CAR_Public/010402.MBX               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

               Monday, April 2, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 64

                             Headlines

ASCHE TRANSPORTATION: Investor Alleges Securities Law Violations
BANKRATE.COM, INC: Announces Dismissal of Shareholder Lawsuit in N.Y.
CVS: NY Judge Certifies Suit over Procurement of Prescription Records
DOUBLECLICK INC: Emerges from N.Y. Lawsuit over Personal Information
DYFS: Witnesses from Division Differ On Audits Of Foster Child Abuse

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: U.S. and Germany in Agreement on Legal Guarantees
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: U.S. State Dept to Support Dismissal of Lawsuit
INCO LTD: Ontario Confirms Carcinogenic Deposits in Port Colborne Soil
LASON, INC: Reports Delay in Filing Year-End 2000 Form 10-K
MOBIL AUSTRALIA: Awaits ATSB Verdict To Decide on Altona Avgas Plant

MOBIL AUSTRALIA: Federal Government To Assess Aircraft Fuel Regulation
MOTOROLA: Tells of SEC Inquiry into Disclosure to Some Analysts
NORTEL NETWORKS: Roth Says Co. Has Become The Victim Of Its Prominence
NRG ENERGY: Tells Investors about CA Lawsuit over Wholesale Prices
OPEC: US Judge Orders to Rescind Oil Output Cuts under Antitrust Laws

RED HAT: Sirota & Sirota Announce Securities Lawsuit Filed in N.Y.
SMITHFIELD FOODS: NC Ct Dismisses Suit over Hog Farm Pollution of River
U.S., MEXICO: Mexican Govt Records Contradict Assertions over Lost Wages
WORLDCOM INC: Settles Overbilling Suit of Predecessor MCI for $90 Mil

* FL Justice Asks Why State Can Fund Viagra But Not Abortion
* IL House Approves Scaled-Back Girls' Abortion Notification Bill

                                *********

ASCHE TRANSPORTATION: Investor Alleges Securities Law Violations
----------------------------------------------------------------
An investor sued former directors and auditors of Asche Transportation
Services, Inc. (Nasdaq: ASHE), charging them with illegally inflating the
company's results by $6 million, Berman DeValerio & Pease LLP announced.

The class action, filed March 29 in the United States District Court for
the Northern District of Illinois and captioned Axelson v. Larry L. Asche
et al, charges violations federal securities laws. It was brought on
behalf of all investors who purchased Asche common stock between March
30, 1998 and April 7, 2000 (the "Class Period"). The company, which at
one time was also known as Aasche Transportation Services, Inc., filed
for bankruptcy last year and therefore is not named as a defendant.

The complaint accuses the defendants, which include accounting firm Ernst
& Young LLP, with filing or certifying false and misleading financial
results during the Class Period. According to the plaintiff, improper
accounting practices at a subsidiary, Asche Transfer, Inc. inflated the
company's net worth by $5 million. Defendants Larry Asche and Diane Asche
are accused of misappropriating another $1 million from the company.
Asche Transportation Services used the pumped-up stock to raise $15
million in private placements, prepay $2,225,000 of debt and acquire
another company.

During the two-year Class Period, Asche stock sold for as high as
$8-15/32 a share. After the truth slowly emerged, Asche was delisted from
the Nasdaq stock market. Its stock is now next-to-worthless.

Contact: Chauncey D. Steele IV, Esq., of Berman DeValerio & Pease LLP,
800-516-9926, bdplaw@bermanesq.com


BANKRATE.COM, INC: Announces Dismissal of Shareholder Lawsuit in N.Y.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Bankrate, Inc. (OTCBB:RATE), the parent company of Bankrate.com
(www.bankrate.com), the Internet's leading consumer finance marketplace,
announced that on March 29, 2001, the United States District Court of the
Southern District of New York dismissed the shareholders class action
suit in its entirety with prejudice.

As previously disclosed, on April 3rd, 2000, a shareholder class action
lawsuit was filed against the Company and certain of its officers,
directors, auditor and underwriters in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York on March 28, 2000.

"It is with great pleasure that I can announce that the trial judge,
having found the suit without merit, dismissed it," explained Elisabeth
DeMarse, President and CEO of Bankrate, Inc.

"We are delighted with this result and are aggressively moving forward
with our corporate objectives," noted Jeff Cunningham, Chairman of the
Board for Bankrate.com.

                         About Bankrate.com

Bankrate.com is owned and operated by Bankrate, Inc. (OTCBB:RATE).
Bankrate.com is the Internet's leading consumer finance marketplace, with
an average of 1.6 million unique visitors per month connecting with over
4,000 financial institutions in 126 markets in 50 states. Bankrate
operates a portfolio of personal finance channels, including banking,
investing, taxes and small business finance. It is the leading aggregator
of 100 financial products, including mortgages, credit cards, new and
used auto loans, money market accounts and CD's, checking and ATM fees,
home equity loans and online banking fees.

Bankrate provides financial applications and information to a network of
over 130 partners including MSN (Nasdaq:MSFT), Yahoo (Nasdaq:YHOO),
America Online (NYSE:AOL), CNN and Smart Money. The company's information
is also distributed through more than 100 national and state
publications.


CVS: NY Judge Certifies Suit over Procurement of Prescription Records
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A lawsuit charging CVS with obtaining prescription records without the
customer's consent when it bought a Manhattan pharmacy, Trio Drugs, was
certified as a class action by a New York judge. The anonymous plaintiff,
who has AIDS, also alleges that CVS requires pharmacies selling their
business and patient lists not to inform their customers, so the
customers don't switch drugstores before the changeover. (The Washington
Post, March 30, 2001)


DOUBLECLICK INC: Emerges from N.Y. Lawsuit over Personal Information
--------------------------------------------------------------------
A New York federal judge has dismissed a class action against DoubleClick
Inc., ruling that the company's collection of personal information over
the Internet does not violate three federal statutes. The ruling is the
first to address whether the use of cookies, electronic files with unique
identification numbers that track users' activity on the Internet,
violates consumer privacy.

While the ruling is a victory for DoubleClick, some legal scholars say it
is not the definitive word on the subject since the decision did not
address the application of state law to such activities. "This is the
first volley," said Joel Reidenberg, a professor at Fordham University
School of Law who specializes in privacy issues. "The real activity will
be under state law."

But DoubleClick attorney Lori Schechter, a partner at Morrison &
Foerster, said the court's ruling with regard to federal statutes is
applicable to state law. "The court rejected plaintiffs' contention that
a violation occurs every time a Web site accesses a cookie on a computer
user's hard drive," Schechter said.

The suit, In re DoubleClick Inc. Privacy Litigation, 00-0641, is a
consolidation of 13 federal class actions. Five class actions brought
against DoubleClick in California have been consolidated into one
proceeding now pending in Marin County Superior Court.

Another state class action is pending in Texas.

In the federal class action, plaintiffs claimed that DoubleClick, the
largest Internet advertising service, was liable for invasion of privacy,
unjust enrichment and trespass under three federal statutes. They include
the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which is aimed at preventing
hackers from obtaining, altering or destroying certain stored electronic
communications; the Federal Wiretap Act; and the Computer Fraud and Abuse
Act.

Judge Naomi Buchwald of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District
of New York said she found no evidence "in the legislative or judicial
history of these acts to suggest that Congress intended to prohibit
conduct like DoubleClick's. "To the contrary, the histories of these
statutes reveal specific congressional goals -- punishing destructive
hacking, preventing wiretapping for criminal or tortious purposes,
securing the operations of electronic communication service providers --
that are carefully embodied in these criminal statutes and their
corresponding civil rights of action." With regard to the electronic
privacy statute, Buchwald agreed with DoubleClick that its use of cookies
to collect information met an exception to the law, namely that such
activity was authorized by its affiliated Web sites and intended for
their use.

DoubleClick collects demographic information about users through its
cookies in order to provide targeted banner advertisements to more than
11,000 affiliated Web sites. "Cookie identification numbers are much akin
to computer bar-codes or identification numbers placed on 'business reply
cards' found in magazines," Buchwald wrote in her 71-page opinion. "The
barcodes and identification numbers that appear on the cards are purely
internal administrative data for the companies. The cookie identification
numbers are every bit as internal to DoubleClick as the bar-codes and
identification numbers are to business reply mailers." As to the wiretap
law, Buchwald found that DoubleClick-affiliated Web consent to
DoubleClick's interception of communications and that plaintiffs failed
to show the interceptions were for a "criminal or tortious" purpose.

Finally, regarding claims for damages under the Computer Fraud and Abuse
Act, Buchwald ruled that while the demographic information collected by
DoubleClick is highly valued, it has not been shown to result in economic
loss to consumers or unjust enrichment to collectors. Reidenberg said the
judge's opinion on unwarranted access under the electronic privacy
statute is extremely contorted. "This decision is clearly not going to be
a definitive statement on the scope of that offense," he said.

As to her application of the other statutes, Reidenberg said that "by and
large" the judge was right in her finding that DoubleClick's activities
were not tortious under the wiretap statute. But he added that some
states may find otherwise. "It's an open question in 47 states whether
misappropriation of" personal information for business gain is tortious,
Reidenberg said. The judge declined to exercise her discretion to address
state claims. If plaintiffs wish to pursue these claims they will have to
bring suit in a state court. Schechter is optimistic that DoubleClick
will prevail at the state level as well. "I believe that there are no
state claims that can validly be brought against DoubleClick," Schechter
said.

Marin County Superior Court Judge Lynn Taylor issued a ruling on the
California consolidated class action in February, dismissing some claims
against DoubleClick and allowing plaintiffs to amend several others,
including trespass and violation of privacy. Plaintiffs' attorneys could
not be reached for comment. They include Alan Mansfield, a partner in
Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach's San Diego office, Seth Lesser,
partner at New York's Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, and Bryan
Clobes, a partner in the Philadelphia office of Chicago- based Miller
Faucher and Cafferty. (The Recorder, March 30, 2001)


DYFS: Witnesses from Division Differ On Audits Of Foster Child Abuse
--------------------------------------------------------------------
An assistant supervisor for the state Division of Youth and Family
Services contradicted her boss in U.S. District Court last Thursday March
29, raising the question of whether her superior was lying about the
reason for an officewide review of child abuse cases.

At issue is whether the division is doctoring its files to mask problems
at the division should the records become evidence in a lawsuit against
the agency.

LuJuanna Morton, an assistant supervisor in Camden, testified that the
audit of cases of children in foster care is intended to bring those
files up to date.

Her boss, Bettye Fowler, Camden district office manager, told the court
last Wednesday March 28 that the ongoing audit is supposed to make files
neater and give caseworkers practice in filling out forms and reading
case records.

Fowler also said the reviews are routine and were not instituted in
response to the lawsuit, filed by Children's Rights Inc., a New York
City-based advocacy agency.

Fowler testified that she had ordered a similar review two years ago, but
Morton said it was the first of its kind that she could remember in the
six years she has worked in the Camden office. The lawsuit was filed in
1999.

Fowler and Morton were both witnesses for the state. But Morton's
testimony was more in line with the opposition's witness, Zanete Coates,
a rookie caseworker who testified that she was ordered to complete forms
documenting incidents of which she had no personal knowledge.

The case, being heard by U.S. District Judge Garrett E. Brown Jr.,
focuses on whether the division is tampering with records that could be
used as evidence in the lawsuit. The suit charges the division fails to
protect thousands of abused and neglected children.

Eric Thompson, attorney for Children's Rights Inc., wants Brown to order
the division to stop the audits, which are being conducted in at least
three offices: Newark, Camden and Cape May.

The records represent a child's history and are vital when workers are
trying to figure out if a child is being abused and what services should
be provided to children and families.

Current, accurate files are especially important because workers often
have to cover cases for other workers who are sick or on vacation.

And a 32 percent turnover rate among caseworkers means files are often
handed from worker to worker.

But testimony presented over the past two weeks suggests that DYFS files
are often missing important documents and workers can fall months or
years behind in keeping files current.

Also testifying was DYFS Director Charlie Venti. He denied any widespread
problem with case records. He also 1 said he issued no orders to conduct
reviews to get records in shape should they become evidence in the
lawsuit. He said supervisors have always routinely reviewed records.

"Caseworkers, supervisor, and clerical staff periodically update
records," Venti said.

Venti also said the division is already considering changes to its policy
on dating documents, along with other changes in the way forms are filled
out. He also noted the division is in the process of spending $ 39
million on a new computer system that will make it easier for caseworkers
to keep current, accurate records.

The Children's Rights Inc. lawsuit charges that DYFS fails to protect
abused and neglected children. It asks the court to appoint a panel of
experts to recommend and oversee reform efforts at the division. Last
year, Brown limited the scope of the suit to apply only to certain
children in foster care, group homes, or other out-of-home placements.

This year, Children's Rights Inc. asked Brown to certify the lawsuit as a
class action on behalf of all foster children, and DYFS protested that
certification. The judge's decision is pending.

Trenton Bureau Correspondent Nancy Parello's e-mail address is
parello(at)northjersey.com (The Record (Bergen County, NJ), March 30,
2001)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: U.S. and Germany in Agreement on Legal Guarantees
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Hamburg: Germany and the United States are in agreement that legal
guarantees must be provided as quickly as possible for German companies
in connection with compensation payments to former forced labourers. The
governments of both countries are interested in an early start of the
payment of the money to those affected, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
(Social Democratic Party of Germany) told ARD on Thursday evening 29
March .

According to Schroeder, the US administration made it clear during the
talks in Washington that it will also point out its foreign policy
interest in legal guarantees to the courts. Yet the chancellor added that
both governments "cannot and do not want to influence" the decisions of
independent courts directly.

One reason for the delay in the payment of the money to former Nazi-era
slave labourers is that a US judge in New York has not dismissed
class-action suits by victims. The German industry only wants to transfer
the promised 5 billion German marks once the lawsuits have been rejected.
(BBC Monitoring Europe - Political Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring,
March 30, 2001)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: U.S. State Dept to Support Dismissal of Lawsuit
------------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. State Department said it will support an appeal of a judge's
decision not to dismiss a class-action lawsuit filed by Nazi-era slave
and forced labourers that is holding up a billion-dollar compensation
deal from Germany. "The United States has decided to file a brief in
support of those appeals," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher
said in a written response to questions asked March 29 at the State
Department's daily news briefing. He said quick payments to the ageing
victims under a deal reached last year were paramount, leading to the
decision to support the appeal in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in
New York. "As we have said many times, our goal is to have German
foundation payments commence as soon as possible," he said. The circuit
court is to hear in early April an appeal of a decision from U.S.
District Court judge Shirley Kram not to dismiss the suit brought by
former slave labourers against German and Austrian banks. (AFX European
Focus, March 30, 2001)


INCO LTD: Ontario Confirms Carcinogenic Deposits in Port Colborne Soil
----------------------------------------------------------------------The
Ontario Ministry of the Environment ("MOE") has just confirmed that
"nickel oxide is the predominate form of nickel present in Port Colborne
soils." In late March, residents launched a $750 million dollar class
action lawsuit based in large part on exposure to nickel oxide. Inco
President Scott Hand explicitly denied the charge, and stated that the
claim "has no merit and the allegations are not supported by the facts."

However, the MOE report explicitly states that its conclusions are based
on "three independent sets of analyses...carried out by the Ontario
Ministry of Mines and Northern Development, INCO and Jacques Whitford
Environmental Limited" (a consulting firm also retained by Inco). Nickel
oxide is identified by Health Canada as a high risk Group One carcinogen,
known to cause cancer in humans. Health Canada states "the probability of
harm...exists at any level of exposure."

"This is just further, undeniable evidence that conclusively establishes
the primary basis for the class action claim", said class action lawyer
Eric Gillespie. "Given Inco's complete denials on Tuesday, we are also
deeply concerned by the confirmation that Inco and Inco's consultants
appear to have known full well that a carcinogen has in fact been spread
by Inco over Port Colborne."

In a surprising development, Inco is also being ordered to remediate
properties in the Rodney Street area, where Inco has previously not
accepted any responsibility for high levels of contamination in landfill
materials. (Canada NewsWire, March 30, 2001)


LASON, INC: Reports Delay in Filing Year-End 2000 Form 10-K
-----------------------------------------------------------
Lason, Inc. (OTCBB:LSON) announced that it is filing with the Securities
and Exchange Commission (SEC), under Rule 12b-25, a notification of late
filing of its Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2000.

Due to the ongoing evaluation of past financial statements, as stated in
the Company's Form 8-K filed with the SEC on March 26, 2001, the Company
will not be in a position to timely file its Form 10-K for the year ended
December 31, 2000. The Company does not know, at this time, when the Form
10-K will be completed and filed.

                         About the Company

LASON is a leading provider of integrated information management
services, transforming data into effective business communication,
through capturing, transforming and activating critical documents. LASON
has operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, Mauritius and
the Caribbean. The company currently has over 85 multi-functional imaging
centers and operates over 60 facility management sites located on
customers' premises.


MOBIL AUSTRALIA: Awaits ATSB Verdict To Decide on Altona Avgas Plant
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Mobil has yet to decide if it will ever resume production of avgas at its
Altona plant following the air fuel contamination scare which grounded
planes across the nation.

Mobil spokesman Alan Bailey said the company had been waiting for the
release of the Australian Transport safety Bureau ATSB report into the
1999 incident before making a decision.

The report found the safety scare was caused by small amounts of an
anti-corrosion chemical which Mobil failed to remove from its aviation
fuel.

Mr Bailey said Altona ceased production of avgas soon after the problem
became apparent when contaminated fuel forced the grounding of light
aircraft across Eastern Australia. "At this stage no definite decision
been reached as to whether we are going to back into manufacturing avgas
or not," he told AAP.

"It will take the ATSB recommendations into account a long with other
commercial considerations."

Mr Bailey said Mobil was considering the ATSB report and would comment on
the recommendations in due course.

"We certainly take all incident investigations very seriously and use
them as an opportunity to learn and improve our operation," he said

"We have had people from our worldwide organisation reviewing processes
at Altona over the last year and we are confident we have processes and
testing systems in place to ensure we can continue to deliver a product
that meets all quality requirements."

Mr Bailey said Mobil had already paid out $ 21.5 million compensation for
repair costs and economic loss to some 600 aircraft operators.

However, the company is still fighting a class action instigated by
Melbourne lawyers Slater and Gordon.

That was listed in court and adjourned pending the outcome of Mobil's
High Court appeal on whether the Victorian Supreme Court has jurisdiction
to hear the case.

"We have a compensation program. We are happy to deal with people
directly," Mr Bailey said.

"We do not believe the class action is the necessary or appropriate way
for people to go." (Asia Pulse, March 30, 2001)


MOBIL AUSTRALIA: Federal Government To Assess Aircraft Fuel Regulation
----------------------------------------------------------------------
According to AAP news from Canberra, the federal government will consider
new regulations to monitor aircraft fuel quality in the wake of the 1999
avgas contamination crisis which grounded 3,100 light planes.

The move comes after a March 30 report found the safety scare, one of the
worst of its kind in the world, was caused by small amounts of an
anti-corrosion chemical which Mobil failed to remove from its aviation
fuel.

The report said it was lucky no-one had been killed during the scare.

Transport Minister John Anderson said regular testing of aviation fuel
quality ceased in 1991 and there was currently no regulatory oversight of
fuel production.

He said federal and state agencies all held roles but no single body had
overall responsibility for ensuring standards were met.

"I have tasked my department with convening an urgent meeting of these
regulatory agencies to consider their roles in regulating the quality of
aviation fuel and to make recommendations to the federal and state
governments," Mr Anderson said in a statement.

Mr Anderson said the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
investigation found the key United States and United Kingdom standards
for aviation fuel were also inadequate.

He said he would write to his counterparts in the US and UK proposing an
overhaul.

The ATSB found the contamination stemmed from a temporary variation in
the production process at Mobil's Altona, Melbourne, refinery, in late
1999.

An anti-corrosion chemical called EDA was not fully removed from the
final production avgas, used in smaller piston-engined aircraft.

ATSB executive director Kym Bills said normal tests conducted according
to international standards did not detect the small quantity of
contaminant.

But there was enough to react with aircraft components, producing a
sticky black gunk which clogged fuel systems.

Mr Bills said it was extremely lucky no-one died as planes lost power in
the sky.

"There were a number of aircraft incidents involving power loss, but
there were no serious injuries or fatalities," he said.

"It could have been much worse."

The ATSB made 24 recommendations aimed at fuel producers, regulators and
international fuel standard bodies.

Mobil halted avgas production at Altona soon after the problems emerged.

Company spokesman Alan Bailey said they would consider the ATSB report
and economic issues before deciding whether to resume avgas production.

"We certainly take all incident investigations very seriously and use
them as an opportunity to learn and improve our operation," he said.

"We have had people from our worldwide organisation reviewing processes
at Altona over the last year and we are confident we have processes and
testing systems in place to ensure we can continue to deliver a product
that meets all quality requirements."

Mobil has already paid $21.5 million compensation to 1,400 claimants.

However, the company still faces a class action instigated by Melbourne
lawyers Slater and Gordon.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association president Bill Hamilton said the
contamination crisis was an expensive but isolated incident and extra
regulation was not needed.

"It was financially ruinous for us. There were serious safety problems,"
he said.

"But without us going into a vast regulatory overkill which somebody
eventually has to pay for, it is highly unlikely that something like this
will happen again." (AAP Newsfeed, March 30, 2001)


MOTOROLA: Tells of SEC Inquiry into Disclosure to Some Analysts
---------------------------------------------------------------
Motorola said the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an
informal inquiry into discussions between officials with the mobile-phone
maker and some analysts this month. The investigation is one of about a
half-dozen into suspected violations of Regulation Fair Disclosure,
enacted in October. The SEC developed the rule to prevent companies from
disclosing information to selected analysts before telling other
investors. (The Washington Post, March 30, 2001)


NORTEL NETWORKS: Roth Says Co. Has Become The Victim Of Its Prominence
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A Louisiana-based law firm filed a class-action lawsuit against Nortel
Networks, joining others suing Canada's high-tech giant over its stock
market dive in recent months.

LeBlanc & Waddell accused Nortel of U.S. securities fraud.

The Louisiana firm said it is seeking "damages for violations of the
federal securities laws on behalf of all investors who bought Nortel
common stock between Nov. 1, 2000, and Feb. 15, 2001."

The law firm also said that before a Feb. 15 revenue warning, senior
management sold "substantial amounts of Nortel stock" for proceeds of
more than $7 million US. Nortel trades on the Toronto and New York stock
exchanges.

While there are several suits against the company in the U.S., at least
two have been filed in Canada.

The Louisiana suit comes just two days after the telecom equipment maker
downsized its revenue outlook for the second time this year, saying it
expects a loss from operations of between 10 and 12 cents a share in the
first quarter.

Nortel has been slapped with about a dozen lawsuits since mid-February,
when it slashed its forecasts for 2001 because of deferred spending by
its customers.

The company now says it's too difficult to give a forecast for its
full-year performance, given the uncertain economic conditions.

The warning in mid-February came as a shock to the market and wiped
billions off its market value. In previous weeks, Nortel had repeatedly
reassured investors it would meet its first-quarter targets despite
economic uncertainty, and would have strong growth for 2001.

Meanwhile, Nortel's top boss fired back at his company's Canadian critics
-- the media in particular -- saying the chorus of condemnation would
never have happened if Nortel were a U.S. company.

John Roth, Nortel's CEO, said the flurry of "trashing" aimed at Brampton,
Ont.-based Nortel may drive the company into U.S. hands by scaring off
Canadian investors.

"If I was in the States, I'd just be one more company: Intel, Sun
(Microsystems), Dell, Compaq," Roth said. "In Canada, you'd think we
created a recession.

Nortel and its top boss have received plenty of accolades in recent years
for creating jobs, sales results, stock performance, and its climb to the
top of its highly competitive field.

But with tougher times now prevailing, Roth suggested the company has
become a victim of its prominence. (The Calgary Sun, March 30, 2001)


NRG ENERGY: Tells Investors about CA Lawsuit over Wholesale Prices
------------------------------------------------------------------
NRG Energy and other power generators and power traders have been named
as defendants in certain private plaintiff class actions filed in the
Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Diego in
San Diego, California on November 27, 2000 (Pamela R. Gorden v. Reliant
Enegy, Inc., et al.) and November 29, 2000 (Ruth Hendricks v. Dynegy
Power Marketing Inc., et al.), and in the Superior Court of the State of
California, City and County of San Francisco (Pier 23 Restaurant v. PG&E
Energy Trading, et al., filed January 16, 2001 in the Superior Court of
the State of California for the County of San Diego, brought by three
California water districts, as consumers of electricity (Sweetwater
Authority v. Dynegy Inc., et al.), and in a suit filed on January 18,
2001 in Superior Court of the State of California, County of San
Francisco, brought by the San Francisco City Attorney on behalf of the
People of the State of California (The People of the State of California
v. Dynegy Power Marketing, Inc., et al.).

Although the complaints contain a number of allegations, the basic claim
is that, by underbidding forward contracts and exporting electricity to
surrounding markets, the defendants, acting in collusion, were able to
drive up wholesale prices on the Real Time and Replacement Reserve
markets, through the Western Systems Coordinating Council and otherwise.

The complaints allege that the conduct violated California antitrust and
unfair competition laws. NRG Energy does not believe that it has engaged
in any illegal activities, and intends to vigorously defend these
lawsuits. While these cases are in too preliminary a stage to speculate
on their outcome, if they were ultimately resolved adversely to the
defendants it could have a material adverse effect on NRG Energy's
results of operations and financial condition.


OPEC: US Judge Orders to Rescind Oil Output Cuts under Antitrust Laws
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A US federal judge has issued an injunction against the Organisation of
Petroleum Exporting Countries ordering it to refrain from further oil
production cuts, which are hurting US purchasers of petroleum products.

A class action case was brought by Prewitt Enterprises, an Alabama-based
petroleum products seller, which filed a complaint last April that it was
suffering from high oil prices caused by the cuts.

Senior US District Judge Charles R. Weiner, presiding over the Northern
District of Alabama, found after year-long proceedings that Opec was in
violation of US antitrust laws. The court also found fault with Opec's
member states and "co-conspirators" such as non-Opec oil producers
Mexico, Russia, Norway and Oman.

Michael Straus, a partner at the Birmingham-based law firm Straus & Boies
representing Prewitt and the defendant class, said the next round of
production cuts, which take effect on April 1, would be a test of Opec's
response. Opec has so far not responded to the lawsuit.

Under US federal anti-trust laws, indirect purchasers cannot sue for
damages but can sue for injunctive relief. (Financial Times (London),
March 30, 2001)


RED HAT: Sirota & Sirota Announce Securities Lawsuit Filed 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 29, 2001 on
behalf of all persons and entities who purchased, converted, exchanged or
otherwise acquired the common stock of Red Hat, Inc. (Nasdaq:RHAT)
between August 11, 1999 and March 19, 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, Saul A. Kassin v. Red Hat, 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-2712 (LTS) and has been
assigned to the Hon. Laura Taylor Swain, U.S. District Judge. The
complaint alleges that Red Hat, Inc., Robert F. Young, Red Hat's
Chairman, Matthew J. Szulik, its Chief Executive Officer, and Marc Ewing,
one of its directors, violated the federal securities laws by issuing and
selling Red Hat common stock pursuant to the August 11, 1999 IPO without
disclosing to investors that at least one 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
underwriter The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and underwriters Credit Suisse
First Boston Corp. and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc.
allocated Red Hat 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 Red Hat stock rocketed upward (a practice
known on Wall Street as "laddering") was intended to (and did) drive Red
Hat'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 $56.75 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 Red Hat 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 or Saul Roffe, 212/425-9055
info@sirotalaw.com


SMITHFIELD FOODS: NC Ct Dismisses Suit over Hog Farm Pollution of River
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A North Carolina state judge dismissed two lawsuits against Smithfield,
Va.-based Smithfield Foods, the nation's largest pork processor, saying
citizens who contended that waste from the company's hog farms polluted
rivers failed to make their case. (The Washington Post, March 30, 2001)


U.S., MEXICO: Mexican Govt Records Contradict Assertions over Lost Wages
------------------------------------------------------------------------Most
of the millions of dollars deducted as savings from the paychecks of
Mexican laborers who came to the United States during the 1940s was later
repaid, according to Mexican government records that contradict key
assertions of a growing reparations movement.

Thousands of surviving migrants on both sides of the border contend they
were cheated out of money that they earned toiling in fields and rail
yards to replace U.S. workers drafted in World War II. As an incentive
for their return to Mexico, under the agreement between the two nations,
10% of each worker's wages was deducted from the migrant's paychecks to
be forwarded to a Mexican bank.

Allegations that wages were unpaid have triggered international protests,
an upcoming Mexican congressional investigation and legal action in the
United States.

Some advocates have said the workers are owed as much as $ 1 billion, but
documents culled from archives in both countries show the actual amount
is far less.

About $ 28 million was paid to workers by 1946, according to records
examined by The Times, and about $ 6 million is unaccounted for.

The analysis of the savings fund was part of a wide-ranging, 120-page
government review of the WWII-era guest worker program. Titled "Los
Braceros," the study examined salaries and recruitment, and included a
survey of returning workers.

The findings present good and bad news for the men, who were among more
than 300,000 Mexican railroad and agricultural workers known as braceros.

Given problems acknowledged in the government reports, and the relatively
small sums each man was owed at the time, the unaccounted-for funds could
bolster assertions that thousands of workers were not repaid their
savings. But records also suggest that the total amounts outstanding are
not the hundreds of millions of dollars--including interest--that some
have said.

Still, many of the men--now in their 70s and 80s--hope to recover
something.

"We were fighting in the fields so people could eat. . . . I just want my
money," said 76-year-old Manuel Renteria, who came to pick crops in 1943.

Renteria lives on a $ 500 monthly Social Security check in a tiny
downtown Los Angeles apartment furnished only with a bed. He said he was
never informed about the payroll deductions--echoing assertions by many
other retired workers.

Earlier his month, attorneys representing several of the men filed a
class-action lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco seeking the back
wages. The suit names the United States and Mexican governments, as well
as several banks responsible for transferring and disbursing the funds.

Jonathan Rothstein, a lawyer representing the workers, said he was
undeterred by the Mexican reports showing that most of the money had been
repaid. He said his clients will demand such detailed documentation as
contemporaneous bank records to support the Mexican government's
conclusions.

"Until we would receive a full accounting, we are not prepared to accept
those numbers as authoritative or accurate," said Rothstein of the
Chicago law firm of Gessler, Hughes & Socol. "That's why we filed a
lawsuit. We want to get to the bottom line."

He said that if only $ 10 million of the money had not been returned, it
would be worth as much as $ 200 million in today's dollars.

The lawsuit comes as some U.S. lawmakers push for a new guest worker
program. President Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox are exploring
the idea, among other cross-border initiatives.

In response to protests in Los Angeles, Mexico City and elsewhere,
Mexican federal officials are launching a multi-agency commission to find
out how much money was owed and how much was repaid. The investigation is
expected to begin this spring.

"There are a lot of workers who did not receive anything. The commission
has to find out how many," said Alberto Leyva, a legislative aide to
Michoacan Rep. Sergio Acosta. The congressman from the Democratic
Revolution Party is helping to lead the investigation.

The commission, which has been endorsed by Fox, is expected to issue a
report later this year.

Any investigation will be hindered by the passage of time and the
difficulty of retrieving documents more than 50 years old.

Under agreements adopted after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the braceros
came north to work while Americans went off to war.

About $ 34 million in savings from the braceros was received by Mexican
banks through mid-1946, according to an analysis that year by the Mexican
secretary of labor's office.

The report, located in agricultural library archives at the University of
Wisconsin, appears to be one of the most authoritative available. It
shows that savings deductions ceased in January 1946. Other records
indicate that the payroll deductions might have continued until as late
as 1949.

The newly located Mexican reports appear to support a key assertion by
lawyers seeking reparations: that Mexican and U.S. officials ignored
warnings that many workers were not getting their money.

U.S. wartime agencies were supposed to ensure that the payroll records
were sent to Mexican banks. But U.S. officials failed to do so promptly,
records show.

As a result, many workers waited weeks in Mexico City for their funds,
only to be told the banks had no record of their accounts.

The average account was only a few hundred dollars, and many of the
migrants ended up spending what little money they had traveling to the
Mexican capital to collect, according to a 1945 report published by the
Mexican secretary of Agriculture. The unsuccessful trips to retrieve
their savings left those workers in debt.

The report notes many workers were poorly educated peasants who were
intimidated by the forms and correspondence needed to claim their money.
Some fell victim to con artists, and others collected only part of their
savings.

Frustrated, a number of workers wrote to U.S. officials during and after
the war, according to letters obtained from the National Archives in
Maryland.

"They have only given me a little more than 100 pesos," rail worker Efren
Corona wrote U.S. officials in February 1946. He said he was owed more
than 1,500 pesos--about $ 300.

Like others, Corona received a form letter from the War Manpower
Commission.

The panel told him he would have to take up the matter with his former
U.S. employer--despite the international accord that made the United
States responsible for guarding the interests of Mexican workers.

Jose Diaz wrote the U.S. government, demanding that it pay him more than
$ 200 in missing savings. "Send me the money," he said in his 1946
letter. He, too, was told to contact the railroad where he worked.

It's not clear whether either man recovered his money.

Even as such letters were being received, Mexican government officials
had already been alerted that the program was failing some workers.

"Much of the money will never be completely returned," concluded the 1945
agricultural office report. Recurring administrative problems, it said,
showed that the design of the savings programs "was a mistake." (Los
Angeles Times, March 30, 2001)


WORLDCOM INC: Settles Overbilling Suit of Predecessor MCI for $90 Mil
---------------------------------------------------------------------
As many as 5 million MCI long-distance customers may be entitled to
refunds under a $ 90 million settlement approved between MCI successor
WorldCom Inc. and lawyers suing the company on behalf of customers.

But with a month to go to file for a refund, most eligible customers have
not made a claim, probably because they aren't aware they are eligible.

The average refund is about $ 100 for customers who were overbilled for
dialing long distance starting in 1996. Unlike many other such
settlements, those applying for refunds will get a check instead of
coupons, discounts or credits.

The settlement, approved in federal court in East St. Louis, is the
largest under federal telecommunication laws, said San Francisco lawyer
Daniel Girard, one of the lead counsels on the case.

"Someone might claim to have a settlement for a higher amount with a
coupon, but this is $ 90 million cash," he said after the hearing. "We
worked very hard to make (the settlement) accessible to class members."

Five lawyers and an economist objected, most complaining about the fees
that Girard and others will make. Lawyers who sued MCI can expect to make
about $ 25 million. That's spread among at least 16 law firms from across
the country, including a Swansea firm of seven partners that has filed
several prominent class actions in federal court in East St. Louis --
Carr, Korein, Tillery, Kunin, Montroy, Cates & Glass.

U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon approved the fees and settlement,
noting that his oversight of the case since it was filed in 1999 allowed
him a distinct advantage in ensuring the settlement was fair.

"I find absolutely no reason to reject the settlement," he said.

The suit arose over MCI's practice of applying its higher non-subscriber
rate, which it calls its "casual calling" rate, and surcharges to many of
its long-distance customers.

The practice began in February 1996 and continued through October 2000.

Mailed notices went out to 5.3 million households about the possible
settlement. But according to lawyers representing the customers, only
371,000 people have filed claims with a month to go before the final
deadline. That's about 7 percent of the estimated number of people
identified as eligible for refunds.

One lawyer objected because customers can't tell just from looking at
their phone bills whether they are being charged non-subscriber rates,
even though they are asked to swear under oath that they were charged the
wrong rate.

Jonathan Arnold, an economist from Chicago, expects to be refunded $ 300
for four telephone lines. But he burned half of that flying here for the
hearing to object to the fees the lawyers requested.

"Over-compensating attorneys encourages excessive litigation, which
results in higher costs of products," he said. "I'm doing this for my own
personal satisfaction."

Another sticking point among objectors is unclaimed refund money. MCI
wants it returned to the company, as does Arnold. He said it will keep
his phone rates lower.

As much as $ 20 million may be left in the fund after the last claims are
processed. But the leftovers could go to charity or be channeled into a
further effort to distribute it to customers.

MCI or WorldCom customers interested in checking their eligibility for
refunds can call 800-967-9425 or check via the Internet at
www.rateclaims.com.

Those who cannot remember their phone numbers that had MCI service can
opt for a flat $ 75 payment. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 30, 2001)


* FL Justice Asks Why State Can Fund Viagra But Not Abortion
------------------------------------------------------------
One justice asks why the state can fund Viagra for men but not abortion
for women.

The Florida Supreme Court took up the abortion issue March 29, hearing
arguments in an 8-year-old case that asks whether poor women should be
allowed to get Medicaid-paid abortions.

Bonnie Scott Jones, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Law and
Policy, argued that the state unconstitutionally pressures women in its
Medicaid program to choose childbirth over abortions that are medically
necessary. It pays for childbirth but not abortion.

And the state, via Medicaid funding, forces women to "endanger their own
health in order to rear children," Jones said. That violates the state
Constitution's right to privacy, she said.

Bill Roberts, the attorney for the state Agency for Health Care
Administration, which administers Medicaid, argued that Florida's
Constitution does not require the state to fund the rights it guarantees
citizens.

The question of whether Medicaid should pay for abortions deals with
poverty, not constitutional rights, he told justices.

"The state did not create poverty, and it's not constitutionally
obligated to do away with poverty," Roberts said.

But that didn't satisfy Justice Leander Shaw, who questioned the state's
policy of covering all medically necessary reproductive procedures for
men under Medicaid but not for women.

"It just doesn't meet the smell test that the state would fund Viagra for
men, but for women a medically necessary abortion would not be covered,"
Shaw said.

Of the seven current justices, Shaw alone was also a justice in 1989 when
the court overturned a law requiring teenagers seeking abortions to have
the permission of a parent.

Shaw wrote that ruling, which concluded that the law violated the privacy
provision of the state Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld
the federal law limiting the use of federal tax dollars.

Like the federal government, Florida bans spending its share of Medicaid
money on abortions unless they're needed to save the life of the woman or
to end pregnancies caused by rape or incest. That has been the state's
policy at least since 1991, according to Roberts.

The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy estimates that each year 7,000
Medicaid-eligible women in Florida either have pregnancy complications or
have a health condition that would worsen if they became pregnant.
Medicaid is the joint federal-state health care program for the poor.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in 1993 in West Palm Beach. Last year,
the 1st District Court of Appeal upheld the state's rules restricting
Medicaid abortions.

Jones argued that the state's policy of not paying for medically
necessary abortions had the effect and intent of preventing poor women
from getting abortions.

"The (state's) interest in potential life is not a compelling one until
viability" of the fetus, Jones said.

Roberts agreed that the state did, in fact, intend to protect fetuses. He
added that was permitted as long as the state didn't create any legal
barriers that keep women from getting an abortion.

"The state is not prohibited from favoring a position. The state has a
compelling interest here. It's the preservation of life," and that begins
at conception, he said.

The state could refuse to fund any reproductive services for women such
as childbirth - assuming it got a waiver from the federal government -
and still not violate the Constitution, Roberts added. (Information from
the Associated Press was used in this report; published in St. Petersburg
Times, March 30, 2001)


* IL House Approves Scaled-Back Girls' Abortion Notification Bill
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Setting the stage for an ideological clash, the Illinois House approved a
drastically weakened version of legislation requiring girls to inform
their parents before they get abortions.

House lawmakers voted 96-15 March 29 for the revised measure, but its
sponsor predicted the Republican-controlled Senate would restore the
original language and send it back for another battle.

The measure originally barred abortions for girls under 18 unless they
had informed their parents or secured a judge's approval.

But abortion-rights supporters changed it so that parents and legal
guardians were not the only ones who could be notified. The new version
includes grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings and even clergy.

They argued the original bill was not practical for girls from troubled
families.

The weakened version now moves to the Senate. (The Associated Press,
March 30, 2001)


                             *********


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