CAR_Public/021217.mbx                C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R
  
              Tuesday, December 17, 2002, Vol. 4, No. 248

                            Headlines                            

A.B. FINANCING: Court Orders Asset Repatriation in $31 Million Fraud
BIOMATRIX: Court Fixes December 20 Deadline to File Claims
CALIFORNIA: Case Settlement Breach Reopens School Dispute
CIENA CORP.: Plaintiffs Appeal Dismissal of Derivative Lawsuit
DOW CHEMICAL: Judge Orders Three U.S. Companies to Pay Banana Workers

EMBRYO DEVELOPMENT: Court Approves Settlement Pact, Company Says
ERGOBILT INC.: Court Fixes December 20 Deadline to File Claims
INDIAN TRUST FUND: Government Accounting Scandals Thrust to the Fore
JACK IN THE BOX: Accessibility Improved as Settlement Deadline Nears
LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES: $200 Million in Settlement Money Held in Escrow

LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES: Trial Swings Into Motion February 2003
MASSACHUSETTS: Judge Declines Lawsuit Over State Exam Abolition
NORTH DAKOTA: Bill Aims To Stabilize Long-Term Care Insurance Costs
NUTRITION SUPERSTORES: Health Products Distributors Charged with Fraud
SAFETY-KLEEN CORP.: Top Executives Sued in "Massive" Accounting Fraud

SELECT COMFORT CORP.: To Pay Some Shareholders For Lawsuit Settlement
SOUTHMARK ADVISORY: Court Bars Investment Adviser, Others From Breaches
SYNCOR INTERNATIONAL: SEC Accepts $500,000 Offer to Settle Lawsuit
TURBODYNE TECHNOLOGIES: Court Fixes December 30 Deadline to File Claims
UNITED EQUITABLE INSURANCE CO.: Lawyers Seek Members For Class Action

VIVENDI UNIVERSAL: Police Raid HQ, Messier Homes, US Shareholders Suing

*Civil Liability Reform A Priority For The GOP
*Traditional Versus New "Cash Balance" Pension Plans

                     New Securities Fraud Cases

800 AMERICA.COM: Brodsky & Smith Launches Securities Suit in S.D. NY
eFUNDS CORP.: Cauley Geller Initiates Securities Lawsuit in E.D. WI
eFUNDS CORP.: Milberg Weiss Commences Securities Suit in E.D. WI
LEAP WIRELESS: Schiffrin & Barroway Launches Securities Suit in S.D. CA
OM GROUP: Chitwood & Harley Commences Securities Suit in N.D. OH

SEPRACOR INC.: Glancy & Binkow Commences Securities Fraud in MA
TENET HEALTHCARE: Pomerantz Haudek Launches Securities Suit in C.D. CA

                           *********

A.B. FINANCING: Court Orders Asset Repatriation in $31 Million Fraud
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages, U.S. District Judge for the Southern
District of Florida, issued emergency orders against Miami-based A.B.  
Financing and Investments Inc. and its principal, Anthony Blissett,
including temporary restraining orders, asset freezes, and orders that
they repatriate investor assets that have been sent overseas.

Also on December 6, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced
that it filed an emergency action to halt an affinity fraud conducted
by the defendants that has raised at least $31 million.  According to
the SEC's complaint, the affinity fraud targeted African Americans
since at least 1998.  

The SEC's complaint also alleges that A.B. Financing and Blissett  
falsely guarantee to investors and potential investors that A.B.
Financing will generate  a  30%, risk- and tax-free annual return on
their  investment. According to the SEC's complaint, Blissett entices
potential investors to invest with A. B. Finance by claiming that he
can offer them an opportunity to make the type of investments, and
corresponding profits, that have thus far been offered only to
"whites," or select African Americans.  The defendants also falsely
represent that A. B. Financing has over $36 million in assets, when,
according to the SEC's complaint, its financials and its federal income
tax return for 2001 actually reflect a negative net worth of over $27
million.
          
The complaint also alleges that, although A.B. Financing and Blissett  
claim to generate returns for investors by making  investments in,  
among other things, real property and securities that are  insured, in  
reality the speculative stock and real estate purchases that  A.B.
Financing  and  Blissett  have  made with investor  proceeds  have  
lost millions  of  dollars  and do not provide safe  or  guaranteed  
returns.

According to the SEC's complaint, investor losses from A. B.
Financing's securities trading alone were nearly $2.5 million as of
2001.  Moreover, the real estate assets purchased using investor funds
are illiquid and most are encumbered by mortgages.  As a result, the
SEC alleges, the defendants have conducted a typical Ponzi scheme by
using proceeds generated by new investors to make interest payments to  
existing investors.
     
A. B. Financing and Blissett are also accused of violating Sections  
5(a),  5(c) and 17(a) of the Securities Act of  1933,  Section 10(b)  
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and  
Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of  1940.
Those sections and rules prohibit certain transactions in securities
not registered with the Commission, prohibit fraud in the offer and  
sale, and  in  connection  with  the purchase and  sale,  of  
securities,  and prohibit  investment  advisers from defrauding
clients.  

The complaint also name Blissco Properties, Inc., Jamrock Market Place,  
Inc.  and Carribean  Cultural Art & Exhibition Centre, Inc., as relief  
defendants three  companies  controlled  by Blissett that  have  
received  investor funds.
     

BIOMATRIX: Court Fixes December 20 Deadline to File Claims
-----------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court of New Jersey notifies all persons who
purchased the common stock of Biomatrix Inc. between July 20, 1999 and
April 12, 2000, inclusive, that they must submit proofs of claim on or
before December 20, 2002.

The notice was issued in connection with a securities fraud case filed
against the company and which was subject of a settlement agreement
under which a Settlement Fund consisting of $2,450,000 in cash, plus
interest, has been established.

Plaintiffs estimate that there were approximately 8.7 million shares of
Biomatrix common stock traded during the Class Period which may have
been damaged as a result of the alleged wrongdoing. Plaintiffs estimate
that the average recovery per damaged share of Biomatrix common stock
under the Settlement is $0.28 per damaged share before deduction of
Court-awarded attorneys' fees and expenses. Depending on the number of
claims submitted, when during the Class Period a Class member
purchased his or her shares of Biomatrix common stock, and whether
those shares were held at the end of the Class Period or sold during
the Class Period, and if sold, when they were sold, an individual Class
member may receive more or less than this average amount.

The settling Defendants deny they are liable to the Plaintiffs or the
Class and deny that Plaintiffs or the Class have suffered any damages.


CALIFORNIA: Case Settlement Breach Reopens School Dispute
----------------------------------------------------------
The parents who sued the Mt. Diablo school district in federal court
for violating special education laws are taking the district back to
court, claiming it installed inaccessible playground equipment contrary
to the settlement and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Contra
Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA).

The school district agreed to sweeping changes to its special education
programs two years ago in an out-of-court settlement to a class action
on behalf of 5,000 students.  The settlement holds the district to a
court-enforced, 10-year timeline for making school sites and programs
more accessible to disabled students.

But an attorney for the plaintiffs has said that district officials
have ignored their advice and have replaced playgrounds at 11 schools
with equipment that they do not consider accessible.  District
officials failed to report the work in quarterly reports to monitors,
said Rhoda Benedetti, an attorney with Disability Rights Advocates.  
Therefore, the plaintiffs are asking the school district to retrofit
the playgrounds.

Superintendent Gary McHenry said that the district has been complying
with the settlement requirements.  The district should not be required
to take out new equipment that complied when it was installed because
the standard has changed, he said.  As was indicated, the work was not
reported in quarterly reports to the court monitors.

A federal judge will mediate the dispute.  If that does not work, the
two sides will go back to trial.  The dispute indicates a backslide in
relations between parents of special education students and the
district, which had seemed to be improving, said Ms. Benedetti said.

Ms. Benedetti indicated the worsening of relations was avoidable, but
the district was not forthright with the parents:  "It is quite a
travesty," said Ms. Benedetti, to install brand new playgrounds that
are not accessible."

The main problem with the new playgrounds is the ground surfacing, said
Ms. Benedetti.  The district chose a wood fiber material called Fibar,
which can be unstable and hard for children with wheelchairs to
navigate, according to a report by a court-appointed architectural
monitor.  Some play structures also need changes, the monitor wrote.  
According to the monitor, the new playgrounds at Ygnacio Valley
Elementary in Concord and Strandwood Elementary at Pleasant Hill, for
example, do not have enough ground-level play equipment accessible to
children who cannot climb. The structure also lacks enough safety
railings.



CIENA CORP.: Plaintiffs Appeal Dismissal of Derivative Lawsuit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Plaintiffs in a shareholder derivative lawsuit appealed a Court ruling
that dismissed the case against ONI Systems Corp. to which Ciena Corp.
has also been named defendant following its merger with ONI.

In September 2002, Ciena sought and obtained a dismissal order from the
Court. On December 2, 2002, the plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal
from the court's order.

On May 3, 2002, a shareholder derivative complaint alleging violations
of California state law was filed in the Superior Court of the State of
California, County of Santa Clara, against ONI Systems.  The complaint
names Hugh Martin; the other members of ONI's former board of
directors; Terrence J. Schmid, ONI's former chief financial officer and
vice president, finance and administration; and certain underwriters of
ONI's initial public offering as defendants.

The complaint alleges that the defendants breached their fiduciary
duties, acted negligently and were unjustly enriched in determining the
offering price of ONI Systems common stock in ONI's initial public
offering.  No specific amount of damages has been claimed.


DOW CHEMICAL: Judge Orders Three U.S. Companies to Pay Banana Workers
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A Nicaraguan judge, Angel Espinoza, calling the ruling historic, has
ordered three U.S. companies to pay $490 million to 583 banana workers
allegedly affected by use of the pesticide Nemagon in the banana fields
of western Nicaragua, said a lawyer for the plaintiffs, according to a
report by Associated Press Newswires.  It was unclear how much each
victim would receive.


The alleged victims sued Dow Chemical, Shell Oil Co. and Standard Fruit
Co., an affiliate of Dole Food Company, Inc., in 1998, for using
Nemagon in the banana fields despite the fact that the United States
government had banned the pesticide in 1977.  Repeated exposure to the
chemical has been shown to cause cancer and sterility in laboratory
animals and an increased risk of cancer in humans.


Dow spokesman Scot Wheeler said the judgment was "unenforceable"
because the case was supposed to be moved to a U.S. court, and because
the ruling was "based on a law passed in Nicaragua that its own
attorney general has called unconstitutional."  Last year, the
Nicaraguan congress enacted legislation allowing any Nicaraguan worker
to sue a foreign company.


In 1993, more than 16,000 banana plantation workers from Costa Rica,
Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the
Philippines, filed a class action lawsuit in Texas against U.S. fruit
and chemical companies for alleged illnesses as a result of exposure to
chemicals. The companies, including Chiquita, Del Monte and Dole,
agreed to pay a total of $41.5 million in 1997 to those who proved they
were sterile.


EMBRYO DEVELOPMENT: Court Approves Settlement Pact, Company Says
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Embryo Development Corp., a development stage company, said the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern District of New York has approved a
settlement agreement of a securities fraud lawsuit and that an Order
will be entered shortly.

In a consolidated complaint, plaintiffs assert claims against the
Company and others under the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 and New York common and statutory law arising out
of the November 1995 initial public offering of 1 million shares of the
Company's common stock.

According to the complaint, the underwriter of the offering, Sterling
Foster & Co. Inc., which is also a defendant, manipulated secondary
market trading in shares of the Company's common stock following
the offering and covered certain short positions it created through
such manipulation by purchasing shares of Company stock from persons
who owned such stock prior to the offering pursuant to an  arrangement
with such persons that was not disclosed in the registration statement
and prospectus distributed in connection with the offering. The
complaint seeks unspecified damages.

In November 1998, it was announced that Michael Lulkin, a director and
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company at the time of the
Company's initial public offering, had plead guilty to, among other
things, conspiracy to commit securities fraud.  The charges to which
Mr. Lulkin plead were premised on allegations that Mr. Lulkin, Sterling
Foster, and others had entered into an undisclosed agreement pursuant
to which, upon conclusion of the Company's initial public offering,
they would:

(a) cause Sterling Foster to release Mr. Lulkin and others who owned
the Company stock prior to the offering from certain "lock up"
agreements restricting them from selling such stock; and

(b) cause Mr. Lulkin and such other persons to sell the Company stock
to Sterling Foster at prearranged prices to enable Sterling Foster to
use such stock to cover certain short positions it had created.

In August 1999, an agreement in principle was entered into providing
for settlement of the consolidated class action against the Company,
Mr. Lulkin and Steven Wasserman, who was also a member of the Company's
Board of Directors at the time of the Company's initial public
offering. Under the agreement in principle, all claims in the action
against the Company, and against Mr. Lulkin and Mr. Wasserman insofar
as they were members of the Company's Board of Directors, would be
dismissed in exchange for a payment of $400,000, of which $100,000
would need to be paid by the Company and $300,000 would be paid by an
insurance company under a directors and officers liability policy of
insurance.

In June 2001, definitive settlement documents were executed. The
settlement documents provide that the Company would pay the foregoing
$100,000 by remitting to the class representatives $25,000 and a note
in the amount of $75,000 payable in June 2003 with interest thereon at
7% per year.  The Company has remitted the funds and note to the class
representatives to be held by them in accordance with the terms of the
settlement agreement and pending final court review of the settlement.


ERGOBILT INC.: Court Fixes December 20 Deadline to File Claims
---------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court of the Northern District Of Texas
Dallas Division notifies all persons who, during the period between
February 3, 1997 and May 14, 1998, inclusive, purchased common stock of
Ergobilt Inc. that they must submit proofs of claim on or before
December 20, 2002.

The company and the plaintiffs have reached a Settlement Agreement
under which a Settlement Fund consisting of $3,220,000 in cash, plus
interest has been established.

Plaintiffs estimate that there were approximately 6.3 million shares of
ErgoBilt common stock traded during the Class Period which may have
been damaged as a result of the alleged wrongdoing. Plaintiffs estimate
that the average recovery per damaged share of ErgoBilt common stock
under the Settlement, calculated without regard to the exclusion of any
person or entity from the Class, is $ 0.51 per damaged share before
deduction of Court-awarded attorneys' fees and expenses.

Depending on the number of claims submitted, when during the Class
Period a Class Member purchased his or her shares of ErgoBilt common
stock, and whether those shares were held at the end of the Class
Period or sold during the Class Period, and if sold, when they were
sold, an individual Class Member may receive more or less than this
average amount. The Defendants have denied all averments of wrongdoing
or liability in the Action and all other accusations of wrongdoing or
violations of law.

INDIAN TRUST FUND: Government Accounting Scandals Thrust to the Fore
--------------------------------------------------------------------
History may remember 2002 as the year of the accounting scandals. But
American Indians have been victimized by the government's own
accounting scandal for decades, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

In the "Indian Enron" case, as it is being called, the United States
government has mismanaged the trust funds of up to half a million
people for more than 100 years. While the media and politicians have
loudly and righteously demanded accountability and reform in the
private sector, there is almost a total lack of outrage by American
citizens, Congress and the White House toward the culprit in the trust
fund case, the Interior Department.

Eloise Cobell, a Blackfeet woman, filed one of the largest class action
lawsuits in U.S. history in 1996, against the U.S. government, now
called Cobell vs. Norton, Gale Norton being the Secretary of the
Department of the Interior.  Her lawsuit seeks "redress of gross
breaches of trust" committed by members of the Interior Department
against "the dependents with respect to the management of over 300,000
individual Indians' money."

Roughly, 11 million acres of Indian land is held in trust by the
Interior Department.  Ms. Cobell and her lawyers estimate that more
than $100 billion in royalties may be due individual accounts.  In
addition to monetary compensation, Ms. Cobell's lawsuit asks that
control over the individual accounts be taken away from the Interior
Department and placed in receivership to be handled by court officers
who would report directly to the Justice Department.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton is adamantly opposed to receivership
and, instead, like her predecessors, has created yet another internal
accounting system called Bureau of Indian Trust Asset Management.  This
controversial proposal was devised with almost no input from tribes and
seeks to lump tribal land with individual Indian's lands.  Predictably,
this has created a division in Indian country as tribes fear losing
their trust relationship with the federal government.

In September, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth charged Ms. Norton
with civil contempt, stating that she had "committed a fraud on the
court" by lying about her department's efforts to address the problems,
and has undermined the public trust.

For American Indians, many of whom live a hardscrabble existence on
reservation land, royalty payments are used for basic necessities.  

"The way these trust-fund holders have been treated is a national
disgrace. If 40,000 people were cut off Social Security, there would be
an uproar in Congress," Rep. Thomas Udall, D-N.M., told the Washington
Post last spring.

Most people know little or nothing about this subject.  There is a
strange disconnect between mainstream American and Indian America.  
Many white Americans view American Indians as denizens of ancient
history, which in this culture of instant gratification is anything
that happened more than 30 years ago.

But much further back than that, the government enacted the Dawes Act
in 1887, in response to the never-ending hunger for land by white
settlers and entrepreneurs. Under the Dawes Act, Indian land holdings
were broken up by allotting small parcels of land, 80 acres to 160
acres, to individual Indians who already had been pushed from their
land onto reservations through treaties.

The government, as trustee, then took legal charge of the parcels and
established the Indian Money Trust to manage and collect revenues
generated by fees from lessees who used the Indians' land for mining,
oil, timber, grazing and other interests.  The money was then to
have been distributed to the Indians and their heirs.

But the trust was handled in a sloppy and criminal manner.  There have
been numerous allegations over the years that large oil, gas and coal
interests may have received special deals from the Bureau of Indian
Affairs for use of Indian lands.  Some revenues were not collected, or
if collected, distributed in a spurious manner.

Despite several court-ordered attempts at reform, the system continues
to be hopelessly incompetent.  In the words of Judge Lamberth's recent
opinion, the Interior Department's handling of the funds "has served as
the gold standard for mismanagement by the federal government for more
than a century."

"They made us many promises, more than I can remember.they kept
but one:  They promised to take our land and they took it," said Lakota
Chief Red Cloud in recounting his people's dealings with the white
government's representatives.


JACK IN THE BOX: Accessibility Improved as Settlement Deadline Nears
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Jack in the Box Inc., one of the largest hamburger chains in the United
States, says it is improving accessibility at its restaurants and
expects to spend about $3.4 million more in fiscal 2003 to comply with
the settlement terms of its class action lawsuit.

The company settled an action filed in 1995 regarding alleged failure
to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The settlement, as
amended, requires compliance with ADA Access Guidelines at company-
operated restaurants by October 2003.

The company says it expects to comply with the settlement obligations
by the October 2003 settlement deadline.   

On April 18, 2001, an action was filed by Robert Bellmore and Jeffrey
Fairbairn, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated,
in the Superior Court of the State of California, San Diego County,
seeking class action status in alleging violations of California wage
and hour laws.

The complaint alleged that salaried restaurant management personnel in
California were improperly classified as exempt from California
overtime laws, thereby depriving them of overtime pay. The complaint
sought damages in an unspecified amount, penalties, injunctive relief,
prejudgment interest, costs and attorneys' fees.

The company settled the action in fiscal year 2002 for approximately
$9.3 million without admission of liability. The settlement is subject
to certain conditions and court approval.


LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES: $200 Million in Settlement Money Held in Escrow
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Lucent Technologies Inc. reports that it has deposited approximately
$200 million in escrow accounts in connection with the settlement of a
class action lawsuit filed in llinois state court under the name of
Crain v. Lucent Technologies.

The plaintiffs sought damages on behalf of present and former customers
based on a claim that the AT&T Consumer Products business (which became
part of Lucent in 1996) and Lucent had defrauded and misled customers
who leased telephones, resulting in payments in excess of the cost to
purchase the telephones.  Similar consumer class actions pending in
various state courts were stayed pending the outcome of the case and,
in July 2001, the Illinois court certified a nationwide class of
plaintiffs.

A settlement was agreed to by the parties in August 2002, to settle the
litigation for up to $300 million in cash plus pre-paid calling cards
redeemable for minutes of long distance service. The court approved the
settlement in November 2002.

Lucent and AT&T deny they have defrauded or misled their customers, but
have decided to settle to avoid the uncertainty of litigation and the
diversion of resources and personnel that the continuation of pursuing
it would require.  The class claimants will apply for reimbursement
from the settlement fund, and will be required to demonstrate their
entitlement through a claims form to be provided to a claims
administrator.


LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES: Trial Swings Into Motion February 2003
-----------------------------------------------------------
The Texas state court has set a February 2003 trial date on a case
filed against Lucent Technologies Inc. and certain of its current and
former officers and directors captioned Obtek, et al. v. Lucent
Technologies Inc., et al.

The case was filed in April 2001 and alleges violation of federal
securities laws, the Texas Securities Act and common law fraud in
connection with Lucent's acquisition of a company called Agere Inc. in
April 2000.


MASSACHUSETTS: Judge Declines Lawsuit Over State Exam Abolition
----------------------------------------------------------------
U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor, Massachusetts, has declined to
hear a class action lawsuit seeking to strike down the Massachusetts
Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam, which students in that
state are required to pass in order to receive their diplomas
signifying graduation from high school, reported The Boston Globe.  
Judge Ponsor directed the lawyers representing the students to wage
their battle over the controversial test in state court instead.

The judge said he would not decide the case because it largely covers
alleged violations of state law, something federal courts typically
avoid.  Yet he urged the plaintiffs to return to him if they get bogged
down in the state courts.  And Judge Ponsor agreed that the case raises
pressing questions about whether the MCAS test is a "benefit or burden"
on students who have not been prepared to take the test.

Eight students who have failed the MCAS test required for graduation,
say the test is discriminatory and that many schools have failed to
teach students the material on the exam.

The lawsuit claims that the exam is invalid under the equal protection
clauses of the state and federal constitutions, and that it is
unreliable and unfair.  The students, chiefly black and Hispanic with
limited English, not only challenge the test but also the requirement
that the students must pass the test as a graduation requirement.

The lawsuit was filed by representatives of the Center for Law and
Education, the Multicultural Education, Training and Advocacy group and
the Boston Bar Association's committee for civil rights.  Defendants
include the state Board of Education, the state Department of Education
and the Holyoke school district.

Judge Ponsor retained jurisdiction over the five counts of the case
that deal with alleged violations of federal law.  He dismissed four
counts that deal with state law "without prejudice," meaning lawyers
can file them again.


NORTH DAKOTA: Bill Aims To Stabilize Long-Term Care Insurance Costs
--------------------------------------------------------------------
A bill recently filed with the Legislature aims at curbing excessive
rate increases of long-term care insurance policies and stabilizing the
prices of such policies, said the state of North Dakota's Insurance
Commissioner James Poolman, the Grand Forks Herald reported.  The aim
of the bill, among others, is to avoid practices that may lead to
litigation by consumers.

"Our goal in the whole process is to provide some stability for the
consumers when they purchase the long-term care policy," said Mr.
Poolman, who introduced the bill.  The commissioner may "adopt
reasonable rules to promote premium adequacy and protect the
policyholder in the event of substantial rates increases," stated one
part of the bill.  This allows him to impose requirements when
insurance companies request a premium increase, Mr. Poolman said.

The bill will not stop increases of premiums altogether, Mr. Poolman
said.  But what it will do is to "force companies to adequately price
their products up front," even if it means slightly higher prices in
the beginning so that consumers know what they will be paying down the
road, he said.  If the bill comes law, the commissioner can deny rate
increases if the company has set the initial premium too low and failed
to look into possible long-term adverse experiences.

This kind of approach, required by the legislation, forces the company
to be long-term in its strategy, said the commissioner.  "It would be
far more difficult," under this kind of regulation, "[for the company]
to come in with a low-balled rate and justify to us later a significant
rate increase of 30, 40 or 50 percent."

Mr. Poolman described the situation, in the late 90s, when the country
saw problems with excessive rate increases in long-term care insurance
policies.  The companies would come into the community and lowball
their product to gain customers.  Later, the companies would increase
their rates astronomically in order to pay off their claims.  It is
this kind of situation that the bill now before the North Dakota
Legislature aims to prevent.

Ninety-five companies offer long-term care insurance in North Dakota.
The state is among nine in the country with the highest market
penetration of long-term care insurance, either more than 15 percent of
North Dakotans over 65 holding such insurance policies, according to a
1999 survey by the Health Insurance Association of America.


NUTRITION SUPERSTORES: Health Products Distributors Charged with Fraud
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 10, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a
securities fraud action in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Florida against defendants Nutrition
Superstores.com, Inc., Advanced Wound Care, Inc., Franchise Direct,  
Inc.,  Anthony F. Musso, Jr.,  Jeffrey  Gill,  Wayne Santini,  and
Andrew W. Doney for perpetuating a fraudulent offering of unregistered
securities.

According to the Commission's complaint, between 1998 and 2001,
defendants raised at least  $10.5 million from over 770 investors
nationwide who purchased stock in Nutrition Superstores and Advanced
Wound Care, both purported distributors of health and nutrition
products.   Securities were sold through a group of unlicensed sales
agents affiliated with a boiler-room, Franchise Direct.  Using scripts
and employing hard pressure sales tactics, the sales agents, given
bogus   "vice president" titles by the issuer de jour  (Nutrition
Superstores or Advanced Wound Care), made egregious misrepresentations
and omissions concerning, among other things, the companies' holdings
and business operations, projected revenues, their impending  "hot"
Initial Public Offerings (IPO), use of investor proceeds, and  expected
profits.   

In addition, Advanced Wound Care made misrepresentations regarding
purported celebrity endorsements. Defendants also did not disclose that
Franchise Direct and its sales agents received up to 25% of all
investor proceeds as commissions.

Based on the foregoing, the Commission asked the court to issue
permanent injunctions against Nutrition Superstores, Advanced Wound
Care, Franchise Direct, Musso, Gill, Santini, and Doney.  The
Commission also requested that Nutrition Superstores, Advanced Wound   
Care, Franchise Direct, Musso, Gill, Santini, and Doney be ordered to
disgorge all illicit profits  from their fraudulent conduct, with
prejudgment interest, and that Franchise Direct, Musso, Gill, Santini,
and Doney pay civil money penalties.  

In addition, the Commission asked the court  to issue  orders barring
Musso, Gill and Santini from serving as an officer or  director  of any
public company.  Finally, simultaneous with filing the Commission's
complaint, the Commission instituted and simultaneously settled
administrative proceeding against John Vailati, the President of
Franchise Direct, for his role in the fraudulent scheme.


SAFETY-KLEEN CORP.: Top Executives Sued in "Massive" Accounting Fraud
--------------------------------------------------------------------
A complaint has been filed in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York charging Safety-Kleen Corp. and four of
its former senior executives with perpetrating a massive accounting
fraud from at least November 1998 through March 2000.

The complaint, filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged
that the company officers materially overstated the company's revenue  
and  earnings in periodic  reports  filed  with  the Commission  and in
press releases issued by the company.   

According to the complaint, the defendants carried out the scheme
primarily by making inappropriate quarterly accounting adjustments for  
the  purpose of meeting  Wall  Street pro forma earnings expectations.
They are also charged with fraudulently recording approximately $38
million of cash that was generated by entering into speculative
derivatives transactions.

The complaint alleges that the fraudulent scheme was orchestrated by
Paul R. Humphreys, the former Chief Financial Officer. William D.
Ridings, the former Controller, and Thomas W. Ritter, Jr., the former
Vice President of Accounting, assisted Humphreys. As set forth in the
complaint, these executives engaged in the illegal conduct to create
the illusion that predicted cost savings and business synergies from  
two large  acquisitions were being achieved.  In fact, the expected  
savings had  not materialized, the company's business was declining
rapidly, and the company was facing a severe cash flow problem.
     
To make up for the earnings shortfall, Humphreys, Ridings and Ritter
recorded, or directed others to record, numerous adjustments that were
not in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.   The
adjustments  were  made  to  multiple  accounts  and  generally  can  
be categorized as follows:  

(1) improper revenue recognition;

(2) improper capitalization  and  deferral  of  operating  expenses;  

(3) improper treatment  of  reserves  and accruals; and

(4)  improper  recording of derivatives transactions.  

The complaint alleges that Kenneth W. Winger, the former Chief
Executive Officer, signed Safety-Kleen's periodic reports and knew or
was reckless in not knowing that the financial statements contained in
those reports were materially false and misleading.  The complaint also
alleges that all of the defendants knew or were reckless in not knowing
that the company's quarterly earnings press releases were materially
false and misleading.

After the fraudulent scheme was discovered in late February 2000, the
company began an internal investigation, which was conducted by a
special committee of the Board of Directors.  On July 9, 2001, Safety-
Kleen filed restated financial statements for fiscal years 1997, 1998
and 1999.  The company's restatement reduced net income over the three-
year period by $534 million.  Approximately $312 million, or 58%, of
the restated net income was in fiscal 1999.  Also on July 9, 2001, the
company filed financial statements for fiscal year 2000 reflecting a
net loss of $833 million.

According to the complaint, through this conduct:  

(1) Safety-Kleen violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933
and Sections 10(b), 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A) and 13(b)(2)(B) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5, 12b-20, 13a-1 and 13a-
13 thereunder,

(2) Winger violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section
10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rules 10b-5 and 13b2-2 thereunder, and

(3) Humphreys, Ridings and Ritter violated Section 17(a) of the
Securities Act and Sections 10(b) and 13(b)(5) of the Exchange Act and
Rules 10b-5 and 13b2-1 thereunder.   Humphreys and Ridings also
violated Exchange Act Rule 13b2-2.  As relief, the Commission is
seeking permanent injunctions, disgorgement of defendants' ill-gotten
gains, prejudgment interest, and the imposition of civil penalties
against Winger, Humphreys, Ridings and Ritter. The Commission is also
seeking officer and director bars against Winger, Humphreys and
Ridings.
     
The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New
York has filed related criminal charges against Humphreys and Ridings.
Ridings has entered a guilty plea and is waiting to be sentenced.

Ridings also consented, without admitting or denying the allegations  
in the Commission's complaint, to the entry of a final judgment
permanently enjoining  him  from  violating Section 17(a)  of  the  
Securities  Act, Sections 10(b) and 13(b)(5) of the Exchange Act and
Rules 10b-5,  13b2-1 and  13b2-2  thereunder.  He also agreed to be
permanently barred from serving as an officer or director of a public  
company  and  to  pay $28,476.14 of disgorgement and prejudgment
interest.

Simultaneous with the filing of the complaint, and without admitting  
or denying  the  Commission's allegations, Safety-Kleen  consented  to  
the entry  of  a  final  judgment permanently enjoining  it  from  
violating Section  17(a) of the Securities Act, Sections 10(b), 13(a),
13(b)(2)(A) and  13(b)(2)(B) of the Exchange Act and Rules 10b-5, 12b-
20, 13a-1  and 13a-13  thereunder.  Ritter consented, without admitting
or denying the allegations in the complaint, to the entry of a final
judgment permanently enjoining him from violating Section 17(a) of the
Securities Act, Sections 10(b) and 13(b)(5) of the Exchange Act and  
Rules  10b-5, and  13b2-1 thereunder.  A civil penalty was not imposed
against Ritter, and disgorgement and prejudgment interest were waived,  
based on his sworn statement of financial condition.


SELECT COMFORT CORP.: To Pay Some Shareholders For Lawsuit Settlement
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Select Comfort Corp. will pay a group of shareholders $5.75 million if
federal Judge David Doty approves a preliminary settlement, Associated
Press Newswires reported.

The settlement was recently filed in U.S. District Court in
Minneapolis, and would settle shareholder lawsuits filed in 1999, that
accused the company of providing investors with misleading financial
projections as its sales were declining. The plaintiffs contended that
Select Comfort issued false financial statements in order to inflate
the value of its stock when the company went public.

Mark Kimball, an attorney for the Plymouth-based airbed maker, said
Select Comfort maintains "that the claims asserted in the litigation
are without merit." Select Comfort's insurance will cover the cost of
the settlement.


SOUTHMARK ADVISORY: Court Bars Investment Adviser, Others From Breaches
----------------------------------------------------------------------
U.S. District Court Judge James O. Ellison of the Northern District of
Oklahoma enjoined Southmark Advisory Inc., a SEC-registered investment
adviser, Southmark Inc., a SEC-registered broker-dealer, and Wendell D.
Belden, the owner of both firms, from violating, and aiding and
abetting violations of section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933,
section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10B-5
AND 15B3-1 thereunder and sections 204, 206(1), 206(2), 206(4) and 207
of the Investment Advisers Act and Rules 204-1(A)(2), 206(4)-4(A)(2),
and 206(4)-4(C) thereunder.

In the judgment, the court also appointed an Independent Consultant to
Southmark Adviser and Southmark Broker to oversee the firms' practices,
policies and procedures, ensure their compliance with the securities
laws, and keep the Securities and Exchange Commission apprised of their
activities.

Previously, at the Commission's request, the court had appointed a
receiver for the Southmark entities and directed that Belden not
interfere with the companies' activities.  The court's November 21
order directs that Belden continue to have no further affiliation or
association, direct or indirect, with the Southmark entities.
     
The court also held a hearing on the financial condition of Belden and
the Southmark entities.  After considering sworn financial statements
provided by Belden, the investigative report presented by the court-
appointed receiver in the case, and testimony from the receiver, the
court determined that neither Belden nor the Southmark entities had the
financial ability to pay disgorgement or a civil penalty, relief that
had been sought by the Commission, and the court dismissed these
Commission claims.


SYNCOR INTERNATIONAL: SEC Accepts $500,000 Offer to Settle Lawsuit
-------------------------------------------------------------------
On Dec. 10, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed two settled
enforcement proceedings charging Syncor International Corporation, a
radiopharmaceutical company based in Woodland Hills, California, with
violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act  (FCPA).  

First, the Commission filed a lawsuit in the United States District
Court for the District of Columbia charging Syncor with violating the
FCPA and seeking a civil penalty.  

Second, the Commission issued an administrative order finding that
Syncor violated the anti-bribery, books-and-records, and internal-
controls provisions of the FCPA, ordering Syncor to cease and desist
from such violations, and requiring Syncor to retain an independent
consultant to review and make recommendations concerning the company's
FCPA compliance policies and procedures.   

Without admitting or denying the Commission's charges, Syncor consented
to the entry of a final judgment in the federal lawsuit requiring it  
to  pay  a $500,000 civil penalty and  consented  to  the Commission's
issuance of its administrative order.
     
In both its federal court complaint and its administrative order, the
Commission charged that, from at least the mid-1980s through at least
September  2002,  Syncor's  foreign  subsidiaries  in  Taiwan,   
Mexico, Belgium,  Luxembourg, and France made a total of at  least  
$600,000  in illicit  payments to doctors employed by hospitals
controlled by foreign authorities.  According to the Commission, these
illicit payments were made with the purpose and effect of influencing
the doctors' decisions so that Syncor could obtain or retain business
with them and the hospitals that employed them.  The Commission
charged, moreover, that the payments were made with the knowledge and  
approval of  senior officers of the relevant Syncor subsidiaries, and
in some cases with the knowledge and approval of Syncor's founder and
chairman of the board.
          
According to the Commission, by making these payments through its
subsidiaries, Syncor violated the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA
(Section 30A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934).  The Commission
further charged that, by improperly recording these payments, and
similar payments made to foreign persons not affiliated with
government- owned  facilities, Syncor violated the books-and-records
provisions  of the  FCPA (Section 13(b)(2)(A) of the Securities
Exchange Act of  1934).

Finally, the Commission charged that, by failing to devise or maintain
an effective system of internal controls to prevent or detect these
violations of the FCPA, Syncor violated the internal accounting
controls provisions of the FCPA (Section 13(b)(2)(B) of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934).
     
In determining it would accept Syncor's settlement offer, the
Commission considered the full cooperation that Syncor provided to the  
Commission staff during its investigation.  The Commission also
considered the fact that Syncor, after being alerted to the relevant
conduct  by  another company  that  was  conducting due diligence
relating  to  a  previously announced  merger  with Syncor, promptly
brought  this  matter  to  the attention of the Commission's staff and
the U.S. Department of Justice.


TURBODYNE TECHNOLOGIES: Court Fixes December 30 Deadline to File Claims
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court Central District Of California fixes
December 30, 2002 as the deadline to file proof of claim to participate
in the settlement agreement of the securities fraud lawsuit filed
against Turbodyne Technologies Inc.

The proposed Settlement creates a fund which shall be at least $2.9
million in cash (and which may slightly exceed that), and any interest
that accrues on the fund prior to distribution. The Settlement Fund may
reach $7.9 million if Lead Plaintiffs prevail in collecting on an
assignment of rights made by Defendants under one of Turbodyne's excess
directors and officers liability insurance policies, which policy was
issued by a presently insolvent insurer.

Lead Plaintiffs and their counsel may at some point determine that the
costs of pursuing the aforementioned assignment of rights exceed the
benefits of pursuing the same, and abandon such efforts. Should
counsel, in their professional judgment, deem this to be the case,
there will be no additional notice in this regard.

Based on (1) Lead Plaintiffs' estimate of the number of shares entitled
to participate in the Settlement; (2) the anticipated number of
claims to be submitted by Class Members; and (3) without giving
consideration to the contingent payment of the Reliance Assignment
discussed above, the average distribution per share under the
Settlement would be approximately $.20 before deduction of Court-
approved fees and expenses.

However, actual recovery from this fund will depend on a number of
variables including the number of Claimants, the number of shares you
purchased, the expense of administering the claims process, and the
timing of your purchases and sales, if any.

Defendants have denied and continue to deny each and all of the claims
and contentions alleged by Lead Plaintiffs in the Litigation.
Defendants expressly have denied and continue to deny all charges of
wrongdoing or liability against them arising out of any of the
conduct, statements, acts or omissions alleged, or that could have been
alleged, in the Litigation. Defendants also have denied and continue
to deny, among other things:

(1) the allegations that Lead Plaintiffs or the Class have suffered
damage;

(2) that the price of Turbodyne common stock was artificially inflated
by reasons of alleged misrepresentations, non-disclosures or otherwise;

(3) that the Lead Plaintiffs or the Class were harmed by the conduct
alleged in the Litigation; and

(4) that Defendants acted with the required state of mind to support
liability.

Nonetheless, Defendants have concluded that further conduct of the
Litigation would be protracted and expensive, and that it is
desirable that the Litigation be fully and finally settled in the
manner and upon the terms and conditions set forth in the Stipulation.
Defendants also have taken into account the uncertainty and risks
inherent in any litigation, especially in complex cases like the
Litigation.

Defendants have, therefore, determined that it is desirable and
beneficial to them that the Litigation be settled in the manner and
upon the terms and conditions set forth in the Stipulation.


UNITED EQUITABLE INSURANCE CO.:  Lawyers Seek Members For Class Action
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Lawyers representing a class-action lawsuit brought by a Grand Forks,
North Dakota man over alleged unwarranted, excessive rises in the
plaintiff's long-term insurance premium, are seeking more potential
members for the suit, reported the Grand Forks Herald.  U.S. District
Judge Cynthia Rothe-Seeger certified the lawsuit as a class-action suit
in April 2002.

Notices, therefore, have been sent recently to more than 9,000 North
Dakota nursing home insurance policyholders, said Bismarck attorney
Timothy Purdon, one of the lawyers representing the case.  Acting as
class representative is Frank Rose, 96, of Grand Forks, who lives in a
nursing home, Mr. Purdon said.

Mr. Rose filed the class-action lawsuit in 2000, with the U.S. District
Court, in Fargo, claiming that his long-term care insurance premium has
more than quadrupled since 1982, when he first bought the "guaranteed
renewable" long-term policy at a premium payment of $418 annually.
Mr. Rose alleged that his insurance company failed to disclose the
"known risk  of premium increases."  Mr. Purdon said that the premium
went up to $1,090.36 in 1997, and $2,291.26 in 2000.

Defendants named in the case are the United Equitable Insurance Co.,
based in Lincolnwood, Ill., and Standard Life and Accident Insurance,
based in Galveston, Texas, which took over the policies sold by United
Equitable in 1986.  The defendants appealed, but the certification was
affirmed by the state's Supreme Court in September 2002.

A jury trial for the class action is set for spring 2004, in federal
court, in Fargo, Mr. Purdon said.


VIVENDI UNIVERSAL: Police Raid HQ, Messier Homes, US Shareholders Suing
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Fifteen police officers from the Paris fraud squad recently raided the
headquarters of Vivendi Universal and two private properties belonging
to Jean-Marie Messier, its ousted chief executive; one, his Paris home
and the other, his country residence in Rambouillet, the Financial
Times reports.  The raids related to an inquiry launched by Paris
prosecutors in October into allegations that Mr. Messier gave "false
and misleading information" to the markets.

Vivendi Universal said:  "We confirm that a search is taking place, and
the company is collaborating with police."

In the United States, shareholders are seeking class-action status for
their lawsuits. And the company also is the focus of a formal
investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  A
separate investigation by the Justice Department is a criminal inquiry.

The judicial probe underway in France is independent of an
investigation by the French stock market regulator, the Commission des
Operations de Bourse (COB), underway since July.  People familiar with
the COB investigation say it is "certain" to result in the launch of a
formal sanction procedure when it concludes this month or early next
year. Any evidence of criminal activity will be given to police.

All the investigations, in France and in the United States, are
expected to focus primarily on whether Mr. Messier misrepresented the
financial condition of the company prior to its near-bankruptcy in
July. Investigators are also likely to focus on dealings in Vivendi
Universal stock.  Mr. Messier spent euros 6.4 billion on share buy-
backs to boost the stock price when the company already was highly
indebted.  He also borrowed "over euros 5 million" from Societe
Generale, the French bank, to exercise share options.

Mr. Messier was ousted as head of the world's second-largest media
conglomerate, in July, after running up euros 19 billion of debt.
During most of the six years in charge of the company, Mr. Messier was
hailed as a business genius in France and abroad for transforming a
slumbering French utilities firm into a multimedia giant by  buying up
huge trans-Atlantic operations like Seagram, the owners of Universal
and USA Networks.

Mr. Messier fell from grace after Vivendi's share price collapsed and a
vicious cash squeeze brought the company perilously close to a default.
Since his departure, the company has embarked on a major sell-off of
billions of pounds worth of assets, including its original environment
business, to help shed the heaviest debt loss in French corporate
history.

Mr. Messier has said that he welcomes the numerous legal proceedings
against his management of the company, claiming they are "the only way
to kill off definitively the rumors to the effect that Vivendi
Universal was just like Enron, that the bosses all filled their
pockets."


*Civil Liability Reform A Priority For The GOP
----------------------------------------------
The law that created a homeland security department included sweeping
legal protections for a host of security and technology company,
according to a report by Newsday.

The extensive language gives the incoming secretary of the department
an amalgam of 22 federal agencies, and vast discretion to decide which
private businesses involved in homeland security win the broad
liability protections. Injured consumers would be barred, for example,
from recovering punitive damages from such businesses, even if the
companies are found to have made a product or delivered a service that
harmed or killed someone.

Such lawsuits would be restricted to federal courts, which generally
are less generous to the plaintiffs, and joint liability would be wiped
out, no longer allowing the injured to seek compensation from those
marginally at fault but in a position to pay.

While not as publicized as a provision Republicans added on Veteran Day
weekend to protect Eli Lilly from lawsuits brought by parents claiming
that the company's vaccine preservative caused autism in the children,
it certainly sent a consistent message:  The incoming Republican
Congress is intent on winning major changes in civil liability, a
complex area known as tort law that the business community has battled
to remake for more than three decades.

Bruce Josten, executive vice president and chief lobbyist for the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce, said liability curbs are the business community's
"highest priority" for the new Congress. Incoming Senate Majority
Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) also put civil liability restraints atop
Congress's agenda, and President George W. Bush consistently has railed
against trial lawyers. All these individuals frame the issue as a
necessary step to help the ailing recovery.

"Tort reform is a priority of the Senate Republican leadership and will
most likely be a focus of the 108th Congress," said Ron Bonjean,
Senator Lott's spokesman.

Many Republicans and the nation's major industries have long argued
that trial lawyers have created a rapacious plaintiff's bar that has
bankrupted businesses, thereby costing workers their jobs and
retirement benefits.  Major Democrats, on the other hand, contend that
Republicans want to reward corporate America, the pharmaceutical,
tobacco, chemical, insurance, automobile and oil companies, at the cost
of consumers.

"Corporations want to shift the cost of injuries they have caused from
themselves, the wrongdoers, to the people they injure and ultimately to
taxpayers, through higher Medicare and social services costs," said
Carlton Carl, spokesman for the Association of Trial Lawyers of
America, the nation's largest group of trial lawyers.

Mr. Josten, executive vice president and chief lobbyist of the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce, said federal laws are needed, because decisions by
local judges are affecting businesses nationwide.  "You should not have
a local judge in a county issuing a ruling that affects hundreds of
millions of dollars in business across the country," he said.

Senate and House Republican leaders, along with lobbyists from groups
such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Medical
Association, in recent weeks have held extensive strategy sessions to
map out a legislative approach.  The groups are trying to avoid
overreach and avert internecine fights that resulted in the torpedoing
of liability limits in 1995, after Republicans gained House control for
the first time in four decades.  That year, the House and Senate each
passed broad product liability measures that President Clinton vetoed
the following year.

But that won't happen this time, with George W. Bush in the White
House. With White House backing, leaders next year plan to press first
for curbs on malpractice lawsuits against doctors, hospitals, managed
care companies, nursing homes and pharmaceutical companies.  They
contend that civil lawsuits are driving trauma centers, obstetricians
and other physicians out of states such as New York, West Virginia,
Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio, where liability insurance rates have
soared.

"For doctors, $250,000 a year in malpractice insurance is a big chunk
of his income, and sometimes so much so, that the doctor has to stop
practicing or move to a different location," said George Mason
University Professor David Bernstein, a tort-reform expert.

Republican leaders are expected to use as a legislative model, a
measure Rep. James Greenwood (R-Pa.) plans to reintroduce; it is a bill
that the House passed, but that the Senate never acted on in the last
Congress. The bill would cap awards for pain and suffering at $250,000.  
It would limit punitive damages to $250,000, or twice a person's
medical costs plus lost wages, whichever is the greater.  Injured
patients would have to sue within three years and, like the provision
in the homeland security law, would not allow the injured to win
damages from those marginally at fault.

There are some indications that Republicans may try to tack such
liability protections onto a bill providing prescription drug coverage
for Medicare recipients through private industry, though such efforts
were not successful in the last Congress.  Ron Pollack, director of
Families USA, a health care advocacy group, said an effort "to tack
controversial freight" onto any prescription drug measure would doom
both issues and ultimately hurt Republicans under pressure to make good
on campaign promises to deliver prescription drug coverage for the
elderly.

Carlton Carl of the trial lawyers group said that Republicans face an
uphill battle passing a bill limiting the rights of American to pursue
their liability rights; the Republicans are still going to need 60
votes in the Senate to avert any stalling tactics by the Democrats.

Still, with expected Democratic defections a Senate vote would be very
close. "We are in the margin of error range in terms of whether we can
hold our 41 votes," Frank Clemente of Public Citizen's Congress Watch,
a consumer organization, said.  Beyond that, Republican leaders also
plan to seek new requirements to move class-action litigation into
federal courts.

There is also a drive to shield asbestos makers from lawsuits brought
by those exposed to the cancer-causing substance but not yet ill from
it. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the incoming chairman of the Senate
Judiciary Committee, is expected to author a bill to limit liability of
asbestos makers. A recent study by RAND, a think tank, found that
lawsuits against asbestos makers cost businesses more than $54 billion
in 2000, and the costs could climb to $210 billion in coming years.

"Companies that never manufactured asbestos nor marketed it are being
forced to pay claims by individuals who are not sick and who may never
become sick," Senator Hatch wrote in May to Senator Patrick Leahy
(D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

John Coale, a Washington-based private trial lawyer, said limits on
pain and suffering of $250,000, would not come close to compensating a
person with a major injury.  "Corporate America does not want an even
playing field," he said.

Bruce Ottley, professor at Chicago's DePaul University, called the
liability-limiting provisions tucked into the homeland security law a
portent. "This certainly was the opening salvo," he said.


*Traditional Versus New "Cash Balance" Pension Plans
----------------------------------------------------
For many years, Harold Morch, a manager at North Shore University
hospital in Manhasset, New York, has held fast to a dream of retiring
at age 62, to a quiet farm in northern Pennsylvania.  But in 1999, the
hospital and most others in the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health
System shifted from a traditional pension plan to a controversial new
type of plan that tends to reduce the monthly benefits older workers
had expected, according to a recent Newsday report.  Some workers are
planning a class-action lawsuit.


Now Mr. Morch is 62 and still working.  He says he can't afford to
leave because the new "cash balance" plan would provide him with nearly
29 percent less than the traditional pension plan, or $947.26 a month
as compared with $1,330.89 under the old plan.  If he waits until he is
65 to retire, Mr. Morch will receive nearly 14 percent less than he
would have under the earlier plan at the same age, according to
document Mr. Morch says he obtained from North Shore's benefits office.

What can you do to protect your promised retirement nest egg if your
employer is thinking of converting your traditional pension to a cash
balance plan, and you are one of the older workers who stands to lose
money?  Mr. Morch has turned to the courts.  He and some co-workers
have seen a lawyer and plan to file a class-action lawsuit, charging
North Shore with age discrimination.

Worker advocates also urge people who think they will be shortchanged
by cash balance plans to organize and make noise to their companies,
shareholders and the public. They say such tactic have convinced many
employers to give extra help to older workers or to give them a choice
of plans.

But these same worker advocates and a number of financial advisers urge
workers to be extremely cautious about adopting another alternative,
taking one's built-up pension and leaving a company prior to
conversion. "It is a tough decision," said Ron Roge, a Bohemia-based
financial adviser. "There often are substantial penalties for leaving
early. There are so many variables, that the situation really has to be
analyzed."

Also, when considering leaving a company, Gary Schatzsky, a planner
with offices in Albany and Manhattan, said that workers older than 50
must keep in mind that employers "are not knocking down your door" with
lucrative new job offers.

Cash balance plans are expected to become even more widespread under a
new set of proposed rules issued recently by the Bush Administration.
Take heed, Mr. Morch and co-workers, as you head toward court.  Take
heed, workers, who plan to take worker advocates' advice that they make
noise to the companies, the shareholders and the public.  One of the
chief arguments of the workers -- age discrimination --  is being
challenged by the new rules issued by the Bush Administration.

The switch to a cash balance plan can help employers save money on
pension costs, but the new plans can cost workers older than 40 up to
one-half of their expected pensions when the conversion is made,
according to advocates for both workers and for employers.  That is
because the new plan uses a formula allowing workers to build up
retirement benefits evenly throughout their careers, rather than basing
benefit amounts heavily on end-of -career earnings.

At the moment, there has been no definitive, precedent-setting decision
in any worker lawsuit against the new plans, according to David
Certner, director of federal affairs for the AARP.  One age
discrimination suit in Indiana was settled.  In others, courts have
rejected arguments that cash balance plans violate prohibitions against
age discrimination in employment.  But judges are still considering
arguments that they violate anti-discrimination provisions of the
federal law governing private pension plans.

So far, workers have been more successful when they have organized to
publicly protest the threatened loss of pension benefits.  IBM, for
instance, allowed 35,000 employees, all people older than 40 with 10
years of service, to stay in the old plan, along with other older
workers whose pensions were grandfathered, after being mightily
embarrassed by what amounted to a worker uprising.

Janice Winston, a Philadelphia-based manager for Verizon, helped
organize a coalition of workers at Verizon after it decided to change
its traditional pension plan to cash balance a few years ago.  Ms.
Winston went to Denver twice to speak to annual meetings of Verizon
shareholders, and visited Capitol Hill to talk to senators and
congressmen.  The result:  Verizon decided to give people who left the
company whichever retirement benefit was greater.  Ms. Winston retired
early this month with a traditional pension benefit worth $400,000,
compared with the $181,000 she would have received under the new cash
balance plan.  "I made a difference," she said.

                     New Securities Fraud Cases

800 AMERICA.COM: Brodsky & Smith Launches Securities Suit in S.D. NY
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The Law offices of Brodsky & Smith L.L.C. announces that a securities
class action lawsuit has been commenced on behalf of shareholders who
acquired 800 America.com, Inc. (PinkSheets:ACCO) securities between
January 17, 2001 and November 13, 2002, inclusive.

The case is pending in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York, against the company and some of its
officers and directors.

The action charges that defendants violated the federal securities laws
by issuing a series of materially false and misleading statements to
the market throughout the Class Period, which statements had the effect
of artificially inflating the market price of the Company's securities.

No class has yet been certified in the above action. For more details,
contact Jason L. Brodsky, Esq., or Evan J. Smith, Esq., by Mail:
Brodsky & Smith, L.L.C., Two Bala Plaza, Suite 602, Bala Cynwyd, PA
19004, by E-mail: esmith@Brodsky-Smith.com, or by Phone: toll free
877-LEGAL-90.


eFUNDS CORP.: Cauley Geller Initiates Securities Lawsuit in E.D. WI
-------------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Firm of Cauley Geller Bowman & Coates LLP announced that a
class action has been filed in the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Wisconsin on behalf of purchasers of eFunds Corp.
(Nasdaq: EFDS) publicly traded securities during the period between
February 2, 2001 and October 24, 2002, inclusive.

The complaint charges that defendants eFunds, John A. Blanchard III
(CEO and Chairman from February 2, 2001 to September 15, 2002), Paul F.
Walsh (CEO and Chairman since September 16, 2002), Paul H. Bristow
(Executive Vice President and CFO from February 2, 2001 to June 30,
2002) and Thomas S. Liston (Interim Financial Officer since July 1,
2002) violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act
of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, by issuing a series of
materially false and misleading statements to the market between
February 2, 2001 to October 24, 2002.

For example, according to the complaint, throughout the Class Period,
eFunds issued press releases announcing quarter after quarter of record
results of operations, with revenues and earnings doubling in several
quarters during the Class Period. The financial statements contained in
such press releases were repeated in quarterly and annual reports filed
with the SEC. According to the complaint, such statements were
materially false and misleading because they failed to disclose that
eFunds had been improperly recognizing revenue during the Class Period.
Specifically, according to the complaint, the Company recognized
revenues on certain contracts immediately which, according to generally
accepted accounting principles, should have been deferred over a period
of time.

Accordingly, the complaint alleges, eFunds materially inflated its
revenues and revenue growth rate throughout the Class Period. On March
4, 2002, eFunds issued a press release announcing that it was "revising
its previously announced results of operations for the year ended
December 31, 2001" because the Company had recognized revenue from two
transactions in the second quarter of 2001 which should have been
recorded in the third quarter as a single transaction, or, in the
alternative, as a reduction in operating expenses instead of revenue.
The revision required a reduction of the Company's reported 2001
revenue by $5 million. According to the complaint, that announcement,
however, did not disclose the truth regarding the Company's improper
revenue recognition. On October 25, 2002, before the open of trading,
eFunds shocked the market by announcing that it would "delay the
release of its earnings for the quarter ended September 30, 2002, while
the Company completes a review of the accounting treatment given to
various transactions that occurred in 2000 and 2001 and certain tax
matters related to the Company's India based operations." In response
to the announcement, the price of eFunds common stock fell by 10% in
one day, from a close of $9.65 per share on October 24, 2002 to close
at $8.68 per share on October 25, 2002, on unusually large trading
volume, and representing a decline of 66% from the Class Period high of
$25.49 per share reached on May 18, 2001.

For more details, contact Jackie Addison, Heather Gann or Sue Null by
Mail: P.O. Box 25438 Little Rock, AR 72221-5438, by Phone: (Toll Free)
1-888-551-9944, or by E-mail: info@cauleygeller.com.


eFUNDS CORP.: Milberg Weiss Commences Securities Suit in E.D. WI
------------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP announces that
a class action lawsuit was filed on November 27, 2002, on behalf of
purchasers of the securities of eFunds Corp. (NASDAQ: EFDS) between
February 2, 2001 to October 24, 2002 inclusive.

The action, numbered 02-C-1164, is pending in the Eastern District of
Wisconsin, located at 362 United States Courthouse, 517 East Wisconsin
Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53202, against defendants eFunds, John A.
Blanchard III (CEO and Chairman from February 2, 2001 to September 15,
2002), Paul F. Walsh (CEO and Chairman since September 16, 2002), Paul
H. Bristow (Executive Vice President and CFO from February 2, 2001 to
June 30, 2002) and Thomas S. Liston (Interim Financial Officer since
July 1, 2002). The Honorable Charles N. Clevert Jr. is the Judge
presiding over the action.

The complaint charges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder, by issuing a series of materially false and misleading
statements to the market between February 2, 2001 to October 24, 2002.
For example, according to the complaint, throughout the Class Period,
eFunds issued press releases announcing quarter after quarter of record
results of operations, with revenues and earnings doubling in several
quarters during the Class Period. The financial statements contained in
such press releases were repeated in quarterly and annual reports filed
with the SEC. According to the complaint, such statements were
materially false and misleading because they failed to disclose that
eFunds had been improperly recognizing revenue during the Class Period.

Specifically, according to the complaint, the Company recognized
revenues on certain contracts immediately which, according to generally
accepted accounting principles, should have been deferred over a period
of time. Accordingly, the complaint alleges, eFunds materially inflated
its revenues and revenue growth rate throughout the Class Period. On
March 4, 2002, eFunds issued a press release announcing that it was
"revising its previously announced results of operations for the year
ended December 31, 2001" because the Company had recognized revenue
from two transactions in the second quarter of 2001 which should have
been recorded in the third quarter as a single transaction, or, in the
alternative, as a reduction in operating expenses instead of revenue.
The revision required a reduction of the Company's reported 2001
revenue by $5 million. According to the Complaint, that announcement,
however, did not disclose the truth regarding the Company's improper
revenue recognition. On October 25, 2002, before the open of trading,
eFunds shocked the market by announcing that it would "delay the
release of its earnings for the quarter ended September 30, 2002, while
the Company completes a review of the accounting treatment given to
various transactions that occurred in 2000 and 2001 and certain tax
matters related to the Company's India based operations." In response
to the announcement, the price of eFunds common stock fell by 10% in
one day, from a close of $9.65 per share on October 24, 2002 to close
at $8.68 per share on October 25, 2002, on unusually large trading
volume, and representing a decline of 66% from the Class Period high of
$25.49 per share reached on May 18, 2001.

For more details, contact Steven G. Schulman or Samuel H. Rudman by
Mail: One Pennsylvania Plaza, 49th fl. New York, NY, 10119-0165, by
Phone: (800) 320-5081, or by E-mail: efundscase@milbergNY.com.


LEAP WIRELESS: Schiffrin & Barroway Launches Securities Suit in S.D. CA
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Schiffrin & Barroway LLP announces that a class action
lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of California on behalf of all purchasers of the common stock
of Leap Wireless International Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: LWIN) between
February 11, 2002 and July 24, 2002, inclusive.

The complaint charges Leap Wireless International Inc. and certain of
its officers and directors with issuing false and misleading statements
concerning its business and financial condition. Specifically, the
complaint alleges that starting on February 11, 2002, the day after the
Company publicly announced its financial results for its fiscal year
ending December 31, 2001, defendants concealed the deteriorated value
of its wireless license assets by undertaking a fraudulent impairment
test of those assets which grossly overstated the value of Leap's
wireless license assets in its financial statements.

The Complaint alleges that defendants were motivated by the need to
preserve the image of Leap as a viable wireless company with valuable
assets, sufficient to persuade lenders, investors and vendors to
provide capital, loans and equipment to the Company. Defendants issued
materially false and misleading statements on February 11, 2002, April
24, 2002 and May 2, 2002. On July 24, 2002, the last day of the class
period, Leap announced its financial results for its second quarter of
2002 and admitted for the first time that circumstances existed
throughout the year were adversely affecting the Company. On this news
the market price of Leap shares fell from a Class Period high of $10.00
to below $1.00 and are presently trading at less that $.40 per share.

Plaintiff seeks to recover damages on behalf of class members. For more
details, contact Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP (Marc A. Topaz, Esq. or
Stuart L. Berman, Esq.) by Phone: toll free at 1-888-299-7706 or
1-610-667-7706, or by E-mail: info@sbclasslaw.com .


OM GROUP: Chitwood & Harley Commences Securities Suit in N.D. OH
------------------------------------------------------------------
Chitwood & Harley announces that it has filed a class action lawsuit in
the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, on
behalf of purchasers of the securities of OM Group, Inc. (NYSE:OMG)
between April 25, 2002 and October 30, 2002, against defendants OM
Group, Inc., and certain of its officers and directors.

The action charges OM Group, as well as its Chief Executive and Chief
Financial Officers, with violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The violations, as the complaint
alleges, stem from the issuance of allegedly false statements during
the class period, which had the effect -- during the class period -- of
artificially inflating the price of OM Group securities.

On October 29, 2002, OM Group shares lost 70% of their value, falling
$22 per share to close at $9 per share, after announcing: (i) a large
loss (due to a massive inventory write-down); (ii) plans for a
thoroughgoing operational restructuring; and (iii) a review of its
financial reporting. OM Group shares fell further, to $6 per share,  
when the company admitted that OM Group's CEO had sold all his holdings
to cover a margin call on 710,000 OMG shares which he had used as
collateral for a loan. The complaint alleges that OM Group -- during
the class period -- falsely represented its financial results and
operational state by failing to take needed inventory writedowns and by
failing to inform investors that it was considering significantly
altering certain of its (non-performing) operations.

For more details, contact Jennifer Morris by Phone: 1-888-873-3999
(toll-free), or by E-mail: jlm@classlaw.com.


SEPRACOR INC.: Glancy & Binkow Commences Securities Fraud in MA
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Glancy & Binkow LLP commenced a Class Action lawsuit in the United
States District Court for the District of Massachusetts on behalf of a
class consisting of all persons who purchased securities of Sepracor
Inc. (NASDAQ:SEPR) between April 14, 2000, and March 6, 2002,
inclusive.

The Complaint charges Sepracor and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of federal securities laws. Among other
things, plaintiff claims that defendants' material omissions and the
dissemination of materially false and misleading statements concerning
Soltara, an antihistamine for which the Company had applied for FDA
approval, which was ultimately rejected, caused Sepracor's stock price
to become artificially inflated, inflicting damages on investors. The
Complaint alleges that, contrary to defendants' representations,
Soltara had caused potentially fatal cardiac effects in dogs and rats,
as well as a serious liver disorder in dogs, and Soltara had not been
tested in patients at maximum tissue concentration, a prerequisite for
FDA approval of antihistamines such as Soltara which had demonstrated
cardiac effects in animal studies.

Additionally, the complaint asserts that defendants' representations
that they were "confident" that the FDA would approve Soltara by March
2002 were misleading in light of these facts. The complaint further
alleges that on March 7, 2002, defendants disclosed that the FDA had
declined to approve Soltara, and subsequently revealed that substantial
additional clinical studies would be required. Plaintiff seeks to
recover damages on behalf of Class members.

For more details, contact Michael Goldberg, Esq., by Mail: Glancy &
Binkow LLP, 1801 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 311, Los Angeles,
California 90067, by Phone: (310) 201-9161 or Toll Free at
(888) 773-9224 or by E-mail: info@glancylaw.com.


TENET HEALTHCARE: Pomerantz Haudek Launches Securities Suit in C.D. CA
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Pomerantz Haudek Block Grossman & Gross LLP has filed a class action
lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of
California against Tenet Healthcare Corp. (NYSE:THC) and three of the
Company's senior officers on behalf of all persons or entities who
purchased or otherwise acquired the securities of Tenet during the
period between October 3, 2001 and November 7, 2002.

The lawsuit charges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by issuing false and misleading
statements concerning the Company's results and operations, all of
which served to artificially inflate the Company's stock price.

The Complaint alleges that, throughout the Class Period, defendants
represented that Tenet's favorable financial results were due to its
commitment to quality and cost-effective care. Throughout the Class
Period, defendants repeatedly stated that Tenet's financials were
strong, the Company's stellar bottom line was attributed to its state-
of-the-art facilities and high-quality patient care, and that Tenant
was consistently achieving record results. However, it is alleged that
Tenet's profits and financial condition were inflated by, among other
things:

(1) the Company's policy of charging what it ultimately conceded was
"too aggressive" prices for its "outlier" patients; i.e., those that
required additional and expensive services; and

(2) wrongfully inducing patients into undergoing unnecessary and
invasive surgeries at Tenet's key profit center at Redding Medical
Center.

On October 28, 2002, disclosures of overcharging began to surface when
a UBS Warburg analyst first challenged the Company's exposure to
charges of Medicare violations in connection with its outlier payments
policy. Thereafter, on October 30, 2002, the Company's RMC facility was
raided by the FBI, and on November 7, 2002, Tenet announced that its
two top executives -- David L. Dennis (the chief financial officer and
chief corporate officer) and Thomas B. Mackey (the chief operating
officer) -- would leave the Company amidst revelations that a federal
investigation was being launched into allegations that Tenet bilked
Medicare reimbursements through over-aggressive pricing policies.
Following these disclosures, Tenet's stock price fell 72%, and lost
approximately $16 billion in market value. As a further result of these
revelations, Standard & Poor's lowered Tenet's debt rating to one level
above "junk-bond" status.

For more details, contact Andrew G. Tolan, Esq. of the Pomerantz firm
by Phone: 888-476-6529 (or (888) 4-POMLAW), toll free, or by E-mail:
agtolan@pomlaw.com.


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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 Creditors' Service, Inc., Trenton, New Jersey, and
Beard Group, Inc., Washington, D.C.  Enid Sterling, Aurora Fatima
Antonio and Lyndsey Resnick, Editors.

Copyright 2002.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
publication in any form (including e-mail forwarding, electronic re-
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Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to be
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