CAR_Public/010507.mbx               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

                Monday, May 7, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 89

                             Headlines

ALFRED TAUBMAN: Ex Sotheby Chairman to Plead Innocent to Price-Fixing
BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: Tire Maker Settles Over Two Ford Explorer Crashes
CALIFORNIA AMPLIFIER: Announces Possible Delisting From NASDAQ
CREDIT SUISSE: CSFB Banker Fights Back Over Media Reports Re IPO Probe
DAIMLERCHRYSLER AG: Defends Safety Of 'Rollaway' Minivans

DTM CORP: Consideration for Merger Is Inadequate, TX Suit Says
GENERAL AMERICAN: Reaches Settlement for Suits over Insurance Policies
GENERAL SEMICONDUCTOR: Securities Suits Consolidated & Transferred to PA
JOHN HANCOCK: Reviews Settlement Cost for Suit re Policies Upon ADR
KRYSTAL RESTAURANTS: Settle Lawsuit Over Disabilities' Accessibility

LOEWEN GROUP: Casket Retailer Sues Funeral Directors over Price-Fixing
McDONALD'S: Fries Flavored By Beef, Never Claimed for Vegetarians
MORTGAGE CREDIT: Mark-ups of Settlement Fees An Open Secret
PALM BEACH: Teacher Sues Over Bonus; Lawyer Seeks Class Action Status
REDIFF.COM INDIA: Milberg Weiss Announces Securities Suit Filed in N.Y.

SCOTT HINKLEY: Former Quaker Sentencing Moved From May To June
SOTHEBY'S, CHRISTIE'S: Price-Fixing Case Rocks Top Auction Houses
STRIP SEARCH: Brooklyn Sued; Residents Say Procedure Was Wrong
TECHNICAL CHEMICALS: Shareholder Suit Dismissed in Fed Ct in Miami
TICKETTRACK: Denver Investigates Lookalike Parking Tickets

                            *********

ALFRED TAUBMAN: Ex Sotheby Chairman to Plead Innocent to Price-Fixing
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Alfred Taubman, one of Michigan's wealthiest real estate developers and
art collectors, plans to plead innocent to charges of price-fixing May 4
in New York.

Taubman's spokesman, Chris Tennyson, said the Bloomfield Hills-based
philanthropist will appear before U.S. District Judge George Daniels in
federal court in Manhattan to enter his plea. Taubman will then be
released pending a trial date to be set.

Tennyson said Taubman continues to assert he had nothing to do with the
price-fixing conspiracy alleged by federal authorities.

A federal grand jury indicted Taubman and British businessman Anthony
Tennant last Wednesday May 2 on charges they conspired to fix the level
of commissions at the world's two major art auction houses.

The indictment charges that Taubman, when chairman of the Sotheby's
auction house, conspired with Tennant, former chairman at Christie's
International auction house, to fix commission rates charged to sellers
of fine art, jewelry and furniture in the United States and elsewhere
from 1993 to 1999.

If convicted on the antitrust charges, Tennant and Taubman, whose wealth
was estimated at $ 860 million in 1999, could each face up to 3 years in
prison plus hefty fines.

In a letter to friends, Tennant asserted his innocence and said he will
never stand trial because, as a British citizen, he cannot be extradited
to the United States on this charge. He, like Taubman, blamed
lower-ranking aides for any improper activities.

The two auction companies control more than 90 percent of the significant
auctions of artwork, jewelry and furniture worldwide. During the 6 years
the conspiracy allegedly took place, the two firms rang up at least $ 400
million in commissions, the Justice Department said.

According to the indictment, the two chairmen attended meetings to agree
on the commissions they would charge sellers and agreed to publish a
schedule of nonnegotiable rates. The indictment also alleges the two
companies exchanged "customer information for the purpose of monitoring
and enforcing adherence" to the nonnegotiable rates.

The New York Times quoted unnamed lawyers close to the case saying the
grand jury testimony of Diana Brooks, the former chief executive at
Sotheby's, and Christopher Davidge, Christie's former chief executive,
was crucial to the indictment.

The big break in the investigation came in January 2000 when Davidge
turned over 500 pages of documents that allegedly showed collusion
between the two auction houses, the Times reported.

Sotheby's has been sentenced to pay a $ 45-million fine, and Brooks,
Taubman's former top aide at the auction house, is awaiting sentencing.
She pleaded guilty to violating antitrust laws last October.

Christie's has been cooperating with the investigation under a Justice
Department leniency program.

Two months ago a federal judge approved a $ 512-million civil settlement
with the companies stemming from a case brought by art buyers and
sellers. Taubman agreed to pay $ 156 million of Sotheby's portion of the
settlement.

The consolidated class actions were brought by more than 130,000 clients
who accused the auction houses of colluding on commission fees.

A different federal judge approved Sotheby's $ 70-million settlement of a
shareholder class action related to accusations involving the same
scheme. (Detroit Free Press, May 4, 2001)


BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: Tire Maker Settles Over Two Ford Explorer Crashes
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Medhat Labib of Satellite Beach, who was injured in a crash while driving
a Ford Explorer, and the family of another man killed in a similar wreck,
Blaine Webb of Rockledge, filed negligence and strict liability lawsuits
against Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. of Nashville.

Charles Roberts, a Rockledge solo practitioner, for Webb's relatives.
Bruce Kaster, a partner at Green Kaster & Falvey in Ocala for Labib. Lori
Caldwell, a partner at Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell in Orlando for
Bridgestone/Firestone in the Labib case. In the Webb case, Lee Teichner,
a partner at Holland & Knight in Miami, represented the tire maker.

Webb died on Interstate 95 in October 1999 when the tread on his
Explorer's tires ripped off and the car crashed. In a similar accident on
the same road two months earlier, Labib was paralyzed from the waist down
and his wife and son died. Bridgestone/Firestone settled lawsuits with
them in April. Neither settlement amount was disclosed. (Palm Beach Daily
Business Review, May 4, 2001)


CALIFORNIA AMPLIFIER: Announces Possible Delisting From NASDAQ
---------------------------------------------------------------
California Amplifier (Nasdaq: CAMP) on May 3 announced that it had
received notice from The Nasdaq Stock Market that it intends to delist
shares of the Company's common stock at the opening of business on May 8,
2001 for failure to comply with Marketplace Rule 4310(c)(14) which
requires annual reports to contain audited financial statements. As a
result of the filing delinquency, the fifth character "E" was appended to
California Amplifier's trading symbol, which was changed from CAMP to
CAMPE.

The Company has appealed the notice of delisting and currently has a
scheduled hearing date of May 25, 2001, during which time the Company
will continue to be listed on NASDAQ although trading in the Company's
common stock is currently suspended. As discussed below, the Company
anticipates filing its restated audited financial statements prior to
that time. Consequently, the Company believes it unlikely that its common
stock will actually be delisted from NASDAQ unless unforeseen problems
are uncovered as part of the audit process or the Company otherwise fails
to meet NASDAQ listing requirements.

California Amplifier announced on April 4, 2001 that its outside
auditors, Arthur Andersen LLP, withdrew their audit report with respect
to the Company's consolidated financial statements for the fiscal year
ended February 26, 2000 as a result of the Company's continuing internal
investigation of financial statement misstatements by its former
controller which caused its previously reported financial statements to
contain overstatements to net income for the fiscal year ended February
26, 2000 and for the interim periods during fiscal year 2000 and fiscal
year 2001. Following this announcement, NASDAQ suspended trading in the
Company's common stock.

The Company is continuing its investigation in order to determine the
magnitude and timing of the misstatements and to be in a position to
issue restated financial statements. The Company is working closely with
Arthur Andersen and has submitted the restated fiscal year 2000 financial
statements to them so that such statements can be examined and audited.
The Company's outside legal counsel are also assisting the Company and
the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors with the investigation. At
this time, it appears that the fiscal year 2000 audited restated results
and the restated quarterly information for fiscal year 2000 and the first
nine months of fiscal year 2001 will be issued on or about May 16, 2001.
The Company's findings with respect to fiscal year 2000 and the interim
periods of fiscal year 2001 are preliminary, and as a result the Company
is not in a position to disclose detailed information until its
independent auditors have completed their examination of fiscal 2000 and
reviewed the quarterly information for fiscal 2001.

The Company currently expects to report fourth quarter and fiscal 2001
year end results by the end of May.

The Company will file with the Securities and Exchange Commission amended
Form 10-Qs and Form 10-K for the year ended February 26, 2000 and Form
10-Qs for each of the three interim periods of fiscal year 2001 when the
fiscal year 2000 audit results are complete.

             Fifteen Securities Suits As of April 30

As of April 30, 2001, fifteen securities class action complaints had been
filed against the Company in Federal Court in the Central District of
California. Six of the complaints also name the Company's chief executive
officer and its chief financial officer. All the complaints basically
allege that the Company's financial statements and financial press
releases were materially false and misleading during the class period and
that the Company and the executives where named knew or were deliberately
reckless in not knowing that the financial statements and press releases
were materially false when published. No lead plaintiffs counsel has been
selected. The Company will vigorously defend the actions and intends to
file a motion to dismiss once the cases are consolidated.


CREDIT SUISSE: CSFB Banker Fights Back Over Media Reports Re IPO Probe
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Frank Quattrone, the Credit Suisse First Boston investment banker, lashed
out at media reports about him and the ongoing probe into initial public
offerings on Wall Street.

His comments were part of a memo sent to his clients on May 4, 2001. In
it, he refers to articles in some papers that "contained inaccurate and
misleading content with respect to the potential involvement of our
clients, our group and our employees in the matters under investigation".

He added that more articles were expected, some of which might be very
critical of him. "I am personally very upset with the manner in which the
media is portraying the firm, the Technology Group, and me in these
articles and apologise if the coverage has created any concerns or
inconveniences on your part."

The news was first reported by Bloomberg.

Since joining CSFB in 1998 Mr Quattrone has drawn some of the most
successful IPO deals to the firm, some of which are under investigation
by regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission and others.

CSFB is one of at least seven investment banks, including Morgan Stanley
and Goldman Sachs, under investigation for IPO allocation practices. At
issue is whether bankers and their clients agreed to "tie-in"
arrangements in which clients were given greater share allocations of
potentially lucrative IPOs in exchange for supporting the shares in the
aftermarket or for higher commission fees.

In addition, a series of class action lawsuits have been launched in
recent weeks on behalf of investors who claim significant losses in the
IPO shares. (Financial Times (London), May 4, 2001)


DAIMLERCHRYSLER AG: Defends Safety Of 'Rollaway' Minivans
---------------------------------------------------------
DaimlerChrysler AG defended the safety of 3 million 1995-2000 Dodge,
Plymouth and Chrysler minivans after a former executive blamed 40
rollaway accidents on lack of a safety feature that could prevent a
parked vehicle from rolling last Friday May 4.

An investigative story aired on ABC's PrimeTime May 3 said Chrysler
minivans were involved in 83 percent of 48 rollaways caused by children
in vehicles where the key was left in the ignition.

Former Chrysler executive Paul Sheridan told PrimeTime that in 1994 the
automaker had rejected a proposal to install a brake shift interlock --
at a cost of $9 per vehicle -- that could have prevented many of the
accidents. The interlock device requires a driver to push down on the
brake pedal to shift out of park when the key is in the ignition.

Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager and Chrysler Town & Country vans, the
most popular minivans sold in the United States, didn't get the brake
shift interlock until the 2001 models.

Chrysler said the brake shift interlock was designed to prevent sudden
acceleration, not rollaway accidents involving children.

"Statistical data proves that the risk of accidents involving unattended
children is no greater for minivans not equipped with brake shift
interlock than those the are so equipped," Chrysler said in a statement.

"The device was not required by NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration)," spokesman Dominck Infante told United Press
International. "The real issue is parents leaving small children in
vehicles."

In interviews with ABC, Sheridan said his team told Chrysler their
minivan faced serious competition from Ford's Windstar minivan, which had
the safety device, but that Chrysler balked at spending the money to
install the interlock.

Infante denied Sheridan's charge that cost was a factor in determining
whether to incorporate the device. He said Chrysler engineers did not
believe a brake shift interlock would have prevented the 40 rollaway
accidents investigated by PrimeTime involving 1995-2000 minivans.

"Mr. Sheridan is a disgruntled former employee, he was fired by
Chrysler," he said. "He is not an engineer, he was not a member of the
technical design team for the Chrysler minivan he is a marketing expert
who makes a living now commenting on the lawsuits."

Chrysler faces a dozen class-action lawsuits accusing it of falsely
advertising its minivans as the industry's safest.

He said early models of the Windstar were not equipped with an airbag
when Chrysler minivans were and that requiring Chrysler to retrofit vans
with a brake shift interlock would be like forcing Ford to put airbags in
its old vehicles.

"We strongly disagree, however, with the PrimeTime Thursday's premise
that brake shift interlock system are the appropriate deterrent for
unattended child related accidents and more importantly so does NHTSA,"
Chrysler said. "The real issue here is not dollars and cents, it is why
anyone would risk leaving a child unattended or unsupervised in a running
vehicle." (United Press International, May 4, 2001)


DTM CORP: Consideration for Merger Is Inadequate, TX Suit Says
--------------------------------------------------------------
On April 6, 2001 a purported class action lawsuit was filed in the 200th
Judicial District Court of Travis County, Austin, Texas, naming as
defendants DTM, some of DTM's directors and 3D Systems. The complaint
asserts that the $5.80 cash consideration to be paid in the merger is
inadequate and does not represent the value of the assets and the future
prospects of DTM. The complaint also alleges that the individual
defendants breached their fiduciary obligations to the public
shareholders of DTM in approving the merger agreement.

The complaint seeks, among other things, preliminary and permanent
injunctive relief prohibiting DTM from consummating the merger, and if
the merger is consummated, an order rescinding the merger and awarding
damages to the purported class. The complaint also seeks unspecified
damages, attorney fees and other relief. The company has not been served
with the complaint. None of the defendants has filed an answer to the
complaint.


GENERAL AMERICAN: Reaches Settlement for Suits over Insurance Policies
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Company was named as defendant in the following purported class
action lawsuits:

    -- Chain v. General American Life Insurance Company (filed in the U.S.
District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi in 1996);

    -- Newburg Trust v. General American Life Insurance Company (filed in
the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in 1996); and

    -- Ludwig, Sippil, DAllesandro and Cunningham v. General American Life
Insurance Company (filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of Illinois in 1997).

These lawsuits allege that the Company engaged in deceptive sales
practices in connection with the sale of certain life insurance policies.
Although the claims asserted in each lawsuit are not identical, the
plaintiffs seek unspecified actual and punitive damages under similar
claims, including breach of contract, fraud, intentional or negligent
misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment.

These three cases have been consolidated with one individual case in the
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (the
"District General American Life Insurance Company and Subsidiaries
Court").

The case involves approximately 250,000 life insurance policies sold
during the period January 1, 1982 through December 31, 1996.

The Company has reached a settlement with counsel for plaintiffs which
resolves all matters concerning the relief for the class. This settlement
will provide certain enhanced policy values and benefits for class
members as well as a procedure for the submission and evaluation of
individual claims.

The class has been certified and after a fairness hearing the Court
approved the settlement. Implementation of the settlement has not begun
because an objector has filed a notice of appeal of the Court's ruling.
It is expected that this appeal will be resolved without the need for any
significant modification of the settlement. There is, however, no
agreement on the attorney's fees or expenses of class counsel. This issue
will be decided by the District Court in a ruling which will have no
impact on the terms of the settlement agreement. The Company expects that
the approximate cost of the settlement will be $55 million, not including
legal fees and costs of plaintiffs' counsel. Approximately 700 class
members have elected to exclude themselves from the settlement. The
Company is a defendant in approximately thirty opt-out lawsuits involving
sales practices claims.


GENERAL SEMICONDUCTOR: Securities Suits Consolidated & Transferred to PA
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A securities class action previously pending in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entitled In Re
General Instrument Corporation Securities Litigation is being transferred
to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania for trial. This action, which consolidates numerous class
action complaints filed in various courts between October 10 and October
27, 1995, is brought by plaintiffs, on their own behalf and as
representatives of a class of purchasers of GI Common Stock during the
period March 21, 1995 through October 18, 1995. The complaint alleges
that, prior to the spin-off, GI and certain of its officers and
directors, as well as Forstmann Little & Co. and certain related
entities, violated the federal securities laws, namely, Sections 10(b)
and 20(a) of the Exchange Act, by allegedly making false and misleading
statements and failing to disclose material facts about GI's planned
shipments in 1995 of its CFT 2200 and DigiCipher II products and as to
the effects of these products on GI's gross margins. On November 21,
2000, the Court dismissed a derivative action brought on behalf of
General Instrument Corporation under the same caption.

Also included under the same caption in the Northern District of Illinois
was an action entitled BKP Partners, L.P. v. General Instrument Corp.,
brought in February 1996  by  certain  holders  of  preferred  stock of
Next Level Communications, which was merged into a subsidiary of General
Instrument Corporation in September 1995. The action was originally filed
in the Northern District of California and was later transferred for
pretrial purposes to the Northern District of Illinois. The action is now
being transferred to the Northern District of California for trial. The
plaintiffs allege that the defendants violated federal securities laws by
making misrepresentations and omissions and breached fiduciary duties to
Next Level in connection with the acquisition of Next Level by General
Instrument Corporation. Plaintiff's complaints, seek, among other things,
unspecified damages and attorneys' fees and costs.


JOHN HANCOCK: Reviews Settlement Cost for Suit re Policies Upon ADR
-------------------------------------------------------------------
During 1997, John Hancock entered into a court-approved settlement
relating to a class action lawsuit involving certain individual life
insurance policies sold from 1979 through 1996. In entering into the
settlement, John Hancock specifically denied any wrongdoing. The reserve
held in connection with the settlement to provide for relief to class
members and for legal and administrative costs associated with the
settlement amounted to $66.3 million at December 31, 2000. No costs were
incurred in 2000. The estimated reserve is based on a number of factors,
including the estimated cost per claim and the estimated costs to
administer the claims.

During 1996, management determined that it was probable that a settlement
would occur and that a minimum loss amount could be reasonably estimated.
Accordingly, the Company recorded its best estimate based on the
information available at the time. The terms of the settlement agreement
were negotiated throughout 1997 and approved by the court on December 31,
1997. In accordance with the terms of the settlement agreement, the
Company contacted class members during 1998 to determine the actual type
of relief to be sought by class members. The majority of responses from
class members were received by the fourth quarter of 1998. The type of
relief sought by class members differed from the Company's previous
estimates, primarily due to additional outreach activities by regulatory
authorities during 1998 encouraging class members to consider alternative
dispute resolution relief. In 1999, the Company updated its estimate of
the cost of claims subject to alternative dispute resolution relief and
revised its reserve estimate accordingly.

Given the uncertainties associated with estimating the reserve, it is
reasonably possible that the final cost of the settlement could differ
materially from the amounts presently provided for by the Company. John
Hancock and the Company will continue to update their estimate of the
final cost of the settlement as claims are processed and more specific
information is developed, particularly as the actual cost of the claims
subject to alternative dispute resolution becomes available. However,
based on information available at the time, and the uncertainties
associated with the final claim processing and alternative dispute
resolution, the range of any additional costs related to the settlement
cannot be estimated with precision. If the Company's share of the
settlement increases, John Hancock will contribute additional capital to
the Company so that the Company's total shareholder's equity would not be
impacted.


KRYSTAL RESTAURANTS: Settle Lawsuit Over Disabilities' Accessibility
--------------------------------------------------------------------Krystal
restaurants have settled a federal lawsuit by agreeing to widen restroom
doors for the disabled.

Krystal will renovate 190 restaurant restrooms nationwide to make them
accessible to wheelchairs, according to a report by WAAY-TV.

Michael Jones, who uses a wheelchair, filed the lawsuit claiming Krystal
restaurants didn't comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act,
passed in 1992.

Jones' lawsuit, which had obtained class-action status, maintained that
doorways 2 feet wide made it impossible for people using wheelchairs to
use the restroom.

Krystal will spend $40,000 per restaurant over the next 10 years to
renovate the restrooms, said Roger Dickson, an attorney for the company.
The company also will spend $800,000 yearly to install grab bars, wider
doorways, handicap toilets and mirrors.

"Krystal makes a major capital investment in making our restaurants ADA
compliant, to make sure we comply with the law so that our customers can
enjoy the restaurants," Dickson said.

Jones said he sued the company after he ate at the Krystal on Highway 31
near Decatur.

"There's no telling how many have been neglected over the years," Jones
said. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, May 4, 2001)


LOEWEN GROUP: Casket Retailer Sues Funeral Directors over Price-Fixing
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Loewen Group and other funeral directors fixed the prices of caskets in
order to drive a competing retailer out of business, a lawsuit filed in
federal court in New York alleges. Loewen is named in the complaint filed
by Direct Casket, which is "in the business of selling burial caskets to
the general public through its various retail outlets," the complaint
says. The complaint, which alleges antitrust violations, accuses Loewen
and other funeral directors of conspiring to fix prices "with the
specific intent of eliminating competition" from Direct Casket. The
company is seeking $15 million. (The Atlanta Journal and Constitution,
May 4, 2001)


McDONALD'S: Fries Flavored By Beef, Never Claimed for Vegetarians
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Facing a possible class-action lawsuit from angry vegetarians, McDonald's
confirmed that its French fries are prepared with beef extract --- a
revelation the company said is not new. Though the fast-food giant has
been saying since 1990 that its fries are cooked in pure vegetable oil,
company spokesman Walt Riker said McDonald's never claimed its fries were
appropriate for vegetarians and always told customers that their flavor
comes partly from beef. However, Riker said, to find out about the beef,
customers had to ask. The list of French-fry ingredients that McDonald's
offers at its franchises and on its Web site includes potatoes, partially
hydrogenated soybean oil and "natural flavor." (The Atlanta Journal and
Constitution, May 4, 2001)


MORTGAGE CREDIT: Mark-ups of Settlement Fees An Open Secret
-----------------------------------------------------------
When you took out your new mortgage or refinanced, did you ask why the
fee for your credit report on the settlement sheet was $55 or $60? And
did you ask what type of appraisal was conducted to justify the $300 or
$400 you were charged? If you're like the majority of mortgage borrowers,
you probably didn't ask any detailed questions about settlement costs
like these.

Given the blur of paperwork, you may not have paid attention to them.

From now on, you need do. That's because credit and mortgage industry
experts warn that technological advances have sharply reduced the
underlying costs of credit and appraisal services, but that consumers
frequently are charged outdated-and inflated-fees on their settlement
sheets.

Those inflated fees violate federal law, but rarely are flagged by
regulators.

"It's an open secret," said one mortgage credit industry official. "You
mark up [credit reports] to $57.75 or $60 or whatever. Nobody's going to
challenge you."

One major mortgage company, according to an industry source who requested
anonymity, even gave an award at last December's employee Christmas party
to the loan officer who originated the largest number of $60 bills to
customers for credit reports that actually cost the company just $15 or
less. The differential was pure profit for the firm.

The cost of credit bureau information to lenders has plunged dramatically
in the past six years-far more than most consumers realize. The cost of
the predominant type of credit report now used by lenders-an electronic
"infile"-is about $2.50. An infile is a quick drawdown of all the
relevant information about a consumer on file at one of the three giant
credit repositories-Equifax, Experian or Trans Union.

A single-repository infile for a married couple might cost the lender
just $ 5. A "triple-merged" infile for the couple sorting out everything
on file at all three repositories might go for $15. The highest-volume
commercial users of credit information get their data even cheaper-60
cents or less per infile.

As recently as the mid-1990s, by contrast, credit-report costs to
mortgage companies often were $45 to $55, and involved hands-on
fact-checking by local credit bureau personnel. That traditional form of
credit check was used for 90 percent to 100 percent of all mortgage
applications.

But today, according to credit industry estimates, barely 15 percent of
new mortgage applications require anything beyond a merged infile. Yet
many consumers are being charged for the full, hands-on report.

"Unfortunately, it is quite common," acknowledges Terry Clemans,
executive director of the National Credit Reporting Association, a trade
group representing the independent credit bureaus that provide credit
information to lenders across the country. "You see the settlement sheet
and it says $60 or $ 55, but the actual cost was $15." That markup,
absent any additional work by the lender, is illegal.

The department of Housing and Urban Development said so 16 months ago in
a case involving Washington Mutual Bank. HUD told a federal court that
where lenders "charge consumers marked-up prices [for credit reports or
other services]...without performing any additional services," they are
in violation of the law.

Lawyers representing mortgage lenders say they are aware of the markup
practices and strongly advise against them.

"It's called a 'naked upcharge,'" says Grant Mitchell, a Washington
attorney and former top HUD expert on real-estate settlement practices.
"The rule is, if it costs you a dollar, you charge [the borrower] a
dollar." Phillip L. Schulman, another top legal expert in the field, says
lenders caught marking up prices risk federal suits and potential class
actions by groups of overcharged borrowers.

Paul Randall, a Phoenix mortgage broker, says the next big
settlement-cost category for illegal markups almost certainly is
appraisals. Increasingly, says Randall, president of Kenica Financial
Corp., lenders are using lower-cost alternatives to traditional, full
appraisals. Online data sources now produce property value estimates in
minutes at minimal costs. Appraisers themselves frequently complain that
they charge $175 for their work, but when the home buyer or refinancer
sees the settlement sheet, the charge is $350.

How can you find out whether you're being up-charged on fees like these?
Lenders themselves will tell you: Ask.

"I always tell my clients what I paid for what, so there's no question,"
says Paul E. Skeens of Carteret Mortgage Corp., Fort Washington, Md.
Randall suggests that consumers ask to see the actual bill for the credit
report if they have doubts. After all, he says, "it's supposed to be
there in the files" for auditors anyway, so lenders shouldn't object.

Bottom line: Don't end up as one of the price-gouged victims of the guy
at the Christmas party, paying $60 without a peep for something the law
says should be priced at $15.

Kenneth Harney is a syndicated columnist. Send your questions to Kenneth
Harney, Nation's Housing, Box 15070, Chevy Chase, MD 20815. 'It's called
a " naked upcharge." The rule is, if it costs you a dollar, you charge
[the borrower] a dollar.' -Grant Mitchell, a Washington attorney and
former top HUD expert on real-estate settlement practices. (Newsday (New
York, NY), May 4, 2001)


PALM BEACH: Teacher Sues Over Bonus; Lawyer Seeks Class Action Status
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The money set aside to reward teachers whose students did well on state
exams has landed the Palm Beach County School District in court.

In a lawsuit filed May 3, H.L. Johnson Elementary teacher Regina Goolsby
states that she and other district teachers were denied a share of the
money that their schools received through the state's A-Plus Plan. The
plan, which assigns grades to schools, doled out money to schools that
improved their grade or received an A.

The problem prompting the lawsuit is that the reward money wasn't given
out until this year, and some teachers who were not at the same school
didn't get a share, said lawyer Marc A. Wites, who wants class-action
status for the suit.

"The teachers worked during the school year that entitled the staff there
to the money," said Wites. "They served the public and the School Board,
and they were not compensated for their efforts."

The state assigns grades to schools based largely on student performance
on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Palm Beach County schools received $ 4.4 million in checks in September,
including $ 1.3 million that went to 15 schools in Boynton Beach, Delray
Beach and Boca Raton. Some schools have earmarked all for teacher
bonuses, and some none.

Goolsby taught at the Royal Palm Beach school during the 1999-2000 school
year. Based on FCATs taken that year, the state gave the school an A. The
school decided to give $ 1,200 to each faculty member and $ 600 to other
staffers.

When the money was distributed this year, Goolsby was on maternity leave,
Wites said, and was told she was not entitled to the it, because she was
not teaching at the time. Goolsby intends to return to H.L. Johnson in
the fall.

Wites has filed a similar lawsuit in Broward County.

Goolsby called Wites after learning of the Broward County suit. No court
date has yet been set for the Palm Beach County suit.

"It only concerns a small amount of money, but that doesn't in any way
negate in my or Mrs. Goolsby's mind that what happened here, and what
happened in Broward County, was wrong," said Wites.

School District officials were aware the lawsuit had been filed, but
would not comment last Thursday May 3 because they hadn't seen it, said
spokesman Nat Harrington.

The only thing about the lawsuit that surprised teacher union President
Shelley Vana is that it took so long.

"The bonuses have been totally disruptive and divisive," Vana said.

Not just these bonuses, she said, but those designed to recruit and
retain teachers, and those that are supposed to reward teachers for
staying at low-performing schools.

One problem, Vana said, is that state leaders have been unclear how the
bonuses should be distributed.

Schools that received the "A-Plus" money earned $ 100 per student to be
used as parents and teachers see fit.

Some schools decided to spend the money on special programs or projects,
others decided to give most to teachers as bonuses.

Some decided to give bonuses to teachers who taught last year, when the
tests that led to the grades were taken. Others decided to give the money
to teachers who taught this year, when the money arrived.

There were teachers who left one school that got bonuses for another
school that also received bonuses, but still received no money themselves
because of the schools' policies.

Wites said the lawsuit doesn't include schools that decided not to give
bonuses.

The Classroom Teachers' Association has no position on the lawsuit, Vana
said, but the union strongly urges the Legislature to keep the bonuses
that have divided schools and put the money into teachers' salaries
instead.

"If the Legislature would like to have teachers coming to Florida, it's
not brain surgery," she said. "All they have to do is pay people
adequately and treat them as professionals."

Kellie Patrick can be reached at kpatrick@sun-sentinel.com or
561-243-6629. (Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), May 4, 2001)


REDIFF.COM INDIA: Milberg Weiss Announces Securities Suit Filed in N.Y.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP announces that a
class action lawsuit was filed on May 4, 2001 on behalf of persons who
purchased the American Depository Shares ("ADSs") of Rediff.com India
Ltd. (NASDAQ: REDF) at, or traceable to, Rediff's June 14, 2000 initial
public offering ("IPO") and through March 22, 2001, inclusive.

A copy of the complaint filed in this action is available from the Court,
or can be viewed on Milberg Weiss' website at:
http://www.milberg.com/rediff/

The action, numbered 01-CV-3814, is pending in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York, located at 500 Pearl Street,
New York, NY 10007, against defendants Rediff; Ajit Balakrishnan
(Chairman of the Board of Directors), Richard Li (Director), Nitin Gupta
(President and Chief Operating Officer), Rajiv Warrier (Chief Financial
Officer); and co-lead underwriters Goldman Sachs & Co., Credit Suisse
First Boston Corp., and Robert Fleming Inc. The Honorable Harold Baer,
Jr. is the Judge presiding over the case.

The complaint alleges violations of Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15 of the
Securities Act of 1933. On June 14, 2000, Rediff commenced an IPO of 4.6
million of its ADSs at an offering price of $12 per share. In connection
therewith, Rediff filed a registration statement, which incorporated a
prospectus (the "Prospectus"), with the SEC. The complaint alleges that
the Prospectus was materially false and misleading because it failed to
disclose, among other things, that: (i) Rediff's advertising client base
was composed primarily of startups, while the Prospectus listed
internationally known and well-heeled companies as "representative" of
its advertising clients; (ii) prior to the IPO, Rediff had experienced
significant problems with its email software systems which hindered its
ability to attract viewers and advertisers to its Internet portal; (iii)
a significant number of advertising contracts would terminate by December
2000, and (iv) the Prospectus stated that defendant Li had graduated from
Stanford University, when he had not. On March 22, 2001, Rediff issued a
press release announcing that revenue for its fourth fiscal quarter of
2001 would decline by 30%-35% from the prior quarter's sales. Also on
March 22, 2001, it was reported that defendant Li had not graduated from
Stanford University. On May 3, 2001, the price of Rediff ADSs closed at
$3.12 -- a 74% decline from its IPO price of $12 per ADS.

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


SCOTT HINKLEY: Former Quaker Sentencing Moved From May To June
--------------------------------------------------------------
Sentencing for a former Quaker minister accused of using Midwest
investors' money to buy luxury cars, diamonds and a yacht has been moved
from May 11 until June, said U.S. Attorney spokesman Al Overbaugh.

Scott Hinkley, 51, of Oskaloosa pleaded guilty Feb. 16 to mail fraud and
money laundering.

Overbaugh said Hinkley's attorney Tim Whalen requested the delay. He said
the court hasn't set an exact date.

Hinkley is in custody at Newton Correctional Facility. Whalen had no
comment on the continuance.

U.S. Southern District Judge Ronald Longstaff has ordered distribution of
assets acquired from embezzled funds through a class action lawsuit
pending in Mahaska County District Court.

Pete Cannon, attorney for investors in Hinkley's Iowa and Missouri rural
housing scam, said he believes everyone is accounted for who sunk money
into Hinkley's scheme.

However, U.S. Attorney Don Nickerson has listed a website regarding the
case and advises investors visiting the site to contact Cannon if they
have not done so.

Nickerson also says on the site that written or oral statement regarding
the impact of Hinkley's offense may be filed with the U.S. Attorney's
office.

The site also says investors may request questionnaires to fill out
regarding losses.

Hinkley was arrested in October aboard the Penny Wise Too, a $1.3 million
dollar yacht which had docked on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten.
Diamonds and $175,000 cash were found hidden on the yacht.

Hinkley was indicted on nine counts of mail fraud, but pleaded guilty to
three. Six counts of money laundering were reduced to one.

Prosecutors said he collected more than $7 million in investments in two
companies - Iowa Rural Housing Inc. and Missouri Rural Housing Inc. -
that supposedly were in the business of buying and reselling low and
moderate income housing.

Hinkley said he used money from new investors to pay the others dividends
of 60 percent. He stopped paying dividends in June, fled to Florida and
left the country on his yacht in early July. (The Associated Press State
& Local Wire, May 4, 2001)


SOTHEBY'S, CHRISTIE'S: Price-Fixing Case Rocks Top Auction Houses
-----------------------------------------------------------------
As art buyers begin to gather for the major spring sales at Sotheby's and
Christie's, the gentlemen's-club facade of the top auction houses has
been torn by a barrage of price-fixing probes, lawsuits and indictments.

The latest blow - the indictments of former Sotheby's chairman A. Alfred
Taubman and his Christie's counterpart, Sir Anthony Tennant early this
month - "has changed the perception that these are gentlemen who could
tell you what a great work of art is," says Andrew Decker, director of
business development for eppraisals.com, an art appraisal firm.

On May 2, the U.S. Justice Department announced that a federal grand jury
in Manhattan had indicted Taubman and Tennant on price-fixing charges.
The two allegedly conspired to fix auction commission rates charged to
sellers from 1993 to 1999 for a total of $400 million in commissions to
more than 130,000 customers.

This allegedly "created an artificial commission structure to ensure
profitability," Decker said.

Tennant could not be reached at his home or office in England. But
British newspapers quoted his lawyers as saying the 71-year-old British
citizen will not go to the United States to face the charges.

"Sir Anthony wishes to make it clear that he is completely innocent of
any involvement in price fixing," the lawyers said. In addition, as a
British citizen, he "is not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S.
courts." The price-fixing allegations that form the basis of the U.S.
charges are not considered crimes in Britain.

Taubman, 76, Sotheby's former president and chief executive, released a
statement saying: "I am absolutely innocent."

According to the indictment, the executives agreed to raise prices by
fixing sellers' commission rates based on non-negotiable schedules.
Before that, both auction houses generally charged up to a 10 percent
commission on any item sold. But that fee often proved to be negotiable -
and could be waived entirely on multimillion-dollar consignments.

The indictments are the latest in a string of legal actions that started
in early 2000, following a four-year probe by the New York office of the
Justice Department's antitrust division and the FBI.

Last month, a federal judge approved a $537 million settlement of
class-action lawsuits brought by customers of Sotheby's and Christie's.
The auction houses are sharing the cost of the settlement, with Taubman
paying $156 million of Sotheby's portion.

Sotheby's registered a loss of almost $190 million in 2000, due primarily
to the costs related to the antitrust litigation.

While Christie's is privately owned, Sotheby's is on the New York Stock
Exchange, and they have to report to their shareholders.

Taubman still holds a majority of Sotheby's voting shares, and his son,
Robert, sits on the company's board of directors.

The two houses control more than 90 percent of the live auctions of art
works, jewelry and furniture in the $4 billion worldwide market.

Yesterday, both houses preferred to focus on the future. William
Ruprecht, Sotheby's president and chief executive officer, acknowledged
in a telephone interview that "the last year has been a challenge, but we
are focused on going forward with the client relationships we have and
the wonderful works of art we are offering for sale."

"Christie's business remains strong and vibrant," Edward Dolman,
Christie's chief executive officer, said in a statement. (Newsday (New
York, NY), May 4, 2001)


STRIP SEARCH: Brooklyn Sued; Residents Say Procedure Was Wrong
--------------------------------------------------------------
The owner of a manufacturing company, a teacher, and a high school
student and four other Brooklyn residents have sued the city, claiming
they were improperly strip-searched in a Brooklyn holding facility after
arrests on misdemeanor charges.

Michael Hueston, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said thousands of other
people arrested on misdemeanor charges may have been improperly searched
at the Brooklyn Central Booking facility over the past three years.

The lawsuit, filed last Wednesday May 2 in federal court in Brooklyn,
comes four months after the city agreed to pay $50 million to settle a
class action lawsuit involving some 63,000 people illegally
strip-searched in Manhattan and Queens holding facilities.

"I am involved in this because this was a total and complete indignity,
and I was treated in a way that no human being should be treated," said
Michael Spinner, one of seven plaintiffs in the lawsuit and a part-owner
of his family's Brooklyn-based manufacturing business. "One of the
reasons we have this case is to find out why. It's ridiculous that people
have to go through this."

Spinner, who has no criminal record, was arrested Jan. 4 on a charge of
driving with a suspended license, a charge later dropped because the
suspension was due to a paperwork error. At Brooklyn Central Booking,
officers asked him to drop his pants and underwear in front of dozens of
other men who had been arrested, Spinner said.

Later, he said, he noticed a substantial number of detainees who had also
been searched. "Some had been searched and some hadn't; there didn't seem
to me to be any pattern to it," said Spinner.

Strip searches for misdemeanors are prohibited unless a law enforcement
officer has "reasonable suspicion" of weapons or contraband, case law
shows.

A second plaintiff, high school student Corneilius Philips, 17, claims he
was on his way to a doctor's office on March 28 on a school day when an
officer stopped him. Philips was arrested on a charge of obstructing
governmental administration. He also was searched in front of other
arrestees, and he watched as others were searched.

Another plaintiff, Guytho Vernet, claims that on Feb. 15 at Brooklyn
Central Booking, he and seven other inmates were forced to strip naked
simultaneously in the presence of female officers. Vernet had been
arrested on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, records
show.

"These are all good, decent, hard-working people who are caught in a
traumatic situation, and I think it continues because most people turn a
blind eye to it," said Richard Cardinale, a former lawyer for the city
and state who represents the plaintiffs.

A Police Department spokesman referred a call to the corporation counsel.
Lorna Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Corporation Counsel's office said
she was not aware of the lawsuit, and could not comment.

A representative for the city Corrections Department said individuals in
central booking are technically in police custody until they are
arraigned. (Newsday (New York, NY), May 4, 2001)


TECHNICAL CHEMICALS: Shareholder Suit Dismissed in Fed Ct in Miami
------------------------------------------------------------------
On Nov. 25, 1998, shareholders filed a class-action suit in federal court
in Miami against Pompano Beach-based Technical Chemicals & Products Inc.
(TCPI), charging that the company misled them about the marketability of
a product for diabetics.

The Attorneys: Michael Pucillo, a partner in the West Palm Beach office
of Burt & Pucillo, represented the plaintiffs, along with associate Maya
Saxena and partner Abraham Rappoport in the Boca Raton office of Milberg
Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach. TCPI was represented by lawyers from the
Miami office of Akerman Senterfitt, including partners Stanley Wakshlag
and Brian Miller.

The Details: The shareholders claimed that the company tried to trick
them into believing it was on the verge of introducing a blood glucose
monitoring system for diabetics, when the system was in fact years from
marketability. On March 21, U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas
found that the shareholders failed to prove that TCPI misled them, and he
dismissed the suit. (Broward Daily Business Review, May 4, 2001)


TICKETTRACK: Denver Investigates Lookalike Parking Tickets
----------------------------------------------------------
An investigation has been started into parking tickets issued by private
companies in Denver that give the appearance of being from the city.

"I don't know if that's legal, but it sure isn't right," said John
Oglesby, parking director for the city. "Two or three times a week, we
have people show up at our referee's office disputing one of their
tickets, and it's not us."

For every person mistakenly walking into city offices to pay a private
ticket, Oglesby figures, there are probably 10 more who are equally
confused.

TicketTrack, the Spokane, Wash., company that tries to collect many of
the private tickets on behalf of the parking lot operators, said recently
the tickets are designed and issued by the local operators. In Denver,
those include InterPark, Allright, Hall & Hall, Central and others.

Craig Bagdon, TicketTrack's chairman, said his company "would never
suggest or condone a customer making their documents look like they come
from the city of Denver."

Oglesby said he has talked to TicketTrack because it deals with a number
of the lot operators, and TicketTrack in turn promised to go back to the
lots and order them to make the tickets look less like official Denver
fines.

Bagdon declined to comment further, citing a lawsuit pending against his
company. The woman who filed that suit last summer likens the replica
tickets to a civilian putting on a fake police badge and shaking down
motorists for $20.

"It's their method of trying to get money out of people; that's the
issue," said Jamie Matson. Her federal class-action suit, on behalf of
anybody who parked in similar lots and got similar tickets, claims the
companies violated the U.S. Fair Debt Collections Practices Act by
misleading customers that they were being pursued by the full weight of a
government agency.

A Denver parking lot operator that issues some of the most similar
tickets, InterPark, said it had no comment. (The Associated Press State &
Local Wire, May 4, 2001)


                              *********


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

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by Bankruptcy
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Washington, DC. Theresa Cheuk, Managing Editor.

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

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