Shares of Becton Dickinson ( BDX) were lower Thursday after the company said third-quarter earnings fell due to a previously announced lawsuit settlement charge.The Franklin Lakes, NJ-based medical technology company said earnings fell to $109 million, or 41 cents a share, from $130 million, or 49 cents a share, in the same period last year. However, the latest quarter was hurt by $63 million, or 24 cents a share, due to settling a lawsuit with Retractable Technologies. Excluding that charge and a pretax $34 million writedown in the year-ago quarter, net income rose to $172.5 million, or 65 cents a share, from $150.2 million, or 57 cents a share. On that basis, analysts had expected the company to earn 64 cents a share. Sales rose 8% to $1.26 billion from $1.15 billion. "These results reflect another solid quarter of revenue and earnings growth, fueled especially by sales of safety-engineered products and immunocytometry instruments and reagents, along with improved gross profit margins," said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Edward J. Ludwig. "In addition, having settled the lawsuit, we can now concentrate all of our efforts on driving revenue growth through innovation focused on products that have a higher benefit to patients, health care workers and researchers." The company said it expects fourth-quarter earnings will rise 10% from last year's 61 cents a share, suggesting earnings of 67 cents, in line with analysts estimates. Shares of Becton Dickinson were recently down 71 cents, or 1.5%, to $46.99.