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                Thursday, May 10, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 92


BARR, ASTRAZENECA: Consumer Groups Claim Collusion on Breast Cancer Drug
BROWARD: State Works on Foster System After Threats of Renewed Ct Action
CALIFORNIA: Suit Claims High School Exit Exam Is Biased
CREDIT CARDS: Nader Launches Attack On Fleet For Change In Policy
FERNALD PLANT: Neighbors and Former Workers Get Medical Monitoring Fees

FRONTIER INSURANCE: Securities Suits Filed in 1994 Pending in N.Y.
FRONTIER INSURANCE: Contests Securities Suit re Aug 1997 to Apr 2000
HEART PACEMAKER: Fd Ct in OH OKs Settlement in Case v Telectronic Pacing
HI/FN INC: Trial Date Set for 2002 for Securities Suit in CA
HICKMAN MILLS: Retired Teachers Win Suit, Left out of Settlement Money

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Court Says suits Must Go to foundation
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Lawyer Optimistic of Removing Obstacles for Payment
INMATES LITIGATION: Lawyer Sues For Right To Interview Grants Inmates
MICROSTRATEGY INC: Pricewaterhouse to Pay $55M to Settle Investors Suit
MP3.COM: Songwriters say MyMP3 violated copyright

MULTEX.COM: Sirota & Sirota and Lovell & Stewart File Securities Suit
ONTARIO: Cuts Special Needs Funding, Parents Charge In $500 Mil Suit
PERINI CORP:  Reports Lawsuit by Holders of Preferred Stock
SECURITIES FIRMS: Pay $4.5M to Settle Yield-Burning Case By Issuers
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Court OKs Philip Morris plans for Engle funds

TUBE TURNS: Defends Suits Filed in 1993, 1994 over Coker Plant Explosion
U OF PITTSBURGH: ACLU To Suspend Suit Pending Studies on Gay Benefits
VENTRO CORP: Milberg Weiss Period for Securities Suit Filed in CA
VIRGINIA: Student Plaintiffs Hear Court Debate Minute of Silence Law
WACHOVIA: Bankers Hit Road to Defend Planned First Union/Wachovia Merger


BARR, ASTRAZENECA: Consumer Groups Claim Collusion on Breast Cancer Drug
The Boston-based Prescription Access Litigation Project said on May 9
that class actions have been filed in state and federal courts against
Zeneca, Inc.; AstraZeneca, PLC (NYSE: AZN), maker of tamoxifen, the most
widely prescribed breast cancer drug and Zeneca's successor as a result
of a 1999 merger; and Barr Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BRL), sole
distributor of a generic form of tamoxifen. The PAL complaints allege
that the cost of the Barr generic is illegally inflated as a result of
collusive agreements among the defendants.

According to Kim Shellenberger, director of the Prescription Access
Litigation Project (www.prescriptionaccesslitigation.org), the class
action suits allege the defendant companies unfairly and unlawfully
cooperated to maintain artificially high market prices for tamoxifen and
blocked the introduction of a generic version.

Tamoxifen was discovered nearly 30 years ago. The class actions note that
Barr successfully challenged the tamoxifen patent in April 1992. Then,
instead of introducing a generic version, Barr signed a "confidential
settlement agreement" in which it dropped its challenge to the patent and
Barr would be supplied with Zeneca-manufactured tamoxifen for resale as a
"generic" in the US. Barr's "generic" tamoxifen sells for only 5% less
than Zeneca's branded version -- and far more than would a true generic.
Barr's own Web site notes that generics typically sell for 30-80% less
than branded drugs. The PAL suits allege that as a result of this
collusive agreement between Zeneca and Barr, there has not been, and is
not now, competition in the market for tamoxifen. The federal antitrust
class action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern
District of New York and suits are being filed in state courts in New
York, California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Maine, and West
Virginia alleging that AstraZeneca and Barr employed illegal cooperative
tactics to artificially maintain a monopoly on the manufacture,
distribution and sales of tamoxifen, one of the most widely-prescribed
drugs for breast cancer treatment. Tamoxifen is marketed by Zeneca under
the brand name Nolvadex(R). Last year, AstraZeneca realized over $500
million in revenues from Nolvadex, while Barr Laboratories reaped over
$350 million -- 66 percent of its sales -- from its "generic" tamoxifen.

"These companies are playing pricing games with women's lives," said PAL
Director Kim Shellenberger, who helped launch the project earlier this
year to eradicate illegal overpricing tactics by pharmaceutical companies
through consumer-based, class action litigation. "It's time someone put
an end to their manipulation of the market and patent law. In the case of
tamoxifen," she added, "these companies have colluded to keep a
life-saving drug priced beyond the reach of many breast cancer patients.
Women who face a daily struggle with the disease itself shouldn't have to
fight another whole battle just to get their medication."

According to Ms. Shellenberger, the PAL lawsuits mark the first time
consumer groups have turned to the courts to fight the soaring costs of
prescription drugs. In April, PAL brought similar suits against
Bristol-Myers Squibb for pricing practices related to BuSpar, the widely
prescribed anti- anxiety drug.

Plaintiffs in the tamoxifen action, all members of the PAL coalition,
include the New York Statewide Senior Action Council (www.nysenior.org),
Consumers for Affordable Health Care (www.mainecahc.org)(Maine), Health
Care For All (www.hcfama.org), Health Action New Mexico, and San
Francisco Senior Action Network (www.senioractionnetwork.org). They are
represented by New York-based Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP;
Carey & Danis, LLC of St. Louis; and Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann &
Bernstein, LLP of San Francisco.

Breast cancer is the most common malignancy to affect women and is one of
the leading causes of death among women. During the 1990s, more than 1.5
million women in this country were newly diagnosed with breast cancer and
over 25% will die of the disease. In 1999, approximately 175,000 women
developed breast cancer in the US. Tamoxifen is used, in addition to or
in lieu of more drastic and invasive therapies, to treat early and
advanced-stage breast cancer and to prevent recurrence. It has become the
most widely prescribed treatment for breast cancer and the single
most-prescribed drug in the world for the treatment of cancer of any
sort. It is listed as an "Essential Drug" by the World Health
Organization and is the standard of comparison in most clinical trials in
breast cancer.

PAL, the Prescription Access Litigation Project, was developed by
Community Catalyst, a Boston-based national support center for state and
local consumer health advocacy groups. PAL, comprised of 17 groups in 12
states, was created to target pharmaceutical companies whose unfair
market conduct has pushed the cost of prescription drugs beyond the reach
of many consumers. More information about PAL is available at:

With state, local, and grassroots partners in over 30 states, Community
Catalyst (www.communitycatalyst.org) helps build consumer and community
participation in the decisions that shape health systems. It provides
policy analysis, legal assistance, strategic planning, and community
organizing support to advocacy groups around the country working to
ensure access to affordable, quality health care for all.

Source: Prescription Access Litigation Project

Contact: Laurie Covens, Communications Director, Prescription Access
Litigation, 617-275-2805; or Erika Brown of Cercone & Brown PR,
617-878-2025 or cell: 781-718-8164, erika@cerconeandbrown.com

BROWARD: State Works on Foster System After Threats of Renewed Ct Action
State officials say they are working to improve Broward County's
beleaguered child-welfare system, but admit they've fallen short in some

The admission followed last week's threats of renewed court action by
attorneys who say the Department of Children & Families has not complied
with the agreement that settled their lawsuit against the agency last
year for failing to properly care for the county's foster children.

"We kind of regard the ... lawsuit as a tool," Fotena Zirps, director of
mission, support and planning for DCF, said Tuesday at a meeting in the
agency's Broward headquarters. "We have had our rocky moments with it,
that's for sure, but we're working with it."

Local attorneys and the San Francisco-based Youth Law Center sued the
department in 1998 on behalf of all children in Broward's foster-care
system. There are more than 1,300 Broward children in foster care.

In the suit, attorneys charged that children, shoehorned into already
crowded foster homes, were being sexually abused by other children.

On any given day, the department had no idea where at least 100 children

And children lingered in foster care for years rather than being reunited
with their birth families or made available for adoption.

The two sides settled the case in May 2000 on the premise they would work
together to make sure the county's abused, neglected and abandoned
children were safe in state care.

But more than a year after the settlement, the plaintiff's attorneys
remain frustrated with the department's progress -- or what they see as a
lack thereof.

"I think they are trying to make progress, but I have very, very serious
concerns about the state of the system," said David Bazerman, an attorney
representing children involved in the suit.

Meanwhile, the Broward State Attorney's Office has convened a grand jury
to investigate whether the county's foster care system has improved since
the last scathing grand jury report came out on the subject in 1998.

Officials said Tuesday the department has made great strides in some
areas, such as reducing the number of foster homes that are over capacity
and increasing the number of visits caseworkers make to children.

But they also acknowledged the agency continues to wrestle with numerous
safety issues.

"I've talked to kids, I've talked to staff, I've looked at old data,"
said Lee Johnson, the department's new acting district administrator. "I
think, based on what we've seen, we do -- by and large -- a good job of
protecting kids. But not all kids," said Johnson, who replaced Phyllis
Scott two weeks ago.

For example, as part of the settlement, the department agreed to flag
dangerous foster children on its computer system.

This was to prevent physically aggressive or sexually predatory children
from being placed in foster homes with other children -- one of the major
concerns that propelled the class-action suit.

The department was unable Tuesday to say how many incidents of
child-on-child abuse have occurred in the past year. But they admitted
the plan to flag certain children in the department's convoluted computer
system failed because workers didn't always type in which children were
risks, said Chelly Schembera, a consultant hired by the department to act
as a liaison between the department and plaintiff's attorneys.

"We still have a significant problem protecting children from harm from
other children in care," she said.

A new emphasis on tracking dangerous kids, and a new computer system
coming on line in June, should help in that regard, officials said.

Schembera said the department also continues to leave children in limbo
because it does not effectively plan for their departure from care.

Currently, Broward children spend an average of 43 months in foster care.
The state average is 38 months. Federal law states children should be
returned home or placed for adoption within 12 months.

But Mary Allegretti, the new deputy district administrator in Broward,
said the county's length-of-stay statistic is misleading. That's because
as more children enter and exit the system within 12 months, the
remaining children who stay longer weight the average.

Schembera said the department has had particular difficulty finding
permanent homes for hard-to-place foster children.

"We have a significant and alarming number of kids, teenagers, boys, in
our system who have serious criminal offenses in their background," she

No foster parent wants to take in these potentially dangerous children.

And group homes and shelters often don't know how to handle them.

"I see that as one of the most serious problems the whole system has,"
Schembera said.

Shana Gruskin can be reached at sgruskin@sun-sentinel.com or
561-243-6537. (Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), May 9, 2001)

CALIFORNIA: Suit Claims High School Exit Exam Is Biased
Advocates for children with learning disabilities challenged California's
new high school exit exam in federal court Tuesday, saying the test
violates U.S. law by discriminating against children with dyslexia and
other disorders.

The class-action suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco,
charges that the state Department of Education, among other defendants,
has flagrantly violated the rights of thousands of disabled students by
failing to ensure that reasonable accommodations are provided for them.

Asking learning disabled children to take the high-stakes graduation test
without the extra help to which they are accustomed is like "asking a kid
in a wheelchair to get up and run 10 laps," said Monique Chapman, mother
of a Fremont eighth-grader with dyslexia and a plaintiff in the case.

The fledgling exam was given for the first time in March to this year's
ninth-graders. Although this round was voluntary, the results are being
used to set a passing score. This group of students and all subsequent
classes must pass the test of proficiency in English and math to receive
a diploma.

The lawsuit is challenging not just this year's test but the entire high
school exit exam program. Although the suit's potential effects were not
clear Tuesday, parents are seeking such remedies as having the tests read
aloud to learning disabled students, printing tests in large type or
allowing students to use spell-check software.

About 7% of this year's 484,000 California high school freshmen have a
learning disability. In Orange County, nearly 10% of students are
enrolled in special-education programs. Some of those students have
severe disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or brain injuries, but most
have mild learning disabilities that make it harder to read or write or

Critics of "accommodations" for disabled students have argued that the
measures provide an unfair advantage and effectively invalidate the
results for everyone. They also note that on at least one high-stakes
exam--the SAT--there has been evidence of students improperly claiming
disabilities in order to obtain accommodations.

Similar challenges to such high-stakes tests have, however, generally
been successful, education law attorneys said.

In February, Oregon agreed to settle a suit brought by a group of
parents, including one whose dyslexic child was denied use of a
spell-check device on her writing test. That group, like the California
group, was represented by an attorney from an organization called
Disability Rights Advocates.

Oregon pledged to "broaden the current list of allowable accommodations"
and agreed not to use test results alone to determine academic
consequences for students with disabilities.

As a result of the agreement, many students with dyslexia, a reading
disorder often accompanied by poor spelling, will never have to spell
without help on the Oregon writing test. Students without disabilities,
meanwhile, will be marked down for misspellings.

The California suit was filed on behalf of Chapman and her son, Juleus,
13; Krista Smiley of La Crescenta and her son, Ryan, 14; and Susan Lyons
and her daughter, Jennifer, 13, of Magalia, Calif. It was filed by
Disability Rights Advocates, an Oakland nonprofit.

Aside from the accommodations issue, the suit accused California of
failing to provide an alternative means of measuring disabled students'
skills, as required under federal law. And it said many children were
being tested on material that had not yet been taught.

Doug Stone, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, defended
the exam program. "This is the first year of the program, and procedures
are still being fine-tuned," he said, adding that the state is working on
guidelines for accommodating disabled students.

In Orange County, disability rights advocates endorsed the suit.

"There are kids who are very, very, very smart who just need extra time,"
said Joan Tellefsen co-executive director of the Anaheim based Team of
Advocates for Special Kids. "Unless the state has decided they've found
some miracle cure for learning disabilities."

California is one of many states that rushed to assemble a system of
standards, testing and accountability for public schools. The high school
exit exam is the cornerstone of Gov. Gray Davis' plan to hold students,
teachers and schools accountable for learning.

A panel is expected to set a passing score on the exam later this month.
Students who don't pass this round will have multiple chances to retake
the test during their high school years.

Earlier this year, Davis had urged state legislators to make the March
examination a practice test after independent evaluators advised that the
exam was a year or two away from being reliable enough to withstand

Among other concerns, the evaluators said students needed more time to
learn the material and the state needed to better evaluate the test's

But Senate Republicans killed Davis' legislation two days before students
began taking the exam, ensuring it would count this year.

Under the exit exam legislation, many children with disabilities are
eligible for accommodations on the test. But Sidney Wolinsky, an attorney
for Disability Rights Advocates, said parents are complaining that
districts did not honor requests for accommodations. In some cases,
parents didn't know what their options were.

Plaintiff Ryan Smiley, a ninth-grader with dyslexia and dysgraphia (a
disorder that makes writing difficult), took the exam in March at
Crescenta Valley High School. According to the complaint, he was not
allowed to use all of the accommodations he was promised. He normally has
exams read to him, but a reader was not provided.

"It was a miserable experience," Ryan said. "For a while, I felt like a
nobody. I thought, 'I'm stupid.' It was like giving a blind kid a test
with no Braille."

Times staff writer Jessica Garrison contributed to this report. (Los
Angeles Times, May 9, 2001)

CREDIT CARDS: Nader Launches Attack On Fleet For Change In Policy
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader singled out FleetBoston Financial Corp. for
"waging a campaign to destroy the rights" of its own credit card
customers. The move came three weeks to the day after Fleet publicly
apologized to customers for past lapses in service and pledged to improve
its service.

In a letter Nader wrote to Fleet chief executive TerrenceMurray and
released to the Globe, he dismissed Fleet's claims of contrition and
asked the bank to explain the rationale behind a recent policy change for
its credit card customers.

"It was disappointing to learn that your bank has initiated [the new
policy]," the former Green Party presidential candidate wrote. "Are we to
assume that your policies and practices concerning credit cards are so
deceptive or onerous that they will not stand the test of legal

Fleet spokesman James Mahoney said Murray hadn't received the letter yet,
but that the policy in question follows a trend in the financial services
industry and does not hurt consumers.

The spat stems from a new Fleet rule requiring the bank's 9 million
MasterCard and Visa cardholders to take disputes with the company to
binding arbitration rather than join class-action lawsuits. A handful of
other banks, including Citigroup and First Union, have similar

Consumer advocates, though, are angry that Fleet informed its customers
about the policy change in the fine print of an insert stuffed into
monthly statements starting in February. The rule applies the limitation
retroactively to at least a dozen class-action suits that are already in
various stages of litigation around the country.

If the provision is upheld, it would likely put an end to lawsuits
involving classes of consumers who have been identified by plaintiffs'
lawyers but not yet certified by courts.

"I'm not aware of any cases that have hit this question of retroactive
application," said Harvard Law School professor Frank Sander. "That
sounds very suspect."

A law firm in Tampa, Fla., filed a motion in federal court last week
challenging the legality of Fleet's policy change. Emily Peacock, the
lead lawyer in the case, said binding arbitration clauses are valid only
if they are knowingly entered into by customers and if they provide for a
fair procedure.

In this case, Peacock said, Fleet's policy may not pass muster on either

"This is an unfair policy that is fraudulent in the way it was
implemented," she said. "It was sneaked into a billing statement in
minuscule print in a format that's almost impossible to understand - even
for a lawyer."

Fleet argues that the change does nothing more than cut down on frivolous
lawsuits that cost all consumers money but pay off handsomely for
lawyers. Individual lawsuits are still permitted under the rule, Mahoney

"People are free to pursue individual legal actions," he said. "Other
major credit card companies have made the same change in policy Fleet
has, presumably for the same reasons."

In an interview, though, Nader lashed out at Fleet and other banks for
the "perverse competition" of justifying their policies by pointing to
rival companies. (The Boston Globe, May 9, 2001)

FERNALD PLANT: Neighbors and Former Workers Get Medical Monitoring Fees
The government and the company tearing down a Cold War-era uranium
processing plant joined with former employees to commemorate the 50th
anniversary of its creation.

The Fernald plant 18 miles northwest of Cincinnati supplied processed
uranium metal for use in the government's nuclear weapons production at
other sites around the nation. The work lasted from 1952 until 1989.

Now the government is spending $3.7 billion on a 15-year program to clean
up and decontaminate the 1,200-acre site.

"I think it will probably be misunderstood by a lot of people that
Fernald is only a problem - and it is today," said Rep. Rob Portman,
R-Ohio, a speaker at Tuesday's observance.

He said it needs to be noted that the plant performed a vital national
defense function.

"The people who worked there did a service for their country," said Edwa
Yocum, an area resident. "But if they had managed their wastes, we
wouldn't have the problem that still exists today. Now, they're being
held accountable."

The U.S. Department of Energy, which owns the site as successor to the
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, has hired contractor Fluor Fernald to
clean up the radioactive waste.

So secret was the plant that the AEC called it the Feed Materials
Production Center. In May 1951, the agency broke ground. Within a year
the AEC and its contractor, National Lead of Ohio, started production.

Farmhouses gave way to laboratories and manufacturing plants that
resembled big grain elevators. The complex operated quietly - secretively
- through the 1950s and 1960s, making high-purity uranium metal for
nuclear weapons. Up to 3,000 people worked there during those years.

Employees knew little if anything about what workers did in other parts
of the site. But they did know they were doing patriotic work. Posters at
the plant read: "Don't talk out of turn! You are a PRODUCTION SOLDIER ...
America's First Line of Defense is HERE."

"A lot of military people came to Fernald to work after World War II,"
said Homer Bruce, 72, of Bevis, who worked there for about 43 years.
"They were dedicated. You felt like you were a part of a team. The plant
was extremely important to U.S. security then. The Cold War was a scary
time. We knew we were doing something important."

But by the late 1970s, locals started asking what was happening at
Fernald. In 1984, the DOE reported that failure of the site's dust
collector caused the release of almost 300 pounds of enriched uranium
oxide. Some wells near the plant were contaminated with uranium.

"Years of uranium metal production and on-site storage of waste and
nuclear material left the soil, ground water and buildings contaminated,"
said Steve McCraken, site director for the DOE.

In 1984, neighbors formed Fernald Residents for Environmental Safety and
Health to monitor the plant. Eventually, the group filed a class action
lawsuit for emotional distress and damaged property values. The
government settled in 1989.

Neighbors won $73 million, which included medical testing. Fernald
workers also sued and reached a $15 million settlement that contains a
pledge of lifetime medical monitoring, but does not include paying for
treatment. (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, May 9, 2001)

FRONTIER INSURANCE: Securities Suits Filed in 1994 Pending in N.Y.
Following the Company's November 5, 1994 announcement of its
third-quarter financial results, the Company was served with seven
purported class actions alleging violations of federal securities laws by
the Company and, in some cases, by certain of its officers and directors.

In September 1995, a pre-trial order was signed which consolidated all
actions in the Eastern District of New York, appointed three law firms as
co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs and set forth a timetable for class
certification motion practice and discovery.

In November 1995, plaintiffs served a consolidated amended complaint
alleging violations by the Company of section 10(b) of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10(b)(5) thereunder, seeking to impose
controlling person liability on certain of the Company's officers and
directors, and further alleging insider sales all premised on negative
financial information that should have been publicly disclosed earlier.
Plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount in damages to be proven at trial,
reasonable attorney fees' and expert witness costs.

In April 1997, the Court certified the class. Plaintiffs have subpoenaed
documents and deposed outside auditors and analysts. Plaintiffs have also
taken depositions from current or former officers, directors and
employees of the Company.

In June 1999, plaintiffs were granted permission to amend their complaint
and to reopen discovery to take additional depositions and request
additional documents. The additional depositions have been taken. In
February 2000, the plaintiffs made an additional motion to amend their
complaint wherein they seek to have the class period, which presently
runs from February 10, 1994 through November 8, 1994, extended to
November 15, 1999. The motion also seeks to add an additional plaintiff
and defendant. Plaintiffs also seek to allege that increases in reserves
taken by the Company in various reporting periods subsequent to November
1994 evidence an ongoing fraud. The court has not ruled on this motion.

FRONTIER INSURANCE: Contests Securities Suit re Aug 1997 to Apr 2000
In July 2000, the Company was served with a purported securities class
action complaint. Subsequently, six nearly identical complaints were
filed. The complaints allege that the Company and certain of its officers
and directors violated certain securities laws by making false and
misleading statements about the Company's business and prospects during
the period from August 5, 1997 to April 14, 2000. The actions are
purportedly brought on behalf of all persons who purchased the Company's
stock during that period. The plaintiffs' damages are not specified.

In November 2000, the Court granted the Plaintiffs' motion to consolidate
these actions and for appointment of lead plaintiffs and lead plaintiffs'
counsel. On February 5, 2001, plaintiffs filed a Corrected Consolidated
Amended Class Action Complaint.

The Company believes the suits are without merit and has retained special
legal counsel to contest the suits vigorously. It is not currently
possible to determine the probability of a favorable outcome. The company
further indicates that it is not possible to estimate the amount of a
potential loss. The company says that an adverse judgment in the
litigation in excess of available insurance would have a material adverse
effect on the Company's financial condition and results of operations.

HEART PACEMAKER: Fd Ct in OH OKs Settlement in Case v Telectronic Pacing
A federal district court has approved a settlement agreement in a class
action against the manufacturers of a heart pacemaker lead. In re
Telectronic Pacing Systems Inc., MDL No. 1057 (S.D. Ohio March 8). The
settlement replaces one rejected by an appellate court in July 2000. The
district court held a fairness hearing on the settlement proposal Feb.
15, and determined that the agreement was "fair, adequate and

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit had rejected the first
proposal, finding that the agreement had impermissibly certified the
class as a limited fund class, which would have prevented class members
from opting out of the settlement. Proceeds of the settlement will be
divided into two funds: a $ 58.2 million patient benefit fund and a $ 4.2
million reserve fund that will be used to pay expenses related to the
litigation. Under the terms of the settlement, class members who have
working pacemaker leads will receive $ 500 and the opportunity to
participate in a medical monitoring program. Individuals who have had
their leads extracted will get $ 6,500 if they had no complications and $
11,500 if they experienced complications. Those who suffered "major
complications" will receive between $ 25,000 and $ 45,000, and those who
became permanently and totally disabled will get a minimum payment of $
100,000. The estates of patients who died because of extractions or
fractures of pacemaker leads will be awarded between $ 200,000 and $ 1
million, and the spouses of these patients will receive $ 150,000.

CPSC Releases Poison Figures. For the observance of National Poison
Prevention Week (March 18-24), the Consumer Product Safety Commis-sion
released data March 15 stating that every year, unintentional poisonings
from medications and household chemicals prompt more than 1 million calls
to poison control centers and kill about 30 children. The CPSC currently
requires child-resistant packaging for 28 categories of medicines and
chemicals, and is considering similar packaging requirements for
hydrocarbons. CPSC Executive Director Pamela Gilbert told the press that
"[c]hild-resistant packaging saves lives," observing that since special
packaging requirements went into effect in the 1970s, such packaging has
saved the lives of almost 1,000 children. The CPSC also reinforced the
three most important safety measures for preventing accidental poisoning:
* Use of child-resistant packaging;

Keeping medications and chemicals in locked cabinets, out of the sight
and reach of young children;

Keeping the number of the nearest poison control center at the telephone
to enable an immediate call if the accidental ingestion of a poison

Physicians Praise Crash Notifica-tion Technology. ComCARE, an alliance of
medical professionals, including emergency physicians and nurses, has
sent a letter to the chairmen of DaimlerChrysler AG and General Motors
Inc. praising the two automakers for their efforts to equip new vehicles
with automatic crash notification (ACN) technology.

In the March 20 letter, the group noted that such systems will save lives
and reduce injuries by enabling emergency vehicles to respond to more
precise locations. "Telematics technologies...give the automotive,
medical and emergency response communities one more tool to dramatically
improve public safety," the group said.

ACN technology notifies a private call center via a wireless
telecommunications link when the air bag or a vehicle equipped with ACN
deploys or when the occupant of a vehicle involved in an accident pushes
a "Mayday" button in the vehicle. The system also uses global positioning
satellites to provide precise locations of the accidents. The call center
receiving the emergency information then notifies appropriate emergency
personnel to respond. ComCARE claims that more than 1 million vehicles
currently have ACN technology. (Law Firm Partnership & Benefits, April

HI/FN INC: Trial Date Set for 2002 for Securities Suit in CA
In October and November 1999, six purported class action complaints were
filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of
California against the Company and certain of its officers and directors.
These complaints were consolidated into In re Hi/fn Sec. Litig., No.
99-04531 SI. The consolidated complaint was filed on behalf of a class of
purchasers of the Company's stock during the period July 26, 1999 through
October 7, 1999 (the "class period"). The complaint seeks unspecified
money damages and allege that the Company and certain of its officers and
directors violated federal securities laws in connection with various
public statements made by the Company and certain of its officers and
directors during the class period.

In August 2000, the Court dismissed the complaint as to all defendants,
other than Raymond J. Farnham and the Company. Mr. Farnham and the
Company answered the complaint in September 2000. Discovery has
commenced. A trial date has been tentatively scheduled for October 2002.

The Company believes that the allegations contained in the complaint are
without merit and intends to defend the action vigorously. Due to the
nature of the allegations, management cannot estimate the possible loss,
if any, or range of loss that may ultimately be incurred in connection
with the allegations. However, based on the facts currently known,
management does not believe that these matters will have a material
adverse effect on the financial position of the Company.

HICKMAN MILLS: Retired Teachers Win Suit, Left out of Settlement Money
Eight people who were part of a successful class-action lawsuit against
the Hickman Mills School District were left out of the settlement money
because of a clerical error.

Fifty people received checks in March totaling about $458,000 to settle
age discrimination claims involving early retirement incentive plans the
district offered between 1991 and 1996.

But eight other retirees received nothing because of a clerical error and
a dispute between the school district and the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC admits it made the mistake that started the problem. The federal
agency inadvertently left off the eight names when it presented documents
to the district to settle the case earlier this year, commission attorney
Barbara Seely said.

The settlement stems from a lawsuit alleging that the retirement plan
discriminated against older employees because the lump sum offered
decreased each year after the age of 55. A federal judge agreed the plan
was discriminatory, but did not specify damages.

The settlement was designed to give all employees the same bonus they
would have received had they retired at 55, Seely said.

But the commission should have asked for nearly $70,000 more for the
eight who were left out, Seely said.

"There's nothing we can do but appeal to the loyalties of the school
board," Seely said.

One of the retirees, Jack Colbern, spent nine years as a teacher and 25
years as principal of Truman Elementary School. He is owed about $6,000.

"It's a matter of fairness," he said. "We are definitely going to pursue

Just how to pursue it is unclear.

The school district is simply following the law, attorney Chris Gahagan
said. The district does not believe its retirement incentive plans were
discriminatory, he said, and it contends that all the retirees were
fairly compensated before the lawsuit was filed.

"The board made the decision to settle the case based on the dollar
amount (submitted by the employment commission), not on individual
names," Gahagan said. "It was a business decision based on the dollars

School Board Vice President David Odneal said the commission should be
financially responsible.

"All the names were given (to the commission), and the district fulfilled
its part," board President George Flesher said.

It just doesn't seem right, said retiree John Thiel, who also is owed
about $ 6,000.

"I can't accept the idea that they would say, 'Nope, that's too bad,"'
said Thiel, who was principal of Ervin Middle School and the district's
director of special services over a span of 34 years. "Why don't we do
the right thing here?" (The Associated Press State & Local Wire, May 9,

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Court Says suits Must Go to foundation
The German constitutional court ruled Wednesday that individual claims
for compensation by former Nazi era slave laborers must now go through
the German foundation set up for such payments.

The court dismissed a claim by a Ukrainian woman who said the foundation,
set up last year with some five billion dollars to be contributed by
German government and industry, had deprived her of the right of suing
the Siemens firm on her own.

The court said in its decision published Wednesday that the woman would
have to prove that her claim had a legal basis outside the foundation,
which was set up precisely to resolve all slave and forced labor

Still, payments from the foundation are currently being held up by a
legal wrangle over German industry's requirement that it get legal
protection against any further suits from the Nazi victims.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in April had ruled out starting
compensation payments to former Nazi slave laborers before a legal
settlement is reached with US courts.

US judge Shirley Kram in March caused a new hitch in long-running efforts
to compensate victims of Nazi labor camps when she refused to dismiss a
class-action suit against German and Austrian banks, saying she doubted
whether the German foundation would ever hand out the payments. (Agence
France Presse, May 9, 2001)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Lawyer Optimistic of Removing Obstacles for Payment
to more than one million former slave laborers could begin within weeks
if lawyers succeed in persuading a judge they have eliminated obstacles,
a lawyer for plaintiffs predicted.

"I think it's a pretty big breakthrough," said Morris Ratner. He said
agreements reached between parties in the case may convince U.S. District
Judge Shirley Wohl Kram that Holocaust victims will be paid fairly.

Kram has scheduled a hearing for Thursday morning.

The lawyers for plaintiffs want the judge to dismiss lawsuits standing in
the way of a $4.6 billion sum funded in equal parts by German industry
and the German government.

More than one million former laborers worldwide, most of them central and
eastern Europeans, are eligible for payments. The fund also would
compensate people subjected to Nazi medical experiments and some with
other Holocaust-related claims.

The judge twice has rejected a request to dismiss the lawsuit because
lawyers still had not resolved how those victims not yet identified could
be protected if they decided to make claims.

"This really is the last obstacle for payment of the victims in the
German Foundation," Ratner said. "If the judge does decide to reconsider,
payments could be made within a few weeks to survivors."

Ratner said two new developments warrant dismissal of the lawsuits
standing in the way of payouts by a German Foundation set up to disburse
the money.

He said the first development was a decision by the central and eastern
European representatives on the German Foundation board to use their
substantial influence to create criteria for payouts that ensure everyone
is paid fairly.

The second development involves the reallocation of millions of dollars
to guarantee fair payments for the class of plaintiffs Kram fears could
be shut out by the settlement.

He said $2 million would be put aside that had been committed to the
archiving of documents and millions more will be generated by lawyers in
the case waving their fees.

"Although this may not be the ideal resolution of her concerns, it's a
big enough step and significant enough contribution towards her concerns
that we would tilt the balance in favor of dismissal," Ratner said.

He said it was urgent that the case be resolved because plaintiffs were
dying at the rate of 10 percent to 15 percent per year.

"It's more important that we get the victims paid, even if it means
waving our own fees and making compromises," he said. "This situation is
obviously intolerable."

The plaintiffs in the case most recently had been on a collision course
with the judge, challenging her refusal to dismiss the lawsuits in the
2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had scheduled arguments for next

Meanwhile, Ratner said, those identifying and keeping track of the
victims in the case have watched helplessly.

"Every month that goes by, they are getting hundreds to thousands of
death notices per month, depending on the size of the country," he said.

Plaintiffs involved in the case live in the United States, Israel,
Russia, Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Belarus. (The
Associated Press State & Local Wire, May 9, 2001)

INMATES LITIGATION: Lawyer Sues For Right To Interview Grants Inmates
A Santa Fe lawyer has asked a federal judge to force the state Department
of Corrections to allow him to interview prisoners involved in last
month's riot in a prison near Grants.

According to documents filed in court Monday, Mark Donatelli said he
believes that illegal overcrowding of the Western Correctional Facility
might have caused the five-hour disturbance.

Inmates set small fires and did other damage before guards used tear gas
to quell the disturbance. Authorities said 63 inmates were involved in
the April 27 incident.

Corrections Department Secretary Rob Perry has asserted that Donatelli
doesn't have the right to interview the inmates allegedly involved.

"We're not going to let New Mexico prisons become the client-recruiting
ground for Mark Donatelli," Perry said.

Donatelli, who represents inmates in a class-action lawsuit against the
state, said he has the obligation to investigate whether overcrowding
indeed was at root of the riot.

Donatelli also is asking U.S. District Judge John Conway to force the
Corrections Department to provide him with a list of inmates involved and
their current locations, as well as all investigative reports and memos
stemming from the disturbance.

"At minimum, counsel for the plaintiffs are obligated to investigated the
recent disturbance in light of the information available to them and
determine whether the requests for additional injunctive relief are
necessary," Donatelli's motion says.

Conway has not set a hearing for the motion.

The issue of whether there was overcrowding at the Grants prison boils
down to an interpretation of overcrowding restrictions stemming from the
Duran Consent Decree.

The decree, which ended last year, resulted in nearly two decades of
federal court supervision of New Mexico's prison system.

Donatelli said that under the restrictions, there should have been no
more than 48 inmates in S Unit, the scene of the riot.

Perry said 63 inmates were housed in S Unit, which can hold 72. He argued
that all but one of the 63 inmates involved were classified as minimum
security and thus the overcrowding restrictions would not apply.

Donatelli said it's the prison's security level, not inmate
classification, that matters.

The riot reportedly began because of low water pressure. Corrections
officials have said a water main in Grants broke that day.

The inmates refused to return to their cells for evening lockdown and set
mattresses on fire and caused toilets to overflow. Corrections officers
used tear gas to stop the melee. (The Associated Press State & Local
Wire, May 9, 2001)

MICROSTRATEGY INC: Pricewaterhouse to Pay $55M to Settle Investors Suit
PricewaterhouseCoopers said it agreed to pay 55 mln usd to settle a
class-action lawsuit alleging it defrauded investors in MicroStrategy
Inc, the Washington Post reported.

Investors sued MicroStrategy and PwC early last year, claiming PwC
approved financial reports that inflated MicroStrategy's earnings and
revenue, after the software maker retracted two years of audited
financial results and its stock price plunged 62 pct in a single day.

A report filed in court by the plaintiffs said the audit firm
"consistently violated its responsibility" to maintain an appearance of
independence. It cited e-mail evidence of a PwC auditor seeking a job at
MicroStrategy while he was the senior manager on the team that reviewed
the company's accounting, the Post reported. A PwC spokesman was quoted
as saying the company denies "all ... allegations about our independence
and the work we performed. "While we believe our defense against the
class-action claim was strong and compelling, we ultimately made a
business decision to settle in order to avoid the further costs and
uncertainties of litigation." (AFX European Focus, May 9, 2001)

MP3.COM: Songwriters say MyMP3 violated copyright
Songwriters Randy Newman, Tom Waits and sisters Ann & Nancy Wilson of the
'80s group Heart jumped on the MP3.com litigation bandwagon Tuesday,
suing the embattled Netco for $ 40 million in damages stemming from
alleged copyright infringement.

The artists, repped by Los Angeles entertainment law firm Gradstein,
Luskin & Van Dalsem, contend that MP3 violated the copyrights on
"hundreds" of the plaintiffs' songs in connection with the company's
My.MP3.com digital music locker service.

Suit, filed in U.S. 2nd District Court in California, seeks damages of $
150,000 per work infringed by My.MP3 --- the maximum penalty allowed by
statute for "willful" infringement.

MP3.com is no stranger to infringement claims stemming from My.MP3.
Company has already been sued in District Court in New York by all five
major labels as well as powerful indies Jive Records and TVT Records and
the National Music Publishers' Assn., resulting in payouts so far
totaling nearly $ 170 million.

Netco settled with four of the five majors for a reported $ 20 million
each, but Universal Music held out longer and ended up with a $ 53.4
million judgment. All five deals included a license for My.MP3 to use the
labels' content on the service.The TVT action initially ended in a
judgment for the label to the tune of $ 300,000. In a bizarre twist,
however, it was revealed days later that the jury had erred in entering
the figure, and that the real amount was actually $ 3 million. The Jive
suit is ongoing.

MP3 also settled with the NMPA, inking a deal that could provide the
org's royalty clearinghouse arm, the Harry Fox Agency, with up to $ 30
million in royalty revenue.

But that deal doesn't include songwriters who administer their own
publishing rights --- a group that includes the latest plaintiffs, said
lead attorney Bruce E. Van Dalsem, who added that the songwriters will
try to apply collateral estoppel --- a legal doctrine under which the
court can skip straight to the damages phase of the case if it's already
proved that MP3 willfully infringed on copyrights. TVT was granted
estoppel in its New York case, based on the precedent set in the
major-label trials.

Still, "MP3 is welcome to repeat the whole process again in L.A. if they
really want to," Van Dalsem said.

MP3 rep Greg Wilfahrt said the company hasn't yet been served with the
complaint but will respond "once we've had a chance to look over the
allegations." (Daily Variety, May 09, 2001)

MULTEX.COM: Sirota & Sirota and Lovell & Stewart File Securities Suit
The law firms of Sirota & Sirota, LLP ((212) 425-9055 or
www.sirotalaw.com) and Lovell & Stewart, LLP ((212) 608-1900 or
www.lovellstewart.com) filed a class action lawsuit on May 8, 2001 on
behalf of all persons and entities who purchased, converted, exchanged or
otherwise acquired the common stock of Multex.com, Inc. (NasdaqNM:MLTX)
between March 17, 1999 and December 4, 2000 inclusive. The lawsuit
asserts claims under Sections 11, 12 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933
and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and
Rule 10b-5 promulgated by the SEC thereunder and seeks to recover
damages. Any member of the class may move the Court to be named lead
plaintiff. If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff, you must move the
Court no later than July 9, 2001.

The action, SDR Investors, LP v. Multex.com, Inc., et al., is pending in
the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (500 Pearl
Street, New York, New York), Docket No. 01-CV-3910 (BSJ) and has been
assigned to the Hon. Barbara S. Jones, U.S. District Judge. The complaint
alleges that Multex.com, Inc., Isaak Karaev, Multex.com's Chief Executive
Officer, Philip Callaghan, its former CFO, I. Robert Greene, Peter G.
LaBonte, Lennert J. Leader, Milton J. Pappas and Herbert L. Skeete,
current and former directors, and Philip Scheps, Multex.com's Controller
as of its March 17, 1999 IPO, violated the federal securities laws by
issuing and selling Multex.com common stock pursuant to the IPO without
disclosing to investors that at least one of the lead underwriters and
three of the other underwriters in the offering had solicited and
received excessive and undisclosed commissions from certain investors.

In exchange for the excessive commissions, the complaint alleges, lead
underwriter BancBoston Robertson Stephens, Inc. and underwriters The
Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc.,
and Salomon Smith Barney, Inc., allocated Multex.com shares to customers
at the IPO price of $14.00 per share. To receive the allocations (i.e.,
the ability to purchase shares) at $14.00, the defendant underwriters'
brokerage customers had to agree to purchase additional shares in the
aftermarket at progressively higher prices. The requirement that
customers make additional purchases at progressively higher prices as the
price of Multex.com stock rocketed upward (a practice known on Wall
Street as "laddering") was intended to (and did) drive Multex.com's share
price up to artificially high levels. This artificial price inflation,
the complaint alleges, enabled both the underwriters and their customers
to reap enormous profits by buying Multex.com stock at the $14.00 IPO
price and then selling it later for a profit at inflated aftermarket
prices, which rose as high as $38.63 during its first day of trading.

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

The complaint further alleges that defendants violated the Securities Act
of 1933 because the Prospectus distributed to investors and the
Registration Statement filed with the SEC in order to gain regulatory
approval for the Digimarc offering contained material misstatements
regarding the commissions that the underwriters would derive from the IPO
transaction and failed to disclose the additional commissions and
"laddering" scheme discussed above.

Contact: Lovell & Stewart, LLP Christopher Lovell Victor E. Stewart
Christopher J. Gray 212/608-1900 sklovell@aol.com or Sirota & Sirota, LLP
Howard B. Sirota Saul Roffe 212/425-9055 info@sirotalaw.com

ONTARIO: Cuts Special Needs Funding, Parents Charge In $500 Mil Suit
Families of special needs kids have launched a $500-million class action
lawsuit against the Ontario government, claiming it's breaking its own
law by cutting back services to their children.

Lawyer Laughlin Campbell said about 2,000 Ontario families are
represented in the suit, which seeks damages for a 1997 government
decision to end special funding agreements that tailored programming to
the needs of unique children.

"It's only by joining together that the families have a chance of
righting this wrong," Campbell said.

Campbell said the funding agreements, which covered almost 190 kids and
cost $11 million in 1997, were cut by the Tories even though they were
enshrined in legislation.

Anne Larcade, mother of a disabled child and a spokesperson for Special
Kids of Ontario, said it costs the average family up to $40,000 a year to
provide even basic care for their child.

Campbell said many families had to sign over custody of their children to
the Children's Aid Society in order to access needed care.

Although the government has now stopped the practice of requiring parents
to sign over custody, Campbell said it hasn't committed itself to
reinstating full funding.

Instead, the Community and Social Services Ministry reacts to individual
families who come forward with complaints, he said.

In the legislature yesterday, Premier Mike Harris said his government
considers it a priority to provide services to special needs kids.

"To access special needs supports -- that have not been cut by this
government and will not be cut by this government -- no parent will ever
be forced to give up their children," Harris said. (London Free Press,
May 9, 2001)

PERINI CORP:  Reports Lawsuit by Holders of Preferred Stock
Perini Corp. (AMEX:PCR) reported that a complaint against the company and
certain current and past directors has recently been filed in the Supreme
Court of New York.

The complaint is brought as a class action by three shareholders of the
company's Depositary Convertible Exchangeable Preferred Shares, with each
share representing 1/10th Share of the $21.25 Convertible Exchangeable
Preferred Stock ("Preferred Stock"). Two of the plaintiffs, Frederick
Doppelt and Arthur I. Caplan, are current directors of the company
elected by the holders of Preferred Stock and are nominees for reelection
by those holders.

The plaintiffs principally allege that the company was obligated to pay
all accrued dividends on the Preferred Stock when the company and its
directors authorized the exchange of Series B Cumulative Convertible
Preferred Stock for Common Stock as approved by the holders of the
company's Common Stock on March 29, 2000.

The plaintiffs also allege that the 1987 Prospectus relating to the
issuance of the Preferred Stock was false and misleading. The complaint
seeks payment of accrued dividends of approximately $11.7 million along
with unspecified punitive and exemplary damages.

The company believes that the claims are without merit and intends to
vigorously defend the actions of the company and its directors.

SECURITIES FIRMS: Pay $4.5M to Settle Yield-Burning Case By Issuers
Salomon Smith Barney Inc. and two dozen other Wall Street and regional
securities firms have agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle a
two-and-a-half-year-old, class-action yield-burning suit that was filed
on behalf of municipal issuers by Dwight Brock, the clerk of the circuit
court for Collier County, Fla.

The settlement, which will compensate issuers who were subject to
yield-burning abuses, was announced by Brock on May 8 after it was given
preliminary approval Monday by Judge John E. Steele, who sits on the U.S.
District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Fort Myers.

"The issuers are getting a whole lot of money for putting an end to the
yield-burning fiasco," said Thomas Grady, one of Brock's attorneys and a
member of Grady & Associates in Naples, Fla. Brock would not comment on
the settlement other than what was in the announcement he released.

"Under all of the circumstances and given the age of this case, this is
an excellent resolution for the municipalities," said Thomas A. Dubbs, a
partner at Goodkind Labaton Rudoff & Sucharow in New York City, which
also represented Brock. Dubbs claimed the settlement is more favorable to
issuers than were the global federal settlements with various groups of

The firms involved in the class-action suit, besides Salomon Smith
Barney, include UBS PaineWebber Inc. Dain Rauscher Inc., Goldman, Sachs
Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Lehman Brothers, William R. Hough & Co.,
Raymond James & Associates Inc. and most of the other firms that settled
yield burning charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission,
Justice Department, and Internal Revenue Service in so-called "global

The settlement also covers charges that Brock filed in state court
against Hough and Raymond James.

One firm that refused to take part in the settlement was Nuveen
Investments. Grady and Dubbs said they cannot yet comment on whether they
will pursue litigation against Nuveen. Nuveen, reached late Tuesday, May
8, had no immediate comment on the case or the settlement.

Lawyers representing several of the firms said most of the firms would
not comment on the settlement.

But sources said they decided to settle in an effort to get the
litigation behind them. The firms' motion for dismissal had remained
pending before Steele for more than a year after the federal government's
big global settlement with 17 firms and there was concern it would not be
dismissed. The settlement amount was deemed to be less than the legal
fees that would mount from pursuing the case.

Grady estimated that the money from firms will be used to compensate
"thousands" of issuers across the nation.

Most of the money from the settlement will be available to any issuer who
purchased open market Treasury securities on a negotiated basis for
refunding escrows between Nov. 25, 1986 and Nov. 24, 1998. Issuers who
could show they suffered negative arbitrage, or losses, would receive
additional compensation for those losses.

Grady said that the court has not yet determined the portion of the
settlement that will be applied toward legal fees, but that the
settlement documents state that up to one third of the settlement amount
can be used for such fees.

The Brock suit was initially filed against 17 Wall Street and other firms
in late November 1998. Brock claimed Salomon Smith Barney overcharged
Collier County by more than $7.00 per $1,000 bond for escrow securities
it purchased for an advance refunding escrow in 1994. The firms, who
joined together to fight the suit, claimed it was without merit and tried
to get it dismissed.

Brock tried unsuccessfully to get a federal judge in New York to unseal
the secret multi-million dollar yield-burning suit that was filed against
firms in 1995 by Smith Barney managing director-turned-whistleblower
Michael Lissack. The suit was later amended to include more firms after
federal global settlements with the firms that had been charged by

Other firms involved in the settlement include:

A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc.; Credit Suisse First Boston Corp.; Stephens
Inc.; Morgan Stanley & Co.; Dean Witter Reynolds Inc.; Prudential
Securities Inc.; Lazard Freres & Co.; Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown Inc., as
successor to BT Alex. Brown Inc.; First Union Corp. as successor to
Corestates Financial Corp., Everen Securities Inc., and Wheat First
Securities Inc. ; Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp.; Stifel
Nicholaus & Co.; J. C. Bradford & Co.; Southwest Securities Inc.; and
Warburg Dillon Reed. (The Bond Buyer, May 9, 2001)

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Court OKs Philip Morris plans for Engle funds
Philip Morris Cos.' (NYSE: MO) Philip Morris USA unit received court
approval of an agreement that ensures the Engle class-action judgment in
Florida will remain stayed throughout the company's appeal of the

Philip Morris announced Monday that in addition to the $ 100 million it
already posted, Philip Morris USA will put $ 1.2 billion into an
interest-bearing escrow account.

If Philip Morris wins its appeal of the case, both amounts would be
returned to the company.

The company will place an additional $ 500 million into a separate
interest-bearing escrow account, which will be paid to the court if the
company wins its appeal, with the court determining how to distribute the

In July 2000, the six-person jury in the Engle case returned a punitive
damage verdict of $ 74 billion against Philip Morris USA.

Florida's bond-cap statute allowed the company to post a $ 100 million
bond to prevent plaintiffs from demanding payment of the full amount
during the appeal.

In a separate release, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc.'s (NYSE: RJR)
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. unit said it is evaluating the Philip Morris
agreement, which also involved Lorillard Tobacco Co. and Liggett Group.
(Broward Daily Business Review, May 8, 2001)

TUBE TURNS: Defends Suits Filed in 1993, 1994 over Coker Plant Explosion
Tube Turns Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sypris
Solutions Inc., is a co-defendant in two separate lawsuits filed in 1993
and 1994, one pending in federal court and one pending in state district
court in Louisiana, arising out of an explosion in a coker plant owned by
Exxon Corporation located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The suits are being
defended for Tube Turns by its insurance carrier, and the Company intends
to vigorously defend its case. The Company believes that a settlement or
related judgment would not result in a material loss to Tube Turns or the

More specifically, according to the complaints, Tube Turns is the alleged
manufacturer of a carbon steel pipe elbow which failed, causing the
explosion which destroyed the coker plant and caused unspecified damages
to surrounding property owners.

One of the actions was brought by Exxon and claims damages for
destruction of the plant, which Exxon estimates exceed one hundred
million dollars. In this action, Tube Turns is a co-defendant with the
fabricator who built the pipe line in which the elbow was incorporated
and with the general contractor for the plant.

The second action is a class action suit filed on behalf of the residents
living around the plant and claims damages in an amount as yet
undetermined. Exxon is a co-defendant with Tube Turns, the contractor and
the fabricator in this action. In both actions, Tube Turns maintains that
the carbon steel pipe elbow at issue was appropriately marked as carbon
steel and was improperly installed, without the knowledge of Tube Turns,
by the fabricator and general contractor in a part of the plant requiring
a chromium steel elbow.

U OF PITTSBURGH: ACLU To Suspend Suit Pending Studies on Gay Benefits
The University of Pittsburgh has agreed to study extending health
benefits to domestic partners of its gay employees as a step toward
settling a bitter 5-year-old lawsuit against the school.

In return for creating a campus panel that will make recommendations to
Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, seven employees suing the school have agreed
to "temporarily suspend" all litigation in the case.

The suspension will enable university officials to examine the benefits
issue unfettered by litigation. After the panel makes its
recommendations, possibly in the next six months, the plaintiffs' lawyers
from the American Civil Liberties Union will reassess whether the case
needs to be pursued any further.

The agreement was hammered out during 10 months of secret negotiations
between lawyers for Pitt and the ACLU. Sources familiar with those talks,
who confirmed details of the agreement, said both sides were preparing to
announce the deal shortly.

The lawsuit captured the state Legislature's attention and sparked
protests, rallies and a campus hunger strike along the way.

The Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, where the suit originally
was brought, found probable cause in 1997 that Pitt had discriminated.
But Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Robert Gallo found no evidence of
intentional discrimination. In April of last year, he issued a temporary
injunction barring the city commission from proceeding with the case.

There were advantages for both sides to consider a settlement now.

The ACLU, stung by Gallo's ruling, faced the prospect of a lengthy fight
with uncertain prospects in the state's courts. For Pitt, continuing to
defend against the suit would have meant further legal costs and a public
relations quagmire over a benefit that has grown increasingly common.

Last year, Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham College became the
first Pittsburgh campuses to offer the benefit. Ten other campuses in the
state also offer same-sex benefits.

In Western Pennsylvania, several major employers recently have adopted
it, including Mellon Financial Corp., Marconi Communications, US Airways,
the City of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie museums and library system.

In an unrelated development, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the
region's dominant health insurer, said that starting July 1, it will make
domestic partner benefits available, without a surcharge, to smaller
businesses directly or through professional associations. Highmark
previously offered the benefit as an option to businesses with more than
50 employees, Highmark spokesman Michael Weinstein said.

Word of the agreement drew praise from faculty who have lobbied for it.

"I think it's a perfect compromise and very much in keeping with the
university's mission," said Audrey Murrell, an associate professor and
secretary with the University Senate. She said there was merit to Pitt's
assertion that an active lawsuit made it hard to explore the issue. Now,
she said, Pitt "can have a more open discussion and dialogue."

Richard Tobias, member of a campus anti-discrimination panel, said the
agreement might have been made possible by changes occurring in the
leadership of the school's trustees. The current chairman, J. Wray
Connolly, has opposed the benefits, but is stepping down from his
position soon.

The case began in 1996 when Deborah Henson, then a legal writing
instructor at Pitt, was refused health insurance coverage for her lesbian
partner. She filed a complaint with the city commission, saying Pitt's
refusal violated the city's 1990 gay rights law that prohibits
discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Pitt maintained that its policy of providing health insurance only to
married couples was not discriminatory.

Eventually, six other current and former employees joined the case, which
was certified as a class-action suit.

Much of the suit involved legal arguments over such points as whether
Pitt could use marriage as the determinant of insurance eligibility
without discriminating against gay and lesbian employees, who are not
allowed to marry in Pennsylvania. The case in its early stages attracted
little interest beyond campus.

But that changed in early 1999, after Pitt filed a challenge to the
legality of the city's gay rights law as part of attempt to dismiss the

In its challenge, Pitt said the city lacked authority to enforce the
9-year-old sexual orientation law, saying it exceeded the scope of the
Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. The state act prohibits discrimination
involving race, color, religious creed, age, sex, national origin and
disability but "does not extend its prohibitions to sexual orientation,"
Pitt said.

The ACLU, in return, accused Pitt of attacking the only form of
protection from discrimination given to gays and lesbians in
Pennsylvania. The organization said the move would cripple the Pittsburgh
law and could jeopardize similar sexual orientation laws in Philadelphia,
Harrisburg, State College, Lancaster, York, Oxford and the county of

In June 1999, the city commission rejected Pitt's motion and ordered the
case to a hearing. But by then, the issue had attracted the attention of
the state Legislature.

The House sent to the Senate a bill that would strip Pitt, Penn State,
Temple and Lincoln universities of their state funding if they provided
health benefits to unmarried domestic partners. The measure failed, but
in November, in a pair of unscheduled votes, the state Senate and House
passed a law exempting public universities from any local law requiring
them to supply health benefits

With that law in hand, Pitt went into Common Pleas Court and secured the
temporary injunction. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 9, 2001)

VENTRO CORP: Milberg Weiss Period for Securities Suit Filed in CA
Milberg Weiss (http://www.milberg.com/ventro/)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
Corporation (Nasdaq: VNTR) publicly traded securities during the period
between December 13, 1999 and December 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 December 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: William Lerach or Darren Robbins of Milberg Weiss, 800-449-4900,

VIRGINIA: Student Plaintiffs Hear Court Debate Minute of Silence Law
Virginia's moment of silence law is entangled in competing First
Amendment rights: the freedom to pray and the ban on a state-established
church, lawyers for the state and for seven families challenging the rule
told the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The statute, which took effect in July, requires the state's 1 million
public school students to set aside a minute each day to "meditate, pray
or engage in any other silent activity."

That language makes prayer a "favored option. . . . The state simply
cannot enter the sphere of religion," said Stuart Newberger, the
volunteer American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who is representing the

But Solicitor General William H. Hurd challenged that argument, saying
that making students sit quietly for a minute each day simply "serves a
good educational purpose . . . and accommodates students who wish to have
a moment of silence."

As a half-dozen of the young plaintiffs watched, the two attorneys
sparred with each other in front of a three-judge panel. The 45-minute
hearing proved to be a lesson in First Amendment law for the students,
some of whom are so well-versed in the subject that they reel off key
Supreme Court decisions.

"I'm hoping the judges will see that [this law] is to promote Christian
prayer," said Katya Kruglak, 15, a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High
School for Science and Technology in Fairfax.

The Virginia hearing has drawn national attention because it is one of
the first cases involving schools and religion since the U.S. Supreme
Court ruled in June that spoken prayer at high school football games
violates the First Amendment.

The fate of Virginia's law, which was upheld by a federal judge in
Alexandria last year, rests largely on how the 4th Circuit interprets a
1985 Supreme Court decision striking down an Alabama law that also
specifically mentions prayer.

"The question is whether a statute that has multiple purposes -- moment
of silence, prayer and meditation -- will pass muster with the
Constitution and how we square it with" the 1985 case, said Judge Paul V.
Niemeyer, the most vocal member of the panel.

Newberger argued that Virginia has run afoul of the Constitution and the
1985 case because the two statutes use virtually identical language. "If
the statute has the word pray or prayer in it, it is not permissible,"
Newberger said.

But Hurd countered that Virginia's law, unlike Alabama's statute, was not
passed specifically as a challenge to previous court rulings banning
vocal school prayer. "The Virginia legislature had a secular purpose when
it passed the law . . . to implement the constitutional guarantees of
[religious] liberty," he said.

The ACLU of Virginia has received sporadic complaints from parents across
the state about the implementation of the law, Executive Director Kent
Willis said. The complaints concern, among other things, a teacher who
folds her hands in apparent prayer during the observance and one who told
her students, "You can do what you want, but I'm going to pray," Willis

Most of the student plaintiffs took a day off from school to attend the
court session. "It's important for me to be here," said Ariel Lepon, 11,
a fifth-grader at Fairfax's Haycock Elementary School. "Prayers should
not be in the law."

The students said they continue to leave their classrooms during the
minute of silence each morning, but they added that fewer peers are
joining them now.

"A lot of people don't understand the point . . . but it's a statement
you have to make. Every day you wake up and it's a new day, and you have
to keep up what you believe," said Vanessa Brown, 17, a senior at Thomas

The students heard Newberger face skeptical questions from Judge Karen J.
Williams, who noted that Virginia has allowed school districts to observe
the moment of silence for more than two decades but that the ACLU filed a
challenge only when it became mandatory.

When Newberger suggested that the state should have omitted the word
pray, Williams countered, "They were concerned that the kids might not

Later, Williams observed that state legislators "also recognized the
things that were going on in schools across the country and wanted to
establish discipline."

Hurd said the argument had gone well. "We are very pleased by the court's
questions and will await optimistically its decision," he said.

Jordan Kupersmith, 17, a junior at Potomac Falls High School in Loudoun
County, said he was not disheartened by the tough questions. "I feel
they're trying to challenge the challenger . . . to understand his point
of view completely," he said. (The Washington Post, May 09, 2001)

WACHOVIA: Bankers Hit Road to Defend Planned First Union/Wachovia Merger
The top executives of First Union and Wachovia have hit the road to
defend their planned merger against mounting criticism from equity
analysts and shareholders.

Ken Thompson of First Union and L.M. "Bud" Baker Jr. of Wachovia insist
that institutional investors strongly support the $ 12.5 billion
transaction even though First Union's stock price has languished since
the deal was announced.

The duo agreed to discuss the merger in a meeting room at Memorial
Auditorium in Raleigh, just one of many stops on their seven-city road
trip that began a week ago in Winston-Salem.

"We understand the cynicism, but we think the cynics are definitely in
the minority," Baker said.

First Union's stock price has fallen 7 percent since April 12, the last
trading day before the deal was announced April 16, while the Standard &
Poor's Major Regional Banks Index has increased 0.5 percent during the
same period.

In addition, Wachovia has been hit with two class-action lawsuits from
shareholders who believe that First Union is not paying enough for
Wachovia's shares. Under terms of the deal, First Union is exchanging two
of its shares for each Wachovia share. Had the deal gone ahead Tuesday,
Wachovia shareholders would have received stock worth $ 59.40 a share,
below Wachovia's closing price of $ 60.70 Tuesday.

"This is one of those deals that has spooked a lot of people," said
Jennifer Thompson, a banking analyst at investment banking firm Putnam
Lovell Securities in New York.

But Baker and Thompson said that criticism has been confined largely to
individual shareholders - not the large institutions that own a majority
of the two banks' stock. Institutional investors such as pension funds
and endowments own about 65 percent of First Union's stock and 50 percent
of Wachovia's stock, Baker and Thompson said.

Not one of those institutions has voiced opposition to the deal, Baker

"If your objective as a shareholder was to get a large premium, then you
will be disappointed," Baker said. "But institutional investors want to
know you have a strategy ... and they are giving us the benefit of

And although First Union's stock has fallen, it hasn't fared as badly as
those of other banks that have recently announced large acquisitions or
mergers, Thompson added.

For instance, stock in U.S. Bancorp of Minneapolis fell 12 percent in the
month after that bank's announcement in October 2000 that it would merge
with Firstar of Milwaukee, according to SNL Securities of
Charlottesville, Va. Likewise, FleetFinancial's stock fell 16 percent in
the month following its March 1999 announcement of plans to buy

"Comparatively speaking, our stock has performed very well since the
announcement," Thompson said.

Baker also dismissed speculation that Wachovia rushed into a deal with
First Union to avoid being taken over by another bank. In a registration
statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,
Wachovia disclosed that it had had discussions with another bank last
year and received telephone calls from that bank the day before the
agreement with First Union was reached.

"Wachovia's decision to enter this deal was not due to anyone else,"
Baker said. "We're not running from anyone or running into anyone's

Still, analysts remain lukewarm toward the deal. Of 28 analysts who
follow First Union, only seven have "buy" recommendations on the
company's stock, while 18 have "hold" recommendations, according to
Bloomberg. Just one of 24 analysts covering Wachovia has a "buy"

Thompson and Baker hope they will win more support for the deal as they
continue their road trip. Since last Wednesday, they have given
presentations to roughly 10,000 employees of the two banks in
Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Columbia, S.C. They will meet with investors
and employees in Atlanta. (The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), May 9,


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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