/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/010320.MBX               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

               Tuesday, March 18, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 55


ADAPTIVE BROADBAND: Lionel Z. Glancy Commences Securities Lawsuit in CA
AEROJET-GENERAL: Lawyer's Disqualification Depends on Fact-Based Exam.
ARIZONA DEPARTMENT: Suit over Disabled Students' Rights to Be Settled
BIOTECH FOOD: Test on Allergy to StarLink Corn Has Ramifications
BLACK HAWK: Committee Reviewing Jacobs’ Offer Hires F.A.; 2nd Suit Filed

BLOCKBUSTER INC: Judge Denies Motion for Cert. By Independent Retailers
BRISTOL MYERS: Cohen Milstein Charges of Exclusion of Generic BuSpar
CEZ, WESTINGHOUSE: American Atty. Fights Nuclear Plant in Czech Republic
COOPER TIRE: Panel Decides to Consolidate 17 Lawsuits  in Ohio
FEN-PHEN: Mealey's Reports Payment of $3.75B AHP Settlement Delayed

HMOs: KC Doctors File Lawsuit Against Kaiser Permanente for Money Owed
HOMEFUND SCHEME: Aust. NSW Govt Offers to Waive $75 Mil in Debts
LOS ANGELES: Deadly Disease Prompts Employees in Borax Building to Sue
LOUISIANA DEPT: Violates Disabled Students' Rights Under Medicaid Law
MICROSOFT, FORD, CONOCO: Lawsuits Say Employee Grading Is Discriminatory

OKLAHOMA HEALTH: Lawsuit To Be Filed Against State's Medicaid Program
ORACLE CORP: Sued for Securities Fraud According to Schiffrin & Barroway
ORACLE CORP: Wolf Haldenstein Commences Securities Fraud Suit in CA
PACIFIC GULF: Intends to Vigorously Defend Securities Suit in CA
PRE-PAID LEGAL: Cauley Geller Announces SEC Inquiry on Accounting

PRICELINE.COM, INC: Law Firms File Securities Fraud Suit in New York
RENAISSANCE CRUISES: Lawyers’ Expected $1.4 Mil Pay Slashed to $294,000
TAINTED WATER: Victims Will Tell Ontario's Top Judge E. Coli Deal Is Bad
TOBACCO LITIGATION: 1st Flight Attendant's Claim Goes To Trial In Miami
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Case May Proceed On Fd & State Substantive Theori

WEBLINK WIRELESS: Announces 3 Lawsuits Filed in Texas


ADAPTIVE BROADBAND: Lionel Z. Glancy Commences Securities Lawsuit in CA
The Law Offices of Lionel Z. Glancy commenced a Class Action lawsuit in the
United States District Court For The Northern District of California on
behalf of a class consisting of all persons who purchased securities of
Adaptive Broadband Corporation (NASDAQ:ADAP) between August 10, 2000 and
March 15, 2001, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The Complaint charges Adaptive Broadband and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of federal securities laws. Among other things,
plaintiff claims that defendants' material omissions and the dissemination
of materially false and misleading statements regarding its Fourth Quarter
and Fiscal Year 2000 results caused Adaptive Broadband's stock price to
become artificially inflated, inflicting enormous damages on investors.
Adaptive Broadband announced on March 15, 2001 that it intends to restate
its financial statements and acknowledged that the company's financials as
portrayed to the public during the Class Period were inaccurate.

Contact: The Law Offices of Lionel Z. Glancy, Los Angeles 310/201-9150 or
888/773-9224 Lionel Z. Glancy or Michael Goldberg info@glancylaw.com

AEROJET-GENERAL: Lawyer's Disqualification Depends on Fact-Based Exam.
a case of first impression, the California Court of Appeals held that
disqualification of a lawyer depended on whether confidential information
regarding chemical contamination, material to the lawsuit, would normally
have been imparted to the attorney while at his former firm. (Adams v.
Aerojet-General Corp., No. C031323 (Cal. Ct. App. 2/7/01).)

In the mid-1980s, Aerojet General Corp. retained the Sacramento law firm of
Holliman, Hackard & Taylor for advice on land use issues. Michael Hackard
was a partner in Holliman Hackard during that time. Included among the
subjects on which Holliman Hackard provided legal advice to Aerojet were:
(1) Aerojet's existing hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal
facilities; (2) the installation of a contamination treatment facility to
remove chemicals from groundwater serving certain wells; (3) a practice
whereby ammonium perchlorate was disposed by an open, controlled burning
from a waste incinerator; and (4) the closure of an on-site landfill on
Aerojet's property, which involved drawing groundwater samples to determine
whether contamination occurred.

During the course of the representation, Aerojet provided Holliman Hackard
with confidential information regarding chemical contamination on Aerojet
property and surrounding areas, Aerojet's litigation strategy with respect
to environmental contamination issues, and Aerojet's strategy for
addressing the concerns of the public regarding contamination on the site.

                         Partner's Knowledge

Although Hackard was a principal at the firm, the billing records of
Holliman Hackard revealed that he did not perform any work on Aerojet
matters. Moreover, evidence suggested Hackard had no discussions with the
attorneys at Holliman Hackard regarding Aerojet matters and was not made
privy to any information, confidential or otherwise, about Aerojet.

According to his declaration, Hackard departed the Holliman Hackard firm in
1989, without taking any files or written materials about Aerojet. Nine
years later, numerous residents and occupants of the area surrounding
Aerojet's disposal site filed suit against Aerojet and other defendants,
alleging negligence, strict liability, trespass, nuisance, fraudulent
concealment, unfair business practice, and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. Three law firms represented these plaintiffs. One of
these firms was Hackard's new firm of Hackard, Holt & Heller.

                      Case of first impression

This case posed a novel question concerning the propriety of attorney
disqualification in the context of successive representation. Aerojet
brought a motion to disqualify Hackard and Hackard Holt from participating
in the lawsuit. It supported the motion by alleging Holliman Hackard's
earlier representation of Aerojet had a substantial relationship to the
present action. The court considered if Holliman Hackard's earlier
representation of Aerojet in matters pertaining to the current litigation
automatically disqualify Hackard and his current firm from representing the

Because no state appellate decision had answered this question, the
appellate court decided Hackard was not automatically disqualified.
Instead, the court ruled disqualification depended on a fact-based
examination of the nature and extent of Hackard's involvement with, and
exposure to, Holliman Hackard's earlier representation of Aerojet.
Specifically, the court asked whether confidential information material to
the current lawsuit would normally have been imparted to Hackard while at
Holliman Hackard.

Because the trial court did not undertake such inquiry, but ordered
disqualification based on a conclusive presumption of imputed knowledge,
the Court of Appeal reversed and remanded the case.

                       Dissenting Opinion

Presiding Justice Arthur G. Scotland dissented. In light of the important
public policy at stake in this dispute, Justice Scotland determined,
"Hackard's declaration that he did not recall having any discussions with
attorneys at his former law firm regarding Aerojet and that, while a
shareholder of his former law firm, he never performed any work on Aerojet
files, never met with Aerojet representatives, and never received any
information about Aerojet's practices and procedures was too conclusory to
rebut the presumption of imputed knowledge derived from the commonsense
conclusion that, in light of the size of Hackard's former law firm and his
status as one of three named partners, confidential information about its
major client, Aerojet, material to the current dispute normally would have
been imparted to Hackard."

Opinion: Associate Justice Connie Callahan.

Attorneys for Daphne Adams: Hackard, Holt & Heller, Theodore J. Holt, Eric
L. Graves, Jenny M. Fickel; Zelle & Larson, Byran M. Barber, Eric Berg;
Sherman, Dan, Petoyan, Salkow & Weber, Sherman, Dan & Portugal, Arthur
Sherman; Eisen & Johnston Law Corp., Jay-Allen Eisen and Marian M.

Attorneys for Aerojet-General Corp.: Nossaman, Guthner, Knox & Elliott,
Scott P. DeVries, Patrick J. Richard, Elaine M. O'Neil, Alison S.
Hightower; Goldsberry, Freeman & Swanson, Francis M. Goldsberry II; Heller,
Ehrman, White & McAuliffe, Lawrence A. Hobel; and Jose N. Uranga,
Aerojet-General Corporation Legal Department. (Real Estate/Environmental
Liability News, March 16, 2001)

ARIZONA DEPARTMENT: Suit over Disabled Students' Rights to Be Settled
A federal class-action lawsuit claimed the Arizona Department of Education
failed to protect the rights of disabled students for years.

Now, the suit is expected to be settled and the department has agreed to
repay parents for therapy their children should have gotten at school plus
give kids extra tutoring and services to help compensate for lost time.

Parents in the lawsuit turned to the state after their school districts did
not provide special education services the parents felt their children

The suit claimed the Department of Education didn't follow through as
required by state and federal laws, even when its own investigators backed
the parents complaints.

Many children went years without speech or physical therapy, special
education or tutoring, which the department knew the students were legally
entitled to receive, according to the lawsuit by the Arizona Center for
Disability Law.

Patti Likens, spokeswoman for Arizona education chief Lisa Graham Keegan,
said the districts are to blame for the lawsuit, since they failed to
follow Department of Education directives.

About 1,000 parents have complained to the Department about lack of special
education and services at their schools since 1997 and investigators have
backed about 300 of those complaints.

If any of those 300 parents did not receive the services their children
needed, they can file a claim in the next 18 months with a new five-member
commission, made up of volunteers appointed by both sides of the lawsuit.

The new commission could decide to repay parents for out-of-pocket
expenses, such as speech therapy or tutoring, which can run more than $50
an hour, or require the offending district to provide students extra hours
of therapy and services.

Under the proposed settlement, the Department also must be more responsive
to complaints and strictly enforce laws, even if it means withholding
special education money from a district or shutting down a charter school.
(The Associated Press State & Local Wire, March 19, 2001)

BIOTECH FOOD: Test on Allergy to StarLink Corn Has Ramifications
Grace Booth had just finished a chicken enchilada lunch with some
co-workers when she began to feel hot and itchy. Her lips began to swell,
she developed severe diarrhea and soon she was having trouble breathing.
Colleagues called an ambulance.

Booth, 35, was rushed from the California youth center where she works to a
nearby hospital, apparently suffering from anaphylactic shock. Doctors
quickly injected her with anti-allergy medicine, gave her some Benadryl to
swallow and put her on an IV. The treatment worked, and after five hours
Booth walked out of the hospital.

Several days later, Booth learned that taco shells and other corn products
had been recalled nationwide because they were found to contain a
genetically modified type of corn called StarLink. The corn had been
approved only for animal consumption because of concerns that it might
trigger dangerous allergic reactions in people.

Because there was corn in the tortillas Booth had eaten -- and because
tests for all other food allergies had been negative -- she contacted the
Food and Drug Administration. She reported that she might have had an
allergic reaction to StarLink.

Booth is among several dozen people nationwide who believe they suffered
allergic reactions from eating StarLink corn last fall. Their cases are
being investigated by the FDA and the federal Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. The outcome of that investigation could have enormous
ramifications for the future of biotech food.

Allergic reactions have been viewed for years as the primary threat to
human health posed by genetically engineered foods, which typically have
proteins from other organisms spliced into them for various reasons. But
the health complaints about StarLink are the first lodged by consumers
against an engineered food.

If researchers determine the unsuspecting diners did have allergic
reactions to a protein in the corn, then the already troubled world of
agricultural biotechnology will suffer another damaging blow. Despite
widespread concern over the possibility that genetically engineered crops
could damage the environment or cause human health problems, there has been
little evidence that either has occurred. Allergic responses to StarLink
would mark the first documented instances of people suffering health
problems because of engineered food.

But if the results come back negative, the industry will regain some
credibility. Company scientists have argued that StarLink could not cause
severe, or even minor, allergic reactions, and that the corn is safe.
That's why they say it should have been approved for human use (rather than
only animal feed) several years ago.

It has taken months for the FDA to develop a test for that potential
allergic reaction, but officials say they believe they have one. It has not
been fully checked and double-checked, and researchers warn the test will
not give a definitive answer.

But officials said they are far enough along to seek blood samples from
people like Booth collected last year by the CDC. The samples were
scheduled to arrive in Washington, and testing is expected to begin this

Karl Klontz, a medical officer with the FDA's Center for Food Safety and
Applied Nutrition, said the test will determine whether the people had
produced antibodies to the genetically modified protein in StarLink corn,
called Cry9C, which protects plants against the European corn borer.

"This is the first time a test like this has been developed, and nobody is
claiming that it is a gold standard," Klontz said. "But the presence of
[the antibody] would suggest the possibility of an allergic phenomenon, and
the lack of [the antibody] would go a long way to reassure that there is no
allergic issue."

If the antibody to Cry9C is found in the blood samples, he said, then
skin-prick tests and even "food challenges" -- the feeding of food
containing StarLink to possible allergy sufferers -- could follow.

Regulators have been especially concerned about engineering foreign
proteins into food because consumers have no way of knowing they might be
present. People allergic to peanuts know to avoid certain products, but
genetically engineered proteins are not labeled and so can't be avoided.

The issue surfaced in 1995, when researchers found that a Brazil nut gene
introduced into a soybean could cause allergic reactions. The problem was
discovered before the soybean went to market, and research on the seeds was

StarLink corn was supposed to be kept from human food, but all involved
acknowledge the system for doing that didn't work.

The corn was discovered last fall to have been inadvertently mixed with
corn destined for the human food supply, prompting a massive and costly
recall of corn and foods made with corn, including tacos, beer and, most
recently, corn dogs. But since the recalls began, federal and industry
officials have emphasized that no significant health hazard was involved.

In fact, in November, Aventis CropScience, which makes the corn, once again
asked the Environmental Protection Agency to approve StarLink for human
consumption, pointing to new research it said showed there was no risk of
allergic reactions. Aventis had returned its license to sell the corn in
the future but wanted the variety approved for past seasons to limit
disruptions in the corn market -- and, some contend, its own financial

The company argued then that the quantities of StarLink in processed food
are too small to cause allergic reactions and that its research showed that
the Cry9C protein was destroyed in producing food such as tacos. The Cry9C
found in tests of tacos was from cell DNA rather than actual protein, the
company said, and so could not cause an allergic reaction.

An EPA expert panel concluded several weeks later that there was a "medium
likelihood" StarLink protein could cause an allergic reaction but that
there was a "low probability" that people had developed the needed
sensitivity because of the limited amount of the corn in the food supply.
However, the panel recommended that the EPA not act on the Aventis request
until a test was created and used to evaluate reports of allergic reactions
to StarLink.

The FDA has received 48 such reports, and the CDC has focused on the 35
that came in before the November advisory committee meeting. At that time,
the FDA said about a dozen of the complaints appeared to involve bona fide
allergic reactions.

StarLink is suspected of causing allergies because Cry9C has a heightened
ability to resist heat and gastric juices -- giving more time for the body
to overreact. The molecular weight of the protein is also consistent with
something that can trigger an allergic reaction, the panel said.

The StarLink issue has spawned several lawsuits, including a class action
suit filed in Chicago, accusing Aventis and others of negligence and
consumer fraud for producing or selling corn products that weren't approved
for human use. The plaintiffs contend that they suffered allergic
reactions, and include people who filed reports with the FDA and some who
did not.

Biotechnology officials minimize the suits, saying that some people are
trying to take advantage of the situation. They also say that given the
huge effort and cost involved in buying up StarLink corn and recalling
products found to contain it, the industry response should be applauded
rather than attacked.

Keith Finger, a Florida optometrist, is a plaintiff in one suit, and like
Booth, he reported suffering a serious allergic reaction. Finger ate a
dinner of tortillas, beans and rice in September, and 15 minutes later got
a terrible stomachache and diarrhea. Soon after, he started to itch all
over, his tongue began to swell and he had difficulty breathing -- all the
symptoms of anaphylactic shock.

Finger called in a prescription for a fast injection of an anti-allergy
medicine and gobbled some Benadryl; gradually, the symptoms subsided. If he
hadn't acted quickly, he said, he could have died. Several days later, he
learned about StarLink corn, and went back to see whether there was corn in
his tortillas. There was, and he filed a report with the FDA.

Finger said that he talked several weeks ago to an Aventis lawyer and
offered to eat some food with StarLink to see whether he would have another
allergic reaction. He said the lawyer was initially interested but

"At this point, I just want to know if people like me can have an allergic
reaction to StarLink," Finger said. "It's scary to think people might have
reactions to something they don't even know is in their food. This needs to
get cleared up soon." (The Washington Post, March 19, 2001)

BLACK HAWK: Committee Reviewing Jacobs’ Offer Hires F.A.; 2nd Suit Filed
Black Hawk Gaming & Development Company, Inc. (Nasdaq: BHWK) announced on
March 19 that the Special Committee of the Board of Directors has hired
Robertson Stephens, Inc. as financial advisor to the Committee. The Special
Committee recently was established to review and negotiate the offer made
by Jeffrey P. Jacobs to buy all the shares of the Company not currently
owned by Jacobs and his affiliates for $11.00 per share in cash.

Robertson Stephens is an international investment bank that routinely
advises boards of directors and special committees of boards in matters
such as those the Company currently faces. The Committee interviewed seven
firms before the decision was made to engage Robertson Stephens.

Additionally, the Special Committee has hired the law firm of Davis Graham
& Stubbs LLP as its legal advisor.

Robertson Stephens and Davis Graham & Stubbs will assist the Special
Committee in evaluating Mr. Jacobs' offer so that the Committee can make an
informed recommendation to the full Board of Directors of the Company and
in taking such other actions as are necessary to fulfill the Committee's
fiduciary duties.

The Company also announced that a second class action lawsuit has been
filed against it as a result of Mr. Jacobs' offer. This second lawsuit is
similar to the first, which was filed on February 27, 2001, in that it
alleges that the offer by Mr. Jacobs is inadequate and that the transaction
is designed to benefit Mr. Jacobs at the expense of the other shareholders.
The Company believes the lawsuits are without merit and will vigorously
defend itself against them.

The Board believes that it has met and will continue to meet its fiduciary
duties. With the formation of the Special Committee, the Board of Directors
has put in place a process that will protect the interests of all
shareholders and help to maximize shareholder value.

BLOCKBUSTER INC: Judge Denies Motion for Cert. By Independent Retailers
The United States District Court in San Antonio, Texas, has ruled against
class certification under both federal and California law in favor of
Blockbuster Inc. (NYSE:BBI) in a lawsuit brought by a group of independent
video retailers who complained about the benefits of Blockbuster's revenue
sharing agreements with motion picture studios.

"We are extremely pleased with the federal court's ruling and its
confirmation of the position we have taken throughout these proceedings,"
said John Antioco, Blockbuster Chairman and CEO. "Revenue-sharing is a
common industry practice and has been used to the benefit of consumers by
video distributors, theaters and pay-per-view services for years. Most
importantly, these agreements are open to anyone in the industry.
Blockbuster's goal has always been to ensure that our customers get the
home entertainment they want, when they want it. We view this ruling as a
victory for our customers because we can continue to satisfy them."

After presiding over nearly two years of litigation, United States District
Judge Edward C. Prado denied the request for class action certification
sought by independent video retailers.

The case challenges Blockbuster's revenue sharing agreements with the
motion picture studios that allowed Blockbuster to satisfy customer demand
for new release movies. The retailers allege the revenue sharing agreements
injure competition in the retail video industry and that these agreements
harmed individual retailers. The independent retailers sought both damages
and injunctive relief under federal and California antitrust laws.

In a lengthy opinion, Judge Prado found that this case was unsuitable for
class action treatment. He noted that the independent retailers differed in
a variety of ways, including their ability or willingness to enter into
revenue share deals with the motion picture studios. He also noted "the
Plaintiffs' refusal to articulate precisely what harm they complain of."

                         About Blockbuster

Blockbuster Inc. (NYSE:BBI) is a publicly traded subsidiary of Viacom Inc.
(NYSE:VIA, VIA.B) and is the world's leading renter of videos, DVDs, and
video games with approximately 7,700 stores throughout the Americas,
Europe, Asia and Australia. The company may be accessed internationally at
blockbuster.com. Viacom is the No. 1 platform in the world for advertisers,
with preeminent positions in broadcast and cable television, radio, outdoor
advertising, and online. With programming that appeals to audiences in
every demographic category across virtually all media, the company is a
leader in the creation, promotion, and distribution of entertainment, news,
sports, and music. Viacom's well-known brands include CBS, MTV,
Nickelodeon, VH1, Paramount Pictures, Infinity Broadcasting, UPN, TNN, CMT,
Showtime, and Simon & Schuster. More information about Viacom and its
businesses is available at www.viacom.com.

BRISTOL MYERS: Cohen Milstein Charges of Exclusion of Generic BuSpar
The law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. has announced
the filing of a nationwide class action against Bristol Myers-Squib for
violation of federal antitrust laws.

The lawsuit is based on Bristol's scheme to illegally extend its monopoly
on the production of the commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drug, buspirone
hydrochloride, marketed as BuSpar(R). Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll
P.L.L.C. is a national class action law firm with offices in Washington,
D.C., and Seattle, Washington.

The case, HIP Health Plan of Florida, Inc. v. Bristol-Myers Squib was filed
in United States District Court for the District of Columbia, on behalf of
a class of end purchasers of BuSpar(R) alleging that Bristol has
effectively locked generic competitors out of the market since November 22,
2000 through the submission of false patent information to the FDA. The
result of Bristol's unlawful conduct has been to extend Bristol's monopoly
beyond the time period permitted by U.S. patent law.

The lawsuit also alleged, on behalf of a 17-jurisdiction subclass, that the
same conduct violated antitrust laws in sixteen states and the District of

The facts giving rise to this antitrust action are set out in Judge
Urbina's decision in Mylan Pharmaceutical, Inc. v. Thompson, No. 00-2876
(RMU) (D.D.C. March 14, 2001). The decision details a purposeful course of
conduct by Bristol, designed to persuade the FDA to prevent the marketing
of a generic form of buspirone hydrochloride, by asserting the exclusive
right to market the drug pursuant to an inapplicable patent. As a
consequence of these acts, HMOs, insurance companies, and individuals --
all members of the proposed class -- have paid a higher price for BuSpar(R)
since November 22, 2000 than they would have paid for its generic

The lawsuit seeks treble damages on behalf of the purchasers, as well as
disgorgement of Bristol's profits from the illegal conduct.

Michael D. Hausfeld, an antitrust attorney at Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld &
Toll, P.L.L.C. said that "this case is the latest example of the
willingness of major pharmaceutical companies to assert frivolous patent
claims in an effort to illegally extend their monopoly on the sale of
patented drugs." Mr. Hausfeld explained, "We cannot expect this egregious
conduct to stop until the pharmaceutical companies are punished for their
illegal, monopolistic conduct. Without a strong remedy under the antitrust
laws, Bristol and other companies that engage in similar conduct have no
reason to refrain from making meritless patent claims to the FDA. Once a
patent is filed with the FDA, the drug company's monopoly is effectively
extended until the courts can sort out the merits of the claim. In this
case, Bristol enjoyed months of illegal profits before a federal court
ordered them to withdraw their claim for protection from competition by the
FDA. We intend to see that the ultimate purchasers of BuSpar(R) are
compensated, and that Bristol pays the appropriate penalty for its

Also, representing plaintiff and the class are the law firms of Hanzman,
Criden, Chaykin & Rolnick, P.A., located in Coral Gables, Florida and
Stearns, Weaver, Miller, Weissler, Alhadeff & Sitterson located in Miami,

Contact: Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. Daniel A. Small,

CEZ, WESTINGHOUSE: American Atty. Fights Nuclear Plant in Czech Republic
American attorney Ed Fagan, who has made a name in class-action lawsuits
representing Holocaust victims, arrived in the Czech Republic Monday to
demand documents proving that a controversial nuclear power plant is safe.

Fagan has offered to represent Czech and Austrian opponents of the Temelin
plant, located only 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Austrian border. He
met with the antinuclear activists in the south Bohemian town of Ceske
Budejovice, 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Prague, Czech television

The station said Fagan was planning to tour the Temelin plant on Tuesday.

Last month, Fagan called on CEZ, the Czech energy utility company that owns
the plant, and the U.S. concern Westinghouse, which supplies the
technology, to submit documents by March 20 proving the plant is safe.

The deadline expires on Tuesday.

Daniel Castvaj, spokesman for CEZ, said Fagan has never addressed his
company officially with the request. ''We have made public as much of the
documentation as we could,'' Castvaj said that his company ''was well
prepared'' to face the American lawyer. Some information on the plant is
confidential, Castvaj said, to protect ''the intellectual ownership of
technology'' by some of the suppliers.

Management of the power plant said that a tour of the facility was
impossible on Tuesday as that day was already booked by somebody else. They
offered March 26 as the next possible date. ''If they don't let us in, it
would be the most stupid thing to do,'' Fagan told the television. He said
his visit should not be interpreted as a declaration of war but as a
goodwill gesture.

The power plant has long been a source of friction between the Czech
Republic and non-nuclear Austria. Construction of the Soviet-designed plant
began in 1980, and its technology was upgraded by the U.S. firm
Westinghouse in the 1990s. Activation of the nuclear fuel in October
prompted protests from politicians and environmentalists in Austria.
Protesters organized repeated blockades of the Czech border, demanding that
the plant be shut down. The plant had been expected to start operating at
full capacity in early May. Recent outages, however, will likely cause some

Fagan has repeatedly said he would consider suing CEZ and Westinghouse
after evaluating the documentation he demands. He said he would ask no fee
for representing the plant's opponents. (AP Worldstream, March 19, 2001)

COOPER TIRE: Panel Decides to Consolidate 17 Lawsuits  in Ohio
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is "pleased" with a federal court panel's decision
to consolidate 17 pending class action lawsuits against the tire maker, but
a plaintiff's attorney denounced the move as "wrong."

The seven-judge panel in Washington decided Feb. 26 to grant Cooper's
petition to consolidate the class actions in Columbus, Ohio, federal
district court under Judge John Holschuh.

All of the cases involve allegations concerning Cooper's tire designs and
manufacturing processes, and thus share enough common issues to be grouped
together for pretrial purposes, the panel ruled.

"The motion to consolidate the state class action lawsuits was filed by
Cooper in order to promote efficiency and justice," the Findlay, Ohio-based
tire maker said in a March 6 prepared statement. "We believe these class
action lawsuits are without merit and not in the consumers' best interests.
We are disappointed that our resources--time, money and people--must be
spent in defending these lawsuits."

However, Hugh Lambert, a New Orleans plaintiffs' attorney involved in the
class action, said he objected to consolidating the class actions so close
to Cooper's headquarters, claiming it would give Cooper an unfair
advantage. Findlay is 96 miles from Columbus.

According to the lawsuits, Cooper sold as many as 55 million tires which
had to be punctured with awls to eliminate air bubbles. "Awling is a
cover-up of the underlying defect in the production process that results in
a lack of adhesion in various parts of the tire," Lambert said. "The
production process is the problem."

Cooper admits to having awled some tires at its production facility in
Tupelo, Miss., but says it ceased the practice after discovering that one
tire had been damaged. It also denies any defects in its production
practices. "We stand by the quality of our tires and the integrity and
dedication of our employees, who work hard each day to produce tough,
durable tires for our customers," the company said in its March 6

Lambert could not say how many potential plaintiffs were involved in the
class action suits; how many class actions remain outside the
consolidation; or what Cooper's potential liability is in dollar amounts.

Allan Kanner, a New Orleans attorney who has taken the lead in the class
action suits, could not be reached for comment. (Rubber & Plastics News,
March 12, 2001)

FEN-PHEN: Mealey's Reports Payment of $3.75B AHP Settlement Delayed
Seven months after a federal court approved it, no payments have been made
from a $3.75 billion class settlement between American Home Products Corp.
(AHP) and some persons who used its Pondimin and Redux brand diet drugs
because of a threat by the federal government and missed deadlines by a
claims processor, Mealey Publications reported in the Mealey's
Fen-Phen/Redux Litigation Report.

Attorneys for AHP and the settlement class this week told the U.S. District
Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that the federal government
wants to know if any claimants owe it money for Medicare and other federal
health plan payments before the Settlement Trust pays anything to
claimants. In a "Statement of Interest," the U.S. threatened double damages
against the Trust if it paid any of those claimants.

AHP and class counsel jointly asked the court for an order to allow
payments to begin and said the government's position would delay or destroy
the settlement. The government did not send any representatives to the
hearing. The court did not rule on the motion.

Key to the settlement, which was announced in October 1999, was the option
for diet drug users to get immediate lump-sum payments once the trial court
approved the agreement, even it were overturned on appeal.

Attorneys for plaintiffs who opted out of the settlement noted this week
that many of their clients have since received private settlement payments.

In a footnote to its motion, class counsel said that Seabury & Smith Co.,
which was hired by the court to process claims, failed to meet processing
deadlines and requirements. The footnote indicated that the company is no
longer retained.

HMOs: KC Doctors File Lawsuit Against Kaiser Permanente for Money Owed
Three physicians claim in a class-action lawsuit that they were cheated out
of money owed them by a health maintenance organization that plans to leave
the Kansas City area. The three doctors formerly practiced with Kaiser
Permanente, based in Oakland, Calif.

Kaiser announced in January that it planned to close its four Kansas City
area medical offices and sell most of its membership contracts to Coventry
Health Care of Kansas Inc. Kaiser expects to complete that agreement, which
involves about 425 layoffs, this spring. Financial terms of the transaction
have not been disclosed.

"The lawsuit will not affect our transaction with Coventry," said Gerard
Grimaldi, vice president of strategy and human resources for Kaiser's
Kansas City area operations. "We continue to expect to finalize the sale
with Coventry this spring and assure a smooth transition for our members.
It is regrettable that these three physicians, who left the medical group
last year, felt compelled to make these allegations."

The lawsuit against Kaiser was filed as a class action earlier this month
in Johnson County District Court by physicians Herbert J. Waxman, Steven
Warlick and Jeffrey Wall.

The three formerly practiced with and held shares in a Kaiser physician
affiliate known as Permanente Medical Group of Mid-America. The suit was
filed on behalf of every physician who ever held shares in that group.

The three physicians contend that Kaiser decided in 1999 to leave the
Kansas City area and began at that time to take actions to implement that

For example, the suit contends that Kaiser misrepresented its financial
situation to Permanente Medical Group shareholders last year in order to
persuade the Permanente board to close two clinics and transfer 15,000
patients to another group of clinics. It also contends that Kaiser
subsequently arranged for other medical groups to replace Permanente
shareholder-physicians, resulting in the loss of their jobs and the loss of
value in their shares, as part of the planned liquidation of the Permanente

The lawsuit claims that the Kansas City area Kaiser health plan and its
national parent organization "conspired with each other, through the
fraudulent representations ... for purposes of weakening and liquidating
PMG (Permanente Medical Group) so as to enable the defendants to sell the
HMO and thereby avoid any payment or benefit" to Permanente.

Ronald Gold, a Mission attorney representing the doctors, said that when
Kaiser has left other markets, the medical practice has been sold at the
same time as the HMO. The difference in this case is that the medical
practice is being liquidated with no compensation to the physicians, he
said. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, March 19, 2001)

HOMEFUND SCHEME: Aust. NSW Govt Offers to Waive $75 Mil in Debts
AAP news from Sydney says that the Federal Court on March 19 agreed to a
New South Wales government offer to waive $75 million in debts owed by
borrowers from the ill-fated HomeFund scheme.

Borrowers had launched a class action against two companies running the
scheme and several co-operative housing societies alleging breaches of the
Trade Practices Act.

Solicitor for the borrowers, Greg Kirk, told AAP that under the settlement
about 2,700 people who had lost their homes because of the scheme and were
still paying off loans would have their debts waived and their credit
records cleared. He said another 3,200 borrowers would have their loan
interest rates lowered in stages until they were about 1 per cent above
commercial rates. Another 150 borrowers whose debt was higher than the
value of their homes could walk away from their houses and wipe out their
debt and mortgage assistance debts would also be waived under the
settlement, Mr Kirk said.

The HomeFund scheme was designed to help low and middle income earners
enter the housing market by offering them mortgages which carried
artificially low repayment schedules in the initial years. These repayments
escalated over time. The scheme began during the boom years in the
mid-1980s but ran into trouble when the Liberal government expanded it
during the recession. High interest rates, escalating repayments and slower
rates of income growth trapped borrowers into debt, sending thousands into

The settlement went to the Federal Court on March 19 for approval from
Justice Murray Wilcox who gave borrowers two weeks to opt out of the plan
if they wanted to pursue their own actions. Anyone who does not opt out
will be bound by the conditions of the settlement.

Mr Kirk said there were many people who were happy with the settlement but
others who did not receive any benefit.

Litigation over the HomeFund scheme began in 1994 with borrowers seeking to
sue the state of New South Wales. In 1999 the case reached the High Court
which found the state could not be sued under the Trade Practices Act. The
borrowers continued their action in the Federal Court against Fanmac, a
company set up by the state government, and the Permanent Trustee Company,
an agent for the government and the housing societies. They claimed the
companies had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in the the way
the loans were sold and that the loans were such a poorly designed and
dangerous product that it was unconscionable to sell them to
unsophisticated lower income people. (AAP Newsfeed, March 19, 2001)

LOS ANGELES: Deadly Disease Prompts Employees in Borax Building to Sue
Nineteen employees who work in the Borax Building have tested positive for
legionella, the bacteria which causes the deadly Legionnaire Disease.

The Borax Building houses the Los Angeles County Department of Children and
Family Services. The County and the owners of the building where all 19
work have refused to take appropriate remedial action, according to a
complaint filed on March 19 on behalf of 12 employees for injunctive relief
and monetary damages by Quisenberry & Kabateck, LLP.

In part, the suit seeks to "abate a public nuisance." It was filed on
behalf of employee Wanda Cherry, all other employees at the Department's
Miracle Mile headquarters, and members of the public who have entered the
building. The Complaint also seeks recovery for private nuisances and
personal injuries because the Borax Building is alleged to suffer from
"sick building syndrome." All Plaintiffs seek corrective actions from the
defendants, which include the County, the building owners and the
maintenance company.

"This building is making us sick," claimed Wanda Cherry, named plaintiff
and employee with the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family
Services. "So many of us are sick all the time and it's not just affecting
our work, but our lives. The building is a breeding ground for illnesses.
We just want the building cleaned up. I don't think that's too much to ask

The Borax Building at 3075 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles is open 24
hours a day, and is used by approximately 720 county employees who oversee
child abuse cases and adoptions. The building is also visited by police,
social workers and children brought in on an emergency basis.

The lawsuit alleges that since the County of Los Angeles took over the
Borax Building in 1998, workers and visitors have been exposed to
legionella bacteria and other dangerous biological agents and containments.
While 19 employees have tested positive for legionella, others have
complained and been hospitalized for respiratory illnesses including
pneumonia, asthma, and bronchitis -- ailments associated with Legionnaires

"When only about fifty-nine people per year in California contract
Legionnaires Disease, and nineteen of them happen to work in the Borax
Building, we know there is a serious problem," remarked Brian Kabateck,
founding partner of the law firm, Quisenberry & Kabateck LLP.

Legionnaires Disease is generally transmitted through legionella bacteria
found in contaminated water supplies and is airborne though a building's
plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. There are no
documented cases of Legionnaires being transmitted person-to-person.
Untreated, Legionnaires is often fatal and at least half of the documented
Legionnaires cases are associated with pneumonia.

A Cal-OSHA investigation last year found sufficient evidence of this
disease-causing bacteria in the building's water system to require
remediation. However, the inspection stopped far short of fully examining
all the potential causes of continuing illness among building employees.
This month, Cal-OSHA fined the County of Los Angeles for using nonpotable
water for drinking and washing at the site. They characterized this
citation as "serious."

"The matter in dispute is not whether the building had legionella or other
forms of harmful bacteria present, like mold. Cal-OSHA already found
legionella present in the building's water supply. The problem here is that
the building wasn't remediated properly," stated Kabateck. "There was no
known testing of the heating and air conditioning units in the nine story
building. If you just clean up the water and not the method by which the
water was being distributed, people will continue to get sick."

"Sick Building Syndrome" is a medically recognized condition attributed to
the growth of bacteria emanating from water-damaged buildings. Typical
symptoms of sick building syndrome include hypersensitivity of pneumonitas
or asthma exacerbation, irritation and inflammation of the mucus membranes,
respiratory tract and skin; fatigue; and/or neurocognitive dysfunction. The
infections are contracted through water, air, and surface contact and most
people are cured of their symptoms upon removal from the contaminated
indoor structure or full remediation of the structure.

Contact: for Quisenberry & Kabateck LLP Akila Gibbs, 323/223-8001

LOUISIANA DEPT: Violates Disabled Students' Rights Under Medicaid Law
In a class action, the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana
agreed with a class of students with disabilities that the Louisiana
Department of Health and Hospitals violated Medicaid laws because it
restricted the provision of occupational, speech and audiological therapies
to those allowed by school districts. Chisholm v. Hood, 33 IDELR 215 (E.D.
La. 2000).

The class claimed that the state's policy of limiting Medicaid funding
violated the student's right to certain therapies. The state policy limited
the funding available for occupational, speech and audiological services to
those provided by districts. The class, particularly those in homebound
placements, claimed that the policy violated their right to select from a
variety of service providers.

The court granted the class a partial summary judgment on the issue of the
restriction of the various therapies. However, it deferred judgment on the
state's screening procedures and its ability to arrange treatment for the

Under Medicaid's Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment
services requirement, states are required to "make available a variety of
individual and group providers qualified and willing to provide EPSDT
services." The state's policy violated the rights of class members in two
ways. First, it violated the homebound class members' rights. The court
elaborated, "by strictly limiting these services to schools and prohibiting
inclusion of such services under home health services, DHH is not providing
or making available these medically necessary services to those who are
confined to the home."

Second, the state violated the entire class's right to acquire those
services from any institution or agency that is qualified to provide such
services. The court stated, "restricting Medicaid recipients to schools and
(early intervention centers) for therapy services that are traditionally
included in the educational or family service plans violates their
statutory right to obtain these services from other qualified providers."
(Special Education Law Monthly, March 14, 2001)

MICROSOFT, FORD, CONOCO: Lawsuits Say Employee Grading Is Discriminatory
An increasingly popular technique for evaluating employees -- ranking them
from best to worst -- is prompting lawsuits charging discrimination at
three big companies, The New York Times reported Monday.

At issue is the ranking of managers, professionals and sometimes
lower-level employees from best to worst, or grading them on a bell curve,
and then using that ranking to help determine pay and sometimes whether to
fire someone. "Companies are playing their version of 'Survivor,' " said
David Thomas, a professor at the Harvard Business School.

In their suits, all filed over the last year or so, employees at Microsoft,
Ford Motor and Conoco say the rating systems are unfair because they favor
some groups of employees over others: white males over blacks and women,
younger managers over older ones and foreign citizens over Americans. Some
lawsuits contend that Microsoft's grading systems are discriminatory.

One, filed last October, seeks class-action status on behalf of blacks and
women. The suit states that the rating system "permits managers, who are
predominantly white males, to rate employees based upon their own biases
rather than based upon merit."

A growing number of companies are turning to grading systems, also known as
forced rankings or distributions, as a way of making sure managers evaluate
employees honestly and make clearer distinctions among them.

Defenders of these systems say anyone who gets a low grade is likely to
view the process as unfair. "'A' students love grades;'F' students hate
grades," said John Sullivan, a human resources professor at San Francisco
State University.

But critics argue that companies should not apply a bell curve, in which a
small number of employees get the highest and lowest rankings and a much
larger number are grouped in the middle. The bell curve model assumes a
normal distribution among a very large group of random individuals, not
small groups.

What is more, across a company, people who belong to a particularly
talented unit will suffer if a certain number of them must be given poorer
grades than they would get in another unit. "You end up with dysfunctional
results," said Edward E. Lawler III, a business professor at the University
of Southern California. (United Press International, March 19, 2001)

OKLAHOMA HEALTH: Lawsuit To Be Filed Against State's Medicaid Program
Lawyers have prepared a class-action lawsuit demanding that the state
improve its Medicaid program. The lawsuit to be filed in U.S. District
Court Monday against the Oklahoma Health Care Authority claims the state
health care program for poor people is inadequate.

More than 50 percent of the state's pediatricians will not take Medicaid
patients because the doctors are not paid enough for their services and
because of the program's bureaucratic red tape, the lawsuit alleges.

Mike Fogarty, chief executive officer of the OHCA, said in a statement that
the Legislature increased the payments to doctors last year by 18 percent.
"Frankly, I am surprised and disappointed that apparently some
pediatricians are planning to file this lawsuit on Monday when less than a
year ago the Legislature and the governor supported and passed the largest
financial increase in the history of the Medicaid program," he said.

The 18 percent budget increase by the Legislature last year allowed OHCA to
adjust the Medicaid rates for the first time since 1992.

A letter to Medicaid providers from the OHCA in July stated that the
readjusted rates do not affect all procedures. Some medical services were
reimbursed at a significantly higher fee while others stayed the same or

Steven Dow, executive director of the Community Action Project of Tulsa
County, said the 18 percent increase didn't help much. "Reimbursement rates
were adjusted in an uneven fashion, with rates for some specialist and
preventive primary care services actually decreasing," he said.

The lawsuit says an example of the problem is an 11-year-old girl who had
trouble finding a doctor to amputate her big toe.

Katleyn Wilbanks was born with spina bifida and a club foot. After
suffering from a bone infection for two months, the child was told in
September that she needed the amputation. But on the morning of the
scheduled surgery, the surgeon refused to do it when he discovered how
little he would be paid, according to the lawsuit. From the hospital room,
family members contacted an advocacy group for disabled people to work with
state health care officials to find a doctor who would treat the girl.
After spending hours on the phone, an advocate found a doctor at another
hospital who agreed to do the surgery. Her mother, Tracy Turner, said the
experience has become routine in obtaining medical services in the state's
Medicaid system. "The state needs more doctors," said Turner. "There used
to be all open doors, and now they are all shut."

Fogarty, the state health care chief, said health screening and
immunization rates are up and a 39 percent increase in the Medicaid
enrollment won recognition from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the
Uninsured. "We all should be more concerned with maintaining available
quality health care for Oklahoma Medicaid recipients than dealing with
potential lawsuits alleging some doctors are not being paid enough to see
low-income kids," he said. "Obviously, they have chosen to attack
Oklahoma's nationally recognized Medicaid program instead of working with
us." (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, March 19, 2001)

ORACLE CORP: Sued for Securities Fraud According to Schiffrin & Barroway
According to notice by the law firm of Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP, March 15,
2001, a class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court
for the Northern District of California on behalf of all purchasers of the
common stock of Oracle Corporation (Nasdaq: ORCL) from December 15, 2000
through March 1, 2001, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Oracle and certain of its officers and directors with
violation of the federal securities laws. Specifically, the complaint
alleges that during the Class Period, defendants represented that Oracle
would have revenue of over $ 2.9 billion for its third quarter of 2001.
After these representations were made, Oracle's CEO Lawrence Ellison sole
over $ 900 million of Oracle common stock. On March 1, 2001, just two weeks
after assuring the market of Oracle's "strong" revenue growth, the Company
disclosed that it would have a major revenue shortfall which caused
Oracle's common stock to plummet on extremely heavy trading volume.

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

ORACLE CORP: Wolf Haldenstein Commences Securities Fraud Suit in CA
Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP is commencing a class action
lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of
California on behalf of all purchasers of Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq:ORCL)
securities during the period between December 15, 2000 and March 1, 2001
(the "Class Period"), against defendants Oracle and Lawrence J. Ellison
(Chief Executive Officer and Chairman). If you would like to view a copy of
the complaint filed in this action, please visit the Wolf Haldenstein web
site located at www.whafh.com.

The complaint alleges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, promulgated thereunder.
According to the complaint, Oracle supplies software for enterprise
information management. Specifically, the complaint alleges that at the
beginning of the Class Period, defendants represented that Oracle would
have sequential EPS growth of 9%, or $0.12, and revenue of over $2.9
billion for its Q3 2001. Defendants assured investors that Oracle's new 11i
Suite required no programming systems integration to implement the product
and that using the product internally saved the Company $1 billion.

However, defendant Ellison was fully aware of the fact that the Suite was
fraught with massive technical problems, including giant gaps in its CRM
modules, and required expensive systems integration work to implement.
Ellison also knew that Oracle's alleged billion dollar savings was not the
result of the synergies created by Oracle's 11i product, but rather, his
decision to terminate more than 2,000 employees, many of whom would
"support" Oracle's new software. Throughout January and February 2001,
defendants repeatedly stated that Oracle's Q3 2001 estimates were easily
achievable, that Oracle's pipeline was "never stronger," its applications
growth was "accelerating," its database and application sales were rapidly
growing and that the slowing economy was showing no impact on Oracle's Q3
2001 performance. During this period defendant Ellison sold nearly$900
million worth of his own Oracle shares at prices as high as $32 per share,
or 50% higher than the price to which Oracle shares dropped as Oracle's
true prospects began to reach the market.

On March 1, 2001, Oracle revealed that, contrary to prior assurances by
defendants of Oracle's continuing "strong" revenue and EPS growth,
including defendants' assurances less than two weeks earlier that demand
remained strong, Oracle would post a major revenue shortfall and EPS
declines, sending Oracle's shares tumbling into a free fall. This
disclosure shocked the market, causing Oracle's stock to decline to less
than $17 per share before closing at $16.88 per share on March 2, 2001, on
record volume of more than 221 million shares.

Contact: Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP Michael Miske, George
Peters, Gregory M. Nespole, Esq., or Fred Taylor Isquith, Esq. 800/575-0735

PACIFIC GULF: Intends to Vigorously Defend Securities Suit in CA
Pacific Gulf Properties Inc. (NYSE: PAG) announced that a purported class
action suit has been commenced against Pacific Gulf and its directors in
the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Orange.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the plaintiff by Milberg Weiss Bershad
Hynes & Lerach, alleges that the Company's directors breached their
fiduciary duties by approving the recently announced merger agreement with
FountainGlen Properties LLC for inadequate merger consideration and seeks
to enjoin the merger. Pacific Gulf and its directors deny the allegations
set forth in the complaint and intend to defend themselves vigorously
against this lawsuit. The Board of Directors continues to believe that the
proposed merger with FountainGlen Properties LLC is in the best interests
of Pacific Gulf and its shareholders. Additional information regarding the
transaction will be set forth in the Company's proxy statement to be filed
with the Securities and Commission.

Pacific Gulf Properties Inc. is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that
currently is in the process of liquidating its assets. The Company is
headquartered in Newport Beach, California.

PRE-PAID LEGAL: Cauley Geller Announces SEC Inquiry on Accounting
The Law Firm of Cauley Geller Bowman & Coates, LLP announced on March 16
that the Securities Exchange Commission ("SEC") has requested details about
the accounting practices of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (NYSE: PPD).
Cauley Geller Bowman & Coates is representing shareholders in a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District
of Oklahoma on behalf of purchasers of Pre-Paid common stock during the
period between February 07, 2000 and January 16, 2001, (the "Class
Period"), and intends to further expand the class period to include
purchases of common stock during the period between April 19, 1999 and
January 16, 2001.

Pre-Paid underwrites and markets legal service plans which provide for or
reimburse a portion of legal fees incurred by members in connection with
specified matters. The Company's legal expense plans provide for or
reimburse a portion of the legal fees associated with a variety of legal
services in a manner similar to medical reimbursement plans. Pre-Paid
utilizes a multi-level marketing system to sell its policies.

The complaint will charge Pre-Paid and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the federal securities laws by issuing
materially false and misleading information about the Company's publicly
reported earnings and expenses. The complaint alleges that as a result of
the false and misleading statements the price of Pre-Paid stock was
artificially inflated during the Class Period.

The Ada, Oklahoma-based company, confirming a Wall Street Journal report,
said it was subject to information SEC inquiries into the nature of
accounting for its advances to sales associates.

Contact: Sue Null or Charlie Gastineau, both of Cauley Geller Bowman &
Coates, LLP, 888-551-9944, or info@classlawyer.com

PRICELINE.COM, INC: Law Firms File Securities Fraud Suit in New York
The law firms of Sirota & Sirota, LLP ((212) 425-9055 or www.sirotalaw.com)
and Lovell & Stewart, LLP ((212) 608-1900 or www.lovellstewart.com) filed a
class action lawsuit on March 16, 2001 on behalf of all persons and
entities who purchased, converted, exchanged or otherwise acquired the
common stock of Priceline.com, Inc. (Nasdaq:PCLN) between March 29, 1999
and March 14, 2001, inclusive.

The lawsuit asserts claims under Sections 11, 12 and 15 of the Securities
Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated by the SEC thereunder and seeks to recover
damages. Any member of the class may move the Court to be named lead
plaintiff. If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff, you must move the Court
no later than May 15, 2001.

The action, Richard Hirsch v. Priceline.com, Inc., et al., is pending in
the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (500 Pearl
Street, New York, New York), Docket No. 01-CV-2261 (JGK) and has been
assigned to the Hon. John G. Koeltl, U.S. District Judge. The complaint
alleges that Priceline.com, Inc., Richard S. Braddock, its Chairman and
Chief Executive Office, Jay S. Walker, its founder and former
Vice-Chairman, and Paul E. Francis, its former Chief Financial Officer,
violated the federal securities laws by issuing and selling Priceline.com
common stock pursuant to the March 30, 1999 IPO without disclosing to
investors that some of the underwriters in the offering, including the lead
underwriters, had solicited and received excessive and undisclosed
commissions from certain investors.

In exchange for the excessive commissions, the complaint alleges, lead
underwriters Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., Merrill Lynch, Pierce,
Fenner & Smith, Inc., and BancBoston Robertson Stephens, Inc. and
underwriter Salomon Smith Barney, Inc. allocated Priceline.com shares to
customers at the IPO price of $16 per share. To receive the allocations
(i.e., the ability to purchase shares) at $16, the underwriters' brokerage
customers had to agree to purchase additional shares in the aftermarket at
progressively higher prices. The requirement that customers make additional
purchases at progressively higher prices as the price of Priceline.com
stock rocketed upward (a practice known on Wall Street as "laddering") was
intended to (and did) drive Priceline.com's share price up to artificially
high levels. This artificial price inflation, the complaint alleges,
enabled both the underwriters and their customers to reap enormous profits
by buying stock at the $16 IPO price and then selling it later for a profit
at inflated aftermarket prices, which rose as high as $85 during its first
day of trading.

Rather than allowing its customers to keep their profits from the IPO, the
complaint alleges, the underwriters required their customers to "kick back"
some of their profits in the form of secret commissions. These secret
commission payments were sometimes calculated after the fact based on how
much profit each investor had made from his or her IPO stock allocation.

The complaint further alleges that defendants violated the Securities Act
of 1933 because the Prospectus distributed to investors and the
Registration Statement filed with the SEC in order to gain regulatory
approval for the Priceline.com offering contained material misstatements
regarding the commissions that the underwriters would derive from the IPO
transaction and failed to disclose the additional commissions and
"laddering" scheme discussed above.

Investors who purchased Priceline.com common stock during the period March
29, 1999 - March 14, 2001 may contact Sirota & Sirota or Lovell & Stewart
at the telephone numbers, addresses or E-mail addresses below for more
information regarding the class action lawsuit. Investors can also visit
Sirota & Sirota's website at www.sirotalaw.com or Lovell & Stewart's
website at www.lovellstewart.com to view a copy of the complaint.

Contact: Lovell & Stewart, LLP Christopher Lovell/Victor E.
Stewart/Christopher J. Gray 212/608-1900 sklovell@aol.com or Sirota &
Sirota, LLP Howard B. Sirota/Saul Roffe 212/425-9055 info@sirotalaw.com

RENAISSANCE CRUISES: Lawyers’ Expected $1.4 Mil Pay Slashed to $294,000
The New York law firm Zwerling Schachter & Zwerling expected March 5 to be
a big payday. The firm had settled a class action lawsuit against
Renaissance Cruises Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for $2.9 million. The
company had been accused of inflating port charges, and the only issue
remaining was a court ruling on the firm's request for $1.4 million in
legal fees.

But Broward Circuit Court Judge Robert Lance Andrews had a surprise in
store. In a blistering 27-page ruling, Andrews slashed the legal fees to
about $ 294,000, split among Zwerling Schachter, lead counsel in the suit,
and four South Florida law firms.

Adding insult to injury, Andrews made mischief when he ordered that a
quarter of the fees be paid in travel vouchers ranging from $10 to $60-the
same vouchers awarded to the 80,000 plaintiffs in the suit.

The judge assailed the plaintiffs' attorneys for greediness, belittled the
public service they claimed to have provided and scoffed at the notion of
awarding such huge fees. Too often, he wrote in the ruling, lawyers use
class actions as cash cows that ultimately yield little for plaintiffs.

Edwin H. Moore, a tort reform proponent and class action critic, applauded
Andrews for taking a stand against what he called a "ridiculous class
action." "Essentially, these vouchers have no value whatsoever," said
Moore, president and chief executive of the James Madison Institute, a
Tallahassee, Fla., think tank. "It's kind of absurd, taking a cruise for
hundreds of dollars and getting $10 off."

Zwerling Schachter filed its complaint against Renaissance Cruises in
Broward Circuit Court in 1996, accusing the company of padding port
charges. The firm deemed the practice a consumer ripoff, citing Florida's
Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and a common law claim for unjust

The suit contended that Renaissance passengers who traveled between 1993
and 1996 paid inflated port charges of $295 to $395 per person.

Such charges typically cover docking fees charged by ports. Florida
Attorney General Bob Butterworth investigated the charges in 1996, and
found that many cruise lines inflated those costs above and beyond what
ports charged.

As a result of Butterworth's investigation, plaintiffs' attorneys filed 12
class actions against Renaissance and six other lines: Celebrity Cruises,
Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International and Kloster Cruise
Line (now Norwegian Cruise Line), all based in Miami; Los Angeles-based
Princess Cruises and Seattle-based Holland America Line.

Zwerling Schachter estimated that the various cruise lines charged their
customers $250 million a year in port charges, more than twice the amount
needed for port fees.

Although Renaissance wasn't named in Butterworth's investigation, Andrews'
ruling said the cruise line later acknowledged inflating port charges and
pledged to stop. Class actions against Carnival, Celebrity and Royal
Caribbean were settled; others are pending or were dismissed.

Attorneys reached a settlement with Renaissance last April, when the line
agreed to issue vouchers of up to $60 to plaintiffs depending on when they
traveled. But talks broke down over legal fees. The plaintiffs' attorneys
sought $1.375 million: a base legal bill of $543,000 times a multiplier of
2.45, plus expenses. Courts sometimes approve multipliers to entice firms
to take cases.

Andrews took issue with virtually every point in that calculation.

The judge acknowledged that class actions have their uses, but said
plaintiffs' lawyers in this case did not "blaze the litigation trail."
Rather, they "jumped onto a stagecoach that was already moving, thanks to
the work of government agencies or other attorneys," Andrews said.

The ruling makes two main points: First, that not all the plaintiffs'
lawyers were entitled to share in the spoils, as many weren't licensed to
practice law in Florida. Second, Zwerling Schachter and the other four
firms involved in the suit were not entitled to a multiplier.

Andrews also mentioned three plaintiffs who objected to $1.4 million in
legal fees. One of the objectors was John E. Peterson of Greensboro, N.C.,
a retired certified public accountant, who called the fee request and the
suit itself ridiculous. "I don't think that 90 percent of the people who
got vouchers will use them," Peterson said. "I threw mine in the

Andrews said he considered denying plaintiffs' lawyers any legal fees, "on
the basis of their blatant disregard of their ethical obligations to the
class and to the court." In fact, before ruling on legal fees, Andrews
rebuffed 13 law firms that claimed to have had a hand in the class action.

Eighteen firms had, at one point, claimed some role in the class action and
sought legal fees. Andrews shut out all but five, saying the others had
negligible roles or failed to abide by Florida's Rules of Professional
Conduct. Yet with 13 firms out of the picture, Zwerling Schachter persisted
in seeking $1.4 million, to be shared with the four other firms.

"It is this court's opinion that the plaintiffs' counsel have engaged in
'fuzzy math' to support their fee award," Andrews said.

Robin Corwin Campbell, attorney for Renaissance and a partner in Fort
Lauderdale's Atlas Pearlman, said she was pleased with Andrews' ruling.
"There is not a lot of case law addressing this specific issue," Campbell
says. "He did a good job of putting it together." (Fulton County Daily
Report, March 19, 2001)

TAINTED WATER: Victims Will Tell Ontario's Top Judge E. Coli Deal Is Bad
Victims who object to a plan to settle a huge class-action suit filed in
the wake of Canada's worst E. coli outbreak were going to tell Ontario's
top judge why they think it's a bad deal. The "fairness hearing" will let
Chief Justice Patrick LeSage decide whether the no-fault settlement is in
the best interests of everyone affected by the devastating outbreak. The
plaintiffs, through their lawyers, will also have a chance to make their
own submissions in favour of the deal and to rebut opponents' views.

"People are really upset that the government is going to get off without
any blame," said Ron Leavoy, spokesperson for the grassroots group
Concerned Walkerton Citizens.

LeSage will oversee the hearing instead of Superior Court Justice Warren
Winkler, who announced the tentative deal last month. The change was made
at the request of Winkler, who helped mediate the proposed settlement and
didn't want to appear to be in a conflict of interest. He will oversee the
rest of the process if LeSage approves the settlement.

If LeSage OKs the settlement, he will set a date by which dissenters can
opt out. They would then be free to seek compensation on their own if they

The deal calls for every town resident and visitors who fell ill from
drinking contaminated water to receive at least $2,000. Those who believe
they should get more than $2,000 for pain and suffering or economic losses
will have their claims assessed individually -- with no cap.
Court-supervised mediation and arbitration would be available to resolve

Insurers for the dozen defendants, including the municipality, its
now-defunct utilities commission and the area health unit, would kick in
the first $17 million and pay another $5 million in legal costs.

Even though Winkler dismissed class proceedings against it, the province is
on the hook for compensation costs beyond that.

Anyone objecting to the settlement had until March 1 to file a written
complaint with a London accounting firm. Those objections -- believed to be
a handful -- go before LeSage as an affidavit. It will be up to him to
decide if he still wants to hear directly from objectors.

The proposed deal was reached Feb. 1 in Toronto after months of hearings
and at times acrimonious discussions with the province.

The following evening, about 500 people crammed a community hall in this
rural town of 5,000 to hear their lawyers explain why they should be happy
with the deal. Most appeared to like it. "That is my sense of it," said
Harvey Strosberg, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs.

Initially, the four plaintiffs representing about 5,000 members covered by
the suit were seeking $100 million in punitive damages.

However, given that disgraced water manager Stan Koebel and the utilities
commission have few assets, it's unlikely they would have collected even if
they had won punitive damages.

That essentially means deciding whether the settlement is a reasonable
trade-off for dropping the claim for punitive damages, Strosberg said. In
addition, he noted, people who want an explanation of what happened realize
they'll get it from Justice Dennis O'Connor, who is heading a judicial
inquiry into last May's tragedy that killed seven and made 2,300 ill.

But Leavoy said some view the timing of the settlement as suspect, given
O'Connor has just begun probing the government's role in the tragedy. "It
looks like they are trying to buy us off," Leavoy said. Still, he said,
most people just want the matter settled. "They are sick and tired of
everything." (London Free Press, March 19, 2001)

TOBACCO LITIGATION: 1st Flight Attendant's Claim Goes To Trial In Miami
Back in a colossally unfriendly courthouse, the tobacco industry began
trial Monday in the first case of a nonsmoking flight attendant seeking
damages for an illness blamed on secondhand smoke in airliner cabins.

The trial is across the foyer from the courtroom where a jury awarded
Florida smokers a record-setting $145 billion last year and a judge
accepted a $349 million settlement for attendants with illnesses blamed on
cigarette smoke in 1997.

Philip Morris attorney Kenneth Reilly asked Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Thomas
Wilson to review "the biggest verdict in the history of jurisprudence" with
prospective jurors, and he agreed to ask if they had "strong feelings"
about the case. One-third on the initial panel of 30 said they did.

The case of Marie Fontana will be the first of thousands of mini-trials
intended to award money for the medical costs, pain and suffering of
attendants suing the nation's four biggest cigarette makers: Philip Morris,
R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard.

The settlement of the attendants' national class-action suit set aside $300
million for a medical research foundation and gave attendants legal
advantages on individual damage claims. More than 2,200 attendants have
filed lawsuits in Miami.

Judy Lee, a board member on the foundation established by the settlement,
called the significance of the first trial "monumental."

Other attendants have pushed back trial dates while the industry appeals a
ruling interpreting the settlement reached during the secondhand smoke
trial. But Fontana, a 23-year TWA attendant on permanent disability with
emphysema, decided to move ahead because of her declining health, said her
attorney, Steve Hunter.

Fontana, who uses an oxygen tank, was not in court Monday. Hunter told
prospective jurors that she would attend the projected three-week trial
only "sporadically" because of her medical condition. The Haitian-born
woman who lives in the Fort Lauderdale area flew primarily trans-Atlantic
trips, where exposure to smoke was considered more intense and harmful than
short-haul flights. "I'm glad this day is here. It's been a long time
coming," said Lee, a 15-year United attendant with her own case pending.
The sick attendants "all incurred mega-pain, suffering, disruption of life,

Lawyers went into the case with little background about jurors because
Wilson refused to require written questionnaires. Although jury selection
took months in the smokers' and attendants' class-action trials, Fontana's
judge hoped to complete it in two days at most.

Stanley Rosenblatt, the attorney who won both class-actions, came to court
Monday as an observer and chatted briefly with Fontana's lawyers during a
recess. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, March 19, 2001)

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Case May Proceed On Fd & State Substantive Theori
Defendant tobacco companies moved for summary judgment on plaintiff Empire
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of New York's New York-based common law fraud and
Consumer Protection Act claims. The instant court denied the motion,
holding that the case may proceed on both federal and state substantive
theories since, in a massive case such as this one, a final resolution of
all viable claims, state and federal, in one court utilizing one procedure
is permitted. Plaintiff had sought recovery from major tobacco product
manufacturers and related entities for alleged misrepresentations and
deceptive conduct regarding the effects of tobacco use on their
subscribers' health, resulting in increased health care costs for
plaintiff. The court noted that Empire alone is the claimant and its
damages may be precisely determinable even though those of each of its
specific clients may not be. (New York Law Journal, March 6, 2001)

WEBLINK WIRELESS: Announces 3 Lawsuits Filed in Texas
WebLink Wireless, Inc. (Nasdaq: WLNK) reported on March 16 that three
lawsuits have been filed against WebLink and one of its officers in the
United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas
Division (Civil Action Nos. 3:01CV0498L) and other courts. The plaintiffs
seek class certification and allege violations of the U.S. federal
securities laws in connection with the Company's disclosure during the
period from December 29, 2000 through February 20, 2001. WebLink believes
that the claims are unfounded and that the lawsuits are wholly without
merit. WebLink intends to defend itself vigorously.

WebLink Wireless, Inc. is a leader in the wireless data industry, providing
wireless email, wireless instant messaging, information on demand and
traditional paging services throughout United States. The company's
nationwide 2-way network is the largest of its kind reaching approximately
90 percent of the U.S. population, and through a strategic partnership,
extends into Canada. The Dallas-based company, which serves more than 2
million customers, recorded total revenues of $290 million for the year
ended Dec. 31, 2000.


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

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by Bankruptcy
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