CAR_Public/010205.MBX               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

              Monday, February 5, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 25

                             Headlines

ADAPTEC INC: Contests Securities Suit in CA Re April 1997 to Jan. 1998
ALLEGHENY COUNTY: Judge Rejects Murphy's Bif for Land Value Reassessment
ENVIROCARE: Settles Antitrust Dispute in TX, Seeks Utah Permit Amendment
ESSO: Fed Ct Postpones Suit Seeking More Than $1 Bil over Longford Blast
FIDELITY NATIONAL: Appeals Court Decides Formula for Class Action Fees

GENERAL MOTORS: Judge Hears Arguments in UAW Workers' Suit v. Union & Co
HAYT, HAYT: Law Firms Issue Notice of Debt Collection Case & Settlement
HEALTHCARE RECOVERIES: Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Re Subrogation Recovery
HEWLETT-PACKARD: Challenges Cert. of Lawsuit over Replacement Cartridges
HIP IMPLANT: Ruling on Cert. in Sulzer Recall Case Expected in 2 Mths.

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Ct Raises Concerns Over Pact and Attorney's Fees
KANSAS GAS: Sued over Damages for Gas Leaks & Explosions in Hutchison
MICHIGAN: Appeals against Ct of Claims Ruling over Single Business Tax
MICHIGAN: Lawsuit over Funding of Court Operations Pending Certification
OREGON: 9th Cir Overrules Dismissal of Inmates’ Case Re Experiments

OREGON: Dept of Corrections Sued over Spills from Dry-Cleaning Plant
OREGON: Expects to Settle Inmates’ Lawsuit for Medical Care
OREGON: Sp Ct Rules in Favor of Managerial Employees Suit for OT Pay
PASMINCO LTD: Smelter Awarded Legal Cost in Victoris Supreme Court
POSTAL SERVICE: Homeless Seattle Residents Seek Better Mail Service

SCHULER HOLDINGS: Settles Building Defects Suit; Remediation Nears End
STRIP SEARCH: 82-Yr-Old Cop's Mom Who Played Radio Loudly Is Plaintiff
TAINTED WATER: Walkerton E. Coli Victims Urged to Accept Deal
VIRTUA HEALTH: NJ Suit Alleges Medical Equipment Not Sterilized

                             *********

ADAPTEC INC: Contests Securities Suit in CA Re April 1997 to Jan. 1998
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A class action lawsuit is pending in the United States District Court for
the Northern District of California against the Company and certain of
its officers and directors. The class action lawsuit alleges that the
Company made false and misleading statements at various times during the
period between April 1997 and January 1998 in violation of federal
securities laws. The Company's motion to dismiss the complaint was
granted in April 2000. The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint in July
2000. In October 2000, the Company filed a motion to dismiss the amended
complaint. The Company believes the class action lawsuit is without merit
and intends to defend itself vigorously.


ALLEGHENY COUNTY: Judge Rejects Murphy's Bif for Land Value Reassessment
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A Common Pleas judge has rejected Mayor Tom Murphy's 11th-hour bid to
readjust all residential land values in the city, saying the solution for
reassessment-related woes rested with politicians, not the courts. In a
16-page opinion and court order, Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. also
rebuffed Murphy's request to force Allegheny County to essentially
reassess all land in the city this year to correct mistakes the mayor
says were made by revaluation contractor Sabre Systems and Service.

Wettick's rulings probably won't end Murphy's attempts to overturn the
countywide reassessment, which he believes is fundamentally flawed.

On January 31, the mayor told City Council that he would lead a
class-action lawsuit challenging property values if Wettick ruled against
him. Asked about the lawsuit last night, Murphy spokesman Craig
Kwiecinski said, "We are considering all of our options."

Kwiecinski said Wettick left the door open to "future action."

At a press conference 90 minutes after Wettick released his decision,
county Chief Executive Jim Roddey urged Murphy to abandon any more
litigation and focus instead on correcting the city's "archaic" two-tier
tax system, which taxes land at six times the rate of buildings. He said
that "is really the cause of the problem." "I would hope that the city
now would get on with the business of fixing their own problem," he said.
A lawsuit, Roddey said, would be a "continued waste of the taxpayers'
money."

"To continue to pursue this with the same arguments over and over ...
without any different information is really irresponsible," he said. "I
think it's beginning to look more and more like a political exercise than
an exercise in trying to solve a problem."

Kwiecinski countered that the two-tier system was still the "fairest
method for taxpayers when the county assessment system is done fairly and
accurately. "I think it's clear that the mayor's objective throughout
this process ... is to ensure that we have a fair county assessment
system and that the outcry in the community that we've heard does not
indicate that residents share Mr. Roddey's view."

Murphy has been leading the charge against Sabre since early January,
when property owners in some city neighborhoods began complaining about
big increases in their land values. Murphy and City Council attacked the
assessments, claiming that they were excessive or wildly divergent from
property to property.

Murphy has since proposed modified two-tier rates to ease the impact of
land value increases, while his challenger in the mayor's race, council
President Bob O'Connor, has offered a single tax rate on the overall
property value.

In his petition for emergency relief, Murphy had asked Wettick to assess
all residential land in the city at a flat 15 percent of the total market
value as a temporary measure in 2001 to give the county time to correct
reassessment mistakes.

In his opinion, Wettick said there was another way to provide such relief
-- by changing the city's tax rates, just as council is considering. He
said that under law, courts are not allowed to make findings on the basis
of "anecdotal evidence," such as property owner testimony. However, such
evidence, he said, frequently is used as the basis for legislative
action. "Consequently, while I cannot consider this anecdotal evidence,
the mayor of the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh City Council can
consider such evidence in deciding whether adjustments should be made to
the current tax ratios under which land will be taxed at 31.37 mills and
buildings will be taxed at 5.44 mills," he wrote. "In other words, if the
taxing body, on the basis of this anecdotal evidence, does not have
confidence in Sabre Systems' breakdown of total value between land and
buildings, it has the option of abolishing or modifying the present
system of taxation."

He also said there was "no legal justification" for the relief proposed
by the city, particularly since tax bills must go out within two weeks,
long before the city could produce the kind of study required for court
action.

Furthermore, Wettick said that the relief Murphy proposed -- assessing
the land of all residential properties at a flat 15 percent -- was, in
essence, "a request for a single tax rate for residential property" while
keeping commercial properties at the current two-tiered rates.

That probably is illegal, said Bert Goodman, an assessment attorney. A
system that taxes residential properties in a different manner than
commercial properties would be unconstitutional in Pennsylvania, he said.

Wettick did not make a judgment one way or the other, but he noted that
if the law permits such a system, the city does not need his approval to
implement it. "If, on the other hand, the law requires the city to use
the same method of taxation for commercial and residential property, I
have no authority to set aside this uniformity requirement" and assess
all land at 15 percent of the overall market value, he said.

In rejecting Murphy's plea for what amounts to a second reassessment of
land, Wettick said the city first would have to present a "prima facie"
case, based on a comprehensive study, that the system is flawed. He said
the city has the right to return to court at any time if its own study
supports that contention. The city has said such a study could take
months.

While not ruling out mistakes, the county and Sabre have defended the
overall accuracy of reassessed values in the city. The county and Roddey
in his statements last night, have cited as evidence to support the work
an independent audit that gave Sabre high marks for accuracy.

Roddey said that people who believe their property values are unfair
should file appeals. He said he believes the majority of properties in
the county have been assessed correctly. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
February 2, 2001)


ENVIROCARE: Settles Antitrust Dispute in TX, Seeks Utah Permit Amendment
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Envirocare has applied to amend its state permit for storing class A
low-level radioactive waste. If approved, Envirocare would be able to
begin accepting class A waste that is prepackaged in containers. The
stuff is more concentrated in radioactive materials than the loose waste
it disposes at the site 80 miles west of Salt Lake City. Envirocare would
use a portion of the landfill that is already taking class A waste.
In another development, Envirocare announced it is quitting its existing
operations and expansion plans in West Texas.

The move is part of a settlement by Envirocare and Waste Control
Specialists, a Texas waste company that filed a billion-dollar antitrust
lawsuit against Envirocare in 1997. Neither side would discuss terms of
the settlement, but Envirocare president Charles Judd told the Odessa
Texas American that his company would sell its two West Texas facilities.
One was proposed as a long-term nuclear waste storage facility, and the
other as a disposal site that included radioactive and hazardous wastes.

          The Permit Amendment Envirocare Is Seeking in Utah

The amendment differs from Envirocare's controversial class B and C waste
proposal. To accept even hotter waste, Envirocare must get a new license
to open a new landfill at its current Tooele County site so it can
dispose of containers of waste in classes A, B and C.
By using the amendment to piggyback on its existing license for class A
waste, the company can begin part of the expansion it is seeking with its
new license application.
Of the 400,000 cubic feet that Envirocare hopes to dispose under its new
license application, 380,000 cubic feet is the class A waste Envirocare
can begin putting into its existing landfill if the amendment is
approved.

A legislative budget committee has approved the state Department of
Environmental Quality's plans to have four people oversee the expanded
Class-A facility and to levy fees on those who send waste to the Utah
facility, such as medical-waste disposal companies.

Since the proposed amendment is considered an extension of Envirocare's
current business, it only will require a limited regulatory review,
rather than the approval by regulators, the Legislature and the governor.

A hearing was conducted on February 1 on the Class B-C proposal. "The
proposal is for a dump site, a truly hazardous one," said Anne Sward
Hansen of Citizens Against Radioactive Waste, adding that four out of
five Utah residents surveyed oppose the new license. Jay Elkins, a Tooele
County resident, represented supporters. "I want this board to know I'm
all for this license," he said, declaring the landfill safe and well-run.
Bill Sinclair, director of the radiation division, already has given
tentative approval to Envirocare's plans to take on the hotter waste at
the facility.
The class B and C waste would be hundreds - and sometimes thousands of
times more contaminated than material currently disposed at Envirocare.
Opponents say the expansion puts Utah and Envirocare workers at greater
risk.

Supporters say Envirocare's plans offer a way to safely dispose of the
contaminated wastes that include old smoke detectors, medical treatment
waste and medical research waste as well as nuclear plant refuse.
"These wastes are a fact of today's life," Envirocare radiation officer
Art Palmer told the hearing. "We have them on our hands. Our real
challenge is ensuring that they are cared for safely." (The Associated
Press, February 2, 2001)


ESSO: Fed Ct Postpones Suit Seeking More Than $1 Bil over Longford Blast
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Federal Court agreed on February 2 to postpone a class action
expected to claim more than $1 billion damages against Esso, after a fire
and explosion at its Longford gas plant more than two years ago.

Esso spokesman Nick Thomas said that the court had agreed to vacate the
start date of the civil action until a criminal case was completed.

The prosecution under the Occupational Health and Safety Act had already
begun in the Victorian Supreme Court with preliminary matters being dealt
with. The class action was due to be heard in about a month.

Mr Thomas said the court acknowledged that it was impractical, and
potentially prejudicial, for both cases to possibly be heard
concurrently.

The explosion at the Longford gas plant, in south-west Victoria, on
September 25, 1998, claimed two lives and deprived Victorian households
and businesses of gas for two weeks. Insurance companies along with
businesses, consumers and stood down workers are seeking compensation for
the disruption. A royal commission into the disaster found Esso was
largely to blame. (AAP Newsfeed, February 2, 2001)


FIDELITY NATIONAL: Appeals Court Decides Formula for Class Action Fees
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A Court of Appeals ruling answers a question of first impression in
Georgia on how lawyers' fees must be calculated once class action
lawsuits have settled.

The panel reviewed three methods of awarding fees in class actions and
concluded that judges should use the "percentage of the fund" approach.
That method requires a judge to base the fee award on part of the total
settlement, with an explanation of why a specific percentage was
selected.

In finding that the percentage of the fund method was "most equitable,
sensible, and fair," the court reviewed two other methods that are
sometimes used. Friedrich v. Fidelity National Bank, No. A00A1970 (Ct.
App. Ga. Jan. 29, 2001). Under the "lodestar" approach, the number of
hours worked is multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate. "Lodestar plus"
adds a multiplier to the lodestar amount to compensate lawyers for the
risk involved in bringing a contingent fee case.

While the ruling is good news for some plaintiffs lawyers, it may be bad
news for their class clients, says Alston & Bird partner Peter Q.
Bassett. "The ruling is a big plus for plaintiffs lawyers who have good
cases, and by good cases I mean cases of easily established or admitted
liability. They will always prefer a percentage of the fund in those
cases," Bassett says. "The ruling may be bad for class members, because
the way these cases settle is that there is a fixed amount of money in
the common fund," Bassett says. Every dollar that goes to the lawyers
comes out of that fund, he says. Bassett, who has no stake in this
particular case, handles securities class actions, shareholder derivative
suits and class action defense.

The fee award at issue in Friedrich arises out of a class action suit
brought in Fulton County Superior Court concerning a failed securities
offering. The Automobile Insurance Premiums Trust was formed to provide
loans to finance companies, which then provided financing to entities
wishing to finance the cost of their insurance premiums. The complaint
alleged, among other things, that Fidelity National Bank, as a trustee,
breached the trust agreement. Ultimately the defendant agreed to pay
$500,000 to the class. After Superior Court Judge Bensonetta Tipton Lane
approved the settlement, class counsel sought $ 125,169 in fees,
representing 25 percent of the settlement amount plus interest.

But Lane awarded just $81,982 in attorneys fees. In her order, Lane
stated that counsel had submitted records showing the number of hours
spent on the case and the rates charged totaled $92,198. Lane said she
deducted $7,278 in "billings that seemed tangentially connected to this
case or excessive in other ways."

Bassett says lawyers rarely appeal a judge's fee award, but he isn't
surprised that the lawyers did here, since the final amount works out to
less than what the lawyers claimed was the lodestar amount-fees times
reasonable hours worked. "The plaintiffs lawyers got the worst possible
result-lodestar minus," Bassett says. "I've never heard of lodestar
minus."

But, Bassett says, the judge was probably trying to maximize recovery for
the class and was likely motivated by the principals that underlie class
actions.

Charles C. Murphy Jr. and Patricia A. Chandler of Atlanta's Vaughan &
Murphy represented the appellant. James T. White of Stites & Harbison in
Atlanta represented the appellee.

                           Malaria Victim Wins

A Georgia man who contracted malaria while working in Central America is
covered under the Workers' Compensation Act, the Court of Appeals ruled.

The decision reverses a Ware County Superior Court decision that the man
failed to prove his illness was unusual, a requirement for receiving
benefits. The Georgia Code provides that to receive workers' comp, a
person must show that an illness "is not an ordinary disease of life to
which the general public is exposed."

The facts offered by the Court of Appeals' are that Randall S. McCarty,
an employee of Delta Pride, drove a van belonging to the company from
Georgia to Belize, then remained there for six weeks to install
irrigation pipes and equipment on a banana plantation. While in Belize,
McCarty began to experience fever, chills, diarrhea and a lower
backache-all telltale signs of the sometimes fatal malaria. After
returning to Georgia, McCarty was hospitalized.

When McCarty, represented by Thomas M. Hackel of Hackel & Hackel in
Waycross, sought benefits, Delta Pride refused. Ultimately, the State
Board of Workers' Compensation ruled that the requirement that covered
diseases must not be "ordinary disease(s) of life to which the general
public is exposed" logically means ordinary diseases that might be
contracted in Georgia. Delta Pride appealed the ruling to the Superior
Court.

In ruling that McCarty wasn't covered, Ware County Superior Court Judge
Francis Houston relied on the acknowledgement of McCarty's physician that
everyone in Belize is exposed equally to malaria, whether they're at work
or not. Houston also noted that McCarty had agreed that just about
everyone in Belize gets the disease.

But the Court of Appeals ruled the Superior Court exceeded its authority
by substituting its judgment for that of the Workers' Compensation Board,
represented by Douglas L. Gibson of Gibson & Spivey in Waycross. McCarty
v. Delta Pride, No. A00A2157 (Ct. App. Ga. Jan. 30, 2001).

                       Roadblock Constitutional

The Court of Appeals has reversed a DeKalb County Superior Court ruling
that found a police roadblock unreasonable.

In December 1997, DeKalb County police established a roadblock on
Peachtree Road. Police set up the stop to make license and insurance
checks, and to snag drunk drivers. An officer stopped Stuart Sherrill as
part of the block. Sherrill immediately showed his license and proof of
insurance, and there was no evidence that he'd been driving dangerously.
Nevertheless, the officer noticed what he believed to be the odor of
alcohol on Sherrill's breath and asked him where he was coming from. When
Sherrill replied that he'd been at a bar, the officer asked if he would
consent to a field sobriety test. Sherrill was arrested following the
test.

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Denise Majette suppressed all evidence
stemming from Sherrill's stop, finding that the implied consent notice
required under Georgia law was unconstitutional. O.C.G.A. '40-5-67
requires, in part, that when chemical tests are requested, the arresting
officer must read a statement to the person being detained that provides
certain information about the consequences of submitting to the test.
Majette also found that the stop was unreasonable under the
circumstances.

In reversing Majette's ruling the panel stated that the Georgia Supreme
Court had previously reviewed Georgia's implied consent law and found it
to be constitutional. It also explained that in examining the
appropriateness of a roadblock, the issue is not whether probable cause
existed to stop a particular vehicle but rather whether the roadblock
itself was appropriate. State v. Sherrill, No. A00A2063 (Ct. App. Ga.
Jan. 29, 2001). (Fulton County Daily Report, February 2, 2001)


GENERAL MOTORS: Judge Hears Arguments in UAW Workers' Suit v. Union & Co
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A federal judge is to hear arguments on February 2 in Flint on whether a
high-profile lawsuit filed by 142 UAW workers against their union and
General Motors Corp. should proceed.

A decision to let the class action proceed would clear the way for the
workers' attorneys to depose top GM and UAW officials and demand access
to internal company and union documents.

The $ 550-million lawsuit, which piggybacks on a federal criminal
investigation, charges that top UAW and GM officials prolonged by two
months a 1997 strike at GM's Pontiac Truck and Bus plant while bargaining
bogus overtime payments and jobs for union officials' relatives.

The strike lasted 87 days and cost the average worker $ 10,000 to $
20,000, says the suit filed in August.

The U.S. Department of Labor and the FBI have investigated allegations of
improper payouts of more than $ 200,000 and of nepotism at UAW Local 594
in Pontiac. Their findings have led to an investigation by a grand jury
in Detroit. Grand jury testimony typically signals that investigators
might seek indictments or criminal charges.

Despite the criminal investigation into charges mirroring those in the
civil lawsuit, GM says it is confident the suit will be dismissed. The
automaker maintains that such labor disputes are outside government
regulation or limited to review by the National Labor Relations Board.
"Our position is that the courtroom is not the forum to discuss
differences with how labor negotiations went.

Employers and unions are free to modify their collective-bargaining
agreements," said Andrew Kramer, attorney with Jones, Day, Reavis &
Pogue, the Washington D.C. law firm representing GM in the suit. "They've
also got several conflicting arguments in their lawsuit. They say GM at
first wouldn't hire these union officials' kids, which delayed the strike
settlement. Does that mean if GM agreed to hire them right away, then
they'd have no lawsuit? Then they'd have GM hiring people that their
lawsuit says are unqualified," Kramer said.

The UAW and Local 594 maintain that the suit is time-barred, noting it
was filed more than three years after the strike was settled. They say
federal labor law forces such breach-of-representation claims to be filed
within six months of learning of the alleged breach.

The UAW is represented by Samuel McKnight of the Southfield law firm of
Klimist, McKnight, Sale, McClow and Canzano. The UAW filed documents with
the court that the union says shows workers knew of the alleged breach as
far back as 1997.

The workers' attorney, Harold Dunne of Livonia, says the six-month
statute of limitations is immaterial. "The membership filed grievances
with their union right away, within a few weeks of the settlement. They
filed this lawsuit after they realized their union grievance process
wasn't going to work," said Dunne, a former UAW international
representative who has tangled with his ex-employer several times in
court. He said, "The criminal investigation strengthens our case and
should at least push us into discovery, where we can start viewing the
grievances as well as checks issued by GM to settle the strike. We need
that for our case."

Also named in the lawsuit are Gordon Campbell and Todd Fante, two workers
hired by GM after the strike. The suit alleges Campbell, son of a top UAW
official, and Fante, son-in-law of a GM official, were not qualified for
their jobs and got them due to nepotism. (Detroit Free Press, February 2,
2001)


HAYT, HAYT: Law Firms Issue Notice of Debt Collection Case & Settlement
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The following was released on February 2, 2001 by Francis & Mailman, P.C.
and Donovan Miller, LLC:

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
ROBERT F. FRY, JR., on behalf of himself and all others similarly
situated, Plaintiff, v. HAYT, HAYT & LANDAU, Defendant CIVIL ACTION NO.
00-CV-114

NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION AND OF PROPOSED SETTLEMENT

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ALL PERSONS WHO, DURING THE SIX YEAR PERIOD PRIOR TO
JANUARY 7, 2000, RECEIVED A DEBT COLLECTION LETTER FROM FEINBERG AND
LASHIN, INC. T/A HAYT, HAYT & LANDAU AT 400 MARKET STREET, PHILADELPHIA,
PENNSYLVANIA, THAT FAILED TO INCLUDE LANGUAGE EFFECTIVELY ADVISING OF THE
RECIPIENT'S RIGHT TO REQUIRE VERIFICATION OF THE DEBT

Pursuant to an order of the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania (the "Court") dated December 22, 2000, a hearing
will be held on April 2, 2001, at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 7A at the United
States Courthouse, 601 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106,
to determine whether the proposed settlement of the debt collection
claims asserted in the class action captioned Fry v. Hayt, Hayt & Landau,
Civil Action No. 00-CV-114, is fair, reasonable and adequate, and to
consider plaintiff's application for attorneys' fees and expenses.

If you received a Debt Collection Letter from Feinberg and Lashin, Inc.
t/a Hayt, Hayt & Landau at 400 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
in connection with or regard to a debt incurred for personal, family or
household purposes during the six year period prior to January 7, 2000,
you are a class member and your rights (including your right to recover
money from the settlement fund which has been established) will be
affected by the proposed settlement and release of claims.

If you did not receive a copy of the Notice of Class Action and of
Proposed Settlement, you may request a copy by writing to: Fry v. Hayt,
Hayt & Landau, Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 3026, Blue Bell, PA
19422, 800/222-2760.

The last day to opt-out of the proposed settlement is March 2, 2001.
Objections to the settlement by class members will be considered by the
Court if received by class counsel on or before March 2, 2001. The
requirements set by the Court for opting-out of or objecting to the
proposed settlement are set forth in the full Notice of Class Action and
of Proposed Settlement as set forth above.

PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT OR CLERK'S OFFICE FOR INFORMATION.

Contact: Donovan Miller, LLC David A. Searles, Esq., 215/732-6020


HEALTHCARE RECOVERIES: Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Re Subrogation Recovery
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Healthcare Recoveries, Inc. (Nasdaq: HCRI) announced on February 2 that
it has reached an agreement in principle to settle the DeGarmo class
action litigation, currently pending against the Company in federal court
in West Virginia, for approximately $3 million. The agreement in
principle is subject to negotiation and finalization of definitive
settlement documentation, a fairness hearing and court approval. The
Company currently believes that the settlement documentation should be
finalized during the first quarter and the fairness hearing and court
review would take place in the next 3 months.

The Company expects to report a $3.0 million charge arising from the
settlement during the fourth quarter of 2000. The Company will fund this
settlement with cash flow from operations and/or borrowings under its
existing credit facility.

The DeGarmo litigation, which was filed in March 1994 and certified as a
class action in March 1999, involves allegations that the Company's
subrogation recovery efforts violated a number of state and federal laws,
either because they involved collection of amounts that improperly
exceeded the actual costs of the medical treatments provided by the
Company's client or because the Company's client lacked enforceable
rights of subrogation under the applicable healthcare policies or
agreements.

The Company has not admitted liability for any alleged wrongdoing as part
of the agreement in principle, nor will any such admission be included in
the definitive settlement documentation currently being negotiated. The
Company anticipates that, in addition to a cash payment, the settlement
agreement will include certain non-monetary terms affecting its
subrogation recovery activities, primarily affecting one of its clients
in West Virginia. The Company believes that the agreement will not have
an adverse effect on the Company's subrogation recovery activities.

The Company noted that its primary reason for settling the DeGarmo
litigation was its unusual facts, which are, to the Company's best
knowledge, peculiar to this case. The Company stated that it does not
believe that this proposed settlement will have an effect on its defense
of any other lawsuits, and stressed that it does not intend to alter its
determination to defend vigorously those lawsuits.

HCRI is a leading provider of health insurance subrogation related
recovery services for private healthcare payors.


HEWLETT-PACKARD: Challenges Cert. of Lawsuit over Replacement Cartridges
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Charging four points of error, Hewlett-Packard Co. has asked the
California Supreme Court to review the trial court's certification of a
nationwide class of indirect and direct purchasers of HP brand
replacement cartridges for the company's inkjet printers. Jones et al. v.
Hewlett-Packard Co., No. S091695, petition for review filed (Cal., Sept.
18, 2000).

Hewlett-Packard describes its inkjet cartridges as "engineering marvels
that revolutionized computerized printing." Named plaintiffs Ronald L.
Jones, Stephen R. Palmer and Willie Miller evidently were not similarly
impressed by HP's creation, and filed a lawsuit in San Francisco County
Superior Court seeking to certify a nationwide class of indirect and
direct purchasers of the cartridges.

They alleged causes of action under California's Business and Professions
Code, charging that HP's design of the cartridges constituted an illegal
tying arrangement; that HP conspired with other manufacturers not to
produce cartridges for each other's printers; and that HP engaged in
unfair competition by monopolizing the market for replacement ink. On
March 7, 2000, the trial court certified the class.

HP challenges the class certification on several fronts. First, it
charges a misuse of the class-action device and the futility of the
underlying action, in view of previous litigation against HP in which a
jury found in favor of HP on claims that the company monopolized or
attempted to monopolize a market for replacement inkjet supplies by
redesigning its cartridges and making false and misleading statements
about competitor's products. It then described the distribution process
for the cartridges, through which approximately 99 percent of the
cartridges are sold to thousands of distributors, resellers and
retailers. Therefore, HP asserts that the price that consumers pay for
the cartridges varies as a consequence of independent pricing decisions
not attributable to HP's actions.

HP also claims that certification of the class raised a constitutional
due process issue because the differences between California law and that
of other states could effectively bar the citizens of those states from
bringing certain claims in their home states, resulting in the
deprivation of property rights.

In addition, HP charges that the trial court erred by presuming common
issues of injury. Except in limited circumstances, injury from
monopolization cannot be presumed. Under California law, indirect
purchasers can demonstrate injury only by establishing that independent
distributors increased prices to compensate for defendants' overcharges.
HP claims that the uncontradicted record in this case establishes that
there were numerous instances of retailers raising prices for HP
cartridges for reasons unrelated to any HP conduct.

HP also makes the claim that the class action is a sham and that at least
two of the class representatives had strong financial ties to class
counsel. It cites testimony on the record by Jones that at the time he
agreed to be a named plaintiff, he still owed class counsel money for
representation in prior litigation against HP that resulted in a jury
verdict in favor of the company. Another named plaintiff, Palmer, worked
for class counsel, deriving 80 percent of his income from that
employment. He also worked full-time for class counsel during the prior
litigation against HP. The company cites these facts, and other
deficiencies in the class representatives' claims, as reasons for
reviewing the class certification.

HP is represented by Robert W. Sutis, and by Robert E. Cooper, Peter
Sullivan, Joel S. Sanders and Tanya S. McVeigh of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
in San Francisco. (Computer & Online Industry Litigation Reporter,
November 21, 2000)


HIP IMPLANT: Ruling on Cert. in Sulzer Recall Case Expected in 2 Mths.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
U.S. District Judge John W. Darrah will decide whether to grant
class-action status in a lawsuit on behalf of people who have received a
hip replacement product that has been recalled by Sulzer Medica, the
Swiss parent corporation of one orthopedics manufacturer in Texas and one
in Switzerland.

According to a complaint filed Jan. 19 in the Northern District of
Illinois by plaintiff attorney Edward W. McNabola, an associate at Cogan
& McNabola, the defendants knew that these hip replacement products were
unsafe in their design, ... were insufficiently processed, and had the
potential and propensity to leave a trace amount of manufacturing
lubricant residue ... that would cause pain, discomfort, disability and
loosening of the hip replacement necessitating a second surgery for
removal of said defective product."

A Sulzer Medica press release issued Jan. 18 confirmed the presence of
lubricant residue and said approximately 17,500 patients have received
the recalled Inter-Op shells; close to 90 percent were implanted in the
U.S."

McNabola said on January 31 that he and his client, Jean Casey, expect a
ruling within 60 days of filing. Jean Casey, and all others similarly
situated v. Sulzer Medica, Sulzer Orthopedics Inc., and Sulzer
Orthopedics Ltd., No. 01 C 0403. (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, February 1,
2001)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Ct Raises Concerns Over Pact and Attorney's Fees
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Southern District Judge Shirley Wohl Kram in January expressed
reservations about some aspects of the proposed settlement of property
claims made by Holocaust survivors against German banks.

In a hearing held to discuss objections to the settlement, Judge Kram
said she was concerned that a massive victim compensation fund assembled
by the German government would also be the object of claims by victims
who had accounts in Austrian banks that were looted by German banks in
collaboration with the Nazis.

"We don't know to what extent the funds available to the [compensation
fund] will be diluted [by these claims]," Judge Kram told several lawyers
who urged her to grant their voluntary motion to dismiss.

The motion is a prelude to a settlement of more than 50 consolidated
class actions on property claims, and the ultimate distribution of monies
from a massive fund to be established by the German government and German
industry. The fund is to be 10 billion Deutschmarks, the equivalent of
more than $ 4 billion.

The creation of the fund was announced last summer, after months of
negotiations between the plaintiffs, defendant banks, German industry and
the governments of Germany, the United States, and other nations with
significant populations of Holocaust survivors, including Israel.

It is intended to compensate victims with slave labor claims against
German industry and against German insurance companies, as well as claims
that are the subject of the class actions before Judge Kram: those for
property and other assets seized from victims and their bank accounts
during the infamous Nazi "Aryanization" campaign.

Should Judge Kram approve the plaintiffs' motion to dismiss the case,
money from the settlement fund could be distributed as early as March
through a German created foundation called "Remembrance, Responsibility
and Future."

Judge Kram, who also heard from Holocaust survivors as she weighed
whether to grant plaintiffs' motion, said she would rule shortly.

The genesis of the assigned claims issue that troubled Judge Kram was a
1998 suit filed by a class of Holocaust victims against two Austrian
banks, Bank Austria AG and Creditanstalt AG, for stealing money from
their accounts.

The case settled in 1999 for the sum of $ 40 million, with the two banks
agreeing to give victims any rights to claims that the banks themselves
could make against banks in Germany for the seizure of assets.

But on January 22, that same class filed a new lawsuit in the Southern
District, alleging that three German banks conspired with the Nazis to
confiscate hundreds of millions of dollars from the bank accounts of
victims kept in Austrian accounts.

Jack S. Dweck, the attorney who filed the suit, told Judge Kram that "The
assigned claims have been totally ignored." "I do believe the court is
disposed to sign [the motion to dismiss]," Mr. Dweck said. "It must
contain an exception on these claims. The $ 40 million settlement is
nominal at best, there is no consideration - no one was has really taken
seriously the assigned claims."

But Stephen A. Whinston, of Berger & Montague, said that he and other
plaintiffs lawyers "tried hard" in settlement negotiations to get the
assigned claims included in the fund, but were unable to convince Germany
to do so. "The assigned claims remain viable," he said. "The Austrian
banks are not considered a claimant under the German foundation." "I
can't agree with you," Judge Kram said, and when Mr. Winston said he
thought the issue was clear, she shot back "We'll see how clear it is."

Plaintiffs' lawyer Lawrence Kill, of Anderson Kill & Olick, agreed that
the issue of the assignment of claims was one that was negotiated without
success. "The German side did not think the assignment was a valid
claim," Mr. Kill said.

When Judge Kram asked Mr. Kill if the assignment issue raised a conflict
for the plaintiffs attorneys, he responded "You want to call it a
conflict, well maybe it is, but it is the type of conflict that lawyers
face" in class actions where plaintiffs are seeking recovery from a
capped fund.

Charles Stillman, who was appointed in October as a special master
charged with reviewing the fairness of the settlement, gave a favorable
report. Mr. Stillman said that no claims appear to have been compromised
by the settlement. He also said that named plaintiffs and their attorneys
have not benefited to the detriment of absent class members, and that
there is no evidence of collusion between the parties.

                           Attorney's Fees

Judge Kram said she was also concerned about attorneys' fees in the case.
"I had heard that one plaintiffs' attorney has submitted a bill for
10,000 hours," she said.

Two lawyers, Kenneth R. Feinberg and former Attorney General Nicholas D.
Katzenbach, were selected by the governments of the United States and
Germany, as well as the plaintiffs' attorneys, to arbitrate fee claims
from the hundreds of attorneys involved in the case.

Under the terms of the settlement, plaintiffs' lawyers will receive one
and a quarter percent of the foundation monies, Mr. Kill said.

Mr. Stillman, of Stillman & Friedman, called the attorney fee arrangement
for the settlement "fair and reasonable." "I am very confident that
Messrs. Katzenbach and Feinberg will make those awards fairly..., " Mr.
Stillman said. "These men are tough and they are going to make a very
thorough inquiry." (New York Law Journal, January 25, 2001)


KANSAS GAS: Sued over Damages for Gas Leaks & Explosions in Hutchison
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Kansas Gas Service has been named in a lawsuit that lists all property
owners in Reno County as plaintiffs and seeks unspecified damages for the
recent gas leaks and explosions in Hutchinson.

Tino Moldano, a former Hutchinson attorney, and a Missouri law firm that
specializes in high-profile class-action cases, represent the 10
plaintiffs listed in the class-action suit. The lawsuit seeks
compensatory and punitive damages from KGS as well as an injunction that
requires the defendants to do what is "reasonably necessary" to prevent
any future gas release.

The lawsuit names the 10 plaintiffs and anyone who owns real property in
Reno County and has "suffered losses" because of the natural gas leak.

"The bottom line is that we're asking the Kansas Gas Service and its
affiliates to ensure the safety of these plaintiffs and the rest of the
people of Reno County," said Moldano, who now practices law in Johnson
County. "We included all landowners in the suit because the danger of
natural gas has certainly caused a lot of uncertainty in terms of
property values. Having said that, the most important thing is safety,"
Moldano said.

The plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit are Management Resources,
Morgan-Wilson Living Trust, Urban Group, Key Gas Holding, Dennis and
Diane Terwey, Walter Kilgariff, T&L Properties and Plumbing, Bill and
Jewell Rowland, Barry and Joyce Rempel, and Beth Wolf. Many of them are
clients from his time as a lawyer in Hutchinson, Moldano said.

Those plaintiffs are also being represented by attorney John F. Edgar of
Humphrey, Farrington and McCain, a Springfield, Mo., firm with a history
of claiming multimillion-dollar judgments for its clients in class-action
cases.

A Kansas City firm earlier filed a lawsuit on behalf of property owners
near the evacuation site. Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, an attorney,
said he was not happy with "this grab to try to profit from this
disaster" by "sharks in the water." Moldano said he takes issue with that
perspective. "I don't know where he lives, but I doubt that Mike has a
venting well outside his house," Moldano said. "That's ridiculous. Kansas
Gas Service is a huge company that will have plenty of legal
representation. I'm proud of my role in helping represent everyday people
in the system." (The Associated Press, February 2, 2001)


MICHIGAN: Appeals against Ct of Claims Ruling over Single Business Tax
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Legal proceedings specifically identified by the State in municipal bond
offering materials as having potentially material financial consequences
include a November 24, 1999 ruling by the Michigan Court of Claims in
Jefferson Smurfitt v State of Michigan, Docket No. 98-17140-CM, that the
site-based capital acquisition deduction in Michigan's single business
tax is unconstitutional. The case is on appeal to the Michigan Court of
Appeals, and the financial impact of the decision is uncertain.


MICHIGAN: Lawsuit over Funding of Court Operations Pending Certification
------------------------------------------------------------------------
There is pending a class action captioned as 10th Judicial Circuit, et
al. v State of Michigan, et al. (Saginaw Circuit Court No.
94-2936-AA/Court of Claims No. 94-15534-CM), for declaratory and
injunctive relief, and for damages, due to the alleged failure of the
State Court Administrative Office to properly calculate and fund court
operations. Plaintiffs have asserted that the amount in controversy
exceeds $5 million. The case is currently pending final class
certification.


OREGON: 9th Cir Overrules Dismissal of Inmates’ Case Re Experiments
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Bibeau v. Pacific NW Research is a federal court class action suit that
has been brought on behalf of inmates and their families for injuries the
inmates sustained in radiation experiments to which the inmates were
subjected in the 1960s and 1970s. The former head of the medical services
for the Oregon State Police is named as one of the defendants in the
suit. The plaintiffs seek $250 million in damages. Although it is
unlikely that they will recover the full amount sought, it is too early
to provide an accurate measure of the damages which plaintiffs may
reasonably recover at this stage of the case.

The State has tendered its defense to the insurance company that provided
coverage to the State in the relevant time frame. Defenses based on
statutes of limitation and ultimate repose were asserted on behalf of the
State.

The court granted the State's motion for summary judgment and dismissed
the case based on the statute of limitations.

The plaintiffs have appealed the trial court's decision to the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals. On August 19, 1999, the Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals ruled that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment
based on the statute of limitations. It also ruled that the plaintiffs'
federal law claims against the State could not stand because the State
was shielded by the doctrine of qualified immunity. Consequently, the
trial court must hear on remand the plaintiffs' federal and state law
claims against the private defendants as well as the plaintiffs' state
law claims against the State. However, the State expects the trial court
to dismiss the plaintiffs' state law claims against the State.


OREGON: Dept of Corrections Sued over Spills from Dry-Cleaning Plant
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Goudy, et al. V. State of Oregon, et al. Over 735 plaintiffs have filed
suit in federal district court seeking damages against the State and the
Oregon Department of Corrections, based on the Department of Corrections'
operation of a dry-cleaning plant on the grounds of the Oregon State
Penitentiary during certain periods between 1950 and 1996. During the
operation of the plant, the state is alleged to have spilled or disposed
of dry-cleaning chemicals, including tetrachlorethylene,
trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride and other toxic substances, on the
grounds of the state prison, thus contaminating the water in wells
serving the State Penitentiary and the air and ground water within a
one-mile radius of the prison.


OREGON: Expects to Settle Inmates’ Lawsuit for Medical Care
-----------------------------------------------------------
The same plaintiffs as in Bibeau v. Pacific NW Research have filed a
second case, this time in Multnomah County Circuit Court. These former
inmates seek to enforce a 1987 statute that they assert entitles them to
medical care at State expense. A preliminary estimate put the potential
State liability at between $1 million and $5 million. The State filed a
motion to dismiss the case but it was denied in part. Plaintiffs filed an
amended complaint seeking $100,000 per claim per plaintiff. The
plaintiffs were initially denied class status for their damage claim.

The plaintiffs' counsel has filed an unopposed motion for approval of a
class action settlement and for authorization to publish notice to the
class, along with a related settlement agreement and other related
attachments. This motion is pending. If granted, this motion should
settle this litigation.

Plaintiffs' counsel asserts that there are presently approximately 20
claimants who will seek damages. If the plaintiffs are granted injunctive
relief, the State will be required to provide additional medical care
through the Department of Corrections medical budget.


OREGON: Sp Ct Rules in Favor of Managerial Employees Suit for OT Pay
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Young v. State of Oregon. An inverse condemnation case has been filed
against the State on behalf of State managerial employees for unpaid
overtime or compensation time. Plaintiffs' claims are based on a
legislative change that occurred in the 1995 Oregon legislative session.
The Legislative Assembly amended the statutes relating to the payment of
overtime or allowing compensation time to require that all persons who
work over 40 hours per week receive overtime or compensation time. There
were a number of exceptions to this requirement drafted for
professionals. However, the State managerial employees were not included
in the express statutory exceptions. The Legislative Assembly enacted an
exception that would cover State employees in its 1997 session.
Therefore, liability may only be imposed for the period between 1995 and
1997.

The Circuit Court for Marion County ruled in favor of the State on its
motion for summary judgment based on legal rather than factual issues.
The plaintiffs appealed the ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals. The
Court of Appeals reversed the decision by the Marion County Circuit
Court, and remanded the case for entry of judgment for plaintiffs. The
State appealed the decision to the Oregon Supreme Court. The Supreme
Court denied review of the Court of Appeals decision. The State filed a
request for reconsideration with the Supreme Court, but the State's
motion was denied. The size of the class and amount of damages will be
determined in the trial court.

The State preliminarily estimates its liability to be between $35 million
and $200 million. The State continues to assess its potential liability
in this case. Presently, there is no firm estimate of liability or of the
size of the class. The number of eligible employees has been estimated to
be between 8,000 and 14,000. For most employees eligible to participate
in the class there are no records as to the amount of hours they may have
worked in excess of 40 hours in a week. The final amount of liability
will depend on various factors, including the number of eligible
employees who file claims, the amount of those claims, and the remedy
fashioned by a court or through negotiated settlement. The remedy
provided to employees may also include an option to be given compensation
time rather than a monetary award, which would reduce the amount of
monetary damages paid by the State. Because of the complexity of these
issues, the State anticipates that, if the case is not negotiated and
settled by the parties, it will take at least a year for the remaining
issues to be decided by the trial court.


PASMINCO LTD: Smelter Awarded Legal Cost in Victoris Supreme Court
------------------------------------------------------------------Pasminco
Ltd said the Victoria Supreme Court ordered the applicants to pay
Pasminco's costs in defending the lawsuit filed against the company. The
court's decision followed the Dec 15 dismissal of a class action mounted
against Pasminco in the Victoria Supreme Court relating to the operations
of Pasminco smelters at Cockle Creek in New South Wales and Port Pirie in
South Australia. At 12:59 pm, Pasminco was up 0.01 aud at 0.67. The
S&P/ASX 200 was down 7.2 points at 3,357.1. (AFX - Asia, February 2,
2001)


POSTAL SERVICE: Homeless Seattle Residents Seek Better Mail Service
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Three homeless people sued the U.S. Postal Service on February 1, saying
the agency has refused to provide a way for them to receive mail.

The only post office in the city where homeless people can receive
general delivery mail is at Third Avenue and Union Street, said their
lawyer, Casey Trupin, of Columbia Legal Services.

Getting to that location is difficult for many, especially those who are
disabled, Trupin said. And that branch sometimes limits its general
delivery service to 30 days per person, he said.

"Mail, for homeless individuals, is unbelievably important," Trupin said.
"It's their bridge to stability, to housing, jobs and health."

The lawsuit asks the service to provide free post office boxes or general
delivery service at all branches. The three hope to have the case, filed
in U.S. District Court, certified as a class action. "It's very difficult
to do what I need to do to find a home and get disability benefits
without mail," one plaintiff, Willard Johnson, said in a written
statement. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, February 2, 2001)


SCHULER HOLDINGS: Settles Building Defects Suit; Remediation Nears End
----------------------------------------------------------------------
In April 1996, Schuler Homes was served with a purported class action
complaint by owners of units and the owners' association of Fairway
Village at Waikele alleging, among other things, material construction
defects and deficiencies, misrepresentations regarding the cost of
insurance and breach of a covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
Following the court's denial of a class certification request, a second
action involving other homeowners at Fairway Village advancing the same
claims was initiated.

Schuler Homes decried merit of the claims but nevertheless entered into a
settlement agreement in April 1999 with the third party defendants,
insurance carriers and all of the plaintiffs in both lawsuits, except for
the owners of three units. The owners of two of the three units
subsequently settled in late 1999, bringing an end to the initial suit.

The one remaining plaintiff in the second action settled in April 2000.
The remediation of the units at Fairway Village required by the
settlement agreement has been substantially completed. Schuler Homes
tells investors that the costs of remediation are not material to the
company.


STRIP SEARCH: 82-Yr-Old Cop's Mom Who Played Radio Loudly Is Plaintiff
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The 82-year-old mother of an NYPD sergeant charged on February 1 that she
was strip-searched by a city cop after she was arrested for playing the
radio too loudly in her Brooklyn home.

Mary Novak said the unidentified female officer at Brooklyn Criminal
Court's Central Booking ordered her to lift up her sweater and skirt.

"The [officer] put me in a bathroom and she said, aePick up your dress,'"
said the frail widow, her voice choked with emotion. "I had a skirt on
and an old sweater, and I picked it up. And she says, aehigher, higher,'
until I had it pulled over my head," said Novak, a retired interior
designer. "Then she said aeput your [skirt] down' . . . I felt violated,
humiliated and embarrassed. I was ashamed. I was like dead."

Police denied her accusations.

Novak, who has filed a $1 million suit against the city, said the
incident began at 2 p.m. on Jan. 12. Her next-door neighbor, Joshua
Shapiro, called cops to complain that her radio was too loud - allegedly
a violation of an order of protection Shapiro filed against Novak last
year. Novak said she was arrested and taken, in handcuffs, to the 78th
Precinct station house on Sixth Avenue before being transferred to
Central Booking, where she said she was "thrown in a cell."

Novak's lawyer, Ron Kuby, said the incident shows that a strip-search
victim "could be your mother, it could be your grandmother or your
great-grandmother."

Lt. Terri Tobin, a police spokeswoman, said Novak was not subjected to a
strip-search. "She was treated respectfully," said Tobin. "She was never
handcuffed, never put in jail, and never strip-searched."

The alleged incident came three weeks after the city agreed to settle a
class-action suit and shell out up to $50 million to tens of thousands of
suspects who had been illegally strip-searched.

The city was slapped with the suit in 1997, charging that as many as
65,000 criminal suspects, including many first-time offenders in
Manhattan and Queens, suffered the indignity. (The New York Post,
February 2, 2001)


TAINTED WATER: Walkerton E. Coli Victims Urged to Accept Deal
-------------------------------------------------------------
The victim who spearheaded a class-action lawsuit after Canada's worst E.
coli outbreak choked back tears as he urged residents of Walkerton, Ont.,
to accept a proposed settlement so they can get on with their lives.

History teacher Jamie Smith called the tentative agreement a "great"
plan. "Walkerton has been through a lot ... and there is a large amount
of cynicism in the community," Smith, who was terribly ill during May's
outbreak, said minutes after the compensation agreement was announced.
"(But) this is a good deal."

Under the tentative settlement which is guaranteed by the Ontario
government and will be supervised by the courts, every resident of the
town, as well as visitors who were affected by the contaminated water,
would receive at least $ 2,000 simply by applying.

Those who believe they should receive more for pain and suffering or
economic losses will have their claims assessed individually - without
any cap.

Court-supervised mediation and arbitration would be available in cases of
dispute.

Using previous court awards as a template, claims resulting from the
death or permanent disability of a family breadwinner, for example, would
be worth the most, perhaps reaching into the millions.

While no one would say what the total cost of the settlement might be,
one source close to the legal battle told The Canadian Press that the
lawyers had an initial estimate of $ 50 million. The plaintiffs had been
seeking $ 250 million in general and punitive damages.

"Nothing can adequately compensate families who have lost loved ones,"
said Harvey Strosberg, the lead lawyer for the victims. "Money cannot
heal serious illness but, inadequate as it may seem, the legal process
can only deliver money."

Superior Court Justice Warren Winkler said he would hold a fairness
hearing in the midwestern Ontario community March 19 before giving his
final blessing to the settlement, which affects about 5,000 people. He
will then set a date by which anybody who disagrees with the proposed
settlement can opt out.

Residents of the town, where tainted water killed seven people and
sickened more than 2,000 others last May, can have a first-hand look at
the plan at a public meeting planned for tonight. Some reacted angrily to
reports of the settlement earlier, saying the $ 2,000 minimum didn't seem
to be enough. But Smith called on his fellow townspeople not to reject it
out of hand, saying it provides everything they could have wanted. (The
Edmonton Sun, February 2, 2001)


VIRTUA HEALTH: NJ Suit Alleges Medical Equipment Not Sterilized
---------------------------------------------------------------
A suit against a South Jersey medical facility in Camden Superior Court
proposes class-action status on behalf of numerous patients who may have
been exposed to infection by a contaminated endoscope.

The case of Cohen v. Virtua Health Summit Surgical Center in Marlton and
Customs Ultrasonics Inc. alleges that for a period of approximately two
weeks last fall, patients who underwent endoscopy at the center were
exposed to numerous types of infection due to a malfunction in the
processor which sterilized the equipment.

On Sept. 27 of last year, lead plaintiff Charles H. Cohen underwent an
endoscopy at Virtua's same-day surgical center. Technicians at the center
discovered the malfunction in the disinfecting equipment on Oct. 2 and
immediately took the processor out of service. The surgical center
indicated that the last preventive maintenance on the processor had
occurred on Sept. 16. All patients who had the procedure during that
period were contacted and made aware of possible exposure to infection.

Although the center was aware of the situation in early October, the suit
alleges, Virtua failed to notify plaintiffs until the middle of November.
In its letter informing patients who underwent endoscopy of the
"extremely minimal" risk of acquired infection, representatives of the
hospital offered to conduct free blood tests as well as consultation with
an infection control practitioner.

Plaintiffs counsel includes the Cherry Hill firm of Williams Cuker &
Berezofsky as well as the Philadelphia firm of Sheller Ludwig & Badey."
They have shown by their delay in contacting plaintiffs that they are not
putting the patient first," said plaintiffs' attorney Jamie Sheller of
Sheller Ludwig. "What assurance do we have that they will put the patient
first now?" Papers filed on behalf of the plaintiffs stated, "As a result
of defendants' failure to maintain, design and service the processor in
question, and further due to their delay in notifying plaintiffs,
plaintiffs were exposed to, including but not limited to, infectious
diseases, hepatitis, HIV and other dangerous and deadly illnesses."
Sheller noted that in addition to patients who underwent an endoscopy,
spouses and other partners could be in danger of secondary exposure
through unprotected sexual contact.

The medical center allegedly has not offered testing or consultation
regarding those potentially exposed through sexual transmission. The
complaint also asks "injunctive and monetary relief and the creation of a
trust fund, paid for by defendants, under court supervision, to finance
independent medical monitoring services, including but not limited to
testing, preventive screening care and treatment of conditions resulting
or potentially resulting from the exposure to contaminated endoscopes."
According to Sheller, there is little consensus in the medical community
regarding the period after which HIV infection occurred and its detection
on blood tests. The range is anywhere between six months and two years.
The lead plaintiff and his wife are undergoing routine blood testing at
three-month intervals. Though New Jersey courts do not provide relief for
"fear of" pain and suffering, the plaintiffs' attorneys are also seeking
remuneration for psychological counseling for those who, like Cohen, have
had to seek help dealing with the guilt at having spread the infection to
a spouse through secondary contact as well as fears of contamination.
"After a stressful experience like this one, every little symptom takes
on a new life," Sheller said. (The Legal Intelligencer, January 31, 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
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Washington, DC. Theresa Cheuk, Managing Editor.

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

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