/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/000403.MBX                 C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

                  Monday, April 3, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 65


CARNIVAL CORPORATION: Spector, Roseman Files Securities Lawsuit in FL
COCA-COLA: Receives Detailed Proposal on Settlement for Race Bias Suit
DETECTION SYSTEMS: Reaches Settlement for Shareholder Suit
FEDERAL RESERVE: Judge Certifies Employment Racial Discrimination Suit
FEN-PHEN: Objections to Proposed AHP Settlement Filed

ILIFE.COM INC: Rabin & Peckel Files Securities Suit in New York
INMATES LITIGATION: Judge Orders KY Dept to Give Treatment for Hep. C
KATE KOTTS: Reaches Settlement Agreement for Securities Lawsuit in NY
MICROSTRATEGY, INC: Pomerantz Haudek Files Securities Suit
MICROSTRATEGY: Stock Fraud Allegations Could Signal Stormy Weather

RAINFOREST CAFE: Columnist Says Investors Ignore Fundamentals
STANFORD UNIVERSITY: $545,000 Award to Researcher in Sex Bias Suit
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Australian Smokers to Seek Special Leave to Appeal
VISIONAMERICA INC: Cauley & Geller Files Securities Lawsuit in TN
WOODLAWN CEMETERY: Class Action Filed Against Cemetery Closed By State

YBM MAGNEX: Judge Clears Way for Cross-Border Securities Fraud Suits

* Racial Factor in Lending Reduced by Technology; Fed May Reintroduce


CARNIVAL CORPORATION: Spector, Roseman Files Securities Lawsuit in FL
Spector, Roseman & Kodroff announced that a class action lawsuit has
been filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District

of Florida on behalf of all persons and entities who purchased the
common stock of Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) from February 25, 1999
through February 16, 2000, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The Complaint charges Carnival and certain of its officers and directors

with violations of the federal securities laws. Specifically, the
Complaint alleges that defendants issued false and misleading statements

about the Company's business, financial condition, earnings and
prospects and failed to disclose the extreme operational problems with
which Carnival Cruise Line was faced. As a result of these false and
misleading statements, the price of Carnival common stock was
artificially inflated during the Class Period.

Contact: Robert M. Roseman, 888-844-5862, or
classaction@spectorandroseman.com of Spector, Roseman & Kodroff, P.C.

COCA-COLA: Receives Detailed Proposal on Settlement for Race Bias Suit
Coca-Cola has received a detailed settlement proposal from the
plaintiffs in a racial discrimination lawsuit and is in the process of
formulating a counterproposal. That process is taking place as pressure
for a speedy settlement continues to build --- from both the investment
and civil rights arenas.

On March 30, a large institutional investor that owns $ 370 million in
Coke stock urged the company to act quickly. On the same day, for the
second day in a row, the Rev. Jesse Jackson met with high-ranking
company officials to push for a settlement. Jackson, president of
RainbowPush Coalition, was joined by Larry Jones, a former company
manager who is organizing a bus "ride for justice" to Coca-Cola's annual

meeting in Delaware on April 19. "I am sure Coke is carefully weighing
their options," said Janice Mathis, RainbowPush's chief of staff and
general counsel, who also attended the meeting at the company's
North Avenue headquarters. "I think they want to get this behind them.
... But there are lots of issues to be resolved, and they're complicated

issues. I do think both sides are motivated."

The company could be a little more motivated after it received a letter
from New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, who is the sole trustee
of the state's common retirement fund. The fund owns 7.4 million Coke
shares. "This lawsuit has already damaged Coca-Cola's reputation and its

shareholder value," McCall wrote in a letter to Chairman Doug Daft. "It
is important that you take the steps necessary to halt this damage and
strengthen Coca-Cola's commitment to tolerance and inclusion in the
workplace. "

Company observers and analysts said it's possible for McCall's letter to

spur other large public pension funds into taking similar actions.

Carl Ware, the company's executive vice president of global public
affairs and administration, spoke with McCall after receiving the
letter, said company spokesman Chuck Reece. "We're always attentive to
the concerns of our shareholders," Reece said. According to Reece, Ware
told McCall that he would continue to keep McCall informed as the
company works "toward a quick and equitable resolution of the lawsuit."
Ware was busy working on the fallout from the lawsuit. He, along with
President Jack Stahl and Vice President Ingrid Saunders Jones, met for
more than two hours with Jackson, Jones, Mathis and Joe Beasley,
RainbowPush's regional director. "We had a candid and productive
discussion," said company spokesman Ben Deutsch. "We welcome Rev.
Jackson's input and counsel, and we expect to continue these discussions

as we move forward."

Mathis said Jackson left Atlanta on Thursday March 30 but is willing to
return if he can help move the settlement process along. "It is my
understanding that the plaintiffs have forwarded a settlement proposal
to the company," Mathis said. "The company can settle. They can fight.
They have to decide how to respond to the plaintiffs' proposal to them.

The formal negotiating process between the company and plaintiffs'
attorneys is confidential, so neither side has commented publicly on
what is occurring. But Mathis provided details of the informal meeting
she attended. A lot of the discussion, she said, was dominated
by Ware and Jones, who was laid off last month after 15 years at the
company. Jones is organizing a three-bus convoy that will hold ralllies
in three cities before reaching the shareholders meeting in Wilmington.

According to Mathis, who took notes during the meeting, Ware said he has

a mandate to change the company to create a new environment that will be

more open and responsive to employee concerns. But Jones told Ware,
according to Mathis, that it will be difficult to rebuild the trust lost

because of the way African-Americans have been treated at the company.
According to Mathis, Jones also said the bus trip was taking on a life
of its own and that he is not sure he could stop it, even if the suit
was settled prior to the annual meeting.

In addition to meeting with the company, Jackson met with a few of the
plaintiffs, as well as some of the bus trip organizers, Mathis said.

The federal suit, filed by eight former and current employees, alleges
that the company has discriminated against African-Americans in pay,
promotions and performance evaluations. The plaintiffs seek class-action

status to represent 2,000 current and former black employees in the
United States. The company has denied the suit's allegations and opposed

efforts to make it a class-action case.

DETECTION SYSTEMS: Reaches Settlement for Shareholder Suit
Detection Systems, Inc., (Nasdaq:DETC) announced on March 31 that it has

reached an agreement in principle to settle the shareholder class action

suit that has been pending since February 1998. The settlement is
subject to certain conditions, including court approval. The Company
will record a one-time charge of $1.6 million, or approximately $0.15
per share, in the fourth quarter ending March 31, 2000, for costs not
covered by insurance.

Detection Systems designs, manufactures and markets electronic
detection, control and communication equipment for security,
fire protection, access control, and closed circuit television

FEDERAL RESERVE: Judge Certifies Employment Racial Discrimination Suit
A federal judge has granted class-action status for a discrimination
lawsuit filed against the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, whose
territory includes an office in Milwaukee. In his ruling on March 30,
U.S. District Judge William Hibbler said lawsuit could include black
employees who worked below the level of officer from 1964 to the

The lawsuit was filed in February 1998. It alleges the federal bank
refused to promote qualified black employees. It also argues those
employees received lower wages, were denied training and were degraded
by on-the-job racial slurs. In addition to more than $25 million in
damages, the lawsuit seeks lost wages and 10 percent of the bank's net

Edward Stein - attorney for more than 34 employees in the lawsuit - said

it could grow to more than 2,000 employees in the bank's district
because of the class-action status. Other offices in the district are in

Peoria and Detroit. Besides Illinois and Wisconsin, the district
includes parts of Indiana and Iowa.

The judge's ruling "allows us to reach back to 1964 to examine the
practices and policies of the Federal Reserve Bank for the last 35
years," Stein said. "We know we're going to find the skeletonsand the
evidence on the trail."

Bob Lapinski, a spokesman for the Federal Reserve, said the bank plans
to appeal the ruling to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "We were
very disappointed with the ruling. We don't agree with it," he said.

The Federal Reserve of Chicago is a branch of the Washington-based
Federal Reserve and handles such things as check processing for the
Midwest region.

FEN-PHEN: Objections to Proposed AHP Settlement Filed
Lawyers opposed to the proposed settlement for the millions of people
who took the diet drug combination fen-phen filed objections in federal
court on March 30 charging that the plan was illegal and unfair.

The lawyers' objections were filed on the last day available to diet
drug users to opt out of the national settlement and instead pursue
separate lawsuits against American Home Products, the drug company that
sold half of the diet pill combination.

Thousands of the six million people who took fen-phen -- a combination
of American Home's Pondimin, its brand name for fenfluramine, and
phentermine, another diet drug -- have decided to opt out of the
proposed settlement. Under the plan, American Home has agreed to pay
$3.75 billion to the plaintiffs, ranging from small payments of $30 to
$60 to those who took the drug for less than two months to as much as
$1.5 million to people with significant injuries.

A spokesman for American Home said that the company did not
yet know how many people had opted out. The final numbers would not be
available for several weeks, he said. "We don't foresee a high
percentage of claimants opting out," he said.

If too many people do not agree to the settlement, American Home can
terminate the deal. But that would only continue the financial
uncertainty that has plagued the company since it pulled the diet drugs
off the market in September 1997.

"This settlement is very important," said Neil B. Sweig, an analyst at
Ryan, Beck & Company. If it fails, he said, "it would have a
dramatically negative effect on American Home's stock price."

More than 9,000 lawsuits are now pending against the company -- a legal
mess that is hurting the company's chances of merging with one of its
competitors. The drug industry is now in a frenzy of consolidation and
American Home has tried to make three mergers in the last two years, but

failed at each one.

The legal objections filed in federal court in Philadelphia
joined those of other lawyers who are arguing that the settlement should

be abandoned because it does not adequately compensate those who took
the diet drugs.

One of the objections filed by a group of lawyers representing
thousands of plaintiffs argued that the settlement would leave out
people who had not yet developed the heart defects associated with
fen-phen. The group of lawyers, including the firm of Blizzard &
McCarthy in Houston, said that people developing heart valve defects
after the 18-month screening period would not be able to pursue another
claim against the company.

The lawyers argued that the settlement was "little more than a series of

traps" for diet pill users that shifted part of American Home's
liability onto people who may fall ill in the future.

The law firms also argued that the fees proposed to be paid to the
plaintiffs' lawyers overseeing the national settlement were excessive.

Judge Louis Bechtle of United States District Court in Philadelphia will

review the objections at hearings scheduled to begin on May 1.

Stanley Chesley, a lawyer in Cincinnati and a co-chair of the committee
of lawyers overseeing the settlement, disputed the claims filed.
Mr. Chesley said that current scientific research had shown
that diet drug users who have not yet shown signs of heart defects are
not likely to become ill in the future. And, he said that the legal fees

of $430 million were fair, since they were less than 10 percent of the
total amount that American Home could ultimately pay out over the years
under the proposed deal. (The New York Times, March 31, 2000)

ILIFE.COM INC: Rabin & Peckel Files Securities Suit in New York
A class action has been commenced in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of purchasers of
Ilife.com Inc. (Nasdaq: ILIF) common stock during the period from May
13, 1999 through March 27, 2000, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The Complaint alleges that Ilife, certain of its officers and directors,

ING Baring Furman Selz LLC, Warburg Dillon Read LLC, and KPMG LLP
violated section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 and that certain
defendants violated section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934. In particular, it is alleged, among other things, that the
Registration Statement and Prospectus were materially false and
misleading because it failed to disclose the massive loss for the March
1999 quarter, even though that quarter had ended 43 days before the
Offering, it misrepresented the true financial condition of the Company
as of the effective date, it misrepresented the use of proceeds of the
Offering, and it failed to disclose the stockholder deficit as of the
effective date of the Offering. The Complaint alleges that as a result
of these material misstatements and omissions, Ilife's stock price was
artificially inflated throughout the Class Period.

Contact: RABIN & PECKEL LLP Joseph V. McBride 800/497-8076 212/682-1818

INMATES LITIGATION: Judge Orders KY Dept to Give Treatment for Hep. C
A federal judge has ordered medical treatment for a prisoner suffering
from hepatitis C. Michael Paulley has only a 50-50 chance of living
until 2004, when he is eligible for parole, without the treatment,
according to his doctor, Bennet Cecil. U.S. District Judge John G.
Heyburn II said March 30 that he agreed with federal Magistrate Judge C.

Cleveland Gambill, who recommended in January that Heyburn require the
Kentucky Department of Corrections to treat Paulley.

The Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment,
"guarantees a prisoner that prison officials will not ignore his serious

medical problems," Heyburn wrote.

Paulley is an Army veteran, and the $18,000-a-year drug treatment that
Cecil recommends would cost the Corrections Department nothing because
Paulley's veteran's benefits would pay for it. Paulley is serving a
20-year sentence at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex near La
Grange for burglary and being a persistent felon.

He sued the Corrections Department in August to force it to give him
treatment. He also seeks unspecified damages for the violation of his
constitutional rights. That part of the lawsuit has yet to be resolved.

Also unresolved is a request by one of Paulley's lawyers, Alan S. Rubin,

that Heyburn certify the case as a class action. Heybury wrote on March
30 that he would decide that issue later. Rubin wants the case to be
made a class action on behalf of all Kentucky prisoners who have
hepatitis C but were denied treatment since December 1998, when the
treatment was approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Corrections Department claimed Paulley shouldn't get the drug
treatment because he has cirrhosis of the liver and the side effects
could do him more harm than good. Heyburn, however, said he agreed with
Gambill, who found in January that the Corrections Department's real
motive for denying Paulley treatment was to avoid having to pay to treat

other prisoners with hepatitis C. The Corrections Department should take

"all steps necessary" to allow Cecil to treat Paulley, Heyburn wrote. He

did not set a date. The Corrections Department might appeal, Rubin said.
A department spokesman could not be reached for comment. (The Associated
Press, March 31, 2000)

KATE KOTTS: Reaches Settlement Agreement for Securities Lawsuit in NY
Rabin & Peckel LLP notifies all persons who during the period February
22, 1996 to April 15, 1997 purchased shares of the common stock and/or
class A warrants of Kaye Kotts Associates, Inc. (OTC: KTAX KTAXW) that,
a proposed $425,000.00 settlement has been reached in the Class Action
by Lead Plaintiffs with defendants Kaye Kotts Associates, Inc. and et

A hearing has been scheduled on June 29, 2000. Contact: FRG Information
Systems Corp. Mary Mathews 212/490-3550

MICROSTRATEGY, INC: Pomerantz Haudek Files Securities Suit
Pomerantz Haudek Block Grossman & Gross LLP (www.pomerantzlaw.com) has
filed a class action complaint on behalf of all persons or entities who
purchased the common stock of the following company during the period
between July 11, 1998 and March 20, 2000, inclusive (the "Class

MicroStrategy, Inc. and the Company's senior executives allegedly
reported materially false and misleading financial results during the
Class Period as to the Company's financial performance. In particular
the Company allegedly significantly overstated the Company's 1998 and
1999 revenues and earnings per share by improperly recognizing revenue
in connection with software sales and service contracts.

Contact: Pomerantz Haudek Block Grossman & Gross LLP Andrew G. Tolan,
Esq. 888/476-6529 or 888/4-POMLAW agtolan@pomlaw.com

MICROSTRATEGY: Stock Fraud Allegations Could Signal Stormy Weather
Plaintiffs lawyers rushed to Alexandria last week to file at least 15
stock fraud class actions against Vienna, Va.-based MicroStrategy on
news that the company had to dramatically restate earnings for the past
two years.

While the cases are not the first stockholder suits to be filed in the
Eastern District, local litigators and attorneys for emerging companies
see the flurry as a signal of stormy weather ahead. Such suits, often
resulting in seven-figure settlements, are commonplace in Silicon
Valley, where the tech sector has matured, gone public, and suffered the

slings and arrows of accusations from plaintiffs attorneys.

While only six consolidated cases against companies have gone forward in

the Eastern District since 1996, more than 180 such cases have gone to
court in the Northern District of California, according to a securities
litigation Web site run by Stanford University law Professor Joseph
Grundfest, a former member of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"It's almost become an unfortunate rite of passage for high-tech
companies," says Laurie Smilan, a securities litigator in the recently
opened McLean office of Palo Alto's Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
Northern Virginia, Smilan says, "is like Silicon Valley 10 years ago."

Because there have been so few publicly traded companies in this area
historically, securities litigators "are still in the early stages of
recognizing the potential for increased class action litigation," says
William Donnelly, a partner in the D.C. office of Richmond's McGuire,
Woods, Battle & Boothe.

It's taken a shock like MicroStrategy's losing 79 percent of its market
value in three days-though it has partially recovered-for many law firms

to wake up and smell the business.

At least some of the top securities firms have seen the future. New
York's Skadden, Arps, Meagher, Slate & Flom, Wilson Sonsini, and
Boston's Hale and Dorr have all opened Northern Virginia offices in the
last few months.

But the work may not come easy to firms just because they have an
outpost in Reston or because they coddled a company from the basement to

the boardroom. "We look for the 800-pound gorilla who is a specialist in

this sort of thing regardless of whether it's a firm we've used before,"

says the general counsel of a local high-tech company. "Because you're
dealing with SEC issues, (that firm) is either a very very large
Washington or New York firm."

The firms that GCs have on the tips of their tongues include Wilmer,
Cutler & Pickering and Wall Street players Skadden and Fried, Frank,
Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.

Most securities lawyers contacted for this article declined to comment
on the record, fearing that it might diminish their prospects of getting

a piece of the MicroStrategy litigation. But several litigators watching

last week's events point to Hale and Dorr as MicroStrategy's likely

Boston partner Thomas Ward has been handling the company's SEC work, and

securities litigator James Quarles III is in the firm's new Reston
office. Neither returned phone calls, and MicroStrategy General Counsel
Jonathan Klein could not be reached for comment.

On the plaintiffs' side, two D.C. firms are considered major players in
the securities class action arena: 32-lawyer Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld &

Toll and 10- lawyer Finkelstein, Thompson & Loughran. Cohen, Milstein
has been lead or liason counsel in many of the securities class actions
filed in the Eastern District, including cases against Information
Analysis Inc. and and LCI International Inc.

The record in those cases, though, is mixed. The case against LCI was
dismissed by the court, while Information Analysis resulted in an
undisclosed settlement.

Cohen, Milstein has a track record in other types of class actions,
having worked on the Exxon Valdez case, a price-fixing case against
vitamin manufacturers, and litigation accusing industrial companies of
profiting from slave labor in Nazi Germany.

Andrew Friedman, the Cohen partner who filed Harad v MicroStrategy on
March 21, says technology companies face pressure to engage in
questionable tactics in order to keep their stock buoyant. "One of the
overriding concerns is that they pay their employees greatly in stock,
so there's an overwhelming incentive to influence earnings or to delay
bad announcements," he says. "More companies going public," he says,
"more opportunity to defraud investors."

                            Rise and Fall

The dynamics of stockholder suits are remarkably similar from case to
case. A company's stock takes a dive, often related to news that
promising predictions of revenues have failed to pan out. Plaintiffs
attorneys representing stock holders-both individuals and institutional
investors such as retirement funds-file claims based on the overinflated

purchase value of their investments.

While a number of cases are dismissed because plaintiffs fail to show
fraud on the part of corporate officers, almost every case that makes it

past the summary judgement stage results in settlement, sometimes with
shares of the company included in the payout and attorney compensation.

MicroStrategy found itself in the land of multiple class actions on
March 20, when the company announced its restatement of earnings for the

past two years.

The business-to-business software firm's revenue for 1999, originally
reported as $ 205.3 million, were dropped to between $ 150 million and $

155 million. Revenue for 1998 was downgraded from $ 106.4 million to
between $ 95. 9 million and $ 100.5 million.

That same day, Schiffrin & Barroway, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based firm,
filed a class action against MicroStrategy in the Eastern District of
Virginia. So far, 14 other law firms have followed, including New York's

Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes & Lerach and Boston's Berman, DeValerio &

Pease. The suits allege that MicroStrategy and its officers and
directors violated federal securities law by issuing false and
misleading statements about the company's finances. Specifically, the
suits allege that MicroStrategy recognized as revenue money not yet
received from contractors.

MicroStrategy has not commented on the allegations other than to say the

restatements were made to conform with SEC accounting guidelines.

The company's outside auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, has withdrawn its

certification of MicroStrategy's filings. Pricewater-houseCoopers has
been named as a defendant in at least one of the cases.

MicroStrategy's accounting practice is not uncommon among aggressive
technology companies. But it's a practice SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt
called " accounting hocus pocus" in a 1998 speech.

The SEC issued new accounting guidelines in December, and a March 10
Bear Stearns & Co. report says 32 companies have restated their earnings

or adjusted their accounting practices since then.

For the securities bar, that could mean that more cases are in the
pipeline. In fact, one of the companies that joined MicroStrategy in
restating profits, Milwaukee-based Cumulus Media Inc., was also hit with

stock fraud suits last week stemming from a restatement of its earnings.

As for the forecast predicting a torrent of stock fraud litigation in
Northern Virginia, securities experts suggest it was inevitable.
Grundfest, the Stanford University professor who tracks such cases,
says, "Sunrise to sunset, it's no more surprising than that." (Legal
Times, March 27, 2000

RAINFOREST CAFE: Columnist Says Investors Ignore Fundamentals
An article on Saint Paul Pioneer Press says that investors apparently
bought Rainforest stock without heeding one of the first lessons of
investing -- to examine company fundamentals, including management's
track record.

Under a proposal that will go before shareholders in April, Landry's
Seafood Restaurants will buy the 37-unit theme restaurant chain for
about half of its book value. Investors are crying foul -- accusing
Rainforest directors of caring more for themselves than the company's
shareholders. The Wisconsin Investment Board, with more than 11 percent
stake in the company, called the offer a "ridiculous price." In a recent

letter to shareholders, the board asked investors to defeat it.
Heartland Value Fund, which holds 6 percent of the stock, filed a
class-action lawsuit to stop the deal. Wisconsin Investment Board said
Rainforest's current directors "suffer from sufficient conflicts of
interest to raise serious questions about their ability to act in the
best interest of their shareholders."

Rainforest executives say there is no conflict of interest and
shareholders are getting a fair price. Heartland claims that while
investors will receive an insufficient price for their stock, four of
the six members of Rainforest's board will each receive $ 1.5 million in

payments in addition to the buyout price. In addition, Heartland objects

to Rainforest's agreement to pay $ 2 million to Lakes Gaming as part of
an earlier merger deal that collapsed. Three of Rainforest's directors
also are directors at Lakes Gaming, which is led by Lyle Berman, who is
also chairman of Rainforest.

The Saint Paul Pioneer Press raises the question: "What's the big
surprise?" It says that for years, Rainforest Chairman Lyle Berman has
operated with a tight group of directors -- friends and relatives who
sit on each other's boards in intertwined companies. And over and over
again shareholders in some of those companies have complained that
directors seemed to care more about enriching each other than the

For example, shareholders have complained bitterly about stock option
deals granted Berman and other insiders by directors who weren't
independent, the article says. When Grand Casinos and Rainforest stock
prices tumbled, essentially erasing the value of the options Berman and
other executives were granted, directors cut the price of those options
even further. That essentially preserved their profit.

The same couldn't be said for investors, the article goes on  Stock
options are supposed to be incentives for strong management performance.

While there was nothing illegal with what they did, the directors seemed

to reward Berman and others for a poor job, enriching them as
shareholders suffered for management's mistakes, the article comments.

These actions have been widely reported. Yet, people who buy companies
like restaurants and casinos tend to ignore some of the most basic
lessons about researching stocks, the article says.

Instead of evaluating management, growth rates, stock valuations and the

potential for return on investment, they focus on liking the place.
Here's what one investor posted about Rainforest on an Internet
investment message board in January: "My girlfriend and I visited the
Long Island restaurant.... It was crowded.... I tried the Tuscan Chicken

and my girlfriend tried the Buffalo chicken salad. I enjoyed mine, but
she wasn't too thrilled about the sesame dressing on her salad....
Anyway, we enjoyed ourselves." (Saint Paul Pioneer Press, March 31,

STANFORD UNIVERSITY: $545,000 Award to Researcher in Sex Bias Suit
A former Stanford University medical school researcher was awarded
$545,000 yesterday by a jury that concluded she was fired in retaliation
for her complaints of sex discrimination. The unanimous verdict was the
maximum award allowed under federal law in such cases. It comes even as
the U.S. Labor Department is investigating charges that the prestigious
university violated affirmative action law in the hiring, promotion and
retention of women faculty and researchers.

The sexual discrimination allegations brought by acclaimed researcher
Colleen Crangle, 48, marked the first time in memory that Stanford has
defended itself against such charges in court. Typically, the university
has settled such matters out of court or has seen the suits dismissed.

The eight-person jury in U.S. District Court in San Jose found that
administrators at a Stanford Medical School laboratory abruptly fired
Crangle in March, 1997, in retaliation for her complaints of
discrimination by her bosses.

                              Jury Award

Under federal law, the most a jury can award for punitive and
compensatory damages in a retaliation case is $300,000. The jury handed
Crangle the $300,000 amount and tacked on an additional $ 245,000 in
lost salary and benefits. Stanford also will have to pay her attorneys'
fees, but that amount has yet to be determined. "I'm elated," Crangle
said. "But this case is not just about me, but about a lot of women and
people of color who have been discriminated against by Stanford."

Stanford lawyers said they plan to appeal the verdict. They argued
during the eight-day trial in U.S. District Court that Crangle was laid
off her job at the Stanford Medical Infometrics laboratory because her
research money had dried up, and she refused to accept a subsequent job
offer. Crangle's attorney, Dan Siegel, said he hopes the award will
force Stanford to "wake up and realize this is the 21st century, and
women need to be treated equally."

                              A Girl Friday'

Crangle, a senior researcher in medical computer science, testified she
had been forced to be a "Girl Friday" to a fellow scientist who she said
was threatened by her "strong opinions." During her testimony last week,
Crangle asserted that when she brought her concerns to Dr. Edward
Shortliffe, associate Medical School dean, he told her to leave if she
didn't like the situation.

The jury of four men and four women accepted Crangle's version and
concluded that Stanford had acted with malice against her. Two jurors
embraced the teary-eyed Crangle as they were leaving the courtroom of
Judge James Ware. "You have a great future, ma'am," drawled one, an
unidentified male in a cowboy hat said.

                          Key E-Mail Message

Jurors declined to comment on their verdict or award. But a key piece of
evidence that may have influenced their ruling was an e-mail sent by
Medical Infometrics director Mark Musen to Shortliffe one day after
Crangle complained to her bosses in December, 1996. 'I'd like to see
what options we have right now simply to lay her off," Musen wrote.

In a statement by Stanford Medical Center, Debra Zumwalt, the
university's acting general counsel, noted that Judge Ware had
previously ruled there was no evidence of discrimination by Stanford,
and that the jury's verdict was limited to the "narrow issue" of
retaliation. "Obviously, we are disappointed with the jury's verdict,"
she said, noting that five male colleagues of Crangle's had also been
laid off at the same time when the grant money ran out.

Zumwalt said the university intends to appeal the verdict. She contended
that the judge had made several errors prejudicial to the university's
defense, particularly in allowing testimony by Stanford brain surgeon
Fran Conley, a longtime critic of the university in regard to gender
equity issues.

The Labor Department investigation focuses on allegations of widespread
sex discrimination at Stanford in hiring and promotions of women. More
than a dozen women brought a class-action complaint in November 1998,
but their numbers grew to 32, including some minority men, by the time
the probe was announced in February. Many of those who brought their
complaints to the Labor Department have since left Stanford, and some
have settled their claims out of court and withdrawn from the federal
complaint. Crangle was among those who filed discrimination complaints
with the Labor Department. At stake is $500 million in federal contracts
and grants Stanford receives annually. The contracts and grants could be
jeopardized if investigators of the Federal Office of Contract
Compliance uncover a pattern of bias. (The San Francisco Chronicle,
MARCH 31, 2000)

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Australian Smokers to Seek Special Leave to Appeal
British American Tobacco Australasia Limited has been advised that
Slater & Gordon, the solicitors acting on behalf of Nixon and others in
a class action against the tobacco companies, have applied to the High
Court seeking leave to appeal the decision of the Full Court of the
Federal Court of Australia which dismissed the Nixon proceedings and
denied them leave to replead. The court's full bench in a majority
decision agreed with the companies' appeal that the class action could
not continue because it did not comply with Federal Court rules.

Six people began a class action last year, suing Philip Morris, WD & HO
Wills, and Rothmans for damages, claiming the companies breached the
trade practices act with misleading and deceptive conduct and

Slater and Gordon, representing those bringing the case, said a class
action was essential if the tens of thousands of individuals and
families affected by cigarette smoking were to get justice. Solicitor
Peter Gordon said it was appropriate for the court to resolve the common

issues in these cases through a single class action. "Our appeal to the
High Court has implications not just for this case, but for the future
of class actions in Australia," Mr Gordon said. Two of the original six
lead applicants have died since the class action began in the federal
court last year, but their families are continuing the case.

British American Tobacco Australasia will vigorously oppose the
application for leave to appeal. "The company believes that this wrongly

conceived action has already consumed considerable court time and cost
and the Full Federal Court properly found that the proceedings brought
by Slater and Gordon was not an appropriate class action," said Brendan
Brady, Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Director, British American
Tobacco Australasia. "The company believes that actions of this nature,
which are brought by plaintiff lawyers seeking to emulate US speculative

litigation, are not appropriate for Australia," continued Brady.

The escalation of such actions potentially affects all businesses in
Australia. Where such actions fail, the costs of them should be payable
by those who promote this speculative litigation rather than those
individuals who have been encouraged, through advertising and other
means, to take part. Recent press statements attributable to the
Plaintiff lawyers Association seek to promote the inability of companies

deducting their costs of litigation as a tax deduction. All that this is

really promoting is to further pressure companies to make settlements
even where the cause of action may, at best, be dubious. "This is not
simply about tobacco companies, it is about all Australian businesses
being subjected to American style litigation at the cost of local
business and jobs," concluded Brady.

British American Tobacco Australasia is the leading manufacturer and
distributor of tobacco products in Australasia, with approximately 45
per cent market share in Australia. The company has a wide range of
leading brands such as Winfield, Benson & Hedges, Dunhill, Lucky Strike,

Holiday and Stradbroke. (AAP Newsfeed, March 31, 2000)

A 49-year-old lung cancer victim vowed to continue to fight
Australia's tobacco industry for all victims of cigarette smoking. Alex
Talay, of South Yarra, faced the media with law firm Slater and Gordon
to announce a bid to seek special leave to appeal to the High Court to
continue a landmark class action against tobacco giants.

Mr Talay was one of six original lead applicants involved in a class
action which began in the Federal Court in Sydney last year against
Philip Morris, WD&HO Wills, and Rothmans over damages. The six lead
applicants, two of whom have since died, claimed the companies had
breached the Trade Practices Act with misleading and deceptive conduct
and negligence. But the Federal Court threw the case out earlier this
month, saying it could not continue because it did not comply with
Federal Court rules.

Meanwhile, Mr Talay recounted his battle with lung cancer and the
tobacco companies. He said he had smoked Marlboro from 1960 to 1990, and

John Player and Winfield Blue from 1990. He said he started smoking when

he was 12, was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 1999 and was operated

on on March 19 last year two days after he stubbed out his final
cigarette. "I didn't think I'd live," he told reporters. "I didn't think

I'd be here. I've had nearly half of my left lung removed, plus three
ribs. And when bones are involved in cancer it's very bad, but I'm still

here." He also claimed investigators for the tobacco companies had
interviewed his friends, neighbours, clients and former school
acquaintances. "For at least six months, probably eight months, there's
been a couple of private investigators wandering around knocking on all
sorts of doors," Mr Talay said. "They have even approached former
teammates from more than 20 years ago when I played football with
Chelsea in the Mornington Peninsula League."

But British American Tobacco Australasia (BATA), which was formed after
WD&HO Wills and Rothmans merged several months ago, denied harassment.
BATA's Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Director Brendan Brady said it
was common practice for an investigation to be carried out. "We do use
investigators to find out about those individuals and we are perfectly
within our rights to investigate those individuals because they are
seeking damages from our company," Mr Brady said. He also said the
latest bid was "wrongly conceived action that's already consumed
considerable court time and cost." Philip Morris in Australia said the
case should not proceed as a representative proceeding because the
claims of each person gave rise to numerous individual issues.
"Proceeding of the class action won't avoid the need for hundreds and,
maybe thousands, of individual trials ... to prove on an individual
basis that they're entitled to compensation," Philip Morris in Australia

Corporate Communications Manager Nerida White told AAP. Ms White also
said it was common procedure for investigators to be involved in cases
involving personal injury cases. (AAP Newsfeed, March 31, 2000)

VISIONAMERICA INC: Cauley & Geller Files Securities Lawsuit in TN
The Law Firm of Cauley & Geller, LLP announced on March 30 that it has
filed a class action in Federal Court in Memphis Tennessee on behalf of
all individuals and institutional investors that purchased or otherwise
acquired publicly traded securities of VisionAmerica, Inc. (Nasdaq:VSNA)

between November 5, 1998 and March 24, 2000, inclusive (the "Class

The complaint charges that the Company and certain of its officers and
directors violated the federal securities laws by providing materially
false and misleading information about the Company's financial condition

during the Class Period. Among other things, the Complaint alleges that
the Company failed to properly pay and account for large payroll taxes.
As a result, the Company faces massive tax liabilities, penalties and
interest. As a further result, the Company is in default of certain
credit agreements with its primary lenders. When the truth about the
Company's financial disarray was revealed, the price of the stock
dropped significantly, causing unwitting shareholders to suffer losses.

Contact: Cauley & Geller, LLP, Boca Raton Sue Null or Sharon Jackson
888/551-9944 E-mail: CauleyPA@aol.com

WOODLAWN CEMETERY: Lawsuit Filed Against Cemetery Closed By State
Two days after state officials shut down Woodlawn Cemetery, a lawyer has

filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of people whose relatives may
have been improperly buried or illegally disinterred.

State officials shut down the cemetery after finding fragments
of bone and caskets scattered throughout the grounds. They also found
evidence that people who had purchased single grave sites had, instead,
been laid to rest in graves unlawfully filled with other caskets.

Sandra Lindsey, lead claimant in the suit, said her mother had purchased

a single site some years before her death. But when her mother died a
year ago, Lindsey found that cemetery officials had already buried two
people in her mother's grave, said her lawyer, Mike Arias.

The lawyer said Lindsey contacted him last month but he held off on
filing a lawsuit at the request of officials in the state's Department
of Consumer Affairs. State officials--who began looking into the
cemetery in February after an inspector on another matter noticed
fragments of human bone--did not want a lawsuit to compromise their
investigation, Arias said.

Meanwhile, state officials have opened a temporary office in Compton
City Hall to meet with families distraught over potential mishandling of

loved ones' remains.

"We are meeting with the families one on one, and taking their names and

the names of their loved ones," said Tracey Weatherby, spokeswoman for
Consumer Affairs, which oversees the state funeral bureau. The office
will be open at least through Sunday, she said.

Assemblyman Carl Washington (D-Compton) visited the cemetery and called
on the Legislature to study the idea of passing a law to better regulate

cemeteries. (Los Angeles Times, March 31, 2000)

YBM MAGNEX: Judge Clears Way for Cross-Border Securities Fraud Suits
A U.S. federal court judge has refused to dismiss the case against
former insiders and advisors to YBM Magnex International Inc., clearing
the way for a U.S. class-action lawsuit to proceed against high-profile
directors such as David Peterson, the former Ontario premier, and Owen
Mitchell, vice-president of First Marathon Securities, as well as
auditors Deloitte & Touche LLP.

The ruling is key for Canadian shareholders because it gives them access

to the U.S. legal system with its history of jury awards and shareholder


The YBM defendants had argued that Canadian investors should be excluded

from the U.S. class action because YBM was a Canadian company that
traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and because two YBM class actions
have already been filed in Canada.

Judge Clarence Newcomer called the arguments 'very persuasive,' but said

the Canadian and U.S. systems can be complementary in protecting the
interests of all shareholders.

He said that because a large part of the YBM scandal -- from press
releases containing false information to crucial audits that missed
signs of money laundering -- took place in the U.S. head office, the
case legitimately falls under the mantle of U.S. securities law.

He took pains to state in the 33-page ruling that although Canadian
courts 'can be trusted to be orderly [and] fair,' Canadian investors
still cannot access remedies available under U.S. law through any
Canadian suit.

'The court feels that dismissal of this action would not be out of a
spirit of international co-operation in deference to Canada's legal,
judicial, legislative and administrative system,' he said. 'Rather [it]
would turn out to be an outright dismissal of plaintiffs' legitimate
U.S. securities claims.

'Plaintiffs would lose out on the protections of U.S. law that are
available to them under extraterritorial applications.'

The ruling was seen as an important development in cross-border
securities frauds.

'If Canadians can somehow access the powerful U.S. laws, they should do
so,' said Ward Branch, a Vancouver-based class-action specialist.

'What is required in Canada is equivalent protections for shareholders.

'It is going to be important in the long run for the two jurisdictions
to work together. So to the extent that this judge is opening the door
for co-operation between Canadian and U.S. judges, in the long term,
it's a good thing for class actions.'

YBM, a commercial magnet manufacturer with a market capitalization of
almost $1-billion and a spot on the benchmark TSE 300 index, collapsed
in May, 1998, on allegations of ties to Russian organized crime that
surfaced following an organized crime raid on its Philadelphia-area

YBM has since acknowledged that its business had 'many of the indicia of

money laundering,' and pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court last year to

one count of securities fraud.

Judge Newcomer ruled that Mr. Mitchell belongs before the court as a
company insider because, for example, he 'allegedly minimized
'inconsistencies' in shareholder records and testimony, and misreported
results of an investigation of the special committee' [on links between
YBM's original shareholders and Russian organized crime].

The committee was created to investigate possible ties to Russian
organized crime.

He said Mr. Peterson, along with other officers and directors,
'allegedly made comments in various articles regarding YBM's financial
status, when they were in a position to know that their statements were
false and misrepresentative.' (National Post (formerly The Financial
Post), March 31, 2000)

* Racial Factor in Lending Reduced by Technology; Fed May Reintroduce
Thanks to improvements in technology and technique, and a commitment to
compliance with stringent lending laws and regulations, the banking
industry has made enormous progress towards eliminating racial
considerations from the lending process. Banks are serving the needs of
minorities in ways that never before were believed to be possible. The
fact is that, as banks rely more routinely on non-personal communication

with their customers through the Internet or other electronic or
telephonic methods, the opportunity to know and consider the race of the

customer is virtually eliminated. Moreover, through the process of
credit scoring, decisions are being made that only take into account
economic factors that exclude strictly racial components.

In spite of these successes, the Federal Reserve Board, at the
insistence of the Department of Justice, the Office of the Comptroller
of the Currency and other regulatory and advocacy groups, recently has
attempted to re-introduce race as a factor in loan applications. This
effort has come in the form of a proposal to amend the Board's
Regulation B in order to permit "voluntary" collection of racial data in

loan applications.

Initially, it is important to note that incidents of actual
discrimination are dealt with harshly and quickly by a variety of legal
and regulatory methods. Banks are sensitive to this and train and
monitor their employees carefully for any signs of inappropriate
behavior. But the Fed's proposal is not aimed at intentional
discrimination; it is seeking evidence of statistical "discrimination."
Throughout the past eight years, the federal government has attacked
"Fair Lending" issues through statistical analyses. Regardless of actual

proof, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has sought data that, viewed
through a prism which assigns racial discrimination as a primary
explanation, suggests disparate treatment between white borrowers and
minority borrowers. For example, DOJ has extracted settlements from
mortgage lenders after examinations of data collected under the Home
Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) suggested that African-American
applicants paid higher loan fees or rates than did Caucasian applicants.

Similarly, DOJ has relied on such inaccurate methods as a review of
applicant surnames to surmise ethnic composition of borrowers in
measuring "disparate treatment" and has forced settlements based on such

wildly unreliable data. The Fed itself played into these tactics with
its now infamous Boston Fed study of racial considerations in the
lending process. Given this methodology, it is not surprising that the
Fed is seeking to "permit" banks to gather racial data on loan
applications. No matter how sporadic or unreliable the information may
prove to be, it will be fodder for manipulation by the government and
interest groups.

The Fed seeks to conceal the motivations for permitting the gathering of

heretofore prohibited information by proposing that it be "voluntary."
What can be wrong with simply allowing a bank that desires to monitor
its own progress in fair lending to gather the information necessary to
do so? The answer to this query is painfully obvious. First, once the
information is captured, it will be there for the regulators through the

examination process and, eventually, for interest groups, through
intimidation or subpoena, to see, manipulate, and use to advance their
agendas. Second, there will be no uniformity in capturing the data.
Definitions of "race" or "ethnicity" will vary institution by
institution, and defining such concepts is increasingly imprecise.
Third, the "voluntary" nature of the process will produce information
that is even less reliable than data currently available through HMDA
(which itself is extremely tenuous). Fourth, with an emphasis on privacy

pervading the American public, the willingness of applicants to share
information about their racial background is unlikely.

In actuality, the "voluntary" phase will only exist for a short period.
As soon as the data is sporadically available from voluntary sources, it

will simply be too tempting to ignore. Fed studies, hearings before
political bodies, governmental enforcement actions, class actions and
investigative journalism will all command access to such information.
Once these drums commence their relentless beat, the Fed will bow to
overwhelming demand and make the collection mandatory.

While such an outcome may please a limited constituency of regulators
and activists, what effect does the pernicious practice of inquiring
into race have on minorities? The minority family applying for a
personal line of credit with a bank or the minority- owned or operated
business seeking a commercial loan will be queried about their
background in a way that has been illegal for years. The not so subtle
message is that race is considered in the credit granting process. And
the detrimental impact of that message cannot be measured against the
theoretical benefit of access to faulty racial data generated through
loan applications, whether or not voluntary.

Finally, the collection of racial information in the application process

cannot possibly benefit society, especially minorities. Foremost, the
data once collected will not tell the full story in spite of what the
proponents maintain. This is because such data fails to take into
account statistical variances that result from considerations other than

race. Lending is a balance between risk and reward. A good lender will
consider many factors in determining creditworthiness of a customer and
will price the granting of credit in accordance with the risk involved.
Legally, race cannot be a factor considered in this evaluation; but, if
data is collected in the application process, it certainly can be
manipulated to appear to be the reason for denying credit or pricing
credit differently.

What seems to be lost on the proponents of the Fed's proposal is that
banking today is highly competitive and modern bankers are required to
be entrepreneurial. In a financial world where EPS (earnings per share)
is paramount and compensation systems reward profitable production,
there is no room for racial discrimination. Moreover, combining such an
environment with the almost impossible task of determining the racial
identity of an applicant virtually assures us of discrimination-free
lending. The Federal Reserve needs to re-think its proposal. And those
who truly want a lending process that rejects racial considerations need

to demand that it do so. (Legal Opinion Letter, March 31, 2000)


S U B S C R I P T I O N  I N F O R M A T I O N

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