/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/010314.MBX                C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

               Wednesday, March 14, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 51


CIRCUIT CITY: Creditors Awarded Fees As Counsel files 8th meritless Case
ECONOMY-CLASS SYNDROME: WHO, Experts and Airlines Say a Link Is Likely
EQUICREDIT CORP: Pa. Suit Alleges Kickback Between Lender And Brokers
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Industry Gathers Its Share Of Fund
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Leader Rules Out Partial Payments

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Parliament President Urges for Payment
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Schroeder Expects Quick Solution to Unlock Payments
INMATES LITIGATION: Improvements May End Ct Oversight in Alaska Case
INMATES LITIGATION: NYC Jails Liable for Failure in Educating Juveniles
L.A. POLICE: Deaf Retiree Raises Assault Claim Alleging Violation of ADA

NAHC, INC: Acquired Subsidiaries Alleged of Violating Antitrust Laws
NAHC, INC: Former Novacare, Inc. Defends Securities Suit in PA
NEW FOCUS: Stull, Stull Files Securities Lawsuit
PAREXEL INTERNATIONAL: NY Ct Dismisses Securities Claims By Arbitrageurs
PSINet INC: Judge Reverses Course and Lets Investors' Suit Proceed

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: $2M Settlement Reached in Debt Collection Case
TEAM COMMUNICATIONS: Kaplan, Kilsheimer Files Securities Suit in CA
TEAM COMMUNICATIONS: Schiffrin & Barroway Files Securities Suit in CA
U.S. FOREST: Judge OKs Female Workers' lawsuit over Sexual Harassment
U.S., MEXICO: Braceros Sue Governments and Banks Seeking Lost Wages

WAR LITIGATION: Polish President Criticizes Plan Re Seized Property
ZALE DELAWARE: 7th Cir May Put End to 'Re-aff' Actions Vs. Creditors


CIRCUIT CITY: Creditors Awarded Fees As Counsel files 8th meritless Case
Illinois Appellate Court held creditors were entitled to attorney's fees in
a case alleging Truth in Lending Act violations because it was the eighth
time counsel filed an almost identical case on behalf of his friends and
family. (Rubino v. Circuit City Stores Inc., et al., Nos. 1-99-3392,
1-00-0400 (Ill. App. Ct. 2/9/01).)

Michael Rubino filed a class action against Circuit City Stores Inc. and
First North American National Bank, alleging violations of the TILA, the
Illinois Retail Installment Sales Act and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and
Deceptive Business Practices Act. Rubino testified he went to Circuit City
to make a purchase and when he checked out, he applied for a store credit
card. Rubino testified he requested a copy of the credit card agreement,
but the store refused to give him a copy.

The trial court dismissed the installment sales claim and fraud claim for
failure to comply with pleading requirements. After a bench trial on the
TILA claim, the court entered judgment for Circuit City and the First North
American. However, the court denied Circuit City and the bank's motion for
attorney's fees. Both parties appealed.

                     Credit Card Agreement

Rubino argued the bank violated the TILA by failing to give him a copy of
the credit card agreement before the first transaction was made. The
Appellate Court noted, however, the credit card application, signed by
Rubino, provided: "I have read and kept a copy of the credit card agreement
and agree to its terms including a security interest in goods charged to my

In light of the language in the application, the Appellate Court determined
the trial court did not err in granting the creditors judgment on the TILA
claim. Citing Central States Joint Board v. Continental Assurance Co., 453
N.E.2d 932, 936 (1983), the Appellate Court stated, "A person may not enter
into a transaction with his eyes closed to available information and then
charge that he has been deceived by another."

                        Absolute Defense

The complaint alleged various additional TILA violations against the bank,
including the bank's failure to disclose the annual percentage rate,
failure to disclose the method used to compute finance charges, and failure
to disclose the cost of credit insurance. Despite finding the complaint
undecipherable, the Appellate Court "attempt[ed] to decipher the gist of
what [Rubino was] attempting to allege."

As the Appellate Court observed, a creditor's use of the Federal Reserve
Board's model disclosure forms is an absolute defense to TILA liability.
Noting the credit card agreement and billing statement used the language of
Regulation Z, the court concluded the trial court did not err in dismissing
the additional TILA claims.

                      Class Certification

Rubino sought class certification. The issue before the Appellate Court was
whether the consumers received their credit card agreements before the
first transactions were made. The court concluded, "because this question
requires a credibility determination as to each potential claimant and is
determinate of the outcome, it predominates over class questions and
renders class certification of count I inappropriate." Similarly, the court
determined class certification was inappropriate for all claims.

                           Bad Faith

The creditors argued the trial court erred in denying their request for
attorney's fees. The Appellate Court noted Rubino's counsel filed at least
seven other almost identical cases, all of which were dismissed. As the
court observed, "in a total of eight attempts, plaintiff's counsel has been
unable to draft a complaint that complies with section 2-603(b) of the Code
of Civil Procedure and is well grounded in fact and law." The court further
noted the plaintiffs, not only in this case but a prior case as well, were
family members or friends of counsel.

The Appellate Court determined the creditors were entitled to attorney's
fees because counsel filed this case in bad faith. "The record reveals that
plaintiff's counsel persisted in filing meritless complaint after meritless
complaint, and was clearly more interested in obtaining attorney fees for
himself than protecting consumers from predatory lenders," the Appellate
Court said.

The Appellate Court affirmed the decision of the trial court granting the
creditors judgment as to the first TILA count and dismissing the remaining
counts. In addition, the court reversed the trial court's denial of
attorney's fees.

Joseph A. Longo in Mt. Prospect, Ill. represented Rubino. Rodney Slutzky in
Chicago, and Jeffrey S. Blumenthal of Foran & Schultz in Chicago,
represented the creditors. (Consumer Financial Services Law Report, March
5, 2001)

ECONOMY-CLASS SYNDROME: WHO, Experts and Airlines Say a Link Is Likely
There is likely a link between long-haul flights and deadly blood clots,
medical experts and international airlines said.

A brainstorming session organized by the World Health Organization agreed
that air travel and deep vein thrombosis were probably linked and decided
to launch a massive three-pronged study. But, they said, it could take a
long time to find answers.

''Realistically, I think we're looking 18 months to two years to complete
an epidemiological study of that size,'' said John Scurr, consultant
surgeon at Middlesex and University College Hospital, London. ''The amount
of research actually done is limited and this will be a huge project.

''The study will actually need to look at passengers before they get on an
airplane and after they get off to see who actually develops blood clots.''

Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a condition in which a blood clot forms
mainly in the deep veins of the legs. It becomes potentially deadly when a
part of the clot breaks off and blocks a blood vessel in the lungs, which
is known as thromboembolism. Experts in DVT say airline passengers may be
at particular risk because they sit still for long periods.

A first study will look at the incidence of blood clots in passengers,
while another will attempt to determine whether being in an airplane
provides specific risk factors, such as changes in cabin pressure and cabin

The third study will assess the effects of preventative measures such as
exercise, wearing circulation-stimulating stockings or taking
blood-thinning agents.

''Tens of thousands, possibly as many as hundreds of thousands of
passengers will need to be studied to get definite answers,'' Scurr said.
''It will also have to look at how many passengers develop a blood clot in
the leg and how many actually go on to develop a blood clot in the lung.
This is not a common problem despite receiving a lot of media attention.''

Inaccurately nicknamed ''economy class syndrome'' because it was believed
the cramped conditions in coach class caused the blood clots, DVT has also
occurred in business and first class passengers, as well as in people who
sit for extended periods in buses, cars and at desks.

''Sadly, even if you pay full fare and travel first class you're still
possibly at risk of getting a blood clot,'' Scurr said. ''To date there is
no evidence that blood clots are specifically related to the position in
the plane, the seat pitch, seat size. But more studies need to be done.''

Experts are still unsure how long people must stay still to be in danger,
though they know high risk factors include age, obesity, smoking,
pregnancy, cancer, recent surgery, hormone therapy or a history of the
disease. ''Millions of people fly millions of miles every year without any
problem,'' Scurr said ''Unfortunately anybody can get on an airplane and
you can be really quite sick. You can have quite advanced cancer, you can
have a previous history of blood clots and nobody will stop you from
getting on an airplane.''

The most effective preventive measure is exercising the feet and legs at
your seat while flying to improve circulation, experts agreed. Drinking
plenty of water and avoiding alcohol were also recommended. Experts
disagree over whether taking aspirin is also a good idea.

Last October a 28-year-old British woman died from a deep-vein thrombosis
shortly after flying home from Australia. Three members of the British
Olympic team suffered blood clots when flying to Australia for the Sydney
Olympics last summer.

Recent deaths linked to DVT have sparked class action suits against major
international airlines. An Australian law firm has prepared compensation
claims against six airlines for about 1,000 people who claim to have
suffered deep vein thrombosis while on flights.

Following the release of reports that 18 people died in Australia from
blood clots related to long-haul flights, the country's two biggest
airlines, Qantas and Ansett, are planning to start printing cigarette-style
warnings on tickets.

Thailand has offered free treatment to travelers afflicted by deep vein
thrombosis on flights in and out of the country if they participate in a
government study.

There are several reasons such blood clots appear to be on the rise, said
Hartl. ''It could be that there is just more awareness of it,'' he said.
''Also there are more and more people traveling.''

Some experts say another reason is that more people at high risk are flying
because improved health care allows them to lead more normal lives.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) were both present at the meeting,
sponsored by the World Health Organization, as well as representatives from
Air France, Alitalia, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates,
Iberia, Japan Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, South
African Airways, Swissair, United Airlines, Varig and Virgin Atlantic
Airways. (AP Worldstream, March 13, 2001)

EQUICREDIT CORP: Pa. Suit Alleges Kickback Between Lender And Brokers
A 14-count class action recently filed in the U.S. District Court, Western
District of Pennsylvania alleges lender EquiCredit Corp. of Pennsylvania
paid Atlantis II Mortgage Corp. and other loan brokers thousands of dollars
in illegal referral fees to funnel their residential mortgage clients to
EquiCredit. The suit potentially affects thousands of Pennsylvania
homeowners who obtained first or second mortgages from EquiCredit. (Orr v.
EquiCredit Corp. of Penn., et al., No. 01 0256 (W.D. Pa. filed 2/5/01).)

Plaintiff and putative class representative Bette Orr alleges she retained
Atlantis in 1998 as her loan broker to search for a home loan with
favorable terms. Orr and Atlantis entered into a loan broker retention
agreement, requiring Orr to pay Atlantis a broker fee of 7 percent of any
loan proceeds she received.

In her state, Orr contends, the relationship between a loan broker and a
borrower is strictly regulated by the Pennsylvania Credit Services Act. The
Pennsylvania statute provides a loan broker "is obligated to act as its
client's agent when contracting to search for a loan with favorable terms
for the client."

                    Exploitation and Corruption

Orr's complaint alleges EquiCredit "exploited and corrupted" the loan
broker-client relationship by entering into secret agreements with Atlantis
and other brokers to "pay [the] loan brokers significant fees to persuade
their clients to accept EquiCredit loans." In exchange for hefty referral
fees, the brokers reportedly abandoned their duties to search for favorable
loans for their clients, and instead, channeled the clients into EquiCredit

The complaint claims the referral fees were then passed on to borrowers in
the form of higher finance charges and/or higher loan amounts. Orr claims
in addition to the broker fee Atlantis collected from her at the loan
closing, the broker received a 510 payment directly from the lender.

Orr claims EquiCredit targeted "a particular type of prospective borrower"
for these loans - "the homeowner who has recently entered into a home
improvement contract that requires full payment upon completion of the home
improvements but does not provide the financing necessary for the
homeowners to make the payments."

Orr claims EquiCredit favored these borrowers because, once the contractor
began work on a borrower's home, the borrower would mistakenly believe he
could not rescind the loan financing the work. The lender used this "two
contract dodge" to avoid the three-day loan rescission period mandated by
the Truth In Lending Act.

               Premature Distribution of Proceeds

Orr alleges she was also a victim of this scheme. The complaint states Orr
entered into a home improvement contract with National Housing Corp. After
National began work on her home, the contractor arranged for Orr to meet
with Atlantis in order to obtain a loan. EquiCredit closed on the loan only
one day after Orr submitted a loan application, and distributed the loan
proceeds two days later.

Although Orr was not required to pay National until the contractor
completed the work on her home, EquiCredit included National as a creditor
on the closing statement and sent the contractor a check two days after the
closing. National allegedly forged Orr's name on the check and then failed
to complete the work on her house. Orr alleges the lender's distribution of
the proceeds prior to the expiration of her TILA rights impermissibly
"locked" her into the loan. "To rescind the loan after disbursement of the
proceeds, Orr may have had to immediately repay EquiCredit for all the
disbursement proceeds," the complaint argues.

                  Federal and State Claims Asserted

Orr alleges EquiCredit violated the TILA, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act,
the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity
Act and the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act.

In addition, the civil complaint alleges EquiCredit violated the CSA and
the Pennsylvania Maximum Interest Rate Law. Orr's complaint also states
claims for tortious interference with contracts and civil conspiracy.

Michael P. Malakoff, James M. Pietz and Erin M. Brady of Malakoff Doyle &
Finberg P.C. in Pittsburgh represent Orr and the class plaintiffs. They can
be reached at (412) 281-8400. (Consumer Financial Services Law Report,
March 5, 2001)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Industry Gathers Its Share Of Fund
The German industry foundation for compensating Nazi-era slave laborers
said it has gathered its half of a 10 billion mark (dlrs 4.8 billion)
national fund, ending months of pleading to firms to fulfill their moral
responsibility for Germany's past.

However, it still wasn't clear when the estimated 1 million elderly
survivors will be paid from the shared government-industry fund. The
companies continue to insist on legal security and dismissal of
class-action lawsuits in the United States which prompted the fund in the
first place before survivors can be paid.

''As soon as sufficient legal security is reached and that should be the
case as soon as possible then the payments to victims will begin,''
industry foundation spokesman Wolfgang Gibowski said in a statement.

''The German industry realized their moral responsibility,'' Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder said on German television. ''Surely it also played a role
that otherwise industry's image would have been damaged in international

The German firms' failure to come up with their half of the 10 billion mark
(dlrs 4.8 billion) fund was cited by a New York judge in her refusal to
dismiss a class-action suit against German banks last week. That is one of
several pending cases that the companies have insisted be set aside before
any payments begin to the survivors, mostly non-Jewish eastern Europeans
who were deported to Nazi Germany to keep industry running during World War

The companies agreed on the 10 billion mark figure in December 1999 after
negotiations that included the German and U.S. governments, other eastern
European countries and Israel, and lawyers representing survivors. The
number of firms in the fund has swelled to about 6,000, but pledges had
stagnated for months below their promised 5 billion mark (dlrs 2.4 billion)

The companies had insisted the shortfall was not an issue and that they
would start making payments as long as their legal security was assured,
but U.S. District Judge Shirley Wohl Kram's decision put new pressure on
the firms. Victims' groups have accused industry of trying to postpone ever
paying the money by tying up the process in legal technicalities.

Kram had said the motion to dismiss could be re-entered if she was assured
that the German foundation responsible for compensation was already funded
and that the claims of people who could not yet appear before the court
would be handled fairly. A clerk for the judge, Kostas Katsiris, said no
further motions had been submitted as of Tuesday afternoon.

Gibowski said a massive letter and telephone campaign is still ongoing to
ask members of the industry fund to raise their contributions and also
encourage non-member companies to join.

But for the first time Tuesday, he said the foundation's 17 founding
members including leading German firms such as Bayer, BMW, DaimlerChrysler
and Deutsche Bank have guaranteed they will substantially raise their
pledges to meet any shortfall.

Volker Beck, a Greens parliament member heavily involved in the Nazi labor
issue, called on industry to transfer the entire sum immediately to the
national fund. Parliament must also sign off on legal security for the
companies before victims receive the individual payments of up to 15,000
marks (dlrs 7,000). ''Now the German government and U.S. government must
concentrate on the establishment of legal security and a quick payout
date,'' he said.

The spokesman for the Polish-German Reconciliation Foundation, Mateusz
Chachaj, said he was hopeful ''payments could start flowing even within a
couple of months.'' (AP Worldstream, March 13, 2001)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Leader Rules Out Partial Payments
Excerpt from report by German news agency DDP on 13 March

Munich: Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is against making initial
partial payments to former forced labourers in Nazi Germany. Before we
start paying money, German companies need clear legal guarantees against
further complaints, Schroeder said after a meeting with leading
representatives of the German economy in Munich. This means, not least,
that US Judge Shirley Kram must also dismiss the last class-action suit
against German banks brought in the United States, Schroeder said...

Schroeder noted that he was optimistic that industry would provide the
money very soon. "A final settlement" might be found even as early as 14
March, the chancellor emphasized one day before his talks with German
industry representatives. Schroeder said that he did not have to exercise
his "authority" towards industry. All economic associations are trying to
provide the funds as quickly as possible. Schroeder said that he was
confident that industry would provide its share of DM5b "without help from
any other party". Thus, the chancellor was indirectly ruling out that the
federal government would step in should industry fail to pay its share.
(BBC Monitoring Europe - Political Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring,
March 13, 2001)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Parliament President Urges for Payment
President Wolfgang Thierse told a delegation of American rabbis Tuesday
that he would look for a way to legally start paying compensation to former
Nazi-era slave and forced laborers even before industry has contributed its
full share to a compensation fund.

''There must be a way to do this without releasing industry from its moral
duty,'' Thierse told the interdenominational North American Board of Rabbis
delegation during a meeting at the Reichstag.

Thierse expressed his ''deepest shame'' that the government-industry fund
has so far failed to deliver the promised compensation to an estimated 1
million elderly survivors of Nazi slave and forced labor, mostly non-Jews
from former communist eastern Europe.

Industry's failure to come up with its half of the 10 billion mark (dlrs
4.8 billion) fund was cited by a New York judge in her refusal to dismiss a
class-action suit against German banks last week.

The German firms in turn have refused to hand over any of the 3.6 billion
marks (dlrs 1.7 billion) collected so far until U.S. class-action lawsuits
on Holocaust claims that prompted them to back the national compensation
fund are quashed.

Facing a deadlock, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has set a meeting with
industry leaders Wednesday, and expressed optimism they would find a way to
unlock payments, which had officials previously had hoped could begin in
spring. German officials want to clear any doubts about industry's
willingness to pay before Schroeder travels to Washington at the end of the
month to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush.

''I'm optimistic that German industry will close the shortfall under its
own steam and out of its own sense of moral responsibility,'' the
chancellor said in Munich. But he rejected the idea of partial payments and
stressed that industry must provide the full funding.

The leader of the rabbi delegation, Marc Schneier, said they urged Thierse
and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer during separate meetings to find a way
to legally release the money as soon as possible.

''I think the German government needs to continue to pressure the
companies, but there has to be a two-tier approach,'' Schneier told the
Associated Press after the meetings. ''The second approach, which for the
Jewish community is the primary concern, is to begin the process of paying
compensation now. To just put all their eggs in one basket of meeting with
German industry is not the way to go.''

Though most of the victims eligible for the compensation fund are not
Jewish, Schneier said the board of 50 rabbis is pressing the issue as ''a
moral issue.'' ''There is 3.6 billion (marks) in this fund, and every day
that goes by more and more survivors pass on,'' Schneier said. (AP
Worldstream, March 13, 2001)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Schroeder Expects Quick Solution to Unlock Payments
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Tuesday he is hopeful of reaching
a solution this week that would help unlock payments from a national plan
to compensate Nazi-era slave laborers.

''I'm optimistic that we may even reach a solution tomorrow, Wednesday,''
Schroeder said after a meeting in Munich with the heads of German business

Planned talks Wednesday between Schroeder and industry leaders follow a New
York judge's refusal last week to dismiss a lawsuit against German banks
over concerns that funding for the plan was uncertain.

German companies have refused to hand over any part their half of a 10
billion mark (dlrs 4.8 billion) fund until the U.S. class-action lawsuits
on Holocaust claims which prompted them to back a national compensation
fund are quashed.

Lawmakers, Jewish leaders and victims' organizations have accused industry
of contributing to the holdup by so far raising only 3.6 billion marks
(dlrs 1.7 billion) for the fund.

Providing the compensation, Schroeder said, was ''a concern of German
industry as a whole.''

''I'm optimistic that German industry will close the shortfall under its
own steam and out of its own sense of moral responsibility,'' the
chancellor added. He rejected the idea of partial payments and stressed
that industry must provide the full funding.

German officials have said any doubts about industry's willingness to pay
the full sum must be cleared up before Schroeder travels to Washington at
the end of the month for talks with President George W. Bush.

''Enormous efforts are being made,'' said Michael Rogowski, the head of the
Federation of German Industry. ''I hope to be able to say soon that we have
the 5 billion marks.''

The court ruling raised new doubts about when an estimated 1 million
elderly survivors of Nazi forced and slave labor, mostly non-Jews from
eastern Europe, will receive compensation.

The government had hoped to begin payments last year, but money is now
considered unlikely to flow until the summer at the earliest.

A group of North American rabbis visiting Berlin on Tuesday pressed for a
change to the law governing the fund to allow payments to flow to the
victims immediately, even before the full amount had been collected.

The leader of the interdenominational North American Board of Rabbis, Marc
Schneier, said he pressed the demand during a meeting with Foreign Minister
Joschka Fischer.

''(Fischer) was concerned that if the law is amended it might give some of
the companies who have not fulfilled their commitments a way out,''
Schneier told The Associated Press after the meeting.

The Foreign Ministry said Fischer emphasized the need for the companies to
meet their obligations to pay into the fund, but did not have immediate
comment on the appeal to amend the law. (AP Worldstream, March 13, 2001)

INMATES LITIGATION: Improvements May End Ct Oversight in Alaska Case
Following managerial improvements to Alaska's correctional system, a
judge's ruling sets the stage for the end of court oversight in a
longstanding prisoner-rights case.


The case of Cleary v. Smith began in early 1981, when a group of prisoners
claimed conditions in Alaska's prisons were so bad that they were
unconstitutional. After a series of court rulings, the state and the Cleary
plaintiffs entered into a consent decree regarding prison conditions. Much
of its focus was on prison overcrowding. In just this past year, the state,
because of adequate funding from the Legislature, the DOC has been able to
keep prison populations below court-ordered limits.

The ensuing agreement, as outlined by the Alaska Superior Court, also said
prisoners have the right to judicial review of major disciplinary
proceedings where issues of constitutional magnitude are raised, and set
forth procedures to challenge the actions of the Alaska Department of
Corrections. The agreement, filed Aug. 3, 1981, said once administrative
remedies are exhausted, inmate disputes can be brought as a direct action
before the court.

In 1999, the DOC filed for dissolution of judiciary oversight in the case,
saying it was no longer necessary and did not serve the best interest of
the DOC, the court, inmates or the taxpayers.


Superior Court Judge Elaine Andrews issued a decision in December 2000
terminating the prospective effect of the consent decree in the 20-year-old
Cleary v. Smith class action lawsuit. The court's full opinion on ending
oversight in the matter was issued in late February. It recognized the hard
work and dedication of the DOC, and said the prison system, 20 years after
the court order, is running safely, smoothly and securely. It also noted
that the Alaska Prison Litigation Reform Act instituted in 1999 was largely
responsible for Andrews' ruling.
In a two-page decision, she said the Act is constitutional in terminating
the prospective effect of the Cleary consent decrees.
Corrections Commissioner Margaret Pugh said the ruling represents a major
leap forward in the resolution of this long-standing lawsuit and credited
the department's commitment to operating a safe and secure correctional
system, based on sound correctional management principles.

                       Point of Clarification

When the court said Alaska prisoners have the right to judicial review of
major disciplinary proceedings where issues of constitutional magnitude are
raised, it went one step further. It defined "major disciplinary
proceedings" as those with the potential to strip a prisoner of a
constitutionally protected right, good-time credit or access to programs
with the potential to reduce time served.
When the class-action suit was brought by prisoners in 1981, the court
determined that judicial oversight was necessary to ensure the integrity of
the process. But after the Prison Litigation Reform Act of Alaska was
enacted in 1999, judicial oversight was no longer necessary, the court
said.Cleary v. Smith, No. 3AN-81-5274CIV (Sup. Alaska 8/3/81.) (Corrections
Professional, March 12, 2001)

INMATES LITIGATION: NYC Jails Liable for Failure in Educating
a class-action suit filed in the District Court, Southern District of New
York, inmates under age 21 successfully sued New York City jails for
failing to provide adequate education during their incarceration.


Inmates of New York City prisons between the ages of 16 and 21 said the
system provided inadequate educational services to young offenders; the
deprivation of educational services violated their due process rights; and
the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act applies to incarcerated

The majority of plaintiffs are pretrial detainees and the minority are
post-conviction inmates serving sentences of up to one year. Plaintiffs
estimated about 2,800 incarcerated youth were eligible for educational
services at the time the case was filed in 1996.
The plaintiffs claimed they received no or extremely limited educational
instruction for significant periods of time. They also estimated that about
40 percent of the class members required special education services due to
various disabilities. They claimed the defendants violated the IDEA as well
as state law by failing to provide appropriate special education services
to this portion of the incarcerated population.


The court granted declaratory judgment to the plaintiffs, which is
equivalent to the granting summary judgment establishing liability. It said
the plaintiffs produced uncontradicted evidence that many class members
held in special housing areas received absolutely no schooling during many
semesters. The plaintiffs also offered unrefuted evidence that a
substantial number of class members suffered from learning disabilities, so
they were covered by the IDEA as well as New York laws governing special
education. Just like the general entitlement to a free and appropriate
public education, the entitlement to special-education services is not
trumped by incarceration.

For these reasons, the court granted the motion for declaratory judgment
and ordered city defendants to file a plan for providing full and complete
educational services for all eligible inmates of Rikers Island.
Handberry et al. v. Thompson et al. No. 96 CIV. 6161 (CBM) (S.D.N.Y.
3/13/00.) (Corrections Professional, March 12, 2001)

L.A. POLICE: Deaf Retiree Raises Assault Claim Alleging Violation of ADA
class action lawsuit filed in a California federal District Court last
month alleges that the Los Angeles Police Department is violating the ADA
and other laws by failing to ensure effective communication with
individuals who have hearing impairments. The lawsuit was precipitated by
alleged events concerning the department's interaction with a deaf
72-year-old retiree, who claims that officers assaulted him after he tried
to use sign language to communicate with them.

According to the complaint, filed by the Western Law Center for Disability
Rights in Los Angeles, police were called to the scene of an argument
involving plaintiff Sanford Diamond in October 1999. Even though the
responding officers recognized that Diamond has a hearing impairment, the
suit says, they did not make an attempt to determine how effective
communication could take place. Instead, it goes on, officers knocked
Diamond to the ground when he tried to communicate with them via the use of
American Sign Language, injuring his shoulders, wrist, back and face. To
make matters worse, the suit says, the officers then handcuffed Diamond and
arrested him for interfering with a police investigation. The officers
could have enabled effective communication by using a pen and paper,
written notes or interpreter services, the suit alleges.It claims that the
police denied Diamond's request for a qualified sign language interpreter,
and that Diamond did not even know why he was being held.

In addition to a claim under Title II of the ADA, the suit alleges
violations of Section 504 and state law. Constitutional claims under the
First and Fourth Amendments are included as well, as are claims of
negligence, battery and false arrest. The defendants are the city of Los
Angeles, the LAPD, its police chief, and six LAPD officers.
The Western Law Center for Disability Rights says that there are more than
900,000 people with hearing impairments in Los Angeles County, on whose
behalf class action allegations are raised. The suit claims that the LAPD
has systematically failed to maintain and enforce policies and procedures
for communicating with people who have hearing impairments. LAPD officers
and employees have not been properly trained on how to communicate
effectively with people who have hearing impairments, it says.

The suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages,
attorney's fees and costs.

"Mr. Diamond's case is a classic example of the kind of overreaction to
people with disabilities that we keep seeing from LAPD," said Eve L. Hill,
director of the Western Law Center for Disability Rights.
"Without effective communication, alleged perpetrators of crime who are
deaf can't defend themselves, deaf victims of crime can't get justice, and
deaf witnesses are left out of the investigation process," Hill said. "LAPD
is systematically excluding an entire class of people from our justice

Contact: Eve L. Hill, Western Law Center for Disability Rights, Los
Angeles, (213) 736-1195. (Disability Compliance Bulletin, March 12, 2001)

NAHC, INC: Acquired Subsidiaries Alleged of Violating Antitrust Laws
Continental Orthopedic Appliances, Inc. V. Health Insurance Plan Of Greater
New York, Et Al., 95 Civ. 4041 (Ads).

The complaint in this action was filed in the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of New York as a class action, alleging that the
Company's former orthotics and prosthetics subsidiary, together with the
Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York and others, participated in a
conspiracy to violate federal and state antitrust laws prior to the
Company's acquisition of such subsidiary.

The complaint seeks to recover monetary damages in excess of $500, together
with costs and attorneys fees, and punitive damages. Discovery in this case
has ended.

The case has not been certified as a class action. Pursuant to the purchase
and sale agreements under which the Company acquired and later sold the
former subsidiaries that are involved in this action, the Company is
responsible for defending this action.

This case is currently in the process of being settled, although settlement
has not been finalized.

NAHC, INC: Former Novacare, Inc. Defends Securities Suit in PA
Brady V. Nahc, Inc., Et Al., in the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

This is a purported class action case filed on behalf of all persons who
purchased the common stock of NAHC during the period between April 5, 1999
through and including November 22, 1999. Five similar actions have been
filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, including one that alleges a
class period from May 20, 1998 through November 22, 1999.

The Company expects that all similar cases will be consolidated into a
single action. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP is named as a defendant in one of
the cases.

The case is subject to the provisions of the Private Securities Litigation
Reform Act of 1995 ("PSLRA"). After the lead plaintiff and lead counsel are
appointed by the Court, Defendants expect to file a motion to dismiss.
Under the PSLRA, discovery is stayed until the motion to dismiss is

The Plaintiffs asserted that the Company and certain of its directors and
officers violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the
"Exchange Act") and Rule 10b-5 by making false and misleading statements
and omissions regarding the prospects of NAHC's business and NAHC's
liquidation value and by failing timely to disclose the impact of the
Balanced Budget Act of 1997 on the long term care services business. The
Plaintiffs allege that these statements and omissions artificially inflated
the value of the Company's stock during the class period. The Plaintiffs
also assert a violation of Section 14(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule 14a-9
against the Company and individual Defendants as well as against
Wasserstein Perella & Co. in connection with the Company's proxy statements
dated August 13, 1999, as amended through September 10, 1999. The
Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants were negligent in disseminating the
proxy statements, which allegedly contained materially false and misleading
statements. Wasserstein Perella & Co. has notified the Company that it will
seek indemnification from the Company in connection with this action,
pursuant to its engagement agreement with the Company.

The Defendants intend to vigorously defend the action. Because of the early
stage of this litigation, the Company is conducting an assessment of the
merits of this case. The Company has notified its insurance carriers of
this action. If the Defendants suffer an adverse judgment which the Company
is required to pay, it will likely result in there being no assets for
investment or liquidation; in such event, the Company will file for
bankruptcy law protection.

NEW FOCUS: Stull, Stull Files Securities Lawsuit
Stull, Stull & Brody announced that it has filed a class action complaint
on behalf of all persons who acquired New Focus, Inc. (NASDAQ:NUFO)
securities between January 31, 2001 and March 5, 2001, inclusive (the
"Class Period"). The complaint charges that New Focus, Inc. and certain of
its officers and directors violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

The Complaint alleges that on January 30, 2001, New Focus issued a
materially false and misleading press release raising the Company's revenue
guidance for the fiscal year 2001 from $150 million to $240 million. This
January 30th press release caused the Company's stock price to artificially
escalate. In the five business days following the announcement, defendants
sold over $35 million of their own stock, all the while knowing that the
Company had a problem with inventory build-up and delayed and canceled
orders from customers.

Five weeks later, defendants admitted to the Company's problems and lowered
the guidance for the fiscal year 2001 to $170-190 million. As a result of
defendants' dissemination of false and misleading information, the value of
New Focus stock drastically dropped.

The complaint alleges that as a result of the defendants' conduct,
plaintiff and other members of the Class suffered damages.

Contact: Stull, Stull & Brody, Los Angeles Patrice L. Bishop, Esq.,
888/388-4605 pbishop@secfraud.com

PAREXEL INTERNATIONAL: NY Ct Dismisses Securities Claims By Arbitrageurs
As previously reported in the CAR, on or about June 8, 2000, a complaint
was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
New York against the Company and four of its directors by two arbitrageurs,
Elliott Associates, L.P. and Westgate International L.P. The complaint
alleged violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
and Rule 10b-5, Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act and asserted state law
claims for fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

On November 28, 2000, the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York granted the Company's Motion to Dismiss all counts of
the complaint. The time period to appeal this decision has expired. The
decision of the United States District Court dismissing all claims does not
bar the arbitrageurs from re-filing state law claims against the Company in
a state forum within the applicable limitations period. As of January 31,
2001, no such action has been filed against the Company.

PSINet INC: Judge Reverses Course and Lets Investors' Suit
federal judge in Virginia reversed course and allowed a class-action
lawsuit accusing PSINet Inc. of securities fraud to proceed.
The plaintiffs appear to have satisfied concerns raised in December by U.S.
District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, who dismissed 14 class-action
lawsuits filed against the Ashburn-based Internet service provider.

At the time, Brinkema rebuked the plaintiffs for failing to support claims
that some of PSINet's top executives made misleading statements about the
company's finances that damaged shareholders.
But since then, the plaintiffs have rewritten their charges and
consolidated the lawsuits into one complaint that covers certain PSINet
investors who hold common stocks, bonds and convertible preferred stock.
"We put together a different-looking complaint with a different theory in
large measure," said Steven J. Toll, the Washington, D.C., attorney
representing the plaintiffs. "We put forth enough evidence to convince the
judge that the lawsuit has merit."

As prices continue to slide for high-tech and telecommunications stocks,
more investors are filing lawsuits alleging fraud and demanding

The lawsuit against PSINet is in its early phases. But it adds to myriad
headaches for the company, which posted $ 1.38 billion in losses and $ 3.4
billion in long-term debt as of Sept. 30. PSINet is looking for a buyer or
a strategic alliance to dig itself out of the hole.

Attorneys on both sides will now begin discovery, the legal proceeding that
allows them to exchange information about the case. After discovery, PSINet
can ask the court to dismiss the charges. "Obviously, we're disappointed,"
said David Donovan, the Washington, D.C., attorney representing PSINet.
"But we are confident there's no merit to the plaintiffs' claims."

In their new complaint, the plaintiffs limited the charges that PSINet made
false statements about its cash flow. Those charges now only apply to
certain PSINet bondholders. But the plaintiffs argue that PSINet made false
statements about its business plans by failing to disclose its problems.

They cite a former PSINet employee who says the company lost customers,
including the Toronto Blue Jays, by failing to keep their Web sites
connected, Toll said.

The plaintiffs also expanded claims concerning Metamor Worldwide Inc., an
Internet consulting firm that PSINet purchased in a stock transaction
valued at $ 2 billion.

They say PSINet was negligent and reckless leading up to the purchase of
Metamor, which lost $ 1.2 billion in the third quarter. PSINet, they argue,
never had a plan to integrate Metamor into the company and misled Metamor
shareholders about Metamor's compatibility with PSINet. (The Washington
Post, March 13, 2001)

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: $2M Settlement Reached in Debt Collection Case
Consumers alleging a utility company hired a credit collection agency as a
"letter writing" service in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act recently agreed to settle their claims. The settlement, which has a
total value of more than 2 million, awaits court approval on Feb. 26.
(Frank, et al. v. Southern California Edison Co., et al., No. ED CV 00-413
VAP AIJx (C.D. Cal. 12/8//01).

Laura Frank filed a class action against Southern California Edison Co. and
Trans Union Corp. after receiving a letter from Trans Union seeking to
collect a debt owed Edison. Frank alleged Edison was engaged in
flat-rating. Section 1692 of the FDCPA prohibits a collection agency or a
party other than the original creditor from participating in the collection
of a debt or misrepresenting that a third-party debt collector is involved.
Frank contended Edison was collecting its own debts under the name Trans
Union for the purpose of using Trans Union's nationally recognized name to
induce debtors to pay. (See Consumer Financial Services Law Report, Sept.
3, 1999, p. 12).

On March 6, 2000, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of
California granted Frank's motion for class certification. The class
consists of approximately 15,076 members.

Before trial, Frank, her lawyers, and the defendants reached a settlement.
Taking into account the defendants' financial circumstances, the claims
asserted, the federal and state law, and the fact the case has not gone to
trial, the parties agreed to settlement terms, which have a total value of
more than 2 million.

Relief provided:

The settlement affords class members are several forms of relief:

   1) Edison will ask the three major credit reporting agencies to remove
adverse credit information referencing the Edison debt from their records.

   2) Edison will cancel one-half of each class member's debt.

   3) The defendants will refund one-half of amounts paid by class members
between March 1 and Sept. 30, 1998.

  4) The defendants will stop using the dunning letter.

Frank, as class representative, will receive 2,000 from the defendants
while class counsel is to receive 120,000 for their services. The maximum
fees to be awarded are less than 10 per class member.

                          Fairness Hearing

District Judge Virginia A. Phillips held a fairness hearing on Feb. 26. If
the court approves the settlement and all conditions of the settlement are
satisfied, it will enter a final judgment and order of dismissal. Class
members had until Feb. 16 to opt out of the class or object to the
settlement terms. Class counsel reports no objections have been received to
date and less than 10 class members have opted out.

Stephen Gardner of Dallas, Aurora Dawn Harris of Orange, Calif., and Gary
E. Merenstein of Boulder, Colo., represent the class. David R. Garcia of
O'Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles and Catherine Burkhardt of Rudnick & Wolfe
in Chicago represent the defendants. (Consumer Financial Services Law
Report, March 5, 2001)

TEAM COMMUNICATIONS: Kaplan, Kilsheimer Files Securities Suit in CA
Kaplan, Kilsheimer & Fox LLP (www.kkf-law.com) has filed a class action
against Team Communications Group, Inc. and certain of the Company's
officers and directors in the United States District Court for the Central
District of California. The suit is brought on behalf of all persons or
entities who purchased the common stock of Team Communications Group, Inc.
(NASDAQ: TMTV) between May 18, 2000 and February 12, 2001 inclusive (the
"Class Period").

The complaint charges Team Communications and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Team
Communications currently owns and distributes over 4,000 hours of
programming worldwide, in addition to producing a wide variety of
programming for leading U.S. and international broadcasters. The complaint
alleges that during the Class Period, Team Communications reported false
financial results causing its stock to trade at artificially inflated
levels of as high as $12 per share.

Then, on 2/13/01, prior to the market opening, Team Communications shocked
the investment community with a press release which revealed that the
Company expected to record a Q4 00 charge equivalent to more than five
times all the income it reported during the Class Period. It also
acknowledged that certain of its acquisition and distribution activities
may have "lacked economic substance." On this news, TEAM Communications'
shares dropped to as low as $ 375, or more than 88% lower than its Class
Period high of $12.

Contact: Kaplan, Kilsheimer & Fox LLP (New York) Frederic S. Fox, Esq. Hae
Sung Nam, Esq. Donald R. Hall, Esq. 800/290-1952 212/687-1980 Fax:
212/687-7714 mail@kkf-law.com or (San Francisco) Laurence D. King, Esq.
415/336-1238 Fax: 415/677-1233

TEAM COMMUNICATIONS: Schiffrin & Barroway Files Securities Suit in CA
The following statement was issued March 12 by the law firm of Schiffrin &
Barroway, LLP:

Notice is hereby given that a class action lawsuit was filed in the United
States District Court for the Central District of California on behalf of
all purchasers of the common stock of TEAM Communications Group, Inc.
(Nasdaq: TMTV) from May 10, 2000 through February 12, 2001, inclusive (the
"Class Period").

The complaint charges TEAM Communications Group and certain of its officers
and directors with issuing false and misleading statements concerning its
business and financial condition. Specifically, the complaint alleges that
defendants reported favorable, but false financial results during the Class
Period which caused its common stock to trade at artificially inflated
levels as high as $12 per share. On February 13, 2001, TEAM Communications
shocked the market by announcing that the Company expected to record a 4th
Quarter 2000 charge equivalent to more than five times all the income it
reported during the Class Period. It also acknowledged that certain of its
acquisition and distribution activities may have lacked economic substance.
Following this belated disclosure, TEAM Communications' shares dropped more
than 88%.

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

U.S. FOREST: Judge OKs Female Workers' lawsuit over Sexual Harassment
A U.S. District Court judge has given his consent to the settlement of a
class action lawsuit filed against the U.S. Forest Service.

A pair of female workers who revealed "a pattern of sexual harassment"
within the agency's California region offices prompted the civil action.

Agency spokesman Matt Mathes told FEDHR that the judge orally approved the
settlement and plans to sign it in the coming weeks. "The Forest Service
does feel the settlement is fair and is anxious to get on with it," Mathes

The settlement will impact about 6,000 female Forest Service employees.

Under the terms of the settlement for the complaint initiated in 1995 by
employees Lesa Donnelly and Ginelle O'Connor, the agency is required to:

* Eliminate sexual harassment and the hostile environment against women.

* Implement a zero-tolerance policy against the sexual harassment of

* Ensure that persons committing or contributing to sexual harassment
  are held accountable for their actions.

* Eliminate reprisal against those who exercise their rights to complain
  about sexual harassment.

* Ensure that issues regarding sexual harassment are addressed and
  resolved in a timely and effective manner.

* Provide finality to the resolution of all claims asserted in this

Even after the judge signs the settlement, the terms will not take effect
until the agency establishes a monitoring council, Mathes said.

The council would oversee the agency's progress and equal employment
opportunity programs. A neutral mediator will chair the council.
Representatives chosen by the agency and members of the lawsuit will make
up the remaining seats.

Brad Yamauchi, the employees' attorney, said his clients were pleased with
the outcome of the case. The settlement "establishes a framework for the
agency and protects future generations of female workers," said Yamauchi,
of Minami, Lew & Tamaki in San Francisco. (Federal Human Resources Week,
March 5, 2001)

U.S., MEXICO: Braceros Sue Governments and Banks Seeking Lost Wages
A report in the Fresno Bee describes them -- Braceros -- "Some came for the
money, others for the adventure of traveling to the United States. They
harvested everything from apples and apricots to potatoes and wheat ...
They Were Braceros Now they are plaintiffs seeking their lost wages. There
are deep creases in Rogaciano Garay's suntanned hands, the legacy of a
lifetime of picking crops in fields throughout the United States."

The report tells about Garay, an 81-year-old Dinuba resident who worked
U.S. soil from 1945-48 as a Mexican bracero, says he earned every cent of
his paychecks. He has picked tomatoes. He has harvested sugar beets. He has
reached high above his head with hooks to snag hop vines and pull them
toward the ground where other workers could collect the conelike flowers.
Now he hopes to recover a portion of his wages that has been lost to
bureaucracy and time, the report says.

He is joining more than 400,000 former guest workers and their heirs who
are suing the U.S. and Mexican governments and various banks for allegedly
breaching contracts with the braceros, reports the Fresno Bee.

According to the report, ten percent of the workers' earnings was deposited
into a savings fund. The braceros were supposed to receive that money after
they returned to Mexico.

Few workers have ever seen those funds, according to the lawsuit filed
March 1 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The workers -- ages 75 to
90 -- are seeking immediate return of their money, plus lawyers' fees and
punitive damages, the report says.

Lawyers believe $30 million to $50 million was withheld from the braceros.
With interest, withholdings could total more than $500 million. If the
lawsuit is successful, each plaintiff could receive from hundreds to
thousands of dollars, lawyers say, the report goes on.

The lawsuit, announced last week by a local group of former braceros,
follows a similar action filed in Fresno last month that seeks $505 billion
for the former farmworkers.

Garay's son, Julio, says his father is pleased someone is trying to
retrieve those long-lost wages. "The money," the son says, "was his to
begin with."

The U.S. Attorney's Office had not received a copy of the lawsuit and
declined to comment. Wells Fargo, the only U.S. bank named in the lawsuit,
will do everything in its power to cooperate with the plaintiffs, bank
spokeswoman Mary Trigg says.

James Gordley, a contract-law professor at University of California,
Berkeley, says the plaintiffs could have trouble recovering the money if a
judge rules too much time has passed since the contracts allegedly were
broken. The statute of limitations for breach of contract is about six
years, he says.

                            'System Failed'

Valeriano Saucedo, a Visalia lawyer representing the plaintiffs, counters
that there might be evidence of fraud or concealment, which, if true, would
suspend the time limit for taking action.

Deductions for the savings fund were made from 1942-49, the lawsuit says.

The U.S. and Mexican governments agreed in 1943 that the United States
would transfer savings-fund money to "the Wells Fargo Bank and Union Trust
Company of San Francisco for the account of the Bank of Mexico," which in
turn was to transfer the money to Banco de Credito Agricola, the lawsuit

In 1948, the nations entered into a new agreement that said each employer
would issue the bracero a check for money withheld when the work contract
expired, the lawsuit states. The check would be validated when the bracero
crossed the border into Mexico.

What happened to the money at that point remains a mystery, though Saucedo
says it likely is holed up in an account "only known to banks or Mexican

The plaintiffs hope to "follow the flow of transactions to see where it
stops," says Saucedo, who also is the mayor of Lindsay. "At some point, the
system failed."

                       Awareness Grows

For years, former braceros have tried to recover the money from Banco de
Credito Rural and its predecessor, Banco de Credito Agricola.

The Mexican bank, however, "consistently told those class members that they
have no such monies, and have consistently refused to pay them and other
class members any of the monies due to them," the lawsuit states.

Because of their frustrations in Mexico, some former braceros have little
faith they will prevail in the United States, says Leonel Flores, a Fresno
resident who has organized a union of local former braceros and their
families. "Some believe it's a lost cause," Flores says. "They don't
believe in the Mexican government. It's too difficult."

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, however, are ready for the challenge. "It's not
an easy thing," Saucedo says. "It's also not an impossible thing. "But
it's already been a victory," he says, because his lawsuits and others are
increasing awareness about the braceros and their contribution to the war

In 1942, the United States and Mexico agreed to allow Mexican nationals to
work in U.S. fields, replacing laborers who had joined other industries or
the military during World War II.

Mexico was hesitant at first because its citizens had been exploited in the
United States, subjected to substandard wages, poor housing conditions and
discrimination, according to the lawsuit. Mexican leaders, however, wanted
to assist in the war effort.

                    Savings Fund Required

To ensure its people did not return home penniless, the Mexican government
insisted that 10% of each worker's earnings be deposited into a savings

The bracero program -- the word means a person who works with his arms or
hands -- continued until 1964.

"When we were first approached about this case, it struck us that this was
really an incredible injustice of historic proportion," says Jonathan
Rothstein, a Chicago lawyer who also is representing the plaintiffs.
Braceros "did the hardest labor imaginable under adverse circumstances and
earned, really, a pittance."

Even a small amount of money meant a lot to some Mexican workers who had
struggled to find well-paying jobs in their homeland.

"There was no work there," Eleuterio Garcia, a former bracero, says in
Spanish. Garcia, who lives in Fresno, says some braceros earned 50 cents an
hour in the United States. In Mexico, they would earn 75 cents a day.

                       Difficult Conditions

Braceros who picked cotton were paid $3 or $4 per 100 pounds. They could
pick 300 pounds to 400 pounds a day if they worked from 7 in the morning to
4 in the afternoon, Garcia says.

Some came simply for the money, others for the adventure of traveling to
the United States.

Still others, who did not want to leave their families, were told "they had
to come and occupy the jobs for the people who left in the Army," Rogaciano
Garay says through his son and interpreter, Julio.

Garay was in his 20s when he volunteered in 1945 to become a bracero with
his father and two brothers.

Leaving behind his wife of five years and two toddlers, he packed a change
of clothes and embarked on a 10-hour bus trip to Guanajuato. He signed a
nine-month work contract that was written in English. A Spanish interpreter
explained the document to him but never mentioned the savings fund, Garay

While still in Mexico, workers were "fumigated," Garay says. Everyone was
forced to take off their clothes, dress in gowns and sit as smoke was
pumped around them. The smoke supposedly killed lice and other bugs.

"It was a little demeaning, but what can you do? They told him to do it,"
Julio Garay says. "His goal was to cross over here, so he beared with it."

Garay boarded a train for the United States. He says the ride was
comfortable and that he and others were fed sandwiches, juice and milk.

Other braceros, however, say they were loaded up like cattle on the trains.
Garcia, 78, says he and others sat on wooden planks and slept sitting up.
They had a rest'room but no shower. Men who fell asleep sometimes tumbled
out of the open cars and died near the tracks.

                       Scattered across U.S.

Those who survived the trip were scattered throughout the United States.
They harvested crops ranging from apples and apricots to potatoes and
wheat. Some worked on the railroads, which were the principal means of
transporting men, equipment and goods.

Garay went to Salem, Ore., where he was housed within a few feet of a camp
for German prisoners of war.

At night, the prisoners slept in a bunker surrounded by barbed wire. During
the day, Garay worked side by side with them in the hop fields. He was
ordered not to give the prisoners candy or gum.

Garay got to know the Germans. He made friends with a German doctor. "They
were good people," he says. "They used to tell [me] they liked Mexican

Garay wrote letters to his family in Mexico and sent them money about once
a month. That money -- and with checks and cash sent home by other braceros
-- pumped up the Mexican economy, former braceros say, because their
families could afford to construct sturdier homes and build streets. Garay
returned to Mexico when his nine-month contract expired. He went back to
the United States about a year later and worked for two months in fields
throughout the Central Valley. He liked the climate -- not too hot and not
too cold. When given the opportunity to work in Orange Cove, he took it. He
bought a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Dinuba. In 1984, he became a
U.S. citizen.

                          Glad They Came

Garay was one of thousands of braceros who worked in California fields. Of
the nearly 168,000 Mexican nationals transported to the United States
between September 1942 and March 1946, more than 86,000 worked in
California, the lawsuit says. Between 10,000 and 15,000 former braceros
live in California today, Saucedo says.

The program "paved the way for many of them to become documented and raise
their families and contribute to [the economy] in the Valley," Saucedo

Lupe Barajas, 25, is a student at California State University, Fresno. Her
grandfather was a bracero. "My brothers are all working. I'm going to
school. I feel we prospered by coming here," Barajas says. "We're buying
cars and buying houses."

Garay and Garcia are glad they became braceros.

"When he came over here, he liked it so much that he wants to die here,"
Barajas said, interpreting for Garcia.

The men, however, agree the bracero program should not be reinstated. "It
was good, but now something else is needed," Garcia says.

Some U.S. lawmakers have supported broadening a current guest-worker
program that allows foreigners to work on farms up to 10 months a year at a
federally calculated wage rate.

Groups such as the United Farm Workers of America, however, would like to
phase out that program. It is "primed for abuses and exploitation of those
workers," says Rosalinda Guillen, national vice president and legislative
director for the UFW.

Guillen said the UFW would prefer giving amnesty to undocumented Mexican
workers already in the United States. The UFW is working on such a

Garay and Garcia agree with Guillen. "If people who are illegal here were
taken care of ... it wouldn't be necessary for a bracero program," Garcia

The old program, however, stays alive in the minds and hearts of the former

Men who gather each afternoon in a Dinuba park to play a card game similar
to gin rummy often talk about their bracero experiences. The chatter,
Rogaciano Garay says, is inevitable. Being a bracero was such a large part
of their lives.

"He has no ill feelings toward the program," Julio Garay says of his
father. "He is proud that he's in this country." (The Fresno Bee, March 11,

WAR LITIGATION: Polish President Criticizes Plan Re Seized Property
Poland's president said Tuesday a plan to compensate people for property
seized by the old communist regime would be too costly for the country's
economy, sending a strong signal that he may veto the plan.

''The key issue is the economic condition of the Polish state and the
question of whether we are able to carry out restitution in such a broad
range,'' Aleksander Kwasniewski said in an interview on Zet radio.

The Polish parliament last Wednesday gave final approval to the
long-delayed restitution plan, which allows compensation equivalent to 50
percent of the value of property seized from 1944 to 1962, either in kind
or in the form of bonds.

The Solidarity-led government urged parliament to pass the restitution
bill, fearing former owners would launch costly legal challenges unless
Poland approves such a plan.

The government argued that court-ordered compensation would be more than
six times higher than payments envisaged under the restitution bill.

''I think it's a big exaggeration,'' said Kwasniewski. ''Courts are the
best way in case of restitution.''

According to the government, an expected 170,000 claims under the
restitution plan would cost about 43 billion zlotys (dlrs 10 billion) the
equivalent of about 20 percent of Poland's annual budget.

Kwasniewski said he will meet with Poland's justice minister early next
week to estimate the costs of legal battles that would ensue if he vetoes
the law. He will announce his decision after that meeting.

If the bill is vetoed by Kwasniewski, an ex-communist, the parliament is
considered unlikely to muster the necessary two-thirds majority to override
him. That probably would delay further consideration of the issue until
after parliamentary elections due this fall.

Kwasniewski also criticized as a ''big mistake'' parliament's exclusion of
most emigres from the compensation plan.

The bill limits eligibility to victims who were Polish citizens as of Dec.
31, 1999. The provision, which blocks claims of approximately 40,000
people, has drawn sharp criticism from Polish emigre groups, especially
Jews who fled communist persecution.

The government had hoped the bill would head off class-action lawsuits in
the United States.

The bill does not specifically address restitution for Holocaust victims or
their heirs. But it would provide a way for them to seek compensation
because most property they lost during the Nazi occupation was later seized
by the communist regime.

Poland is the only ex-communist state of Eastern Europe that still lacks
such legislation, and has been under pressure from the European Union,
which it hopes to join in the next few years, to settle the issue. (AP
Worldstream, March 13, 2001)

ZALE DELAWARE: 7th Cir May Put End to 'Re-aff' Actions Vs. Creditors
The tide has turned.

Class actions challenging creditors' activities have become quite popular
in the bankruptcy courts. However, a recent ruling by Judge Richard Posner
(7th Circuit) may put a period at the end of the death sentence written
late last year by the 1st and 6th Circuit Courts of Appeal for the most
popular of these actions - the "re-aff" challenge.

"Re-aff" class actions allege the creditor committed a technical violation
of Section 524(c), usually by not filing signed reaffirmation agreements
with the bankruptcy court. They followed on the heels of the
much-publicized "reaffirmation" cases filed against Sears Roebuck & Co in
1997, which cost the company an estimated 475 million.

The recent appellate court rulings agree with the earlier rulings that the
failure to file a reaffirmation agreement violates Section 524(c) and
results in the debt being discharged. However, these rulings disagree on
the relief available to debtors.

Given that the Sears litigation started in a Massachusetts bankruptcy
court, it seems only fitting that the 1st Circuit led the way in reversing
the direction of these cases. In Bessette v. Avco Financial Services, Inc.,
230 F.2d 439 (1st Cir. 2000), the court avoided deciding whether Section
524(c) created a private right of action by holding that the discharge
injunction may be enforced through the contempt power of Section 105, which
the court held authorizes both injunctive and monetary relief, including

A month later, on November 27, 2000, the 6th Circuit addressed the question
more forthrightly, holding both that Section 524(a) does not provide a
private right of action and that Section 105 may not be invoked to remedy
violations of Section 524(a). Purtuso v. Ford Motor Credit Company, 233
F.3d 417 (6th Cir. 2000).

The most recent ruling came in Cox v. Zale Delaware, Inc., --- F.3d ---
(Feb. 8, 2001), where Judge Posner, writing for the 7th Circuit, dealt what
might be the deathblow to these cases. He did not mince words. The opinion
starts out: "A large class-action suit has grown out of a tiny acorn of a

Judge Posner conceded that the creditor's failure to file the reaffirmation
agreement was a technical violation of Section 524(c), but concludes that
the debtor's suit seeking rescission is frivolous and a nuisance.
"Frivolous, because the payments that Cox seeks to recoup were made
voluntarily, a nuisance suit because its net expected value to Cox is
negative." He concludes that "the purpose of the suit is to lay the
groundwork for a frivolous, nuisance class action."

Getting to the meat of it, Judge Posner reasons that a debtor would be
worse off if the debtor won and rescission were awarded. If he were to get
his payments back, the creditor would get back the ring - that's how
rescission works - plus the rental value of the ring during the "re-aff"

The 7th Circuit also agreed with the conclusion (but not the reasoning) in
Bessette and Pertuso that no private right of action arises for violations
of Section 524(c). The ultimate holding is that "contempt [is] the sole
remedy for violation of the requirement that debt-reaffirmation agreements
be filed" and that "precludes class action relief."

The Ninth Circuit will soon decide the private right of action question as
well. Appeals are pending from decisions in Bassett v. American General
Finance, 255 B.R. 747 (9th Cir. B.A.P. 2000) and Walls v. Wells Fargo Bank,
N.A., 255 B.R. 38 (E.D. Cal. 2000). Both Bassett and Walls held that
Section 524(a) does not create a private right of action. Bassett also said
in dicta that it agreed with the First Circuit's decision in Bessette that
the contempt remedy was available for Section 524(a) violations. The Walls
court reached the same conclusion.

*William Stern is a member of Severson & Werson, a professional corporation
with offices in San Francisco and Irvine, Calif. His practice is almost
exclusively the defense of consumer class actions and claims brought under
California Business and Professions Code Section 17200. He is the author of
Consumer/Investment Remedies: Using Business & Professions Code Section
17200 and 17500 (West Pub., 5th ed., 2000). He may be reached at (415)
398-3344. (Consumer Bankruptcy News, March 6, 2001)


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