CAR_Public/010228.MBX                C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

              Wednesday, February 28, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 41

                             Headlines

ABBOTT LABORATORIES: Target of 4 More Suits Claiming Flawed Tests
BANK FOR INT'L: No Irreparable Harm in Buyback of Privately Held Shares
CALIFORNIA: Supreme Ct Rejects Attempt to Revive Disability Parking Fee
CIBA-GEIGY: Transferred from NJ Supreme Court to Middlesex Mass Tort Ct
COMMTOUCH SOFTWARE: Kirby McInerney Announces Securities Lawsuit

COMPASS BANSHARES: Court Certifies Action Challenging Overdraft Fees
COOK COUNTY: MacArthur Justice Center Sues Public Defender's Office
ETS PAYPHONES: Ausley & McMullen Announces Suits Re Sale to FL Investors
JBC & ASSOCIATES: Ct Certifies Class of Debtors Re Returned Checks
LEAD PAINT: Scientist Says Suits May be Based on Faulty Studies

NASDAQ PRICE-FIXING: Investors Finally Get Settlement Checks
NBA: Faces 2 Suits in Vancouver; USA Today Shows Options for Team's Move
NORTEL NETWORKS: Major Shareholders Approach Canadian Law Firm
NORTELS NETWORKS: Wolf Haldenstein Announces Expanded Period in NY Suit
OSI COLLECTION: Ct Refuses To Certify Class With Only Conjecture Of Size

QUALCOMM INCORPORATED: Settles with Employees Transferred to Ericsson
QUESTAR CORP: Suits Re Gas Measurement and Royalties Consolidated in WY
QUESTAR E&P: Motion to Remand in Quinque Case Re Gas Measurement Pending
QUESTAR MARKET: Greghol Suit in OK Re Royalties Voluntarily Dismissed
QUESTAR MARKET: Oklahoma Judge Approves Settlement Re Royalty Payments

QUESTAR PIPELINE: Grynberg Case Re Gas Measurement Pending in Utah
ROHM AND HAAS: Judge  Consider Cert and Medical Monitoring for Employees
SPRINGS INDUSTRIES: Florida Investment Firm Sues over Fort Mill Buy-out
TULSA POLICE: Justice Department's Civil Rights Division Investigates

                                *********

ABBOTT LABORATORIES: Target of 4 More Suits Claiming Flawed Tests
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Abbott Confirms Suspicions of its Problems in Letters to Laboratories.

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), a leading manufacturer of medical
diagnostic tests and pharmaceutical products, was hit on February 27 with
four more lawsuits filed by women claiming that one of the company's most
common testing procedures returned flawed results, leading to unnecessary
cancer treatments including chemotherapy and a hysterectomy.

According to the allegations in the complaint filed by Steve Berman, the
Seattle attorney who filed the suits on behalf of the four plaintiffs,
Abbott Laboratories knew of the defect, and failed to provide adequate
warning about the potential for false readings to medical professionals.
The complaint also asserts that Abbott knew of an inexpensive chemical
blocking agent that would have eliminated false positive readings.

The suits are filed on behalf of four women who say they underwent
unnecessary medical treatments based on flawed results from the Abbott
tests. These suits join three others filed in 1999 by Berman on behalf of
other injured women against Abbott involving the same issue.

All four of the plaintiffs in the suits endured needless and crippling
chemotherapy treatments, some so severe that they had to be administered on
an inpatient basis. Three of the women underwent unnecessary surgical
procedures, including one undergoing a hysterectomy, the suit alleges. As a
result of these procedures some of the plaintiffs can no longer have
children, should they wish to.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the suits contend that the Abbott
(beta)-hCG test kit, used with its AxSYM testing machine falsely reported
high levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). High levels
of hCG indicate pregnancy, but in absence of pregnancy can be an indicator
of serious medical conditions including a rare form of cancer called
trophoblastic disease.

"This is a truly tragic situation," Berman noted. "Physicians relied on the
Abbott test to help guide treatment. These physicians were ordering toxic
regimens of chemotherapy and even hysterectomies based on the flawed test
results. Imagine the pain these woman now feel knowing they went through
these procedures for no valid medical reason," Berman added.

In response to the earlier suits, in January 2001, Abbott mailed letters to
pathologists stating that its test packet "may render results that are
inconsistent with clinical observations," and warned that other tests
should be used to confirm results from its test kit.

Berman believes and intends to prove that "this warning is too little and
too late to help many patients, including the plaintiffs. We intend to ask
Judge Wayne Andersen, who is presiding over the current case, for
additional and more meaningful warnings," Berman stated.

The suits claim that Abbott Labs violated a number of laws including
negligence, breach of implied warranty and negligent infliction of
emotional distress.

Contact: Hagens Berman Steve Berman, 206/623-7292 OR MEDIA ONLY Firmani &
Associates Mark Firmani, 206/443-9357


BANK FOR INT'L: No Irreparable Harm in Buyback of Privately Held
Shares-----------------------------------------------------------------------U.S.
Mutual fund sought an order temporarily restraining defendant international
bank from completing a buyback of its privately held shares. Plaintiff had
alleged violation of federal securities laws, claiming that the forced
withdrawal of private shares is improper, violates U.S. tender offer,
registration and antifraud rules and that the buyout contains false and
misleading statements with respect to the value of the bank's shares. The
court denied plaintiff's application, finding no irreparable harm resulting
from the buyback because the identifiable owners may contest the bank's
action before arbitrators. Therefore, the owners possess an adequate remedy
at law. In addition, plaintiff cannot speak for all former private affected
shareholders, who have a right to payment under the Statutes of the Bank
for International Settlements.

Judge Owen

First Eagle Sogen Funds Inc. v. Bank for International Settlements
QDS:02763459 Plaintiff First Eagle, a U.S. mutual fund, initiated this
action pursuant to the federal securities laws against defendant Bank for
International Settlements, an international bank organized by international
governmental agreements signed at the Hague in 1930, chartered under the
laws of Switzerland and headquartered in Basel, Switzerland. First Eagle
now seeks an order temporarily restraining the Bank from completing a
buy-back of its rather unique privately-held shares n1 until the Court
holds a hearing on its motion for a preliminary injunction.

n1 While the Statutes provide for a "shares" issuance, they are quite
unlike "shares" as the United States corporate world knows them. They are
very unusual and limited "instruments" as described hereafter.

The Bank is a quasi-governmental entity in that its shares were intended to
be and the bulk in fact are owned by a number of different foreign
government central banks, and none is publicly traded. The Bank was
chartered pursuant to the Hague Agreements of 1930 primarily to handle
Germany's World War I reparations payments. Under the original conception,
the Bank was to be funded by an issuance of shares to the six central banks
of the founding countries, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy
and the United States. However, it appears that the central banks of
Belgium and France, for whatever reason, did not dedicate assets for that
purpose and in the United States, the isolationist policies of post-war
American politics led to the rejection of U.S. government funding of this
multi-national financial institution. As a result, in those countries, the
Bank's shares were put to private investors, whereas in Germany, Great
Britain and Italy, the national governments were and are the sole owners of
their allocated portions.

Further, the characteristics of the Bank's "stock" are quite unusual and
the rights conferred upon shareholders are severely limited as compared to
the rights and privileges possessed by an owner of ordinary common stock.
The reason for this, aside from the Statutes creating the Bank, is partly
attributable to the Bank's role in the international economy. The Bank's
basic purpose is the cooperation of central banks and to contribute to
global financial stability. It does not have the traditional corporate
purpose of maximizing asset value for its shareholders. Although the
instrument holders do receive dividends, the by-laws, called the Statutes
of the Bank for International Settlements, provide that they have no right
to an asset distribution until dissolution of the Bank, nor may they
transfer their instruments without the Bank's consent, nor have they voting
rights, nor any right of participation in the annual meeting.

Both the instrument issued to the owners and the Statutes explicitly state
that ownership of the Bank's instruments is subject to the terms and
conditions enumerated in the Statutes. The Statutes, specifically Article
54(1), also contains an arbitration clause which reads: "If any dispute
shall arise between the Bank ... and its shareholders, with regard to the
interpretation or application of the Statutes of the Bank, the same shall
be referred for final decision to the Tribunal provided for by the Hague
Agreement of January, 1930."

On September 11, 2000, the Bank's Board of Directors announced a proposed
buy-back of all privately-held shares at a price of CHF (Swiss Francs)
16,000, approximately $ 10,000 per share according to press reports
enclosed with First Eagle's papers. The price per share was determined by
valuation methods and on recommendations of J.P. Morgan & Cie SA and Arthur
Anderson. For whatever reason, First Eagle delayed filing this action
alleging violation of the federal securities laws and other related claims
until January 5, 2001. On January 8, 2001, the Bank's Board held an
Extraordinary General Meeting to amend its Statutes and, under its general
amending powers, adopted the buy-back proposal. Pursuant to the amended
Statutes, Article 18(a)(1)-(5), the private shares were thereupon cancelled
in the Bank's books on January 8, 2001 and each private shareholder
received a "statutory right to the payment" of the buy-back price.
Subsequently, on January 16, 2001. First Eagle filed an amended complaint
together with this application for a temporary restraining order and
preliminary injunction to prevent the Bank from "soliciting or accepting
the tender of any of the Bank's share certificates from any U.S. resident
or citizen." On that date, I heard argument from counsel for both parties,
and thereafter, there were further submissions.

First Eagle, owner of 12.5 percent of the privately-held instruments, n2
essentially makes two claims. First, it asserts that the Bank's Statutes
and general tenets of corporate, contract and property law prohibit a
corporation to make non-callable stock suddenly callable or redeemable.
Thus, First Eagle contends that the forced withdrawal of private shares is
improper and violates U.S. tender offer, registration and anti-fraud rules.
Second, First Eagle argues that the Bank is attempting to take the stock
from private owners at a price that "grossly undervalues" its worth. First
Eagle asserts that the Bank's action violates, among other provisions, Rule
10b-5 in that the buy-out contains false and misleading statements with
respect to the value of the Bank's shares. n3

n2 Approximately 86 percent (456,517) of the Bank's "shares" are owned by
foreign government central banks. The remaining roughly 14 percent (72,648)
of the total "shares" are held privately in Belgium, France and the United
States. First Eagle owns 9,085 of these latter "shares"- that is, 12.5
percent of the "shares" held by private owners.

n3 In a post-argument submission, First Eagle further states that "the
critical issue on which the TRO motion turns" is whether the Bank has 300
shareholders resident in the United States. Plaintiff contends that if the
Bank has 300 holders, the requirement to register the transaction with the
SEC has not been met and the disclosure rules set forth in Rule 13e-3 and
general anti-fraud provisions apply. First Eagle alleges in its complaint,
on information and belief, that the Bank has more than 300 U.S. holders,
see Pl.'s Am. Compl. PP88, 90, but conceded at argument that it had only
found approximately 200 holders. The Bank's counsel represented to the
Court that there are fewer than 300 U.S. holders and, subsequently,
submitted the declaration of Hermann Greve, Secretary to the Bank's Board
of Directors, swearing to the same. First Eagle then provided a declaration
from John Bibas, a researcher at an investor communications firm, swearing
to the existence of more than 300 U.S. investors. The number of U.S.
holders is an issue that I need not resolve for the purposes of this motion
in light of my conclusion hereafter.

A party seeking preliminary injunctive relief must demonstrate (1) that it
will be irreparably harmed in the absence of an injunction, and (2) either
(a) a likelihood of success on the merits or (b) sufficiently serious
questions going to the merits of the case to make them a fair ground for
litigation, and a balance of hardships tipping decidedly in its favor. See
Brewer v. W. Irondequoit Cent. Sch. Dist., 212 F.3d 738, 743-744 (2d Cir.
2000). In applying these factors, I assume, without deciding, that the
Bank's "stock," with all of its unusual history and characteristics, does
come within the definition of a "security" as defined by @ 2(l) of the
Securities Act and @ 3(a)(10) of the Exchange Act. I also assume that this
Court may properly exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant. n4

n4 At the time of the argument, the Bank had not been served with summons
and complaint. In a letter to chambers, defendant's counsel advised that
the Bank was served on January 23, 2001. The Bank, at argument, also raised
the possibility that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, 28
U.S.C. @ 1602 et seq., may apply since the Bank is more than 50 percent
owned by foreign government central banks. At this time, I make no finding
with respect to these issues.

First Eagle rests its argument with respect to irreparable harm on the
Bank's purported violation of the securities laws, such as a failure to
file registration statements or other disclosures, see, e.g., Reuters Ltd.
v. United Press Int'l, Inc., 903 F.2d 904, 907 (2d Cir. 1990), asserting
that, "[shareholders] will be irreparably harmed if they are required to
irrevocably decide whether to tender or to seek legal redress against [the
Bank] ... [.]"

It is undisputed that the Bank had, before the motion was made, cancelled
its privately-held shares and provided a statutory right to payment in its
corporate books. In dispute is whether the Bank had the authority to take
such action. However, there appears no irreparable harm resulting from the
buy-back because the owners, identifiable from the corporate records, may
contest the Bank's action before the designated arbitrators, which is the
mandatory forum under the Statutes. Should the arbitrators determine that
the Bank's action was improper, the transaction, with a few strokes of
computer keys, can be rescinded and the instruments, with all rights
thereunder, returned to their prior owners. Alternatively, should the
arbitrators approve the transaction but find that the buy-back price is too
low, the former holders can be compensated for the difference. On the other
hand, should the arbitrators find that the transaction passes muster and
the buy-back price appropriate, the former holders are in no different
position than they are now. On this record, therefore, the owners possess
an adequate remedy at law and face no irreparable harm. n5

n5 I also observe that the Bank's counsel provided the Court with letters
written by First Eagle's investment manager and adviser, dated September
2000 and addressed to the Bank's General Manager, taking issue with the
Bank's proposed buy-back and methods of valuation. First Eagle's delay in
seeking relief, certainly as to the fact of the cancellation of the
instruments, under these circumstances, further cuts against entry of a
temporary restraining order since review of the fair amount payable per
share can be easily accomplished before the prescribed arbitration forum.

Further, the balance of hardships does not tip in First Eagle's favor of
the sought relief. This is not a class-action. First Eagle does not and
cannot speak for all of the former private shareholders affected by this
transaction. Were I to grant this extraordinary relief, no other former
holder could be paid pursuant to the terms of the buy-back, or know if he
or she would be paid, until the resolution of this litigation much as that
holder might like to be paid under the current formula. The Bank would be
forced to withhold payment from all private shareholders who, at this very
moment, have a right under the Statutes to payment. n6 Given this, I need
not address the issue of likelihood of success on the merits.

n6 First Eagle's position is further undermined by its willingness and
desire to have its own shares purchased in a consensual buy-out
transaction. See Pl.'s Am. Compl. PP3-7. Plaintiff's only real issue is
with the price and method of valuation.

Accordingly, First Eagle's application for a temporary restraining order is
denied. (New York Law Journal, February 5, 2001)


CALIFORNIA: Supreme Ct Rejects Attempt to Revive Disability Parking Fee
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
To the relief of advocates for the disabled, the U.S. Supreme Court on
February 26 refrained from making further inroads in a federal
anti-discrimination law and rejected California's attempt to revive an
annual $3 fee for disability parking placards.

Without comment, the justices denied review of a lower-court ruling that
said the state had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by charging
a fee for equal access to government services.

The fee has been blocked by federal courts since 1997, but lawyers in the
class-action suit say the state owes disabled residents $20 million in
refunds and interest for fees collected in the past.

The order shows that the court "is at least not presently disposed to
broaden the attack on the Americans With Disabilities Act," said attorney
Sid Wolinsky, litigation director for Disability Rights Advocates in
Oakland.

Last Tuesday, a divided court narrowed the ADA in employment cases by
ruling that disabled state workers could not seek damages for
discrimination under federal law. The 5-to-4 ruling said Congress, in
passing the law, did not present evidence that states were regularly
violating the rights of their disabled employees.

The ruling will have little impact in California because disabled state
employees can sue for discrimination under state law, which allows higher
damages than federal law. The court did not address other provisions of the
ADA, the landmark 1990 federal law that prohibited discrimination against
the physically and mentally disabled and required reasonable accommodations
by employers, businesses and government agencies.

However, some commentators said the court had imposed new limits on
congressional power that spelled trouble for other federal civil rights
laws, including a section of the ADA that forbids state discrimination
against the disabled in programs and services.

The California case was the court's first chance to address the law since
last week's ruling. Gov. Gray Davis' appeal asked the justices to strike
down the ADA's ban on state fees for services like parking that provide
access to government buildings and programs.

The Constitution "does not mandate that states remedy, free of charge,
disparate impact (on the disabled) that may be caused by architectural
barriers, including inconvenient or distant parking," the attorney
general's office wrote on the governor's behalf.

The appeal also noted that the placards offer the disabled parking spaces
near government buildings and also exemptions from parking meters. Because
California is doing more than federal law requires, its "nominal
administrative fees" are not covered by the ADA's ban on surcharges, the
state argued.

Despite Davis' repeated insistence that he did not want to weaken the ADA,
disability-rights advocates portrayed the state's appeal as an attack on
the anti-discrimination law.

The justices "evidently saw little merit in Governor Davis' argument that
states don't have to provide equal access to the disabled under federal
law," said Patricia Yeager, executive director of the California Foundation
for Independent Living Centers.

A federal judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco had
previously ruled that the placard fees violated the ADA. The Supreme Court
order leaves those rulings intact but leaves the question of refunds
unresolved.

Davis announced last June, in response to clamor from the disabled and
their advocates, that the state would seek to settle the placard suit and
would withdraw its Supreme Court appeal if talks went well.

The case, however, remains unsettled, with each side blaming the other. "We
continue to have an open door to full negotiations," Davis spokeswoman
Hilary McLean said. "The governor is very interested in accommodating the
needs and interests of disabled persons."E-mail Bob Egelko at
begelko@sfchronicle.com. (The San Francisco Chronicle, February 27, 2001)


CIBA-GEIGY: Transferred from NJ Supreme Court to Middlesex Mass Tort Ct
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A case management conference was scheduled Feb. 14 for the toxic
contamination cases involving Toms River, N.J., residents and Ciba
Specialty Chemicals Corp. (Marcella Arnold, et al. v. Ciba-Geigy Corp., et
al., No. L-3152-00, N.J. Super., Ocean Co.; See 1/19/01, Page 4).

The New Jersey Supreme Court transferred the cases to the Mass Tort court
in Middlesex County Jan. 12, sources told Mealey Publications. A case
management order could be entered by the end of the month.

A motion filed Jan. 2 in Ocean County Superior Court by defense counsel for
Ciba, formerly Ciba-Geigy Corp., seeking dismissal or compelling amendments
to the complaint has been stayed pending the actions of the Mass Tort
court, sources said.

Plaintiffs' counsel filed a motion Jan. 29 to amend the class action
complaint to include natural resources damage claims under the state Spill
Compensation and Control Act (N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11) and the Environmental
Rights Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:35A-1).

                           500 Plaintiffs

The original complaint was filed as Breen, et al. v. Ciba-Geigy Corp. (No.
C-000093-00, N.J. Super., Ocean Co.; See 6/16/00, Page 5) on behalf of all
people who were exposed to and suffer from ailments associated with
polluted drinking water allegedly caused by contaminants at Ciba's chemical
manufacturing plant.

The claims of more than 500 plaintiffs alleging exposure to toxins from
groundwater and wrongful death join consolidated proceedings in asbestos,
diet drugs, latex gloves, Propulsid, Rezulin, silicone breast implants and
tobacco in the Middlesex County Superior Court. Judge Marina Corodemus
presides over the Mass Tort cases.

In the meantime, the plaintiffs have sought to amend their complaint with
claims under the state Environmental Rights Act and the Spill Compensation
and Control Act. Under these state laws, plaintiffs can seek restoration of
the environment, among other claims.

Plaintiffs have amended the complaint twice, including in November to
include more plaintiffs. The case now captioned Margo Kramer, et al. v.
Ciba-Geigy Corp., et al. consolidates the claims of Arnold and Breen and
four other cases.

The brief in support of the third amended complaint argues "any citizen may
seek to enforce any and all environmental laws of the state of New Jersey
through the Environmental Rights Act" (Township of Howell v. Waste Disposal
Inc., 207 N.J. Super., 80 [App. Div. 1986]). State environmental officials,
the attorney general, Dover Township officials and Ciba were notified Oct.
2 of the intention to file the claim, the brief says.

                             Spill Act

"In the present matter," the brief says, "the DEP [New Jersey Department of
Environment Protection] has failed to fully enforce the laws of the state,
particularly regarding [the] natural resources damages provision of the
Spill Act."

The class action asserts Ciba is liable for the pollution and alleges
claims against the company including negligence, strict liability, absolute
liability, gross negligence, trespass, battery and nuisance. In addition to
the implementation of medical monitoring, the complaint asks for
compensatory and punitive damages.

The suit was filed after the release Feb. 29, 2000, of an ongoing study of
elevated levels of childhood cancer in Toms River. The public health
assessment was compiled by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior
Service with several state and federal environmental agencies.

                         Carcinogenic Dyes

The report concluded that residents living in Toms River in 1965-1966 may
have been exposed to traces of carcinogenic dyes and nitrobenzene. The
pollutants are believed to have seeped into the public water supply by
migrating into wells used by United Water Toms River, formerly known as the
Toms River Water Co.

The wells have since been capped and "represent no apparent public health
hazard," according to the Feb. 29, 2000, study. The site is currently being
remediated under federal Superfund laws.

David W. Field and Michael L. Rodburg of Lowenstein Sandler in Roseland,
N.J., represent Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp., Novartis Corp. and
Ciba-Geigy Corp. The plaintiffs are represented by Alfred M. Anthony of
Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer in Woodbridge, N.J.; Norman M. Hobbie of Hobbie,
Corrigan, Bertucio & Tashjy in Toms River, N.J.; Michael E. Wilbert of
Wilbert & Montenegro in Bricktown, N.J.; Michael Gordon of Gordon & Gordon
in West Orange, N.J.; Henry F. Furst of West Orange; and James A. Kosch of
Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay in Newark, N.J. (Mealey's Emerging Toxic Torts,
February 16, 2001)


COMMTOUCH SOFTWARE: Kirby McInerney Announces Securities Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Kirby McInerney & Squire, LLP has been retained to bring a
class action lawsuit on behalf of all purchasers of CommTouch Software Ltd.
(Nasdaq: CTCH) securities from April 18, 2000 through February 13, 2001,
inclusive (the "Class Period"). The action will charge CommTouch Software
Ltd. ("CommTouch" or the "Company") and certain of its officers with
violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934 by reason of material misrepresentations and omissions.

The complaint will allege that, during the Class Period, defendants
CommTouch and CommTouch CEO Gideon Mantel misstated the Company's financial
results for the first three quarters of 2000. Thus, the complaint will
allege, defendants materially misled the investing public, thereby
inflating the price of CommTouch securities, by publicly issuing false and
misleading statements and omitting to disclose material facts. This
non-disclosure, the complaint will allege, was motivated by the Company's
pending acquisition of Wingra Technologies, completed on December 7, 2000,
using 1.6 million shares of its stock. The true state of the Company's
finances was revealed on February 14, 2001, when the Company announced its
intention to restate previously-reported financial results and acknowledged
that CommTouch's financials as portrayed to the public during the Class
Period were false and misleading. In reaction to this announcement, the
Company's share price fell almost 30% in a single day.

The lawsuit will seek to recover losses suffered by individual and
institutional investors who purchased or otherwise acquired publicly traded
securities of the Company during the class period, excluding the defendants
and their affiliates.

Contact: Kirby McInerney & Squire, LLP Ira M. Press, Esq. Mark A. Strauss,
Esq. Shan Anwar, Paralegal 212/317-2300 888/529-4787


COMPASS BANSHARES: Court Certifies Action Challenging Overdraft Fees
--------------------------------------------------------------------In an
action challenging a bank's practice of paying its customers' larger checks
first, an Alabama Circuit Court granted class certification to checking
account holders who claimed the bank intentionally forced them into
overdraft status. (Snow, et al. v. Compass Bancshares Inc., et al., No.
CV-98-2384 (Ala. Cir. Ct. 12/13/00).)

Jucretia Snow, Charles Butler Jr. and Mary Kennedy had checking accounts
with Compass Bank N.A. and incurred service charges even though there
appeared to be sufficient funds in their accounts on the day of presentment
of multiple checks. The customers sued Compass Bank for breach of contract,
fraudulent suppression and conversion "in connection with [the bank's]
uniform practice of paying its customers' largest check(s) first for the
purpose of shifting the customer into 'overdraft status,' before multiple
smaller checks, for which there otherwise would be sufficient funds, are
paid."

The customers alleged Compass increases the amount of charges a customer
pays by assessing overdraft fees and non-sufficient funds fees on the
smaller checks. They alleged this practice is intended to generate
increased service charges. The class also claimed the bank did not disclose
this practice in the account agreements.

                         Class Certification

The customers moved for class certification of all Compass checking account
holders who have incurred service charges when there were sufficient funds
in their account on the date of presentment.

The court determined the class met the numerosity requirement of Ala. R.
Civ. P. 23(a)(1) because there are thousands of members. The court also
determined the rule's commonality requirement was satisfied because there
are questions common to the class, including whether the bank breached its
contractual agreement by forcing an overdraft status and whether it failed
to disclose its practice.

The bank rebutted that fraud actions are never appropriate for class
certification. The court noted, however, that in Ex parte Household Retail
Servs. Inc., 744 So.2d 871 (Ala. 1999), the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed
the certification of fraud class actions where written misrepresentations
were distributed to all class members.

The bank also claimed certification of the fraudulent suppression claim was
not proper because it required a case by case inquiry into each member's
reliance. The customers countered it was not necessary to establish
inducement and reliance upon material omissions by direct evidence where
claims arose from standardized forms. Agreeing, the court stated, "[w]here,
as here, the alleged fraudulent suppression stems from written
misrepresentations, that were materially similar, to which [the customers]
were uniformly exposed, a Class may be certified for purposes of addressing
fraud under Rule 23(b)(3)." The court granted class certification.

                              Arbitration

The bank moved to compel arbitration. The court noted, however, the action
had been pending for one-and-a-half years before the bank tried to
retroactively add an arbitration clause to its form contract. The court
determined the bank cannot "unilaterally and retroactively deprive the
class members of their vested right to proceed" with the action.
Furthermore, the court found that even if the arbitration clause applied,
the bank waived its right to invoke it by engaging in discovery. It denied
the bank's motion to compel.

Richard Dorman of Cunningham, Counds, Yance, Crowder and Brown of Mobile,
Ala., represented the class. George Walker and Michael Edwards of Hand
Arendall of Mobile, Ala., and Spencer Taylor of Balch & Bingham in
Birmingham, Ala., represented the bank. (Consumer Financial Services Law
Report, February 5, 2001)


COOK COUNTY: MacArthur Justice Center Sues Public Defender's Office
-------------------------------------------------------------------
The appellate division of the Cook County Public Defender's Office is
failing to adequately represent its clients by filing motions to withdraw
and abandoning nearly half of its indigent clients, alleges a lawsuit. The
class action lawsuit was filed by the MacArthur Justice Center and the
Roger Baldwin Foundation of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois
on behalf of clients of the Public Defender and alleges that the office
files motions to withdraw from appeals -- even when the cases have arguable
merit -- to reduce case backlog and workload for Assistant Public Defenders
working on appeals.

Attorneys traditionally file motions to withdraw from representing an
indigent criminal appellant (known as "Anders motions") when the appeal is
"wholly frivolous." The lawsuit alleges that the Cook County Public
Defender's office has filed Anders briefs in 49 percent of its cases in the
most recent 19 months for which data is available. This is more than eight
times the rate of similar filings in New York (six percent).

"The indigent clients of the Public Defender's office deserve a lawyer
committed to handling their appeals," said Locke Bowman, Legal Director of
the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Chicago Law School.
"Anders briefs should not be used simply because there is a case backlog or
staffing shortages."

"The United States Supreme Court long ago established the right of
defendants, except in the rarest of cases, to have their cases fully
briefed on appeal," said Harvey Grossman, Legal Director for the ACLU of
Illinois. "Given the number of reversals of trial court decisions on appeal
in Illinois, it is astounding that almost one half of all the Cook County
Public Defender's appellants are not afforded their right to a full and
complete review of their trial court convictions."

The named plaintiff in the suit, Anthony Jefferson, had an Anders brief
filed on his behalf by the Public Defender's office. Jefferson was given
consecutive sentences in a murder and home invasion case based on findings
first made by a judge after his trial, despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court
ruling abolishing the practice.

"Anders briefs are intended to be used in cases where there are no legal
arguments to be made on behalf of one's client," said Bowman. "In
Jefferson's case, clear legal arguments were available, but were ignored by
the Public Defender's office."

The lawsuit argues that the Public Defender's staff shortage combined with
excessive appointments have led to the office's failure to adequately
represent its clients. The suit contends that the Public Defender files
Anders motions as a way to reduce its backlog of appeals. The Public
Defender views Anders motions as a simple, quick way to dispose of unwanted
cases, the suit contends.

The MacArthur Justice Center is a non-profit public interest law firm
affiliated with the University of Chicago Law School. It was founded in
1985 by the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation to fight for human rights and
social justice through litigation. The center concentrates on cases that
raise constitutional or significant issues in the field of criminal
justice.

Contact: Locke Bowman of MacArthur Justice Center, 773-702-0349; or Edwin
C. Yohnka of ACLU of Illinois, 312-201-9740, ext. 305; or Jeanette
McCulloch of Valerie Denney Communications, 312-408-2580, for MacArthur
Justice Center.


ETS PAYPHONES: Ausley & McMullen Announces Suits Re Sale to FL Investors
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Steven P. Seymoe, Esq., of the Ausley & McMullen Law Firm, announces class
action lawsuits have been filed in the United States Middle District Court
of Florida as a result of the sale of payphone investments to Investors in
Florida by ETS Payphones, Inc. and other defendants.

Class action suits were filed on or about February 5, 2001 in the Middle
District Court of Florida, Tampa Division, asserting claims on behalf of
persons who were solicited and purchased payphone agreements from ETS
PAYPHONES, INC. in Florida or otherwise invested in ETS PAYPHONES, INC. in
Florida by purchasing payphones by or through the Defendants listed below
and who were damaged thereby.

The complaint charges these Defendants with violating federal and state
securities laws by selling unregistered securities through unregistered
agents and making material statements of facts which were untrue, or which
omitted material facts which were necessary in order to make the statements
made not misleading in light of the circumstances under which they were
made.

All persons who invested in ETS PAYPHONES, INC. in Florida or otherwise
invested in ETS PAYPHONES, INC. in Florida by purchasing payphones by or
through the Defendants listed below are included in the proposed class
action complaints, excepting Defendants, any of their affiliates, officers,
members of their immediate families, heirs and legal representatives.

The Defendants to the proposed class action lawsuits include:

ETS Payphones, Inc., PSA, Inc., Charles E. Edwards, James D. Blyth, Jason
Edwards, Hayes Financial roup, Inc. HFG Communications, Inc., Curtis G.
Hayes, Jean E. Hayes, Senior's Financial Resources, Inc., Robert Broege,
Reliance Trust Company, Hugh Hall, James H. Fischer, Fischer Financial
Services, Inc., Curtis G. Hayes, Jean Hayes, Liberty Benefits Co., Liberty
Marketing Plan, Inc., Glenn Bly, Tri-Financial Group, Inc., Franklin Bank,
N.A., Charles Patterson, Network Insurance and Associates, Inc., William
Naumann, Elvin Don Willis, Suncoast Financial Services of Clearwater, Inc.,
Gilbert B. Swarts, Steven Smith, Jaehne Financial, Inc., H.E. Jaehne,
Robert Dollar, Karlovec Financial, Inc., William Kress, Financial
Blueprints, Inc., Bernard Sawyer, Jr., Michael F. Mann, Thomas J. Morris,
James Financial Group, Inc., James R. Stiffler, Ella Hipes, James W. Crain,
Jr., International Life & Health Services, Inc., Robert F. Tripode, Harold
J. Kime, Bee Communications, Inc., Bee Communications, LLC., Cord
Communications, Inc., Beverly J. Slater, Rushmore Financial Group, Inc.,
Joseph Hobson, Jr., David R. Fuller, Frank Scala, Jr., Joseph Kowalczyk,
Charles V. Glenn, and Charles V. Glenn & Associates, Inc..

Contact: Ausley & McMullen, Tallahassee Steven P. Seymoe, 850/425-5305


JBC & ASSOCIATES: Ct Certifies Class of Debtors Re Returned Checks
------------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California granted
certification to a class of debtors alleging letters sent to collect debts
from dishonored checks violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The
court found the plaintiffs adequate representatives of the class even
though the debt collector made an offer to settle. (Littledove, et al. v.
JBC & Associates Inc., et al., No. S-00-0586 WBS GGH (E.D. Cal. 1/11/01).)

Zoe Littledove and Salina Young sued JBC & Associates Inc., a high-volume
debt collection agency, alleging its debt collection methods violated the
FDCPA and the California Unfair Business Practices Act. The debtors alleged
the collection agency recovered unauthorized "collection fees" and made
unlawful threats in computer-generated letters. The debtors moved to
certify as an "umbrella" class including: (1) all persons living in
California; (2) to whom the collection agency sent a letter; (3) in
connection with attempts to collect debts from dishonored checks. The
debtors also moved to certify two subclasses.

The debt collection agency opposed class certification, arguing Littledove
and Young were not adequate representatives.

Rule 23(a)

The District Court noted the debtors provided a list of class members that
included 8,178 separate accounts. The court concluded the debtors met the
numerosity requirement of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a).

The debtors alleged every class member received a form letter from the debt
collector that violated either the FDCPA or the CUBPA. Therefore, the
District Court concluded the debtors satisfied the commonality requirement.
The court observed, "[p]laintiffs' claims are typical of the claims of
class members because both are based on defendants' alleged collection of
unauthorized fees or the receipt of an unlawful 'demand' letter." The court
found the debtors met the typicality requirement.

                       Class Representatives

The debt collector argued the debtors were not adequate representatives of
the class because: (1) their counsel appeared to be the driving force
behind the litigation; (2) they have conflicting interests with the
putative unnamed class members because they have a vindictive motive for
prosecuting the matter; and (3) the debtors "lack any cognizable interest
in this matter in light of the offers that [defendant JBC] has extended."

The District Court found no basis to conclude debtors' counsel was the
driving force behind the litigation. The court also found the debtors'
refusal of the two offers did not indicate a vindictive motive, contrary to
the interests of the putative class members. The court noted it filed an
order Dec. 22, 2000, rejecting the debt collectors' argument that their
Rule 68 offer mooted the debtors' claims (see Consumer Financial Services
Law Report, Jan. 19,2001, p. 4). The court found the debtors had a
"cognizable interest" in the outcome of the litigation, despite the fact
that the debt collector made an additional offer to settle the action. The
court concluded the debtors were adequate representatives of the class.

The court granted class certification and named Littledove and Young as the
class representatives with Paul Arons and O. Randolph Bragg as class
counsel.

Judge William B. Shubb delivered the opinion of the court. O. Randolph
Bragg of Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates in Chicago and Paul Arons in
Redding, Calif., represented the plaintiffs. Mark Ellis and June Coleman of
Murphy, Pearson, Bradley & Feeney in Sacramento, Calif., represented the
defendants. (Consumer Financial Services Law Report, February 5, 2001)


LEAD PAINT: Scientist Says Suits May be Based on Faulty Studies
---------------------------------------------------------------
Lead-based paint class action suits pending in courts may be supported by
highly questionable scientific theories, risk assessment scientist Raymond
Harbison told the February meeting of the American Bar Association's
environmental litigation group. Harbison works at the University of South
Florida's Center for Risk Analysis in the College of Public Health.

Despite new tougher standards for lead issued recently by the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) and well-established blood lead guidelines for
children developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
"regulations, which are designed to protect the public, do not and cannot
accurately predict any disease resulting from an exposure, even if there is
a positive blood lead reading," he warned.

"As public concerns continue, the science surrounding these conclusions
[about lead risks] continues to teeter due to controversial studies that
rely on shaky scientific methods and/or lack of proof of the effects of
lead on children," Harbison said.

             'Shaky Science' Leads to Faulty Conclusions

His key concern is the findings of studies by Herbert Needleman linking
high blood lead levels in children and anti-social behavior. "One need only
to critically evaluate Needleman's paper, Bone Lead Levels and Delinquent
Behavior, to note that the scientific methods by which he reached his
conclusions are unreliable. ... Needleman did not use any recognized
scientific methodology that would be consistent with the new Daubert
standard for reliable expert testimony," said Harbison.

Needleman, professor of child psychiatry and pediatrics at the University
of Pittsburgh, is a permanent member of the EPA Office of Science
Coordination and Policy's Science Advisory Panel. His "landmark work" on
the damage lead poisoning can cause in children was published in the New
England Journal of Medicine in 1979.

The work of James Sayre at the University of Rochester, who has also
studied inner-city children who were exposed to lead in paint dust, was
more to Harbison's liking. Sayre reported that his subjects have done well
and are in college or working.

The lawyers listened when Harbison questioned the validity of medical
monitoring sought by plaintiffs in lead litigation. Medical monitoring is
an appeal in which plaintiffs exhibiting no symptoms of disease request
funds for monitoring for the possible appearance of future disease. Federal
district courts have rejected almost all of these claims as unrecoverable
under the Superfund law, said Harbison. He cited Ayers v. Jackson Township
as an important class action case in which the New Jersey Supreme Court
established five criteria necessary to justify a medical claim:
significance and extent of exposure; toxicity of the substance; seriousness
of the diseases for which the claimant is at risk; relative increase in the
chance of occurrence of the disease in the exposed; and value of early
diagnosis. (Asbestos & Lead Abatement Report, February 1, 2001)


NASDAQ PRICE-FIXING: Investors Finally Get Settlement Checks
------------------------------------------------------------
The victims of the so-called Nasdaq price-fixing scandal, previously
reported in the CAR, are finally receiving their settlements. About five
years after several major dealers agreed to settle the anti-trust lawsuit,
and pay out some $ 1 billion in damages, the checks are going out to over
one million investors.

The billion-dollar settlement process is a massive undertaking. According
to settlement attorneys, approximately 1,635,952 claims have been filed.
The attorneys have created a web site, www.nasdlitigation.com, and have
also set up a toll free number, 800-933-6363, to provide further
information for claimants.

In order to be compensated, investors must have traded one of 1,659 Nasdaq
stocks between the period of 1989 and 1996. According to an estimate by The
Wall Street Journal, investors lost about two cents on each share traded
due to the alleged scam.

The highly-publicized case dates back to 1994 when two university
professors, William Christie of Vanderbilt University, and Paul Schultz of
Ohio State University, released a study that purported to demonstrate that
Nasdaq market makers were artificially inflating the spreads on customers
buy and sell orders.

The professors, citing collusion among market makers, highlighted how a
selection of stocks on Nasdaq, compared with a comparable selection of
listed stocks, were predominantly quoted in increments of even eighths, or
25 cents, rather than in odd eighths, or 12 1/2 cents.

The analysis helped trigger investigations of Nasdaq stock trading by the
Securities and Exchange Commission and separately by the U.S. Department of
Justice, and ultimately culminated in civil lawsuits against several top
Wall Street firms.

Some of Wall Street's biggest names were charged with securities law
violations, including Bear Stearns, CS First Boston, Goldman Sachs, J.P.
Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, PaineWebber, Prudential
Securities, and Salomon Smith Barney. These firms, among others, were also
sued by investors in a class-action lawsuit.

The firms agreed to settle the case with the government and with investors
in 1996. Lawyers for the plaintiffs reportedly received $ 144 million. The
landmark case also led to the order handling rules as well as to the SEC
censuring the National Association of Securities Dealers for failing to
properly oversee the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Although the NASD neither admitted nor denied any misconduct, it agreed to
spend $ 100 million over a five-year period to improve its market
surveillance operations.

"Nasdaq had nothing to do with the settlement," a Nasdaq spokesman said.
"The settlement was with our member firms."

                          Risk of Recovery

The billion-dollar settlement was approved by the United States District
Court in 1998. In light of the risk of little or no recovery, the United
States District Court found that the $ 1,027,000,000 "recovery in this case
is exemplary."

Indeed, the court noted that the settlement was a suitable conclusion to a
class-action lawsuit that might have led to a difficult and costly
year-long trial. "Given the number of defendants and the factors
[previously] noted, any verdict, two or three years from now, would be
subject to appeal and possible reversal or retrial," the court added.

The size of the payment checks range from a minimum of $ 25, to several
million dollars awarded some major institutional investors, such as pension
funds and mutual funds that traded very large numbers of shares. The
largest single recovery is $ 11 million by an unidentified institution.

While individual investors will receive about 2.47 cents a share,
institutional investors will receive approximately 1.65 cents. About 85
percent of claimants are institutional investors.

Claimants are effectively recovering full damages, said plaintiff's co-lead
counsel, Arthur Kaplan of the Philadelphia-based law firm of Fine Kaplan &
Black. Kaplan noted that this is an "extraordinary result in a class action
involving more than one million claimants."

Most claims are processed electronically. That's a first of its kind in a
major class action case, said attorney Kaplan. Trade data is provided by
defendants and dealer firms.

Experts disagree on the allegations raised by the investigations. The
accusation that market makers had deliberately inflated spreads was grossly
exaggerated, according to some.

Gene Finn, chief economist at the SEC until 1976 and later at the NASD
until 1995, believes the reasons behind the wide spreads were due more to
excessive regulatory factors rather than nefarious, conspiratorial
activities. "When you are regulating size that is no different than when
you are regulating price," Finn said.

A large factor in making spreads wider, he contended, was caused by the SEC
and the NASD making the Small Order Execution System mandatory. That, he
contended, forced market makers to widen spreads to protect themselves
against rapid-fire SOES orders. Market makers were liable to receive a
total of five 1,000 share orders before the dealer could refresh its quote.

"Market makers could not have their systems automatically updating their
quotations," Finn added. "That was prohibited and it reinforced the use of
using quarters when spreads were half or greater and using eighths below
that."

Harvey Houtkin, a pioneer in operating a firm that offered rapid fire
execution services on SOES, contends that market makers "swindled"
investors out of tens of billions of dollars over several years by
colluding with each over the telephone.

Houtkin, now chief executive of All-Tech Direct in Montvale, N.J., argues
that the billion-dollar award size is only a pittance of what would
constitute a fair settlement. "The industry dodged a major bullet," Houtkin
said. "They got away with murder. The settlement is a joke. It wasn't even
pocket change to the big firms. If they were forced to return some of their
ill-gotten gains, the settlement would be hundreds of times what they paid
out."

Susan Woodward, SEC chief economist until 1995, disagreed. Woodward, who
authored a 1997 study refuting charges of Nasdaq price fixing, now says
that market makers were unjustly punished. A fair settlement would be
absolutely zero, she said.

                        Harassing Competitors

While Woodward concedes that tape recordings of market maker telephone
conversations clearly revealed that they were engaged in harassing their
competitors, she argues that they were not guilty of price-fixing. "It's
illegal to fix prices, but it's not illegal to brow-beat your competitors,"
she said.

A careful re-examination of the quotes investigated, said Woodward,
suggests that the markets were very competitive. "Any attempt to fix quotes
in Nasdaq would fail," she said, "simply because there are too many market
makers and entry into making a market in a stock is too easy. Where entry
is that easy it's extremely difficult to establish a cartel."

While some experts cite the nature of the marketplace for the wide spreads
during the period under investigation, others point the blame more at the
SEC. Junius Peake, a finance professor at the University of Northern
Colorado in Greeley, Colo., and a former NASD vice chairman, criticizes the
SEC, saying it did not promote a more equitable market system.

"They [the SEC] were told by Congress in 1975 to build a market system that
served the needs of investors and to make sure every investor received the
best possible price," he said. "They [the SEC] have fiddled with that
system and micro-managed it for twenty-five years. When this Nasdaq problem
occurred, it happened in part because the market was not properly
structured."

Based on the allegations against the market makers by the U.S. Department
of Justice and the SEC, Peake acknowledged that some market makers
apparently did bend the rules. "You dangle enough temptation in front of
people and some of them will succumb," he said. As for the billion-dollar
settlement, Peake pointed out that these funds ultimately are coming out of
investors' pockets "even though in theory some of it is going back into
their pockets." He added that the settlement is a complicated arrangement
that may also benefit people who were not necessarily injured.

David Whitcomb, president emeritus of finance at Rutgers University and
head of Automated Trading Desk, a Charleston, S.C.-based day trading style
firm for high-net worth individuals and institutions, said his main beef
with the Nasdaq settlement was that, like most class action, antitrust
cases, it took so long to settle.

"The people who did a relatively small number of trades are just not ever
going to bother to file their claims," he said. (Whitcomb noted that his
customers were hardly affected by the alleged market making, price-fixing
activities.) Whitcomb feels the settlement "really doesn't help a lot of
the people that should have been helped by it." (Traders, February 1, 2001)



NBA: Faces 2 Suits in Vancouver; USA Today Shows Options for Team's Move
------------------------------------------------------------------------
This sounds familiar: A sports team owner doesn't like his locale, asks if
anybody else has a better offer and suddenly becomes popular -- outside his
team's hometown.

That's happening in the NBA, where a team hasn't moved since the Kings left
Kansas City, Mo., for Sacramento in 1985.

Vancouver Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley faces a Thursday deadline to file
his moving request. But Commissioner David Stern and a committee of owners
have recommended the deadline be extended to March 26. The extension must
be approved by the league's board of governors, which has until 6 p.m. ET
Wednesday to vote.

Heisley said he was down to Las Vegas, Anaheim, Calif., St. Louis, New
Orleans, Louisville and to "a certain extent" Memphis. But he also
suggested the Chicago suburbs, where he lives, would be "very, very
attractive." And he's said St. Louis now is "not a real high probability."
And there are Vancouver boosters who haven't given up on stopping any move.

Heisley bought the Grizzlies last year for about $ 150 million on the
premise they'd stay put. Heisley, whose Chicago-based Heico Acquisitions
Inc. specializes in buying distressed businesses, got the NBA go-ahead this
month to move -- saying the team would lose$ 40 million this season.
Already, Forbes magazine pegs the Grizzlies' worth at $ 118 million, making
it the NBA's least-valuable team.

Where should the Grizzlies spend their winters? Some options:

   Chicago -- It's the USA's No. 3 TV market. And there's a great
opportunity in Chicago's suburbs, says Marc Ganis, who heads SportsCorp.
Ltd., a Chicago-based sports franchise consulting firm. "Without a great
Bulls team, there's no reason for suburban people to go in town to see
them." And, he says, owners like having teams in their own backyard. The
question, Ganis says, is whether Heisley wants to try for "a home run" in
Chicago "or just tread water" elsewhere.

   Las Vegas -- It has the USA's fastest-growing population, plenty of
tourists but gambling everywhere. Says Rick Burton, who directs sports
marketing studies at the University of Oregon: "I'm fascinated with what
Vegas represents. But I can't imagine the NBA will allow it."

In a Sports Business Journal study measuring cities' total personal income
and factoring in local sports, Las Vegas ranked No. 1 as Heisley's top
suitor.

   Memphis -- Not really considered a serious contender, but it helps
Heisley to have interest in as many cities as possible. It would help if
Elvis sat courtside.

   Anaheim -- Three NBA teams in the Los Angeles area? It might work by
hooking up with Disney's NHL Mighty Ducks and sharing their arena.

   Louisville -- A study by Scarborough Sports Marketing, a research firm,
found Louisville ranks No. 6 among all U.S. cities in having "avid" NBA
fans -- the highest showing among all cities without NBA teams. Enthusiasm
would have to compensate for its size: As the USA's No. 48 TV market, it
ranks behind rivals St. Louis (36) and New Orleans (42).

   St. Louis -- It already has teams in the other three major sports and
had the NBA Hawks before they moved to Atlanta 33 years ago. Bill Laurie,
who owns the NHL Blues, likes the Grizzlies -- the NBA once blocked his bid
to buy the team and move it. But Heisley, who'd have to play in Laurie's
arena, has said he hasn't liked the terms he's been offered.

   New Orleans -- The city abandoned by the Jazz in 1979 has an 18,500-seat
arena, which opened in 1999, being used only by a minor league hockey team.
Arena officials say they have a waiting list of potential NBA luxury suite
buyers. The Sports Business Journal analysis concludes New Orleans doesn't
have sufficient local income.

   Vancouver -- Angry fans have filed two class-action lawsuits, though
Heisley counters, as well as an online fan site called HuntTheOwner.com. It
shows Heisley in rifle target crosshairs, although it adds, "We're
Canadians. We only shoot hockey pucks."

Local boosters, who've formed Save Our Grizzlies, say they're trying to
find local investors to keep the team from moving. Peter Ufford, a
marketing consultant and the group's spokesman, says this wouldn't be the
first local comeback: "Everybody thought the team was gone last year."

But Ufford admits local boosters know at least one thing they would have
done differently: "We would have had a better exit strategy. We wouldn't
have ended up with the NBA and Heisley ragging on Vancouver -- and us
ragging on them." (USA TODAY, February 27, 2001)


NORTEL NETWORKS: Major Shareholders Approach Canadian Law Firm
--------------------------------------------------------------
Large institutional shareholders in Nortel Networks Corp. have approached
at least one Canadian law firm to inquire about participating in a
class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of retail investors, sources say. The
move comes as investors in the United States filed yet another class action
lawsuit against Nortel over its Feb. 15 earnings warning, claiming that
certain officers and directors violated securities laws by issuing false
statements. Nortel said it expects the suits -- two have been filed in
Canada and at least nine in the United States -- will be combined into one.
Nortel has not yet issued a statement of defence.

Nortel's fall from grace earlier this month, meanwhile, could affect the
timing of the company's optical parts unit spinoff, observers said.

John Roth, chief executive, said in September that Nortel was considering
selling up to 15% of the business in an initial public offering, telling
Bloomberg News the issue was planned for this summer.

Mr. Roth, whose employment contract at Nortel expires near the end of this
year, told an audience in Toronto that the IPO was at least a year off,
while spokesman David Chamberlin said that 'we've really never put a
timeframe on it.'

Analysts said in early February that Nortel's optical parts business was
worth between US$25-billion and US$32-billion, meaning that the Brampton,
Ont., parent could raise between US$2.5-billion and US$4-billion from
issuing shares in the unit -- making it the largest IPO in Canadian
history. Mr. Roth also said the unit's stock would be used as takeover
currency to fuel the company's growth.

But that was before Feb. 15, when Nortel issued a stunning earnings warning
and said it would cut 10,000 jobs, a move that could produce annual savings
of up to US$2-billion. Mr. Roth unveiled plans for the offering when Nortel
shares were trading in Toronto at more than $100 each, compared to their
$28.85 close on February 26.

'Market sentiment is definitely not as favourable to fibre optics,' said
BMO Nesbitt Burns hardware analyst Brian Piccioni, who said worries over
the sector translate into lower values for IPOs.

Nortel rival Lucent Technologies Inc.'s Agere Systems Inc. unit, in fact,
said it will offer more shares at a lower price in its US$7-billion IPO as
Agere faces losses and weak demand for its optical components and
semiconductors.

It's the second time in less than a week the terms of the deal -- expected
to be the second-largest IPO in U.S. history -- have been revised downward.

Some analysts expect Agere to again alter, or even cancel, the issue amid a
weak market for initial offerings, especially in the battered technology
and telecommunications sector. 'I don't think this is going to stop the
hemorrhage of investor sentiment on this offering. I'm starting to question
whether the deal gets done at all,' said David Menlow, president of IPO
financial.com, based in Millburn, N.J.

As part of the warning last Thursday, Mr. Roth halved Nortel's growth
outlook for 2001, citing a rapid slowdown in the U.S. economy -- with Mr.
Piccioni raising the possibility of 'more bad news to come.' He cited the
fact that Nortel customers are adjusting spending due to the high costs of
capital, adding that the liquidity crunch 'is unlikely to be affected by an
economic recovery.'

Mr. Piccioni said 1999 and 2000 were exceptional years, since corporate and
phone company spending on technology grew at a unprecedented rate 'fuelled
principally by capital market exuberance.' He called it a gold rush
mentality that is unlikely to reappear and said skepticism remains over
Nortel's ability to exploit the European market, which is vulnerable to the
slowdown now taking hold in the United States. He also called
third-generation wireless -- an area that Nortel is counting on for new
sales -- 'a fabulously expensive technology in search of an application.'

          Customer Troubles Are Pulling Nortel Down

To boost sales, Nortel helps customers finance expensive telecom equipment.
Nortel tries to sell the loans to third parties. When it can't, it keeps
them on its balance sheet. Customers are happy and expand business quickly
on cheap financing from Nortel. Market tanks, making it impossible for
telecommunications firms to raise money for operations. Nortel's customers
such as Cannect go belly up without paying for the equipment.

Nortel is left holding the bag for loans in default, as well as used
equipment. At the end of 2000, Nortel was owed US$1.6-billion by its
customers. (National Post (formerly The Financial Post), February 27, 2001)



NORTELS NETWORKS: Wolf Haldenstein Announces Expanded Period in NY Suit
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP announces that it filed a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District
of New York, on behalf of purchasers of the securities of Nortel Networks
Corporation ("Nortel" or the "Company") (NYSE: NT) who purchased the
Company's common stock between the expanded class period of November 1,
2000, and February 15, 2001, inclusive, against defendants Nortel and
certain of its officers and directors.

The case name and index number are Krishnan and Givner v. Nortel (CV
01-1083). A copy of the complaint filed in this action is available from
the Court, or can be viewed on the Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz
LLP website at http://www.whafh.com.

The complaint alleges that Nortel, and certain of its officers and
directors, violated federal securities laws by issuing materially false and
misleading statements during the class period and selling $7 million in
personally held inflated Nortel stock.

Nortel is a global Internet and communications leader with capabilities
spanning Optical Internet, Wireless Internet, Local Internet, eBusines, and
Personal Internet. Nortel supplies networking solutions and services that
support voice, data, and video transmission over wireless and wireline
technologies. The Company's solutions and services are used by customers to
support the Internet and other public and private voice, data, and video
networks. Nortel serves the emerging and existing needs of service
providers, carriers, dot-coms, small and medium businesses, and large
corporations in more than 100 countries and territories around the world.
The complaint alleges that during the class period, defendants repeatedly
issued materially false and misleading statements overstating sales growth
and revenues for the company's services and products. Before the true facts
about the company's markets were disclosed to investors, certain Nortel
insiders sold themselves of $7 million of their publicly-held Nortel common
stock. On February 15, 2001, Nortel shocked investors by issuing a press
release announcing that it would not meet previous sales expectations and
would reduce its workforce by 10,000 employees.

Contact: Gregory M. Nespole, Esq., George Peters, Fred Taylor Isquith,
Esq., all of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, 800-575-0735 or
classmember@whafh.com


OSI COLLECTION: Ct Refuses To Certify Class With Only Conjecture Of Size
------------------------------------------------------------------------
In an action alleging a debt collection letter violated the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act, the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New
York refused to grant certification based upon mere conjecture as to the
class size. (Wilner v. OSI Collection Services Inc., No. 00 Civ. 1057 (CM)
(S.D.N.Y. 1/3/01).)

In an attempt to collect an overdue telephone bill, OSI Collection Services
Inc. sent a letter to Morris Wilner stating, "[o]nly full payment will
avoid further action to enforce collection. We are extending you the
courtesy of this letter before taking further action." Wilner sued OSI,
alleging the debt collection letter violated the FDCPA because it
overshadowed and contradicted the notice of validation rights printed on
the back of the letter. OSI made an offer of judgment for 3,000. Wilner
moved for class certification.

                          Maximum Recovery

The District Court noted the FDCPA limits the liability of a "debt
collector" to "any actual damage sustained" and "such additional damages as
the court may allow, but not exceeding 1,000." As the court explained,
because Wilner did not suffer any actual damages, his maximum recovery was
limited to 1,000.

Wilner argued it was reasonable to infer the number of class members was
large because: (1) OSI used a standard form letter; (2) OSI was one of the
largest debt collectors; and (3) MCI was the creditor for which OSI was
collecting the debt. Wilner asserted, "common sense should lead the court
to conclude that OSI attempted to collect enough debts on MCI's behalf
during the relevant period to satisfy the numerosity requirement."

OSI argued, and the District Court agreed, "bare allegations of numerosity
based upon mere conjecture as to the size of the class cannot satisfy the
requirements of Rule 23(a)(1)." Judge Colleen McMahon refused to find
Wilner met the numerosity requirement of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) "absent one
iota of evidence as to the number of people who may have received such a
letter" from the debt collector. The court denied class certification.

Although the District Court entered judgment against OSI and awarded Wilner
1,000, it dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
(Consumer Financial Services Law Report, February 5, 2001)


QUALCOMM INCORPORATED: Settles with Employees Transferred to Ericsson
---------------------------------------------------------------------
QUALCOMM Incorporated (Nasdaq: QCOM) announced on February 26 that it has
reached agreement to resolve the class action litigation filed by former
employees of the Company arising out of the sale of assets associated with
QUALCOMM's infrastructure division to Ericsson. Under the terms of the
settlement, $11 million (minus attorneys' fees and costs), which is being
contributed by third parties, will be distributed to the more than 800
former employees in the class. QUALCOMM had no input or opinion regarding
the allocation of the settlement among the class members. A final
settlement approval hearing has been scheduled for April 2001.

QUALCOMM Incorporated (www.qualcomm.com) is a leader in developing and
delivering innovative digital wireless communications products and services
based on the Company's CDMA digital technology. Headquartered in San Diego,
Calif., QUALCOMM is included in the S&P 500 Index and is a 2000 FORTUNE
500(R) company traded on The Nasdaq Stock Market(R) under the ticker symbol
QCOM.

QUALCOMM is a registered trademark of QUALCOMM Incorporated. All other
trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


QUESTAR CORP: Suits Re Gas Measurement and Royalties Consolidated in WY
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
In United States ex rel. Grynberg v. Questar Corp., et al., each of Questar
Gas Management, Wexpro and Universal Resources Corporation d/b/a Questar
Energy Trading Company are named as defendants in a case involving
allegations of gas mismeasurement and of improper royalty valuations. The
plaintiff filed on behalf of the federal government to recover underpaid
royalties under the False Claims Acts, and the Department of Justice
declined to intervene. Relief sought by the plaintiff is unspecified. This
case and 75 substantially similar cases filed by the plaintiff have been
consolidated for discovery and pre-trial rulings in Wyoming's federal
district court. Motions to dismiss have been filed. The QMR subsidiaries
dispute these claims.


QUESTAR E&P: Motion to Remand in Quinque Case Re Gas Measurement Pending
------------------------------------------------------------------------
In Quinque Operating Company v. Gas Pipelines, et al., each of Questar Gas
Management, Wexpro and Universal Resources Corporation (now known as
Questar E&P) is named as a defendant in a lawsuit involving allegations of
mismeasurement of natural gas resulting in underpayment of royalties to
private and state lessors. Relief sought by the plaintiff is unspecified.
Plaintiffs have asked that the case be certified as a nationwide class
action. The case was removed from state to federal court and a motion to
remand is pending. There are over 220 defendants. The QMR subsidiaries
dispute these claims.


QUESTAR MARKET: Greghol Suit in OK Re Royalties Voluntarily Dismissed
---------------------------------------------------------------------
At December 31, 1999, Questar E&P was a defendant in a case styled Greghol
Limited Partnership vs. Universal Resources Corporation, filed in Oklahoma
state court, which was originally asserted as a statewide class action
raising issues relative to calculation of royalties, and whether such
calculations should reflect deductions for certain post-production costs.
Relief sought by the plaintiff was unspecified. The Court has sustained
Questar E&P's motion to de-certify the class. Questar E&P disputes these
claims. In August 2000, plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the case without
prejudice.


QUESTAR MARKET: Oklahoma Judge Approves Settlement Re Royalty Payments
----------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 4, 2001, a district court judge in Oklahoma approved the
settlement agreement in Bridenstine v. Kaiser-Francis Oil Company, a class
action lawsuit that was originally filed against Questar E&P, other QMR
affiliates and Questar, and unrelated defendants in 1995. Pursuant to the
terms of the settlement, QMR and Union Pacific Resources Company
(predecessor in interest to Questar E&P) paid $22.5 million ($16.5 million
by QMR and $6 million by Union Pacific Resources) to resolve all issues
pending against the settling defendants. Questar E&P has paid the
settlement funds, which are being held in escrow pending the expiration of
a 30-day appeal period following the entry of the judge's order. Payment of
the settlement funds did not have a material adverse impact on QMR's
financial results.

At December 31, 1999, Questar E&P, as well as other Questar Market
Resources Inc affiliates and Questar, were among the named defendants in a
class action lawsuit commenced in 1995 involving royalty payments in
Oklahoma state court for Texas County, Oklahoma. In Bridenstine vs.
Kaiser-Francis Oil Company, the plaintiffs alleged various fraud and
contract claims against all defendants for a 17-year period. While this
litigation did not specify the amount of damages being claimed, estimates
at times were in excess of $80 million, plus punitive damages. The
plaintiffs' primary claim alleges that a transportation fee charged against
royalty payments was improper or excessive. The claims involved wells
connected to an intrastate pipeline system that Questar Gas Management
presently owns and operates. The suit also alleged claims for
mismeasurement of gas and failure to market the gas for the "best available
price." Kaiser-Francis and Questar E&P are the major working interest
owners and operators of a majority of the wells connected to this pipeline
system. QMR disputes plaintiffs' claims. On January 4, 2001, a district
court judge in Texas County, Oklahoma, approved the settlement agreement
reached by QMR and Union Pacific Resources Company (predecessor in interest
to Questar E&P) in Bridenstine v. Kaiser-Francis Oil Company. Under the
terms of the settlement, QMR and Union Pacific Resources paid $22.5 million
($16.5 million by QMR and $6 million by Union Pacific Resources) to resolve
all of the issues pending against QMR in the litigation. Questar E&P has
paid the settlement funds, which are being held in escrow pending the
expiration of a 30-day appeal period following the entry of the judge's
order. Payment of the settlement funds did not have a material adverse
impact on QMR's financial results.


QUESTAR PIPELINE: Grynberg Case Re Gas Measurement Pending in Utah
------------------------------------------------------------------
Questar Energy Trading and Questar Gas Management, two of the Company's
wholly owned subsidiaries, have been added as defendants in a lawsuit filed
by Jack Grynberg, an independent producer, pending in a Utah state district
court (Grynberg v. Questar Pipeline Company). The lawsuit was originally
filed against Questar Pipeline Company, an affiliate of the Company in
Questar's Regulated Services unit, in September of 1999. It alleges that
the Questar defendants mismeasured gas volumes attributable to his working
interest from a property in southwestern Wyoming. The plaintiff cites
mismeasurement to support claims for breach of contract, negligent
misrepresentation, fraud, breach of fiduciary responsibilities and alleges
damages of $27 million. The Questar defendants have filed a comprehensive
motion to dismiss the complaint on several grounds including expiration of
the applicable statute of limitations, no basis for independent tort
claims, and federal preemption.


ROHM AND HAAS: Judge  Consider Cert and Medical Monitoring for Employees
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A state court judge will consider a motion March 2 to certify a class
action and approve a settlement between former Rohm and Haas employees and
the company to establish a bladder cancer medical monitoring program
(Aubrey L. Artis, et al. v. Rohm and Haas Co., No. C-8-01, N.J. Super.,
Passaic Co.).

The proposed settlement, which Rohm and Haas has accepted, creates a
medical monitoring program for the life of the members of the class. The
joint motion with proposed settlement was filed in the Passaic County
Superior Court Feb. 8.

Plaintiffs were exposed during their employment at the former Morton
International Inc., previously Patent Chemical Co., facility here to known
bladder carcinogens. Rohm and Haas bought Morton International Inc. in
1999.

The proposed settlement says Rohm and Haas filed cross-claims against the
suppliers of the chemicals on the basis that they failed to provide
adequate warnings about the amines provided. Rohm and Haas has reportedly
agreed to release the suppliers if they agree to contribute $ 25,000 to the
medical monitoring program. Only Pfister Chemical Co. had agreed to
contribute as of Feb. 14.

                              Defendants

The other chemical company defendants are Aceto Corp., Biddle Sawyer Corp.,
CNA Holdings Inc., E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., First Chemical Corp.,
Hoechst AG, Korean Hyeop, HWA Chemical Industries, Lucky Goldstar
International, Ludell Manufacturing Co., Nagese America Corp., PMC
Specialties Group Inc. and Sherwin Williams Co.

The original complaint, filed in May, alleges that the members of the class
are at a higher risk of developing bladder cancer because they were exposed
during the manufacture of chemical dyes to beta-napthylamine,
alpha-napthylamine, benzidine, ortho-toluidine, 5-chloro-2-amino-toluene
(5-CAT), o-tolidine and p-cresidine.

These chemicals are described in the complaint as known threats to cause
bladder cancer. The complaint alleges that at least four former employees
have bladder cancer and more have died of bladder cancer.

If Superior Court Judge Susan Reiser gives preliminary approval to the
settlement March 2, counsel is expected to receive final approval in April.
Plaintiffs' counsel Steven H. Wodka praised Rohm and Haas for agreeing to
provide the medical monitoring program for the former employees because it
will be a true benefit.

                        Model Settlement

"This proposed settlement provides a model for a well run medical
monitoring program," Wodka said.

Rohm and Haas agreed, according to the proposed settlement, "To detect all
cases of bladder cancer in the eligible group at the earliest possible date
by the use of the most effective, accurate and sensitive medical tests and
technology for the detection of bladder cancer."

If an abnormality is detected, Rohm and Haas has agreed to refer the former
employee to a urologist for follow-up testing. If it is determined that the
class member has bladder cancer, Rohm and Haas has agreed in support of a
workers' compensation claim to admit the cancer is work-related. Rohm and
Haas will then provide treatment for the class member's cancer.

The proposed settlement preserves claims for personal injuries and workers'
compensation benefits for later bladder cancer developments

                          Counsel

Steven H. Wodka of Little Silver, N.J., and Ronald B. Grayzel of Edison,
N.J., represent the plaintiffs.

Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Decker in Newark, N.J., represents
Aceto Corp. Gold & Albanese in Morristown, N.J., represents Biddle Sawyer.
Norris, McGlaughlin & Marcus in Somerville, N.J., represents CAN Holdings
Inc. and Hoechst AG. Lowenstein Sandler in Roseland, N.J., represents First
Chemical Corp. Carpenter, Bennett & Morrisey in Newark, N.J., represents
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. Nowell Amoros in Hackensack, N.J., represents
Ludell Manufacturing Co. Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione in
Newark, N.J., represents Nagese American Corp. Cooper, Rose & English in
Rumson, N.J., represents Pfister Chemical Inc. Tompkins, McGuire &
Wachenfeld in Newark, N.J., represents PMC Specialties Group Inc. Robert A.
White of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Princeton, N.J., and James D. Pagliaro
of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Philadelphia represent Rohm and Haas.
Shcenck, Price, Smith & King in Morristown, N.J., represents Sherwin
Williams. (Mealey's Emerging Toxic Torts, February 16, 2001)


SPRINGS INDUSTRIES: Florida Investment Firm Sues over Fort Mill Buy-out
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A Florida investment firm has sued Springs Industries Inc. and its
directors, claiming that an offer to buy out the Fort Mill fabric
manufacturing giant and take it private doesn't consider the company's true
value.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Rock Hill, Crandon Capital
Partners says a proposal by the Close family and investment firm Heartland
Industrial Partners to buy Springs' stock for $ 44 a share "does not
constitute a maximization of stockholder value for the public
shareholders."

Springs' stock had traded in the $ 25-$ 35 range for three months before
the Close family made the offer Feb. 20. However, the stock traded as high
as $ 51 a share last May. The buyout proposal announced last week caused
Springs' stock price to soar, and the market is clearly anticipating that
the offer will be sweetened. Springs' stock rose 5 cents a share Monday to
close at $ 45.20 on the New York Stock Exchange.

According to the lawsuit, Springs' total value "is materially greater than
the consideration contemplated by the proposed transaction price." Based on
Springs' 18 million shares outstanding, the acquisition would be worth
about $ 790 million.

Springs had total assets of $ 1.58 billion at the end of 2000, according to
its most recent financial report. The lawsuit, filed last week, names
Springs, chairmancq Crandall Close Bowles and the 10 members of the
company's board of directors as defendants. Springs spokeswoman Betty
Turner said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Springs' independent directors, which include all members of the company's
board except Bowles and her brother, Leroy Close, are reviewing the buyout
proposal, which would take the 114-year-old company private for the first
time since 1966.

The Close family, descendants of the company's founders, has said the
family would vote against any competing proposal to buy the company.

The investors' lawsuit seeks an order preventing the directors from
proceeding with the deal or rescinding the transaction should it be
completed.

The complaint also seeks class action status, unspecified compensatory
damages and a declaration that the defendants "have committed a gross abuse
of trust." (The State, February 27, 2001)


TULSA POLICE: Justice Department's Civil Rights Division Investigates
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division is investigating the
Tulsa Police Department, officials have confirmed.

Federal attorneys informed City Attorney Martha Rupp-Carter that the probe
had opened under the jurisdiction of the Violent Crime Control and Law
Enforcement Act, she told the Tulsa World.

The act bars police officers from engaging in a pattern or practice of
conduct "that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured
or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States."

"We don't know exact details and allegations," Police Chief Ron Palmer said
Monday. "They will not tell us what the scope of the allegations are. At
this point, all we know is that it pertains to how the police department
does business in regards to civil rights."

Rupp-Carter notified Palmer about the probe during the week of Feb. 12, he
said.

Judging from similar actions toward governments and police departments in
other cities, Palmer said the inquiry likely will focus on race relations.
"We are assuming it's minority-related, based on other cities," he said,
pointing to Los Angeles; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Stubenville, Ohio; Buffalo, N.Y.;
and Columbus, Ohio.

Federal attorneys told Palmer that they will come to Tulsa to discuss the
allegations on March 14 and 15.

Palmer and Rupp-Carter said they don't know whose complaint instigated the
investigation. "We are awaiting formal written notification" of the probe,
Rupp-Carter said. "At this point we've been verbally notified. When we get
(written) notification, we will have more information."

The Tulsa Police Department has been battling a race-discrimination lawsuit
for nearly seven years. The class-action lawsuit, filed by police officers
in 1994, alleges that the department has created a hostile work environment
for blacks.

The plaintiffs, 19 black officers, say they have failed to receive backup
from other officers and that the workplace is racially segregated. The
plaintiffs also allege that the city has discriminated in promotions and
hiring and has retaliated against black officers for complaining about
allegedly discriminatory practices.

The plaintiffs want to get the court to establish a series of standards to
which the city would have to adhere in its treatment, hiring and promotion
of black officers, previous reports have said.

Plaintiffs' attorney Louis Bullock would not comment Monday on the federal
investigation, but he said a trial in the local lawsuit has been
rescheduled for October. The court proceeding has been postponed twice.

The 1994 law at the center of the Tulsa investigation was used to
investigate a New York City police scandal involving Haitian immigrant
Abner Louima.

Louima was beaten and sodomized with a plunger in the rest room of a New
York police station. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, February 27,
2001)

                             *********


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

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

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

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