Hillenbrand Industries

(HB)

said after the market close Wednesday that a federal judge in South Carolina approved the settlement agreement it entered into with Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.

The agreement ends the antitrust class action litigation that challenged the the hospital bed and funeral casket maker's "bundled pricing" discounting of specialty hospital beds. The deal approved by the judge calls for the Batesville, Ind.-based company and its subsidiary, Hill-Rom, to pay $316.3 million, about $21.2 million less than what it had agreed to under a settlement announced in November.

The reduction in the settlement amount was made because some customers had opted out of the settlement.

The company had paid $50 million into an escrow account in March and it anticipates paying the remaining $266 million by mid-August.

The settlement is expected to resolve all of the plaintiffs' claims and those of all class member U.S. and Canadian purchasers or renters of Hill-Rom products from 1990 through the date of the agreement.

"After funding the settlement, Hillenbrand will continue to have a solid financial position to enable the execution of its strategic initiatives," the company said. "We believe the claims in this case are without merit, but we also believe it is in our company's and customers' best interests to put this matter behind us."

Shares were up 41 cents, or nearly 1%, at $49.21 in recent trading Thursday.

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