/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/010326.MBX               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

               Monday, March 26, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 59


AMAZON.COM, INC: Cohen, Milstein Files Securities Suit in Washington
AMAZON.COM, INC: Hagens Berman Commences Securities Suit in Washington
AMAZON.COM, INC: Kirby McInerney Commences Securities Suit in Washington
ARIBA, INC: Sirota & Sirota and Lovell & Stewart File NY Securities Suit
CALIFORNIA: At Early Stage of Lawsuit under ADA Re Laguna Honda Facility

CALIFORNIA: Continues to Contest Lawsuits Seeking Refund
CALIFORNIA: Has Filed Responsive Pleading in ADA Suit Re Provider Rates
CALIFORNIA: Trial for Charges of Age Bias in IDR Benefits Set for April
CALIFORNIA: Vigorously Defends Godinez Suit over School Fund Allocation
CALIFORNIA: Wins Cases over Medical Reimbursement Rates; Appeal Filed

D.C. CABS: Companies Face Racial Discrimination Suits
DONNA KARAN: LVMH May Raise Bid Price to Close Share Deal
EDMUND SHAMSI: Tenants Sue Accusing Landlord of Hiding Deal with City
GAS COMPANIES: SF Suit Accuses of Manipulating CA Natural Gas Market
GATEWAY, INC: Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana Sues in CA

HIH INSURANCE: Aussi Investors Want to Take Insurer to Court
HMOs: Not Immune from ERISA, Physicians Can Refile RICO Claims in Ruling
NAVIGANT CONSULTING: IL Ct Approves Settlement for Securities Complaint
NEW FOCUS: Wolf Haldenstein Commences Securities Fraud Suit in CA
NORTEL NETWORKS: Teachers' Pension Plan Slams Executive Packages

SALMONELLA OUTBREAK: Cost Nippy's Two Years Set-Back and $2M, M.D. Says
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Medical Monitoring Case Remains Alive in W. Virginia
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Sp Ct of Canada Paves Way for Lung Cancer Case
U OF ILLINOIS: ACLU Sues University For Warning About Mascot
WAR LITIGATION: NY Continues Hearings on Polish Property Seizure

WEBLINK WIRELESS: Wolf Haldenstein Commences Securities Fraud Suit in TX


AMAZON.COM, INC: Cohen, Milstein Files Securities Suit in Washington
The following notice is issued by the law firm of Cohen, Milstein,
Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. who filed a lawsuit in the United States
District Court for the Western District of Washington on behalf of
persons who purchased Amazon.Com, Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN) common stock during
the period between February 2, 2000 and March 9, 2001 (the "Class

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.

The complaint alleges that, throughout the Class Period, Defendants
touted the Company's investments in various joint ventures called Amazon
Commerce Network partners ("ACNs") and the purported high margin revenue
stream created by such ventures. Because of Amazon.com's ongoing
operating losses, it was critical for the Company to demonstrate to
themarket significant cash flow to offset such losses until the Company
became profitable. However, Defendants failed to disclose until the end
of the Class Period that: (a) the ACN investments were losing millions of
dollars; (b) much of the purported revenue recorded appeared to investors
as cash, but was actually in the form of highly speculative equity
investments; (c) the revenues recognized under the ACN agreements made
Amazon.com's losses appear less than they were and distorted the
Company's reported cash flow and (d) based on its true financial
condition Amazon.com would face significant credit and operational

Defendants' misrepresentations caused the price of Amazon.com securities
to be artificially inflated throughout the Class Period. Defendants took
advantage of this run up in Amazon.com's stock price to sell over $31.5
million of their own shares on unsuspecting investors. Additionally,
defendants also were able to complete an offering of
Amazon.comconvertible debt priced at more than $680 million in February

Contact: Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. Steven J. Toll or
Clarence D. Williams, 888/240-1238 stoll@cmht.com cwilliams@cmht.com

AMAZON.COM, INC: Hagens Berman Commences Securities Suit in Washington
A class action has been commenced in the United States District Court for
the Western District of Washington on behalf of all purchasers of
Amazon.com, Inc. ("Amazon.com") common stock during the period from
February 2, 2000 through March 9, 2001 (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Amazon and certain of its officers and directors
with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The complaint
alleges that Amazon.com's cash position has been an important component
to the Company's valuation in the market. On February 2, 1000, Amazon.com
announced favorable results for the fourth quarter of 1999, and also
announced partnerships that the Company maintained would represent $500
million in revenue over the next five years.

In the wake of this good news, on February 16, 2000, Amazon.com completed
an offering of Euro 690 million in 6.875% convertible subordinated notes
due 2010, pursuant to a Prospectus dated February 11, 2000. This
prospectus provided that Amazon.com would receive $663 million in net
proceeds. In fact, but concealed from the public, the payments from the
partnerships would be in stock, not cash and the actual receipt of this
money was uncertain at best. Thus, the agreements did not satisfy
Amazon.com's pressing need for increased cash balances.

Since the beginning of the Class Period, Amazon.com's cash concerns have
only intensified and the aforementioned agreements have provided little
in the way of cash. Then, on March 9, 2001, it was revealed Amazon.com's
CEO was being investigated for selling 800,000 shares of Amazon.com prior
to a negative report by an analyst. Amazon.com's stock has now dropped to
below $12 per share, some 86% below the Class Period high of $85-15/16.

Contact: Hagens Berman LLP Steve W. Berman or Karl P. Barth, 206/623-7292
toll-free at 888/381-2889 Karl@Hagens-Berman.com

AMAZON.COM, INC: Kirby McInerney Commences Securities Suit in Washington
Kirby McInerney & Squire (www.kmslaw.com) has commenced a class action
lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of
Washington on behalf of a class (the "Class") consisting of all persons
who purchased securities of Amazon.com, Inc. ("Amazon") (NASDAQ: AMZN)
between February 2, 2000 and March 9, 2001, inclusive (the "Class

The complaint charges Amazon and certain of its officers and directors
with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The complaint
alleges that, during the class period, the defendants: (i) artificially
inflated the price of Amazon's securities, by (ii) causing Amazon to
issue misleading financial results and statements, and (iii) benefitted
from these misleading statements by raising over$650 million from
investors in a convertible bond offering and by receiving tens of
millions of dollars from selling Amazon shares at artificially-inflated

Specifically, the complaint alleges that, on February 2, 2000, Amazon
announced favorable results for its 4th quarter of 1999, and announced
partnerships it said would represent $500 million in revenue over the
next five years. In fact, but concealed from the public, the payments
from the partnerships would be in stock, not cash and the actual receipt
of this money was uncertain at best. Thus, the agreements did not satisfy
Amazon's most pressing concern: cash. Two weeks later, Amazon raised $663
million from a public offering of 6.875% convertible subordinated notes
due 2010. Since the beginning of the Class Period, Amazon's cash concerns
have only intensified and the aforementioned agreements have provided
little in the way of cash. Additionally, on March 9, 2001, it was
revealed Amazon's CEO was being investigated for selling 800,000 shares
of Amazon prior to a negative report by an analyst. Amazon's stock has
now dropped to below $12 per share, more than 85% below the class period
high of $85.93.

Contact: KIRBY McINERNEY & SQUIRE, LLP, New York Ira Press, Esq./Orie
Braun, 212/317-2300

ARIBA, INC: Sirota & Sirota and Lovell & Stewart File NY Securities Suit
Sirota & Sirota and Lovell & Stewart Announce Securities Fraud Class
Action Against Ariba, Inc., Directors, Investment Banks

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 23, 2001 on
behalf of all persons and entities who purchased, converted, exchanged or
otherwise acquired the common stock of Ariba, Inc. (Nasdaq:ARBA) between
June 23, 1999 and December 5, 2000, 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 21, 2001.

The action, Claude Amsellem v. Ariba, 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-2476 (JSM) and has been
assigned to the Hon. John S. Martin, Jr., U.S. District Judge. The
complaint alleges that Ariba, Inc., Robert C. Kagle, John B. Mumford, and
Paul Hegarty, three of Ariba's directors, and Keith J. Krach, Ariba's
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President violated the federal
securities laws by issuing and selling Ariba common stock pursuant to the
June 23, 1999 IPO without disclosing to investors that at least two of
the lead underwriters in the offering 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. and Merrill Lynch, Pierce,
Fenner & Smith, Inc. allocated Ariba shares to customers at the IPO price
of $23 per share. To receive the allocations (i.e., the ability to
purchase shares) at $23, the lead 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 Ariba
stock rocketed upward (a practice known on Wall Street as "laddering")
was intended to (and did) drive Ariba'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 $23 IPO price and then selling it later
for a profit at inflated aftermarket prices, which rose as high as $90.63
during its first day of trading.

Rather than allowing its customers to keep their profits from the IPO,
the complaint alleges, the lead 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

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 Ariba 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.

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

CALIFORNIA: At Early Stage of Lawsuit under ADA Re Laguna Honda Facility
In Charles Davis v. California Health and Human Services Agency, the
plaintiff has brought a class action under a number of federal acts,
including the Americans with Disabilities Act, seeking declaratory and
injunctive relief, alleging that persons who are institutionalized with
disabilities at a San Francisco run 1,200 bed skilled nursing facility
(Laguna Honda) who require long term care should be assessed as to
whether they can be treated at home or in community-based facilities, and
then provide appropriate care. At this early stage in the proceedings, it
is difficult to assess the financial impact of a judgment against the
State. However, should the plaintiff prevail, the State's liability could
exceed $400 million. The State is vigorously defending this action.

CALIFORNIA: Continues to Contest Lawsuits Seeking Refund
The State is involved in three refund actions, Cigarettes Cheaper!, et
al. v. Board of Equalization, et al., California Assn. of Retail
Tobacconists (CART), et al. v. Board of Equalization, et al., and
McLane/Suneast, et al. v. Board of Equalization, et al., that challenge
the constitutionality of Proposition 10, approved by the voters in 1998.
Plaintiffs allege that Proposition 10, which increases the excise tax on
tobacco products, violates 11 sections of the California Constitution and
related provisions of law.

The State is vigorously contesting these cases. If the statute is
declared unconstitutional, exposure may include the entire $750 million
collected annually with interest, which could amount to several billion
dollars by the time the case is finally resolved.

CALIFORNIA: Has Filed Responsive Pleading in ADA Suit Re Provider Rates
In Stephen Sanchez, et al. v. Grantland Johnson et al., the plaintiffs
have brought a class action in Federal District Court for the Northern
District of California, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief,
alleging, in part, that provider rates for community-based services for
developmentally disabled individuals are discriminatory under the
Americans with Disabilities Act, and violate the Social Security Act, the
Civil Rights Act and the Rehabilitation Act, because they result in
unnecessary institutionalization of developmentally disabled persons.

The State has filed a responsive pleading and is vigorously contesting
this case. At this early stage in the proceedings, it is difficult to
assess the financial impact of a judgment against the State. However,
should the plaintiffs prevail, the State's liability could exceed $400

CALIFORNIA: Trial for Charges of Age Bias in IDR Benefits Set for April
Arnett v. California Public Employees Retirement System, et al., was
filed by seven former employees of the State of California and local
agencies, seeking back wages, damages and injunctive relief. Plaintiffs
are former public safety members who began employment after the age of 40
and are recipients of Industrial Disability Retirement ("IDR") benefits.
Plaintiffs contend that the formula which determines the amount of IDR
benefits violated the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of
1967. Plaintiffs contend that, but for their ages at hire, they would
receive increased monthly IDR benefits similar to their younger
counterparts who began employment before the age of 40.

On August 17, 1999, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the
District Court's dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim.
The State sought further review in the U.S. Supreme Court, which remanded
the case to the Ninth Circuit for further proceedings. The Ninth Circuit,
in turn, remanded the case to the District Court, where the parties
expect a trial date of April 30, 2001. In the event of an unfavorable
result, CalPERS has estimated the liability to the State as approximately
$315.5 million.

CALIFORNIA: Vigorously Defends Godinez Suit over School Fund Allocation
On March 30, 2000, a group of students, parents, and community based
organizations brought suit, on behalf of the school children of the Los
Angeles Unified School District against the State Allocation Board
("SAB"), the State Office of Public School Construction ("OPSC") and a
number of State officials (Godinez, et al. v. Davis, et al.) in the
Superior Court in the County of Los Angeles.

The lawsuit principally alleges SAB and OPSC have unconstitutionally and
improperly allocated new public school construction funds to local school
districts for new public school construction as authorized by the Class
Size Reduction Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond
Act (hereafter referred to as "Proposition 1A").

Plaintiffs seek only prospective relief, alleging that the current SAB
method of allocating new construction funds is neither reasonable nor
fair to large, urban school districts. The Plaintiffs allege the present
allocation method does not dispense new construction funds on a priority
of greatest need basis. Plaintiffs seek a declaration of the illegality
of the current allocation method, a preliminary and permanent injunction
and/or a writ of mandate against further allocation of Proposition 1A
funds unless the allocation method is modified. The State is vigorously
defending this lawsuit. The Attorney General is of the opinion that the
lawsuit does not affect the validity of any State bonds, nor the
authority of the State to issue bonds under current authorization granted
by the finance committees.

CALIFORNIA: Wins Cases over Medical Reimbursement Rates; Appeal Filed
As previously reported in the CAR, Louis Bolduc et al. v. State of
California, et al., is a class action filed on July 13, 1999 by six
Medi-Cal beneficiaries who have received medical treatment for
smoking-related diseases. Plaintiffs allege the State owes them an
unspecified portion of the tobacco settlement monies under a federal
regulation that requires a state to turn over to an injured Medicaid
beneficiary any monies the state recovers from a third party tortfeasor
in excess of the costs of the care provided. The State moved to dismiss
the complaint on September 8, 1999.

On February 29, 2000, the court denied the State's motion to dismiss, but
struck the plaintiffs' class action allegations. The State is seeking
appellate review of that portion of the court's order denying its motion
to dismiss, and plaintiffs appealed the court's striking of their class
action allegations.


On August 31, 2000, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the State, and
ordered the trial court to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint with
prejudice for failure to state a cause of action. The plaintiffs have
filed a timely appeal with the Supreme Court.

In another case regarding Medical reimbursement rates, plaintiffs in
County of San Bernardino v. Barlow Respiratory Hospital and related
actions seek mandamus relief requiring the State to retroactively
increase out-patient Medical reimbursement rates. Plaintiffs have
estimated the damages to be several hundred million dollars. The State is
vigorously defending these cases, as well as related federal cases
addressing the calculation of Medi-Cal reimbursement rates in the future.

D.C. CABS: Companies Face Racial Discrimination Suits
A civil rights group filed a pair of federal lawsuits on March 22 on
behalf of two African Americans who contend they were refused taxi
service because of their race.

In one case, a man said a driver raced away rather than pick him up at a
hotel. "I stood there, just embarrassed and really speechless," said
Bryan Greene, 32, recalling the incident outside Loews L'Enfant Plaza
Hotel. "It was so brazen."

In the other case, a woman alleged that she was ordered to leave a cab
near Georgetown University Hospital so the driver could pick up five
white passengers. "He said, 'Get out and wait for the bus,' " said
Selethia Snead, 26, who said the driver gave no explanation.

The lawsuits were the latest in a series of actions taken against the
taxicab industry by the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights
and Urban Affairs. The group's executive director, Roderic V.O. Boggs,
said discrimination by taxi drivers has been "the most resistant" problem
facing the nonprofit organization.

The litigation comes during a crackdown by D.C. police against drivers
who refuse to pick up black passengers or refuse to drive into
neighborhoods that are predominantly black. Police in the 2nd District
said they issued 94 citations in three sting operations in Northwest
Washington since Feb. 1. Those drivers either ignored black plainclothes
officers attempting to hail cabs or told them they wouldn't drive to a
specific address, said Capt. Michael Jacobs. The drivers face $ 250 fines
for violating a D.C. law that bars discrimination in the transit

Greene, a chief policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development, said he had gone to his office in Southwest Washington
on April 2, a Sunday, to write a speech commemorating the 32nd
anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act. When he finished work at
9:30 p.m., he went to the hotel because it was near his office and
because cabs typically congregate there looking for fares, he said.

According to Greene, a driver for Your Way Cab Association was letting
out a white passenger when he arrived. Aided by a doorman, Greene said,
he attempted to hail the cab. But, Greene said, the driver "sized me up
and started pulling away." Greene said he and the doorman got the cab's
number and used it to identify Balvir Singh Johal as the driver.

Rana Singh, who owns the cab company, said his drivers view everyone as
"paying customers" and do not discriminate, adding, "Every cabdriver has
to pick up everyone." Johal did not return a message left through Singh
requesting comment.

Snead said her troubles took place at 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, 1999,
shortly after she wrapped up a shift as a nurse's aide at Georgetown
University Hospital.

She said she got into a cab in front of the hospital at 3800 Reservoir
Rd. NW and thought she was headed home.

Instead, she said, the driver for District Cab Co. told her to get out,
picked up five white, college-age passengers, and drove off. She got the
cab's number and said she used it to identify Josiah Uzodinma Nwosu as
the driver.

"You do, as a black African American, have the hardest time catching a
cab," said Snead, who now drives a Metrobus. "They look at you, and they
keep going."

Jerry Schaeffer, a manager for District Cab, said his drivers don't
discriminate and serve all parts of the city. Nwosu, who is black and
from Nigeria, said he did not recall the incident but was certain that
Snead's account was false.

"That's a lie," said Nwosu, a taxi driver since 1992. "There is no way
she enters the cab and I let her out and pick up whites. If she is
already in the cab, I don't think I would let her out unless she decided
that she wanted to be let out."

The lawsuits accuse the cab companies and drivers of civil rights
violations and seek unspecified monetary damages as well as court orders
prohibiting discriminatory behavior.

Boggs said the civil rights group is looking for complaints from other
people who think they have faced discrimination from taxi companies or
drivers. Last year, its lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit against
Diamond Cab Co., of the District, targeting dispatchers for
discrimination. Diamond Cab has denied wrongdoing.

In another case, a federal court jury ordered Presidential Cab Co. last
year to pay $ 120,000 in damages to two men who claimed they were victims
of racial discrimination. (The Washington Post, March 23, 2001)

DONNA KARAN: LVMH May Raise Bid Price to Close Share Deal
LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA is close to purchasing New York
fashion house Donna Karan at a price that may be announced as early as
March 26, the New York Post reported, citing Marc Ravitz, an
institutional investor at Grace & White in New York. According to the
report, LVMH is considering raising its per share bid price for Donna
Karan to the 9.50-10.00 usd range from its current rice of 8.50. The
report noted that LVMH already owns many Donna Karan trademarks. The
people at LVMH are smart business people. It might behoove them to raise
the purchase price to between 9.50 usd and 10.00 usd in order to save
them the time and money that would be spent fighting off class action
suits from unhappy shareholders," Ravitz said. (AFX European Focus, March
23, 2001)

EDMUND SHAMSI: Tenants Sue Accusing Landlord of Hiding Deal with City
They lived there when the towering high-rise bordered one of the more
crime-infested communities in New England, and they remember when the
landlord sent letters begging his tenants to stay.

But in recent years, residents of Mission Hill's Back Bay Manor have seen
rents skyrocket - so high that many tenants began asking if there was any
protection available. To their surprise, they discovered there was.

In 1997, the landlord of the once federally subsidized 200-unit building
signed an agreement with the city that gave him a financial break on loan
interest rates if he promised to protect low-income, elderly, and
disabled tenants from high rent increases.

Now a group of tenants has filed a class action lawsuit against landlord
Edmund Shamsi, accusing him of keeping the deal a secret and breaking his
promise, taking advantage of an excruciatingly tight housing market and a
neighborhood that is quickly becoming desirable.

They also accuse Shamsi of harassment and raising rents so high that some
tenants were forced to move, even as he gave arbitrary breaks to others,
including his employees.

But lawyers for Shamsi and Boston Realty Management Inc. say the rent
increases were an accounting mistake that was corrected shortly after it
came to light. And the outraged tenants, they say, are not vulnerable
people but well-paid professionals who can afford to pay market rates.

Patricia Ann Shechter, a 50-year-old technical secretary at Harvard's
School of Public Health, has lived in Back Bay Manor for a decade. A
member of the class action suit, Shechter said she was shocked when she
learned about Shamsi's deal with the city, which she believes should have
kept her rent hundreds of dollars below what she is paying now.

"This is greed, and it's unacceptable in a building that was built with
federal funds for working families," said Shechter, who has an immunity
disorder that gives her severe bone pain.

When Shamsi tried to raise the rent on her two-bedroom apartment in 1999,
Shechter wrote to him and explained her disability. He responded by
raising her rent by $130 instead of $205. Shechter got a roommate to help
cover the increase.

But other residents at Back Bay Manor - where one-bedroom units range
from $ 700 to $800 per month, and two bedroom units from $1000 to $1500 -
had rents raised so much that the tenants' association started asking
around for help. The group found it when City Councilor Mike Ross and
tenant activist Michael Kane discovered Shamsi's agreement with the
Boston Redevelopment Authority, which capped rent increases for disabled,
elderly, and low-income tenants at 5 percent a year.

BRA officials explained the agreement to tenants at a meeting last July,
showing them a list of 47 tenants Shamsi said were eligible for
protection in 1997.

But some on the list worked for Back Bay Manor, and others had died or
moved away. Still others had unknowingly benefited from low rent for
years, only to have their rents raised when their leases came up for

"We were pretty stunned," Shechter said. "He's getting financial breaks
with the understanding in this agreement that there are certain tenants
that he protects, and yet he's increasing many of those folks above 5
percent, and he's making money off them."

Within days of the tenants' meeting last year, Shamsi had paid refunds to
some tenants on the list, plus interest. Eventually, he added to the list
names he agreed had been eligible for the protection in 1997.

But some Back Bay Manor residents were still angry. They set up their own
task force to determine who qualified for lower rents in 1997. They now
say Shamsi owes money and lower rents to at least 14 people, and could
owe many more.

"There was no effort made by Shamsi that we could detect to find out who
was eligible, as far as we could see," Kane said. "There are still others
who were forced out of the building by those exorbitant rent increases,
and no one knows where they are."

The lawsuit also charges that Shamsi has tried to intimidate tenant
activists, recently informing Shechter that her rent would be raised by
$500, or 37 percent.

Shamsi's lawyer, Paul Killeen, said his client denies that the tenants of
Back Bay Manor have been cheated or harassed.

The residents are "largely college professors and students," Killeen
said, and Shamsi has always granted relief to those who can prove that
they are in need. Shamsi showed his good faith, Killeen said, by promptly
giving refunds to people who had been overcharged.

"The majority of tenants have no grievance," Killeen said. He blamed the
lawsuit on outside activists who have made "a big political issue" from
something that should have been "an accounting matter between tenants and
their landlord." (The Boston Globe, March 23, 2001)

GAS COMPANIES: SF Suit Accuses of Manipulating CA Natural Gas Market
A bar in the city's popular North Beach neighborhood has filed a class
action suit accusing several natural gas companies of manipulating
California's natural gas market to drive up prices unfairly.

A team of San Francisco attorneys filed the suit on March 22 in San
Franicsco Superior Court on behalf of Sweetie's and all California
businesses and individuals that purchased or will purchase natural gas
between March 1, 2000 and May 1, 2001.

Excluded from the suit are the utilities, generators and anyone else who
bought natural gas to fuel a power plant or to resell it.

The suit claims that defendants - including El Paso Corp., which owns the
main pipeline transporting out-of-state gas to Southern California -
"rigged the bidding for natural gas pipeline capacity to gain market
power in the California natural gas spot market and then abused its
market power to manipulate the prices."

The cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles also sued several natural gas
companies, accusing them of conspiring to drive up prices by limiting

The cities' lawsuits say Southern California Gas Co., San Diego Gas and
Electric, El Paso Natural Gas. Co., Sempra Energy, El Paso Corp. and
affiliated companies decided in a Phoenix hotel room in 1996 to block
construction of gas pipelines that could have helped the state avoid its
power crisis.

The companies deny any collusion.

The allegations are being probed by state Attorney General Bill Lockyer,
who is also looking into high electricity prices. Lockyer told state
senators he has subpoenaed several documents from power suppliers; he
said he could not share those records with lawmakers.

State lawmakers are also investigating whether market manipulation helped
drive up California's natural gas prices and add to the state's energy
problems. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, March 23, 2001)

GATEWAY, INC: Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana Sues in CA
The following is an announcement by the law firm of Bernstein Litowitz
Berger & Grossmann LLP:

Pursuant to 15 U.S.C. 78u-4(a)(3)(A)(I), the Teachers' Retirement System
of Louisiana (the "System"), through Bernstein Litowitz Berger &
Grossmann LLP, hereby gives notice that on March 22, 2001 the System
filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
California a class action lawsuit against Gateway, Inc. ("Gateway" or the
"Company") and one of its former officers.

The class includes all purchasers of Gateway common stock (NYSE: GTW)
from April 14, 2000 to February 28, 2001, inclusive (the "Class").
Excluded from the Class are defendants, officers and directors of the
corporate defendant, and predecessors, successors, assigns or affiliates
of any such excluded party.

The Complaint alleges that, during the Class Period, Gateway issued
materially false and misleading financial information for its quarters
ended March 31, 2000, June 30, 2000, September 30, 2000, and December 31,
2000, and included these false and misleading statements in various press
releases and in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Gateway announced on February 28, 2001 that the Company's previously
reported results for the first three quarters of 2000 were being
restated, and that previously announced fourth quarter 2000 results were
being revised. The Company admitted that it had recorded revenues before
they had been earned, in violation of Generally Accepted Accounting
Principles ("GAAP") and Securities and Exchange Commission Staff
Accounting Bulletin No. 101, Revenue Recognition in Financial Statements
("SAB 101"), which warned registrants concerning revenue recognition
abuses, including the one used by Gateway: Gateway recorded revenue when
a product was shipped, instead of waiting until it was received by the
customer. Indeed, in each Form 10-Q Gateway filed in 2000, it falsely
declared that applying SAB 101 "will not have a material impact on the
Company's financial position or results of operations." Gateway also
restated its quarterly 2000 results because of as yet unspecified revenue
recognition issues, because it improperly failed to adequately account
for loan losses on the Company's finance receivables, and because it had
to correct accounting irregularities at a foreign subsidiary.

As a result of these previously undisclosed GAAP violations, Gateway's
earlier reported quarterly 2000 financial results were materially false
and misleading. For example, cumulative net sales, operating income and
net income for the nine months ended September 30, 2000 were overstated
by $126 million, $ 44 million, and $41 million, respectively. The net
income amounts previously disclosed for the first three quarters of 2000
and for the year were overstated by 13.7%, 3.0%, 15.8% and 30.8%,

Had Gateway accurately reported the results of its operations during
2000, it could not have trumpeted its earnings growth each quarter.
Instead of proclaiming earnings growth of 37%, 36% and 35%, respectively,
for each of the first three quarters of 2000 over the same quarters of
1999, the Company should have reported growth of 20%, 32% and 17% for
those quarters. Instead of achieving anticipated fourth quarter net
income growth of 47%, as Todd declared on Money Watch, Gateway actually
reported a loss for the fourth quarter. Instead of reporting annual net
income growth of nearly 40%, the Company actually reported a decrease of
net income compared with 1999 ($428 million for 1999 versus $241 million
for 2000) of over 40%.

Contact: Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP, New York Nicholas
DeFilippis, (212) 554-1478

HIH INSURANCE: Aussi Investors Want to Take Insurer to Court
HIH Insurance Ltd may face legal action from shareholders following its
decision to go into provisional liquidation a week ago.

The Australian Shareholders Association ASA is considering launching a
class action against the group on behalf of the 30,000 Australian
investors who could end up with worthless stock. The ASA has reportedly
held talks with a team of solicitors about whether it is possible to take
HIH to court.

"At this stage it is too early to think about it much further until the
results of the investigation into the company are revealed," ASA chairman
Ted Rofe told the Daily Telegraph. "But at this stage the position of the
shareholders looks grim."

HIH appointed provisional liquidator KPMG recently after seeking
permission in the New South Wales Supreme Court.

The insurer's losses had blown out to a massive $ A800 million ($ US391.6
million). Many of the group's policyholders have been able to obtain
alternative cover thanks to a series of fire sales of HIH businesses
carried out before the company went into liquidation. However, confusion
still remains over whether claims on certain business policies can be

The Insurance Council of Australia ICA said it was still unable to answer
all policyholders' questions about the state of play for some HIH
Insurance Ltd claims.

The ICA said it and the industry had been working extremely hard to
assist as many policyholders as possible to obtain alternative cover. "At
this stage, because a provisional liquidator is involved, it is not
possible to answer all policyholders' questions such as outstanding
claims in some classes of business," ICA executive director Alan Mason
said. "However, ICA is working with the provisional liquidator, KPMG, the
regulators ASIC and APRA and major companies in the industry to try to
help those policyholders affected."

Mr Mason said a substantial number of policyholders with particular types
of insurance had already had their policies taken over and honored by
other major Australian insurance companies.

HIH is being investigated by the Australian Securities and Investments
Commission ASIC and the industry watchdog, the Australian Prudential
Regulation Authority APRA .

Mr Mason said builders' warranty insurer Royal & Sun Alliance Australia
Ltd (through Home Owners Warranty) had indicated it would offer new short
term policies to builders previously covered by HIH. But outstanding
claims arising from builders' warranty insurance would have to be dealt
with by the provisional liquidator, he said.

Allianz Australia is covering home, motor and compulsory third party CTP
and small business insurance policies for HIH and its former subsidiaries

NRMA Insurance Group Ltd is underwriting workers' compensation new
business and Mr Mason said there was no need for people who currently
held CTP or workers' compensation policies with HIH companies to make
changes to those policies.

QBE Insurance (Australia) Ltd is underwriting renewal or replacement of
corporate insurances.

ASIC has advised people with HIH, FAI or CIC travel insurance policies to
check their cover.

Westpac Banking Corp Ltd, meanwhile, said it had less than $ A1 million
($ US489,500) in loans or debt due from the HIH group. (Asia Pulse, March
23, 2001)

HMOs: Not Immune from ERISA, Physicians Can Refile RICO Claims in Ruling
sides claimed some victories in U.S. District Judge Frederico Moreno's
latest ruling on the raft of lawsuits targeting the managed care
practices of insurers including Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp., Humana Inc. and

The good: Moreno threw out physicians' claims that the insurers violated
the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and prompt payment

The bad: Moreno didn't buy the insurers' argument that they are shielded
from such lawsuits by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act,
particularly in light of last year's Supreme Court decision in Pegram v.

The ugly: He also encouraged physicians' lawyers to refile the RICO
claims, giving them until March 26 to do so. He helpfully suggested that
the physicians include information that "the plaintiffs are apparently in
possession of...that would permit them to specifically identify" ways in
which the insurers form an enterprise, one of the requirements of a RICO

Moreno also went out of his way to burst any illusions about the power of
the Supreme Court decision. "Defendants read Pegram as if it were a
talisman before which all of [the] plaintiff's claims should fail," he
wrote. "Yet the Court in Pegram did not fashion an all-encompassing cloak
of immunity for the health care industry"

Predictably both sides put a positive spin on the ruling. The California
Medical Assn., one of the plaintiffs, said "doctors and patients should
be encouraged" that the lawsuit is allowed to go forward. Meanwhile, the
Health Insurance Assn. of America called it a "victory for patients and
health care consumers over trial attorneys."

For its part, Aetna Inc. called the ruling "very encouraging," since "the
court took the key step of rejecting key elements of the plaintiff's case
even before looking at the facts."

Nevertheless, Aetna has been in discussions with plaintiffs' lawyers over
a possible settlement (MCW 1/22/01, p. 8). Aetna Chairman William
Donaldson told investors a few weeks ago that "In any litigation, we are
willing to listen to a proposal by our opponents to resolve the matter."
Nevertheless, he emphasized that the company is "aggressively pursuing
our defenses in these suits."

Moreno is presiding over all pretrial matters relating to the
multi-district litigation, which consolidates several lawsuits filed by
physicians and patients challenging the cost and care controls that form
the basis of managed care.

He ruled in December that some physician claims would have to go to
arbitration if that procedure was required by their contract (MCW
12/18/00, p. 4). Once pretrial issues are resolved, each case will return
to the court in which it was initially filed.

Visit www.AISHealth.com/ManagedCare/ HMOLawsuitWatch.html for AIS' HMO
Lawsuit Watch with more information about the Florida multi-district
litigation and other pending lawsuits. (Managed Care Week, March 12,

NAVIGANT CONSULTING: IL Ct Approves Settlement for Securities Complaint
Navigant Consulting, Inc. (NYSE: NCI) announced that on March 22, 2001,
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois gave
its final approval to the proposed settlement of the consolidated
securities law class actions ("the Consolidated Class Actions"). As
previously disclosed, in August 2000, the Company agreed to settle for
$23 million the Consolidated Class Actions subject to such court
approval. The settlement calls for the dismissal, with prejudice, of the
Consolidated Class Actions and a release of the Company and the Company's
former and current officers and directors, among others. The Company had
previously contributed $16.5 million into escrow pending such approval,
and Genesis Insurance Company, one of its insurers ("Genesis"), had
contributed $6.5 million. No additional payments from the Company are
required. More information on the Consolidated Class Actions and the
settlement can be found in the Company's annual report on Form 10-K filed
on March 19, 2001.

NEW FOCUS: Wolf Haldenstein Commences Securities Fraud Suit in CA
Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP commenced a class action
lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of
California on behalf of purchasers of New Focus, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUFO)
securities during the period between January 31, 2001 and March 5, 2001
(the "Class Period"), against New Focus. Also named as defendants are
Milton M. Chang (Chairman of the Board), Kenneth R. Westrick (President,
Chief Executive Officer, and Director), Nicola Pignati (Chief Operating
Officer), John A. Dexheimer (Director), R. Clark Harris (Director),
Timothy Day (Vice President of Engineering Telecom and Chief Technology
Officer), Robert A. Marsland (Vice President of Focused Research), George
Yule (Vice President of World Wide Materials), and Bao Tong Ma (Vice
President and General Manager). 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, New Focus purports to be a
supplier of fiber optic products for next-generation optical networks,
being sold under the Smart Optics for Networks brand. Specifically, the
complaint alleges that on January 30, 2001, New Focus issued a press
release which was materially false and misleading in increasing the
Company's revenue guidance for the fiscal year 2001 from $150 million to
$240 million. As a result of this press release, the Company's stock
price was artificially escalated. During the five business days
subsequent to the press release, defendants sold in excess of $35 million
of their own stock based on defendants' knowledge that the Company had a
problem with inventory build-up, as well as delayed and canceled orders
from customers. Approximately five weeks later, defendants disclosed the
Company's problems and lowered the guidance for the fiscal year 2001 to
$170-190 million. As a result of defendants' dissemination of false and
misleading information, the value of New Focus stock plummeted and
plaintiff and other members of the Class suffered substantial losses. The
complaint alleges that New Focus disseminated false and misleading
statements designed to conceal the Company's deteriorating financial
condition and declining demand for its products long enough to allow
several officers and directors, named as defendants herein, to sell or
arrange to sell over $61 million of their privately held New Focus common

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

NORTEL NETWORKS: Teachers' Pension Plan Slams Executive Packages
One of the country's most powerful pension funds is preparing to battle
Nortel Networks Corp. over lucrative compensation packages the telco
giant sets aside for senior executives.

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, which manages $73-billion in
assets and is a large shareholder in Nortel with 15.3 million of the
company's outstanding shares, has served notice to the Brampton,
Ont.-based firm that it intends to fight for radical changes to its
executive stock option plan heading into next month's annual
shareholders' meeting in Calgary.

Representatives of the pension plan, including chief executive officer
Claude Lamoureux, are planning to meet behind closed doors with members
of Nortel's board in an attempt to avoid a public confrontation over the
plan, which reserves millions of dollars worth of shares for a small
handful of senior managers. The teachers' fund, a high-profile corporate
governance watchdog, is unhappy because it says the plan is too rich for
managers it believes are already well paid for their efforts.

'The executives at Nortel all have high salaries, a lucrative bonus plan
and a rich pension and yet they want these options,' said Brian Gibson, a
senior vice-president at Ontario Teachers'. 'When we add it up, it's more
than we think shareholders should be asked to pay to get quality

Opposition to the stock option plan surfaced in the wake of revelations
that John Roth, Nortel's chief executive officer and chairman, received a
total pay packet worth about $135-million in stock options, salary and
bonuses last year. Of that total, about $123.47-million was pocketed from
stock options that were exercised last year when Nortel's stock price was
at record high levels.

Ontario Teachers', which invests on behalf of 230,000 retired and current
school teachers, has been on a crusade in recent months to force a number
of companies, including some of the major banks, to adopt stock option
plans that set conditions linked to how well a company performs relative
to its competitors in an industry. Most Canadian companies reward
executives with stock options, which allow them to buy company stock at a
deep discount, and can be exercised at a fixed price regardless of
whether a company underperforms or outperforms its peers. During the past
decade, stock options have become a popular component of the compensation
packages offered to senior executives.

Among the companies targeted by the teachers' fund are Bracknell Corp.,
Hummingbird Ltd., National Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia, MDS Inc.,
and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

Generally, Ontario Teachers has a corporate governance policy guideline
that opposes any stock option plan that would dilute the company's total
outstanding shares by more than 10%. The policy is based on the view that
wealth is unfairly being transferred from shareholders to the pockets of
a relatively small group of managers.

In the case of Nortel, the existing stock option plan, which was tabled
to shareholders last year, sets aside 104 million shares -- approximately
15% of the company's outstanding shares -- for the management team, led
by Mr. Roth.

There is no limit to the number of shares that can be set aside for
management and the option terms have a lifespan of 10 years, which is
double the limit outlined in the teachers' fund policy guidelines. In the
past, Nortel had limited stock option grants to 0.5% of total outstanding
shares but that changed during the last decade and had jumped to 3% by
1999, before the cap was removed at the 2000 annual meeting.

Ontario Teachers voted against Nortel's stock option proposal last year
and while there is no shareholder resolution on the table at the annual
meeting on April 26, the pension fund is lobbying the board members on
Nortel's compensation committee to change the controversial plan. The
chances of that happening are likely to be considerably greater this
year, given the precipitous drop in Nortel's share price in recent

'Our issue isn't really how much they are getting paid through their
options. Our issue is whether they've earned it,' said Mr. Gibson. 'At a
company like Nortel, they want an option plan as if they had all
mortgaged their houses and taken a big risk and sunk their life savings
into the company. But that's not the case. It's a big company, it's well
established, they are very well paid before you even get to the options.'

Sources said the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System is also
balking at Nortel's stock option plan because it contravenes its policy
guidelines. Officials at the pension fund, which owns a large chunk of
Nortel, declined to comment but are said to be lobbying the company for

'[Nortel] has grown so big that the size of the option grants to senior
executives have become ridiculous,' said William Mackenzie, president of
Proxy Monitor Corp. in Toronto, corporate governance specialists who have
also lobbied Nortel's board to change the stock option plan. 'I don't see
how you can label that as an incentive. These are gifts for life. Why
would a CEO sweat it?'

Regulatory documents filed by Nortel with the Securities and Exchange
Commission in Washington revealed Mr. Roth earned $10.4-million in salary
and bonuses last year and a whopping $123.47-million from stock options.
That package represented a 35% increase from his 1999 compensation

The filings, which also list the compensation packages for other Nortel
executives, surfaced at a time when the company announced a cost-cutting
program that includes the loss of 10,000 jobs worldwide.

Nortel is facing a number of class-action lawsuits in Canada and the
United States following a stunning earnings warning on Feb. 15 that
slashed the company's growth forecasts. The lawsuits allege that Nortel,
Mr. Roth and a number of Nortel's senior executives and directors misled
investors with optimistic sales and earnings forecasts.

Nortel's shares, which trade in New York and Toronto, reached a high of $
124.50 last September, but have plunged more than 48% so far this year.
Nortel stock closed at $28.75 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on March 22.

Officials at Nortel declined to comment.

Mr. Gibson said although Ontario Teachers is not blaming Mr. Roth and the
company's management for the slowdown in the economy, 'we don't like to
see cases where the shareholders don't do well but the management does.'
(National Post (formerly The Financial Post), March 23, 2001)

SALMONELLA OUTBREAK: Cost Nippy's Two Years Set-Back and $2M, M.D. Says
An orange juice company liable for a salmonella outbreak in Adelaide in
1999 had been set back about two years and $2 million by the episode, it

Knispel Fruit Juices managing director John Knispel said an estimated $5
million compensation payout to about 500 people settled in the federal
court would be covered by insurance. However he said the company, which
trades under the name Nippy's, had still suffered financially from lost
sales and having to buy new equipment.

"If you look at what it does to your reputation and project the loss of
sales for a couple years after the event, it takes a while for some
customers to come back to you," he told AAP. "You have to re-establish a
new track record, our sales were down for quite a while. "We were in a
growth phase when it happened and we are growing now, our sales growth
line is probably parallel to what it would have been but somewhat lower.
"It's probably only now back to what it was two years ago, I think it
probably cost us $2 million."

The Federal Court approved the settlement of a class action, after
Nippy's admitted earlier this year it had released juice contaminated
with a strain of salmonella in March 1999 and was liable to pay damages
to those who suffered illness as a result.

Unless they chose to opt out, the action covered all those adversely
affected by the outbreak, even if they had not indicated they wanted to
be involved with the court case. Most cases were relatively minor and
would be settled by a payout of $2,000, for those who recovered within
four weeks, $3,000 for eight weeks, or $4,000 for those who took up to 12
weeks to recover.

They would also be paid medical and legal costs and be compensated for
loss of income.

There were about 60 more serious cases, in which people had suffered
permanent adverse effects, such as food intolerance or a skin rash, as a
result of the salmonella.

Lawyer for those taking the class action, Peter Humphries, estimated
payouts for those cases would range from $10,000 to $100,000, with the
total payout faced by Nippy's expected to be about $5 million.

Most cases were expected to be settled by the middle of this year. (AAP
Newsfeed, March 23, 2001)

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Medical Monitoring Case Remains Alive in W. Virginia
Healthy smokers suing the tobacco industry for free annual medical tests
are entitled to class-action status and can argue that addiction
increases their risk of disease, a West Virginia judge ruled. Individual
reasons for smoking are irrelevant in what is essentially a product
liability case, Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht said. His ruling
allows lawyers for some 250,000 West Virginians to argue that addiction
is caused by the manufacturers and increases the health risks to any
smoker, not a particular smoker.

If successful, the landmark lawsuit would force R.J. Reynolds, Philip
Morris, Brown & Williamson, Lorillard and Liggett to provide tests that
smokers say could lead to lifesaving early detection of lung diseases.

The tobacco companies contend the tests the smokers want are experimental
and unproven at diagnosing disease soon enough to make a difference in
the outcome.

The first attempt to try the so-called medical monitoring case ended in a
mistrial in January after witnesses referred to addiction and nicotine.
Both words had been banned from testimony because the tobacco companies
claimed that addiction raised issues of individual behavior and reasons
for smoking, compromising the cohesion of the class.

The lawsuit covers people who have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day
for five years, but who are not yet sick. People who have developed lung
cancer and other diseases common among smokers are pursuing damages in a
separate personal injury case.

Lawyers for the healthy smokers contend the tobacco industry designed a
defective product solely to deliver nicotine, with no regard for the
health risks to their customers.

Essentially, they argue smokers have no control over addiction. In
arguments before Recht last month, however, they conceded that not all
smokers are addicted - a fact the tobacco companies wanted to use to
probe individual behavior.

That line of questioning can't happen in the new trial, Recht said. "This
court will be ever vigilant to assure that there is no need for the
defendants to make any inquiry" about individual characteristics, he
wrote. "There can be no doubt that the defendants will be just as

A similar medical monitoring lawsuit is moving ahead in Louisiana this
fall, but it is not clear which one will be tried first. Recht did not
set a new trial date.

"We are eager to get back to Recht's courtroom and begin trying our case
once again," said smokers' attorney Scott Segal, who was "extremely
pleased" with the ruling.

Eleven other states have denied class-action status to medical monitoring
lawsuits against Big Tobacco, citing addiction as an issue that creates
differences among the class members.

A federal appeals court decertified the class in a case against American
Tobacco Co., ruling that addiction must be determined on an individual
basis. In that case, the plaintiffs conceded the point.

The West Virginia lawyers, however, argued the companies' collective
emphasis on nicotine delivery undermined efforts to design a "safer"
cigarette that delivered less tar.

A cigarette is designed to create addiction in a deliberate attempt to
"maximize profits by maintaining their customer base."

The 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in the American Tobacco case
that smokers had to prove the company caused the smokers' exposure to
tobacco. Recht said the West Virginia case is different. "In this case,
it is only necessary that the plaintiffs demonstrate that the defendants
caused their increased risk of contracting a serious latent disease," he
said. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, March 23, 2001)

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Sp Ct of Canada Paves Way for Lung Cancer Case
The Supreme Court of Canada paved the way for a Burlington, Ont., man's
lawsuit against big tobacco on behalf of his wife who died of lung

In denying leave to appeal to Imperial Tobacco Limited and Rothmans,
Benson & Hedges, the high court allows Ljubisa Spasic to go to trial
with his claims the cigarette makers produced an addictive, dangerous and
inherently defective product that caused his wife's disease, and wilfully
destroyed documents that would prove his case. Spasic's lawsuit asks a
judge to find the alleged intentional destruction of evidence is a
separate wrongful act, for which the tobacco companies ought to incur
punitive damages.

Although the companies have not yet filed a defence to the lawsuit - the
only one filed by an individual in Ontario - a lawyer said they deny
there was any destruction of documents or evidence.

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled last summer the question ought to be
fully explored by a trial judge. If Spasic succeeds, his lawsuit will
break new legal ground in Canadian tort law.

His lawyer, Andreas Seibert, called the Supreme Court's decision a
victory. "It goes a long way toward discouraging wrongdoers from engaging
in schemes to destroy evidence of their own wrongdoing because they may
draw punitive damages," said Seibert.

Steven Sofer, lawyer for Rothmans, Benson and Hedges, disagreed on the
ruling's significance, saying the court was merely reluctant to intervene
at this stage, when the matter hasn't yet been explored at trial. "I
don't think there's any message to be taken from this," said Sofer. "This
is just the first inning of a nine-inning game."

Mirjana Spasic, a smoker for about 20 years, was 53 when she died in
February, 1998, of lung cancer. She began the lawsuit, which claims $1
million in compensatory damages before she died, and her husband is
continuing it on behalf of her estate. The claim also seeks unspecified
punitive damages. Canadian courts tend to limit punitive damages, with
the highest awards running around $1 million.

In addition to her lawsuit, Seibert's firm is handling an effort to
certify a class-action lawsuit against the big tobacco companies on
behalf of Ontario smokers, one of three class-action efforts in Canada.
Seibert says it could affect 2.5 million Ontario smokers, while the
tobacco companies estimate there could potentially be more than 6 million

Arguments whether to certify the Ontario class action are to be heard in
the fall. The other two class action suits against big tobacco are based
in Quebec, and are at an even more preliminary stage. (The Toronto Star,
March 23, 2001)

U OF ILLINOIS: ACLU Sues University For Warning About Mascot
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Thursday against the
University of Illinois, asking a judge to prevent administrators from
taking any action against faculty or students who talk to athletic
recruits about the ongoing controversy surrounding the school's American
Indian mascot, Chief Illiniwek.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of seven faculty members and students,
alleges Chancellor Michael Aiken placed an unconstitutional limitation on
their free speech rights when he sent a campuswide e-mail March 2 warning
faculty, students and staff they could be violating NCAA and Big Ten
Conference rules by contacting recruits.

``Faculty and students under our constitution are not required to
pre-clear their comments and statements about important issues through
the university before talking to prospective students,'' Harvey Grossman,
legal director of the ACLU, told reporters outside the courthouse after
he filed the lawsuit.

U.S. Harold Baker was assigned the case Thursday but immediately withdrew
because he is UI faculty member. A new judge was to be assigned Friday.

Aiken's message responded to threats by a group of professors to begin
contacting prospective student-athletes to tell them about the
controversy surrounding the mascot, which critics have spent a decade
decrying as racist and degrading.

Some of the most vocal critics, including graduate student Cyd Crue and
professors Stephen Kaufman and Brenda Farnell, are among the seven
plaintiffs. ``We do have the right to speak about the hostile environment
on campus, and educate prospective students and let them make their own
decisions,'' Crue said. ``This e-mail from the chancellor is a threat.''

The lawsuit asks a federal judge for a temporary restraining order
preventing enforcement of the chancellor's e-mail warning, which said
contacts with recruits had to be cleared through the athletic department
to make sure they did not violate any NCAA or conference rules and said
disregarding that policy would not be condoned.

The lawsuit said the warning had a ``chilling effect'' on free speech on

University spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the school would not comment on
the lawsuit. Aiken, however, did comment on the matter just days ago _
backing off somewhat from his earlier message but sticking by his
statement the university could not permit violations of NCAA rules.

``The university values and defends the principles of free speech and
academic freedom for members of the university community,'' Aiken read
from a prepared statement at Monday's campus senate meeting.  ``However,
we also are a member of the NCAA, and are committed to controlling our
intercollegiate athletics program in compliance with the rules and
regulations of the NCAA. This means that we expect members of the
University community to respect NCAA rules, and certainly not
intentionally violate them.''

Aiken said members of the university community can express views about
Chief Illiniwek without violating NCAA rules, through press releases or
speeches.  (By JOHN KELLY Associated Press Writer)

WAR LITIGATION: NY Continues Hearings on Polish Property Seizure
The New York State Congress continued its hearings on March 22 of Jews
who lost their property in Poland during World War II, as part of the
class action suit against the Polish government filed in a New York court
last year. Alan Hevesi, New York chief financial auditor, said he
expected the Polish government to return the Jewish property to their
former owners either in kind or in the form of compensation.

"An apotheosis of stupidity, primitivism and commonness," is how the
National Broadcasting Council (KRRiTV), the radio and TV watchdog,
described the two reality shows, "Big Brother" and "Two Worlds," aired
presently by the two leading private TV stations, TVN and Polsat. A
KRRiTV spokeswoman said the Council's statement was a "final warning" to
broadcasters who could face heavy fines if the Council found that the
shows infringed relevant laws on TV content.

The first Social Committee "Law and Justice" was been founded in
Bialystok March 22, with more expected to follow in other cities around
Poland, as part of Justice Minister Lech Kaczynski's efforts to create a
structure to unite the AWS with smaller parties on the right side of the
political stage. (Polish News Bulletin, March 23, 2001)

WEBLINK WIRELESS: Wolf Haldenstein Commences Securities Fraud Suit in TX
Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP commenced a class action
lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of
Texas, Dallas Division on behalf of all purchasers of Weblink Wireless,
Inc. (NASDAQ:WLNK--news) securities during the period between December
29, 2000 and February 20, 2001 ("Class Period") against Weblink and John
D. Beletic (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer). 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 ("Exchange Act") and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder. According to the complaint, defendants issued a
series of false and misleading statements to the market and made material
omissions in violation of the federal securities laws which resulted in
artificially inflated prices for the Company's common stock.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that Defendant Beletic stated on
December 29, 2000 that a shelf registration for 8.5 million shares of
Weblink common stock had been declared effective by the SEC and that the
"effectiveness of the shelf registration works very well for us" with
respect to obtaining the financing necessary to satisfy Weblink's cash
requirements. This statement was materially false and misleading because
defendant Beletic knew on December 27, 2000, two days prior to this
statement, that "the sale of these registered common shares would no
longer meet our capital needs." Defendant Beletic admitted this fact in a
conference call on February 21, 2001, after the end of the Class Period.
Defendants knew that the failure of the equity financing to satisfy
Weblink's capital needs would likely result in a going concern audit
opinion if Weblink could not raise the necessary capital. As a result of
this announcement, the price of Weblink stock fell 42% on February 21,
2001, suffering the second largest percentage decline on NASDAQ.

Contact: Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, New York (800)
575-0735 Michael Miske, George Peters, Gregory M. Nespole, Esq. Fred
Taylor Isquith, Esq. e-mail: classmember@whafh.com http://www.whafh.com.


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

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

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

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