In a move that construction-machinery dealers are hailing as a victory, Caterpillar Inc. has dropped a federal lawsuit seeking to ban nonauthorized dealers from importing foreign-made, used Cat excavators into North America. Three remaining defendants, Hoss Equipment Co., Worldwide Machinery Inc. and World Tractor and Equipment Co., settled with the Peoria, Ill.-based manufacturer this past summer, one day before it was scheduled to go to trial, sources confirm. Under terms of the settlement, dealers must now address critical safety features such as operation manuals and seat belts within 45 days after importation. Dealers say they have already been doing so. The suit was originally filed against 21 companies, including auction giant Ritchie Bros., and was one the first gray-market cases centered around pre-owned construction machinery.