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CenturyLink Settles Case That Produced $90 Million Award

CenturyLink Inc.’s Qwest unit settled a lawsuit over a utility-pole accident that left a Colorado worker paralyzed, ending a case that at one point produced a $90 million award.

CenturyLink today confirmed the accord after the U.S. Supreme Court signaled that the two sides had settled. The high court last week dismissed a Qwest appeal that challenged an $18 million punitive damage award in the case.

“The parties have settled their disputes to their mutual satisfaction,” said Mark Molzen, a CenturyLink spokesman, in an e-mail. Molzen wouldn’t disclose terms of the accord.

CenturyLink, based in Monroe, Louisiana, rose 37 cents to close at $36.96 in New York trading. The company acquired Qwest, a regional phone company, last year.

A state-court jury awarded damages after concluding that Qwest failed to properly maintain a rotted pole, which fell while Andrew Blood was atop it removing attachments in 2004.

In addition to the punitive damages, the jury awarded $21 million in compensatory damages to Blood and his wife. A trial judge increased the punitive damages to $62 million and added interest. A Colorado state appeals court upheld the jury verdict, while setting aside the increase because the judge failed to hold a hearing.

William L. Keating, a Denver lawyer who represents the family, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.

The case is Qwest Services v. Blood, 11-341.

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