/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/000426.MBX                   C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

                  Wednesday, April 26, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 81


AMBER: Refund in OK Town for Speeding Tickets May Cover 30 Years
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: West Virginia University Employees Sue
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: WVU Says Senate Says Employees Not United on Suit
ATASCADERO STATE HOSPITAL: Patient Dies After Being Restrained
BRISTOL-MYERS: Savett Frutkin Files Securities Lawsuit in New Jersey

CARROLL & GRAF: NY App. Ct. Reverses Class of Book Authors Re Royalties
COLORADO: Trial Begins in Lawsuit over School Funding
HASTINGS ENTERTAINMENT: Wolf Haldenstein Files Securities Suit in TX
LIBERTY NATIONAL: Dismissed Blacks=92 Suit May Be Refiled at State Ct
MICROSOFT CORP: Cable News Coverage on Stock Price

ORANGE UNIFIED: Teachers Walk out of Contract Negotiations
REZULIN: Lawsuits against Maker of Diabetes Drug Pile up
RISCORP INC: Plans Vigorous Defense of Securities Suit in FL
RISCORP INC: Will Resume Defense in FL Case over Worker's Policies
SOTHEBY'S, CHRISTIE'S: NY Judge Oks Class for Antitrust Lawsuit

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Judge Kaye Says No Delay for Next Phase of Trial
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Moves to Cap Damage Award Anger Lawyers
TOYOTA MOTOR: Car Dealer Sued in IL under Consumer Fraud Act and TILA
UNISYS CORP: Securities Lawsuits in PA Consolidated

* 3rd Cir in PA Orders Freeze on NJ's Version of Megan Law Notification

AMBER: Refund in OK Town for Speeding Tickets May Cover 30 Years
A case of unfiled paperwork could prove costly for a small central
Oklahoma town. How much might depend on a battle of state statutes and a
statute of limitations.

Chickasha attorney Ryland Rivas says everyone who has received a traffic
ticket in Amber for about 30 years might be entitled to a refund because
of an obscure state statute. City attorney Van Bingaman believes only
one person fits the criteria because that person appealed a traffic
ticket fine.

The statute Rivas cited requires Oklahoma towns to file their city
ordinances with their respective county clerk's office every 10 years.
Rivas found that the town of Amber hadn't filed its ordinances since the
1960s. And a judge through out a speeding ticket.

The statute may mean everyone who has received a traffic ticket in Amber
since then is entitled to a refund, Rivas says. He is putting together a
class-action lawsuit on behalf of more than 30 clients in the hopes of
reclaiming the money. His clients are seeking only the money they paid
in fines for speeding, Rivas said, adding that he would like the case to
be settled out of court. "They just want their money back," he said.
"They've paid over than what they should have to."

Bingaman cited another statute that he said authorizes the tickets
issued by Amber police. "There is a statute out there that allows us to
keep operating even though that one piece of paper wasn't filed,"
Bingaman said. The statute allows cities to issue fines and tickets, not
to exceed $50 plus court costs, even though city ordinances haven't been
filed, he said.

Rivas was trying to take care of a speeding ticket issued to one of his
clients by the Amber Police Department when he stumbled upon the
statute. "It was just an absolute accident," he said. Bingaman said he
couldn't speculate why the ordinances weren't filed. Rivas said the
statute Bingaman cited might legitimize the tickets issued by Amber
police. If that is the case, he said, his clients will seek to recoup
the amount over $50 that they've paid.

In either case, the decision will be made when Rivas files the lawsuit.
"It just seems the city knows they aren't supposed to do that and they
should go through their accounting and give the money back," Rivas said.
Bingaman said each person issued a ticket has 10 days to appeal once the
county judge has announced the verdict - in this case, the amount of the
speeding ticket. Anyone who wanted to protest a ticket should have
appealed, he said. Only one of Rivas' clients meets that standard,
Bingaman said. "I don't think they can prevail on the lawsuit," he said.

The lawsuit may prove to be a financial burden to the northern Grady
County town. But Rivas said he figures the town's municipal league
insurance would be able to cover any money they would have to pay back.
(The Associated Press, April 25, 2000)

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: West Virginia University Employees Sue
When Loretta Price became a records clerk for West Virginia University
in 1985, she didn't know about the cancer-causing asbestos her employers
had discovered in school buildings a year earlier. "I have always given
my all," Price said after suing WVU for putting her at risk. "I didn't
realize that included my health." Price, a secretary in the sociology
and anthropology department, has joined five colleagues in accusing
school officials of ignoring a known health threat for years.

Their lawsuit, which could be expanded to a class-action case covering
thousands of workers, seeks damages for emotional distress, as well as
monthly medical monitoring that may not be covered by insurance. Anyone
exposed to asbestos has a high risk of developing lung and other
cancers, said Robert Sweeney, an attorney in Cleveland, Ohio. They also
could suffer from asbestosis, a progressive and life-threatening lung
disability, or mesothelioma, a rare and inevitably fatal tumor in the
lining of the lung.

Regular screenings for potential asbestos-related health troubles could
cost a person hundreds of dollars each month, Sweeney said.

Attorneys who filed the lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court in
Charleston have interviewed nearly 100 people and hope a judge will
allow more plaintiffs to join by declaring it a class-action case. Any
custodian, maintenance worker, secretary, clerk, teacher or other
employee who worked in a building with a known asbestos problem may be
eligible, Sweeney said.

The litigation does not cover students, who would have been exposed for
much shorter periods than long-term employees. "I don't mean to minimize
what it means for the university to expose those students, but we've
attempted to couch this litigation to protect those people with the most
exposure," Sweeney said. "These risks are real. They should not be
minimized," he said. "Until the university accepts them as risks, these
people are not adequately protected."

WVU legal counsel Jon Reed said he was happy to learn none of the
employees currently has an asbestos-related health problem, and he
denied the university has done nothing since 1984. "This is really a
suit related to their concerns over possibilities rather than something
that's actually happened," Reed said. "We've had an asbestos monitoring
and asbestos abatement program in place for many years, and we believe
the results of those tests have indicated that WVU has been a safe place
for our workers."

Sweeney said the university has not offered to pay for medical
monitoring of people who may have been exposed. In fact, during the
legislative session that ended in March, the central office of the
state's higher education system sought protection from just such an
expense in a bill reorganizing the state's colleges and universities.
The bill passed, but the medical monitoring provision was quickly

Reed, however, said WVU has required some employees to undergo medical
monitoring - at the university's expense - when they are considered at
risk. "The issue will likely be one of whether these particular
employees are ones for whom medical monitoring would be appropriate," he

WVU's Coliseum is closed until October while USA Remediation Services
Inc., of Warrenton, Va., removes asbestos from the ceiling over the
14,000-seat basketball arena. The $7.8 million project should be
finished in time for fall practice. The arena was closed last August
after tests found asbestos fibers in the seating section, prompting
environmental regulators to question public safety. Potential problems
with asbestos at the College of Law and the Creative Arts Center were
subsequently identified.

Sweeney argues all of the discoveries create anxiety for the plaintiffs.

The others who filed the lawsuit are math professor Sam Nadler; former
custodian Barbara Pritt; custodian Frances Cogar; tradeworker David L.
Sturms; and maintenance man and boiler operator Gregory M. Malvito.

The lawsuit charges that WVU surveyed 400 buildings in 1984 to determine
whether asbestos, a common fireproofing and insulation material in the
'60s, presented any dangers. About 330 buildings contained asbestos or
materials made with asbestos. It was sprayed on as insulation, used in
floor and ceiling tiles, and wrapped around pipes and ducts. But from
1984 through 1992, the university did nothing to minimize the danger to
its employees, the lawsuit charges. Nor did it warn them or train them
how to protect themselves. A 1992 review of the Coliseum found the
asbestos-coated ceiling "significantly damaged," with fibers and chunks
of debris on catwalks, and in and around air ducts. The building should
have been closed then, the plaintiffs argue. (The Associated Press,
April 21, 2000)

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: WVU Says Senate Says Employees Not United on Suit
Robert Griffith, chair-elect of the West Virginia University Faculty
Senate, was not surprised to hear about a lawsuit filed against WVU that
alleges the university was negligent in dealing with asbestos in campus
buildings. However, Griffith made it clear that the views of six
university employees named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit do not reflect
the views of WVU's faculty and staff as a whole.

Six employees were named in the lawsuit filed against WVU in Kanawha
County Circuit Court. Plaintiffs' attorneys will seek class-action
status for the case. The lawsuit could be expanded to include hundreds
of plaintiffs, and nearly 100 people have already been interviewed.

But at a March meeting of the Faculty Senate, professor Anna Elfenbein
moved for the Senate to elect a fact-finding committee to investigate
the asbestos situation on campus. Faculty members voted by secret
ballot, and the motion failed "by a large majority, something like 55 to
15," Griffith said. "I interpret that to mean that the large majority of
the Faculty Senate assumes that the university is doing all it can to
handle the asbestos according to guidelines," he said.

The university's in-house lawyer, Jon Reed, said allegations that the
school ignored the asbestos problem and was negligent about exposing
employees to the material are false.

The suit claims WVU officials knew asbestos was present in the air not
only at the Coliseum, but also at the law school, Creative Arts Center,
Knapp Hall, Allen Hall, Percival Hall and others. As a result, the suit
says, all employees who worked primarily in those areas have been put at
risk. The university's handling of the asbestos problem was, according
to the suit, "An inadequate response to a serious public health risk and
undertaken without taking into consideration the day-to-day health risks
of those workers who continue to labor in that environment."

The plaintiffs' lawyers asked the school to first pay a lump sum into a
fund that would be used to test the possible victims for asbestosis,
lung cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers. The second phase seeks
actual damages from the exposure.

Reed said the school has had in place for years a medical monitoring
program for workers who have been exposed not only to asbestos, but any
hazardous material. "Asbestos is something we have all known about, and
the potential hazards have been made very clear," Reed said. "We have
made a conscious effort to be out in front on this issue and stay
current with the leading edge of the related and applicable science."

Reed said the suit would likely be referred to the state Board of Risk
Management, which will then deal with the suit as a claim against the
state's insurance. In all likelihood, Reed said, outside counsel will be
appointed. "Our wish, though, is not to have a rancorous relationship
with the parties," Reed said. "We'll work with these employees who might
be involved in the suit and their lawyers to come to an agreeable and
amicable solution to this situation. We would like to get this resolved
so that everyone's situation is taken into account."

The university announced last June that asbestos had been found in the
area of the 14,000-seat Coliseum. It was closed last September and a $
15 million cleanup is under way. The presence of asbestos in other
campus buildings also has been announced. (Charleston Daily Mail, April
21, 2000)

ATASCADERO STATE HOSPITAL: Patient Dies After Being Restrained
Patients at Atascadero State Hospital are outraged over the death of a
troubled 26-year-old man who was wrestled to the floor after throwing
chairs and spitting at several staff members.

Deshaun Eric Washington of Napa was pronounced dead on April 4, possibly
of a heart attack, about an hour and a half after his outburst began at
the hospital, which is being sued in part for allegedly using
unreasonable force to control its patients. "We call it 'dogpile on the
patient.' The first word out of the patient is 'I can't breathe,"' said
Anthony Dacayana, a fellow patient who is involved in the class-action
suit and called The Associated Press to complain about Washington's

Hospital spokeswoman Leslie Malcom described Washington as "highly
combative." She said the staff "did an exemplary job in trying to
control his aggressive episode and to revive him."

That didn't match the image he had among friends in Napa, where a small,
but close-knit community of homeless people blends in with the tourists
who come for wineries, upscale restaurants and bed-and-breakfast inns.
They described a shy, soft-spoken homeless man who laughed like a girl
and danced when he cooked. They said they couldn't imagine him getting
violent, unless he wasn't taking his medicine.

Toxicology tests showed no drugs - prescription or otherwise - in
Washington's system, San Luis Obispo County Coroner Steve Tate told the

Washington was sent to the hospital - one of five state institutions for
the criminally insane - on a temporary basis on March 22 after being
found incompetent to stand trial for assault. He had thrown a rock
through a car window for no apparent reason, his lawyer said. Washington
was pronounced dead at Twin Cities Hospital near Atascadero 13 days
later after experiencing a "medical emergency," confirmed Malcom, who
provided few details.

Tate said Washington had a history of high blood pressure and
bradycardia, or a slow heart beat, and may have suffered a heart attack
after he was wrestled to the floor, placed on a board and then
restrained with leather straps in a bed. Tate also said Washington
apparently wasn't taking the drugs he had been prescribed, which
included nifedipine, often taken for high blood pressure; lorazepan for
severe agitation; and diphenhydramine or Benadryl for insomnia.

Tate, who is still awaiting some test results before officially
declaring the cause of death, also found no obvious signs of trauma,
only bruises on his wrist and elbow. Other patients were told about his
death the next day. Decayana said they were read an internal memo that
said Washington's heart stopped because he had prior medical problems,
and that his heart condition was exacerbated by being restrained.
"Somebody died and this person shouldn't have died," Dacayana said. "Our
concern ... is that they're going to find fault with the patient and not
with the staff, but there are staff here who've seen that their
procedure of takedowns is wrong."

Brent Brooks, 44, who lives on Napa's streets and met Washington at the
local shelter, was surprised to hear Washington had died. He had heard
about the rock-throwing incident and figured his friend was in the
county jail. "I hate to think of anyone dying strapped down," he said.
"It's horrible."

Staffers at the shelter where Washington often slept, many of them
former homeless people themselves, were "extremely upset" when they
heard the news, said Charlene Horton, who directs the agency that runs
the shelter. "He was a very gentle soul when he was here," she said.
Washington has a 28-year-old brother who also has lived in Napa and a
grandmother in Pasadena. Neither could be reached for comment.

Jess Raphael, the Napa County public defender who represented Washington
in January, said he never did get him to explain the attack, which
covered a woman with shattered glass. Washington seemed to want to be
arrested at the time - he simply sat down on a curb and waited for
police, he said. "We couldn't converse about the case. We couldn't carry
on a conversation. He was depressed, lethargic," Raphael said. "He
wasn't really in a position to help himself. He was a sorrowful
creature." (The Associated Press, April 21, 2000)

BRISTOL-MYERS: Savett Frutkin Files Securities Lawsuit in New Jersey
Savett Frutkin Podell & Ryan, P.C. gives notice that a class action
complaint was filed April 24 in the United States District Court for the
District of New Jersey on behalf of a class of persons who purchased the
common stock of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) at artificially
inflated prices during the period November 8, 1999 through April 19,
2000 ("Class Period") and who were damaged thereby.

The complaint charges BMY and its senior officer with violations of
Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The
complaint alleges that defendants issued false and misleading statements
relating to the development of its drug, VANLEV. Defendants began a
campaign to herald VANLEV as the most effective drug for treating
hypertension and, to allay any safety concerns, conditioned the market
to believe that there were no serious side effects to the drug. However,
the complaint further alleges that defendants knew but did not disclose
that the results of the BMY-conducted clinical trials of patients given
VANLEV showed that a rare and very serious side effect, that is, a
severe form of angioedema which is life threatening, had afflicted some
patients in the trials. Defendants' false and misleading statements
regarding VANLEV resulted in artificially inflated stock prices during
the Class Period.

Contact: Savett Frutkin Podell & Ryan, P.C., Philadelphia Robert P.
Frutkin, Esquire or Barbara A. Podell, Esquire 215/923-5400 or
800/993-3233 E-mail: sfprpc@op.ne

CARROLL & GRAF: NY App. Ct. Reverses Class of Book Authors Re Royalties
Lawsuit by book authors alleging underpayment and late payment of
royalties by Carroll & Graf Publishers should not have been certified as
class action, New York Appellate Division rules.

In a lawsuit filed in New York state court by several book authors,
including mystery novelist Carolyn Banks, Carroll & Graf Publishers has
been accused of underpaying royalties, paying royalties late, and
withholding royalties by setting reserves for returns in excess of
standard industry practice. According to Banks and her fellow
plaintiffs, Carroll & Graf did these things not just to them, but as a
"pattern of conduct" towards all its authors. As a result, they sought
to have their case certified as a class action, and their motion was
granted by trial court Judge Barry Cozier.

Carroll & Graf took an immediate appeal from that ruling. And in a short
Memorandum Decision, the Appellate Division has reversed.

New York law permits class actions in cases where "there are questions
of law or fact common to the class which predominate over any questions
affecting only individual members." The Appellate Division acknowledged
that "on their face, plaintiffs' claims do appear to have a semblance of
commonality. . . ."

On closer examination, however, the appellate court determined that most
of the plaintiffs' claims will require "individualized proof." For
example, the court said that the reasonableness of Carroll & Graf's
reserves for returns depends on the popularity of a book's author, the
number of books distributed, the type of book and its market, the amount
of promotion and publicity for the book, and the book's past history of
returns. The underpayment of royalties claim will require the review of
sales of individual books, the number returned, and the royalty
provisions of each publishing contract.

The late payment issue may present common issues. But the appellate
court was not convinced that this issue "predominates" the issues to be
litigated. For these reasons, the Appellate Division has "decertified"
the class. Banks v. Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 699 N.Y.S.2d 403,
1999 N.Y.App.Div.LEXIS 12638 (App.Div. 1999)[ELR 21:11:21]
(Entertainment Law Reporter, April, 2000)

COLORADO: Trial Begins in Lawsuit over School Funding
Ernie Casius Jr. used to come home from school frustrated and
embarrassed because he couldn't get from his upstairs classroom to the
downstairs restroom fast enough. Casius, who suffers from cerebral
palsy, often didn't make it time, his mother, Wilma Casius, told a judge
Monday. "He had accidents."

Wilma Casius testified in a class-action lawsuit against state
government that claims a lack of state funding for school construction
and repairs violates the state constitution's guarantee for a uniform
funding system.

The trial opened Monday in Denver District Court and is expected to last
five weeks. A decision is expected this fall.

The lawsuit represents at least 23,000 students in Lake County, Sanford,
Aguilar, Las Animas, Pueblo 60 and Centennial. Colorado has about
700,000 public school students. Attorneys representing the students
outlined their case in opening arguments submitted in writing. They
contend that the state funding formula violates the state Constitution's
guarantee of a uniform funding system favors wealthier areas and hurts
schools in poorer communities - like Aguilar Elementary, which Ernie
Casius attended.

The plaintiffs "daily attend classes in decrepit school buildings that
fail to meet constitutionally mandated minimum standards," attorney
Steven Kaufman said. Problems cited in the lawsuit include unsafe fire
escapes and fire alarm systems, antiquated wiring and plumbing, leaking
roofs, inadequate heating and ventilation systems and structural
deficiencies, such as cracked masonry.

Attorney Linda Comer, who represents the state, said in her written
statement that local districts must maintain school buildings, and "the
current school finance system enables the districts to meet that
obligation." Evidence will show that building conditions "are the
results of local district decisions" and arose from "a pattern of
neglect, inefficient maintenance or lack of planning," Comer said.

The trial opened with testimony from Richard Hill, director of Colorado
State University's Rural Education Assistance Program, who surveyed
public schools in Aguilar in southern Colorado. Hill said the schools
had unsafe fire escapes and playgrounds and science labs lacked basic
equipment. "It was a perilous environment in a myriad of ways," Hill
said. Hill said Aguilar elementary, junior high and high school are on
one 2.9-acre campus. He said the minimum land for a single elementary
school is about 8 acres. New schools would cost $8 million to $10
million, but he estimated the Aguilar district could raise less than $2
million through bond issues.

Hill's team completed its report in August 1998. Since then, lawmakers
have granted some emergency funding to the Aguilar schools. The money
was used mostly to fix heating systems.

Under Colorado law, state funding covers a little more than half the
operating costs of public schools. The rest comes from local property
taxes. School districts must finance school construction and repairs
through property taxes, which puts districts with low property values in
a bind.

House Speaker Russell George, R-Rifle, said courts have ruled against
states in 28 out of 30 similar lawsuits. He said a ruling against
Colorado could cost the state billions of dollars. George said two bills
heard by a House committee Monday could have helped settle the school
lawsuit, though only one survived. Senate Bill 181, which George
sponsored, would ask voters in November to allow spending surplus
revenue on emergency construction. The bill was tentatively approved and
now advances to the full House for debate. (The Associated Press, April
25, 2000)

HASTINGS ENTERTAINMENT: Wolf Haldenstein Files Securities Suit in TX
On April 25, 2000, Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP filed a
class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Texas on behalf of investors who bought Hastings
Entertainment, Inc. (Nasdaq: HAST) stock between June 12, 1998, through
March 7, 2000 (the "Class Period").

The lawsuit charges Hastings and several of its top officers with
violations of the securities laws and regulations of the United States.
The complaint alleges that defendants issued a series of false and
misleading statements concerning the Company's revenues. Specifically,
Hastings is alleged to have misled the market by improperly entering
merchandise receipts into their inventory control system, which had the
effect of materially understating Hastings' cost of revenues and
overstating its gross profit and net income in violation of Generally
Accepted Accounting Principles ("GAAP"). Upon the announcement that
Hastings would restate its earnings results for the years 1995 through
1999, the Company's stock price plunged 23% on extraordinarily heavy
trading volume to an all-time low.

Contact: Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, 800-575-0735
(Michael Miske, Gregory Nespole, Esq., Fred Taylor Isquith, Esq. or
Shane T. Rowley, Esq.) (http://www.whafh.com)(whafh@aol.com)

LIBERTY NATIONAL: Dismissed Blacks=92 Suit May Be Refiled at State Ct
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against Liberty National
Insurance Co. by blacks who claimed they were defrauded by the company,
but the judge left the door open for residents to refile part of the
suit in state court. U.S. District Court Judge H. Dean Buttram dismissed
the suit, filed by four DeKalb County residents, in response to a
pre-trial motion from Liberty National. The suit was filed in December
by Ellen Gayle Moore, 49, Fannie McConnell, 72, Spencer Williams, 51,
and Anita Bowers, 43. They claim they were charged discriminatory

The four claimed Liberty National, through Service Insurance Co., sold
life insurance, burial insurance and other types of policies to blacks
for 50 years. But they said the company failed to pay death benefits to
black policyholders.

Buttram said in an April 7 ruling that the time had run out for the
plaintiffs to make their claims. But he said the court would be
"sympathetic" to their claims, if true. The claims allege a moral lapse
on the part of Liberty National, Buttram said, but the court can only
enforce legal obligations.

Birmingham attorney Joe Whatley, who represents the plaintiffs, said he
would file an amended complaint and ask the judge to reconsider. The
suit sought class-action status for black policyholders. (The Associated
Press, April 21, 2000)

MICROSOFT CORP: Cable News Coverage on Stock Price
Broadcast on the CNN on April 25, 2000

    HIGHLIGHT: Bad news at Microsoft helped pull down the Nasdaq, the
index now just 161 points above its lowest close of the year. Courtney
Smith, president and chief investment officer of the company that bears
his name, discusses why investing in Microsoft is now "too risky for too
little reward."

    DEBORAH MARCHINI, CNN ANCHOR: Bad news at Microsoft helped pull down
the Nasdaq, the index now just 161 points above its lowest close of the

    DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN ANCHOR: Courtney Smith, president and chief
investment officer of the company that bears his name, is here with his
Wall Street forecast.

Good morning.

company by the way, just joking.

    HAFFENREFFER: Microsoft shares really took it in the chops
yesterday, down more than 12 points on the day, it is now just above its
52-week low, cheap enough to buy?

    SMITH: No, no, I'm not a big fan of owning Microsoft, and in fact I
doubt I am going to own this company for years, and there's really a
couple of major reasons. First of all, this is the company that has
basically -- is going to be the Philip Morris of the next 10 years. This
is a company that is now being beset by legal problems from the
Department of Justice and 19 states. This has really opened the door
that everybody can now sue them, you've got the rest of the states,
you're going to have their competitors suing them, you're going to have
foreign governments suing them, you're going to see class-action
lawsuits, and as far as I'm concerned, why do I want to own a company,
although it is a great company, that has such litigation risk? It's just
too difficult, too risky for too little reward.

The second problem is that they're being attacked from all angles. You
know, we may be able to start using cell phones and personal digital
assistants and cable modems and all kinds of ways to be able to access
the productivity tools we need in our business through Linux, cable
modems, whatever, we don't necessarily need to have a Microsoft products
to do that. So they're being -- they are having to fight a war on
multiple fronts, and it's very difficult to win that kind of a battle.

    MARCHINI: You think they're going to be so hamstrung in their basic
business that makers of other operating systems like Linux, and those
who basically help distribute it, like RedHat will prosper?

    SMITH: Yes, I do. Not that I want to buy Red Hat.

    MARCHINI: Oh, why not?

    SMITH: Well, I don't think the Linux companies -- I think there is a
little smoke and mirrors there in a way too, these are help desks
masquerading as companies, so I'm not convinced that's the greatest, you
know, business model either. I mean, I think they are a little
overvalued as well. But the point is that you've got a company that is
being attacked from all fronts, and it is very difficult to win in that

    HAFFENREFFER: Four point four decline yesterday for the Nasdaq
composite, Microsoft getting some of the blame, I guess, for sparking
it, much of a surprise in that decline?

    SMITH: The surprise was obviously the size of the decline is always
a surprise, but I had been bearish going into the day. I'm actually
bullish coming into today, I think we'll probably see an up session in
the market over the next several days. And we're starting to put in a
bottom I think in the Nasdaq, but it's not quite there yet, we're going
to probably stagger around and see some volatility over the next week or

    HAFFENREFFER: All right, what's the reason that you say we're about
to call a bottom in tech stocks?

    SMITH: Because the biggest cure for a bear market is a bear market,
and that is to say that one of the key reasons why we saw the Nasdaq hit
so hard was that there was $25 billion worth of stocks sold by insiders,
mainly tech stocks, mainly stock coming out of lock up from IPOs a year
ago. Twenty-five billion dollars of new supply? Hey, this is a market
based on supply and demand, there was an incredible amount of supply
coming out. Once you have lower prices, that supply doesn't come out

    MARCHINI: All right, but the anecdotal evidence suggests individual
investors are not buying on the dips.

    SMITH: Absolutely right, but if I can get rid of $25 billion worth
of supply, it doesn't take a lot of buying to start to move the market
up, but that's going to take a few weeks, we need to get a little
confidence back in the market that this isn't going to be a 1987
washout, or a 1973-74, you know, bear market for people to start to say:
Hey, wait a minute, OK, this is pretty cheap stock, maybe I'll buy
Microsoft or, you know, VA Linux or whatever, you know, but they'll
start to come in and buy some of the names that have been premiere names
over the last year or so.

ORANGE UNIFIED: Teachers Walk out of Contract Negotiations
Teachers union representatives walked out of contract negotiations
Monday with the Orange Unified School District, all but ensuring that a
scheduled two-day walkout will begin Wednesday. Representatives of the
1,500-member Orange Unified Education Assn. left the bargaining table
Monday after district negotiators refused to undergo mediation on
1998-2000 teacher contracts, said Bill Shanahan, the union's executive

In a related development, a Superior Court judge dismissed a $
75-million class-action lawsuit filed against the district on behalf of
its retired teachers.

Orange teachers have been planning a walkout since trustees of the
30,000-student district retroactively imposed a 1998-2000 contract in
March without union consent. District officials hoped to avert a walkout
by coming to an agreement Monday on a contract for the next academic
year. But union negotiators would not broach that topic until they could
be heard on the 1998-2000 contract, Shanahan said, which led to the
impasse. "We feel that we tried to offer a way around the issues by
suggesting the mediation," he said. "The district chose not to go that

District spokeswoman Judith Frutig said the two sides have already been
through mediation on the 1998-2000 contracts. "We've been there and done
that," she said. "We want to move ahead and negotiate a 2000-2001

The contract the board approved in March gives teachers a retroactive 8%
pay raise over the 1998-2000 school years, bringing the salaries of the
most veteran teachers to $ 56,560. The union's last proposal would have
included larger raises for veteran teachers. Salaries would range from $
32,000 at entry level to a maximum of $ 63,980.

The last-minute meeting came as the district prepared for staff absences
Wednesday and Thursday by offering more than double its usual $ 100
daily rate for substitute teachers and hiring private security guards
for campuses. By late Monday, more than 500 teachers in Los Angeles,
Orange and Riverside counties had responded to the district's ads
offering $ 250 per day for substitutes who passed a background check,
said Robert Howell, the district's director of human resources.

Howell said at least 800 substitutes will be ready to report during the
walkout, which the district expects will keep 850 to 1,000 Orange
teachers out of the classroom. The district also sent letters to
students' homes last week, assuring parents that schools will remain
open and that instruction will carry on as usual.

At Monday's meeting, district negotiators offered the teachers a
voluntary lifetime medical-benefits buyout of as much as $ 20,000 over
five years, available at retirement. This was a concession on an earlier
proposal of mandatory buyout over 10 years at age 65, said Frutig. The
union also offered a compromise Monday, saying it would accept a $ 1,000
decrease in health benefits, Shanahan said.

Rancorous contract negotiations between the district and the teachers
union have lasted for two years. District officials have said they
cannot afford to pay teachers what the union is requesting and stay
afloat financially. Meanwhile, union officials have questioned the
validity of the district's budget figures.

Last week, a Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of
700 retired Orange teachers. The lawsuit, which sought class-action
status, claimed that the district reneged on 23-year-old promise to give
retirees free lifetime medical benefits in exchange for lower salaries.

In dismissing the suit, Judge John C. Woolley said the retired teachers
filed suit too soon--before they had exhausted all options through the
Public Employment Relations Board.

James A. Bowles, the school district's lawyer, said in a statement that
the purpose of the failed lawsuit was to overturn a contract negotiated
by the district and the teachers union in 1997, which required any new
retirees to enter a health-maintenance organization plan. Plaintiff
David Reger said he was not aware that the suit was dismissed; his
lawyers could not be reached for comment late Monday.

Two similar suits, one for $ 35 million filed on behalf of retired
janitors and clerical workers and one for $ 19 million filed for retired
administrators, are pending. (Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2000)

REZULIN: Lawsuits against Maker of Diabetes Drug Pile up
Lawsuits against the maker of Rezulin, the diabetes drug withdrawn from
the market after it was blamed for at least 63 deaths, are piling up as
both individuals and groups seek compensation for a wide range of
alleged health complications.

Some patients died or needed lifesaving liver transplants after taking
Rezulin, including a Franklin man who urgently needs a donor organ. Many
more, including some in Massachusetts, say they require long-term
monitoring to watch for potential side effects. The suits are
multiplying in the wake of the decision last month by Warner-Lambert Co.
of Morris Plains, N.J., to pull Rezulin off the market, under pressure
from the US Food and Drug Administration. Sales of the drug were halted
in Britain two years ago.

Rezulin is one of a class of new drugs that help diabetics use their
limited amount of natural insulin more efficiently.

Officials at the FDA disagreed over the drug's risks - with some arguing
that the benefits to diabetics outweighed the risks - delaying agency
action until March. "This case is such a tragedy for the Americans who
suffered from the drug, and a tragedy for faith in the FDA," said
Michael Hackard, a California lawyer who is representing 26 Rezulin

Hackard said people who suffered severe liver damage, as well as the
families of those who died, should get multimillion dollar settlements,
based on previous suits in which patients needing transplants received
settlements of $4 million to $6 million. However, because those suits
will be so expensive to pursue - as much as $ 100,000 each - a Medford
firm has filed a class-action suit to obtain compensation for people who
did not have as severe a reaction to the drug. "This case is the only
hope for some of the lesser-damaged people," said Robert J. Bonsignore
of Bonsignore and Brewer. The suit, said Bonsignore, aims to "force the
company to set money to reimburse people who fell victim to their drug,
for the cost of medical monitoring and maybe associated health costs."

A second class-action suit was filed this month in New Jersey.

Warner-Lambert issued a brief statement in response to the lawsuits. It
said the company's conduct "was guided by strict adherence to FDA
regulations." While acknowledging that "some patients have experienced
adverse events" while taking the drug, the company gave adequate warning
about health risks.

In addition, some doctors continue to defend Rezulin. Dr. Martin
Abrahamson, chief of adult diabetes at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston,
said he welcomed Rezulin as "a major advance" in controlling blood
sugar, a major issue for diabetics. He defended the FDA's course of
action, saying that if patients were monitored properly, there was only
a 1 in 100,000 chance of a "serious liver event."

Since Rezulin's withdrawal from the market, patients who were taking it
have been switched to one of two drugs similar to Rezulin that appear to
have fewer adverse effects, said Abrahamson. Hackard, the California
lawyer, said his clients from across the country include six people have
had or will need liver transplants, and others "who are too old or too
sick to have liver transplants, and will die" as a result of damage
allegedly caused by Rezulin.

The Massachusetts patient he represents, David "Chris" Ashe, 53, of
Franklin, suffered such severe liver damage that he needs a transplant
to survive, said Hackard. While Hackard blames the FDA in part, he says
the company "apparently suppressed information" about deaths that
occurred in early clinical testing so that the FDA was unaware of them.

Rezulin was touted as a great advance in diabetes treatment when it was
introduced in early 1997. A growing number of deaths linked to the drug
forced Warner-Lambert to strengthen warnings about possible toxicity.

Hackard said that the FDA allowed Warner-Lambert to push the drug
through approval in about six months, compared with the normal
three-year approval process. By not withdrawing the drug when it was
pulled from the market in Britain, he said, the company "brought in an
additional $1.5 billion in revenue while lots of people died." Hackard
estimates that up to 600 deaths may have occurred due to Rezulin, 10
times the reported number.

David Geiger, a Boston attorney who defends product-liability lawsuits,
said Warner-Lambert would probably rely on its regulation by the FDA as
a defense against its actions, and that plaintiffs would have to
convince a jury that the Warner-Lambert was negligent in its warnings to
doctors. (The Boston Globe, April 25, 2000)

RISCORP INC: Plans Vigorous Defense of Securities Suit in FL
On July 9, 1999, a shareholder class action lawsuit was filed against
the Company, two of its executive officers, and two former executive
officers in the United States District Court for the Middle District of
Florida. The plaintiff in this action purports to represent the class of
shareholders who purchased shares of RISCORP's Class A Common Stock
between November 19, 1997 and July 20, 1998.

The complaint alleges, among other things, that the financial statements
included in the periodic reports filed by RISCORP with the Securities
and Exchange Commission during the class period contain false and
misleading statements of material fact and omissions, in violation of
Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as
amended, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. These allegations
principally relate to the difference between the net book value of the
Company as reflected on its published financial statements during the
class period and the net book value of the assets transferred to Zenith
as determined by the neutral auditors and neutral actuaries pursuant to
the terms of the Asset Purchase Agreement between the parties. The
complaint seeks unspecified compensatory damages. RISCORP believes that
these claims are without merit and intends to vigorously defend this

RISCORP INC: Will Resume Defense in FL Case over Worker's Policies
On March 13, 1998, RISCORP Insurance Company ("RIC") and RISCORP
Property & Casualty Insurance Company ("RPC") were added as defendants
in a purported class action lawsuit filed in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of Florida, styled Bristol Hotel
Management Corporation, et. al., v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Company,
a/k/a Aetna Group, et. al. Case No. 97-2240-CIV-MORENO. The plaintiffs
purport to bring this action on behalf of themselves and a class
consisting of all employers in the State of Florida who purchased or
renewed retrospectively rated or adjusted workers' compensation policies
in the voluntary market since 1985.

The suit was originally filed on July 17, 1997 against approximately 174
workers' compensation insurers as defendants. The complaint was
subsequently amended to add the RISCORP defendants. The amended
complaint named a total of approximately 161 insurer defendants. The
suit claims that the defendant insurance companies violated the Sherman
Antitrust Act, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
("RICO"), and the Florida Antitrust Act, committed breach of contract
and civil conspiracy, and were unjustly enriched by unlawfully adding
improper and illegal charges and fees onto retrospectively rated
premiums and otherwise charging more for those policies than allowed by
law. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, treble damages
under the Antitrust and RICO claims, and equitable relief. RIC and RPC
moved to dismiss the amended complaint and have also filed certain
motions to dismiss the amended complaint filed by various other

On August 26, 1998, the district court issued an order dismissing the
entire suit against all defendants on one of the grounds identified in
the various motions to dismiss filed by the defendants. The district
court indicated that all other grounds and motions to dismiss that were
pending at that time were mooted by the dismissal.

On September 13, 1998, the plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal. On
February 9, 1999, the district court issued, sua sponte, an Order of
Reconsideration in which the court indicated its desire to vacate the
dismissal of the RICO claims and pendant state claims based on a recent
decision of the United States Supreme Court. On March 17, 1999,
plaintiffs-appellants filed an unopposed motion to remand the action to
the district court, citing the Order of Reconsideration. On June 9,
1999, the Eleventh Circuit remanded the case to the district court.
Management will resume its vigorous defense of the case once district
court proceedings recommence.

SOTHEBY'S, CHRISTIE'S: NY Judge Oks Class for Antitrust Lawsuit
Beleaguered auction house Sotheby's and Christie's have suffered a new
blow with a New York judge giving the green light to more than 60
litigants to bring a class action lawsuit. The lawsuits were launched
individually after January's announcement of a US Justice Department
antitrust investigation into alleged price-fixing in the international
auctions business. However, Judge Lewis Kaplan has now given the
lawsuits class action status, allowing them to group together to bring
one large case.

The judge said anyone who bought or sold items through the two auction
houses between January 1993 and February 7 this year could be part of
the class, potentially opening the door for thousands of claims running
into millions of dollars.

The ruling does not affect shareholders who filed suits claiming that
any price-fixing would have inflated revenues and misled investors. The
investigation concerns allegations that the auction houses colluded over
prices, changing their fees within weeks of each other in 1992 and in
1995. No charges have been brought.

Christie's announced in January that it and its management had been
offered "conditional amnesty" from prosecution in exchange for
information regarding the probe. Sotheby's non-executive chairman Alfred
Taubman and its chief executive Diana Brooks resigned in February. (The
Daily Telegraph(London), April 25, 2000)

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Judge Kaye Says No Delay for Next Phase of Trial
Lawyers for the country's five largest tobacco companies seemed unable
to win an argument in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on Monday. Judge Robert
Kaye rejected a request by lead tobacco attorney Dan Webb to delay the
start of the next phase of the statewide class-action trial against the
industry. The judge told lawyers on both sides to be ready on May 15.

Webb wanted the extension, he said, because there is too much work still
to be done. That work includes taking depositions and collecting
interrogatories from some of the 52 witnesses scheduled for the next
phase. The next phase of the trial, Webb said, would probably take
closer to eight weeks than the four weeks previously estimated.

Jurors already have heard 18 months of testimony in this case. In the
first phase of the trial, which ended in July, the six jurors found the
tobacco industry responsible for manufacturing a dangerous product and
lying about its health risks. In the second phase, the jury found that
cigarettes caused the cancer suffered by three smokers who were
representing the entire class. On April 7, the jury returned with a
verdict ordering the tobacco companies to compensate them with $ 12.7
million for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. In this
next phase, the same jurors must decide how much the tobacco companies
should pay to the entire class of smokers, estimated to be as many as
500,000 people, as punishment for manufacturing the product that made
them sick.

"This class size presents a very real possibility that defendants would
be economically crippled," Webb said. Using what he called conservative
estimates of the class size, 300,000 people, and possible punitive
damages of $ 25,000 per person, the jury could come back with a verdict
"beyond what Philip Morris could absorb," Webb said.

Florida law does not allow punitive damages so high as to bankrupt a

And Stanley Rosenblatt, half the husband and wife team of lawyers
representing the smokers, said projecting the bankruptcy of the tobacco
companies is like predicting the bankruptcy of Saudi Arabia. "It seems
obvious from the findings of the jury in phase one and phase two, that
they said you deserve to be economically crippled," Rosenblatt said.

Tobacco lawyers also asked the judge to remove Frank Amodeo, an Orlando
clockmaker, as a plaintiff in the case because of the verdict returned
by the jury earlier this month. The jury awarded Amodeo more than $ 5
million in compensatory damages. But the jury also said he should have
known that cigarettes caused his throat cancer when he was diagnosed in
1987. By not joining the class-action lawsuit until 1995, he missed the
four-year deadline for filing a lawsuit. The judge said he would make a
decision regarding this contradictory verdict after the trial is
completed. (Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), April 25, 2000)

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Moves to Cap Damage Award Anger Lawyers
The country's biggest cigarette companies engineered a legal coup when
they offered $ 246 billion to settle lawsuits brought by 46 states, said
the lawyers now representing hundreds of thousands of sick Florida
smokers in a precedent-setting class action.

"They've got all these states trying to protect them now because the
more cigarettes they sell, the more money the states get," said Susan
Rosenblatt, one of the Miami lawyers representing the smokers in the
ongoing class-action trial. "It's really a mind-boggling situation,
because our supposed allies have joined with the defense," Rosenblatt
said during a hearing Monday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. The hearing
came during a break in the trial, which will resume on May 15, when the
six-person jury will return to hear evidence and answer this question:
How much should the tobacco companies pay class members as punishment
for selling a dangerous product and lying about its health risks?

A proposal now before the state Legislature in Tallahassee that would
protect the tobacco industry from a huge punitive damage award fueled
Rosenblatt's ire.Under a 1997 settlement of a Medicare case brought
against the cigarette makers by Florida, they will pay the state $ 17
billion over the next 30 years. "And not one cent of that money goes to
any individual," said Stanley Rosenblatt, Susan's husband and the other
half of the legal team representing Florida smokers.

Their case against the tobacco companies is precedent-setting because
any punitive or compensatory damages the cigarette makers actually pay
out would be the first to go directly to people who became sick from
smoking, or the relatives of those who died from tobacco use.

Lawyers for the tobacco companies have said the class could be as large
as 500,000, and the jury could award as much as $ 300 billion in
punitive damages to the smokers, effectively bankrupting the cigarette

And lobbyists for the tobacco industry have successfully peddled those
fears in Tallahassee, said the smokers' lawyers. "The (Florida)
Legislature and Attorney General Bob Butterworth are now convinced that
if there is a huge punitive award in this tobacco case, the state's
money for roads is at risk," said Susan Rosenblatt, referring to the
fact that most of the money from the 1997 settlement goes for general
revenue purposes.

The tobacco companies also want to use the settlement with the states to
show the jury hearing the class-action case that they have changed their
ways, Stanley Rosenblatt said. "And we will show that they (tobacco)
haven't changed a thing," he said.

Fears the class action could interfere with the state's settlement
prompted a legislative committee last week to recommend a change in the
law. The committee wants to put a $ 50 million cap on the amount tobacco
companies would have to put in a bond pending appeals of the verdicts.
Under current law, the tobacco companies would be required to post about
120 percent of the damage amount in bond. The bond would ensure there is
money waiting for the sick smokers after the appeals are over. Several
other states passed similar laws earlier this month.

The Rosenblatts reminded the court that state law does not allow damage
awards so high that they bankrupt a company. And urged the judge not to
give special favors to the industry. "This is an industry awash in
cash," said Stanley Rosenblatt. "Think about it: They were willing to
pay $ 246 billion to make this go away. And Mr. Webb (the lead tobacco
attorney in the trial) can now quote the attorney general of Florida."

Butterworth was a key player in the state's 1997 settlement with tobacco
and, at that time, a vocal opponent of tobacco. But now he is
interpreting state law in a way that would indefinitely postpone any
possible punitive awards from the tobacco companies getting to smokers
in the class action. "Now (the legislators and Butterworth) are fighting
against their own constituents to keep the cash flow coming from the
tobacco industry," Rosenblatt said. "It would be interesting to see if
any of the (tobacco) CEOs took any pay cuts since that settlement."
(Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), April 25, 2000)

TOYOTA MOTOR: Car Dealer Sued in IL under Consumer Fraud Act and TILA
The fact that the auto dealer is not liable under the Truth in Lending
Act cannot automatically translate into a finding that the auto dealer
did not engage in an unfair and deceptive practice under the Consumer
Fraud Act.

Pawlikowski v. Toyota Motor Credit Corp., Illinois Appellate Court,
Second District. 309 Ill.App.3d 550, 722 N.E.2d 767, 243 Ill. Dec. 1

The plaintiff filed her class-action complaint against Toyota Motor
Credit Corp. and Arlington Toyota Inc. concerning a retail installment
contract for the sale of a motor vehicle and an extended warranty. The
plaintiff alleged that she had entered into the retail installment
contract on May 6, 1991, with Arlington. The contract was later assigned
by Arlington to TMCC, a finance company.

The plaintiff further alleged that the retail installment contract
contained a certain disclosure as follows:

Other Charges Including Amounts Paid To Others On Your Behalf: ... C.
Cost of Optional Mechanical Breakdown Protection Paid to the ... Company
Named Below -- Covering Certain Mechanical Repairs Mechanical Breakdown
Ins. $ 900.00"

The plaintiff further alleged that although the retail installment
contract provided that $ 900 was paid to the warranty company, this
statement was misleading. The plaintiff alleged that the amount actually
paid to the warranty company was substantially less, with the difference
retained by Arlington.

This cause was certified to proceed as a class action. TMCC filed a
motion to dismiss counts 4, 5 and 6 pursuant to section 2-615 of the
Code of Civil Procedure. In its motion, TMCC contended that it was not
liable under the Consumer Fraud Act as an assignee of the retail
installment contract and that the plaintiff had failed to allege
specifically the nature of the fraudulent conduct. TMCC also argued that
it could not be held liable for fraud committed by Arlington.

The trial court granted TMCC's motion to dismiss, with prejudice. The
plaintiff filed a timely notice of appeal.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that TMCC's involvement" in the
misstatement on the retail installment contract renders it liable for
fraudulent misrepresentation under the Consumer Fraud Act.

The Illinois Appellate Court, in an opinion written by Justice Fred
Geiger, without dissent, ruled as follows:

We first address whether the plaintiff may state a cause of action under
the Consumer Fraud Act against TMCC regardless of TMCC's liability under
the Truth In Lending Act. The Consumer Fraud Act prohibits any
concealment, suppression or omission of any material fact in trade or
commerce with the intent that others rely upon the concealment,
suppression or omission....

The fact that TMCC is not liable under TILA cannot automatically
translate into a finding that TMCC did not engage in an unfair and
deceptive practice under the Consumer Fraud Act. For this reason ... we
conclude that TMCC's escape from liability under TILA does not serve as
an affirmative defense to the plaintiff's Consumer Fraud Act cause of

For the foregoing reasons, we hold as follows:

    that portion of the trial court's Nov. 23, 1998, order dismissing
    count 4, with prejudice, is reversed...."

Daniel A. Edelman, Cathleen M. Combs, James O. Latturner, Jeffrey S.
Sell and Jamie S. Franklin, all of Edelman, Combs & Latturner of
Chicago, and Lawrence A. Stein of Huck, Bouma, Martin, Charlton &
Bradshaw P.C. of Wheaton and Vincent L. DiTommaso of DiTommaso &
Associates of Oak Brook, for appellant.

Thomas M. Crisham and Jean M. Predergast, both of Quinlan & Crisham Ltd.
of Chicago, for appellee. (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, April 24, 2000)

UNISYS CORP: Securities Lawsuits in PA Consolidated
As has been reported in the CAR, a number of purported class action
lawsuits seeking unspecified compensatory damages have been filed
against Unisys and various current and former officers in the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by persons who
acquired Unisys common stock during the period May 4, 1999 through
October 14, 1999.

On February 16, 2000, these actions, which are in the early stages, were
consolidated under the caption In re: Unisys Corporation Securities
Litigation. The plaintiffs allege violations of the Federal securities
laws in connection with statements made by the company concerning
certain of its services contracts. The company believes it has
meritorious defenses and intends to defend this action vigorously.

* 3rd Cir in PA Orders Freeze on NJ's Version of Megan Law Notification
A federal appeals court in Philadelphia has ordered a freeze on sex
offender notifications in New Jersey until it has time to review the
fairness of procedures being used by local officials who issue these
earnings. U.S. District Judge Joseph Irenas last week ruled that the
state's Megan's Law guidelines, as revised by Attorney General John
Farmer, provided a reasonable system for warning neighbors about sex
offenders while making sure the privileged information was not leaked to
the community at large. But the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
Philadelphia issued an order last Tuesday saying it wanted to review
those facts for itself. Federal Appellate Judge Dolores Sloviter ordered
Megan's Law notifications frozen in the meantime, a step Irenas never
took even after he demanded that the guidelines be improved.

The New Jersey Public Defenders office, which represents sex offenders,
hailed the order because in their view the current system for
notifications does not prevent leaks.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a ruling last year written by
Sloviter, said Megan's Law was all right provided reasonable steps are
taken to make sure that information about sex offenders was given only
to neighbors who were authorized to receive it. Sloviter said people
have a constitutional right to keep their home address private, and that
authorities must take steps to protect this right when conducting
door-to-door notifications about sex offenders.

Under the law, sex offenders who are released from prison or who move
into New Jersey are required to register their address, and officials
seek to conduct limited notifications to neighbors or area schools
according to their assessment of the risk that the offender might pose
to others. For high risk offenders, police conduct door-to-door
notification with name, address, photo, criminal record and other
details. For those deemed moderate risk, notifications are limited to
area schools, daycare centers, Little Leagues and other facilities or
organizations that have custody of children.

In a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of sex offenders, the Public
Defender's office has challenged the notification procedures, saying the
information was frequently leaked to others not entitled to receive it
and further, that county prosecutors were not doing enough to prevent
these leaks. (Pennsylvania Law Weekly, April 24, 2000)


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

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by Bankruptcy
Creditors' Service, Inc., Princeton, NJ, and Beard Group, Inc.,
Washington, DC. Theresa Cheuk, Managing Editor.

Copyright 1999.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
publication in any form (including e-mail forwarding, electronic
re-mailing and photocopying) is strictly prohibited without prior
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Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to be
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