

A 50-year-old Harlem woman was killed. The patrol says she was reportedly not wearing her seatbelt correctly.

The 29-year-old driver and a 21-year-old passenger were injured.

It was not immediately known whether speed or alcohol were factors.

BOZEMAN DRAINAGE

Bozeman drainage fix could cost $1.7M a year

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - Bozeman officials are proposing to spend $1.7 million a year over the next decade to upgrade its underground storm water system.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports an 18-month study found pipes that were broken, slumping, cracked and fractured along parts of the 93-mile system.

It also found a buildup of trash and sediment along inlets and outfalls into creeks and rivers. Pollution is finding its way into the system.

The city's staff is recommending the 10-year, $1.7 million annual spending for the needed upgrades.

Mayor Jeff Krauss said previously it was clear the money to fix the system would come from a tax increase.

The city commission will take up the issue Monday evening.

MONTANA HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION

Foundation head expects assets to grow to $150M

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The chairman of a foundation funded by the sale of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana says he expects the foundation's assets to grow from $40 million to more than $150 million.

Board chairman Denis Prager says the Montana Healthcare Foundation is still organizing, but plans to hand out $1 million in grants this year to fund health care programs.

The foundation began with $40.2 million from last year's sale of Blue Cross to Health Care Service Corp. of Chicago.

Prager tells Lee Newspapers of Montana those assets could nearly quadruple as portions of Blue Cross that were not part of the sale are liquidated.

That could include property, leftover reserves and deferred tax benefits.

BUSINESS LOAN LAWSUIT

Company seeks to strike state cap on jury awards

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - A Butte-based office supply company is asking the Montana Supreme Court to uphold a lower judge's ruling that the state's cap on punitive damage awards is unconstitutional.

The constitutional challenge filed by Masters Group International comes after a Butte-Silver Bow judge affirmed a $52 million jury award in its favor earlier this month.

Montana law caps punitive damages at $10 million or 3 percent of a defendant's net worth, whichever is less.

The jury awarded Masters $41.5 million in compensatory damages and $10.5 million in punitive damages in January after finding that Comerica reneged on a 2008 agreement with the office supply company.

District Judge Kurt Krueger reviewed and upheld the award on April 4, saying the state's cap on punitive damages likely provides a minimal deterrent to a large company such as Comerica.

Masters is now seeking an order from the state Supreme Court, which is the final authority and whose ruling will be applicable statewide, that declares the punitive-damages cap is unconstitutional.

Comerica, which denied any wrongdoing, is appealing both the verdict and the award.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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