CAR_Public/010119.MBX               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

              Friday, January 19, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 14

                             Headlines

ALLSTATE INSURANCE: Responds to Story Re “Do I Nees and Attorney” Form
BLUE ISLAND: Refinery Sued for Alleged Safety Violations Shuts Down
CREDIT CARDS: Lawsuits Allege Overcharge in Equipment Leases
CS COMMUNICATIONS: Contract Cable Installers Sue over Labor Violations
DEUTSCHE BANK: Ap Ct Affirms Settlement Approval in Suit Re Nazi Regime

DIRECTIV: Sued Again for Alleged Monopolistic Practices in Subscription
FLORIDA WINDSTORM: Lawsuit Seeks to Overturn FWUA's Rate Increase
GREAT WESTERN: Named in Campground Memberships Suit for Lending to TAI
HIP IMPLANT: 100 Atlanta Residents Affected By Nationwide Recall
HMOs: Aetna in Preliminary Talks To Settle Its Share of Suit Re Industry

INTERNET GAMBLING: AL Suit Vs Citibank Filed in 1998 Is in Prelim Stages
INTERNET GAMBLING: Visa International Sued in California in May
LAWNWOOD REGIONAL: 1 Settlement Reached in a Number of Malpractice Suits
NEW ERA: Barrack Rodos Announces Suit in CO Alleging Misrepresentations
POWERCERV CORP: Announces Dismissal of Securities Suit in Florida

QWEST COMMUNICATIONS: Settles New Mexicans' Phone Delay Suit for $6 Mil
SOFAMOR DENEK: Tenn. Court Won't Accept Cross-Jurisdictional Tolling
SPIRIT AIRLINES: Passengers stranded in L.A. airport over Holiday Sue
SPRINT: Scott & Scott Files Suit in TX over Trade Practices Re ION
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Ex-researcher Testifies against P.M. on Tar Content

U-M: Retired Professor Says Minorities Have Higher Chance to Study Law
VA LINUX: Schiffrin & Barroway Issues Statement on Securities Suit in NY
VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS: Customers Sue in Columbia over Internet Delays
WATER CONTAMINATION: Well Owners Sue over TCE: AG Gets Lockformer Report
WORLDCOM: FCC Removes Last Major Regulatory Obstacle for Intermedia Deal

YORK UNIVERSITY: Angry Students File $400M Suit for Damages from Strike

                               *********

ALLSTATE INSURANCE: Responds to Story Re “Do I Nees and Attorney” Form
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The National Law Journal has published an article on Allstate’s reponse
to the journal’s article "West Virginia bar beats Allstate over client
advice" [12-18-00].

First and foremost, Allstate objects to the suggestion that the opinion
of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit somehow reviewed and
endorsed the state bar's 1997 opinion concerning Allstate's "Do I Need An
Attorney?" form and/or our Claim Core Process Redesign program.

Allstate says the company had asked the federal court to review the state
bar's actions, but neither the 4th Circuit nor the federal district court
addressed the merits of the state bar's opinion, as is clear from the 4th
Circuit ruling: "We address only whether or not the district court
properly dismissed the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and
do not consider the application of the abstention doctrine. Neither do we
express an opinion on the merits of the case."

Allstate says that although the 4th Circuit has now ruled against
Allstate on the jurisdictional issue, the company believes that a federal
court is the proper forum in which to assert Allstate's constitutional
rights under the First Amendment and the commerce clause.

Allstate points out that the article omitted any reference to the
unanimous 1999 decision of the seven-judge Pennsylvania Commonwealth
Court that the "Do I Need An Attorney?" form was not unauthorized
practice of law, or the May 2000 decision of that court holding that
Allstate's claims process did not constitute unauthorized practice.

Allstate disagrees to what the article states, that "In January [2000],
the Washington State Bar Association found [Allstate] guilty of the
unauthorized practice of law. That case was appealed to federal court in
Seattle." Allstate says that this also is not true. In January 1999, a
state trial judge in Washington did rule, on a motion for partial summary
judgment, that an Allstate adjuster had engaged in the unauthorized
practice of law by filling in the blanks on a printed release form and
transmitting it to the plaintiffs, Allstate says. Allstate advises that
the company respectfully disagrees with that decision, and their appeal
of it is in process.

Allstate also points to the article’s citing of attorney Jim Peterson as
saying that the 4th Circuit's opinion is "strong enough to prompt him to
file a nationwide class action against Allstate." In this regard Allstate
notes that Mr. Peterson has already filed a putative nationwide class
action, pending in Cook County, III. Last April 26, the plaintiffs'
motion to certify a nationwide class was denied, and in November, the
plaintiffs' motion to reconsider that ruling also was denied.

Allstate indicates that the company will continue to defend its right to
help claimants make informed decisions about whether to retain an
attorney. (The National Law Journal, January 15, 2001)


BLUE ISLAND: Refinery Sued for Alleged Safety Violations Shuts Down
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Activists hoped the lawsuits, safety violations and shutdowns by state
and federal environmental officials would force improvements at the
Premcor Blue Island Refinery to benefit workers and the surrounding
community.

But Wednesday's announcement that the plant would close and 297 workers
would lose their jobs by the end of the month poses a different kind of
threat: an economic downturn that few can afford.

"Our contention was that [Premcor] needed to fix problems at the plant
because it needed to be safe," said Joan Silke, president of the Blue
Island Good Neighbor Committee, which had fought for improvements since
1992. "Unfortunately, they took the position this morning to no longer
run the plant. "Our hearts go out to the workers and their families
because our fight was with the corporate decisions, not the workforce.
But I would rather see 297 workers alive than 297 dead employees, because
everyone was at risk."

Workers said the closing was a blow to them and the community. "Hey, I
sympathize with people. I wouldn't want to breathe that stuff, either,"
said Joe Glowaski of Beecher. "But instead of having 300 people who pay
taxes, now you have 300 people collecting unemployment."

Worker Daniel Grossheider of Tinley Park said, "I don't think it's really
sunk in yet. Some of us figured the plant would be sold--not closed. Now
we're looking for jobs."

During a news conference in Chicago, Premcor officials said the closing
was based strictly on economic factors, particularly the high cost of
upgrading the plant to meet government mandates for cleaner-burning
gasoline. "For the sake of our employees and the local business
community, we wish a different conclusion could be reached," said William
C. Rusnack, CEO of Premcor Refining Group. "However, given the economic
factors I have mentioned, continuing to refine oil at Blue Island does
not make business sense for Premcor."

The announcement comes on the heels of several corporate closings in the
Chicago area, including the nearby Robbins incinerator, which laid off 80
full-time workers and shut its plant after two years of operation in
November. Also, Schaumburg-based Motorola Inc. plans to lay off 2,500
workers in Harvard by the end of the year.

About 30 employees affected by the Premcor closing live in Blue Island,
while most of the rest live throughout the south and southwest suburbs.

Because the plant was in an unincorporated area outside Blue Island, the
municipality did not receive tax revenue, but Blue Island School
Districts 218 and 130 each got roughly $500,000 in tax revenue a year.

The abrupt closing of the plant ends the tumultuous relationship between
Premcor, formally known as Clark Oil, and the community. The situation
came to a head last summer when a faulty valve at the plant caused the
release of more than 23 tons of chemical-laden dust across the city.

Shortly afterward, two class-action and three civil lawsuits were filed
on behalf of local residents who said the plant has caused them emotional
and financial harm. Also, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
the Illinois attorney general's office have each filed lawsuits against
the company since 1997, accusing it of long-standing non-compliance with
regulations.

Premcor officials said federal mandates to produce low-sulfur fuel
required an estimated $40 million in upgrades to the facility, built in
1945. Plant officials said the site did not generate "a return
sufficient" to justify such an investment.

Instead, the St. Louis-based company will invest in its remaining three
plants, in Downstate Hartford and in Ohio and Texas.

The plant will stop refining crude oil on Jan. 27 and close its doors for
good on Jan. 31. An adjacent tank farm, where processed gasoline is
stored, will remain open.

Rusnack said several parties have shown interest in buying the refinery
site, but no formal offers have been made, making him "unhopeful" that a
shutdown could be avoided.

It's unclear how or even if shutting down the 80,000-barrel-a-day
operation would affect oil supplies or prices in the Chicago area.

Rusnack said petroleum prices are determined by several factors, such as
inventory and the price of crude oil, gasoline and feedstock blended into
gasoline.

The Hartford refinery, he said, would honor any contractual agreements
with Chicago-area facilities that Premcor supplies, including Clark
gasoline stations, its primary customer in the area.

"All pricing on existing contracts moves as the market moves. They are
not fixed under any circumstance," Rusnack said. "It's a very complex
system, and you can't look at any one factor and predict what might
happen tomorrow."

Blue Island Mayor David Peloquin said the closing would allow the city to
move beyond Premcor's problems to finding a safe and profitable operator
for the plant.

"Whenever you lose around 300 jobs in an area, it's not good for the
economy, but we have to look at what the future holds. We have an
opportunity to take that land and make it as productive as possible and
as quick as possible. We can't let the closing deter [us] from making the
plant profitable."

Peloquin said the city plans to meet with state and county officials to
discuss what funds would be available to clean and revamp the site for
future industrial use.

There also may be discussions with nearby Robbins about collaborating on
finding an industrial tenant to occupy both the shuttered incinerator
site and refinery plant, which face each other at Kedzie Avenue and 131st
Street.

Local environmentalists said the closing validated their position that
Premcor could not afford to operate the plant safely.

State and federal regulators will monitor the plant closing, said Matthew
J. Dunn, environmental enforcement chief for the Illinois attorney
general's office. (Chicago Tribune, January 18, 2001)


CREDIT CARDS: Lawsuits Allege Overcharge in Equipment Leases
------------------------------------------------------------
On June 23, 2000, Humboldt Bank was served with two lawsuits entitled
Christopher Bradford, et. al. v. Leasecomm Corporation, et. al. ,
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Middlesex, ss. (Superior Court Civil No.
00-2756), and Frances M. Okougbo, et. al. v. Leasecomm Corporation, et.
al. , Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Middlesex, ss. (Superior Court Civil
No. 00-2757).

These are purported class action lawsuits in which plaintiffs allege that
they were charged excessive fees by defendants for entering into non
cancellable equipment leases and merchant agreements in connection with
establishing a business in which revenues may be received through credit
cards payments.

In the Bradford and Okougbo lawsuits, plaintiffs are alleging, among
other things, that CardService International, and creditcards.com used
deceptive practices to sign plaintiffs to merchant agreements
establishing merchant accounts with Humboldt Bank and were charged
excessive fees. CardService International and creditcards.com are
independent service and marketing organizations that market Humboldt
Bank's merchant services.

In the Bradford and Okougbo lawsuits, plaintiffs are also alleging that
Humboldt Bank was either an agent of CardService International and
creditcards.com, or CardService International and creditcards.com were
agents of Humboldt Bank, and that Humboldt Bank should be jointly and
severally liable for any damages. Plaintiffs in the Bradford and Okougbo
lawsuits are seeking, among other things, a refund of all monies paid,
including costs and interest, and attorney's fees and multiple damages.
These cases are in their initial stages, and Humboldt Bank has an
indemnification agreement with CardService International. Further,
Humboldt Bancorp is seeking indemnification from creditcards.com.


CS COMMUNICATIONS: Contract Cable Installers Sue over Labor Violations
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A group of cable installers has filed a class-action lawsuit against one
of Frederick's oldest continuously running businesses, setting up a
potentially costly legal battle over alleged contract violations as the
company continues to expand rapidly into the cable market.

GS Communications, a subsidiary of the Great Southern Printing and
Manufacturing Co., founded in 1888 as a newspaper publisher and printing
firm, is one party named in a suit filed by cable installer Randy Hively.

Hively, who worked as an independent contractor for Bal Com Inc., the
other company named in the lawsuit, seeks $ 113,213 in damages. He said
he was bilked out of the money when GS Communications and Bal Com treated
him as a de facto employee without giving him full-employee pay and
benefits.

Hively, of Frederick, and his attorney, William Haugh, said about 200
current and former contract employees may join the class-action suit.
That could bring the amount of damages sought against Bal Com and GS
Communications to more than $ 22 million. Four installers, in addition to
Hively, have signed on to the lawsuit, Haugh said.

Great Southern has a long history in Frederick, and its executives have
been bound inextricably with the county's history and politics. The
company that eventually became Great Southern has published the Frederick
News since 1883. The newspaper is one of the last family-owned newspapers
in Maryland and one of a handful remaining in the country. In 1916, Great
Southern bought the Frederick Post.

Jake Tamse, director of public relations for GS Communications, said the
charges are "without merit." "We're going to vigorously defend against
them," he said.

Bal Com counsel Jim Balcovic called the lawsuit, filed Jan. 5, "very
disturbing" and said his company, based in New Cumberland, Pa., treats
contract laborers fairly. "We have been in this same line of business
since 1972," he said, "and during those 28 years, we've been reviewed by
numerous state and federal agencies, and each has determined that we
operate in a legal manner with our independent contractors."

GS Communications, based in Frederick, provides cable services across a
four- state region and was incorporated as a subsidiary of Great Southern
Printing and Manufacturing in 1966. Since then, it has bought several
smaller cable companies and now has more than 105,000 customers in
Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia.

Like many cable companies, GS Communications hires independent
contractors for installation work, and Bal Com acts as a middleman,
providing contract labor for GS Communications and several other cable
companies in the region. It generally employs 75 to 100 contract
installation workers, Balcovic said.

Those workers sign contracts indicating that they will provide their own
workers' compensation and other benefits. Hively contends that Bal Com
and GS Communications treated him and other workers as regular, full-time
employees, demanding that they wear uniforms and work under conditions
that differed from those specified in the contracts.

The lawsuit also alleges that a Bal Com supervisor subjected Hively and
others to "harassment, control, undue influence and coercion" and that a
GS Communications supervisor subjected them to "continuous harassment,
control and creation of stressful situations."

Haugh, who successfully represented school bus drivers who filed a
similar claim against the Frederick County Board of Education, called his
clients "highly technical people with real skills, and they would rather
be employees" than independent contractors. "That's what they are, but
they've been treated like contract labor."

Hively said Bal Com backed out of contractual agreements.

"The contract specifically says that if the cable company changes the
specifications for an installation, that Bal Com has to renegotiate the
contract with us," Hively said. He said Bal Com did not renegotiate and
therefore breached its contract.

Balcovic denied those claims.

"The guys are fairly treated," he said. "They didn't stick around in
there for five, six years because they weren't." (The Washington Post,
January 18, 2001)


DEUTSCHE BANK: Ap Ct Affirms Settlement Approval in Suit Re Nazi Regime
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
WATMAN v. DEUTSCHE BANK QDS:01314591

Appeal from the judgment of the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York (Shirley W. Kram, Judge) entered January
12, 2000, certifying the plaintiff class for settlement purposes and
approving as fair the settlement agreement between Plaintiffs and
Defendants, and denying Peter Georgi's motion to intervene.

Parker, C.J.: Peter Georgi, pro se, appeals from the judgment of the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
(Shirley W. Kram, Judge) entered January 12, 2000, denying his motion to
intervene and approving the settlement in this consolidated class action.

Plaintiffs, who are members of groups persecuted by the Nazi regime
during World War II, seek redress for various torts and international law
violations committed against them by, among other defendants, Bank
Austria AG and Creditanstalt AG, (collectively "the Austrian Banks"). n1
After reaching a settlement agreement, Plaintiffs and Defendants sought
both certification of the plaintiff class for settlement purposes and
approval of the settlement. Appellant Georgi, a purported member of the
class, moved to intervene and to add the Republic of Austria and Brown
Brothers Harriman (a private bank) as defendants. Georgi objected to the
adequacy of the settlement, claiming that it is insufficient to cover
even his claim against the Austrian Banks. He also claimed that the
existing parties were providing inadequate representation.

n1 The consolidated class action complaint names both Austrian and German
banking institutions, but only the Austrian Banks' settlement is before
this Court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Cir. affirms the District Court's order
that Georgi's motion to intervene be denied as untimely. Further, the
Court of Appeals affirm the District Court's approval of the settlement.

                             Background

A. Historical Background

In 1938, German troops invaded Austria and annexed it into the German
Reich in what is now known as the Anschluss. Subsequent to this
annexation, the Nazi regime took control over major Austrian financial
institutions, including Creditanstalt and Landerbank (which was later
merged into Bank Austria). During the period from 1938 to 1945, these
banks participated in a process called "Aryanization" whereby the Nazi
regime seized assets and properties belonging to Jewish residents.

B. The Instant Action

Beginning in mid-1998, several individual and class actions were filed
against the Austrian Banks, as well as Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank,
Commerzbank and Hypo Bank (collectively, "the German Banks") in both the
Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, alleging that the banks had
committed various torts and violations of international law in
cooperation with the Nazi Regime. After transfer of the Eastern District
actions to the Southern District of New York, these actions were
consolidated for all purposes pursuant to a February 19, 1999 order. On
March 17, 1999, plaintiffs filed a consolidated class action complaint
against the Austrian and German Banks. The consolidated complaint alleged
that defendant banks cooperated and conspired with the Nazi Regime to
convert plaintiffs' assets on deposit with defendant banks and to exploit
and profit from slave and forced labor.

In December 1998, the District Court appointed Alfonse D'Amato as Special
Master to supervise and facilitate settlement negotiations between the
parties. Formal discovery was not done, but, over several months, the
Austrian Banks produced many documents and provided extensive access to
their records. In March 1999, after several meetings and telephone
conversations, the Austrian Banks and the plaintiff class reached a
settlement agreement in the amount of $ 40 million.

On June 24, 1999, the District Court granted preliminary certification of
the class for settlement purposes and granted preliminary approval of the
settlement. At the same time, it scheduled a hearing for November 1, 1999
to determine whether the settlement was fair, reasonable and adequate
(the "Fairness Hearing").

In July 1999, the District Court approved the plaintiffs' proposed form
of notice and the notice campaign. The approved form of notice included a
description of the essential settlement terms, an explanation of the
claims procedure and mechanism for receiving claim forms, as well as a
cautionary statement that those class members who chose not to opt out
would be bound by the terms of the settlement. Additionally, the notice
alerted class members to their right to opt out and/or to present written
objections to the settlement by an October 18, 1999 deadline.

Between August 13, 1999 and September 18, 1999, notice was mailed to
27,883 Austrian Holocaust survivors. To further achieve the "best notice
practicable," the notice campaign also utilized newspaper advertisements,
direct mailings to organizations throughout the world, and a world wide
web home page.

Three days prior to the Fairness Hearing, on October 29, 1999, appellant
Georgi filed his motion to intervene. He sought to add as defendants
Brown Brothers Harriman (a private bank) and the Republic of Austria.
Additionally, in his motion to intervene, he objected to the settlement
terms and alleged he was being inadequately represented by the existing
parties.

On November 1, 1999, the District Court conducted the Fairness Hearing.
Plaintiffs and Defendants presented evidence regarding the fairness of
the settlement, including testimony by John Rees regarding the role of
the Austrian Banks in the Aryanization efforts and by Alphonse D'Amato
regarding the negotiation process. Georgi and five other objectors to the
settlement appeared at the Fairness Hearing and were given an opportunity
to present their objections.

C. The Settlement's Terms

The key terms of the settlement are summarized below.

1. The Settlement Funds

The Austrian Banks shall fund a "Humanitarian Fund" in the sum of $ 30
million to be disbursed in installments, with $ 15 million to be
disbursed within 20 days of the settlement's effective date n2 and the
remaining $ 15 million within one year after the prior payment. The
Humanitarian Fund shall be used to pay Allowed Claims. n3 By a July 28,
1999 order, Judge Kram appointed the following three members to the
Humanitarian Fund committee to administer the fund: (1) Simon Wiesenthal;
(2) Miriam M. Robinson, Esq.; and (3) Rabbi Gilbert S. Rosenthal.

n2 The "Effective " is defined as the "date when the time for appeal or
to seek permission to appeal a final order approving this Agreement under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e) and a Final Order and Judgment
dismissing the Action as to the Austrian Banks has expired, or, if
appealed, when approval of this Agreement and the final judgment have
been affirmed in their entirety by the Court of last resort to which such
appeal has been taken."

n3 "Allowed Claims" are claims by class members that have been approved
for payment by the Individual Claims Committee and the Court. The
Austrian Banks shall also pay $ 10 million as an "Administrative and
Interim Allowed Claim Fund" payable within twenty days after the
execution of the agreement. This fund will be used to pay administrative
costs, to pay Interim Allowed Claims, and to fund a Historical
Commission.

2. Interim Allowed Claims Fund

The Interim Allowed Claims settlement process will be used to expedite
the review and award of allowable claims by the Honorable Theodore R.
Kupferman. Any awards made pursuant to this process shall be deemed
final, and are deducted from the sum due by the Austrian Banks for
funding the Administrative and Interim Allowed Claims Fund. Any challenge
to the reasonableness of the awards granted shall be made to the Court.

3. Historical Commission

The Historical Commission will be created to ensure the preservation of
documentation and information relating to the acts alleged in the
Complaint, and to maintain a public archive of these materials, and to
identify Class members. The Commission shall have access to the Austrian
Banks' records and shall investigate and publish a report regarding the
activities of the Austrian Banks during the Nazi era.

By a July 28, 1999 order, Judge Kram appointed the members of the
Historical Commission: (1) Dr. Heinricht Senfft; (2) Professor Oliver
Rathkolb; and (3) Dr. Theodore Venus.

4. The Claims Process

Claims will be processed and valued by an Individual Claims Officer,
subject to review on appeal by the Individual Claims Committee. The
Committee shall consist of three members, the majority of which shall be,
if possible, Holocaust survivors. This committee will establish standards
to determine which claims shall be allowed and the amount of these
claims. The Committee shall also have discretion to pay all or a portion
of any claim on an expedited basis, subject to Court approval. Any
disputes shall be resolved by the Court.

By a July 28, 1999 order, Judge Kram appointed the following members of
the Claims Committee: (1) Paul D. Wachter, Esq.; (2) Hon. Theodore R.
Kupferman; and (3) Guy Velella, Esq.

5. Succession/Assignment of Austrian Banks' Claims

The Austrian Banks assigned to the Class any and all of its claims for
restitution, indemnification, or contribution against any financial
institution or commercial enterprise that exercised dominion or control
over the Austrian Banks during the period of January 1, 1938 through
December 31, 1946.

The Austrian Banks shall locate and provide to the Class all documents in
their custody and control which relate to, or witnesses in their employ
who have knowledge regarding, any claims that the plaintiffs have or may
have against the German Banks, including but not limited to information
concerning the exercise of control by the German Banks over the Austrian
Banks.

                         Discussion

Appellant Peter Georgi contends on appeal that the District Court
improperly denied his motion to intervene, and that it improperly
approved the settlement. n4

n4 Plaintiffs and Defendants have pointed out, in their briefs, that
Georgi mistakenly appealed from the District Court's January 6, 2000
Memorandum Opinion and Order, rather than the District Court's January
12, 2000 final judgment approving the settlement. Plaintiffs contend that
this defect is jurisdictional. The Court of Appeals rejects this
contention and will entertain this appeal. See Krause v. Bennett, 887
F.2d 362, 367 n.2 (2d Cir. 1989) (exercising jurisdiction, although
notice of appeal was "technically inaccurate in its description of the
decision from which an appeal is taken" because it was clear that
appellant intended to appeal from the proper judgment and appellee was
not prejudiced in any way by the inaccuracy in the notice of appeal.)

A. Georgi's Motion to Intervene

Appellant seeks to intervene pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
24. He claims an interest relating to the property which is the subject
of the action, and that his interests will be impaired if he is not
permitted to intervene to add two defendants, who he contends are
indispensable parties. The second cirsuit reviews a district court's
denial of a motion to intervene for abuse of discretion. See In re
Holocaust Victim Assets Litig., 225 F.3d 191, 197 (2d Cir. 2000).

Rule 24(a), n5 intervention of right, requires that the proposed
intervenor "(1) file a timely motion; (2) show an interest in the
litigation; (3) show that its interest may be impaired by the disposition
of the action; and (4) show that its interest is not adequately protected
by the parties to the action." Id. (citing Catanzano v. Wing, 103 F.3d
223, 232 (2d Cir. 1996)). Denial of the motion to intervene is proper if
any of these requirements is not met. See id., 225 F.3d at 197.

n5 Georgi's amended motion to intervene does not differentiate between
intervention under Rule 24(a) and under Rule 24(b). The District Court
analyzed his motion under Rule 24(a), and found it untimely. The Court of
Appeals notes that even under Rule 24(b), permissive intervention, his
motion was properly denied, given the District Court's proper finding
that intervention would cause "intolerable delay" and that such delay
would cause prejudice to the plaintiff class. Austrian and German Bank
Holocaust Litig., 80 F. Supp. 2d at 172; see Holocaust Victim Assets
Litig., 225 F. 3d at 202 (affirming denial to permissively intervene
where district court found that intervention would prejudice the rights
of the existing parties).

The Court of Appeals finds that the determination of the timeliness of a
motion to intervene is within the discretion of the district court,
"evaluated against the totality of the circumstances before the court."
Farmland Dairies v. Comm'r of the N.Y. State Dep't of Agric. and Markets,
847 F.2d 1038, 1043-44 (2d Cir. 1988) (citations omitted). Circumstances
considered in this determination include: "(1) how long the applicant had
notice of the interest before [he] made the motion to intervene; (2)
prejudice to existing parties resulting from any delay; (3) prejudice to
the applicant if the motion is denied; and (4) any unusual circumstances
militating for or against a finding of timeliness." United States v.
Pitney Bowes, Inc., 25 F.3d 66, 70 (2d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted).

Here, the District Court focused primarily on the first factor, the
length of appellant's notice of his interest in the action, in denying
his motion to intervene. See In re Austrian and German Bank Holocaust
Litig., 80 F. Supp. 2d 164, 172 (S.D.N.Y. 2000). Appellant filed his
motion to intervene on October 29, 1999, more than a year after the
complaint was filed, approximately three months following the district
court's order that notice be sent to class members, and three days prior
to the Fairness Hearing scheduled by the district court. Appellant offers
no explanation for waiting to file his intervention motion until three
days prior to the Fairness Hearing. The district court concluded that
appellant, who claimed to have spent a substantial amount of time on
Holocaust survivors' litigation, had notice of his interest in the
instant action well before he filed his intervention motion and that he
failed to establish that his motion was timely. See id. We agree.

As for the other factors, the district court noted that, especially in
light of Georgi's request to add parties to the action, this late
intervention would potentially derail the settlement and prejudice the
existing parties, who had been engaging in settlement negotiations for
several months. See id. The court noted, as well, that many claimants are
elderly. See id. The Court of Appeals has affirmed a denial of
intervention in a similar case, where intervention would jeopardize a
settlement between the existing parties and the proposed intervenor's
explanation for the delay was inadequate. See Holocaust Victim Assets
Litig., 225 F. 3d at 198-99. Because of this jeopardy to the settlement,
the district court did not abuse its discretion when it concluded that
the prejudice to the existing parties outweighs any prejudice to
appellant and denied appellant's motion to intervene.

B. Georgi's Objections to the Settlement

Appellant objects to the settlement terms as inadequate and unfair.
Specifically, he contends that class counsel "misled" the District Court
in their representation that the release of documents provided for in the
settlement agreement would be important in the settlement negotiations
with the German Banks. Additionally, he contends that class counsel
under-represented the number of claims that would be made under the
settlement. He also objects to the provision of the settlement agreement
where the Austrian Banks claim "no admission of wrongdoing." Further, he
argues that the $ 40 million amount is too low because it allows the
Austrian Banks to keep money converted from Holocaust victims and because
the Austrian Banks could withstand a higher judgment and makes a
conclusory statement that his interests are being inadequately
represented. Because Georgi offers only conclusory and speculative
allegations and statements outside the record in support of his
arguments, the Court of Appeals finds that the District Court did not
abuse its discretion in approving the settlement. The Cour of Appeals
finds that the District Court properly and thoroughly considered the
factors required to assess a class action settlement.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, a class action cannot be
settled without the approval of the District Court. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
23(e). The District Court must carefully scrutinize the settlement to
ensure its fairness, adequacy and reasonableness, see County of Suffolk
v. Long Island Lighting, 907 F.2d 1295, 1323 (2d Cir. 1990) (citing
Plummer v. Chemical Bank, 668 F.2d 654, 658 (2d Cir. 1982)), and that it
was not a product of collusion. See Joel A. v. Giuliani, 218 F.3d 132,
138 (2d Cir. 2000). The Cour to Appeals finds that it will disturb a
judicially-approved settlement only when an objector has made a "clear
showing that the District Court has abused its discretion." City of
Detroit v. Grinnell Corp., 495 F.2d 448, 455 (2d Cir. 1974), abrogated on
other grounds by Goldberger v. Integrated Resources, Inc., 209 F.3d 43
(2d Cir. 2000). When a settlement is negotiated prior to class
certification, as is the case here, it is subject to a higher degree of
scrutiny in assessing its fairness. See Long Island Lighting, 907 F.2d at
1323 (citing Weinberger v. Kendrick, 698 F.2d 61, 73 (2d Cir. 1982)). The
District Court determines a settlement's fairness by examining the
negotiating process leading up to the settlement as well as the
settlement's substantive terms. See Malchman v. Davis, 706 F.2d 426, 433
(2d Cir. 1983) (citations omitted).

1. Procedural Fairness : The Negotiation Process

A court reviewing a proposed settlement must pay close attention to the
negotiating process, to ensure that the settlement resulted from
"arm's-length negotiations and that plaintiffs' counsel have possessed
the experience and ability, and have engaged in the discovery, necessary
to effective representation of the class's interests." Weinberger, 698
F.2d at 74. We are satisfied that the District Court in this case
examined the negotiation process with appropriate scrutiny.

Here, the District Court expressly considered whether the negotiations
were a result of "arm's length negotiations" and whether plaintiffs'
counsel possessed the experience and ability to represent effectively the
class's interests. Austrian and German Bank Holocaust Litig., 80 F. Supp.
2d at 173-74. The District Court found that plaintiffs' counsel were
"extremely experienced" and were involved in other Holocaust-related
litigation. Id. at 174.

Additionally, the District Court appointed Special Master D'Amato to
assist in the negotiation process, and he testified at the Fairness
Hearing that the process was bona fide, at times contentious, and all
counsel involved were capable. Id. The Court of Appeals has noted that a
court-appointed mediator's involvement in pre-certification settlement
negotiations helps to ensure that the proceedings were free of collusion
and undue pressure. See Long Island Lighting, 907 F.2d at 1323.

Appellant argues on appeal that the counsel involved in this case were
conflicted by their involvement in the German Banks settlement
negotiations, and that counsel misrepresented to the District Court the
importance of the Austrian Banks' agreement to provide access to its
documents. These conclusory allegations, based on speculation and
documents outside the record, are insufficient to warrant disturbing the
District Court's approval of the settlement.

The District Court gave thorough attention to its inquiry into the
negotiation process. The District Court's assessment that the settlement
was the "product of arms-length [sic] negotiations conducted by
experienced counsel, knowledgeable in complex class actions" was not
clearly erroneous as to render its conclusion an abuse of discretion.
Austrian and German Bank Holocaust Litig., 80 F. Supp. 2d at 174.

2. Substantive Fairness : The Grinnell Factors

The Court of Appeals opins that a district court reviewing a settlement
must consider the following nine factors, enumerated initially in
Grinnell Corp., 495 F.2d at 463:

the complexity, expense and likely duration of the litigation, the
reaction of the class to the settlement, the stage of the proceedings and
the amount of discovery completed, (4) the risks of establishing
liability, (5) the risks of establishing damages, (6) the risks of
maintaining the class action through the trial, (7) the ability of the
defendants to withstand a greater judgment, (8) the range of
reasonableness of the settlement fund in light of the  best possible
recovery, (9) the range of reasonableness of the settlement fund to a
possible recovery in light of all the attendant risks of litigation[.]

Long Island Lighting, 907 F.2d at 1323-24 (quoting Robertson v. Nat'l
Basketball Ass'n, 556 F.2d 682, 684 n.1 (2d Cir. 1977)). In this case,
the Court of Appeals finds that the District Court expressly considered
each of the nine factors described above in assessing the fairness of
this settlement. It also considered several specific contentions raised
in eighteen written objections received. The Court of Appeals is
satisfied that Judge Kram's review was methodical, reasonable, and
thorough. The Court of Appeals therefore decline to intervene in the
District Court's approval of the settlement in this case.

Appellant argues that the $ 40 million settlement amount is too low to
cover even his claim. The District Court specifically addressed the
settlement amount, noting that "it is unlikely that any sum of money, no
matter how large, could ever be thought of as righting the wrongs
committed during the Holocaust." Austrian and German Bank Holocaust
Litig., 80 F. Supp. 2d at 179. In reviewing the risks of proceeding to
trial, establishing liability and damages, and the complexity, length and
expense of litigation, the District Court concluded that, given the
difficulties of coming forward with fifty year old evidence and the
existence of possible defenses, the settlement was fair, reasonable and
adequate.

Appellant also argues that the Austrian Banks could withstand a higher
judgment. The District Court explicitly acknowledged that the defendants'
ability to withstand a higher judgment weighed against the settlement,
but explained that this factor, standing alone, does not suggest that the
settlement is unfair. Id. at 178 n.9; see also In re Painewebber Ltd.
Partnerships Litig., 171 F.R.D. 104, 129 (S.D.N.Y. 1997), aff'd 117 F.3d
721 (2d Cir. 1997). The Court of Appeals finds that this conclusion
cannot be considered an abuse of discretion, given that other Grinnell
factors weigh heavily in favor of settlement.

For example, the district court noted that, of the 27,883 notices sent to
current or former Austrian citizens, seventy-two persons requested
exclusion from the settlement and that it had received eighteen written
objections and comments. See Austrian and German Bank Holocaust Litig.,
80 F. Supp. 2d at 175- 76. The District Court properly concluded that
this small number of objections weighed in favor of the settlement. See,
e.g., Marisol A. v. Giuliani, 185 F.R.D. 152, 163 (S.D.N.Y. 1999) ("The
Court views the small number of comments from a plaintiff class of over
100,000 children as evidence of the Settlement Agreements' fairness,
reasonableness, and adequacy."); In re Warner Communications Secs.
Litig., 618 F. Supp. 735, 746 (S.D.N.Y. 1985) (noting small number of
objections and opt-outs, approving settlement).

Also, the district court properly recognized that, although no formal
discovery had taken place, the parties had engaged in an extensive
exchange of documents and other information. Id. at 176. Thus, the "stage
of proceedings" factor also weighed in favor of settlement approval.

Appellant simply has not demonstrated on appeal that this Court should
disturb Judge Kram's approval of the settlement. We therefore conclude
that Judge Kram, following her thorough application of the Grinnell
factors, did not abuse her discretion in concluding that, under the
unique circumstances of this difficult case, the settlement negotiated
was fair and reasonable.

The Cour of Appeals concludes that all other arguments of appellant are
without merit.

                              Conclusion

The Court of Appeals finds that the District Court acted well within its
discretion when it approved the settlement agreement, reached through
arms- length negotiations of experienced counsel, concluding that the
settlement's terms were fair, reasonable, and adequate.

For the foregoing reasons, the Court of Appeals affirms the District
Court's approval of the settlement agreement. The Court of Appeals
additionally affirms the District Court's denial of Appellant Georgi's
motion to intervene as untimely.

Judge Robert A. Katzmann, originally a member of the panel sitting on
June 27, 2000, recused himself and took no part in the disposition of
this appeal. The remaining members of the Court of Appeals' panel, who
are in agreement, have decided the case, pursuant to 2d Cir. R. @
0.14(b). (New York Law Journal, January 9, 2001)


DIRECTIV: Sued Again for Alleged Monopolistic Practices in Subscription
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
DirecTV is facing another class action lawsuit for alleged monopolistic
practices that resulted in increase in price subscribers must pay for its
products and services. Suit filed last Sept. in U.S. Dist. Court, L.A.,
alleged that DirecTV engaged in activities intended to stifle competition
in violation of various federal and state antitrust laws. Suit said all
DirecTV subscribers from March 1996 to Sept. 2000 had been damaged by
DirecTV conduct and were entitled to damages. Best Buy, Circuit City,
RadioShack and Thomson Consumer Electronics also were named in suit.
Sears Roebuck also sued DirecTV claiming, among other things, that latter
had canceled its contract after Sears didn't stop selling EchoStar
products and services. (Communications Daily, January 18, 2001)


FLORIDA WINDSTORM: Lawsuit Seeks to Overturn FWUA's Rate Increase
-----------------------------------------------------------------
The Florida Windstorm Underwriting Association and the state's Department
of Insurance have been hit with a class-action lawsuit that seeks to
overturn a rate increase granted to the FWUA last year. The lawsuit was
filed on behalf of four FWUA customers by attorney David Yon of the
Tallahassee firm Katz, Kutter, Haigler, Alderman, Bryant & Yon.

The lawsuit, filed in Leon County Circuit Court in Tallahassee, claims
the premium increase, which the plaintiffs contend averaged 96%, is
invalid because the state statutes creating the rate-arbitration system
that granted the increase are unconstitutional.

FWUA spokesman Ron Natherson said the organization is preparing a legal
response. "It's certainly their prerogative to challenge the
constitutionality of the statute," he said. "We still see the arbitration
panel as a less costly, less time consuming way to mediate premium
disputes." Natherson also said the lawsuit's assertion that the FWUA got
a rate increase of an average 96% was "somewhat misleading." He said the
FWUA was granted permission to raise rates a maximum 20% in the first
year, 30% in the second year and up to 40% in subsequent years. "In
reality, from last July through December, rates on renewed policies have
meant an average of less than a $10 increase per month," Natherson said.

Natherson also said the wording of the lawsuit doesn't take into account
discounts available for mitigation actions, such as weatherproofing the
home. "Homeowners can achieve policy discounts of up to 60% for
mitigation factors," he said.

The lawsuit presents four allegations:

   -- The arbitration statutes are an unlawful delegation of regulatory
authority to the arbitration panel;

   -- The statutes enable the FWUA to obtain rate increases without
providing due process safeguards to the plaintiffs;

   -- The statutes deny the plaintiffs access to a judicial forum to
contest the setting of insurance rates; and

   -- The FWUA violated the terms of its plan of operation and articles
of agreement by implementing a premium increase without the department
(of insurance's) approval.

Tami Torres, a spokeswoman for the Department of Insurance, said the
department received the complaint a little less than two weeks ago, and
has 20 days to prepare a response. "We are still in the process of
reviewing it," she said. "Our review should be complete about a week from
now."

The FWUA implemented its rate hike last July, after a judge ruled in its
favor and blocked the state insurance commissioner's effort to halt the
rate hike (BestWire, June 27, 2001). Although then-Commissioner Bill
Nelson issued an order June 23 to stop the rate hike, the FWUA filed a
response with the First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee, which
it won.

The FWUA is also coming under legislative fire, as two state legislators
this month proposed changes that they say will give consumers more of a
voice in how the organization is run and more fairness in rate-setting
procedures (BestWire, Jan. 12, 2001). State Rep. Sally Heyman and State
Sen. Ronald A. Silver, both Democrats who represent part of Dade County
in south Florida, propose changing the makeup of the FWUA's board,
repealing arbitration as the FWUA's method of settling rate disputes, and
developing a "public model" for hurricane-damage estimation. (BestWire,
January 18, 2001)


GREAT WESTERN: Named in Campground Memberships Suit for Lending to TAI
----------------------------------------------------------------------
According to the the report by Spectrum Bancorporation Inc. to the SEC,
on November 21, 2000, certain purported class action members filed an
amended petition in an action then pending in an Iowa district court in
Lee County, Iowa against Thousand Adventures, Inc., also known as TAI, to
add as defendants 18 lenders, including Great Western Bank, with respect
to retail installment sales contracts originated by TAI in connection
with its sale of campground memberships.

The amended petition alleges that more than 50,000 class members
purchased campground memberships at a cost ranging from $990 to $10,000
and that TAI assigned the contracts outright or as collateral to the
lenders. The primary claim of the amended petition appears to be that the
lenders, as holders of the installment contracts, are subject to all
claims the members had against TAI, which allegedly include breach of
contract and consumer fraud, among other things. The amended petition
seeks rescission of the campground memberships, an unspecified amount of
damages, punitive damages, interest and attorneys' fees. In July of 1997
a default judgment was entered against TAI certifying the action against
it as a class action. TAI is the debtor in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy
proceeding pending in federal bankruptcy court in Iowa.

On December 19, 2000, Great Western Bank removed the lawsuit to Federal
District Court in Iowa. No discovery has been conducted with respect to
the claim against Great Western Bank. The bank denies any wrongdoing and
plans to vigorously contest all aspects of this lawsuit including whether
the case can properly proceed as a class action. In the event the lawsuit
were determined adversely to Great Western Bank, it could have a material
adverse effect on the financial condition or results of operations of
Great Western Bank and Spectrum, but the amount of the alleged damages is
unspecified and cannot now be accurately estimated by Spectrum or the
bank.

Spectrum has agreed to acquire Great Western Securities, Inc., a $695
million one-bank holding company for Great Western Bank, which serves the
Omaha, Nebraska metropolitan area through 11 locations. Spectrum will
acquire 50% of Great Western Securities common stock for $65,613,000,
consisting of $55,613,000 of cash and $10,000,000 of preferred stock. In
addition, Spectrum will purchase the shares of Great Western Bank not
owned by Great Western Securities for $2,387,000 in cash.

Deryl F. Hamann, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and principal
stockholder of Spectrum, owns as trustee for his children the remaining
50% of the common stock of Great Western Securities. Mr. Hamann's
interest in Great Western Securities will be converted into common stock
of Spectrum as a result of the merger between the two companies. Mr.
Hamann and members of his family will continue to own substantially all
of Spectrum's common stock. The merger is expected to occur in the first
calendar quarter of 2001.


HIP IMPLANT: 100 Atlanta Residents Affected By Nationwide Recall
----------------------------------------------------------------
A handful of Atlanta area residents are among more than 100 people so far
affected by a nationwide recall of a flawed hip replacement implant.

The defective joint can cause severe pain and require surgery to remove
and replace it.

Sulzer Orthopedics Inc., one of the nation's leading makers of artificial
joints, issued a voluntary recall in December after discovering a residue
oil used in production prevented proper bonding of its titanium hip ball
and socket to the pelvic bone. The defect can possibly result in the
Inter-Op socket loosening and slipping out of place, said Jim Johnson,
head of Sulzer media relations.

As many as 17,500 of the faulty implants have been sold in the United
States since October 1999, the company said; a few may have been sold as
early as July 1997. The company started an investigation in September
when it began hearing of problems from doctors; 129 patients have had the
defective part removed and a new one inserted.

How many more will experience problems is unknown, said company spokesman
Jim Moore. "It could be the big unanswerable question is, 'How many of
those patients were exposed to that oil?' We don't even know how to run
the numbers to calculate it," Moore said.

Most of the patients affected are in California, Florida, Texas and
Arizona. Some Georgia patients are affected, the company said, but it
couldn't specify how many.

Patients of at least one Atlanta-area orthopedic surgeon are affected by
the recall. Dr. David J. Covall, who is on the medical staff at Northside
Hospital, said two weeks ago in an interview that he anticipated several
of his patients would need the corrective surgery.

He was then in the process of notifying them and reluctant to comment.

Other major hospitals and orthopedic specialists contacted by The
Atlanta- Journal Constitution --- Emory Healthcare, Piedmont Hospital,
St. Joseph's Health System, WellStar Health System --- said they didn't
use the Sulzer company's artificial hip parts. A spokesman for Pinnacle
Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Specialists, a practice in Lithia Springs,
said its doctors used some Sulzer products, but that no patients have
reported any difficulty.

The problem is likely to have shown up within six to eight weeks after
receiving the artificial hip, doctors say. Sulzer is not recommending the
part be removed from patients who are not experiencing problems. Symptoms
include severe groin pain and the inability to bear weight on the leg.

Sulzer is promising to pay for all medical costs related to the defect.
"We accept full responsibility. We feel horrible about what happened,"
Moore said. "People who work here are profoundly disturbed."

The company has been notified of six class-action lawsuits and numerous
individual lawsuits, Moore said.

Ken Gross, an attorney in Columbia, S.C., filed on behalf of six clients
Wednesday. "They had to go through tremendous pain for months. They also
had to cope with uncertainty because their doctor couldn't figure out the
problem. "

Local orthopedic surgeons declined to specifically comment on the recall
but they did say Sulzer Orthopedics is highly regarded, and that surgery
to implant artificial hip joints is one of the safest, most successful
procedures in medicine.

About 160,000 total hip replacements are performed annually in the United
States. Surgery for one artificial hip costs $ 20,000 to $ 35,000. The
corrective surgery for the recall won't be as involved or costly because
only the lining within the socket shell is being replaced. (The Atlanta
Journal and Constitution, January 18, 2001)


HMOs: Aetna in Preliminary Talks To Settle Its Share of Suit Re Industry
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aetna Inc., the nation's largest health insurer, is in preliminary talks
to try to settle its share of a host of lawsuits that attack core
marketing and operating practices of the H.M.O. industry, according to
lawyers on both sides.

The talks in New York have intensified in the last 10 days as the two
sides await a ruling by a federal judge in Miami on whether some of the
most important cases can proceed. But lawyers said the insurer and the
plaintiffs remained far apart in the settlement efforts.

"They were not advanced discussions on the verge of a deal," a lawyer for
Aetna said.

Within the next few days, the lawyers said, the judge, Federico Moreno of
Federal District Court in Miami, was expected to rule on motions by the
health maintenance organizations seeking to dismiss all or some of the
cases against Aetna, the Cigna Corporation, Humana Inc. and several other
H.M.O.'s.

In those cases and others, lawyers for thousands of members of various
health plans are seeking class-action status for claims that the insurers
violated their obligation under federal law to provide necessary medical
care by using fraudulent marketing tactics and by providing financial
incentives that restrict patient care.

Judge Moreno has scheduled a hearing on Feb. 28 in the class-action
issue.

The issues under discussion, which were reported by The Wall Street
Journal, included demands that Aetna abandon disputed practices like the
use of generalized "cookbook" guidelines as standards of patient care,
penalizing doctors for practices deemed too costly and paying a fixed
amount for doctors to treat all members of a health plan, a practice
called capitation, instead of covering the actual cost of medical
services.

Aetna would not comment on the discussions. But Dr. John W. Rowe,
president and chief executive, and William H. Donaldson, chairman, sent
an e-mail message to Aetna's 40,000 employees on January 17 explaining
the company's position on some of issues.

The executives said Aetna had been conducting "a comprehensive ongoing
evaluation of the effectiveness" of its managed care programs. "We have
concluded that some of the processes we have been using," they said, "are
no longer effective and, in fact, may be counterproductive."

Aetna had been working with doctors and hospitals and had been announcing
"major changes" since last spring, when Mr. Donaldson, then chief
executive, met with the Connecticut Medical Society, the message said.

In a series of announcements and agreements in California Texas and other
states, Aetna has begun to drop certain practices that have angered
doctors, including an "all products" rule that forced Aetna physicians to
accept low-paying H.M.O. patients.

The settlement talks have been held in the New York offices of Davis Polk
& Wardwell, one of the law firms representing Aetna. Lawyers from Gibson,
Dunn & Crutcher, a Los Angeles firm representing Aetna, and Aetna's
general counsel, L. Edward Shaw, have also been present.

On the plaintiffs' side, participants have included Richard Scruggs, the
lawyer from Pascagoula, Miss., who led the legal fight against cigarette
makers; Stephen Neuwirth, a partner of David Boies, the New York lawyer
who argued the antitrust suit for the Justice Department against
Microsoft; and lawyers from the firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes &
Lerach.

In the message to employees, Dr. Rowe and Mr. Donaldson noted that two
federal courts had rejected "essentially the same claims" against Aetna
as those made in the Miami cases. They said the Supreme Court had also
rejected a similar challenge against another H.M.O. "We continue to
believe that the remaining suits are without merit," the letter added.

But Mr. Neuwirth said that the Miami cases were "totally different" from
the earlier cases because they focused "on Aetna's failure to tell the
truth about the practices it uses to reduce care."

Several lawyers speculated that word of the Aetna talks had been leaked
to try to influence Judge Moreno. But Archie Lamb of Birmingham, Ala.,
the lead lawyer in a group of lawsuits filed by doctors against the
insurers, said that "from the doctors' perspective, any discussions at
all are extremely premature."

"We are all waiting for Judge Moreno to rule on a motion to dismiss," Mr.
Lamb said.

A plaintiffs' lawyer said Aetna was the only H.M.O. discussing a possible
settlement. (The New York Times, January 18, 2001)


INTERNET GAMBLING: AL Suit Vs Citibank Filed in 1998 Is in Prelim Stages
------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 7, 1998, the case of Freeman, et al. v. Citibank (South
Dakota), N.A., et al., Civil Action No. CV-98-RRA-3029-S, was filed in
the United States District Court, Northern District of Alabama, Northern
Division. This case is a purported class action brought on behalf of Mr.
Freeman and others similarly situated (VISA credit cardholders issued by
Citibank (South Dakota), against Citibank and VISA International to:

(i) enjoin the collection of debts charged to Citibank VISA cards for
gambling at Internet casino websites,
(ii) have Internet casino gambling declared unlawful and
(iii) recover all payments including principal, interest and penalties
received by Citibank and VISA related to such debts.

Mr. Freeman is alleging that Citibank and VISA were facilitating,
participating in and profiting from gambling by allowing Mr. Freeman to
use his Citibank VISA card to purchase "e-cash" at a website owned and
operated by a provider of such "virtual" commodity (the "Merchant
Provider"), which he accessed from an on-line casino operation. Mr.
Freeman proceeded to play the game of blackjack with his e-cash and lost
$30. The action alleges violation of the federal Wire Act and the federal
Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO").

Mr. Freeman is seeking treble damages pursuant to RICO, punitive damages
and attorney's fees, in addition to compensatory damages and declaratory
relief. Citibank has pending a motion to compel arbitration in the case
and the plaintiff has moved to consolidate this action with others which
have been filed against VISA across the country. To date neither motion
has been heard by the court.

Humboldt Bank is not a defendant in the Freeman case. However, Humboldt
Bank provides merchant processing for the Merchant Provider used by Mr.
Freeman, and on April 21, 1999, Citibank sent a letter to Humboldt Bank
seeking indemnity for the Freeman action pursuant to VISA regulations.
Humboldt Bank and Citibank have had preliminary discussions regarding
this matter, but at this time Humboldt Bank has neither acknowledged nor
disputed the applicability of the VISA regulation cited by Citibank.

The Freeman action is in its preliminary stages and the outcome at this
time cannot be determined. A similar lawsuit in a United States District
Court in Wisconsin (not involving Humboldt Bank insofar as is known) was
recently dismissed; however, that decision is not binding on the Freeman
court. Until the Freeman action is ultimately determined, any potential
action against Humboldt Bank by Citibank would be premature. In the event
it is ultimately determined that Humboldt Bank is obligated to indemnify
Citibank, Humboldt Bank intends to seek indemnity against both the
Merchant Provider and the company which, through its independent
marketing efforts, presented the Merchant Provider's application for
merchant services to Humboldt Bank.


INTERNET GAMBLING: Visa International Sued in California in May
---------------------------------------------------------------
On May 17, 2000, the case of Lawrence Bradley v. Visa International
Service Association and Travelers Bank USA Corp. (Civil Action No. C
00-01777 SBA), was filed in the United States District Court, Northern
District of California.

This case is a purported class action brought on behalf of Mr. Bradley
and others similarly situated (holders of VISA credit cards issued by
Travelers Bank, hereinafter "Travelers" (although Humboldt Bank believes
plaintiff means Citibank)), against Travelers and VISA International
(hereinafter "Visa") to:

(i)   enjoin the collection of debts charged to Traveler's Visa cards for

       gambling at Internet casino websites,
(ii)  have Internet casino gambling declared unlawful, and
(iii) recover all payments, including principal, interest and penalties,
       received by Travelers and Visa related to such debts.

Mr. Bradley is alleging that Travelers and Visa were facilitating,
participating in and profiting from gambling by allowing Mr. Bradley to
use his Travelers Visa card to purchase "e-cash" at a website owned and
operated by Cryptologic and Intersafe Global, which he accessed from
seven online casino operations. Mr. Bradley proceeded to participate in
certain games with his e-cash and allegedly lost in the aggregate $7,048.
The action alleges violation of the federal Wire Act and the federal
Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"). Mr.
Bradley is seeking treble damages pursuant to RICO, punitive damages and
attorney's fees, in addition to compensatory damages and declaratory
relief.

Humboldt Bank provided merchant processing for Cryptologic's and
Intersafe Global's credit card operations, and on July 3, 2000, Citibank
sent a letter to Humboldt Bank seeking indemnity for the Bradley action
pursuant to Visa regulations. Humboldt Bank and Citibank have had
preliminary discussions regarding this matter, but Humboldt Bank has not
yet formally responded to Citibank's letter. The Bradley action is in its
preliminary stages, and the outcome at this time cannot be determined.
The Bradley action is very similar to the Freeman case. In the event it
is ultimately determined that Humboldt Bank is obligated to indemnify
Citibank, Humboldt Bank intends to seek indemnity against Cryptologic,
Intersafe Global and creditcards.com, the company which, through its
independent marketing efforts, presented Cryptologic's and Intersafe
Global's application for merchant services to Humboldt Bank.


LAWNWOOD REGIONAL: 1 Settlement Reached in a Number of Malpractice Suits
------------------------------------------------------------------------
One settlement has been reached in a multitude of malpractice lawsuits
filed against Lawnwood Regional Medical Center by Stuart attorney Willie
Gary.

A lawsuit settled in November for an undisclosed amount in favor of the
plaintiff and patient, John Hawley of Fort Pierce, does not end the legal
saga, said Shields McManus, a partner in Gary's law firm. "The case
against the doctors is still pending," he said.

The suit, originally filed in 1997, alleged Hawley, then 63, lost his
right lung to surgery after being diagnosed with cancer. "But there was
no cancer," McManus said.

The terms of the settlement are not to be disclosed by any of the parties
involved, McManus said. "I can confirm that a settlement was reached," he
said. "I can't discuss the terms of that settlement."

Beth Tuttle, spokeswoman for the hospital, said she would not discuss the
settlement reached in Hawley's case.

Originally, Hawley was part of a $1 billion class-action malpractice suit
filed by Gary that listed as many as 100 unnamed plaintiffs. Judge Scott
Kenney heard the first of many motions in October 1999 and ruled that the
class-action suit had to be separated into individual plaintiff cases and
instructed attorneys to simplify their motions. Subsequent hearings
resulted in judges ruling that the cases should be split to name
individuals. That has since been done and Gary is representing the
plaintiffs, McManus said.

Gary and Boca Raton-based attorney Brian Glick are continuing their work
as partners on the suit against the doctors, McManus said. That lawsuit
includes doctors Leonard Walker, the pathologist; Perry Lloyd, who
specializes in pulmonary disorders; and Nicholas Ioannou, the surgeon.
Originally, the suit also named doctor Michael Arnall, but he has since
been dropped, McManus said. "There was no settlement reached with him,"
McManus said. "He was dropped from the suit months ago because we don't
think he's involved."

Hospital Corp. of America, Lawnwood's parent company, is self-insured
through a subsidiary company called Health Care Indemnity Inc., McManus
said.

Private corporations are not subject to public record laws, although
board reports and financial statements may be required for stockholders.
(Press Journal (Vero Beach, FL), January 18, 2001)


NEW ERA: Barrack Rodos Announces Suit in CO Alleging Misrepresentations
-----------------------------------------------------------------------Counsel
for Class Plaintiff, Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, on January 17 issued the
following:

A class action was commenced in the United States District Court for the
District of Colorado on behalf of all persons who purchased the
securities of New Era of Networks, Inc. (Nasdaq: NEON) ("NEON" or the
"Company") between October 18, 2000 and January 5, 2001, inclusive (the
"Class Period").

The complaint charges that, throughout the Class Period, defendants
violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934,
and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, by issuing a series of material
misrepresentations that artificially inflated the price of NEON common
stock.

Specifically, the complaint charges that during the Class Period
defendants misrepresented that the Company had achieved record results
for the third quarter 2000. The complaint alleges that defendants failed
to disclose that nearly 20% of the "record" revenues was comprised of
non-cash receipts of equity in a number of corporate customers of the
Company in exchange for the Company's products.

The complaint also charges that after the character of the Company's
revenues was revealed, the Company sought to assure the investment
community that it remained comfortable with earnings projections when it
knew that they were not achievable. The dissemination of this materially
misleading information caused NEON's common stock to be artificially
inflated throughout the Class Period. Defendants were motivated to
inflate the Company's stock price in order to sell tens of thousands of
their own shares to unsuspecting investors.

Contact: Counsel for Class Plaintiffs, Barrack, Rodos & Bacine
Shareholder Relations Manager, 800-417-7305, or 215-963-0600, or fax,
888-417-7306, or 215- 963-0838, or e-mail, msgoldman@barrack.com


POWERCERV CORP: Announces Dismissal of Securities Suit in Florida
-----------------------------------------------------------------
PowerCerv Corporation (Nasdaq:PCRV) announced on January 18 that Judge
Steven D. Merryday of the United States District Court, Middle District
of Florida, granted the Defendants' motions to dismiss the July 1997
class action complaint filed by J. Conrad Lifsey (Lifsey v. Ross, et
al.). Explaining his decision, Judge Merryday held "the complaint notably
lacks the type of particularized factual allegations required by Fed. R.
Civ. P. 9(b), the Reform Act, and the controlling case law...Therefore,
upon consideration, the Court finds that the plaintiffs' complaint is
insufficient as a matter of law to state a claim under the relevant
sections of the federal securities laws as authoritatively interpreted."

According to the Order, plaintiffs have until February 16, 2001 to file
an amended complaint. However, the Order also expresses "substantial
doubt" that the plaintiff will be able to properly state a claim.
Finally, the Order instructs that a failure to file an amended complaint
by February 16, 2001 shall result in the dismissal of this action without
further notice. However, the Order states, "Although the Court harbors
substantial doubt that the plaintiffs have sufficient facts at their
disposal to properly state a claim, it cannot yet be said that allowing
an amended complaint would be futile."

Kimberley Robbins, General Counsel for PowerCerv, said, "While the
plaintiffs may choose to file an amended complaint, we believe, as did
Judge Merryday, that they will come up with no new facts to substantiate
the claim. However, should they replead we will continue to contest the
matter vigorously."

About PowerCerv

PowerCerv provides Integrated Enterprise Response to companies around the
globe. Featuring fully integrated enterprise applications with innovative
e-commerce capabilities, PowerCerv solutions enable companies to
completely integrate and extend the management of front-office and
back-office operations. With Integrated Enterprise Response, companies
extend their enterprise operations across the virtual supply chain and
successfully respond to customers, suppliers, partners and employees
around the world. For more information contact PowerCerv at (813)
226-2600, fax (813) 222-0886 or visit www.powercerv.com.


QWEST COMMUNICATIONS: Settles New Mexicans' Phone Delay Suit for $6 Mil
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
About 70,000 New Mexicans kept on hold for not getting their phone lines
right away will share $6 million in credits or refunds from Qwest
Communications International Inc.

Most of the affected customers will be eligible for less than $60, said
Matt Barkett, Qwest corporate spokesman in Denver. The settlement was the
result of a class-action lawsuit that had been filed against U S West
before it merged with Qwest in July.

The agreement is subject to final court approval. It is scheduled to be
heard in state district court in Santa Fe April 20.

The lawsuit, which involved individual and business customers who placed
orders for phone lines between 1993 and late 2000, alleged that orders
were not filled because of "corporate-level misconduct." The lawsuit
claimed that US West had given preference to its "wealthiest and most
influential customers" over rural ones.

The settlement did not include stipulations to fill delayed orders, but
"the overwhelming majority of those now have service," Barkett said.

Qwest denies any liability with regard to the lawsuit, Barkett said.
"These are historical issues we inherited from US West," he said.

Current Qwest customers will get credits on their phone bills, and former
customers will get refund checks, with the amount depending on the type
of service and the length of installation delay.

Qwest recently settled similar cases in Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Colorado
and Minnesota, involving payouts totaling $77.85 million. (The Associated
Press State & Local Wire, January 18, 2001)


SOFAMOR DENEK: Tenn. Court Won't Accept Cross-Jurisdictional Tolling
--------------------------------------------------------------------
In a case of first impression in which products liability plaintiffs
sought to file suit after failing to obtain class certification in
federal court, the Tennessee Supreme Court on Dec. 21 declined to adopt
the doctrine of cross- jurisdictional tolling, which would have tolled
Tennessee's statute of limitations pending a judicial outcome in a
foreign jurisdiction. Maestas v. Sofamor Danek Group Inc., No.
W1998-01907-SC-R11-CV.

The court stated that cross-jurisdictional tolling would encourage forum
shopping by allowing Tennessee courts to become a "clearinghouse" for
cases barred in other jurisdictions and would violate dual sovereignty by
making the Tennessee statute of limitations contingent on the outcome of
a class certification filed in any federal court. (The National Law
Journal, January 15, 2001)


SPIRIT AIRLINES: Passengers stranded in L.A. airport over Holiday Sue
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A class-action lawsuit was filed Wednesday on behalf of eight passengers
who were booked to travel on several Spirit Airlines flights over the
holidays.

The passengers claim the airline refused to provide them with hotel
accommodations when it cancelled their flights and left them stranded at
Los Angeles International Airport, among other airports.

In only one instance of the passengers suing did Spirit, a discount
carrier mainly to East Coast and Florida destinations, offer a $50 coupon
as compensation, the lawsuit says.

"People were getting stranded or substantially delayed because of the
mismanagement of Spirit," said B.A. Tyler, an attorney representing the
passengers. "More importantly, they were not providing people accurate or
truthful information."

The passengers also claim a series of other negligent acts by the
airline, including failure to:

   * Properly schedule flight crews
   * Properly schedule maintenance and/or service crews
   * Properly book seats on flights
   * Accurately inform passengers of the reasons behind flight delays

The suit was filed in Wayne County Circuit Court and assigned to Judge
James Rashid.

Federal officials said Spirit ran out of flight crews with available
flying time.

After the delays, Port Authority officials at LaGuardia Airport in New
York City threatened to prohibit the Fort Lauderdale-based carrier from
landing at the airport in the future because of a shortage of baggage
handlers, counter personnel and flight crews.

Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the New York Port Authority which operates
LaGuardia Airport, had said the airport was forced to use its own workers
to unload baggage from Spirit planes, something he says has been going on
for at least six months. He also had confirmed that Spirit is several
weeks behind in paying landing fees, although the airport maintains an
escrow account from all airlines, including Spirit. Coleman said Spirit
has been given a short period of time to improve its operations at
LaGuardia or airport officials will pull their landing permit.

LaGuardia is a key airport for the 28-airplane operation because it's a
popular destination from Detroit as well as a departure point to various
warm-weather vacation cities in Florida. (The Detroit News, January 18,
2001)


SPRINT: Scott & Scott Files Suit in TX over Trade Practices Re ION
------------------------------------------------------------------
Marketed and sold as the next great advancement in communication
technology, Sprint's ION (Integrated ON Demand Networking) may have been
too good to be true.

According to a lawsuit filed in Dallas County District Court on Tuesday,
January 16 by Scott & Scott, L.L.P., Sprint's Business ION service was
still in development at the time that they were entering into contracts
with business consumers to install the new technology and claiming that
it was ready. "Sprint intentionally withheld the fact that the product
was not available from consumers. Sprint's misrepresentations induced
consumers to enter into contracts to gain a competitive advantage in the
telecommunications market," said Amber Severtson, one of the attorneys
for the Plaintiff.

Lawfinders Associates, Inc. a Dallas based consulting firm, alleges that
Sprint falsely advertised the product, misled the company about the
product's availability, and induced the company to wait for months for
Sprint to install the product that did not exist. "This is a classic case
of vapor ware," said Charles C. Bridges, Lawfinder's controller who dealt
directly with representatives from Sprint.

According to Lawfinders, Sprint refused to provide references of other
users on the grounds of confidentiality. "Only after the promised install
date came and went, did Sprint representatives admit that the product was
still in development," Bridges said.

"We believe that many companies were intentionally misled in the same
manner as the named Plaintiff. We are continuing to investigate exactly
how many business consumers have entered into contracts to purchase this
non- existent product," said Severtson.

Scott & Scott, L.L.P. is a boutique litigation firm in Dallas, Texas
handling complex commercial litigation and consumer technology class
actions. Ms. Severtson is an associate with the firm.

Contact: Amber L. Severtson of Scott & Scott, L.L.P., 214-999-0080


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Ex-researcher Testifies against P.M. on Tar Content
----------------------------------------------------------------------- A
researcher hired by Philip Morris to design safer cigarettes claimed in
court Wednesday that the company abandoned that effort in 1984 and fired
him for insubordination.

Testifying on behalf of smokers suing tobacco companies, William Farone
also said Philip Morris increased the tar in one low-tar brand,
Cambridge, from 0.00 mg to 12 mg over a seven-year period beginning in
1979 without telling smokers the tar content had gradually been
increased. The Federal Trade Commission was told of the change, but
Farone said the message didn't reach the average smoker.

Farone, who claimed Philip Morris had accepted that cigarettes caused
cancer, reversed course in 1984 when he was told "that was not going to
be the new philosophy." "They were maintaining the controversy and the
false sense that there was still an open debate," he said. Farone, who
was director of applied research for Philip Morris from 1977 to 1984,
testified in a class-action lawsuit filed by 250,000 healthy West
Virginia smokers against five cigarette makers.

The smokers are trying to prove that annual medical monitoring, paid for
by the industry, could lead to lifesaving early detection of lung and
pulmonary problems. The lawsuit seeks annual lung function testing after
age 45 and MRI- like testing each year after age 50.

Cigarette makers contend the tests the smokers want are experimental and
so far unproven in changing the outcome for anyone who becomes sick.

The case in Ohio County Circuit Court is the first of its kind in the
country to go to trial. The lawsuit covers people who have smoked the
equivalent of a pack a day for five years since 1995, but who do not
currently have a tobacco-related illness. The other defendants are Brown
& Williamson, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Liggett.

Farone, who was to resume his testimony Thursday, said he believed he was
hired to help Philip Morris design a safer cigarette. He was fired when
the internal climate of the company began to change. As of 1984, "It was
the company's position that it had not been scientifically proven that
smoking caused disease," Farone said. "That was the cause of great
internal strife" because all the researchers knew otherwise.

Just one year earlier, when he was expecting a promotion that never came,
Farone said the company had appeared to accept scientific evidence that
smoking causes cancer and was prepared to embrace improvements. "We did
not engage in research to show cigarettes were not causing cancer. We
were just questioning what was there," Farone said.

Farone said he recommended at least 10 other research projects to help
design a safer cigarette, but Philip Morris killed all of them. Also, the
results of biological tests being done at a lab in Europe were sent to
his supervisor at home, then destroyed. "It made it much more difficult,
almost impossible," to develop a safer cigarette, Farone testified.

Those original research documents were stored in Cologne, Germany, where
they would be out of the reach of American lawyers, ensuring the company
had no liability for the research done on its behalf, he said.

Ideally, he said, tobacco companies should test each ingredient and
additive in a cigarette, as well as the finished product, every time a
change is made.

Although he didn't work for other tobacco companies, Farone said he's
confident that has not been done. He also believes other cigarette makers
have ignored the potential for research that would make their products
safer.

A so-called "gentlemen's agreement" for the industry indicated they would
not test each other's products biologically or on animals "because we
would not compete on the basis of safety," Farone said. "It prohibited
the piece of information that's most critical from being obtained -
whether low-tar products were actually any better than high-tar products"
he said. "You need to test the products you sell. It's just that simple."
(The Associated Press State & Local Wire, January 18, 2001)


U-M: Retired Professor Says Minorities Have Higher Chance to Study Law
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Minority students have a substantially higher chance of getting into the
University of Michigan Law School compared to white students with the
same grades, a statistician testified Wednesday.

The suit alleges the U-M Law School admissions policy discriminates
against white students by accepting minorities with lower grades and test
scores.

Kinley Larntz, a retired statistics professor at the University of
Minnesota who testified for six hours, was the last and most significant
witness for the plaintiff in a federal class-action lawsuit against the
school. Larntz said he found "an incredibly large allowance given to
members of selective minority groups with respect to their chance of
admission." According to his data that compared applicants' grades and
test scores, if a white student has a 10 percent chance of admission, an
African-American applicant with the same academic credentials would have
a 99 percent chance of admission, a Mexican American a 90 percent chance
and a Native American an 82 percent chance.

But U-M officials stressed that the school also considers criteria such
as recommendations. They said Larntz's study does nothing more than show
U-M considers race, which the school admits. They said his study cannot
accurately show how much weight race gets.

Attorneys for plaintiff Barbara Grutter, a 47-year-old Plymouth Township
woman who is represented by the Washington, D.C., law firm Center for
Individual Rights, pointed to specific times when minorities were
accepted and white students rejected with the same academic credentials.

Of the white students who applied in 1995 with academic credentials
similar to Grutter's -- a 3.81 GPA and 161 on the LSAT standardized test
-- eight of 93 were admitted. Of the African-American applicants, all
three who applied were admitted.

"He tried to generalize about race across the whole table. That is not
how the policy works. People with higher grades and test scores are
likely to get in regardless of race," U-M lawyer Liz Barry said. Race
makes the biggest difference for students who are in the middle of the
applicant pool, she said.

U-M President Lee Bollinger was expected to testify on January for the
defense. (The Detroit News, January 18, 2001)


VA LINUX: Schiffrin & Barroway Issues Statement on Securities Suit in NY
------------------------------------------------------------------------The
following statement was issued on January 17 by the law firm of Schiffrin
& Barroway, LLP:

Notice is hereby given that a class action lawsuit was filed in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on
behalf of all purchasers of the common stock of VA Linux Systems, Inc.
(Nasdaq: LNUX) from December 9, 1999 through December 6, 2000, inclusive
(the "Class Period").

The complaint alleges violations of the federal securities laws. On
December 9, 1999, VA Linux completed the initial public offering ("IPO")
of its common stock. In connection with the VA Linux IPO, the Company
filed a registration statement and prospectus (the "Offering Documents").
The complaint alleges that the Offering Documents were materially false
and misleading, because, among other reasons, the Company's underwriters
had received undisclosed commissions from certain investors with the
understanding that they would receive large blocks of shares in VA
Linux's IPO.

Contact: Marc A. Topaz, Esq. or Robert B. Weiser, Esq., both of Schiffrin
& Barroway, LLP, 888-299-7706, or 610-667-7706 or info@sbclasslaw.com


VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS: Customers Sue in Columbia over Internet Delays
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Verizon Communications is being sued by customers frustrated when it took
weeks or months to get their high-speed Internet access installed. The
class-action effort is an attempt to stop Verizon from signing new
subscribers and to force compensation of existing customers.

The complaint, filed this week in Superior Court for the District of
Columbia, alleges that Verizon was aware that it would be unable to
provide high-speed service as promised and knew that its customers would
experience significant disruptions and delays in obtaining technical
support.

The claim alleges that Verizon signs up over 3,000 new customers per day
while knowing that the company cannot support so many.

Verizon spokesman Larry Plum said Wednesday that the company had not seen
the complaint and would not comment on it specifically, but that Verizon
is working hard to satisfy customers. "The industry is only a couple
years old, it uses a very sophisticated technology, and it's seen rapid
growth with the attendant stress and strain," Plum said.

DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line, and, like cable modems, provide
much faster Internet access than through traditional phone lines.

Plum said that the company has about 540,000 high-speed Internet
subscribers and deals with irate customers on a case-by-case basis.

Verizon does not offer DSL service in Metro Detroit. (The Detroit News,
January 18, 2001)


WATER CONTAMINATION: Well Owners Sue over TCE: AG Gets Lockformer Report
------------------------------------------------------------------------Weeks
after finding elevated levels of an industrial solvent in dozens of
residential wells near the Lockformer Co. in Lisle, the Illinois
Environmental Protection Agency has turned over its findings to the state
attorney general's office to determine if the company has violated any
laws.

The move comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by adjacent landowners who
say their wells have been tainted with trichlroethylene, or TCE, a
degreaser and possible carcinogen used by the company to clean metals.

Testing by the IEPA last month at 48 homes near the plant found TCE in 34
private wells, with amounts at nine homes exceeding levels considered
acceptable by the federal government. A separate study by the plaintiff's
attorneys found traces of TCE in 21 of 33 other homes in the area,
including six above the federal guidelines.

Stan Black of the IEPA said his office has not found a definitive link
between spills at the Ogden Avenue company and the tainted wells.

Still, his office has asked Lockformer to provide an alternative water
supply to potentially affected residents, and to begin immediate delivery
of bottled water to homes in and near the affected area.

By also referring the case to the attorney general's office, the IEPA
hopes to determine the extent of contamination from the spills, whether
TCE from the plant reached nearby homes, and whether the company violated
the Environmental Protection Act.

"We feel we need to expedite finding where this TCE comes from that is in
the private wells," Black said.

Lockformer's attorney, Dan Biederman, declined comment Wednesday,
referring questions to a company spokesman. In the past, the company has
said spills at the plant have nothing to do with the contaminated wells.

According to the IEPA, Lockformer discovered the problem in 1991, saying
a spill occurred while TCE was being delivered to the metal-forming and
fabricating firm. The state believes spills of the solvent, used to clean
the metals, may have occurred as far back as the 1960s.

Data collected by consultants for Lockformer showed the spilled solvent
sank about 35 to 50 feet into the ground, then stopped at a hard surface
of clay.

Carried by groundwater, the liquid traveled south toward St. Joseph
Creek. Company officials have said they believe the solvent did not reach
the creek and that the groundwater's path reverses on the other side,
meaning it would not reach any property past the creek.

The homeowners' lawsuit, filed in November, alleges that more than 100
homes, all south of St. Joseph Creek, could be contaminated by the
solvent, and that the chemical has damaged property values.

Shawn Collins, an attorney representing the homeowners, said the IEPA's
decision to refer the case to the Attorney General's office "bolsters the
credibility of what we're doing."

The homeowners are trying to file their complaint as a class-action
lawsuit, a move that has been resisted by Lockformer.

"This isn't a private matter," Collins said. "This is a matter very much
of public health, and it's urgent."

Collins said the immediate need for area homeowners is safe drinking
water. According to the IEPA, many are already drinking bottled water,
either because they have never liked the taste of their well water, or
because of concerns raised by the discovery of TCE.

State officials stress TCE found in the wells does not affect the village
of Lisle's public water supply, and they have found no problems west of
Main Street.

It is unclear if elevated TCE levels in any of the tainted wells near the
Lockformer plant have led to specific health problems. Health officials
say a lifetime exposure to elevated levels of TCE can cause health
problems. State officials have told 15 homeowners to find alternate
sources of drinking water.

Scott Mulford, a spokesman for the Illinois attorney general's office,
said he could not comment on the case. (Chicago Tribune, January 18,
2001)


WORLDCOM: FCC Removes Last Major Regulatory Obstacle for Intermedia Deal
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Federal Communications Commission approved WorldCom's proposed
acquisition of Tampa-based Intermedia Communications, removing the last
major regulatory obstacle facing the two telecommunications companies.
"All we lack now is approval from a handful of states," said Intermedia
spokesman Alan Hill. Once the deal is closed, WorldCom will gain access
to Digex Inc., Intermedia's valuable Web hosting subsidiary based in
Beltsville, Md. The Department of Justice has ruled that WorldCom must
sell the rest of Intermedia to another buyer within six months after
that.

The CAR has previously reported on lawsuits over the matter and Delaware
Court's refusal to block the deal. (St. Petersburg Times, January 18,
2001)


YORK UNIVERSITY: Angry Students File $400M Suit for Damages from Strike
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Angry York University students have filed a $400 million class-action
lawsuit for "economic losses and damages" they claim resulted from the
recent 78-day strike. In a statement of claim, the five students in whose
names the suit is filed - Hooman Rowshanbin, Roderick Hynes, Natali
Mitrovski, Bradley Diamond and Kristopher Moulton - say they are seeking
the sum for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation.

They are asking for a refund of tuition fees on behalf of all students
affected by the strike. Lawyer Jeffrey Kaufman, who is representing the
students, said the amount might grow as more information about the
hardships suffered by students comes to light.

The lawsuit was about economic hardship the strike caused, said J
Wallace, acting president of the York Federation of Students. Money would
be split between 33,000 undergraduates, more than 20,000 graduate
students and students who were not in degree courses, he said. He said
strikers are not being sued because they had no contractual obligations
to students, but the university did, as tuition fees went to it with the
expectation they would receive an education in return.

A rally was to be held at York to support the lawsuit, wallace said. "If
we can get them to agree out of court, it would be good. We have got some
very angry people here."

The university will defend itself in the lawsuit, secretary and general
counsel Harriet Lewis said in a press release. "The term has resumed, the
year will be completed with academic integrity and students will graduate
on time." The university did not want the strike, Lewis said. "It is
regrettable that an agreement satisfactory to both sides took so long."
(The Toronto Star, January 18, 2001)


                             *********


S U B S C R I P T I O N  I N F O R M A T I O N

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by Bankruptcy
Creditors' Service, Inc., Princeton, NJ, and Beard Group, Inc.,
Washington, DC. Theresa Cheuk, Managing Editor.

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

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