CAR_Public/010403.MBX               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

               Tuesday, April 3, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 65

                             Headlines

AUTHENTIC FITNESS: Tortfeasor Agr. Releases Maker of Defective Goggles
AVANT! CORP: Announces Tentative Resolution of Stockholder Suit in CA
CALIFORNIA AMPLIFIER: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in CA
CALIFORNIA AMPLIFIER: Scott + Scott Files Securities Lawsuit in CA
E.W. BLANCH: Schatz & Nobel Announces Filing of Securities Suit in MN

FOREST SERVICE: Judge OKs Settlement for Workplace Sexual Harassment
HEARTLAND ADVISORS: Judge Names Lead Plaintiff in High-Yield Funds Case
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Appeals Ct in NY Holds Hearing
IASIAWORKS, INC: Bull & Lifshitz Files Securities Suit in New York
INTERSHOP COMMUNICATIONS: Schubert & Reed Files Securities Suit in CA

JNI CORP: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in California
KEITHLEY INSTRUMENTS: Bull & Lifshitz Files Securities Lawsuit in Ohio
KEITHLEY INSTRUMENTS: Cauley Geller Tells of Securities Suit Filed in OH
KEITHLEY INSTRUMENTS: Faces Securities Suit, Says Schiffrin & Barroway
KEITHLEY INSTRUMENTS: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in Ohio

LBP INC.: Balance of Impac Investment Sold; Derivative Suit Withdrawn
ORACLE CORP: Savett Frutkin Announces Securities Lawsuit Filed in CA
RITE AID: MVFRL Action Is on its Way to Cumberland County
TOBACCO LITIGATION: L.A. County Readies For Its 1st Trial
U OF MI: CNN Coverage on Whether Affirmative Action Is Coming to an End

VENTRO CORP: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in California

                              *********

AUTHENTIC FITNESS: Tortfeasor Agr. Releases Maker of Defective Goggles
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Feeney v. Authentic Fitness Co., PICS Case No. 01-0563 (C.P. Philadelphia
Feb. 15, 2001) Temin, J. (6 pages).

Where, in a products liability action brought against the manufacturer
and the seller of allegedly defective goggles, plaintiff signed a joint
tortfeasor agreement releasing the manufacturer in exchange for $ 1.5
million shortly before trial, that release operated as a release of any
liability that the seller, a mere "conduit" for the product, might have
had to plaintiff. Affirmance recommended.

Plaintiff purchased a pair of goggles from defendant Gold Medal Sporting
Goods Inc. (Gold Medal). The package containing the goggles indicated
that they were "anti-fog." The manufacturer of the goggles was defendant
Authentic Fitness Co. (Authentic Fitness). Prior to purchasing the
goggles, plaintiff asked Gold Medal's sales clerk whether the goggles
were suitable for use while water-skiing. The sales clerk said that they
were. While plaintiff was water-skiing, the goggles fogged up, and
plaintiff sustained injuries. Plaintiff sued the Authentic Fitness and
Gold Medal under Section 402A of the Restatement of Torts.

Gold Medal filed a cross-claim for indemnity against Authentic Fitness.
Prior to trial, plaintiff entered into a joint tortfeasor agreement with
Authentic Fitness in which Authentic Fitness agreed to pay plaintiff $
1.5 million. Another judge bifurcated the indemnity claim from the other
claims.

After hearing the evidence, the jury found that the goggles were
defective and that the defect was a substantial factor in causing
plaintiff's injuries. The jury awarded plaintiff $ 11.8 million. With
regard to the remaining issues, the court determined that Authentic
Fitness was the manufacturer of the goggles and that Gold Medal was the
seller. The court determined, however, that Gold Medal was "merely a
conduit" for the transfer of the goggles from Authentic Fitness to
plaintiff and therefore was only secondarily liable. With regard to the
joint tortfeasor agreement, the court held that it "operates as a release
of any liability that defendant Gold Medal may have to plaintiff."
Consequently, the court concluded that Gold Medal was not liable for any
money damages to plaintiff. (Pennsylvania Law Weekly, April 2, 2001)


AVANT! CORP: Announces Tentative Resolution of Stockholder Suit in CA
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Avant! Corporation (Nasdaq: AVNT) announced on March 31 that it has
reached an agreement with attorneys for the plaintiffs to resolve the two
class action stockholder lawsuits currently pending against the Company.
Under the terms of the agreement, Avant! will pay $47.5 million in cash
to the plaintiffs, which will result in the dismissal of all of their
claims against the Company with prejudice. The United States District
Court for the Northern District of California preliminarily approved the
settlement on March 29, 2001. The proposed resolution of these cases is
subject to final court approval and certain other contingencies following
notice to the affected stockholders. The two lawsuits, brought by Paul
and Helen Margetis and by Joanne Hoffman on behalf of certain purchasers
of Avant! common stock, were filed in the United States District Court in
1995 and 1997, respectively.

"This proposed resolution is beneficial to Avant! and its stockholders,"
said Gerald C. Hsu, Avant!'s chairman, CEO and president. "Our company's
top priority is to provide the best technology and service to our
customers. We now have concluded four significant litigation matters
within the past four months, allowing the Company to focus on providing
the best technology and service to our customers."

In accordance with Statement of Financial Accounting Standards (SFAS) No.
5, Accounting for Contingencies, these class action settlements are
subsequent loss events occurring after December 31, 2000, and prior to
the issuance of the Company's financial statements. Consequently, the
Company will accrue the entire settlement amount as a special one-time
charge as of December 31, 2000, and for the quarter and year then ended.
This will result in a reported loss per diluted share of $0.18 for the
fourth quarter and reported diluted earnings per share of $1.32 for the
full year. The pro forma diluted earnings per share excluding merger,
in-process research and development expenses, venture capital investment
gains and the above special charge for fourth quarter 2000 and full year
2000 remain the same as previously announced at $0.47 and $1.77,
respectively.

                              About Avant!

Avant! Corporation develops, markets, and supports integrated circuit
(IC) design automation software solutions (from system definition to mask
synthesis) for the rapid design of multimillion gate products including
system on chip (SoC). Avant! is a trademark of Avant! Corporation.


CALIFORNIA AMPLIFIER: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in CA
---------------------------------------------------------------
Milberg Weiss (http://www.milberg.com/calamp/)announced on March 30 that
a class action has been commenced in the United States District Court for
the Central District of California on behalf of purchasers of California
Amplifier, Inc. ("California Amplifier") (NASDAQ:CAMP) publicly traded
securities during the period between April 7, 2000 and March 28, 2001
(the "Class Period").

The complaint charges California Amplifier with violations of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934. California Amplifier designs,
manufactures and markets microwave components used in both defense and
commercial markets. The Company's products are used for the amplification
and conversion of microwave signals for satellite television, Global
Positioning Satellite, wireless cable, two-way voice and data
communications, and broadband applications.

On March 29, 2001, California Amplifier announced that it will restate
its fiscal 2000 financial statements because of accounting misstatements.
The press release issued in connection with the announcement stated, in
part: "California Amplifier Inc. today announced that during preparation
for the Company's fiscal year 2001 audit examination, the Company's
corporate controller abruptly resigned and advised by letter that in
fiscal year 2000 he made certain adjustments to the Company's accounting
records that caused a reduction in recorded expenses which may have
resulted in overstating net income for the fiscal year ended Feb. 26,
2000 by as much as $2.2 million, or $.18 per basic share. The Company is
actively investigating the circumstances reported by the controller but
has not yet been able to interview the controller fully and, as a result,
is unable at this time to reach any definitive conclusions as to the
exact expenses or fiscal year 2000 quarters that are affected by this
alleged overstatement... Due to these developments, the previously
scheduled release of earnings for the fourth quarter and the fiscal year
ended March 3, 2001 on April 19, 2001 will be postponed to a future date
to be announced. If the investigation ultimately confirms an
overstatement of income in fiscal year 2000, the Company will be required
to restate its fiscal year 2000 consolidated financial statements." On
this news, trading in California Amplifier shares was halted at $5.03 --
or more than 90% lower than the Class Period high of $59.25.

Contact: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP William Lerach,
800/449-4900 wsl@milberg.com


CALIFORNIA AMPLIFIER: Scott + Scott Files Securities Lawsuit in CA
------------------------------------------------------------------
Scott + Scott, LLC (scottlaw@scott-scott.com), a Connecticut-based law
firm (telephone: 800-404-7770), filed suit in the United States District
Court for the Central District of California on behalf of all persons who
purchased the publicly traded securities of California Amplifier, Inc.
(Nasdaq: CAMP) from April 7, 2000 to March 28, 2001. California Amplifier
designs, manufactures and markets microwave components used in both
defense and commercial markets. The Company's products are used for the
amplification and conversion of microwave signals for satellite
television, Global Positioning Satellite, wireless cable, two-way voice
and data communications and broadband applications. You can contact Scott
+ Scott LLC at 800-404-7770 to speak with an attorney regarding any
questions about this lawsuit.

Scott + Scott's complaint charges California Amplifier and certain of its
officers and directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934. The complaint alleges that on March 29, 2001, the Company announced
that it would restate its fiscal 2000 financial statements because of
accounting misstatements. The Camarillo, Calif.-based company said its
controller abruptly resigned during preparation for the 2001 audit, and
advised by letter that he may have overstated net income for the 12
months ended Feb. 26, 2000, by as much as $2.2 million, or 18 cents per
basic share.

The company said the controller reported he made certain adjustments to
the company's accounting records that caused a reduction in recorded
expenses, causing, in turn, the overstatement of net income. The company
said it was investigating the circumstances reported by the controller
but had not yet been able to interview him fully. As a result, the
company said, it was unable to reach any definite conclusions at this
time as to the exact expenses.

The company said that its 2001 audit was underway but that, due to the
developments, the previously scheduled release of earnings for the fourth
quarter and the fiscal year ended March 3, 2001, planned for April 19,
will be postponed to a future date to be announced. Trading in the
company's stock on the Nasdaq market was halted before the market opened,
pending news dissemination. The price of the shares was halted at $5.03
-- or more than 90% lower than the Class Period high of $59.25.

Contact: David R. Scott or Neil Rothstein, both of Scott + Scott, LLC,
800-404-7770, or nrothstein@scott-scott.com


E.W. BLANCH: Schatz & Nobel Announces Filing of Securities Suit in MN
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A lawsuit seeking class action status has been filed in the United States
District Court for the District of Minnesota on behalf of all persons who
purchased, or otherwise acquired, the common stock of E.W. Blanch
Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: EWB) between February 25, 1999 and March 20, 2000,
inclusive (the "Class Period").

The lawsuit alleges that E.W. Blanch provides integrated risk management
and distribution services, including reinsurance intermediary services.
The Company was involved with Unicover Managers, Inc.'s ("Unicover")
controversial system for sharing premiums and risk in underwriting
reinsurance for a workers compensation pool. When the Unicover pool ran
into trouble, the Company did not take a charge to earnings. The Company
also misled investors by stating that it would be unlikely to experience
any adverse impact in connection with Unicover. On March 20, 2000, when
the Company revealed that it would be negatively impacted by the Unicover
reinsurance scandal, the price of the Company's stock dropped 64%. In
addition, certain of the Company's senior officers sold over $ 24.7
million of the Company's stock during the Class Period while in
possession of information they had not disclosed to investors. The
lawsuit further alleges that the Company and certain senior officers
violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Plaintiff seeks to recover damages on behalf of all Class members.

Contact: Andrew M. Schatz or Jeffrey S. Nobel or Robert W. Cassot of
Schatz & Nobel, 800-797-5499, sn06106@aol.com


FOREST SERVICE: Judge OKs Settlement for Workplace Sexual Harassment
--------------------------------------------------------------------
A U.S. District Court judge has given his consent to the settlement of a
class action lawsuit filed against the U.S. Forest Service.

A pair of female workers who revealed a "pattern of sexual harassment"
within the agency's California region offices prompted the civil action.

Agency spokesman Matt Mathes told FEA that the judge verbally approved
the settlement and plans to sign it in the coming weeks. The settlement
will impact about 6,000 female Forest Service employees.

Among the terms of the settlement for the complaint initiated in 1995 by
employees Lesa Donnelly and Ginelle O'Connor, the agency is required to
establish a monitoring council, Mathes said.

The council would oversee the agency's progress and equal employment
opportunity programs.

A neutral mediator will chair the council. Representatives chosen by the
agency and members of the lawsuit will make up the remaining seats.
(Federal EEO Advisor, March 29, 2001)


HEARTLAND ADVISORS: Judge Names Lead Plaintiff in High-Yield Funds Case
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A group led by Walter T. Kirkbride, former chief investment officer of
Conseco Inc., was appointed as lead plaintiff in the class action suit
brought against Heartland Advisors Inc., the manager of two high-yield
municipal bond funds that suffered catastrophic losses last year.

U.S. District Court Judge J.P. Stadtmueller, who was assigned to the case
for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, approved Kirkbride
and the three other litigants in his party and their chosen lead counsel,
Burt & Pucillo of West Palm Beach, Fla., and liaison counsel Hale &
Wagner of Milwaukee. The court "is satisfied that the two firms have the
talent and experience necessary to pursue this litigation vigorously,"
Stadtmueller wrote in the court order.

Burt & Pucillo specializes in class action, securities, corporate,
antitrust, and consumer litigation.

Citing concerns that the lead plaintiff equitably represent and fend for
all members of the class action group, Stadtmueller wrote in the court
order that the Kirkbride group was chosen because it was the only party
with losses of its size, and with members that were personally invested
in the two high-yield municipal bond funds that suffered one-day net
asset value markdowns of 70% and 44%.

Heartland announced that the markdowns were a result of a new security
pricing methodology adopted by the firm that would better incorporate the
illiquidity of the high-yield market.

The complaint filed by the Kirkbride group in November, however, alleged
that the net asset value of the funds was materially inflated due to the
over-valuation of securities and that as a result, performance was also
misstated. The Kirkbride group's losses totaled $1.31 million, of which
Kirkbride alone lost $824,232 -- mostly in Heartland's High Yield
Municipal Bond Fund.

Kirkbride remains invested, unlike most investors who fled the two
high-yield funds after the net asset value markdowns that prompted the
litigation. The funds themselves were named as defendants in the 19
lawsuits originally filed against Heartland Advisors. Also named in the
suits were its parent company, Heartland Group Inc.; its president,
William J. Nasgovitz; former and current portfolio managers; the board of
directors; and the funds' independent auditor.

Although attorneys representing other plaintiffs seeking lead counsel
argued that Kirkbride would have a "debilitating conflict of interest" as
lead plaintiff because he still owns shares in the funds, Stadtmueller
wrote in the court order that it is doubtful that recovery would be
permitted against them.

"The funds are owned by innocent shareholders, many if not most of whom
are class members," he wrote. "To the extent they are not 'owned' by the
alleged wrongdoers, then, the rules against indemnity in securities fraud
actions would prohibit the actual offenders from looking to the funds for
recourse."

Lead counsel C. Oliver Burt 3d could not be reached for comment.

Another litigating attorney on the case, Karl Cambronne, a partner at
Chestnut & Cambronne in Minneapolis, said that the filing of a
consolidated amended complaint can be expected to follow. After that, a
motion to certify the class will be filed, and once the court has
resolved any motions for dismissal, the attorneys will be able to proceed
with the discovery process, Cambronne said. (The Bond Buyer, April 2,
2001)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Appeals Ct in NY Holds Hearing
-------------------------------------------------
The attempts to win legal clearance for last year's landmark DM10bn
(Pounds 3.1bn) settlement between German industry and Nazi-era slave
labourers enters a critical phase when an appeals court in New York holds
a first hearing on the case.

It is a condition of the settlement that no money is paid to survivors
until "legal peace" for German companies has been secured in the US. That
requires the dismissal of all the class action lawsuits brought against
German companies for complicity in the Holocaust. Several judges have
agreed to dismiss the cases, while lawyers suing IBM for its alleg-ed
role in the Holocaust last week agreed to withdraw their suit.

However, Judge Shirley Wohl Kram, a New York federal judge, last month
refused to dismiss the lawsuit against German banks. She did so despite a
request from the US State Department.

Lawyers for the German companies and their former labourers are seeking a
rarely used writ of mandamus from the appeals court, which would force
Judge Kram to change her decision. The State Department is supporting the
effort.

It would be virtually impossible now to renegotiate the entire
settlement, which involved the governments of several east European
countries as well as Israel, Germany and the US, and covers claims
against German financial institutions for their role in the
"Aryanisation" of Jewish property and slave labour. Half the money is to
come from the government, the rest from German companies.

Lawyers on both sides have criticised the judge strongly for her
decision, saying that she overreached her powers and delayed the payment
of money needed by Holocaust survivors.

Judge Kram raised two concerns with the agreement. The first was that it
had not been fully funded - a problem that has since been resolved by
German companies, which have entered into a formal guarantee making the
money available. Her second objection, and now the most important,
concerned claims against German banks on behalf of Austrian banks,
concerning alleged plunder during the war years. These were assigned to
Holocaust survivors suing Bank Austria and Creditanstalt, the largest
Austrian banks, in a separate case that was settled in 1999.

Judge Kram also presided over that case. The settlement was brokered by a
former US senator, Alfonse D'Amato, who was appoin-ted as a "special
master" by the judge. It involved a pay-out by the banks of Dollars 40m
(Pounds 27.7m) and provoked criticism from some of the lawyers for the
plaintiffs, who said the sum was inadequate. That led to more attention
for the claims against the German banks, which were also assigned to the
plaintiffs as part of the settlement.

The judge is now concerned that some of the lawyers who worked in the
lawsuits against both the German and the Austrian banks had a conflict of
interest, and that claimants against the Austrian banks have been given a
poor deal.

She appointed Jack Dweck, a New York lawyer, to act as "co-lead attorney"
for the assigned claims last year. He has since sued the German banks on
behalf of Holocaust survivors.

The lawyers appealing against her decision claim that she was mistaken to
link the Austrian and German cases in this way. They also point to
postwar treaties between Germany and Austria that waive claims by
Austrian individuals or companies against Germany for war-era looting.

Lawyers for the defendant banks said she should withdraw from the
Austrian case because she had stated publicly that she thought the
assigned claims had value.

Holocaust survivors themselves seem ambivalent. The deal involves small
payments to individuals, and many US survivors express support for Judge
Kram for looking at the settlement so critically.

Leo Rechter, the chairman of the National Association of Child Survivors
of the Holocaust, said that negotiators should never have included claims
against banks, which mostly refer to their role in seizing property
rather than to slave labour. He said: "Everyone wanted legal peace and
nobody wanted to pay for it. That's natural but that doesn't mean they
can be allowed to get away with it."

He recommended that the settlement for slave labourers should be cleared,
so that their payments could start, leaving the way clear to "thrash it
out" with banks and insurance companies.

Roman Kent, the chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors
and a member of the negotiating team that agreed the settlement, said the
German government should show good faith by paying its half of the DM10bn
without waiting for legal peace. He said: "It's just a token. But many of
the people would like to see the token of payment before they die."
(Financial Times (London), April 2, 2001)


IASIAWORKS, INC: Bull & Lifshitz Files Securities Suit in New York
------------------------------------------------------------------
According to news release by the law firm Bull & Lifshitz, LLP, on March
30, 2001, a securities class action lawsuit was filed in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of New York against
Iasiaworks, Inc. ("IAWK")(NASDAQ: IAWK), certain officers and directors
of the Company, and the underwriters of its IPO on behalf of all persons
who acquired the Company's common stock between August 3, 2000 and
November 27, 2000, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The Complaint alleges that defendants violated the federal securities
laws, including the Securities Act of 1933, by issuing a materially false
and misleading Registration Statement and Prospectus (the "Prospectus").

Contact: Bull & Lifshitz, LLP classlaw@bellatlantic.net Peter D. Bull,
Esq. Joshua M. Lifshitz, Esq. Telephone: (212) 869-9449 Facsimile: (212)
869-5632


INTERSHOP COMMUNICATIONS: Schubert & Reed Files Securities Suit in CA
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A class action suit alleging securities fraud has been filed in the
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
against Intershop Communications AG (NASDAQ:ISHP) ("Intershop" or "the
Company") and others by the San Francisco law firm of Schubert & Reed
LLP. The case was filed on behalf of all persons who purchased Intershop
shares during the period May 2, 2000 to January 3, 2001 (the "Class
Period"), including shares issued pursuant to and/or traceable to the
Company's September 29, 2000 initial public offering of American
Depositary Shares.

The complaint alleges claims under Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities
Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act
of 1934. The complaint alleges that the defendants made material
misrepresentations and omissions of material facts concerning the
Company's business performance. According to the complaint, throughout
the Class Period, defendants repeatedly assured investors that the
Company's United States operations were performing well; that the Company
was enjoying strong growth in the United States; and that the Company's
shares were undervalued. The complaint alleges that while defendants were
making these representations to the market, defendants knew or recklessly
disregarded that Intershop was falling dramatically below the Company's
publicly stated business plan and that significant shortfalls in the
sales of its software in the United States undermined the Company's
stated expectations at all relevant times. The complaint also charges
defendants with issuing a materially false and misleading Registration
Statement and Prospectus in connection with its initial public offering
on September 29, 2000, which misleadingly described the Company's success
and future prospects.

When the Company finally disclosed the problems with its business on
January 1, 2001, the price of the Company's shares fell by over $10 to
$4.8125 on trading volume ten times the Company's daily average.
Plaintiff seeks to recover damages suffered by class members and is
represented by the law firm of Schubert & Reed LLP, which has extensive
experience and expertise in prosecuting securities class actions on
behalf of defrauded investors. Intershop purchasers during the period
5/2/2000 to 1/3/2001 may join the action online by submitting their
information at http://www.schubert-reed.com(Click on "Class Actions").

Contact: Schubert & Reed LLP, San Francisco Juden Justice Reed,
415/788-4220 mail@schubert-reed.com


JNI CORP: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in California
-----------------------------------------------------------
Milberg Weiss (http://www.milberg.com/jni/)announced on April 2 that a
class action has been commenced in the United States District Court for
the Southern District of California on behalf of purchasers of JNI Corp.
(NASDAQ:JNIC) common stock during the period between Oct. 16, 2000 and
Jan. 24, (the "Class Period") including stock purchased pursuant to JNI's
10/19/00 Secondary Offering.

The complaint charges JNI and certain of its officers and directors with
violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. JNI designs and
supplies Fibre Channel hardware and software products that connect
servers and data storage devices to form storage area networks ("SANs").
The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, JNI made false
statements about its business and results causing its stock to trade at
artificially inflated levels. As a result of this inflation, JNI was able
to complete a $382 million stock offering (including the over-allotment)
pursuant to a Registration Statement and Prospectus dated 10/19/00.

JNI's stock price declined in early 11/00 due to stories appearing in the
press questioning the Company's competitive position and the pending
resignation of its CEO. However, the stock continued to be inflated as
defendants asserted there were no problems with the business and it was
"business as usual," and the CEO asserted that he would stay actively
involved with the Company as a member of the board.

Then, on 1/24/01, JNI reported 4thQ 00 revenues of only $30.7 million and
analysts reduced 2001 EPS estimates to $0.80. Upon this disclosure, JNI's
stock dropped to as low as $20, 84% below the Class Period high, on
volume of 4.4 million shares.

Contact: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP William Lerach,
800/449-4900 wsl@mwbhl.com


KEITHLEY INSTRUMENTS: Bull & Lifshitz Files Securities Lawsuit in Ohio
----------------------------------------------------------------------
New release by Bull & Lifshitz, LLP says that on March 30, 2001, a
securities class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District
Court for the Northern District of Ohio against Keithley Instruments,
Inc. (NYSE:KEI), and certain officers and directors of the Company on
behalf of all persons who acquired the Company's common stock between
January 18, 2001 and March 9, 2001, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The Complaint alleges that defendants violated the federal securities
laws, including Sections 10(b) and 20a of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934, by issuing materially false and misleading information concerning
the Company's financial condition and prospects.

Contact: Bull & Lifshitz, LLP Peter D. Bull, Esq. Joshua M. Lifshitz,
Esq. Telephone: (212) 869-9449 Facsimile: (212) 869-5632
classlaw@bellatlantic.net


KEITHLEY INSTRUMENTS: Cauley Geller Tells of Securities Suit Filed in OH
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Firm of Cauley Geller Bowman & Coates, LLP announced on March 30
that a class action has been filed in the United States District Court
for the Northern District of Ohio on behalf of purchasers of Keithley
Instruments, Inc. (NYSE: KEI) ("Keithley Instruments" or the "Company")
common stock between January 18, 2001 and March 9, 2001, inclusive (the
"Class Period").

The complaint charges Keithley instruments and certain of its officers
and directors with issuing false and misleading statements concerning the
Company's business and financial condition. Specifically, the complaint
alleges that on January 18, 2001, defendants reported record revenue for
the 1st quarter 2001, the three months ended December 31, 2000, touting
Keithley's eight consecutive quarter of record pre-tax earnings and sixth
consecutive quarter of record sales. Defendants further stated that their
"record backlog" and current business will lead to 2nd quarter pre-tax
earnings in excess of those reported in the 1st quarter. Defendants
repeated these positive statements concerning the in-progress fiscal 2nd
quarter of 2001 on February 13, 2001 in a press release and on February
14, 2001, in Keithley's SEC Form 10-Q. The complaint further alleges that
defendants failed to disclose the Keithley was suffering from reduced new
equipment orders, delays in scheduled deliveries, and with respect to
semiconductor customers, canceled orders, all of which would lead to
reduced sales and earnings in the second quarter of 2001.

On March 12, 2001, before the market opened, defendants issued a press
release disclosing that 2nd fiscal quarter 2001 sales and earnings would
be below the levels of the 1st fiscal quarter of 2001. As a result of
this announcement, the price of Keithley stock fell from a closing price
of $20.76 on March 9, 2001 to a closing price of $14.95 on March 12,
2001.

Contact: Charlie Gastineau or Sue Null, both of Cauley Geller Bowman &
Coates, LLP, 888-551-9944


KEITHLEY INSTRUMENTS: Faces Securities Suit, Says Schiffrin & Barroway
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP announces on March 30 that a
class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for
the Northern District of Ohio on behalf of all purchasers of the common
stock of Keithley Instruments, Inc. (NYSE: KEI) from January 18, 2001
through March 9, 2001, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Keithley Instruments and certain of its officers
and directors with issuing false and misleading statements concerning the
Company's business and financial condition. Specifically, the complaint
alleges that on January 18, 2001, defendants reported record revenue for
the 1st quarter 2001, the three months ended December 31, 2000, touting
Keithley's eighth consecutive quarter of record pre-tax earnings and
sixth consecutive quarter of record sales. Defendants further stated that
their "record backlog" and current business will lead to 2nd quarter
pre-tax earnings in excess of those reported in the 1st quarter.
Defendants repeated these positive statements concerning the in-progress
fiscal 2nd quarter of 2001 on February 13, 2001 in a press release and on
February 14, 2001, in Keithley's SEC Form 10-Q. The complaint further
alleges that defendants failed to disclose that Keithley was suffering
from reduced new equipment orders, delays in scheduled deliveries, and
with respect to semiconductor customers, canceled orders, all of which
would lead to reduced sales and earnings in the second fiscal quarter of
2001. On March 12, 2001, before the market opened, defendants issued a
press release disclosing that 2nd fiscal quarter 2001 sales and earnings
would be below the levels of the 1st fiscal quarter of 2001. As a result
of this announcement, the price of Keithley stock fell from a closing
price of $20.76 on March 9, 2001 to a closing price of $14.95 of March
12, 2001.

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


KEITHLEY INSTRUMENTS: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in Ohio
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The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP announces that a
class action lawsuit was filed on March 30, 2001, on behalf of purchasers
of the securities of Keithley Instruments, Inc. (NYSE:KEI) between
January 18, 2001, and March 9, 2001, inclusive. A copy of the complaint
filed in this action is available from the Court, or can be viewed on
Milberg Weiss' Web site at: http://www.milberg.com/keithley/

The action, numbered 1:01 cv 764, is pending in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, located at 201 Superior
Avenue, NE, Cleveland, OH 44114, against defendants Keithley and Joseph
P. Keithley ("J. Keithley"). The Honorable Paul R. Matia is the Judge
presiding over the case.

The complaint alleges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder, by issuing a series of material misrepresentations to the
market between January 18, 2001 and March 9, 2001 regarding the demand
for the Company's products and its expected revenues. Specifically,
defendants stated that they anticipated that second quarter revenues
would exceed those of the first quarter, in part, because of strong
demand for the Company's products and the Company's record backlog. As
alleged in the complaint, these statements were false and misleading when
made because defendants knew that Keithley was suffering from reduced new
equipment orders, delays in scheduled deliveries and, with respect to
semiconductor customers, canceled orders, all of which would lead to
reduced sales and earnings in the second quarter of 2001. As further
alleged in the complaint, defendants' statements that Keithley's backlog
was sufficiently large to overcome any softness in the economy and would
lead to increased sales and earnings for the second quarter of 2001 were
also materially false and misleading because defendants knew but did not
disclose that the backlog was not a true measure of sales revenue because
the backlog was subject to cancellation or delayed shipment at the
"buyer's" discretion.

Finally, on March 12, 2001, before the market opened for trading,
defendants issued a press release announcing that sales and earnings for
the first quarter of 2001 would be less than expected and 25% below the
sales levels of the first quarter of 2001. The market's reaction to this
announcement was immediate and punitive. Shares of Keithley stock closed
on Monday, March 12, 2001, at $14.95, from a previous close on Friday,
March 9, 2001, of $20.76, on reported volume of approximately 2.2 million
shares. Prior to this disclosure, defendant J. Keithley sold shares of
Keithley stock for proceeds of approximately $3.2 million, while other
insiders sold shares for proceeds in excess of $5 million.

Contact: Milberg Weiss, New York Steven G. Schulman or Samuel H. Rudman
Phone number: 800/320-5081 Email: keithleycase@milbergNY.com Web site:
http://www.milberg.com


LBP INC.: Balance of Impac Investment Sold; Derivative Suit Withdrawn
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LBP, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: LBPI) on March 30 announced that it had
agreed to sell the remaining $5 million investment in the 10.5%
Cumulative Convertible Preferred Stock of Impac Mortgage Holdings ("IMH")
to Impac Funding Corporation, a subsidiary of IMH for $5.25 million.
Closing of the transaction will take place on or before April 30, 2001.
Upon the closing of the transaction all of LBP's assets, which are
estimated to be approximately $29.7 million, will consist of cash or cash
equivalents.

In another development LBP announced that the purported class action and
derivative action lawsuit against LBP Inc. and its directors, was
withdrawn after LBP filed its motion to dismiss the lawsuit. There were
no payments or other consideration made by LBP in connection with the
withdrawal.

In January 2001, LBP announced its intention to liquidate. If the Plan of
Liquidation is approved by stockholders at the Company's May 16, 2001
Annual Stockholders meeting to be held in Dallas Texas, the Company will
shortly thereafter make an initial liquidating distribution in an amount
to be determined by the Board of Directors.


ORACLE CORP: Savett Frutkin Announces Securities Lawsuit Filed in CA
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Savett Frutkin Podell & Ryan, P.C. today announced that a class action
has been commenced in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of California, located at 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco,
CA 94102, Civil Action No. C 01-1268 WDR, on behalf of purchasers of
Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL) publicly traded securities during the
period between December 15, 2000 and March 1, 2001 (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Oracle and Lawrence J. Ellison ("Ellison") with
violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934 ("Exchange Act") and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. Oracle
supplies software for enterprise information management. The complaint
alleges that at the beginning of the Class Period, defendants represented
that Oracle would have sequential EPS growth of 9%, or $0.12, and revenue
of over $2.9 billion for its Q3 2001. Defendants assured investors that
Oracle's new 11i Suite required no programming systems integration to
implement the product and that using the product internally saved the
Company $1 billion. The complaint further alleges that defendant Ellison
actually knew that the Suite had massive technical problems, including
giant gaps in its CRM modules, and required expensive systems integration
work to implement. Ellison also knew that Oracle's so-called billion
dollar savings was not the result of the synergies created by Oracle's
11i product, but rather, his decision to terminate more than 2,000
employees, many of whom would "support" Oracle's new software. Throughout
January and February 2001, defendants repeatedly stated that Oracle's Q3
2001 estimates were easily achievable, that Oracle's pipeline was "never
stronger," its applications growth was "accelerating," its database and
application sales were rapidly growing and that the slowing economy was
showing no impact on Oracle's Q3 2001 performance. During this period
defendant Ellison sold nearly$900 million worth of his own Oracle shares
at prices as high as $32 per share, or 50% higher than the price to which
Oracle shares dropped as Oracle's true prospects began to reach the
market.

On March 1, 2001, Oracle revealed that, contrary to prior assurances by
defendants of Oracle's continuing "strong" revenue and EPS growth,
including defendants' assurances less than two weeks earlier that demand
remained strong, Oracle would post a major revenue shortfall and EPS
declines, sending Oracle's shares into a free fall. This disclosure
shocked the market, causing Oracle's stock to decline to less than $17
per share before closing at $16.88 per share on March 2, 2001, on record
volume of more than 221 million shares.

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


RITE AID: MVFRL Action Is on its Way to Cumberland County
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Cumberland County will play host to a class action lawsuit against Rite
Aid Corp., Fayette County Common Pleas Court Judge Ralph C. Warman has
decided, because its centralized location makes it a convenient meeting
point for the parties.

The plaintiff fought for jurisdiction of the cases to remain in Fayette
County, where he filed his class action. But Warman, who coordinated
Myers v. Rite Aid Corp, PICS Case No. 01-0606 (C.P. Fayette March 12,
2001) Warman, J. (21 pages), with a class action suit against Rite Aid
filed in Cumberland County, disagreed his county was the appropriate
jurisdiction. "We believe that because the class members are expected to
be located throughout the commonwealth, Cumberland County, by virtue of
its more centralized location, offers a more accessible forum for said
members," Warman said. "Fayette County, by contrast, is located in the
southwestern corner of the state which is therefore less convenient to a
potential class located throughout the state."W arner also noted that
Rite Aid's headquarters are in Cumberland County and all of its corporate
designees are from there.

                        Alleged MVFRL Violations

The plaintiff, Kenneth Myers, was injured in a motor vehicle accident. He
was insured through Horace Mann Insurance Co., which provided him with
first party medical benefits in accordance with MVFRL in the amount of $
5,000. As a result of the accident, Myers said he suffered acute cervical
pain and other injuries. His doctor prescribed several medications,
including Naproxen. On March 11, 1996, Myers purchased his medication at
the Rite Aid pharmacy in Grindstone, Fayette County. He claimed the
pharmacist told him he would have to pay the full amount for Naproxen
because the drugstore would not automatically bill Horace Mann or any
auto insurer. Myers said he was told he would have to submit a claim to
his insurer for reimbursement. Myers did purchase the Naproxen and paid
the full amount, $ 31.98. However, under MVFRL, Horace Mann only
reimbursed Myers $ 25.58. Myers followed by filing a complaint including
class action allegations that Rite Aid had violated MVFRL and the
Consumer Protection Law. In his complaint, Myers claimed Section 1797 of
MVFRL states that all providers of prescription medication must bill auto
insurers directly for medicine provided to an insured and that they
cannot accept or require payment of more than 80 percent of the customary
cost of the medicine. Myers also claimed that under the same section,
prescription medication providers may not accept or require the
difference between the full charge for the medication and 80 percent of
the full charge. So Myers claimed Rite Aid engaged in a "deceptive and
illegal" practice under the CPL, Warman said. Myers also asserted deceit
as a cause of action, arguing Rite Aid accepted auto insurance claims on
assignment for prescription medication provided to insureds and complied
with MVFRL's requirement of billing insurers directly between August 1992
and April 1995. Myers alleged Rite Aid changed its corporate policy,
which no longer complied with MVFRL, in April 1995. Under the new policy,
Myers said, Rite Aid charged insureds the full amount in cash for
prescription medications. Myers asked the court to certify his claim as a
class of all Rite Aid customers who had first party medical coverage
under MVFRL and were charged in full for prescription meds. A similar
case, Walker v. Rite Aid Corp., was filed in Cumberland County in October
1999, Warman said. Walker alleged unjust enrichment, conversion,
fraudulent nondisclosure and intentional concealment. The plaintiff,
Tammy Walker, also alleged Rite Aid failed to inform her of the
limitations of Section 1797, charged her in excess of the MVFRL
limitations and failed to bill her insurer directly. In November 2000,
Myers filed a motion for coordination of his action with Walker's. Warman
said that under Pennsylvania civil procedure Rule 213.1, he was required
to look at whether coordination was warranted and, if so, in which
jurisdiction the cases should be heard.

                   Coordination, Convenience

Warman said the two actions did involve "common questions of law." "The
plaintiffs in both actions propose to represent exactly the same class
and it is clear from the class action allegations, as contained in each
complaint, that each plaintiff would be a member of the class alleged by
the other," Warman said. "On behalf of the identically defined classes,
each plaintiff seeks remedies for what they allege is Rite Aid's uniform,
state-wide, illegal policy of overcharging insured customers purchasing
medications prescribed for injuries sustained in automobile accidents."
Therefore, Warman said the coordination was warranted, opining that the
coordination would promote the settlement process. "Further, since the
actions involve common questions of law, we believe that coordination is
necessary to avoid duplicative rulings concerning the legal issues
presented in each case," Warman said. As for which jurisdiction the cases
should be heard in, Rite Aid argued it should be Cumberland County. Rite
Aid said Cumberland County would be more convenient for the parties;
jurisdiction in Fayette County would result in an unreasonable delay
because there has been no docket activity since March 1998; and
coordination in Cumberland County would result in a more just ruling
because Walkers' counsel has filed a similar case there against a
different pharmacy chain. Warman said there was no evidence that
jurisdiction in Fayette County would result in an unreasonable delay or
that the Cumberland County Court would be more just. "Although [the other
case filed by Walker's attorney] also alleged violations of the cost
containment provisions of the MVFRL, it is not assigned to the Honorable
Judge Edgar B. Bailey who was assigned to the Walker action," Warman
said.However, his ultimate ruling hinged on the convenience issue, which
weighed in favor of Cumberland County.  (Pennsylvania Law Weekly, April
2, 2001)


TOBACCO LITIGATION: L.A. County Readies For Its 1st Trial
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Richard Boeken started smoking at the age of 13, and now is 56 and
gravely ill with cancer--a sad but familiar tale. Unlike thousands of
others who have suffered in silence, Boeken's story is about to be told
to a jury, in the first smoking and health case ever tried in Los Angeles
County.

Opening arguments were expected April 2 in Los Angeles Superior Court in
Boeken's fraud and negligence suit against Philip Morris Inc., whose
Marlboro cigarettes, the world's most popular brand, were Boeken's
favorites during his 40 years of smoking.

Three other tobacco trials simultaneously will be in session this week in
New York, New Jersey and Florida.

Boeken, a self-employed securities broker from Topanga, was diagnosed 18
months ago with lung cancer that has since spread to his brain. He says
he became hooked as a boy in the 1950s, when there were no warnings on
cigarettes, and athletes and celebrities pushed smoking on TV as virile
and suave.

Boeken is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from Philip Morris,
the nation's biggest cigarette maker, claiming the company along with its
rivals lied to smokers and the government about the hazards and addictive
nature of smoking.

Philip Morris says Boeken understood the risks, made a choice to go on
smoking and is not entitled to damages.

The trial before Superior Court Judge Charles W. McCoy and 12 jurors is
expected to last four to six weeks.

Although the tobacco industry's pockets are too deep for it to worry
about any single lawsuit, the Boeken case will be closely watched by the
industry and Wall Street analysts, amid signs that California courts may
be uniquely hostile territory.

The only two tobacco cases tried in the state since the lifting of a
lengthy ban on such suits resulted in dramatic defeats for Big Tobacco.
In 1999, a San Francisco jury ordered Philip Morris to pay $ 51.5 million
to lung cancer victim and former Marlboro smoker Patricia Henley--an
award trimmed by the trial judge to $ 26.5 million.

Then in March 2000, another San Francisco jury ordered Philip Morris and
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to pay $ 21.7 million to lung cancer patient
Leslie J. Whiteley. Whiteley did not begin smoking until the 1970s--after
warnings were placed on cigarette packs--making her victory all the more
alarming to the industry. She died last summer at the age of 40, after
the cancer had spread to her liver and her brain.

Appeals are pending in both the Henley and Whiteley cases and in a third
big West Coast case -- a $ 32-million verdict against Philip Morris in
Portland, Ore.

The Boeken case is significant "because the last two cases in California
were major losses for the U.S. tobacco industry," said Martin Feldman, an
analyst with Salomon Smith Barney. A successful defense would be a shot
in the arm for cigarette makers, since their image in California is worse
than almost anywhere else in the country, Feldman said.

On the other hand, a Boeken victory, on top of the other plaintiff wins,
would "send a very strong message to plaintiffs' firms" in California
that anti-tobacco cases are viable, said Ed Sweda of the Tobacco Products
Liability Project, a Boston-based group that promotes suits against the
industry.

For a decade, tobacco companies were immune from lawsuits in California,
under a 1987 tort reform law that became notorious as "the napkin deal"
because it was sketched out on a napkin at a Sacramento restaurant.

The benefits to Big Tobacco became apparent almost as soon as legislators
lifted the ban, when both Henley and Whiteley won their cases.

In the Boeken case, plaintiffs' lawyer Michael Piuze will argue that
Boeken became a heavy smoker in the late 1950s, when there were no health
warnings and smoking by young males "was not only accepted but expected."

>From the 1960s through the 1990s, Boeken allegedly made numerous efforts
to quit--trying hypnosis, smoking cessation classes and nicotine patches
and gum, but he never managed to stop for more than a few weeks.

Piuze also will argue that the industry's aggressive efforts to belittle
the scientific evidence found a willing audience in Boeken and others who
were eager to rationalize their habit.

"When people are addicted to things," they are apt "to tell themselves
stories," Piuze said. "Nicotine . . . is an extraordinarily powerful
addictive force."

Philip Morris contends that any public statements by the industry were
drowned out in the tidal wave of anti-smoking messages from the
government, health groups and news media.

"Smoking is unpopular and tobacco companies are unpopular, and that makes
our job more challenging," said Maurice A. Leiter of Arnold & Porter,
lead trial counsel for Philip Morris. "But we believe that nothing Philip
Morris said or did made Mr. Boeken smoke or prevented him from quitting."

The case begins with cigarette makers on a modest winning streak after
their crushing defeat in the Engle case in Miami last July, when jurors
ordered the companies to pay $ 144.8 billion in punitive damages to an
immense class of Florida smokers who became sick or died after becoming
addicted to smoking. The award was many times larger than any prior civil
verdict, and it is under appeal in the Florida courts. Cigarette makers
have won several individual trials since then.

Along with Boeken, opening arguments are expected Monday in a New Jersey
case against Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds by a man whose wife died of
lung cancer. Meanwhile, the fraud and racketeering trial of Empire Health
Choice (formerly Blue Cross & Blue Shield of New Jersey) against the
tobacco industry is beginning its second week in U.S. District Court in
Brooklyn.

And in Miami, a verdict may come as early as this week in the first of
more than 3,000 suits by flight attendants who claim they were sickened
breathing the air in smoky airline cabins.

A class-action suit on behalf of the flight attendants was settled in
1997 for $ 349 million, but without a penny going to class members. The
deal provided $ 300 million for health research and $ 49 million for
legal fees, and set ground rules for resolving claims of individual
attendants.

Those rules bar the flight attendants from seeking punitive damages. But
they also require the companies to carry the burden of proving secondhand
smoke does not cause disease, and to waive the time limit on filing of
claims.

The first individual trial, that of former Trans World Airlines flight
attendant Marie J. Fontana, 59, is nearing an end in Miami-Dade Circuit
Court. Fontana suffers from sarcoidosis and other respiratory ailments.
In court, she has been tethered to an oxygen tank, and at one point she
had to halt her testimony because she was coughing up blood. (Los Angeles
Times, April 2, 2001)


U OF MI: CNN Coverage on Whether Affirmative Action Is Coming to an End
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(Broadcast on Cable New Network on March 30, 2001)

GUESTS: Ken Blackwell, Al Sharpton

BYLINE: Robert Novak, Robert Reich

HIGHLIGHT: Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, and Al Sharpton,
president of the National Action Network, discuss affirmative action.

    ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Tonight, taking action against affirmative
action. California has done it. So has the state of Washington. Now, a
federal judge in Michigan has weighed in.

Is affirmative action coming to an end?

    ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press;
on the right, Robert Novak. In the crossfire, in New York, Reverend Al
Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, and in Columbus,
Ohio, Ken Blackwell, Ohio's Republican secretary of state.

     NOVAK: Good evening. Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

In 1997, a 43-year-old woman named Barbara Grutter sought and was denied
admission to the University of Michigan Law School. She sued, claiming
the law school's affirmative action procedures kept her out because she
is white.

This week, Federal Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that the law school's
admission policies are unconstitutional because -- quote -- "The focus
must be upon the merit of individual applicants, not upon assumed
characteristics of racial groups" -- end quote.

President Lee Bollinger called the judge's decision an American tragedy
and announced the University of Michigan would appeal.

This and other similar cases are inevitably heading to the Supreme Court,
where big issues will be decided. Can reverse racial discrimination be
practiced in the interest of racial diversity? If it cannot, will the
progress of African-Americans and other minority groups be impeded? And
can there be a level playing field without racial preferences?

Robert Reich, former secretary of labor and author of the new book "The
Future of Success," is sitting in on the left -- Bob.

    ROBERT REICH, CO-HOST: I have a question for Secretary Blackwell. You
can clear up a lot of confusion, make it very simple for us. You have
advised George W. Bush on affirmative action, and here's the question:
What is wrong with taking into consideration -- it's just one factor in
deciding the admission of somebody to law school or to university -- just
one factor, race? Among many factors. We're not talking about a quota.
The Supreme Court has said in the Bakke decision that you can consider
race as one of many factors. If you're trying to achieve diversity,
what's wrong with it?

    KEN BLACKWELL (R), OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: Absolutely nothing, Bob.
The reality is that the president and I and other advisers to the
president were looking for some common ground around the whole notion of
affirmative action. What we concluded was affirmative access was, one, a
George Bush original, but really did speak to an issue that not too many
intellectuals in the colleges and universities across this country want
to speak to. And that is the fact that affirmative action, as it has
become known contemporarally and practiced, really does deal with
middle-income African-Americans and Latinos. What the president wanted
was something that would speak to leveling the playing field and giving
access to lower-income minorities that have been excluded from the
American dream.

So those people who were denied access to credit and capital, those who
were locked into dysfunctional schools, as well as those who didn't have
access to adequate health care, could in fact be given affirmative access
through some market-oriented initiatives. First...

     REICH: But there's -- there's an inherent contradiction.

     BLACKWELL: It's not a contradiction. Essentially what it is it says
that affirmative action with lower case levels is as American as apple
pie. It is only when you use affirmative action with capital letters
where it becomes a means of fixing a quota and using race...

     REICH: But Mr. Secretary...

     BLACKWELL: ... a sole -- as the sole factor that you then run into
problems.

    REICH: Mr. Secretary, if I may, I just want you to decode a little
bit what you mean by capital letters, lower-case letters. You've advised
the Bush administration on affirmative access, you call it, not
affirmative action. Would, under the rubric of affirmative access, would
this particular scheme that the University of Michigan Law School has
used to just use race as one factor to achieve diversity, would that pass
muster or is the Bush administration going to come out against this?

    BLACKWELL: Well, I don't know what the Bush administration is going
to do. I think it would meet our original criteria, because race is not
the sole factor and it is not fixed to a particular quota system.

    NOVAK: We will be joined by the Reverend Sharpton shortly. But
Secretary Blackwell, there is no question that many people in the
African-American community -- you know this as well as I do...

     BLACKWELL: Right.

     NOVAK: ... say that your people cannot make progress if they are
competing against whites and Asians on an even basis, that they have to
have a little leg up. What do you say to that?

    BLACKWELL: I say that's nonsense. I say that there are Americans of
all colors who have been denied a level playing field. And let me just
make it a bit personal.

My children grew up in a middle-income family. They went to good public
schools and fine private schools, and they can compete with anyone. And
they shouldn't be given special consideration just because of their race
while a youngster in West Virginia who is the son or the daughter of a
West Virginia coal miner is denied access to opportunity.

And so I think this notion that the only people who are sitting in the
classrooms and law schools and medical schools in this country who are
people of color are there because of affirmative access or affirmative
action is nonsense.

But there are people of all colors who I think are deserving of a -- of a
-- of this sort of enabling action, affirmative action or affirmative
access, that we're talking about this evening.

     NOVAK: In the Michigan case, Secretary Blackwell, the judge said
that 10 percent of the slots for the law school of Michigan had been set
aside for racial minorities. Is that a racial quota, which the Supreme
Court has said is unconstitutional, or is that just a part of affirmative
action?

    BLACKWELL: Well, no, I think -- I think once you begin to set fixed
numbers you are talking about -- you're talking about a quota. And I can
tell you, Bob, as you and I have discussed on other occasions, sometimes
you have unintended consequences, that the question is going to become
"Who are the preferred minorities?" Are we talking about Cuban-Americans,
Mexican-Americans, African- Americans? At what point do you begin to
weight "minorityness"? And that's -- that's a problem that you can run
into when you have fixed numbers.

    REICH: Nobody is arguing, I don't think, for quotas. The real issue
is whether race can be one factor.

    BLACKWELL: But Bob -- but Bob, I think, you know, Bob Novak just
raised the issue that when you start talking about a specific number, 10
percent are assigned to racial minorities, you are talking about a quota.

    REICH: Oh, yeah. When you're talking about -- absolutely. A fixed
number.

    BLACKWELL: Absolutely.

    REICH: But will you agree...

    BLACKWELL: And again...

    REICH: Let's just get to the core issue here.

    BLACKWELL: Let's cut to the chase. I said it earlier...

    REICH: Cut to the chase.

    BLACKWELL: You asked me to be very simple, very straightforward. When
race is one factor that is considered, that is a legitimate factor when
an educational institution has found educational value in diversity.

You and I both know, I went through -- I was a fellow at the Institute of
Politics at the Harvard School of Government. I know that at Harvard they
make some decisions based on geographical diversity. I know they have
slots that they save for legacies.

You know, if, in fact, you use more than one consideration to achieve an
educational value, that is a legitimate public policy that I think should
be supported. But when you begin to say that, one, race is the only
factor and the race is the only factor that is used to assign to a fixed
quota, then you run into a situation...

    NOVAK: What do you think...

(CROSSTALK)

I'm sorry. BLACKWELL: ... that is unconstitutional.

    REICH: Well, I just -- you mentioned legacies. You know, I'm always
amused that you have a lot of people going to college these days, being
admitted, like George W. Bush, in part not because they were such
brilliant students, but because their father and grandfather went to
Yale. And that is presumably one reason why George W. Bush went to Yale.

If that's the case, why shouldn't you be able to use race as well as rich
and influential alumni parents?

    BLACKWELL: What you're (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is looking for an opportunity
to argue with me, and we're not going to argue on that point.

(LAUGHTER)

    NOVAK: Ken Blackwell...

    BLACKWELL: The fact -- Bob, let me just -- let me just say to you,
what I find that most liberals don't want to address is what George Bush
is addressing in his affirmative access, and that is that when you talk
about people not having access to capital and credit, not having access
to quality education, and when you begin to use remedies like charter
schools and vouchers and medical savings accounts that will give people
access to these quality of life, you know, activities and services, all
of a sudden, people start to say, well, that's not affirmative action.
That is affirmative action bigtime. NOVAK: Ken Blackwell, let me ask you
a simple question. Bob Reich asked you a simple question. I'll ask you a
simple question, too.

I find that Judge Friedman's decision is something that even somebody as
dense as I am in legal matters can understand. He writes in English,
which many judges don't. What do you think of that decision?

He says that if race is a -- is a factor -- he didn't say the only factor
-- he said if race is a factor in selecting who gets into the University
of Michigan Law School, it's un -- the process is unconstitutional. What
do you think of that?

    BLACKWELL: I think he's wrong, Bob. I think that the judge in this
same case in December in a different court...

    NOVAK: Different judge.

    BLACKWELL: ... different judge -- had it about right. When it is
narrowly tailored and race is one factor, and it is going against an
educational objective like diversity, the question becomes, "Is there
real value in a diverse student population?"

    NOVAK: What do you think?

    BLACKWELL: I think the answer to that -- I think the answer to that
question is absolutely yes.

    REICH: Of course.

    NOVAK: OK. We're going to have to take a break, and when we come
back, we're going to go into the question of whether the agitation for
racial quotas for African-Americans is based on a perception that they're
not up to the job of competing in America.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    REICH: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. I'm Robert Reich, sitting in on Bob
Novak's left.

(LAUGHTER)

This week, a federal judge ruled that the University of Michigan Law
School cannot give even a slight edge in admitting someone because he or
she is a minority. And this is a case that's almost surely to go to the
Supreme Court.

So is this the beginning of the end of affirmative action in America?

With us tonight, Ken Blackwell, Ohio secretary of state, who's advised
George W. Bush on affirmative action, and soon the Reverend Al Sharpton
of the National Action Network.

Let me just pursue one question that we were pursuing a moment ago, Mr.
Secretary of State in Ohio.

    BLACKWELL: Yes, sir.

    REICH: And that has to do with politics. You are a politician. I have
been a politician. We know that Ted Olson has been nominated by George W.
Bush to be solicitor general of the United States. That nomination is
going to be heard by the Senate next Thursday.

Ted Olson was the lawyer who argued on behalf of the white plaintiffs in
the University of Texas case that parallels this Michigan case against
affirmative action, and he won. He did that free of charge. He did it
because he believes, presumably, that there should not be even any
scintilla of race in any selection process.

What does this mean to you about the future of affirmative action with
regard to the Bush administration?

    BLACKWELL: Read my lips, Bob. (LAUGHTER)

The Bush administration has, I think, a very, very aggressive plan called
affirmative access that will, in fact, level the playing field. It is not
solely race-based, but it is geared toward making sure that people who
have been denied, or who don't have adequate access to health care,
quality education in our public schools as well as access to capital and
credit, will be given, you know, more access through market-driven
solutions.

    REICH: I'm reading your lips, Ken. I'm reading your lips, Ken.

    BLACKWELL: So what happens -- so what happens, Bob, is that as
opposed to just talking about something that benefits the African-
American and Latino and Asian middle class, he's talking about leveling
the playing field and giving people access to the American dream.

    REICH: I can understand that.

    BLACKWELL: And I think -- and I think people are going to be very,
very responsive to it.

So I feel very good about the Bush administration, because I think he's a
leader that has demonstrated that while he doesn't believe in quotas and
he doesn't believe in racial preferences, he does believe in even playing
fields and giving people access to the American dream.

    NOVAK: Reverend Sharpton, welcome.

I'd like to read from you the -- a part of the opinion in the University
of Michigan Law School case by Judge Friedman. Quote -- and I'm going to
put it up on the screen. Quote: "All racial distinctions are inherently
suspect and presumptively invalid. Whatever the solution the law school
elects to pursue, it must be race-neutral" -- end quote. Now, isn't that
the end of affirmative action in America on the basis of the Constitution
of the United States?

    AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Well, no. I think
that what it is saying is that America -- there are some Americans that
are going to try and act like an uneven playing field is now all right,
and that we're going to forget that it is uneven, we're going to forget
the history that led to that, and we're going to now call race neutral
cementing an imbalance in the social fabric of this country.

The medium income level between blacks and whites is still an over 20
percent gap. You cannot deal with the disparity that has come out of a
historic discriminatory policy, which was government- sanctioned, and act
like now we're going to call things equal because we're tired of dealing
with a situation that we caused in the first place. NOVAK: But Reverend
Sharpton, what you're saying is that a woman like Mrs. Grutter, who filed
this suit -- a mother, an older woman -- you're saying that even though
her test scores are higher than some African-Americans, she should be
kept out of the University of Michigan Law School because she's white? Is
that something the American...

    SHARPTON: No. That's not at all what I'm saying. No, what I'm saying
is that Ms. Grutter and others have to deal with the fact that people
that had test scores higher than hers had no right to go to that
university for many years because the government had laws barring them.
And because the government had those laws in place, the government must
remedy that by saying that we have to have a basement on making sure that
blacks now can catch up, because it was government action that put them
in a disadvantage in the first place.

Affirmative action is a conservative remedy to a government program of
discrimination.

Discrimination in this country, Novak, was not a custom or tradition. It
was law, it was government-enforced, and government must remedy what
government did!

    NOVAK: Reverend Sharpton, let's be very frank on this. You're for
racial quotas, are you not?

    SHARPTON: No, I'm for affirmative action.

    NOVAK: You want to set a -- well, in this case, at the University of
Michigan Law School, Judge Friedman says 10 percent of the membership was
set aside for minority groups. That is a quota, is it not?

    SHARPTON: No. That is a goal to try and remedy the fact that zero
percent was what the law of blacks until just a generation ago. You can't
erase history. You can't agree we must repair everyone that we've done in
around the world other than those that built the country inside as
Americans of African descent. You can't have it both ways. You can't
repair enemies of war and not repair people that you discriminated
against.

I'm not even talking about slavery. My mother couldn't vote until she was
grown. I'm the first generation in my family that finished high school or
college. By law in Alabama what happened to my mother!

So you can't just erase history and say we're going to start with an
imbalance and make it right. I think what Mr. Bush is proposing in terms
of affirmative access, in all due respect to my friend who is on tonight,
who has done good in Ohio -- I think again, without enforcing laws, we
are depending on the goodwill of people who have not demonstrated
historically having goodwill.

    REICH: Ken Blackwell, what do you say to that? Do you think that you
can't really have diversity without some sort of affirmative action?

    BLACKWELL: Well, I think you can. I want to go back to what Bob
asked, and that is whether or not all the folks, the African-Americans
and Latinos sitting in the Michigan Law School classrooms are there
because of affirmative action. That is a misnomer. Many of them are there
because they have competitive scores.

The question to the plaintiff in this case has to be whether or not she
was kept out of that seat because she was white, or was it because she
was from a particular geographical area, or was it because she wasn't a
legacy. You know, who, in fact, kept her out of that seat?

It was the overall goal of the law school to seek diversity. I do think
-- and I disagree with Reverend Sharpton -- that, you know, once you set
a 10 percent goal -- or not goal, a quota -- it is a quota. And you can't
call it anything else. And that's where you run into a problem.

    NOVAK: A quick response?

    BLACKWELL: Excuse me?

    NOVAK: That's going to have to be the last word. I'm sorry.

Thank you very much, Ken Blackwell.

    BLACKWELL: Thank you.

    NOVAK: Thank you very much, Reverend Al Sharpton.

And Professor Reich -- can I call you professor?

    REICH: You may call me anything. Your highness.

    NOVAK: We'll be back with a really new twist on this subject in
closing comments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) REICH: Bob, you know, all these cases are going to the
Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor is going to be the swing vote. And the
real issue is whether diversity is a compelling state interest.

I don't know about you, I think it is a compelling state interest and I
don't think the Bush administration is going to support it.

    NOVAK: I don't think it is a compelling state interest. And the
interesting thing, the irony, Bob, is that you have a situation where for
years the high court was the liberal anchor against a more conservative
administration, more conservative Congress. Now, the Congress and I think
the administration is afraid to act against affirmative action, against
racial quotas, and the Supreme Court may on a 5-4 decision end it rather
than mend it.

REICH: Well, they'll call it affirmative access, but you know as well as
I do these words mean whatever you want them to mean. They are not going
-- they don't want any even -- even slight use of race at all.

    NOVAK: It's a quota system. You know there's quota systems all over
the place, Bob..

    REICH: It's not a quota system. It is not, Bob. It is just simply
using race as one, one element, one element of deciding who should be in
college.

    NOVAK: That disappoints me, Bob.

    REICH: Anyway, from the lively left, I'm Robert Reich. Good night for
CROSSFIRE.

    NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for
another edition of CROSSFIRE. Go Terps!


VENTRO CORP: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in California
--------------------------------------------------------------
Milberg Weiss (http://www.milberg.com/ventro/)on March 30 announced that
a class action has been commenced in the United States District Court for
the Northern District of California on behalf of purchasers of Ventro
Corp. ("Ventro") (NASDAQ:VNTR) common stock during the period between
Feb. 15, 2000 and Dec. 6, 2000 (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Ventro and certain of its officers and directors
with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. During the Class
Period, Ventro built and operated platforms for vertical
business-to-business ("B2B") e-commerce marketplace companies. The
complaint alleges that by December 1999, defendants knew that Ventro's
existing business model did not work. Moreover, by the beginning of the
Class Period it was evident to defendants that Ventro did not possess the
technology to successfully compete as a marketplace. Defendants knew this
would severely impair Ventro's future revenue growth. However, defendants
wanted to raise additional money through debt offerings before the bottom
fell out of Ventro's stock price. Thus, defendants continued to make
positive but false statements about Ventro's business and future
revenues. As a result, Ventro's stock traded as high as $243-1/2 per
share during the Class Period.

Then, on Dec. 6, 2000, Ventro announced a restructuring in which it
closed down two out of three of its main B2B marketplaces. In early 2001,
it was revealed that Ventro's CEO and the other defendants had realized
by December 1999 that Ventro's business model of independent marketplaces
didn't make sense and it was revealed that even Ventro's partners were
not satisfied with Ventro's technology for operating the marketplaces. By
this time Ventro's stock had declined to less than $2 per share,
inflicting billions of dollars of damage on plaintiff and the Class.
Defendants' misconduct has wiped out over $4 billion in market
capitalization as Ventro stock has fallen 99% from its Class Period high
of over $243 per share as the truth about Ventro, its operations and
prospects began to reach the market.

Contact: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP William Lerach,
800/449-4900 wsl@milberg.com


                             *********


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

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