CAR_Public/001018.MBX              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

            Wednesday, October 18, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 203

                             Headlines

ADAM'S MARK: Federal Judge Throws out $8 Mil Settlement for Bias Suit
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Tyler Pipe Staff Awarded $26M in TX for Exposure
ASSISTED LIVING: Fed Court approves $30M settlement in securities Suit
BIOCONTROL TECHNOLOGY: 1996 Suit over Glucose Sensor in Pre-Trial Stage
BRE-X MINERALS: Insider Trading Trial May Reveal Details of Scandal

BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE, FORD: Hearing to Determine How Cases May Proceed
BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE, FORD: IL Committee Wants Nationwide Consolidation
BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE, FORD: Tire Recall Broadens; Ignition Case Goes on
BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE INC: Tire Victims' Lawyers Push for Seperate Cases
CELLSTAR CORP: Will Seek Dismissal of 2nd Amended Securities Suit in FL

DBCP PRODUCERS: Nicaragua Banana Workers to Sue over Pesticides
EBAY: 7 Users Refile Lawsuit on Sale of Fake Memorabilia
FIRESTONE, FORD: Support Move to Consolidate Tire Lawsuits
FORD MOTOR: St. Louis University Employee Sues over Ignition Problem
HAVEN BANCORP: Suit over 1983 Safe Deposit Boxes Burglary Still Pending

HOMESTEAD HOLDING: Investors May Get Back Some Money Lost 10 Years Ago
LASER TECHNOLOGY: Reports Final Approval of Securities Suit Settlement
ORBITAL SCIENCES: Stockholders Will Receive $22.5 Mil for Restatement
STAGE STORES: Files Ch 11; Investor Appeals against TX Suit Dismissal
TOBACCO LITIGATION: TX Medicaid Recipientsí Share in Deal Go up in Smoke

* Are independent video outlets in their final run?

                            *********

ADAM'S MARK: Federal Judge Throws out $8 Mil Settlement for Bias Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A federal judge has thrown out an $8 million settlement between the
Adam's Mark hotel chain and five black guests who said they were
discriminated against.

U.S. District Judge Anne Conway said the settlement was invalidated by
recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and a federal appeals court
regarding class-action lawsuits.

Conway's ruling does not affect a separate, non-monetary settlement with
the Justice Department in which the Adam's Mark agreed to take steps to
prevent discrimination at its 21 hotels. That settlement is likely to be
approved soon, Conway said.

The plaintiffs can appeal the ruling or pursue damages individually.
Their attorneys declined comment. ''We will leave it to others to
determine the broader implications of the decision,'' Sharon Harvey
Davis, the chain's vice president for corporate affairs, said in a
statement. ''We are looking forward to moving ahead and putting all of
these lawsuits behind us.''

Five guests sued the Adam's Mark chain last year, saying the Daytona
Beach hotel labeled them security risks by requiring them, but not white
guests to wear orange wristbands to enter the hotel during the 1998 Black
College Reunion. They also claimed black reunion guests were required to
pay cash in full to reserve rooms and charged more than other guests. The
Justice Department filed a separate suit, suggesting a pattern of
discrimination.

In March, the Adam's Mark agreed to pay $8 million to former guests of
its Daytona Beach hotel and four historically black colleges, revise
fairness policies and court minority customers. The company also agreed
to hire an outside firm to monitor discrimination.

In announcing the settlement, the Adam's Mark had issued a statement
saying that while ''the company has never done anything wrong, we
apologize for any actions that may have made any of our guests feel
uncomfortable or unwelcome.'' (AP Online, October 17, 2000)


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Tyler Pipe Staff Awarded $26M in TX for Exposure
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Twice in less than a week, a jury here awarded longtime employees of
Tyler Pipe Industries Inc. a multimillion-dollar award for occupational
injuries from exposure to asbestos at Tyler's iron foundry in Swan, Texas
(James E. Blackburn, et al. v. Swan Transportation Co. f/k/a/ Tyler Pipe
Industries, Inc., No. 98-03696-F; Arville Dews, et al. v. Swan
Transportation Co. f/k/a/ Tyler Pipe Industries, Inc., No. 98-40551,
Texas Dist., Smith Co.).

(Blackburn Jury Instructions in Section B. Document # 01-000901-102. Dews
Jury Instructions in Section C. Document # 01-000901-103.)

On Aug. 19, after 20 days of trial, the Smith County District Court jury
awarded $ 9 million to eight Tyler Pipe employees. Six days later, on
Aug. 25, another Smith County jury returned a $ 17 million verdict to
seven Tyler employees. The verdicts came against Tyler Pipe, which
originated in 1936 as the Tyler Iron and Foundry Co. The company later
sold the business to Swan Transportation Co.

The trials were held simultaneously. Both juries awarded the employees
compensation for pain and mental anguish, loss of earning capacity,
physical impairment and medical care.

                                  First Trial

The first trial consisted of employees at Tyler who were exposed to
asbestos from either cleaning out cupolas by chipping out asbestos
residue, working around refractory products or burying barrels of
asbestos waste. The group, consisting of workers who were employed at
Tyler from 25 to 37 years, all currently suffer from asbestosis. They are
Arville Dews, John Hayes, Charles McClenny, Mack Miller, Robert Moore,
Arthalia Porter Jr., Clayton Seals and Lee Roy Vaughn.

At trial, the defense argued that the company never had or used asbestos
materials at Tyler Pipe and denied knowing the dangers associated with
asbestos. The defense presented expert witnesses Samuel Cade, radiologist
diagnostics, Frisco, Texas; Phillip Cagle, M.D., pathologist, Houston;
and Gayle Stockman, M.D.

Citations from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)
were used by the workers to rebuff the arguments made by the defense. The
workers also presented expert witnesses and provided documentation from
an environmental consultant's report to OSHA that stated that much of the
problem with worker safety "rests on basic attitudes which reflect little
knowledge of the material used in the foundry and little respect for
human health and safety."

The workers' expert witnesses included Arnold Brody, Ph.D., pathologist,
New Orleans; Vernon Rose, hygienist, Houston; Alan Eggleston,
environmental consultant, Houston; William Longo, Ph.D., electron
microscopist, Norcross, Ga.; Mark Klepper, pathologist, Austin, Texas;
Assistant U.S. Surgeon General Richard Lemen, Ph.D., Washington, D.C.;
and Steven Dikman, M.D., pathologist, New York.

The jury was asked to determine whether Tyler was a reasonably safe place
to work, if Tyler provided an adequate safety program, whether the
workers have an asbestos-related disease and, if so, was Tyler negligent
in causing that condition. The jury was then asked to determine damages
for each of the workers based on their condition.

The jury returned an 11-1 verdict in favor of the workers, with the
biggest award given to Arthalia Porter Jr. and Clayton Seals, who both
received $ 1.2 million. Attorneys for the workers had previously asked
for $ 2 million to $ 3 million per plaintiff.

                                  Second Trial

The second Tyler trial group consisted of workers who were exposed to
asbestos from working around refractory products, insulating cements and
cloth. The members, who had a combined tenure at the company of 187
years, all currently suffer from asbestosis. They are James Blackburn,
Herman Ivy, Calvin Dews, Henry Barrett, Roosevelt Green Sr., Joseph Davis
and Johnnie Johnson.

The workers contend Tyler did not warn them that they were being exposed
to asbestos-containing products and did not offer them adequate
respiratory protection as required by OSHA. They presented several expert
witnesses, including David Egilman, M.D., epidemiologist, Providence,
R.I.; William Longo, Ph.D., electron microscopist, Norcross, Ga.; Vernon
Rose, hygienist, Houston; and Fred Dula, M.D., pulmonologist,
Springfield, Pa.

The defendant maintained that it had no knowledge of any asbestos being
used at Tyler and did not know of the dangers associated with it. Tyler
called expert witnesses Dan Lane, CPA, Houston; Samuel Cade, radiologist;
and Gail Stockman, M.D.

Deliberating for two days before delivering the 9-2 verdict in favor of
the workers, the jury was asked to decide whether or not punitive damages
should be awarded. Punitive damages were not originally sought.

Returning a $ 17 million verdict to the seven workers, the jury awarded
each plaintiff amounts ranging from $ 1.9 million to $ 3.2 million.
Attorneys for the workers had asked for $ 21 million.

In the first trial, the former Tyler employees were represented by Lisa
Blue and Tony Chandler of Baron & Budd in Dallas. Representing Swan
Transportation Co. was Richard E. Griffin, Mary Lou Flynn-Dupart and Ric
Freeman of Jackson & Walker in Houston.

Representing the former Tyler employees in the second trial were Richard
I. Nemeroff, Alan Rich and Troy Chandler of Baron & Budd. Swan was
represented by James L. Walker and John Lancaster of Jackson & Walker.
(Mealey's Litigation Report:, Asbestos, September 1, 2000)


ASSISTED LIVING: Fed Court approves $30M settlement in securities Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A federal district court has given preliminary approval to a $30 million
cash settlement in a securities class action lawsuit filed against
Assisted Living Concepts Inc.

The Portland-based company, which operates complexes in Idaho and 15
other states, agreed last year to restate its earnings for 1996, 1997 and
three quarters of 1998 after allegedly concealing millions of dollars in
losses.

One of the largest retirement-home chains in the country, the company
will pay $10 million in cash over a year. Its insurers will pay an
additional $19 million, according to a statement issued by the
shareholders' attorneys. Other defendants will pay the remaining $1
million.

Claims have yet to be resolved against KPMG Peat Marwick LLP, which
served as the company's auditor during the time the company issued
improper earning reports. Shareholders will continue to prosecute those
claims.

In addition to Idaho, Assisted Living Concepts operates more than 100
retirement complexes in Oregon, Washington, Nebraska, Iowa, Arizona,
Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Louisiana, Florida,
Michigan, Georgia and South Carolina. (The Associated Press State & Local
Wire, October 17, 2000)


BIOCONTROL TECHNOLOGY: 1996 Suit over Glucose Sensor in Pre-Trial Stage
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
On April 30, 1996, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Company,
Diasensor.com and individual officers and directors. The suit, captioned
Walsingham v. Biocontrol Technology, et al., has been certified as a
class action, and is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western
District of Pennsylvania.  The suit alleges misleading disclosures in
connection with the noninvasive glucose sensor and other related
activities.  By mutual agreement of the parties, the suit remains in the
pre-trial pleading stage.


BRE-X MINERALS: Insider Trading Trial May Reveal Details of Scandal
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Unknown details of the notorious Bre-X Minerals Ltd. gold-mining scandal
may be finally revealed over the next couple of months as part of an
ex-official's trial on insider trading charges.

John Felderhof, former vice-chairman and Bre-X's chief geologist, was not
present the first day of his trial Monday as his lawyer argued that the
charges should be dismissed on constitutional grounds.

Felderhof became a multimillionaire by buying and selling shares in the
Calgary-based company before it turned out to be one of the world's
biggest gold mining frauds.

Now believed to be living at his estate on the Cayman Islands _ which
doesn't have an extradition treaty with Canada Felderhof is charged with
eight counts of violating the provincial Securities Act, including the
sale of dlrs 55 million worth of his Bre-X shares while privy to insider
information.

The charges against Felderhof are the first that Canadian regulators have
brought against Bre-X or any of its former executives. There are several
civil suits outstanding, including a Canadian class-action suit and
another in Texas.

Calling Felderhof ''a most convenient victim,'' lawyer Joseph Groia told
the Ontario Court that the charges are ''ironic'' and unfair and will
''not withstand Charter (of Rights) scrutiny.''

The insider information allegations have nothing to do with a knowledge
that the company's Busang gold deposit in Indonesia was a hoax, resulting
in the biggest mining fraud in Canadian history, Groia argued.

The Ontario Securities Commission is accusing Felderhof of selling his
shares between April and September 1996 while he was aware of ownership
issues and questions of title to the Busang property that had not yet
been revealed to the public.

The regulatory body has also accused him of allowing false news releases
to be issued that claimed the company's Indonesian gold site had huge
quantities of gold.

Bre-X was a stock market favorite from 1995 until 1997 as investors
rushed to buy what was being billed as the world's biggest gold deposit.
At its peak, shares were worth dlrs 4 billion.

The roof caved in, however, when it was revealed in the spring of 1997
that new tests on the site found no evidence of gold.

Groia told the court that Felderhof is ''charged for essentially being an
extended party to Bre-X's offense'' while the company has never been
charged.

The onus is unfairly on his client, he said, to prove Bre-X exercised
reasonable caution before issuing releases to the public announcing
estimates of gold on the Busang properties.

Groia asked Judge Peter Hryn to throw out the charges or consider
reversing that onus and making the OSC's legal team responsible for first
proving the company failed to meet its obligations of ''due diligence''
required by the law.

More than 300 black binders of material were brought into the courtroom
and stacked on special shelves to accommodate the evidence. If Groia is
successful in having the charges thrown out, the volumes of evidence
expected to shed new light on the scandal that cost some Canadian
investors their life savings could remain closed forever.

The deaths of two key officials have hampered the investigation.

Canadian investigators had uncovered evidence showing stellar drilling
results were fabricated by Bre-X's chief geologist Michael de Guzman and
his associates in Indonesia.

De Guzman later died authorities concluded he committed suicide after
falling from a company helicopter over the Indonesian jungle. Bre-X
chairman David Walsh, a Calgary mining promoter, died almost a year ago
of an aneurysm at his Bahamian estate.

If found guilty, Felderhof could face two years in jail for every count
and a fine of three times the dlrs 84 million he is said to have gained
by selling Bre-X shares in 1996 before it was publicly revealed the
company was a fraud.

The trial is expected to last two months. Groia's arguments are expected
to take up most of the first week. (AP Worldstream, October 17, 2000)


BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE, FORD: Hearing to Determine How Cases May Proceed
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Eighteen more deaths have been reported to federal regulators
investigating the Firestone recall, bringing the U.S. death toll to 119
from accidents involving the tires, authorities said. More than 3,500
people have complained to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration about tread separations, blowouts and other problems with
certain Firestone tires. The complaints include reports of more than 500
injuries, according to a NHTSA official who did not want to be
identified. In addition to the U.S. deaths, at least seven people have
died in the Middle East in rollover accidents involving the tires, and
Venezuelan authorities count at least 46 deaths.

NHTSA is investigating Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s Aug. 9 recall of 6.5
million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires, most of which were standard
equipment on the Ford Explorer. Some of the complaints involve Firestone
tires not under recall and the agency eventually could order an expanded
recall if it determines the company's action does not cover all the
dangerous tires.

Bridgestone/Firestone spokeswoman Anitra Budd said the company would work
with NHTSA to analyze the newly released information. ''Our deepest
sympathies go out to the friends and families of those who died in these
accidents reported to NHTSA,'' Budd said. ''We are working around the
clock in our effort to complete the recall in November and to find the
root cause of the tire problem.''

The deaths and injuries are reported to NHTSA by victims, lawyers, police
and others. NHTSA has not confirmed whether the deaths and injuries were
caused by the tires.

Bridgestone/Firestone has hired a civil engineer from the University of
California to investigate the cause of problems with its tires. A final
report is expected at the end of the year.

               Hearing Conducted in Washington on Tuesday

Lawyers from around the country are suing Ford Motor Co. and
Bridgestone/Firestone, trying to link personal injuries, deaths and
economic losses to the tires and the vehicles involved in accidents.
Other attorneys want a judge to order Firestone to expand the recall.

About 100 attorneys appeared at a Washington hearing Tuesday that will
determine how more than 200 cases that have been filed will proceed.

The companies and some of the attorneys that have filed class-action
suits are arguing that the cases should be combined in one federal court
the evidence-gathering process. ''We believe combining them will be in
everyone's best interest by centralizing the gathering of information and
ultimately resolving the cases more quickly,'' Bridgestone/Firestone said
in a statement handed out at the hearing before the Judicial Panel on
Multi-District Litigation.

Some attorneys for victims injured in accidents involving recalled
Firestone tires want to keep their cases separate, arguing a resolution
could be held up for years if their lawsuits are lumped in with others.

''We believe each and every personal injury case is different,'' said
Richard Denney, who works for an Oklahoma firm representing 21 clients
suing over the tires. ''Some of our clients are very grievously injured.
They need to be heard and they need to be heard soon.''

A panel of federal district judges heard about 90 minutes worth of
arguments from about two dozen lawyers and took the case under
advisement. It is expected to be at least two weeks before a decision is
rendered.

Both sides said they expected the panel of judges would decide to combine
the cases for discovery. Roger Braugh, a lawyer from Corpus Christi,
Texas, who opposed combining the suits, said the important issue would be
which judge would get the case.

Ford, Bridgestone/Firestone and some attorneys argued for the case to be
heard in Chicago. Other attorneys would like to move it to Tennessee,
southern Illinois or a southern state, such as Texas, Florida or
Louisiana. ''Everybody wants a certain judge or judicial district that
they will think will be beneficial to their position,'' Braugh said.
''What happens to the personal injury cases that get sucked up is that
they might not have the same interests as the companies and the
class-action attorneys.'' (AP Online, October 17, 2000)


BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE, FORD: IL Committee Wants Nationwide Consolidation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northern District of Illinois Plaintiffs' Committee Requests Nationwide
Consolidation of All Individual and Class Actions Filed Against
Bridgestone, Firestone and Ford for Economic Damages, Injuries and Deaths
for All Defective Tires

Kenneth B. Moll, Esq. of Kenneth B. Moll & Associates, Ltd., a member of
the Northern District of Illinois Plaintiffs' Committee, presented oral
argument before the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation
requesting consolidation of all Federally filed lawsuits on behalf of all
persons that suffered economic damages, personal injury or death as a
result of defective tires, designed, manufactured, sold, and distributed
by Bridgestone, Inc., Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. and Ford Motor Co.

The Committee requested inclusion of all individual personal injury
cases, all personal injury class actions and all consumer class actions.
The Northern District of Illinois Plaintiffs' Attorneys currently
represent clients in four different categories of cases including
individual personal injury cases, Statewide Class Action, Nationwide
Class Action and the only Worldwide Class Action.

The Class Action filed by Kenneth B. Moll & Associates, Ltd. is the only
Worldwide Class Action and 1 of only 2 Class Actions on behalf of
personal injury claims. Other attorneys representing clients in personal
injury cases filed around the nation argued that personal injury claims
should be consolidated separately from the consumer class actions. The
Judicial Panel, 5 Federal Judges, questioned Mr. Moll about consolidation
of both types of cases before one judge. Mr. Moll responded to the Panel
that consolidation is the only appropriate procedure for a speedy
resolution of these very important cases. Mr. Moll stated that "this
litigation demands a Federal Judge that will quickly resolve the recall
issue to prevent further injuries to owners of vehicles equipped with
defective tires."

The Worldwide Class Action includes representatives on behalf of
Americans, Venezuelans and citizens of other countries seeking recovery
for personal injuries, property damage, reimbursement, loss of resale
value to their SUV's and a fully inclusive recall of all defective tires.

Contact: Kenneth B. Moll & Associates, Ltd. Kenneth B. Moll, Esq.,
312/558-6444 FAX: 312/558-1112


BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE, FORD: Tire Recall Broadens; Ignition Case Goes on
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Firestone, a subsidiary of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., recalled an
additional 1.4 million tires on October 16, bringing the total in a
series of recalls to almost eight million since the scandal broke. At
least 150 deaths have been linked to Firestone tires, many of which were
original equipment on the Ford Explorer. The recall is part of an
agreement with 48 states and two territories. The fatalities have been
mostly in warm weather states of the southern United States.

Although tires are being recalled in Canada, there have been no
fatalities linked to tire separation.

Firestone had balked at the new recall even though the U.S. National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration had identified the tires as being
prone to separation, the same problem that plagued the 15-inch AT ATX II
and some Wilderness tires that were fitted to the mid-size sport-utility
vehicle Explorer.

The additional recall comes after lawyers in Chicago late last week filed
a class-action suit against Ford Motor Co. after a California judge
ordered the automaker to recall 1.7 million trucks and cars because of
concerns the vehicles may stall.

Kenneth B. Moll & Associates filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court
on behalf of any Ford owner who claims damages or injuries as a result of
the alleged design flaw that is said to cause the Fords to stall while
moving, especially when hot.

Judge Michael Ballachey from the California Superior Court ordered the
unprecedented recall last week despite Ford's claim he lacked legal
authority. Ford insists the ignition is safe.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in Illinois because state law allows
judges to hear national class-action suits. There are five other
class-action suits being filed against Ford over their ignition system
but they may end up as part of the Illinois case.

The California ruling is the latest in a dispute that goes back 15 years.
Ford recalled about 1.1 million vehicles in 1987 because of a flawed
electrical part linked to stalling. But it had refused to recall others.

Detroit-based Ford is fighting back, launching a US$3.5-million
advertising campaign on the Internet. It is already the leading online
advertiser with simple banner ads on some 200 sites saying: 'For official
Ford news on the Firestone recall, click here.'

'They are pinning everything on this one ad,' said Charles Buchwalter,
vice-president of media research at AdRelevance. 'Ford's idea is a pretty
good one. They really want to get the message out over and over again
that [they] care and want to tell you the truth.'

At least one crisis management expert said Ford was making the right
moves, at least from a public relations position.

'Public relations, in this case, really needs to be used to help Ford
explain that what they're doing is the right thing to do,' said Anne
Sceia Klein from Philadelphia.

Ford was quick to praise another tire manufacturer it uses, Continental
General Tire, which immediately called for inspections of its tires
mounted on Ford Lincoln Navigators when concerns were raised about those
tires.

Bridgestone/Firestone has been doing damage control, replacing Masatoshi
Ono, its Japanese chairman and chief executive, with John Lampe, an
American vice-president who had testified before Congress. (National Post
(formerly The Financial Post), October 17, 2000)


BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE INC: Tire Victims' Lawyers Push for Seperate Cases
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lawyers suing Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. over tires involved in 101 U.S.
traffic deaths are fighting about how best to proceed with a glut of
cases in which millions of dollars in judgments may be at stake.

The first issue, to be decided after a Tuesday hearing in Washington, is
whether to combine in one federal court the hundreds of lawsuits already
filed. Some attorneys for victims injured in accidents involving recalled
Firestone tires want to keep their cases separate, arguing that a
resolution could be held up for years if their lawsuits are lumped in
with others.

Defense attorneys from Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford Motor Co. and some
plaintiffs' attorneys say it would be more efficient to combine the cases
during the discovery phase, when evidence would be gathered to be used
during trials.

Hal Kleinman, a senior associate at a Chicago law firm that has filed
class action suits on behalf of victims in the United States and
overseas, said combining the cases would benefit all involved.

He said about 200 cases have been filed on Firestone tires nationwide,
and all of the attorneys were going to need the documents and depositions
of engineers and managers from Bridgestone/Firestone, which recalled 6.5
million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires on Aug. 9 after widespread
complaints of tread separation, blowouts and other problems. ''If they
have to be produced in over 200 cases for depositions, it would be
impossible,'' Kleinman said. ''Why have attorneys duplicating efforts?''

The government is investigating at least 101 deaths and more than 250
injuries linked to Firestone tires, many used on the Ford Explorer, the
world's top-selling sport utility vehicle. There also have been deaths in
Venezuela and the Middle East, although the total death toll is unclear.

Each of the deaths and injuries had a different circumstance that should
be considered separately, argued Roger Braugh, a lawyer from Corpus
Christi, Texas, who opposed combining the suits.

Braugh said many cases already had been through pretrial discovery and
should not be held up waiting for other cases to go through that phase.
He said Tuesday's hearing on whether to adopt a combined, or
''multidistrict litigation,'' approach was a kind of power struggle
between attorneys who want to control the case. ''The purpose of the MDL
is to consolidate and let Ford and Firestone have some breathing room and
to let a few select lawyers in control of the situation,'' he said. ''And
that isn't necessarily good for everyone.''

Both sides said they expected that a panel of federal district judges
would decide to combine the cases for discovery. Braugh said the
important issue would be which judge would get the case.

Ford, Bridgestone/Firestone and some attorneys argued for the case to be
heard in Chicago. Other attorneys would like to move it to Tennessee,
while Braugh and others were fighting for a courtroom in southern Texas.

''Everybody wants a certain judge or judicial district that they will
think will be beneficial to their position,'' Braugh said. ''What happens
to the personal injury cases that get sucked up is that they might not
have the same interests as the companies and the class action
attorneys.'' (AP Online, October 17, 2000)


CELLSTAR CORP: Will Seek Dismissal of 2nd Amended Securities Suit in FL
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
During the period from May 1999 through July 1999, seven purported class
action lawsuits were filed in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Florida, Miami Division. Each lawsuit sought
certification as a class action to represent those persons who purchased
the publicly traded securities of the Company during the period from
March 19, 1998 to September 21, Each lawsuit alleged that the Company
issued a series of materially false and misleading statements concerning
the Company's results of operations and investment in Topp, resulting in
violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934, as amended (the "1934 Act"), and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder.

The Court entered an order on September 26, 1999 consolidating the
lawsuits and appointing lead plaintiffs and lead plaintiffs' counsel. On
November 8, 1999, the lead plaintiffs filed a consolidated complaint. The
Company filed a Motion to Dismiss the consolidated complaint and the
Court granted that Motion on August 3, 2000.

Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended and Consolidated Complaint on September
1, 2000, essentially re-alleging the violations of Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the 1934 Act, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder.

The Company believes that it has fully complied with all applicable
securities laws and regulations and that it has meritorious defenses to
the allegations made in the consolidated complaint. The Company intends
to file a Motion to Dismiss plaintiff's Second Amended and Consolidated
Complaint and vigorously defend the consolidated action if its Motion to
Dismiss is denied.

On August 3, 1998, the Company announced that the Securities and Exchange
Commission is conducting an investigation of the Company relating to its
compliance with federal securities laws. The Company believes that it has
fully complied with all securities laws and regulations and is
cooperating with the commission staff in its investigation.


DBCP PRODUCERS: Nicaragua Banana Workers to Sue over Pesticides
---------------------------------------------------------------
Nicaragua has passed a law allowing former banana workers to launch class
action lawsuits against international firms over pesticides used in
plantations, reports CANA-Reuters (October 6, 2000):

     Victorino Espinales, head of an association of banana workers, said
that Congress approved the law allowing lawsuits to be brought by
Nicaraguans who say they were made ill by DBCP (dibromochloropropane), a
pesticide used on banana plantations in the 1970s. Workers say 83 of
their colleagues have died and around 22,000 have suffered illnesses they
blame on DBCP, such as fevers and shooting pains in their bones;

    The Association of Banana Workers and Former Banana Workers wants to
sue DBCP producers such as Royal Dutch/Shell Group and food firms such as
Standard Fruit Co., Chiquita Brands International Inc. and Dole Food Co.
The law allows class action lawsuits in Nicaragua for the first time. In
the 1980s, Costa Rican banana workers successfully sued on the grounds
that DBCP had made them sterile. Payouts were a couple thousand dollars
each, according to their lawyers. (Caribbean Update, November 1, 2000)


EBAY: 7 Users Refile Lawsuit on Sale of Fake Memorabilia
--------------------------------------------------------
Seven users of eBay refiled a lawsuit against it on October 16, accusing
eBay of neglecting to protect consumers from sales of forged sports
memorabilia in its online auctions.

The lawsuit was resubmitted in response to a ruling last Wednesday by a
judge in San Diego, who dismissed the complaints against eBay but allowed
the plaintiffs to refile them using more specific arguments.

Judge Linda B. Quinn is presiding over the case and is scheduled to
consider on Nov. 17 whether it should become a class action, if the case
is allowed to continue. The original lawsuit was filed in Superior Court
in San Diego County in April.

Officials of eBay, which is based in San Jose, Calif., had declined to
comment on last week's ruling. But they said they were pleased with the
judge's action on the case so far. "The plaintiffs' case failed to clear
the first hurdle," said Robert Chesnut, associate general counsel for
eBay.

In refiling their lawsuit, the plaintiffs laid out arguments that
included language from the laws that they argue eBay had broken. Part of
the case, for example, is based on a California law that requires dealers
to guarantee the authenticity of the sports memorabilia they sell. The
law defines dealers as businesses that sell autographed collectibles and
provide descriptions of those items. In the resubmitted complaint, the
plaintiffs say that eBay does, in fact, provide descriptions on its Web
site.

EBay has argued that its members provide the descriptions and that the
Web site is simply a conduit. It also argues that it is covered under
federal laws that protect Internet service providers from liability for
material transmitted on their networks.

After quickly reviewing the resubmitted lawsuit, Mr. Chesnut said he was
still confident that eBay's arguments would prevail. "There are no
substantial changes here," he said. "And we will be filing a motion to
dismiss shortly." In Nasdaq trading on October 16, shares of eBay, after
being off more than $2 in the morning, rebounded to close at $59.63, up
$3.75. (The New York Times, October 17, 2000)


FIRESTONE, FORD: Support Move to Consolidate Tire Lawsuits
----------------------------------------------------------
A panel of judges in Washington, D.C., will hear arguments on October 17
on whether lawsuits against Ford Motor and Firestone should be lumped
together while attorneys gather information.

Ford and Firestone support the move, as do many of the lawyers pursuing
class-action lawsuits. But lawyers representing individuals who were
injured in accidents involving Firestone tires on Ford vehicles say
consolidating the cases would delay their lawsuits.

Federal regulators, who are investigating the safety of Firestone tires,
have reports of more than 100 deaths and 400 injuries linked to such
accidents. Firestone recalled 6.5 million tires Aug. 9 because the treads
can peel off.

More than 80 class-action lawsuits, which represent large groups of
people with similar concerns or problems, and personal-injury lawsuits,
on behalf of individuals injured in accidents, could be consolidated for
discovery. All the lawsuits are in federal courts.

Discovery, when lawyers take depositions and ask for information from
opposing parties, could last a year or longer, lawyers say.

If the cases are consolidated, a judge-appointed committee of plaintiff
lawyers would determine what information to seek from Ford and Firestone.
"Almost everyone benefits from having these cases consolidated," says
Georgetown University law professor Sherman Cohn. "If you have 1,000 of
these cases going through discovery, the defendants would have to be
deposed again and again, and that's a stupid waste of time."

The federal judges also will decide which court would oversee the cases.
If the cases are consolidated, the class-action lawsuits could be tried
together after the discovery process. But lawyers say the personal-injury
cases would be sent back to the courts where they were originally filed
for jury trials.

Here's how consolidation affects the parties involved:

Ford and Firestone want all the cases to be consolidated so executives
will only be asked to give depositions once, and so the companies will
have to supply documents to just one set of attorneys. Consolidating the
lawsuits could also reduce their legal expenses. "If you don't
consolidate these cases, this becomes like the movie Groundhog Day --
everything gets done over and over again," says Ford attorney John
Beisner, a partner with O'Melveny and Meyers in Washington. The
manufacturers want the cases heard in Chicago, saying that several judges
in that district have experience handling multidistrict litigation.

Lawyers involved in the class-action lawsuits, most of which ask
Firestone to expand the recall, say consolidating the cases will make it
easier for them to get information from Ford and Firestone. "We want to
get information from the defendants as quickly as possible," says Alex
Barnett of Cohen Millstein in Washington, who is representing the Center
for Auto Safety in a class-action lawsuit seeking to expand the recall.

A handful of lawyers with class-action lawsuits support having the cases
heard in Chicago, but others prefer southern locations from Florida to
Texas, where many of the accidents occurred.

Lawyers in the personal-injury cases argue that consolidating all the
lawsuits would hold them up. They say they already have completed
depositions, have most of the information they need from Ford and
Firestone and are ready to go to trial. They argue that waiting for
class-action lawsuits to go through the discovery process could delay
their cases for years. "It doesn't benefit the injured party to wait; it
benefits the manufacturers to wait," says personal-injury lawyer Richard
Denny in Norman, Okla.

Personal-injury lawyers also argue that the cases involve conditions and
manufacturing procedures at different plants depending on where a
plaintiff's tires were made and include accidents with vehicles other
than the Explorer sport-utility vehicle, on which most of the recalled
tires were standard equipment. General information relevant to
class-action lawsuits would be useless to them, they say.

Ultimately, Cohn says, the judges will have to decide whether the
similarities among the cases outweigh the differences. (USA Today,
October 17, 2000)


FORD MOTOR: St. Louis University Employee Sues over Ignition Problem
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Ford Motor Co. has been sued again over an allegedly defective ignition
part that can cause vehicles to stall while driving. The latest suit was
filed Monday in St. Louis Circuit Court by Michael Memos, director of
human resources at St. Louis University.

Memos' attorneys hope to win class-action status for their suit so that
they can represent others with such complaints from throughout Missouri
and perhaps beyond. Similar suits have already been filed in at least six
other states.

Last week, a California judge decided in one of those suits that Ford
should recall 1.7 million cars and trucks because of the problem. He said
Ford knew for almost 20 years that the modules were defective and could
cause stalling. Up to 23 million vehicles across the country could be
affected, the judge said.

Ford has denied any problem with the part and any intent to hide
information either from consumers or government regulators.

Memos' problem is on his 1992 Thunderbird Super Coupe, a car that was
special ordered for him at a cost of more than $ 28,000.

"The car has been a joy," he said.

But that changed this summer because of "a dramatic loss of compression
and stalling," Memos said. "The car was actually shuttering and shaking."

He took it to Suntrup Ford in Kirkwood, where he normally has it
serviced. He found out that he needed a new ignition module -- but there
were none to be had. The parts manager, Gerry Andracsek, confirmed that
Ford had more than 3,000 on order and that none would be available sooner
than the end of January. Andracsek said he couldn't find an aftermarket
part. Memos couldn't locate one in a junkyard, either.

The car has sat at the dealership for 50 days, said Memos. Although it
will start, it's unsafe to drive because of the threat of stalling, he
said.

Jack Horas, an attorney at the law firm here that filed the case, said,
"Ford has known about this problem for years and has never taken any
steps to recall the vehicles and never taken any steps to ensure parts
would be available."

The lawsuit, like the others, said the ignition problem affects up to 29
models from the 1980s and 1990s, including the Escort, Taurus, Mustang
and Bronco. (The Explorer sport utility vehicle, made in Hazelwood, is
not on the list. But the Aerostars from 1986-1990 reportedly are
affected; they were made here until Ford discontinued the model in 1997.)

The ignition part is called a TFI module, for thick film ignition. The
part regulates the flow of electric current to the spark plugs.

For at least a dozen years, Ford mounted the TFI on the distributor near
the engine block, where it would be exposed to high heat and stress. Such
conditions allegedly caused many of the parts to fail, stalling the
engine.

In the California case, Ford's own documents showed that the part could
have been moved to a cooler spot for $ 4 per vehicle, according to the
Associated Press.

Memos said that on Sept. 18 he lodged his first of many complaints with
Ford's customer service department at headquarters, in Dearborn, Mich.
Three times, he was told that someone in management would get back to
him. That's yet to happen, he said. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 17,
2000)


HAVEN BANCORP: Suit over 1983 Safe Deposit Boxes Burglary Still Pending
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
In February, 1983, a burglary of the contents of safe deposit boxes
occurred at a branch office of the Bank. At December 31, 1999, the Bank
has a class action lawsuit related thereto pending, whereby the
plaintiffs are seeking recovery of approximately $12.9 million in actual
damages and an additional $12.9 million of unspecified damages. The
Bank's ultimate liability, if any, which might arise from the disposition
of these claims cannot presently be determined. Management believes it
has meritorious defenses against these actions and has and will continue
to defend its position.


HOMESTEAD HOLDING: Investors May Get Back Some Money Lost 10 Years Ago
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Nearly 10 years after they watched their investments dry up in a federal
takeover, shareholders in the former Homestead Holding Corp. may be
getting some money back.

A proposed $ 1.9 million settlement has been reached by shareholders who
filed a class-action lawsuit against the former directors and auditors of
Middletown-based Homestead, whose primary subsidiary was a savings and
loan that was placed into federal receivership during Labor Day weekend
in 1991.

Homestead's problems stemmed from a number of risky, underperforming or
failed commercial loans made to out-of-state businesses.

The settlement is the result of lawsuits filed in late 1991 after
Homestead's stock became virtually worthless. The lawsuits claimed the
directors and auditors misled investors on the status of the company and
failed to manage the company properly.

In the proposed settlement, American Casualty Co. of Reading, which
insured former Homestead directors and officers, will contribute $
1,075,000 into a settlement fund. An additional $ 850,000 will be
provided by the insurers and reinsurers for the Camp Hill accounting firm
of McKonly & Asbury, Homestead's auditors.

No more than 25 percent of the money in the fund will be paid to the law
firm representing plaintiffs in the lawsuits. Forty percent of the
American Casualty contribution and 50 percent from the McKonly & Asbury
payment will go to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

That will leave about $ 800,000 for some 900 shareholders. Of that
amount, 10 percent will be distributed to Homestead shareholders of
record on Oct. 29, 1991, and 90 percent will be available to a class of
people who purchased Homestead stock between Jan. 26, 1990, and Oct. 29,
1991.

Homestead defendants and members of their immediate families are not
eligible to participate in the settlement.

Also as part of the settlement, the defendants do not admit to any
wrongdoing or acknowledge that the shareholder lawsuits have merit.

"Overall, this is a very good settlement," said Eugene Spector, whose
Philadelphia law firm Spector, Roseman & Kodroff specializes in
securities litigation against companies.

He said "negotiations took a great deal of time" and records "were not
there" and had to be obtained through the FDIC.

Spector said it was estimated that the maximum damage to shareholders and
the company was between $ 4 million and $ 5 million.

A hearing on the proposed settlement is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 30
before Senior Judge William W. Caldwell in U.S. Middle District Court at
Harrisburg.

Homestead began public trading of its stock in 1987 after converting from
a mutual company. Depositors bought all of the stock at $ 8 a share. The
stock traded as high as $ 13.50 a share in July 1990.

Homestead's subsidiary, Homestead Savings Association, was one of many
thrifts to encounter trouble in the late 1980s due to stricter federal
regulation of lending practices. Aggressive and questionable commercial
lending policies, including a number of out-of-state loans, boosted
Homestead's assets from $ 100 million in 1985 to $ 259 million in March
1990.

Six months later, in September 1990, the U.S. Office of Thrift
Supervision issued a supervisory directive to Homestead over its loan
underwriting and documentation practices. The OTS, which supervised
thrifts at the time, restricted Homestead's commercial real estate
lending and similar development activities. Homestead's quarterly
dividend was suspended.

Homestead reported a loss of $ 13.7 million for 1990, and its problems
continued into 1991. By that summer, about 20 percent of its assets were
classified as substandard, doubtful or a loss. The company became
insolvent in August 1991 after it posted more funds in its loan-loss
reserve. The federal takeover occurred on Aug. 30.

Homestead operated four branches in the Middletown, Elizabethtown and
Hampden Twp. areas. Those branches were eventually sold in 1994 to the
former Farmers Trust, a Carlisle bank whose parent company, Financial
Trust, was acquired by Keystone Financial Inc. a few years ago.

The Resolution Trust Corp., the federal agency that administered thrifts
placed under receivership, said Homestead's failure cost taxpayers some $
28.7 million. (The Patriot-News, October 17, 2000)


LASER TECHNOLOGY: Reports Final Approval of Securities Suit Settlement
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Laser Technology, Inc. (Amex: LSR), a company in the business of design,
manufacturing and marketing of pulse laser measuring systems, announced
on October 17 final court approval of shareholder lawsuit settlement
terms. The approval settles the class action and derivative lawsuits,
which were consolidated.

Under the terms of the agreement, the plaintiffs and their lawyers will
receive $850,000 in cash and 475,000 shares of Laser Technology, Inc.
common stock. The Company reached an agreement with its insurance carrier
whereby $ 740,000 of the cash portion of the settlement has been paid by
the carrier into the settlement escrow account. The remaining $110,000 in
cash has been paid into the settlement escrow account by parties involved
in the settlement, including the Company. The shares issued in the
settlement will become tradable at various times according to a schedule
incorporated into the settlement agreement. The settlement will have no
impact upon financial statements for the fiscal year ended September 30,
2000, since the cost of the settlement, along with legal expenses
involved in completing the settlement, have been accrued in Laser
Technology's FY1999 financial results.

Contact: Maggie Urban-Phillips, Investor Relations, or Elizabeth Hearty,
Controller/Corporate Secretary, of Laser Technology, Inc., 303-649-1000


ORBITAL SCIENCES: Stockholders Will Receive $22.5 Mil for Restatement
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Notice of settlement was announced Mon. by law firm representing
stockholders who will receive $22.5 million to settle securities class
action lawsuit related to Orbital Sciences' 1999 financial restatements.
Under agreement announced by Orbital in July, stockholders will receive
$11 million in cash from National Fire Insurance and 2 million shares of
stock discounted 10%, worth $11.5 million. No cash will come from Orbital
(CD Sept 22 p5), spokesman said. Suit had been brought on behalf of
stockholders against Orbital CEO David Thompson and former CFO Jeffrey
Pirone in U.S. Dist. Court, Alexandria, Va. Federal judge is expected to
approve settlement at hearing Dec. 13. Thompson said he was "pleased"
with settlement and said it allowed closure of "difficult period in
company's history." He said "stockholders will directly benefit." Company
said there were no other lawsuits involving financial misstatements.
(Communications Daily, October 17, 2000)


STAGE STORES: Files Ch 11; Investor Appeals against TX Suit Dismissal
---------------------------------------------------------------------
On June 1, 2000 (the "Petition Date"), Stage Stores, SRI and  Specialty
Retailer, Inc. (NV) filed  for  protection  under Chapter  11  of  Title
11 of the United States  Bankruptcy  Code ("Chapter  11")  in the United
States Bankruptcy  Court  for  the Southern District of Texas.

On March 30, 1999, a class action lawsuit was filed against Stage Stores
Inc.  and certain of its officers, directors  and stockholders in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas by John
C. Weld, Jr., a stockholder who purchased 125 shares of the Company's
common stock on August 3, 1998, alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder (the "Weld Suit"). The Company believed that the allegations
of the Weld Suit are without merit, and on July 23, 1999, the Company
filed a motion to dismiss.  United States District Judge Kenneth Hoyt
entered an order on December 8, 1999 dismissing the Weld Suit. The order
has been appealed by Mr. Weld.


TOBACCO LITIGATION: TX Medicaid Recipientsí Share in Deal Go up in Smoke
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Texas Medicaid recipients suffering from smoking-related illnesses have
seen their claim to a share of the state's $ 15.3 billion settlement from
the tobacco industry go up in smoke. On Sept. 27, U.S. District Judge
David Folsom of Texarkana dismissed the class-action suit filed against
the state last year by Bobby Watson, who received free treatment through
Medicaid for an obstructive pulmonary disease he suffers as a result of
smoking. First Assistant Attorney General Andy Taylor says Watson was
seeking almost $ 9 billion of the settlement that the state reached with
the tobacco industry in January 1998. Folsom held that the state's
settlement with the industry does not strip Medicaid beneficiaries of
their right to redress. "Their remedy would be to pursue the tobacco
industry like the state did," Taylor says. Watson's lawyer, Andres
Pereira, of Houston's Fleming & Associates, says the Medicaid statute
calls for the state to reimburse itself for its out-of-pocket costs for
providing care for indigents ill because of smoking and to make payment
to the federal government. Any excess money is supposed to go to the
Medicaid recipients, Pereira says, adding that he is "seriously
considering" appealing Folsom's decision. (Texas Lawyer, October 2, 2000)



* Are independent video outlets in their final run?
---------------------------------------------------
Fading numbers tell story of competition --- cable, satellite and chains
linked to Hollywood. There's a video wake taking place around the
country, and there may be no way to rewind. "I've had grown men come in
here and cry," said Sheila Zbosnik, co-owner of Home Video in Duluth,
which is turning off the marquee it first lit up in 1982.

Tape-by-tape, her inventory slowly dwindles, 20,000 movies from "The
African Queen" to "Slumber Party Massacre" fading from display on the
shelf as she pawns the collection for cash. Customers express their
condolences and bestow gifts. She often steps aside to compose herself as
she watches her empire of entertainment evaporate.

"It's painful to let go of these movies," said Zbosnik, who made the
decision to close her store in August. "The fact that it's coming to an
end has really hit me. It's hard to let go of something that's been part
of your life for 18 years."

Her celluloid fire sale is becoming all too familiar. Independent video
emporiums are fading from the suburban landscape as chains like
Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video plant their corporate flags on the
play buttons of VCRs.

More than 3,600 independent video retailers across the country called it
quits during the last two years, according to the Kentucky-based National
Association of Video Distributors. No state-by-state numbers were
available.

With technology changing the dynamics of home video and customers pressed
for time and seeking convenience, the industry as a whole is feeling
sore. Satellite services such as DirecTV continue to dot rooftops, and
AT&T Broadband is zapping homes with digital cable that mimics satellite
quality, service and choice with a slew of pay-per-view movie channels.

But it's the pioneers of living room pix who are watching the credits
roll. "It's pretty much an epidemic these days," said Mick Blanken,
president of the Independent Video Retailers' Group, who called running a
privately owned store "impossible." Blanken runs his own video outlet
outside of Columbus, Ohio, where he said only a handful of such
enterprises remain.

"Some changes in the industry that occurred three years ago have
decimated the independent retailer in this business," he said. "Anyone
involved that's in competition with Blockbuster or Hollywood Video is
just surviving."

Some just hit stop.

Ten years of tending to tapes have come to an end for Pat and Doug
Alexander. Their Alpharetta emporium, Movie Time, liquidated its last
video a week ago after servicing the north Fulton suburbs for a decade.
At one point, their rental business sizzled, and they also operated a
Lilburn outpost. "We were competing successfully with Blockbuster for
nine years, but they negotiated special deals with the studios," Pat
Alexander said. "We could not compete with that. It used to be a really
fun business."

The Alexanders were still game to continue and even prepared to sign a
new lease. Then word was passed to them that a new Hollywood Video was
preparing to open across the street. "We had the FedEx envelope with the
new lease ready to go," she said. "We decided we didn't want to fight
it."

Others have decided to duke it out in a more litigious manner.

                       Independents fight back

Last year, a group of independent video retailers filed an antitrust
lawsuit against Blockbuster, Viacom Inc., Walt Disney Pictures, Warner
Bros. and other Hollywood studios that distribute home video. The charge?
Unfair business practices such as special purchasing agreements and
revenue sharing on new releases give a competitive edge independent
stores aren't able to mat. The hope among these retailers is to get a
class-action lawsuit that could encompass more than 1,000 plaintiffs.

Blockbuster denies it's turned the independent retailer into a target and
defends its business practices as open to all. "We're not trying to force
anyone out," said Blockbuster Video spokesman Randy Hargrove in Dallas.
"Everything we've done has been pro-consumer and pro-competitive. Nothing
we've done is exclusive or would keep other stores from entering
revenue-sharing agreements. There's room for all kinds of video retailers
in the market."

Blockbuster refuses to carry videos with an NC-17 rating, and Hargrove
admits that for these titles and other esoteric film choices, the
independent fills an important niche.

Zbosnik, along with co-owner and former husband Martin Zbosnik, have also
filed a suit in Texas to become part of the group.

The couple helped nurture their enterprise, Home Video in Duluth, from a
pioneering palace for movies into one of the largest venues for rental
films in the Atlanta metro area. For nearly two decades, it reigned as
the premier spot for Gwinnett County residents to grab a new release or a
copy of a film classic. The collection boasted more than 20,000 videos,
many films that are out of print and near-impossible to find. The list of
customers who carried a membership card topped the inventory numbers.

But the shadow from the blue-and-yellow marquee up the street grew darker
each day. In August, they began selling off their extensive stock, with
some out-of-print films fetching upward of $ 100. Longtime customers
dread the forthcoming dearth of video diversity. "What I'm going to miss
is selection and a staff with a vested interest in customer
satisfaction," said Scott Piehler, who said his 5-year-old daughter burst
into tears when he told her the store was closing. "They were all so
incredibly knowledgeable. It was movie people talking to movie people.
Clerks at Blockbuster or Hollywood Video are like clerks at the
QuikTrip."

One last panacea may exist for these freeborn video outlets. Drive inside
the Perimeter, and such shops appear to find a niche in urban environs
and city enclaves. "We are in a perfect location because the colleges and
the people that live in inner-city neighborhoods tend to be more
sophisticated in their film tastes," said Anne Rubenstein, owner of
Movies Worth Seeing in Virginia- Highland. "We just buy movies that we
think are good."

                             A video Oasis

Thanks to a pedestrian-friendly location and an inventory of 8,000
videos, Movies Worth Seeing has established itself as a destination for
cinematic longing. Film students from Emory, Oglethorpe and Georgia State
universities frequently cruise the racks for the offbeat and odd. A huge
foreign section, documentaries and other specialty rentals complement the
store and help carve its niche with residents.

Jena Tarabula made a 40-minute trek from Dunwoody to the store to return
a documentary her husband rented. The couple has been frequenting Movies
Worth Seeing since they were college students.

Could Rubenstein ever foresee relocating her store to the strip-mall
environs of suburbia? "I think it would be impossible," she said. "If
you're only competing with numbers of copies, you can't compete with
Blockbuster. You have to do something different."

Even those representing the industry project images of gloom. "I would
take my money to Reno and put it on black before opening a video store,"
said John Merchant, a board member of the Video Software Dealers
Association, the premier trade association for video retailers. "It's
akin to what's happened to independent bookstores competing with Barnes &
Noble."

Merchant is part of the lawsuit as well, and his business has also bled
in recent years. His five-store chain outside of Sacramento, Calif., has
evaporated into one and he struggles to survive.

"The industry has been devastated, and it directly relates to the
studios' relationship with Blockbuster," he said.

The Alexanders haven't totally ejected home video from their lives. They
retain part-ownership of another Alpharetta independent, Video Galaxy.

Pat Alexander has watched generations grow up in her store, tykes who
went from clamoring for "The Little Mermaid" to becoming adults craving a
copy of " Showgirls." Even her employees have evolved. Clerk Chris Taylor
began advising customers on rental choices when he was 16 years old. At
31, he's still steering customers to the offbeat gems and director's cuts
that remain during the liquidation.

This type of loyalty is what has moved Sheila Zbosnik most, especially
that of her clientele, who have embraced the free spirit of her store for
years.

"They cannot fathom going to another video store," she said. "We're in a
unique situation where we've been in business so long and know so many
people. "

So is there any hope for home cinema pioneers?

"Only if we can get some pricing relief, some will survive," Merchant
said. "The reality is this is a new-release business, and if you can't
compete at that level it's difficult to compete at all." (The Atlanta
Journal and Constitution, 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
Creditors' Service, Inc., Princeton, NJ, and Beard Group, Inc.,
Washington, DC. Theresa Cheuk, Managing Editor.

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

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
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Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to be
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