CAR_Public/001108.MBX               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

             Wednesday, November 8, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 218

                             Headlines

AUTONATION: Judge Certifies Lawsuit over Used Cars Sold As New
BRE-X MINERALS: Ontario Appeal Court Adds Charges of Negligence
BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE, FORD: Houston Attorney Joins in Investigation
CANKER PROGRAM: New Lawsuit, Study Add To Citrus Eradication Tumult
CINCINNATI BENGALS: County Sides with Team against Lawsuit on Tickets

GOODYEAR TIRE: Critics Claim Tires Replaced In "Silent Recall"
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Germany’s Catholic Church to Begin Payments Soon
INMATES LITIGATION: Settlement Reached In Suit Vs. State Training School
LEVEL 3: Contests Suit in CO over Fiber Optic Cable Installation Right
MARTIN COUNTY: 100 Residents File Fed Suit over Coal Sludge from Spill

NABI: Defends Lawsuit over HIV-Contaminated Products
NATIONAL HEALTHCARE: Lawsuit Alleges FL Nursing Home Sale Was a Sham
RAMPART SCANDAL: Deal Would Settle 29 Suits For $10.9 Million
RELIABLE LIFE: Sued for Discriminating African Americans in Policy Sale
ROYAL TRUST: Pensioners Across Canada Assert Rights to Surplus in Fund

TOBACCO LITIGATION: 2 Firms Offered $8 Bil to Settle Nationwide Claims
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Italian Minister Fingers P.M. and R.J. Reynolds
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Judge Kaye Upholds $145B Smokers' Award in Florida
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Philip Morris to Post $100M Bond; Cos. Pledge Appeal
TRW INC: Former Employee and DOJ File Suit on Costs Charged to Contracts

TRW VEHICLE: Sued for Emissions from Air Bag Manufacturing Plant in AZ
W.A FOOTE: Sued for HIV and Hep. Risk Through Medical Equipment
USEC, INC: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in Kentucky
ZIMBABWE: Defends White Farmers’ Charges on Planned Property Seizure

                           *********

AUTONATION: Judge Certifies Lawsuit over Used Cars Sold As New
--------------------------------------------------------------
A lawsuit alleging that AutoNation deceived people who bought used cars
from the company's "megastores" was given class-action status by a Palm
Beach County Circuit Court judge, the buyers' attorneys said.

Getting class-action status means that if the plaintiffs win, those
affected would be eligible to collect any compensation AutoNation might be
forced to pay. The order was filed signed Oct. 31.

The lawsuit, filed in August 1999, alleges the giant Fort Lauderdale-based
auto dealer intentionally failed to disclose that some vehicles had
previously been used as rentals or short-term leases. AutoNation also was
accused of routinely failing to sign financing agreements.

The finance director of the AutoNation in West Palm Beach megastore said in
a deposition that buyers who got financing at the store weren't given a
copy of a company-signed contract until after the loan was paid, according
to court documents. "This is evidence of a common course of conduct on the
part of AutoNation," Judge Kathleen Kroll wrote in her order.

Consumers who bought cars in the four years preceding the lawsuit's filing
could be eligible to participate in the class action, attorney J. Kent
Brown said. Lawyers will now inspect AutoNation's records to identify which
buyers should be included. Consumers need not take any action on their own,
Brown said.

Based on information gathered during litigation, Brown said up to 50,000
people nationwide could be affected. "It may end up much higher," Brown
said. "AutoNation has sold a lot of cars in the last few years."

The amount of money being sought in the case remains undetermined. "We
think the facts are very much on our side, and we will vigorously contest
this action," said Jim Donahue, AutoNation's senior vice president for
corporate communications. He declined to comment further, citing the
company's policy of not discussing pending legal cases.

AutoNation has contended the case should not be given class-action status,
which can result in large verdicts and settlements because of the number of
plaintiffs. Company attorneys argued that the individual claims are big
enough to allow people to pursue cases on their own and that it raises the
possibility of thousands of "mini-trials."

Two of the original plaintiffs, Jaime R. Miranda Jr. and Mykah Miranda,
went to buy a 1996 Nissan Altima in May 1999 at an AutoNation store in
suburban West Palm Beach. They originally agreed to a $ 2,000 down payment,
the lawsuit said. Then, nine hours later, they were allegedly told the down
payment was $ 4,000.

After borrowing money for the down payment from family and friends, they
were allegedly told the interest rate for financing $ 10,576 was 23.25
percent for 48 months, court documents show. The Mirandas were told it was
the best available rate for people with their credit histories, the lawsuit
said.

They were given the car after being told the financing was approved. They
signed the contract, but AutoNation did not, the lawsuit claims.

Just more than a week after buying the car, the dealership called them and
said there was a problem with the loan and they had to produce another $
2,000, the lawsuit contends. The lawsuit alleges that AutoNation employee
told the Mirandas they had to give back the car if they didn't have the
money. They put up another $ 2,000.

This time, the loan rate was 19.9 percent for 18 months, the suit said.
They signed another contract, which was allegedly backdated to the original
date and again not signed by AutoNation, according to court documents.

AutoNation later allegedly contacted the Mirandas and told them the rate
would be increased to 27 percent. They refused and the rate stood.

Later, the Mirandas learned AutoNation had apparently failed to make the
required disclosure that their car had previously been registered as a
leased vehicle, the lawsuit said. (Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL),
November 7, 2000)


BRE-X MINERALS: Ontario Appeal Court Adds Charges of Negligence
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Ontario Court of Appeal has certified a previously reported class
action against Bre-X Minerals Ltd. for negligent misrepresentation,
overruling both the Divisional Court and the motions judge.

In December 1999, the Divisional Court upheld Superior Court Justice Warren
Winkler's certification of a class action with respect to plaintiffs'claims
of fraudulent misrepresentation, the tort of conspiracy and breach of the
Competition Act, but refused to certify the claim for negligent
misrepresentation.

Relying on his court's judgment in Anderson v. Wilson (1999), 44 O.R. (3d)
673, Justice James MacPherson concluded both lower courts had erred on a
matter of general principle. "I do not agree that there is a sufficient
difference between the plaintiffs'claims in fraudulent misrepresentation
and negligent misrepresentation to justify certification of the former and
non-certification of the latter."

Justices George Finlayson and Kathryn Feldman concurred.

Paul Pape, counsel for the plaintiffs/appellants, called it a "decision of
singular importance." Citing a "noticeable tendency to narrow or restrict
the application" of the Class Proceedings Act (CPA), Pape said the court
"has reminded motions judges of the broad and flexible nature of this
procedural remedy, particularly when it speaks of lowering the bar."

The ruling meant insiders "may satisfy the trial judge they were not part
of the fraud and still be liable for damages because they reasonably ought
to have known about the fraud."

Justice MacPherson began with a vividly worded overview of the evolution
and goals of the Act: "Disasters spawn litigation. Trains collide or
derail, planes crash, ships sink, lakes and rivers become polluted,
chemical factories explode, ordinary people eat, drink, wear or use
unhealthy or defective products. ... When the crisis subsides, some of the
victims turn to the courts for redress and compensation."

Given such circumstances, class actions were a procedural mechanism to
achieve efficiency of litigation and increased access to the courts.

Out of eight lawsuits launched by the plaintiffs, this one - against Bre-X,
Bresea Resources Ltd., various individuals who held senior positions in
these companies, two stock brokerage firms and two research analysts - is
the main action and the only one certified as a class action.

The motions judge, upheld by Divisional Court, certified 15 common issues
as appropriate for resolution in a class proceeding. Their focus is the
knowledge and conduct of the Bre-X insiders. (The conduct of the plaintiffs
will initially remain on the sidelines.)

Justice MacPherson said the appeal raised two questions: Is it appropriate
to certify part of an action as a class proceeding? and Is there a
sufficient distinction between the torts of fraudulent misrepresentation
and negligent misrepresentation to justify routing them onto separate
tracks in the litigation process? He extrapolated five reasons for saying
"No" to both.

1. The CPA's definition of "common issues" - common, but not necessarily
identical, issues of fact giving rise to common, but not necessarily
identical, issues of law - represents a conscious attempt by the Ontario
legislature to avoid setting the bar for certification too high.

2. The courts too have been wary of setting the bar too high on "common
issues," stating that issues do not have to determine liability; they need
only move the litigation forward.

3. "Given the accepted definitions of the torts of fraudulent
misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation, I can see no logical or
principled basis for treating them differently on the question of
certification. I could understand an order certifying, or refusing to
certify, both claims. I do not, however, understand why opposite orders
were considered appropriate for the two claims."

4. There is a substantial overlap of factual issues in both varieties of
misrepresentation in the litigation. Was there gold in mineable quantities
in the Busang, and, if not, what was the various defendants' knowledge of
the true state of affairs? Justice MacPherson said one of the benefits of a
class action with certified common issues relating to the knowledge and
conduct of the defendants "is that the resolution of those issues might
narrow substantially subsequent inquiries on the plaintiffs'side of the
coin." It would move the litigation forward.

5. In five companion actions, the motions judge concluded that the claims
of fraudulent misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation against
five stock brokerage firms raised common issues appropriate for
certification.

"The essence of misrepresentation is the negligent statement. If a point in
time is fixed at which the analysts knew or ought to have known of the
alleged fraud, then any statement to the contrary after that point is an
inaccurate, negligently made statement. Such a finding would advance the
litigation."

Justice MacPherson agreed with this analysis and found it equally
applicable to Bre-X and the company insiders named as defendants in this
action.

The court gave costs to the appellants for the appeal, the motion for leave
to appeal and the Divisional Court appeal. (The Lawyers Weekly, November
10, 2000)


BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE, FORD: Houston Attorney Joins in Investigation
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Beating big corporations with big verdicts made Richard Mithoff one of the
country's best-known product-liability attorneys. The Texas lawyer won the
first reported breast-implant lawsuit against Dow Corning in 1977 and
bested the Midland-based giant in nearly 400 suits, winning more than $ 70
million.

Mithoff -- think Geoffrey Fieger with cowboy boots but without the smirk --
was named one of the nation's 10-best litigators by the National Law
Journal and one of the country's most successful trial attorneys by Forbes.

This history alone would be enough to alarm his next corporate targets --
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. and Ford Motor Co. But other Mithoff qualities
may give the companies even more reason to cringe -- namely his reputation
as a thorough document digger and his drive to make public all the
Firestone and Ford documents he can. Also of note: He's a Ralph Nader
disciple.

Mithoff is joining other product-liability lawyers around the country to
swap corporate memos and push Ford and Firestone to make public all the
documents possible.

Some of this collaboration is back-scratching, but much of it also appears
to be motivated by guilt.

Many of these attorneys, Mithoff included, quietly settled with Ford and
Firestone years ago in cases that involved the same tires that were
recalled in August. Firestone recalled 14.4 million tires, most of them on
Explorers. So far 119 deaths have been linked to accidents on those tires.

These attorneys never alerted government authorities about problems with
Firestone tires on Explorers, even though they knew similar suits had been
filed. Many signed settlement agreements with confidentiality clauses that
kept the attorneys and clients quiet.

"With so many of my cases, I'm put in the position of telling the client,
This a good settlement offer, but you can't tell people what you know.'
That's really starting to bother me in these Firestone cases," said
Mithoff, during a mid-October interview.

The Houston lawyer's current case, Peggy Turner Trahane v. Ford and
Bridgestone/Firestone, was filed in Harris County District Court in Texas.
Trahane suffered permanent brain damage in 1999 when her 1996 Ford Explorer
rolled over after a Firestone tire failed. The case is scheduled for trial
Jan. 16, which would make it one of the first cases against the automaker
and tire manufacturer to go to court.

Mithoff, a soft-spoken man, says he wants to find out what Ford and
Firestone knew and when. But he's humbled by the knowledge that in October
1999, he settled out of court with Ford and Firestone. Mithoff was
representing the family of Timothy Lockwood, a 28-year-old man who died in
September 1997, when his 1996 Ford Explorer rolled over. Mithoff and his
client were barred from talking about the case.

"After 30 years of doing this, I'm worried about the price of confidential
settlements. I don't know whether early disclosure would have saved lives
here, but it concerns me to see the substantial delay in information
getting out to the public. Too often, what's best for my clients isn't
what's best for society," he said.

Ford and Firestone say they support making documents public and they say
the information that was made public to Mithoff is available to the federal
government.

Mithoff, Arkansas product-liability specialist Tab Turner and numerous
other attorneys have been swapping and sharing Ford or Firestone-related
information for more than a year.

Swapping information is not new for trial attorneys. One of their
organizations -- the Association of Trial Lawyers of America -- was founded
54 years ago as a way for worker's compensation attorneys to share strategy
and documents.

What is new is the attorneys' push to make these documents public to the
media and other interested parties.

Other lawyers have used the fallout from the recall to push to get
information released about other product-liability cases. Christine
Spagnoli, a lawyer in Los Angeles representing families in a suit against
Goodyear Tire & Rubber, is petitioning the Superior Court of New Jersey to
release sealed documents in the interest of public safety. She thinks
lawyers like Mithoff and Turner will make it easier for her.

"Firestone was the perfect example of what can go wrong because of
secrecy," Spagnoli said.

Among the hundreds of attorneys engaged in Ford and Firestone litigation,
Mithoff probably is the one best known for taking on corporate giants.

"Ford and Firestone should know these cases will gravitate to first-rate
lawyers and in Richard Mithoff they've got a first-rate opponent who will
make this case every bit as serious and hard for them as they think it
might be," said Paul Stallings, a Houston attorney who's opposed Mithoff in
several medical-malpractice cases.

Last month, Mithoff got Ford and Firestone to agree to make boxes of their
internal documents open to the public, as part of a court-authorized motion
called a Rule 11 Agreement.

Days after that agreement was signed, Mithoff's firm was distributing
Firestone accident data to newspapers.

"What Richard did, pushing for public disclosure while the case was going
on, was very unusual, but he's very concerned about this issue and that's
why he fought this gag order," said Joan Claybrook, president of Public
Citizen, a Washington D.C. consumer-interest group which filed a motion in
support of Mithoff.

Forbes magazine, which used to track the best-paid trial attorneys in the
country, reported Mithoff made more than $ 5 million a year through the
late 1980s and early '90s. In 1994, Forbes reported he made $ 13 million.

"I've had some success. I've kept my firm small. I enjoy it that way and
I've had success taking on the bully. I like to feel like I'm defending the
little guy who's getting picked on," said the 54-year-old Mithoff.

Ford spokeswoman Susan Krusel said the company doesn't pay attention to
what attorney represents a particular case. Currently there are about 200
class-action and personal-injury lawsuits filed against Ford stemming from
tire accidents in Explorers.

Ford disputes the notion that plaintiff's attorneys like Mithoff are
somehow getting out the truth.

"We've been providing Explorers documents to the government for a number of
years," said Krusel, Ford manager of public affairs.

"Now all of a sudden these attorneys say they are making public this
information or that they knew all along there was something wrong. But they
didn't go and get this corrected before because then there wouldn't be any
more clients for them," she said.

Mithoff's detailed-document dive and disclosure drive could be especially
important because federal investigators and consumer advocates have yet to
find a "smoking-gun" document that could explain why so many Firestone
tires on Explorers experienced tread separation.

So far, Ford and Firestone have turned over 25 boxes of documents,
engineering studies and accident data.

Currently, Mithoff or his firm's attorneys and paralegals are poring
through the documents.

"Corporations try to make this process difficult. They mislabel things or
they put documents out of order," said Mithoff. "I guess what we hope to
learn is if Ford and Firestone knew there was a problem and what steps they
took or didn't take to solve it." (Detroit Free Press, November 7, 2000)


CANKER PROGRAM: New Lawsuit, Study Add To Citrus Eradication Tumult
-------------------------------------------------------------------
A prominent attorney has filed a lawsuit in circuit court seeking damages
for the removal of citrus trees from residents' yards.

Meanwhile, a 17-page study released Monday provides the groundwork for the
citrus canker eradication program that has been challenged in court by
several South Florida municipalities.

The lawsuit filed Monday names the Department of Agriculture and
Commissioner Bob Crawford as defendants. The suit wants to include the
owners of hundreds of thousands of trees cut down during the program,
joining singular plaintiff Barbara Storer Rubin in a class-action.

Rubin is the wife of well-known attorney Ellis Rubin. He says the state
owes tree-owners millions of dollars, though the suit doesn't specify
damages sought beyond $15,000.

The removal of Rubin's 20-year-old orange tree from his backyard in August
motivated him to file the lawsuit, he said.

The suit claims that the $100 vouchers given by the state are not enough to
compensate residents for the loss of their citrus trees.

"According to the Defendant's own calculation, the typical residential
citrus tree is worth $438.00, which is far below the true value of the
Plaintiff's orange tree," the suit said.

The Rubin suit requests damages for the removed tree, damages to the
remainder of his residential property, and the "value of his basic right to
'sit by a tree in your backyard."'

The study, due to be published in the journal "Phytopathology," will likely
be discussed in a Thursday hearing before Broward Circuit Court Judge
Leonard Fleet in another lawsuit that pits a group of local governments
against Crawford and the agriculture department.

Scientists analyzed 18 months of data that included examining the health of
more than 19,000 citrus trees in Miami-Dade and Broward County back yards,
the study said. They found that wind and rain are the main carriers of the
canker and the fruit disease can spread quickly over a large area.

For example, a tree in one case infected 1,751 others within 2 square
miles. The study said most infections took place within the 1,900 feet of
an infected tree. That distance is also the boundary set by agriculture
officials for tree removal and justifies the cutting of seemingly healthy
trees that lie near a diseased tree.

The primary goal of the eradication program is to protect Florida's citrus
industry, which is devoted primarily to juice and represents an $8.5
billion citrus industry with 125,000 jobs.

Some scientists counter the agriculture department's claims that the future
of the industry is at stake, saying that the canker does not affect fruit's
juice.

Citrus canker does blemish fruit and leaves and reduces the harvest by
causing premature fruit drop. The bumpy discoloration could ruin the
state's fresh fruit business and the disease could make the state subject
to quarantine, scientists said.

"The citrus industry is not going to disappear if we don't eradicate the
canker," said Pete Timmer, a plant pathologist at the University of
Florida. "But parts of it would be affected." (The Associated Press State &
Local Wire, November 7, 2000)


CINCINNATI BENGALS: County Sides with Team against Lawsuit on Tickets
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Hamilton County officials and the Cincinnati Bengals disagreed often when
the lease for a new stadium was being negotiated. But they agree that
disgruntled season ticket holders should try to work out their dispute with
the team or an arbitrator rather than rush to trial.

Hamilton County built and owns the $453 million Paul Brown Stadium, which
was financed with a voter-approved one-half percent sales tax increase.
Commissioners on Monday notified the attorney for ticket license holders
who are suing the Bengals that the county has filed a motion seeking to
block a class action lawsuit against the football team.

"The county agrees that license holders should get what they paid for. But
a class action is no way to address those concerns," attorneys for
commissioners said in their motion.

County attorneys said ticket holders, who claim they paid for seats in
specific zones of the stadium only to be given less desirable seating,
should try to work out their dispute with the Bengals. Failing that,
out-of-court arbitration should be tried.

"The Bengals have a significant interest in keeping its ticket holders
happy and should be given an opportunity to resolve the matter in a way
that is best for all fans," said county attorneys.

The attorney representing ticket holders said the county's action is unfair
to hundreds of fans who would be covered under a class action lawsuit.

"This is an issue that impacts a lot of people, and the county and Bengals
have taken a cavalier attitude," said Janet Abaray , who filed a lawsuit
against the Bengals and county on Sept. 15 .

Six ticket holders are named in the lawsuit, but Abaray said more than 200
contacted her office since the lawsuit was filed and more than 1,000 seats
in Paul Brown Stadium are at stake.

The suit seeks attorney fees and punitive damages and asks for damages of $
300 to $500 per seat license.

Bob Stachler, lead attorney for the Bengals, said the team was pleased with
the county's stance. But Greg Cappel, one of the plaintiffs, said he was
disappointed.

"Sounds like the same old runaround," he said. "The county is not willing
to fight the Bengals."

A hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 15 before Hamilton County Common
Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman, who will rule on whether arbitration should be
tried. (The Associated Press, November 7, 2000)


GOODYEAR TIRE: Critics Claim Tires Replaced In "Silent Recall"
--------------------------------------------------------------
Critics of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. claim the company for more than four
years has been replacing thousands of failed tires and writing checks to
customers in a controversial practice known as a "silent recall," according
to a newspaper report.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that safety advocates and lawyers
believe the Akron, Ohio-based tire maker is placing thousands of drivers
and passengers at risk by not declaring a full public recall.

Goodyear denied conducting a silent recall and claims it is providing
"customer satisfaction" replacements on a case-by-case basis, the newspaper
reported.

Goodyear acknowledged last month that tread separation involving its
16-inch Load Range E light-truck tires has been linked to 120 injuries and
15 deaths. Company officials have said a recall wasn't necessary because it
found no defects in the tires.

The company did not disclose, however, that it had been offering free tire
replacements for years.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration on Monday
disclosed that it was expanding its inquiry into the deaths involving
Goodyear's light-truck tires. The agency has asked Goodyear for more
information on the deaths and to disclose how many light-truck tires have
been made by the company, said NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson.

In August, Bridgestone/Firestone voluntarily recalled 6.5 million ATX, ATX
II and Wilderness AT tires, most of which were standard equipment on the
Ford Explorer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is
investigating 3,500 complaints and 119 traffic deaths in connection with
Bridgestone/Firestone tires. Some of the complaints were about tread
separation.

Sources told the Times that Goodyear has received more than 3,000 claims
since 1995 about its light-truck tires. Most of those claims have been
settled, with consumers receiving replacement tires and reimbursements for
vehicle damage.

The number of complaints Goodyear received is nearly as high as the 3,700
complaints the NHTSA has received over Bridgestone/Firestone tires.

David F. Matuszak, a teacher in Redlands, said his Load Range E tires on
his 1995 Dodge Ram pickup separated three times on different occasions.

Goodyear replaced the first set of tires, which began peeling after only
12,000 miles, and a company representative told him they were among a "bad
batch," Matuszak said.

In 1998, one of the replacement tires separated on Interstate 5 in Irvine
and the tire's steel belts ripped into Matuszak's truck, causing $900
damage. Goodyear paid for the damage and Matuszak upgraded his tires. Those
tires separated last April, however, and Goodyear paid $800 to repair body
damage and replaced Matuszak's tires for a third time.

"I am convinced that Goodyear is knowingly selling tires with defective
designs," said Matuszak, who kept receipts and insurance documents to back
his story. "These tires are time bombs waiting to explode on new victims."

A class-action suit has been filed in Massachusetts accusing Goodyear of
launching a silent recall. The lawsuit claims the tire maker failed to warn
consumers that its 15-inch Marathon tires are unsafe and unsuitable for
campers. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, November 7, 2000)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Germany’s Catholic Church to Begin Payments Soon
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Germany's Roman Catholic Church will begin paying former World War II-era
slave laborers from its own compensation fund, the country's leading bishop
said. No matter how long they were forced to work, each former laborer will
receive a payment of 5,000 marks (dlrs 2,200). ''The compensation should
help in a small way to make up for the wrongs suffered,'' Bishop Karl
Lehmann of Mainz said.

The Catholic Church has chosen to stay out of a government-industry 10
billion mark (dlrs 4.4 billion) foundation that has yet to make any
payments to victims, pending the dismissal of the class-action lawsuits in
the United States that spurred firms to create the fund. The country's
Evangelical Church has contributed to the national fund.

The Nazis forced millions of people deported from eastern Europe to work in
factories and fill spots vacated by Germans heading to the front line
during the war. More than 1 million former workers are expected to benefit
from the national compensation scheme.

The Catholic Church has made 5 million marks (dlrs 2.2 million) available
for its labor compensation fund. Experts estimate about 10,000 people
worked at church monasteries, hospitals or other institution during the
war, and about 1,000 are believed to still be alive.

Another 5 million marks (dlrs 2.2 million) will go to research the use of
forced labor and other reconciliation projects.

The church has so far received 50 requests for information about its fund,
mostly from Poland, said the fund's manager, Ferdinand Michael Pronold.

Those wanting to make claims must have the files to prove they worked for
the church, and the church will search its own archives for such evidence,
Pronold said. Claims can be filed until Dec. 31, 2002. (AP Worldstream,
November 7, 2000)


INMATES LITIGATION: Settlement Reached In Suit Vs. State Training School
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lawyers announced a settlement Monday in a lawsuit filed to force changes
in the way juvenile inmates are treated at the state Training School in
Plankinton.

U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Piersol gave preliminary approval to the
agreement in a hearing Monday afternoon. The document will be available for
public review once it is filed with the court.

The Washington, D.C.-based Youth Law Center sued the state in February over
conditions at the training school, claiming the school's practices were
abusive.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six juveniles. It later was made a class
action case, meaning all current and future inmates at the school and
prison are covered.

"This is a good settlement that will protect the rights of children at the
facility," said Mark Soler, president of the Law Center. It provides
safeguards against abuse and use of restraints at the Training School and
provide juveniles with better mental health, education and other services,
Soler said. "We think the state is doing the right thing," he said.

The settlement gives Plankinton a year to implement the changes.

Neither Soler nor lawyers for the state would discuss the settlement in
detail, saying they would wait until Piersol had reviewed it more closely.
But Jennifer Ring, regional director of the American Civil Liberties Union,
said the deal would let the Youth Law Center monitor the facility. Ring was
briefed Monday on the settlement.

Among the measures she says are included:

* Inmates cannot be kept in a cell more than five days before they are
   placed back in general housing.

* All four-point rings, used to tie unruly inmates to their beds, will
   be removed.

* Inmates cannot be handcuffed unless they are being transported.

* Restraints cannot be used to punish juveniles.

"It provides for mental health treatment for the children in Plankinton; it
does that by tripling the hours of the psychologist available," Ring said.
"It provides for the educational requirements of the children, including
special education teachers. "And it requires training of the staff at
Plankinton for dealing with troubled juveniles and includes special
programming for female juveniles."

The training school will have two full-time psychiatric employees and raise
the wage for a master's degree for those positions from $25,000 to $60,000,
Ring said.

James McMahon, who represented the state, said he was happy with the
outcome. "I think it's good for everybody," McMahon said.

Gov. Bill Janklow learned of the settlement late Monday afternoon, said Bob
Mercer, the governor's press secretary. Because the agreement still is
preliminary, the governor did not want to comment on it directly, Mercer
said. "The governor felt that a settlement was best for everyone," he said.
"The governor also said that nearly everything covered in the settlement
was already in the process or had been implemented by the state."

The agreement will not get final approval until after a Dec. 11 hearing.

In the meantime, it will be posted at the training school to give inmates a
chance to read and review it before the hearing, said Soler. Juveniles also
can contact the Law Center with questions or objections to the document, he
said.

Soler said the settlement was reached after extensive negotiations in which
both sides cooperated.

The Youth Law Center's lawsuit was filed after Gina Score, 14, of Canton,
died following a forced run at the girls' boot camp, which was at the State
Training School at the time.

Two former boot camp workers were found innocent in October of child abuse.
Raelene Layne, of rural Woonsocket, was accused of abusing four girls at
the State Training School and Tamara Wagaman, of Mitchell, was charged with
three counts of abuse. One count against each woman related to Score's
death. The state has since replaced the girls' boot camp at Plankinton with
a new program called Excellence in Counseling, Education and Lifeskills. It
opened over the summer at Custer. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire,
November 7, 2000)


LEVEL 3: Contests Suit in CO over Fiber Optic Cable Installation Right
----------------------------------------------------------------------
In August 1999 Level 3 Communications Inc. was named as a defendant in
Schweizer vs. Level 3 Communications, Inc. et.al., a purported national
class action, filed in the District Court, County of Boulder, State of
Colorado which involves the Company's right to install its fiber optic
cable network in easements and right-of-ways crossing the plaintiff's land.

In general, the Company obtained the rights to construct its network from
railroads, utilities, and others, and is installing its network along the
rights-of-way so granted.

Plaintiffs in the purported class action assert that they are the owners of
the lands over which the Company's fiber optic cable network passes, and
that the railroads, utilities and others who granted the Company the right
to construct and maintain its network did not have the legal ability to do
so. The action purports to be on behalf of a national class of landowners
of land, over which the Company's network passes or will pass. The
complaint seeks damages on theories of trespass, unjust enrichment and
slander of title and property, as well as punitive damages.

Although the Company is not aware of any additional similar claims, the
Company may in the future receive claims and demands related to the rights
of way issues similar to the issues in the Schweizer litigation that may be
based on similar or different legal theories. Although it is too early for
the Company to reach a conclusion as to the ultimate outcome of this
litigation, management believes the Company has substantial defenses to the
claims asserted in the Schweizer action (and any similar claims which may
be named in the future), and intends to defend them vigorously.


MARTIN COUNTY: 100 Residents File Fed Suit over Coal Sludge from Spill
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Environmental officials fear that rains forecast for eastern Kentucky could
flood Coldwater Fork and Wolf Creek in Martin County, because both
waterways are still clogged with coal sludge from last month's massive
spill.

Fred Stroud, on-site coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency, said the cleanup from the Oct. 11 collapse of a Martin County
impoundment - the largest of its kind in the nation's history - could take
up to six months. Only about 10 percent of the 250 million gallons of
sludge that spilled has been cleaned up, he said. "We've still got a long
way to go," Stroud said.

If the rains come, as expected, Stroud said, officials plan to pull some of
the temporary dams along Coldwater Fork, the more heavily populated of the
two waterways. Residents also might be told to evacuate, he said

Contractors hired by Martin County Coal Co., the owner of the failed
impoundment, had been trying to pump most of the sludge out of Coldwater
Fork and into tanker trucks to haul it away. But officials made a
"significant change" in that plan, Stroud said. They now are trying to dry
the sludge so it can be loaded into dump trucks.

Tributaries that feed Wolf Creek have been diverted into another watershed,
and lime is being spread over the sludge to speed the drying.

That's not good enough for some residents. A group of 100 filed a lawsuit
on Monday, asking for compensation from the spill. The suit was filed in
federal court in Pikeville. It has the most plaintiffs of any of the dozens
of lawsuits filed over the spill. The suit filed Monday requests
class-action status. A judge must approve that.

The spill fouled waterways where once "kids and adults could fish and frog
could wade and swim," killed aquatic life and damaged property values, the
lawsuit claims.

"Heartbroken children, sportsmen and farmers could only stand by in shock
as every living thing in the streams were either exterminated or covered
with the discharge," the suit says.

The lawsuit claims the coal company was negligent. It does not specify the
amount of damages residents want.

Inez attorney Christy Smith, who helped prepare the suit, said more people
have asked to join. Most of the 100 plaintiffs named in Monday's lawsuit
live in Martin County.

The suit is against Martin County Coal Corp.; its parent, A.T. Massey Coal
Co., and Fluor Corp., which owns Massey. (The Associated Press State &
Local Wire, November 7, 2000)


NABI: Defends Lawsuit over HIV-Contaminated Products
----------------------------------------------------
The company is a co-defendant with various other parties in one suit filed
in the U.S. by, or on behalf of, individuals who claim to have been
infected with HIV as a result of either using HIV-contaminated products
made by the defendants other than Nabi or having familial relations with
those so infected. The claims made against us are based on negligence and
strict liability. Several similar suits previously pending against the
company, including a purported class action, have been dismissed. The
company does not believe that any such litigation will have a material
adverse effect on our business, financial position or results of
operations.


NATIONAL HEALTHCARE: Lawsuit Alleges FL Nursing Home Sale Was a Sham
--------------------------------------------------------------------
A Tampa lawyer says the national chain's move was a ploy to get residents
to sign away their rights.

A class-action lawsuit filed against one of the nation's largest nursing
home chains alleges that the company's recent sale of 12 Florida facilities
was a "sham" designed to stave off lawsuits, boost profits and skirt
regulatory laws.

The lawsuit, filed last Friday in Pasco Circuit Court, says National
Healthcare Corp. (NHC) pressured some 3,000 residents of its Florida
facilities to sign new contracts waiving their right to a jury trial under
the guise that the nursing homes were being sold and changing names.

Tampa attorney Jim Wilkes, whose firm has built a national reputation for
successfully suing nursing homes on behalf of neglected residents, said NHC
was violating the law by requiring people to sign the new contracts.

"It's a repeat of the breach of trust that the (nursing home) industry has
engaged in for the past 10 years," Wilkes said. "You can't make these
people sign a new contract. They can't be treated like a customer list.
This is their home."

According to the lawsuit, a resident at an NHC facility in Port Charlotte
was harassed and told she would be discharged from the nursing home if she
didn't sign the new contract.

The lawsuit asks Circuit Judge Stanley Mills to declare the new contracts
invalid and order NHC to cease what the 50-page complaint calls
"fraudulent, deceptive and unfair methods."

Among the nursing homes named in the lawsuit is a Pasco facility, Bayonet
Point Health and Rehabilitation Center. The facility formerly was known as
the Health Center of Hudson.

The other 11 facilities are spread throughout the state, from Pensacola to
Naples, and include a nursing home in Plant City.

NHC sold the facilities in late August, saying in a press release that the
Delaware-based company no longer could afford the skyrocketing cost of
liability insurance. Ownership of the nursing homes was transferred to
Steve Strawn, NHC's former vice president of operations, and a group of
company insiders.

The administrator of the Hudson facility, David Cross, acknowledged in a
September interview with the Times that the sale was designed to shield the
company's assets from greedy trial lawyers, including Wilkes. Since the new
owners' assets would be minuscule compared to NHC's, plaintiffs' lawyers
would have less incentive to sue the nursing homes, Cross said. As a
result, insurance premiums at the facilities would drop.

Cross declined to discuss the lawsuit Monday, saying the company doesn't
comment on pending litigation.

Wilkes, an outspoken critic of Florida's nursing homes, was eager to talk
about the case, saying the ownership change was nothing but a shell game
that provided the company an excuse to pressure residents to sign away
their right to sue.

Residents in NHC's Florida nursing homes were sent letters that said they
needed to sign new admission contracts "due to an ownership change."

In reality, Wilkes said, NHC completely financed the sale of the facilities
and the company still holds the mortgages. Moreover, Wilkes said, the
company went through with the sales and name changes without approval from
the state, as required by law. The state still is reviewing the ownership
change.

The contracts that residents were asked to sign specify that all disputes
over substandard care must be handled through mediation or binding
arbitration.

"They exploited all these residents by inducing them to give up their
statutory rights," Wilkes said. (St. Petersburg Times, November 07, 2000)


RAMPART SCANDAL: Deal Would Settle 29 Suits For $10.9 Million
-------------------------------------------------------------
The Los Angeles city attorney's office has agreed to pay $10.9 million to
settle 29 federal civil rights lawsuits arising from the Rampart police
scandal, it was disclosed.

The package deal, negotiated with attorney Gregory Yates, must be approved
by the city's claim board and the City Council before it becomes final.

Chief Assistant City Atty. Thomas Hokinson said the claims board will take
up the proposal Wednesday. If approved, it will be sent on to the City
Council for consideration behind closed doors.

Hokinson and Yates said they hope the out-of-court settlement sets an
example for other lawyers suing in the Rampart case, in which anti-gang
officers are accused of beating, shooting and framing innocent people.

More than 60 other Rampart-related suits are pending in federal court. City
officials estimate the total will climb to 275, costing taxpayers $ 125
million.

Monday's action marked the first collective settlement in the Rampart civil
rights litigation.

Terms of the deal were hammered out in talks mediated by retired state
appellate Judge Jack Goertzen last month.

Hokinson, chief of civil litigation, represented the city in the
negotiations, while Yates was joined by Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.

Both sides declined to say how much each plaintiff would receive in
compensation, except that the amounts vary depending on the circumstances
of their treatment by police.

The plaintiffs range from some who were roughed up and held briefly at the
Rampart Division station house to others who were convicted on trumped-up
charges and sentenced to as much as 30 months behind bars.

Yates declined to say how much he would get in legal fees if the settlement
is approved. "That's between the clients and myself," he said. However, he
said he has invested 5,000 to 6,000 hours in the cases.

"What is before us reflects a good balance between doing justice and
protecting taxpayer dollars," said Councilman Mike Feuer, who heads the
council's budget and finance committee, which will review the deal before
it is sent to the full council.

"This does represent about one-third of the lawsuits filed so far. It
demonstrates that the city is prepared to aggressively resolve matters when
we have the appropriate facts and a willing plaintiffs' counsel."

Yates said he began settlement talks with the city attorney's office in
August, and the two sides eventually agreed to have Goertzen mediate the
dispute.

Goertzen listened to presentations from both sides and reviewed each of the
29 cases before coming up with a settlement proposal within a few thousand
dollars of the final agreement, according to Yates.

"He did an extraordinary job at mediation," Yates said of the former judge.

Since that mediation began, the federal court has moved to encourage other
litigants to follow the same course.

In September, all Rampart civil rights cases were consolidated under U.S.
District Judge Gary A. Feess for pretrial proceedings that include
settlement talks. Attorneys in the pending cases have been asked to appear
at a hearing Dec. 4 to recommend possible mediators.

Notwithstanding the efforts to settle the cases through mediation, several
attorneys, including Yates, are pursuing class action lawsuits against the
city.

It will be up to Feess to decide whether any of the suits can be prosecuted
as class actions, a move that invariably would bring many more plaintiffs
into the case.

The city attorney's office opposes class action certification, contending
that circumstances surrounding the various cases are too dissimilar. (Los
Angeles Times, November 7, 2000)


RELIABLE LIFE: Sued for Discriminating African Americans in Policy Sale
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Reliable Life Insurance Co.'s agents were told not to sell standard life
insurance policies to African Americans, and to sell them overpriced
"burial" policies instead, according to a class action lawsuit pending
against the company.

The suit, filed on behalf of two policyholders, accuses Reliable of race
discrimination and fraud. A company spokesman said Reliable does not
comment on pending lawsuits.

The suit was filed last month, shortly before Reliable's parent company,
Unitrin Inc., of Chicago, appointed Don M. Royster, an African American, as
Reliable's president.

Reliable specializes in selling life insurance policies for relatively
small amounts, usually to low-income people. Agents sometimes visit the
clients weekly or monthly to collect the payments. The policies are often
bought as a way to cover the cost of a burial.

The suit, filed by lawyer Diane Nygaard of Leawood, Kan., charges that
Reliable told its agents not to offer better insurance policies to black
clients. The suit said Reliable overcharged for its policies - often
collecting more in premiums than it would pay if a client died.

For instance, she said a corporate predecessor of Reliable sold Phoebe
Watkins a $250 life insurance policy in 1943. Watkins, of Lawrence, Kan.,
faithfully paid 14 cents a week for 57 years. Watkins has now paid $415 for
a policy that would pay only $250 if she died.

And Radford Moore, of Kansas City, bought two policies totaling $6,000 in
1982. He paid $19.44 per month until he turned 65 last year. After turning
65, Moore was no longer required to pay premiums, but the amount of
insurance dropped to $2,000. Moore has now paid nearly $4,000 in premiums
on a policy that will pay $2,000 when he dies, the suit complains.

Both policyholders are black. Their policies were originally sold by
Supreme Liberty Life Insurance. Reliable took over the policies in 1997,
the suit says.

Although Reliable declined to comment on the suit, company officials in the
past have explained that it costs more to sell and collect premiums from
lots of small insurance policies.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, asks that all black
Reliable policyholders be included in the class. The suit seeks money
damages.

In June, the American General Life and Accident Co. agreed to pay $215
million to settle charges that it charged blacks more than whites for
burial insurance. American General is the fourth-largest insurer in the
nation. (Scripps Howard News Service, November 7, 2000)


ROYAL TRUST: Pensioners Across Canada Assert Rights to Surplus in Fund
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A group of Royal Trust pensioners from across Canada has launched a
proposed class action suit to assert their rights to a $150 million surplus
in its pension fund and seek damages for what they claim were decade-long
wrongful acts by the Royal Bank, and previously Royal Trust.

Former Royal Trust employees, representing an estimated 2,500 members of
the Royal Trust plan, filed a statement of claim Oct. 19 in Ontario
Superior Court. (The Lawyers Weekly, November 10, 2000)


TOBACCO LITIGATION: 2 Firms Offered $8 Bil to Settle Nationwide Claims
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A proposed $ 8 billion nationwide deal with two tobacco companies to settle
punitive damages in class action, sick-smoker lawsuits could be in jeopardy
after a federal judge sent a $ 145 billion Florida jury award back to a
state judge who upheld the massive award.

A key incentive for Lorillard Tobacco and Liggett Group to settle class
action lawsuits is to limit the record Florida jury verdict as well asto
win guarantees that would end future punitive-damage actions. But the
Florida case might be out of reach for the settlement: On Friday, U.S.
District Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages rejected a bid by tobacco companies to
have the class action case moved to federal court and Miami-Dade Circuit
Court Judge Robert Kaye upheld the jury verdict.

Even without the developments in the Florida case, such a global settlement
faces steep hurdles before it could end all private litigation against the
cigarette makers.

Under the proposed deal, Lorillard and Liggett would make at least $ 8
billion in payments over three decades for a settlement that would ban
future court damages to punish the alleged illicit behavior of the tobacco
companies, people familiar with the plan said.

While some legal experts believe that U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein
could legally impose the terms of a nationwide deal on state and federal
courts, other attorneys and public health advocates predicted that such a
nationwide settlement wouldn't hold up in court.

It is unclear, however, whether it is already too late to have an impact on
the $ 145 billion award from a six-member jury in Florida in July. After
Kaye's 68-page decision denying motions to scale back the verdict and
reduce the jury award, tobacco companies quickly posted the required $ 100
million bond to permit the filing of an appeal.

Stanley Rosenblatt, the attorney who brought that class action lawsuit that
won the stunning award for ailing smokers in Florida, was particularly
outraged at the idea that the settlement with Lorillard and Liggett could
overturn the award in his lawsuit.

"It is just a con; it is a ludicrous absurdity," Rosenblatt said. "We have
a final judgment. None of the class actions have been certified and none
have gone to trial. I don't think Judge Weinstein wants to go down in
history as the judge who laid down for the tobacco industry."

Joining tobacco foes with such a pronouncement were attorneys for major
cigarette makers, though for starkly different reasons. Philip Morris Cos.
and Brown & Williamson said the settlement talks are irrelevant simply
because they believe that the pending class action matters will be tossed
out of court.

"It is clear that any broad resolution of this type of litigation likely
will require congressional consideration and action," said William S.
Ohlemeyer, Philip Morris vice president and associate general counsel. "It
is equally clear that legal, factual and practical considerations prevent
resolution of these types of cases by using class action lawsuits as the
vehicle."

Brown & Williamson spokesman Mark Smith agreed: "We have no interest in
starting a process that is doomed to fail structurally, practically and
economically."

The case under which the negotiations are occurring is being overseen by
Weinstein of the federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y. Weinstein is expected to
hold extensive hearings into the conduct of the industry before approving
such a deal and extending it to 10 class action cases filed in courts
around the country.

The Lorillard-Liggett deal is meant to end all private litigation in the
way that settlements with state attorneys general in recent years have
ended lawsuits meant to compensate states for the taxpayer-borne costs of
treating sick smokers. The settlement, after plaintiffs' attorneys take
their share, would be used for public health programs.

Lorillard, a division of Loews Corp. of New York and the fourth-largest
cigarette maker, and Liggett, a unit of the Vector Group Ltd. of Miami and
the fifth-largest cigarette manufacturer, control about 10 percent of the
U.S. cigarette market.

Some legal scholars theorize that federal court precedent permits a judge
to impose a global settlement for punitive damages under the tenet that
companies cannot be repeatedly penalized for the same series of actions
tried in court after court. In this case, the theory is that the size of
the verdict in Florida is so large that it would have to be shared among
all plaintiffs seeking punitive damages, while the costs of injuries to
individuals would be tried separately.

But Robert Rabin, a Stanford University law professor, said those arguments
about the outsized award can be made in the Florida appeal, rather than
through some settlement in Brooklyn. The impact of the talks, he said, is
unclear. "All of these questions are just up in the air," Rabin said. "It's
very murky at this point."

The end of punitive damages for the companies concerns public health
advocates who see the litigation itself as the only form of regulation on
the industry after the Supreme Court rejected Food and Drug Administration
oversight of tobacco.

"To remove punitive damages is to end litigation," said Richard Daynard, a
law professor at the Tobacco Products Liability Project at Northeastern
University School of Law in Boston. (The Washington Post, November 7, 2000)



TOBACCO LITIGATION: Italian Minister Fingers P.M. and R.J. Reynolds
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Italian Finance Minister Ottaviano Del Turco lashed out Tuesday at US
tobacco giants Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, saying they had long been
totally aware of the circuits by which their cigarettes enter the
contraband market in Europe.

Del Turco spoke after the European Union filed a class action civil suit in
a New York court charging the two companies with having conspired to
promote the smuggling of their cigarettes into EU member nations.

The suit was entered under the US Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations (RICI) Act of 1970, which was passed to fight the US Mafia
and other organized crime groups.

"What I'm saying is that Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds knew and know the
final destination of their products," said Del Turco in an interview with
the newspaper La Stampa.

The complaint said that the two companies "have utilized the existence of
smuggling into North America, Europe and South America as a public
relations vehicle and political tool by which to lobby the European
Community, the US Congress and the legislatures of various states of the
United States to reduce or eliminate cigarette taxes under the pretense
that high cigarette taxes promote smuggling and other crimes."

"To smoke all cigarettes stockpiled in Montenegro, all its residents --
men, women, the elderly and children -- would have to smoke 10 cigarettes
at a time 24 hours a day," said Del Turco.

"Since Montenegro cannot smoke all the cigarettes shipped to its territory,
it is obvious that these were in fact destined for (other parts of)
Europe," Del Turco added.

The two tobacco companies had therefore "greased the huge engine of
organized crime" involved in smuggling the cigarettes.

Del Turco said that Italy, one of the hubs of cigarette smuggling in
southern Europe, was backing the complaints against Philip Morris and R.J.
Reynolds with its own experts.

The EU's executive commission has accused the companies of directly
promoting the clandestine entry into Europe of their products in order to
support a claim that high import taxes would foster smuggling.

It charged that the smuggling has cost the European Union billions of
dollars in revenue.

Damages sought in the suit are unspecified in the complaint. (Agence France
Presse, November 7, 2000)


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Judge Kaye Upholds $145B Smokers' Award in Florida
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A record $145 billion verdict won by Florida smokers has been upheld by a
judge, who also widened the scope of the lawsuit to cover more people.

Circuit Judge Robert Kaye concluded the award was reasonable and did not
violate a Florida law which prevents a punitive verdict from bankrupting a
defendant. ''The award is in keeping with the degree of wrongful conduct
without sending the defendant into bankruptcy,'' Kaye wrote in a 68-page
order.

Kaye's decision came the same day he received a federal judge's decision
rejecting federal jurisdiction and sending the case back to him.

Based on ''the decades of abuses committed by the defendants,'' Kaye said
he was more shocked by their ''concerted behavior ... over so many years''
than the award itself.

The judgment opens the door on what is expected to be a prolonged appeals
process in state courts by the five largest cigarette companies.

The industry must post a $100 million bond to launch an appeal _ and
tobacco attorneys immediately promised to do so. They've argued that the
companies could afford to pay only $150 million to $375 million, and that
they would be put out of business if the award was much higher.

Philip Morris vice president William Ohlemeyer called the order improper
and inappropriate. ''One thing is crystal clear. Under Florida law, juries
cannot award damages that would financially cripple or destroy a company,
and no industry in the world can pay a $145 billion punitive damage
award,'' he said.

Kaye also decided the jury's findings of industry conspiracy, fraud and
misrepresentation outweighed a four-year statute of limitations. That means
the lawsuit covers smokers with illnesses diagnosed more than four years
before the lawsuit was filed in 1994, not just between 1990 and 1994.

''It's great,'' smokers' attorney Stanley Rosenblatt said. ''I don't think
any punishment is too great for an industry that has caused the kind of
injury for so long that they have.''

''Wow. Oh, my goodness. You delivered us good news,'' said Margaret Amodeo,
wife of one of the three Florida smokers chosen to represent thousands of
others in the first smokers' class-action suit to go to trial.

A six-member jury set a U.S. record with its punitive damages verdict in
July. The same panel earlier decided that the industry makes a deadly,
dangerous product and awarded $12.7 million in compensatory damages to the
three sick smokers, who represented between 300,000 to 700,000 sick Florida
smokers or their families.

The defendants are Philip Morris, which was ordered to pay $73.96 billion;
R.J. Reynolds, $36.28 billion; Brown & Williamson, $17.59 billion;
Lorillard, $16.25 billion; Liggett Group, $790 million; and the industry's
defunct Council for Tobacco Research and Tobacco Institute.

Martin Feldman, a tobacco stock analyst with Salomon Smith Barney, said he
was surprised by Kaye's decision to keep the award intact.

''A brief perusal of the companies' balance sheets and accounts would
indicate that they simply cannot pay $145 billion on a single payment,'' he
said. (AP Online, November 7, 2000)


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Philip Morris to Post $100M Bond; Cos. Pledge Appeal
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Philip Morris Inc. announced on Nov 6 will immediately post the $100
million bond required by Florida law in order to stay execution of the
judgment in the Engle class action case and will begin the appeals process.

Earlier in the day, Dade County Circuit Judge Robert P. Kaye entered a
final order of judgment against Philip Morris and other tobacco companies
affirming the award earlier this year of compensatory damages to three
smokers and punitive damages of $145 billion for members of the Engle class
action.

Kaye's 68-page order, which also denied all pending and post-trial motions,
came within hours after a federal judge in Miami remanded the Engle case to
state court on procedural grounds and without affording Philip Morris and
other parties in the case an opportunity to argue the legal basis for its
motions.

"We intend to file notice Tuesday with the Dade County Circuit Court that
we will appeal this verdict and the rulings Judge Kaye issued, and we will
then post the required $100 million bond," said William S. Ohlemeyer,
Philip Morris vice president and associate general counsel.

"It is clear that, under Florida law, the entry of the final judgment in
the Engle case is improper and the failure of Judge Kaye to reduce the
punitive damages verdict is inappropriate. These actions provide additional
grounds for our already-detailed appeal.

"One thing is crystal clear under Florida law - juries cannot award damages
that would financially cripple or destroy a company, and no industry in the
world can pay a $145 billion punitive damage award," said Ohlemeyer.

"In fact, the court doesn't even know who would be entitled to punitive
damages until each of the estimated 700,000 class members have had their
day in court, a process that would tie up the state's judicial system for
decades to come.

"Given the matters to be decided, we were surprised that the court issued
these rulings without hearing from all parties. However, Judge Kaye
apparently has satisfied the procedural requirements that will enable us to
proceed with an appeal of these verdicts, and we intend to do so
immediately," he added.

Ohlemeyer said he believes the Engle verdict ultimately should be
overturned because, among other reasons, the class certification violated
Florida law and the trial plan violated the state and federal
constitutions.

Ohlemeyer also said the list of legal errors committed by the court
"started long before jury selection and continued all the way through
closing arguments of the punitive damages phase."

The Engle jury also was allowed to consider "mountains" of improper
evidence, was given conflicting legal instructions from the court, was
allowed to base its punitive damages award on asset valuations of tobacco
companies not even sued in the cases and was illegally led to believe
companies could pay any damage award over several years.

Ohlemeyer pointed out that more than 24 state and federal courts have
considered class actions like the Engle case against tobacco companies in
recent years and have concluded they are inappropriate and legally
insufficient in smoking and health litigation. The U.S. Supreme Court also
has ruled against class certification in similar types of cases.

"We believe when the Engle case is considered in the proper appellate
venues, it will share the same fate as those other class action tobacco
lawsuits," Ohlemeyer said.

According to the Agence France Presse, R.J. Reynolds said it would file a
notice of appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal "as soon as
possible." "While we are surprised by the timing, the content of the ruling
by Judge Kaye is not unexpected," said Daniel Donahue, R.J. Reynolds senior
vice president and deputy general counsel.

The case "is the only one that we know of in which a court has allowed a
punitive-damages judgment to be entered before compensatory damages have
been decided, and even before class members have been determined," Donahue
said.

The record punitive damage award calls for Philip Morris to pay 73.96
billion dollars, R.J. Reynolds 36.28 billion, Brown and Williamson 17.59
billion, Lorillard 16.250 billion and Liggett 790 million.

Punitive damages are aimed at deterrence or punishment in addition to
compensation for costs.


TRW INC: Former Employee and DOJ File Suit on Costs Charged to Contracts
------------------------------------------------------------------------
During 1996, the Company was advised by the United States Department of
Justice (DOJ) that the Company had been named as a defendant in two
lawsuits brought by a former employee of the Company's former Space &
Technology Group and originally filed under seal in 1994 and 1995,
respectively, in the United States District Court for the Central District
of California under the qui tam provisions of the civil False Claims Act.
The Act permits an individual to bring suit in the name of the United
States and share in any recovery. The allegations in the lawsuits relate to
the classification of costs incurred by the Company that were charged to
certain of its federal contracts. Under the law, the government must
investigate the allegations and determine whether it wishes to intervene
and take responsibility for the lawsuits.

On February 13, 1998, the DOJ intervened in the litigation.

On February 19, 1998 and March 4, 1998, the former employee filed amended
complaints in the Central District of California that realleged certain of
the claims included in the 1994 and 1995 lawsuits and omitted the
remainder. The amended complaints allege that the United States has
incurred substantial damages and that the Company should be ordered to
cease and desist from violations of the civil False Claims Act and is
liable for treble damages, penalties, costs, including attorneys' fees, and
such other relief as deemed proper by the court.

On March 17, 1998, the DOJ filed its complaint against the Company upon
intervention in the 1994 lawsuit, which set forth a limited number of the
allegations in the 1994 lawsuit and other allegations not in the 1994
lawsuit. The DOJ elected not to pursue the other claims in the 1994 lawsuit
or the claims in the 1995 lawsuit. The DOJ's complaint alleges that the
Company is liable for treble damages, penalties, interest, costs and "other
proper relief." On March 18, 1998, the former employee withdrew the first
amended complaint in the 1994 lawsuit at the request of the DOJ.

On May 18, 1998, the Company filed answers to the former employee's first
amended complaint in the 1995 lawsuit and to the DOJ's complaint, denying
all substantive allegations against the Company contained therein. At the
same time, the Company filed counterclaims against both the former employee
and the federal government.

On July 20, 1998, both the former employee and the DOJ filed motions
seeking to dismiss the Company's counterclaims. On November 23, 1998
(entered as an Order on January 21, 1999), the court dismissed certain
counterclaims asserted against the former employee and the federal
government and took under advisement the former employee's motion to
dismiss certain other counterclaims. On March 15, 1999, the DOJ was granted
leave to file a First Amended Complaint, which adds certain allegations
concerning the Company's subcontracts. On August 6, 1999, the Government
filed its Second Amended Complaint, which incorporated vouchers, progress
payment requests, and invoices submitted by the Company to higher tier
Government contractors among the class of allegedly false claims challenged
by the Government. On September 29, 1999, the former employee filed his
Second Amended Complaint, which incorporated subcontracts performed by the
Company for higher tier Government contractors among the class of contracts
under which allegedly false claims were presented, and added allegations
relating to certain of the former employee's pre-existing claims. On May 9,
2000, the Company voluntarily dismissed its remaining counterclaims against
the former employee, with prejudice.

On July 10, 2000, the DOJ filed a motion seeking permission to intervene in
the 1995 lawsuit, which motion was granted on August 16, 2000. Thereafter,
on August 30, 2000, the DOJ and the former employee filed a single
consolidated complaint encompassing all of the claims in the 1994 and 1995
lawsuits, as those matters were constituted prior to the filing of the
DOJ's July 10, 2000 motion.

The Company cannot presently predict the outcome of these lawsuits.
Management believes that their ultimate resolution will not have a material
effect on the Company's financial condition or results of operations.


TRW VEHICLE: Sued for Emissions from Air Bag Manufacturing Plant in AZ
----------------------------------------------------------------------
TRW Vehicle Safety Systems Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of TRW Inc.,
reported to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, or ADEQ, in
1997, potential violations of the Arizona hazardous waste law at its Queen
Creek, Arizona facility for the possible failure to properly label and
dispose of wastewater that might be classified as hazardous waste. ADEQ,
the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States
Department of Justice and the Arizona State Attorney General are conducting
civil and criminal investigations into these potential violations and the
Company is cooperating with these investigations. If proceedings were to be
initiated against the Company with respect to such matters, the Company
could be liable for penalties and fines and other relief. The Company is
currently engaged in settlement discussions with state and federal
officials. The Company is not able to predict the outcome of these
discussions at this time.

On March 31, 2000, TRW Vehicle Safety Systems Inc. was served with a
putative class action lawsuit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court in
the State of Arizona. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of everyone living
within a five-mile radius of the Company's air bag manufacturing plant in
Mesa, Arizona. The lawsuit alleges that emissions from the plant have
caused health problems for residents living near the plant and that the
Company concealed information about the potential health risks of its
emissions. The lawsuit also alleges that animals and plant life have been
injured or destroyed through significant exposure to toxic emissions.
Plaintiffs are asking the court to require the Company to institute medical
monitoring for the claimants, to conduct various studies regarding, among
other things, the risks of sodium azide, to cease operations that release
toxic substances into the air and to create a supervised fund to pay for
medical screening and monitoring. Plaintiffs are also seeking attorneys'
fees and punitive damages. The Company believes there is no valid
scientific basis for these claims and intends to defend itself vigorously.
The Company is not able to predict the outcome of this lawsuit at this
time.


W.A FOOTE: Sued for HIV and Hep. Risk Through Medical Equipment
---------------------------------------------------------------
Southfield-based personal injury law firm Thurswell, Chayet & Weiner is
representing former patients of W.A. Foote Memorial Hospital, Inc. in
Jackson, Michigan, who were possibly exposed to HIV and Hepatitis during
minor outpatient scope procedures. According to the hospital, the medical
equipment may not have been completely disinfected. A new disinfecting
machine purchased by the hospital was not properly connected to the
potentially infected scopes. A class action lawsuit concerning this issue
was filed on Friday, November 3, 2000, and will be decided by Judge Charles
Nelson.

Thurswell, Chayet & Weiner's client, the Plaintiff Jerry Moore of Somerset
Center, Michigan, underwent a colonoscopy (a scope procedure) in August
2000. On approximately October 24, 2000, Moore received a letter from
Defendant Foote Hospital stating they had discovered that a piece of
equipment used in Moore's procedure, although allegedly cleaned thoroughly
by hand, may have not been completely disinfected and therefore the
hospital could not assure that the scope was completely disinfected. All
patients are being urged by the hospital to contact their physicians. A
Detroit surgeon contacted regarding this issue has stated that, "there is a
difference between cleaning and sterilization. Without the machine, there
is potential for viral contamination."

Cy Weiner, lead counsel on the case, comments, "Although the hospital
claims there is a low risk of infection, our client has undergone blood
testing for exposure to Hepatitis and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus
(HIV) due to the failed sterilization process." Weiner continues, "This is
an extremely stressful time for Mr. Moore and his family and we will
actively pursue the suit against Foote Hospital."

Individuals receiving a similar letter from W.A. Foote Hospital in Jackson,
Michigan are urged to join the class action lawsuit by calling Thurswell,
Chayet & Weiner at 248-948-0000.

Contact: Cy Weiner of Thurswell, Chayet & Weiner, 248-948-0000, M-F, 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m., or 248-425-9668


USEC, INC: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in Kentucky
-------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP announces that a
class action lawsuit was filed on October 27, 2000, on behalf persons who
purchased the securities of USEC Inc. (NYSE: USU) in, or traceable to,
USEC's July 23, 1998 Initial Public Offering ("IPO") including all
purchasers between July 23, 1998 and December 2, 1999 (the "Class Period").
A copy of the complaint filed in this action is available from the Court,
or can be viewed on Milberg Weiss' website at: http://www.milberg.com/usec/

The action, numbered 5:00-CV-333-J is pending in the United States District
Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Paducah Division, located at
601 W. Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202 against defendants USEC, William H.
Timbers Jr. (President and Chief Executive Officer), Henry Z. Shelton
(Chief Financial Officer), J. William Bennett (Vice President Advanced
Technology), and the following underwriter defendants: Morgan Stanley Dean
Witter Co., Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Janney Montgomery Scott Inc., Lehman
Brothers, Prudential Securities Inc., Salomon Smith Barney and M.R. Beal &
Co. The Honorable Edward H. Johnstone is the Judge presiding over the case.

The complaint charges that defendants violated Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15
of the of the Securities Act of 1933, by filing with the SEC, and
disseminating a Prospectus in connection with USEC's IPO Registration
Statement on July 23, 1998, which contained materially false and misleading
statements of facts and omissions regarding the Company and its business.
For example, as alleged in the complaint, defendants failed to adequately
disclose the true risks and uncertainties that the uranium enrichment
industry was subject to, and downplayed the likelihood that a long-term
contract with the Russian Federation would turn unprofitable. Shortly
following the IPO, the Company was buying enriched uranium from the Russian
Federation at well-above market prices and reselling it for a loss.
Moreover, the complaint alleges, the Company failed to reveal the true
facts relating to an enrichment technology USEC was developing ("AVLIS")
that was highly touted in the Prospectus and critical to its profitability,
but which was abandoned shortly after the IPO. As these undisclosed risks
materialized, the Company's stock declined from its$14.25 per share IPO
price to $7.375 on December 3, 1999 (a 48% decline) -- the day after USEC
announced that it would continue its money-losing contract with the Russian
Federation.

Contact: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP Steven G. Schulman or
Samuel H. Rudman (800) 320-5081 useccase@milbergNY.com


ZIMBABWE: Defends White Farmers’ Charges on Planned Property Seizure
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Zimbabwe's government on Tuesday defended its controversial land reform
programme before the Supreme Court, where thousands of white farmers are
fighting the planned seizure of their properties.

The regulations on land reforms, introduced under special emergency
presidential powers in May, were in the public interest as the situation on
the farms was volatile, deputy attorney general Bharat Patel told the
Supreme Court.

"It must be accepted that the regulations ... were enacted, not for any
ulterior political purpose, but as a matter of urgency in the general
public interest," Patel said in closing arguments. "The situation on the
ground was tense and volatile. Farm occupations were ongoing. It cannot be
denied that the situation is still tense and very very volatile," he added.

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) is challenging the legality of the
Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, which they likened to
Zimbabwe's state of emergency, argued that they violate the constitution.
Mugabe used special powers to pass the new land reform regulations in May,
when parliament had been dissolved at the end of its five year-term and
ahead of June elections.

The new parliament last week passed a new Land Acquisition bill which
incorporates and re-enacts the substantive provisions of the presidential
powers regulations. Patel argued that the new act moots the farmers'
challenge to the Presidential Powers Act.

The 4,500 white farmers went to court to fight the compulsory land
acquisitions in a class-action suit. Their case challenges the
constitutionality of the entire exercise. The farmers also argue that they
are being discriminated against in the land reforms because of the colour
of their skin.

But Patel said the farms being acquired were identified purely on grounds
of their suitability for resettlement. "The identification and acquisition
of farms under the land reform process is not wholly or mainly attributable
to the race or colour of the applicant's (CFU) members and the therefore
there has been no contravention of ...the constitution," he said.

Patel attacked the CFU application saying it was based on "vague and
generalised allegations that are essentially political in nature." He said
most of the statements from which the arguments were drawn were "political
rhetoric" that was not "indicative or representative of administrative
policy." He further said the media stories used in evidence were
"notoriously unreliable."

Of the political statements made by some government officials, Patel said:
"It is propaganda, political rhetoric at best, which may well fly in the
face of administration."

He, however, admitted that the process "has contradictions. There is no
doubt about that. It must have been much clearer and crafted much better
than that." He further said that some politicians and government officials
may have failed to follow procedures in the land reform process.

Zimbabwe has in recent months stepped up efforts to acquire white-owned
land in a move that critics said was a political action to drum up support
in the run-up to elections held in June.

Since the elections more than 2,300 white-owned farms have been listed for
compulsory acquisition and redistribution as part of plans to expropriate
some five million hectares (13.35 million acres) of land from the white
farmers. (Agence France Presse, November 7, 2000)


                             *********


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Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by Bankruptcy
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