CAR_Public/001207.MBX               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

             Thursday, December 7, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 237

                             Headlines

AUSTRALIAN GOVT: Men Say Rules for Hormone Treatment Are Discriminatory
AVENTIS CROPSCIENCE: EPA Finds Medium Likelihood StarLink Will Pose Risk
BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: Threat of Tire Suit Sent Bridgestone Shares Down
BRIDGESTONE: Quash Claim That Punitives Could Force Co. into Bankruptcy
CA DHS: Hospitals, State Settle Medi-Cal Outpatient Services Lawsuits

CELOTEX CORP: Creditor's Atty. May Recover Fees Despite Adverse Interest
COCA-COLA: Boycott Expected to End Now That Racial Bias Suit Is Settled
E. COLI: Suits Against Dairy Farm Continue; Merrymead Farm Named
EICHEN: 9th Cir Vacates 30% Fee Award for Departure From the Benchmark
FORD MOTOR: Supreme Ct Leaves Jury Award for 1995 Bronco Rollover Intact

LOCKHEED MARTIN: State Aid Coincides with EEOC Racism Claims
MICROFIELD GRAPHICS: Securities Suit Is Transferred to Oregon
NATIONAL COMPUTER: Admits Liability, Doubts Cause Of Emotional Stress
NATIONWIDE VLI: Vows to Defend OH Lawsuit over Deferred Annuity Products
NEWMONT MINING: Faces NV Suits over Proposed Merger with Battle Mountain

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: CNN Coverage on Suits over Absentee Ballot
TRIOLOGY, PCORDER.COM: Fed Ct in TX Remands Case over Stock Acquisition
U-M: Hopes Washington Ruling Will Favor Admission Case Outcome
WATER CONTAMINATION: LPIC Devises E.Coli Checklist for Ontario Lawyers

* Ontario AG Tells Lawyers To Lobby For Contingency Fees

                              *********

AUSTRALIAN GOVT: Men Say Rules for Hormone Treatment Are Discriminatory
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A group of Australian men has taken the federal government to court,
arguing that new rules governing men's eligibility for hormone replacement
treatment are discriminatory.

The 50 men, represented by male health advocate Linda Byart, claim the
government last year introduced restrictive qualifying criteria for men
that limits their access to HRT.

Ms Byart said men who may need access to HRT now had to take compulsory
blood tests, and this eliminated consideration of the men's symptoms or a
doctor's clinical judgment as to whether the man could receive HRT.

A class action by the men, which began in the Federal Court in Perth,
contends that the new government restrictions constitute sexual
discrimination against men, as woman are allowed easier access to HRT.

The proceedings were adjourned until January 31 to allow Ms Byart to gather
international clinical evidence in support of their case.

"It's recognised worldwide that you can't diagnose whether a man is
hormonally deficient from blood tests alone, yet the government has gone
ahead and arbitrarily introduced blood tests only," Ms Byart said.

"This is not about performance enhancement. This is about men who really
need medication in order to have a meaningful quality of life." (AAP
Newsfeed, December 6, 2000)


AVENTIS CROPSCIENCE: EPA Finds Medium Likelihood StarLink Will Pose Risk
------------------------------------------------------------------------
EPA panel: StarLink may be allergen A scientific advisory panel of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday found a "medium likelihood" the
genetically modified corn StarLink could pose a human health risk.

StarLink is the only genetically engineered crop not approved for human
consumption at the time it was approved for animal feed and industrial use.

The scientific panel said a protein produced by the corn, Cry9C, which
discourages the corn borer, poses a "medium likelihood" of being a food
allergen. The panel said it was unconvinced by data submitted by Aventis
CropScience the protein is harmless.

StarLink accidentally wound up in the food chain because some farmers and
grain elevator operators say they never were told they had to keep it
separate from other crops. Cry9C turned up in taco shells and other
products, forcing several recalls, beginning in September.

The scientific panel met Nov. 28 to gather information about StarLink.

Aventis is seeking a temporary waiver that would have allowed the StarLink
already in the food chain to work its way through, arguing that the amount
of the biotech corn in the food chain is miniscule and would not be present
long enough to cause a serious problem.

A class action lawsuit filed in federal court in East St. Louis, Ill., last
week accuses Aventis of negligence in its handling of StarLink and seeks
damages because the mess has hurt U.S. exports.

The class action suit was filed on behalf of farmers who did not grow the
crop but who find it increasingly difficult to sell their crops. U.S.
exports of all kinds of corn in the first week of November totaled only
517,700 metric tons, about half the weekly rate in October, and futures
contracts on the Chicago Board of Trade are running about 30-cents-a-bushel
lower than they were in June before the contamination was revealed.

The suit accuses Aventis of negligence for failing to make sure farmers
were aware they had to keep StarLink separated from other varieties of
corn. The suit also says the 660-food buffer zone mandated by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency to keep StarLink from cross-pollinating
other corn was insufficient.

Aventis had no comment on the EPA panel's report or on the lawsuit. (United
Press International, December 6, 2000)


BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: Threat of Tire Suit Sent Bridgestone Shares Down
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A report in USA Today that lawyers suing Firestone over tire failures want
to add Firestone's Japanese parent, Bridgestone, as a defendant in the case
knocked Bridgestone's share price down the maximum allowed for stocks in
its price range, 14 percent. Yoichiro Kaizaki, president of Bridgestone,
said the company expected claims and replacement costs related to faulty
tires to total $900 million, while plaintiffs' lawyers were said in the
newspaper report to be hoping for $50 billion in damages. Bridgestone
executives said the company was not considering a bankruptcy filing. Its
shares closed at 1,252 yen ($11.29).  (The New York Times, December 6,
2000)


BRIDGESTONE: Quash Claim That Punitives Could Force Co. into Bankruptcy
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Bridgestone, the world's second-largest maker of tyres, moved swiftly to
quash a claim that punitive damages arising from the recall of tyres linked
to fatal car accidents could be as high as Dollars 50bn - forcing
Firestone, its US unit, into bankruptcy.

Kenneth Moll, a lawyer leading a class action against the company on behalf
of the alleged victims, said damages of Dollars 50bn would be "appropriate"
if it were proved that Firestone "purposely withheld relevant information
about safety".

Bridgestone shares plunged Y200, or 13.7 per cent, in response, prompting
Yoichiro Kaizaki, chairman, to call a press conference at which he
described Mr Moll's claim as "groundless".

He said Bridgestone had set aside Dollars 450m to cover losses arising from
the recall, but that estimated losses stemming from legal claims against
the company could now hit Dollars 900m, higher than previous estimates.

However, Mr Kaizaki said that despite the escalating costs,
Bridgestone/Firestone had reserves of Dollars 2.3bn and faced no imminent
threat of closure.

"Bridgestone/Firestone is not at a stage where it is considering filing for
bankruptcy," he said.

Bridgestone faces a number of claims from the US and Venezuela alleging
Firestone products were responsible for accidents that caused 165 deaths.
The claims are being contested.

After the claims, Bridgestone initiated a massive recall programme
involving the replacement of 6.5m tyres in the US, of which 80 per cent has
been completed.

The recall has claimed the head of Masatoshi Ono, who was replaced as
president of Bridgestone/Firestone by John Lampe. Mr Lampe has closed
manufacturing facilities, cut production at other plants and laid off
staff.

Sales of Bridgestone/Firestone tyres to the commercial market fell 40 per
cent in September-October while US sales fell by up to 18 per cent, the
company said.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, the investment bank, has estimated operating
profit from the US this year will drop 49 per cent to Dollars 277m, and
will fall further to Dollars 179m in 2001. Bridgestone is set to revise
earnings estimates for the year this month. MSDW estimates net profit will
drop from Y88.7bn to Y62bn before rising to Y77bn in 2001.

The recall has sparked a dispute between Bridgestone and Ford, maker of the
Explorer sports utility vehicle in which most of the accidents occurred.

Ford claims Bridgestone's tyres are solely responsible but Bridgestone
argues that the accidents may have been caused by a combination of factors,
including the design of the Explorer, air temperature and tyre pressures.
(Financial Times (London), December 6, 2000)


CA DHS: Hospitals, State Settle Medi-Cal Outpatient Services Lawsuits
---------------------------------------------------------------------After
nearly a decade of litigation, the State of California and hospitals
throughout the state last night settled three lawsuits that challenged
inadequate payment rates paid to hospitals by the state Department of
Health Services (DHS) for Medi-Cal outpatient services.

"This settlement represents a breakthrough that is critically needed," said
C. Duane Dauner, president of the California Healthcare Association (CHA).
"Governor Davis was instrumental in turning around the settlement process
and helping us to secure this final agreement.

"California's hospitals are grateful that the Governor and his staff
exerted the leadership necessary to bring this long-standing problem to a
resolution," Dauner added.

CHA in 1990 sued DHS following years of negotiations over the method the
State used to determined Medi-Cal reimbursement fees. The lawsuit made its
way to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1997. The 9th Circuit,
ruling in CHA's favor, found that DHS had violated federal law by not
setting Medi-Cal reimbursement rates which were reasonably related to
hospital costs. Medi-Cal is California's version of Medicaid, the federal
health care program for low-income people. Medi-Cal is jointly paid for by
both state and federal funds.

Two other lawsuits, one filed by eight counties in California and the other
a class action suit filed on behalf of all hospitals that contract with
Medi-Cal in the state, also challenged DHS' outpatient reimbursement
methodology. Although neither of these lawsuits had yet gone to trial, they
are included in the settlement agreement.

The settlement calls for the State to make a one-time lump sum payment of $
350 million to hospitals by June 30, 2001. This payment is compensation for
the unlawfully low reimbursement rates paid to hospitals over the past 10
years. Then, on July 1, 2001, hospitals will receive a one-year 30 percent
increase in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates (the first rate increase since
1985). Beginning on July 1, 2002, Medi-Cal outpatient rates will increase
by 3 1/3 percent annually for three years.

"Now that the matter has been resolved, we can move forward with the
Administration on initiatives to improve access to care, patient quality
and preservation of essential hospital services," Dauner noted.

Because the federal government covers slightly more than half of Medi-Cal
costs, the State will pay approximately $175 million for the retroactive
payment settlement. The 30 percent annual Medi-Cal rate increase, which
will be paid for evenly by the state and federal governments, will bring
approximately $78 million more to hospitals throughout the California.


CELOTEX CORP: Creditor's Atty. May Recover Fees Despite Adverse Interest
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has ruled that a
creditor's attorney may recover fees and expenses for a "substantial
contribution" under Bankruptcy Code @ 503(b)(3)(D), even where the creditor
has an adverse interest to the debtor. Speights & Runyan v. Celotex Corp.
(In re Celotex Corp.), No. 98-3747 (Sept. 18).

The law firm for a creditor in a Chapter 11 case petitioned the bankruptcy
court for an award of attorney fees on the grounds that counsel made a
substantial contribution to the successful approval of a consensual plan.
The bankruptcy court denied the award be-cause the firm had an adverse
interest to the debtor's and because it reasoned that counsel's services
were conducted on behalf of its clients and not for the particular benefit
of the estate. The district court affirmed, finding that the bankruptcy
judge did not abuse his discretion in refusing to award fees.

On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded. The court noted that
Congress did not specifically define the term "substantial contribution" in
@ 503(b)(3)(D). Further, the court held that this lack of clarity has
created a conflict among the circuits as to whether the motivation behind a
creditor's ac-tions should disqualify the receipt of fees where a
contribution has been made to the resolution of the bankruptcy proceeding.

The court here chose to adopt the holding of the Fifth Circuit in In re DP
Partners, Ltd., 106 F.3d 667 (5th Cir. 1997), which held that "'nothing in
the Bankruptcy Code requires a self-deprecating, altruistic intent as a
prerequisite to recovery of fees and expenses under @ 503.'" In support of
its position, the court here observed, "it is difficult to imagine a
circumstance in which a creditor will not be motivated by self-interest in
a bankruptcy proceeding. To impose an altruism requirement on the ability
to obtain administrative expenses under @ 503(b)(3)-(4) would effectively
render the section meaningless as to creditors."

The court then looked to the specific nature of counsel's contribution and,
based on the evidence accepted by the bankruptcy court, ruled that counsel
did, in fact, make a substantial contribution to the successful negotiation
of a consensual plan. The court, however, also stated that it was
refraining "from defining with specificity what constitutes a substantial
contribution," only that where, as here, evidence supports the conclusion
that without the efforts of a creditor's counsel, "a reorganization plan
may not have been achieved, a substantial contribution has been
demonstrated."

                         Attorney Fees

The District Court for the District of Delaware has rejected the
substantial contribution applications of attorneys representing the
debtor's former shareholders in a number of derivative class actions filed
against the debtor, holding that the applicants failed to establish how
their actions conferred some benefit on the estate and its creditors, or in
the alternative, fostered the progress of the reorganization plan. In re
Columbia Gas System, Nos. Civ.A. 98-124, 91-803 (Sept. 20).

A fee application was submitted by several attorneys who represented former
shareholders of a Chapter 11 debtor in a number of derivative class actions
filed against the debtor. The bankruptcy court denied the fee application,
finding that it was without merit. The court held that the connections
between the derivative claims and the reduction of the debtor's liability
payment from $ 18 million to $ 16.5 million was tenuous at best, not a
direct benefit and not the result of the applicant's involvement.

The district court affirmed. The court stated that "[o]n appeal, a
bankruptcy court's factual findings on core matters are reviewed for clear
error while its legal conclusions are reviewed de novo." In addition, the
Third Circuit has held that a determination of "substantial contribution is
one of fact, and it is the bankruptcy court that is in the best position to
perform th[is] necessary fact-finding task." The court agreed with the
bankruptcy court's assessment, saying they failed to understand how the
filing and prosecution of multiple class action lawsuits against the debtor
fostered or enhanced its reorganization. To the contrary, the derivative
lawsuits more likely impeded the swift resolution of the case.

Further, the court found that the attorneys who represented the derivative
plaintiffs were acting mainly in the interests of their own clients and not
the estate of the debtor.

Sale of Limited Partners' Interests Found to Be Fraudulent Conveyance

The Third Circuit has ruled that where the limited partners of a
financially troubled limited partnership sold their interests, the
transaction constituted a constructive fraudulent conveyance and was
properly voided. Buncher Co. v. Official Committee of Unsecured Credi-tors
of GenFarm Limited Partnership IV, No. 99-3950 (Oct. 2).

A sole general partner formed a limited partnership with other individuals
to operate an experimental dairy farm. Some of the limited partners later
brought suit against another entity controlled by the general partner.
Under a settlement agreement, the general partner agreed to buy out the
limited partners interests, which he did for $ 3.5 million in cash and a
note secured by a second-priority mortgage on most of the partnership's
assets. The partnership then sold these interests to the general partner's
other entity for $ 1.7 million and refinanced its financial obligations.
When the limited partnership was ultimately forced to file a Chapter 11
bankruptcy, the official committee of unsecured creditors brought an
adversary action against the former limited partners, claiming the $ 3.5
million cash buyout was a constructive fraudulent transfer. The bankruptcy
court found that the transactions in question rendered the debtor
insolvent, and that the debtor did not receive fair compensation for the
limited partners' interests. The court rejected the contention that the
underlying settlement agreement benefited the partnership, because no
claims were asserted against the debtor, rather they were asserted against
the general partner's other entity. The bankruptcy court directed that the
$ 3.5 million be returned and the district court affirmed.

The Third Circuit also affirmed. The court rejected the limited partners'
argument that they released the debtor from more than $ 9 million worth of
claims, finding as the bankruptcy court did that the limited partners
failed to establish the existence of these claims. In addition, the court
found that the limited partners' interests were properly treated as an
equity security. Therefore, given the strained financial circumstances of
the debtor, the transfer of the limited partners' interests did not
constitute fair consideration.

Creditors of a Chapter 11 In Default May File Involuntary Proceeding

The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Sixth Circuit has ruled that where a
Chapter 11 debtor defaults under a confirmed plan and the case is converted
to Chapter 7, the creditors may file an involuntary Chapter 7 petition
against the reorganized Chapter 11 debtor based on the failure to pay their
plan claims. National City Bank v. Troutman Enter-prises Inc. (In re
Troutman Enterprises Inc.), No. 99-35371 (Sept. 26).

The debtor filed a Chapter 11 case and the bankruptcy court later entered
an order confirming the debtor's plan. When the debtor defaulted on its
obligations under the plan, however, a creditor moved to convert the
Chapter 11 case to Chapter 7. The bankruptcy court granted the unopposed
motion.

While the Chapter 7 was pending, four of the debtor's other creditors filed
an involuntary Chapter 7 case against the debtor based on the debtor's
failure to pay their claims under the terms of the confirmed plan. The
debtor moved to dismiss the petition, arguing that these creditors did not
hold claims against it after the conversion. The bankruptcy court granted
the debtor's motion, holding that the creditors are limited to asserting
the plan claims in the converted case under Bankruptcy Code @ 348(d).

The BAP for the Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded. The court rejected the
bankruptcy court's reading of @ 348(d): that as a matter of law, once the
case was converted, the creditors are creditors solely in the converted
case and no longer hold claims against the debtor. Consequently, the BAP
also rejected the conclusion that, absent such claims, the creditors were
not eligible to file the involuntary petition. The BAP stated that "[u]nder
@ 348(a), conversion constitutes an order for relief but does not change
the date of the order for relief, with exceptions not relevant here." The
relevant date here would have been when the Chapter 11 case was originally
filed. The BAP reasoned the proper reading of @ 348(d) is that it
"determines the nature of the Petitioning Creditors' claims in the
Converted Case, but does not eliminate their claims against the Reorganized
Debtor." The BAP concluded that "be-cause conversion did not undo the plan
confirmation and @ 348(d) does not apply to the Plan Claims outside of the
Converted Case, the Petitioning Creditors continue to hold claims against
the Reorganized Debtor and they are not precluded as a matter of law from
re-questing involuntary relief under @ 303 against that entity."

Attorney Sanctioned for Filing Frivolous Appeal Cannot Discharge Fees

The Ninth Circuit has ruled that where an attorney is sanctioned for
pursuing a frivolous appeal and ordered to pay the fees of opposing
counsel, he may not discharge this debt pursuant to Code @ 362(a). Berg v.
Good Samaritan Hos-pital (In re Berg), No. 96-16672 (Oct. 23).

The debtor is an attorney who represented a physician who was terminated
from his job in a lawsuit. After losing in the district court, the doctor
appealed the matter to the Ninth Circuit, who affirmed the finding of the
district court and then sanctioned plaintiff's counsel under Rule 38 of the
Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure for prosecuting a frivolous appeal.
The attorney was ordered to pay opposing counsels' fees in connection with
the appeal. While the appeal was still pending, however, and without giving
notice to the Circuit Court, the debtor filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy
petition. As a result, when opposing counsel learned of the existence of
debtor's petition, they filed a motion for relief from the stay to collect
their fees. They argued that the sanctions were not subject to the
automatic stay because they fell under the government's regulatory power
exemption as set forth in @ 362(b)(4). The bankruptcy court agreed and
granted the motion for relief and the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed.

The Ninth Circuit also affirmed. Although @ 362(a) directs all collection
activities to cease when a debtor files for bankruptcy, this does not apply
to actions being brought by the government to enforce its police and
regulatory power under @ 362(b)(4). The court stated that it was an issue
of first impression whether the government's regulatory exemption applies
to the award of sanctions for frivolous conduct.

Applying the "pecuniary purpose" test and the "public policy test," the
court reasoned that a sanction for frivolous conduct furthers the public
interest, not the government's pecuniary interest in the debtor's property.
The court ruled that @ 362(b)(4) "exempts from the automatic stay an award
of attorney fees imposed under Rule 38 as a sanction for unprofessional
conduct in litigation."

The court further stated that this is "because it is clear that the purpose
of sanctions is to effectuate public policy, not to protect private rights
or the government's interest in the sanctioned person's property." (The
Bankruptcy Strategist, November 2000)


COCA-COLA: Boycott Expected to End Now That Racial Bias Suit Is Settled
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Committee for Corporate Justice is expected Thursday to formally end
its boycott of Coca-Cola products.

The boycott was called in April at the company's annual shareholders
meeting in Delaware to try to pressure Coke into settling a class-action
racial discrimination lawsuit. The company announced details of the $ 192.5
million settlement last month.

"It's time to move forward and away from the boycott in order to foster
positive change at Coca-Cola," said Larry Jones, founder of the group and a
Coke human resources manager who was laid off in the company's massive
restructuring earlier this year.

Coca-Cola spokesman Ben Deutsch said that the company had no comment.

Jones has called a news conference on the boycott for 9:30 a.m. Thursday at
St. Philip AME Church in Decatur. The group also is expected to announce
its position on the settlement of the suit.

The boycott had not really gotten off the ground by the time attorneys for
both sides reached an agreement in principle June 14 to settle the lawsuit.
But the mere fact that a boycott was called may have added to the pressure
for the company to settle, along with Coke's own desire to put the issue
behind it.

But Jones' committee did not end the boycott in June because details of the
settlement were not released at that time. Instead, the committee issued
press releases, and members periodically picketed in front of Coke's North
Avenue headquarters and at MARTA stations. They also picketed in front of a
limited number of supermarkets in metro Atlanta, but the boycott never
reached the organizers' goal of making it more widespread here and
elsewhere in the country.

"We were put in a dilemma," Jones said. "We continued the boycott after
June 14 on a relatively low profile to try to keep pressure on the company
and bring closure to the settlement."

Some 2,000 African-American employees covered by the settlement will have
the choice of accepting it or "opting out" and filing individual suits for
monetary damages. On average, the settlement will provide an estimated $
40, 000 to class members.

The class is defined as black salaried employees in the United States who
worked for Coke at any time between April 22, 1995, and June 14, 2000. (The
Atlanta Journal and Constitution, December 6, 2000)


E. COLI: Suits Against Dairy Farm Continue; Merrymead Farm Named
----------------------------------------------------------------
Michael Conner Sweeney, a 2-year-old Harleysville boy, last week returned
to the hospital his third hospital visit since being diagnosed with an
infection of E. coli bacteria following an outing last month at the
Merrymead Farm in Worcester, Montgomery County. Complicating matters is the
fact that the child is autistic and cannot verbalize the pain and suffering
he is experiencing, according to Donald S. Litman, a lawyer with The
Mayerson Law Offices in Trappe. "A special-needs child does not need an
obstacle like this," said Litman.

Litman last week filed a lawsuit against the farm and its officials in the
Montgomery County Court. The suit seeks class-action status. This is the
second lawsuit filed in connection with an E. coli outbreak that county
health officials believe originated at the petting zoo. The toddler visited
the popular dairy farm and its petting zoo on Oct. 16 as part of an Easter
Seals outing for special-needs children, Litman said. This was long after
Merrymead officials knew that there was an E. coli problem at the farm,
according to Litman. The situation could have been avoided if Merrymead
officials had "simply picked up the phone" and called Easter Seals to
cancel the outing, Litman said. "It all comes down to money," said Litman.
"It was the [farm's] busiest time of the year, and rather than err on the
side of public safety, they decided to err on the side of making a profit."

While seeking to represent all of those who contracted the E. coli
infection at the farm, Litman's immediate clients are members of the
Sweeney family. The young boy was accompanied on the field trip by his
mother, Eileen Sweeney, and his one-year-old sister, Shannon Marie. In
addition to going on a hayride and taking a trip through a cornstalk maze,
the family visited the petting zoo, which included animals such as cows,
pigs, donkeys, horses, chickens, pheasants, rabbits, llamas and goats.
Within a week of that visit, both children were diagnosed with the E. coli
infection, according to the lawsuit. Michael developed a complication
called hemolytic uremic syndrome which caused his kidneys to fail, thus
requiring dialysis, according to Litman. Both children likely will have
kidney problems throughout their lives as a result of the infection, he
said.

The lawsuit states that the farm and its owners were negligent for failing
to take steps to protect the public when it learned that children were
becoming sick after visiting the farm. Farm officials and the county health
department were aware as early as late September that there was an E. coli
problem at the farm. Health officials had focused on the petting zoo by the
first week of October, although it was not until Oct. 28 when the health
department directed that the petting zoo be fenced off from the public.
There was no public notification of the problem at the farm, which attracts
residents from throughout the region, until Nov. 3, when the county health
department hastily called a press conference in response to a television
news report the prior day. While the first lawsuit also names the county
health department as a co-defendant for its failure to notify the public of
the situation, the second lawsuit does not. Litman explained that, the
county health department has immunity and cannot be sued. Also, he said, it
is up to the business to protect the public from a dangerous situation on
its property.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta
are investigating the outbreak. To date, there are 61 confirmed or
suspected cases of E. coli bacteria infection in connection to the
farm.Also, the Montgomery County commissioners, unhappy with the delay in
public notification, are conducting an in-house investigation of the county
health department's handling of the problem. (The Legal Intelligencer
Suburban Edition, December 6, 2000)


EICHEN: 9th Cir Vacates 30% Fee Award for Departure From the Benchmark
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has vacated a 30 percent
fee award in a class action, ruling that where a judge approves a class
action fee award in excess of the 25 percent benchmark, he or she must
clearly define their reasons for departing from the standard. The court's
ruling also allows unnamed class-member objectors to appeal fee awards
without going through the more cumbersome process of intervening in the
suit as a named party. Powers v. Eichen, No. 98-56997 (Oct. 20).

A fee award challenge was brought by a shareholder pursuant to a notice
sent to class members giving them the opportunity to object to attorney
fees totaling 30 percent of the settlement. The award was attacked on the
basis that it was too large; that the judge didn't explain why he chose the
percentage method rather than the lodestar method of calculating fees; and
for basing the award on a gross rather than a net recovery.

The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded. The court found that the district
court judge should have more fully explained the reasons why he approved
the larger-than-normal fee award and remanded the matter for a more
detailed explanation for this departure. The court stated, "[a]ssuing fair
and adequate fee awards outweighs the danger that allowing appeals by
non-intervening unnamed parties will complicate the settlement process."

Employee Benefits

Pension Law Does Not Confer Jurisdiction To Enforce a Judgment

The Seventh Circuit has ruled that no personal jurisdiction exists under
the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act that would allow a pension
plan administrator to sue a Canadian holding company in the United States
to recover a pension fund liability incurred by a U.S. affiliate. Central
States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. Reimer Express World
Corp., No. 00-1502 (Oct. 18).

A U.S. trucking company went out of business, incurring withdrawal
liability to a multiemployer pension fund. In an effort to collect the
judgment, the fund sent demand letters and eventually sued an affiliated
Canadian holding company and its subsidiary. The district court dismissed
the action against the Canadian companies for lack of personal
jurisdiction.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The court noted that where businesses are
under common control, the Multiem-ployer Pension Plan Amendments Act
provides for joint and several liability for the withdrawal liability on an
affiliate. This does not mean, however, that there is jurisdiction over the
parent corporation. The court stated "constitutional due process requires
that personal jurisdiction cannot be premised on corporate affiliation or
stock ownership alone where corporate formalities are substantially
observed and the parent does not exercise an unusually high degree of
control over the subsidiary."

In this case, the U.S. corporation kept separate records from the Canadian
affiliates and observed all of the corporate formalities. Further, the
Canadian affiliates did not supervise the day-to-day management of the U.S.
company, nor did they exercise an abnormal amount of control.

Employment Discrimination

Rejecting Job Applicants Prone to Carpal Tunnel Does Not Violate ADA

The District Court for the Western District of Missouri has ruled that an
employer did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act where it
conducted pre-employment tests on applicants for repetitive motion jobs and
then failed to hire those applicants who showed a proclivity to develop
carpal tunnel syndrome, finding they were not "disabled" under the act.
EEOC v. Wood-bridge Corp., No. 99-0370-CV-W-4-ECF (Oct. 2).

Assembly on an employer's production line required workers to constantly
repeat hand and wrist motions. As a result, the employer had an
occupational health clinic conduct a physical examination designed to
screen assembly line job applicants to see if they were suited for the job
and if they had or were highly likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. As
a result of this test, 19 job applicants who had accepted positions with
the company had those offers withdrawn and the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission brought suit on their behalf. The suit alleged that the employer
violated the ADA by denying these applicants employment based on a
perceived disability. Under the ADA, the definition of "disability"
includes an individual who is "regarded" to have an impairment.

The district court dismissed the suit. The court relied on the Supreme
Court's recent decision in Sutton v. United Airlines Inc., 527 U.S. 471
(1999), stating that to be regarded as disabled, the employer must consider
that applicant is "significantly restricted in the ability to perform
either a class of jobs or a broad range of jobs." Here, there was no
evidence that the applicants were being rejected from a broad class of
jobs, but rather for specific ones. The court found that while "repetitive
motion positions" could be applied to a wide variety of jobs, the
defendant's perceptions were actually limited in scope. The court noted
that the defendant considered these applicants "generally employable" and
in fact qualified for other positions within the plant, but simply not for
these assembly line positions. The court reasoned, therefore, that as
defined by the ADA, these applicants were not "regarded as" disabled.

Labor Law

8th Circuit Reverses NLRB, Reinstates Terminated College Instructor

The Eighth Circuit has reversed the National Labor Relations Board's
decision to reinstate a college instructor who was terminated for
inappropriate behavior at a meeting to discuss the unionization of the
adjunct faculty, finding the refusal to renew the instructor's contract was
not based on anti-union animus, but was justified on independent and
unrelated grounds. Carleton College v. NLRB, No. 99-2523 (Oct. 24).

The subject of the instant lawsuit, an adjunct college music professor,
formed an ad hoc committee with other adjunct instructors to discuss their
employment-related concerns. The following school year, the chairman of the
music department informed the music faculty that the department had formed
its own committee to address the concern of the adjunct staff. Later, after
the school officially recognized the adjunct committee, the chairman of the
music department wrote to the dean recommending that disciplinary action be
taken against three instructors, including the subject of the instant
action, for unacceptable performance. Although this recommendation was
rejected, the dean did set up individual meetings with the three
instructors to discuss professional expectations before renewing their
contracts.

At this meeting, according to the dean, the instructor in question
described the music department as a "laughingstock" and a "pig." Further,
the dean alleged, the instructor was unwilling to act in a professional
manner, expressing loyalty only to the other adjunct faculty and the
students. The instructor's contract was not re-newed and the instant suit
was initiated to determine whether a violation of the National Labor
Relations Act had been committed. The NLRB found that the refusal to renew
the instructor's contract amounted to an unfair labor practice because it
was motivated by animosity toward his participation in the unionization
effort. Further, that the "salty language" he used at the meeting with the
dean must be tolerated by an employer in labor matters.

The Eighth Circuit disagreed. The court stated "in the context of a meeting
with the dean of the college which was called to discuss professional
expectations for the future, [the instructor's] use of vulgarities
evidenced his disrespect of the music department and unwillingness to
commit to act in a professional manner." The court reasoned that the
findings of the NLRB of unlawful motivation were based "on nothing more
than surmise," and that the instructor's termination was not related to his
union activities.

Noncompete Clauses

Noncompete Clause Ruled Unenforceable Where Retirement Was Forced

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has ruled
that where a former executive was forced to retire and then took a position
two years later with a competitor, to allow the enforcement of the
noncompete clause in the company's stock incentive plan would be
unreasonable. Lucente v. International Business Machines Corp., No. 99 Civ.
3987 (CM) (Oct. 5).

Plaintiff was told that management of the defendant corporation was not
happy with his work, that he had no future with the company and that he
should consider finding other work. He did, taking a job for two years with
another company that was not a competitor of the defendant. The plaintiff
then resigned from that job and took a position with a company that was a
competitor of the defendant. Citing a forfeiture-for-competition clause in
its stock incentive plan, the defendant notified the plaintiff that his
outstanding stock options and restricted stock awards were being canceled.
The forfeiture-for-competition provision was unlimited in scope as to time,
place and scope. Plan participants were barred from accepting employment
with competing companies at any time or they would lose their accrued and
vested benefits. The plaintiff disputed the validity of this provision and
sued for breach of contract.

The court found for the plaintiff. The court opined that although this
noncompete clause was unreasonable on its face, under state law, even if
unreasonable, such a clause can be enforced where the employee can elect to
stay with the employer, but leaves at his or her own choosing. The court
found, however, that no reasonable juror could find that the plaintiff left
the employ of the defendant voluntarily, that the defendant wanted the
plaintiff "gone," and therefore the defendant was not in a position to
"invoke the employee choice doctrine." The court ruled that the plaintiff
was entitled to damages of the net present value of the stock options and
the higher value of the restricted stock on either the date his shares
would have been released or the date of the highest intermediate value
between the stock's release from escrow and the end of a reasonable period
following its release from escrow.

Securities Fraud

CEO Who Did Not Participate in Preparing False Statement Still Liable

The Ninth Circuit has ruled that the chief executive officer of a
corporation is liable for securities fraud under the "control person"
provision of @ 20(a) of the 1934 Securities Exchange Act where he or she
knowingly or recklessly signs a false financial statement, even if he or
she did not actually participate in the preparation of the statement.
Howard v. Everex Systems Inc., No. 98-7324 (Sept. 29).

A shareholder initiated a securities fraud action against a computer
manufacturer and its CEO, alleging that material misstatements were made to
the public concerning the profitability of the company, which ultimately
went bankrupt. At trial, the district court released the CEO from the suit,
ruling that as a matter of law he did not violate @ 10(b) because he did
not participate in drafting the financial statements in question.

Similarly, the court found that the CEO was not liable as a "control
person" under @ 20(a) because he did not prepare the documents nor did he
believe that the figures contained in the statements were inaccurate.

The Ninth Circuit reversed. Although in Central Bank of Denver NA v. First
Interstate Bank of Denver NA, 511 U.S. 164 (1994), the Supreme Court has
held that private parties may not bring aiding and abetting claims under @
10(b), the circuit court noted that a significant difference exists
"between mere participation in a scheme to misrepresent and those directly
attesting to the truth of a statement by making (in the ordinary sense)
that very statement."

The court reasoned that if key corporate officers could knowingly or
recklessly make important false statements and then shield themselves from
liability because they were not involved with the preparation of those
documents, the securities laws would be "significantly weakened," and only
the SEC could bring suit against them. The court further held that the CEO
had scienter under @ 10(b) when signing the documents, as he had "a motive
to inflate sales" and because there was evidence he signed the documents in
the face of "alarming" financial information.

Addressing the issue of whether the CEO was subject to "control person"
liability under @ 20(a), the court stated that "in order to make out a
prima facie case, it is not necessary to show actual participation or the
exercise of actual power; however, a defendant is entitled to a good-faith
defense if he can show no scienter and an effective lack of participation."
Here, the CEO could not support such a defense.

Shareholders' Rights

Judge Upholds 'Poison Pill' Anti-Takeover Defense

The Delaware Court of Chancery has turned aside a bid to invalidate a
"poison pill" shareholder-rights plan, even though the corporation's
shareholders had no voice in setting up the anti-takeover defense. Leonard
Loventhal Account v. Hilton Hotels Corp., CA No. 17803 (Oct. 11).

A Delaware-based hotel chain was sued by a trust holding stock in the
company. The trust claimed that the company's newly imposed
shareholder-rights plan, which was adopted to discourage a takeover
attempt, illegally forced shareholders to accept rights they did not want.
These rights in question attached to the stock shares and accompanied the
stock if the shares were sold. The trust argued that since the poison-pill
rights automatically attached to the stock shares, this violated the
shareholders' contract rights. The corporation filed a motion to dismiss
the suit.

The chancery court granted the motion to dismiss. The court noted that most
Delaware companies use such plans to ward off hostile takeovers. The court
continued that, while these plans were once considered novel, they are now
commonplace, yet are still somewhat controversial. "This dispute
illustrates the intense scrutiny poison-pill rights plans continue to
receive, thereby insuring their vitality." The court ruled that the instant
poison-pill plan could not be attacked on contact grounds under existing
state law, citing Moran v. Household International Inc., Del. Ch. 490 A.2d
1059 (1985, aff'd Del. Sup. Ct., 500 A.2d 1346 (1985). The court stated
that under Moran, there is no legal requirement that "shareholders must be
a party to the rights plan or formally vote to accept the rights plan to
ensure the plan is enforceable." (The Corporate Counsellor, November 2000)


FORD MOTOR: Supreme Ct Leaves Jury Award for 1995 Bronco Rollover Intact
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Families of two passengers killed when a Ford Bronco II truck rolled over
in 1995 may soon get the millions of dollars a jury awarded them.

The case, which also involved an injured driver, ended Monday when the U.S.
Supreme Court chose not to hear Ford's appeal of a federal appeals court
ruling. That ruling upheld a 1998 jury verdict in U.S. District Court.

The jury awarded the plaintiffs $17.5 million in damages, which U.S.
District Judge David Dowd Jr. then reduced to $12.5 million. Another nearly
$1.7 million in post-judgment interest will be added to the case, said
Akron attorney Charles Grisi, who represents the driver.

The families of passengers Christopher Strom, 26, of Akron, and his
girlfriend, Kathleen Clay, 18, of Copley Township, were awarded $5 million
and $ 4 million respectively. The driver, William Slonsky, of Akron, who
was 20 at the time of the accident, was awarded $1.5 million.

Slonsky was driving on Interstate 77 in Akron on June 18, 1995, when he
tried to change lanes and lost control of the vehicle. It rolled over,
ejecting and fatally injuring Clay and Strom. Slonsky was injured.

A jury found that instability was related to a design defect and a major
factor contributing to the accident. Ford made the Bronco II from 1983 to
1990.

Ford attorney Susan Krusel said the company was disappointed but not
surprised that the Supreme Court did not hear the case.

"Certainly our sympathy goes out to families of those killed and injured in
this accident," Krusel said. "But the evidence we produced shows that the
Bronco II's performance was competitive with other vehicles, and when
drivers put vehicles in an out-of-control situation, roll-overs and
accidents can occur." (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, December 5,
2000)


LOCKHEED MARTIN: State Aid Coincides with EEOC Racism Claims
------------------------------------------------------------
Gov. Christie Whitman announced a $64 million business assistance package
on December 5 to help Lockheed Martin Corporation, one of South Jersey's
biggest employers, win a contract to help develop the next generation of
Navy destroyers.

But word of the package coincided with a separate announcement that the
Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was joining two
class-action lawsuits charging widespread racism at Lockheed Martin sites
outside New Jersey, raising concerns among some minority leaders in the
state.

Under a deal contingent on Lockheed's being awarded the Navy contract, the
company would receive a $15 million cash grant, plus income and sales tax
benefits worth $9 million, spread over 10 years.

The rest of the deal involves the state's spending $40 million to build a
420,000-square-foot research center at Lockheed's 405-acre site along Route
295 in Moorestown, N.J. Lockheed would lease 300,000 square feet of the new
center, which the state would also make available to other defense or
technology companies.

The deal was negotiated by the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth
Commission in conjunction with the governor's office, and must be approved
by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which administers the
state's economic incentive packages. The $15 million grant is part of a new
state economic development program now before the State Legislature.

The entire deal will be off if Lockheed, which is based in Bethesda, Md.,
and its partner, Bath Iron Works of Bath, Me., lose the bidding to a
partnership led by the Raytheon Company of Lexington, Mass.

"It's entirely contingent upon it," Charles E. Hance, the state commerce
secretary, said of the assistance package. "The hope is, it will make the
Navy, the U.S. government, more inclined to award the contract to
Lockheed."

The companies are seeking contracts for the design and integration of
weapons systems on the Navy's proposed DD-21 destroyer, which would replace
the Aegis destroyer that 2,000 Lockheed employees and 1,000 other military
and civilian workers in Moorestown now work on. If the grant legislation is
approved, the $15 million would still be contingent on Lockheed's retaining
those 2,000 employees and hiring 500 others at the site, Mr. Hance said.

December 7 is the deadline for the bidders to submit cost proposals to the
Navy, which is expected to award the weapons contract in March.

Also on December 5, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it
would intervene in federal court on behalf of two private lawsuits
involving allegations by black Lockheed employees in Georgia. The employees
allege they were subject to racial slurs and other forms of discrimination,
and then to intimidation after complaining. In a statement, the E.E.O.C.
chairwoman, Ida L. Castro, accused the company of "persistent failure to
respond to the systemic discrimination."

The E.E.O.C.'s New York district director, Spencer Lewis, said, "Neither
the Lockheed plaintiffs nor the E.E.O.C. will tolerate racial harassment,
particularly when the harassment goes so far as to become corporate
policy."

James Fetig, a Lockheed spokesman, said that the company denied the
allegations "in total," and that Lockheed had offered to submit to
mediation, but lawyers for the 11 employees at the company's Marietta, Ga.,
site declined the offer.

Mr. Hance said he was unfamiliar with the allegations and declined to
comment on them. Two telephone requests to Mrs. Whitman's press office to
address the allegations were not returned.

While there were no charges of racism at the Moorestown site in the
lawsuits or from the E.E.O.C., the Rev. Reginald T. Jackson, executive
director of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, said that he was
disturbed by the E.E.O.C.'s suggestion of a racist corporate policy, and
that he would look into the matter further. State Assemblyman LeRoy J.
Jones Jr., a member of the Legislature's Black and Latino Caucus, said the
Whitman administration had a responsibility to ensure that companies
receiving state money were free of racism, particularly in light of the
state's problems with racial profiling of minority drivers.

"We don't want to be condoning anything that might be reminiscent of what
we might call corporate racial profiling," Mr. Jones said. (The New York
Times, December 6, 2000)


MICROFIELD GRAPHICS: Securities Suit Is Transferred to Oregon
-------------------------------------------------------------
Plaintiffs brought a putative class action against defendant corporation, a
developer of computer conferencing and telecommunications products,
alleging violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The court
transferred the action to the District of Oregon, citing convenience of
witnesses and parties and that the locus of operative facts was Oregon.
Plaintiffs argued that some of the named plaintiffs resided and purchased
their stock in New York. The court said that purchase of shares in this
state did not make New York a forum that had significant contact with the
operative facts and that New York appeared to have no greater connection
than any other district where a potential class member resided. It noted
that preparation and issuance of allegedly misleading press releases and
financial statements occurred in Oregon.

Judge Mukasey

ADAIR v. MICROFIELD GRAPHICS, INC. QDS:02763201-Plaintiffs Sally Adair,
Richard Cerrato, Steve Chiaramonte, David Maxim and Robert Santopietro
bring this putative class action against Microfield Graphics Inc.
("Microfield"), a developer of computer conferencing and telecommunications
products, and its Chief Executive Officer, John B. Conroy, alleging
violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934, 15 U.S.C. @ 78aa et seq. (1994) (the "1934 Act"), and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder. Defendants move under 28 U.S.C. @ 1404(a) (1994) to
transfer this action to the District of Oregon. For the reasons set forth
below, defendants' motion is granted.

I.

Microfield is an Oregon corporation with its principal place of business in
Tigard, Oregon. (Conroy Aff. P3) Plaintiffs allege that on July 14, 1997,
Microfield entered into a General Purchase and Development Agreement with
Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company ("3M") providing for the sale of
Microfield products to 3M. (Compl. P19) This agreement required 3M to
submit all purchase orders to Microfield at least 90 days prior to
shipment. (Id.) According to plaintiffs, Microfield's sales to 3M
represented a significant percentage of Microfield's over-all sales from
the end of 1997 through the second fiscal quarter of 1998 (Id. PP20-26).
Beginning in the third quarter, Microfield sales to 3M declined
significantly, causing a decrease in the price of Microfield's common
stock. (Id.)

Plaintiffs allege that from July 23, 1998 through April 2, 1999, defendants
disseminated false and misleading statements regarding the volume of
Microfield's sales to 3M. (Id. PP27-35) According to plaintiffs, because 3M
was required to submit purchase orders at least 90 days prior to shipment,
defendants knew that Microfield's sales to 3M would decline well before any
such information was actually disclosed. (Id. PP27, 31, 33) Plaintiffs
filed this putative class action on January 28, 2000, alleging violations
of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the 1934 Act, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder. Defendants now move under 28 U.S.C. @ 1404(a) to transfer this
action to the District of Oregon.

II.

Transfer of venue under 28 U.S.C. @ 1404(a) is appropriate if it serves the
convenience of the parties and witnesses, and is otherwise in the interest
of justice. Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612 (1964). The threshold
question in a @ 1404(a) inquiry is whether venue is proper in the proposed
transferee forum. See Purcell Graham, Inc. v. National Bank of Detroit,
1994 WL 584550, 3, 93 Civ. 8786 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 24, 1994). Section 27 of the
1934 Act lays venue in any district in which an "act or transaction
constituting a violation has occurred" or where the defendant is "found,"
"is an inhabitant or transacts business." 15 U.S.C. @ 78aa. Here, the
allegedly false and misleading statements were made at Microfield's
headquarters in Oregon. In addition, both defendants are domiciled in
Oregon. (Conroy Aff. PP1, 3) Venue in the District of Oregon therefore is
proper.

Once venue in the transferee forum is found, the following factors may be
considered in resolving a motion to transfer: the convenience of the
witnesses; the location of relevant physical evidence; the locus of
operative facts; the convenience of the parties; the availability of
process to compel testimony of unwilling witnesses; the forum's familiarity
with the governing law; the relative means of the parties; the weight
afforded plaintiffs' choice of forum; trial efficiency and the interests of
justice. See National Patent Dev. Corp. v. American Hosp. Supply, 616 F.
Supp. 114, 119 (S.D.N.Y. 1984) (Weinfeld, J.).

Of the factors outlined above, the convenience of the witnesses usually is
the most important consideration. Stein v. Microelectronic Pkg., Inc., 1999
WL 540443, 7 (S.D.N.Y. 1999) (citing Viacom Int'l, Inc. v. Melvin Simon
Prods., Inc., 774 F. Supp. 858, 868 (S.D.N.Y. 1991)). As in most class
actions brought under the 1934 Act, the key issues likely to be in dispute
here are the accuracy of Microfield's statements and defendants' state of
mind. Defendants identify numerous nonparty witnesses whose testimony would
touch on these issues, including several current and former Microfield
employees and Microfield's outside accountant. (Conroy Aff. P12) All of
these witnesses are located in Oregon. (Id.) Plaintiffs have not identified
any non-party witnesses. Accordingly, the convenience of the witnesses
factor weighs in favor of transfer.

The locus of operative facts in this case is Oregon. Misrepresentations and
omissions are deemed to "occur" in the district where the
misrepresentations are issued or the truth is withheld, not where the
statements at issue are received. See Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. v. Tisdale,
1996 WL 544240, 6, 95 Civ. 8023 ( S.D.N.Y. Sept. 25, 1996). Here, the
preparation and issuance of the allegedly misleading press releases and
financial statements occurred in Oregon. (Conroy Aff. P10) Plaintiffs argue
that the events which generated the operative facts Of this case occurred
"all over the United States." (Pl. Mem. at 9) Specifically, plaintiffs
claim that some events took place in New York, where some of the named
plaintiffs reside and purchased their stock. (Id.) However, the purchase of
shares in this state does not make New York a forum which has significant
contact with the operative facts. See In re Nematron Corp. Securities
Litigation, 30 F. Supp.2d 397, 404 (S.D.N.Y. 1998). Indeed, New York
appears to have no greater connection to this case than any other district
in which a potential class member resides. See id.

The convenience of the parties to this action also weighs in favor of
transfer. Microfield currently has 18 employees, all of whom work at
Microfield's offices in Tigard, Oregon. (Conroy Aff. P8) Microfield has no
offices or employees in New York. (Id. P7) Conducting a trial in New York
would impose a significant burden on the defendants, especially because
several of Microfield's employees are likely to testify at trial.
Plaintiffs respond that a trial in Oregon would be burdensome because
"[flour of the five proposed Lead Plaintiffs either live in (the Southern
District of New York] or in a county adjacent to it." (Pl. Mem. at 6)
However, the central issues in this case relate to facts and circumstances
outside the personal knowledge of the plaintiffs - including the accuracy
of Microfield's statements and the defendants' state of mind. Even if the
named plaintiffs participate at trial, it is unlikely that their
participation will involve lengthy testimony. Moreover, as several courts
have explained, the residence of a class representative is often a "mere
happenstance," which may be discounted by a court when weighing transfer
factors. See Job Haines Home For The Aged v. Young, 936 F. Supp. 223, 228
(D.N.J. 1996); IBJ Schroder Bank & Trust Co. v. Mellon Bank, N.A.., 730 F.
Supp. 1278, 1282 (S.D.N.Y. 1990). The convenience of the parties favors
transfer to Oregon.

The availability of process to compel testimony of unwilling witnesses also
favors transfer. Although plaintiffs have not identified any non-party
witnesses, defendants have identified several non-party witnesses in Oregon
whose testimony may be relevant at trial, including several former
Microfield employees and Microfield's outside accountant. As defendants
note, these out-of-state witnesses may be unwilling or unable to attend if
trial is held in New York. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(3)(B)(iii). These
obstacles would be significantly reduced if this action were tried in
Oregon.

Plaintiffs argue that transfer is inappropriate because the district court
in Oregon, which is in the Ninth Circuit, would be required to apply the
Second Circuit's interpretation of the 1934 Act. (Pl. Mem. at 10) However,
the Ninth Circuit has held that, when reviewing federal claims, a
transferee court in the Ninth Circuit is bound only by Ninth Circuit
precedent. See Newton v. Thomason, 22 F.3d 1455, 1460 (9th Cir. 1994).
Thus, contrary to plaintiffs' assertions, if this case is transferred, the
district'. court in Oregon would be bound to apply its own circuit's
interpretation of the federal securities laws.

Finally, plaintiffs' choice of New York as a forum for this action does not
warrant denial of defendants' motion. A plaintiff's choice of forum
generally is entitled to considerable weight and should not be disturbed
unless the balance of factors weighs strongly in favor of the defendant. In
re Nematron Corp. Sec. Litig., 30 F. Supp. 2d 397, 405 (S.D.N.Y 1998).
Here, the balance of factors strongly weighs in favor of transfer - even if
plaintiff's' choice of forum in this putative class action is accorded as
much weight as one would accord an individual plaintiff's choice. See
DiRienzo v. Philip Services Corp., 2000 WL 1678026, 12, 99 Civ. 7825 (2nd
Cir. Nov. 8, 2000) (holding that presumption favoring plaintiffs' choice of
forum was not diminished in class action); but see Warrick v. General
Electric Co., 70 F.3d 736, 741 n.7 (2d. Cir. 1995) (noting that a
"plaintiff's choice of forum is a less significant consideration in a ...
class action than in an individual action.") As discussed, the convenience
of the parties and witnesses strongly favors transfer to Oregon. Moreover,
the events which generated the operative facts in this case occurred in
Oregon and bear little or no connection to New York. Finally, there is the
risk that certain out-of-state, non-party witnesses may be unwilling or
unable to appear at a trial in New York; these witnesses may be compelled
to appear in Oregon. When taken together, these considerations
significantly outweigh plaintiffs' choice of forum.

For the reasons stated above, defendants' motion to transfer venue to the
District of Oregon pursuant to 28 U.S.C. @ 1404(a) is granted. (New York
Law Journal, November 22, 2000)


NATIONAL COMPUTER: Admits Liability, Doubts Cause Of Emotional Stress
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Lawyers for the testing company that incorrectly scored thousands of basic
skills math tests admitted Tuesday that the company is liable but highly
doubted the mistake caused emotional stress to many Minnesota students.

"What person has not gone through school and not had a teacher make a
mistake on a test? I mean, should the teacher be sued?" said Lindsay
Arthur, a Minneapolis attorney representing National Computer Systems.

The Eden Prairie-based company was in Hennepin County District Court asking
Judge John Sommerville to throw out various complaints filed by four
students who are suing NCS. It was the first major court hearing since the
testing error surfaced in July.

Shawn Raiter, an attorney representing students who received incorrect
scores on the required high school exam, argued that NCS should be tried
for negligence and defamation.

"NCS caused this mess. NCS caused distress in thousands of Minnesota
students," Raiter told Sommerville. "There is a valid basis for punitive
damages."

NCS used the wrong "correct" answers to score six questions, causing more
than 47,000 students to receive the wrong scores, including 7,989 students
who were wrongly told they had failed the test. Some students were denied a
diploma as a result.

NCS, which has since changed its name to NCS Pearson, insisted it was
covering all "legitimate out-of-pocket" expenses for its error. That
includes tutoring, books, mileage related to special classes and lost
wages.

The company also had offered a $1,000 tuition voucher to some students.

Arthur said he does not believe most people sustained "measurable emotional
distress" and to allow the plaintiffs to move forward with their case would
waste the state's time and resources.

"We accepted liability," he said. "The plaintiffs are trying to pump
bullets into a dead horse."

But Raiter contended that NCS' error was not an isolated one and those who
were wronged by it deserved more than reimbursement for their out-of-pocket
costs.

Among other things, they argued that NCS was negligent for providing
defective products, committed fraud because it did not live up to its
contractual obligation to be "accurate" and defamed students by publishing
incorrect scores with the state.

The plaintiffs asked Sommerville to order NCS to provide information on its
test scoring policy. At issue also was the list of students who were
affected by the mistake, which NCS said was confidential.

Sommerville took the arguments under consideration and encouraged the
attorneys to resolve the issue themselves. He suggested the possibility of
arbitration and scheduled a court time in January where the two sides could
brainstorm for solutions. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire,
December 5, 2000)


NATIONWIDE VLI: Vows to Defend OH Lawsuit over Deferred Annuity Products
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The report that Nationwide VLI Separate Account 5 filed with the SEC
reveals that, on October 29, 1998, Nationwide was named in a lawsuit filed
in Ohio state court related to the sale of deferred annuity products for
use as investments in tax-deferred contributory retirement plans (Mercedes
Castillo v. Nationwide Financial Services, Inc., Nationwide Life Insurance
Company and Nationwide Life and Annuity Insurance Company).

On May 3, 1999, the complaint was amended to, among other things, add
Marcus Shore as a second plaintiff. The amended complaint is brought as a
class action on behalf of all persons who purchased individual deferred
annuity contracts or participated in group annuity contracts sold by
Nationwide and the other named Nationwide affiliates which were used to
fund certain tax-deferred retirement plans. The amended complaint seeks
unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. No class has been certified.
On June 11, 1999, Nationwide and the other named defendants filed a motion
to dismiss the amended complaint.

On March 8, 2000, the court denied the motion to dismiss the amended
complaint filed by Nationwide and other named defendants. Nationwide
intends to defend this lawsuit vigorously.


NEWMONT MINING: Faces NV Suits over Proposed Merger with Battle Mountain
------------------------------------------------------------------------
On June 22, 2000, putative class action lawsuits, King v. Battle Mountain
Gold Company, et al. and Scharan v. Battle Mountain Gold Company, et al.,
respectively, were commenced by different individual purported holders of
Battle Mountain common stock against Battle Mountain and its directors and
executive officers. The actions were brought on behalf of a putative class
consisting of public shareholders of Battle Mountain that held their shares
as of June 21, 2000. The complaints in the actions allege, among other
things, that the consideration to be paid to holders of Battle Mountain
common stock in the merger is inadequate and unfair, and that the
defendants agreed to the transaction in breach of their fiduciary duties to
the public shareholders and in particular, that the defendants failed to
adequately consider alternatives to the Newmont transaction. The two
actions were filed in the District Court of the State of Nevada in and for
Clark County, and were subsequently consolidated and transferred to the
District Court of the State of Nevada in and for Washoe County. The
complaints seek, among other things, injunctive relief against the
transaction and damages in an unspecified amount. As at December 4, 2000,
the date of Newmont Mining Corpís proxy statement/prospectus, discovery is
pending and there have been no substantive court rulings to date. Battle
Mountain believes that the complaints are without merit.


PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: CNN Coverage on Suits over Absentee Ballot
-----------------------------------------------------------------
(Broadcast on the Cable News Network on December 6, 2000)

Byline: Deborah Marchini, David Haffenreffer, Linda Stouffer, Eileen
O'Connor, Tony Clark

Highlight: Lawsuits over alleged tampering with absentee ballot
applications go to trial in Florida today. In two courtrooms, Al Gore may
have a chance to score a technical knockout today in Tallahassee.

     DEBORAH MARCHINI, CNN ANCHOR: Lawsuits over alleged tampering with
absentee ballot applications go to trial in Florida today.

     DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN ANCHOR: A new day, a new courtroom.

Linda Stouffer joins us once again with that story.

Good morning, Linda.

     LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, David and Deborah.

In this case, two courtrooms, Al Gore may have a chance to score a
technical knockout today in Tallahassee. Two lawsuits filed by Democrats in
Seminole and Martin Counties will both go to trial this morning. The
plaintiffs want thousands of absentee votes to be thrown out because
Republicans were allowed to revise the ballot applications.

Proceedings in both lawsuits will take place in the same courthouse, but in
different courtrooms.

An important subplot in the Seminole County case concerns the presiding
judge. Judge Nikki Clark was passed over for a seat on the Florida appeals
court by Florida's governor, who else, Jeb Bush.

Also, in Tallahassee today, the Bush and Gore teams face a noon deadline
for legal briefs relating to Gore's appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.
The court has not decided whether it will hear the case. That will be
decided after oral arguments tomorrow morning.

Gore is appealing a state judge's rejection of his request for hand counts
of about 14,000 disputed ballots in South Florida. And though many
observers predict the lower court ruling will stand, at least one prominent
journalist seems to like Gore's chances here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

     BOB WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think Gore really has much more
of a chance in the Florida Supreme Court than people think, and the reason
is those ballots are kind of the DNA of all of this, the 14,000 ballots
that no one really has fully counted, or at least hand counted. And there
is a tradition in the law, which is kind of, let's use and look at the best
evidence. You go back to the Nixon tapes case, he had to turnover his
tapes. President Clinton had to give testimony, sworn testimony, in the
Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Again, the court said, we want to know,
we want to look at the evidence and here the witnesses.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

     STOUFFER: You might remember it was the Florida Supreme Court that
produced Gore's biggest legal victory so far in this post- election
challenge. That decision set a time frame for hand counts.

Well, Al Gore is said to remain optimistic in his election fight. George W.
Bush, meanwhile, continues to work on his transition plans.

For more on what both candidates are doing and saying, we go to CNN's
Eileen O'Connor, following the Gore camp in Washington, and CNN's Tony
Clark with the Bush campaign in Austin.

But let's start now with Eileen.

Eileen, good morning. What is the latest from the Gore camp?

     EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Linda.

Well, the vice president doesn't have anything scheduled today, but he may
well go to the office, as he has been doing the past few days, one-day it
was transition, yesterday it was just office time, he is still the vice
president, wanting to give out the image that he is still proceeding
business as usual, and that this -- and that he certainly has the patience
to wait this out through the Florida State Supreme Court decision and even
beyond.

The public is -- actually also very confident, he says, that the public too
is supporting his efforts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

     VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By a very solid
majority, the American people believe that every single vote that is
legally cast should be counted, and not just arbitrarily not be counted.
And the votes in Miami-Dade County, for example, deserve to be looked at
and counted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

     O'CONNOR: And, of course, the vice president knows that public
patience is wearing thin. Also, Democratic support, while still holding
very strong on Capitol Hill, we heard a lot of that yesterday, as Congress
came back, they do say that they are willing to wait through this Florida
State Supreme Court effort, but beyond that, Democratic support is
questionable. And the vice president knows he needs both public and the
support of his fellow colleagues on Capitol Hill, those Democrats, to
continue with these efforts -- Linda.

     STOUFFER: Eileen O'Connor, with the latest out of Washington, thank
you very much for that. Now to the Bush perspective. To hear what the Bush
folks are saying, Tony Clark is covering that.

Good morning to you, Tony.

     TONY CLARK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Linda.

The governor is expected to spend most of the day over at the mansion. He
will get his intelligence briefing again this morning, and this morning
will be joined by Condoleezza Rice. She is expected to become his national
security adviser. We're expecting to see them meeting to little bit later
today, get some pictures of that as well.

Yesterday, the governor was out and about and very talkative on the way to
the capital. He said that he wasn't ready to tell the vice president, Vice
President Gore, that it was time to concede the election. He was very
generous in his comments about the vice president.

And then, later, in an interview with CBS News' "60 minutes II," he related
a conversation that he had with the vice president in which he said, he
wasn't very warm and fuzzy when the vice president removed his concession
speech, dropped his plans for a concession speech on election night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

     GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't want to
share the actual words that he and I spoke. I don't think it would be fair
to him. But I was somewhat taken aback and, obviously, a little
disappointed. I was -- it was right here in the Governor's Mansion that I
took both calls. I was -- you know, we had rallied our family, and we were
heading out to the stage, which was right around corner here from the
Governor's Mansion, and the vice president said he had some information to
show the election was going to be closer than he thought, and he was going
to take it back. And it ended up with me saying: Well, you need to do what
-- if that's what you feel like you've got to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

     CLARK: Meanwhile, work on a transition continues both here in Austin
and in Washington, with running mate Dick Cheney. The governor said that he
will be ready once all the legal wrangling is over to announce some
appointments -- Linda.

     STOUFFER: Tony Clark, out of Austin, thank you very much.


TRIOLOGY, PCORDER.COM: Fed Ct in TX Remands Case over Stock Acquisition
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Trilogy Software, Inc. and pcOrder.com Inc. (Nasdaq: PCOR) on December 6
jointly announced that the Austin Division of the United States District
Court for the Western District of Texas on December 5 remanded to the
District Court of Travis County, Texas the purported class action lawsuit
filed by Marilyn Stahl against Trilogy, pcOrder and the individual members
of the pcOrder Board of Directors on November 28, 2000.

In remanding the case to state court, the federal court did not rule on the
defendants' motion to dissolve the temporary restraining order previously
entered by the state court that enjoins the defendants through December 12,
2000 from proceeding with Trilogy's cash tender offer to acquire all of
pcOrder's outstanding Class A common stock at a price of $6.375 per share.

Following the remand of the Stahl case, the defendants yesterday filed a
motion to dissolve the temporary restraining order with the state court. A
hearing has been set for 10:00 a.m. today on the issue.


U-M: Hopes Washington Ruling Will Favor Admission Case Outcome
--------------------------------------------------------------
University of Michigan officials hope a federal appeals court ruling in an
affirmative action lawsuit against the University of Washington Law School
could positively foreshadow the outcome of a similar U-M case.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Washington Law School
acted legally when it considered an applicant's race in admissions
decisions. The school has since abandoned that practice after voters banned
affirmative action programs in 1998.

The nonprofit Center for Individual Rights, the law firm that represents
the three white plaintiffs in the Washington case, also brought the suit
against U-M. "Although it has no direct legal effect, this ruling certainly
confirms that policies like the University of Michigan's are legal,
effective and fair," said Liz Barry, U-M's deputy general counsel.

Meanwhile, attorneys in the U-M case are waiting to hear whether a Detroit
judge will decide its case without a trial. Both sides argued Nov. 16 that
U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan should issue an immediate ruling in
their favor.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in 1997 by two white applicants who
claim they were denied admission because of a racially discriminatory
admissions policy. A similar lawsuit against the Law School is scheduled
for trial on Jan. 16.

At issue is whether U-M can consider an applicant's race to create a
diverse student body, which U-M officials argue is legal and essential for
a well-rounded education.

Terry Pell, executive director of the Center for Individual Rights,
downplayed the decision. He wasn't sure if the center would appeal.

"The game is far from over," Pell said. "We still think we will win in
Michigan."

Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez, writing for a three-judge panel of the 9th
Circuit, cited the U.S. Supreme Court's complex 1978 Bakke vs. University
of California decision, which found that while a quota system is illegal,
race can be considered.

The 9th Circuit includes Washington and California, where the decision will
have no effect because voters have banned affirmative action, and seven
other states.

Legal experts predict the Supreme Court will eventually hear the U-M case
because the admissions policy is still used.

"We, therefore, leave it to the Supreme Court to declare that the Bakke
rationale regarding university admissions policies has become moribund, if
it has," Fernandez wrote. "We will not." (The Detroit News, December 6,
2000)


WATER CONTAMINATION: LPIC Devises E.Coli Checklist for Ontario Lawyers
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The insurer for Ontario's lawyers has devised a checklist for practitioners
advising applicants to a plan that compensates victims of lethally tainted
water in the town of Walkerton.

The unusual move is a "pro-active" attempt to minimize risks to lawyers,
said Malcolm Heins, president of the Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Co.
(LPIC), who said independent legal advice "has always been a claims source
for lawyers."

He said Walkerton, where seven died and 2,000 became ill from water
containing a lethal strain of e-coli bacteria, "is an unusual situation, in
the sense that the government compensation plan specifically pays for
independent legal advice.

"Our concerns, frankly, were that lawyers needed some guidance, they needed
to properly document the advice they gave to clients when reviewing the
compensation plan."

The checklist, which is available on LPIC's website, was prepared by
Toronto lawyer Philip Epstein. It allows lawyers to document specific
advice they give on a point-by-point basis.

"It was designed to track the issues that would rise to the surface in the
compensation plan in Walkerton. It's just telling the lawyer, 'Document
what you said,'"said Heins.

"The bottom line is if lawyers don't do a good job in this area, LPIC would
end up being the backstop."

An ongoing inquiry into the Walkerton tragedy chaired by Justice Dennis
O'Connor of the Ontario Court of Appeal has heard manure-tainted runoff and
unsafe wells caused the deaths. The tap water there remains undrinkable.

The province established the plan to reimburse people in the area who
suffered monetary, physical or emotional damages.

After receiving independent legal advice, which is covered by the plan, the
resident submits a monetary request to Crawford Adjusters Canada, an
independent firm. If the adjuster disagrees with the amount, the parties go
to mediation. If that fails to settle the matter, binding arbitration
follows.

The applicant forgoes the right to sue.

"We are trying to do the right thing by the people of Walkerton,"Attorney
General Jim Flaherty said recently. Peggy Huigenbos, Flaherty's
communications assistant, said that by Nov. 2, the province had received
407 applications for compensation and 103 settlements had been reached.

Huigenbos did not know how many settlements were reached before mediation
or arbitration. The settlement figures are confidential.

The province recently altered the plan to allow applicants to reapply if
they incur further costs. LPIC welcomed this change, and dropped its
criticism of the plan.

"That was a major change to the plan,"said Heins. "The risk was even
greater for lawyers in the first plan."

A $300-million class-action suit has been filed against the province, the
town's public utilities commission, the town and the local health unit.
Superior Court Justice Warren Winkler is expected to decide next month
whether the suit will be certified.

Heins said a checklist for general independent legal advice has long been
available from LPIC.

"The biggest [error] is usually the failure to adequately document the
advice you gave,"he said.

"In other words, you get into a dispute a number of years hence where a
client says, 'Well you didn't tell me this,'and a lawyer says, 'Oh, I think
I did.'

"But in the absence of notes in the lawyer's file, generally our experience
has been that the court will prefer the client's recollection of events,
particularly if a client has a specific recollection of an event, and a
lawyer has a more general recollection or no recollection at all, if he's
done enough of these [cases], as to what he said to one client as opposed
to another client." (The Lawyers Weekly, November 24, 2000)


* Ontario AG Tells Lawyers To Lobby For Contingency Fees
--------------------------------------------------------
Lawyers should intensify their lobbying of legislators if they want Ontario
to permit contingency fees beyond class-action proceedings, says Attorney
General Jim Flaherty.

"I think the Bar has work to do in lobbying ... to give the issue more
prominence to some of the elected members who I don't think have it on
their radar screens," Flaherty told a County of Carleton Law Association
civil litigation conference here.

"Lawyers don't lobby enough,"Flaherty told the group. "I tell you the other
professional groups lobby a lot more than lawyers do and 'lobby' is not a
bad word. Lobby just means to me putting your position forward in a
reasonable way so that the right people are informed when they deal with
policy issues."

In a wide-ranging interview on Ontario's "justice agenda,"which includes
bills to regulate paralegals, permit incorporation of law firms, and reform
the Limitations Act, Flaherty vigorously denied accusations by the criminal
defence Bar that he is fear-mongering and unfairly attacking the Supreme
Court of Canada in the wake of the high court's 5-4 ruling in R. v. Starr
on Sept. 29.

"I'm responsible for the administration of justice in Ontario,"he told The
Lawyers Weekly.

"The [Ontario] Crown has filed a factum in the Supreme Court of Canada
seeking clarification of certain aspects of the Starr decision,
particularly its retroactivity or non-retroactivity.

"I think it's our duty to make clear to the Supreme Court of Canada what
the potential consequences are, which is what we have done through the
material that has been filed in the court."

On Nov. 1, the Supreme Court began examining Ontario's motion for a
rehearing in Starr, a case that has already been reheard once by the court.

Ontario alleges the majority's "potentially devastating"ruling on the
nature of jury instructions on "reasonable doubt"jeopardizes at least 88
serious convictions in Ontario.

The province says the cases include "a rogue's gallery ... of persons
convicted of some of the most gruesome and infamous killings of the 1990s."

The court indicated jurors should be told they can convict only if they are
almost certain that the accused committed the offence. Ontario contends
that many cases, which took up more than 12 years of court time, may have
to be retried if the court does not restrict its decision to future trials.
Meanwhile, defence lawyers say the province is politicizing the top court
with hysterical, inaccurate attacks based on inflammatory, misleading
statistics.

"I think putting the facts before the Supreme Court of Canada is my
job,"Flaherty flatly responded.

Flaherty said he continues to support the introduction of contingency fees
in Ontario, which currently are allowed only in class proceedings, although
he doesn't anticipate introducing a bill before next spring.

Upcoming developments in court may lead to a "non-legislative"solution, he
suggested.

"There is the possibility that if ultimately in the caselaw it's determined
that contingency fees are not illegal in the operation of the law ... we
may be able to deal with this through cooperation with the Law Society and
the Canadian Bar [Association] and through a regulatory scheme and it won't
be necessary to introduce a bill in the legislature."

Flaherty said new caselaw "may be helpful, depending on how that
evolves."He alluded to Superior Court Justice Harvey Spiegel's recent
decision on an assessment appeal that contingency fee arrangements are no
longer considered champertous and therefore unenforceable in the province.
That decision was not appealed. As well, on Dec. 8, the Superior Court will
hear a constitutional challenge that asserts the Champerty Act is
discriminatory and violates the rights to liberty and freedom of
expression.

Ontario is the only North American jurisdiction that does not permit
contingency fees (except in class actions). "I think there is fairly broad
public support for bringing in a regulated system of contingency fees for
access-to-justice purposes,"Flaherty said.

The attorney general said he plans to introduce, before Christmas, a bill
on paralegals which will be sent to committee for extensive study before
second reading. The government bill would follow "the general direction"
recommended by former Supreme Court Justice Peter Cory in his recent report
on paralegals.

The attorney general added that the Law Society of Upper Canada has been
lobbying effectively on the bill and he is sympathetic to concerns
expressed by both the real estate bar and estate lawyers.

"I've listened carefully to some of the very sincere concerns that some bar
groups have and I expect that there will be some modifications of the
proposed bill as a result of those submissions,"he said.

He had heard "very clearly from the real estate bar that they are concerned
about the potential impracticality of paralegals doing one part of a real
estate transaction and not doing another part of a real estate
transaction."

He said he had also heard "about concerns from the estates lawyers about
whether or not there is such a thing as a simple will, and concerns about
pension evaluations and some of the very serious issues that lawyers need
to address, and do address, when they deal with estate matters and the
preparation of wills.

"Those are two examples where we have to give very serious consideration to
the representations that have been made by members of the Bar." He said
reforms to the Limitations Act, which now includes draconian notice
provisions that benefit the Crown, are long overdue.

"We are serious about this. We have devoted a lot of resources to
this,"Flaherty said, describing work with other ministries "to try to bring
everyone around to a common position."

Promising a bill that will win broad support, he said the personal injury
bar "will find that there will be fewer limitation periods, many fewer
limitation periods, which serves the public."

Legislation that will permit law firm incorporations will likely be
incorporated in a "red tape"bill, he said, likely in the spring session.

Coming before Christmas is a bill, the first of its kind in Canada, which
will permit the Crown to seize the illegal profits of "organized, corrupt
organizations,"Flaherty said.

"The concept is to create a mechanism within our constitutional
jurisdiction of property and civil rights to seize and freeze assets of
illicit organizations,"he said.

"It's been done in the United States, federally, and in a number of states.
The U.K. is moving down the same path. It's been done in Ireland, South
Africa, Italy and elsewhere."

Flaherty said he expects Charter attacks when the bill becomes law. "I'd be
surprised if there were not constitutional challenges."

A "justice reform"bill, to be introduced within weeks, would, among other
things, raise the monetary jurisdiction, and simplify some of the
procedure, for small claims court.

Flaherty said he also anticipates appointing about three to five case
management masters in Toronto, because of backlogs, particularly in civil
motions.

"It's very important that this is done in a context of several steps being
taken to manage case management in the Toronto context, which is a unique
context with high volumes." (The Lawyers Weekly, November 17, 2000)

                             *********


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