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Real estate

Lawyer fined over foreclosure claims

A Suffolk Superior Court ruled that a Revere attorney defrauded struggling homeowners facing foreclosure, and ordered him to pay $625,000 in fines and restitution. The judge, Paul Wilson, said David Zak ran radio ads that made false claims about his ability to help homeowners struggling with debt, and failed to help clients who had paid him thousands of dollars. Wilson also wrote that Zak required payments in advance of legal services, a violation of state law. The Massachusetts attorney general filed suit against Zak in 2011 after he was accused of targeting Spanish and Portuguese speakers from 2007 through at least 2010. In an interview, Zak said the ruling, which was handed down last month, was unfair. He said he was not allowed to present evidence that would have vindicated him and is not allowed to appeal the verdict. — Jack Newsham

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Energy

Baker files bill to boost solar power

Governor Charlie Baker has filed legislation he says will encourage the development of solar energy projects in Massachusetts. Baker said the bill, filed Friday, will raise existing caps on the state’s ‘‘net metering’’ program that allows homeowners, businesses, and local governments to sell excess solar power they generate back to the electrical grid in exchange for credit on their bills. Activists said 171 communities across the state have reached the cap and some larger solar projects have stalled without access to the guaranteed revenue. The Massachusetts Senate recently passed legislation to lift the net-metering caps and direct the Department of Energy Resources to create a new solar incentive program when the state’s 1,600 megawatt goal of installed solar capacity by 2020 is reached. That’s enough to power about 240,000 homes per year. Baker said his plan will help the state meet that goal well ahead of schedule.
— Associated Press

Health care

Partners HealthCare reports surplus

Partners HealthCare reported a $30 million operating surplus in the second quarter of 2015, as more patients used its hospitals and finances at its insurance arm improved. The state’s largest nonprofit health system said revenues rose 6 percent to nearly $3 billion in the three months ended June 30. In the same quarter a year ago, Partners reported a $34 million operating loss from problems at its subsidiary, Neighborhood Health Plan. The health plan serves mostly people on Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor, but has been working to grow its base of more lucrative commercial customers. — Priyanka Dayal McCluskey

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Technology

Airline tech firm Sabre investigating computer breach

DALLAS — A spate of recent computer system breaches has spread into the travel industry, hitting a company that provides technology used for airline and hotel reservations. Sabre Corp. said Friday that it is investigating a ‘‘cybersecurity incident’’ but isn’t sure yet what if any information was stolen. American Airlines, which uses Sabre, says it is investigating but has found no evidence of a breach. It has hired outside experts for assistance. The developments were first reported by Bloomberg. Sabre said in a statement Friday, ‘‘We recently learned of a cybersecurity incident, and we are conducting an investigation into it now. At this time, we are not aware that this incident has compromised sensitive protected information, such as credit card data or personally identifiable information, but our investigation is ongoing.’’ — Associated Press

Consumer safety

Abbott callsNYC reviewa ‘fishing expedition’

NEW YORK — Abbott Laboratories’ marketing of infant formulas is being probed by a New York City regulator in what the company called an exceedingly broad “fishing expedition” that should be halted. The city’s Department of Consumer Affairs said it had no complaints about Abbott’s products, but was just “generally concerned” about the advertising claims — “all of them, apparently,” Abbott said in a court filing Friday asking a judge to halt the probe. The company said it received a request for information that “covers every infant-formula product in Abbott’s Similac family of brands.” The department also wants to know who was targeted in the company’s “Similac StrongMoms” promotion and seeks the basis for advertising claims that the product provides “complete nutrition” and is “the #1 brand fed in hospitals.” It would take 47 boxes of paper just to print the names and addresses of the 250,000 people in the StrongMoms program in New York City, Abbott said. Connie Ress, a spokeswoman for the city department, didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment on the probe. — Bloomberg News

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Pharmaceuticals

Court sides against FDA in ‘off-label’ drug promotion case

WASHINGTON — The maker of a prescription fish oil pill won an early victory Friday against the Food and Drug Administration over its right to publicize unapproved uses of its drug. The preliminary ruling in US District Court could strengthen the pharmaceutical industry’s ability to distribute information about drug uses that have not been cleared by the FDA. That issue has been contested for years by the FDA and the companies it regulates. According to Friday’s decision, Amarin has the First Amendment right to give doctors truthful information about nonapproved indications of its drug Vascepa, which is used to lower a certain kind of fat. The FDA has 60 days to appeal the ruling.
— Associated Press

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Borrowing

US consumer borrowing hits another record in June

WASHINGTON — Consumer borrowing hit another record in June, good news for the American economy. Americans piled on another $20.7 billion in debt in June, bringing total consumer borrowing to a record $3.42 trillion, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. In June, borrowing in the category that includes auto and student loans rose by $15.2 billion. Borrowing in the category that includes credit cards rose by $5.5 billion. The Fed’s monthly report on credit does not cover home mortgages or other loans secured by real estate such as home equity loans. Economists expect consumers to borrow and spend more the rest of the year. That would boost growth in a country where consumer spending accounts for nearly 70 percent of economic activity. — Associated Press

Markets

Berkshire Hathaway reports 37% drop in profit for quarter

OMAHA — Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reported a 37 percent drop in its second-quarter profit as the paper value of its investments fell and its insurance companies reported an underwriting loss. Berkshire Hathaway’s net income fell to $4.01 billion, or $2,442 per Class A share. That’s down from last year’s $6.4 billion, or $3,889 per share. Those results were helped by a $1.1 billion paper gain on a stock exchange deal. Revenue grew 3 percent to $51.4 billion. The four analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Berkshire to report operating earnings per Class A share of $2,997.14. By that measure — which excludes investments and derivatives — Berkshire reported per share profit of $2,367, down from $2,634. — Associated Press

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Retail

Target removes gender labels from kids’ sections

NEW YORK — Target Corp. is removing gender labels from most of its children’s departments after customers complained about signs designating certain toys for girls. The kids’ bedding section will no longer feature boy and girl signage, and the toy department will be without labels and pink or blue paper on the shelves, Minneapolis-based Target said on its website Friday. Gender labels will remain in the kids’ clothing section because of sizing and fit differences. Retailers have been moving away from gender stereotypes, and some startups have emerged to break down the divide in kids’ clothing and toys.
— Bloomberg News