CAR_Public/000524.MBX                  C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

                  Wednesday, May 24, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 101

                                 Headlines

ARIZONA: Judge Adds Hull To Mental Health Lawsuit
CJD: Survivors of Human Hormone Mired in Legal Battle
DELIAS INC: Files Motion to Dismiss Securities Suis in NY
DOW CHEMICAL: Stull, Stull Files Securities Suit in New York
EDUCATIONAL CREDIT: 11 Cir Affirms Agency Not Defined As Debt Collector

FIRST SECURITY: Shareholder Claims Officials Concealed Problems
GREEN TREE: McGehee & Pianelli Files TX Suit Re Home Installment Sales
GTE CORP: Chimicles & Tikellis, Wolf Haldenstein File Investors Suit NY
HARRIS GOVT: May Be Sued for Allegedly Unfair Health Travel Policies
HMOs: Study Warns of Higher Costs from Pending Legislation and Action

LASERVUE EYE: May Have Exposed Patients to Disease for Reused Blades
MAINE: Audit Finds Remiss in Providing Services to Mentally Retarded
MICROSOFT CORP: Fed. Court Remands Antitrust Suit to Tennessee
MUSIC COMPANIES: Slapped with Antitrust Suit in Boston after FTC Deal
NY DOC: Ct Orders for Corrective Plan for Incarcerated Students

ON POINT: Cauley & Geller Files Investor Suit Vs. Company and Auditor
PUERTO RICO: Patients Get Transplant But Not Pills under Insurance
ROSS STORES: Resoves Managers' Complaint over OT Pay in CA
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Arguments Begin; Have Makers Been Punished Enough
TOSHIBA CORP: Denies Discriminating Chinese in Compensation for Laptop

UNION SCHOOL: ACLU Says Expulsion Without Hearings Violated Rights
WAR VICTIMS: Filipinos and Koreans Sue Japanese Firms for Forced Labor

                                *********

ARIZONA: Judge Adds Hull To Mental Health Lawsuit
-------------------------------------------------
It's been 14 years since a court first ruled that Arizona has failed to
deliver services promised to the seriously mentally ill. A judge says
it's time to make Gov. Jane Hull a defendant in the case. The case has
been reported in the CAR. The decision Monday by Judge Bernard J.
Dougherty of Maricopa County Superior Court could make Hull subject to
court orders to implement the years of promises made but not kept by the
state.

Granting a request by plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit, Dougherty
said he acted under court rules that permit adding defendants to ensure
justice and implement judgments already made in a case.

Plaintiffs want a major expansion of state services for the seriously
mentally ill. Last year a state advisory task force recommended a $356
million annual increase for the estimated 22,000 seriously mentally ill
statewide, including additional residential group homes, crisis
treatment centers, substance abuse counseling and psychotherapy.

Hull appeared in Dougherty's chambers shortly after becoming governor in
1997 and expressed a commitment to resolve the case, the judge noted.
Hull lawyers predicted the plaintiffs next will try to have the judge
unconstitutionally tie her hands on the spending issue. It would violate
the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers between branches of
government for a court to "tell a governor what to do and how to do it,"
argued Hull attorney Brian Kaven.

Dougherty said that argument was premature. "The veto power of the
governor simply is not an issue at this (time)," Dougherty said,
referring to Hull's April veto of a mental health funding bill.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they will give the governor every
opportunity to meet her responsibilities voluntarily, including spelling
out what she will do to implement the past court rulings. "We don't want
the governor in jail," said plaintiffs attorney Steven J. Schwartz. "We
want the governor to run the state in the way that is constitutionally
required."

The only defendants have been the state and the Department of Health
Services director, but Schwartz said Hull needs to be added because she
is primarily responsible for requesting funding from the Legislature.
The plaintiffs sought contempt sanctions against then-Gov. Rose Mofford
in 1990 over the mental health funding issue, but the state Supreme
Court dismissed that issue because she was not a defendant in the
lawsuit.

Dougherty first ruled in 1985 that the state was not providing mental
health services promised by state law. That ruling was upheld by the
state Supreme Court in 1989, and state officials since then have agreed
to several plans to provide the promised care.

However, none of the plans has been implemented and some advocates of
mental-health services questioned Hull's commitment to do so in the wake
of the veto. "I'd like to see the same priority for people with mental
illness as building a new stadium for football," Rep. Herschella Horton,
D-Tucson, said after Monday's hearing.

Hull said she vetoed the funding bill because the state did not have the
money available. She has been unsuccessful in urging the Legislature to
spend Arizona's share of the multistate settlement with tobacco
companies on health care, including mental health.

"She has a plan. She is not the king or queen. She has to deal with the
Legislature and with the voters," said Lisa Daniels Flores, Hull's
general counsel. Flores said after the hearing she did not know whether
Hull would appeal Dougherty's order to the state Court of Appeals or
Arizona Supreme Court. Jail time can be ordered for contempt of court,
but "no court is going to send the governor to jail," Flores added. (The
Associated Press State & Local Wire, May 23, 2000)


CJD: Survivors of Human Hormone Mired in Legal Battle
-----------------------------------------------------
In 1958, an American scientist managed to do what nature had failed to.
He made a dwarf grow. For the first time, man had harnessed human growth
hormone. By 1963, while technically still an experimental drug, the
hormone was being supplied free of charge by the National Institutes of
Health to pediatricians across America. For the next 22 years, the drug
was administered to more than 8,000 stunted children. It worked. The
children grew--collectively, more than a mile. They went on to become
soldiers, doctors, journalists and secretaries. They married and had
children. But then, decades after taking the hormone, a small but steady
succession of recipients began to develop strange symptoms.

First they lost their balance. In the case of a 32-year-old foot surgeon
from Brooklyn, N.Y., Dr. Stacey Crair, she suddenly started toppling
over. As a child, Crair had received growth hormone treatment for 12
years. Nearby on Long Island, a water safety engineer named Mike Nofi
remembers that his 30-year-old wife, Wendy, suddenly started feeling
like "she was on a boat." She had received growth hormone for six years.
Soon they began to stagger and drool. Their personalities changed.
Within months they were in comas. Their brains were turning to sponge.

They had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD, a human variant of the
so-called mad cow disease. CJD is incurable. The agent that causes it is
unknown. How they got it, however, was clear. They had been infected by
contaminated hormone. Twenty other hormone recipients in the United
States have also died from CJD, and the toll continues to rise.

But the NIH has not apologized, or even helped with the care of victims.
Having investigated the debacle, the NIH has insisted for the last 15
years that the deaths were unforeseeable. "It was an experimental
treatment, and people signed informed consents," NIH spokeswoman Jane
Demouy said recently.

However, The Times has unearthed British court documents showing that
the deaths were not only foreseeable, they were foreseen. The NIH lab
called in to investigate the deaths in 1985 had been warned of the
danger of contamination seven years earlier.

Moreover, a body of research shows that a safer method for processing
the drug had been available from the inception of the program. But
scientists under contract to the NIH chose a cheaper, less
labor-intensive method.

Shown the documents, Demouy said the NIH involvement was limited to
funding the program: "Physicians around the country administered the
hormone. Decisions regarding the program were made more than 35 years
ago, and the people involved are deceased or retired. In 1985, when it
was learned that three patients who had received human growth hormone
had contracted CJD, distribution of human growth hormone from cadavers
was ended."

                   Plundering the Pituitary Gland

Today human growth hormone is synthetic, and safe. So it is easy to
forget how crude its early forms were--or that it was an important
medicine. A sign of how fast its development has been is that, at the
turn of the 20th century, the word "hormone" did not even exist.
Endocrinology--the study of the network of glands that produce hormones
responsible for growth, sexual maturation, reproduction and
digestion--was a new science.

                    Survivors Mired in Legal Battles

Public displays of concern about a potential epidemic of CJD were one
thing. Doing something to help the victims proved to be another.

By 1996, Gajdusek's lab was in turmoil. In March, as the laureate
addressed a scientific meeting in Europe, the mad cow crisis erupted in
the Britain. The next month, Gajdusek was arrested in Maryland on
charges of child molestation. Found guilty in April 1997, he served a
year of an 18-month sentence and then left for France.

Mike Nofi had his wife placed on a feeding tube in a rest home. It took
her 2 1/2 years to die. The Crairs nursed Stacey at home for four years.
Both Lisa Crair and Mike Nofi are now lost in legal battles that they
say they neither relish nor understand. Crair's lawsuit has been thrown
out of court over legal technicalities in three states where the hormone
was processed. Nofi has been given leave in New York state courts to sue
numerous doctors, technicians and every university that handled the
hormone--even Parlow's UCLA lab, the very place that in 1977 cleaned up
the hormone.

But Nofi is not suing the NIH. According to Pamela Liapakis, former
president of the Assn. of Trial Lawyers of America, the agency enjoys
what the legal profession calls "sovereign privilege" and is exceedingly
difficult to sue under federal tort law. In Britain, however, outraged
families did sue the government. In 1990, an English lawyer named David
Body tracked Dickinson down in a drafty stone house outside Edinburgh,
where he had been living in retirement for three years. Body then
represented three of what are now 34 families of British hormone
victims. He was going to try something nobody had ever done successfully
in Britain: sue the Department of Health in a personal injury case.

He needed an expert witness. After interviewing Dickinson, Body realized
that he could "never put him on the stand." The scientist was frail and
prone to severe migraines. But he typed out a statement that both
outlined the state of knowledge about CJD 25 years ago and recounted his
1976 warning about the risk of contamination. In July 1996, the court
decided against the British government to the tune of more than $ 7.5
million. Anyone treated with the potentially contaminated hormone after
Dickinson's warning was issued would be compensated. Damages are now
even going to the "worried well."

The court stopped short of finding the government negligent in the
preparation of the hormone. "In the English claims, the issue of
purification became secondary to the policy failures," said Body. "I'd
like to see purification explored further in the United States."

The more time that passes, the more difficult this will be. In 1994, at
the age of 84, Wilhelmi died at his home in Atlanta.

However, Parlow, his former colleague who upgraded the purity of the NIH
hormone, said clear "warning bells" were ignored. Describing the early
hormone, he said, "It was painful on injection. This signaled
impurities."

In addition to the 22 Americans who have died from Wilhelmi-era hormone,
CJD has killed five New Zealanders and one Brazilian who received
pre-1977 American hormone. In Britain, 34 people have died, and the
global toll stands at more than 125. The Centers for Disease Control
says the rate of CJD cases among hormone recipients worldwide is
increasing.

                          Tracing the Growth Hormone

1901-05: The word "hormone" coined

1921: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) discovered in Germany.

1925-45: Growth and reproductive hormones found in the pituitary glands
in
       the brains of animals

1958: Maurice Raben at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston
spurs
       2.1 inches of growth in a dwarf by injecting him with human
growth
       hormone extracted from pituitary glands taken from the brains of
       cadavers

1963: The National Institutes of Health takes up sponsorship of the
       National Pituitary Program.

       The largest seat of production is the lab of Alfred E. Wilhelmi,
       head of the biochemistry department at Emory University in
Atlanta.
       Swedish scientists notice that American growth hormone causes
immune
       reactions and publish an alternative method for making the drug.

1968: NIH doctor Daniel C. Gajdusek writes in Science magazine that CJD
is
       transmissible via infected brain tissue. *

1976: Edinburgh-based veterinary geneticist Alan Dickinson warns the
       British government that its pituitary program might spread CJD.

1977: Wilhelmi retires. The NIH moves production of human growth hormone

       to the UCLA lab of Albert Parlow, who begins filtering the drug.
The
       British hormone program also switches from the Wilhelmi protocol
to
       the Swedish extraction method.

1978: Dickinson's fears of CJD contamination in the hormone are passed
to
       Gajdusek's lab at the NIH. In May, a visiting Australian
pathologist
       replies on NIH letterhead that pituitary glands could be
       contaminated with CJD. But he does not pass the warning to the
NIH's
       own pituitary program.

1985: Alison Lay, a hormone recipient, dies in Britain. Three
unidentified
       American recipients also die. The NIH suspends the human growth
       hormone program. Paul Brown of Gajdusek's lab is called in to
       investigate. He warns of a potential "epidemic" of CJD.

1991: Brown and others report in the Journal of the American Medical
Assn.
       that 8,157 American children received the drug and that as many
as
       140 glands infected with CJD may have entered the system.

1996: A class-action lawsuit on behalf of hormone recipients is brought
       against the British government. A London high court awards the
       plaintiffs $ 7.5 million.

2000: The CJD death toll among American recipients of pre-1977
unfiltered
       hormone stands at 22. The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention
       in Atlanta reports that the incidence of CJD in hormone
recipients
       is rising from one case a year to two.

                                    Failed Warnings

NIH epidemiologist Paul Brown was called in by the human growth hormone
program to investigate CJD contamination in 1985. Since then, he has
insisted,"Before 1985, nobody had any idea it the hormone would be
contaminated." But newly discovered letters show that in 1978, a
colleague in Brown's own lab acknowledged the danger and failed to alert
the hormone program. (Los Angeles Times, May 21, 2000)


DELIAS INC: Files Motion to Dismiss Securities Suis in NY
---------------------------------------------------------
In 1999, two separate purported securities class action lawsuits were
filed against the Company and certain of its officers and directors and
one former officer of a subsidiary. The original complaints were filed
in Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York by
Allain Roy on June 1, 1999 and by Lorraine Padgett on June 3, 1999. The
suits were consolidated into a single class action and an amended and
consolidated complaint was filed on March 22, 2000. The complaint in
this lawsuit purports to be a class action on behalf of the purchasers
of the company's securities during the period January 20, 1998 through
September 10, 1998.

The complaint generally alleges that the defendants violated Section
10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder
by making material misstatements and by failing to disclose certain
allegedly material information regarding trends in our business. The
complaint also alleges that the individual defendants are liable for
those violations under Section 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act. The
complaint seeks unspecified damages, attorneys' and experts' fees and
costs, and such other relief as the court deems proper. On April 14,
2000, Delias Inc. and the other named defendants filed a motion to
dismiss the lawsuit.


DOW CHEMICAL: Stull, Stull Files Securities Suit in New York
------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Stull, Stull & Brody announces that a class action
lawsuit was filed on May 22, 2000, in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York on behalf all persons who
purchased the common stock of Dow Chemical, (NYSE:DOW) between August
13, 1999, and Today, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint alleges that Dow violated federal securities laws,
including Section 13(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, in an
SEC filing on August 13, 1999 that contained false statements and
omissions concerning potential liabilities and dangers of business
disruption to which Dow would be exposed upon its acquisition by merger
of Union Carbide.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that Dow failed to disclose that
Union Carbide is exposed to potential criminal and other liabilities
from its former pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, that (i) released
poisonous gas in 1984 that killed thousands and injured half a million
people, and (ii) continues to cause environmental contamination in a
densely populated region.

The complaint alleges that Dow failed to disclose that:

(i)  Union Carbide is criminally charged in India for the Bhopal
Disaster
      with culpable homicide and other charges, which expose it to
      potentially billions of dollars of liability;

(ii) Union Carbide failed to appear in Indian criminal court, was
      proclaimed an absconder, and its Indian assets were attached;

(iii) Dow's Indian holdings will likewise be in danger of attachment by
       Indian courts;

(iv) Dow's plans to expand operations in India will, therefore, be
      jeopardized; and

(v) Union Carbide remains liable for damages from environmental
     contamination from its former Bhopal pesticide plant.

The complaint further alleges that Dow's failure to address these
matters has caused Dow: (i) to underestimate the liabilities it stands
to assume pursuant to the merger, and (ii) to make an excessive offer
for Union Carbide.

Contact: Stull, Stull and Brody, New York Tzivia Brody, Esq.,
1-800-337-4983 Fax: 212/490-2022 e-mail: SSBNY@aol.com


EDUCATIONAL CREDIT: 11 Cir Affirms Agency Not Defined As Debt Collector
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ruling that a student loan guaranty agency acts as a fiduciary, the 11
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a District Court's finding that
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act excepted the agency from its
definition of a "debt collector." The decision exempted the agency from
the statute's restrictions and limitations on collection activities.
(Pelfrey, et al. v Educational Credit Management Corp., No. 99-6189
(11th Cir. 4/6/00).)

Patricia Pelfrey obtained a student loan from Altus Bank. The Alabama
Guaranteed Student Loan Program guaranteed the loan. After filing for
bankruptcy, Pelfrey defaulted on the loan and Altus submitted a claim to
the state program. The state paid the default claim to Altus, which then
filed a proof of claim in Pelfrey's bankruptcy proceeding.

While Pelfrey's bankruptcy case was pending, the state assigned her
account to Educational Credit Management Corp. Following Pelfrey's
bankruptcy discharge, the management company mailed her several
collection letters in an attempt to collect the outstanding debt. In a
class action case, Pelfrey sued Educational Credit in the U.S. District
Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

Pelfrey alleged that the company's letters violated the FDCPA because
they lacked the required consumer warning and verification notice and
threatened action that the company could not legally take. Educational
Credit argued that it was a guaranty agency and the FDCPA did not apply
to such agencies operating pursuant to the Federal Family Educational
Loan Program.

The District Court observed that the FDCPA's limitations and
requirements apply only to an individual or entity considered to be a
"debt collector" within the meaning of the act. The court stated that
the statute expressly provides a number of exceptions to the definition
of a debt collector. These exceptions include "any person collecting or
attempting to collect any debt owed or due or asserted to be owed or due
to the extent such activity is incidental to a bona fide fiduciary
obligation or a bona fide escrow arrangement."

                          Governmental obligations

In arguing that the "bona fide fiduciary obligation" exception applied
to its activities, Educational Credit pointed to the numerous
connections between the federal government and guaranty agencies under
the Federal Family Educational Loan Program, including support from, and
obligations to, the Department of Education. It referred to the
testimony of an official of the Department of Education, who stated that
the agencies collect FFELP loans pursuant to a fiduciary obligation
because they use reserve funds to acquire and hold the loans subject to
the government's statutorily recognized beneficial ownership interest.
The court agreed. It cited 34 CFR 682.410(a)(5), which requires a
guaranty agency to exercise the level of care required of a fiduciary
when it invests the assets of reserve funds described in the statute.
The court noted that such reserve funds include "funds collected by the
guaranty agency on FFEL Program loans on which a claim has been paid."

                         Congressional intent

Senior District Judge Probst observed that Congress may not have
intended to apply the FDCPA to restrict collection activities related to
student loans, but having exempted guaranty agencies from liability
under the FDCPA, "it is up to Congress to address any abuses which may
result from the collection activities of fiduciaries."

In a one-page, per curiam opinion, the 11th Circuit affirmed the
District Court's grant of summary judgment to Educational Credit,
holding that the agency attempted to collect a debt incidental to a
fiduciary obligation, and, as such, the restrictions of the FDCPA did
not apply to its activities. (Consumer Financial Services Law Report,
May 15, 2000)


FIRST SECURITY: Shareholder Claims Officials Concealed Problems
---------------------------------------------------------------
A First Security shareholder has filed suit claiming he and other
investors were duped into buying stock at artificially inflated prices.
The proposed class-action lawsuit, filed Monday on behalf of Harvey
Anderson in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, seeks undetermined
damages for anyone who bought First Security common stock between Oct.
18, 1999, and March 2, 2000. During that period, the suit alleges, bank
officials concealed earnings problems to prevent derailing a planned
merger with Zions Bancorp. The merger plan sent First Security stock
soaring by 31 percent when it was announced last June. First Security
stock climbed as high as $31 per share in December before the merger
with Zions Bank fell apart.

First Security spokeswoman Jackelin Slack said officials had not seen
the lawsuit and could not comment.

First Security officials realized in October that they would need to
make write-offs in the bank's auto and consumer loan portfolios, and
that rising interest rates would hurt 2000 earnings, the suit alleges.
"However, the top officers of First Security knew that such an adverse
announcement with a merger pending would likely kill the deal," the
lawsuit alleges. "These officers were expecting to benefit personally
from the merger and were determined to conceal these adverse
developments until after the merger."

First Security finally conceded the loan portfolio and interest rate
problems March 3, when it admitted that its first-quarter 2000 results
would be much lower than previously forecast, the lawsuit alleges. The
announcement spurred a massive sell-off, wiping out nearly $1.7 billion,
or 38 percent, of First Security's market value in one day. Stock prices
declined to as low as $10.75 per share. Zions shareholders ultimately
rejected the merger with First Security. In April, First Security
announced it would be bought by Wells Fargo in a deal that would bring
$15.50 per share. (The Associated Press, May 23, 2000)


GREEN TREE: McGehee & Pianelli Files TX Suit Re Home Installment Sales
----------------------------------------------------------------------
McGehee & Pianelli, L.L.P. announces that late last week, a Texas
predatory-lending class-action lawsuit was filed against Green Tree
Financial Servicing Corporation and Conseco Finance Servicing
Corporation, alleging a per se violation of law that prohibits the
charging of "points" in manufactured home installment sales. The alleged
illegal charges were paid to Green Tree/Conseco under the terms of
"secret" Dealer Agreements between Texas manufactured home sellers and
Green Tree/Conseco. Based on reports that Green Tree/Conseco had
recently sold well over $1 Billion in installment sales contracts to
Lehman Brothers Investment Banking, the plaintiffs served a subpoena on
Lehman Brothers seeking the production of any installment sales
contracts that may have been subjected to the illegal charges.

According to the lawsuit, the damage allegations of $323,341,915.86 do
not include prejudgment interest and attorneys fees.

The lawsuit was filed by the Texas firm of McGehee & Pianelli, L.L.P.,
1225 N. Loop West, Suite 810, Houston, Texas, 77007; Tel. 713-864-4000;
http://www.lawtx.com.McGehee & Pianelli, L.L.P.


GTE CORP: Chimicles & Tikellis, Wolf Haldenstein File Investors Suit NY
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP and Chimicles & Tikellis LLP
have filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of investors who were
shareholders of record of GTE Corporation (NYSE: GTE) securities as of
March 29, 1999, and their successors in interest.

The lawsuit charges GTE and several of its top officers with violations
of the securities laws and regulations of the United States. The
complaint alleges that defendants issued false and misleading statements
concerning the impact a proposed merger with Bell Atlantic would have on
the amount of dividends received by investors. Specifically, the
complaint alleges that the Company assured investors that they would
receive virtually identical dividends after the merger as they did
before, when, in fact, post-merger, the combined company will issue
dividends one month later than GTE's quarterly dividend schedule. With
nearly one billion outstanding shares of GTE, the conversion of GTE's
dividend schedule to coincide with Bell Atlantic's dividend schedule
which distributes dividends a month later, will result in a material
loss of the time-value of those dividends.

Contact: Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP Michael Miske, George
Peters, Jeffrey G. Smith, Esq., or Shane T. Rowley, Esq., 800/575-0735
email: whafh@aol.com or classmember@whafh.com www.whafh.com or Chimicles
& Tikellis LLP, Pamela Tikellis, Esq. or Timothy Dudderar, Esq.
302/656-2500


HARRIS GOVT: May Be Sued for Allegedly Unfair Health Travel Policies
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The Harris government may be facing a class action lawsuit as a result
of discriminatory health travel policies that continue to tip the scales
against northern Ontario residents.

Liberal MPP Rick Bartolucci has outlined a detailed plan to explore
legal action on behalf of Northern Health Travel Grant (NHTG) victims.
Right now, the province pays only a portion of the cost of travel for
northern cancer patients, while patients from southern Ontario who must
travel for health care are reimbursed for travel, accommodation and meal
expenses.

"The facts speak for themselves," says Bartolucci. "The Harris
government is involved in a discriminatory practice which is
preferential to the south and prejudicial against the North. On behalf
of Northerners, I am asking that Mike Harris immediately inject $3
million into the NHTG program to ensure restitution is provided for
affected parties. The southern policy to 'pay the whole shot' has been
in place for about a year. Therefore, Northern residents should receive
full compensation retroactive to the exact date when the new southern
policy was implemented."

Backed by his Northern Liberal Caucus colleagues, Bartolucci has
established a Northern Cancer Action and Awareness Patient Line (NCAAP)
to provide instant access for those interested in joining a class action
lawsuit against the Harris government. The NCAAP line can be reached at
(705) 675-1527.

"The ball is now in Mike Harris' court," concludes Bartolucci. "If he
chooses his characteristic and chronic habit of ignoring the North, we
will see each other in court. If Harris does the right thing, there will
be no need for a class action lawsuit."

Contact: Rick Bartolucci (705) 675-1914; Mary Devorski, Regional Media
Co Ordinator (416) 325-7179


HMOs: Study Warns of Higher Costs from Pending Legislation and Action
---------------------------------------------------------------------
About 6 million people could lose their health insurance and others face
higher premiums as a result of pending legislation before Congress and
resulting class-action lawsuits, said a study conducted by the Health
Benefits Coalition, made up of insurance and other business groups.

The coalition said legislative and other activities to challenge and
change the way managed care is now conducted could drive up health-care
costs by $395 billion over four years, and remove almost 6 million
people from insurance plans offered by employers because of added
administrative and legal costs. Households could find themselves paying
more than $4,000 in extra premium and related costs through 2005, the
coalition added.

Todd Irons, a coalition spokesman, said activities at the state and
federal level could affect the cost of health insurance for companies
and individuals. Irons said the study wasn't specifically designed to
point out the possible impact of patients' rights and other
medical-related legislation before Congress, but more to make the public
aware of activities that can affect health-care costs.

Private employers would pay $221 billion more in higher premiums and
their employees would pay $45 billion in additional costs if key
elements of the managed-care structure were eliminated, the coalition
said. The key cost-saving mechanisms used in managed care are
utilization review, utilization management, provider discount/capitation
and selective contracting with the most efficient providers. Changing or
eliminating these elements would have a dramatic effect on the cost of
medical care, the coalition said. (BestWire, May 23, 2000)


LASERVUE EYE: May Have Exposed Patients to Disease for Reused Blades
--------------------------------------------------------------------
A Bay Area eye center has notified 2,700 patients that they could have
been exposed to infectious diseases because the blades used in laser
surgery may have been routinely reused on other patients before being
discarded. Letters have been sent to patients of the LaserVue Eye Center
alerting them that disposable microkeratome blades were routinely reused
on patients undergoing laser eye surgery at the company's San Francisco
and Santa Rosa locations.

For more than two years, doctors at both sites reportedly rinsed the
equipment -- which is used to cut flaps in a patient's corneas -- in a
water solution before using them again, even though medical protocol
calls for each blade to be thrown away after use. Furthermore, the blade
holders were only sterilized after every fourth patient, a violation of
medical guidelines, according to a state health department
investigation.

The department requested that the firm send letters to its patients
informing them of the practice of reusing the blades. The doctors have
since stopped the practice, and the state medical board is reviewing the
case.

It is possible, though the chances are very slight, that infectious
diseases such as hepatitis B and C as well as the AIDS virus could have
been transmitted in this manner. "A fourth grader would understand you
need to follow at least these basic sterilization procedures," said
Geoff Gordon-Creed, a San Francisco attorney who has filed a class
action lawsuit against the center and two of its physicians.

Drs. Sanjay Bansal and Swati Singh told health department investigators
they reused blades in an attempt to give patients the best eye care
possible. The physicians contended that they only reused those blades
that served them well in prior eye surgeries, and that they threw away
any that had visible blood on them. "That was the reason why the blades
were being (reused) -- for precision purposes -- not to compromise the
procedure in any way or put anyone at a health risk," said Patrice
Smith, a spokeswoman for LaserVue. "Much of the procedure is in the
blade itself. The ability of the blade to cut well."

Other eye surgeons said they were appalled by the practice of reusing
surgical blades and believe the LaserVue case is rare among eye clinics.
"There's no excuse for it," said Dr. Gary Kawesch of the Laser Eye
Center of Silicon Valley, which has offices in San Jose and Pleasanton.
"The concept of not sterilizing is something that is a very basic
principle of surgery. The potential for disease transmission is huge."

Most clinics, like Kawesch's, discard the microkeratome blades after
performing laser surgery on a single patient, he says. Very few surgeons
he's aware of reuse blades, but when they do they sterilize them in
between patients. Most eye surgeons use ethylene oxide gas or
high-temperature treatment using steam to sterilize blades. The blades,
he says, cost $ 40 to $ 65 apiece and one is used to complete the laser
surgery on both eyes of a patient. "I feel that for the fees patients
are paying they deserve a fresh blade," Kawesch said. The surgery costs
about $ 5,000 for both eyes.

Manufacturers that doctors buy the specialized surgical blades from
recommend in their literature that blades be used only once, then thrown
out, according to Dr. Hamid Sajjadi, who performs laser eye surgeries at
the Ellis Eye Center and Silicon Valley Eye Laser Center.

Although diseases are more commonly transmitted through blood, there is
evidence they can spread through contact with tears and other
conjunctival tissue, said Dr. Jon Rosenberg, medical epidemiologist with
the state health department.

The first patients began receiving their letters earlier this month, and
many remain in a state of disbelief. "I thought it was a joke," said
Debbie Shubin, a Sebastopol mortgage broker who paid $ 4,400 to have her
eyes operated on in 1999. "I could not believe that Dr. Bansal, with all
of these diseases that are out there, would reuse an unsanitary blade on
more than one patient." "I would never have had the surgery had known he
was going to be reusing blades," she said. "I don't know anybody who
would put themselves through that." (San Jose Mercury News,, May 23,
2000)


MAINE: Audit Finds Remiss in Providing Services to Mentally Retarded
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Responding to a critical report on state services for the mentally
retarded, Maine has withdrawn its request to have a federal judge
dissolve a 1994 order setting treatment standards for former residents
of the Pineland Center.

The independent auditor's report concluded, among other things, that
caseloads for mental retardation caseworkers are too high and that the
state lacks satisfactory plans to address the needs of some clients and
fails to adequately protect them from harm. The 115-page report
contradicts the state's claim that it was meeting court-ordered
standards governing the treatment of about 1,000 former residents of
Pineland, the center in New Gloucester which was closed in 1996.

U.S. District Judge Gene Carter's order updated a 1978 decree that
stemmed from a class-action lawsuit on behalf of people who were treated
or lived at Pineland. The latest order sought to ensure that former
residents of Pineland are successfully treated in small, community-based
programs.

In 1998, the state asked the court to terminate the order, claiming that
Maine was in compliance and could better serve all people with mental
retardation without the order's restrictions. About 3,500 people with
mental retardation who were never treated at Pineland are not covered by
the decree. Many mental health advocates battled the attempt to have the
order lifted, saying court oversight is still needed to ensure quality
state services. Both sides agreed to have an audit resolve the matter.
The court brought in Clarence Sundram, a New York lawyer, to conduct the
study. Sundram spent several months analyzing the state's system and
submitted his report to the court in April.

The audit in some instances praised the state's performance. Reviewers
found exemplary efforts" by many people serving the former Pineland
residents, the report concluded. The strength of many aspects of the
state's program convinced Sundram that "achieving compliance is well
within the ability of the state." The problem, he concluded, is that the
state does not provide consistently good services to all its clients and
does a poor job monitoring the services people are receiving.

In one instance, Sundrum found that the state was doing little to
correct a man's violent behavior, even though he regularly hit people,
kicked out windows and beat his head on the floor. Another example cited
a man who was not receiving sexual counseling, even though he frequently
made obscene gestures at women, inappropriately kissed people on the
lips, and asked a 12-year-old girl for a date.

"These deficiencies have significantly affected folks' lives," said
Gerald Petruccelli, the lawyer for the group of mental health advocates
fighting to bring the state in compliance with the court order. "The
state has to make some major changes in how they operate." Jane
Gallavin, who heads Maine's mental retardation division, says the state
has vastly improved its services for people with mental retardation in
recent years, and will continue to do so.

State funds for mental retardation services have increased by about $11
million the past three years, to $74 million this year. "The bottom line
is I think the (court order) has done some great stuff for many people
in Maine," Gallavin said. "Our intention is to comply, and we hope to do
that as soon as possible." (The Associated Press, May 22, 2000)


MICROSOFT CORP: Fed. Court Remands Antitrust Suit to Tennessee
--------------------------------------------------------------
A federal judge in Tennessee has remanded one of the many illegal tying
suits that have been leveled against Microsoft to state court for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction, ruling the amount in controversy failed
to meet the $75,000 threshold requirement. Sherwood v. Microsoft Corp.,
No. 3:99-1191 (M.D. Tenn., Feb. 22, 2000).

Plaintiffs filed the proposed class action against Microsoft in the
circuit court in Tennessee under state antitrust laws and the Tennessee
Consumer Protection Act. The complaint alleged that the software giant
engaged in anticompetitive acts by monopolizing the market for
Intel-compatible personal computer operating systems.

Plaintiffs also alleged Microsoft illegally tied its Internet browser to
its computer software program to the detriment of competition in this
market by giving its Internet browser away in exchange for commitments
from other firms to promote Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The complaint
alleges Microsoft possesses the monopoly power necessary to impose the
illegal tie-in.

Microsoft removed the state court action to this federal district court
in Nashville, asserting diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. @ 1332
and alleging that the value of the injunction sought by the plaintiffs
in this litigation exceeds the $75,000 jurisdictional requirement.

Microsoft moved for a stay of all proceedings pending transfer of the
action to the forum chosen by Judicial Panel for Multidistrict
Litigation. Plaintiffs moved to remand the action for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction.

The district court concluded that the amount in controversy does not
meet the requirement for subject matter jurisdiction. U.S. District
Court Judge William J. Haynes Jr. explained that under Sixth Circuit
precedent involving removal actions, the court is required to make an
early determination in its jurisdiction and the proper forum for this
action. The Sixth Circuit rule and the rule of this district, the court
said, is that in removal cases involving diversity actions, the
jurisdictional amount is determined from the view of the plaintiff, not
the defendant. Moreover, the court cannot aggregate the class members'
claims to determine the amount in controversy.

Upon reviewing the complaint and the record, and a discussion of four
theories that exist among the courts on how to measure the
jurisdictional amount at issue, Judge Haynes concluded that the court
lacked subject matter jurisdiction and remanded the action to the state
court. The court denied Microsoft's motion to stay the entire proceeding
as moot.

Representing plaintiffs are C. Dewey Branstetter Jr. and James Gerard
Stranch III of Branstetter, Kilgore Stranch & Jennings in Nashville;
George Edward Barrett, Douglas S. Johnston Jr. and Edmund L. Carey Jr.
of Barrett, Johnston & Parsley in Nashville; and Alan M. Mansfield of
Milberg, Weiss, Bershad Hynes & Lerach in San Diego.

Microsoft is represented by Leo M. Bearman, Stephen G. Anderson and
Richard H. Stout of Baker Donelson Bearman & Caldwell in Nashville.
(Software Law Bulletin, May 2000)


MUSIC COMPANIES: Slapped with Antitrust Suit in Boston after FTC Deal
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Less than two weeks after five major music companies settled an
antitrust case with the Federal Trade Commission involving the
overpricing of compact discs, they have been slapped with a class-action
suit filed by a consumer in Boston. The antitrust suit filed by Joseph
Nardella in US District Court in Boston accuses Bertelsmann Music Group
(BMG), EMI Music Distribution, Sony Corp. of America, Time-Warner Inc.,
and Universal Music and Video Distribution of inflating the price of CDs
since 1995 and seeks damages for consumers. Under agreements with the
FTC this month, the companies dropped programs that required retailers
to sell CDs at or above a set price in return for getting substantial
funding to underwrite their advertising. The FTC claimed the practices
by the companies amounted to illegal price fixing. (The Boston Globe,
May 23, 2000)


NY DOC: Ct Orders for Corrective Plan for Incarcerated Students
---------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York emphatically
declared that a state department of corrections failed to provide FAPE
to a class of 16 to 21-year-old inmates, 40 percent of whom required
special education, and ordered it to file a plan to provide complete
educational services. Handberry v. Thompson, 32 IDELR 60 (S.D.N.Y.
03/13/00).

The class action asserted claims under the IDEA, ADA, and Civil Rights
Act, and claimed that the DOC failed to provide FAPE. The DOC denied the
allegations on several grounds, including mootness, abstention, and
failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and moved for summary
judgment. The class sought a declaratory judgment.

The district court granted the class's motion for declaratory judgment
and denied the DOC's motion for summary judgment, holding that the DOC
failed to provide FAPE to both special and general education students.
The case was not moot because uncontradicted evidence showed that the
DOC failed to provide FAPE in the past, and despite the recent
improvement, such a failure could occur again. The abstention claim was
similarly denied, as there was "no intricate question of state law
interpretation." Many class members with learning disability received no
special education, which was a violation of "state laws under any
reasonable interpretation." Further, the education claims were beyond
the powers of the DOC to remedy, so the prison litigation reform act's
exhaustion of remedies requirement was not applicable.

As to the claims themselves, the court noted that a student's
"entitlement to special education services is not trumped by
incarceration." The DOC made limited efforts to identify students and
provide services to them, and there was a lack of proper facilities.
Accordingly, the DOC was required to file a plan for providing complete
educational services. (School Law Bulletin, May 17, 2000)


ON POINT: Cauley & Geller Files Investor Suit Vs. Company and Auditor
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A Class Action Complaint was Filed on May 22, 2000 in the U.S. District
Court On Behalf of Purchasers of On-Point Technology Systems Inc.
(Nasdaq:ONPT; ONPTE) Stock Between May 19, 1997 through Feb. 22, 2000
(The "Class Period").

The complaint alleges that On-Point, its President and Chief Executive
Officer Frederick Sandvick, certain insiders of the Company and Deloitte
& Touche LLP violated the securities laws by employing improper
accounting techniques to artificially inflate the company's revenue and
profits. The defendants issued financial results for 1997 and 1998 that
were false and subsequently restated in April 2000.

These financials were given unqualified audit reports by Deloitte, which
stated in the Company's annual report that its audits were conducted "in
accordance with generally accepted auditing standards" which required
Deloitte to "plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance
about whether the financial statements present(ed) fairly, in all
material respects, the financial condition of On Point Technology
Systems Inc. and subsidiaries..., and the results of their operations
and their cash flows for the years then ended in conformity with
generally accepted accounting principles."

Contact: Cauley & Geller LLP Sue Null or Sharon Jackson, 888/551-9944
Cauleypa@aol.com


PUERTO RICO: Patients Get Transplant But Not Pills under Insurance
------------------------------------------------------------------
Six months after her heart transplant, Gloria Oquendo got some news from
her pharmacist that almost gave her a heart attack. The $1,500 worth of
immunosuppressive medication for the month - handed to her at the
beginning of May - would be the last covered by her private health
insurance, which Puerto Rico's government gave to her and thousands of
others as part of its much-touted health reform.

The insurance would keep covering the other 30 pills she takes daily.
But the three pills to keep her body from rejecting her new heart were
too expensive, and insurance company officials say their contract
doesn't require them to pay for it.

"That was like handing me a death sentence," said Oquendo, a 53-year-old
secretary, one of nine people who have had heart transplants since the
operations began in Puerto Rico last year. "If I don't take those pills,
I'll die for sure."

A lawyer representing the heart recipients sued the government and three
insurance companies April 28. The companies still say they shouldn't
have to pay, but they agreed in court to continue covering the
medication until their respective contracts expire.

Leaders for the 1,000 or so recipients of livers, kidneys and other
organs in Puerto Rico threatened to file a class-action lawsuit against
the government to force the insurance carriers it uses to supply health
insurance to the needy to pay for the medications. The contract that
includes Oquendo's insurance, ends June 30.

"The government alleges they are looking for the funds to pay for it
after the contract expires, but there's no guarantee of that," said
Fidel Velez Arcelay, the lawyer representing Oquendo and the nine heart
recipients. "I want the Health Secretary to come and commit to that in
court."

The problem isn't unique to Puerto Rico. An article in the May 10
Journal of the American Medical Association lays out similar concerns on
the mainland. The health secretary must report to Congress by May 2003
with recommendations to solve the problem. But nowhere is there talk of
requiring private health insurers to cover the medications.

"We [as a society) have decided that this lifesaving procedure should
not be denied because an individual cannot pay," the article states.
"However, after offering the dream, we then withhold the reality by
making it difficult if not impossible for many recipients to obtain the
medications necessary to maintain their transplanted organs. Clearly, we
have only gone halfway."

In Puerto Rico, Health Secretary Carmen Feliciano de Melecio may be
further down the road. The existing fund for kidney-transplant
recipients should pick up the slack for now. Legislators also boosted
from $500,000 to $10 million the pot of money commonly known as the
"catastrophic fund" to pay for transplants and medications.

She has asked insurance companies to figure out what they would charge
the government in premiums if they covered these medications. She'll
decide whether to pay the premiums or keep supplying the drugs through
the "catastrophic fund," whichever is cheaper.

"There is an immediate solution and we're checking into whether that
will be the long-term solution," the health secretary said. The
permanent solution is exactly what Oquendo and hundreds of others want.
(The Orlando Sentinel, May 22, 2000)


ROSS STORES: Resoves Managers' Complaint over OT Pay in CA
-----------------------------------------------------------
The company has been named in a class action lawsuit filed on July 8,
1999 in California Superior Court in San Bernardino County. The
complaint alleges that the company's California store managers and
assistant store managers were incorrectly classified as exempt employees
from overtime laws of the State of California. After responsive
pleadings were filed by the company, a preliminary understanding to
resolve the class action lawsuit was announced by the company on
February 3, 2000.


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Arguments Begin; Have Makers Been Punished Enough
---------------------------------------------------------------------
According to the Associated Press, tobacco company lawyers have a simple
message for a jury deciding a landmark case that may cripple the
industry: Cigarette makers are already paying enough. Philip Morris
attorney Dan Webb said Monday that a $254 billion commitment by Big
Tobacco for state settlements is so costly that a jury considering
punitive damages should not award any more money. "It's hard to put into
perspective even how much money that is," Webb said. "There's never been
anything like it in American history ever."

Attorneys on both sides of the class-action case covering 300,000 to
500,000 sick Florida smokers told jurors considering punitive damages
that their decision hinges on whether they believe the industry has
changed its ways. "There are new people at the top. There's a new
attitude," Webb said. "The companies are walking the extra mile to deal
with different smoking and health issues." Webb said his company alone
is committed to paying $93 billion to sick smokers in the next 25 years,
more than double its profits in the last 25 years.

Smokers' attorney Stanley Rosenblatt said the industry's professed
changes are nothing more than a new public relations campaign with no
admission that smoking kills and no real commitment to keep kids from
becoming the next generation of customers. The lawsuit lists a $100
billion request, but Rosenblatt completed his remarks without suggesting
an amount. He did note the industry voluntarily committed to a $368
billion congressional settlement that died in 1997 and has not yet paid
"10 cents" to a smoker in any lawsuit. (The Associated Press, May 23,
2000)

The tobacco industry has never been punished for the suffering it caused
millions of Americans, the lawyer representing hundreds of thousands of
sick Florida smokers told a jury that will be asked to mete out a
punishment, a Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) report says. "They've
never paid 10 cents to any American in either compensatory or punitive
damages," Stanley Rosenblatt, the smokers' attorney, told the jury in a
Miami-Dade circuit courtroom hearing the precedent-setting class-action
case against Big Tobacco. "They've never, never, never been called into
account, except for your two verdicts," he said, referring to the jury's
previous decisions.

Webb presented a bar graph showing the $ 40 billion in profits Philip
Morris has made in the past 25 years as one bar. The second bar on the
graph was the $ 92 billion the company expects to make in payments to
the states during the next 25 years. The two figures are apples and
oranges. The graph did not show the projected profits the company
expects to make in the next 25 years, nor what percentage of that would
be lost to the payouts to the states. Webb said a "huge punitive award"
due 30 days after such a jury decision, combined with settlement
payments, would be unfair.

Appeals would undoubtedly stall that requirement. But it was enough to
ignite an explosion from Rosenblatt outside the presence of the jury. "I
want to go on record I'll take payments," Rosenblatt bellowed. "They
don't have to pay it all within 30 days," he said referring to any
possible punitive award.

Rosenblatt still has not told the jury the size of the punitive award he
wants, although the original lawsuit filed in 1994 he mentions $ 100
billion. (Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), May 23, 2000)


TOSHIBA CORP: Denies Discriminating Chinese in Compensation for Laptop
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Toshiba Corp. (TSE:6502) was not discriminating against Chinese
purchasers of its laptop and notebook computers by declining to
compensate them for potentially faulty floppy-disk controllers, Toshiba
Vice President Masaichi Koga said Mond.

The consumer electronics giant agreed last October to pay about $ US1
billion to U.S. owners of such computers to settle a class-action
lawsuit in that country. Koga told reporters that the firm notified its
exclusive sales agent in China soon after both parties reached an
agreement.

Chinese reporters peppered Koga with tough questions, in many cases
denouncing Toshiba for failing to provide Chinese media and customers
with accurate details of the settlement.

The People's Daily, an organ of the Chinese Communist Party, has
launched a campaign accusing Toshiba of discrimination, with one
headline stating that Toshiba is compensating U.S. customers, but not
Chinese. (ASIA PULSE, May 23, 2000)


UNION SCHOOL: ACLU Says Expulsion Without Hearings Violated Rights
------------------------------------------------------------------
A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union said the group is
considering filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of students in a
Clarion County school district who claim they were bullied by a
hard-nosed superintendent.

Witold "Vic" Walczak, head of the ACLU's Greater Pittsburgh chapter,
said a current lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court against the Union
School District and various school officials involves three students,
one of whom has since moved out of the district. Among those named in
the lawsuit is Robert McWilliams, who served as both the superintendent
and principal of Union High School, and nine members of the school
board. The students Robert Beers, Michael Klein and Patrick Smith all
claim they were expelled or suspended from the high school without due
process of law, including a hearing. They are seeking unspecified
compensatory and punitive damages and are represented by both the ACLU
and Civil Rights Clinic at the Duquesne University School of Law. "All
of the plaintiffs are currently out of school, either by way of
suspension or expulsion, and some have already been out of school for
six months or more," the lawsuit claimed.

The ACLU claims that without granting hearings to the students, the
school officials violated the teens' constitutional rights under the
14th Amendment as well as the Pennsylvania Administrative Code.

Beers also unsuccessfully sought a temporary order that would have
reinstated him to the district pending a hearing. School officials have
said that Beers violated the school's dress code and threatened
McWilliams, and lawyers for the district argued that Beers was not
actually expelled, but rather received a 10-day suspension and was
placed in an alternative program for troubled youth. "Assuming that's
right, then the Constitution does not require more due process than he
received," Walczak said.U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster agreed,
ruling that the district did not irreparably harm Beers by putting him
in the alternative program. However, Walczak added, "the difficulty with
that decision is that in reality, he's not in school. He's in a program
that's primarily for delinquents. ... There is minimal education
provided. He has not gotten a report card, there is no transcript of
grades. You can't graduate from that program, you can't go to college."

The district, which was represented by attorneys Robert Cottington and
Edward Stoner, also argued that Beers' mother met with McWilliams and a
guidance counselor at the time of his suspension, which constituted an
informal hearing. Cottington and Stoner also told Lancaster that Beers
admitted during that meeting that he had threatened the principal.

Though Walczak said no decision has been made on whether to appeal
Lancaster's ruling, he is hopeful that ultimately, Lancaster will change
his mind. "I think the problem was that we, the plaintiffs, did not give
the judge enough information about this alternative program," he said.
He added that the plantiffs' attorneys may seek class-action
certification because several parents have complained that McWilliams
has expelled a dozen or more students "without any due process at all."
McWilliams made headlines in recent weeks when he said he would file
disorderly conduct charges against a 16-year-old student who waved a
chocolate gun at other students. Walczak said in some students' cases,
the alleged misconduct might justify expulsion, while in others, such a
punishment might seem too severe. But he said the real issue was the
alleged lack of hearings. "It is that practice of expulsions without due
process," he said. (Pennsylvania Law Weekly, May 22, 2000)


WAR VICTIMS: Filipinos and Koreans Sue Japanese Firms for Forced Labor
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Two class-action suits were filed by former Filipino and Korean forced
laborers, and their beneficiaries, against Japanese companies that
conscripted the workers during World War II, their attorneys said. In
both cases, filed at the Superior Court of California in Orange County,
the plaintiffs are seeking compensation under a California law that
extends the statute of limitations to 2010, thereby allowing the cases
to be heard in state courts, according to the attorneys.

It is estimated that more than 100,000 Filipinos and 250,000 Koreans may
eventually be named as plaintiffs in the two suits, said Scott Wellman,
one of the attorneys. According to Wellman, 26 other similar suits have
been filed in the United States. Twenty of the cases are being heard in
federal courts, while the remaining ones are being handled in state
courts. California state law enables the former laborers, even if they
are not citizens, to sue the companies as long as the firms operate
branches in the state.

The companies named in the suits include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Ltd., Mitsui & Co. and Showa Denko America Inc.

Wellman also said he expects to represent Chinese and possibly
Vietnamese laborers in similar cases in the near future. "I'm firmly
convinced that these cases will mushroom and mushroom and will not go
away. This will necessitate the government to come in and reach a fair
and just resolutions for all sides," Wellman said.

A Friday hearing is scheduled in Washington, D.C. by a judicial panel on
multidistrict litigation to determine whether the 28 lawsuits filed
might be consolidated. If the cases are consolidated, there are expected
to be more than one million claimants. (Asian Political News, May 22,
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.

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