/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/010316.MBX               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

               Friday, March 16, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 53


ASCHE TRANSPORTATION: Charles J. Piven Announces Securities Lawsuit
BRIDGESTONE\FIRESTONE: Media Allowed to Intervene In MDL Litigation
CARNIVAL CRUISE: Settles Port Charges Suits with Vouchers to Passengers
COCA-COLA: 198 in Employee Race Bias Class Seek Delay in Settlement
COCA-COLA: As Deadline Nears, Fate of Racial Bias Accord Is Uncertain

COLORADO MENTAL: Appeals Court Allows Suit Against Hospital To Proceed
COOPER TIRE: Plaintiffs Oppose Consolidation of Suits and Transfer to NC
FLORIDA: Group Sues State Over Felons' Voting Rights
GREAT-WEST LIFE: Retiree’s Victory May Mean Millions to 400 Others
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Germans Will Hold the Fund Until Suits Are Resolved

INMATES LITIGATION: Judge Curbs Strip Searches of 3 Women in Cook County
LOS ALAMOS: 5 New Mexico Residents Join Suit over Overdose of Radiation
MICROSOFT CORP: Atty Criticizes of 'Plantation Mentality' on Employees
MICROSOFT CORP: Judge Who Ordered Breakup Won't Preside over Race Suit
NEW FOCUS: Stull, Stull Announces Filing of Securities Suit in CA

NEW FOCUS: Weiss & Yourman Announces Filing of Securities Lawsuit
NORTEL NETWORKS: Execs' Riches May Incite Shareholders
NORTEL NETWORKS: Filings with Regulators Show CEO Earned $100M Last Year
PPA LITIGATION: 6 National Class Actions Filed In Seattle
PPA LITIGATION: Petitions Filed To Coordinate CA State Cases In L.A.

PPG LITIGATION: Judge OKs Settlement of $2.4M for Claims By Fishermen
SUMITOMO CORP: 5 Former Execs to Pay 430 Yen in Suit Re Copper Trades
TOBACCO LITIGATION: $11 Bil Legal Fees in $246 Bil Settlement Criticized
XEROX CORP: Employees File Race Bias Charges with EEOC
WEBLINK WIRELESS: Savett Frutkin Files Securities Lawsuit in TX


ARNEL MANAGEMENT: Top Landlord Alleged Of Cheating Clients of Deposits
Attorneys have filed a class-action lawsuit against one of Orange County's
largest apartment building owners, charging that the company unfairly
retained security deposits for unnecessary cleanups and repairs.

The Orange County district attorney's office has been investigating the
claims against Arnel Management Co. for several months and has concluded
that potentially thousands of tenants could be due refunds.

Prosecutors filed a consumer-protection lawsuit against Arnel with the hope
of obtaining refunds for wronged tenants. But Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas
ordered that the lawsuit be withdrawn so officials could seek an
out-of-court settlement with the company.

Former tenant Terry Wiesner said he filed the class-action complaint
Tuesday out of frustration at the lack of resolution in the case.

Wiesner also said he was concerned about the relationship between
Rackauckas and the wealthy developer who owns the company. Arnel is run by
George Argyros, one of the district attorney's political allies. His
company donated $ 1,000 to Rackauckas' campaign in 1998.

Tori Richards, a Rackauckas spokeswoman, declined to comment on what
impact, if any, the civil lawsuit would have on the office's consumer
protection case against Arnel.

"I can't say anything because we're in the middle of negotiating this,"
Richards said.

Rackauckas has said that he wants to settle the case rather than pursue the
lawsuit to avoid what he said would be an expensive trial that could take
years to resolve. By settling the case out of court, he said, tenants would
receive their refunds at the earliest possible time.

Neither Arnel officials nor the company's lawyer could be reached.

Wiesner's lawsuit seeks the return of his $ 500 deposit and another $ 460
Arnel later tacked on in cleaning fees and penalties through a collection

Wiesner said he carefully cleaned up before moving out of his $
1,325-per-month unit at the Cape Apartments near South Coast Plaza in 1998.

Later, Wiesner said, Arnel served notice it was keeping the deposit and
billing him an additional fee to cover the cost of new carpeting, paint and
cleanup. When he refused to pay, Arnel sent the case to a collection
agency, which in turn put a negative reference on his credit report,
Wiesner said.

By law, normal wear and tear costs cannot be withheld from renters'
deposits. Wiesner said the company has repeatedly refused to return his

The class-action lawsuit seeks the recovery of security deposits for
Wiesner and any other residents of apartments managed by Arnel.

The lawsuit seeks additional penalties for senior citizens or disabled
tenants. It does not seek punitive damages, said one of Wiesner's
attorneys, Christine Cupino. (Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2001)

ASCHE TRANSPORTATION: Charles J. Piven Announces Securities Lawsuit
Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. announced on March 14 that a private
securities action requesting class action status has been initiated on
behalf of purchasers of the common stock of Asche Transportation Services,
Inc. during the period March 30, 1998 through and including April 7, 2000.

No class has yet been certified in the above action.

Contact: Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A., Baltimore Charles J. Piven,
410/986-0036 pivenlaw1@erols.com

BRIDGESTONE\FIRESTONE: Media Allowed to Intervene In MDL Litigation
The Indiana federal judge presiding over the multidistrict litigation on
Firestone tires has granted the motion of Bloomberg, Dow Jones & Co.,
Reuters and Gannett to intervene, but will not allow access to nor unseal
the documents sought by the intervenors. Instead, the media entities will
be allowed to argue against the entry of confidentiality orders and
attempts by the parties to have documents sealed. In re
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. ATX, ATX II and Wilderness Tires Products
Liability Litigation, No. IP 00-98373-C-B/S, No. 1373 (J.P.M.L.), order
filed (S.D. Ind., Feb. 26, 2001).

Bloomberg L.P., Dow Jones & Co. Inc., Reuters America Inc. and Gannett
Satellite Information Network filed the motion in U.S. District Court for
the Southern District of Indiana, where more than 200 economic-damage class
actions, personal injury and wrongful-death suits involving alleged
tread-separation defects in Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires have
been consolidated for pre-trial proceedings.

The intervenors claimed they have been denied access to many important
documents, having been barred by Firestone from the company's "reading
room," the repository for discovery materials. The press also sought to
appear before the court whenever a party sought a protective order.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker ruled, "Permitting the Press to
intervene for the limited purpose of protecting public access to court
records will afford fair and full protection to the claims of right of
access to the materials they seek."

Intervenors typically play an important role when courts make
determinations on protective orders and the sealing of documents, Judge
Barker said, because such motions are often unopposed by the primary
parties. The judge cited the ruling in Citizens First National Bank of
Princeton v. Cincinnati Insurance Co., 178 F.3d 943, 946 (7th Cir., 1999):

The determination of good cause cannot be eluded by allowing the parties to
seal whenever whatever they want, for the interest in publicity will go
unprotected unless the media are interested in the case and move to unseal.

Judge Barker noted, however, that the intervenors' plea to release all
documents for "public inspection and copying" was based on an exaggerated
reading of Seventh Circuit precedent. Courts cannot order parties to make
available all discovery items exchanged among themselves, the judge said.
Much discovery material is not part of the public record because it is
never filed with the court. In Grove Fresh Distributors Inc. v. Everfresh
Juice Co., 24 F.3d 893, 898 (7th Cir., 1994), the circuit court held, " T
he media's right of access does not extend to information gathered through
discovery that is not part of the public record."

If Firestone requires persons seeking access to the reading room to sign a
confidentiality agreement, Judge Barker observed, the arrangement is the
concern of the parties, not the court. "Once one of the parties has
petitioned the Court to act with regard to the confidentiality of
documents, only then do our duties commence and only then do the
Intervenors have a role in this litigation." (Tire Defect Report: Special
Supplement To Automotive Litigation Reporter, February 13, 2001)

CARNIVAL CRUISE: Settles Port Charges Suits with Vouchers to Passengers
Carnival Cruise Lines settled a class-action lawsuit claiming the company
had inflated port charges to increase its profits.

Port charges, usually ranging from $50 to $150 per passenger, are added to
the price of cruises to cover docking fees that governments collect from
cruise lines. Lawsuits filed in 1996 accused Carnival of collecting port
charges that exceeded the docking fees they paid.

Carnival agreed to give vouchers worth $25 to $55 to 4.5 million people who
sailed on its cruises between April 19, 1992, and June 4, 1997, The Miami
Herald reported Thursday. The vouchers can be used for a future cruise, or
redeemed for cash at 15 or 20 percent of face value.

Carnival also agreed to pay up to $5 million in attorney fees.

Class members have until April 10 to opt out of the settlement, the largest
ever in a class-action lawsuit involving port charges. Miami-Dade Circuit
Court was expected to approve the deal in May.

Carnival continued to deny any wrongdoing. The company said it never told
customers that port charges were strictly reimbursement for docking fees.
(AP Online, March 15, 2001)

COCA-COLA: 198 in Employee Race Bias Class Seek Delay in Settlement
Nearly 200 members of a class-action race discrimination suit against
Coca-Cola Co. have petitioned a federal judge in Atlanta to delay
settlement of the case.

The petition was delivered Wednesday to U.S. District Court Judge Richard
W. Story. It had been signed by 198 African-Americans who are current or
former Coke employees and eligible for part of the company's proposed
$192.5 million settlement. The 198 constitute about 10 percent of the
estimated 2,000 class members eligible to participate in the settlement.

The action comes just five days before the "opt-out date," the deadline
when each class member must notify the court whether he or she will
participate in the settlement or will pursue individual litigation.

The petition asks Story to delay the settlement's official Monday opt-out
date until the fairness hearing, now scheduled for May 29. It also asks
Story to order lead class counsel Cyrus Mehri of the Washington firm Mehri,
Malkin & Ross to meet with the signers to answer questions they have about
the settlement agreement.

"We are concerned that we are asked to surrender our rights for a monetary
award that will not be disclosed until after we have elected to participate
in the settlement," the letter states. "In essense, we are being asked to
make a decision with virtually no information at all "

In a separate, four-page brief, the class members describe the settlement
agreement as "fraught with legal jargon too complex to be fully
comprehended by the average person with little or no legal experience."

Class members who have contacted Mehri or his co-counsel at Bondurant,
Mixson & Elmore have "received little, if any assistance or clarification,"
according to the brief.

Atlanta attorney Jeffrey O. Bramlett, a Bondurant partner, says class
attorneys have talked with several hundred class members who have contacted
them. "We have, at all times, been and remain ready to confer with any
class member who has questions or concerns about the settlement," he says.
"If there are ways for it be improved, we'd like to have that input. ...
While I think we've done a good job, we don't claim to be perfect. If
people can specify what we can do to improve it, we're ready to listen."

But he says class attorneys were not invited to a meeting last month that
prompted the letter to Story, although they had received word that a
petition was circulating. "It would be more helpful if we knew precisely
what the individuals are concerned about."

Coke spokesman Ben Deutsch would not comment no the petition, although he
syas he is aware of it.

                      200 the Magic Number?

The number of class members who signed the letter to the judge is
significant. In the proposed settlement, Coca-Cola retains the option of
canceling the agreement if 200 or more class members decline to
participate. However, Deutsch has said previously that Coke would honor the
settlement regardless of how many class members participated.

Story may not approve the requests. Last week, the judge rejected a similar
request made by Florida attorney Willie E. Gary on behalf of two class
members-Wanda Williams, a current Coke employee, and Stephanie Fain. Fain
filed a separate race discrimination suit against Coke after she was laid
off with nearly 6,000 other employees last year.

In that order, Story sharply disagreed with allegations that class members
received insufficient information in a class notice mailed in January. The
class notice includes a formula that permits class members to calculate
compensatory damages. But back pay awards-a mix of cash and stock options,
some of which have strike prices that are currently higher than Coke's
stock price-are derived from mathematical formulas not available to the

"It is not uncommon for class members to have to elect whether to remain in
a class before they know if there will be any recovery," Story said. Coke
class members who accept the settlement are already guaranteed a cash

The letter was written after some eligible Coke employees met last month
seeking more information about the settlement, says Gregory A. Clark, a
Coke security guard who was one of the original plaintiffs. Clark says he
helped organize the meeting where the letter was circulated. That meeting,
he says, "came about because the answers that African-Americans got when
calling the attorneys were so vague and so general."

The letter clearly reflects those concerns. "We all have so many questions
and have received so few answers," it states. "Nevertheless, through it all
we have respected and adhered to the orders of the court and have remained
extremely patient with the legal representation of the class. We are
saddened and ashamed of the manner in which the Mehri Group of attorneys
has represented the class."

Last year, before Story certified the case as a class action, Clark and two
others were jettisoned as name plaintiffs in the suit by their lawyers, who
claimed they were not acting in the best interests of the class. After the
settlement agreement was announced in November, Story appointed those
lawyers, including Mehri, to represent the class.

Clark didn't sign the letter to Story, although he is a class member,
because he says his attorneys advised him not to do so. Since last April,
he has been represented by Gary and Los Angeles attorney Johnnie E. Cochran
Jr. Clark says he will not participate in the settlement but will pursue
litigation independently against Coke. (Fulton County Daily Report, March
15, 2001)

COCA-COLA: As Deadline Nears, Fate of Racial Bias Accord Is Uncertain
A groundswell of dissatisfaction has formed among the African-Americans who
settled a discrimination lawsuit against the Coca-Cola Company, threatening
to destabilize or even derail the nation's largest settlement ever in a
racial bias case.

In recent weeks, hundreds of current and former employees of the company,
all of whom are covered under the settlement, have been meeting in Atlanta
churches, without their lawyers' knowledge, to vent their frustrations and
put together an alternative to the $192 million accord reached in November.

The 2000 current and former employees who are covered by the settlement
have until Monday to decide whether to accept or reject it. If 200 or more
of them opt out of the agreement, Coke has the option to declare the
settlement invalid.

To forestall that possibility, nearly 200 members of the group have drafted
and signed a petition appealing to the judge in the case, Richard W. Story
of Federal District Court in Atlanta, to rescind parts of the agreement
forged by their legal team and push back the deadline for making a

The source of the plaintiffs' frustration is fairly simple: under the
settlement, those covered in the lawsuit must approve the accord and sign
away their rights to sue Coke in the future before they find out how much
money they will receive.

To be sure, not all of the people covered under the settlement are
displeased with it. Some think they have had to do relatively little to get
an award, thus making anything they receive virtually free money. Others
think differently.

"It's absurd," said Yvette Frierson, a former systems administrator for
Coke who is considering rejecting the accord. "It's completely unfair that
you want me to make a decision based on no facts."

In a strong show of disapproval for the way their legal team has handled
the case, the petition also asks the judge to summon the plaintiffs'
lawyers to a meeting with the current and former African-American employees
who are covered under the accord. Since the settlement was reached, some
members of the group have complained that Cyrus Mehri, their lawyer, has
failed to offer a rationale for the more controversial elements of the
historic Coke settlement. Mr. Mehri was also behind the settlement of a
racial discrimination suit against Texaco in 1996.

"We are saddened and ashamed of the manner in which the Mehri group of
attorneys has represented the class," the petition reads.

Since November, the plaintiffs' lawyers have predicted an average award of
around $40,000 per person, and the settlement does provide a formula that
permits individuals to calculate about two-thirds of what they would get.

But the remainder of the compensation, based on the historical disparities
in pay between black employees and their white counterparts at Coke, may
take months to quantify.

Employees are also unhappy about the prospect of receiving part of their
awards in the form of stock options that have little or no value today.
Former employees would have to exercise those options within 18 months, and
unless Coke's stock climbed significantly in that period, they might be

Perhaps most significant, the amount obtained could be affected by the
number of people who ultimately opt out of the settlement, making it hard
for the plaintiffs' lawyers to make a final reckoning until they know how
many reject the offer and pursue cases of their own.

"We'll give out accurate information when we know what it is," Mr. Mehri
said. "Right now, giving out inaccurate information would be a disservice
to the class."

It is not uncommon in class actions to require individuals to accept a
settlement before they learn how much they are eligible to receive. Hunter
Hughes, the mediator in the Coke dispute, said the practice has been
followed in many of the cases he has handled. Two examples were an $81.5
million sex discrimination settlement with Home Depot in 1997 and an $87.5
million settlement with Home Depot for similar claims later that year.

"Did anybody in those cases know how much they were going to get? The
answer is no," Mr. Hughes said. The information offered in the Coke
settlement, he added, "is as good or better than you're reasonably expected
to see in cases of this type."

Judge Story, who is not required to answer the petition, would probably
agree with Mr. Hughes. In an order earlier this month, he supported the
legality of the settlement. He said the steps it sets out not only "meet
the requirements of due process, but exceeds those requirements."

Without a sympathetic ear from the judge, the people covered by the
settlement may have no choice but to swallow their dissatisfaction and
accept the money, whatever it ends up being, or walk away from the
settlement and take their chances in court.

A separate discrimination lawsuit filed by four black employees at Coke,
spearheaded by Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. and Willie E. Gary, a Florida lawyer
who specializes in personal-injury cases, is under way in a Georgia state
court. Many current and former employees are thinking about rejecting the
settlement to join that camp.

"I plan to opt out; it's not a fair settlement," said Ken Phillips, a
former employee. In meetings with several hundred other past and present
Coke employees, Mr. Phillips said, a similar sentiment has emerged: "They
feel like we've been had."

Whether Coke would actually declare the settlement invalid if more than 200
people opted out would probably depend on which current and former
employees decided to do so. If a sizable number of people with strong
cases, who might be able to prove discrimination in court, rebuff the offer
and continue pressing the matter, Coke will be more likely to drop the
settlement and focus on defending the cases that go to court.

Coke does not appear willing to comply with the requests made in the
petition to the judge. "We believe it would be unfair for those who want to
participate in the settlement to delay it any further," said Ben Deutsch, a
Coke spokesman. (The New York Times, March 15, 2001)

COLORADO MENTAL: Appeals Court Allows Suit Against Hospital To Proceed
The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to dismiss a
class-action lawsuit by patients of the Colorado Mental Health Institute in
Pueblo, ruling their constitutional rights may have been violated.

The decision means lawyers for the patients can get information that has
been withheld by the hospital, said Kathleen Mullin, one of the attorneys.

"Now we can go forward with depositions, and we'll have a chance to get
documents (that hospital officials) withheld," Mullin said.

The suit seeks unspecified damages and a court order requiring hospital
officials to improve living conditions.

The lawsuit alleges institute officials, including superintendent Robert
Hawkins and director Garry Toerber, knowingly provide substandard medical
and psychiatric care to patients. Patients also complained of unsafe
conditions and said the institute retaliated against them when they filed

State officials had appealed a Denver District Court decision rejecting
their claim of immunity from liability as government officials.

Circuit Judge Henry Politz upheld the ruling, saying if claims made by the
patients were true, constitutional rights had been violated.

"In addition to stating that defendants provided insufficient care or poor
treatment, the allegations note problems with the care, such as punishment
for lodging complaints, inability to visit with family or friends, and
invasive searches by staff of the opposite sex," Politz's ruling said.

He also concluded that a reasonable official should know when a patient's
constitutional rights had been violated. "We've gone through the gantlet,
and the courts have rejected their argument," Mullin said.

Ken Lane, spokesman for Attorney General Ken Salazar, would say only that
the state is considering whether to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme
Court. "If the hospital wants to appeal, we'll appeal," Lane said.

Liz McDonough, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Human Services,
which oversees the institute, said the lawsuit is still in the early
stages. "We intend to vigorously defend ourselves," McDonough said. (The
Associated Press State & Local Wire, March 15, 2001)

COOPER TIRE: Plaintiffs Oppose Consolidation of Suits and Transfer to NC
Plaintiffs suing Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. for the sale of allegedly
defective tires and violation of consumer laws are opposing the company's
motion to have the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transfer a
number of class actions to North Carolina federal court. In re Cooper Tire
& Rubber Co. Tire Litigation, No. 1393, motion and brief filed (J.P.M.L.,
Dec. 26, 2000).

In reply, Cooper called the plaintiffs' arguments "as weak as their
strategy is transparent."

The company noted in its motion "erroneous reports" in the fall of 2000
that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was starting an
investigation of tread separations in Cooper tires manufactured in Findlay,
Ohio; Tupelo, Miss.; Texarkana, Ark.; and Albany, Ga. The tiremaker was
then hit with a number of putative class actions, filed in state court and
removed by Cooper to 10 different federal courts. The plaintiffs claim that
some Cooper tires had blisters and may have been subject to a manufacturing
procedure known as "awl punching" to remove the blisters. This allegedly
created an unreasonably dangerous and defective condition that can weaken
the tire structure and cause failure.

The lawsuits contend that Cooper must replace these tires -- in effect,
instituting a recall -- and stop selling the defective ones. The claims are
asserted under various state statutes on consumer protection and deceptive
trade practices, and equivalent commercial-law theories. Cooper said the
claims are meritless and preempted by federal law. "Many other defenses
would defeat any alleged liability or damages," the company maintained.

Most of the cases involve statewide classes; two were brought on behalf of
a putative nationwide class. Four personal injury suits have been filed
involving accidents and similar defect allegations, but these are not
included in the transfer motion since trials have been scheduled between
May and July 2001.

In opposing Cooper's motion to transfer, the plaintiffs denied the
"implication" that NHTSA's failure to investigate the tire company
precipitated the filing of the lawsuits. "The tread separation is a
consequence of the specific alleged manufacturing defects and adhesion
problems as to which NHTSA has not investigated."

The brief also stated, "Plaintiffs assert they have suffered injury in the
purchase of defective tires and that federal law does not preempt their
state law claims of consumer protection, deceptive trade practices, and
other state law claims. Plaintiffs desire expeditious resolution on the
merits and believe Cooper desires to delay resolution."

Transfer is not justified, the plaintiffs said, because "the just and
efficient conduct of the actions," as required by 28 U.S.C. @ 1407, will
not be served. The cases do not belong in federal court, the plaintiffs
argued, and were improvidently removed by Cooper. A transfer at this point
would only delay the "inevitable" remand to state court.

Cooper countered that pending remand motions do not constitute a reason for
denial of transfer, a conclusion reached by numerous other courts. Further,
a de facto recall of automotive equipment presents a federal question.
Since laws on the remand issue differ among the circuits, Cooper said,
coordination will allow the federal system to deal effectively and
consistently with the identical jurisdictional questions presented by this
"carefully orchestrated maze of putatively separate cases."

Cooper also called the plaintiffs' argument that "voluntary coordination"
is possible and preferable "absurd." The tiremaker says the plaintiffs are
filing suits all over the country with the goal of "turn ing activity on or
off in particular jurisdictions as it suited their developing strategic

The class actions are:

-- Adams v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., No. 00-CV-2341-B (S.D. Cal.);

-- Alto v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. A00-0361-CV JWS (D. Alaska);

-- Berends v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. 00-916-WDS (S.D. Ill.);

-- Deck v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., No. H-00-4047 (S.D. Tex.);

-- Dunn v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. A1-00-CV-136 (D.N.D.);

-- Edwards v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. 00-6214 (W.D. Ark.);

-- Hobbs v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. 00-CV-998K(E) (N.D. Okla.);

-- Justice et al. v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. 7-00-CV-236-BR-1

-- Morris v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. CIV-00-2206-PHX(VAM) (D.

-- Rodger v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. CV-00-149-GF (D. Mont.);

-- Rodriguez Montes v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. 00-2543 (D.P.R.);

-- Rusck v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. 00-3435 (E.D. La.);

-- Skeens et al. v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. C2-00-1334 (S.D.

-- Talalai et al. v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , no number assigned or
    court noted; and

-- Villanueva v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. CIV-00-1642 BB/DJS

The personal injury cases are:

-- Brownlee et al. v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., No. H-C-99-219 (E.D.

-- Jones et al. v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. 599CV287 (E.D. Tex.);

-- Scheben et al. v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. 1-99-1313 (W.D.
    Tenn.); and

-- Whitaker et al. v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , No. H-C-99-220 (E.D.

The plaintiffs are represented by Allan Kanner and Cynthia S. Green of
Allan Kanner & Associates in New Orleans.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is represented by John M. Newman Jr., Janet L.
Miller and Richard I. Werder Jr. of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue in

FLORIDA: Group Sues State Over Felons' Voting Rights
The goal is an order forcing the Department of Corrections to comply with
the law on restoring ex-felons' rights.

Leroy Jones considers himself lucky.

When he got out of prison, a counselor helped him through the cumbersome
process of winning back the civil and voting rights he lost when he became
a convicted felon. But at his inner-city Miami office, where he helps
neighbors get food, clothing and jobs, Jones encounters hundreds of men who
did not get the same assistance.

"Over 60 percent of the men are convicted felons," said Jones, 38, head of
Brothers of the Same Mind, a non-profit agency. "The process of getting
their rights restored is so difficult. The Department of Corrections is
supposed to help you."

A class action lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that the department barely
lifts a finger to help felons get their rights back as they leave the
state's supervision.

That violates a Florida law that requires the department to provide
offenders leaving the state system all the forms they need to apply for
restoration of their civil rights, according to the suit. The suit was
filed by the Florida Equal Rights Voting Project, a collaboration of the
American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Florida Legal Services and the
Florida Justice Institute.

Florida law also says that, before a prisoner leaves the state's oversight,
the department is to help him or her complete the forms and deliver the
materials to the governor. The governor and Cabinet, acting as the Clemency
Board, can restore ex-felons' civil rights, but the former felons first
have to ask.

Corrections Secretary Michael Moore "is not fully complying," according to
the complaint.

Through a spokeswoman, Moore refused to talk about this case because it
involved a pending lawsuit.

The plaintiffs, who include Florida's black legislative caucus and Brothers
of the Same Mind, want a judge to order Moore to issue the proper forms to
departing offenders and to help all those previously released in completing
the forms and making sure their full applications reach the governor for

"I think this is one of the most serious, if not the most serious, civil
rights problems we have here in Florida," ACLU executive director Howard
Simon said.

Florida is one of nine states that prohibit all felons who have served
their time from voting.

Simon said the lawsuit is part of a coordinated state and federal campaign
against Florida laws that ban felons from voting without getting their
rights restored by the governor. In 1999, about 2,000 felons had their
rights restored through the process among more than 100,000 prisoners who
were released.

"Lifetime punishment is just indefensible and needs to be changed," he

Nancy Northup, lead counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York
University, said the action in state court is an important companion to the
class action suit she filed in federal court on behalf of former felons
denied the right to vote.

"If we prevail in our case, the state would not be allowed to
disenfranchise felons once they have finished their sentence," Northup

"It is a shame that we have to resort to legal action. It is a shame that
we have to file a lawsuit to enforce policies and laws that are already on
the books in Florida," added state Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Miami Democrat
and chairwoman of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators.

Two bills aimed at restoring voting rights to felons are scheduled to be
heard by the House Committee on Rules, Ethics and Elections. The lead
sponsor, state Rep. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, said he thinks the
bills will survive their first two committee stops, but he is unsure
whether House leaders will allow the issue to face a full vote by that
chamber. Times staff writer Shelby Oppel contributed to this report.
(Published in St. Petersburg Times, March 15, 2001)

GREAT-WEST LIFE: Retiree’s Victory May Mean Millions to 400 Others
A judge of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench has ruled that Great-West
Life Assurance Company improperly changed the terms of an employee pension
plan to cap its indexing provisions.

The ruling by Justice Gerald Jewers was portrayed by winning counsel Robert
Tapper as potentially worth millions of dollars to about 400 former
Great-West Life employees.

The class action was launched by George Dinney, who headed the firm's U.S.
subsidiary before retiring in 1987. (The Lawyers Weekly, December 15, 2000)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Germans Will Hold the Fund Until Suits Are Resolved
A foundation set up by German industry announced on Tuesday that it had
raised nearly $2.5 billion to compensate former slave workers in the Third
Reich. But executives of the companies said that they would not release the
money until all suits pending in the United States had been dismissed.

The ambiguous message means that the aging survivors of World War II
concentration camps may have to wait for several months or even longer
before receiving payments.

Under increasingly heavy criticism from survivors' groups, as well as
German political leaders, the foundation, set up by German companies, said
it had received pledges for its entire share in a new $4.7 billion
humanitarian fund jointly financed by industry and the government.

That should help solve a basic problem that had bedeviled the fund, part of
a carefully negotiated agreement last year between the United States,
Germany and lawyers who represent Holocaust survivors in class-action suits
against German companies.

Under that agreement, German industry and the government each agreed to
contribute $2.4 billion to a fund for surviving workers in exchange for a
strong pledge from the American government to seek the dismissal of all
pending and future suits against German companies.

Last week, a federal judge in New York rejected requests to dismiss one
such suit, largely because German industry had not yet raised all the money
that it had promised.

Scrambling, German companies that had already agreed to contribute to the
fund agreed on Tuesday to increase their individual payments and meet a
shortfall of $800 million under the pledged total.

Until this week, the industry foundation had been trying in vain to raise
the rest of its commitment from thousands of privately held midsize
companies that refused to become involved.

The companies and the government appear to be at odds.

Political leaders, led by Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, want the payments to
begin as soon as possible.

But German companies want all, or at least most, of the suits against them
dismissed before releasing the money.

A spokesman for the industry foundation, Wolfgang Gibowski, said German
companies were bitter that new suits had been filed in American courts
after Germany and the United States signed a broad agreement in July.

"We do not expect that to be free from all lawsuits in the future," Mr.
Gibowski said. "That would be heaven, and we are living on earth. What we
do expect is that some of the same people who signed the agreement don't
file additional lawsuits. That seems to us to be misuse."

Mr. Schroder, speaking to reporters in Berlin after meeting with industrial
leaders, expressed a vague sympathy with the industrial view and placed
responsibility on American lawyers and American courts in dismissing the
pending cases.

"We -- German industry and the government -- are interested in a speedy
payout," he said. "However, we are in no position to bring about the
conditions that are still needed."

A spokeswoman for the American Jewish Committee in Berlin, Deidre Berger,
said the German companies were demanding a high level of legal security
that just did not exist in reality. (The New York Times, March 15, 2001)

INMATES LITIGATION: Judge Curbs Strip Searches of 3 Women in Cook County
A federal judge Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order blocking
correctional officers at Cook County Jail from conducting what a lawsuit
calls intrusive strip searches of three women inmates who filed the suit.

U.S. District Judge John W. Darrah forbade the three from being
strip-searched in public without providing "a degree of reasonable

The suit by inmates Crystal Wilkes, Sharon Hollister and Tonya Townsend
contends that the strip searches were conducted on dozens of women at the
same time, sometimes in view of male officers and under unsanitary

Attorneys Thomas Morrissey and Robert Farley Jr. are seeking class-action
status for the suit to protect other women inmates who must go through what
they contend are highly intrusive strip searches.

Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for Sheriff Michael Sheahan, called the lawsuit
inflammatory and said its allegations don't reflect jail policy or
conditions. (Chicago Tribune, March 15, 2001)

LOS ALAMOS: 5 New Mexico Residents Join Suit over Overdose of Radiation
Five northern New Mexico residents have joined a class-action lawsuit filed
against Los Alamos National Laboratory by the family of a man who died from
a lethal dose of radiation more than 40 years ago.

Katie Kelley Mareau and her mother filed the lawsuit five years ago,
accusing the lab of conducting secret experiments with parts from her
father's cadaver.

The lawsuit names the University of California regents, the company that
now owns the Los Alamos Medical Center and two former lab pathologists.

The lawsuit alleges that neither she nor her mother had any idea the body
they buried at her father's funeral was missing 8 pounds of organs, tissues
and bones.

Mareau claims an estimated 500 autopsied bodies like her father's were
illegally used in a secret study to find out how much radiation lab workers
and Los Alamos residents absorbed and how their bodies processed it.

Five new plaintiffs have signed on to the litigation. They are Ermelinda
Williams, Nasario Lopez, Lillian Starzyk, Olivama Sandoval and Erlinda
Trujilla, all of Cordova, N.M.

Richard Hughes, a Santa Fe lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said all are
relatives of people who were autopsied at Los Alamos.

Hughes said he and other lawyers will be working on a settlement this
spring while trying to track down the next of kin for the hundreds of
deceased who were part of the study.

Lab spokesman Kevin Roark said the studies being decades ago should be
viewed and judged by the standards of the time - standards that didn't
always include "informed consent."

Mareau's father, Cecil Kelley, died Jan. 1, 1959, a day after being exposed
to a plutonium mixture at the lab. His job involved separating plutonium
from a stew of other substances.

For 35 hours after the exposure, Kelley see-sawed in and out of
consciousness. Eventually his bone marrow turned watery and his white blood
cells disappeared.

Roark said Kelley's death shed first light on the path of plutonium in the

Lab scientists studied tissues from Kelley's body. They learned plutonium
stays longer in the liver and the lymph nodes, for example, than in the
lungs. But they also learned they needed more information, especially from
bodies that didn't receive such enormous doses of radiation.

Hence, the Los Alamos Human Tissue Analysis Program was born.

"The whole purpose was to develop the occupational and public safety
standards," Roark said. "There was absolutely nothing sinister about it."

Lawyers for the lab and the plaintiffs agree that between 1959 and the late
1970s doctors at the Los Alamos hospital routinely provided tissue samples
taken from locally autopsied bodies to lab scientists for study.

According to Gary Gordon, a lawyer who represents one of the pathologists,
all of the autopsies were conducted either with the consent of the family
or at the request of law enforcement.

But according to Hughes, the families who signed autopsy release forms were
never told of the study and never informed that snippets of their relatives
would end up in the hands of government scientists. (The Associated Press
State & Local Wire, March 15, 2001)

MICROSOFT CORP: Atty Criticizes of 'Plantation Mentality' on Employees
Attorney Willie Gary sharply criticized Microsoft, declaring that, "any
jury in America will reject the plantation mentality that they impose on
their African American employees." Mr. Gary, who represents seven former
and current Microsoft employees who have a $5 billion racial discrimination
class action suit pending against Microsoft, was responding to Judge Thomas
Penfield Jackson's decision to recuse himself from the suit.

"Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's recusal from the racial discrimination
case against Microsoft will have little impact on the outcome of our
lawsuit," Mr. Gary said. "We are looking forward to the case being assigned
to another judge. Our case was filed on behalf of current and former
Microsoft employees whose dignity and legal rights were trampled over by
Microsoft. We are confident that any jury hearing this case will agree with
our assessment that Microsoft has adopted a plantation mentality toward its
African American employees that has resulted in them receiving lower
compensation, denials of promotions and wrongful terminations."

Mr. Gary said that he "is stunned" that Microsoft, one the world's leading
technology firms, has disrespected its African American employees, while
doing little to recruit a diverse workforce. In 1999, Microsoft employed
21,429 people, of which only 2.6% or 553 were black. Of the company's 5,155
managers, only 1.6% or 83 were black.

Moreover, Mr. Gary said he remains confident that any jury in America will
reject their plantation mentality and force them to pay dearly for the pain
his clients have suffered. "We live in the hi-tech age of 2001, not the Jim
Crow era of the early 1900s," Mr. Gary said. "Any jury will agree that the
atmosphere for African Americans at Microsoft represents an ugly part of
America's past, and can not be allowed to continue into the future."

Mr. Gary, who is based in Florida, along with attorney Roy Bucholtz of
Reston, Virginia, first filed a discrimination suit in June on behalf of
Rahn Jackson, a former Microsoft sales employee, who was repeatedly passed
over for promotions despite having 17-years of sales experience. That suit
was amended to include six new plaintiffs and a class of current and former
African American Microsoft employees since 1992.

Mr. Gary, who is noted for obtaining multimillion-dollar verdicts from
major corporations over the past 25 years, five months ago won a copyright
infringement case against Walt Disney World. Mr. Gary is also noted winning
a $ 500 million antitrust case in Jackson, Mississippi against a Canadian
funeral home. Mr. Gary is currently representing Roger Maris and his family
in a breach of contract dispute with Anheuiser-Busch -- the case is set to
go to trial on April 30, 2001.

Contact: Traci Otey Blunt, 202-973-5806, for Attorney Willie Gary

MICROSOFT CORP: Judge Who Ordered Breakup Won't Preside over Race Suit
The federal judge who ordered the breakup of Microsoft last April has said
that he will not preside over a class-action racial discrimination suit
filed against the company. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson of the United
States District Court in Washington was randomly assigned the case in
January; seven current and former black Microsoft employees say the company
discriminated against African- Americans in evaluations, compensation,
promotions and wrongful termination. Judge Jackson, who cited the company's
appeal of the landmark antitrust lawsuit as the reason for recusing
himself, took one last shot at Microsoft, saying the company had an
"institutional disdain for both the truth and for rules of law that lesser
entities must respect." A Microsoft spokesman said Judge Jackson's decision
to step aside was an appropriate one. Microsoft has accused the judge of
being biased and of committing substantive errors in the government's
antitrust lawsuit. (The New York Times, March 15, 2001)

NEW FOCUS: Stull, Stull Announces Filing of Securities Suit in CA
The law firm of Stull, Stull & Brody announced that a class action lawsuit
was filed on March 12, 2001, in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California, on behalf all persons who purchased the
securities of New Focus, Inc. (NASDAQ:NUFO) between January 31, 2001 and
March 5, 2001 (the "Class Period").

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, New York Tzivia Brody, Esq. 1-800-337-4983

NEW FOCUS: Weiss & Yourman Announces Filing of Securities Lawsuit
Weiss & Yourman 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 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, by issuing 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 press release, issued on January 30, 2201,
caused the Company's stock price to artificially escalate. During those
five business days following the announcement, defendants sold over $35
million of their own stock, all the while knowing that the Company still
had problems 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,
sending the price of New Focus stock to close at $18 7/8, down almost 70%
from its class period high.

Contact: Weiss & Yourman (Los Angeles), 800-437-7918, info@wyca.com

NORTEL NETWORKS: Execs' Riches May Incite Shareholders
Recent news of executives getting rich at Nortel Networks prior to the
high-tech giant's wild spiral downward on the stock market has lawyers
sharpening their pencils while the company denies it's done anything wrong.

A report Nortel chief executive John Roth earned $100 million US last year,
along with news executives cashed in on insider trading, comes as the
company's shares are being punished by reduced forecasts and a tech sector

That's enough to incite already angry shareholders who have watched their
investments disappear with the stock plummet, analysts said. "It's like
waving a red flag under their noses," IDC Canada senior telecom analyst
Lawrence Surtees said. "This is what we're talking about. We're talking
about getting fleeced while these guys cash in."

Vincent Genova, a lawyer who filed a class-action lawsuit against the
company after it slashed its profit and growth forecasts for this year in
half, said the insider trading report "suggests that perhaps there is some
credence to the allegations and that warrants further investigation through
our lawsuit."

The report, filed with the Ontario Securities Commission and security
regulators in the U.S., showed at least 14 executives cashed out options in
the weeks before the company slashed its growth figures in mid-February and
the stock lost a third of its value.

In the process, the executives collected millions of dollars. (London Free
Press, March 15, 2001)

NORTEL NETWORKS: Filings with Regulators Show CEO Earned $100M Last Year
The average Canadian would have to work more than 4,600 years to earn as
much as Nortel Networks' CEO John Roth pocketed last year.

Roth's compensation for 2000 was about $100 million US, including US$88
million by exercising stock options.

His base salary was $1.1 million US, he got a bonus of $5.6 million US and
an additional payout of $5.6 million in cash and stock under a long-term
incentive program for his performance in 1997 and 1998. Roth made $7.2
million in 1999.

Information about Roth's compensation was revealed in documents filed by
Nortel with securities regulators.

Roth's payout is likely to incur the wrath of small investors who've seen
Nortel's share price plunge from a high of $124.50 last September to a
close of less than $24 on March 14.

Nortel is under fire for issuing a revenue warning Feb. 15 after spending
months reassuring nervous investors. Nortel's action helped drag the
Toronto Stock Exchange composite 300 index down by 574.04 points, its
second-worst single-day point drop ever.

The TSE 300 also suffered its worst one-day point loss - shedding 840
points when Nortel announced weaker-than-expected third-quarter results
last fall.

The tech giant has been hit with a spate of class action suits by angry
investors since Feb. 15. Roth has dismissed the suits as being "without

However, documents filed with securities regulators show at least 14
executives cashed out options weeks before Feb. 18.

"While regular investors have been skewered, top-ranked executives have
been raking in millions," notes Lawrence Surtees, senior telecom analyst
with IDC Canada. "Critics can fairly wonder if it's right that insiders
obtain such lucrative sums when the average investor is losing money."

Surtees also notes that Roth lobbied Ottawa for tax changes to give breaks
to tech workers granted stock options.

"Was it enlightened policy or self-interest that guided his opinion?" muses
Surtees. (The Edmonton Sun, March 15, 2001)

PPA LITIGATION: 6 National Class Actions Filed In Seattle
Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll announced Feb. 28 that it has filed six
phenylpropanolamine class actions in the U.S. District Court for the
Western District of Washington.

According to copies of the complaints posted on the firm's Web site, two
different representative plaintiffs in each complaint individually name as
defendants in six complaints Schering-Plough Corp.; Bristol-Myers Squibb
Co.; Novartis Corp. and its related entities; GlaxoSmithKline Corp. and its
related entities; Bayer Corp.; and American Home Products Corp.

The suits claim Unfair Trade Practice Act violations, breach of implied
warranty, strict liability-failure to warn and unjust enrichment.

In addition to awards for ascertainable losses and attorney fees and costs,
the complaints ask that consumers be given the option of getting refunds or
donating them to a court-supervised research and education fund.

Representing the plaintiffs are Tamara J. Driscoll of Cohen Milstein in
Seattle; Richard S. Lewis, Stephen D. Annand, Alexander E. Barnett and
Molly McGinley Han of Cohen Milstein in Washington, D.C.; Lish Whitson of
Seattle; Barry Steelman of Baltimore; Beth J. Kushner of Von Briesen,
Purtell & Roper in Milwaukee; Hector G. Gancedo and Tina B. Nieves of
Gancedo & Nieves in Pasadena, Calif.; and Joshua Katz and Jordan A. Rodman
of Lanahan & Reilly in Santa Rosa, Calif. (Mealey's Emerging Drugs &
Devices, March 1, 2001)

PPA LITIGATION: Petitions Filed To Coordinate CA State Cases In L.A.
Petitions have been filed with the California Judicial Council to
coordinate state phenylpropanolamine (PPA) litigation in Superior Court for
Los Angeles County (Richard Webster, et al. v. Whitehall-Robins Healthcare,
et al., No. n/a, JCCP, No. BC238953, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.; See
12/7/00, Page 12).

The petitions were filed this month with the California Judicial Council.

A petition filed on behalf of a class action plaintiff by her southern
California attorneys says the cases are "sufficiently complex ... to
warrant coordination." The joinder suggests Los Angeles County as the most
appropriate forum and because the Second District Court of Appeals is
located there.

The joinder says the judges in Los Angeles are "experienced in complex
litigation of this type and there is not unfairness to any of the parties
in having this case coordinated in Los Angeles County." LA, it continues,
is the only venue with a panel specifically designed to manage complex

                       Class Action Complaint

The joinder petition was filed on behalf of Laura Pruitt, who filed a class
action Feb. 4 in state court in Sonoma County (Laura Pruitt, et al. v.
Bayer Corp., et al., No. SCV-225906, Calif. Super., Sonoma Co.).

The complaint claims unfair competition and false advertising under the
California Unfair Practices Act, also known as Business and Professions
Code 17200. Named as defendants are Bayer Corp., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.,
Novartis Consumer Health Inc., Schering-Plough Healthcare Products Inc.,
SmithKlineBeecham Corp. and American Home Products Corp. and its
Whitehall-Robins Healthcare subsidiary.

The complaint says that despite knowing the results of the
industry-sponsored Yale Stroke Study prior to its May 10, 2000 release, the
defendants took no action to remove PPA products from the markets or to
warn customers about the product's dangers.

Pruitt is represented by Joshua Katz and Jordan A. Rodman of Lanahan &
Reilley in Santa Rosa, Calif., and Hector G. Gancedo and Tina B. Nieves of
Gancedo & Nieves in Pasadena. (Mealey's Emerging Drugs & Devices, March 1,

PPG LITIGATION: Judge OKs Settlement of $2.4M for Claims By Fishermen
A state district judge approved a $2.4 million settlement Wednesday in a
lawsuit that claimed pollution from PPG killed off seafood and affected the
livelihoods of some 1,700 fishermen.

Acceptance of the settlement by Judge Al Gray brought an unusual ending to
a suit filed by the fishermen in 1995. The plaintiffs contended that
chlorinated hydrocarbons discharged by PPG into the Calcasieu Estuary had
killed fish and shrimp and disrupted their livelihoods.

Following a monthlong trial in July 1999, a 12-member jury voted in favor
of PPG and declined to award any damages to the fishermen. That decision
was about to be appealed when attorneys reached the settlement Wednesday.

The settlement calls for $1.2 million in expenses incurred by the law firm
of Lundy and Davis to be paid first, along with $100,000 for administrative

Local attorney Steve Hale, who was appointed a special master in the case
to handle disbursement of the funds, will receive $25,000 and James Stulb,
a local certified public accountant who will assist Hale, will be paid

The remaining $1.1 million will be divided among the plaintiffs with all
named in the class action suit to obtain at least $50.

The settlement makes no provision for payment of either the attorneys' fees
incurred by the Lundy and Davis law firm or the court costs which the firm
paid as losing party.

A formula set out in the agreement will determine how the remainder will be
disbursed and how much each individual plaintiff will receive.

In order to qualify for more than the minimum settlement check, a plaintiff
must be able to document that he or she held a valid commercial fishing
license sometime between 1980 and 1995, a valid boat registration
certificate during that time period and reported "commercial fisherman" as
his or her occupation on federal income tax returns.

Gray noted that because of the requirements of the settlement many of the
1,700 plaintiffs will most likely not be eligible for any damage award. He
left those types of decisions to Hale.

There is also no contingency fund in case the money allotted for the
settlement runs out.

James R. Miller of Pittsburgh, lead attorney for PPG, said after court
Wednesday that, although PPG believed it would win any appeal, the company
wanted to "put this behind us and move on to other issues that are
important to PPG and to its plant personnel.

"We feel the jury was correct, and we agree with the jury verdict," Miller
said, "and ... we thought we would prevail on appeal. But there's always
uncertainty, and uncertainty usually brings about settlement, and that's
what happened here today." (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, March
15, 2001)

SUMITOMO CORP: 5 Former Execs to Pay 430 Yen in Suit Re Copper Trades
Five former executives of Sumitomo Corp. agreed to pay 430 million yen
(dlrs 3.6 million) to the company in a settlement with a shareholder who
sued them over massive losses from unauthorized copper trades, a Sumitomo
spokesman said.

The settlement in Osaka District Court comes almost four years after
Osaka-based textile firm Yubo Sangyo K.K. sued the former executives for
failing to prevent the illicit trades, spokesman Motoki Kondo said.

Under the agreement, the former executives including former president
Tomiichi Akiyama were exempted from any legal responsibility for dlrs 2.6
billion in losses incurred by trader Yasuo Hamanaka in the mid-1990s,
Sumitomo said in a statement.

The money will be paid to the company and not to the shareholder, though it
will ultimately benefit shareholders by strengthening Sumitomo.

''I'm satisfied with the agreement,'' said Yubo Sangyo President Kazuyoshi
Yuoka. ''I wasn't too worried about the amount of money, but I wanted them
to pay something and feel responsibility.''

The settlement is a rare victory for shareholders in Japan, where such
lawsuits, although increasing, are not nearly as common as class-action
suits in the United States.

That may be changing, however, as recent corporate miscues and falling
share prices prompt disgruntled stockholders to take action.

On Monday, a shareholder sued 11 executives at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. for
1.18 billion yen (dlrs 9.86 million) in damages, blaming them for a
cover-up of driver complaints that led to massive recalls and corporate

Sumitomo has paid out millions of dollars in class-action lawsuits filed in
Japan and abroad by copper traders and others.

They claim that Hamanaka cornered as much as 5 percent of the copper
market, keeping the price of copper high on the New York and London
commodity futures markets in 1995 and 1996.

Hamanaka was sentenced to eight years in prison in March 1998 by the Tokyo
District Court on forgery and fraud convictions in connection with his
attempt to hide the losses.

Akiyama resigned in February 1997 to take responsibility for the scandal,
but he and other executives claimed there was no management involvement in
the unauthorized dealings. (AP Worldstream, March 15, 2001)

TOBACCO LITIGATION: $11 Bil Legal Fees in $246 Bil Settlement Criticized
The United States Chamber of Commerce took aim at what it called outrageous
legal fees in a $246 billion tobacco settlement.

The chamber used the Freedom of Information Act to request the information
from 21 states that were plaintiffs in class-action suits against tobacco

Thomas Donohue, president of the group, said the fees would bring $11
billion to the lawyers, in some cases amounting to $110,000 an hour.

Fred Baron, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, said
only a handful of the group's 60,000 members had been involved. (The New
York Times, March 15, 2001)

WEBLINK WIRELESS: Savett Frutkin Files Securities Lawsuit in TX
Savett Frutkin Podell & Ryan, P.C. hereby gives notice that a class action
complaint was filed March 14, 2001 in the United States District Court for
the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division located at 1100 Commerce,
Room 14A20, Dallas, TX 75242, Civil Action No. 3:01CV0498L, on behalf of a
class of persons who purchased the common stock of Weblink, Wireless, Inc.
("Weblink") (NASDAQ:WLNK) during the period between December 29, 2000
through February 20, 2001 ("Class Period") and who were damaged thereby.

The complaint charges Weblink and its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,
John D. Beletic, with violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act") and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder. The complaint alleges that defendants issued a series of false
and misleading statements to the market and made material omissions in
violation of the federal securities laws which resulted in artificially
inflated prices for the Company's common stock.

Defendant Beletic stated on December 29, 2000 that a shelf registration for
8.5 million shares of Weblink common stock had been declared effective by
the SEC and that the "effectiveness of the shelf registration works very
well for us" with respect to obtaining the financing necessary to satisfy
Weblink's cash requirements. This statement was materially false and
misleading because defendant Beletic knew on December 27, 2000, two days
prior to this statement, that "the sale of these registered common shares
would no longer meet our capital needs." Defendant Beletic admitted this
fact in a conference call on February 21, 2001, after the end of the Class
Period. Defendants knew that the failure of the equity financing to satisfy
Weblink's capital needs would likely result in a going concern audit
opinion if Weblink could not raise the necessary capital. As a result of
this announcement, the price of Weblink stock fell 42% on February 21,
2001, suffering the second largest percentage decline on NASDAQ.

Contact: Savett Frutkin Podell & Ryan, P.C., Philadelphia Barbara A. Podell
Robert P. Frutkin Renee C. Nixon 215/923-5400 or 800/993-3233 E-mail:

XEROX CORP: Employees File Race Bias Charges with EEOC
Eighteen former and current Xerox Corp. employees are filing charges with
the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying white managers
discriminated against them based on race.

The sales representatives, all black and Hispanic, described Xerox's sales
organization as a ''boys club,'' and a ''buddy-buddy system.'' They said
white managers routinely excluded them from opportunities to earn higher
commissions and to advance within the company. ''I realized that
advancement within Xerox was an absolute impossibility for minorities,''
Shawn Byrd, who left Xerox last year after two years with the company, told
The New York Times.

Eleven of the charges were filed Wednesday, the Times reported.

The workers also said they plan to bring private lawsuits against the
company, possibly seeking class-action status.

A Xerox spokeswoman said the company has a strict policy prohibiting
discrimination and was looking into the claims. (AP Online, March 15, 2001)


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

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

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

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
publication in any form (including e-mail forwarding, electronic
re-mailing and photocopying) is strictly prohibited without prior
written permission of the publishers.

Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to be
reliable, but is not guaranteed.

The CAR subscription rate is $575 for six months delivered via e-mail.
Additional e-mail subscriptions for members of the same firm for the
term of the initial subscription or balance thereof are $25 each.  For
subscription information, contact Christopher Beard at 301/951-6400.

                    * * *  End of Transmission  * * *