CAR_Public/010329.MBX               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

               Thursday, March 29, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 62

                             Headlines

ADAM'S MARK: Promoter of Black College Reunion Revives Allegations
AMERICAN CYANAMID: Farmers Have a Stake in Settlement for Overpayment
BENEFICIAL CORP: Cir Courts Say Detrimental Reliance Req'd in TILA Claim
BURLINGTON NORTHERN: 10,000 May Allege of Collusion in Job Noise Claims
COCA-COLA: Panel To Oversee Spending With Women, Minority Businesses

D.C. HOUSING: Disabled Sue District for Barrier-Free Housing
FLEETBOSTON: Group Wants to Expand Suit for Alleged Deceit of Borrowers
HMOs: Doctors' Representative, AAHP Official Debate States' Lawsuit
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Industry To Appeal U.S. Court Decision
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Judge Kram Named Walter Zifkin to Help Settle 2 Cases

IASIAWORKS, INC: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in New York
INCO LTD: Ont. Residents Tell the Press about Cancer Causing Toxins Leak
NANOPHASE TECHNOLOGIES: Court Gives Final Approval of Settlement
NATIONAL TREASURY: Pay Dispute Is Back in Court after 3 Years Discussion
NEW YORK: Civil Liberties Union Sues to End Failing Schools' Spiral

PAYDAY LENDERS: Federal Judge Certifies Case against Cash Thru
PLANETRX.COM: Sirota & Sirota and Lovell & Stewart File Securities Suit
POWELL, LIPSHUTZ: 2 Law Firms Lose Bid to Kill Suit By Mexican Investors
PRUDENTIAL LIFE: Policyholders of Mutual Co. Allege of Personal Gains
RACE-PROFILING: Suit May Be Near End; Mt. Prospect and Drivers to Settle

SOTHEBY'S, CHRISTIE'S: Foreign Dealings Threaten Auction Settlement
SPACELABS MEDICAL: Ricardo A. Guarnero Announces Additional Claims
SPRINT CORP: Suit Alleges Previous Proxy Wording Altered Stock Options
TAINTED WATER: Judge Finds Enough Trichloroethylene to Certify Suit
TRW INC: Mistakes Cited In Air Bag Factory Blast That Injured 3

UNION PACIFIC: Cleanup and Lawsuit Continue a Year after Train Derail

                               *********

ADAM'S MARK: Promoter of Black College Reunion Revives Allegations
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A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by a promoter of Black College Reunion
events and his company revived allegations of civil rights violations
against the owners of the Adam's Mark Hotel in Daytona Beach.

Thomas Copeland of Jacksonville, president of Black College Reunion Inc.,
asked for an unspecified amount of damages from HBE Corp. of St. Louis.
Five hotel patrons raised similar issues in their 1999 suit, which
prompted intervention by the Florida Attorney General's Office and the
U.S. Justice Department. That case is still in the courts.

The annual weekend of festivities attracts more than 100,000 black
college-age people to Daytona Beach each year. This year's events will
start Friday.

Fred Kummer III, executive vice president of HBE Corp. in St. Louis,
vehemently denied the accusations. Kummer, whose father founded HBE in
1960 and began the hotel division in 1973, said the policies and
procedures in place that weekend two years ago applied to all hotel
patrons and were in place to protect them.

"We did not institute the rules based upon ethnicity or color or any
other criteria," Kummer said. "We had 100,000 'students' on the beach
that weekend and we needed to protect our guests."

Black College Reunion Inc. serves as a promoter of various black musical
artists and companies who perform at events across the country with the
same name. The company, which arranges accommodations, plans and
organizes events and markets the event, is headquartered in Jacksonville.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Orlando says that the Adam's Mark
at Daytona Beach discriminated against black patrons by creating a
special set of "house rules" applicable only to them.

The rules included the requirement that hotel guests in town for Black
College Reunion be at least 21 years old. Also, the hotel prohibited
firearms except those carried by police officers, and prohibited guests
from carrying cases of alcohol in the building, court records show.

The rules included "insulting stereotypical language admonishing the BCR
attendees that illegal activity was prohibited," records show. The
lawsuit alleges that Adam's Mark displayed hostility toward black guests.

Black patrons were treated differently than white patrons that weekend,
according to records.

"Adam's Mark hurt them," attorney Rodney Gregory said of Copeland and his
company. "They suffered lost dollars."

The lawsuit claims that Copeland, who was responsible for the
accommodations of record executives and performers, lost business with
record companies and musical artists because of the treatment.

However, Kummer said rules against firearms, contraband and alcohol are
routine at the Adam's Mark Hotels. He said age 21 is the minimum age for
a person to make a hotel reservation in the state. Kummer acknowledged
that hotel guests were required to wear wristbands, a practice that has
been halted.

Kummer said the Daytona Beach hotel is one of their premier sites. He
said his company has long supported the annual spring break weekend for
black students and is currently expanding the hotel from 436 rooms to 750
rooms.

"We are not afraid to bare our souls on anything because we acted
prudently," Kummer said. "We acted in the best interests of protecting
our guests."

In October, a federal judge threw out an $8 million class action
settlement between the hotel chain and five visitors who said they were
discriminated against during BCR in 1999. The settlement was reached in
March 2000 with the cooperation of the Florida Attorney General's Office.

The ruling did not affect a separate non-monetary settlement between the
U.S. Justice Department and Adam's Mark. Allison Bethel, with the
Attorney General's Office of Civil Rights, said the judge's decision in
that case has been appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. (The
Orlando Sentinel, March 28, 2001)


AMERICAN CYANAMID: Farmers Have a Stake in Settlement for Overpayment
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Over 400,000 farmers may recover overpayments they allegedly made for
chemicals manufactured by chemical producer, American Cyanamid
Corporation. The company has agreed to settle two lawsuits involving the
sale if its crop protection chemicals. While agreeing to the settlement,
American Cyanamid vigorously denies all allegations raised by the
lawsuits.

The crop protection chemicals involved were sold in all fifty states and
the District of Columbia. The bulk of the sales were made in the Midwest
with the top five states in terms of total purchasers being Iowa,
Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Missouri.

According to the terms of the settlement, those eligible to participate
must have purchased crop protection chemicals manufactured by American
Cyanamid for their own consumption and not for resale during the period
from January 30, 1991 through June 27, 1997.

To learn more about this settlement and the effect it may have on your
rights, you may call the Claims Administrator at 888-250-9352 or you may
visit the settlement web site at www.rosenthalco.com/amcycpc. Both the
Claims Administrator and the web site can provide more detailed case
information including copies of the Notice of Pendency of Class Actions,
Proposed Settlements, Fairness Hearing and Right to Share in the
Settlement Fund.

There are deadlines to decide whether to participate in the settlement.
All requests for exclusion (opt-outs) from the settlement must be
postmarked or received by May 15, 2001. All Proof of Claim forms must be
postmarked or received by September 14, 2001. Details on the request for
exclusion and Proof of Claim and any other important deadlines can be
obtained from the Claims Administrator.


BENEFICIAL CORP: Cir Courts Say Detrimental Reliance Req'd in TILA Claim
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has joined the 5th Circuit, 6th
Circuit and 8th Circuit in holding that detrimental reliance is an
element of a Truth in Lending Act claim for actual damages. (Turner v.
Beneficial Corp., et al., No. 99-13381 (11th Cir. 2/22/01).)

Jacqueline Turner purchased a satellite dish system from Star Vision Inc.
based on an advertised price of 39.95 for the monthly service charges.
Beneficial National Bank and Star Vision provided financing through an
"Excel" credit card issued by Beneficial. Although Turner received a TILA
disclosure statement with the credit card, she did not read or rely on
the statement.

After receiving a monthly bill of 48.36, Turner filed a class action
against Beneficial, alleging its failure to disclose the true cost of
financing the purchase violated the TILA, the federal Racketeer
Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and state fraud laws.

The U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama determined
detrimental reliance was a necessary element to each of Turner's claims.
Finding no detrimental reliance, the District Court denied class
certification on all three claims (see Consumer Financial Services Law
Report, Nov. 26, 1999, p. 11). Reversing the District Court's denial of
class certification on Turner's TILA claim for actual damages, the 11th
Circuit held a borrower seeking actual damages under the TILA was not
required to prove she relied to her detriment on a lender's defective
disclosure statement (see Consumer Financial Services Law Report, Jan.
19, 2001, p. 1).

In a sua sponte rehearing en banc, the 11th Circuit reconsidered whether
detrimental reliance is an element of a TILA claim for actual damages.

Judge Rosemary Barkett noted the TILA provides that a consumer is
entitled only to "any actual damages sustained ... as a result" of the
TILA violation. "[T]his language indicates that the statute's authors
intended that plaintiffs must demonstrate detrimental reliance in order
to be entitled to actual damages under TILA," Judge Barkett stated.

Judge Barkett further noted H.R. Rep. No. 193, 104th Cong., 1st Sess.
(1995) states: "Section 130(a) of TILA allows a consumer to recover both
actual and statutory damages in connection with TILA violations. Congress
provided for statutory damages because actual damages in most cases would
be nonexistent or extremely difficult to prove. To recover actual
damages, consumers must show that they suffered a loss because they
relied on an inaccurate or incomplete disclosure."

Based on the language of the statute as well as its legislative history,
the court held detrimental reliance is an element of a TILA claim for
actual damages.

Alan Kaplinsky of Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersol in Philadelphia
explains, "without TILA actual damages, the maximum recovery in a TILA
class action is 500,000 in a case where the violation subjects the
creditor to the TILA statutory penalty." (Consumer Financial Services Law
Report, March 19, 2001)


BURLINGTON NORTHERN: 10,000 May Allege of Collusion in Job Noise Claims
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. failed to protect workers from
deafening job noise for decades and then duped 4,000 to 10,000 of them
into settling hearing loss claims for less than $ 3,000 apiece, according
to a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Minneapolis.

A separate lawsuit filed the same day in Seattle accused the railroad of
colluding with union lawyers to keep hearing loss settlements at less
than $ 65,000 and out of court in as many as 4,000 cases.

The lawsuits come one month after the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission charged BNSF--the nation's second-largest railroad with
substantial operations in California--with subjecting track laborers to
genetic testing without their knowledge or consent as part of the
company's investigation of repetitive motion injury complaints.

BNSF declined to comment Tuesday on the Minneapolis lawsuit, saying it
had not been served. When asked about the Seattle lawsuit, railroad
spokesman Richard Russack said: "It appears to be a lawyers' manufactured
lawsuit, and it lacks merit."

The Minneapolis suit describes an alleged scheme, which began in the late
1980s, to lie to and manipulate workers who claimed they were losing
their hearing.

The railroad's goal was to keep workers from hiring lawyers to negotiate
or to sue over injuries similar to those that had resulted in trial
awards of $ 50,000 to more than $ 1 million, said Steven Petersen, a
Minneapolis lawyer who represented five workers named in the complaint.

"Some of these guys are profoundly deaf now," Petersen said. "They sold
their ears for 1,500 bucks. Who in their right minds would sell their
ears for 1,500 bucks? It's a travesty--a person with superior knowledge
taking advantage of the little guy."

The suit asks the court to declare the case a class action, which would
expand its scope to include as many as 10,000 workers and retirees, he
said. It seeks compensation of at least $ 50,000, plus punitive damages,
for each worker.

According to the lawsuit, BNSF knew that excessive job noise could cost
workers their hearing as early as 1966 but failed to protect them.
Workers began complaining to the railroad that they were losing their
hearing in the late 1980s.

"Concerned about the financial exposure associated with claims for
hearing loss suffered by thousands of its employees, the defendant
devised a series of fraudulent, dishonest and unlawful strategies,
procedures and formulas for the valuation and resolution of hearing loss
claims to minimize the compensation it must pay" workers, the suit said.

The railroad presented workers with schedules and matrices showing the
maximum value of claims varying by workers' ages and severity of loss,
the suit said. In some cases, it said, railroad representatives told
workers that the schedules followed nonexistent federal or American
Medical Assn. guidelines.

Robert Cogger said that's what happened to him. Cogger, who has been a
seasonal track laborer for BNSF since 1976, said he believes the heavy
machines he works near caused his partial hearing loss and the ringing
and buzzing in his ears.

"The machines are very, very loud, and they are usually bunched up . . .
so what you have is 10, 12, 15 machines going down the track within 15
feet of each other all the time, all day long," said Cogger, 49.

The suit said Cogger filed a hearing loss claim with the railroad about
1994. He said he agreed to release the company from liability in exchange
for $ 1,200.

Cogger said he thought the offer seemed low and tried to scare the
railroad's representative by suggesting he might see a lawyer. But he
said the representative convinced Cogger that he wouldn't get more money
that way.

"I thought he was being honest, that he wouldn't tell me anything that
wasn't true," Cogger said. "Maybe I was naive, but I thought he was being
honest."

The suit said some workers were instructed to keep their settlements
secret by railroad representatives, who explained "because I'm really
taking care of you." In a booklet called "If You're Injured on the
Job--Let Us Help," workers were discouraged from hiring lawyers, it said.

If proved, such actions violate the Federal Employers Liability Act,
which governs railroads, the suit said. The companies are self-insured
and exempt from workers' compensation laws.

In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle, workers accuse the
railroad of conspiring with Bricker, Zakovics, Querin, Thompson &
Ritchey, a Portland, Ore., law firm that represents several railway
unions, to cap settlements in more than 4,000 workers' hearing loss
claims. The law firm told Reuters that it had done nothing wrong and
would vigorously contest the allegations.

The lawsuit said the company and the law firm used a secret "matrix" to
assign maximum payout amounts of $ 65,000 for profound hearing loss, and
less for other levels of hearing loss, the suit said. All claims were
funneled through this matrix, the suit said.

Workers who took similar claims to trial won 10 times as much, said the
suit, which named three workers and also seeks class-action status.

The suit also accused the law firm and the railroad of agreeing to
prevent complaints from going to trial. (Los Angeles Times, March 28,
2001)


COCA-COLA: Panel To Oversee Spending With Women, Minority Businesses
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Former U.S. Labor Secretary Lynn Martin and Thomas Dortch Jr., national
chairman of 100 Black Men of America, are among the leaders appointed to
a new panel that will help Coca-Cola spend $800 million with women- and
minority-owned businesses.

Coke's Procurement Advisory Council is not part of the company's recent
settlement of an employee class-action racial discrimination lawsuit.

Independent of the suit, which the company agreed to settle for $192.5
million, is a five-year commitment announced last May to boost
entrepreneurship and business opportunities for minorities and women.

The new council, which will meet three times a year, will help Coke
develop a stronger supplier base for products and services over the next
five years.

The $800 million investment is an increase of at least $300 million when
compared with Coke's current spending patterns with women- and
minority-owned firms. "This body will enable Coca-Cola to forge closer
links to the communities we serve, take advantage of independent views
and fresh approaches, and bring together the best thinking about ways in
which we can use our purchasing programs to benefit everyone touched by
our business," Coke Chairman Doug Daft said. "Given the high caliber,
unique skill and diversity of its members, I am more than confident that
it will be able to fulfill these goals."

There are six other outside members of the new council: Janice Mathis,
general counsel of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Harriet Michel, president
of the National Minority Supplier Development Council; Subash Razdan,
former board chair of the National Federation of the Indian American
Associations; Ramon Rodriguez, executive vice president and general
counsel of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Sara Martinez Tucker,
president and chief executive of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund; and
Richard Williams, executive director of the American Indian College Fund.

The procurement program is the biggest part of Coke's five-year, $1
billion program to foster diversity and economic empowerment. An
additional $200 million will be spent during the next five years on
efforts, including:

Increasing economic partnerships and marketing investments in 50 urban
communities across the country.

Increasing opportunities for minorities and women in Coke's extensive
bottling and distribution system, and with the retailers that sell its
products.

And supporting nonprofit organizations, such as those providing
scholarships for minority youths. (The Atlanta Journal and Constitution,
March 28, 2001)


D.C. HOUSING: Disabled Sue District for Barrier-Free Housing
------------------------------------------------------------
Tyeisha Brown drags herself on her knees and elbows up the raft of stairs
to get to the bathroom in her family's Columbia Heights row-house
apartment. The 10-year-old has cerebral palsy, and her family has been
waiting seven years for a public housing unit where she could get around
in her wheelchair.

On March 27, an advocacy group filed a federal class-action lawsuit
against the D.C. Housing Authority saying that Tyeisha and as many as
2,000 other disabled D.C. residents have been waiting too long for
accessible housing. Six plaintiffs named in the suit charge that the
housing authority has denied them their civil rights and violated federal
law year after year by failing to make at least 5 percent of its 10,460
apartments accessible to the disabled. They are asking the court to force
the agency to comply.

Tyeisha said she remembers that when she was younger and weighed less,
her mom could easily carry her down the front steps and Tyeisha would
wheel herself around the streets to play with the neighborhood kids. Now,
Tyeisha rarely leaves the house except for school, when the bus driver
hoists her up and down the front steps. Asked to describe her ideal home,
Tyeisha beams and then shouts her answer.

"I would love to have a ramp and no steps!" she says. "Then I could go to
the store and go outside. And go to school just like the rest of the
kids, with no bus and nobody carrying me!"

Michael Kelly, the D.C. Housing Authority executive, acknowledges that
the agency has never complied with the 1973 Rehabilitation Act's
accessibility requirements, which were put into force by President George
Bush's administration in 1988. But Kelly, who took over the agency last
fall, said he has been working with the advocates and is dismayed that
they decided to file suit.

"Based on the availability of capital funds and current revitalization
plans, it remains the goal of the agency to be in full compliance within
three years," Kelly said in a prepared statement. "We recognize the
tremendous need for accessible units both here in the District and
nationwide."

While families wait two years on average to get a D.C. public housing
unit, the picture seems even more bleak for people with disabilities,
housing authority statistics show. Of the 10,460 public housing
apartments the agency manages, it reports that 191, or 1.7 percent, are
classified as accessible to people with disabilities.

For every public housing unit now occupied, records show, there is
approximately one person or family waiting for it. But for every
accessible unit, nine people or families are waiting. As at March 27,
there were 1,704 applicants on the waiting list who identified themselves
as having a disability.

Marjorie Rifkin, a lawyer with University Legal Services who is
representing the plaintiffs, said she and other advocates had been
pressing the housing authority to comply with the law since 1999 and
tired of hearing top officials talk about the financial obstacles they
faced.

"The tragedy is, the housing authority spent millions of federal dollars
over the past few years to renovate many of the District's public housing
units, but they just disregarded federal accessibility laws," Rifkin
said. "As a result, people with disabilities are literally shut out of
bathrooms, unable to come and go as they choose and otherwise forced to
live in nursing homes, shelters and other institutions while they
languish on waiting lists."

Robert Coward, of the Capital Area ADAPT advocacy group, said that Kelly
inherited many of these problems from his predecessor but that he has
taken little action to move the agency forward.

"They say, 'We don't have the funds to comply with the law right now,' "
Coward said. "I don't want to talk anymore. I want to hear, 'We're
beginning construction.' "

Officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which
provides most of the funding to the D.C. agency and monitors its
operation, had no comment on the suit or the District's lack of
compliance.

In addition to Tyeisha and her mother, Selena Brown, plaintiffs in the
suit are Jordan Cooke; Annette Young and her son, Marcus; LaChevia Gaymon
and her daughter, LaRaven; Mwenea Ajanaku; and Mikel Elmore.

Cooke, the Youngs and the Gaymons live in D.C. public housing units that
are not accessible and have been waiting for transfers, according to the
complaint.

Marcus Young, 18, has cerebral palsy and wears diapers because he cannot
get to the second-floor bathroom in his family's apartment at Greenleaf
Gardens.

Cook is a 20-year-old paraplegic living in Richardson Dwellings who can't
use the narrow toilet area. He relies instead on a catheter and bed
liners. Last May, he was nearly trapped in a fire there when his mother
could not lift him to carry him out.

Elmore, 46, and Ajanaku, 45, live in nursing homes and have applied for
public housing without success.

Elmore said that he joined the suit because he wants his freedom and his
family back.

Elmore, paralyzed from the chest down after a car struck him while he was
riding a bicycle, spends most of his hours in a room at the Medlink
Nursing Center on Capitol Hill. The former auto mechanic says that if he
could get into public housing, he could again live with his wife and two
daughters. The average cost to care for a person in a nursing home is $
57,000 a year, and Elmore said he could save District taxpayers a lot of
money by living on his own with occasional visits from aides.

"They're denying my freedom by incarcerating me in here," Elmore said of
the housing authority. "The space I need -- it doesn't take much for
people to come in and remodel it for me. They're being so slow about it."
(The Washington Post, March 28, 2001)


FLEETBOSTON: Group Wants to Expand Suit for Alleged Deceit of Borrowers
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, a consumer watchdog group,
is working to expand nationwide a class action filed in December by
Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch against FleetBoston Financial
Corp.'s mortgage unit for alleged deceit of borrowers.

As reported in The Boston Globe, the group last week sent postcards to
more than 100,000 Fleet mortgage customers in New England to notify them
that their privacy may have been violated by Fleet in arrangements the
mortgage unit made with telemarketers and that they may be paying charges
they did not authorize.

The group has also brought in the Boston law firm of Adkins, Kelston &
Zavez to pursue further class-action possibilities against Fleet.

In an interview, Bruce Marks, chief executive of the Neighborhood
Assistance Corp., said the Minnesota case only covers loans on homes in
that state but that Fleet services loans nationwide. "It is important to
expand the scope of suits nationwide," he said.

In addition to working with attorneys, the group is planning an April 17
protest against Fleet at its annual board meeting in Boston.

A Fleet spokesman said that a separate Federal class action suit, filed
in Minnesota, already covers the borrowers solicited by NACA. (The
American Banker, March 28, 2001)


HMOs: Doctors' Representative, AAHP Official Debate States' Lawsuit
-------------------------------------------------------------------
ABC's "Good Morning America" (3/28) this morning featured a story on the
decision by the California, Texas, and Georgia state medical associations
to join class-action lawsuits against several managed care plans.
Stephanie Kanwit, Counsel of the American Association of Health Plans
(AAHP), commented on the physicians' move, saying, "It doesn't make any
sense.

A lawsuit like this really doesn't help consumers when they have disputes
with their managed care companies. Consumers need other ways to solve
these problems, like independent physician review panels." Kanwit added,
"Medical societies don't need to go to the court system and have the
court system solve the problems." Dr. Joy Maxey, a pediatrician from
Atlanta and president of the Medical Association of Georgia, said, "There
are companies who deliver quality patient care. We would like to see
those companies be able to stay in business. What we would like to do is
correct the unfair business practices perpetuated by managed care." Maxey
added, "What we believe this will do is allow us to have a position to
negotiate with managed care to take care of many of these egregious
practices under which patients have been burdened." (The Bulletin's
Frontrunner, March 28, 2001)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Industry To Appeal U.S. Court Decision
----------------------------------------------------------------
German industry said it will appeal against the latest refusal by New
York judge Shirley Kram to dismiss a class action lawsuit by former slave
labourers of the Nazis against German banks, which is blocking
compensation payments for the victims. The head of the legal division of
a foundation which represents German industry, Michael Kohler said: "It
is very clear to us that time is an essential factor due to the age of
the victims". German industry therefore joins forces with the U.S.
lawyers of former Nazi slave labourers, who have already lodged an appeal
against the court decision. Under terms of the fund set up to compensate
the former Nazi slave labourers, no money can be paid until the class
action has been dropped. The German industry settled with representatives
of the victims that legal security against further compensation claims
would have to be established before funds for the estimated 1.5 mln
former slave and forced labourers can begin to flow. Meanwhile, Polish
survivors of Nazi-era slave labour protested in Berlin over the delay of
the payments and demanded that German industry gives up this condition.
Talks for the 10 bln dm fund began two years ago. The German government
agreed to pay half the sum last year but business only raised its pledged
5 bln dm earlier this month. The fund agreed to pay each survivor between
5,000 and 15,000 dm. (AFX European Focus, March 28, 2001)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Judge Kram Named Walter Zifkin to Help Settle 2 Cases
------------------------------------------------------------------------
ATTORNEY Walter Zifkin has been appointed as special master to facilitate
settlement talks in two Holocaust-related cases filed last year in the
Southern District.

Judge Shirley Wohl Kram has named Mr. Zifkin, who is CEO of the William
Morris Agency in California, to oversee talks in the two cases. The suits
seek compensation for both slave labor and property that was "Aryanized"
by the Nazis with the complicity of the Austrian government and Austrian
companies.

The suits are unrelated to a pending class action settlement that Judge
Kram refused to accept last week concerning German and Austrian banks. Mr
Zifkin will be working pro bono. (New York Law Journal, March 15, 2001)


IASIAWORKS, INC: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in New York
-------------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP announces that a
class action lawsuit was filed on March 27, 2001, on behalf of purchasers
of the securities of Iasiaworks, Inc. (NASDAQ: IAWK) between August 3,
2000 and November 27, 2000, inclusive. A copy of the complaint filed in
this action is available from the Court, or can be viewed on Milberg
Weiss' website at: http://www.milberg.com/iasiaworks/

The action, numbered 01 CIV 2608, is pending in the United States
District Court, Southern District of New York, located at 500 Pearl
Street, New York, New York 10007, against defendants Iasiaworks, Joann F.
Patrick-Ezell, Jonathan F. Beizer, Farrokh K. Billimoria, Daniel A.
Carroll, Robert Lee, Peter T. Morris, William R. Stensrud, William P.
Tai, Goldman Sachs & Co., Morgan Stanley & Co, Inc. and Salomon Smith
Barney, Inc. The Honorable Alvin K. Hellerstein is the Judge presiding
over the case.

The Complaint alleges that defendants violated Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and
15 of the Securities Act of 1933 by issuing a materially false and
misleading Registration Statement and Prospectus (collectively, the
"Prospectus") in connection with Iasiaworks initial public offering
("IPO") in August 2000. Specifically, the Prospectus misleadingly stated
that the proceeds that would be raised from the IPO would be sufficient
to fund several of the Company's needs for at least nine months,
including the establishment of the first three large-scale Internet Data
Centers needed to augment the small scale centers then in existence. On
November 27, 2000, the last day of the Class Period, defendants issued a
press release indicating that it would be building data centers that were
much larger than described in the Prospectus and at a much greater cost,
so much so that the Company would be forced to borrow additional money to
complete the project. The market's reaction to this announcement was
swift and punitive. From a closing price of $7.81 on November 24, 2000,
the stock slid to$6 3/8 on November 27, 2000, and to $4 7/16 on November
28, 2000, representing a 43% drop in just two days.

Contact: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP, New York Steven G.
Schulman or Samuel H. Rudman, 800/320-5081 Email:
iasiaworkscase@milbergNY.com Website: http://www.milberg.com


INCO LTD: Ont. Residents Tell the Press about Cancer Causing Toxins Leak
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A former Inco nickel refinery has leaked large amounts of cancer-causing
toxins into this southern Ontario community, residents allege in a
class-action lawsuit.

The $750-million suit names Inco Ltd., the provincial Environment
Ministry, the region of Niagara, the city of Port Colborne and the area's
public and Catholic school boards.

It cites Environment Ministry tests that show extremely high levels of
nickel contamination on residential properties near Inco's 200-hectare
refinery.

"It had to be done," Wilf Pearson, the resident who started the action,
said.

"It should have been done a year-and-a-half ago, or even years ago,"
Pearson said.

The residents say provincial tests show contamination far higher than
normal for cancer-causing substances, including nickel oxide, spread over
an area of at least 159 square kilometres.

Pearson lives on Rodney Street -- an area reported to be highly
contaminated with nickel.

"There's nickel oxide all over the community," Eric Gillespie, Pearson's
lawyer, said.

An expert hired by Gillespie's law firm estimated 20,000 tonnes of nickel
oxide were released into the air through a 150-metre tall stack that was
shut down in 1984.

The lawsuit could include between 20,000 and 25,000 people, both current
and past residents, Gillespie said.

The residents claim Inco and the province knew about the problem for
years but failed to offer compensation or pay for a cleanup.

"Obviously we're not going to talk about a lawsuit, or any specifics
about a lawsuit, because this matter could end up in court," Brian
Blomme, an Environment Ministry official, said yesterrday.

"We have worked very diligently in the last while with the medical
officer of health and we've been working on defining the problem," Blomme
said.

Inco has been served with legal papers and said the residents' claims are
without merit. (London Free Press, March 28, 2001)


NANOPHASE TECHNOLOGIES: Court Gives Final Approval of Settlement
----------------------------------------------------------------
Nanophase Technologies Corporation (Nasdaq: NANX), a leader in
nanomaterials and nanoengineered products, announced that following a
hearing on March 27, 2001, the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois ordered final approval of a $ 4,025,000
settlement of five consolidated securities class actions filed against
Nanophase, certain of its former officers, certain of its former and
current directors, and the underwriters of the company's initial public
offering of common stock. As more fully described in the company's Annual
Report on Form 10-K, these consolidated class actions alleged certain
claims under the federal Securities Act of 1933 on behalf of certain
persons who purchased the company's common stock from November 26, 1997
through January 8, 1998. Under the terms of the Stipulation of Settlement
given final approval by the court, the settlement successfully resolves
all claims against all defendants sued in these consolidated class
actions, without any admission of liability by any party.

Because the company's directors and officers liability insurance has
funded the settlement, the settlement payment will not have a material
adverse effect on Nanophase's financial position or results of
operations.

This settlement does not resolve a separate securities class action
lawsuit filed against the company, certain of its former and current
officers and directors, and the underwriters of the company's initial
public offering of common stock, pending in the United States District
Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The separate lawsuit alleges
certain claims under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934 on
behalf of certain former preferred stockholders whose shares of preferred
stock were converted into common stock on or about the date of the
initial public offering, as more fully described in the company's Annual
Report on Form 10-K. The company believes that the preferred
shareholders' complaint is without merit. The company and the other
defendants each answered the preferred stockholders' complaint in
September 2000, denying all wrongdoing and damages alleged.


NATIONAL TREASURY: Pay Dispute Is Back in Court after 3 Years Discussion
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seeking to end an 18-year dispute, the National Treasury Employees Union
was to ask U.S. District Judge John Garrett Penn on March 28 to order the
federal government to pay more than 188,000 current and former employees
millions of dollars in back salary owed to them.

Union officials said three years of efforts to negotiate a settlement
with the government have stalled. Justice Department lawyers in December
said they were "cautiously optimistic" that an agreement could be
reached, but union officials said that since then, progress has slowed
and they see no alternative but to return to court.

Justice Department officials said that they were still "in negotiations"
with the union. "After three years of discussions, we're tired of the
foot-dragging," said NTEU National President Colleen M. Kelley. She added
that with interest payments, the government's -- and taxpayers' --
liability is growing by nearly $ 1 million each month.

Grover Norquist, president of the Americans for Tax Reform, mocked the
assertion that the government's delay is costing taxpayers money. "That's
the logic of the terrorist that shoots the hostage and blames the
police," he said.

The union is representing engineers, scientists and clerical workers who
are given higher pay on the grounds that their jobs are hard to fill or
that they worked in difficult locations. In 1983, the Office of Personnel
Management ruled that annual raises given to the government's
white-collar employees would not apply to these "special rate" employees.
The union sued, contending that the rule wrongfully deprived these
workers of raises or adequate raises.

The class action covers the period from 1982 to 1988, after which the OPM
decided the workers should be given raises along with the rest of the
white-collar employees. (The Washington Post, March 28, 2001)


NEW YORK: Civil Liberties Union Sues to End Failing Schools' Spiral
-------------------------------------------------------------------
The New York Civil Liberties Union is suing the state to force officials
to work directly with failing schools to help create individual plans to
end their spiral.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Albany cites as many as 150 schools in
nine school districts serving 75,000 students statewide. It complements
the landmark court decision in January now under appeal that requires a
major reallocation of state aid to save New York City schools, an NYCLU
attorney said.

The schools are in Albany, Syracuse, Buffalo, Yonkers, Mount Vernon,
Hempstead, Roosevelt, Wyandanch and Westbury. More may follow through the
lawsuit's discovery process, attorneys said. As a class action, the
lawsuit contends it represents the interests of thousands of students in
several hundred schools statewide.

The suit follows the state's record increases in school funding in recent
years, a historic raising of standards, intensive efforts to help the
worst schools placed on a Schools Under Registration Review list, school
reports cards tracking achievement and other measures.

"It's not working," said Marina Sheriff, an NYCLU attorney. "If you read
the (school) report cards, these schools are mired in failure."

State Education Department spokesman Bill Hirschen said the department,
the commissioner and the Regents won't comment on a lawsuit as a matter
of policy.

"This case," said NYCLU Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg, "represents the
next generation of school reform litigation that focuses on specific
remedial measures for specific failing schools and upon a process for
identifying the sources of the failure for remedying such failure."

The lawsuit included no dollar figure for the cost of redirecting or
hiring state experts to help local administrators, faculty and parents
come up with tailored plans. Sheriff said she has no estimate of the cost
that could result from the suit against Gov. George Pataki, state
Education Commissioner Richard Mills, Chancellor Carl Hayden, the Board
of Regents and the state Education Department.

As with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity's lawsuit against the state that
resulted in January's court decision, the New York Civil Liberties Union
argues the state has failed its constitutional obligation to provide all
students with a "sound, basic education."

That is a definition arrived at by the state's highest court, the Court
of Appeals, when it allowed the Campaign for Fiscal Equity suit to go to
trial.

"We are constantly reminded that we have not yet reached our goal of
equality in educating American students," said Ann Pope of the
Albany-area NAACP. She noted that inequity lingers despite the 1954 U.S.
Supreme Court case, Brown vs. Board of Education, that led to integration
after policies of "separate but equal" schools failed.

"Our children need technology, they need good clean safe environments to
work in, they need libraries in which they can operate in," Pope said.
"They need teachers who have faith in them and who believe they can
learn, teachers who have high expectations of them. It is time to put an
end to inequality." (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, March 28,
2001)


PAYDAY LENDERS: Federal Judge Certifies Case against Cash Thru
--------------------------------------------------------------
A federal judge has certified a class action suit against Cash Thru
Payday, a company that makes small, short-term consumer loans at
extremely high interest rates.

U.S. Senior District Court Judge Marvin H. Shoob certified the case as a
class action in a March 19 order, determining that the plaintiff - a
former Cash Thru Payday customer - was one of an estimated 2,500 class
members. Ehlermann v. Cash Thru Payday, No. 1:00-cv-1822, (N.D. Ga. March
19, 2001). Cash Thru Payday offers "loans" from $100 to $500, according
to the suit. In return, customers are required to provide to CTP
employees a serial number for an item of personal property such as a
stereo, television, microwave or other similar household item. The
transaction is structured as a sale and then a lease-back of the
household item, according to the suit. A customer may secure $ 100 for
each item he or she "sells" and then "leases back."

The suit claims that those transactions are actually loans and that the
price of the merchandise coupled with a 30 percent weekly rent generates
the equivalent of a 700 percent annual interest rate.

Decatur attorney James M. Feagle is representing the class and David G.
Crockett represents the loan company.

                     Jail staff reprimanded

Judge Shoob also took Fulton County jail officials to task in a court
order issued Friday. The jail remains "consistently overpopulated" nearly
a year after the county was ordered by the court to reduce the
population, he said.

The judge noted acerbically that the county could omit from any future
reports to him "their boilerplate conclusion that they are 'committed to
providing a jail that is not overpopulated and one which exceeds minimum
jail standards (and that they have) shown this commitment through the
development and implementation of a plan that works.'

"Such claims ring somewhat hollow given that defendants"commitment' was
not very much in evidence before the filing of this lawsuit. Better to
let the results speak for themselves."

In the order, Shoob directed the county to report to him all options
available for reducing the jail's population, including a timetable for
implementing each option. The order is the latest in a series Shoob has
issued regarding the jail. The orders spring from the county's violation
of a settlement in a case that mandated vast improvements in health
conditions for the jail's HIV-positive inmates. Foster v. Fulton County,
No. 1:99-cv-900 (N.D. Ga. March 23, 2001).

To comply with that settlement agreement, Shoob noted in his order,
"Further steps are necessary." (Fulton County Daily Report, March 28,
2001)


PLANETRX.COM: Sirota & Sirota and Lovell & Stewart File Securities Suit
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Sirota & Sirota and Lovell & Stewart Announce Securities Fraud Class
Action Against PlanetRx.com, Inc., Control Persons, Investment Banks

The law firms of Sirota & Sirota, LLP ((212) 425-9055 or
www.sirotalaw.com) and Lovell & Stewart, LLP ((212) 608-1900 or
www.lovellstewart.com) filed a class action lawsuit on March 27, 2001 on
behalf of all persons and entities who purchased, converted, exchanged or
otherwise acquired the common stock of PlanetRx.com, Inc. (PLRX.OB,
formerly Nasdaq:PLRX) 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. PlanetRx.com, Inc., et al., is pending
in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (500
Pearl Street, New York, New York), Docket No. 01-CV-2621 (AKH) and has
been assigned to the Hon. Alvin K. Hellerstein, U.S. District Judge. The
complaint alleges that PlanetRx.com, Inc., William J. Razzouk,
PlanetRx.com's former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and David M.
Beirne, Michael Moritz, and Christos M. Cotsakos, three of Planetrx.com's
directors, violated the federal securities laws by issuing and selling
Planetrx.com 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 BancBoston Robertson
Stephens, Inc., and underwriters Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith,
Inc. and Salomon Smith Barney, Inc. allocated Planet Rx.com shares to
customers at the IPO price of $16 per share. To receive the allocations
(i.e., the ability to purchase shares) at $16, the 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 Planetrx.com, stock rocketed upward (a practice known on
Wall Street as "laddering") was intended to (and did) drive
Planetrx.com's share price up to artificially high levels. This
artificial price inflation, the complaint alleges, enabled both the
underwriters and their customers to reap enormous profits by buying stock
at the $16 IPO price and then selling it later for a profit at inflated
aftermarket prices, which rose as high as $36.50 during its first day of
trading.

Rather than allowing their 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 Planetrx.com offering
contained material misstatements regarding the commissions that the
underwriters would derive from the IPO transaction and failed to disclose
the additional commissions and "laddering" scheme discussed above.

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


POWELL, LIPSHUTZ: 2 Law Firms Lose Bid to Kill Suit By Mexican Investors
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A federal judge has refused to dismiss a civil suit against two law
firms, saying the alleged actions of the firm's partners were "fraught
with the indicia of fraud."

In a March 14 order, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr.
refused to dismiss civil litigation brought by more than three dozen
Mexican investors against Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy and
Lipshutz, Greenblatt & King. Mier v. Signa Development, No. 1:00-cv-1976
(N.D. Ga. March 14, 2001).

The suit stems from an $18.9 million verdict in an earlier civil suit
that a federal jury in Atlanta awarded to the investors in 1999. Powell,
Goldstein represented real estate developers Amir Virani of Dallas and
Ignacio Santos of Monterrey, Mexico. The jury determined the two men had
used a web of corporations to defraud investors of millions in a series
of suburban Atlanta land deals.

The second suit, which named the firms as defendants, was filed after
Virani and Santos, allegedly with the cooperation of their attorneys,
initiated a land deal the day after the verdict was issued. The deal
effectively removed nearly all the defendants' assets from being subject
to recovery in the suit they had just lost.

According to the facts set out in Thrash's order, Virani called a Fayette
County developer and solicited a bid on Fayette real estate he and his
partner owned. In return for an agreement that the land deal would be
expedited, Virani agreed to sell the property for $6.6 million-$3 million
less than its original asking price.

When the plaintiffs' attorneys learned of the sale, they filed an
emergency motion for judgment, which would have prevented the sale.
Thrash granted the motion. But shortly before he did so, Virani and
Santos-with the alleged help of their attorneys-completed the property's
sale, even though the lawyers knew the final judgment was imminent.

Powell, Goldstein received a check for $2.8 million that firm attorneys
claimed they were owed for legal fees. The Lipshutz firm received
$200,000 for closing the sale. Both firms immediately converted the
checks to cashier's checks, according to Thrash's order. Four other
checks from the proceeds of the land sale were signed over either to
relatives or companies owned by Virani and Santos the same afternoon, the
order stated. Once the checks were cut, only about $3,600 of the $6.6
million property sale proceeds was left.

"The plaintiffs are entitled to rely on the circumstances surrounding the
sale of the Deer Point Property as an indicia of fraud with respect to
the disbursement of the sale proceeds to Powell Goldstein," Thrash wrote.
"Whether they have evidence to prove the allegations and withstand
summary judgment is a matter for another day." (Fulton County Daily
Report, March 28, 2001)


PRUDENTIAL LIFE: Policyholders of Mutual Co. Allege of Personal Gains
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A lawsuit having far reaching effects was filed March 28 by policyholders
of Prudential Life Insurance Co. The suit brought against the company and
its directors and senior officer alleges that the directors and senior
officers have breached their fiduciary duties by spending millions of
Prudential's money to present an expensive package as a smokescreen for
the personal gain of management. Prudential, founded 125 years ago as the
"Widows and Orphans Friendly Society" is a 260 billion dollar company and
is owned by its policyholders. It is a mutual company.

As a mutual insurance company, the company which has long had the Rock of
Gibraltar as its trade mark, is owned by its policyholders. If current
management is successful, the ownership of the "Rock" will be placed in
the hands of the public, far removed from the widows and orphans the
company was founded to protect.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of a class of plaintiffs who have used
their hard-earned money to purchase a policy from Prudential going back
as far as 1937 during the Great Depression.

"They will not stand by and let Wall Street take from them what they
worked so faithfully, so long and so hard for," says Robert A. Holstein,
one of plaintiff's counsel. The case is assigned to Judge Robert V.
Boharic of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.

Contact: Gary Dienstag of Springer, Casey & Dienstag, P.C., 312-782-0800,
or Robert A. Holstein of Stern Holstein Zimmerman & Hanson, P.C.,
312-440-0020


RACE-PROFILING: Suit May Be Near End; Mt. Prospect and Drivers to Settle
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mt. Prospect expects to pay about $250,000 to settle claims that its
police stopped thousands of Hispanic drivers based on their ethnic
background, the village's attorney said. The exact settlement will depend
on the minimum amount both sides agree that individual drivers should be
paid and how many Hispanic motorists step forward to claim it, said
William Kurnik of Des Plaines, attorney for the village. The village
wants to pay a $50 minimum; the plaintiffs are asking for $100, he said.

"It's a tentative agreement with a few issues yet to be resolved," Kurnik
said. "I'm optimistic."

Gus Munoz, one of the attorneys for lead plaintiff Hiram Romero, would
say only, "We're close on a lot of issues. There are a few that we have
to finalize."

The two sides are scheduled to return to Judge James Zagel's federal
courtroom in Chicago on May 10. The settlement plan, discussed Tuesday at
a hearing in U.S. District Court, would resolve a lawsuit that Romero, a
Mt. Prospect resident, filed in February 2000. Romero said he was stopped
and ticketed by Mt. Prospect police without justification in April 1999.
He filed his suit as a class action, seeking to represent other Hispanic
motorists he alleged were also stopped on the basis of their ethnic
background. Kurnik said the village, which does not admit any wrongdoing
in the settlement, wanted to avoid the cost of a trial.

The settlement would be noteworthy because the drivers themselves would
collect damages, said Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil
Liberties Union in Illinois. "I would say this is the first time you've
had a municipality [in Illinois] that has stepped up and made a
class-wide financial settlement with victims," Yohnka said. "It's just
another step in the process of recognizing how pervasive this [profiling]
problem is."

The suit came at a time when the Police Department was already under fire
for how it treated Hispanics.

In January 2000 a federal jury awarded $1.2 million to a for-mer Mt.
Prospect police offi-cer, Javier Martinez, who said his supervisors
discriminated against him and encouraged officers to target Hispanic
drivers. In March 2000 the village paid $900,000 to settle the Martinez
suit and two others that involved similar claims.

Under the tentative settlement with Romero, all Hispanic drivers ticketed
in Mt. Prospect since February 1998 would be eligible for a payout.

Beyond the minimum, the village would pay up to $225 to some drivers
whopaid larger fines in court, Kurnik said.

The village said the total number of drivers involved is between 2,200
and 2,400. The plaintiffs' attorneys say the total is closer to 3,000.
The village would send a written notice to those drivers, telling them of
the settlement and how to make a claim,Kurnik said. Then it will depend
on how many people could be reached and how many decide to take part in
the lawsuit.

Also to be resolved are the fees to be paid to the plaintiffs' attorneys.
Kurnik said the village wants to either pay $90,000 or have the judge
determine an appropriate amount. He said the plaintiffs' attorneys are
seeking $220,000.

Kurnik said the village could reasonably expect to pay total costs of
about $250,000.

Zagel must approve the agreement. (Chicago Tribune, March 28, 2001)


SOTHEBY'S, CHRISTIE'S: Foreign Dealings Threaten Auction Settlement
-------------------------------------------------------------------
A federal judge in Manhattan warned the Christie's and Sotheby's auction
houses that he would reject a proposed $512 million settlement of a
class-action lawsuit against them unless they better addressed the claims
of customers who dealt with the companies both in the United States and
overseas.

Under the proposed settlement, which the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of
Federal District Court, conditionally approved last month, members of
this so-called mixed class would be compensated only for auctions that
took place in the United States and would give up their right to sue in
the United States for transactions that took place overseas.

But lawyers for many of these class members say they should not have to
give up their right to sue in the United States over foreign
transactions, even though the judge had earlier written that he thought
foreign courts were the proper place for such suits. Those involved could
not say how large that class is.

Earlier this month, Sotheby's and Christie's agreed to set aside for such
customers $7 million in discount certificates, which could be used
against future sales. But in an opinion issued March 27, Judge Kaplan
said this did not address concerns over the loss of the right to sue over
foreign claims in the United States.

Although he threatened to reject the settlement if it were not modified
by Monday, he indicated that he expected a quick resolution, writing that
"this contretemps appears to be a tempest in a teapot."

The civil suit grew out of a four-year-old criminal antitrust
investigation by the Justice Department that heated up last year when the
former chief executive of Christie's provided documents detailing how
officials of the two companies colluded to fix rates on commissions and
other matters.

The civil settlement calls for the auction houses to pay $412 million in
cash and the rest in discount certificates, which can be used against
future sales or redeemed for cash after four years. (The New York Times,
March 28, 2001)


SPACELABS MEDICAL: Ricardo A. Guarnero Announces Additional Claims
------------------------------------------------------------------
Ricardo A. Guarnero, Seattle attorney, announced that they have filed
additional claims in a class action lawsuit against Spacelabs Medical,
Inc. of Redmond, Wash.

The claims state that Hispanic-Latinos were instructed by Spacelabs that
they were forbidden to speak Spanish while working at Spacelabs. The
alleged prohibition on speaking Spanish was enforced by verbal warnings,
an automatic letter of warning and the threat of other disciplinary
actions. The prohibition against Spanish was memorialized in memorandums
by managers of Spacelabs including a memorandum signed by the chief
executive officer, Carl Lombardi. The alleged prohibition on speaking
Spanish was discriminatorily applied as it was only enforced against
Hispanics and on knowledge and belief no such prohibition was propounded
against Filipinos, Vietnamese, Chinese or groups from other national
origins.

Additionally, the suit claims that Defendants created a hostile work
environment against Hispanics; Defendants tolerated, had knowledge,
failed to discipline and were aware that Anglo-American workers mimicked
Hispanics speaking Spanish and allowed the use of derogatory remarks
against Hispanic-Latino employees of Defendant Spacelabs. The claim
alleges that Defendants created a hostile work environment and tolerated,
encouraged or failed to stop the use of derogatory remarks against
Hispanics. Among the derogatory remarks allegedly made by management
personnel of Spacelabs, were the following:

a) Hispanics do not have the brains to do the work

b) Hispanics cannot be promoted because they "do not speak good English"

c) "Hispanics are not as smart as Asians" and so cannot be given titles
    commensurate with the technical work performed.

d) "It smells like brown people"

The suit alleges that Spacelabs systematically discriminated against
Hispanic-Latino workers by paying them less than other workers; failing
to promote them; denied overtime; denied training opportunities; paid
less than similarly situated or less qualified Caucasians; retaliated
against them for challenging unauthorized practices; judged Hispanics by
a different set of standards than applied to similarly situated or less
qualified Caucasians; demoted or assigned to less favorable shifts, work
areas or facilities. The lawsuit is on behalf of all Hispanics employed
by Defendant since March 16, 1996. The case is captioned Hernandez
et.al., v. Spacelabs Medical, Inc., King County Superior Court Number
01-2-07975-1 SEA.

Contact: Law Offices of Ricardo A. Guarnero Ricardo A. Guarnero,
206/381-1292 rguarnero@aol.com


SPRINT CORP: Suit Alleges Previous Proxy Wording Altered Stock Options
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Sprint Corp. has quietly changed proxy language at the heart of a pending
shareholder lawsuit that challenges the company's handling of its stock
option plan.

Tucked in the fine print of Sprint's 2001 proxy statement, filed earlier
this month, is a modified definition of when a "change in control" of the
company is deemed to occur.

The new definition states that a change in control takes place when
someone acquires more than 20 percent of the voting power of Sprint's
stock, there is a change in the majority of Sprint's directors within a
two-year period or there is a merger in which Sprint is not the surviving
entity.

The revised definition is similar to one in place in filings before 1998,
when the lawsuit alleges Sprint altered the definition and created terms
that allowed top executives' stock options to vest on an accelerated
basis.

The offending terms, according to the lawsuit, said a change in control
would take place if Sprint shareholders merely voted to approve a
proposed merger. Those terms did not require that the merger be completed
or that any actual change of control occur.

Sprint's directors earlier this month moved to dismiss the suit, saying
it was "clearly and fatally flawed."

The class-action suit, filed in December by Amalgamated Bank of New York,
a Sprint shareholder, says the alleged 1998 change enabled Sprint's top
executives to cash in on their stock options when Sprint shareholders
approved the company's $129 billion merger with WorldCom Inc. in April
2000.

Although the merger was scuttled after regulators blocked it on antitrust
grounds, Amalgamated says Sprint Chairman and CEO William T. Esrey and
four other top Sprint executives obtained $600 million in accelerated
stock options as a result of the shareholder vote approving the merger.
Other Sprint managers allegedly received some $1.1 billion in stock
options ahead of schedule.

In a phone interview last Friday, Sprint Vice President Ned Holland said
Sprint's definition of change in control tied to shareholder approval of
a proposed merger "for purposes of option acceleration was and remains
common in the industry."

In their motion to dismiss Amalgamated's lawsuit, Sprint directors say
that definition was mentioned no fewer than seven separate times in
exhibits to Sprint's SEC filings before the April 28, 2000, vote on the
Sprint-WorldCom merger.

Notably, however, a footnote in their motion notes that, prior to 1997,
the company's stock option plans "did not formally define a 'change in
control.' "

"Nevertheless," the footnote continues, "even as early as March 12, 1987,
the company publicly disclosed that a change in control, for purposes of
stock option plans, would occur upon a stockholder vote approving the
sale of the company."

However, until it was noted in the Sprint-WorldCom merger prospectus, the
definition itself had not been subject to shareholder approval. Sprint's
1990 stock option plan defines change of control as a shareholder vote
approving a merger. But the plan was never subjected to a shareholder
vote.

"It's not the kind of thing normally voted on by shareholders," Holland
said. "It's subject to (approval by) a committee of the board of
directors."

In its lawsuit, Amalgamated says the change in the definition was made
"in secret" so Sprint executives could exercise hundreds of millions of
dollars worth of stock options.

"Sprint's officers and directors not only concealed the secret
modification of (the) 'change of control' definition from Sprint's
shareholders, they actively misled them about it," Amalgamated's lawsuit
alleges.

Amalgamated says the modification enabled Sprint's top executives to
unlock the value of their options, which otherwise would have taken
several years to fully vest, when shareholders approved the abortive
Sprint-WorldCom deal.

In court documents, an expert witness retained by the bank, professor
Lawrence Cunningham of the Benjamin N. Cardozo law school, blasted
Sprint's acceleration of vesting upon shareholder approval, saying it
"required nothing of the executives. They produced nothing for the
corporation or its shareholders    It is an astonishing sleight of hand,
a staggering instance of what could legitimately, if vernacularly, be
called corporate theft."

Holland declined to comment specifically on Amalgamated's allegations.
But he noted that the current proxy's definition of change in control -
requiring someone to acquire 20 percent of Sprint's voting stock - was
actually made in December 1999, "more than a year before anyone sued us,"
and relates to options issued after January 2000. Those options, Holland
said, were not affected by the merger deal.

Holland said the newer definition was adopted to account for changing
circumstances in the telecommunications industry.

"We made the change," he said, "because having examined the situation and
the accelerating changes in the telecommunications market, it seemed
appropriate to have the definition be the closing of a merger."

Christina Tchen, a lawyer for Sprint, said the key point was that the
accelerated vesting provision was fully disclosed in the prospectus on
the Sprint-WorldCom merger, which shareholders approved.

"There was nothing secret or buried when shareholders went to vote on
this stuff, which we think is dispositive," Tchen, a lawyer in the
Chicago office of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, said.

Tchen said the provision was common in the corporate world: "It's not as
if Sprint went out and latched on to some novel way of doing things."

An Amalgamated Bank spokeswoman dismissed the idea that because the
provision was common, it was therefore acceptable.

"To the extent that executives and directors were able to profit from the
language that they've since taken out is absolutely outrageous and
wrong," said Dail St. Claire, an executive of the bank.

St. Claire said that the bank's lawsuit was about "fair, democratic,
corporate governance practices" and that Sprint's executives "continue to
violate shareholder rights" by keeping the money they got from the
accelerated options.

"We believe that corporate governance impacts shareholder value," she
said. (The Kansas City Star, March 28, 2001)


TAINTED WATER: Judge Finds Enough Trichloroethylene to Certify Suit
-------------------------------------------------------------------
There is sufficient evidence of trichloroethylene in the groundwater of
the members of a putative class action to certify the class, a federal
judge ruled Feb. 23 (Teresa LeClercq, et al. v. The Lockformer Co., No.
00-C-7164, N.D. Ill.; See 2/2/01, Page 18).

"This is sufficient evidence that the class definition is reasonable, and
this class definition is subject to modification as the record is
developed," U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber of the Northern
District of Illinois wrote. "It is an appropriate class because it is
based on objective criteria and upon the conduct of the defendants."

The class defined by the order is people who own real estate or live on
property currently contaminated or threatened with contamination by
"chlorinated solvents released at or from Lockformer and/or Met-Coil
properties." The class area is directly south of Lockformer Co.

                          'Ample Support'

"There is ample support for certifying a class action in a contamination
case even though there may be individualized issues of damages," the
judge said. "In this case, the common issues predominate, and if these
claims were tried separately the amount of repetition would be great."

The class action seeks a restraining order against Lockformer Co.,
compensatory and punitive damages and disgorgement of profits and
benefits. The complaint, filed Nov. 14, alleges the groundwater supply of
more than 100 residences in Lisle, Ill., south and downgradient from
Lockformer are contaminated with TCE. Defendants are accused of knowing
for more than eight years that hazardous chemicals on the Lockformer
property posed a risk to the plaintiffs.

Lockformer, according to the complaint, is a metal fabrication firm in
business at the Lisle site since 1946. It merged in October 2000 with
Met-Coil Systems Corp., another named defendant. The other named
defendant is Mestek Inc., the parent company of Met-Coil and Lockformer,
according to the complaint.

                        Degreasing Operation

The TCE allegedly escaping from the Lockformer site is linked to a
degreasing operation. The complaint alleges chlorinated solvents
including TCE were released into the environment from 1968 until at least
1992.

The complaint alleges the plaintiffs learned about the contamination in
August 2000 when Lockformer asked Lisle trustees to adopt an ordinance
restricting the use of groundwater so the state would issue a "no further
remediation" letter. After learning of the contamination, the complaint
says, the plaintiffs hired an investigator to determine the extent of the
chemical plume.

Plaintiffs seek remediation costs under the Comprehensive Environmental
Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. @ 9601) and
have notified defendants of the intent to file a claim under the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act (42 U.S.C. @ 6901).

                       Recovery Theories

The complaint also argues for judgment based on the theories of
negligence, private nuisance, trespass, strict liability, unjust
enrichment and wanton misconduct.

Shawn Michael Collins, Charles James Corrigan and Edward J. Manzke of the
Collins Law Firm in Naperville, Ill., and Norman Benjamin Berger, Michael
D. Hayes and Anne Elizabeth Viner of Varga, Berger, Ledsky, Hayes & Casey
in Chicago represent the plaintiffs. Thomas J. Fleischmann, James Raymond
Pranger, Daniel J. Beiderman and Julie Ann Doyle of Chuhak & Tecson in
Chicago and Daniel Ross McClure of Leydig, Voit & Mayer in Chicago
represent Lockformer, Met-Coil and Mestek. Anthony Gerard Hopp of
Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon in Chicago represents deponent Honeywell
International. (Mealey's Emerging Toxic Torts, March 16, 2001)


TRW INC: Mistakes Cited In Air Bag Factory Blast That Injured 3
---------------------------------------------------------------
An assumption and safety breakdowns may be what led to an explosion in a
TRW Inc. air bag factory in Mesa in which three workers were injured.

Joe Langenberg, 41; Jason Gamboa, 24, and Danny Gross, 35, TRW Safety
Systems employees, were burned when a blowtorch ignited sodium azide
residue, a powdery explosive chemical used to make air bags deploy. The
explosion blew out walls.

The three were cutting pipes in a building that was to be vacated. The
pipes had been used to carry the chemical when the area last was in use
in May 1999.

The Mesa Fire Department said such factors and failure to comply with
safety guidelines and failure to follow the requirements of an internal
hot-work permit may have helped lead to the explosion.

The department also said Tuesday that an assumption that the area was
decontaminated and a lack of internal shutdown procedures also may have
been factors.

The hot-work permit signed by supervisors a day earlier required a safety
inspection of the work area prior to use of a blowtorch. The permit also
required other precautions such as moving flammable and combustible
solids away from the work zone and decontamination of the work area.

Investigations by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration, the state Attorney General's Office,
and the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health were pending
on Tuesday.

Once those are completed, the fire department it will determine an
official cause of the blast and decide whether to take action against
TRW.

Meanwhile, work on the building has stopped until TRW can provide
documentation and assure that employees understand safety guidelines, the
report said.

DeWayne Pinkstaff, director of U.S. operations for Cleveland, Ohio-based
TRW, said he had not seen the report and could not comment on it but that
the company will forward its own investigation to the fire department
next week. He would not comment on TRW's investigation.

TRW's two Mesa plants have been plagued with problems repeatedly over the
last decade. Firefighters were called to the operations numerous times
for fires and explosions mainly related to sodium azide.

Neighbors filed a class-action lawsuit in April against TRW, the world's
second-largest air bag maker, claiming that from 1991 to 1999, fires and
explosions at the plants exposed residents to sodium azide and other
toxic and dangerous substances.

Overall, 16 workers were injured in 32 fires from 1993 to 1995, prompting
the Mesa Fire Department to shut down one plant for a day in September
1995 to secure improved safety regulations.

In September 1994, a construction worker was killed and six employees
were injured at one of the Mesa plants when ignited air bag propellant
residue exploded. TRW later paid a $1.75 million fine.

The company also agreed in January to pay nearly $25 million to settle
criminal allegations that it illegally stored and dumped the toxic
chemical in landfills in Arizona, Utah and California. (The Associated
Press State & Local Wire, March 28, 2001)


UNION PACIFIC: Cleanup and Lawsuit Continue a Year after Train Derail
---------------------------------------------------------------------
It's been almost a year and Union Pacific Railroad has spent nearly $30
million just to clean up the mess left after a freight train, loaded with
chemicals, derailed and burned last May in Eunice, a railroad spokesman
said Tuesday.

The $30 million does not include the cost of rebuilding and replacing
miles of track, the loss of freight or any claims the company has paid to
any number of the thousands of residents, some of whom were evacuated
from their homes for five days, Union Pacific official Geoffrey Reeder
said.

But for all the cost, Reeder said, it's not the largest cleanup he's ever
had to perform for Union Pacific.

"It's not the biggest or the smallest, but it's certainly a mess, I know
that," Reeder said.

In addition to Reeder, a state Department of Environmental Quality
official and a consultant to Union Pacific spoke Tuesday to a large group
at DEQ's annual Conference on Waste and the Environment.

The consultant, George Cramer, whose firm was hired by Union Pacific to
clean up the site, showed before-and-after pictures of the crash site,
just across a levee from the Eunice City Lake and Eunice Country Club.

Just in February, the cleaned-up site was a flat span of dirt. Since
June, the company removed 71,000 tons of dirt, 6,000 tons of burned trees
and 1.5 million gallons of water, Cramer said.

A picture taken last week shows that grass has sprouted in the area, but
things aren't the same as before the wreck. The levee between the crash
site and lake has been raised. The railroad bridge over a tributary in
the area that flows into Bayou Des Cannes had to be rebuilt.

Reeder showed dramatic pictures shot from an airplane of the still
smoldering wreckage - 34 of the trains 113 cars derailed, three exploded,
almost all burned.

Reeder showed a video of one of the explosions set off on purpose by
emergency workers to "vent" the hot and dangerous tanker cars. Shrapnel
could be seen splashing into City Lake, which has remained closed because
of possible contamination.

Officials have overseen batteries of tests, the results of which haven't
been concluded, DEQ's Douglas Bradford said.

The grass, water, trees, fish, crawfish, dirt and air have been prodded,
sniffed and collected by testing equipment, Cramer said.

The cleaned-up area has been mapped on a minutely detailed grid. It will
help officials practically reconstruct the site as it was for the years
to come, Cramer said.

It will be years before the Eunice derailment finally goes through all
the anticipated court proceedings, including a class action lawsuit
brought by residents, Cramer said. (The Associated Press State & Local
Wire, March 28, 2001)


                             *********


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