CAR_Public/001004.MBX               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

             Wednesday, October 4, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 193

                             Headlines

ARKANSAS: Education Board Chairman Says Funding Inadequate
ARNOLD AIR: Residents Sue Alleging Hazardous Waste, Methane Dangers
AUTO FINANCE: James, Hoyer Files FL Suit against Allstate on Overcharge
CHARLES SCHWAB: Will Shell out $20 Million to Settle Best Execution Suit
CREDIT CARDS: American Express Settles Suit in Canada after Airline Pact

D.C. SCHOOLS: Reform Efforts in Special Education Challenged
ELFINDEPAN S.A.: N.C. Firm Used Web Site in Alleged $13 Mil Ponzi Scheme
GEORGIA POWER: Employer-Employees Argue over Class Status in Racism Suit
GTE CALIFORNIA: Foley & Bezek Files Expanded Securities Lawsuit
INTERNATIONAL RECTIFIER: Securities Suits in CA Set for Trial in Oct.

LABOR READY: Temp Workers’ Complaints on Employment Agency Go to Court
MICROSOFT CORP: CourtLink E-File Service Implemented in San Francisco
MPW INDUSTRIAL: Shareholders Seek to Enjoin Privatisation Transaction
NORTHBRIDGE EARTHQUAKE: Law Could Let Thousands Reopen '94 Claims
PAYDAY LENDERS: Dollar Financial Settles Usury Charges

PRICELINE.COM: Kirby McInerney Retained to Commence Securities Lawsuit
PRICELINE.COM: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in Connecticut
RAMP NETWORKS: Lionel Z. Glancy Retained to Commence Securities Lawsuit
SC SOCIAL: Child Support Collection System Draws Complaints
SEATTLE POLICE: WTO Protesters Say Arrest in Violation of Constitution

SIRROM CAPITAL: Cauley & Geller Files Securities Suit in Tennessee

* Proposed Bill on Tire Regulation Blocked from Senate Floor Voting

                           *********

ARKANSAS: Education Board Chairman Says Funding Inadequate
----------------------------------------------------------
Arkansas distributes state money fairly between its 310 school districts
but does not spend enough to adequately educate its students, the state
Education Board chairman said.

Luke Gordy of Van Buren also said disparities in pay for teachers with
equal academic credentials and experience were are not necessarily
unfair.

Such factors as the local cost of living could affect teacher pay, said
Gordy, a vocal advocate for increasing salaries to attract better
teachers. He also said teachers whose students excel should make more
money, regardless of credentials.

The state has no performance-based salary schedule for teachers.

Gordy testified in a Pulaski County Chancery Court hearing on a lawsuit
challenging the state's school funding system. The hearing entered its
third week on Monday.

The hearing is to determine if the state has obeyed a 1994 court order to
eliminate unconstitutional disparities in funding between wealthy school
districts and poor ones.

Gordy, who has served on the board since 1995 and has been chairman for
more than a year, said he believed that funding changes initiated since
the court order - allocating funds on a per-student basis and
establishing a statewide standard local tax rate - made the state's
distribution of $1.7 billion in public school funding equitable.

As far as the state's investment in education, "You think the funding is
inadequate, don't you?" David Matthews, lawyer for the Rogers and
Bentonville school districts, asked Gordy on cross-examination.

"I think the funding is, yes sir," the education board chairman said.

Gordy's testimony followed that of the Holly Grove Superintendent Harry
Mayo and Nancy Blount, a Spanish teacher from Marianna, who said their
districts were still too poor to buy new books, equip science labs,
upgrade computers or repair dilapidated buildings.

Lawyers for the Lake View School District, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit,
argue that the funding formula still leaves poor school districts without
enough money to give students the same educational opportunity as
students in wealthy districts.

The Rogers and Bentonville districts, two of the nearly three dozen
intervenors in the case, argue that the state allocates school money
fairly, but there's just not enough of it to meet education needs.

Under questioning from Lake View's lead attorney, state Sen. Bill
Lewellen, D-Marianna, Gordy acknowledged that state education officials
spend what they receive from the Legislature without ever deciding what
the cost would be to provide students an adequate education. (The
Associated Press State & Local Wire, October 3, 2000)


ARNOLD AIR: Residents Sue Alleging Hazardous Waste, Methane Dangers
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Franklin and Coffee County residents have filed a $2.5 billion class
action lawsuit alleging that Arnold Air Force Base has knowingly released
hazardous waste and explosive methane gas into the communities around the
facility.

The suit, prepared by Nashville attorney Tom Nebel working in tandem with
Atlanta trial lawyer Bobby Lee Cook, asks a federal judge to immediately
act to protect the 1,500 students at Coffee County Central High School
from the threat of methane explosion. The suit seeks $2 billion in
compensatory damages and $500 million in punitive damages.

The suit also alleges that water consumed by local residents has been
poisoned with dangerous chemicals including birth defect-causing
trichloroethylene (TCE), and that methane seeping from a landfill on the
base threatens the safety of many local residents.

"We do not in any way want to interfere with the important defense work
being done at Arnold Air Force Base," Nebel said. "But people have been
harmed, and many more people are in imminent danger. The government and
some companies who knowingly allowed this to happen should fix it and pay
for it."

Defendants in the suit are the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Air
Force, Colorado-based CH2M Hill Companies and its parent company, as well
as other companies which will be named later.

Allegations made in the 31-page lawsuit include:

  -- That Arnold Air Force Base and consultant CH2M Hill made the
      intentional decision not to place methane controls on the Coffee
      County Landfill, thereby allowing methane to migrate "into a
      residential community, causing one explosion and serious injury."

  -- An internal memorandum at Arnold acknowledges the danger posed by
      the methane leaks into the community and Coffee County Central High

      School, but that nothing was done to diminish the danger.

  -- While an internal Air Force memo states "the existing landfill gas
      collection design does not meet the regulatory requirements and has

      failed to control migration," the base subsequently issued a news
      release saying, "methane migration from Coffee County Landfill
      currently poses no apparent public health hazard."

  -- Another internal memo dated Feb. 23, 2000, acknowledges the 1,500
      students at the school are in "imminent and substantial danger," a
      fact that was kept secret from the U.S. Environmental Protection
      Agency (EPA).

  -- An unusually high number of cancer cases in the area around Arnold
      Air Force Base is attributable to the release of many dangerous
      substances in the area, including the release of TCE into the
      ground and water in concentrations many times higher than the
      minimum set by the EPA.

  -- The EPA knew about the TCE and other pollutant dangers present
      around the base, but did nothing to stop the problem. The suit also

      says that when two environmental experts brought the problems to
      the attention of Air Force officials, they were quickly shut out of

      any future discussions of the issue.

  -- The civilians in charge of EPA compliance for the Air Force stated
      in a series of internal memos that Arnold Air Force Base was "in
      non-compliance with" EPA laws and regulations by failing to report
      dangerous chemical spills, failing to keep adequate records,
      failing to establish required monitoring and more.

  -- A large number of drums of hazardous waste were found inadequately
      buried at a solid waste disposal unit at the base, but that the Air

      Force did nothing more than push a few more feet of dirt on top of
      them rather than clean them out. While the EPA promised the drums
      would be cleaned up, no steps have been taken to eliminate the
      problem.

  -- Rutledge Falls, a scenic waterfalls and natural pool located almost
      three miles from the base, has become polluted by chemicals
      released by the facility.

The lawsuit lays out several alleged examples of where the Air Force and
its consulting engineers purposely deceived citizens and regulators about
the dangers of hazardous materials released into the community by the
base. "The methane gas lie is but one example of a pattern of calculated
deceit and misrepresentation engaged in by the United States Air Force,
CH2M Hill and possibly other defendants," the lawsuit says. "The United
States Air Force and various contractors, including CH2M Hill, have been
poisoning and contaminating the environment of Coffee County and the
surrounding area for over 30 years."

Plaintiffs in the suit are Franklin and Coffee County residents Larry,
Diane, Robin, Dusty and Jay Matlock; Jack Jennings, Eric Chance, Roger
Painter, Harmon Commers, Charles and Mary Myers, Howell and Peggy Rowe,
and Johnny and Brenda Watson.

Nebel said he expected more plaintiffs to come forward as the lawsuit
progressed. He said citizens wanting to know more about the lawsuit
should call 615/244-4700. To receive an e-mail copy of the lawsuit,
e-mail lvoekel@mpf.com or call 615/259-4000 and ask for Laura Voekel.

Contact: McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations Mike Pigott, 615/259-4000
or Tom Nebel, 615/244-4700


AUTO FINANCE: James, Hoyer Files FL Suit against Allstate on Overcharge
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
An October 2 notice by James, Hoyer, Newcomer & Smiljanich, P.A. says
that Allstate has overcharged individual Florida drivers thousands of
dollars in auto insurance by unfairly counting old accidents against
them, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Monday in Pinellas County
Circuit Court.

State law says insurance companies can't consider accidents more than
three years old when setting premiums. Yet Raymond Corbett of Kissimmee
spent 17 years paying higher premiums to Allstate Indemnity Company, an
Allstate affiliate for higher-risk drivers, the lawsuit stated. The
lawsuit was filed by the Tampa law firm of James, Hoyer, Newcomer &
Smiljanich, P.A.

Corbett's driving record listed one traffic citation, and an accident for
his wife in which she was not at fault, the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit contends that Allstate used Allstate Indemnity Company to
charge higher premiums for supposed "high risk" insureds, and that it
unfairly kept customers with Indemnity even when they qualified for a
better policy with Allstate Insurance Company. "When I found out that I
had been paying higher premiums all these years, I was very annoyed and
upset," said Corbett, a 71-year-old retired shipworker. "I didn't know
anything about 'Indemnity.' All I knew was that I had 'Allstate'
insurance."

Last year Allstate insurance entities reported premiums of $1.2-billion
in Florida, the lawsuit stated. The exact number of Florida policy
holders with Allstate Indemnity Company wasn't available, but is expected
to be in the hundreds of thousands. Precise damages are not alleged, but
could be several thousand dollars per driver. Clifton Smith, a
31-year-old Margate resident, spent seven years as a policy holder with
Allstate Indemnity Co., despite having no accidents or traffic citations
that would justify the higher rates, the lawsuit stated. After the native
Jamaican objected, he was told that if he did not like the terms, he
could "find another insurer," the lawsuit stated.

Nora Albaugh, a 68-year-old retired St. Petersburg resident, lost her
discount on a regular Allstate Insurance Co. policy after someone hit her
car door in her church parking lot in 1992, the lawsuit stated. Neither
Mrs. Albaugh nor her husband had had a traffic ticket in more than 30
years, the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit alleged that Allstate unfairly penalized drivers for old
accidents, for accidents that were not their fault or for other reasons.
Drivers continued to be issued policies from the higher-risk Allstate
Indemnity Company even after they were eligible for better rates from
Allstate Insurance Company, the lawsuit stated. Allstate's use of the
same sales force and promotional material for both companies meant that
many drivers never noticed the difference between the two companies, the
lawsuit stated.

"People didn't see the distinction," said Terry Smiljanich, the lead
attorney in the case. "They just saw it's Allstate." Co-counsel on the
case is Douglas Bowdoin of the Orlando firm of Smith, McKinnon, Greeley,
Bowdoin & Edwards.

The lawsuit seeks to represent all Florida policy holders with Allstate
Indemnity Company between 1984 and the present, who were issued or
re-issued an Allstate Indemnity Company policy after they qualified for
an Allstate Insurance Company policy; as well as Allstate policy holders
who were improperly charged extra premiums for accidents.

Contact: Terry A. Smiljanich of James, Hoyer, Newcomer & Smiljanich,
P.A., 813-286-4100 or tsmiljanich@jameshoyer.com


CHARLES SCHWAB: Will Shell out $20 Million to Settle Best Execution Suit
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Discount brokerage firm Charles Schwab & Co. will shell out up to $20
million to settle a class action by disgruntled customers who alleged the
firm failed to execute their trades at the best possible prices. Durmont
v. Charles Schwab & Co., Nos. 99-CV-2840 and 99-CV-2841, opinion
approving settlement filed (E.D. La., July 21, 2000).

Schwab agreed to use the money to shore up its legal compliance in
several areas. The settlement specifies the firm must create trading
disclosures that are easily understood by the public, closely monitor the
execution of customer trades to assure customers receive accurate prices,
develop a more efficient order-routing system, and create and implement a
customer education program involving order handling and routing in the
securities markets.

The firm will also pay $900,000 in fees and costs to class counsel. In
return, the class has dropped all claims against Schwab, its officers and
directors, and its affiliate companies.

The best-execution dispute involved trades placed in three markets:
primary markets such as the New York Stock Exchange and the American
Stock Exchange, regional exchanges such as the Philadelphia Stock
Exchange, and independent market makers. All the exchanges and market
makers give discounts to brokerages to encourage their business.

The plaintiffs alleged in their suit that the Schwab firm placed customer
orders with the market or ex change that paid the best discount, not the
market or exchange with the best trading price for customers. The
discount increased Schwab's revenue while cutting customer profits, the
class action alleged.

In approving the settlement, the Eastern District of Louisiana rejected
several sets of objections, including those by class members who asserted
the class received no benefit from the settlement whatsoever.

"An analysis of the trades of the named plaintiffs revealed that there
were no damages suffered by price disparity," the court said, noting that
calculating proof of damages for the entire class would be "difficult,
expensive, and time-consuming and may well produce no evidence of damages
at all."

"The damages suffered, if any, are purely speculative; and Schwab's
actions required by the settlement would preclude such damages in the
future, including such damages to the class members," the court
concluded.


CREDIT CARDS: American Express Settles Suit in Canada after Airline Pact
------------------------------------------------------------------------
American Express on October 3 said that it has settled its class action
suits with Cardmembers after reaching an agreement with Air Canada's
wholly owned subsidiary Canadian Airlines to replace the Companion Ticket
Certificate benefit for Platinum Cardmembers. In a related development,
Amex also announced a points discount offer for travel rewards in
settlement of the disputes over its Membership Rewards Program.

New Companion Ticket Certificates will be issued to Platinum Cardmembers
who received the original certificate and were Cardmembers at the time
the original benefit was withdrawn. The new Certificate can be used to
get a free companion ticket with either Canadian Airlines or Air Canada
for travel on flights to any destination between October 15th 2000 and
May 31st 2001.

American Express believes that the new Companion Travel Certificate is an
improvement on the original offer. Platinum Cardmembers have access to
more flights and more destinations than before by including both airlines
in the agreement, subject to limited black outs and restrictions.

In addition, American Express says that it has settled the class action
suits related to its Membership Rewards Program with a special discount
offer on points used towards travel purchases at any of its retail travel
offices.

Cardmembers will get a 20% discount when they redeem their points for
Membership Rewards Travel Certificates between January 15th and July 15th
2001. For the six-month promotional period, a $100 travel certificate
will cost 8,000 points instead of the current 10,000 points. Certificates
can be used for up to 50% of a range of travel related purchase,
including air tickets on any airline for any destination and any class of
travel, including sell offs and last minute deals and with no black out
periods.

Following these developments, courts in Ontario, Quebec and British
Columbia have approved the settlement of all class action suits brought
on behalf of Cardmembers with respect to both the Companion Ticket
Certificate and Membership Rewards Program.

Notes:

New Companion Ticket Certificates will be issued to all Platinum
Cardmembers who received the original Year 2000 Certificates and were
Cardmembers on April 24, 2000:

*  Limited black-out periods will apply with Companion Ticket
    Certificates not valid for travel December 15, 2000 - Jan 7, 2001;

* April 6 - 16, 2001; or on flights to or from Hong Kong, Taipei,
   Shanghai or Beijing from Jan 18 - Feb 1, 2001.

While business class seats must be booked in specific classes, the
addition of Air Canada to this program means travelers have access to
more flights and more destinations than before. Membership Rewards Travel
Certificates can be applied to up to 50% of the value of purchases over
$200 at any of Amex Canada Inc's 85 retail travel offices. Certificates
can be used for purchases on any airline to any destination at any
available fare, and for a broad range of other travel related purchases.
Cardmembers enrolled in Membership Rewards will receive a loyalty bonus
of 10% on points earned between May 1st and December 31st.

Contact: Media Contacts: David Barnes, American Express, Tel: (905)
474-8012, Audrey Adams White, American Express, Tel: (905) 474-7946
(Canada NewsWire, October 3, 2000)


D.C. SCHOOLS: Reform Efforts in Special Education Challenged
------------------------------------------------------------
Despite various attempts at reform, the District's special education
system continues to place some of its most vulnerable students in
inappropriate programs, strands them at home with no school assignments,
fails to provide required services and leaves them years behind their
grade levels.

Interviews with dozens of parents, students, advocates, lawyers,
principals and teachers indicate that the school system is still failing
to comply with a federal law requiring appropriate education and related
services for children with mental, physical or emotional disabilities.

"They are saying things are fixed when they are not, and they are
covering up problems," said Margaret A. Kohn, a lawyer who has been
handling D.C. special education cases for more than a decade. "They are
denying problems that are very real. They are placing children in
programs and in situations where they do not have the support they
require."

School administrators say they have taken bold steps to improve special
education over the last year, starting new programs, hiring more staff
and reducing a backlog of thousands of cases of children waiting to be
assessed for special needs.

The U.S. Department of Education and some lawyers point to signs of
improvement in services, compared with several years ago. But parents and
others say the special education system--which receives $ 200 million,
more than a quarter of the school budget--is hurting those it was set up
to help.

"This poor child is suffering," said an angry Shelia Chambers, who claims
the school system has bungled her 16-year-old son's education for years,
leaving him with a third-grade reading level as he starts the 10th grade.

The learning- and emotionally disabled teenager, Demetrice Allen Odie, of
Northwest, was assigned this fall to another program his mother said did
not match his needs. He stayed home for the first three weeks of school,
playing Nintendo and watching the Three Stooges, until the family's
attorney convinced a hearing officer that officials had not followed
proper procedures for determining where Demetrice should go to school.

"D.C. public schools stinks," said Chambers, whose two other
special-needs children are now in private schools--at city expense. "It's
the worst thing I could have done to my kids, but financially I didn't
have a choice."

There are about 11,000 special education students who are either in D.C.
schools or at other public schools and private schools at taxpayer
expense because the school system doesn't have programs that meet their
needs. Such students account for about one of every six students in the
D.C. public school system. It is unclear how many children are receiving
subpar services, but parents and their representatives filed 1,355
requests for due process grievance hearings between July 1999 and June of
this year.

School officials would not comment on specific cases because of privacy
concerns, but parents, lawyers and special education advocates provided
details about a number of students who have had trouble getting an
education in the nation's capital.

In one case, a 16-year-old emotionally disturbed boy stopped going to
class at the start of the 1998-99 school year, saying other students were
beating him. The school system did not find him a new school for two
years, even though his mother, who is ill and poor, complained
repeatedly.

During that time, the boy, who lives in Southeast, was twice arrested for
selling cocaine, according to the mother's attorney, Mary Hynes, a
professor at the University of the District of Columbia's free law
clinic. He has not attended school this year, and Hynes said that when
she called school officials two weeks ago, they said the paperwork had
been lost but promised to assign him to a new school.

In another case, the family of Jocelin Urbina, 3, was told in August that
the child, who has spina bifida, would have to leave a private school
program to go to Marie Reed Learning Center in Adams-Morgan, the
community in which they live. But a week before school started, officials
said she could not go to Reed because the school doesn't have a full-time
nurse.

Jocelin's uncle, Victor Zavala, who took off work to help baby-sit, said
he kept calling the school system for two weeks after classes began to
ask when the child would be assigned to a school. The family hired a
lawyer, who called the school system. That same day, Zavala said,
officials said Jocelin could go back to her private school.

"How can they do something like this to someone who has special needs
like she does?" he said.

And then there's Delante Buchanan, 16, of Southeast, who fell behind in
regular classes at Anacostia Senior High while waiting four years for the
school system to assess him as emotionally disturbed. Last week during a
hearing, school officials acknowledged their errors and promised to place
him in a private school and provide tutoring to help him catch up.

School districts across the country are struggling to comply with a
federal law that establishes a civil right for a free and appropriate
education, according to a January report by the National Council on
Disability, an independent group that makes recommendations to Congress
and the president. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act often
is enforced only after parents go to court or begin other complaint
procedures, the report said.

Prince George's County has also acknowledged difficulties in providing
for special education students. But two years ago, the U.S. Department of
Education determined the District's problems to be so serious that it and
the school system entered into an agreement calling for services to be
fixed within three years.

"We are very pleased with the progress the District has made," said Gregg
Corr, who oversees compliance with special education laws for the
department. "We finally have a staff in there which has the ability and
commitment to put a system in place, which should . . . lead them out of
the kind of waiting lists and backlogs that they've been plagued by for
many years."

In an effort to fix years of neglect, the school system last year hired
Anne C. Gay as assistant superintendent for special education. Gay, the
former principal of Janney Elementary in Northwest, said it could take
another two years.

"We are taking this seriously and we are making important strides," Gay
said. "You don't get into the kind of hole we were in overnight, and you
don't get out of it overnight, either."

The school system has significantly reduced the number of students
waiting to be evaluated for special needs. But some students still wait
far longer than the law stipulates to be tested and re-evaluated, even
as, following a nationwide trend, more students are in line for
evaluations and are being classified as needing special services.

School officials said they also have drafted regulations and policies for
special education, which previously did not exist, and have set up a
computer tracking system to coordinate required services. This year, 258
psychologists, speech therapists and social workers are working with
special education students, up from 197 a year ago.

Yet overall success is hard to measure. Officials, for example, do not
know how many special education students graduated last year. And figures
from previous years are unreliable, they said.

Widely publicized transportation problems also continue, causing students
to routinely miss class or arrive late. Many of their drivers don't
report to work, and the school system has had trouble recruiting
replacements.

The problems reoccur despite two ongoing class-action lawsuits against
the District: one dealing with transportation and the other with a
backlog of hearing requests and the school system's failure to follow
through on hearing officers' rulings. Officials said they have reduced
overdue hearing requests from 898 in July 1999 to 17 last month.

Last week, a court-appointed special master filed a report identifying a
cycle of problems that result in students receiving assessments years
late and falling behind in their schooling. By that point, the report
says, students attending classes that do not accommodate their
disabilities often develop additional behavioral problems and need more
intensive services that are hard to find.

"Placement options for these students exist, but the programs fill
quickly and a student often waits for months--either at home, or at a
school no longer able to teach him/her, or eventually on the street," the
report says.

Those involved with the city's special education services say there are
serious errors at nearly every step of the process and that missing
documents and unreturned phone calls hinder efforts to correct them.

Parents complain that the school system is rushing through children's
assessments and failing to catch problems. The Individual Education
Program (IEP), a customized road map of required services and goals for
each student, often is completed improperly or uses outdated information,
they said. And principals and teachers said IEPs are not always forwarded
from one school to the next, leaving them unsure of a student's needs.

The principals union says the special education administration has made
principals responsible for providing the services but has not given them
enough staff members. At Birney Elementary in Southeast, Principal Yvonne
Morse said students who need speech therapy haven't received it because
the therapist is busy with a backlog of initial assessments. "Advocates
are calling every day," Morse said. "I don't know what the people
downtown are doing. . . . They don't provide enough resources."

D.C. schools also require that special education teachers be certified in
the subjects they teach in order for students to get credit. Yet some
college-bound students have taken classes and passed, only to learn
months or years later that they did not receive credit because the
teacher was not certified.

These problems persist even though the school system is spending about $
200 million of its total $ 762 million budget on special education. About
$ 73 million is being spent to send children, including those in foster
care, to private schools with the required programs. The D.C. inspector
general is auditing special education programs, focusing on
transportation and private school costs.

Some of those private schools' officials said the D.C. school system
routinely loses paperwork and moves students to other schools without
forwarding their IEPs. Sharon B. Raimo, executive director of St. Coletta
School in Alexandria, recently wrote an irate letter to the special
master complaining of the District's "incompetence."

"Their motto should not be 'Children First,' " she wrote. "Rather it
should be 'What Children?' "

Gay, saying she could not specifically address St. Coletta's situation,
argued that many private schools are upset because they are losing
revenue as District children return to city schools.

Under pressure by the D.C. Council to reduce the costs incurred by
sending students to private schools, the school system has significantly
increased its capacity for special education students and created four
new programs for emotionally disturbed and learning disabled students.
But parents and lawyers who have visited the programs describe chaotic
scenes of children wandering the halls and, in one case, walking out.

A psychologist in one of the programs, William Boston, who is running for
the school board, said teachers have not received proper training to
handle the students. School officials dispute that.

At the start of the school year, Diane Blackwell, of Northeast, took her
daughter Equilla, 14, to one of the new special education programs at
Eliot Junior High and found things "totally out of control," she said,
with nobody available to register her daughter for class. Equilla, she
said, has received only a second-grade education even though she is
technically in the ninth grade. "D.C. public schools' special education
has taught her nothing," Blackwell said.

Gay said the complaints of many parents and lawyers stem from concerns
that the school system is trying to bring children back to city schools.
She said many parents insist instead on forcing the city to pay for
private schools. And many lawyers, she added, are making a lot of money
from the system--a contention lawyers deny.

"There has to be the balance of looking at what we are supposed to do by
law and what we are doing," Gay said. "We aren't supposed to be the
Harvard of public schools. We're supposed to provide the services in a
manner which is appropriate for a child."

Gay said the bad experiences recounted by some parents are not
representative. Asked for the names of parents who are pleased with
special education services, the school system offered two, both of whom
have children in private schools.

"I had to fight for it," Rosemary McKinney, of Southeast, said of efforts
to get one grandson sent to private school. "We had to go to court and
everything."

Another grandson, who attends the city's Sharpe Health School, in
Northwest, is receiving the required special education services, she
said. (The Washington Post, October 2, 2000)


ELFINDEPAN S.A.: N.C. Firm Used Web Site in Alleged $13 Mil Ponzi Scheme
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A Greensboro, N.C., investment company used a Web site as part of a
securities Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of $13.5 million,
the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges in a Middle District of
North Carolina civil suit. Securities and Exchange Commission v.
Elfindepan S.A. et al., No. 00-CV-00742, complaint filed (M.D.N.C., Aug.
10, 2000).

The SEC says Southern Financial Group used a Web site at www.e-z-card.com
to sell the unregistered securities of Elfindepan S.A., a Costa Rican
corporation. Elfindepan purportedly made business and personal mortgage
loans. The Web site and other solicitations offered investors a
guaranteed 15 percent return on their investments, the SEC's complaint
alleges.

According to the commission, Elfindepan is controlled by Tracy Calvin
Dunlap, 57, who is one of the principals of Southern Financial. His
partner is Barry Lowe, a Greensboro plumber.

The complaint asserts that money from investors was improperly commingled
with other Elfindepan and Southern Financial bank accounts. Some of the
money was used to pay investor returns and to pay Dunlap and Lowe's
business and personal expenses, the SEC says.

"The payment of early investors from the proceeds of subsequent investors
is a classic insignia of a Ponzi or pyramid fraud, which inevitably
collapse when there are insufficient later investors to pay early
investors," the complaint alleges.

In addition to charges that Southern Financial sold unregistered
securities, the SEC's complaint alleges that the Internet and other
solicitations -- including group and personal presentations -- failed to
disclose the risks involved in the money-lending business, specifically
the high rate of lender default.

The suit makes claims for fraud and material omissions under Section
10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Section 17(a) of the Securities
Act, and for violation of the securities registration provisions
contained in Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act.

The complaint asks the court to order disgorgement of all proceeds, and
seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions against further securities
law violations, as well as unspecified civil monetary penalties.

The SEC is represented by Eric N. Miller, Linda C. Thomsen, Gregory S.
Bruch, Laura B. Josephs, Gerald T. Balacek, David S. Frye and Kurt
Gresenz of the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C.
(E-Trading Legal Alert, September 1, 2000)


GEORGIA POWER: Employer-Employees Argue over Class Status in Racism Suit
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A move by Georgia Power Co. to dismiss class-action claims in a racial
discrimination suit against the company is an "extreme and unsupported''
legal maneuver, attorneys for employees who brought the lawsuit said.

Legal arguments made by the company's lawyers to U.S. District Judge
Orinda Evans, filed last month, amount to a "desperate attempt to avoid
facing classwide claims of race discrimination,'' attorneys for the
employees said.

Seven employees of Georgia Power and its parent, Southern Co., said in a
lawsuit filed July 27 that the company has fostered a "pattern of
discriminating against African-Americans'' and shows a "reckless
indifference'' to a racially hostile workplace. The suit seeks
class-action status for 2,200 African-Americans who have worked at
Georgia Power and Southern Co. since 1998.

The company has denied discrimination and maintained that a class-action
suit is not warranted, given that monetary damages are sought. Georgia
Power lawyers petitioned Evans on Sept. 19 to dismiss the prospective
class-action suit and decide claims by the seven employees, or any others
who file suit, on their own merits.

In their response filed Monday, attorneys for the seven employees said
their request for class certification is "entirely consistent with long-
standing class-action procedures,'' including a July 16, 1999, ruling in
a similar motion by Coca-Cola Co. lawyers in a racial discrimination
lawsuit against that company.

"Defendants' motion for dismissal of all class claims ... merely because
plaintiffs seek monetary relief is an extreme and unsupported position
that would effectively eliminate the class-action device as a vehicle for
vindication of employment discrimination claims,'' Monday's brief said.
(The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, October 3, 2000)


GTE CALIFORNIA: Foley & Bezek Files Expanded Securities Lawsuit
---------------------------------------------------------------
Foley & Bezek (www.Foleybezek.com), a Southern California law firm
specializing in class actions, has filed an amended complaint expanding
its class action lawsuit against GTE California (GTEC), now a
wholly-owned subsidiary of Verizon Communications, Inc. The class action,
originally filed last month, seeks to obtain relief for potentially
thousands of GTEC customers who were allegedly overcharged. After Foley &
Bezek filed the action last month, other GTEC customers contacted the
firm seeking assistance for the problems they alleged they were having
with GTEC.

The expanded complaint adds another named plaintiff, Valerie Zamarron,
who, like the existing plaintiffs, was allegedly billed at much higher
rates for long-distance telephone calls than usual. When Ms. Zamarron
called GTEC to inquire, she was allegedly given no explanation. Like the
other plaintiffs she was given no cost refund of the monies she was
allegedly overcharged. But, where the others were given credits, Ms.
Zamarron was given nothing.

The expanded complaint also seeks redress for a subclass of persons who
were given credits as a result of overcharges for various services, not
just long-distance calls. The complaint alleges that providing credits
instead of refunds is an unfair business practice.

Contact: Foley & Bezek, LLP Peter J. Bezek or Shawn Britton, 805/962-9495
www.Foleybezek.com


INTERNATIONAL RECTIFIER: Securities Suits in CA Set for Trial in Oct.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
International Rectifier Corp., and certain of the company’s directors and
officers have been named as defendants in three class action lawsuits
filed in Federal District Court for the Central District of California in
1991. These suits seek unspecified but substantial compensatory and
punitive damages for alleged intentional and negligent misrepresentations
and violations of the federal securities laws in connection with the
public offering of our common stock completed in April 1991 and the
redemption and conversion in June 1991 of our 9% Convertible Subordinated
Debentures due 2010. They also allege that our projections for growth in
fiscal 1992 were materially misleading. Two of these suits also named our
underwriters, Kidder, Peabody & Co. Incorporated and Montgomery
Securities, as defendants.

The Court has granted summary judgment in favor of our underwriters and
has dismissed the claims brought under Section 11 and 12(2) of the
Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and the claims based on common law
fraud and negligent misrepresentation in the prospectuses. Accordingly,
the remaining claims are under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934, as amended, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder.

The Court decertified the class pursuing common law claims for fraud and
negligent misrepresentation and granted the defendants' motion to narrow
the stockholder class period to June 19, 1991 through October 21, 1991.
The trial is currently scheduled for October 3, 2000.

The company says it believes that the remaining claims alleged in the
suits are without merit, but cannot presently determine the ultimate
outcome. A substantial judgment or settlement, if any, could have a
material adverse effect on the results of the company’s operations,
financial position or cash flows.


LABOR READY: Temp Workers’ Complaints on Employment Agency Go to Court
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The CAR previously reported on trade unions’ complaint about practices of
Labor Ready filed with the SEC.

On October class-action lawsuits were filed in state courts in New York,
NY and San Jose, CA, charging Labor Ready, Inc. (NYSE: LRW), one of the
nation's largest temporary employment agencies, with illegally siphoning
money from workers' pay. The lawsuits allege that Labor Ready's practice
of charging employees an average of $1.50 to withdraw their daily pay
from the company's cash dispensing machines -- which nationwide in 1999
generated $7.7 million in revenue for the company -- violates state law
in New York and California. The lawsuits seek back pay awards for all
current and former employees who used the cash machines.

"People should be paid fair wages for a fair day's work," said Eugene
Tonissen, one of the plaintiffs of the New York suit. "Who can raise a
family on $53 a day? What they're doing is wrong."

The cash dispensing machines were installed by Labor Ready to pay workers
in cash at the end of each workday. The machine charges workers a fee of
$1.00 and rounds down any change in their wages to the lowest dollar
amount, costing workers up to an additional 99 cents per day. In New York
and California, discounting a person's pay is illegal. If Labor Ready is
found to have violated the law, the company will have to pay workers
their lost wages.

Similar laws in other states have opened the possibility of more
lawsuits. A suit filed against Labor Ready's wage deduction policies in
Atlanta, GA in July 2000 was amended last month to include additional
charges. The amendments allege that Labor Ready charged workers rental
fees for equipment used to perform their work assignments in violation of
Georgia law. The suit also claims that Labor Ready illegally charges
transportation fees to workers for shuttling them from the Labor Ready
office to their work sites. In addition, the Georgia suit says that Labor
Ready fails to obtain consent from its employees before they are sent to
work sites that potentially expose them to hazardous chemicals.

Labor Ready, which has attracted employees with its "Work Today, Paid
Today" slogan, is one of the largest and fastest growing temporary
employment agencies in the country. It operates 839 offices in 49 states,
Puerto Rico, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Labor Ready is a leader in
the national trend away from full-time, permanent jobs towards part-time,
temporary, and contract staffing strategies. Today nearly three in ten
working Americans are employed in contingent or non-standard employment.

The "Temp Workers Deserve a Permanent Voice @ Work" campaign was launched
in April by building and construction trades unions in an effort to shed
light on the employment practices of temporary work agencies in the
construction industry.

Sources: Building and Construction Trades Department


MICROSOFT CORP: CourtLink E-File Service Implemented in San Francisco
---------------------------------------------------------------------
CourtLink Corp., provider of an online platform for accessing court
records and filing legal documents, announced that its e-filing service
will be used to streamline the filing process in the Microsoft antitrust
class action filed in the San Francisco Superior Court.

In an effort to increase court efficiency and to manage the volume of
filings that may result from a lawsuit of this magnitude, Judge Stuart R.
Pollak has ordered the electronic filing of all documents in the
Microsoft and related cases, using the CourtLink(R) e-file system.

"Possible claimants in this case could number into the thousands, and the
resulting document generation and activity levels could be phenomenal,"
Henry S. Givray, CourtLink's chairman of the board, said. "San Francisco
Superior Court's implementation of the CourtLink e-file system early on
in the suit will not only enable Judge Pollak to keep his courtroom clear
of case paper, but will enable the court to more efficiently manage the
flow of documentation pertaining to the class action."

JusticeLink(TM), the CourtLink e-filing service, eliminates the
traditionally resource intensive process of managing documents through
litigation. The JusticeLink system enables secure Web-based delivery,
serving, access and storage of court documents for judges, court clerks,
attorneys, clients and others. Using the CourtLink e-filing system
attorneys and legal professionals can quickly and easily review, file and
serve legal documents to other parties electronically from any PC with
Internet access. Further, JusticeLink e-file also provides instant access
to court orders and other filings to save time and expense in locating
important legal information. Utilizing the CourtLink system, Judges can
now issue orders and decisions directly from their computers.

"When a court embraces electronic filing, everyone wins. E-filing
improves courtroom efficiency and saves not only the court -- but every
other party involved in the litigation process -- significant money over
paper filings", said Nicole Olcomendy, Deputy Court Clerk, E-filing Unit,
San Francisco Superior Court. "JusticeLink e-file will make this class
action far easier to manage."


MPW INDUSTRIAL: Shareholders Seek to Enjoin Privatisation Transaction
---------------------------------------------------------------------
On May 1, 2000, a purported shareholder class action lawsuit was filed
against MPW Industrial Services Corp. and Monte R. Black, Ira O. Kane and
the other members of the Company's Board of Directors in the Court of
Common Pleas for Licking County, Ohio on behalf of the plaintiff and the
Company's other shareholders not affiliated with Monte R. Black and
certain members of his immediate family. The lawsuit alleges, among other
things, that each of the Defendants has breached his fiduciary duties to
the Company's public shareholders. The plaintiff seeks, among other
things, an injunction prohibiting the consummation of the privatization
transaction and monetary damages. The Defendants believe that this
lawsuit is without merit and the Company does not expect this lawsuit to
have a material adverse effect on the Company.


NORTHBRIDGE EARTHQUAKE: Law Could Let Thousands Reopen '94 Claims
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Thousands of homeowners who suffered property damage in the Northridge
earthquake will be able to file revised claims with their insurance
companies under legislation signed by Gov. Gray Davis, attorneys and
insurance industry officials said.

The bill, SB 1899, signed late Saturday, allows most earthquake insurance
policyholders to submit claims by Jan. 1, 2002, even if they had
previously missed the deadline to file claims. To be eligible, however,
policyholders must have contacted their insurer about the damage before
Jan. 1 of this year. State officials could not estimate how many people
would be affected by the bill, but insurers said it could easily be in
the thousands.

Supporters of the bill said insurance companies typically rejected claims
submitted more than a year after the Jan. 17, 1994, quake. In some cases,
however, damage was not discovered until several years after the quake.
"Based on our experience, we think very few of our customers are
dissatisfied," said Kitty Miller, a spokeswoman for Farmers Insurance
Group. "But this opens the door for many people to reopen claims--in our
case 32,000 of them."

Brian Kabateck, a Century City attorney who consulted on the legislation,
said at least 10,000 policyholders could submit revised claims, based on
his discussions with insurers and fellow attorneys. "I think this is very
big," Kabateck said. "I think finally, hopefully, thousands of people
will get a chance to have their claims reviewed and adjusted."

Jacalyn Williams, president of a homeowners association for a 12-unit
condominium complex in North Hills, said she welcomed the new law. Her
association has struggled to pay for repairs the insurance company said
were not needed, she said. "They told us, 'Basically your building is
still standing, so consider yourselves blessed and have a nice day,' "
Williams said. "We requested to reopen the case because we found out we
had windows that don't close right any more, cracks in the stucco that we
didn't see immediately." "All of a sudden things became more evident,"
Williams said. "We had paid insurance for years and years but our damage
was not covered at the time. They didn't handle that."

Not everyone with earthquake damage, however, is eligible to reopen their
cases under the law, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton
(D-San Francisco). To be eligible to file a revised claim, policyholders
must have already submitted a claim, which was denied because it was not
filed in a timely manner. Additionally, the new law does not apply to
those who won court judgments or whose attorneys have signed settlement
agreements in connection with the quake.

Those provisions were designed to block frivolous or fraudulent claims.
Despite the narrow scope of the bill, Assemblyman Jack Scott (D-Altadena)
said the action was a matter of fairness for those who discovered damage
more than a year after thE quake. "This law helps those who were victims
of a very strict interpretation of the rules," Scott said. "It balances
the scales."

Alan Schimmel, a Sherman Oaks attorney who has 19 cases pending against
Farmers and its affiliates, said many insurers underestimated
damages--and homeowners did not find that out until after the claim
deadline had passed. "A lot of the injury here was insurance companies
going out to homes and saying you don't have damage or you don't have
enough damage to meet your deductibles," Schimmel said. "People didn't
think they had damage and when some problem occurred the insurance
company said you're too late," Schimmel said. "This is really what this
legislation is supposed to address."

Ric Hill, a spokesman for 21st Century Insurance Co., rebuked Schimmel,
saying his company handled 46,421 Northridge quake claims and doubted
many people would want to revise them. "It would be our expectation that
very few, if any, of those cases would require reopening," Hill said. "In
the process of handling those claims, the company has already paid out
more than $ 1.1 billion."

State Farm Insurance attorney Clarke Holland said homeowners should be
obliged to file claims in a timely manner. "The presumption they didn't
have enough time doesn't take into consideration when responsible
homeowners ought to be fixing their properties," he said. "Our position
is we did this right to begin with."

A state Insurance Commission spokesman said policyholders could call the
Insurance Department at (213) 897-8921 with questions related to filing
revised claims.

Encino-based attorney Howard Snyder said the bill should have required
insurance companies to notify homeowners that they may be eligible under
the bill. Snyder, an attorney in 17 class-action lawsuits stemming from
the earthquake, said one in five policyholders who were denied coverage
may not even know that they have more money coming to them.

The law grew out of a Times investigation that detailed secret
settlements negotiated by former Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush
with insurers, based on studies of insurance companies' claims-handling
practices.

Quackenbush used some of the $ 19 million he collected from the insurers
to advance his ambitions for higher office but resigned in July under
threat of impeachment when those abuses were detailed.

Kabateck said that during the hearings that ultimately led to
Quackenbush's resignation, legislators got "a real wake-up call" about
how many of the earthquake claims were handled. "The Legislature suddenly
realized that lots of people had been victimized by the insurance
industry," Kabateck said.

George Kehrer, president of a group called CARE (Community Assisting
Recovery), said homeowners have been frustrated for years with the poor
handling of their claims. He said insurance companies conducted extensive
research but most times it was too late for homeowners to receive
compensation. He hopes the bill will settle the score. "With the number
of claims this bill is going to reopen, it will be almost like another
earthquake hit," Kehrer said. "The Department of Insurance has discovered
that several billion dollars in insurance money was left on the table and
that will be paid out now."

Times staff writer Karen Robinson-Jacobs contributed to this story. (Los
Angeles Times, October 3, 2000)


PAYDAY LENDERS: Dollar Financial Settles Usury Charges
------------------------------------------------------
On December 28, 1999, Dollar Financial Group Inc. entered into a
settlement of a purported class-action lawsuit which had been commenced
in February 1999. The plaintiff, who represents "payday loan" borrowers
for purposes of the settlement, had alleged violations of state and
federal usury and consumer-protection laws by Eagle National Bank (the
lender in the plaintiff's loan transaction), Dollar Financial and others.
In entering into the settlement, the Company specifically denied any
wrongdoing. The terms of the settlement set a maximum payout to the
settlement class of $5.5 million. The settlement was preliminarily
approved by the court on August 10, 2000 and is awaiting final court
approval, on which management expects a ruling in October 2000. During
the year ended June 30, 2000, the Company recorded its best estimate,
based on the information then available, of the costs of the settlement
and of legal and administrative costs associated with the settlement. The
amount of the provision is subject to revision, and it is possible that
the final cost of the settlement could differ materially from the amount
currently provided.


PRICELINE.COM: Kirby McInerney Retained to Commence Securities Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Kirby McInerney & Squire has been retained to commence a class action
lawsuit on behalf of all purchasers of Priceline.com (NASDAQ: PCLN)
securities (including without limitation) common stock and call options
between August 1, 2000 and September 26, 2000 (the "Class Period"). The
complaint will charge Priceline.com and its founder with violations of
Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Specifically, the complaint will allege that during the class period
Priceline.com knew, but did not disclose, that its third quarter results
would not meet expectations due to lower-than-previously-anticipated
sales. Without disclosing this information, as the complaint will allege,
one company insider sold 10 million shares of stock for $240 million in
August and September 2000. Public shareholders were shocked when, on
September 27, 2000, Priceline.com disclosed to the public that its third
quarter results would not meet the figures it had led analysts and the
public to believe. When the true state of Priceline.com finally became
known on September 27, 2000, shareholders witnessed the shares they held
lose 42% of their value in one day, falling from $18.64 to $10.75 per
share.

Thus, the complaint will allege that, as a result of Priceline.com's
non-disclosures, the price of Priceline.com's stock was artificially
inflated during the class period, and investors who bought these
securities were damaged thereby. The lawsuit will seek to recover losses
suffered by investors who purchased Priceline.com stock during the class
period, excluding the defendants and their affiliates.

Contact: KIRBY McINERNEY & SQUIRE, LLP Ira Press or Shan Anwar,
212/317-2300 888/529-4787 sanwar@kmslaw.com


PRICELINE.COM: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in Connecticut
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP announces that a
class action lawsuit was filed on October 2, 2000, on behalf of
purchasers of the securities of Priceline.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:PCLN)
between, July 24, 2000 and September 26, 2000 inclusive. A copy of the
complaint filed in this action is available from the Court, or can be
viewed on Milberg Weiss' website at: http://www.milberg.com/priceline/

The action is pending in the United States District Court, District of
Connecticut against defendants Priceline.com, Inc., ("Priceline") Richard
S. Braddock, Daniel H. Schulman and Jay S. Walker.

According to the complaint, Priceline purports to have pioneered a unique
e-commerce system know as the "demand collection system." Using its "Name
Your Own Price" proposition, Priceline collects consumer demand, in the
form of individual customer offers guaranteed by a credit card, for a
particular product or service at prices set by the customer. The Company
uses its "Name Your Own Price" proposition to sell a variety of products,
including airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, and long distance
telephone calls.

The complaint further alleges that, at the commencement of the Class
Period, on July 24, 2000, defendants stated that (i) the Company was
"rounding the final turn and on the homestretch towards profitability,"
(ii) "our loyalty among existing customers is accelerating." and (iii)
the Priceline bidding model "has tremendous staying power." The complaint
alleges that defendants knew or recklessly disregarded that the company
was not "rounding the final turn and on the homestretch towards
profitability," that its business model did not have "tremendous staying
power," and that the Company was losing customers as increasing numbers
of people became dissatisfied with Priceline's rigid bidding process and
the Company's failure to respond to their complaints of poor service and
confusing terms.

Before the market opened on September 27, 2000, as alleged in the
complaint, the Company announced that, due to weakness in the sale of
airline tickets, the Company would not make money in the third quarter
and that it expected revenues to be in the range of $340 million to$345
million compared to analysts' estimates of $360 million to $380 million.
Upon news of the announcement, the Company's shares plunged 42% to a
52-week low of $10.75. During the Class Period, defendants sold in excess
of 8.2 million Priceline shares for proceeds of more than $197 million.

Contact: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP Steven G. Schulman or
Samuel H. Rudman, (800) 320-5081 Email: pricelinecase@milbergNY.com
Website: http://www.milberg.com


RAMP NETWORKS: Lionel Z. Glancy Retained to Commence Securities Lawsuit
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices of Lionel Z. Glancy has been retained to commence a class
action lawsuit on behalf of all purchasers of Ramp Networks Inc. (Nasdaq:
RAMP) securities between Nov. 15, 1999, and Sept. 29, 2000, (the "Class
Period"). The complaint will charge Ramp and its CEO with violations of
Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Specifically, the complaint will allege that during the Class Period Ramp
knew, but did not disclose, that its third quarter results would not meet
expectations due to operational problems which Ramp partially disclosed
in July 2000. Public shareholders were shocked when, on Sept. 29, 2000,
Ramp disclosed to the public that its third quarter results would not
meet the figures it had led analysts and the public to believe. When the
true state of Ramp finally became known on Sept. 29, 2000, shareholders
witnessed the shares they held lose 41.59 percent of their value in one
day.

The complaint will allege that, as a result of Ramps non-disclosures, the
price of Ramps stock was artificially inflated during the Class Period,
and investors who bought these securities were damaged thereby. The
lawsuit will seek to recover losses suffered by investors who purchased
Ramp stock during the Class Period, excluding the defendants and their
affiliates.

Contact: The Law Offices of Lionel Z. Glancy, Los Angeles Lionel Z.
Glancy, Esq./Michael Goldberg, Esq. 310/201-9150 or 888/773-9224
(toll-free)


SC SOCIAL: Child Support Collection System Draws Complaints
-----------------------------------------------------------
Two Georgetown women have joined the growing list of people unhappy with
South Carolina Social Services Department about its method of collecting
back child support. In their lawsuit filed last month, Darlene Best and
Delphine Holden say South Carolina is giving "deadbeat parents"
interest-free loans at the expense of their children.

The state's system doesn't calculate or collect interest on unpaid child
support, the suit alleges. But a Social Services Department attorney says
it is not required to do that. Calculations of interest payments on back
child support are left up to judges in individual cases, agency officials
say.

Best and Holden have asked the judge to certify the case as a
class-action suit. "It's true that our system is not set up to calculate
and collect the interest, but our position is that we're not required by
federal law to do that automatically in a centralized place," Social
Services Department lawyer Virginia Williamson said.

Michael Kharfen, spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department,
said federal regulations don't address interest calculations
specifically.

The lawsuits are just the latest criticism of South Carolina's system of
collecting back child support. The state's efforts to conform to new
federal regulations have resulted in a costly computer system that
doesn't work, a flurry of lawsuits and the threat of the loss of millions
of federal dollars.

South Carolina's automated child support enforcement system has been
operated by the clerks of court in all 46 counties since 1988. In 1996, a
federal child support collection system was created to help track
delinquent parents across state lines. Under that law, the government
pays for about two-thirds of the cost of a comprehensive program for
participating states. In exchange, the states' program must conform to
federal guidelines.

The state Social Services Department ordered a $42 million computer
network from Unisys Corp., of Blue Bell, Pa. The state says the system
doesn't work and sued. The state missed a federal deadline in 1998 and
last year, federal officials threatened to withhold $17.5 million and
could be fined as much as $28 million more. Gov. Jim Hodges sued to keep
the money coming. Hodges said Unisys was paid more than $21 million in
federal and state funds to create a South Carolina computer system, but
the company concealed problems.

In July, a U.S. District Court judge issued an injunction preventing the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from withholding the money
or fining the state until the case is decided.

Since the state abandoned the Unisys program, it has hired a consultant,
said Larry McKeown, director of child support enforcement.

If Health and Human Services officials approve South Carolina's plan, it
will take about four years to put the new system online, McKeown said.
For now, 46 county clerks of court operate separate systems, and the
state's collection rate is higher than the national average. (The
Associated Press State & Local Wire, October 3, 2000)


SEATTLE POLICE: WTO Protesters Say Arrest in Violation of Constitution
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The city has been hit by another lawsuit over arrests during the World
Trade Organization protests last fall, this time by a public interest law
firm from Washington, D.C.

The case filed Monday on behalf of four individuals in U.S. District
Court accuses Mayor Paul Schell and police officials of violating the
Constitution by declaring a 25-block downtown area a "no-protest zone"
Dec. 1 and 2. Trial Lawyers for Public Justice asked that the case, which
seeks unspecified damages, be certified as a class action on behalf of
about 600 people who were arrested.

"City officials acted as though they could repeal the First Amendment by
executive fiat. This lawsuit is to establish that they can't," said
Arthur Bryant, the group's executive director. "This is America. People
can't be arrested for peaceful protests. They can't be arrested for
walking or talking or breathing downtown," he said.

Bryant was expected to discuss the lawsuit further at a news conference
Tuesday.

Local lawyers in the case include Steve Berman, a class-action specialist
known for shareholder lawsuits, and criminal defense attorneys John
Muenster, Ben Schwartzman, Michael Withey, Fred Diamondstone and Yvonne
Kinoshita Ward.

The no-protest zone was proclaimed by Schell after protesters clogged
streets and blocked WTO delegates from attending meetings. City officials
have defended it as a "limited curfew zone" and a temporary but
unavoidable response to looting and vandalism that marred earlier
protests.

Aides to City Attorney Mark Sidran had no immediate comment on the
lawsuit, but a Sidran spokeswoman noted that on Dec. 2, U.S. District
Court Judge Robert Bryan of Tacoma refused to issue a temporary
restraining order against the lockdown.

Rejecting a request by the American Civil Liberties Union, Bryan cited
court rulings that upheld the right of authorities to establish
no-protest zones outside abortion clinics.

At first glance, he ruled, the restrictions appeared to be "narrowly and
neutrally drawn," but he went on to say that "when all of the facts and
issues are examined in further litigation, the defendants' action may be
proven wrong."

Lawyers in the latest lawsuit cite a decision four years ago in which the
9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a curfew in San Francisco
following riots that arose with the acquittal of police officers accused
in the videotaped beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles. San Francisco
later paid $1 million to settle a lawsuit brought by 425 people jailed
for violating the curfew.

One of the four plaintiffs in the WTO case, Jennifer Hudziec, 25, said
she was not with any group but was among hundreds of protesters who were
surrounded at Westlake Park by police on Dec. 1. When police ordered
those who did not want to be arrested to step aside, she was among those
who did so, but they were arrested anyway, she said. "I was exercising my
rights, my constitutional rights of free speech and right to assemble in
a nonviolent way," Hudziec said. She was booked into King County Jail and
held for three days, but charges against her and most of the other
demonstrators were dropped.

The other three plaintiffs are Stephanie Lane, Kenneth Hankin and Robert
Hickey, a Teamsters union member from New York.

More than 60 damage claims have been filed by protesters accusing the
city of civil-rights abuses, and several have been converted into federal
or state lawsuits.

In August, three of four plaintiffs who claimed they had been wrongfully
hit with tear gas, Mace and pepper spray during the demonstrations
settled for $ 2,500 each. The case of the fourth, Elizabeth Miltko of
Seattle, who said she was arrested, jailed, stripped of her clothing and
forced to lie naked in a cold jail cell, remains pending. That lawsuit,
filed by lawyer John King, also was filed as a proposed class action, but
U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik last month refused to certify it as
such.

Also pending is an ACLU lawsuit filed in federal court in March for
unspecified damages on behalf of six area residents area and a man from
San Francisco who was representing the International Forum on
Globalization. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, October 3, 2000)



SIRROM CAPITAL: Cauley & Geller Files Securities Suit in Tennessee
------------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Cauley & Geller, LLP announced on October 2 that a class
action lawsuit was filed on behalf of all persons who exchanged shares of
Sirrom Capital Corporation for the common stock of The FINOVA Group, Inc.
(NYSE: FNV) pursuant to a stock-for-stock acquisition (the "Merger").

The action, numbered 3:00-0934, is pending in the United States District
Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division against
defendants Sirrom Capital Corporation, Samuel L. Eichenfield, John W.
Teets, Constance R. Curran, G. Robert Durham, James L. Johnson, Kenneth
R. Smith, Shoshana B. Tancer, Bruno A. Marszowski and The FINOVA Group,
Inc. Judge Trauger was assigned to the case.

The complaint alleges that defendants violated Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and
15 of the Securities Act of 1933 by issuing a materially false and
misleading Registration Statement and Proxy Statement/Prospectus. The
complaint charges that the Proxy/Prospectus was materially false and
misleading in that it included false financial statements. Specifically,
the complaint alleges that FINOVA's fiscal year 1998 balance sheet was
materially overstated as were its reported earnings, which were
overstated by at least $35 million, or %26, due to FINOVA's failure to
reserve for an impaired loan as required by Generally Accepted Accounting
Principles ("GAAP") and FINOVA's own accounting procedures and policies.
Pursuant to the Merger, FINOVA issued over 6 million shares of common
stock, valued at approximately $309 million. Sirrom shareholders received
0.1634 shares of FINOVA common stock for each share of Sirrom stock owned
on the Record Date, March 1, 1999.

Contact: Cauley & Geller, LLP, 888-551-9944, or info@classlawyer.com


* Proposed Bill on Tire Regulation Blocked from Senate Floor Voting
-------------------------------------------------------------------
A Senate bill that would require auto and tire companies to disclose more
to federal regulators and could impose criminal penalties on executives
is being blocked from coming to a vote on the Senate floor. Sen. John
McCain (R-Ariz.), sponsor of the bill prompted by the Firestone tire
recall, said that members, who are not identified by Senate tradition,
have placed a "hold" on the legislation. The bill has been the subject of
intense lobbying by the automotive industry and national business groups.
The House is considering similar legislation, which is scheduled to come
up for a committee vote on Thursday.

Masatoshi Ono, the top executive of the embattled U.S. division of
Bridgestone/ Firestone, will no longer manage its operations, the
president of the Tokyo-based company said in a magazine interview. Ono
may remain with the company but his role has not been determined,
Bridgestone President Yoichiro Kaizaki told Nikkei Business magazine.
(The Washington Post, October 3, 2000)


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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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