/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/010322.MBX               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

               Thursday, March 20, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 57


AMAZON.COM, INC: Keller Rohrback Files Securities Lawsuit in Washington
AMAZON.COM, INC: Wechsler Harwood Files Securities Suit in Washington
AMAZON.COM, INC: Weiss & Yourman Files Securities Lawsuit in Washington
ARIBA, INC: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in New York
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Jury Awards $19.8 Mil to 3 Workers in Shipyards

BANK UNITED: Girard & Green Announces Suit over Mortgage Loan Practices
BASF: PA May Sue Thyroid Drug Maker To Recover Money Spent on Namebrand
E.W. BLANCE: Berger & Montague Expands Period in Securities Suit in MN
EVISION, EBANKER: NY Ct Dismisses Securities Suit Re Apr 98 to Aug 00
FLEETBOSTON FINANCIAL: Mortgage Loan Pracitices under Renewed Fire

GAS PIPELINES: Quinque Action Remanded to Kansas State Court
HMOs: N.Y. Appeals Court Upholds Subscribers' Claims Against Prudential
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Industry Stays Firm For Legal Closure
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Negotiator Vows Appeal Of US Court Ruling
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Judge's Stand Spurs appeal on Both Sides

INMATES LITIGATION: 31 Sue California Over Parole Hearing Delays
LEAD PAINT: Chicago To Sue; Problem Costs Millions A Year
MGM CONSTRUCTION: Orland Eyes Suing Developer Of Misrepresentaiton
NAPSTER, INC: Spar with Recording Companies over Compliance with Ban
NGK METALS: Beryllium Plaintiffs Amend Suit Seeking Medical Monitoring

NUCLEAR TEST: Bikini Islanders Awarded $553M But There's No Fund to Pay
PRUDENTIAL VARIABLE: Reports on 109 Suits By Opt-outs As at Beg. of Year
SACRED HEART: Health Bureau Need Not Produce List of Possible TB Victims
TCPI, INC: Announces Dismissal of Shareholder Lawsuit in Florida
TEAM COMMUNICATIONS: Milberg Weiss Expands Period for Securities Suit

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Industry Lawyers Respond in Flight Attendants' Suit
UH ADMINISTRATION: Union Drops Complaints Clearing Way for Strike

*  Ordinance Is Skirmish in Legal Battle over Adult Businesses in Pasco


AMAZON.COM, INC: Keller Rohrback Files Securities Lawsuit in Washington
Keller Rohrback L.L.P.'s Complex Litigation Group announces it filed a
lawsuit on March 20, 2001, in the United States District Court, Western
District of Washington, on behalf of purchasers of the securities of
Amazon.com, Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN) between Feb. 2, 2000, and March 9, 2001,
inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint alleges that, during the Class Period, Amazon and certain
of its officers and directors -- Jeffrey P. Bezos, Joseph Galli, Jr., and
Warren C. Jenson -- violated federal securities laws by disseminating to
the investing public false and misleading financial statements in SEC
filings and press releases concerning the Company's revenues, investments
in joint ventures, earnings, cash flow as well as its overall financial
condition and future prospects.

In particular, defendants touted the Company's investments in joint
ventures called Amazon Commerce Network Partners ("ACNs") and the
purported high margin revenue stream created by such ventures. In fact,
plaintiff alleges, defendants failed to disclose until the end of the
Class Period that: the ACN investments were losing millions of dollars;
much of the purported revenue recorded appeared to investors as cash, but
was actually in the form of highly speculative equity investments; and
the revenues recognized under the ACN agreements concealed the magnitude
of the losses and distorted the Company's reported cash flow.

During the Class Period, it is further alleged that defendant Bezos sold
more than one million shares of his Amazon common stock holdings at
artificially inflated prices, for proceeds of more than$30 million.

As a result of these false and misleading statements, the complaint
charges, Amazon's stock was artificially inflated throughout the Class
Period, causing plaintiff and other members of the Class to suffer

Contact: Keller Rohrback L.L.P. Jennifer Tuato'o, 800/776-6044
investor@kellerrohrback.com www.SeattleClassAction.com

AMAZON.COM, INC: Wechsler Harwood Files Securities Suit in Washington
A class action against Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and certain of its
officers and directors was filed on March 9, 2001 in the United States
District Court for the Western District of Washington by Wechsler Harwood
Halebian & Feffer LLP www.whhf.com.

The suit is on behalf of shareholders who purchased or otherwise acquired
the securities of Amazon between February 2, 2000 and October 30, 2000
(the "Class Period").

The complaint alleges that Amazon and certain of its directors and
executive officers violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. The complaint
alleges that the defendants issued materially false and misleading
financial statements contained in filings with the Securities and
Exchange Commission (the "SEC") and press releases, that, inter alia,
overstated the Company's assets, revenues, income and earnings per share
during the Class Period.

Plaintiff alleges that during the Class Period defendants inflated
Amazon's assets, revenues and earnings by operating the Amazon Commerce
Network ("ACN"). Through the ACN, Amazon invested in certain start-up
internet retailing companies ("ACN partners") at the beginning of the
class period in return for agreements from them to pay advertising and
marketing fees to Amazon. However, during the Class Period defendants
misled the investing public by failing to disclose that the realization
of the fee revenue was subject to significant contingencies and not
primarily receivable in cash, but instead equity securities of the ACN

Toward the end of the Class Period, it was revealed that Amazon's revenue
recognition polices and related disclosures were the targets of an SEC
inquiry, and that instead of yielding $500 million in cash, as the
defendants declared in early February 2000, the investments in the ACNs
actually resulted in losses of no less than $266 million in less than
nine months.

Plaintiff also alleges that during the Class Period, Amazon insiders
registered to sell almost six million shares of Amazon common stock worth
approximately $300 million, and sold over $680 million of Euro
denominated 6.875% convertible subordinated notes due 2010 issued on
February 16, 2000 (the "Convertible Notes") at inflated prices to an
unsuspecting public pursuant to a registration statement and prospectus.

On October 30, 2000, the Company's common stock price dropped to$32.88
per share or down approximately 62 percent from its Class Period high of
$85.938, and almost nine percent from the previous day's close.

However, at least one of the named individual defendants, Chairman of the
Board and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Bezos fared better. During the
Class Period, Bezos sold over 368,650 shares of the Company's common
stock at $54.24 per share for proceeds greater than$19 million.

Contact: Wechsler Harwood Halebian & Feffer LLP, New York Ramon Pinon,
IV, 877/935-7400 (toll free)

AMAZON.COM, INC: Weiss & Yourman Files Securities Lawsuit in Washington
A class action lawsuit against Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and its
senior executives was commenced in the United States District Court for
the Western District of Washington, seeking to recover damages on behalf
of defrauded investors who purchased Amazon securities. If you purchased
Amazon securities between February 2, 2000 and March 9, 2001 (the "Class
Period"), your rights may be affected.

The complaint charges defendants with violations of the antifraud
provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder. The complaint alleges that defendants issued a
series of materially false and misleading statements which artificially
inflated the price of Amazon securities during the Class Period. It
alleges that defendants touted the Company's investments in joint
ventures called Amazon Commerce Network Partners ("ACNs") and the
purported high margin revenue stream created by such ventures. In fact,
plaintiff alleges, defendants failed to disclose until the end of the
Class Period that: the ACN investments were losing millions of dollars;
much of the purported revenue recorded appeared to investors as cash, but
was actually in the form of highly speculative equity investments; and
the revenues recognized under the ACN agreements concealed the magnitude
of the losses and distorted the Company's reported cash flow.

Contact: Weiss & Yourman, New York James E. Tullman, Mark D. Smilow,
David C. Katz 888/593-4771 or 212/682-3025 wynyc@aol.com

ARIBA, INC: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in New York
The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP announces that a
class action lawsuit was filed on March 20, 2001, on behalf of purchasers
of the securities of Ariba, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARBA) between June 23, 1999 and
December 23, 1999 inclusive. A copy of the complaint filed in this action
is available from the Court, or can be viewed on Milberg Weiss' website
at: http://www.milberg.com/ariba/

The action, numbered 01 Civ. 2359, is pending in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York, located at 500
Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007, against defendants Ariba, Morgan
Stanley & Co. Incorporated ("Morgan Stanley"); Keith J. Krach and Edward
P. Kinsey. The Honorable John S. Martin Jr. is the Judge presiding over
the case.

The complaint alleges violations of Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15 of the
Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act
of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. On June 23, 1999, Ariba
commenced an initial public offering of 5 million of its shares of common
stock at an offering price of $23 per share (the "Ariba IPO"). In
connection therewith, Ariba filed a registration statement, which
incorporated a prospectus (the "Prospectus"), with the SEC. The complaint
further alleges that the Prospectus was materially false and misleading
because it failed to disclose, among other things, that: (i) Morgan
Stanley had solicited and received excessive and undisclosed commissions
from certain investors in exchange for which Morgan Stanley allocated to
those investors material portions of the restricted number of Ariba
shares issued in connection with the Ariba IPO; and (ii) Morgan Stanley
had entered into agreements with customers whereby Morgan Stanley agreed
to allocate Ariba shares to those customers in the Ariba IPO in exchange
for which the customers agreed to purchase additional Ariba shares in the
aftermarket at pre-determined prices. As alleged in the complaint, the
SEC is investigating underwriting practices in connection with several
other initial public offerings.

Contact: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP Steven G. Schulman or
Samuel H. Rudman, (800) 320-5081 aribacase@milbergNY.com

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Jury Awards $19.8 Mil to 3 Workers in Shipyards
A Baltimore Circuit Court jury awarded $19.8 million on March 20 to three
men who contracted a fatal lung disease after being exposed to asbestos.

The plaintiffs, two of whom are dead, suffered from mesothelioma - a form
of cancer directly linked to asbestos. They won the judgment against
Hopeman Brothers, a ship carpentry company. Unlike most asbestos cases,
only one of the victims was a laborer in a city shipyard. The others were
a security guard, who patrolled the shipyard area, and a worker who
maintained vending machines at the shipyard, said the plaintiffs' lawyer,
Michael T. Edmonds with the law offices of Peter T. Nicholl.

After a two-week trial, Edmonds said, the jury deliberated 40 minutes
before awarding the plaintiffs millions of dollars for pain and
suffering. In the cases of the two deceased men, the money will go to
their families.

The plaintiffs were William J. Moore, who died at 72, a boilermaker at a
Sparrows Point shipyard; Lewis Edler, also dead at 72, a guard at the
Sparrows Point yard; and Robert Harlowe, 56, of Severn, who maintained
vending machines at a Curtis Bay shipyard.

Edmonds said Hopeman Brothers was hired to build such things as living
quarters for sailors on ships. They used asbestos-filled panels, which
they would cut to fit in each ship. "The dust went everywhere," Edmonds
said. "All they had was fans, and it blew the dust all over." Edmonds
also alleged that the company knew of the dangers but never told the
employees. Warning labels had been placed on the panels, but company
workers took them off. "They removed the warnings before they installed
them," Edmonds said.

Attorneys for Hopeman Brothers, a Virginia-based company, could not be
reached last night for comment. (The Baltimore Sun, March 21, 2001)

BANK UNITED: Girard & Green Announces Suit over Mortgage Loan Practices
A class action lawsuit has been filed in the Pierce County Superior
Court, Washington, on behalf of borrowers for whom Bank United performed
mortgage loan servicing. The complaint alleges that defendants engaged in
deceptive, unfair and oppressive business practices directed at mortgage
loan borrowers, and breached the mortgage loan contracts which govern
their mortgage loan servicing transactions. These practices include
failing to post payments received from borrowers in a timely fashion and
then charging the borrower a "late charge" and additional interest;
imposing improper "property inspection" charges; and failing to respond
to borrower complaints or remove improper charges assessed to borrowers.

The complaint seeks an order that defendants pay back profits improperly
derived from deceptive and unfair business practices, and that those
amounts be distributed to those who have been harmed. The complaint
charges Washington Mutual, Inc., Bank United Corp., and Bank United of
Texas, FSB with violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act,
breach of contract, and breach of the duty of good faith and fair
dealing. Washington Mutual, Inc. acquired Bank United Corp. and its
wholly-owned subsidiary, Bank United of Texas, FSB, on February 8, 2001.

Bank United operates one of the 25 largest residential mortgage loan
servicing businesses in the United States. As of September 30, 1999, Bank
United's single family mortgage servicing portfolio totaled$30.9 billion.
"We want to make sure homeowners do not lose their homes to foreclosure
as a result of defendants' unfair business practices," said Plaintiff's
counsel, Robert S. Green, of Girard & Green, LLP in San Francisco. Girard
& Green, LLP has extensive experience in prosecuting class actions and
other lawsuits involving consumer financial services. For more
information, please contact Plaintiff's counsel: GIRARD & GREEN, LLP
Robert S. Green Jenelle W. Welling Telephone: 415/981-4800 Facsimile:
415/981-4846 E-mail: bankunited@classcounsel.com

Contact: Girard & Green, LLP Robert S. Green, 415/981-4800

BASF: PA May Sue Thyroid Drug Maker To Recover Money Spent on Namebrand
The state may bring a restitution action to recoup money it overpaid for
a brand-name drug under the parens patriae doctrine, the Commonwealth
Court has ruled.

The state in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. BASF, et al. accuses Knoll
Pharmaceuticals along with its parent company BASF of misleading the
Commonwealth that there was no equivalent to its drug Synthroid through a
four-year letter campaign, as well as trying to suppress the results of a
1987 study proving that Synthroid, a synthetic hormone, was equivalent to
less-expensive generic drugs.

Specifically, the commonwealth alleged the defendants violated the Unfair
Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law and is liable for fraud,
civil conspiracy, false claims, negligent misrepresentation and unjust
enrichment. The court sustained preliminary objections to the plaintiff's
claims of breach of contract and violation of the Unclaimed Property Law.

Synthroid is the brand name for levothyroxine sodium, which regulates
human metabolism. The hormone is taken by people whose thyroid cannot
produce it, a condition known as hypothyroidism.Pennsylvania is allegedly
the fourth-largest state user of Synthroid. The state pays for
prescriptions of the drug for Pennsylvania's Medicaid, PACE, PACENET and
PEBTF plans, all of which use state dollars to assist the poor in paying
for levothyroxine sodium."Defendants' actions to delay the recognition
and approval of bioequivalent alternatives to Synthroid has purportedly
caused the Commonwealth to spend more that it otherwise would have spent
for the purchase or reimbursement of thyroid medicine due to both 1) the
artificial inflation of the price paid for Synthroid and 2) the selection
of Synthroid instead of bioequivalent or generic alternative medicine,"
wrote Judge John W. Herron in a March 15 ruling overruling preliminary
objections in part and sustaining them in part.


According to the opinion, Knoll competitor Daniels Pharmaceuticals in
1986 asserted that its Levoxyl drug was bioequivalent to Synthroid. If
this were true, Synthroid's market share would likely drop from 80
percent to 45 percent or less.Fearing the FDA would rate the less
expensive Levoxyl or other generics bioequivalent to Synthroid, BASF and
Knoll (then Boots Pharmaceuticals) commissioned a study to ascertain the
bioequivalence of Synthroid, Levoxyl and two other generics.

Boots purportedly expected the study to show Synthroid was superior to
the other drugs. But when the study instead revealed the drugs to be
equally effective in treating hypothyroidism, Boots allegedly attempted
to discredit the study and threatened to delay or suppress its

The Journal of the American Medical Association published the study in
April 1997, which concluded that "millions of dollars" could be saved in
the United States each year if generic equivalents to Synthroid were
used. As a result of the publication, some states considered changing
their lists of approved generic equivalent drugs.

In 1996, the FDA had already informed Boots (now Knoll) that it had
violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by misbranding Synthroid when it
knew the results of the earlier study. Still, after the JAMA publication
Knoll began an allegedly misleading ad campaign directed at state
agencies, claiming there was "no substitute for Synthroid."

                      Parens Patriae Doctrine

BASF and Knoll asserted that the state was barred from bringing this
action with respect to Pennsylvania consumers, except those who had opted
out of the settlement and release in the class action. The doctrine,
literally meaning "parent of the country," has traditionally been used to
bring actions as sovereign and guardian on behalf of people under a legal
disability. But Judge Herron noted "both federal and state courts in
Pennsylvania consistently uphold the right of the Commonwealth to sue in
its capacity as parens patriae to vindicate substantial state interests,
both economic and physical." Since the state here was apparently
asserting its parens patriae claims both on behalf on behalf of
overcharged payors and Pennsylvania citizens required to fork over a
higher co-pay for Synthroid than for equivalent generics, Herron said he
found "the Commonwealth ha[d] expressed a quasi-sovereign interest in
protecting the physical and economic health of its citizens and would, at
first glance, be able to maintain a parens patriae action."

                           Class Action

The defendants also asserted that this claim was barred due to an earlier
class action, but the court said that was only true for those who were
members of the classes involved.

In September 2000, a U.S. District Court entered a final order and
judgment in In Re: Synthroid Marketing Litigation, a multi-district class
action lawsuit. The stipulation and settlement of both a consumer
settlement class and a third-party payor class permanently released BASF
and Knoll from future claims for the marketing conduct alleged in this
action. But the release did not include the commonwealth of Pennsylvania
or its agencies for two reasons: the commonwealth did not join in the MDL
class action, and the commonwealth was explicitly excluded from the
definition of the consumer class and the payor class.

In order to "assure the finality of the class action settlement and to
adhere to the District Court's exclusive jurisdiction over the
settlement," the court said it could not allow the state to assert parens
patriae claims on behalf of citizens who had released the defendants for
the same conduct alleged in this action.

However, Herron said the state could maintain a parens patriae action for
people who weren't included in those settlement classes. "Those
Pennsylvania citizens who did opt out or were not included in the
settlement should not now be denied any right to recovery, even though
the number of these citizens is unclear and must be determined though
subsequent discovery," the judge wrote. "Under these circumstances, the
commonwealth may bring restitution claims as parens patriae only on
behalf of those Pennsylvania citizens who opted out or were not included
in the MDL class action settlement." Herron also said the commonwealth is
not barred from bringing direct claims for restitution, civil penalties
or claims for injunctive relief either as parens patriae or on its own
behalf. The court denied the commonwealth its request for a jury trial,
since "only the court and not a jury may award injunctive relief." (The
Legal Intelligencer, March 21, 2001)

E.W. BLANCE: Berger & Montague Expands Period in Securities Suit in MN
The law firm of Berger & Montague, P.C. (http://www.investorprotect.com),
has amended its class action complaint filed in the United States
District Court for the District of Minnesota to include all persons or
entities who purchased E.W. Blanch Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:EWB) securities
during the period from February 25, 1999 through March 20, 2000,

E.W. Blanch provides integrated risk management and distribution
services, including reinsurance intermediary services. The Company was
involved in Unicover Managers, Inc.'s ("Unicover") controversial system
for sharing premiums and risk in underwriting reinsurance for a workers
compensation pool. When the Unicover pool ran into trouble, E.W. Blanch
never took a charge to earnings in connection with that business.

E.W. Blanch misled investors by stating that it would be unlikely to
experience any adverse impact in connection with Unicover. On March 20,
2000, when E.W. Blanch revealed that it would be negatively impacted by
the Unicover reinsurance scandal, its stock dropped 64%. The individual
defendants sold over $24.7 million of the Company's stock during the
Class Period while in possession of information they had not disclosed to

The Complaint charges E.W. Blanch and its senior officers with violations
of sections 10 and 20(a) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 for
materially false and misleading statements and filings with the SEC.

Contact: Berger & Montague, P.C. Sherrie R. Savett Karen S. Orman
Kimberly A. Walker 888/891-2289 or 215/875-3000 Fax: 215/875-5715

EVISION, EBANKER: NY Ct Dismisses Securities Suit Re Apr 98 to Aug 00
eVision USA.Com, Inc. (eVision or the
Company)(www.evisionusa.com)(OTCBB:EVIS) is pleased to announce that all
claims in the Halperin et al. v. eVision et al. lawsuit were dismissed by
the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
(Case No. 00 CIV. 6769 as described in the eVision Form 8-K reported on
September 8, 2000).

In their complaint, the plaintiffs stated that the action was a class
action brought by them on behalf of purchasers of securities of eBanker
and eVision, through American Fronteer and other securities firms,
between April 1998 and August 2000 and that compensatory damages, amongst
other things, be awarded against the defendants in an amount of not less
than $70,000,000 plus interest.

The defendants reviewed the numerous allegations contained in the
complaint, believed the allegations were without merit and moved to
dismiss the complaint on various grounds. The motion to dismiss was

eVision has not determined what further steps, if any, it will take
towards the former plaintiffs.

FLEETBOSTON FINANCIAL: Mortgage Loan Pracitices under Renewed Fire
FleetBoston Financial Corp. on March 20 came under renewed fire for the
practices of its mortgage division, less than three months after the
Minnesota attorney general filed a lawsuit accusing the unit of deceiving
its borrowers.

The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, based in Jamaica
Plain, began mailing postcards March 20 to 100,000 New England homeowners
with Fleet mortgages. Bruce Marks, NACA chief executive, said the effort
marked the "first wave" of mailings that will eventually go to Fleet
mortgage borrowers nationwide in an effort to stir up a class-action
lawsuit over the same issues that led to the Minnesota case. "What Fleet
has done can't survive the light of day," Marks said. "It's outrageous
that they are profiting from having access to people's private

Fleet spokesman James Mahoney, though, said NACA's move is just a
publicity stunt by a longtime company critic. The Minnesota attorney
general, he said, has already filed a federal class-action lawsuit that
would apply to the same customers NACA is contacting. Besides, Mahoney
said, Fleet has "previously stated the allegations are unwarranted and
will continue to pursue that position in court."

The Boston law firm of Adkins, Kelston and Zavez looked into the
Minnesota case at NACA's request and has agreed to represent Fleet
mortgage borrowers in future lawsuits. Partner Jason Adkins said that any
claims his firm brings against Fleet will be "different and separate"
from the Minnesota case, even though they'll be over the same basic

Regardless, the battle lines are drawn around Fleet's now-ended
partnerships with a half-dozen tele marketing companies over the past
three years.

In each case, Fleet sold lists of its home-loan borrowers to the
companies, which had sales representatives call people on the lists to
pitch discount programs on services ranging from car repairs to dental
work, eyewear, prescription drugs, and even privacy protection. The
monthly subscription fees for the programs ranged from $4 to $17 apiece,
which were added to the Fleet customers' mortgage bills.

In the original complaint filed Dec. 28, Minnesota Attorney General Mike
Hatch said Fleet broke state law by failing to tell customers that their
personal information was being sold and by actively helping the
telemarketers mislead people about the nature of the services in

Among the exhibits Hatch filed with the court at that time were results
of a survey Fleet conducted of its own customer-service representatives.
In virtually all of the cases, the Fleet employees reported taking calls
from customers angry about the charges and denying they had ever agreed
to pay them.

"They were pushing these programs and, sometimes without customers'
knowledge, adding charges to peoples' mortgage statements," Marks said.
"It would be a credible position to say 'If you want this product send us
written authorization or give us your credit card number,' but they
didn't do that."

Fleet president Chad Gifford caused speculation last month that the bank
was planning to sell the mortgage division, when he told a crowd at an
Arizona investment conference that he is "not particularly keen" on the
business. Mahoney wouldn't confirm whether the unit is for sale, but said
the legal issues have no bearing on that decision. (The Boston Globe,
March 21, 2001)

GAS PIPELINES: Quinque Action Remanded to Kansas State Court
As previously reported in the CAR, a class action lawsuit against 233
defendants, captioned Quinque Operating Co. et al. v. Gas Pipelines, et
al., C.A. No. 99-CV-30, was filed in the state district court for Stevens
County, Kansas by representatives of classes of gas producers, royalty
owners, overriding royalty owners and working interest owners, alleging
that the defendants, all engaged in various aspects of the natural gas
industry, mismeasured natural gas and underpaid royalties for gas
produced on non-federal and non-tribal lands. The claims for relief are
based on Kansas state law, including a breach of contract claim. They are
factually similar, however, to the allegations of In re: Natural Gas
Royalties Qui Tam Litigation, described above. The Quinque complaint
seeks actual damages, treble damages, costs and attorneys fees, among
other relief.

The Public Service Co Of New Mexico was also named a defendant.

The Quinque case was removed to the United States District Court for the
District of Kansas and transferred to the United States District Court
for Wyoming ("Wyoming Court") to consolidate it with the In re: Natural
Gas Royalties Qui Tam Litigation. Plaintiffs have filed objections to the
motions to consolidate and transfer and have moved to remand the case to
state court.


On January 12, 2001, the Wyoming Court granted Plaintiffs motion to
remand the case back to Kansas State Court. Subsequently, some defendants
filed a motion to reconsider that decision. The Wyoming Court has not yet
decided the motion to reconsider.

The Public Service Co. of New Mexico tells investors it is vigorously
defending this lawsuit and is unable to estimate the potential liability,
if any, or to predict the ultimate outcome of this lawsuit.

HMOs: N.Y. Appeals Court Upholds Subscribers' Claims Against Prudential
On March 20, a New York Appeals Court issued a landmark decision
upholding claims against the Prudential Insurance Company of America and
its New York-based health management organization ("HMO") subsidiary,
which has been acquired by Aetna, Inc., for breach of contract, common
law fraud and deceit and improper interference with existing contractual
relations. In a unanimous vote of the five-judge panel, the Appellate
Division affirmed the decision of New York Supreme Court Justice Herman
Cahn substantially upholding the class action complaint.

The Complaint at issue was originally filed by the law firm of Pomerantz
Haudek Block Grossman & Gross LLP (http://www.pomerantzlaw.com)on April
30, 1997 on behalf of subscribers to Prudential health care plans,
alleging, among other things, that Prudential relies on improper
procedures for the determination of what health care will be deemed to be
"medically necessary" under its health insurance policies.

Rather than using appropriately trained and experienced physicians to
determine medical necessity, the Complaint alleges, Prudential permits
non-physician nurse clinicians to decide on "appropriate" medical care,
based on undisclosed and unregulated guidelines promulgated by Milliman &
Robertson, Inc. The use of these guidelines, which, according to the
Complaint, conflict with generally accepted medical standards, permit
HMOs to increase their profits by reducing outlays for medical treatment.
The Complaint asserts that through these practices Prudential has
breached the terms of its subscriber agreements, which promises care that
is consistent with generally accepted medical practice, and that it has
induced its subscribers to join the Prudential plan under false

In reaching its decision, the First Department concluded that
"Plaintiffs' allegations that defendants did not conduct the utilization
review procedures that they promised in their contracts state a cause of
action for breach of contract." Significantly, the Court also upheld the
remedy sought by plaintiffs, stating that "[a]lthough plaintiffs
sustained no out-of-pocket costs, actual injury is sufficiently alleged
in the nonreceipt of promised care, for which restitution of premiums
paid may be an appropriate remedy."

There was no dispute among any of the judges over the validity of
plaintiffs' claims. However, in an unusual turn of events, the judges
split in a 3-2 vote over whether to allow a new cause of action to be
pled against the defendants. Judge Saxe argued in a lengthy dissent
(which was joined by Judge Wallach) that the Court should go beyond
merely upholding plaintiffs' claims but, in addition, should create a new
cause of action "permitting an appropriate remedy when an insurer acts in
bad faith in denying its own insured benefits provided for by the
policy." Thus, Judge Saxe concluded that "the shocking factual
allegations in this case support a viable claim for tortious breach of
defendant's duty of good faith."

The complaint details how Prudential mistreated each of the two named
plaintiffs. One of the plaintiffs had to undergo a total abdominal
hysterectomy to remove two fibroid tumors in her uterus, weighing a total
of three-and-half pounds, requiring an operating that was much more
complicated and took substantially longer than usually would be expected.
Her treating physician wanted her to remain in the hospital at least four
days, to ensure that she was fully recovered and would not have any
life-threatening complications. Over the objections of her physician, who
was never even consulted, a Prudential utilization review nurse informed
the patient after less than 48 hours that further hospitalization was not
medically necessary, based on the Milliman & Robertson guidelines.
Because the patient could not afford the expense of further
hospitalization, she was compelled to be discharged the following

The second plaintiff suffered from Crohn's disease, a chronic condition
causing severe and often times debilitating inflamation of the
intestines. After suffering from a sudden attack, when she was six-months
pregnant, the patient was hospitalized, but was ultimately forced to
leave due to the decision by the same utilization review nurse that
further hospitalization was not medically necessary. A week later she was
rushed to the emergency room with a high fever and severe pain. While
waiting for Prudential to approve exploratory surgery, the patient's
intestine burst, forcing her to undergo emergency surgery which placed at
substantial risk her own life and the life of her unborn child. Only four
days after the life-threatening surgery, Prudential again sought to force
plaintiff to be discharged from the hospital.

"This case could have material ramifications in the health care
industry," says D. Brian Hufford, the partner at the Pomerantz firm in
charge of the litigation, "as we are challenging Prudential's practice of
withholding medically necessary care in order to maximize its corporate
profits." Mr. Hufford also points out that these procedures, including
the reliance on the medical guidelines created by a third-party actuarial
company, Milliman & Robertson, may also be used by many other major
health management organizations. Stanley M. Grossman, the Pomerantz
firm's senior partner, adds: "This is the first case in which an
appellate court has upheld a class action complaint focusing on the means
by which an HMO controls costs by relying on inappropriate standards for
determining medical necessity. The impact of the decision could be

The Pomerantz firm is seeking to represent a nationwide class of
subscribers to Prudential health care plans. If you have any questions
concerning the litigation, please contact Mr. Hufford at 888.476.6529
(toll free) or by email at dbhufford@pomlaw.com. Co-counsel with
Pomerantz in the case is Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP.

Contact: D. Brian Hufford, Esq. of Pomerantz Haudek Block Grossman &
Gross LLP, 888-476-6529, dbhufford@pomlaw.com

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Industry Stays Firm For Legal Closure
German industry on Wednesday rejected a U.S. judge's call to start paying
compensation to survivors of Nazi-era slave and forced labor before
American lawsuits against German companies are dismissed, deepening the
stalemate over the plan.

Payments from the 10 billion mark (dlrs 4.8 billion) fund, financed 50-50
by companies and the German government, are locked in a circle of legal
arguments over industry's stubborn refusal to free its portion. Some 1
million survivors of Nazi labor, mostly from eastern Europe, have yet to
see money from the fund.

U.S. federal Judge Shirley Kram on Tuesday renewed her refusal to dismiss
a key Holocaust lawsuit against German banks. She argued there was
nothing to prevent the foundation from beginning to make interim payments
to aging victims of Nazi slave labor.

But German government and industry envoys insisted that a July agreement
to set up the fund stipulated U.S. lawsuits must be dismissed before any
money can be paid out. About 17 major suits are pending.

''For that reason, there is no doubt whatever that the class-action suits
against German banks pending with Judge Kram must be dismissed,'' said
Otto Lambsdorff, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's special envoy for
compensation issues.

Kram put German industry on the spot when she first upheld the lawsuit
March 7, prompting the companies to complete their share of the fund. But
on Tuesday, the New York judge stood by her argument that some Holocaust
victims could be cheated if she threw out the suit.

Wolfgang Gibowski, a spokesman for companies contributing to the fund,
called Kram's urging of immediate payments now ''pure cynicism.'' He
accused the judge of trying to bundle together complaints against German
banks and past settlements by Austrian banks in an effort to increase the
dlrs 40 million that the latter have agreed to pay slave laborers. ''That
has nothing to do with this process,'' he added. ''We must try to find a
way around Mrs. Kram if we can't convince her.''

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the New York case have appealed Kram's
ruling in an effort to quash their own case and bring payouts a crucial
step closer to reality.

The issue is likely to arise when Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder meets U.S.
President George W. Bush in Washington next week.

Volker Beck, a Greens party lawmaker who is also a fund trustee, lamented
that the timetable for payments to aging survivors was slipping ever
further. ''Compensation payments to former slave laborers are no longer
certain this year after Judge Kram's ruling,'' Beck said. (AP
Worldstream, March 21, 2001)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Negotiator Vows Appeal Of US Court Ruling
The German government negotiator for the compensation of Nazi-era slave
laborers, Count Otto Lambsdorff, on Wednesday vowed a vigorous effort to
appeal a US court judgement handed down in a class action on behalf of
the victims.

Lambsdorff was reacting to a new refusal Tuesday by New York judge
Shirley Kram to dismiss the class action. Kram's decision stands in the
way of payment of billions of dollars in compensation from German firms
and the German government to the former slaves and forced laborers. In a
statement, Lambsdorff said the decision "unfortunately does not surprise
us", and that it had already been decided to appeal a decision by the
same judge two weeks earlier not to dismiss the suit.

"The appeal procedure will now be pursued with every energy," Lambsdorff
said, adding that it was not possible to speak of a time-frame for the
procedure. The initial decision to appeal had followed talks between
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and the managers of a German business
foundation that is collecting compensation money from firms, he said.

Two weeks before, the New York judge said that because German industry
had at that point failed to contribute its share to the foundation, the
victims could not be sure they would be paid.

However managers of the foundation said last week that German companies
had now come up with the full five billion marks (2.55 billion euros,
2.39 billion dollars) they pledged as their part of the compensation

In her ruling, Kram said she was happy the foundation had finally
received its funding, but pointed out there were still problems with the
compensation accord reached last year.

Before paying out the money, German firms want a guarantee that there
will be no further claims in US courts on behalf of the slave and forced
labor victims, and Chancellor Schroeder last week also stressed that
there would be no compensation paid until then.

Judge Kram suggested that Germany could begin paying compensation while
the case was still pending, but Lambsdorff pointed out that the German
parliament had decided that there must be such an indemnity for the firms

"If Mrs Kram is now recommending that the Bundestag decide to start the
payments, then she is overlooking an aspect of the agreement of July
2000, namely that payments will follow the securing of legal indemnity,"
Lambdsorff said in the written statement. "There is therefore no doubt
that the class action against German banks of which Mrs Kram is in charge
must be rejected," the statement added.

Under the accord reached in July last year, German firms and the German
government each agreed to provide five billion marks in compensation for
the victims of the Nazis' forced labor system, estimated to number around
one million. But because of the continuing obstacles, the victims, whose
average age is over 80, are now dying off without getting the money which
they were finally accorded, 55 years after the end of World War II.
(Agence France Presse, March 21, 2001)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Judge's Stand Spurs appeal on Both Sides
Lawyers on both sides of Germany's DM10bn (Dollars 4.6bn) Holocaust
compensation deal were expected to file an appeal against the second
refusal by a New York federal judge to dismiss the class action lawsuits
against German industry.

Judge Shirley Wohl Kram denied for a second time the lawyers' attempts to
bring to a close their Holocaust litigation, despite the rapid response
by German industry to fully fund its DM5bn contribution to a compensation

Judge Kram refused to dismiss the lawsuits earlier this month because of
her concerns that the German deal failed to take into account an earlier
settlement between Holocaust victims and Austrian banks, which were
plundered by the Nazis.

Her continuing opposition to the deal threatens to delay payments to
thousands of Jewish Holocaust survivors as well as former forced workers
in central and eastern Europe.

Judge Kram expressed her "sympathy and genuine, serious concern for
elderly victims". But she placed the blame for continuing delays on the
German side, urging the compensation foundation to begin immediate
interim payments to survivors.

Both the US and German governments plan to join the legal moves to appeal
against Judge Kram's decision and establish legal closure in the
three-year-old dispute. The German foundation refuses to begin payments
until the litigation is ended and it has achieved "legal peace" with the

Robert Swift, the Philadelphia-based lawyer who drafted the lawyers' plea
to the judge for reconsideration, said: "I was disappointed that the
court did not agree on reconsideration and dismiss the complaints. On the
other hand, the court did recognise that we have satisfied one of its two
concerns, leaving what we believe is only a minor concern of the Austrian
assignment. At this point our only avenue is to go to the court of
appeals." (Financial Times (London), March 21, 2001)

INMATES LITIGATION: 31 Sue California Over Parole Hearing Delays
The Prison Law Office filed a lawsuit on March 20 on behalf of 31 inmates
who have missed timely parole hearings from Gov. Gray Davis' understaffed
Board of Prison Terms.

The prisoner advocates say the annual reviews are routinely delayed, in
violation of state law. They have also asked the Marin County Superior
Court to consider a possible class-action lawsuit for the 23,000 inmates
sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.

"It is important because all these 31 prisoners have served a lot of
years and are eager for every opportunity they have to show they are
suitable for parole," said Keith Wattley, a staff attorney with the
Prison Law Office in San Rafael. "The long delays deny them that chance
and runs contrary to the law." He said the board has a backlog of 2,000
cases. There is an average delay of seven to eight months on inmates'
parole hearings.

The Board of Prison Terms canceled parole hearings from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4
because of "a shortage of available commissioners."

Stephen Green, assistant secretary of the Youth and Adult Correctional
Agency, declined to comment until the prison system is served with a copy
of the lawsuit. He did acknowledge the backlog of cases, however, saying
the nine-member board has been hampered by a string of vacancies.

Davis appointed three new commissioners to four-year terms Feb. 16,
raising the number to eight commissioners. The new commissioners, who
must still be confirmed by the state Senate within a year, are former
Republican Assemblyman Brett Granlund, 46; former CSP-Solano associate
warden Booker T. Welch Jr., 56, and former Sacramento County undersheriff
Carol Daly, 62, who was sworn in on March 20.

The governor is considering several people as nominees for the final

"When everybody is in place, we will see a speedup in hearings, but it
will take us awhile to get through this backlog," Green said. "We've
submitted names to the governor and are hopeful the final vacancy will be
filled soon."

Spokeswoman Denise Schmidt of the Board of Prison Terms said the
commissioners crisscross the state and typically visit an institution for
a week. A panel of two commissioners and one deputy commissioner, who is
a civil servant, hear the cases. She said the backlog is due to the lack
of a full complement of commissioners, vacations, retirement and illness.

In 1999, the latest year with statistics available, the board sent 16
cases to Davis' office for his approval. Of those, Davis denied 10 and
sent back six for review by the full board. Four were overturned by the
full panel and two inmates were paroled. She said commissioners earn
$99,693 annually. (The San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 2001)

LEAD PAINT: Chicago To Sue; Problem Costs Millions A Year
Attorneys for the City of Chicago plan to sue companies that put lead in
paint decades ago, seeking cash to help fix a problem that continues to
harm children and costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year, a Law
Department spokeswoman said.

The suit would put Chicago among a growing number of local and state
governments suing the paint industry to help fund the fight against
childhood lead poisoning.

Most of those suits were filed after tobacco companies agreed in 1998 to
pay states $246 billion over 25 years to offset healthcare costs related
to smoking.

Chicago's suit will rely on a "public nuisance" argument similar to the
one the city and Cook County used against the gun industry in 1998,
according to spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle. A judge threw out the gun suit
in September, a ruling that has been appealed.

Although the gun suit's public nuisance angle was an unusual approach for
that kind of case, Hoyle said it is used all the time to clean up
environmental problems that threaten public safety. "They created a
public nuisance by producing a material that is toxic and poisons
people," said Hoyle.

Proving that paint manufacturers are to blame for lead poisoning could be
more difficult than making the case against tobacco companies.

Paint companies say that is because, unlike tobacco companies, they and
their predecessors supported public investigations of lead paint's
harmful effects. Lead made paint more durable, but many manufacturers
found substitutes for the toxic ingredient long before it was banned
outright in 1978, according to the industry.

Manufacturers also argue that lead paint itself isn't a threat. The
danger is when a building isn't maintained properly, allowing paint to
chip and flake. "We're on strong ground," said Thomas J. Graves, vice
president and general counsel at the National Paint and Coatings
Association. "It's normal children, with normal parenting, who get
exposed to lead from myriad sources."

The New York City Housing Authority filed a lawsuit against paint
manufacturers in 1989. That case has been whittled down drastically over
the years, and manufacturers vow to keep up the same lengthy and
expensive showdowns in the lawsuits that have been filed more recently.

The next round of lawsuits is just gearing up.

Rhode Island was the first to sue after the tobacco settlement. It went
after paint manufacturers in October 1999. St. Louis and two school
districts in Texas followed. Then Santa Clara County, Calif., launched a
class action complaint on behalf of all public entities in that state. In
October, Milwaukee's Common Council voted to sue.

"You can't just drop a time bomb in a neighborhood and then say, 'Well, I
stopped manufacturing it,'" said Milwaukee Ald. Willie Hines.

Chicago spends millions of dollars every year to fight the lead paint

Hoyle said the court fight will focus on what the paint manufacturers
knew about lead's dangers, when they knew it, and whether they took
"reasonable" steps to protect public health.

It would be nearly impossible to prove that a certain can of paint
produced by a given manufacturer was used on the wall of a particular
home, causing a specific case of lead poisoning. So, some lawsuits have
relied on a legal strategy based on "market share."

In other words, whatever share of a city's paint market a manufacturer
had, that manufacturer could theoretically be held responsible for that
portion of the liability. A court rejected that argument in the New York

In 1999, there were 18,872 separate lead poisoning cases in Chicago among
children 6 years old and younger, according to the Chicago Department of
Public Health.

Although there are other sources in the environment--left over from the
days of leaded gasoline, for example--lead paint is the most common cause
of childhood lead poisoning, according to Anne Evens, a Public Health
Department official.

Lead poisoning can slow a child's development, reduce intelligence, cause
learning disabilities, affect hearing and spur hyperactivity. Symptoms
are slow to appear.

Extreme cases of lead poisoning can cause brain swelling, coma,
convulsions, even death.

Sarah Nedley's case was extreme. "A living hell," said the 4-year-old's
mother, Jeanie Nedley.

In September 1998, Sarah was diagnosed with one of the highest lead
levels ever found in a Chicago child's blood. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention calls a level of 10 micrograms of lead per
deciliter of blood "lead poisoning." Sarah's level was 204. She spent a
week in the hospital. Her current doctor, Helen Binns, said brain
swelling probably caused the daily vomiting that prompted Jeanie Nedley
to bring Sarah in for an exam. If the swelling had continued without
treatment, seizures would likely have followed.

Then 2 years old, Sarah had a bad habit shared by many toddlers: She
tended to put in her mouth whatever she could get her hands on, including
paint chips. Jeanie Nedley worries that her daughter has memory and
concentration problems. Since she was hospitalized, Sarah has been on
medication to reduce her lead levels. She is undergoing tests to see if
she's developmentally disabled.

Her father, Joe Lopez, said better programs are needed to fight the
problem--before children get sick. "If it wasn't for Medicaid," Sarah's
father said, "she'd be dead right now." (Chicago Tribune, March 21, 2001)

MGM CONSTRUCTION: Orland Eyes Suing Developer Of Misrepresentaiton
Orland Park officials are considering taking legal action against the
developer of a subdivision who they say may have told potential buyers
that a golf course would be built behind their homes where an industrial
park is planned.

Mayor Dan McLaughlin said Monday during a Village Board meeting that John
J. Mayher of MGM Construction Inc. in Orland Park "may have
misrepresented or gave the false impression to a number of potential
purchasers that a golf course was going to be built on the land adjacent,
or in close proximity, to the subdivision."

But Mayher, developer of The Preserve at Marley Creek, denied the
accusation Tuesday and said he was shocked to learn of the village's

"There is nothing to that. It is absolutely untrue....I wish (McLaughlin)
had brought this up a year ago (when the first claims were made), then
there would be nothing to talk about," Mayher said. "I am aware of
nothing that promised anyone a golf course."

McLaughlin said the claims might have misled several residents in the
development west of Wolf Road and south of 179th Street. "A number of
homeowners apparently relied upon those statements and proceeded to
purchase their homes from MGM Construction Inc., possibly at a premium
price with that belief in mind," McLaughlin said.

Again, Mayher denied the allegation. "There is no truth to that. The fact
is that no one paid a higher price for a golf course lot in Marley Creek.
If (the village) would have looked into it a year ago, then it would be a
dead issue because there is nothing to that claim.," Mayher said.

Village attorneys will review the matter, McLaughlin said, and will take
legal action if necessary, including possibly filing a class action
lawsuit. "If Mr. Mayher did indeed maliciously mislead these people with
his actions or omissions, his conduct and that of his company is
unconscionable and simply will not be tolerated by this Village Board,"
McLaughlin said.

Mayher, also owner of MGM Development Inc., built Marley Creek during the
last 18 months. More than 1,000 residents live in the subdivision, with
homes valued from $300,000 to $500,000.

In February, Mayher received approval to build a 21-lot office and light
industrial business park on land he owns adjacent to Marley Creek off
Interstate Highway 80. Mayher also received approval for the annexation
of 67 acres in Will County for the business park. That land is west of
Wolf Road and south of 179th Street.

The Village Board put off approving a development agreement for Mayher's
business center while it addressed a list of concerns from Marley Creek

McLaughlin and Mayher signed an agreement earlier Monday listing 25 items
the developer will take care of. Those items include finishing road
improvements and landscaping, providing park equipment, installing an
aeration device in a private pond and reimbursing homeowners who
purchased trees for the parkway in front of their homes.

"MGM has done everything that the village has wanted me to, and we
continue to clear our name. And we will work with the village. But
everything they have asked of us are standard punch list items that are
seen in every other development in Orland Park," Mayher said.

Since last April, when the subdivision's residents first learned of plans
for the industrial park, they have come out in force to village meetings.
About 50 to 60 residents attended each of the 12 public meetings held on
the issue, continually asserting that they were told a golf course was
promised on that land.

Resident Janice Fleury, who acted as the homeowners' spokeswoman, said
Monday she felt like "we moved a mountain. I'm really happy we got as far
as we did and that the village listened to us. It just shows that the
village does take action."

The homeowners group has been gathering information for months on the
alleged golf course promise. "We have volumes we can give (the village.)
We were prepared to take legal action on our own, but now we do want to
talk to the village so we aren't duplicating efforts," Fleury said.
(Chicago Tribune, March 21, 2001)

NAPSTER, INC: Spar with Recording Companies over Compliance with Ban
Inc. and the recording industry are sparring over compliance with a court
order intended to halt distribution of copyrighted material over
Napster's music-swapping system. In a report submitted to the U.S.
district court in San Francisco last week, Napster claims the record
labels and music composers are not holding up their end of the
injunction. Specifically, Napster says that the plaintiffs have failed to
submit file names for hundreds of thousands of works they want Napster to
block from its system.

In a March 5 revised preliminary injunction, U.S. District Chief Judge
Marilyn Hall Patel said the record labels had to provide Napster with the
name of one or more files on Napster's system that contain an infringing
work, as well as the title of the work and the featured artist. She
specified that music publishers must provide the title of the work and
the name of the composer with the file name. However, Patel also said she
expected that it would "be easier for Napster to search the files
available on its system at any particular time against lists of
copyrighted recordings provided by plaintiffs."

Russell Frackman, a partner at Los Angeles-based Mitchell Silberberg &
Knupp and lead attorney for the record labels, said "there may be
situations where no file names are available" at the time the plaintiffs
look for them on Napster's system. But he said that doesn't mean Napster
doesn't have to do anything to block their distribution. "Copyright law
is intended to stop infringement, not to try to fix it after it happens,"
Frackman said.

In its report on compliance with Patel's order, Napster also says
plaintiffs are not sharing the burden of identifying variations of titles
and artists' names that are to be excluded from the music-swapping
system. Further, the company says, plaintiffs have requested exclusion of
all files containing a given title - regardless of the designated artist.

But Jeffrey Knowles, a partner at Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass who
represents the music publishers, said he believes Patel's order does not
require composers to identify artists. "If it's our song, Napster has to
block it regardless as to who has recorded it," Knowles said.

The record labels and music composers plan to file a response to
Napster's filing next week. Patel has scheduled an April 10 hearing to
review compliance with the preliminary injunction and consider two
separate motions for class certification filed on behalf of music
composers and independent artists. For its part, record labels may
question the adequacy of Napster's filtering system. "Napster seems to
have selected a way of filtering that has the most holes in it," Frackman

Both sides agree that the copyright controversy is far from being
settled. "There is a lot to be played out with regard to how the
injunction works," said Napster attorney Laurence Pulgram, a partner at
Fenwick & West. "The plaintiffs have to prove they own all these works.
There is still a long way to go." (The Recorder, March 21, 2001)

NGK METALS: Beryllium Plaintiffs Amend Suit Seeking Medical Monitoring
Plaintiffs seeking medical monitoring for exposure to beryllium from the
Reading, Pa., plant operated by NGK Metals Corp. filed an amended
complaint Feb. 14 in a class action remanded to state court in October
(Sandra Pohl, et al. v. NGK Metals Corp., et al., No. 000733, Pa. Comm.
Pls., Philadelphia Co.).

The plaintiffs seek medical monitoring under theories of negligence,
strict liability and the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (35 P.S. @
6020.101). The complaint also seeks actual damages and unspecified relief
under the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act.

The representatives of the purported class are residents who lived within
0.3 mile of the Muhlenberg Township, Berks County, facility for 30 to 50
years. None of the class representatives worked at the facility, which
from 1936 to April 2000 manufactured beryllium. The mother of one of the
class representatives is alleged to have chronic beryllium disease.

The class, which is estimated to comprise several thousand plaintiffs, is
described as residents who lived within six miles of the plant for at
least six months between 1950 and 1989. The complaint alleges the class
was exposed to beryllium in excess of background levels because of the
negligence of the defendants.

                        Chronic Beryllium Disease

"As a proximate result of the exposure, plaintiffs and the class have a
significantly increased risk of contracting a serious, latent disease,"
the complaint says.

The complaint alleges NGK acquired the facility from Cabot Corp., the
other named defendant, in 1986. Cabot and its predecessors owned and
operated the facility starting in 1936, according to the complaint.

The process at the plant is described in the complaint as extraction of
beryllium hydroxide from beryl ore and the production of beryllium salts,
metals and alloys including beryllium copper, beryllium nickel and
beryllium aluminum alloys.

The case was remanded to the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas
because plaintiffs are seeking the creation of a trust fund to support
medical monitoring, according to U.S. Judge Harvey Bartle III of the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Sandra Pohl, et al. v. NGK Metal Corp.,
et al., No. 00-4165, E.D. Pa.). Plaintiffs' individual claims do not
create jurisdiction for the federal court, Judge Bartle ruled.

"We cannot aggregate the value of all the claims of the class members to
meet the amount in controversy required under 28 U.S.C. @ 1332(a)," he

Ruben Honik and Daniel C. Dietch of Golomb & Honik in Philadelphia and
Howard Langer of Sandals & Langer in Philadelphia represent the
plaintiffs. Thomas C. De Lorenzo and Stephanie K. Tartakow of Marshall,
Dennehey, Warner, Coleman and Goggin in Philadelphia and Neil S. Witkes
of Manko, Gold & Katcher in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., represent the defendants.
(Mealey's Litigation Report: Class Actions, March 8, 2001)

NUCLEAR TEST: Bikini Islanders Awarded $553M But There's No Fund to Pay
Bikini islanders have been awarded 553m US dollars in compensation for
nuclear test cleanup costs and loss of land by the Marshall Islands
Nuclear Claims Tribunal. The compensation was in response to a class
action suit filed eight years ago by Bikini islanders who claimed
hardship suffered after the United States navy resettled them so they
could carry out nuclear tests on the atoll...

However, the tribunal has no funds to pay the award, having exhausted a
45m dollar compensation fund on personal injury claims. The US government
provided the tribunal with 45m dollars as part of an overall 270m dollar
compensation package. Late last year the Marshall Islands government
submitted a petition to the US Congress seeking its consideration of
adding more than 2.7bn dollars in compensation for environmental damage
from the American nuclear test programme.

Source: Radio New Zealand International, Wellington, in English 0800 gmt
21 Mar 01

Excerpt from report by Radio New Zealand International on 21 March (BBC
Monitoring Asia Pacific - Political Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring,
March 21, 2001)

PRUDENTIAL VARIABLE: Reports on 109 Suits By Opt-outs As at Beg. of Year
Beginning in 1995, regulatory authorities and customers brought
significant regulatory actions and civil litigation against Prudential
involving individual life insurance sales practices, Prudential Variable
Contract Account says in its report to the SEC. In 1996, Prudential, on
behalf of itself and many of its life insurance subsidiaries [including
Pruco Life], entered into settlement agreements with relevant insurance
regulatory authorities and plaintiffs in the principal life insurance
sales practices class action lawsuit covering policyholders of individual
permanent life insurance policies issued in the United States from 1982
to 1995, the report says. Pursuant to the settlements, the companies
agreed to various changes to their sales and business practices controls,
to a series of fines, and to provide specific forms of relief to eligible
class members. The company tells investors that virtually all claims by
class members filed in connection with the settlements have been resolved
and virtually all aspects of the remediation program have been satisfied.

As of December 31, 2000, Prudential and/or Pruco Life remained a party to
approximately 109 individual sales practices actions filed by
policyholders who "opted out" of the class action settlement relating to
permanent life insurance policies issued in the United States between
1982 and 1995. Some of these cases seek substantial damages while others
seek unspecified compensatory, punitive or treble damages. It is possible
that substantial punitive damages might be awarded in one or more of
these cases. Additional suits may also be filed by other individuals who
"opted out" of the settlements.

As of December 31, 2000 Prudential has paid or reserved for payment
$4.405 billion before tax, equivalent to $2.850 billion after tax to
provide for remediation costs, and additional sales practices costs
including related administrative costs, regulatory fines, penalties and
related payments, litigation costs and settlements, including settlements
associated with the resolution of claims of deceptive sales practices
asserted by policyholders who elected to "opt-out" of the class action
settlement and litigate their claims against Prudential separately, and
other fees and expenses associated with the resolution of sales practices

SACRED HEART: Health Bureau Need Not Produce List of Possible TB Victims
Hannis v. Sacred Heart Hospital, PICS Case No. 01-0349 (C.P. Lehigh Dec.
29, 2000) Gardner, P.J. (21 pages).

Plaintiffs were not entitled to discovery of confidential records
maintained by the Allentown Bureau of Health in order to obtain the
identities of potential class action members, because such access was not
necessary to carry out any purpose of the Disease Prevention and Control
Act.  Motion to compel denied.

Plaintiffs seek to represent a class of persons who allegedly were
exposed to active tuberculosis carried by the defendant pediatrician. As
a result of such exposure, the class members allegedly contracted
tuberculosis or suffered adverse side effects from the prophylactic
antibiotic treatment they received. Plaintiffs asserted that records
maintained by the Allentown Bureau of Health contain the names of 277
potential class members.

Plaintiffs moved to compel the bureau to produce those 277 names. The
bureau and the city of Allentown opposed the motion, arguing that it
would compel them to produce records that were privileged, protected and
confidential under the Disease Prevention and Control Act of April 23,

The court noted that Section 521.15 of the act prohibits the disclosure
of records to any person not a member of the department or a local board
or department of health, "except where necessary to carry out the
purposes of this act." This language creates a qualified privilege, the
court stated. In deciding the case, the court relied on Commonwealth v.
Moore, 584 A.2d 936 (1991). Moore involved a request for county health
department records concerning an individual's possible treatment for
gonorrhea to assist in the prosecution of a rape case. The Supreme Court
reversed the Superior Court's decision in favor of access to these
records, noting that the purposes of the act were "to assign primary
responsibility for the prevention and control of diseases to local health
departments, and to institute a system of mandatory reporting,
examination, diagnosis, and the treatment of communicable diseases."
Here, the court concluded that plaintiffs' class action lawsuit did not
further the purposes of the act and militated against allowing plaintiffs
access to these records.

The court also rejected plaintiffs' argument that the interest that these
277 persons had in pursuing compensation in this tort action outweighed
the interests they had in keeping their identities confidential pursuant
to the confidentiality provisions of the act. On the basis of V.B.T.
Family Services of Western Pennsylvania, 705 A.2d 1325 (Pa. Super. 1998),
the court found that the purposes of the act, as articulated by the
Supreme Court in Moore, outweighed any interest that plaintiffs might
have in pursuing their tort litigation. Consequently, the court denied
plaintiffs' motion to compel. (Pennsylvania Law Weekly, March 5, 2001)

TCPI, INC: Announces Dismissal of Shareholder Lawsuit in Florida
TCPI, Inc. (OTCBB:TCPI), a developer, manufacturer and worldwide marketer
of point-of-care medical diagnostic products and skin permeation
enhancers, announced on March 21 that the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Florida has dismissed with prejudice the
securities class action lawsuit against the Company and its former
Chairman. The Plaintiffs have until April 3, 2001 to seek reconsideration
of the Final Order of Dismissal or until April 19, 2001 to appeal the
Final Order of Dismissal.

"We are extremely pleased with the court's decision in this matter," said
Elliott Block, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of TCPI, Inc.

                             About TCPI

TCPI, Inc. markets point-of-care medical diagnostic products for use at
home, in physician offices, and other healthcare locations and
distributes them worldwide through multiple channels under its own
HealthCheck(R) brand as well as OEM (original equipment manufacture) and
private label programs. The Company also markets its patented SR-38(TM)
skin permeation enhancer and owns a patent-protected, proprietary
portfolio of transdermal and dermal drug delivery technologies. TCPI
presently holds 26 U.S. and foreign patents, and has 61 domestic and
foreign patent applications pending.

TEAM COMMUNICATIONS: Milberg Weiss Expands Period for Securities Suit
Milberg Weiss (http://www.milberg.com/team/)on March 21 announced that a
class action has been commenced in the United States District Court for
the Central District of California on behalf of purchasers of TEAM
Communications Group, Inc. ("TEAM Communications") (Nasdaq: TMTV)
publicly traded securities during the period between November 23, 1999
and February 12, 2001 (the "Class Period").

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

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

Contact: William Lerach or Darren Robbins, both of Milberg Weiss,
800-449-4900, wsl@milberg.com

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Industry Lawyers Respond in Flight Attendants' Suit
Attorneys for a disabled TWA flight attendant blamed the poison in
secondhand cigarette smoke for putting her on a waiting list for a double
lung transplant. Tobacco industry attorneys responded in opening
statements Tuesday that Marie Fontana's illness was not caused or
aggravated by smoke and that she should not be awarded any damages.

The Boca Raton woman is seeking an unspecified sum for medical expenses,
lost pay, pain and suffering from the nation's four biggest cigarette
makers. Her claim is the first of more than 3,200 filed in Miami-Dade
County after a $ 349 million national class-action settlement in 1997.
The settlement created a medical research foundation and gave nonsmoking
attendants like Fontana some legal advantages when pursuing individual

"Why did she have to be made sick when she was just doing her job?"
Fontana's attorney, Philip Gerson, asked the six-member jury. "But for
the tobacco smoke, she would have lived out a normal life."

R.J. Reynolds attorney Jonathan Engram rejected any tobacco industry
liability, saying Fontana suffers from a lung-scarring disease called
sarcoidosis that has no known cause. "I'm not trying to say that Ms.
Fontana isn't sick," he said. "My point is that exposure to environmental
tobacco smoke did not make her sick."

Attorneys for Fontana, 58, a 24-year attendant on disability since 1996,
say she suffers from sarcoidosis as well as emphysema and chronic
sinusitis, two diseases caused by secondhand smoke. The combination of
the diseases means "a death sentence. Her condition is terminal," Gerson

Tobacco attorneys contend emphysema came into the picture during the
lawsuit and was not diagnosed by her treating physicians or seen in
medical tests. "Look at the medical records. It's a drumbeat," said
Kenneth Reilly, an attorney for Philip Morris and Lorillard. Brown &
Williamson is the fourth defendant.

The jury has not yet seen Fontana, who uses an oxygen tank. Gerson said
she would testify for short periods with rest breaks to catch her breath.

Fontana joined TWA in 1973 and flew primarily trans-Atlantic trips, where
exposure to smoke was considered more intense and harmful than short-haul
flights. U.S. airlines banned smoking on domestic flights in 1990 and on
international flights in 1997.

Testimony was set to begin March 21 in the trial, which is expected to
take about three weeks before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson.
(Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), March 21, 2001)

UH ADMINISTRATION: Union Drops Complaints Clearing Way for Strike
The University of Hawaii faculty union has dropped its complaints against
the UH administration, clearing the way for a planned April 5 strike.

The Hawaii Labor Relations Board has said complaints the union filed
against the Board of Regents need to be resolved before a strike could

Tony Gill, attorney for the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly,
said he sees no legal way a faculty strike could be blocked.

Gill said the union's complaints against the university may be refiled
later, but the focus now is on plans for a strike.

Faculty members on Wednesday will conclude a three-day strike
authorization vote on all 10 campuses statewide. The results will be
announced by the union Saturday afternoon.

The union and the state remain far apart on key contract issues, and
professors say a new provision in the state's latest contract offer
likely will provoke them into a work stoppage.

The state is offering the 3,100 faculty members a 7 percent pay raise
over two years and 3 percent more in possible merit raises. But it wants
to restrict retirement and health benefits. That would mean faculty would
have to pay the entire bill for their health care coverage and lose
credit toward retirement during the summer months when they don't work,
the professors said.

Davis Yogi, the state's chief negotiator, said the state would be willing
to keep the faculty on a 12-month pay and benefit schedule if the faculty
union gives up its lawsuit opposing the one-time pay lag accepted by the
other public employee unions.

Meanwhile, the union said it will consider filing a class-action lawsuit
on behalf of UH students if the faculty strike is prolonged and the
academic semester is lost. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire,
March 21, 2001)

*  Ordinance Is Skirmish in Legal Battle over Adult Businesses in Pasco
A new ordinance bars employee and customer contact and racy advertising,
and it imposes a policy of three strikes and you're out.

DADE CITY - With Tuesday's passage of an ordinance to regulate sexually
oriented businesses, Pasco County is becoming hostile territory for
businesses such as Suncoast Lingerie Modeling, Lollipops exotic dance
club and Paradise Spa.

But county commissioners' unanimous approval of the ordinance is just the
first skirmish in what is expected to be a bruising legal battle to
remove more than a dozen adult businesses from U.S. 19.

The law approved Tuesday bans employee-customer contact and racy
advertising and establishes a three-strikes-and-you're-out policy for
violations. A companion ordinance from 1999, which takes effect April 20,
requires adult businesses to relocate to industrial areas.

To enforce the pair of laws, Pasco intends to turn loose code enforcement
officers and sheriff's deputies. Owners of adult businesses vow to resist
attempts to shut them down. "Either they're going to file suit to stay or
we're going to file suit to make them move," said assistant county
attorney Sid Kilgore.

Sex industry lawyer Luke Lirot, representing eight of the adult
businesses in coastal Pasco, lobbied commissioners to soften their
stance. Two college professors, one a psychologist specializing in sex,
lent testimony to Lirot's cause. Attacking the roots of the ordinance -
the claim that adult businesses promote crime, disease and lower property
values - Lirot denied his clients harm the community disproportionately.
Lirot's team rolled out statistics purporting to show that property
values actually rise in neighborhoods near adult businesses and that
regular bars cause more crime than go-go bars.

During testimony dealing with property values, Commissioner Steve Simon,
who teaches real estate for a living, jumped in with a cross-examination.
Simon argued that adult clubs have an "obnoxious, stigmatizing effect" on
property sales. Whether the businesses actually attract crime is beside
the point if potential home buyers believe it's true, Simon said. "What
would (property values) have gone up if that stigma had not been
present?" Simon said. To which Lirot replied: "People's presumptions and
prejudices should not result in legislation that damages my clients."

Some of Lirot's clients - the four bars on U.S. 19 that feature semiclad
dancing girls - might not feel the weight of the law after all. The
county will offer the bars a chance to appeal the mandatory relocation on
the grounds that they don't cause the crime and disease linked to
lingerie and massage parlors, Kilgore said. Other potential loopholes
exist as well. Although the prohibition on employee-customer contact
outlaws lap dancing, the ordinance is silent about nudity lest the law
apply to the county's popular nudist resorts. What's more, the law
doesn't ban touching between employees, a loophole for some lingerie and
massage parlors to continue offering sex shows.

Still, passage of the ordinance cheered a small contingent of Hudson
neighbors who have tried for years to suppress what they consider a
growing red light district.

For Dolores Reger, whose battle against pornography began with the
opening of Suncoast Modeling and Lingerie Sales at the entrance to her
neighborhood at U.S. 19 and Sea Ranch Drive, the ordinance brought hope.
"Hudson is an unpolished gem," Reger told commissioners before the 5-to-0
vote. "Adult businesses put flaws in my gem."

In other business Tuesday, commissioners instructed the county attorney's
office to fight a class-action lawsuit aimed at forcing Florida counties
to replace their punch-card voting machines.

County attorney Robert Sumner said the lawsuit is moot since the state
Legislature plans on banning punch-card machines anyway. "It's an attempt
by a bunch of attorneys to get a big attorney's fee for nothing," Sumner
said. Pasco's supervisor of elections, Kurt Browning, favors investing $
4-million in a computerized touch-scan voting system, although
commissioners have yet to agree to the outlay. (St. Petersburg Times,
March 21, 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
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Washington, DC. Theresa Cheuk, Managing Editor.

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

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