CAR_Public/010328.MBX                C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

               Wednesday, March 28, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 61

                             Headlines

CALICO COMMERCE: Sirota & Sirota and Lovell & Stewart File Sue in N.Y.
CANKER PROGRAM: Judge Delays Homeowners' Citrus Lawsuit
CELL PATHWAYS: Denies Allegations of Misrepresentation about Aptosyn
CELL PATHWAYS: Schiffrin & Barroway Files Securities Suit in PA
EMPLOYMENT LITIGATION: USA Today Reports on Workings Winning More Suits

EXXON MOBIL: Stearns Weaver Helps Gas Dealers Win Over $ 1B
FIRST UNION: Court OKs Suit over Interest on Funds Prior to Disbursement
FRED HUTCHISON: Cancer Center Hit with Suit over Ethics & Use of Humans
HMOs: Aetna Issues Statement in Response to Amended Provider Track Cases
HMOs: CA, GA and TX State Groups Join Doctors in Suing Insurers

HMOs: Georgia Physicians Join Lawsuit Alleging Delay in Payments
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Writer Calls For Compensation To Start
INCO LIMITED: Port Colborne Community Launches $750 Mil Lawsuit
INCO LIMITED: Responds to Lawsuit Re Port Colborne Operations
KEITHLEY INSTRUMENTS: Savett Frutkin Files Securities Lawsuit in Ohio

LASON INC: CEO Resigns; SEC Informed of Accounting Irregularities
MP3.COM: Class-action Status Refused in Music Cipyright Suit
PAYDAY LENDERS: IL Ct OKs Class for FDCPA TILA Claims V Short Term Loans
PHARMACIES: Drugstore May Owe Duty of Privacy to Consumers
RENT-WAY: Updates Status of 10-K, Remains Comfortable With Projections

TENNESSEE VALLEY: First Phase Of Trial Over Overtime Ends
TOBACCO LITIGATIION: IL Fd Judge Rejects Medical Monitoring Class Status
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Industry Denies Deceiving Public At Brooklyn Trial
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Ontario Ct Okays Contingency Fees For Widow's Suit
U OF MICHIGAN: Admissions Rules Found Unconstitutional for Race Factor

UNION CARBIDE: Oak Ridge Residents Allege Discrimination, Radiation
UNITED SAFEGUARD: Skycaps Say Pre-Shift Payments Were Kickbacks
WESTFIELD AMERICA: Unitholders OK Capital Raising, Frank Expects Merger
XEROX CORP: EEOC Filings in TX Echo Complaints by Salespeople in NY

                           *********

CALICO COMMERCE: Sirota & Sirota and Lovell & Stewart File Sue in N.Y.
----------------------------------------------------------------------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 27, 2001 on behalf of all persons and
entities who purchased, converted, exchanged or otherwise acquired the
common stock of Calico Commerce, Inc. (Nasdaq:CLIC) between October 6,
1999 and March 23, 2001 inclusive.

The lawsuit asserts claims under Sections 11, 12 and 15 of the Securities
Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act
of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated by the SEC thereunder and seeks to
recover damages. Any member of the class may move the Court to be named
lead plaintiff. If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff, you must move the
Court no later than May 28, 2001.

The action, SDR Investors, LP v. Calico Commerce, 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-2601 (NRB) and
has been assigned to the Hon. Naomi Reice Buchwald, U.S. District Judge.
The complaint alleges that Calico Commerce, Inc., Alan P. Naumann,
Calico's President and CEO, William G. Paseman, its Vice President for
Research and Development, and Bernard J. Lacoute and William D. Unger,
two of its directors, violated the federal securities laws by issuing and
selling Calico common stock pursuant to the October 6, 1999 IPO without
disclosing to investors that at least two of the lead underwriters and
two of the other 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 The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and Merrill Lynch, Pierce,
Fenner & Smith, Inc. and underwriters Credit Suisse First Boston Corp.
and BancBoston Robertson Stephens, Inc., allocated Calico Commerce shares
to customers at the IPO price of $14 per share. To receive the
allocations (i.e., the ability to purchase shares) at $14, the defendant
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 Calico Commerce stock rocketed upward (a practice known
on Wall Street as "laddering") was intended to (and did) drive Calico'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 $14 IPO price
and then selling it later for a profit at inflated aftermarket prices,
which rose as high as$62.50 during its first day of trading.

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

The complaint further alleges that defendants violated the Securities Act
of 1933 because the Prospectus distributed to investors and the
Registration Statement filed with the SEC in order to gain regulatory
approval for the Calico Commerce 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, New York Christopher Lovell Victor E.
Stewart Christopher J. Gray 212/608-1900 sklovell@aol.com or Sirota &
Sirota, LLP, New York Howard B. Sirota Saul Roffe 212/425-9055
info@sirotalaw.com


CANKER PROGRAM: Judge Delays Homeowners' Citrus Lawsuit
-------------------------------------------------------
The citrus canker war flared again in Broward County on Monday, as the
state Department of Agriculture asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed
by homeowners whose trees were cut down in the fight against the disease.

The lawsuit seeks compensation from the state, which so far has offered
only $ 100 vouchers to Wal-Mart. The state has argued that the trees had
to be cut down to prevent the disease from spreading to the huge
commercial groves to the north.

But neither side really got a chance to argue its case in court on Monday
because Broward Circuit Judge J. Leonard Fleet concluded any decisions
would be premature while another canker lawsuit remained on appeal.

In their brief to dismiss the suit, attorneys for the state made several
arguments. A May 1 hearing will determine whether the suit goes forward
as a class action.

The attorneys for the state said no damages should be awarded because
another court had already held that trees exposed to canker had no
marketable value. They argued the cause should be dismissed because the
homeowners had attacked the validity of the eradication program and that
in this sort of claim, the plaintiffs are required to accept the
government's action as valid.

And they argued that the plaintiffs from Miami-Dade County were in the
wrong court.

The homeowners responded that the previous court's ruling that the trees
had no value occurred in a case involving commercial groves, in which the
canker would make it hard to sell the fruit. It wouldn't reduce the value
of the trees, since the fruit was for personal use and canker-infected
fruit is perfectly edible.

They rejected the state's contention that their attack on the program
invalidated their compensation claim. And they said that no law prevents
plaintiffs harmed in one county from seeking damages in another.

But Judge Fleet decided to hold off on a decision. Both sides are
awaiting a ruling from the Fourth District Court of Appeal on another
part of the case, and Fleet said it would make more sense to find out
what that court says before proceeding with the lawsuit.

The lawsuit on appeal was filed on behalf of homeowners who still had
trees and wanted to prevent the state from cutting them down. Both sides
expect a decision soon. (Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), March 27,
2001)


CELL PATHWAYS: Denies Allegations of Misrepresentation about Aptosyn
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Cell Pathways, Inc. (Nasdaq: CLPA) announced on March 27 that a complaint
was filed against the Company and two officers in the federal court in
Philadelphia on March 13, 2001, alleging that the Company had made false
and misleading statements about the Company's drug,
Aptosyn(TM)(exisulind), as a treatment for Familial Adenomatous
Polyposis. The complaint seeks unspecified damages on behalf of a
purported class of all persons who purchased Company common stock from
October 27, 1999 through September 22, 2000 inclusive. Subsequently, two
identical complaints were filed on behalf of other stockholders. The
Company denies allegations of any wrongdoing and intends to vigorously
contest the litigation.


CELL PATHWAYS: Schiffrin & Barroway Files Securities Suit in PA
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP notified on March 27 that a
class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of all purchasers of the
common stock of Cell Pathways, Inc. (Nasdaq: CLPA) from October 27, 1999
through September 22, 2000, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Cell Pathways, Inc. and certain of its officers and
directors with issuing false and misleading statements concerning its
principal drug, Aptosyn, which was tested in clinical trials as a
treatment for familial adenomatous polyposis ("FAP"). Specifically, the
complaint alleges that defendants misrepresented evidence of the safety
and efficacy of Aptosyn as a treatment for FAP. Furthermore, defendants
stated that Aptosyn was a chemopreventive and an alternative to surgery
for FAP patients, causing regression of polyps in FAP patients.
Defendants further stated that it had shown effects across the patients'
entire colorectum, where there was no evidence from the Company's
controlled clinical trials to support these claims. Additionally,
defendants represented that competing drugs caused organ toxicities,
while Aptosyn did not.

On September 22, 2000, Cell Pathways announced that the U.S. Food & Drug
Administration refused to approve Aptosyn as a treatment for FAP, which
occurs when the clinical trial evidence of the efficacy and safety of a
drug is inadequate. Subsequently, the price of Cell Pathways' common
stock fell almost 70%.

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


EMPLOYMENT LITIGATION: USA Today Reports on Workings Winning More Suits
-----------------------------------------------------------------------Employees
who claim they've been harassed or discriminated against are winning many
of their cases, and the financial awards they're receiving often far
eclipse those of years past.

Consider what's been happening:

Multimillion-dollar verdicts occur even in cases involving one employee.
Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter Textron was hit with a $ 4 million
verdict in December after an African-American employee who was fired from
his high-tech painting job sued over alleged racial harassment.

"I was surprised by the amount, but I knew it would be high based on the
evidence," says Raul Loya, a Dallas lawyer for the plaintiff. He says his
client was subjected to a hangman's noose, ransacking of his locker and
racial slurs. Bell declined to comment.

Class-action lawsuits are leading to larger settlements. Atlanta-based
Coca-Cola agreed to pay $ 192 million to settle charges of racial
discrimination made by African-American employees.

And last year, a $ 508 million settlement was reached with more than
1,000 women who claimed in a class-action lawsuit that they were denied
positions at Voice of America.

"As the case evolved, it became clear to us and the government that
future litigation was likely to be unproductive and would subject the
government to even more costs," says Joe O'Connell, a Voice of America
spokesman.

Signs of the shift abound. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
obtained a total of $ 246 million in cash benefits for claimants in
fiscal 2000, more than double the $ 118 million obtained in 1992. The
increase comes despite just a modest rise in charges.

A study from Jury Verdict Research found workers who bring employment
lawsuits are increasingly victorious. The probability of a verdict
favoring a plaintiff has jumped from 49% in 1994 to 71% in 1999. The
median compensatory award received by workers has soared from $ 127,500
in 1996 to $ 200,000 in 1999.

Experts differ as to what's driving the rise. In the recent strong
economy, some legal experts say juries have resorted to higher awards in
order to send a stronger message to employers. Others attribute some of
the rise to workers' increasing awareness of employment law.

More than 50% of employers have been sued by workers, according to a
survey by law firm Jackson Lewis and the Society for Human Resource
Management. The most common charges were gender discrimination and sexual
harassment, followed by wrongful discharge and racial discrimination.
Many legal experts expect to see more lawsuits this year as layoffs mount
and the economy slows.

"That's the freight train coming down the track," says Walter Olson,
author of The Excuse Factory, on the impact of employment law in the
workplace. "All these companies have been talking about 'getting new
blood,' and that can come back to haunt them." (USA Today, March 27,
2001)


EXXON MOBIL: Stearns Weaver Helps Gas Dealers Win Over $ 1B
-----------------------------------------------------------
In a class action that included 10,000 Exxon dealers, Allapattah Services
Inc. and eight other plaintiffs sued Exxon Mobil Corp. in federal court
in Miami for breach of contract.

The Attorneys:

For plaintiffs, Eugene E. Stearns, partner at Stearns Weaver Miller
Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson in Miami, and Jay Solowsky, partner at
Pertnoy Solowsky Allen and Haber in Miami. For Exxon Mobil, Larry
Stewart, partner at Stewart Tilghman Fox & Bianchi in Miami, and Robert
J. Brookhiser and Robert G. Abrams, partners at Howrey Simon Arnold &
White in Washington, D.C.

The Details:

In 1991, gas station dealers in 34 states and the District of Columbia
alleged that Exxon Corp., now known as Exxon Mobil Corp., didnt fulfill
its promise to cut wholesale gas prices if they took part in a
discount-for-cash program. Last month, the plaintiffs were awarded $ 500
million in damages plus interest, which totaled more than $ 1 billion.
(Broward Daily Business Review, March 23, 2001)


FIRST UNION: Court OKs Suit over Interest on Funds Prior to Disbursement
------------------------------------------------------------------------In
determining North Carolina law governs First Union's loans and its method
of charging of interest, the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of
Pennsylvania certified a class challenging the bank's practice of
charging interest on home loan funds prior to disbursement. (Flannick v.
First Union Home Equity Bank, No. Civ.A. 98-6086 (E.D. Pa. 2/15/01).)

Joseph and Linda Flannick obtained a home equity loan from First Union
Home Equity Bank, headquartered in North Carolina. Under the Truth in
Lending Act, the Flannicks had the right to cancel the loan within three
days of the closing. The bank charged the Flannicks' interest on the
funds from the date the bank wired the funds to the escrow agent to the
date the escrow agent disbursed the funds to the Flannicks. The Flannicks
sued First Union, alleging it violated the National Banking Act by
charging interest on the funds prior to disbursement.

                           National Bank Act

First Union moved for summary judgment, arguing the National Bank Act
allows it to charge interest under either North Carolina or Pennsylvania
law. Even though

First Union is located in North Carolina, it maintained it also "exists"
in Pennsylvania, where the Flannicks applied for their loan. The bank
argued the words "organized or existing in any such State," as set forth
in Section 85 of the National Bank Act, refers to banks which do business
in states in which they are not located.

In addressing the meaning of "existing" for the first time, the District
Court concluded "it is highly unlikely that First Union 'exists' in
Pennsylvania for purposes of Section 85 simply by virtue of the fact that
it makes loans to Pennsylvania residents for the purchase of Pennsylvania
property through its 'loan production offices.'" The court determined
under the National Bank Act, North Carolina law governs loans made by
First Union.

                      Interest Barred by State Law

First Union also argued North Carolina law did not bar it from charging
interest from the date it wired the funds to the escrow agent.
Disagreeing, the District Court noted North Carolina law barred the bank
from charging interest on funds prior to disbursement to the borrower.
Finding First Union failed to meet its burden of establishing the absence
of issues of material fact, the court denied the bank's motion for
summary judgment.

                           Class Certification

The Flannicks moved to certify a class of all persons who obtained a
mortgage loan from First Union from Nov. 17, 1996, through Nov. 17, 1998,
and were charged interest on their funds prior to disbursement.

The District Court found the numerosity requirement of Fed. R. Civ. P.
23(a) satisfied, given First Union's size and prominence in the home
equity business. The court found the typicality requirement satisfied,
because each putative class member's claim was exactly the same as the
Flannicks' claim.

First Union maintained the commonality requirement was not satisfied
because of a lack of uniformity among the states regarding rules on when
disbursement occurs and from what point the bank may charge interest.
Because the District Court determined North Carolina law governed
mortgage loans issued by First Union, the court found the Flannicks met
their burden regarding commonality. The court also found the Flannicks
adequately represented the class.

"There can be little doubt that the class action is the superior method
of resolving the claim the Flannicks seek to prosecute," Judge Schiller
opined. Concluding the Flannicks met the requirements of Rule 23(b)(3)
and Rule 23(a), Judge Schiller granted the motion for certification.
(Consumer Financial Services Law Report, March 19, 2001)


FRED HUTCHISON: Cancer Center Hit with Suit over Ethics & Use of Humans
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A leading cancer institute has been accused in a lawsuit of violating
laws on ethics, consumer protection and the use of humans in research.

The case was filed Monday in Kitsap County Superior Court in Port Orchard
on behalf of the families of 82 patients against the Fred Hutchinson
Cancer Research Center.

Individual defendants include Drs. E. Donnall Thomas, a 1990 Nobel
laureate and former head of the center's clinical division; Robert Day,
former president of the center; John A. Hansen, and Paul J. Martin.

The Hutch, as the center is known, has the world's leading bone marrow
transplant program and is the No. 1 recipient of research funds from the
National Cancer Institute. Center officials had no immediately comment on
the lawsuit.

The lead plaintiff is William Lee "Pete" Wright Sr. of Heflin, Ala.,
whose wife, Becky, died of leukemia in 1984 after she received a bone
marrow transplant at the center in Seattle.

The chief lawyer in the case, Alan C. Milstein of Pennsauken, N.J., said
that if it is certified as a class action, it would be the broadest
damage lawsuit stemming from clinical trials to date.

Milstein recently sued the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
on behalf of 19 patients in a melanoma study that was suspended last
year.

The case stems from Protocol 126, a blood cancer experiment conducted
between 1981 and 1993. Hansen and Martin were principal investigators in
the clinical trials, and Thomas also participated.

At least 20 people died from the treatment, despite a statistical
likelihood that more might have lived, The Seattle Times reported in a
recent five-part series. Two of the 82 who enrolled are still alive.

In the experiment, eight antibodies were to kill white blood T-cells in
donated bone marrow. The goal was to eliminate graft-versus-host-disease,
which can render transplants unsuccessful. Instead, there was a dramatic
increase in rejection of donated marrow and cancer relapse.

The Times reported that Protocol 126 patients were not told of all the
risks and alternatives or about the financial interests of the center or
its staff.

Genetic Systems paid royalties for an exclusive commercial license for
three of the eight drugs tested in Protocol 126, gave stock and positions
to Hansen, Martin and Thomas, and also gave stock and cash to a
Hutch-affiliated foundation. Genetic Systems and its successor
corporation are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Dr. Lee Hartwell, Hutchinson president and director, has said The Times
reporters failed to understand that clinical trials are not standard
treatment. Many risks were unknown at the time, added Fred Appelbaum,
center director of clinical research, in a news conference March 15.

The lawsuit accuses the center of violating "the right to be treated with
dignity" under the Nuremberg Code of 1949 and the 1964 Declaration of
Helsinki from the World Medical Association.

"The issue of whether or not the experiment here conformed with these
worldwide ethical standards is a perfect issue for a class action,"
Milstein said.

The Hutch also is accused of violating federal laws on drug
investigations and protection of human research subjects and of breaching
U.S. ethical guidelines governing human research. Other claims include
"fraud in intentionally misrepresenting the risks," assault and battery,
product liability and violation of Washington state health care provider
and consumer protection laws.

Another lawyer in the case, David Breskin of Seattle, said it was filed
in Kitsap County because a patient who died, Dr. John Draheim, lived in
Bremerton.

His widow, Peggy Draheim of Scottsdale, Ariz., said Monday she had not
been contacted by lawyers but probably would support the suit.

Milstein previously represented the family of Jesse Gelsinger, 18, of
Tucson, Ariz., who died in a gene therapy experiment at the University of
Pennsylvania in 1999. That lawsuit was settled out of court. (The
Associated Press State & Local Wire,  March 27, 2001)


HMOs: Aetna Issues Statement in Response to Amended Provider Track Cases
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aetna Statement:

    Aetna has not received the amended complaint in the provider track
cases. When we do, we will review it carefully and respond within the
timeframe established by the court. As a general matter, many of these
suits are similar and we continue to believe that they are without merit.
We also believe that the court took an important action earlier this
month in dismissing certain of the plaintiff's claims. We will continue
to aggressively defend these actions, and are confident that we will
prevail based on the merits, if the actions ultimately go forward.

    Aetna believes that litigation will neither advance the cause of
improving the nation's health care system nor improve the quality of care
for millions of Americans. These lawsuits, including the most recent
filing, inappropriately attempt to usurp control over this country's
health policy from legislators and regulators.

    Aetna does not intend to let this litigation distract us from our
continuing efforts to address the concerns of physicians across the
country about various aspects of managed care. Aetna's constructive
dialogue with various state medical societies has led to important
changes in the way we do business over the past year.

    We have been pleased that medical society leaders have recognized our
progress. For example, changes that provide California physicians with
greater flexibility in caring for their Aetna patients prompted
California Medical Association (CMA) CEO Jack Lewin to comment last
December that Aetna and the CMA "have created a path for a better
future." After announcing similar changes in New Jersey, Walter Kahn,
president of the Medical Society of New Jersey said, "we are experiencing
a significant change in Aetna's approach to physicians in New Jersey. The
company is clearly trying to satisfy our concerns about contractual,
administrative and communication issues."

    Based on press reports regarding the amended complaint, it appears
that the California Medical Association and the Texas Medical Society are
not asserting claims against Aetna. Aetna will continue to respond
constructively to the concerns of these medical societies and others
willing to engage with us in constructive dialogue.


HMOs: CA, GA and TX State Groups Join Doctors in Suing Insurers
---------------------------------------------------------------
The state medical associations of California, Georgia and Texas joined
individual doctors from seven states yesterday in a federal lawsuit that
accused eight health insurers, including Aetna Inc. and the Cigna
Corporation, of engaging in "a pattern of racketeering activity" to deny
necessary medical care.

The state organizations, which represent more than 75,000 doctors,
contend that the insurers had used "cost-based criteria to approve or
deny claims" for payment and had offered cash incentives to claim
reviewers who would deny or limit tests and treatments that doctors felt
were necessary.

The plaintiffs included individual doctors from Alabama, California,
Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas.

The case is being heard by Judge Federico A. Moreno of Federal District
Court in Miami. In addition to Aetna, based in Hartford, and Cigna, based
in Philadelphia, the defendants are Coventry Health Care Inc. of
Bethesda, Md.; Humana Inc. of Louisville, Ky.; the United Health Group of
Minnesota; the Prudential Health Care unit of Aetna and three California
companies: Health Net Inc., Pacificare Health Systems and Wellpoint
Health Networks.

Spokesmen for several companies, including Aetna, Cigna and Wellpoint,
said last night that they had not seen the complaint and could not
comment.

"As a general matter, many of these suits are similar, and we continue to
believe they are without merit," said David Carter, a spokesman for
Aetna. "We will continue to aggressively defend these actions and are
confident that we will prevail, based on the merits, if the actions
ultimately go forward."

The doctors charged that the companies had decided which claims to pay
using guidelines based on "purported actuarial criteria, unrelated to
medical necessity." They contend that the insurers had developed the
guidelines with Milliman & Robertson, an actuarial firm; InterQual, a
consulting firm, and others.

The plaintiffs added that the companies used software sold and licensed
by McKessonHBOC Inc. and others that changed standard codes describing
treatments to reduce payments. InterQual, Milliman & Robertson and
McKessonHBOC are not being sued.

The complaint amended an earlier filing that Judge Moreno had rejected
for not clearly showing how the insurers could be accused of violating
anti-racketeering laws. The new complaint contends that the companies
"have undertaken a common scheme to systematically deny, delay and
diminish payments to health care providers" in violation of provisions of
the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Twenty doctors made specific complaints against insurers they had dealt
with, including violations of state laws calling for prompt payment of
insurance claims. For instance, Michael Burgess, a Texas obstetrician,
said he had been "a victim" of inappropriate determinations of medical
necessity, wrongful denials and delayed payments by Aetna, United Health
and Prudential.

The complaint said the companies had used third-party reviewers,
including Protocare Inc. of Santa Monica, Calif., formerly called Value
Health Sciences Inc. Protocare is not being sued.

The doctors said the reviewers had paid "direct bonus payments and other
benefits to claims reviewers who deny a certain percentage or absolute
number of submitted claims" regardless of whether those claims or
hospital admissions were medically necessary.

Kim Ross, a vice president of the Texas Medical Association, which has
37,000 members, said the group's governing board had approved joining the
suit after hearing from members. Dr. Jim Rohack, president of the Texas
association, said that "some, not all, investor-supported health plans"
had skirted state laws and regulations and had prevented "patients from
receiving appropriate medical care."

"The Texas Medical Association is not against all managed care plans,"
said Dr. Rohack, who is the medical director of Scott & White, a group
practice and nonprofit health plan in central Texas. "But we had to enter
the legal arena to ask a federal judge to stop these abusive practices."

Marie Kushner, a former president of the California Medical Association,
with 30,000 members, said, "This drastic measure by tens of thousands of
physicians is unavoidable because so many other attempts to end these
abuses have been largely futile."

Paul Shanor, executive director of the Georgia Medical Association, with
8,000 members, said doctors in the state "have been frustrated by not
receiving the pay that they are supposed to receive under contracts with
the insurance industry and Georgia law."

Archie Lamb, the lead lawyer for the doctors, said that participation by
"three of the most influential medical associations rebuts the industry's
contention that the complaints of physicians are isolated or anecdotal or
trial-lawyer driven."

"Right now," Mr. Lamb said, "the health plans only accountability is to
Wall Street."

Judge Moreno is hearing a group of lawsuits filed on behalf of health
plan subscribers. He is expected to rule on May 7 on whether to approve
class-action status for the suits by both doctors and subscribers.

The managed-care companies are also facing lawsuits seeking class-action
status in state courts in California, Connecticut and New York. Last
week, a five-judge appeals court in New York unanimously upheld the
decision by a State Supreme Court judge to hear a suit accusing
Prudential Health Care of breach of contract, deceptive trade practices
and fraud.

Cases in California state court are also proceeding against Kaiser
Permanente and Aetna after motions to reject the suits were dismissed.
(The New York Times, March 27, 2001)


HMOs: Georgia Physicians Join Lawsuit Alleging Delay in Payments
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Medical Association of Georgia has joined similar physician groups in
Texas and California to file an amended lawsuit Monday charging that nine
health insurers intentionally delay or deny payments to doctors.

The lawsuit, filed in Miami, alleges that the insurers have violated
civil racketeering and other laws. The doctors charge that the health
plans have enriched themselves at doctors' expense, broken their
contracts with doctors, and violated state statutes requiring medical
claims to be paid promptly.

Without timely and adequate payments, "physicians cannot maintain their
practices and cannot provide the continuity of care that patients
require," the lawsuit says.

Named as defendants are Aetna and its Prudential unit, Cigna,
UnitedHealth Group, Coventry, Humana, WellPoint Health Networks,
PacifiCare, and Foundation/HealthNet.

The lawsuit, seeking class-action status, was originally filed by the
California Medical Association and individual physicians last May. It was
later consolidated with more than 20 similar lawsuits.

The medical associations seek an injunction to halt the companies'
practices, while some individual doctors have asked for monetary damages.

Earlier this month, a federal judge in Miami rejected the health
insurers' motions for dismissal of the consolidated suit. But Judge
Federico A. Moreno also initially dismissed the physicians' claims of
violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act,
saying the plaintiffs must amend their charges to substantiate their
allegations.

The physician groups also allege that the insurers provide incentives to
reviewers of claims to delay or deny payment, and use financial criteria,
not medical necessity, to make coverage and treatment decisions and
reimbursing doctors.

"We render care, but we don't receive payment for what we do," said Dr.
Joy Maxey, an Atlanta pediatrician who's president of MAG. "It's almost
like a game --- can you find the dollars for services."

"Physicians are getting more and more frustrated with this kind of
thing," she added.

The three medical associations combined represent 80,000 doctors.
Plaintiffs include individual physicians in Georgia, Florida, Texas,
Kentucky, California, Colorado and Alabama.

The American Association of Health Plans, an industry trade group
representing more than 1,000 HMOs and other health plans, said Monday it
had not seen a copy of the amended lawsuit. But Susan Pisano, a vice
president of the group, said, "We think this is unfortunate, because we
can't litigate our way to better health care."

"The vast majority of claims are being paid in a timely fashion," Pisano
said.

She added that the suit, the product of what she called "an unholy
alliance between medical societies and trial lawyers," will eventually
lead to higher health costs. Medical providers and health insurers can
solve payment problems in better ways than using the courts, she said.

But California Medical Association officials said that attempts to seek
relief in other venues have largely failed.

MAG officials say the group has filed lawsuits against Aetna U.S.
Healthcare, UnitedHealthcare, Prudential, Coventry and Cigna in the past
two years, charging the companies with violating the state's
prompt-payment law. Those rules say that HMOs and other insurers must pay
uncontested claims to doctors and hospitals within 15 working days of
receipt, or notify the medical provider why the claim can't be paid.

Those insurers and others have drawn fines from state Insurance
Commissioner John Oxendine for slow payments. The largest fine, $300,000,
was levied against Cigna in January. The Georgia Association of Health
Plans has called the state's prompt-payment law "the toughest in the
country."

MAG's lawsuits were consolidated with complaints by Texas and California
organizations into the single suit in Florida. MAG represents about 8,000
physicians, fewer than half the active and retired physicians in the
state.

In the consolidated suit, the California medical group named as
defendants WellPoint Health Networks, Foundation/HealthNet, and
PacifiCare. Texas named Cigna and Humana, and Georgia named Aetna and its
Prudential unit, UnitedHealth Group, Cigna and Coventry.

"The unifying factor is that we believe these (health) plans have been
exerting undue influence. . .that prevent physicians from doing our job
and providing the best care for our patients, " said Dr. Jack Lewin, CEO
of the California Medical Association. The lawsuit seeks to bring health
plans to the bargaining table to resolve these issues, he added.

In California, the lack of adequate and prompt payments has forced
several physicians and physician groups into bankruptcy, the CMA said.

A hearing to consider certifying the physicians as a class is scheduled
for May in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida.

If the case is certified as a class action, it potentially affects about
600,000 physicians in the United States. (The Atlanta Journal and
Constitution, March 27, 2001)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Writer Calls For Compensation To Start
----------------------------------------------------------------
Nobel prize winning author Guenter Grass and German trade union boss
Klaus Zwickel called for compensation payments for former Nazi slave
labourers to begin immediately.

In a statement they said: "Those who survived forced labour under the
Nazis have no time to lose".

Their letter of protest was also signed by other leading German figures.

The open letter calls for Germany's lower house of parliament, the
Bundestag, to state as soon as possible that "there are sufficient legal
guarantees" to start paying out compensation awards "even if there are a
few questions that need to be cleared concerning the banks."

Germany has insisted that all legal questions surrounding the payments
must be settled before any money can start flowing to the wartime
victims, saying that any outstanding claims must first either be settled
or dropped.

US judge Shirley Kram last Tuesday refused to dismiss a class action
lawsuit filed by Nazi-era slave labourers which is effectively holding up
the German billion-euro compensation deal.

Kram said she was unwilling to close the lawsuit out of concern that
claims by forced labourers or by former clients of Austrian banks --
which passed under the control of Nazi Germany during World War II --
would not be given full consideration under the compensation deal.

The German plan includes equal payments from German industry and from the
Berlin government totalling 5.1 billion euros (4.6 billion dollars) in
return for a future indemnity against new compensation claims.

Some of the largest German firms including DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen,
Siemens and Deutsche Bank came up with their 2.5 billion euros two weeks
ago after protracted legal wrangling.

The fund was set up under an agreement signed last July by Germany and
the United States. (Agence France Presse, March 27, 2001)


INCO LIMITED: Port Colborne Community Launches $750 Mil Lawsuit
---------------------------------------------------------------
On September 20, 2000, people living near Inco's 500 acre refinery were
advised by public health officials of extremely high levels of nickel
contamination on their properties. Further testing by Inco and the MOE
has now revealed contamination at levels up to 460 times above normal,
spread over an area of at least 159 square kilometres. More than 20,000
people are directly affected.

Documents show that Inco, MOE and municipal officials have known the area
is heavily polluted for years. Since last spring, marginal steps have
been taken to try to address the problem. However, no compensation has
been paid, proposed health studies are years away from completion, and
residents have been forced to continue to live, work and attend schools
directly within the contamination plume.

Now, newly uncovered Inco and MOE test results have revealed the
contamination is not nickel, a relatively harmless substance but instead
is nickel oxide. Nickel oxide is a toxic substance classified by Health
Canada as a high risk Group One Carcinogen -- ie. a substance known to
cause cancer in humans. Health Canada emphasizes that there is "some
probability of harm ... at any level of exposure".

Health studies done to date have only examined nickel. "By assessing only
nickel in a form assumed to be non-carcinogenic, and not nickel oxide
which is a known carcinogen, the wrong methods have been used," says Dr.
Mark Richardson, former Head of Health Canada's Air and Waste Section and
a risk assessment expert. "The studies relied on by MOE and public health
officials cannot be used to say that anyone Port Colborne is safe."
Richardson also notes that nickel oxide is particularly hazardous because
"Health Canada has determined it can cause cancer without being absorbed
into the bloodstream.

Whether it's in a soluble form or not is irrelevant with respect to
nickel oxide's cancer potential." Health officials have attempted to
address mounting fears of cancer by reviewing local rates of the disease,
but the MOE admits that in Port Colborne's case, statistical comparisons
"can provide unstable estimates" and are "speculative" due to small
sample sizes and other variables. However, the reality of Port Colborne's
actual situation was revealed when an MOE official publicly stated
"there's something going on ... There's areas where every single
household has someone sick, every single family, some member has
something -- cancers, rashes, leukemia..."

Dr. Thomas Burnett, former Director of Environmental Affairs for Inco
worldwide estimates that since the refinery was constructed in 1918, up
to 20,000 tonnes of nickel oxide has been released over Port Colborne.
"This is contamination on a very large scale. It would take a train of
ore cars running right across Canada and back to Winnipeg to remove all
the contaminated soil that's likely in Port Colborne".

"It's pretty disturbing that residents weren't told they had carcinogens
all over their properties", said Burkhard Mausberg, Executive Director of
the Canadian Environmental Defence Fund, who last year identified Inco as
one of the "Dirty Dozen" worst polluters in the base metal mining sector.
"This may be yet another big example of the Ontario government's failure
to protect citizens from well known environmental hazards "

"The economic effects on Inco of this discovery, and of similar claims in
other parts of Canada could also be very substantial" advises Eric
Gillespie of the Toronto law firm Daoust Vukovich Baker-Sigal Banka LLP,
who are acting as class counsel. Inco operates similar facilities
worldwide, including refineries in Sudbury, Ontario and Thompson,
Manitoba. (Canada NewsWire, March 27, 2001)


INCO LIMITED: Responds to Lawsuit Re Port Colborne Operations
-------------------------------------------------------------
In response to a number of questions, Inco Limited confirmed that it has
been served with court papers covering an action that has been filed
under the Class Proceedings Act in Ontario. This action alleges a number
of claims against Inco Limited and certain other parties.

This action purports to be one filed as a class action on behalf of
certain persons in the Port Colborne area and alleges damages suffered in
connection with the history of the operation of Inco's refinery in Port
Colborne and certain landfill activities conducted in the area dating
back to the early 1900s.

Inco has been working with the City of Port Colborne and the Ontario
Ministry of the Environment to assess, through a community-based risk
assessment process, whether any serious health and other related issues
exist in connection with the history of the operation of its refinery. In
addition, Inco has been working with the Ontario Ministry of the
Environment concerning the landfill activities which were conducted in
the area dating back to the early 1900s and the possible sources of such
landfill. At this time, the Company believes that the sources of such
landfill cannot be determined. There are many factors that are being
assessed on a scientific and objective basis as part of this process and
the relevant issues to be considered in connection with the landfill
activities.

The court proceeding that has been filed alleges a number of actions and
activities that are not supported by the facts. Inco believes that the
proceeding filed is without merit and it will vigorously defend itself.
(Canada NewsWire, March 27, 2001)


KEITHLEY INSTRUMENTS: Savett Frutkin Files Securities Lawsuit in Ohio
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Savett Frutkin Podell & Ryan, P.C. hereby gives notice that a class
action complaint was filed on March 26 in the United States District
Court for the Northern District of Ohio (Civil Action No. 1:01CV715)
located at 201 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114, on behalf of a class
of persons who purchased the common stock of Keithley Instruments, Inc.
(NYSE: KEI) during the period between January 18, 2001 through March 9,
2001 ("Class Period") and who were damaged thereby.

The complaint charges Keithley and its senior officer, Joseph P. Keithley
with violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. The complaint alleges
that defendants issued a series of false and misleading statements to the
market concerning the Company's business condition and prospects for the
second fiscal quarter of 2001 which resulted in artificially inflated
prices for the Company's common stock.

On January 18, 2001 defendants reported record revenue for the first
fiscal quarter of 2001, the three months ended December 31, 2000, touting
Keithley's eighth consecutive quarter of record pre-tax earnings and
sixth consecutive quarter of record sales. With respect to the second
fiscal quarter of 2001, the three months ending March 31, 2001,
defendants stated that Keithley's "record backlog" and current business
will lead to second quarter pre-tax earnings in excess of those reported
in the first quarter. Defendants repeated these positive statements
concerning the fiscal second quarter of 2001 on February 13, 2001 in a
press release and on February 14, 2001 in Keithley's SEC Form 10-Q. The
complaint alleges that defendants failed to disclose that Keithley was
suffering from reduced new equipment orders, delays in scheduled
deliveries and, with respect to semiconductor customers, canceled orders,
all of which would lead to reduced sales and earnings in the second
fiscal quarter of 2001. The complaint further alleges that defendants'
statements concerning the Company's backlog were materially misleading
because defendants' failed to disclose that the backlog was not a true
measure of sales revenue because the backlog was subject to cancellations
or delayed shipments at the customer's discretion. Prior to the
disclosure of the true financial condition of the Company in the second
fiscal quarter defendant Keithley sold approximately $3 million of
Keithley shares. On March 12, 2001, before the market opened, defendants
issued a press release disclosing that second fiscal quarter 2001 sales
and earnings would be below the levels of the first fiscal quarter of
2001. As a result of this announcement, the price of Keithley stock fell
from a closing price of $ 20.76 on March 9, 2001 to a closing price of
$14.95 on March 12, 2001.

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


LASON INC: CEO Resigns; SEC Informed of Accounting Irregularities
-----------------------------------------------------------------
William C. Brooks, Chairman of LASON Inc., (OTC Bulletin Board: LSON) on
March 26 announced that John Messinger has resigned his positions as
President, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer and
Director of the Company, and that the Company is initiating a search for
a permanent replacement. Messinger will serve as a consultant to LASON
during the transition as his services are needed.

Allen J. Nesbitt, a Director and former President of the Company and its
predecessor from its inception in 1985 until April 1997, was appointed
interim President and CEO by the Board of Directors. He will serve until
the search for a permanent replacement is completed. Together, with Chief
Financial Officer Ronald Risher, Nesbitt will assume responsibility for
the Company's day-to-day operations.

LASON has also informed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan of accounting
irregularities and system deficiencies that affected certain portions of
the Company's financial statements. Some of these items were material to
LASON's financial statements for at least the third quarter of 1999 and
may also have been material to statements for other periods. The
irregularities and deficiencies were found in accounting records of the
Company's North American operations.

A Special Committee of the LASON Board of Directors determined that these
irregularities and deficiencies may have occurred during some periods
between late 1997 and 1999. The Committee also found that LASON's
financial statements for at least the third quarter of 1999 requires
restatement. The extent of any restatements has not been quantified and
will be further evaluated by the Company with assistance from its outside
auditors. The Committee does not believe that any such irregularities
have extended beyond the first half of 2000.

LASON Chairman, William Brooks, commented: "We have confidence in the
management team to take this Company forward. Management's top priority
is to stabilize and enhance the Company's financial performance and
continue our focus on our core business. We look forward to the support
and cooperation of our lenders, customers and employees, all whom have a
vested interest in the financial turnaround of this Company."


MP3.COM: Class-action Status Refused in Music Cipyright Suit
------------------------------------------------------------
A federal judge declined to approve class-action status for a copyright
lawsuit by as many as 1,000 independent record labels against music
provider MP3.com, saying the plaintiffs' motion was too vague. U.S.
District Judge Margaret M. Morrow said she would reconsider the bid for
class-action status if the named plaintiff, Unity Entertainment Corp.,
refiles within 45 days with more detail. MP3.com last year resolved
copyright suits with all five of the major record labels, including
Seagram Co.'s Universal Music Group, agreeing to pay $53.4 million. (The
Atlanta Journal and Constitution, March 27, 2001)


PAYDAY LENDERS: IL Ct OKs Class for FDCPA TILA Claims V Short Term Loans
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Because a payday lender maintained an insufficient record-keeping system,
the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois granted class
certification to debtors raising Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and
Truth in Lending Act claims even though not all potential class member
gave the lender a postdated check or wage assignment. (Smith, et al. v.
Short Term Loans LLC, et al., No. 99 C 1288 (N.D. Ill. 2/14/01).)

Derrick Smith obtained 15 payday loans from Short Term Loans LLC with
annual percentage rates ranging from 342.19 percent to 421.54 percent.
Valerie Smith obtained 11 payday loans from Short Term Loans at rates
from 342.19 percent to 391.07 percent. The Smiths allegedly gave Short
Term Loans a postdated check for each loan and executed wage assignments
for some loans. After the Smiths stopped paying off their loans, Short
Term Loans sent them dunning letters to obtain payment.

The Smiths filed a class action against Short Term Loans, Brian Schulman
and James Cheslock and others, alleging violations of the FDCPA, the TILA
and the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act. The Smiths alleged a dunning letter,
with Schulman's name in the letterhead in larger font than the rest of
the letterhead, "would mislead unsophisticated consumers into thinking it
originated from a third party." The parties subsequently filed nine
motions.

                   Motion for Summary Judgment

Moving for summary judgment, the lenders argued they were not "debt
collectors" as defined by the FDCPA. They maintained a debtor must
present a survey or other extrinsic evidence showing consumer confusion
to overcome summary judgment. The District Court disagreed, finding the
collection letter itself presented enough ambiguity that an
unsophisticated consumer might be misled by it. "The potential for
confusion here is obvious even to the court, such that plaintiff is not
'merely speculat[ing]' about how a naive debtor would interpret the
letter," the court stated. "Where the court, whose comprehension exceeds
that of an unsophisticated consumer, believes that the letter has the
potential to confuse, summary judgment may be inappropriate."

The lenders maintained the Smiths were engaged in a check-kiting scheme
to defraud their creditors. They argued the Smiths' loans were not
"primarily for personal, family, or household purposes." Because Derrick
Smith testified the loans were used for school clothes and household
bills, the District Court determined there was sufficient evidence for a
jury to find the loans were used for household purposes. The court
stated, "[t]he statute's requirement that the loans be used primarily for
personal, family, or household purposes cannot be so strict as to require
a plaintiff to trace each dollar borrowed to a consumer purchase in order
to overcome summary judgment. This is especially true in the context of
payday loans, where the amounts are generally small and the 'rollovers'
can be frequent."

The lenders further argued the collection letter was not the "initial
written communication" because they sent Derrick Smith a letter informing
him Short Term Loans intended to have his wages assigned prior to the
dunning letters at issue. The court agreed, granting the lenders summary
judgment as to Derrick Smith's claim under Section 1962e(11) of the
FDCPA, but denied its motion as to all other claims.

                           FDCPA Claim

The Smiths sought class certification. Regarding the FDCPA claim, the
District Court noted Short Term Loans sent a form dunning letter to
delinquent debtors. Taking judicial notice of the fact the number of
persons receiving the letters was so large joinder would be
impracticable, the court found the numerosity requirement of Fed. R. Civ.
P. Rule 23 satisfied. In addition, the court found at least one common
question of fact or law - whether or not the letterhead on the dunning
letter "would mislead the reasonably unsophisticated consumer into
believing that the letter originated from an independent attorney."

The lenders argued the Smiths' claims were not typical because they were
subject to the unique defense that the loans were not for consumer
purposes. Agreeing that it was a question for the jury as to whether the
loans were for consumer purposes, the District Court nonetheless found
the typicality requirement of Rule 23 satisfied. The court granted the
debtors motion for class certification for its FDCPA claim.

                            TILA Claim

The lenders asserted the federal disclosure forms used by Short Term
Loans varied among the class members. Therefore, they maintained the
District Court "[would] have to make an individual determination with
regard to whether each particular form violate[d] TILA." Refusing to
limit the class to persons receiving only one particular form, the court
found that each of the forms raised common questions of law and fact.

The lenders also argued the class claims were not common and the members
of the class would be impossible to identify because not every loan
involved a post-dated check or a security interest in wages. The District
Court noted Short Term Loan did not always take a post-dated check or
wage assignment. Although the court agreed that not every customer who
received an inadequate disclosure statement would have a valid claim
under the TILA, it determined the lender was to blame for keeping an
insufficient record-keeping system. "The court will not let the natural
results of such record-keeping practices preclude a class action against
the defendants," the court opined.

The court granted the motion for class certification. (Consumer Financial
Services Law Report, March 19, 2001)


PHARMACIES: Drugstore May Owe Duty of Privacy to Consumers
----------------------------------------------------------
Pharmacies may have a fiduciary duty to preserve the confidentiality of
their customers' medical history and prescription records, a New York
trial court judge has ruled.

The ruling by Justice Charles Edward Ramos of Manhattan Supreme Court
came in pretrial motions in a class action brought by a New Yorker with
AIDS who says that an independent drugstore violated a duty of
confidentiality when it sold customer information about him to one of the
nation's largest drugstore chains, CVS Corp.

The decision on a pharmacy's fiduciary duty of confidentiality was one of
first impression in New York.

Justice Ramos, who ruled on March 1, also said that selling the
information without first telling patients may amount to a deceptive
business practice on the part of the buyer of the records.

Justice Ramos dismissed some of the plaintiff's claims, ruling that New
York state and city laws do not apply to pharmacies as they do to
doctors.

According to lead plaintiff's counsel Richard F. Lubarsky of New York's
Levi Lubarsky & Feigenbaum, at least "tens of thousands" of New Yorkers
may have had their medical and prescription information sold without
their consent. The plaintiff has asked that his suit be certified as a
class action.

The lawsuit, Anonymous v. CVS Corp., No. 604804/99, stems from a decision
by Trio Drugs to sell customer information when it closed its doors in
August 1999. Handing over customer records to a large chain like CVS, the
plaintiff alleged, exposed sensitive health and treatment information to
literally thousands of drugstore employees and to all of the health care
plans that contract with CVS.

The plaintiff, who was not identified, was diagnosed with HIV in 1986
and, three years later, diagnosed with AIDS. He had his prescriptions
filled at Trio Drugs until it went out of business.

The plaintiff said he chose to do business with the independent store
based on an expectation of privacy. He also said he believed that the
store would not release medical and prescription information without his
prior consent.

Only when he went to Trio Drugs in August 1999 did he find that
information about his medical history and prescription records had been
transferred to CVS, the plaintiff said.

                        'File Buy Program'

The sale of information was executed under CVS' "File Buy Program," in
which the chain pays for the customer records of independent pharmacies
that cease to do business.

Justice Ramos said that in 1998, CVS bought the files of 350 pharmacies
in the United States and that the CVS chain does roughly 10% of its
business in New York state. According to the plaintiff, the File Buy
Program forbids independent stores from telling their customers of the
record transfers.

"Although no New York court apparently has addressed the issue of whether
or not pharmacists and pharmacies owe a fiduciary duty of
confidentiality, it is well-settled in New York that a fiduciary duty
arises, even in a commercial transaction, where one party reposed trust
and confidence in another who exercises discretionary functions for the
party's benefit or possesses superior expertise on which the party
relied," Justice Ramos wrote.

The key factor in determining whether Trio Drugs owed a duty not to
transfer its customers' health and prescription records was the reliance
of the plaintiff on the drugstore's superior expertise and knowledge in
handling the information, the judge ruled. The fiduciary duty may be
implied from the circumstances of the relationship between the pharmacy
and its customer, he said.

Customers generally "rely on pharmacists for drug advice," and
pharmacists are required under state regulations to offer counseling to
customers on possible side effects and drug interactions.

Even though there is not the same kind of dependency in a
pharmacist-customer relationship as there is in a doctor-patient
relationship, there can be a fiduciary duty in the former, the judge
said.

"Because pharmacists have a certain amount of discretion, and an
obligation to collect otherwise confidential medical information, the
court must find that customers can reasonably expect that the information
will remain confidential," Justice Ramos wrote.

Under General Business Law @ 349, CVS may have participated in a
deceptive business practice in insisting that Trio Drugs' customers not
be notified of the information transfer. Justice Ramos said the theory
should be tested at trial.

Mr. Lubarsky said that a decision on class certification is expected
soon. Defense attorney Paul McTiernan of New York's Barry, McTiernan &
Moore did not return a phone call seeking comment. (The National Law
Journal, March 19, 2001)


RENT-WAY: Updates Status of 10-K, Remains Comfortable With Projections
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Rent-Way, Inc. (NYSE: RWY) on March 26 commented on its business and
provided information on the status of its SEC Form 10-K for the year
ended September 30, The company said that it remains comfortable with
revenue and profit projections, issued in February, 2001, for the current
quarter and for the year ending September 30, 2001.

"We are pleased with our business and improved cash flow, but we are
frustrated by our inability to complete the regulatory filings for fiscal
2000," said William E. Morgenstern, Rent-Way's Chairman and CEO. "While
no new issues have been identified, this process has taken considerably
longer than anticipated. We do not expect any material change in the
projected range of $ 65-75 million in accounting adjustments."

Mr. Morgenstern added, "The continuing delay of the 10-K filing reflects
the complexity of preparing the company's year-end financial statements
and the nature of the audit process. When the 10-K is complete, Rent-Way
will be able to move quickly toward release of subsequent quarterly
results. We share the frustration of our employees, banks, vendors and
investors with the duration of this effort. However, we anticipate a
rapid return to a normal reporting cycle following the end of this
phase."

Rent-Way is the second largest operator of rental-purchase stores in the
United States. Rent-Way rents quality name brand merchandise such as home
entertainment equipment, computers, furniture and appliances from 1,139
stores in 42 states.


TENNESSEE VALLEY: First Phase Of Trial Over Overtime Ends
---------------------------------------------------------
The first phase of a trial has ended over whether the Tennessee Valley
Authority did not pay employees proper overtime.

Thirty-three workers claim the federal utility intentionally violated the
Fair Labor Standards Act when it implemented a policy in 1996 that denied
them overtime pay when they worked more than 40 hours a week. TVA has
argued the law exempts the employees from receiving overtime.

Exempt employees include those whose primary duties are managerial or
those who perform office work directly related to the management policies
or general business operations of their employers.

The first phase of the trial ended Monday and U.S. District Judge Leon
Jordan asked lawyers for both sides to submit their proposed findings of
fact and conclusions of law within 30 days. If Jordan finds that TVA
violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, the trial will proceed to a second
phase to determine damages and how much overtime compensation each worker
is owed.

A Sequoyah Nuclear Plant supervisor testified Monday that he considered
the general craft foremen who worked for him to be managers.

Roger Poole, an instrument maintenance supervisor at the plant near
Chattanooga, testified he sought input from the general foremen, who are
also called general craft supervisors, on hiring matters but generally
made "the bottom-line calls" himself.

Poole also said he was the one who officially dealt with disciplinary
action. He said the general foremen were responsible for observing the
work in the field done by crews.

"It would be a primary duty, but I wouldn't say it's the primary duty,"
he said. "They have a lot to do." Jordan said the impression he got from
general craft supervisors' testimony last week was that they were
"gofers" or "primarily paper carriers."

"That's a part of their job, but I wouldn't classify them as gofers,"
Poole responded, saying the workers attained the positions they're in
because they are smart and know their work.

''They're used for technical input on some pretty difficult problems," he
said. He testified he didn't remember anyone from TVA approaching him
before the overtime policy change was implemented to see what duties his
workers actually performed daily.

Albert McCabe Jr., the modifications supervisor at Sequoyah, also
testified that without task supervisors in his department, no work would
get done.

"It's the key to the whole organization right now," he said in reference
to the job of the task supervisors. "They basically control the work.
Without them, there's no way we'd get it done."

The trial began last Tuesday.

U.S. Magistrate Robert Murrian ruled against TVA in 1999 in an overtime
case affecting security workers at Sequoyah and the Watts Bar Nuclear
Plant. Two similar lawsuits, including a class-action claim, are pending
against TVA in federal court. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire,
March 27, 2001)


TOBACCO LITIGATIION: IL Fd Judge Rejects Medical Monitoring Class Status
------------------------------------------------------------------------
An Illinois federal judge has rejected a request for class action
certification in a lawsuit against tobacco companies seeking medical
monitoring and smoking cessation programs for current and former smokers.

U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman, Northern District of Illinois,
listed numerous reasons in his opinion why "medical monitoring claims
require an analysis of individual issues" and why the request for class
action status should be rejected.

"Judge Guzman, in his opinion, has laid out clear and compelling reasons
why these types of cases are simply not suitable for class action
treatment. His analysis clearly shows that there are a multitude of
individual issues at stake in these types of lawsuits that cannot be
lumped together," said William S. Ohlemeyer, Philip Morris vice president
associate general counsel.

Ohlemeyer noted that Guzman's decision now means that 15 federal courts
have rejected class actions against tobacco companies. "Judge Guzman,
like all other federal judges to consider this issue, realized that the
facts and law simply do not warrant class action lawsuits by smokers."

Judge Guzman ruled that "the plaintiffs' claims are not consistent among
each other and are not sufficiently typical of the class to support class
certification ... given the great variations between the class members'
claims, typicality does not exist."

Guzman also wrote that "addiction of any particular smoker in this class
is an essential part of the plaintiffs' claims" and in order to determine
whether someone is addicted, "a court must first 'examine both biological
and psychological evidence'. As such, because proof of addiction requires
these individual inquiries, class certification is improper."

"In this case, the proposed class action is unmanageable," he said. "The
plaintiffs' claims, the elements of proof to establish those claims and
affirmative defenses available each require analysis of individual
issues. It is impossible to comprehend how a court could supervise such
numerous inquiries. Additionally, with such a broad class definition, the
enormity of the class would prevent judicial economy."

The case is Morris Guillory and Arnold Melamed vs. The American Tobacco
Co.


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Industry Denies Deceiving Public At Brooklyn Trial
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cigarette makers - though they now admit smoking can kill - never
conspired in the past to mislead the public about the health hazard, a
defense attorney said Tuesday in opening statements at a high-stakes
tobacco trial.

"It isn't so; it didn't happen," Peter Bleakley said in Brooklyn federal
court.

The attorney was responding to a massive fraud claim by New York's
largest insurer, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which accuses the
tobacco industry of driving up health care costs with a 40-year campaign
of deception.

Bleakley's client, Philip Morris, Inc., "admits (the dangers of smoking)
today, and maybe should have admitted it sooner," he said. But he also
argued that Empire's own campaign to discourage its subscribers from
smoking proved it was never deceived.

"This case isn't a referendum on smoking," Bleakley told the jury. "This
case is about financial loses only. We're going to convince you that (the
plaintiffs) aren't entitled to anything."

Empire wants at least $800 million in damages from Philip Morris, R.J.
Reynolds Co. and other cigarette makers - the "pricetag of the
defendants' dishonesty," Empire's attorney, Paul Baschorr, said during
his opening statement on Monday.

Baschorr claimed the manufacturers' internal documents and other evidence
will prove they have "repeatedly lied and deceived the American public."
The alleged conspiracy resulted in an avalanche of insurance claims for
lung cancer and other smoking-related ailments, he told the jury.

"Now it's Empire's turn to submit a bill to the tobacco industry," the
lawyer said.

The case is the second to go to trial out of a backlog of 11 tobacco
lawsuits assigned to U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein, some filed
under civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act. Unlike class-action suits filed by consumers, eight of
the claims were brought by third parties, including health insurance,
union and other groups who say the tobacco industry should share the cost
of paying legal and medical costs.

Tobacco lawyers have argued such cases have no legal basis, noting that
appeals courts have ruled that third-party plaintiffs are too remote to
seek damages.

A trial pitting the tobacco industry against a trust representing
asbestos workers ended in January with a hung jury. The trust's $135
million suit had accused manufacturers of withholding and distorting
evidence that workers who were exposed to both asbestos and cigarette
smoke were five times more likely to get lung disease than the average
smoker.

Dr. Julius Richmond - a former surgeon general who testified at the last
trial that the tobacco industry refused to cooperate with government
efforts to reduce smoking deaths - is expected to return to the stand on
behalf of Empire. The trial is expected to last two months. (The
Associated Press State & Local Wire, March 27, 2001)


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Ontario Ct Okays Contingency Fees For Widow's Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------------
An Ontario Superior Court judge has given advance approval to use of
contingency fees for a widow's lawsuit against the tobacco industry.

In a written judgment, Justice Janet Wilson concluded that the proposed
fee arrangement for counsel to Maureen McIntyre "is not champerty in
law."

At a hearing in December, McIntyre's lawyer, Douglas Lennox, said his
client's husband Ronald died from lung cancer on December 23, 1999, at 63
after smoking since he was 16.

"Mrs. McIntyre wishes to initiate wrongful-death proceedings against
Imperial Tobacco and others with respect to her husband's addiction to
nicotine and subsequent lung cancer,"Justice Wilson said. "She is a
person of modest means. Unless she can enter into some form of
contingency retainer agreement with payment only if the action is
successful, she will not be able to proceed with this action."

Observing that normal fees and disbursements for such an action would be
"significant,"the judge noted that the limitation period in question is
two years from the date of death.

At the hearing, the would-be plaintiff sought a ruling that the proposed
fee pact was not prohibited by Ontario's Act Respecting Champerty, R.S.O.
1897.

In reaching her conclusion that the arrangement would not breach modern
definitions of champerty, Justice Wilson said the issue was thoroughly
canvassed by her court in Bergel & Edson v. Wolf (2000), 50 O.R. (3d) 777
(S.C.J.), in which Justice Harvey Spiegel found Ontario law does not
specifically rule out contingency fees and such arrangements are
routinely entered into.

Justice Wilson said it appeared clear that the conclusion of the Ontario
Court of Appeal in Buday v. Locator of Missing Heirs Inc.1993 A.C.W.S.J.
LEXIS 17458, "that champerty requires an element of officious
intermeddling for an improper motive, is consistent with all the
developments in the common law."

Based on the widow's affidavit, "I conclude that there is no stirring up
of litigation by the proposed contingency arrangement. She has been
seeking counsel on her own initiative through various channels. For
financial reasons, she can only pursue the proposed litigation with
payment to her counsel if the claim is successful. A contingency
arrangement is the only one that will permit access to the judicial
system."

Justice Wilson said that although historically reservations about
applying the principles of common law to the solicitor-client
relationship made sense, "they do not make sense today."

Noting at one point that Ontario is the only province in which
contingency fees are not explicitly permitted except in class actions,
the judge commented that the public and litigants alike "would be much
well protected by a system that recognized the limited use of contingency
fees in an arrangement that would promote access to justice in a manner
that is fair and reasonable for both litigants and their counsel."

It was premature for the court to approve specific terms of the
contingency fee, but counsel "should be well rewarded if the litigation
is successful, for assuming the risk and costs of the litigation. The
compensation, however, should not be a windfall resembling a lottery
win." (The Lawyers Weekly, March 16, 2001)


U OF MICHIGAN: Admissions Rules Found Unconstitutional for Race Factor
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A federal judge Tuesday found the admissions policy used by the
University of Michigan Law School unconstitutional because it includes
race as a factor in making decisions.

The ruling came in a class action lawsuit brought by the Center for
Individual Rights in Washington. The lawsuit was filed by a white student
who was denied admission to the law school despite posting higher tests
scores than black and Hispanic candidates who were admitted.

"We are tremendously gratified by the decision, which is a complete
repudiation of University of Michigan's unconstitutional system of racial
preferences," said Terry Pell, CEO for the advocacy group.

Law school Dean Jeffrey S. Lehman said the ruling would be appealed.

The university had argued it had done nothing to violate the U.S. Supreme
Court's 1978 Bakke ruling, which outlawed racial quotas. Rather, the
university argued, it had a duty to consider more than just test scores
in admitting students.

Minority students who intervened in the case argued tests scores are poor
indicators of academic success and should be de-emphasized. They also
argued the tests are racially biased.

In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman said racial
considerations often "have been used for improper purposes" throughout
U.S. history.

"Even when used for 'benign' purposes, they always have the potential for
causing great divisiveness," Friedman wrote. "For these reasons, all
racial distinctions are inherently suspect and presumptively invalid."

For race to be a legitimate consideration, there must be a "compelling
state interest," not merely the desire to reach an "important, beneficial
or laudable" goal.

"For the reasons stated in this opinion, the court concludes that the
University of Michigan Law School's use of race as a factor in its
admissions decisions is unconstitutional and a violation of Title VI of
the 1964 Civil Rights Act," Friedman concluded. "The law school's
justification for using race to assemble a racially diverse student
population -- is not a compelling state interest.

"Even if it were, the law school has not narrowly tailored its use of
race to achieve that interest. Nor may the law school's use of race be
justified on the alternative grounds urged by the intervenors -- to
'level the playing field' between applicants of minority and non-minority
races -- because the remedying of societal discrimination, either past or
present, has not been recognized as a compelling state interest."

The judge ordered the U-M Law School to stop using race as an admissions
criterion immediately. Damages will be determined at a future trial.

"I'm disappointed," Lehman said of the ruling. "In this case we presented
overwhelming evidence that racial diversity is critical to a high-quality
legal education. Judge Friedman accepted that evidence. He didn't quarrel
with it. He concluded we established racial diversity in education is an
important and laudable goal.

"He erred when he then went on to say that that goal does not justify the
competitive consideration of race as one of many factors in our
admissions process. That extra step was inconsistent with the U.S.
Supreme Court decision in Bakke and (some) recent decisions."

Lehman, who helped write the U-M policy in 1992, said he is "completely
confident we will be vindicated on appeal."

Lehman noted in an earlier statement posted on the law school's Web site
when race was eliminated as a criterion at universities in California and
Texas, minority enrollment plunged.

"The unfortunate fact is that, in America -- race still matters. Housing
remains segregated and opportunity, including the 22 years of educational
opportunity that prepare students for law school, remains unequally
distributed," Lehman said. "While the gap in academic preparation has
narrowed over time, it is nowhere near the point where the most selective
law schools can be well integrated without trying to be so."

The case was brought on behalf of Barbara Grutter, 47, who was denied
admission in 1996. Grutter, who runs a health care consulting firm from
her suburban Detroit home, said she had been planning to specialize in
health law and felt her years of work experience set her apart from other
applicants.

"We have always taught our children (ages 15 and 11) that discrimination
is wrong," she told the Detroit News in January. "We take that seriously
in practice and discussion. We have taught them the law has protections
for that. Do I want them to see myself be apathetic about that? No. I
don't want them to think that discrimination is ideologically wrong but
in practice it is OK."

Curt Levey, director of legal and public affairs for the Center for
Individual Rights, called the decision a "total victory" for Gutter and a
"repudiation of the law school's use of racial preferences. It went even
further than we hoped for."

Levey said, given the current makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, it is
unlikely Friedman's decision would be overturned.

The suit is one of four working its way through the legal system. A
similar suit involving U-M's undergraduate admissions policies earned a
split decision, which found the system used until 1998 was
unconstitutional but that used since does pass muster. In a suit
involving the University of Texas, the court decision was similar to
Friedman's but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco
found in a case involving the University of Washington that diversity is
a compelling interest. (United Press International, March 27, 2001)


UNION CARBIDE: Oak Ridge Residents Allege Discrimination, Radiation
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Employees and neighbors of three Tennessee nuclear facilities have filed
two class-action lawsuits alleging that the operators of the plants
knowingly exposed the residents to radiation and hazardous materials,
which caused illness and death. The plaintiffs also contend that the
operators segregated the black employees in an area of the "company town"
where it would be more contaminated and polluted. Ball et al. v. Union
Carbide Corp. et al., No. 3:01-CV-22; Heiser et al. v. Union Carbide
Corp. , No. 2:01-CV-15, complaints filed (E.D. Tenn., Jan. 16, 2001).

The suits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District
of Tennessee against the former operators of the Oak Ridge facility
seeking monetary damages, medical monitoring and a public apology. The
operators were government contractors who ran the Oak Ridge National
Laboratory, and the Y-12 and K-25 plants.

Oak Ridge, originally known as Clinton Engineering Works, was created by
the United States in 1942 to produce plutonium and other materials for
nuclear weapons. The complaints allege that the defendants were aware,
during their operation of Oak Ridge, that they were releasing radioactive
and other hazardous materials into the air, water and ground, but refused
to take precautions to abate or lessen the emissions. The complaints also
maintain that the operators failed to monitor people, animals and crops
that were exposed to radiation and other contaminants, and concealed from
the public the extent of the radiation exposure and the health risks
associated with it.

In Ball, the plaintiffs seek to represent a class of black residents of
the Scarboro community in Oak Ridge. During the Manhattan Project during
World War II, black workers were recruited to Oak Ridge from Alabama,
Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee and hired as common laborers, janitors
and domestic workers.

The complaint alleges the former operators of the plants -- Union Carbide
Corp., Monsanto Corp., University of Chicago, Roane-Anderson Co. and
Turner Construction Co. -- engaged in racial discrimination by
establishing the community of Scarboro as an exclusively segregated black
section and locating it in an area where it would be most contaminated
and most subject to pollution. The area, the complaint charges, is
isolated and bounded by two 300-foot ridges and the city dump.

The class members are looking for compensatory and punitive damages,
declaratory and injunctive relief, and attorneys' fees.

The Heiser plaintiffs estimate that there are thousands of class members
who would be divided into three subclasses: a resident subclass, a
personal injury subclass and a medical monitoring subclass pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(a), 23(b)(1)(A), 23(b)(2) and
23(b)(3). The complaint maintains that the defendants "knowingly and
systemically irradiated and poisoned people" living downwind and
downstream from the Oak Ridge Nuclear Facilities since even before the
first reactor came on-line in January 1944. The radioactive and hazardous
materials, including plutonium-239/240, tritium (H-3), uranium-233-235,
iodine-131-133, cesium-137 and beryllium, were released into the air or
negligently permitted to leak into the surface and groundwater, leach
into the Knox aquifer, and contaminate soil and vegetation.

The other defendants are Eastman Kodak Co., Eastman Chemical Co.,
Battelle Martin-Marietta Energy Systems Inc., Lockheed Martin, Lockheed
Martin Energy Systems, BWXT-Y12-LLC, Babcock Co., McDermott Co. and
Bechtel.

The plaintiffs seek relief for violations of the U.S. Constitution, the
Tennessee Constitution and the Price-Anderson Act, 42 U.S.C. @ 2210 et
seq. They state claims of assault, battery, breach of contract, trespass,
nuisance, misrepresentation and fraud, strict liability, and intentional
infliction of emotional distress.

Jacqueline Kittrell, of counsel to Barrett, Johnston & Parsley and one of
the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in this case, told Andrews
Publications that a health study performed last year by the Oak Ridge
Health Agreement Steering Panel, commissioned by the state and funded by
the U.S. Department of Energy, was the catalyst for the Heiser lawsuit.
The study concluded that some Oak Ridge residents might have a high risk
of thyroid cancer, especially if they were children during the toxic
releases from the plants from 1944 to the 1950s, Kittrell said. She said
that iodine releases were studied because iodine has a more targeted and
measured effect in the body.

As for the Ball case, Kittrell said that there was no triggering incident
for the lawsuit, but rather a pattern of continuing violations. She said
the neighborhood of 400 families has been stigmatized by the
environmental racism that they have had to endure. According to Kittrell,
Scarboro is the closest neighborhood to a nuclear weapons site in the
country. "You can see the fence of the plant from the town," she said.

The class members in both actions are represented by George Barrett of
Barrett, Johnston & Parsley in Nashville, Tenn.; James Stranch III and C.
Dewey Branstetter of Branstetter, Kilgore, Stranch & Jennings in
Nashville; Bryan Coluccio and R. Brent Walton of Short Cressman & Burgess
in Seattle; Joe Whatley Jr. of Whatley Drake in Birmingham, Ala.; Dennis
Reich of Reich & Binstock in Houston; Mitchell Toups of Weller, Green,
Toups & Terrell in Beaumont, Texas; Steven Eugene Cauley of Cauley Geller
Bowman & Coates in Little Rock, Ark.; and Paul Geller and Howard Coates
Jr. of Boca Raton, Fla. (Toxic Chemicals Litigation Reporter, February
23, 2001)


UNITED SAFEGUARD: Skycaps Say Pre-Shift Payments Were Kickbacks
---------------------------------------------------------------
Skycaps head for court to reclaim $ 10 million they say company bosses at
Miami International extorted from them.

Did skycaps at Miami International Airport have to pay millions in
kickbacks to keep their heavy-lifting, low-wage jobs toting other peoples
luggage?

Thats what nearly 200 skycaps are alleging in state and federal lawsuits
that are nearing trial in Miami. The skycaps sued their employer, United
Safeguard Agency of Miami, as well as Dynair, the aircraft service
company based in Reston, Va., that subcontracted with USA. The skycaps
are seeking to recover more than $ 10 million for the so-called drops,
claiming conversion, civil RICO violations and violations of the Fair
Labor Standards Act.

Both companies still operate at the airport.

Skycaps were required to pay drops between 1993 and 1999. USA ended the
practice after the Miami-Dade County Commission passed a resolution
condemning it and then-airport director Gary Dellapa sent the company a
letter asking the company to stop.

Skycaps working domestic flights had to pay managers $ 5 at the start of
each shift; those handling international flights had to pay $ 10.

Virginia Herrero Pagliery, a partner at Gunster Yoakley in Miami who is
representing USA, says the drops were actually a legally permissible tip
pool, similar to those used by servers in restaurants. She argues that
federal law does not require such tips to be distributed equally to all
employees, and that it was acceptable for managers who perform skycap
services directly to keep some of the drop money. In addition, the
skycaps assert, some of the plaintiffs did receive some money back from
the tip pool at the end of their shifts.

But Jorge Diaz-Cueto, a solo attorney in Miami who represents the
plaintiffs, claims that none of the drops was returned to the skycaps at
the end of their shifts. The tips instead were used as a direct source of
supplemental income to United Safeguard and its principals, according to
court documents.

United Safeguards skycap managers received $ 1,030 each from the tip pool
for every two weeks they worked, the plaintiffs allege in court papers.

The lawyer estimates the total amount of the drops from 1996 to 1999 was
$ 5 million to $ 10 million. The plaintiffs cannot seek recovery for
drops prior to 1996 because the statute of limitations has expired.

The company broke the law, Diaz-Cueto says, because, without these tips,
the skycaps received less than the minimum wage. The skycaps were paid an
hourly wage of just $ 2.13 per hour. The plaintiffs are seeking the
difference between the $ 2.13 an hour and the full minimum wage in the
late 90s.

It was a scheme to defraud the employees, says Diaz-Cueto.

But defense attorney Jose Diaz, an associate with Gunster Yoakley,
contends the real reason the skycaps sued is that their incomes are down
due to the installation of Smart Cartes at the airport. The installation
means passengers can now rent the carts to haul their luggage themselves.

The federal lawsuit also alleges that one of the two skycaps who filed
the lawsuit was fired in retaliation for doing so. In court documents,
USA denies this. The company claims that one of these employees was
suspended for failing to meet a passenger at the gate with a wheelchair,
then falsifying the wheelchair log.

The federal lawsuit, which was filed in 1999 on behalf of 165 skycaps,
alleges the companies violated the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act. Dynair
was dropped from the case as a defendant after it argued that it was not
liable for the actions of its subcontractor. Diaz-Cueto concedes that
Dynair was included because it has deep pockets. He says he doubts USA
can pay a multimillion-dollar judgment.

The federal trial is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on April 2 before
Senior U.S. District Judge Shelby Highsmith.

The state suit was filed in 1999 on behalf of 187 skycaps. It alleges
violations of civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
and conversion. That case is ready for trial, though no starting date has
been set.

Diaz-Cueto, who is representing the skycaps in both suits, promises lots
of fireworks at trial. He says hell introduce undercover 1999 videotape
footage from WAMI-TV showing the payment of the drops.

He also says hell produce bank statements showing that no drop money was
ever deposited by USA for at least one of the years in questions. This is
significant, he says, because USA says it deposited all the tip pool
money every day and then distributed it to employees every two weeks in
the form of bonuses.

The allegation also raises questions of tax evasion, claims Diaz-Cueto.
However, that subject is not addressed in the civil lawsuit. (Broward
Daily Business Review, March 26, 2001)


WESTFIELD AMERICA: Unitholders OK Capital Raising, Frank Expects Merger
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
      Sydney, March 27 AAP - Westfield America Trust unitholders today
approved capital raisings for the group's planned mop-up of the remaining
shares in Westfield America Inc, despite concerns from smaller investors.

The Australian Shareholders Association (ASA) and a number of small
unitholders voiced concerns that only institutions were able to
participate in the capital raisings.

But unitholders authorised capital raisings to acquire common shares in
United States-listed real estate investment trust, Westfield America Inc,
with a 99.97 per cent majority. Some 99.95 per cent voted in favour of
ratifying the issue of 99.4 million new units in the trust.

Westfield chairman Frank Lowy also did not expect a class action launched
in the US to hold up the merger process. "I don't believe it will stop us
from doing this merger," Mr Lowy said.

As a result of the capital raisings approved today, the trust would
increase its market capitalisation to around $2.4 billion and Mr Lowy
said the group remained committed to further expansion.

"We have a program now which is quite extensive, which is underway
regardless of this merger," Mr Lowy told AAP.

He said the complexities of the real estate investment trust in the US
and Australia meant that opportunities would have been missed.

"Now it will be a simpler structure so we will be able to take advantage
of them."

Mr Lowy told today's meeting that it had been clear for some time that
the stock market conditions for real estate investment trusts in the US
were inhibiting the ability of Westfield America Inc to grow.

"We have been concerned that this situation had the potential to restrict
the ability of Westfield America Trust to take advantage of new
investment opportunities," he said.

Mr Lowy said the existing structure whereby the Australian-listed trust
was investing through Westfield America Inc, itself listed on the New
York Stock Exchange, had proven to be too complex.

"In making this move, we will simplify the Trust's investment structure
and put it in a position where it is able to continue to raise capital in
Australia for new investments in the United States."

Most of the opposition to the plan today centred on the fact that small
unitholders were missing out on participating in the capital raisings, in
favour of institutional investors.

"I'm very concerned that we are being denied access and privileges that
are being given to the big end of town," one small unitholder said.

ASA representative Ray Wagner said investors were also concerned that the
new units were being issued at a discounted price of $1.45.

Mr Lowy said the process to issue units to small shareholders would take
about three months and was too long.

But he agreed that the rules should be changed to allow smaller
unitholders to participate in such capital raisings in the future.

"I do agree with you that, like I said before, that smaller unitholders
should be able to participate," he told the meeting.

Westfield America Trust is offering to purchase the 22.5 per cent of
Westfield America Inc common shares not already owned by the trust or
Westfield Holdings Ltd for $US16.95 cash per share.

The purchase price is $US270 million ($A510 million) and the trust will
also assume Westfield America Inc's debt, bringing the total value of the
deal to around $A720 million.

Another unitholders' meetin will be held in June to approve further
aspects of the deal.

Westfield Holdings Ltd shares jumped 57 cents to $12.82, Westfield
America Trust units fell one cent to $1.60 and Westfield Trust units rose
three cents to $3.19. (AAP Newsfeed, March 27, 2001)


XEROX CORP: EEOC Filings in TX Echo Complaints by Salespeople in NY
-------------------------------------------------------------------
In the second wave of bias charges to hit the company within two weeks,
according to the lawyers representing them, a group of African-American
employees at Xerox Corporation's (NYSE: XRX) Operations Division in Texas
have filed charges of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission.

Melvyn I. Weiss, one of the attorneys representing the Xerox employees,
said the charges claim a widespread and systemic practice of disparate
treatment with regard to their advancement opportunities, assignments,
salary and work environment. The story was first reported in the Wall
Street Journal.

The Texas complaints follow closely those of 11 African-American and
Hispanic salespeople in New York who filed bias charges against Xerox on
March 14 with the EEOC District Office in New York, on their own behalf
and "on behalf of all minority employees who are similarly situated."

By law, workers must file charges with the EEOC before commencing an
action in Federal Court. The EEOC is the federal agency charged with
enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits
discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

In both the Texas and New York filings, the Xerox employees are
represented jointly by Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP
(http://www.milberg.com),the nation's largest class action litigation
firm, and Leeds Morelli & Brown PC (http://www.lmblaw.com),which
specializes in employment discrimination law. Last October, the two firms
announced they had formed an affiliation to jointly litigate large-scale
employment discrimination cases. The Xerox operations workers in Texas
claim they have hit a "concrete ceiling" with little or no success in
seeking opportunities for advancement and higher salaries. Many contend
that they have worked for the company for years training new white
operations employees for managerial positions and are left at the back
door of the company.

Several of the workers also contend that they were subjected to racially
derogatory jokes, which white co-workers compiled into a booklet
distributed throughout various departments at Xerox. One racial joke,
described fully in the affidavit of Gregory A. Idlebird, an account
associate in one of Xerox's Texas offices, involved derogatory references
to the alleged size of an African-American male's genitals. "The
African-American workers who heard the jokes complained to management
officials, but nothing was done," Mr. Idlebird said.

The African-American workers in both Texas and New York contend that they
have attempted to address their concerns regarding the discriminatory
work environment with corporate officials through Human Resources and
management, but their complaints have been ignored.

The new EEOC filings include Texas sales personnel in addition to those
on the operations side. "If Xerox fully embraced all of the skills and
experience that we have and bring to this company, we could all be
drinking from the well of prosperity," said Frank Warren, a current
employee in Xerox's New York sales division.

Echoing their sales colleagues in New York, African-American sales people
named in the Texas affidavits also allege that they are assigned to what
is called the "bench," with no sales territories for longer time periods
than white sales agents -- and then assigned to the less desirable and
profitable sales territories. The EEOC charges also alleged that the more
lucrative and well-established sales territories with higher commissions
are reserved for the young and often inexperienced white sales agents.

Many of the African-American employees charge that Xerox, through its
discriminatory practices, has systematically set up and perpetuates a
"good ol' boys club" by selecting less experienced whites for promotion
to choice or managerial positions and then requires that the
African-American workers train them for their positions. "We are tired of
being locked out of the doors of opportunity and privilege," claimed Dora
Miller, a 20-year salesperson in Xerox's Houston, Texas office. "It's
like Xerox has given us the keys to the house, but then changed all the
locks."

Lenard Leeds, a senior partner at Leeds Morelli & Brown, said calls have
been coming in every day to his firm and co-counsel Milberg Weiss from
Xerox workers all over the country. "The number of complaints is growing
daily," he said, "and we expect to file quite a number of EEOC complaints
on behalf of Xerox employees, past and present, in the coming weeks."

Milberg Weiss and Leeds Morelli have set up a joint task force to
prosecute large-scale employment discrimination cases. Melvyn I. Weiss,
senior partner at Milberg Weiss, said, "The Xerox situation confirms my
judgment that, with the growth in size of American corporations -- Xerox
had 94,600 employees at last count -- employment discrimination cases
would increasingly assume the scale of the complex litigation that is our
firm's specialty."

"There seems to be a widespread belief among African-American workers at
Xerox," Mr. Weiss added, "that they are not on an equal footing with
white workers and in fact face a company-wide pattern and practice of
systemic discriminatory treatment."

Contact: Lenard Leeds, Esq. of Leeds, Morelli & Brown PC, 516-873-9550;
or Melvyn I. Weiss, Esq., 212-594-5300, or David L. Rosenstein, Director,
External Communications, 212-613-5670, both of Milberg Weiss Bershad
Hynes & Lerach LLP


                             *********


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

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