/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/001017.MBX              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

             Tuesday, October 17, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 202


ALBERTSON'S SUPERMARKETS: Lawsuit over Final Wages Filed in Los Angeles
AT&T BROADBAND: Reaches Settlement for Late Fee Charges in Michigan
AZURIX CORP: Savett Frutkin Files Securities Suit in Texas
AZURIX, CORP: Wechsler Harwood Files Securities Suit in Texas
BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: USA Today Says Tire Suits Pile up and Kept Secret

BROOKTROUT, INC: Berman DeValerio Files Securities Suit in Massachusetts
CORPORATION FINANCIERE: Canada Clears Tax Expert of 3rd-Party Liability
EBAY: Online Auction Operator Faces Suit on Sale of Fake Goods
EFI, SPLASH: Announce Proposed Settlement of Merger Lawsuit
GOLDMAN SACHS: As Underwriter, Named in Laidlaw Bondholders Litigation

GOLDMAN SACHS: Resolves Allegations of Preclusion of Multiple Listing
GOLDMAN SACHS: Sued in NY and FL over Consipiracy in Fixing IPO Discount
HMOs: Industry Angry as Labor Dep't Changes View on Patients State Cases
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Deutsche Telekom Pays into Nazi Labor Fund
METRO GLOBAL: Seeks to Dismiss Securities Suit in Rhode Island

NAU: Suit Alleging Pay-Raise Discrimination Set for Trial
PRICELINE.COM: Dennis J. Johnson Expands Period of Securities Suit in CT
PRIME RETAIL: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in Maryland
TOPPS CO: RICO Suit Filed in CA in 1998 Dismissed and under Appeal
TOPPS CO: Trading Card Purchaser to Amend Anti-Gambling Suit in CA

USDA: The Washington Post Cites Difficulties in Changing Discrimination
WATER CONTAMINATION: Canada Examines Town Managers' Role in E.Coli
WORLD ONLINE: Dutch Shareholders Sue for Damages in Amsterdam

* Closed Landfills Can Be Blamed for Water Contamination and Leaks
* FDIC Chief Urges a Severing of Predators' Bank Funding


ALBERTSON'S SUPERMARKETS: Lawsuit over Final Wages Filed in Los Angeles
A class action lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles Superior Court
charging that Albertson's supermarkets (including the former Lucky chain)
and Save-On drug stores fail to pay final wages on time when employees
quit, retire, or are laid off or are terminated.

The lawsuit has been brought on behalf of all former California employees
of Albertson's, Save-On and former Lucky supermarket chain. The named
plaintiffs, who are all former Albertson's, Lucky or Save-On employees,
charge that the three companies have violated a California law that
requires employers to pay all final wages, including vacation pay, on an
employee's last day of work.

The suit seeks one day pay for every day that the final wages were late, up
to a maximum of 30 days' pay. The suit also seeks unpaid vacation pay for
employees who never received it. The lawsuit also seeks interest,
injunctive relief, attorney's fees and court costs.

The case began when "laid off Albertson's employees in Orange and Los
Angeles counties asked their union, Food and Commercial Workers Union,
Local 324, to help them recover unpaid vacation pay," said Bob Bleiweiss, a
spokesperson for Local 324. In investigating the charges, Local 324
discovered that "many employees waited weeks or months for their last
paycheck, and some never received any of the vacation pay they were
entitled to." Local 324 also discovered that many complaining employees had
also received their final paychecks late, and that the problem extended to
the Save-On and former Lucky chains in addition to Albertson's. Lucky and
Save-On are now owned by Boise, Idaho-based Albertson's.

"The employees turned to Local 324 for help because they knew how the UFCW
International Union had helped union and non-union Albertson's employees in
bringing a nationwide suit against Albertson's for cheating its employees
out of earned wages," said Bleiweiss. Albertson's recently settled the
nationwide class action, and checks are expected to be mailed out to
employees early next year. The lawsuit is not related to the nationwide
class action, and it has been filed only on behalf of former California

The lawsuit, which covers union and non-union workers alike, has been
brought by the law firm of Gilbert & Sackman in Los Angeles. Former
Albertson's, Lucky and Save-On employees can confidentially discuss the
case by calling attorneys Joseph Paller or Robert Cantore at 323/938-3000.
For a copy of the amended complaint, which was filed on Oct. 10, call Bob
Bleiweiss 818/591-3248. Further information is available from Bob Bleiweiss
and on the Internet at www.gslaw.org.

Contact: Bleiweiss Communications Bob Bleiweiss, 818/591-3248 www.gslaw.org

AT&T BROADBAND: Reaches Settlement for Late Fee Charges in Michigan
AT&T Broadband reached settlement in class action lawsuit against late fee
charged by former MediaOne systems in Mich. Under settlement, current
customers who had paid $5 late fee for month will get $2.50 pay-per-view
coupon and former customers will receive check for amount, spokeswoman
said. Company also agreed not to increase late fee for "certain period of
time," she said. Former MediaOne system had 400,000 subscribers,
spokeswoman said, declining to specify number involved in settlement. AT&T
recently settled late fee lawsuit covering 17 states (CD Aug 22 p2) and
announced restructuring of late fee structure in those states.
(Communications Daily, October 16, 2000)

AZURIX CORP: Savett Frutkin Files Securities Suit in Texas
Savett Frutkin Podell & Ryan, P.C. hereby gives notice that a class action
complaint was filed in the United States District Court, Southern District
of Texas on behalf of a class of persons who purchased the common stock of
Azurix Corp. (NYSE:AZX) at artificially inflated prices during the period
June 9, 1999 through August 8, 2000 and traceable to Azurix's Initial
Public Offering ("Class Period") and who were damaged thereby.

The complaint charges Azurix and certain of its senior officers and
directors with violations of Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15 of the Securities
Act of 1933 ("Securities Act") and Sections 10(b) and 20 of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act") and Rule 10b-5 promulgated

The complaint also charges Enron Corp. as a controlling person under
Section 15 of the Securities Act and Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act. The
complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants disseminated to
the investing public false and misleading financial statements and press
releases concerning the Company's publicly reported financial condition and
future prospects.

The complaint further alleges that defendants issued to the public on or
about June 9, 1999, in connection with the Company's initial public
offering, a false and misleading registration statement and prospectus.
These documents touted the Company's primary business strategy - acquiring,
owning, operating and managing large privatization water supply and
wastewater projects.

However, through a series of partial disclosures beginning on March 30,
2000 and ending on August 8, 2000, it was revealed that several large
privatization projects were already postponed or canceled at or near the
time of the IPO. As a result of defendants' misrepresentations the price of
Azurix common stock was artificially inflated throughout the Class Period.

Contact: Savett Frutkin Podell & Ryan, P.C. Barbara A. Podell Adam T.
Savett Renee C. Nixon Telephone: 215/923-5400 or 800/993-3233 E-mail:

AZURIX, CORP: Wechsler Harwood Files Securities Suit in Texas
Wechsler Harwood Halebian & Feffer has filed a securities class action
lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Texas on behalf of all investors who purchased the common stock of Azurix,
Corp. during the period June 9, 1999 through and including August 8, 2000
(the "Class Period") including purchases in Azurix's Initial Public
Offering on June 9, 1999 (the "IPO"), to recover damages caused by
defendants' violation of the Federal securities laws.

Plaintiff charges that during the Class Period, defendants disseminated to
the investing public false and misleading financial statements and press
releases concerning the Company's publicly reported financial condition and
future prospects. Moreover, it is alleged that on or about June 9, 1999,
defendants issued to the public, in connection with the Company's initial
public offering, a false and misleading registration statement and
prospectus. These documents touted the Company's primary business strategy
- acquiring, owning, operating and managing large privatization water
supply and wastewater projects. However, through a series of partial
disclosures beginning on March 30, 2000 and ending on August 8, 2000, it
was revealed that several large privatization projects were already
postponed or canceled at or near the time of the IPO. As a result of the
defendants' false and misleading statements, the market price of the
Company's common stock was artificially inflated during the Class Period.

Contact: Wechsler Harwood Halebian & Feffer LLP, New York Ramon Pinon,
Shareholder Relations Department 877/935-7400 rpinoniv@whhf.com

BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: USA Today Says Tire Suits Pile up and Kept Secret
For nearly a decade, lawsuits against Bridgestone/Firestone piled up in
courthouses across the USA, detailing deaths and injuries from car wrecks
caused by tire tread separation. Yet, until a few months ago, the
life-and-death importance of tire safety was not even a whisper in the
national dialogue. Blame the delayed realization -- and the highway carnage
created in the interim -- on pervasive secrecy in America's court system,
say safety advocates and plaintiffs' lawyers.

Behind closed doors, Firestone year after year agreed to pay plaintiffs
millions of dollars to settle cases and thereby hush up its tire problems.
In dozens of cases, the courts made it illegal for anyone to divulge the
financial terms of the settlements and possible evidence about safety
defects that are allegedly hurting or killing people. Only in the past few
weeks has the public learned that 101 U.S. deaths are linked to persistent
problems with Firestone tires. Had those documents been available to the
public, lives could have been saved, lawyers and safety advocates say.

But Florida Circuit Judge Eleanor Schockett of Miami says courts shouldn't
be forced to release inside information pried from companies during
lawsuits. "You can't say, 'Oh, I feel sorry for the widow and children' and
then say the defendant doesn't have any rights, even though nothing has
been proven yet," Schockett says. "As long as plaintiffs get the
information they need, they don't have any right to gripe."

The Firestone tire fiasco refuels a long-running debate among safety
advocates and legal experts about what role court secrecy plays in delaying
a day of reckoning for manufacturers when the government acts to protect an
unsuspecting public from dangerous products. Florida Attorney General Bob
Butterworth and lawyers for news organizations have been intervening in
Firestone cases, arguing for openness. The secrecy issue is a topic of
heated debate among lawyers and legal ethicists and echoes earlier
disagreements over bad fuel tank designs, tobacco, intrauterine birth
control devices and dozens of other dangerous products.

Twice in recent lawsuits, Schockett granted lawyers for tire companies
airtight protective orders virtually assuring that the public wouldn't
glimpse information raising doubts about the safety of their tires.

Anybody can file a lawsuit and, Schockett says, the right is too often
abused. Tight protective orders shield defendants from the damage that can
be done by dissemination of sensitive information when charges remain

Florida attorney Bruce Kaster keeps a grisly spreadsheet of 300 lawsuits
involving wrecks caused by tread separations on tires from various
manufacturers. Dating to the 1980s, it catalogs scores of deaths and a long
list of injuries: broken skulls, paralysis, brain damage, lost eyes and
broken necks. "There's no question that less oppressive protective measures
would have allowed the (tire) story to become public much quicker," says
Kaster, a plaintiff's attorney from Ocala.

Fred Baron, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America
(ATLA), made up of plaintiff's lawyers, is more succinct: "Secrecy kills."

Tire safety seized national attention two months ago when
Bridgestone/Firestone, faced with a government investigation, recalled 6.5
million tires. In addition to the deaths, the government has identified 250
injuries linked to tread separation accidents.

Bridgestone/Firestone executive Gary Crigger said at a Senate hearing last
month that the company never looked at pending lawsuits while evaluating
the tires' safety, an omission the company now acknowledges was a mistake.
He also defended the practice of seeking confidentiality in lawsuits. "The
confidentiality orders applied only to trade secrets and formulations and
these kinds of matters. And, of course, the judge had to agree," Crigger
told lawmakers.

But advocates of openness, including safety groups and the ATLA, call that
a cop-out.

R. David Pittle, technical director at Consumers Union, told the same
Senate panel that withholding of safety-related information by the judges
and parties to lawsuits delayed any solution to the tire problem.

"If it had been made public, this hearing would have been held months ago
-- maybe years ago -- and the injuries and deaths that have occurred during
the interim would not have occurred," Pittle says.

                         Many Forms of Secrecy

Court secrecy takes many forms: closing courtrooms during hearings or
trials; "depublishing," or withdrawing, a judge's ruling; sealing files;
and settling lawsuits confidentially. But what rankles openness advocates
most is the protective order, a judicial decree issued routinely in
business litigation limiting access to company information to participants
in the lawsuit.

Civil lawsuits are essentially private matters pursued in public courts.
Openness advocates argue the public, therefore, has a stake in knowing what
transpires at every stage. Many, like Judge Schockett and defense lawyers,

Legal experts say that in the daily administration of justice, none of the
parties is looking out first and foremost for the public interest. Here's

The defense. Defense lawyers have no incentive to do anything but seek the
broadest, most restrictive protective order possible. Under the banner of
protecting trade secrets, tire company lawyers will typically seek
protection for such things as the design for obsolete tires, warranty
payment history and lists of other lawsuits related to a particular type of

"As an advocate for your client, you're going to start with a position
that's fairly broad," says Lloyd Milliken, an Indianapolis defense lawyer.
Milliken says not every internal document in which an employee expresses
concern about a design or manufacturing process indicates a corporate
disregard for safety. Confidentiality limits the ability of a plaintiff's
lawyer to argue that defendants "are just bad people."

The plaintiff. Plaintiffs' lawyers for the most part benefit from broad
dissemination of any inside information they can dislodge from a
manufacturer. The information can help other lawyers suing the company on
the same grounds. And if the information finds its way into news reports,
that burnishes the lawyers' credentials as tough advocates for victims.

But in the end, the plaintiff lawyer's ethical obligation is solely to the
client. In real life, injured clients usually need money fast. As a
practical matter, plaintiff's lawyers usually accept restrictive protective
orders just to move the case forward.

Likewise, when a defendant offers a financial settlement on the condition
of secrecy, the interest of the client prevails over that of the public.
Baron, president of ATLA, says he favors a change in court rules to require
settlement terms to remain public unless a judge can be persuaded
otherwise. Settlement payments to a minor or a mentally incompetent person
would be reasonable cases for confidential settlements, he says.

The judge. In federal courts, more than nine-tenths of the lawsuits filed
are settled before trial. Nonetheless, federal trial judges stay busy with
the cases that do make it to trial, both civil and criminal. So busy judges
typically agree to whatever protective order is worked out by lawyers for
the two sides.

U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum of Minneapolis says he's seen
protective orders in business litigation proliferate in his 15 years on the
bench. And provisions are becoming increasingly restrictive, he says.

"Some are almost laughable," Rosenbaum says of the intricate rules set by
the lawyers for the pretrial flow of information.

Rosenbaum says lawyers have never asked him to arbitrate terms of a
protective order. As with many judges, his policy is to accept whatever the
two sides work out between themselves. To inject himself into negotiations
in cases that will almost certainly be settled before trial is just not
practical, he says,

"If neither of them care, it's fine with me," Rosenbaum says. "There are
only a finite number of judges."

                       Stopping Baseless Lawsuits

For Schockett, the Florida judge, restrictive protective orders are an
important check on aggressive and increasingly organized plaintiffs'
attorneys. She's put off by what she calls "extortion by litigation," the
filing of lawsuits with little or no merit to coerce settlement payments
from deep-pocketed corporations. "There are some people who use the law
fairly, and some who use it like a bludgeon," she says.

Baron calls Schockett's assertion of widespread lawsuit abuse "one of the
great myths" put out by defense lawyers. Judges, Schockett included, can
dismiss any baseless lawsuit and fine the lawyer who brought it.

Schockett calls the deaths involving tire failures "pretty horrendous."
But, she says, they don't change her view that tire companies, like all
defendants, have the right to be protected from public release of damaging
information for no other reason than they've been sued. To do anything but
impose strict limits on the sharing of information in a lawsuit, she says,
"is asking me to prejudge the case" in favor of the plaintiff. "It's true
that many plaintiffs are pitiful, but is the defendant really responsible
for their injury?"

Last month, a fellow Miami judge, responding to a request from the Florida
attorney general, lifted Schockett's year-old order sealing confidential
documents in a tread-separation case involving a recalled Firestone ATX
tire. On Sept. 6, Schockett approved word-for-word a six-page protective
order submitted by lawyers for Goodyear in another tire-failure case. Her
approval came despite protests from plaintiffs' lawyers that the order is
overly restrictive and violates Florida's Sunshine in Litigation Act.

Schockett's protective order is one of three that Butterworth has
successfully had reversed in recent weeks. He says he's prepared to
intervene in additional cases against Firestone to make records public.

"Others are still driving on them, and they have the right to know what the
problem is," says Butterworth, who hasn't ruled out criminal charges as
more becomes known about the bad tires.

Openness advocates recommend new laws and rules to assure that the public
has access to information about faulty products. They cite policies in
Florida, which outlaws concealment by the courts of a public hazard, and
Texas, which has extensive court rules favoring openness, as worthy models
for Congress and legislatures in other states.

But Richard Zitrin, a trial lawyer and legal ethicist in San Francisco,
says lawyers, not judges, have to take primary responsibility for
protecting the public's right to know. He has proposed to the American Bar
Association a new ethics rule prohibiting lawyers -- for plaintiffs or
defendants -- from restricting access to information in a lawsuit that
could, if publicized, alert people about a danger to health or safety.

Placing the burden on the lawyers, Zitrin says, recognizes that judges have
little power, inclination or resources to investigate defense claims that
they're just protecting essential trade secrets.

Arthur Miller, a Harvard University law professor and privacy expert, says
he's never seen hard evidence that freer flow of information during
fact-finding or discovery, as lawyers call it -- would have prevented
deaths or injuries from dangerous products. Like Schockett, he argues that
corporate defendants should be able to shield a good deal of internal
information at the early stages of a lawsuit. "We can't spend our lives
having fistfights over discovery," he says.

Besides, openness advocates should be careful what they ask for, Miller
argues. The rush to pry open the secrets of a big corporation like
Bridgestone/Firestone could ultimately undermine the privacy rights of
individuals who find themselves defendants in future lawsuits. "I don't
think the cost of involving the courts in settling a dispute should be a
loss of privacy," he says. (USA Today, October 16, 2000)

BROOKTROUT, INC: Berman DeValerio Files Securities Suit in Massachusetts
A shareholder of Brooktrout Inc. (Nasdaq: BRKT) on October 13 filed a
class-action lawsuit charging Brooktrout with securities fraud, Berman
DeValerio & Pease LLP (www.bermanesq.com) said.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the
District of Massachusetts, seeks damages for violations of federal
securities laws on behalf of all investors who bought Brooktrout common
stock between February 3, 2000 and October 6, 2000 (the "Class Period").
Berman DeValerio & Pease has represented defrauded investors in class
actions for nearly two decades.

The complaint claims that Brooktrout's statements regarding its
consolidated financial results for the fourth quarter and year-end 1999 and
for the first two quarters of 2000 were materially false and misleading
because they included improperly recognized revenues from the company's
majority-owned subsidiary, Interspeed, Inc. Interspeed shareholders are
currently suing that company and certain others (including Brooktrout) for
securities fraud in the wake of Interspeed's October 6 announcement that it
anticipated that its unaudited results for the first three quarters of 2000
would be restated due to improper revenue recognition.

Contact: Jennifer L. Finger, Esq. of Berman DeValerio & Pease,
800-516-9926, bdplaw@bermanesq.com.

CORPORATION FINANCIERE: Canada Clears Tax Expert of 3rd-Party Liability
A recent ruling says that a tax accountant advising an R&D general
partnership has no 3rd-party liability toward investors. In Meese v.
Corporation Financiere Globex, the Superior Court refused to grant Meese, a
taxpayer grappling with income tax reassessments, the authorization to
institute a class action against the government and against a lawyer and
tax accountant whose services had been retained by the promoter. The judge
explained in his decision that, under civil law, an accountant's liability
may arise from a contractual relationship with a client or from a
professional fault resulting to a 3rd party. In the Meese case, since the
investors in the group had not retained the services of the tax accountant
themselves, the court restricted its analysis to the accountant's liability
toward them as 3rd parties. According to the court, even if the accountant
had had doubts regarding the future availability of the tax benefits, he
had no legal duty to warn the investors about it.

Beginning in the late 1980s, thousands of taxpayers invested money-
sometimes substantial amounts - in scientific research and experimental
development partnerships established by promoters who, sensing a golden
business opportunity, tantalized them with the prospect of some attractive
tax benefits.

When, in the 1990s, Revenue Canada took a closer look at the activities of
the partnerships carrying out these projects, the taxpayers got some bad
news. The tax authorities said that the deductions and tax credits they had
claimed would be refused because the projects in question did not meet
Income Tax Act criteria. Revenue Canada (and later, Revenue Quebec)
challenged several elements, including the expectation of profits from
these projects and the active participation of the partners (taxpayers) in
the research work.

Faced with this setback, the taxpayers formed lobby groups in an attempt to
make the tax authorities change their decision. They also filed notices of

Around this time, several groups of investors (Forgues v. Laporte Racine at
al., CSM 500-06000054-979; [appeal pending] CAM 50009-009586-009; Vidal v.
S.F.S. Logic Fisc Inc. et al., CSM 500-06-000012-969; Rouleau et al. v.
Etteloc et al., CSM 500-06000001-954 CAM 500-09-003029-964) decided to go
before the Quebec courts to seek authorization to institute class actions
against the promoters and vendors and their advisers, namely the lawyers
and accountants. Essentially, they complained that the lawyers and
accountants had not warned them their investments were ineligible for tax

Revenue Quebec and Revenue Canada were also made parties to these
proceedings, because the investors claimed that the tax authorities had
implemented a program intended to encourage them to invest in R&D without
clearly informing them of the conditions for participation. The investors
blamed the governments for having failed to monitor the activities of the
partnerships responsible for carrying out the R&D projects and for having
failed to act promptly - thereby comforting the investors in their decision
to continue investing year after year.

One case in which the parties sought the authorization of the Superior
Court to institute a class action is particularly interesting for tax
accountants in private practice. In Meese v. Corporation financiere Globex
(CSM, 500-06-000015-947) Justice Pierre Dalphond rendered a decision on
December 15, 1999.

In summary, the Superior Court refused to grant Mr. Meese, a taxpayer
grappling with income tax reassessments, the authorization to institute a
class action against the governments and against a lawyer and a tax
accountant whose services had been retained by the promoter. At this stage
of the proceedings, Mr. Meese had to show that the recourse he intended to
exercise satisfied the conditions for granting the authorization to
institute a class action, as established in the Quebec Code of Civil

The Quebec Code of Civil Procedure sets forth four conditions: the
recourses of the members raise identical, similar or related questions of
law or fact; the facts alleged by the applicant in support of his or her
personal recourse seem to justify the conclusions sought; the composition
of the group in question justifies the bringing of a class action rather
than several individual actions; and the individual seeking to represent
members of the group has the necessary qualities to represent them

In the court's opinion, the applicant did not satisfy the second condition
with respect to the professionals and the governments. In particular, Judge
Dalphond emphasized that the facts that Mr. Meese had alleged against the
tax accountant who provided professional services to the promoter did not
show "a serious colour of right" - i.e., sufficient legal basis.

After examining the evidence in the court record, including the exhibits
and transcripts of Mr. Meese's examinations, Judge Dalphond noted that the
tax accountant had not prepared any financial statements or other documents
intended for the investors. Moreover, before Mr. Meese invested in the
research and development partnerships, he had never heard of the tax
accountant, had never seen him, had never attended one of his conferences
and had not received any documents bearing his signature or issued by him.

Judge Dalphond explained in his decision that, under civil law, an
accountant's liability may arise from a contractual relationship with a
client or from a professional fault resulting in damage to a third party.
In the Meese case, since the investors in the group had not retained the
services of the tax accountant themselves, the court restricted its
analysis to the accountant's liability toward them as third parties.
According to the court, even if the accountant had had doubts regarding the
future availability of the tax benefits, he had no legal duty to warn the
investors about it.

In the absence of any representations on the part of the tax accountant,
Judge Dalphond considered that he could not be held liable toward third
parties, and he stated the following: "Such a positive obligation to inform
as regards the applicant and other persons who were unknown to him and not
identified can exist only if set forth in legislation or in the code of
ethics of accountants. The failure to warn third parties will result in
liability against a given person, only if that person had a duty to carry
out what he failed to do.... However, the applicant did not assert any
relevant legislative provision or any relevant provision of a text
governing the conduct of accountants!

In addition, since Mr. Meese admitted that he had been unaware of the tax
accountant's involvement before investing in the R&D companies, the court
was of the opinion that the professional's conduct could not have
influenced Mr. Meese's decisions in any manner whatsoever.

The courts are reluctant to dismiss class actions at the preliminatry
authorization stage. Nonetheless, by refusing to authorize a recourse that
didn't show any "colour of right," the Superior Court strongly confirmed
the limits on accountants' liability. Thus, failing direct or indirect
representations made to third parties (via documents, opinions, reports,
etc.), an accountant cannot be held liable for failing to inform or advise
the public.

Tax accountants should be watching this case with interest, given that Mr.
Meese has decided to appeal Judge Dalphond's ruling (Meese v. Corporation
financiere Globex et al., C.A.M. 500-09-009138-009). Hekne Lefebvre is a
partner with Ogilvy Renault in Montreal. Along with her junior partner
Mtre. lean-Charles Rene, she represented the tax accountant in the Meese

Technical Editor: Mindy Paskell-Mede, BCL, LLB, partner in the Montreal law
firm Nicholl Paskell-Mede (CA Magazine, September, 2000)

EBAY: Online Auction Operator Faces Suit on Sale of Fake Goods
In a case closely watched by critics of online auctions, a California judge
has allowed six people to proceed with a lawsuit that strikes at the core
of how eBay runs its business.

The ruling involves a lawsuit filed by people who say they bought
autographed sports memorabilia later found to be fake. The lawsuit asserts
that eBay, the largest online auction operator, has a responsibility to
ensure the authenticity of the sports memorabilia sold through its World
Wide Web site.

EBay, which lists about four million items for sale daily, has repeatedly
argued that it merely operates a venue for sales and cannot be held liable
for fraudulent transactions. Company officials have said that if eBay were
forced to verify every piece of listed merchandise -- or even only sports
memorabilia -- eBay would not be able to offer consumers such a large

Last week's ruling came from Judge Linda B. Quinn of Superior Court in San
Diego County, where the lawsuit was filed in April. The ruling was a
preliminary response to eBay's assertion that the case should be dismissed.

Though she did not grant a dismissal, Judge Quinn sided with eBay on
several points and told the plaintiffs to restate their case in terms that
would more specifically rebut eBay's arguments.

The case is based in part on a California law governing the sale of sports
memorabilia. EBay is based in San Jose, Calif.

Legal experts say they are watching the case because while several states
have laws intended to protect consumers from fraudulent auctions, most of
them were written before the Internet made online auctions possible.

"It is definitely an open issue as to whether online auctions like this
should be regulated under those state auction statutes," said Thomas Bell,
a lawyer in Seattle who specializes in Internet law.

In the California case, six eBay users filed the complaint after
discovering that several autographed baseballs and other sports items
carried what law-enforcement officials said were forged signatures. Also
included as defendants in the suit are nine sellers and authenticators of
sports memorabilia, most of whom live in San Diego and who have been
investigated or indicted by federal officials for their roles in what the
Federal Bureau of Investigation says is a nationwide swindle.

James C. Krause, the plaintiffs' lawyer, said his clients wanted to recoup
the $1,100 they spent on the items, and to stop eBay from providing what
they said was a channel for the sale of fake merchandise. Mr. Krause has
requested class-action status for the lawsuit, which could turn the case
into a multimillion-dollar complaint including anyone who can prove that
they have unwittingly bought counterfeit sports memorabilia on eBay.

The judge is scheduled to begin considering the request for class-action
certification on Nov. 17. Lawyers on both sides say a final judgment on the
case will probably not come until next year.

The case may hinge on how the judge interprets a section of the
Telecommunications Act of 1996. The law says that Internet service
providers are not liable for the material that is sent out over their

EBay declined to comment on last week's ruling, but in court documents, it
has said it is not an auctioneer since it does not list the items for sale,
does not write the descriptions of the items and does not have the items in
its possession at any time. As a result, eBay's lawyers say, the California
law on sports memorabilia dealers does not apply to eBay.

Mr. Krause said he intended to argue that eBay was a "content provider,"
rather than a service provider.

The lead plaintiff is Lars Gentry, an Illinois resident who used eBay to
buy four baseballs whose signatures were found to be forged. He also bought
a couple of "cuts" -- documents that feature the autographs of famous
sports figures -- that were found to be forged.

Mr. Krause is using the California law, adopted in 1992, to support several
key parts of the case. The law forbids dealers -- including auctioneers --
to represent items as collectibles if they include forged signatures. It
also requires dealers to certify that items are authentic. Under the law,
people who have been misled by dealers are entitled to recover 10 times the
sales price of the items purchased. Mr. Krause says the law applies to eBay
because the company is essentially an auctioneer.

"The statute is there for the people to rely upon," said Mr. Krause, adding
that eBay was 'not doing a good job of protecting the public."

The lawsuit also accuses eBay of not revoking the privileges of the sellers
after receiving complaints from other users who asserted that the goods
were fraudulent. EBay has said that it makes a good-faith effort to protect
its users, and the company has taken a few steps recently to deter fraud,
including an announcement in July telling its users that some sellers of
sporting items had used fake certificates of authority to entice buyers.

EBay has said it would no longer list items that featured those
certificates. The eBay users who were named in the F.B.I.'s indictment are
facing probation or suspension from the Web site, according to Kevin
Pursglove, eBay's spokesman.

Meg Smith, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society,
said the lawsuit illustrated the dilemmas that face online auction
services. "EBay is caught in the cross-fire here," she said. If the
providers of the service make no effort to protect its users, "they look
like a bad corporate citizens," she said. "But the more responsibility they
take, the more they look like an auctioneer and the less they look like
they are just a forum." (The New York Times, October 16, 2000)

EFI, SPLASH: Announce Proposed Settlement of Merger Lawsuit
Electronics For Imaging, Inc. (EFI) (Nasdaq:EFII) and Splash Technology
Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:SPLH) jointly announced on October 15 the signing of
a memorandum of understanding related to a proposed settlement of the class
action lawsuit filed against Splash and its directors on August 31, 2000
after the announcement of the merger agreement between Splash and EFI.

The memorandum of understanding provides for the settlement and dismissal
with prejudice of the litigation. The final settlement, which includes the
amount of attorneys' fees to be paid to plaintiff's counsel, is subject to
court approval and there can be no assurance that such approval will be
obtained. The memorandum of understanding provides that those Splash
shareholders who were unable to tender their shares by the October 13, 2000
deadline will have until October 23, 2000 to tender their shares. The
memorandum of understanding also calls for the elimination of the
termination fee set forth in the merger agreement and certain changes
concerning the ability of Splash to solicit another offer.

EFI and Splash deny any wrongdoing whatsoever, but agreed to the memorandum
of understanding to eliminate the burden and expense of further litigation.

As previously announced, EFI and Splash intend to effect a merger pursuant
to which Splash will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of EFI and all
remaining Splash stockholders (other than EFI) will have the right to
receive the same $10 per share in cash paid in the tender offer. It is
currently anticipated that the merger transaction will be completed within
the next two weeks.

Splash and EFI also announced the completion of EFI's cash tender offer to
purchase all the outstanding shares of common stock of Splash, and the
extension of time for additional shareholders to tender their remaining
Splash shares.

EFI was advised by Wilmington Trust, FSB, the Depositary for the offer,
that a total of 13,442,057 shares had been tendered pursuant to the offer
(including 1,787,564 shares subject to guarantees of delivery), which
expired at 5:00 p.m., New York City time on Friday, October 13, 2000, and
that all such shares have been accepted for payment.

After giving effect to the purchase of the shares tendered, EFI
beneficially owns approximately 91.5% of the outstanding Splash shares.

EFI also announced that it is commencing a subsequent offering period which
expires at 5:00 p.m. New York City time on Monday, October 23, 2000, unless
extended. During this subsequent offering period, Splash shareholders who
did not tender their shares by the expiration of the tender offer may
tender their shares by following the directions in EFI's offer to purchase
and letter of transmittal.

                    About Electronics For Imaging

The announcement says that Electronics for Imaging (www.efi.com) is the
world leader in enabling networked printing solutions. EFI technology
allows copiers, printers, and digital presses to be shared across work
groups, the enterprise, and the internet. The results are greater
productivity, improved document management, seamless networking, and the
assured quality of color and black-and-white images. The company's OEM
partners look to EFI to deliver products that help grow sales and reduce
costs associated with internal development and support. Competitive,
feature-rich solutions, such as the Fiery and EDOX brands of networked
image processors and the eBeam brand of Web-enabled whiteboard systems, are
an outgrowth of our determination to offer OEMs and end users alike the
highest assurance of innovation, quality, reliability, and support. The
company employs more than 800 people and maintains 22 offices worldwide.

GOLDMAN SACHS: As Underwriter, Named in Laidlaw Bondholders Litigation
Goldman, Sachs Co. has been named as a defendant in purported class actions
filed on September 24, 2000 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of New York and on September 22, 2000 in the U.S. District Court
for the District of South Carolina arising from certain offerings of
debentures by Laidlaw, Inc. during 1997-1999. The defendants include
Laidlaw, certain of its officers and directors, the lead underwriters for
the offerings (including Goldman, Sachs Co., which was lead manager in the
offerings), and Laidlaw’s outside auditors. The offerings included a total
of $1.125 billion principal amount of debentures, of which Goldman, Sachs
Co. underwrote $286.25 million.

The lawsuits, brought by certain institutional holders of the debentures,
allege that the prospectuses issued in connection with the offerings were
false and misleading in violation of the disclosure requirements of the
federal securities laws. The plaintiffs are seeking, among other things,
unspecified damages.

GOLDMAN SACHS: Resolves Allegations of Preclusion of Multiple Listing
In the lawsuit alleging of conspiracy to preclude the multiple listing of
equity options on the exchanges, certain defendants including Hull Trading
Co. L.L.C. have entered into a settlement, subject to court approval,
pursuant to which Hull will be required to pay an aggregate of $2.475

On July 18, 2000, the federal district court granted plaintiffs’ motion for
leave to file an amended complaint. Defendants have renewed their motion to
dismiss with respect to the amended complaint.

The lawsuit brought by Reichhold Chemicals, Inc. and Reichhold Norway ASA
was dismissed on August 29, 2000 pursuant to a settlement.

The civil action under the qui tam provisions of the federal False Claims
Act was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice on August 28, 2000.

GOLDMAN SACHS: Sued in NY and FL over Consipiracy in Fixing IPO Discount
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is a named defendant in a purported class
action filed on August 17, 2000 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of Florida by an alleged issuer in a 1996 initial public offering.
The action asserts substantively similar allegations to the New York action
which alleges of conspiracy to fix at 7% the discount that underwriting
syndicates receive from issuers of shares in certain offerings. On October
2, 2000, defendants, most of which are named in the New York action, moved
to transfer the action to the New York federal court.

HMOs: Industry Angry as Labor Dep't Changes View on Patients State Cases
Health maintenance organizations are facing the sharpest attack on their
nearly inviolable protection from patient lawsuits.

While lawmakers on Capitol Hill debate a patients' bill of rights-caught
between corporate lobbyists on one side and angry consumers on the
other-the courts are being urged to move ahead.

Using a recent Supreme Court decision originally hailed as a victory for
HMOs, plaintiffs attorneys are seeking to remove the federal protections
that have kept managed care businesses out of state courts and shielded
them from juries with the power to exact large damages for wronged

What's given these attorneys a big boost is the Department of Labor's
endorsement of a patient's right to sue HMOs under state law.

The department, a key player in the policy debate surrounding lawsuits
against HMOs, is arguing in a Pennsylvania state case that the U.S. Supreme
Court has carved out a broad area under which HMOs can find themselves
liable under state law. It is the first time the department has interpreted
the Supreme Court's June 12 decision in Pegram v. Herdrich-and marks a
reversal from the agency's previous stance in the case.

The lawsuit is pending in Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but HMOs are already
irate at the Labor Department. Industry associations and attorneys call the
department's arguments "overbroad" and dangerous.

"The industry is very upset about it," says Stephanie Kanwit, a D.C.
partner at New York's Epstein Becker & Green who represents HMOs. "HMOs are
going to be sued for everything they do and everything they don't do. What
the Department of Labor opinion would do, if adopted by the court, is
undermine every single element of managed care."

But plaintiffs attorneys and patients' rights advocates, including the
powerful AARP, hail the Labor Department's conclusion. "If the position is
adopted, it will have an enormous effect," says Marc Machiz, a partner at
D.C.'s Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, which specializes in plaintiffs'
suits in many areas, including health care. "It will enact into law what
the people on the Hill are fighting about. It would decide that you could
sue your HMO for damages when it is denying care or denying treatment."

                            ERISA's Reach

It has long been established that HMOs have strong legal protections. They
can be sued, but due to regulations of the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), suits against HMOs are usually decided under
federal law. And in federal court, HMOs can be sued only for benefits, not
damages. That means, for instance, that a woman who develops breast cancer
after an HMO refuses to authorize a mammogram can only win the few hundred
dollars for the cost of the mammogram. For plaintiffs attorneys, those
restrictions make HMOs tantamount to untouchable.

ERISA governs employee benefits under federal law, ensuring equal treatment
and rights across state lines. That keeps most suits against HMOs out of
state court-the preferred grounds for class actions and plaintiffs'
lawsuits because of the ability to get punitive and compensatory damages.

Several states have passed patients' rights bills, allowing HMOs to be sued
in state court, on some grounds. State and federal courts have in recent
years found that certain types of HMO decisions, most notably those
involving medical judgment, fall under state, not federal law.

Then came the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Pegram v. Herdrich. The
actual decision was a win for HMOs. The court unanimously ruled that a
patient forced to wait eight days for an ultrasound of her inflamed
appendix, which eventually ruptured, did not have grounds to sue the HMO
under ERISA.

But in further discussion, the Court paved the way for patients to sue by
identifying certain types of HMO decisions that could be subject to state
laws and civil suits. These so-called mixed decisions involve both coverage
issues-those involving what procedures and treatments the plan pays for-and
medical judgment-what procedure or treatment is warranted. Such decisions,
the court wrote, may not be shielded from suit.

But what are mixed decisions? How broad a hole did the Supreme Court mean
to carve out of ERISA? These are the questions that future court cases will
have to decide.

The Labor Department filed an amicus brief in Pappas v. Asbel, a suit
originally filed in Pennsylvania trial court by Basile Pappas and his wife.
According to Pappas, United States Healthcare Systems of Pennsylvania
denied him in May 1990 a transfer to an out-of-network hospital with a
spinal cord trauma unit. Pappas had an epidural abscess pressing on his
spine that rendered him a quadriplegic. The HMO won in the trial court on
ERISA grounds. But the Pennsylvania Superior Court and Supreme Court ruled
the HMO could stand trial on the theory that its actions were not protected
by ERISA. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sent it back to be
evaluated in light of Pegram.

The Labor Department, which originally argued in Pappas that ERISA barred
the suit against the HMO, now contends that it is probably permissible to
sue in light of Pegram.

If the department prevails, it will have taken one of the first steps in
hammering out a legal, not legislative, solution to the HMO dilemma. That
may bring mixed benefits.

"It may be that the way we think the courts are heading may be a better,
less disruptive way to sort out the problem," says Phyllis Borzi, a
research professor at George Washington University School of Public Health
and an attorney at D.C.'s O'Donoghue & O'Donoghue.

That doesn't mean that advocates are giving up on the patients' bill of
rights. Court decisions can always be overturned, and relying on a legal
remedy could mean the right to sue HMOs would vary dramatically from state
to state. And the bills in Congress go far beyond just establishing a right
to sue, but also enact an external review program and create disclosure
obligations for HMOs.

In fact some watchers say that in the long run, HMOs may find Congress
easier to deal with than the courts.

"If Congress truly does nothing on this, then the courts will eventually
overturn ERISA," says John Stone, a spokesman for Rep. Charles Norwood, a
Georgia Republican. "The worst thing that could happen to HMOs is that this
bill doesn't pass."

What will most certainly happen soon is more HMO lawsuits.

"I think you are going to see an increase in the number of state lawsuits,"
says Susan Burke, a special counsel at Covington & Burling who specializes
in health care. "The other wild card is that many states permit punitive
damages. I think you are going to see the plaintiffs bar far more
interested in these types of cases."

That is not an idea HMOs relish. They argue that if suits start pouring in,
HMO premiums will rise astronomically and price many people out of health

"That kind of accountability doesn't work," says Louis Saccoccio, general
counsel for the American Association of Health Plans. "We have seen that in
the medical malpractice area. You can't sue your way to better care."

Those arguments don't have much resonance beyond the insurance realm.
Doctors and physicians argue that if they are liable for poor medical
decisions, HMOs should be too. And it doesn't fly with those who worry
about what happens to patients if HMOs are immune from suit.

"If it did have a major impact, if there were thousands of people winning
lots of big punitive damages, what kind of commentary is that on HMOs?"
says Rand Rosenblatt, a professor at New Jersey's Rutgers School of Law,
Camden. " If lots of people had cases that just shocked juries, I think it
would show something needs to be fixed." (Legal Times, October 9, 2000)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Deutsche Telekom Pays into Nazi Labor Fund
Telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom AG said it has paid into a 10
billion mark (dlrs 4.5 billion) German fund to compensate Nazi-era slave
laborers, the first former state monopoly to back faltering efforts to
raise money from corporate donors.

Confirming media reports, Telekom spokesman Hans Ehnert said the firm made
a contribution ''in solidarity with the rest of German industry.'' The
Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper said Telekom gave 100 million marks (dlrs
44 million).

German companies and the government agreed to finance the fund 50-50 in
June. With industry contributions running slow, the foundation drumming up
company donations last week urged formerly state-run companies including
Telekom to come forward.

While more than 4,000 firms have so far contributed, their part of the
total is stuck at about 3.2 billion marks (dlrs 1.4 billion) far short of
the 5 billion marks promised.

The government has said money from companies it owns or controls such as
Telekom, railroad operator Deutsche Bahn and postal service Deutsche Post
should go to its half of the fund, while German industry wants any
contributions from them to count on its side of the ledger.

Telekom, Deutsche Bahn and Deutsche Post together were expected to donate
as much as 500 million marks (dlrs 218 million).

Some firms are dragging their feet amid concern that backing the fund won't
shield them from further claims. Wrangling with the U.S. government over
protection from lawsuits by class action attorneys means payments to
elderly survivors forced to work for the Nazis, originally due to begin
before the end of this year, are now likely to be delayed.

Germany, the United States and other countries signed an accord launching
the fund last June. More than 1 million former laborers are expected to be
eligible for payments, mostly Central and Eastern Europeans. (AP
Worldstream, October 16, 2000)

METRO GLOBAL: Seeks to Dismiss Securities Suit in Rhode Island
George Kinney v. Metro Global Media, Inc., et al. C.A. No. 99-579

On November 22, 1999, George Kinney, on behalf of himself and all other
similarly situated, commenced a putative class action in the United States
District Court for the District of Rhode Island against Metro Global and
certain of its present or former officers and directors. Plaintiff seeks to
represent a class of all person who acquired securities of Metro Global
between September 13, 1996 and September 13, 1999.

The Complaint alleges claim based on alleged violations of section 10(b) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Plaintiff alleges that the defendants
made a series of false and misleading statements concerning Metro Global's
reported financial results during the class period that violated generally
accepted accounting principles and ultimately caused Metro Global to
restate certain financial statements.

On March 15, 2000, Metro Global and certain defendants filed a motion to
dismiss the complaint. The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint dated May
15, 2000 and Metro Global moved to dismiss the amended complaint on July 5,
2000. Plaintiffs filed an opposition to Metro Global's motion to dismiss on
August 15, 2000. Metro Global replied to the plaintiffs' opposition on
September 1, 2000. Metro Global believes it has meritorious defenses and
intends to vigorously defend this action.

NAU: Suit Alleging Pay-Raise Discrimination Set for Trial
Seven years after allegations first surfaced, a lawsuit alleging that
Northern Arizona University discriminated against some of professors when
giving out pay raises is going to trail in December.

The suit seeks $2 million in damages, which includes back pay for
professors who claimed they were discriminated against.

The case began in 1993 after then school president Eugene Hughes gave more
than $200,000 in raises to women and minorities who were below the midpoint
of their salary range.

A class-action lawsuit was filed by 192 Anglo males and 85 women who were
making at least $1,200 less than comparable minority males due to what they
say was a faulty computer regression analysis.

The plaintiffs claim the computer analysis used to determine the raises did
not take into account each professor's performance and the highest academic
degree earned.

"If you were a White male, you were absolutely barred from getting a
raise," said Tom Horne, the attorney representing the plaintiffs who filed
the class-action suit. "The way these raises were determined was totally

NAU declined to comment on the case, citing its usual practice of not
discussing pending litigation.

The Attorney General's Office, which represents the state, also declined
comment. The state, along with Hughes, the Arizona Board of Regents and
several former regents are also named as defendants. (The Associated Press
State & Local Wire, October 16, 2000)

PRICELINE.COM: Dennis J. Johnson Expands Period of Securities Suit in CT
The Law Offices of Dennis J. Johnson announces that a class action lawsuit
has been commenced in the United States District Court for the District of
Connecticut on behalf of purchasers of the securities of Priceline.com,
Inc. (NASDAQ:PCLN) between January 31, 2000, through and including October
4, 2000 (the "Class Period").

The Complaint alleges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder,
by issuing a series of material misrepresentations to the market during the
Class Period. For example, as alleged in the Complaint, the Company carried
warrants to purchase WebHouse stock as an asset valued at $188.8 million.
However, the Complaint alleges, Priceline's valuation of these warrants was
without a reasonable basis. Thus, the Company's financial statements were
materially false and misleading because the Company's financial results
were materially inflated due to the inclusion of these warrants as assets.
As alleged in the Complaint, on October 5, 2000, Priceline announced that
WebHouse would terminate operations in ninety days, thus rendering the
Priceline's WebHouse warrants virtually worthless.

Contact: The Law Offices of Dennis J. Johnson Dennis J. Johnson, Esquire
Jacob B. Perkinson, Esquire 1-888-459-7855 LODJJ@aol.com

PRIME RETAIL: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in Maryland
The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP announces that a
class action lawsuit was filed on October 13, 2000, on behalf of purchasers
of the securities of Prime Retail, Inc. (NYSE:PRT) between May 28, 1999 and
January 18, 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:

The action is pending in the United States District Court for the District
of Maryland, located at 101 W Lombart St. Baltimore, MD 21201, against
defendants Prime Retail, William H. Carpenter (President and Chief
Operating Officer), Abraham Rosenthal (Chief Executive Officer and
Director), Michael W. Reshke (Chairman of the Board), and Robert P.
Mulreaney (Chief Financial Officer).

The complaint charges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder
by issuing a series of material misrepresentations to the market between
May 28, 1999, and January 18, 2000. For example, the complaint alleges that
on May 28, 2000, Prime Retail announced the construction of an outlet
center in Puerto Rico without revealing its lack of financing for the
project, requiring the Company to fund it with cash that it did not have
because-- also unbeknownst to investors--its operations were deteriorating.
Furthermore, the complaint alleges, Prime Retail assured investors
throughout the Class Period that it would issue a dividend in its fourth
quarter of 1999, even though it knew, or recklessly disregarded, that its
deteriorating operations and debt-laden balance sheet would make issuing a
dividend impossible. On January 18, 2000, Prime Retail announced that it
will suspend its common dividend for 2000 because of lowered occupancy
rates and cash shortage. In response to the announcement, Prime Retail's
stock price dropped by 37% from its prior day close.

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

TOPPS CO: RICO Suit Filed in CA in 1998 Dismissed and under Appeal
In November 1998, Topps Co Inc was named as a defendant in a purported
class action commenced in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of California entitled Rodriquez, et. al. v. The Topps Company,
Inc., No. CV 2121-B (AJB) (S.D. Cal.).

The Class Action alleges that the Company violated the Racketeer Influenced
and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") and the California Unfair Business
Practices Act, by its practice of selling sports and entertainment trading
cards with randomly-inserted "insert" cards, allegedly in violation of
state and federal anti-gambling laws. The Class Action seeks treble damages
and attorneys' fees on behalf of all individuals who purchased packs of
cards at least in part to obtain an "insert" card over a four-year period.

On January 22, 1999, plaintiffs moved to consolidate the Class Action with
similar class actions pending against several of the Company's principal
competitors and licensors in the California Court. On January 25, 1999, the
Company moved to dismiss the complaint, or, alternatively, to transfer the
Class Action to the Eastern District of New York or stay the Class Action
pending the outcome of the Declaratory Judgment Action pending in the
Eastern District of New York.

By orders dated May 14, 1999, the California Court denied the Company's
motions to dismiss or transfer the Class Action but granted the Company's
motion to stay the Class Action pending the outcome of the Declaratory
Judgment Action. The California Court also denied plaintiffs' motion to
consolidate the Class Action with similar purported class actions.

On April 18, 2000, the California Court entered an order requiring
plaintiffs in the Class Action as well as in the other purported Class
Actions to show cause why all such actions should not be dismissed. By
order dated June 21, 2000, the California Court vacated its May 14, 2000
order denying the Company's motion to dismiss the Class, dismissed the RICO
claim in the Class Action with prejudice and without leave to replead, and
dismissed the pendent state law claims without prejudice.

Plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal of the California Court's decision to
the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on July 21, 2000.
If the Class Action were reinstated on appeal, an adverse outcome in the
Class Action could materially effect the Company's future plans and

TOPPS CO: Trading Card Purchaser to Amend Anti-Gambling Suit in CA
On August 21, 2000, the Company was named as a defendant in a purported
class action commenced in the Superior Court of the State of California for
the County of Alameda (the "California State Court") entitled Chaset, et
al. v. The Upper Deck Company, et al., No. 830257-9.

The California Class Action alleges that the Company and other
manufacturers and licensors of sports and entertainment trading cards
committed  unlawful,  unfair and fraudulent business acts under the
California Unfair Business Practices Act and the California Consumer Legal
Remedies  Act  by the  practice  of  selling  trading  cards  with
randomly-inserted "insert" cards allegedly in violation of state and
federal anti-gambling laws and state consumer laws. The California Class
Action seeks declaratory, equitable and injunctive relief and attorneys'
fees on behalf of a purported nationwide class of trading card purchasers.

Plantiff has indicated that he intends to amend his complaint, including an
amendment to demand compensatory and punitive damages and restitution, and
all parties to the action have jointly applied to the California State
Court for an order providing that plantiff shall file an amended complaint
on or before October 18, 2000 and that defendants shall file an answer or
other responsive pleading on or before December 15, 2000. An adverse
outcome in the California Class Action could materially effect the
Company's future plans and results.

USDA: The Washington Post Cites Difficulties in Changing Discrimination
With his experience as a program specialist and a manager, not to mention a
quarter century on the job, Harold Connor saw himself as a prime candidate
for a director's post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But in the end, Connor, who is black and a college graduate, lost out to a
white employee with less time on the job, no management experience and no
college degree.

It is the kind of thing that critics say was standard practice for years at
USDA, a sprawling agency regarded by some as a cesspool of discrimination
and openly derided as "the last plantation."

It is a reality that USDA Secretary Dan Glickman has been struggling to
change for several years. In 1997, he launched a much-touted effort to make
civil rights a top priority at USDA. Under Glickman, the agency has
restored its office of civil rights, reduced the backlog of discrimination
complaints, settled a huge lawsuit by black farmers and increased the
percentage of minorities in its ranks.

But many other problems have gone unresolved. Minority employees still
complain about continued discrimination and a slow-moving civil rights
process. For example, Connor told the Senate Agriculture Committee last
month that he has yet to receive the compensation ordered by the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission judge who upheld his discrimination
complaint nearly a year ago, despite public statements by agency officials
that he had.

"I have yet to receive a promotion and USDA has yet to begin processing
back pay that it awarded me as a result of the unlawful discrimination I
experienced," Connor told the committee.

When the administrative judge's order was issued last December, a USDA
spokesman told The Washington Post that Connor had already been promoted,
which was erroneous. Connor, who applied for the promotion in early 1996,
has since been offered one promotion, which he rejected because it offered
no supervisory role and appeared to be a dead end professionally.

Experiences like Connor's have led minority advocates at USDA to question
whether Glickman, a former member of Congress from Kansas, has the power,
or the will, to extend his civil rights message beyond his executive suite.
In a recent interview , he acknowledged continued problems, but said USDA
has made substantial progress.

"You've got to go back to the beginning," Glickman said. "I turned over the
rock here and found a lot of stuff that hadn't been dealt with in decades.
The government had neglected these issues for too long."

Glickman said he was surprised at the dimensions of USDA's civil rights
problems. There were black farmers who were found to be denied loans and
other assistance because of their race; minority and female employees
complained about harassment; and thousands of discrimination complaints
filed by both agency employees and customers were simply backing up, as the
department's civil rights operation had been dismantled during the 1980s.

Making the problem more difficult is the unusual structure of USDA, whose
89,000 employees are spread through every county in the nation. Also, many
of the decision makers on key programs such as farm aid are technically
local officials who cannot be removed by their bosses in Washington.

Still, Glickman says he has been building management structures and
hammering at the need for the agency to make civil rights a true priority.
And even amid continued problems, he said he sees sure signs of progress.

In the past year, the backlog of complaints filed by USDA customers,
including farmers who apply for loans or disaster relief, has been reduced
from 1,038 to 480. Meanwhile, the department received fewer complaints in
the past year than any year since the anti-discrimination effort began.

Among employees, there were fewer complaints filed in the first 10 months
of the past fiscal year than at any time since 1996. But even with the
improvement, there were 1,804 EEO complaints by USDA employees pending last

The agency also has averted at least four class actions brought by
employees within the past year, as judges have denied class certification.
Also, USDA settled a suit by female Forest Service employees whose
complaint was filled with lurid examples of harassment and discrimination.

But even with that progress, USDA lawyers acknowledged that there are still
19 proposed class action complaints pending against the agency. Just last
week, lawyers filed a proposed class action in U.S. District Court alleging
that for 20 years USDA systematically discriminated against 20,000 Latino
farmers by unfairly denying them loans and failing to investigate bias

"I doubt there is another agency in government that has made anywhere near
the progress we have" in addressing civil rights problems, Glickman said.
"We started a lot further back. We had a lot farther to go." (The
Washington Post, October 16, 2000)

WATER CONTAMINATION: Canada Examines Town Managers' Role in E.Coli
Five months after seven people were killed and hundreds sickened in
Canada's worst outbreak of E. coli poisoning, a judicial inquiry begins on
October 16 to determine what went wrong and how to prevent it from
happening again.

The inquiry, being held in a nondescript building in the shadow of a
sky-blue water tower in a town with still-undrinkable tap water, will be
closely watched -- both in Walkerton and across the country.

For local residents, the main question is how their water supply became so
horribly contaminated and why they weren't told sooner of the danger. For
outsiders, it's a question of whether such a calamity could occur in their

Dozens of lawyers, reporters and TV crews and residents are expected to
cram the hearing room as the first witnesses -- technical experts -- begin
giving evidence before Justice Dennis O'Connor.

"It's going to be a mob scene," predicts one source close to the inquiry.

A central issue in the initial phase of the inquiry, expected to last until
January, will be the roles played by those in charge of Walkerton's water

This is no small matter in the town of 5,000 where, just like in thousands
of other small Canadian towns, most folk know one another and where mayors
and councils are essentially glorified part-time volunteer positions held
by the civic-minded.

Many residents blame Stan Koebel, the water manager at the Public Utilities
Commission, for failing to relay warnings of contamination from a testing
laboratory and Mayor David Thompson for neglecting to alert residents to
the menace.

Both men, who are expected to testify during the next month, feature
prominently in a proposed $ 300-million class-action suit that names the
municipality, the water commission and the Ontario government.

"The main fear that we have is that the truth will be masked," said Bruce
Davidson of the grassroots group Concerned Walkerton Citizens. (The Calgary
Sun, October 16, 2000)

WORLD ONLINE: Dutch Shareholders Sue for Damages in Amsterdam
On September 11, 2000, several Dutch World Online shareholders as well as a
Dutch entity purporting to represent the interests of certain World Online
shareholders commenced a proceeding in Amsterdam District Court against ABN
AMRO Bank N.V., also acting under the name of ABN AMRO Rothschild, alleging
misrepresentations and omissions relating to the initial public offering of
World Online in March 2000. The lawsuit seeks, among other things, the
return of the purchase price of the shares purchased by the plaintiffs or
unspecified damages. Neither Goldman, Sach Co. nor Goldman Sachs
International has been named in the proceeding, but the firm and ABN AMRO
Rothschild served as joint global co-ordinators of the offering.

* Closed Landfills Can Be Blamed for Water Contamination and Leaks
As more aging landfills shut down, state and local officials charged with
conducting post-closure monitoring confront an array of headaches.
Developers in Macedon, N.Y., filed a lawsuit against the town, claiming its
closed municipal landfill has leaked chemicals onto company-owned property,
making it useless for development (SWR, Sept. 7, p. 274).

Now the township of Woodbridge, N.J., has been directed by the state to
install a methane collection system at its landfill after complaints from
neighbors about gas leaks (see story, p. 306). Residents of a Howard
County, Md., subdivision built on a landfill have lodged similar complaints
about methane leaks (SWR, Jan. 13, p. 11). Additionally, residents of
Franklin and Coffee Counties in Tennessee filed a $ 2.5 billion class
action lawsuit earlier this month against the Department of Defense, the
Air Force and CH2M Companies, charging they refused to place methane
controls on the Coffee County Landfill, allowing explosive gas to migrate,
which caused an explosion.

Meeting EPA's requirements for monitoring closed landfills is an evolving
practice, and local governments and companies could face more lawsuits that
cite closed landfills as the sources of ground water contamination and
methane leaks. (Solid Waste Report, October 5, 2000)

* FDIC Chief Urges a Severing of Predators' Bank Funding
Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Donna Tanoue warned that banks are
inadvertently helping predatory lenders by buying their loans or providing
them credit. "To effectively combat predatory lending, we must sever the
money chain that replenishes the capital of predatory lenders and allows
them to remain in business," she said at the annual conference of the
National Congress for Community Economic Development in New Orleans.

If banks are not careful, they could find themselves embroiled in lawsuits
against those lenders or forced to pay back securitized loans to borrowers,
she said.

"The last several years have seen an increase in both class-action lawsuits
and state and federal enforcement activity against finance companies based
upon fraud and other deceptive acts and practices in connection with real
estate-related loans," Ms. Tanoue said. "This increased -- and increasing
-- risk of litigation is a cause for concern."

She said the agency will release guidelines by the end of the month to
combat the problem. In her speech, Ms. Tanoue outlined steps that banks
could take to detect securities that are backed by predatory loans.

First, banks should assess the reputation of the originator. That process
would include obtaining prospectuses that identify the sellers and master
servicers of the loans backing the securities and investigating whether
originators have been sued over their lending practices, she said.

Second, banks should watch for tell-tale signs of predatory lending, such
as frequent prepayments, high delinquencies, or high loss rates from
earlier securitizations, Ms. Tanoue said.

Banks could spot potential predators by looking for low loan-to-value
ratios combined with unusually high interest rates, she said. Other red
flags include high prepayment penalties, odd methods of calculating
adjustable rates on mortgages, and a high percentage of loans that have
been subject to negative amortization.

Finally, banks should scrutinize any credit enhancements being used to
market the securities, Ms. Tanoue said. FDIC officials said that a seller
offering a high number of enhancements -- such as assurance of limited
exposure in case of default -- could indicate a risky underlying portfolio.

But Ms. Tanoue acknowledged the difficulty of combating predatory lending
without hurting legitimate subprime lenders. Wall Street firms have
injected more than $300 billion over the past decade into the subprime
market, which has expanded access to credit, she noted.

The FDIC plans to publish questions for banks on its antipredatory ideas
this month on its Web site. The agency wants to know how costly it will be
for banks to carry out its recommendations, or whether they would have
unintended consequences, Ms. Tanoue said.

"Curbing predatory lending will not be easy," she said. "Therefore, I have
decided that it would be best to get input ... to ensure that we get things
right, to ensure that our efforts ... to combat predators do not
inadvertently choke off other sources of credit to low- and
moderate-income, elderly, and minority borrowers."

Lawmakers have been debating whether new laws or better enforcement of
existing rules would stop abusive practices without hurting legitimate

Eleven federal agencies, including the Federal Reserve Board and the
Justice Department, are expected to issue a policy statement this year or
early next year on how to use existing laws to crack down on predators.
(The American Banker, October 16, 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
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Copyright 1999.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

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