/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/010221.MBX                C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

              Wednesday, February 21, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 36


BANKATLANTIC: Customer Whose Information Was Turned over Seek Review
BAUSCH & LOMB: Consumers to Get Rebates in Settlement for Antitrust
BRADSAW: Supreme Court to Hear California Labor Code Suit Again
CALIFORNIA: At Odds With Disabled Drivers On Placard Fees
CROWN AMERICAN: Announces Preliminary Ct Approval on '95 Suit Settlement

DER TRAVEL: DOJ Probe Ends; Agents' Suit Re Commission Fixing Continues
EMULEX CORPORATION: Cauley Geller Announces Securities Suit in CA
EMULEX CORPORATION: Kaplan, Kilsheimer Announces Securities Suit in CA
EMULEX CORPORATION: Scott & Scott Announces Securities Suit in CA
EXXON: Miami Jury Awards Station Owners $500 Mil for Overcharges

FAIRLESS MOTORS: Ct Declines Plaintiff's Request for Dismissal of Action
FIRST DATA: Will Defend Vigorously Suit Re Undisclosed Charge for Wire
GABLES CONDOMINIUM: Coral Gables Residents File Lawsuit Alleging Defects
HIP IMPLANT: Suit Filed by Perona, Langer Alleges of Contamination
IBM: Complicity In Nazi Actions No Surprise to S. Florida Jews

MISSISSIPPI: No Quota Set for Receiving Funds in Desegregation Case
NORTEL NETWORKS: 3 U.S. Lawsuits Line up after Profits Warning
NORTEL NETWORKS: Boss Meets Audience in Toronto after Stock Havoc
NORTEL NETWORKS: Kirby McInerney Announces Securities Lawsuit
NORTEL NETWORKS: Leading Canadian Lawyer Considers Launching Action

NY CITY: Ct Refuses to Reveal Identities of 107 Marchers to 8 Arrestees
OPEN DOOR: Milazzo, Fortunato Announces Securities Suit Filed in NJ
PROPULSID LITIGATION: Kansas Patients Join Heartburn-Drug Case
REZULIN: Warner-Lambert Denies Seeking Removal Of FDA Official
SCB TECHNOLOGY: Announces Dismissal of Shareholder Suit in TN

STEWART ENTERPRISES: Investors Appeal against Dismissal of Lawsuit
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Back in Ct Facing Farmers' Charges of Price-Fixing
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Fitch Rates Settlement Monetized Fee Trust 'A'
U.S. RAILROAD: Settles Suit over Penn Central Railroad Right-of-Way
U.S.: Veterans Affairs Hospital Workers Sue over SSNs Revelation


BANKATLANTIC: Customer Whose Information Was Turned over Seek Review
A customer whose account information was turned over to federal fraud
investigators by his bank in response to grand jury subpoenas has asked
the U.S. Supreme Court to review a ruling that the bank is immune from
suit under the Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act. The bank argues
that certiorari is not warranted because it is clearly immune from
liability for responding to subpoenas issued in an investigation into
drug money laundering. Coronado v. BankAtlantic Bancorp Inc. , No.
00-561, brief in opposition filed (U.S., Nov. 6, 2000); see Bank & Lender
Liability LR, Sept. 8, 2000, P. 4.


In 1995, BankAtlantic Bancorp Inc. conducted an audit of its new
international division, which it gained in an acquisition of MegaBank, a
Dade County, Fla., institution. The audit revealed suspicious activity
involving deposits delivered from Bogota, Colombia, by an uninsured
private service, and new accounts that had been opened in spite of
missing customer identification information. Concerned that the new
division was involved in money laundering and fraud, BankAtlantic
officials notified federal authorities. An investigation began and grand
jury subpoenas were issued to the bank, requesting account documents and
records for 1,100 accounts under the supervision of the head of the
international division, Piedad Ortiz.

On May 13, 1996, Jose Daniel Coronado opened an account at BankAtlantic.
The account was opened by Ortiz using instruments drawn on U.S. banks
that had been shipped from Bogota to Miami by private courier. Coronodo's
account information and records of account activity were later turned
over to the authorities in response to subpoenas. On June 5, 1996, a
number of accounts, including Coronado's, were then frozen pursuant to an
order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of
Florida. Coronado's funds were seized under an order of the district
court and forfeiture proceedings began in early August The account was
later released and the funds were returned by the government, with
interest, in late 1996.

                              The Suit

Prior to the return of his funds, Coronodo sued BankAtlantic in a
putative class action in district court. He sought to represent all of
the account holders who had been subject to the investigation. The suit
asserted that the bank violated the Electronic Communications Privacy
Act, 18 U.S.C. @ 2510 et seq.; the Right to Financial Privacy Act, 12
U.S.C. @ 3401 et seq. ; and Florida law when it disclosed account
documents in response to the grand jury subpoenas.

The bank moved to dismiss, and the district court granted the motion,
holding that the bank was immune from suit pursuant to the safe harbor
provisions of the Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act, 31 U.S.C. @
5318(g)(3). This ruling was reversed on appeal to the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Lopez v . First Union National Bank of
Florida, 129 F.3d 1186 (11th Cir., 1997), and the matter was remanded.
The circuit court held that the complaint did not establish grounds for
the bank's immunity.

Upon return to the district court, BankAtlantic moved for summary
judgment, arguing that it was immune from suit under Annunzio-Wylie. U.S.
District Judge Jose A. Gonzalez Jr. agreed and granted the motion.

                               The Appeal

Coronado turned to the 11th Circuit for relief, arguing that the account
records requested in the grand jury subpoenas were privileged under the
Electronic Communications Privacy Act and therefore fell outside of the
reach of the grand jury. The grand jury did not have the power to compel
production of the information and BankAtlantic's disclosure violated the
ECPA, he asserted. The bank cannot hide behind the safe harbor provisions
of Annunzio-Wylie as a result, Coronado said.

The appellate panel stated that Annunzio-Wylie was enacted to encourage
cooperation between domestic financial institutions and the federal
government in the fight against the global movement of drug money.
Because disclosure of suspicious activity could lead to litigation filed
by disgruntled bank customers, the safe harbor provisions were enacted,
the panel continued. The provisions give immunity to banks and financial
institutions when certain disclosures are at issue.

The circuit court stated that the issue in the case was not whether the
disclosures violated the ECPA, but rather whether the bank was liable to
Coronado for the disclosures. BankAtlantic was subpoenaed as a witness
and was not in the position to challenge the grand jury's power, the
court continued. Even if the ECPA deprived the grand jury of the
authority to request bank records, BankAtlantic was not required to
challenge a facially valid subpoena, the panel said. The act does not
intend that result. The grand jury subpoenas fall within the act and the
disclosures are protected, the court ruled, adding that the lower court
correctly held in favor of the bank on summary judgment.

The district court's holding was affirmed.

                    The Petition for Certiorari

Coronado filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on
Oct. 12, 2000. He argues that, in the Electronic Communications Privacy
Act, Congress specifically prohibited grand juries from accessing account
information by subpoena, such as his, that is held in electronic storage
for 180 days or less. Congress also provides that banks are liable if
they release such information without a proper warrant, Coronado states.
Therefore, a bank is required to challenge a grand jury subpoena that
seeks protected information, he reasons.

The circuit court's ruling invalidates the Congressional scheme of the
ECPA, the petition contends. It is Congress and not the judiciary that
determines the scope of a federal grand jury's investigative powers,
according to Coronado.

Because disclosure of the account information was not authorized in the
case at bar, the grand jury subpoenas do not fall within the safe harbor
provisions of Annunzio-Wylie, the petition argues. For a financial
institution's disclosure to fall within the safe harbor, the bank must be
able to point to a statute, a regulation, a court order or other source
of law authorizing disclosure, Coronado continues. However, disclosure
was not authorized in the case at bar, he concludes.

                     The Brief in Opposition

In its Nov. 6, 2000, brief in opposition, BankAtlantic contends that
Annunzio-Wylie, which was enacted subsequent to the ECPA, provides it
with full immunity from any liability to Coronado. Congress, and not the
circuit court, created this immunity, the bank states.

Further, witnesses before grand juries are expected to cooperate fully
and may not interfere, BankAtlantic asserts. A witness cannot challenge
the authority of the grand jury, the petition argues. Grand jury
subpoenas are exactly the type of authority Annunzio-Wylie contemplates
when providing institutions with immunity for authorized disclosures. To
hold otherwise would ignore the constitutional authority of grand juries
as recognized by the Supreme Court, BankAtlantic says.

Coronado is represented by Montgomery Blair Sibley of N. Bethesda, Md.

BankAtlantic is represented by Bradford Swing of Stearns , Weaver,
Miller, Weissler, Alhadeff & Sitterson in Miami. (Bank & Lender Liability
Litigation Reporter, November 30, 2000)

BAUSCH & LOMB: Consumers to Get Rebates in Settlement for Antitrust
Bausch & Lomb (NYSE:BOL) announced on February 20 that a proposed
nationwide settlement of an antitrust class-action lawsuit will provide
eligible U.S. consumers with benefits packages worth more than $120 each,
including rebates on contact lenses and eye examinations, and free
samples and discount coupons for Bausch & Lomb products.

The company, without admitting any wrongdoing, agreed to settle a lawsuit
brought by a number of states attorneys general and other plaintiffs'
lawyers that the company conspired with optometrists, the American
Optometric Association and two other manufacturers in refusing to sell
contact lenses to alternative channels of distribution including mail
order companies.

While Bausch & Lomb believes that the claims were unfounded, the company
entered into a settlement to allow the company to put the cost and
distraction of a lengthy and costly legal proceeding behind it. The case
dates back to 1994. The settlement requires both preliminary and final
approval by the U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Florida. The
settlement expense will be reflected in a charge to earnings for the
fourth quarter of 2000, originally announced on January 25, 2001,
reducing reported results by $15 million, or $0.18 per share, after

As part of the agreement, Bausch & Lomb will provide each eligible
claimant with a benefits package, worth more than $120, consisting of
cash rebates for certain Bausch & Lomb contact lenses, free contact lens
solutions products and valuable coupons towards the purchase of other
Bausch & Lomb products. Because Bausch & Lomb believes in the importance
of regular eye examinations by licensed eye-care practitioners for all
contact lens wearers, the company's benefits package also includes a
rebate for an eye exam. Consumers who purchased replacement contact
lenses since January 1, 1988, from Bausch & Lomb and the other
defendants, Ciba Vision and Johnson & Johnson (Vistakon), are eligible to
register to receive Bausch & Lomb's benefits package. Bausch & Lomb also
agrees to pay $8 million into a settlement fund to cover the costs of the
lawsuit, including plaintiffs' attorneys fees, and to sell its contact
lenses, subject to its standard terms and conditions, to alternative
channels of distribution, including mail order companies.

Addendum: The group of attorneys general represents the states of
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware,
Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New
York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas,
Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

BRADSAW: Supreme Court to Hear California Labor Code Suit Again
Certiorari has been granted at the request of California's Division of
Labor Standards Enforcement for review of a Ninth Circuit decision
holding provisions of the state's labor code unconstitutional. The code
provisions relate to the withholding of funds from contractors and
subcontractors that fail to pay prevailing wages on public contracts. The
high court will be hearing the case for the second time, as it previously
ordered the circuit court to give the matter further consideration in
light of new case law. G & G Fire Sprinklers v. Bradshaw. (Government
Contract Litigation Reporter, November 27, 2000)

CALIFORNIA: At Odds With Disabled Drivers On Placard Fees
Lawyer says the state is stalling to avoid repaying drivers. Governor's
aide says advocates have refused to come to the negotiating table.

Nearly eight months after Gov. Gray Davis announced that he would give up
the state's fight to charge disabled drivers for their parking placards,
he has yet to withdraw an appeal he filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in
the case. Nor has a penny been paid to disabled Californians who were
charged the $ 6 fee.

The dispute has triggered a case of finger-pointing between the Davis
administration and the attorney representing the disabled in settlement

Andy Hall, the Los Angeles lawyer representing the disabled, said
negotiations have stalled because of what he described as an
unwillingness by the state to make restitution. He estimated the amount,
including interest, owed to drivers who paid the now-suspended placard
fee at $ 20 million.

So far, Hall said, state lawyers have not offered a penny in restitution.
"I don't see why the state is making such a big deal out of $ 10 million
to $ 20 million taken by the state from persons with disabilities," Hall
said. "They're not giving anything away; they would only be giving it

Davis spokeswoman Hilary McLean said Hall's depiction of the negotiations
could not be further from the truth. "We've made repeated appeals to
begin settlement talks, agreeing that everything will be on the table,"
McLean said. "But they have refused to come to the table. They want a
pre-concession that their attorneys' fees are going to be paid." Davis
said his withdrawal of the appeal would hinge on successful settlement

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by Hall in 1996 on behalf of Rob
Dare, a quadriplegic war veteran from Carson.

The lawsuit, which was later given class-action status, was aimed at
stopping the state from collecting the fee on the grounds that it
violated the Americans With Disabilities Act. The plaintiffs also sought
restitution for drivers who had paid the fee.

Two federal courts said California's fee violated the law. Davis appealed
to the U.S. Supreme Court last year, contending that the tags were a
supplemental benefit, offered to the disabled by the state at a rate
below cost.

Davis' appeal drew criticism from advocates for the disabled and from
members of his own party. The governor did an abrupt turnabout in June,
announcing that he was ready to give up the fight and that state lawyers
would be instructed to settle the case.

Angered by Davis' handling of the matter, state Senate leader John
Burton, a San Francisco Democrat, held up confirmation of the governor's
nominee for Department of Motor Vehicles director (Steven Gourley won
confirmation last month). But Burton warned Gourley that if the placard
matter was not settled soon, Gourley would be "the director of the
department with the smallest budget since the war."

Whether the state could be required by a court to make restitution in the
case may rest on the outcome of a case from Alabama, heard by the U.S.
Supreme Court in October.

In that case, lawyers for the state of Alabama urged the justices to
shield states from federal discrimination claims brought by people with
disabilities. If the justices side with Alabama officials, Hall said, it
is unlikely that his clients will have the legal footing they need to get
their money back. (Los Angeles Times, February 16, 2001)

CROWN AMERICAN: Announces Preliminary Ct Approval on '95 Suit Settlement
Crown American Realty Trust (NYSE: CWN) on February 15 announced that it
obtained preliminary court approval of the settlement of a class action
lawsuit alleging violations of federal securities laws arising out of the
decision of Crown American's Board of Trustees to reduce the amount of
its common dividend in August 1995.

The suit had been brought by certain purchasers of Crown American Realty
Trust common shares and has been pending before Judge D. Brooks Smith in
the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
since Under the terms of the settlement agreement, a settlement fund of
$1.1 million will be established within approximately 30 days to pay all
claims, attorneys' fees and administrative expenses. Crown American's
insurer will pay all of the settlement funds. In settling this lawsuit,
the Company denied any liability.

Notice will be sent to class members notifying them of the procedure for
submission of a claim from the settlement fund. Shareholders who
purchased Crown American common shares between March 1, 1995 and August
8, 1995, inclusive, will be eligible under the terms of the settlement to
submit a claim. The Court has scheduled a hearing to consider final
approval for May 21, 2001.

The settlement of this lawsuit follows Crown's successful defense of a
related federal securities class action suit that had been brought
against Crown in 1995. In July 1999, the United States District Court
dismissed as a matter of law all of the federal and state claims filed in
that suit and that decision was upheld by the United States Court of
Appeals for the Third Circuit in July The plaintiffs have taken no
further appeal. However, in January 2001, certain of the plaintiffs in
that action filed an individual complaint in Pennsylvania state court
alleging claims arising from the same circumstances that have been
rejected by the District Court and the Third Circuit. Crown American
intends to vigorously defend that state court action. Crown American
Realty Trust through various affiliates and subsidiaries owns, acquires,
operates and develops regional shopping malls in Pennsylvania, Maryland,
West Virginia, Virginia, New Jersey, Tennessee, North Carolina and
Georgia. The current portfolio includes 27 regional shopping malls and
more than 16 million square feet of gross leasable area.

DER TRAVEL: DOJ Probe Ends; Agents' Suit Re Commission Fixing Continues
The Department of Justice's antitrust division has notified DER Travel
Services that it has closed its two-year-old probe of the company. But
DER still faces a lawsuit filed by former executive Richard Dickieson, as
well as class-action suits by 24 agents alleging commission fixing on
rail products. (Travel Agent, January 29, 2001)

EMULEX CORPORATION: Cauley Geller Announces Securities Suit in CA
The Law Firm of Cauley Geller Bowman & Coates, LLP has filed a class
action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
California on behalf of all individuals and institutional investors that
purchased the securities of Emulex Corporation (Nasdaq: EMLX) between
January 18, 2001 and February 9, 2001, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Emulex and certain of its officers and directors
with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Emulex is a
designer, developer and supplier of a line of Fibre Channel host
adapters, hubs, ASICs and software products that provide connectivity
solutions for Fibre Channel storage area networks, network attached
storage and RAID. The complaint alleges that during the Class Period,
defendants made positive but false statements about Emulex's results and
business, while concealing material adverse information about customers
pushing out orders. As a result, Emulex's stock traded at artificially
inflated levels, permitting defendants to sell $40.36 million worth of
their Emulex stock. On February 9, 2001, Emulex issued a press release
directing people to visit the Company Website. Visitors were able to
listen to a recording of Emulex's CEO describing what Emulex would later
disclose at a conference on February 13, 2001: that it had been
experiencing a push-out of orders since late January that might cause
Emulex sales to fall short of previous Company guidance for Emulex's 3rdQ
F01 to end on April 1, 2001. On Monday morning when the market opened
again, Emulex's stock immediately dropped, falling 48% to $38-1/8 before
closing at $40-3/8 on February 12, 2001 on volume of 48.6 million shares.

Contact: CAULEY & GELLER, LLP Sue Null, 888/551-9944 (toll free)
info@classlawyer.com www.classlawyer.com

EMULEX CORPORATION: Kaplan, Kilsheimer Announces Securities Suit in CA
following is an announcement by the law firm of Kaplan, Kilsheimer & Fox
LLP published on February 20, 2001:

Kaplan, Kilsheimer & Fox LLP (www.kkf-law.com) has filed a class action
against Emulex Corporation and certain of the Company's officers and
directors in the United States District Court for the Central District of
California Southern Division. The suit is brought on behalf of all
persons or entities who purchased the common stock of Emulex Corporation
("Emulex") (NASDAQ: EMLX) between January 18, 2001 and February 9, 2001
inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Emulex and certain of its officers and directors
with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Emulex is a
designer, developer and supplier of a line of Fibre Channel host
adapters, hubs, ASICs and software products that provide connectivity
solutions for Fibre Channel storage area networks (SAN), network attached
storage (NAS) and RAID. The complaint alleges that during the class
period, defendants made false and misleading statements regarding the
Company's financial results and business. As a result, the price of
Emulex common stock traded at artificially inflated levels, permitting
defendants to sell $40.36 million worth of their Emulex shares.

Contact: Kaplan, Kilsheimer & Fox LLP Frederic S. Fox, Esq. or Christine
Fox, Esq. 212/687-1980 Laurence D. King, Esq., 415/336-1238

EMULEX CORPORATION: Scott & Scott Announces Securities Suit in CA
Scott & Scott, LLC (scottlaw@scott-scott.com), a Connecticut-based law
firm, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Central
District of California on behalf of all persons who purchased the common
stock of Emulex (NASDAQ:EMLX) Corporation from January 18, 2001 to
February 9, 2001.

The complaint alleges that Emulex and certain of its officers and
directors violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by issuing false
and misleading statements about its fiscal 2001 third quarter. By doing
so, the stock price of Emulex was traded artificially high during the
class period--as high as $109.75 on 1/23/01. After defendants completed
their $40 million plus insider selling, they invited people to visit the
Company Website only to find that Emulex was experiencing requests for
the delay in the shipment of orders to such companies as EMC, IBM and
Compaq. Upon this information being made public, the stock crashed 66% to
$38 and 1/8 a share.

Contact: Scott & Scott, LLC David R. Scott or Neil Rothstein
1-800-404-7770 scottlaw@scott-scott.com

EXXON: Miami Jury Awards Station Owners $500 Mil for Overcharges
A federal jury Tuesday ordered Exxon to pay $500 million to 10,000 gas
station owners around the country who claimed they were overcharged for
gasoline for 12 years. The judge could decide to add interest, which
would raise the verdict to $1 billion, said Eugene Stearns, an attorney
for the station operators. The jury awarded station operators in 35
states everything they sought.

''I'm ecstatic,'' said Bill McGillicuddy of Arlington, Va., one of the
named plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit and an operator of four
Exxon stations.

The heart of the case was Exxon's creation of a discount program that
charged cash customers less than credit card users but added 4 cents per
gallon to the station owners' price.

Exxon promised to cut wholesale prices to make up for the credit card
charge. Station operators claimed that the offset lasted for only six
months, and that Exxon manipulated wholesale prices to erase it for the
rest of the program without the owners realizing it.

The dealers said they realized at a national meeting in 1990 that the
offset wasn't in place and sued in 1991. ''We have dealers whose kids
didn't get educated because they didn't have the money,'' Stearns said.
''This has just had a catastrophic effect on the lives of individuals.''

Exxon attorney Larry Stewart said the oil company will appeal. ''We
continue to believe that we provided the offset and gave dealers a very
fair price and that ultimately on appeal Exxon's business practices will
be vindicated,'' Stewart said.

If Exxon does appeal, the owners plan their own appeal of a decision by
U.S. District Judge Alan Gold that eliminated the possibility of punitive

The verdict followed four days of deliberations and a six-week trial. The
case was a retrial, after a jury deadlocked on the same issues in 1999.

The station owners alleged they were overcharged 1.03 cents to 1.4 cents
per gallon, which added up after 40 billion gallons of gasoline to $500

Exxon merged with Mobil in 1999 to form the largest publicly traded oil
company. For all of 2000, Exxon Mobil Corp. earned $17.72 billion on
revenue of $232.7 billion.

Exxon Mobil stock was up 14 cents to $84.16 in early afternoon trading on
the New York Stock Exchange.

Exxon Mobil lost a $3.5 billion verdict in December over royalties Exxon
was accused of failing to pay Alabama for offshore natural gas wells. The
oil giant is also fighting a $5 billion judgment over the 1989 Exxon
Valdez oil spill in Alaska. (AP Online, February 20, 2001)

FAIRLESS MOTORS: Ct Declines Plaintiff's Request for Dismissal of Action
Greer v. Fairless Motors, Inc., PICS Case No. 01-0185 (C.P. Philadelphia
Dec. 20, 2000) Herron, J. (5 pages).

The court declined to grant plaintiff's motion to approve dismissal of a
class action prior to certification, because the court had an obligation
to conduct a hearing to determine whether the dismissal would prejudice
other members of the putative class. Hearing on plaintiff's motion to
approve dismissal scheduled.

On May 30, 2000, plaintiff commenced an action on behalf of herself and a
class of similarly situated persons whom the defendant automobile
dealership allegedly overcharged in violation of the Pennsylvania Motor
Vehicle Sales Finance Act and the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer
Protection Law.

During discovery, plaintiff realized that she could not properly and
adequately prosecute the case on her own behalf and on behalf of the
putative class.

Ultimately, plaintiff and defendant formalized a mutual release agreement
involving the return of her vehicle and the cancellation of plaintiff's
obligations. Pursuant to the agreement, no money was to be exchanged. The
agreement was allegedly without prejudice to any claims by the putative
class members. Plaintiff then filed a motion to approve dismissal of the
class action.

The court noted that at the time plaintiff filed her motion, no class had
been certified and no motion for class certification had been filed. The
court also observed that under Pa.R.Civ.P. 1714, a class action suit may
not be discontinued without approval of the court. Moreover, under Rule
1714(b), if dismissal is sought prior to certification, the action may be
discontinued without notice to potential class members "if the court
finds that the discontinuance will not prejudice the other members of the
class." In considering such a motion, the court noted that it must
examine, among other things, the risks of establishing liability and
damages, the range of reasonableness of the settlement in light of the
best possible recovery and the attendant risks of litigation, as well as
the complexity, expense and likely duration of the litigation. The court
stated that Rule 1714(b) gives significant responsibility to courts,
requiring them to conduct a careful inquiry prior to approving a request
for discontinuance before certification.

The court concluded that it had "an affirmative duty to conduct a hearing
and make a finding that a discontinuance will not prejudice members of
the class, which finding must be factually based." Therefore, the court
scheduled a hearing, stating that plaintiff could present evidence at
that time. (Pennsylvania Law Weekly, February 19, 2001)

FIRST DATA: Will Defend Vigorously Suit Re Undisclosed Charge for Wire
On January 19, 2001, Plaintiff Ana Cruz filed a putative class action in
the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
against the Company and its subsidiary, Western Union Financial Services,
Inc. ("Western Union"), asserting claims on behalf of a putative
worldwide class (excluding those consumers who were members of the class
certified by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
Illinois in the Pelayo action).

Ms. Cruz claims that the Company and Western Union impose an undisclosed
"charge" when they transmit consumers' money by wire to international
locations, in that the exchange rate used in these transactions is less
favorable than the exchange rate that Western Union receives when it
trades currency in the international money market. Plaintiff further
asserts that Western Union's failure to disclose this "charge" in the
transactions violates 18 U.S.C. section 1961 et seq. and state deceptive
trade practices statutes, and also asserts claims for civil conspiracy.
Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, compensatory damages in an amount to
be proven at trial, treble damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees,
and costs of suit. The Company intends to vigorously defend this action.

GABLES CONDOMINIUM: Coral Gables Residents File Lawsuit Alleging Defects
The residents of "The Gables," a luxury high-rise condominium complex in
Coral Gables, have filed a $5.0 million lawsuit against the project's
builder/developer and general contractor claiming extensive building

These defects include faulty air conditioning system, roof and window
leaks, cracks in stucco and slabs, falling roof tiles, seawall corrosion,
electrical problems, pool and tennis court surface failures, and loose
balcony hand rails, to name a few. The plaintiffs allege that these
defects jeopardize the fitness and saleability of their units.

Builder/developer Mark Kovins, who himself lives at The Gables, has also
filed suit on his behalf and The Gables Condominium Association against
several subcontractors including Morse Diesel International, Hill York
Corporation, Robert Swedroe, P.A., McDowell Engineering Consultants,
Consul-Tech Engineering, Jaffer Associates, and Murton Roofing Corp.

Kal Bass, the lead plaintiff in the case, stated, "We purchased a home
here thinking that we could spend our retirement years relaxing. What we
did not expect was to deal with construction defects that have seriously
affected our use and enjoyment of our condominium and community

Thomas E. Miller, one of the nation's leading experts in construction
defect litigation, of the Miller Law Firm in Newport Beach, California,
is representing the plaintiffs along with local counsel.

"The developer's rush to meet the buyers' demands for high-rise
condominiums with expansive vistas has turned a promised luxury
development into a living nightmare. As the developer is taking
reservations on the yet- to-be-built second tower of this development,
critical mistakes in design and construction have now been uncovered in
the now-completed first 99 units," Miller said.

Contact: Jane Swanko Squaid, 305-867-8090, for Thomas E. Miller

HIP IMPLANT: Suit Filed by Perona, Langer Alleges of Contamination
A class action, products liability and negligence suit has been filed in
Los Angeles Superior court against Sulzer Orthopedics and Intermed
Orthopedics. The case contends that over 17,500 hip implants are
defective because the oil used in machining was not properly removed and
as a result the bones fail to bond to the implant. The implants
eventually come loose causing severe groin pain and inability to bear
weight among other problems.

The suit was filed Thursday, Feb. 15 and the announcement released
February 20 by attorney Major Alan Langer and attorney Todd Trumper of
the law firm of Perona, Langer, Beck & Lallande in Long Beach,
California. The lawsuit seeks to recover damages for the injured victims
of Sulzer's Hemispherical Shells (lot s 1307848 through 1465372); Rim
Flare Shells (lot s 1398234 through 1465247); Revision Shells (lot s
1397531 through 1465242) and Protrusio Shells (lot s 1403576 through
1453540). Because of the defects in their implants, on December 8, 2000
Sulzer recalled its Inter-Op shells from the market.

"This action contends that Sulzer's hip implants are not fit for their
intended use. It is our opinion that thousands of people who received a
Sulzer hip implant are suffering from excruciating pain and suffering,
loss of income and are facing a future full of enormous medical and
rehabilitative expenses," said Major Langer, lead counsel for the
plaintiff. Langer may be reached for comment at 562-426-6155.

Also working on this case is the law firm of Robinson, Calcagnie &
Robinson of Newport Beach.

Contact: Major A. Langer of Perona, Langer, Beck & Lallande, 562-426-6155

IBM: Complicity In Nazi Actions No Surprise to S. Florida Jews
In 1993, the author of the just-released book IBM and the Holocaust stood
rapt in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, staring at an
IBM Hollerith D-11, a massive tabulating and card-sorting machine on

The description card read simply that IBM organized the 1933 German
census that first identified Jews. Later, Edwin Black said he would come
to realize the cumbersome machine he saw that day was the answer to a
question that had dogged him for years: How did Adolf Hitler get the

"I was shadowed by the realization that IBM was somehow involved in the
Holocaust in technologic ways that had not yet been pieced together,"
Black wrote in the book's introduction. "Dots were everywhere. The dots
needed to be connected."

It took two years of research and more than 20,000 pages of documentation
for Black, the son of Polish survivors, to piece together the story that
has become the 519-page book, including 92 pages of annotation, that was
published Monday. Black, a free-lance writer and expert on commercial
relations with the Third Reich, also wrote 1984's The Transfer Agreement
about the financing of the Holocaust.

Black's charges laid out in the book are startling: IBM knowingly
assisted -- directly and through its subsidiaries -- the 12-year Nazi
regime and its massive war machine that murdered 11 million people,
including 6 million Jews, throughout Europe.

Black also writes that IBM was in it for the money and the challenge --
purposely turning a blind eye to its moral compass.

All of this is of peculiar interest in South Florida, home to the second
largest U.S. population of Jews and, until 1985, more than 10,000 IBM
employees. Most of those employees built personal computers on a
sprawling 557-acre campus in Boca Raton, a town many say IBM put on the
proverbial map.

Though IBM's presence has since shrunk to about 1,000 employees in Palm
Beach and Broward counties and its land sold to developers, the company's
impact can still be felt.

There's even an exhibit, "The History of IBM," on display through May 31
at the Boca Raton Historical Society.

The book is barely a week old, but it seems that nearly every Jew in
South Florida knows about it. They express no indignation toward today's
three-generations-later IBM, nor surprise that one of America's most
powerful corporations has been implicated in their people's devastation.

Holocaust survivors, scholars and Jewish community leaders all say this
latest revelation is no more shocking than the complicity of European
banks, corporations and governments in the Holocaust. Lawyers who sued
these entities gaining more than $ 7 billion in settlements over the last
five years -- also filed a class-action lawsuit against IBM on Feb. 10 in
New York.

For its part, IBM says the Nazis' use of the company's tabulating
machines made by Dehomag, IBM's German subsidiary, has been known for
decades, hence the Holocaust museum display.

Dehomag, like other German corporations, came under control of Nazi
authorities following Adolf Hitler's rise to power in January 1933.

Still, "We have stated very clearly if any of the allegations in this
book do turn out to be true, we condemn any actions which aided in those
unspeakable acts," IBM spokeswoman Carol Makovich said.

Makovich said that today's IBM officials were unaware of the specifics of
the company's war-era history, and that many of those records have been
lost or destroyed. What was left of its internal documents about the
period were turned over to New York University and Hohenheim University
in Stuttgart, Germany, so access would be available to researchers --
such as Black, whose request for information in 1999 precipitated this

Makovich said IBM will "cooperate fully" with scholarly assessments of
those materials.

While Black painstakingly prepared a case against IBM that characterized
it, and its then-Chairman Thomas Watson, as conniving, greedy and aware,
no Jewish person contacted throughout South Florida was prepared to paint
today's IBM with the same ugly brush.

"We're not talking collective guilt here," said Rossita Keningsberg,
executive vice president of the Holocaust Documentation and Education
Center in Miami. "What IBM did 60 years ago is not the fault of the
people there now. But they (current IBM employees) should keep that focus
and be more sensitive to the lessons -- and implications of those lessons
-- of the Holocaust."

One of the most crucial messages, Keningsberg said, is that the book's
revelations show "that the Holocaust is all of our history. This brings
the Holocaust all the way home and puts it on our doorsteps."

William Rothchild agrees. Rothchild, Palm Beach County regional director
of the Anti-Defamation League, said he is impressed with IBM's
straightforward response and hopes the book won't cause it much harm.
We're not looking at the same IBM, he said.

"But we do have to look at what steps IBM should take now to purge its
soul and see what positive outcomes can come out of this revelation,"
Rothchild said. "What this did, more than anything else, was help us
understand how intricate the planning was on the part of the Nazis to
destroy human life."

IBM Germany, known in those days as Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen
Gesellschaft, or Dehomag, custom-designed and serviced the tabulating
machines and their punch cards, a system that is the forerunner of
today's computers, which the Nazis used to identify, locate, deport and
exterminate Jews.

The system also helped the Nazis to allocate food in ways that could
starve the Jews, track their slave labor and run the railroad system with
"timing so precise the victims were able to walk right out of the boxcar
and into a waiting gas chamber," according to Black.

From the book's introduction, Black writes: "Dehomag did not simply sell
the Reich machines and then walk away. IBM's subsidiary, with the
knowledge of its New York headquarters, enthusiastically custom-designed
the complex devices and specialized applications as an official corporate
undertaking. ... The company leveraged its Nazi Party connections to
continuously enhance its business relationship with Hitler's Reich, in
Germany and throughout Nazi-dominated Europe."

Holocaust scholar Alan Berger cautioned that it is important to be
outraged despite the fact it happened some 60-plus years ago.

Berger, head of Florida Atlantic University's Holocaust and Judaic
Studies program, pointed out that IBM's complicity should be viewed the
same as government-approved outrages, such as the Tuskegee syphilis
experiment on black U.S. soldiers and LSD tests conducted on U.S. Air
Force recruits.

"It's not just corporations, and it's not just Germany," he said. "We
have to always question what's being done because, if we don't, next time
it'll be worse." Marian Dozier can be reached at mdozier@sun-sentinel.com
or 561-243-6643. (Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), February 20, 2001)

MISSISSIPPI: No Quota Set for Receiving Funds in Desegregation Case
Numerical goals for the enrollment of non-black students at Mississippi's
historically black universities will not be required before those schools
can receive funds from any settlement in a college desegregation lawsuit.
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Attorney General Mike Moore made
that announcement on Thursday February 15.

Thompson, one of the lead plaintiffs, and Moore have been working to
settle the 26-year-old Ayers desegregation case. "There's a goal of
(enrollment of) minority students in the black schools that every effort
will be put forth to try to reach but there's no penalty associated with
that. It's not a limit," Thompson said.

Moore said that one goal of the case has been to increase the enrollment
of other race students at Jackson State, Alcorn State and Mississippi
Valley State. "(But) we would not place any numerical requirements on any
of these schools for them to receive money from the settlement. No judge
would let us do that," Moore said. "We are out to enhance these three

Talks have centered on a settlement of about $500 million, including
endowments to attract other race students to the historically black

The Chronicle of Higher Education in its Feb. 15 issue reported that the
historically black colleges would have to meet numerical goals for
enrolling nonblack students before they could receive money from two
proposed endowments. The journal said it had obtained a copy of the
state's Feb. 8 proposal for settling the lawsuit.

Thompson said a settlement is "a work in progress." "There's some
discussion of increasing the minority student population at the black
schools," Thompson acknowledged, "and that's consistent with what the
judge has said all along."

Pam Smith, a spokeswoman for College Board, said Higher Education
Commissioner Tom Layzell would have no comment on the report. She said
the College Board urged Moore to get the case settled.

The case was filed by the late Jake Ayers of Glen Allen in 1975 charging
the state's three historically black colleges were underfunded in
comparison to five historically white schools. The U.S. Supreme Court
agreed and ordered the state to remedy the situation.

Since the remedial order was issued in 1995, the state has spent about
$83 million on improvements to its three historically black universities.

U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. directed Mississippi's eight public
universities will continue summer remediation programs begun in 1995 to
help students qualify for college admission.

Moore and Thompson said a settlement is near. "We are very close on this
thing. This is going to happen," Moore said. "The ultimate goal is to try
to resolve this case," Thompson said. "I'm very optimistic."

Biggers would have to approve the settlement. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove has
urged both sides to settle the case. (The Associated Press State & Local
Wire, February 16, 2001)

NORTEL NETWORKS: 3 U.S. Lawsuits Line up after Profits Warning
Nortel Networks, the networking equipment supplier, is facing legal
action and allegations of insider trading following last week's profits
warning, which slashed the company's share value by a third last Friday.

At least three lawsuits seeking class-action status are accusing Nortel
of misleading investors last month when it reiterated bullish revenue and
earnings guidance as it released fourth-quarter results.

A suit by New York law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach alleges
that Nortel "knowingly and/or recklessly made materially false and
misleading statements" in its investment guidance.

Court documents filed in the Milberg suit allege that William Conner,
president of Nortel's e-business solutions division, and Chahram Bolouri,
president of global operations, sold about Dollars 7m of stock in late
January, after the company's share price was boosted by the fourth
quarter results.

A separate suit against Nortel, by Baltimore law firm Charles J. Piven,
questions the share dealings of Mr Conner and Mr Bolouri.

However, Nortel said Mr Conner and Mr Bolouri "believe strongly in the
future of Nortel Networks" and had increased their holdings. They had
sold shares last month only to cover the costs of exercising options.
Nortel said it had not yet received any suits.

Los Angeles firm Stull, Stull & Brody last week filed a suit against
Nortel, alleging it had artificially inflated and maintained the value of
its stock. Nortel shocked investors last Thursday by warning that
revenues would grow at about 15 per cent this year, half the previous
estimate, and that it was likely to report a first quarter operating loss
of 4 cents a share against the 16 cents a share profit forecast.

John Roth, Nortel's chief executive, said the profits warning stemmed
from the economic downturn in the US.

Local analysts said share dealings of this magnitude by executives
exercising options had become routine. However, Nortel faced an uphill
task restoring investor confidence after reiterating its bullish guidance
and dismissing analysts' doubts.

The Ontario Securities Commission declined to say if it was investigating
the matter. Nortel shares were CDollars 1.05 ahead at CDollars 32.05 in
lunchtime Toronto trading. Last September, they traded above CDollars
120. (The Financial Times Limited Financial Times (London), February 20,

NORTEL NETWORKS: Boss Meets Audience in Toronto after Stock Havoc
     National Post (formerly The Financial Post), February 20, 2001
-Investors not misled: Roth: Will remain as CEO: 'This is most abrupt
downturn the U.S. has experienced'

A defiant John Roth yesterday dismissed claims that Nortel Networks Corp.
misled investors, insisting he only learned of his company's declining
fortunes after a meeting with sales staff last week.

'We run regular reviews with our sales force in terms of what the forward
view looks like,' the 57-year-old Nortel chief executive told an audience
at the Canadian Club in Toronto. 'The review disclosed that the orders
were not coming in,' said Mr. Roth.

Nortel executives informed the board that first-quarter sales would miss
forecasts by at least 50%, and that the company would post its first
quarterly loss since 1993, before issuing a press release that day.

Mr. Roth said earlier assurances that the company could meet its 30%
growth forecasts were genuine, maintaining that the economy in the United
States has been impossible to predict.

'This is the most abrupt downturn that the U.S. has experienced.,' Mr
Roth said. 'It's becoming clear that all our customers are starting to
adjust their budgets to take account of the realities of the sharp and
severe downturn that the U.S. is experiencing,' he said. Mr. Roth added
that the telecommunications industry now closely tracks economic
performance, and said his company is especially dependent on the United
States, which accounts for 60% of sales.

Mr. Roth threw cold water on media speculation that he would be forced to
step down, saying the Nortel board has asked that he remain, at least
until this time next year.

As well, he brushed off three class-action lawsuits filed so far against
Nortel on behalf of investors in the U.S. 'There is a whole industry of
class action lawyers around,' he said. 'We rolled out the announcement as
quickly as we could so there wouldn't be any rumours.'

Mr. Roth added that Nortel has no control over the price of its stock,
which rose $1.69 yesterday to close at $32.69 after Friday's 32%
meltdown. It is still far off its peak of $124.50 in July.

The lawsuits allege that Nortel, which restated guidance several times
before its reversal Thursday, deliberately misled shareholders. At least
one suit also alleges insider trading on the part of two Nortel
executives, who each sold more than US$7-million worth of shares three
weeks before the profit and revenue warning.

Mr. Roth said the executives -- if they had know of the pending warning
-- would have been better off to wait unit the shares dropped before
selling because they would have been issued new stock at the lower price
under the company's executive compensation program.

They would have also avoided substantial capital gains tax.

Taking questions from the audience but refusing to meet with reporters,
Mr. Roth was asked if the company's deal to buy a Swiss optics plants
from JDS Uniphase Corp., of Ottawa, and San Jose, Calif. that closed two
days before the warning will be revisited. 'That deal is finished,' he
said. 'It's closed.'

Anthony Muller, chief financial officer of JDS Uniphase, said that the
company was 'shocked' by Nortel's earnings warning, which shaved hundreds
of millions of dollars from the price JDS was paid in shares and stock.
He said JDS Uniphase is considering its options 'but it's not easy to
litigate with an important customer.'

Mr. Roth also stood on his record as CEO of Nortel over the past four
years, a Brampton, Ont.-based company whose sales doubled to more than
US$30-billion over the period.

Nortel is Canada's largest company by revenue and stock market value, and
is among the most widely held stocks in Canada. 'I feel that I've
accomplished what I set out to do.'

Mr. Roth, who has been under intense pressure, received a standing
ovation after his remarks to an audience of about 1,000. He opened his
speech by joking about bodyguards, though there was no shortage of
security in and around the hall. A spokesman said she was not aware of
threats against Mr. Roth.

                       Roth Turns Away Wrath
       - 'It's a blood sport. People like to take a CEO down'

This is Canadian chutzpah. Late last week, John Roth laid the biggest egg
in Bay Street history, announcing a cut in sales and profit forecasts
that triggered a 33% plunge in shares of his company, Nortel Networks
Corp. The one-day drop wiped out $47-billion in shareholder value.

Confronting the likely odium of Bay Street's money managers yesterday in
his first public appearance since that debacle, Mr. Roth surprised even
his own colleagues with a speech that merely hinted at the full-throated
defiance one would have expected from a Bill Gates, Larry Ellison or John

Nortelites in the room were expecting high drama. 'They'll roast him,'
said one, anticipating tough questions from the audience in a Royal York
Hotel ballroom that was bathed in kleig lights and heavy with the smell
of an overcooked plat du jour. 'It's a blood sport. People like to take a
CEO down.'

Some Bay Street analysts, who climbed right out there on the limb with
Mr. Roth, now say his credibility is in tatters along with theirs.

High-powered U.S. law firms have launched class-action suits alleging
that Mr. Roth knowingly misled investors about the imminent downturn in
demand for his company's products.

At the very least, this Wayne Gretzky of the business world, who has
presided over the creation and loss of more shareholder value than any
other CEO in Canadian history, has some serious explaining to do about
the own goal he scored with his gloomy restated forecasts after the
market close last Thursday.

But Mr. Roth is the anti-slick, and he knew his audience. There were no
tough questions after his mildly self-deprecating talk. True to his form,
Mr. Roth spoke into his chest, the words often inaudible. He worked from
notes rather than a carefully prepared text, even though the ambulance
chasers at Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz and Stull Stull and Brody were
tuned in for any careless word that might prove useful in open court.

It might not have worked in Manhattan and would certainly have flopped in
San Jose. But in Toronto, with its suspicious regard for charisma, it was
enough that Mr. Roth did not duck his scheduled appearance at the
Canadian Club. In that sense, he himself was the message more than
anything he might have said. 'I thought he did well,' said one investment
manager hurrying back to his office. 'He was believable and he took on
his critics with dignity.'

Yet Mr. Roth chose not to tackle some pressing issues. He had nothing to
say about widespread fears that Nortel is financing too many of its
clients' purchases in order to fatten its order books. He gave only the
vaguest sense of the near-term outlook for Nortel's revenue growth, which
many analysts now say will fall short of even the modest new targets Mr.
Roth set on Thursday.

Mr. Roth insisted: 'We'll come out of this downturn a stronger company
than we went into it.' But he did not give evidence to that assertion, as
he could easily have done, by enumerating the leadership positions Nortel
has built in fibre-optic switching gear or next-generation wireless.

Instead, Mr. Roth seemed to think it sufficient to dwell on the inexpert
forecasting skills of Alan Greenspan, chairman of the U.S. Federal
Reserve Board, who was also late in detecting 'the sharpest and most
abrupt downturn in the U.S. economy' in recent memory.

And he allowed himself to revel in the misfortunes of competitor Lucent
Technologies Inc., begging for a cash infusion from its bankers. Mr. Roth
claimed that Lucent's customers are defecting to Nortel and others.

When he joined Nortel in 1969, Lucent, the former Western Electric, was
six times the size of Nortel. Mr. Roth noted that Nortel overtook Lucent
in size last year, and now 'we're benefiting from their misery.'

Otherwise, Mr. Roth deemed it enough yesterday to quietly assert his
right to keep leading Canada's most important tech company and escape the
fate of Lucent's Rich McGinn, fired last year for failing to meet profit

Casting back to when he was appointed chief executive in 1997, Mr. Roth
talked about a Nortel that has doubled revenue since that time and has
quadrupled its earnings. He did not boast that with a market cap of US$
60-billion, his firm is still twice as valuable as it was when he took
the helm. But then, 'We're not running this company for day traders.
'What I set out to do four years ago, I've largely achieved,' said Mr.
Roth, who ventured another forecast -- that he would still be chief
executive of Nortel a year from now.

Well, they can't fire him just yet. A few weeks from now he is scheduled
to appear in another packed Toronto ballroom for his induction into the
Canadian Business Hall of Fame.

                     Market Players Are Angered

Nortel Network Corp.'s CEO, John Roth, spent the weekend puttering around
and reading car magazines rather than negative reviews about him in the
financial press after the firestorm of publicity surrounding his
company's spectacular stock collapse.

'I don't read the press,' he said to those of us who were his head table
guests at the Canadian Club luncheon in Toronto yesterday. 'I also looked
through catalogues to pick out a tractor part.'

Mr. Roth, an engineer from Alberta who collects fast cars, was not
defensive about what's happened. Nor should he be.

He spoke to a sellout audience, clearly from notes, after abandoning his
planned speech. He explained why his company had to revise its growth
forecasts last week, which led to the stock's collapse and accompanying

What critics miss is the fact that Nortel, after the latest carnage, is
still too pricey at 20 times earnings, as far as I'm concerned. Its July
price of 120 times earnings was never-never land and part of the
speculative bubble over technology stocks that began bursting months ago.

The facts are that the shareholders of most publicly traded companies
would commit murder to have their stocks trade at 15 times earnings,
never mind 20 times. It's also a fact that companies in shrinking sectors
historically trade at only 10 times earnings.

That's one of many reasons why cries for John Roth's head are totally off
base. His responsibilities do not include propping up an unjustifiably
high stock trading price or controlling stock markets.

His responsibility is to run Nortel and he's done a brilliant job of
building the company into a world leader. Since becoming CEO in 1997,
Nortel has overtaken in size its arch-rival Lucent Technologies Inc. Back
then, Lucent was 50% bigger than Nortel.

Nortel, and its shareholders, are the latest victims of what's
increasingly looking like a recession with a capital 'R' in the United
States. They are also a victim of headspinning acceleration of
decision-making in the world, thanks to globalized markets and

Within a matter of days, Nortel's sales force learned that its 75
telecommunications customers around the world were chopping their
equipment orders more abruptly than previously. This meant the company
had to announce revised forecasts and more layoffs. And within seconds of
Nortel's announcement of revisions, thousands dumped the stock, causing a
freefall in prices.

Critics alleged Nortel misled the market when it said the situation was
rosier a few days before.

But Nortel's managers are not paid to second-guess or gaze into crystal
balls. Nortel's obligation is to tell the market what it knows, when it
knows it. And as Mr. Roth explained yesterday, last week Nortel's sales
force found out customers had just decided to slash capital budgets more
deeply than previously thought.

Nortel was not alone in getting caught off side. The same day Nortel
revised its forecasts downward, so did Dell Computer Corp. Days before
Hewlett-Packard Co. and Motorola Inc. did the same.

(Even market geniuses, such as Federal Reserve Board chief Alan
Greenspan, are being blindsided these days. In November, he mused in
public about an interest rate hike to cool off the economy. Then in
January, he instituted the most dramatic interest rate cuts since 1984 in
an attempt to heat up the sagging economy.)

The new reality is that people and corporations turn on a dime these

Even so, critics began calling for Mr. Roth's head. Then, predictably,
the litigation-happy legal fraternity south of the border joined the
fray, announcing big class-action lawsuits because shareholders lost
money as Nortel's stock price fell.

'There's an industry of class-action lawyers,' said Mr. Roth glibly.
He has reason to be glib. These lawsuits, initiated all the time, will
flop. Stock market players who lost big money have only their greed, or
their inept brokers or portfolio managers to blame. Still others have
only their ignorance to blame because they must have believed that
stocks, and economies, can increase in value ad infinitum.

Fortunately, Mr. Roth is totally nonplussed about the situation even
after I reminded him that his net worth had shrivelled. (In July, his
750,000 Nortel shares were worth $92.2-million and now they are 'only'
$24-million. He also has five million options.)

'It's only money. After the first $2-million it doesn't matter except to
keep score,' he said. 'You can't worry about this. We don't have any
control over the stock prices. We're just running a terrific business

                 A Whale Is Beached, The Vultures Are Out

Corporate governance faddists, a nest of theorists on everything from
disclosure to executive salaries to board structures and the right colour
for office broadloom, have quickly moved in on Nortel. A whale has been
beached, it seems, and the vultures are out.

We have class-action charges that the company issued materially false
statements last month and that some executives engaged in insider
trading. Instant analysts are available to suggest the company may be
deliberately timing its forecasts to shaft one group of shareholders or
another. Others are out to disembowel Nortel CEO John Roth. Any minute
now the Ontario Securities Commission, always on the lookout for
'hot-button' issues to exploit, will be hinting that it too is looking
into Nortel's disclosure practices, just as it hinted last month that it
was on the trail of Air Canada.

While these feeding frenzies are fun while they last, they actually
promote a wide range of wonky ideas on how corporations should operate.
The rush to sue, regulate and re-configure corporations -- an expanding
movement of institutions, regulators and shareholder activists -- implies
that there is some perfectible model of corporate behavior and structure,
and that all we need to do is regulate it into place.

The emptiest pop-up charge against Nortel is last Friday's ritual class
action from a New York law firm. It said that when Nortel produced upbeat
sales and earnings forecasts on Jan. 18, the company had 'issued
materially false and misleading information that misrepresented the
company's financial condition and prospects.' The implication is that the
company trumped up its January forecast and then only released accurate
numbers last Thursday night.

How odd, though, that these lawyers didn't go after Nortel, a notorious
forecast bungler, in the past. Nortel has been wrong on its sales and
earnings calls maybe a dozen times over the last five years. It used to
predict sales increases of 20%, only to report later that they had
increased 30%. Profit gains of 30% turned out to be 50%. What a scam But
nobody sued for false and misleading disclosure. Think of all the
investors who didn't buy Nortel or who shorted the stock because the
earnings gains were only going to be 30%.

When stocks are rising and the curves are all heading higher, shareholder
activists, ambulance chasers and regulators have no public platform to
launch their pet theories. Now that shares are declining and the trend
lines are down, they all come out to capitalize on public perceptions and
shareholder discontent.

One major shareholder, JDS Uniphase, is said to be upset because it
closed a deal with Nortel last Tuesday in exchange for Nortel shares that
were then worth $45. On Friday, after Nortel issued its earnings warning,
the shares had fallen fell to $32, and JDS is now nominally out maybe
$1-billion. Nominally. But Nortel shares may recover. In any case, if JDS
wanted the security of cash, it should have insisted on a cash deal and
money in the bank rather than a share transaction. It is also just as
valid to argue that, given current market conditions, Nortel overpaid for
the assets it bought from JDS Uniphase, and the loss in share value
reflects the accurate market value today.

In comments in Toronto, Mr. Roth deftly handled most of the charges. He
dismissed the insider trading allegation, arguing plausibly that the
executives who sold shares two weeks ago had actually put themselves at a
disadvantage. He also said that Nortel's earnings warning was released
shortly after a sales review found that orders were not coming in as
expected and were unlikely to meet earlier forecasts. The board was
advised, and new forecasts released.

Nortel may be on thin ice, however, when it shifts almost all the blame
for its woes on Alan Greenspan and the declining U.S. economy. The market
for Nortel products, analyst Wynn Quon suggests in his article nearby, is
a big black hole of changing technology, falling prices and over-capacity
that have nothing to do with Mr. Greenspan.

Still, there's an underlying theme to the rolling charges against Nortel.
It is that Nortel somehow could have, or should have, been able to
produce more accurate sales and earnings forecasts at some point in time
other than last Thursday night. That assumes, of course, that last
Thursday's forecasts were accurate. They, too, are almost certainly wrong
and will have to be corrected again two months from now.

The misconception, fostered by activists, is that corporate forecasting
is a hard science, that head office always knows exactly what's going on
in the market, and that the board should always have a solid bead on the
coming year -- and fully disclose it at all times. If the CEO and the
board don't know, then either they're incompetents or we need new
governance structures and tougher regulations. Calls for more independent
board members, tighter controls over stock options, less remuneration for
board members, tougher disclosure rules -- just about everything is
likely to emerge as a remedy in the wake of Nortel's surprise warning.
None of it will be relevant.

      The Ottawa Sun, February 20, 2001 - Insider Trading Claims Don't
Add Up: Roth - Two Nortel executives who sold millions of dollars in
company stock in late January would have been "smarter" to defer the
sales, Nortel CEO John Roth says.

Roth's comment after a luncheon address in Toronto was the closest the
CEO came to dismissing speculation of insider trading in Nortel stock.

A class-action suit filed in New York stated two executives sold more
than $ 7 million US of Nortel shares less than three weeks before the
company issued an earnings warning. Court documents filed in a lawsuit
against the hi-tech giant and four executives, said two officials sold
their stock less than two weeks after Nortel released strong
fourth-quarter results.

"If they had realized that this announcement was coming up they probably
would have been smart to defer until after this," said Roth, adding that
the two officials had been given "key contributor grants."

"And the way that works, when the stock vests, which it did in these two
executives' case, if they exercise and purchase the stock and keep the
stock, we'll give them back a reload, of the equivalent number of shares
that they had originally," Roth explained.

"If they knew the stock was going to drop, it would have been smarter to
exercise after it drops. Because then they would pay less capital gains
and they would get the new options at today's price and not the inflated
prices of last week."

Two Nortel Networks executives who sold millions of dollars in company
stock in late January would have been "smarter" to defer the sales,
Nortel CEO John Roth says.

Roth's comment came after a luncheon address to 1,000 at The Canadian
Club, three days after a Nortel profit warning sent share prices
plunging, taking the Toronto Stock Exchange down by 574 points -- its
second-largest point loss ever. Nortel, which makes fibre-optic cables,
is Canada's favourite stock, but has fallen from highs of more than $ 100
a share last fall and yesterday traded at $ $ 32.69.

A class-action lawsuit filed in New York claims two executives sold more
than $ 7 million U.S. of Nortel shares, less than three weeks before it
announced a warning about earnings. Documents filed in the suit against
the Brampton company and four executives, said the two officials sold
their stock after Nortel released strong fourth quarter results last
month. "Quite honestly, if they had realized that this announcement was
coming up they probably would have been smart to defer," Roth said after
his speech.

                              Sweet Deal

Roth said his two executives were given "key contributor grants," a
formula used by Nortel to retain key executives. "And the way that works,
when the stock vests, which it did in these two executives' case, if they
exercise and purchase the stock and keep the stock, we'll give them back
a reload, of the equivalent number of shares that they had originally,"
Roth said in response to a question from the audience.

Roth also defended his record as CEO of Nortel, saying the technology
giant is still stronger than when he took over almost four years ago.
"I've enjoyed 15 straight quarters where we met or beat the guidance that
we gave the street," he said. This time last year, Roth said, Nortel was
looking at 21% growth for year 2000. In April , that was revised to
nearly 30% growth and, in July, it was forecast at 40%. "We met that ...
turning in a totally new growth of 42% to bring our revenues from $ 21
billion U.S., as we left 1999, to finishing last year with revenues of $
30.3 billion," said Roth.

He conceded 2001 will be a difficult year. About 60% of Nortel's $ 30
billion US in annual revenue is from the U.S., so it is very exposed to
that market, he said.

"The U.S. downturn is very hard to predict," he said. "It is going very
quickly. It is going to last longer."

                     No Plans for Stepping Down
                    No Explanation on Forecasts

Roth said he'll stay on at the helm of Nortel but didn't shed any new
light on why the company was so wrong in its financial forecasts. After
his speech and a few brief questions, he left through a side door.

To accept Roth's version of events "we have to believe that they got
blindsided in the space of a couple of weeks," said Lawrence Surtees, a
senior telecom analyst.

       The London Free Press, February 20, 2001 - Nortel Boss Defends His
Record; Roth Fails To Shed Any New Light On Why Company Was So Wrong In
Financial forecasts - Under fire at a business luncheon yesterday, John
Roth assured hundreds of people he'll stay on at the helm of Nortel
Networks, but didn't shed any new light on why the fibre-optics company
was so wrong in its financial forecasts for this year.

The Nortel chief executive skirted the issue on everyone's minds during
his speech to the Canadian Club, saying few could have anticipated the
rapid plunge in the American economy during the last two months.

Roth, whose credibility has been on the line the last week, refused to
speak with reporters either before or after the speech -- his first
public appearance since Nortel cut its growth forecasts in half late last
Thursday which wreaked havoc on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"The U.S. is going down the most abrupt downturn it has probably ever,
ever experienced," he told the packed meeting in Toronto's financial
district. "This abrupt downturn has hit us as abruptly as it has the U.S.
economy," he said, explaining Nortel receives and ships its orders within
a fast turnaround of just four to eight weeks. The economic downturn has
shaken the technology industry and recently delayed infrastructure
purchases by phone companies -- those the fibre-optic giant supplies --
until later this year or next year. About 60 per cent of Nortel's $ 30
billion US in annual revenue is from the U.S., so it is exposed to that
market, he said. "People think Nortel is invincible. We'd like to think
we're pretty good, but we're not invincible."

A surprise profit warning from Nortel late last Thursday -- after the
company continually reaffirmed its outlook during the last few months --
sparked a stock selloff that wiped billions of dollars off the value of
Canadian stocks Friday. It also raised concerns about Nortel's
credibility with investors and how it handles its financial forecasts.

To accept Roth's version of events "we have to believe that they got
blindsided in the space of a couple of weeks -- just like a lot of
investors feel they got blindsided," said Lawrence Surtees, senior
telecom analyst at research firm IDC Canada. "I have a healthy skepticism
about it," said Surtees, who attended the Canadian Club meeting.

Lots of questions remained as Roth refused to take media questions and
quickly left the hall through a side entrance after the meeting with a
bodyguard close beside him.

"He skated around a couple of questions," Surtees said. "They've got to
come cleaner with analysts and the media. "To come to a major speech like
this after everything that's happened and to then run off and hide in the
limo doesn't help the story or the credibility or help get answers to
important questions."

Strategic Analysis Corp. president Ross Healy wonders why there weren't
more diligent efforts at Nortel to review its targets given the recent
warnings issued by other companies in its industry. "What really concerns
me is, why didn't Mr. Roth know sooner?"

Surtees said Roth raised more questions than he answered during the
speech, pointing to Roth's statement 75 customers worldwide account for
85 per cent of Nortel's revenue. That alone indicates Nortel should have
a better handle on those companies' major spending decisions, said

In his sometimes humorous speech about Nortel's huge share-price decline
last week, Roth defended his position and dismissed reports some
investors are clamouring for him to quit, saying he will remain as
Nortel's chief executive at least until his current contract runs out
next year. "We do not really control what the stock markets do," he said.
"But I must say that what I set out to do four years ago, I've largely
achieved. "The job of CEO is to guide a company so it outperforms the
market segment that it serves."

But he admitted 2001 will be a difficult year and the company won't
achieve growth of 30 per cent as it had originally predicted. Instead it
will be half that mark. "At this point in time, the U.S. downturn is very
hard to predict," he said. "It is going very quickly. It is going to last
longer. And we need to be prepared."

After his speech, Roth took a few questions from the floor -- a departure
from the usual format at the Canadian Club's weekly luncheon meetings.

He brushed off queries about three class-action lawsuits filed against
the company in the U.S. regarding its quickly reduced financial
estimates. "Any time there's any meaningful movement in stock -- either
up or down -- you can expect class- action suits. This is not unexpected
of movements of this magnitude," Roth said.

He also dismissed insider trading allegations against two executives.

Roth gave a terse answer to a question asking if the terms of the $
2.5-billion US all-stock deal to buy JDS Uniphase's Swiss component
plant, which closed last Tuesday, were being reviewed because of the
subsequent stock price drop. "That deal is finished, it's closed," he

NORTEL NETWORKS: Kirby McInerney Announces Securities Lawsuit
Kirby McInerney & Squire has been retained to commence a class action on
behalf of purchasers of Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE: NT) securities.

The complaint will charge Nortel and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities
Act of 1934, arising from misrepresentations made by defendants
concerning the demand for Nortel's products. The complaint will allege
that defendants made repeated, affirmative and misleading statements - in
the face of decreased capital expenditures in the telecommunications
industry - regarding the level of demand for Nortel's products and
Nortel's growth in revenues, earnings and market share. The complaint
will allege that these statements were misleading and acted to inflate
artificially the trading price of Nortel securities. On February 15,
2001, when Nortel issued a press release admitting that demand for its
products had in fact slowed and that the company would fall drastically
short of previously-stated revenue and earnings guidance, the 'inflated'
price of Nortel's shares quickly collapsed. Nortel's shares lost
approximately 33% of their value in one day, falling from $29.75 per
share to $20.00 per share. Prior to the disclosure of the true state of
Nortel's operations and finances - as the complaint will allege - Nortel
insiders received millions of dollars from selling Nortel shares at
artificially-inflated prices. The action will seek to compensate Nortel's
public investors for their losses.

Contact: Kirby McInerney & Squire, LLP, New York Ira Press, Esq. Shan
Anwar 212/317-2300 or (Toll Free) 888/529-4787 sanwar@kmslaw.com

NORTEL NETWORKS: Leading Canadian Lawyer Considers Launching Action
The number of U.S. class-action lawsuits against Nortel Networks Corp.
mounted and Harvey Strosberg, one of Canada's leading class-action
lawyers, said he is considering filing an action against the beleaguered
fibre-optic equipment manufacturer on its home ground.

Mr. Strosberg most recently brought a class-action suit on behalf of
victims of the tainted-water scandal in Walkerton, Ont., and helped
negotiate a $ 22-million settlement.

'Have I had some calls about Nortel? Yes,' Mr. Strosberg said from his
office in Windsor, Ont. 'Am I looking at it? Yes. Have I made any
decision about starting a class-action in Canada? Not yet.'

In the United States, the Baltimore law firm of Charles J. Piven said it
filed a class-action suit against Nortel on Friday February 16, joining
Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP and Bernstein Liebhard &
Lifshitz LLP in New York and Stull, Stull & Brody in Los Angeles.

U.S. courts were closed for the Presidents' Day holiday, and it is likely
more lawsuits will be filed against the Canadian company in coming days.

Mr. Piven could not be reached to discuss his allegations, but they
appear to echo those made by the other law firms. All charge Nortel and
senior executives with making false and misleading statements about the
company's growth prospects when it announced fourth-quarter results on
Jan. 18.

Nortel shares gained 10% following the announcement. They plunged 36% in
trading on Feb. 16 after Nortel slashed its forecast of a month earlier
in half, blaming a stumbling U.S. economy.

New York-based Milberg Weiss says in its filing that Nortel and four
senior executives 'made false and materially misleading statements when
they issued revenue and earnings guidance to Wall Street and the
investing public on or about Jan. 18, 2001.

'Defendants knew at the time that, in fact, Nortel was experiencing a
substantial shortfall in first-quarter sales and earnings due to
decreased orders from its customers.'

The suit also says two executives, William Conner, president of Nortel's
E-Business Solutions, and Chahram Bolouri, president of the firm's global
operations, 'unloaded large amounts of Nortel stock holdings at greatly
inflated prices, reaping proceeds of over $7-million from their insider
sales,' between the reassuring statements on Jan. 18 and the 'bombshell
press release' on Feb. 15.

John Roth, Nortel's chief executive, brushed aside the growing number of
class-action suits in a lunchtime speech, saying 'there is a whole
industry of class-action lawyers around. Any time there's any meaningful
movement in stock -- either up or down -- you can expect class-action
suits. This is not unexpected of movements of this magnitude.'

Mr. Roth also defended the two executives, saying had they known there
was an earnings warning pending, they would have held off selling
because, under Nortel's compensation package, they would have been issued
replacement options at a lower price.

But one thing is clear: Nortel will have to spend years in U.S. courts
defending itself in connection with last week's developments. While
shareholder class-actions, such as those over Bre-X Minerals Ltd. and YBM
Magnex International Inc., have proven difficult to pursue in Canada,
this type of litigation is still a force to be reckoned with in the
United States.

Cendant Corp., the large franchiser of Ramada hotels and Avis rental
cars, agreed to pay US$2.8-billion to settle charges of widespread
accounting fraud. 3Com Corp. agreed to pay US$259-million last year to
settle a class-action complaint alleging it misled investors about its
US$8.9-billion purchase of U.S. Robotics Corp. in 1997. (National Post
(formerly The Financial Post), February 20, 2001)

NY CITY: Ct Refuses to Reveal Identities of 107 Marchers to 8 Arrestees
After scrutinizing the contentions of eight arrestees, who requested the
New York City Police Department to release the identifications of
numerous co-arrestees, the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New
York ruled that a state law, making such information privileged, was not
overcome by the movants' right to know. (Bryant, et al. v. The City of
New York, et al., No. 99CIV-11237 LMM DFE (S.D.N.Y. 12/27/00).)

On Oct. 19, 1998, the city's police officers arrested Timothy Bryant and
seven other claimants for their actions in a 5,000-person march. After
detaining the eight claimants for a few hours, the police released them.
Five claimants were never charged, two claimants were acquitted, and one
claimant agreed to pretrial intervention.

The claimants sued the city and its police department for civil rights
violations. The claimants moved to compel the city to identify the names
and addresses of 107 other marchers who were arrested that day. The city
opposed the application based on a New York criminal statute making such
information privileged.

Magistrate Judge Eaton stated that Fed. R. Evid. 501 controls the
disposition of witness privilege issues. The court stated the criminal
statute does not arise from common law and must be balanced with any
federal interest in presenting relevant evidence to the trier of fact.

Judge Eaton stated the plaintiffs "assume that each of the 107 arrestees
would be happy to be contacted by the plaintiffs' lawyers." The court
found the 107 arrestees' reluctance to come forward was demonstrated by a
lack of proof of any suits filed by them and their failure to voluntarily
offer assistance to the claimants. Judge Eaton also noted the claimants
did not attempt to determine how many of the 107 were convicted. The
court also observed the plaintiffs' attorneys failed to advise the court
of what independent efforts were made to obtain the 107 arrestees'

The court rejected the assertion that, if the 107 were contacted, they
might wish to join a class action. The number failed to meet the
numerosity requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, Judge Eaton noted.

The claimants also contended the arrest of 107 persons would tend to
evince a city arrest policy, practice, or custom. The court found such
evidence was better proven by evidence of such a policy before the date
of the arrest, and not by the arrests themselves.

Accordingly, the District Court held "that the requested order would
impose an administrative burden on the City, and (more importantly) a
burden on the privacy interests of the 107 non-parties." The burdens
outweighed the "likely benefit" of such discovery, Judge Eaton concluded.
(Federal Discovery News, Feruary 12, 2001)

OPEN DOOR: Milazzo, Fortunato Announces Securities Suit Filed in NJ
The following was released on February 20 by Milazzo, Fortunato, McCann,
& Murray, LLC:

Shareholders of Open Door Online, Inc. (OTC BB: NTER) In the Superior
Court of New Jersey, Bergen County, Camille M. Barbone, and Tom Carley
filed a lawsuit against David DeBaene as President, CEO/Director, the
officers, and the Directors of Open Door Online, Inc. This action is
brought by Barbone and Carley individually, as a class and derivatively
on behalf of the corporation. While maintaining an office in Coventry,
RI, Open Door Online, Inc. is a New Jersey corporation that is publicly
traded over-the-counter on the NASDAQ.

The suit alleges that DeBaene and the Board of Directors have not acted
in a manner consistent with the best interest of the corporation and have
caused irreparable damage to its' shareholders. Court documents allege
specific instances in which DeBaene's failure to respond to lawsuits has
caused default judgments, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, to be
entered against Open Door Online, Inc. Additionally, it is alleged its'
contracts with many artists, record labels, studios, businesses and
suppliers have been breached. The complaint also alleges fraud by DeBaene
and the other Directors.

Barbone and Carley, on behalf of the shareholders, are seeking the
removal of DeBaene and the other directors and officers of the
Corporation. They have requested that the Court order a shareholder's
meeting be scheduled to elect new Officers and Directors. The meeting
would also serve as an opportunity to present information and
documentation about the state of the Company and to advise all
shareholders regarding an opportunity to merge with Hollywood On Air,
Inc. Barbone and Carley are also requesting that the Court appoint a
fiscal agent to take control of the corporate bank accounts, and notify
shareholders of the meeting, as well as conduct it.

After a brief hearing, Superior Court Judge Gerald Escala entered an
order restraining DeBaene and the other members of the Board of Directors
from "...transacting any corporate business which is not in the ordinary
course, including, but not limited to, any merger, sale or acquisition of
the corporation and any sale, transfer, pledge, assignment, hypothecation
or alienation of corporate assets or issuing any further stock, warrants,
options or converting restricted stock to free trading stock until
further order of the Court."

Barbone and Carley held the positions of Vice President and COO. and
Director of A&R/Studio Operations respectively. Barbone resigned on
January 10th, 2001 and Carley resigned on January 11th, 2001. The
corporation accepted both resignations.

Contact: Milazzo, Fortunato, McCann, & Murray, LLC, Hackensack John
McCann, 201/343-7070 201/343-7916 (Facsimile) MFMLAWYERS@cs.com

PROPULSID LITIGATION: Kansas Patients Join Heartburn-Drug Case
A group of lawyers have filed class-action lawsuits in Jackson and
Johnson counties demanding medical exams and other services for patients
who took a heartburn drug linked to deadly heart problems.

The drug, Propulsid, is used by an estimated 30 million people
nationwide. The manufacturer voluntarily withdrew it from the market last
year after 80 patients had died.

The suits ask that the drug's maker, Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc. of
Titusville, N.J., and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson of New
Brunswick, N.J., pay for periodic examinations to Missouri and Kansas
patients who took the drug. The suits also ask the companies to pay for a
registry of Propulsid patients and research on their health problems and
to notify them of risks associated with the drug. The suits seek damages
of less than $75,000 per patient.

The suits were filed in Jackson County Circuit Court on Tuesday February
13 and in Johnson County Circuit Court last Thursday February 15.

"At minimum, they need an EKG (electrocardiogram). We have some concern
they may need more than that," said J. Scott Bertram, a Kansas City
lawyer who is part of the group filing the suits.

Janssen spokesman Greg Panico said the medical attention demanded was not
needed. Propulsid stays in the body for just a short time, Panico said.
"Any adverse outcomes occurred while taking the drug, so (long-term)
medical monitoring would not be necessary," he said. Panico said he was
not familiar with the Kansas City area lawsuits, but a similar suit
seeking medical monitoring of Propulsid patients was filed in New Jersey
in November.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned in January 2000 that
Propulsid could cause irregular heartbeats and even sudden death. It told
doctors to prescribe the medicine only as a last resort and only to
patients who first received heart tests to ensure that they were at low
risk for side effects.

Two months later, Janssen announced it was withdrawing the drug from the
market, effective last July 14. The company continues to make the drug
available to some patients with serious gastrointestinal diseases, Panico
said. "These patients are closely monitored for cardiac function," he
said. (The Kansas City Star, February 16, 2001)

REZULIN: Warner-Lambert Denies Seeking Removal Of FDA Official
Warner-Lambert acknowledges that former FDA medical officer Dr. John L.
Gueriguian had recommended against approval of Rezulin in an October 1996
draft evaluation in which he expressed concerns about heart problems, and
that in a meeting with Warner-Lambert representatives used "inappropriate
language" to describe Rezulin's prospects. But it denies having had
anything to do with his removal from consideration of the drug, or that
Rezulin can cause liver or heart problems

To the contrary, Warner-Lambert continues to defend the therapeutic
superiority of Rezulin. In one of its answers to the plaintiffs'
consolidated amended class action complaint, the company states that
"Defendants admit that in 1997 there were other FDA-approved drugs for
the treatment of adult-onset diabetes, each of which was associated with
a variety of adverse events, including fatal adverse events, and none of
which had the demonstrated efficacy and mechanism-of-action of Rezulin."
The class action complaint, which consolidates 46 cases, is before U. S.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York.

                        Affirmative Defenses

The company denies all of the substantive allegations in the plaintiffs'
consolidated amended class action and raises 41 separate and affirmative
defenses, including:

* Claims are barred by the learned intermediary.

* Plaintiffs had full knowledge of and accepted the risks related to use
  of Rezulin.

* The causes of action are federally preempted.

* Plaintiffs' injuries, if any, are the result of their "idiosyncratic
  reaction to Rezulin for which Defendants cannot be held responsible."

* Plaintiffs' alleged injuries were caused by their own negligence or
  that of entities other than the defendants.

* Their injuries, if any, were caused by misuse of Rezulin.

* Cause Of Death Disputed

The company also disputes the allegation that Audrey Jones' 1998 death
during an NIH trial was caused by Rezulin. Jones, who was not diabetic
but had risk factors for the disease, was participating in a
government-sponsored investigation into whether Rezulin could prevent the
onset of diabetes.

The significance of Jones' death is that, as part of the clinical study,
she was undergoing the regular liver testing imposed by the FDA in the
hope of catching liver failure before it reached permanent or fatal
stages. Whereas the company responded to most statements about NIH
decisions by saying it lacked the information to form a belief about the
agency's internal activities, it specifically denied the allegations of
Paragraph 81, which states that "After investigation, NIH physicians
concluded that Mrs. Jones death had 'probably' been caused by Rezulin."

                    Previous Admission Denied

The company appears to back away from admissions made in Massachusetts
federal court in a case that has since been transferred into the MDL. In
Pasquale Aiello and Yee Feeshang v. Parke Davis, (No. 00-10971, D. Mass.;
See August 2000, Page 8), the company admitted that two prominent
diabetes researchers were paid company consultants. The plaintiffs argue
that the stature and alleged promotional efforts of Dr. Jerrold Olefsky
and Dr. Richard Eastman of the NIH aided in Rezulin's acceptance and

Warner-Lambert now denies paragraphs asserting that the researchers were
on the company payroll during times relevant to the Rezulin approval
process, although it is unclear whether the company is denying the
consultancies altogether or only the time frame alleged by the

Warner-Lambert is represented by David Klingsberg, Glenn Pogust, Alan
Goott, Jay Mayesh and Liza I. Karsai of Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hayes &
Handler in New York. (Mealey's Litigation Report: Diabetes Drugs,
February, 2001)

SCB TECHNOLOGY: Announces Dismissal of Shareholder Suit in TN
SCB Computer Technology, Inc. (OTCBB:SCBI) announced on February 20 that
the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee,
Western Division, has dismissed with prejudice a class-action lawsuit
filed on behalf of SCB's shareholders against the Company, certain of its
current and former directors and officers, and Ernst & Young LLP, the
Company's former independent auditor.

The lawsuit, originally filed in April 2000 as previously reported in the
CAR, stemmed from SCB's decision to restate certain of its prior
financial statements. The plaintiffs generally alleged that the
defendants had made false and misleading statements regarding SCB's
financial results and financial statements in violation of federal
securities laws. In response, SCB and the other defendants filed motions
to dismiss the case as a matter of law. The district court granted the
defendants' motions to dismiss in their entirety and, therefore,
dismissed the case with prejudice. The plaintiffs have 30 days in which
to appeal the decision.

STEWART ENTERPRISES: Investors Appeal against Dismissal of Lawsuit
In Re Stewart Enterprises, Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 01-30035 on
the docket of the United States Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit.

As previously reported in the CAR, during the fall of 1999, 16 putative
securities class action lawsuits were filed in the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against the Company, certain
of its directors and officers and the lead underwriters of the Company's
January 1999 common stock offering. The suits were consolidated, and the
court appointed lead plaintiffs as well as lead and liaison counsel for
the plaintiffs, who filed a consolidated amended complaint

The consolidated amended complaint alleges violations of Section 11,
12(a)(2) and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder on behalf of purchasers of the Company's common stock during
the period October 1, 1998 through August 12, 1999. Plaintiffs generally
allege that the defendants made false and misleading statements and
failed to disclose allegedly material information in the prospectus
relating to the January 1999 common stock offering and in certain of the
Company's other public filings and announcements. The plaintiffs also
allege that these allegedly false and misleading statements and omissions
permitted the Chairman of the Company to sell Company common stock during
the class period at inflated market prices.

The plaintiffs seek remedies including certification of the putative
class, unspecified damages, attorneys' fees and costs, rescission to the
extent any members of the class still hold the Company's common stock,
and such other relief as the court may deem proper.


On December 7, 2000, the District Court granted motions to dismiss, filed
by the Company and the other defendants, dismissing the complaint against
all defendants for failure to state a claim. On January 4, 2001, the
plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal.

The outcome and the costs of defending this litigation cannot be
predicted at this time. The Company believes that the claims are without
merit and intends to defend itself vigorously.

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Back in Ct Facing Farmers' Charges of Price-Fixing
Big Tobacco is back in court Tuesday, facing allegations by 6,500 tobacco
farmers that cigarette makers conspired to fix prices at auction houses
around the South.

"If you go to an auction warehouse on any given day, the price of tobacco
will be basically the same for all tobacco on the floor," said tobacco
farmer Lamar DeLoach of Excelsoir, Ga. "There is no competition in the
buying process."

DeLoach, 48, a fourth-generation tobacco farmer, is one of six lead
plaintiffs seeking what one of their lawyers, Alan Wiseman, said will be
"billions of dollars" in damages from the nation's four largest cigarette

Defendants Philip Morris Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Brown &
Williamson Tobacco Corp. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. have asked federal
district Judge William Osteen to dismiss the complaint as lacking merit.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Greensboro. The plaintiffs
have asked for a jury trial, which could be a year or more away. Legal
counsel for the farmers is also seeking class-action certification, which
could expand the number of plaintiffs to 89,700 growers of flue-cured and
burley tobacco and 415,749 holders of federal quotas to grow tobacco,
Wiseman said.

The complaint, filed a year ago in Washington and later transferred to
Greensboro, signals rising distrust between farmers and their biggest
customers for the beleagured crop. It's a rare public display by farmers
against a powerful industry that, for decades, has survived potentially
devastating lawsuits by smokers and their families, health groups and the
U.S. and state governments.

"It is one of the first times in our lives you've ever seen tobacco
against tobacco, farmers against the cigarette manufacturers," said
plaintiff Keith Parrish, a tobacco farmer in Coats, N.C. "It is the first
time you've seen a kink in the family."

As U.S. cigarette consumption has declined, the cigarette manufacturers
have purchased less tobacco from American farmers.

That, in turn, led the federal government to reduce tobacco quotas ---
the amount of leaf farmers can legally market --- by 45 percent since
1998. Farmers complain that amounts to a 45 percent pay cut.

For years, farmers have complained among themselves that end-of-season
auctions had lost their competitive edge as the bidding for leaf seemed
driven by Philip Morris, the maker of America's most popular brand,
Marlboro, said Parrish, 49. But farmers didn't mind the reduced bidding
as long as the federal quota program guaranteed them a minimum, yet
profitable, price for their crop.

But with the sharp cut in quotas, Parrish said, "We had been pushed into
the corner far enough that we felt we had to come out swinging."

Douglas L. Wald, lead counsel for the cigarette companies, could not be
reached for comment. But the defendants' motion attacked the farmers'
claim that the cigarette makers violated federal antitrust laws as
"legally deficient."

According to the defendants, antitrust laws are intended to protect
free-market competition and thus encourage lower prices for consumers.
But, the defendants said, tobacco is grown and marketed under a
Depression-era federal quota system whose purpose "is exactly the
opposite: to replace free-market competition with regulatory constraints,
in order to increase prices."

The defendants also said the farmers' legal counsel failed to lay out
basic details of the alleged conspiracy. (The Atlanta Journal and
Constitution, February 20, 2001)

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Fitch Rates Settlement Monetized Fee Trust 'A'
Fitch assigns its 'A' rating to the class A-2 certificates issued by
Litigation Settlement Monetized Fee Trust ITM.

The collateral securing the certificates consists of notes backed by fee
awards payable to various legal firms (the participating firms) that
served as outside counsel to the states of Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts
and Illinois in their settlement agreements with the domestic tobacco

The fee awards are payable to the participating firms under fee payment
agreements with the domestic tobacco manufacturers. The fee payment
agreements set forth the amount payable to each state's outside counsel.
Currently, the aggregate outstanding amount payable under the fee payment
agreements for these states is approximately $3.6 billion, with
approximately $1.4 billion of this total representing fee awards payable
to participating firms. The amounts payable under the fee agreements,
along with amounts payable to other settling states' outside counsel, was
awarded by an arbitration panel and is final, binding and non-appealable.

The states of Hawaii, Massachusetts and Illinois were parties to the
Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between 46 states, various U.S.
territories and the four largest domestic tobacco manufacturers, Philip
Morris Incorporated, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Brown & Williamson
Tobacco Corporation and Lorillard Tobacco Company (collectively the
Original Participating Manufacturers, or OPMs). The MSA settled all past
and future claims against the OPMs based on the effects of the use of
tobacco products in return for the OPMs undertaking certain actions,
including making payments to the states and to their outside counsel.
Florida settled its claims against the domestic tobacco industry pursuant
to a settlement agreement between the State of Florida and the four OPMs,
along with United States Tobacco Company. The Florida settlement
agreement was executed on Aug. 25, 1997, prior to the MSA's execution,
which occurred on Nov. 23, 1998.

The obligations under the fee payment agreements are several obligations
of each OPM and are made quarterly based on relative market share, with
quarterly payments generally subject to an aggregate national cap of $125
million and an annual aggregate national cap of $500 million. These caps
apply to any amounts awarded by the arbitration panel to settling states'
outside counsel, to outside counsel fees arising out of a settlement of
any class action tobacco case and to counsel fees arising out of the
resolution of any case pursuant to federal legislation.

To date the arbitration panel has awarded a total of approximately$12.3
billion in fees, with approximately $10.5 billion in fees outstanding. In
addition, fee payment agreements for two states and the District of
Columbia have yet to be arbitrated. Generally, the capped amounts paid by
the OPMs are allocated to each fee payment agreement based on its pro
rata share of outstanding fees. Based on the amount of fees outstanding
and the cap on payments by the OPMs, the outstanding fees will be paid
over a minimum of 20 years, with subsequent arbitration panel awards
reducing each states' current share and extending the period over which
fee payments will be made.

Fitch's rating of 'A' is based on the credit quality of the notes, which
is based on the credit quality of the fee awards payable to the
participating firms by the OPMs. Since the amounts payable under the fee
payment agreements are based on relative market share, Fitch views this
obligation as an industry obligation. Fitch currently deems the domestic
tobacco industry to be rated 'A' on an unsecured basis, with a stable
outlook. The rating of these certificates is linked to, and will move
with, Fitch's assessment of the domestic tobacco industry. The rating
also takes into account the likelihood of additional arbitration panel
awards, which would extend the timeframe over which those fee awards
would be received. Finally, the rating reflects the transaction's sound
legal and financial structures.

U.S. RAILROAD: Settles Suit over Penn Central Railroad Right-of-Way
of people who own land next to former Penn Central railroad tracks will
get title to the abandoned property as part of an agreement to settle a
class action lawsuit.

Besides the land, the old railroad's neighbors also will collect hundreds
of dollars each as a result of the settlement approved by Boone Circuit
Court Judge Steven David.

The 8-year-old lawsuit contested property ownership along 700 miles of
abandoned railroad right-of-way in 43 Indiana counties.

A final hearing on the agreement with U.S. Railroad Vest Corp. and
American Premier Underwriters - formerly Penn Central Corp. - is set for
Aug. 15.

The lawsuit stemmed from the railroad's practice of selling or attempting
to sell abandoned right-of-way to adjoining property owners. Attorneys
argued that the railroad's control of most rail beds ended when it
abandoned the railway.

The agreement guarantees $300 to $1,200 to property owners who did not
pay the railroad. Those who did pay are to be repaid in full plus 8
percent interest per year.

As many as 10,000 Indiana landowners may qualify for compensation.

The company also agreed to pay delinquent real estate taxes on the
properties. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, February 20, 2001)

U.S.: Veterans Affairs Hospital Workers Sue over SSNs Revelation
Employees at two Veterans Affairs hospitals in the Midwest have filed a
class-action lawsuit on behalf of 180,000 VA employees nationwide,
alleging the federal agency failed to protect the confidentiality of
their Social Security numbers in violation of the federal Privacy Act for
nearly two years. Schmidt et al. v. United States Department of Veterans
Affairs et al., No. 00-CV-1093, consent to proceed before magistrate
judge granted (E.D. Wis., Oct. 17, 2000).


Prior to 1998, access to patient records at VA hospitals was restricted
to certain employees who needed to review the records as part of their
jobs. A warning screen notified the computer user that the information
was restricted and that the Veterans Affairs could trace the identities
of employees who proceeded to access the records.

In October 1998, Anita Maynard, an employee of a VA hospital in
Leavenworth, Kan., discovered that a newly installed computer program,
known as the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS), was also posting
the name, Social Security number and date of birth of employees along
with the same information about patients.

There was no warning screen to advise users that the information was
restricted and the identities of users could not be traced. Thus, VA
employees around the country had access to the SSNs of other employees.

Maynard reported the unauthorized disclosure of employees' Social
Security numbers to her union shop steward, Sandy Bond, a recreational
therapist at the Leavenworth facility. Bond asked the hospital's
management to restrict access to employee SSNs. When management refused
to make any changes, the union, the National Federation of Federal
Employee Council of Consolidated Veterans Administration Locals, filed a
grievance alleging violations of the union's collective bargaining
agreement and the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C.  @ 552a. The Privacy Act governs
how the federal government handles the confidential information of
government employees.

The grievance went to arbitration and on May 5, 2000, the arbitrator
issued a written decision sustaining the grievance. The arbitrator found
that the VA violated both the CBA and the Privacy Act, but ruled that she
had no statutory authority to assess damages or award attorneys' fees to
the union's legal representatives.

As a result of the arbitration, the VA has modified the CPRS program to
block out the workers' birth dates and SSNs nationwide, but the
plaintiffs claim the information is still available on another program
used by the administration.

                            The Lawsuit

Plaintiffs Bond and Albert Schmidt filed a complaint on Aug. 9, 2000,
alleging that the VA's violation of the Privacy Act has caused the
plaintiffs mental anguish, emotional distress and other harm. The
plaintiffs seek certification of a plaintiff class comprised of the
180,000 VA employees nationwide whose Social Security numbers were
maintained in the CPRS database.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of
Wisconsin in Milwaukee where Schmidt is employed in a VA hospital as a
biomedical electronic technician. The defendants are the U.S. Department
of Veterans Affairs and Acting VA Secretary Herschel Gober.

The complaint seeks a declaration that the VA's violation of the Privacy
Act was willful and intentional and asks for damages of $1,000 per class
member, the minimum statutory damage amount for Privacy Act violations.
If the plaintiffs prevail, the suit could cost the government $180
million. The complaint also seeks costs and attorneys' fees incurred by
the plaintiffs for both the arbitration proceeding and the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are represented by Kurt C. Kobelt of Lawton & Cates in
Madison, Wis., who also represented the union in the arbitration
proceedings. (Employment Litigation Reporter, November 28, 2000)


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

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

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

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