CAR_Public/030121.mbx                C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R
  
               Tuesday, January 21, 2003, Vol. 5, No. 14

                            Headlines                            

CALIFORNIA: Retired San Diego Employees Commence Pension Fund Suit
ARIZONA: Tax Lawsuit Settlement Claim Deadline Set For Late January
ARKANSAS: Court Approves Settlement For Suit Over Mental Patients Care
BAPTIST FOUNDATION: Settlement Approved In Securities Violations Suit
CANADA: Conflict, High Costs Mar Handling Of Native Schools, Survivors

CHINA: Supreme People's Court Approves Filing of Shareholder Lawsuits
DELAWARE: Mental Health Professionals Say Denial Will Lead to Disaster
FLORIDA: Delray Beach Completes Settlement's Complex Dredging Project
FLORIDA: James Island Residents Seek Class Certification For Mold Suit
HOME DEPOT: Commences Flood Control Project For Pebble Brook Homeowners
INTERNATIONAL PAPER: Will Take $450 Million Charge For Legal Expenses
LIFESTAR AMBULANCE: Wins Summary Judgment in Suit Against Govt, DHHS
MASSACHUSETTS: Attorney General Launches State Item Pricing Law Review
MASSACHUSETTS: Framingham Residents File Suit Over Trash Pickup Dispute
MAX 2000: Won't Manufacture Firecrackers Due To Possible Injury Hazard

MCSi INC.: Investor Launches Suit for Securities Violations in OH Court
MERCK & CO.: NY Attorney General Looking Into Discount Drug Practices
MICHIGAN: President Bush Seeks Brief Opposing University's Race Policy
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Failed To Improve Care For Abused Children, Lawyers Say
NEW JERSEY: Camden Held in Contempt For Consent Decree Non-compliance

NEW MEXICO: Court Rules Life Insurance Suits Not Blocked By Federal Law
NEW YORK: Agrees To Create Panel To Shape Policy For Homeless Families
OREGON: Residents Launch Lawsuit To Restore Lost Public Health Benefit
OREGON: Postpones Eviction Of Mentally Ill People From Nursing Centers
RECORDING INDUSTRY: Consumers Still To Claim Antitrust Suit Settlement

RENT-A-CENTER: Judge Certifies Overtime Wage Suit, More Workers To Join
SECURITIES LITIGATION: Regulators Differ Over IPO Lawsuit's Dismissal
TENNESSEE: Knox County Spends $25 Million on Overcrowded Jail Lawsuit
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Louisiana Smokers' Medical Monitoring Suit Begins
UNION FOUNDRY: Agrees To Settle Injury Suit Over Foundry Dust For $2M

UNITED STATES: Somali Activist Omar Jamal Agrees To Help WA Deportees
VITAMIN ANTITRUST: Firms Lose Suit Over Liability To Overseas Customers
WORLDCOM INC.: University of California To File Securities Fraud Suit
WISCONSIN: Racine Prosecutors Dismiss Citations v. "Rave" Participants

*Former Professor Leads Lawsuit Seeking Reparations for Slavery

                     New Securities Fraud Cases


AMERICREDIT CORPORATION: Chitwood & Harley Launches TX Securities Suit
BIO-TECHNOLOGY GENERAL: Charles Piven Commences Securities Suit in NJ
CLEARONE COMMUNICATIONS: Glancy & Binkow File Securities Lawsuit in UT
NASH FINCH: Milberg Weiss Launches Securities Fraud Lawsuit in MN Court
NASH FINCH: Cauley Geller Expands Class Period in MN Securities Lawsuit

WESTAR ENERGY: Charles Piven Launches Securities Fraud Suit in KS Court

                           *********


CALIFORNIA: Retired San Diego Employees Commence Suit Pension Fund Suit
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The city of San Diego, California faces a class action filed by two
retired city employees, alleging the city illegally under-funded its
$2.3 billion pension system, SignOnSanDiego reports.  The suit, filed
in the San Diego County Superior Court, seeks payment of money to the
San Diego City Employees Retirement System.

The suit was filed on behalf of more than 5,000 retired city workers by
Jim Gleason and Dave Wood, both of which served the city in management
jobs.  The suit also seeks removal from office of a majority of the
system's board of trustees, who voted in November to let the city forgo
a $25 million to $75 million balloon-payment to the under-funded
system.

The city's pension system has been weakened in recent years by
financial markets and by city fiscal policy, including deferral of full
payments to the system to future years.  Officials say the system
currently has a deficit of at least $720 million, SignOnSanDiego
reports.


ARIZONA: Tax Lawsuit Settlement Claim Deadline Set For Late January
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Arizona residents who overpaid taxes on their out-of-state corporate
dividends more than ten years ago have only until January 30 to claim
their parts in a US$350 million class action settlement, azcentral.com
reports.  To be eligible, a taxpayer must have reported out-of-state
corporate dividends on federal 1040 forms in any of the years 1986,
1987, 1988 and 1989.  

The bad news is the claim form is complicated, Jeff Kros, a Revenue
Department spokesman told azcentral.com.  The good news is the
department will accept forms with a taxpayer or a decedent's personal
information only, he said.  "The main thing is to meet the deadline,"
Kros said. "We can get the other information later."

For more details, contact the Arizona Department of Revenue by Mail:
1600 West Monroe St., Phoeniz, AZ by Phone: 602-542-0700 or visit the
Website: http://www.revenue.state.az.us


ARKANSAS: Court Approves Settlement For Suit Over Mental Patients Care
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Arkansas federal court approved a settlement proposed by the state for
the lawsuit that accused it of violating the rights of mentally ill
inmates by delaying psychological examinations and treatment, the
Associated Press reports.  The settlement obligates the Arkansas State
Hospital as of July 1 to mentally evaluate prisoners within 30 days of
a trial judge's order.

The suit alleges that the inmate's constitutional rights were violated
because they had to wait for up to a year to be evaluated or treated at
the hospital, which the state Department of Human services oversees.  
In May, Federal Judge Stephen M. Reasoner ruled the state must improve
care for the inmates.  The two sides reached the settlement in
September.

As part of the settlement, the hospital agreed to develop a system to
help them evaluate the more urgent cases first when a judge has ordered
treatment aimed at restoring competency for trial, AP reports.  On
Wednesday, the Department of Human Services told the court that 92
inmates are waiting to be evaluated. The report said the department is
trying to add staff members to do more evaluations and hopes to have
the process speeded up significantly in the next few months.

"They have a long way to go. But they have started," lawyer Bettina
Brownstein, who sued the state Department of Human Services in 2001 on
behalf of the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties, told
the Associated Press.


BAPTIST FOUNDATION: Settlement Approved In Securities Violations Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A settlement approved in a securities class action against the failed
Baptist Foundation of Arizona, will provide $16.5 million in money and
assets to reimburse investors.  It also opens the way for disbursement
of a $217 million settlement paid by the foundation's former accounting
firm, Arthur Andersen LLP.

"These settlements clear the way for the Andersen money to go out,"
said Robert Gans, attorney for the Baptist Foundation Liquidation
Trust.  Six million dollars from the Andersen settlement has been paid
out, and investors should start getting checks for the remainder by the
end of the month.

The investors sued several former Baptist Foundation officers,
accountants (of whom Andersen was one) and investment advisers,
alleging they were liable for fraud that resulted in the foundation's
failure in 1999, in the largest bankruptcy of a nonprofit group in US
history.


CANADA: Conflict, High Costs Mar Handling Of Native Schools, Survivors
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ottawa's present handling of claims for compensation by "survivors" of
the native residential schools will produce years of bitter conflict
and billions of dollars in costs, Public Works Minister Ralph Goodale
thinks.  He has offered another program, instead, The Globe and Mail
reports.

Currently, some 12,000 native alumni of 130 former residential schools
are suing for compensation.  They are making claim for physical and
sexual abuse, loss of language and culture and other ills from their
enforced boarding school experience.  Minister Goodale, who is
responsible for resolving the claims, announced a program that he
believes will deal with the matter swiftly, at less cost than going
through the courts.

"Estimates show that if we carry on in the same way and at the same
pace as we are doing now, it will take more than half a century to get
through the caseload.  And it will cost more than $2.3 billion just for
legal and administrative costs alone, not to mention the value of
actual settlements," Mr. Goodale said.

Mr. Goodale proposes instead a seven-year program involving a scrutiny
and settlement of claims outside the more rigorous adversarial court
system.  Qualified adjudicators, such as retired judges or people with
appropriate experience, would render the decisions.  This process, Mr.
Goodale estimated, would cost about $750 million in legal,
administrative and related costs; while the settlements would cost in
the range of $950 million, or perhaps a bit more, for a total cost of
$1.7 billion.  All who preferred the court route would be free to take
it.

Mr. Goodale's deputy minister, Jack Stagg, said that they expected
about 18,000 to 20,000 claimants, with 10,500 to 13,000 claims ruled
valid.  That would work out to an average settlement of about $75,000.  
These figures, said Mr. Stagg, big as they are, could prove wildly out
of line, as happens in government.

This alternative program requires claimants to forgo all other claims,
except for physical or sexual abuse, and to make a commitment not to go
to court if they are dissatisfied.  However, National Chief Matthew
Coon Come pointed out, 90 percent of claims demand compensation for
loss of language and culture.  Lawyer Tony Merchant of Saskatchewan,
who represents about 5,400 claimants, recommends that his clients not
participate in the alternative process.  So does a national consortium
of residential school survivors, which is bringing a class action
against the government that includes a claim for loss of language and
culture.   Some compromise or accommodation might be made on this
issue.  However, this might not be necessary, because the alternative
process, rapid and easy, not too demanding as to the quality of the
evidence, may prove inviting.

The alternative process, if conducted with rapidity, will invite a
flood of claimants to get their share of easy booty, and that is the
point, said Mr. Goodale.  If the process is stringent and makes demands
that the claimants' stories square with known facts, the administrative
and legal costs will be monstrous.


CHINA: Supreme People's Court Approves Filing of Shareholder Lawsuits
---------------------------------------------------------------------
After months of consideration, China's Supreme People's Court ruled
shareholders can file individual or class actions against Chinese
listed companies, the Far Eastern Economic Review reports.

The Court ruled that Chinese listed companies may be sued over losses
on investments because of false financial statements.  In a long legal
interpretation, the Court set out rules for such lawsuits and defined
areas for compensation, the official Xinhua news agency said.  Areas of
compensation include capital losses on share investments, compensation
for stamp duty and commissions and interest on capital losses.

The ruling followed a decision by the court last year opening the door
to such lawsuits.  Since then, courts have accepted more than 900 cases
claiming compensation from listed companies for losses on the country's
stockmarkets.  Judgments were delayed until the interpretation.


DELAWARE: Mental Health Professionals Say Denial Will Lead to Disaster
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Mental health professionals in Delaware and across the nation are
calling for a unified effort to confront what they say is a crisis of
growing proportion, Delaware Business Review (vol. 25, issue 51)
reports.  It is a crisis that is activating the advocates for mental
health to seek the help of the courts.

The problem, they say, is not only not receiving fair and adequate
reimbursement from insurers for treating the mentally ill, but also
involves failing to get state and federal officials to even acknowledge
an emergency situation exists.

"Wishing that mental illness would not exist has led our policy makers
to shape a health care system as if it did not exist," Dr. Paul S.
Applebaum, president of the American Psychiatric Association (APS),
recently told colleagues at the association' annual meeting.  "The
result can only be described as an incipient disaster."

Rita Marocco, executive director of the Alliance for the Mentally Ill
in Delaware, said the mental health treatment in Delaware reflects Dr.
Applebaum's diagnosis.  "Doctors and hospitals are not getting paid for
the mental health services they provide.  That means they have no
choice but to cut back services," Ms. Marocco said.

Ms. Marocco said it is becoming more and more commonplace for insurers
to either refuse or delay payments for legitimate mental health
treatment.  Furthermore, there is little or no regulatory control in
place to force insurers to be more responsible.  "This is happening
because people feel comfortable ignoring mental health and its
consequences," said Ms. Marocco.  "Mental illness is the second leading
cause of disability in the United States and we are not talking about
it?  That is unbelievable."

Dover psychiatrist Janis G. Chester said the insurance industry is
wreaking havoc on physicians and their patients, especially through the
tactics of managed care.  She said most insurance companies subcontract
their psychiatric benefits to "carve out" specialty insurers that in
turn delay or deny payment for many legitimate mental health
treatments.

"Patient care has been disrupted and dollars that should be spent on
patient care are siphoned off for profits or inflated overhead
expenses," Dr. Chester said.

Ms. Marocco said the legislators are largely unaware of the severity of
the situation.  "I don't think our legislators really understand the
global impact of brain diseases like clinical depression, bipolar
disorder and schizophrenia," she said.  "I don't think they understand
the impact mental illness has on everything from welfare to the
Department of Correction."

Dr. Mark Borer, a Dover psychiatrist, no longer accepts insurance from
a managed care provider at his private office, because of ongoing
problems and delays in getting paid.  "Every time there is some kind of
economic downturn they reduce payments, the also deny some care
outright and refuse to pay for claims," he said.

The general consensus among the professionals appears to be to go to
the legislators first and educate them about mental diseases their
effects on all segments of our society and a need for the nation to
acknowledge the illness and develop a policy for its treatment.  This
would include not only goals of treatment and provision of medical care
but also regulation of the insurers so that they understand the nature
of mental illness and approach their role in the mental health system
with a heightened consciousness:  their role of paying the benefits
contracted for and keeping the system running financially so far as
their role in the system is concerned.


FLORIDA: Delray Beach Completes Settlement's Complex Dredging Project
---------------------------------------------------------------------
After more than two years of work, the city of Delray Beach is finally
done with a complicated dredging project in the Tropic Isle
neighborhood, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

Officials breathed a sigh of relief recently when they approved the
final payment to Subaqueous Services Inc. for dredging work that
resulted from settlement of a class action in 2000, involving the 300-
plus home community along the Intracoastal Waterway, called Tropic
Isle.

The lawsuit alleged the city entered into a contract with the
neighborhood's developer.  The contract provided, contended the
residents of Tropic Isle, the city had annexed the canals and had the
responsibility of dredging them.  The settlement required the city to
dredge 13 of the neighborhood's 18 canals and replace catch basins.

Delray Beach had never undertaken a canal dredging project before, but
they thought it would be easier than a prolonged class action battle
with the Tropic Isle neighborhood.  However, the $114,000 project
expected to take six months turned into a more than two-year project
costing more than $310,000.  Hence, the sigh of relief that an ending
finally had come.


FLORIDA: James Island Residents Seek Class Certification For Mold Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Residents of James Island, Florida asked a Florida State Court judge to
grant class status to a lawsuit filed against Arvida, a major Florida
homebuilder and the developer of most homes in their neighborhood, the
Florida Times-Union reports.

Six homeowners filed the suit last year, alleging that their houses had
improperly built windows or stucco walls that allowed mold and moisture
intrusion.  A class action certification could affect more than 450
people in the subdivision of about 250 homes in Jacksonville.

A lawyer working with all of the cases, Barry Ansbacher, said experts
hired to examine more than 25 James Island homes found similar defects
in each one.  Mr. Ansbacher's motion for class action argued it would
be more efficient to address all the owners' problems in one suit.

A lawyer representing Arvida, J. Stephen O'Hara, said he still was
reviewing the motion and couldn't comment, the Florida Times-Union
states.  Circuit Judge Bernard Nachman hasn't scheduled a hearing on
the motion.


HOME DEPOT: Commences Flood Control Project For Pebble Brook Homeowners
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Home Depot soon will begin a project that will please about nine
homeowners in the Pebble Brook subdivision in O'Fallon, the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch reports.

Christine Look, the city of O'Fallon's public works director, said the
city will be closing a road near Highway K for at least 30 days to
permit Home Depot to install an additional section of storm water
piping that is much larger than the 60-inch diameter pipe that now runs
under the looped road.

The installation of the additional pipe section is part of a settlement
with the nine homeowners in the Pebble Brook community, whose homes
have been flooded during heavy rain for the past two years.  The
homeowners filed a class action against Home Depot, the city, an
engineering firm and St. Charles County.  The homeowners contend the
store's existence alters the natural storm water runoff pattern,
causing Belleau Creek to flood during heavy rain.


INTERNATIONAL PAPER: Will Take $450 Million Charge For Legal Expenses
---------------------------------------------------------------------
International Paper Company said it will take a fourth-quarter pretax
charge of $450 million for legal reserves, The Wall Street Journal
reports.  The Stamford, Connecticut, paper and forest-products company
said the reserves are related to liabilities in three nationwide class-
action lawsuits which were settled.  The lawsuits all involve exterior
siding and roofing products manufactured by Masonite Corp., a former
unit of International Paper.

The company sold Masonite to Premdor Inc. for $500 million in September
2001, after closing the unit's exterior siding business.  However, the
Company retains liability for claims under the class action
settlements.  International Paper also said it expects to post an
accounting charge $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter for goodwill
impairment.  Separately, a charge to equity for pension adjustment for
its US plants totaled about $1.5 billion.  The company said, in
addition, Executive Vice President David Oskin, 60, resigned for
undisclosed reasons.


LIFESTAR AMBULANCE: Wins Summary Judgment in Suit Against Govt, DHHS
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court in Columbus granted summary judgment
in a class action filed by Lifestar Ambulance Service and other
ambulance service companies across the nation against the United States
and the Department of Health and Human Services, ParaMedic.com reports.

The suit was based on Congress' passage of the Balanced Budget Act of
1997, which included a requirement for the Department of Health and
Human Services (DHHS) and the Health Care Financing Administration,
also a defendant, to establish a standard fee for ambulance services
provided to Medicare patients beginning January 1, 2000.

The DHHS allegedly failed to meet the original deadline and announced
it would be prepared to implement the plan by 2001.  It also was not
implemented in 2001, instead being postponed until April 1, 2002, when
a new fee schedule was published.  The federal agency then refused to
pay ambulance providers the difference between the fees they had been
paid since January 1, 2000, and the newly established rate put into
effect in April 2002, according to the suit, ParaMedic.com states.

The summary judgment ruling stated that, "By ordering the carriers not
to accept claims from the relevant time frame for resubmission, DHHS
has barred the door to the very process it claims that plaintiffs (the
ambulance companies) should have invoked."  The court also ordered DHHS
to adopt a fee schedule within 90 days of this order that apply to the
services furnished during the relevant time period as specified by the
BBA and the Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Benefits Improvement and
Protection Act of 2000.


MASSACHUSETTS: Attorney General Launches State Item Pricing Law Review
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly's office recently launched a review
of the state's item pricing regulation, trying to decide for the second
time in less than three years whether the measure needs to be changed
or scrapped, The Boston Globe reports.

Under pressure from retailers facing class actions, brought by
consumers, for the retailers' failure to comply with the regulation,
top aides to the attorney general conferred with consumer, retail and
union organizations.  They promised the members of these groups they
would hold public hearings on any changes they propose.

During a similar review in 2001, Mr. Reilly sided with consumer
advocates and endorsed the regulation with few minor changes.  However,
the attorney general's lack of enforcement created a vacuum that class
action attorneys have rushed to fill.  Several major retailers, such as
Wal-Mart, Staples, Best Buy, Circuit City, have been sent demand
letters by attorneys, in accordance with provisions of the state's
consumer law that requires retailers to clearly mark a price on most
things they sell.  Home Depot, in November, settled a class action for
$3.8 million.

There were few new proposals at the public meeting.  Evoking some
interest, for example, was a proposal by Cheryl A. Jacques, Democrat
from Needham, who sent a letter to Mr. Reilly suggesting amending the
regulation to allow local weights and measures officials and the
state's Division of Standards to handle enforcement.  She suggested
that enforcement efforts could be funded through an inspection fee paid
by retailers.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office declined to comment on
the ideas proposed at the public meeting.  "It will be interesting to
see if anything happens," said Christopher Flynn, president of the
Massachusetts Food Association, which represents supermarkets in the
state.


MASSACHUSETTS: Framingham Residents File Suit Over Trash Pickup Dispute
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A group of low-and moderate-income Framingham, Massachusetts residents
recently filed a class action, accusing the town of unlawfully trying
to terminate free trash pickup service at their housing developments,
The Boston Globe reports.

Pelham Apartments, which runs the two complexes, made similar
allegations last year in a Middlesex Superior Court lawsuit, contending
that Framingham breached agreements to provide municipal solid waste
collection and violated a state law that gives special incentives for
urban redevelopment corporations.

Additional payments for weekly waste collection will impose "a
significant burden and financial strain" on the residents, nearly all
of whom receive federal housing subsidies, according to the lawsuit
recently filed in Middlesex Superior Court.

Framingham officials denied the town is obligated to provide the trash
service and filed a counterclaim to Pelham's suit last year.  The town
is seeking about $200,000 for three years of trash pickup that
officials say was inadvertently provided after the Board of Selectmen
adopted a policy that prohibits municipal solid waste disposal for
properties with five or more residential units.

While saying that Pelham receives certain tax incentives because it
completed a project aimed at improving a blighted area, the town has
insisted that no agreement or law exists that requires Framingham to
provide pickup.

The dispute between Framingham and Pelham dates back to March 2002,
when the town was made aware that these developments were still
receiving trash service, despite the previous change in the curbside
collection policy.  Corcoran Management, the property manager for the
complex, was notified that the town was severing its pickup service on
April 30.  A suit was filed on behalf of Pelham on May 1.  A ruling in
that lawsuit has not been issued.


MAX 2000: Won't Manufacture Firecrackers Due To Possible Injury Hazard
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Max 2000, Inc. and officials Thomas and Mary Scaman are cooperating
with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) by agreeing to
stop manufacturing and selling an illegal agricultural firecracker that
was widely available to consumers.  Max 2000 made and sold over one
million "Pest Control Report 2000" (PCR 2000) firecrackers that each
contained nearly 1,000 milligrams of explosive powder, which is far in
excess of the legal limit for consumer firecrackers.  These
firecrackers, if used by consumers, could cause serious injuries or
death.  
         
The company and individuals signed a consent decree of permanent
injunction, which was approved and entered on the record by the US
District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
        
"In 2001, there were an estimated 9,500 visits to emergency rooms
across the country because of injuries related to fireworks," said CPSC
Chairman Hal Stratton.  "To help bring this statistic down, CPSC is
going after companies that violate the law by selling professional or
agricultural fireworks to consumers.  Illegal firecrackers like the PCR
2000 can maim or kill and should not be purchased by consumers."
        
Around January 1998, Max 2000 began selling the Pest Control Report
2000 to fireworks wholesalers and retailers, as well as gun and
ammunition dealers, who in turn sold them to consumers through
catalogs, the Internet and fireworks stands.  CPSC investigators found
that the company did not comply with federal requirements that strictly
limit the sale of firecrackers of this size to farmers, ranchers, or
growers for the purpose of legitimate pest control.  
        
The charges in the federal complaint against Max 2000 include the
following illegal transactions:

     (1) 400,000 PCR 2000 devices sold to All American Professional
         Fireworks, of Angola, Indiana,

     (2) 10,000 PCR 2000s to Firequest Inc., of El Dorado, Arkansas,

     (3) 450,000 PCR 2000s to All Purpose Ammo LLC (also known as
         Planet Ammo), of Seneca, South Carolina,

     (4) 290,000 PCR 2000s to Self Defense Supply, of Richardson, Texas
         and

     (5) 33,000 PCR 2000s to Astro Spectacular Inc., of Hooksett, N.H.  
        
All American Professional Fireworks is owned by Kenneth Shearer who was
found guilty by a jury on June 20, 2002, in the US District Court for
the Northern District of Indiana, of violating federal explosives and
transportation laws in connection with his sales of different
professional fireworks to consumers.  
        
CPSC worked closely and cooperatively with the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, and Firearms in Missouri and the Department of Justice's
Office of Consumer Litigation to investigate and take legal action
against Max 2000.  


MCSi INC.: Investor Launches Suit for Securities Violations in OH Court
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
MCSi, Inc. and two of its top executives faces a shareholder class
action filed in the United States District Court in Dayton, Ohio,
alleging they made false or misleading statements about the company's
performance to artificially bolster the stock's value, the Dayton Daily
News reports.

Investor Max Phillips filed the suit, which names the company, Chairman
and Chief Executive Michael Peppel and Chief Financial Officer Ira
Stanley as defendants and seeks an unspecified amount of damages, on
behalf of purchasers of the Company's securities from July 2001 to
February 2002.

The lawsuit alleges that MCSi made false statements in its quarterly
and annual press releases regarding its strength, especially of its
systems integration operation, that were false or misleading.  In those
same releases, the lawsuit shows, the company said its profit margins
were improving because the company was focusing more on selling higher-
margin integration services, the Dayton Daily News reports.

The lawsuit claims these statements were false.  Instead, the
defendants said these things to bolster the share price so they could
prevent a takeover that could have led to a change in management, the
lawsuit claims.

During 2001, the company fielded several takeover offers, including one
by former MCSi Chairman Anthony Liberati, who offered to buy MCSi for
$22 a share. At the time the stock was trading at around $18.94, the
lawsuit says.  MCSi weighed its options and in August 2001 said it
would reject all the takeover offers, opting instead to remain
independent.  The company also announced plans for a secondary offering
of 4 million shares.  Company insiders profited by selling their stock
at "artificially inflated prices" in two offerings after the company
was taken off the selling block, the lawsuit say, according to the
Dayton Daily News.

MCSi officials did not return calls Friday regarding the lawsuit, the
Dayton Daily News stated.  Shares of MCSi (NASDAQ:MCSI) closed Friday
at $3.57, down 33 cents.


MERCK & CO.: NY Attorney General Looking Into Discount Drug Practices
---------------------------------------------------------------------
New York's attorney general is exploring whether a Merck & Co.
subsidiary that was supposed to find discount drug prices for companies
and health plans violated state laws by steering consumers to more
expensive drugs made by Merck, Associated Press Newswires reports.

Court papers unsealed last week showed that pharmacy benefit manager
Medco Health Solutions often favored expensive Merck products like
cholesterol-lowering medicine Zocor when recommending prescriptions to
clients that include General Motors Corporation, Delta Air Lines, and
some Blue Cross, Blue Shield plans.

Health insurers and large employers hire pharmacy benefit managers to
help keep down prescription drug costs through volume discounts from
drug manufacturers, formularies of preferred drugs for each health plan
and other methods.  Now, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's
office wants to know whether consumers were hurt by the practices
alleged in a class action against Whitehouse Station-based Merck.  The
lawsuit alleges some Medco clients did not get the best value because
of arrangements to promote Merck drugs.

Merck and Medco, both, may have violated state consumer-protection and
antitrust laws, said Joseph Baker, head of Mr. Spitzer's health care
unit.  Mr. Baker said there is no investigation yet, only a fact
finding mission.

Mr. Spitzer's office also wants to determine whether consumers who were
steered to Merck products through their prescription plans may have had
adverse medical reactions and had to spend more on medical care as a
result, Mr. Baker said  

"We are trying to piece together what practices went on and how they
might be violative of certain laws in New York state," he added.  "We
are trying to get a better handle on consumers and how they may have
been impacted by these switching arrangements, whereby Merck/Medco
switches someone from one drug to another because they are getting a
better rebate."

Mr. Spitzer is not alone.  Medco already is under investigation by the
US Attorney's office in Philadelphia.  Attorneys general in Connecticut
and Maine are leading a group of 20 states investigating whether
pharmacy benefit managers' practices violated antitrust laws.


MICHIGAN: President Bush Seeks Brief Opposing University's Race Policy
----------------------------------------------------------------------
President Bush has asked administration lawyers to present him with a
brief arguing that the University of Michigan's programs for using race
in admission decisions go too far, officials said today, according to a
report by The New York Times.

The officials said Mr. Bush was prepared to have the government file
the papers with the Supreme Court, a move that would inject the
administration into one of the largest affirmative action cases in a
generation.  However, the White House said Mr. Bush had not yet given
the final approval to move ahead.  It was unclear how sweeping a stand
the administration would take on the fundamental question of whether
race may ever be used as a factor in higher- education admissions
decisions.

The administration has a variety of options even if it decides to argue
that the Michigan programs are unconstitutional.  Its lawyers could
argue that the specific programs and practices of the university rely
on race too much, leaving open the notion that universities might be
allowed other methods of assuring a diverse student body, or the
lawyers could state that any preference based on race or ethnic status
is unconstitutional, and that universities' claims that the goal is a
diverse student body are not enough to justify the race considerations
involved in affirmative action.

For weeks, Justice Department lawyers have deliberated with the White
House to reach a consensus on how far to go in backing the case filed
by white students challenging the constitutionality of the university's
admissions policies.

Officials have been wrestling over the wording of the brief, which they
believe is critical in shaping the political message Mr. Bush wants to
send about his views on affirmative action.  Mr. Bush opposed racial
preferences in public universities and proposed instead that all
students graduating in the top 10 percent of all high schools be
eligible for admission.

The Michigan cases have the potential to set broad new guidelines on
the heated issue of whether and how much race should play a part in
getting into the nation's best universities.  This issue comes a
generation after the court's last significant ruling on these
questions, the 1978 Bakke case, in which the justices invalidated the
use of fixed racial quotas, but said diversity was a worthy goal.

The University of Michigan is one of many institutions that have tried
to adopt procedures that would not run afoul of the prohibition against
strict quotas but would still allow them to achieve greater diversity
in the incoming classes.  Conservatives and other opponents of such
affirmative action programs have accused higher education officials of
simply evading the strictures and creating programs that operate the
same as quotas.  In the Michigan undergraduate case, the university
awards extra points to minority candidates, while the law school uses
race as one of many factors that could enhance an applicant's chances.

Roger Clegg, general counsel for the Center for Equal Opportunity,
which opposes affirmative action programs, said conservatives would not
be satisfied by a less than sweeping stand by the White House.  If the
administration does not challenge the premise that the search for
diversity is a compelling reason to discriminate, Mr. Clegg said, "It
would change almost nothing."


NEW HAMPSHIRE: Failed To Improve Care For Abused Children, Lawyers Say
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Lawyers recently took the state to federal court again, charging it
failed to abide by an agreement to improve its care for abused and
neglected children, Associated Press Newswires reports.

Their motion asked the US District Court to find the state has not
complied with the 1997 agreement stemming from a class action
originally filed in 1991, and settled in 1997, when an agreement was
reached that gave the state of New Hampshire five years to improve 12
areas of child protection.  Lawyers Bruce Friedman and Robert
Lospennato filed the 1991 lawsuit.

However, a court-appointed panel found the state was not doing enough
to comply.  With the agreement set to expire last September 1, the
parties agreed to extend it to January 31, 2003, and providing as well
that the state Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to add
60 workers to its child protection staff.  However, in September, the
Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee tabled a request for $1.7 million to
hire 62 workers.

Mr. Friedman died in 1997, but Mr. Lospennato, of the Disabilities
Rights Center, and other lawyers decided not to let the lawsuit and the
agreement expire, and they filed the motion asking the court to enforce
the state's compliance with the 1997 agreement.  The civil rights
complaint filed in 1991, alleged the state's treatment of abused and
neglected children in out-of-home care violated the Constitution and
federal law.  The lawyers now await the federal judge's ruling on their
motion.

Noncompliance represents "a very serious problem for children in New
Hampshire," said Ken Barnes, a New Hampshire Legal Assistance lawyer
involved in the filing of the motion.  "If the state doesn't do it,
there is nobody who is going to."


NEW JERSEY: Camden Held in Contempt For Consent Decree Non-compliance
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Camden, New Jersey's police department has been found in contempt of
court for failing to comply with a 1996 consent decree intended to
change the way the department investigates and records claims of police
abuse, Associated Press Newswires reports.

The agreement, reached in September 1996, after months of negotiations,
requires the department to resolve internal affairs investigations
within 90 days or seek the chief's permission for an extension.  It
also mandates that investigations be independent of municipal or state
court proceedings.

The ruling of contempt, issued recently by US District Judge Robert
Kugler, involves a class action whose plaintiffs include some people
who claim they were assaulted, abused or illegally detained by Camden
police between 1993 and 1996.

Judge Kugler refused a request by the plaintiffs to appoint a special
master to oversee the department's internal investigations, but he did
extend the life of the consent decree until 2004.  He also ordered
Camden to pay legal costs of proceedings that led to the contempt
finding.

Police Chief Allenbach, who was not chief when the consent decree was
reached, told the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill that was not aware of the
90-day deadline and did not know the number of open internal affairs
matters or how long any have been active.


NEW MEXICO: Court Rules Life Insurance Suits Not Blocked By Federal Law
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A federal consumer credit law does not preempt damage claims in state
court against life insurance companies for failure to disclose to
policyholders the charges or interest on installment payments for
premiums, the state's Court of Appeals ruled recently, the Associate
Press Newswires reports.

In a 3 to 0 decision, the court rejected arguments by Prudential
Insurance Company of America over the reach of the federal Truth in
Lending Act in class actions concerning the disclosure of payment terms
for life insurance premiums.

The court noted that there were about 20 class actions in New Mexico
that seek damages for policyholders.  At issue is the failure of
companies to disclose the charges or interest levied against
policyholders when they pay in monthly, quarterly or semi-annual
installments rather than make one yearly payment.  The court said
because the federal Truth in Lending Act (TILA) "applies only to
consumer credit transactions and does not apply to insurance
transactions not involving a creditor-debtor relationship, we find no
conflict between TILA and any state law requiring disclosure in this
case."

The court ordered the case back to District Judge John W. Pope in
Valencia County, saying there were factual issues for him to consider
before determining whether Prudential had a disclosure obligation "as a
matter of law."


NEW YORK: Agrees To Create Panel To Shape Policy For Homeless Families
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The city of New York agreed to create an independent panel with broad
powers to help shape its long-range policy for homeless families,
taking the first step towards settling a 20-year-old lawsuit over the
rights of homeless families, the New York Times reports.

For two decades, the city's approach to homeless families has been
disputed in court, leading to millions of dollars in fines and creating
a situation in which a state judge has dictated many of the particulars
of city policy.  In announcing the agreement yesterday, both the city
and the Legal Aid Society, which has taken the lead in representing the
homeless in court, said they were trying to break that cycle.  

Under the plan, a three-member panel was to mediate disputes between
the parties for the next two years and, more importantly, review the
policies toward homeless families, the New York Times reports.  The
panel's creation is only a first step. At the end of two years, the
panel must making recommendations for resolving all litigation.  The
lawyers for both sides, however, would be free to reject those
recommendations, and, in the interim, the extensive court orders remain
in effect.

The panel would have no role in the shelter system for single adults,
which is the product of separate litigation, and the agreement would
not affect the standing court order that requires the city to provide
shelter for the homeless, according to the New York Times.   

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his homeless commissioner, Linda I.
Gibbs, had made it clear from the start of his administration that
ending this litigation, which they argued had stripped the city of its
legitimate authority to make policy, was a top priority.  Although
yesterday's agreement stopped far short of their dream scenario, both
were nonetheless visibly elated, the NY Times reports.

The mayor, who took the unusual step of appearing in court himself
yesterday, later called the agreement momentous and said it would "free
the city from the shackles" of court orders.  Ms. Gibbs expressed her
clear belief that the final outcome of the panel would be the
nullification of previous court orders.  "It is the understanding of
all parties that it is an appropriate goal that the agency should be
managed without the ongoing roll of the judiciary," she told the NY
Times.

Steven Banks, a Legal Aid lawyer who has been lead counsel representing
the homeless families, called talk of eventually ending on-going court
orders "highly speculative at this point."

As part of the deal, the Legal Aid Society agreed to withdraw all
pending motions before the court and to refrain from bringing future
motions for two years.  The plaintiffs could seek panel help in
challenging Department of Homeless Services policy "only under extreme
circumstances involving a major problem," according to the language of
the agreement.  In the case that either side did not like a decision
reached by the panel over a disagreement, it would have to show the
court that the panel had acted in a way that was "arbitrary and
capricious," the NY Times states.

Daniel Greenberg, president of the Legal Aid Society, told the NY Times
the deal gave advocates a way to make a positive contribution to
planning city policy instead of limiting the advocacy group to a
reactive and combative role.  He said the deal recognized "we have an
expertise that can be useful to fashion the best remedies."  Mr.
Greenberg added, "We are pleased to be a resource in collaboration with
government."


OREGON: Residents Launch Lawsuit To Restore Lost Public Health Benefit
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A recovering heroin addict, a homeless woman and six other private
citizens sued the state Thursday as lead plaintiffs in a class action
to restore Oregon Health Plan benefits lost to budget cuts, the
Associated Press Newswires reports.  The lawsuit covers lost benefits
for mental health and addiction services, as well as dental care for
about 118,000 patients.

"Our clients are among the poorest and most vulnerable Oregonians.  
Without services, these people cannot become productive members of
society," said Kathy Wilde, a lawyer with the nonprofit Oregon Advocacy
Center.

The lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Court, seeks an injunction
against the cuts scheduled for March 1, and asks a judge to order state
officials to disburse tax money to treatment centers and clinics around
the state.  Another lawsuit filed by the Advocacy Center seeking to
restore funds for about 100 live-in mental health patients at three
homes.  "Without these services, many patients will likely wind up on
the streets, in emergency rooms or in jail," said Ms. Wilde.

This class action joins two others already pending that are trying, by
use of the courts, to wring some dollars for public services from the
cash-strapped state government.  "I can lobby all I want," Ms. Wilde
said.  "That could or could not have an effect.  But, if I have a court
order saying 'restore the funds,' I'm in a different ball game."

The lawsuit filed Thursday argues that the Emergency Board of the
Legislature, a group of lawmakers who meet when the chamber is out of
session, exceeded its authority under the Oregon Constitution when it
cut the benefits on November 8 of 2002.  Ms. Wilde said only the full
Legislature can vote on budget cuts.

Advocates for the poor are writing at least three other lawsuits.  They
are challenging cuts to General Assistance funds for low income
disabled people, cuts to about 10,000 nursing home patients and new
premiums for the Oregon Health Plan, said Lorey Freeman, a lawyer with
the nonprofit Oregon Law Center.


OREGON: Postpones Eviction Of Mentally Ill People From Nursing Centers
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The state of Oregon postponed by at least two months the eviction of
nearly 100 people with severe mental illness, the Portland Oregonian
reports.  The action preempts a scheduled hearing Wednesday in a class
action to stop state and county officials from moving the residents
from their long-term care centers to apartments and hotels.

Assistant Attorney General David Leith said they will continue funding
the two residential care centers through April 15.  Residents had been
ordered out by February 1, to help balance the budget.  However, the
reprieve does not fix the budget shortfall, nor does it affect an
estimated 118,000 Oregonians scheduled to lose their outpatient mental
health and chemical dependency benefits March 1, under cuts ordered
November 8, by the Legislative Emergency Board.

The nearly 100 residents are among 600 people the state has identified
as Oregon's most vulnerable because their severe mental illness puts
them in danger of harming themselves or others or being hospitalized.  
Attorneys for the Oregon Advocacy Center welcomed the time to "yammer"
at the Legislature.  One of them, Charles Merten, said, "When they are
dividing up these monies, life comes first.  Everything else comes
afterward."


RECORDING INDUSTRY: Consumers Still To Claim Antitrust Suit Settlement
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Consumers who purchased a CD at any point between January 1, 1995, and
December 22, 2000, are entitled to up to $20 just by being unwitting
plaintiffs in a class action brought against the Big Five of the
recording industry, according to an article in Newsweek (January 20,
2003).

The class action was brought against the five major record companies
and a number of national retail chains for illegally fixing the prices
of compact discs.  Actually, this antitrust lawsuit was brought by the
attorneys general of 41 states on behalf of the consumers and was
settled out of court by the defendants to avoid a lengthy battle.  
(Additional details about this antitrust lawsuit and its outcome may be
found in the January 14, 2003, of the Class-Action Reporter.)

Under the terms of the settlement, defendants will pay $143 million in
punitive damages.  And any consumer who meets a three-part criteria,
which essentially amounts to:  "Did you purchase a CD at any point
between January 1, 1995, and December 22, 2000?" is entitled up to $20
of the settlement pie.  That includes even deceased consumers, on whose
behalf an appropriate person may file a claim.

Only about 30,000 consumers have filed claims so far.  The $20 limit of
the individual award will shrink, however, depending on how many people
apply before the deadline of March 3.  If 8.8 million apply, the entire
payout will be handed over to charity.  For more information, visit the
Website: http://www.musiccdsettlement.com


RENT-A-CENTER: Judge Certifies Overtime Wage Suit, More Workers To Join
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Another potentially large unpaid wage case gained momentum recently
when a Multnomah County, Oregon, judge approved class action status for
former Rent-A-Center employees who say they were forced to work without
pay through lunch breaks, rest periods and after hours, the Portland
Oregonian reports.

The lawsuit, filed by three former Portland area employees, claims that
the nation's largest rent-to-own chain failed to pay them all wages due
under state law, to provide legally required lunch breaks and rest
periods and to pay wages upon firing.

In granting class action status to the lawsuit, Multnomah County
Circuit Judge Jan Wyers opened the lawsuit to all hourly employees who
wored at Rent-A-Center in Oregon between August 1995, and August 2001.  
The stakes are high for the company, because under Oregon law, the
company could be liable for all unpaid wages, plus penalty wages.

Judge Wyers gave the company one victory in his verbal ruling.  He told
the company that its workers were covered by the federal Motor Carrier
Act, which exempts companies from having to pay overtime.


SECURITIES LITIGATION: Regulators Differ Over IPO Lawsuit's Dismissal
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
differ over whether a lawsuit accusing investment banks of a conspiracy
to rig initial public offerings should be dismissed, the Los Angeles
Times reports.

The investors' lawsuit, which is seeking class action status, claims
that banks, including Credit Suisse Group and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.,
violated federal antitrust laws by requiring clients who wanted IPO
shares to pay kickbacks and buy more stock at higher prices after
shares were sold to the public.  In August, US District Judge William
Pauley, who is weighing the banks' bid to dismiss the suit, asked the
Justice Department and the SEC for their views.

The judge received two divergent opinions in a case that plaintiffs'
lawyers say could result in $1billion or more in damages for the
securities industry.  The SEC said Judge Pauley should dismiss the
case, saying, in short, that it has authority over IPOs.  The Justice
Department said the case should not be dismissed because the banks have
no immunity in civil suits.

Judge Pauley has not yet ruled on the dismissal request, and the banks
will not escape all liability even if he grants their motion to dismiss
the investors' lawsuit.  Another group of lawsuits, also seeking class
action status, claims that the way banks granted access to IPO shares
violated federal securities laws.  The judge in that case will rule on
a separate dismissal motion.

Both cases, however -- the antitrust suit and the federal securities
suit -- focus on the same alleged conduct.  Lawyers for the plaintiffs
say damages could reach $1 billion in each case; under antitrust law,
the damages are tripled.


TENNESSEE: Knox County Spends $25 Million on Overcrowded Jail Lawsuit
---------------------------------------------------------------------
An analysis of records prepared by Knox County Finance and Law
departments shows more than $25 million has been spent on the
overcrowded-jail issue since the federal court class action was filed
in 1986, alleging unconstitutional conditions due to persistent
overcrowding, The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports.

The county is due back before US District Court Judge James Jarvis
early in 2003, to deliver an update on the population in the downtown
jail, the county's only maximum-security facility.  At least 111 times
in 2002, the county surpassed the population cap of 215 inmates,
imposed by Judge Jarvis in 1989.

However, in October 2002, lawyers in the class-action lawsuit asked
Judge Jarvis to hold the county in contempt for consistently violating
the population cap.  Judge Jarvis promised to fine the county $5,000
per day for surpassing the cap.  He also appointed lawyer Charles C.
Burks Jr. as a special master to independently monitor the jail
situation.

That ruling got the county's attention and prompted policymakers to
begin talking about making the long-running litigation lawsuit go away
by, at some point, building a new jail.  To support their views, the
commissioners cited Judge Jarvis' recent comments that the county jail
was going to need more cells sooner or later.

Costs associated with Knox County's efforts to deal with jail
overcrowding include this item: $400,000, a conservative estimate to
defend the 1986 class action filed in federal court alleging
unconstitutional conditions.


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Louisiana Smokers' Medical Monitoring Suit Begins
---------------------------------------------------------------------
After months of delays due to appeals, and even a hurricane, opening
arguments are scheduled this week in a class action asking that the
tobacco industry be required to pay for medical monitoring of still-
healthy Louisiana smokers as well as smoking-cessation programs,
Associated Press Newswires reports.  Jury selection in the case ended
months ago.

The lawsuit seeks no payouts for individual smokers.  There has been no
estimate, however, what a loss of the case would cost the tobacco
industry.  A smaller class action in West Virginia that sought solely
medical monitoring carried a potential price tag of hundreds of
millions of dollars.  The tobacco industry won that lawsuit.

Plaintiffs are alleging that cigarette-makers are liable because the
industry conspired to manipulate the nicotine levels in their products
to keep smokers "hooked," a contention that has been denied by the
industry.

In November, the Louisiana Supreme Court set up a structure for the
trial that is likely to focus the jury's attention on the question of
manipulating nicotine.  The ruling rejected a request from the tobacco
industry to hear testimony about individual smokers - their particular
habits, etc. - in the first phase of the trial, before the jury decides
whether the industry is liable.

Therefore, under the ruling, the first phase of the trial will focus on
liability.  Russ Herman, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said that if
the state Supreme Court had ruled in favor of cigarette-makers on that
issue, it could have scuttled the lawsuit as a class action.  If the
industry is found liable, other phases will be held to determine such
issues as the responsibility of individual smokers and to set damages.  
If the industry wins the first phase, the trial is over.

Up to now, the state Supreme Court has declined to rule on another
issue pushed by the industry:  whether the decision by smokers to start
puffing could reduce damages if the industry is found liable.

In the West Virginia case, attorneys for smokers prevailed in their
argument that a person with a five-year, pack-a-day habit has a higher
risk of contracting disease.  Still, a jury found routine screening for
lung cancer, emphysema and chronic obstructive lung diseases
unnecessary.  Instead, jurors accepted the defense's contention that
smokers concerned about their health should just quit.  It was the
first lawsuit of its kind to be tried in the United States.

State District Judge Richard Ganucheau, who has presided over the case
since it was filed in 1996, retired on December 31.  The Supreme Court
has given him a temporary appointment to continue working the case.  
Estimates of how long the trial will run range from six months to over
a year. Judge Ganucheau has ordered testimony to run four days a week.


UNION FOUNDRY: Agrees To Settle Injury Suit Over Foundry Dust For $2M
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A lawsuit against Union Foundry over health damages from its dust
pollution, has been settled for $2 million, Associated Press Newswires
reports.  Attorneys recently announced the settlement in Calhoun County
Circuit Court, Alabama.

E.G. Baker Jr., who grew up across the street from the west Anniston
foundry, filed the suit in 1999, alleging that the pipe-shot dust had
damaged his property and his health.  He could not attend the court
hearing because he was attached to a breathing machine in his home.  He
was joined in the lawsuit by his father E.G. Baker Sr. and two other
persons, Dianne Russell and Elsie Stoudenmire.  Although these four
brought and pursued the court action, the settlement terms convert the
suit into a class action.  The settlement, minus attorneys' fees, will
qualify as members of the class.  

A judge will hold a fairness hearing March 18.  If the judge approves
the settlement, the $2 million could be distributed as soon as May,
said A.W. Bolt, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers.  Union Foundry, owned
by Birmingham-based McWane Inc., a privately owned company, produces
annual revenue estimated at $2 billion.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management has fined the
foundry $386,000 for air, water and hazardous waste violations since
the lawsuit was filed.

A primary component of the settlement is the $8.3 million Union Foundry
has spent on regulator-required environmental controls since the
lawsuit was filed.  The company agrees to comply in the future with all
environmental laws and regulations.

Residents in Anniston believe the foundry's pollution has tainted their
houses, their cars, their gardens, and their lungs.  One resident,
Verner Hutchinson, told The Anniston Star, "They could never really
repay us for what they have done."  She blames Union Foundry for her
chronic asthma, bronchitis and sore throat.


UNITED STATES: Somali Activist Omar Jamal Agrees To Help WA Deportees
---------------------------------------------------------------------
On the first leg of his national tour, Somali activist Omar Jamal
talked to other Somali immigrants in Seattle about about issues they
have in common, the Star Tribune (Mpls-St. Paul) reports.

Mr. Jamal is executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center
in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Since he arrived in Seattle, the first of two
destinations on his National Tour Against Hate, Omar Jamal has shared
many cups of tea with community leaders and residents.  He has been
touring Somali-owned businesses and learning about residents'
experiences in Seattle, including heightened fear, because of the
government's actions against some Somalis since the September 11
attacks.  That echoes the experience of Somalis in Minnesota, where
money-wiring firms with alleged links to terrorism have been shut down
and deportations have been attempted.

Most recently, a judge in Seattle, US District Court Judge Marcia
Pechman, granted a temporary restraining order to stop the Immigration
and Naturalization Service from deporting anyone to Somalia until a
class action is ruled on.

The class action involves five Somalis in Seattle, and others around
the country, who have been detained by the INS for either committing
crimes or having immigration status violations.  Their lawyers argue
that no one can be deported to Somalia because it has no functioning
government to receive them.

Mr. Jamal planned to meet with some city and state officials to
advocate for Somalis.  Then he moves on to Maine where he will meet
with John Baldacci, the new governor.


VITAMIN ANTITRUST: Firms Lose Suit Over Liability To Overseas Customers
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A federal appeals court ruled recently that vitamin customers from
other countries could press price-fixing cases in US courts even if
they made their purchases abroad.  According to a report by the Los
Angeles Times, the opinion could open the floodgate for foreign
antitrust claims in American courtrooms.  The 2 to 1 decision by the
Washington DC Circuit Court of Appeals greatly expands the potential
liability of F. Hoffman-LaRoche and other vitamin makers named in a
class action set for trial in March.

The ruling is the last of three recent appellate court decisions that
are in conflict over whether foreigners may bring antitrust suits in US
courts over alleged misconduct abroad.  With lower courts now confused
about whether such cases can be tried in US courts, the recent ruling
makes it all but certain that the Supreme Court will take up the issue
in the near future, said Spencer Waller, who teaches antitrust law and
international trade at Chicago's Loyola University.

"This may be an inevitable consequence of the globalization of
markets," said Eric Talley, director of the University of Southern
California Center for Law, Economics and Organization.  "If there is no
separation between the markets, it is going to be somewhat hard and
somewhat fraudulent to actually claim you are going to regulate them
differentially."

"Globalization is making this much more of one unified world, and the
courts are recognizing that," said Paul T. Gallagher, the Washington-
based lawyer who argued the vitamin case on behalf of the customer
plaintiffs.  Mr. Gallagher is a partner with Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld
& Toll.


WORLDCOM INC.: University of California To File Securities Fraud Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The University of California (UC) recently said it will sue WorldCom
Inc.'s officers and directors, Citigroup Inc., and Arthur Andersen in
California state court, alleging the financial and accounting firms
helped the long-distance company mislead investors about its financial
health, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The university lost $353 million on WorldCom securities when an
accounting scandal toppled the firm into bankruptcy protection.  Now,
the university has made the decision to opt out of class action
litigation in federal court in New York.  UC general counsel James E.
Holst said the large size of the loss was a key factor in the decision
to file a separate securities-fraud lawsuit.

The go-it-alone stance is part of a trend among big investors aiming to
bypass limits imposed on federal class actions by the 1995 Private
Securities Litigation Reform Act.  To handle the case, UC has hired
Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy, a Bay Area law firm.

Last month, Cotchett, Pitre filed a similar state court suit against
Qwest Communications International Inc. on behalf of the California
State Teachers' Retirement System, which lost $150 million on its Qwest
investment.


WISCONSIN: Racine Prosecutors Dismiss Citations v. "Rave" Participants
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The 440 pierced and tattooed electronic-music-loving party-goers, who
each received $968 citations for attending a "rave" in Racine,
Wisconsin, recently achieved a sweeping legal victory, the Milwaukee
Journal-Sentinel reports.

City prosecutors admitted they could not prove their case and agreed to
dismiss all the citations. Even those who pleaded no contest and paid a
reduced fine will get their money back.  The only consolation for the
city is that, according to the agreement accompanying this reversal,
the Milwaukee-based American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which
represented most of the party-goers, said it would not sue the city.  
The city also agreed to change its policing of such gatherings and to
expunge from all records any evidence that the citations ever had been
written.

The city's hand was forced by the threat of a class action by the ACLU.  
The citations violated the people's constitutional right of
association, the ACLU said.  "I think that will send a strong message
to other cities in the state and perhaps in the country, that the
constitutional rights of individuals trump any concern about possible
drug use," said Racine attorney Erik Guenther, who assisted the ACLU.   

Milwaukee attorney, Michael Sperling said that there is a message here
to the police that "They better be careful before they go in and do
things (at public gatherings), just not go in and do a sweep."  Mr.
Sperling has sued the City of Milwaukee for jailing people accused of
ticket scalping.

Only three people at the party were arrested on drug charges, and those
charges remain in force.  Many of the partygoers said that, although
some people come to "raves" for the drug Ecstasy or the like, most come
just to enjoy the music.

The "rave", a type of party distinguished by electronic music, flashing
lights and often associated with illegal drug use, was held November 2,
2002, at a bar near downtown Racine.  Police descended on it after
getting a tip that illegal drugs would be there and after undercover
officers allegedly observed illegal drugs.


*Former Professor Leads Lawsuit Seeking Reparations for Slavery
---------------------------------------------------------------
University of Maryland professor and Wichita native Ronald Walters is
part of a group of black educators and class action lawyers seeking
reparations for slavery, reported the Wichita Eagle (KS). Professor
Walters now directs the university's African American Leadership
Institute.

"In terms of the civil rights movement, we have always been
outnumbered, outgunned and entered struggles with the idea that we
can't win.  But we did not let that stop us," said Mr. Walters.  One of
his first undertakings as a leader came about when, during the 1950s,
Mr. Walters and other black patrons had to eat in an alley while white
customers dined at Wichita lunch counters.  Aware of the shame and
humiliation felt by his black comrades, he went on to organize what is
considered the nation's first sit-in, an event that integrated city
lunch counters.

Mr. Walters is part of an elite corps of black scholars and class
action lawyers preparing a slavery reparations lawsuit against the
United States government.  He said he understands such a lawsuit will
be controversial, divisive, even volatile.  Critics call it an
extortion attempt that would hurt race relations more than it could
help.  However, Mr. Walters replies that there is no racial nirvana out
there to upset.  "We are fighting racism with this movement," he said.

The group of black scholars and class action lawyers is designated the
Reparations Coordinating Committee, which includes Harvard University
law professor Charles Ogletree and trial lawyer Johnnie Cochran.  The
group plans to file the lawsuit this month.  The group contends that
the government sanctioned slavery, and that its effects still linger.  
The suit is more about morality than money, Mr. Walters said, but it
also seeks racial wealth parity.

"Where is the wealth we should have had if we had been paid?" he asked.
"If we had the kind of wealth we earned, we would be far less dependent
on government than we are today."

Black nationalist groups have long sought reparations, but in recent
years, the more moderate arm of the movement, embodied in the
Reparations Coordinating Committee, has joined the discussion.  Little
by little, this group has moved the issue onto the nation's radar
screen.  In recent months, the cause has taken on a life of its own,
and Professor Walters, has played his role with his comrades in this
gradual struggle.

Proposals vary.  In March 2002, the great-great-granddaughter of a
South Carolina slave sued three companies for a share of profits
allegedly gained from slavery.  Chicago, Detroit, Nashville and a dozen
other cities have passed resolutions urging hearings on slavery's
legacy, a first step toward the government paying reparations.  Some
proposals call for annexation of an entire state.  In other cases, the
activists have sought reparations directly from the government.

Conversely, Professor Walters and the Reparations Coordinating
Committee think the court system offers the most direct route to
redress.  That process should include the resolution of "post-slavery
racial subordination," a social and economic condition black people
have yet to overcome, the professor said.  Any damages would fund
improved health care, education and housing for black people, Mr.
Walters said, not direct payments to individuals.

However, "Let's not talk about the end game," Mr. Walters said.  "Let
us start with, is there an injury?  If so, how did it occur?  Is it a
continuing problem?  What is the remedy?  That is the dignity not given
to this issue."

                     New Securities Fraud Cases


AMERICREDIT CORPORATION: Chitwood & Harley Launches TX Securities Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Chitwood & Harley LLP initiated a securities class action in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, on behalf of
purchasers of the common stock of AmeriCredit (NYSE:ACF), between April
14, 1999 and September 16, 2002, inclusive.

The complaint charges the Company 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 regarding
the nature of AmeriCredit's revenues and earnings caused AmeriCredit's
stock price to become artificially inflated, inflicting enormous
damages on investors.

More specifically, the plaintiff alleges that defendants misrepresented
AmeriCredit's financial performance by improperly deferring delinquent
loans to avoid customer defaults so AmeriCredit could have access to
cash that otherwise would have been restricted.  As a result of
defendants' scheme, the plaintiff complains, defendants maintained
inadequate cash reserves.

For more information, contact Jennifer Morris by Mail: 1230 Peachtree
Street, Suite 2300, Atlanta Georgia by Phone: 1-888-873-3999 by E-mail:
jlm@classlaw.com or visit the firm's Website: http://www.classlaw.com.


BIO-TECHNOLOGY GENERAL: Charles Piven Commences Securities Suit in NJ
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, PA initiated a securities class
action on behalf of shareholders who purchased, converted, exchanged or
otherwise acquired the common stock of Bio-Technology General Corp.
(Nasdaq:BTGC) between April 19, 1999 and August 2, 2002, inclusive, in
the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey against
the Company and certain of its executive officers.

The action charges that defendants violated 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.

For more details, contact Charles J. Piven by Mail: The World Trade
Center-Baltimore, 401 East Pratt Street, Suite 2525, Baltimore,
Maryland 21202 by Phone: 410-986-0036 or by E-mail:
hoffman@pivenlaw.com


CLEARONE COMMUNICATIONS: Glancy & Binkow File Securities Lawsuit in UT
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Glancy & Binkow LLP initiated a securities class action in the United
States District Court for the District of Utah on behalf of all persons
who purchased securities of ClearOne Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq:CLRO)
between January 1, 2001, and January 15, 2003, inclusive.

The suit charges the Company and certain of its executive officers 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 ClearOne's
revenue and earnings caused ClearOne's stock price to become
artificially inflated, inflicting damages on investors.

The suit alleges that, in order to inflate the price of ClearOne's
stock, defendants caused the Company to falsely report its financial
results during the class period through improper revenue recognition
practices, including recognizing revenue for shipments to distributors
even though the distributors had the right to return or exchange unsold
goods.  On January 15, 2003, the last day of the class period, the
Securities and Exchange Commission filed a federal lawsuit alleging
that defendants violated numerous federal securities laws, primarily
through a program of "channel stuffing" -- shipping large amounts of
inventory to the company's distributors with the understanding that the
distributors did not have to pay for these products until the
distributors resold the products, and that in some instances the
distributors were given the right to return or exchange products the
distributors were unable to sell.

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


NASH FINCH: Milberg Weiss Launches Securities Fraud Lawsuit in MN Court
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota on behalf of purchasers of Nash Finch Company (NASDAQ:NAFC;
NAFCE) common stock during the period between July 17, 2000 and
November 8, 2002.

The complaint charges the Company and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  The
Company is a food distribution and retail company in the United States.  
The complaint alleges that during the class period, the Company issued
false statements, including false financial results in which the
Company included income from vendor promotions to which the Company was
not entitled, so as to maintain favorable credit ratings on its debt.  
As a result of defendants' false statements, the Company's stock traded
at artificially inflated levels, permitting the Company to maintain
credit ratings on its $400 million in debt.

Then, on November 8, 2002, the Company issued a press release entitled
"Nash Finch Explains Postponement of Earnings Release" which disclosed
an SEC inquiry into its accounting practices.  It was also noted in
November 2002, that Nash Finch's former CFO had sued the Company
claiming he was fired for refusing to manipulate Nash Finch's reported
financial results.  Once this news was revealed, Nash Finch's stock
collapsed to $7.60 before closing at $8.18, some 70% below the class
period high of $28.85.  It was also noted in November 2002, that Nash
Finch's former CFO had sued the Company claiming he was fired in 2000
for refusing to manipulate Nash Finch's reported financial results.

For more details, contact William Lerach by Phone: 800/449-4900 by E-
mail: wsl@milberg.com or visit the firm's Website:
http://www.milberg.com


NASH FINCH: Cauley Geller Expands Class Period in MN Securities Lawsuit
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cauley Geller Bowman & Coates, LLP expanded the class period in a
securities class action filed in the United States District Court for
the District of Minnesota on behalf of purchasers of Nash Finch Company
(Nasdaq: NAFCE) (formerly NAFC) common stock to include stock purchases
between July 17, 2000 and November 8, 2002, inclusive.

The complaint charges the Company and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Nash
Finch is a food distribution and retail company in the United States.
The complaint alleges that during the class period, Nash Finch issued
false statements, including false financial results in which the
Company included income from vendor promotions to which Nash Finch was
not entitled, so as to maintain favorable credit ratings on its debt.  
As a result of defendants' false statements, the Company's stock traded
at artificially inflated levels, permitting Nash Finch to maintain
credit ratings on its $400 million in debt.

Then, on November 8, 2002, Nash Finch issued a press release entitled
"Nash Finch Explains Postponement of Earnings Release" which disclosed
an SEC inquiry into its accounting practices.  Once this news was
revealed, Nash Finch's stock collapsed to $7.60 before closing at
$8.18, some 70% below the class period high of $28.85.  It was also
noted in November 2002, that Nash Finch's former CFO had sued the
Company claiming he was fired in 2000 for refusing to manipulate Nash
Finch's reported financial results.

For more details, contact Jackie Addison, Heather Gann or Sue Null by
Mail: P.O. Box 25438, Little Rock, AR 72221-5438 by Phone:
1-888-551-9944 by E-mail: info@cauleygeller.com or visit the firm's
Website: http://www.cauleygeller.com


WESTAR ENERGY: Charles Piven Launches Securities Fraud Suit in KS Court
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, PA initiated a securities class
action on behalf of shareholders who purchased, converted, exchanged or
otherwise acquired the common stock of Westar Energy, Inc. (NYSE:WR)
and on behalf of all purchasers of Western Resources Capital I
Cumulative Quarterly Income Preferred Securities Series A (NYSE:WR--pa)
between March 30, 2001 and December 26, 2002, inclusive.

The case is pending in the United States District Court for the
District of Kansas against the Company and certain of its officers
and/or directors.  The action charges that defendants violated 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.

For more details, contact Charles J. Piven, PA by Mail: The World Trade
Center-Baltimore, 401 East Pratt Street, Suite 2525, Baltimore,
Maryland 21202 by Phone: 410-986-0036 or by E-mail:
hoffman@pivenlaw.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
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Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to be
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