MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ Whirlpool Corp. and a family that won a $581 million court verdict in a $1,200 dispute over satellite dishes have settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

The initial verdict in May 1999 prompted the Legislature to put caps on punitive damage awards in Alabama.

A Hale County judge last year sliced punitive damages to $300 million _ a decision Whirlpool was appealing when it settled with Barbara Carlisle and her parents, George and Velma Merriweather, last December.

The settlement wasn't disclosed until Tuesday, when The Montgomery Advertiser reported it. Attorney Tom Methvin, who represented the family, confirmed a settlement but wouldn't disclose details.

Neither would Whirlpool's attorney, Bob Spotswood. The company also settled lawsuits in similar satellite dish disputes with 40 other Alabama families and 10 families in Mississippi, the attorneys said.

Carlisle and her parents sued Whirlpool and Gulf Coast Electronics, contending the companies tried to gouge them out of $1,200 on the sale of two $1,100 satellite dishes in 1995. They dropped their claims against Gulf Coast Electronics as part of the settlement.

The original jury, Methvin said, ``wanted to draw national attention to what's become more and more of a problem. Some segments of corporate America are coming into the living rooms of some of the most vulnerable people in America and taking advantage of them.''

The Merriweathers and their daughter haven't changed their way of life since receiving the settlement money. They still live in the same rural mobile home they've had for years and don't plan to move, Methvin said.