CAR_Public/030124.mbx                C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

                Friday, January 24, 2003, Vol. 5, No. 17

                            Headlines

AGE DISCRIMINATION: Court Dismisses Suit V. Hollywood Studios, Agencies
AIWA AMERICA: NJ Court Approves $6.75 Million Consumer Suit Settlement
AT&T CORPORATION: Two Kansas City Women Sue Over Contraceptive Coverage
CATHOLIC CHURCH: LA Court To Decide on Coordination of Sex Abuse Suits
COMPAQ COMPUTER: Plaintiffs To Appeal Approval of Securities Settlement

HEWLETT-PACKARD: Named as Defendant in NY South African Apartheid Suit
HEWLETT-PACKARD: Employees Launch Overtime Wage Suit in CA State Court
HEWLETT-PACKARD: Faces Consumer Suits Over Inkjet Printers in 33 States
HEWLETT-PACKARD: Certification for TX Consumer Suit Set February 2003
MCDONALD'S CORPORATION: Court Dismisses Suit Over Obesity in Children

MICHIGAN: Law Students Commence Suit For Better Health Care For Inmates
MICROSOFT CORPORATION: To Submit Plan To Resolve EU Antitrust Charges
NEVADA: Incline Village Residents Mull Suit Over Disproportionate Taxes
PILGRIM'S PRIDE: Asks TX Court To Dismiss Chicken Growers' Fraud Suit
PILGRIM'S PRIDE: Faces Suit Over Recall of Contaminated Deli Products

REPARATIONS LITIGATION: Two Women Sue Three Companies For Reparations
SKILLSOFT PLC: SEC Commences Informal Probe into Financial Statements
SKILLSOFT PLC: Faces Four Securities Fraud Lawsuits Filed in NH Court
SKILLSOFT PLC: Trial in Securities Fraud Suit Set June 2003 in N.D. CA
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Trial Opens In Smokers' Medical Monitoring Lawsuit

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Philip Morris Defrauded "Light" Users, Lawyers Say
WAL-MART STORES: MA Court Allows Fine of $25 For Unmarked Store Items
WAL-MART STORES: Asks For Retrial of Oregon Employee Overtime Wage Suit

                          Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: ABB Finalizes Bankruptcy Plan to Settle US Suits
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Halliburton Plaintiffs Agree to Delay Settlement
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Honeywell Settles 236,000 Asbestos Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: OC Files Reorganization For Asbestos Creditors
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Charge Pushes PPG to Loss in 2002

ASBESTOS ALERT: Boss Holdings, Inc. Faces Asbestos-Related Litigation
ASBESTOS ALERT: CNR Asbestos Liability Funds Considered Adequate
ASBESTOS ALERT: Gorman-Rupp, Subsidiaries Face Asbestos Related Suits
ASBESTOS ALERT: Washington Group Intl. Faces Asbestos Related Claims
ASBESTOS ALERT: Zemex Corporation Subsidiary Faces Asbestos Litigation

                     New Securities Fraud Cases

DIVERSA CORPORATION: Wolf Haldenstein Commences Securities Fraud Suit
HOTELS.COM: Schiffrin & Barroway Commences Securities Suit in N.D. TX
HOTELS.COM: Cauley Geller Commences Securities Fraud Suit in N.D. Texas
MERRILL LYNCH: Kaplan Fox Commences Securities Fraud Suit in S.D. NY

                            *********


AGE DISCRIMINATION: Court Dismisses Suit V. Hollywood Studios, Agencies
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Los Angeles Superior Court dismissed a class action filed against
television networks, Hollywood studios and talent agencies by more than
175 writers, alleging the defendants discriminate against those over
40, the Associated Press reports.

The suit was originally filed in the United States District Court in
Los Angeles, alleging that the defendants practiced pervasive
discrimination since the early 1980s.  The lawsuit targeted six
television networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox, 12 production
companies and 11 talent agencies, including the William Morris Agency.
The suit also alleges violations of:

     (1) Age Discrimination in Employment Act,

     (2) Labor Management Relations Act and

     (3) California Fair Employment and Housing Act

The federal court later dismissed the suit and the plaintiffs refilled
in it state court.  In a decision disclosed this week, Judge Charles W.
McCoy Jr. ruled some of the alleged violations occurred outside the
statute of limitations and that the writers first must prove their
claims on an individual basis before they can show an industry-wide
pattern of discrimination, AP states.  The ruling left open the
possibility that the writers could refile their claims individually.
Judge McCoy also ruled that having first filed in federal court,
plaintiffs couldn't refile the same claims in state court.

"We consider this a bump in the road," Paul Sprenger, lead attorney for
the writers told AP.  "Sometimes these things take years and it should
be perfectly obvious to the courts that this is a meritorious claim."

Mr. Sprenger said they were considering their options, including an
appeal or continuing with new class action claims, but he did not plan
to file individual claims.

"We are pleased the court has decided that these television writers
cannot proceed on such a broad-based claim," a CBS statement read. "We
are also confident that any individual claims of discrimination will be
shown to have no merit."


AIWA AMERICA: NJ Court Approves $6.75 Million Consumer Suit Settlement
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A New Jersey Superior Court granted approval to a $6.75 million
settlement of a consumer class action against Aiwa America, Inc., over
compact disc players sold in 1992 and 2000 that failed to read or play
discs when dust collected in the mechanism, CBS 2 reports.

Under the settlement, customers who brought the defective disc players
may get up to $140 to help pay for repair costs.  Lawyers involved in
the class-action lawsuit said it eventually could affect up to 13
million consumers.  About 40,000 consumers have joined the suit so far,
Jonathan Shub, one of two attorneys representing the plaintiffs, told
the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill.  Anyone else seeking to join in the
action must register before May 1.

The judge also approved the payment of $1.42 million in legal fees to
Mr. Shub and his associate, Charles Mangan, who have handled the case
since it was filed two years ago.  They had asked for a 25 percent
share of the settlement fund, or $1.68 million.


AT&T CORPORATION: Two Kansas City Women Sue Over Contraceptive Coverage
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Two of AT&T Corporation's female employees from Kansas City have added
their voices to the national debate over whether company health plans
should include contraceptive coverage, The Kansas City Star reports.

The two women recently filed a class action against the Company,
alleging that its health insurance plans cover sex-related prescription
drugs for men but not prescription contraceptives for women.  The suit,
filed in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, seeks class status on
behalf of all female AT&T workers nationwide.  AT&T has tens of
thousands of women employees.

"Such discrimination against female employees is particularly egregious
when AT&T covers sex-related prescriptions and treatments like Viagra
and vasectomies for men," said lawyer Sly James Jr. of The Sly James
Firm in Kansas City, which represents the plaintiffs.  "This
willingness to cover Viagra but not birth control captures the
double standard in our society.  Apparently, AT&T does not look at
pregnancy on the same level as they view potency."

The complaint charges that AT&T's failure to cover birth control
violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy
Discrimination Act of 1978, which amended the Civil Rights Act.  Title
VII prohibits discrimination by sex, among other categories.  The
Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on
pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

In July, AT&T began offering as a benefit oral contraceptives ordered
by mail.  However, the lawsuit alleges that the company continues to
exclude other forms of birth control, including Depo-Provera,
intrauterine devices and diaphragms.

The case comes as momentum gathers to require prescription
contraception coverage.  Twenty states, including Missouri, now require
health insurance policies that cover prescription drugs to cover
prescription contraceptives.

Virtually every state legislature has debated the issue.  The push in
state legislatures began after bills to create a national mandate
stalled in Congress.  A hearing on the federal Equity in Prescription
Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act was held on September 10,
2001, but the bill died in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks the
next day.

The battle for birth control parity gained impetus in the late 1990s
when Viagra, a drug to treat men's impotence, was approved.  Many
health insurance plans began to cover Viagra, but still denied coverage
for contraceptives.

Proponents of birth control coverage won a major victory in June 2001,
when a federal judge in Seattle ordered Bartell Drug Co. to include
contraceptives in its health plan.  That case followed an opinion by
the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in December 2000,
declaring that employers must cover birth control if they cover other
preventive treatments.

More recently, two Georgia women have filed separate class actions
against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and CVS Corporation over their alleged
failures to provide insurance coverage for birth control.  In August, a
federal judge granted class status to the lawsuit against Wal-Mart.

An August 2002 survey of more than 3,200 public and private employers
by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health group,
found that 78 percent of workers with employer-sponsored health
insurance have coverage for oral contraceptives, up from 64 percent in
2001.


CATHOLIC CHURCH: LA Court To Decide on Coordination of Sex Abuse Suits
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A Los Angeles County judge has been designated to decide if certain
suits against Roman Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing minors
should be coordinated under one judge, SignOnSanDiego reports.  Eight
cases filed in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, one of which is a class
action.

Costa Mesa attorney John Manly filed the coordination petition earlier
this month.  Coordination is a procedure to bring to one court civil
cases filed in different counties that share a common question of fact
or law, a spokeswoman for the state Judicial Council told
SignOnSanDiego.  The petition had included two cases in San Diego and
San Bernardino counties.  Judicial Council spokeswoman Lynn Holton said
those lawsuits were not considered as they were pending at the time the
petition was filed.  "That does not preclude them from being added on
later," Ms. Holton said.

Rodrigo Valdivia, chancellor for the San Diego diocese, said he learned
late last week that San Diego would not be part of the coordination
action.  Five lawsuits have been filed in San Diego County Superior
Court in the past year, alleging abuse by priests.  "We believe it's
better for the Diocese of San Diego to have the cases tried in San
Diego," Mr. Valdivia told SignOnSanDiego.  "We have competent people
here in San Diego to try the cases, and it would be more convenient for
everyone to have them tried here than to go to Los Angeles."

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle either can hold a hearing
or decide himself if the cases should be coordinated, said Costa Mesa
attorney Venus Soltan, a colleague of Manly's.  Attorneys for both the
church and the plaintiffs have 15 days to object if they don't want to
be included in the coordination, Ms. Soltan told SignOnSanDiego.

"We brought the petition because we think there has to be a mechanism
for the large number of cases that appear to be coming down the
pipeline to be handled," Ms. Soltan said.  "More than anything we want
to make sure that anybody who was hurt has the ability to get in front
of a court."

Attorneys predicted that hundreds of lawsuits would be filed in
California, after a state law went into effect January 1 lifting the
statute of limitations on decades-old cases.  The outcome of the
coordination and a mediation process also in Los Angeles County
Superior Court have prompted some lawyers to wait before filing claims,
SignOnSanDiego states.  Cases previously coordinated in San Diego
County courts have included tobacco and breast-implant lawsuits.


COMPAQ COMPUTER: Plaintiffs To Appeal Approval of Securities Settlement
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Plaintiffs in the consolidated securities class action filed against
Compaq Computer Corporation filed notices of appeal of the United
States District Court in Texas' ruling granting approval to the
settlement proposed by the Company and dismissing the suit with
prejudice.

A number of purported stockholder class actions were brought in 1998
against Compaq and certain present and former directors and officers of
Compaq, on behalf of all persons who purchased the Company's common
stock from July 10, 1997 through March 6, 1998.  These actions were
later consolidated.

The consolidated amended complaint alleges that defendants violated
Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and
Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder by withholding information and making
misleading statements about channel inventory, factoring of receivables
and Compaq marketing programs in order to inflate the price of Compaq's
common stock, and further alleges that a number of individual
defendants sold Compaq common stock at those purportedly inflated
prices.

In July 2000, the case was certified as a class action, but was later
vacated by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Compaq reached a
mediated settlement with lead plaintiffs and their attorneys in the
amount of approximately $29 million, of which approximately $28 million
is covered by insurance.  The parties presented this settlement to the
court for approval in June 2002.  The final hearing on the fairness of
the settlement was held on November 1, 2002.

On November 25, 2002, the court entered two orders.  One order approved
the settlement and granted a final judgment and dismissal with
prejudice.  The second order awarded fees and expenses to plaintiffs'
counsel.  On December 17, 2002 a notice of appeal of both orders was
filed.


HEWLETT-PACKARD: Named as Defendant in NY South African Apartheid Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Hewlett-Packard Company has been named, along with other multinational
corporations, as a defendant in a class action filed in the United
States District Court in the Southern District of New York on behalf of
current and former South African citizens and their survivors who
suffered violence and oppression under the apartheid regime.

The lawsuit alleges that HP and other companies helped perpetuate, and
profited from, the apartheid regime during the period from 1948-1994 by
selling products and services to agencies of the South African
government.  Claims are based on:

     (1) the Alien Tort Claims Act,

     (2) the Torture Protection Act,

     (3) the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and

     (4) a variety of other international laws and treaties relating to
         violations of human rights, war crimes and crimes against
         humanity.

The complaint seeks, among other things, an accounting, the creation of
a historic commission, compensatory damages in excess of $200 billion,
punitive damages in excess of $200 billion, costs and attorneys' fees.
This matter is in the early stages of litigation, and HP is preparing
its response.


HEWLETT-PACKARD: Employees Launch Overtime Wage Suit in CA State Court
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Hewlett-Packard faces a class action filed in Santa Clara Superior
Court in California, alleging the computer hardware company exploited
temporary workers by forcing them to work overtime without pay or
benefits, SFGate.com reports.

The suit, filed by employees Bryant Marks and Amir Mahzouf, alleges
employees were often made to work more than 40 hours a week without
being paid overtime.  "HP has taken elaborate steps to deceive
plaintiffs and convince them that they hold the status of independent
contractors," the suit said.

Joseph Ainley, an attorney representing Marks and Mahzouf, told
SFGate.com, "The gist of the lawsuit is to prevent the exploitation of
workers who were unfairly and illegally classified as independent
contractors and to stop an unfair and frankly cruel labor practice."

The lawsuit specifically mentioned HP manager Bernie Lim, who is in
charge of a group developing a catalog of company products.  According
to the suit, Mr. Lim barred Mr. Marks and Mr. Mahzouf from claiming
compensation for more than 40 hours worked per week, SFGate.com
reports.  According to the suit, Mr. Lim told them that "they will be
terminated if they offer any objections or resistance to receiving no
compensation for the hours that they work in excess of 40 hours per
week."

The suit follows a similar case involving temporary workers at
Microsoft.  The so-called "permatemp" suit filed in 1992 accused the
software giant of violating the law by denying temporary employees, who
had been hired through a third-party agency, certain benefits available
to permanent workers, SFGate.com reports.

The suit, which was later settled, has become a landmark case in the
technology industry, Mr. Ainley said.  "What Hewlett-Packard has done
is exactly the same thing," he said.  "They have this elaborate
agreement with third-party vendors, who then supply labor."


HEWLETT-PACKARD: Faces Consumer Suits Over Inkjet Printers in 33 States
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Hewlett-Packard Company faces several class actions filed in 33 states,
on behalf of consumers who claimed to have purchased different models
of HP inkjet printers over the past four years.  The first suit was
originally filed in the state court in Riverside County, California in
July 2000.  Several similar suits followed, in coordination with the
original plaintiffs, in 32 additional states.

The various plaintiffs throughout the country claim to have purchased
different models of HP inkjet printers over the past four years.  The
basic factual allegation of these actions is that when the affected
consumer purchased HP printers they received half-full or "economy" ink
cartridges instead of full cartridges.  Plaintiffs claim that HP's
advertising, packaging and marketing representations for the printers
led the consumers to believe they would receive full cartridges.  These
actions seek:

     (1) injunctive relief,

     (2) disgorgement of profits,

     (3) compensatory damages,

     (4) punitive damages and

     (5) attorneys' fees

The suit alleges claims under various state unfair business practices
statutes and common law claims of fraud and negligent
misrepresentation.

The Company recently obtained summary judgment against plaintiffs in
the California action, which the plaintiffs are appealing.  HP also
obtained summary judgment in Kansas and Arizona.  The matter has been
certified as a class action in North Carolina state court, and a trial
date has been set for June 9, 2003.  The Ohio and New York litigation
has been dismissed.  In Connecticut, the trial court denied the
plaintiffs' motion to certify a class action.  In Oregon and
Washington, the case has been dismissed without prejudice.  The
litigation is in various stages in other jurisdictions.


HEWLETT-PACKARD: Certification for TX Consumer Suit Set February 2003
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Class certification hearing for one of the defective product consumer
suits filed against Hewlett-Packard Company is set for February 2003 in
the United States District Court in Jefferson County, Texas.

A resident of eastern Texas initially filed a suit entitled "Alvis v.
HP" in April 2001.  In February 2000, a similar suit captioned "LaPray
v. Compaq" was filed in the same court against Compaq.  In May 2000,
another suit, titled "Sprung V. HP and Compaq" was filed against the
Company and Compaq in United States District Court in the 60th Judicial
District of Colorado.  These actions are part of a series of similar
suits filed against several computer manufacturers.

The basic allegation is that the Company and Compaq sold computers
containing floppy disk controllers that fail to alert the user to
certain floppy disc controller errors.  That failure is alleged to
result in data loss or data corruption.  The plaintiffs in Alvis and
LaPray seek injunctive relief, declaratory relief, rescission and
attorneys' fees.  In July 2001, a nationwide class was certified in the
LaPray case.  Compaq has filed a petition for review by the Texas
Supreme Court.  The Texas Supreme Court has requested additional
briefing.  A class certification hearing in Alvis has been set for
February 2003.  The Sprung case was dismissed on May 31, 2002.

In addition, HP and Compaq continue to provide information to the US
government and state attorneys general in California and Illinois in
response to inquiries regarding floppy disk controllers in computers
sold to government entities.


MCDONALD'S CORPORATION: Court Dismisses Suit Over Obesity in Children
---------------------------------------------------------------------
New York Federal Court Judge Robert Sweet dismissed a class action
filed against McDonald's Corporation blaming the fast-food giant for
obesity in children, Reuters reports.

The suit, filed on behalf of overweight children who ate at two
McDonald's branches in the Bronx borough of New York City, seeks
unspecified damages from the firm over health problems that included
diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and elevated
cholesterol.  One of the plaintiffs is a 15-year-old who allegedly
weighs 400 pounds and had diabetes after eating McDonald's food every
day since he was six.

At least four cases have been filed against McDonald's and other fast-
food chains over the obesity issue.  Two of the cases have been dropped
and another is dormant.  The ruling was a victory for the fast-food
industry, as Judge Sweet stated that the plaintiffs failed to show that
customers of the world's largest fast-food chain were unaware that
eating too much McDonald's fare could be unhealthy.

However, the judge did not let McDonald's off the hook completely.
Referring to Chicken McNuggets as a "McFrankenstein creation" of
elements not used by home cooks, he said the plaintiffs could refile
their case with information backing their claim that diners have no
idea what is really in their food or that the products have allegedly
become more harmful because of processing, Reuters states.

At issue, the judge said, is where to draw the line between personal
responsibility and society's responsibility to protect individuals.  He
also cited concerns the case could "spawn thousands of similar
"McLawsuits" against all types of restaurants.

"This opinion is guided by the principle that legal consequences should
not attach to the consumption of hamburgers and other fast-food fare
unless consumers are unaware of the dangers of eating such food," Judge
Sweet said.  "If consumers know . the potential ill health effect of
eating at McDonald's, they cannot blame McDonald's if they,
nonetheless, choose to satiate their appetite with a surfeit of
supersized McDonald's products."

Samuel Hirsch, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told Reuters it was
"premature" for McDonald's to celebrate the decision and that he
planned to refile the suit within 30 days.  "There is language in the
court's decision which strongly supports some of our arguments," he
said.
The National Restaurant Association lauded the settlement, which
brought at least a temporary sigh of relief from corporate America,
which feared fast food would become the next target of the trial
lawyers who have engulfed the asbestos and tobacco industries with
litigation.  "We are hopeful this ruling will deter others from filing
abusive, frivolous lawsuits that further encumber our judicial system.
We maintain that this lawsuit was senseless and baseless, and this
ruling confirms our position," the National Restaurant Association said
in a statement.

McDonald's, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, said it has been providing
nutritional information about its food for 30 years and hailed the
decision as a victory for common sense, Reuters states.  "We trusted
the court to use its common sense to dismiss this claim. That's exactly
what the judge has done. Common sense has prevailed," McDonald's said
in a statement.  "We said from the beginning that this was a frivolous
lawsuit.  Today's ruling confirms that fact."

Corporate defense attorneys also welcomed the decision, but expected
trial lawyers would devise other ways of going after fast-food
restaurants.  "I'm delighted by it (Sweet's ruling) because it is so
utterly correct," Thomas Bezanson, a partner at law firm Chadbourne &
Parke of New York told Reuters.

He said the ruling should discourage similar suits for a time, but
predicted personal injury lawyers would eventually bring new cases.
"They are a talented and determined group of attorneys not to be
underestimated," he said.  "There will be new ones.  You can be sure of
it."


MICHIGAN: Law Students Commence Suit For Better Health Care For Inmates
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Students from the University of Michigan Clinical Law Program and their
professor commenced a class action against the state of Michigan in
federal district court seeking better health care for hepatitis-C
infected inmates, the Metro Times Detroit reports.

The suit, filed with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) of Michigan, alleges that the Michigan Department of Corrections
is in violation of the Eighth Amendment's protections against cruel and
unusual punishment for failure to treat the inmates for the hepatitis C
virus, for which there is no vaccine.  It seeks treatment for those
prisoners who are likely to be cured through therapy with pegylated
interferon and ribavirin.  Untreated, hepatitis C often destroys the
liver, leaving a transplant as the only viable medical alternative, the
Metro Times Detroit states.

A study by the Philadelphia Inquirer states that state corrections
departments currently pay about $15,000 per inmate for testing,
monitoring and treatment with the current hepatitis C medicines.  The
drugs cure about 60 percent of the patients to whom they are given.

"It's really a public health concern because more than 90-some percent
of people who go to jail come out," program clinical-assistant
professor David Santacroce told the Times Detroit.  "We're not testing;
we're not treating; we're letting these people back out into the
population . We're going to have to pay for this anyway. It's easier,
cheaper and more successful to do it up front."

Hepatitis C is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the
country.  The national in-prison infection rate is 30 percent to 40
percent.  Michigan Department of Corrections officials agree that the
state's infected prison population could be 15,000 or higher.  As of
December, fewer than 50 were being given the standard medication needed
to fight the chronic form of the disease, the Metro Times Detroit
states.

"What we're saying is that the (MDOC) policy on its face, and as
applied to our plaintiffs, is deliberate indifference and you can't be
deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's medical needs," Mr. Santacroce
said.  "We certainly aren't arguing that prisoners are entitled to
extraordinary treatment that is above and beyond what is available to
the poor person on the street through Medicaid or Medicare.  We're
saying they deserve basic medical care for serious medical conditions .
We're not asking for the moon.  We're not asking for some crazy, fancy
treatment.  We're asking for the standard protocol.  If you think the
pegylated interferon treatment is expensive, try a transplant."


MICROSOFT CORPORATION: To Submit Plan To Resolve EU Antitrust Charges
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Microsoft Corporation intends to submit a detailed plan in an attempt
to settle the European Union's (EU) antitrust investigation, charging
the Company with abusing its market power in music software and network
servers, according to reports by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters.

European regulators and the software giant have not yet met halfway on
a settlement.  The Company said the pact it entered with the United
States Department of Justice and several states should alleviate
European antitrust concerns, but the EU resisted Microsoft's efforts,
saying company needs to offer remedies tailored to address European
concerns, Internetweek.com reports.

Regulators have said the Company doesn't disclose enough information to
allow servers made by competitors such as Sun Microsystems to
communicate with Windows systems, InternetWeek.com reports.  Microsoft
counters that disclosing more information than it does will jeopardize
its incentive to integrate.  Europe also contends that integrating the
Microsoft media player with Windows makes it difficult for competitors.
Europe wants Microsoft to remove the media player from Windows and sell
it separately; Microsoft is resisting.

Microsoft declined to confirm the reports.  "We have no comment on this
other than to say we have cooperated fully with the European commission
on this matter and are open to sitting down and discussing ways to
resolve these issues whenever its convenient for the commission," a
company spokesman told InternetWeek.com.

The Company is still fighting other antitrust battles.  In November, it
gained a victory when a federal judge granted approval to its
settlement with the US Department of Justice and a coalition of states
and the District of Columbia.  Most of those states decided to accept
the November ruling, but Massachusetts and West Virginia are continuing
their appeal.  Meanwhile, private plaintiffs, including Sun and Be
Inc., are pursuing their own antitrust lawsuits against Microsoft.
Earlier this month, the Company reached a $1.1 billion settlement this
month to a class action brought by California consumers and enterprise
customers. Class actions in 16 other states are pending,
Internetweek.com reports.


NEVADA: Incline Village Residents Mull Suit Over Disproportionate Taxes
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Residents of Incline Village in Tahoe, Nevada are considering the
filing of a class action over disproportionately high property taxes
meted on residents of the area, the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza reports.
Resident Les Barta says "The Assessor's Office is like a petty tyrant
or dictator . They have devised arbitrary and illegal techniques to get
the maximum they can from us, but we're fed up and won't take it any
more.  It's going to be like a Boston Tea Party."

Mr. Barta and more than 100 Incline Village and Crystal Bay residents
have joined to make an organized assault on the appraisals, which the
assessor uses to compute property taxes.  Some say their taxes would
double if allowed to stand.  They are considering a class action
claiming that disproportionately high taxes show the county
discriminates against the area, the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza states.
Leading the effort are attorneys Norm Azevedo and partner Elaine
Guenaga, who expect to reduce these appraisals.  Mr. Azevedo said he
filed about 115 appeals from North Shore on the last day possible.

Mr. Azevedo claims the county tends to overvalue the land of Lake Tahoe
property because it uses methods that don't comply with state statutes.
Mr. Azevedo, who has more than 20 years of tax experience including
about 10 years as counsel to state tax agencies, says the county uses a
time adjustment to value the land that is not prescribed by state
statutes, the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza reports.

"This method appears to take older sales of vacant land, and adjust
them forward in time," Mr. Azevedo said. "I've never seen it before."

Senior Appraiser Ernie McNeill, with the Assessor's Office, said their
methods are completely defensible, the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza states.
"My goal is to get it right," Mr. McNeill said. "We don't go looking
for high appraisals, because these would tend to generate appeals."

Mr. McNeill said that the office has gotten hundreds of calls from
Incline area residents about the appraisals, but says most have been
resolved once the basis is explained.


PILGRIM'S PRIDE: Asks TX Court To Dismiss Chicken Growers' Fraud Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Pilgrim's Pride Corporation asked the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of Texas, Texarkana Division to dismiss the class
action filed against it on behalf of a class of chicken growers.

The complaint alleges that the Company violated the Packers and
Stockyards Act (7 U.S.C. Section 192) and breached fiduciary duties
allegedly owed to the plaintiff growers.  The plaintiffs also brought
individual actions under the Packers and Stockyards Act alleging common
law fraud, negligence, breach of fiduciary duties and breach of
contract.

On July 29, 2002, the Company filed a motion to dismiss under Rules
12(b)(1), 12(b)(6) and 9(b).  The Company also filed a Motion to
Transfer Venue on August 19, 2002, and the plaintiffs have filed a
motion for preliminary injunction to prohibit any alleged retaliation
against the growers.  Discovery has not yet been conducted in this
case.  In addition, the court has not ruled upon any of the above-
referenced motions.

The Company intends to defend vigorously both certification of the case
as a class action and questions concerning ultimate liability and
damages, if any.  Neither the likelihood of an unfavorable outcome nor
the amount of ultimate liability, if any, with respect to this case can
be determined at this time.  The Company does not expect this matter,
to have a material impact on its financial position, operations or
liquidity.


PILGRIM'S PRIDE: Faces Suit Over Recall of Contaminated Deli Products
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Pilgrim's Pride Corporation faces a class action filed in the
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania after it
voluntarily recalled all cooked deli products produced at its Franconia
plant from May 1, 2002 through October 11, 2002, due to a possible
listeriosis outbreak.

The suit was commenced by an individual who allegedly consumed the
Company's meat products and allegedly contracted listeriosis.  The suit
seeks recovery on behalf of a putative class of all persons that
purchased and/or consumed meat products manufactured at the Company's
Franconia, Pennsylvania facility between May 1, 2002 and October 11,
2002, who have suffered an injury.  This class represents all
individuals who have suffered Listeriosis and symptoms of Listeriosis
and other medical injuries.  Plaintiff also seeks to represent a
putative class of all persons that purchased and/or consumed meat
products manufactured at the Company's Franconia, Pennsylvania facility
between May 1, 2002 and October 11, 2002, who have not suffered any
personal injury.

The complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages under theories of
negligence, alleged violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade
Practices Act and Consumer Protection Law, strict liability in tort,
and unjust enrichment.

On December 6, 2002, the Company filed its Petition for Removal to
Federal court transferring this matter to the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Plaintiff filed a
Motion to Remand to State court on January 6, 2003.  The Company's
response is due on January 23, 2003.

In addition, on January 13, 2003, the Company filed its Motion to
Dismiss the plaintiff's class action complaint.  The Company intends to
challenge vigorously the motion to remand, the certification of the
class action and questions concerning ultimate liability and damages,
if any.  No discovery has been conducted to date.  Neither the
likelihood of an unfavorable outcome nor the amount of ultimate
liability, if any, with respect to this case can be determined at this
time.


REPARATIONS LITIGATION: Two Women Sue Three Companies For Reparations
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Proceedings for the slave reparations suit filed by two Dallas women
against three firms have commenced in the United States District Court
in Galveston, Texas.  J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Union Pacific
Corporation and WestPoint Stevens, Inc. allegedly profited from the
slave labor of their ancestors.  The plaintiffs are seeking class-
action status for the lawsuit, according to a report by the Austin
American-Statesman.  It is believed to be the first major slave
reparations lawsuit to be filed in Texas, and one of a handful
targeting several national companies for benefiting from slavery.

The lawsuit was announced by lawyers, for Julie Mae Wyatt-Kervin and
Ina Daniels-Hurdle-McGee, lead plaintiffs in the reparations lawsuit.
The suit seeks restitution, damages and lawyers' fees, as well as the
establishment of a trust fund and an independent commission to
investigate the reparations issue.  The 34-page complaint accuses the
companies of conspiracy, human rights violations and unjust enrichment
among other things.

"Defendants and the other known and unknown defendants used and/or
profited from slave labor and have retained the benefits and use of
those profits and products derived from slave labor," the lawsuit reads
in part.  Plaintiffs' lawyers say damages could reach $1 billion in
each case.  Under antitrust law, damages are trebled.

Plaintiffs' lawyers, including Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas
chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP), said the case is likely to be added to others filed
last year in Illinois, New York and Louisiana that were consolidated in
federal court in Chicago and are still pending.

The lawsuit is almost certain to add fuel to the reparations debate,
which has gained steam over the past year, beginning with a lawsuit
filed by Deadria Farmer-Paellmann of New York in March 2002.  Other
lawsuits followed, and more are expected, including one being prepared
by lawyer Johnnie Cochran.

In addition, some cities have supported creating a commission to
investigate slavery reparations, including Chicago, Dallas and Detroit.
US Representative John Conyers, D.-Mich., has introduced legislation
that would create a national slavery reparations commission.

Mr. Bledsoe said he believes the Galveston lawsuit has a good chance to
succeed and noted that it differs from the other lawsuits because it
seeks the creation of a trust fund for future generations of African
Americans and an independent commission to investigate reparations and
the impact of slavery on its descendants.

Other experts say it will be difficult for any of the reparations
lawsuits to prove the companies are liable for the effects of slavery,
which at one time was legal.  "I think it is impossible for the cases
to succeed unless Congress changes the law to facilitate these kinds of
claims, and even then, they would be difficult to sustain," Yale
University Professor Peter Schuck said recently.  "They would have to
change the statute of limitations and the standards of proof."

Mr. Bledsoe said Texas NAACP lawyers are working on the lawsuit with
lawyers in New Jersey and New York.  Galveston was chosen as a venue,
the lawyers said, because of its history as a slave port and the fact
that it was the site of the Texas announcement of the emancipation of
slaves, celebrated as Juneteenth.


SKILLSOFT PLC: SEC Commences Informal Probe into Financial Statements
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Skillsoft PLC faces an informal investigation by the United States
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into its financial
restatements, according to documents filed by the Company with the SEC,
the Telegraph states.

In its Form 10-Q, the Company revealed it had delayed filing it from
November, because it had discovered that financial statements of
SmartForce, the company it merged with in September, had
"irregularities."  Those irregularities included booking revenue from
resellers before receiving it, declaring other revenues from software
shipments and customer contracts although it should have been spread
over several years and underestimating its bad debt.  The Company
further announced it is going to restate SmartForce's earnings for
1999, 2000, 2001 and the first two quarters of 2002.

In its filing Tuesday, SkillSoft stated that the SEC has requested
certain documents and "other information," which it doesn't detail, and
says it is cooperating with the SEC, the Telegraph states.  "The SEC
may decide to bring a formal investigation or commence proceedings
against us.  We will likely incur substantial costs in connection with
the SEC inquiry, which could cause a diversion of management time and
attention.  In addition, we could be subject to substantial penalties,
fines or regulatory sanctions, which could adversely affect our
business," according to the filing.

Chuck Moran, SkillSoft's president and CEO, said the company thinks
with its filing of the 10-Q, any move to delist the company's stock by
Nasdaq officials should end.  The Company said it was notified last
month by Nasdaq that its stock would be delisted because SkillSoft did
not file the 10-Q by Dec. 16, when it was due, the Telegraph states.
The Company is also the target of a number of shareholder class actions
filed in US District Court in Concord, which allege stock fraud by the
company.


SKILLSOFT PLC: Faces Four Securities Fraud Lawsuits Filed in NH Court
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Skillsoft PLC faces four securities class action filed against it and
certain of its current and former officers and directors captioned:

     (1) Gianni Angeloni v. SmartForce PLC d/b/a SkillSoft, William
         McCabe and Greg Priest;

     (2) Ari R. Schloss v. SkillSoft PLC, Gregory M. Priest, Patrick E.
         Murphy, David C. Drummond and William G. McCabe;

     (3) Joseph J. Bish v. SmartForce PLC d/b/a SkillSoft, Gregory M.
         Priest, William G. McCabe, David C. Drummond, John M. Grillos,
         John P. Hayes and Patrick E. Murphy; and

     (4) Stacey Cohen v. SmartForce PLC d/b/a SkillSoft, William G.
         McCabe and Greg Priest.

Each lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the
District of New Hampshire; the first action was filed on November 22,
2002, the second action was filed on December 4, 2002 and the remaining
two actions were filed on December 11, 2002.  These lawsuits allege
that the Company misrepresented or omitted to state material facts in
its SEC filings and press releases regarding its revenues and earnings
and failed to correct such false and misleading SEC filings and press
releases, which are alleged to have artificially inflated the price of
its American Depositary Shares (ADSs).  These lawsuits seek unspecified
monetary damages, including punitive damages together with interest,
costs, fees and expenses.  The Company is in the process of reviewing
these complaints and intends to vigorously defend itself.


SKILLSOFT PLC: Trial in Securities Fraud Suit Set June 2003 in N.D. CA
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Trial in the securities class actions filed against Skillsoft PLC, one
of its subsidiaries and certain of its former and current officers and
directors is set to commence in June 2003 in the United States District
Court for the Northern District of California.

The suits allege violations of the federal securities laws.  It has
been alleged in these lawsuits that the Company misrepresented or
omitted to state material facts regarding its business and financial
condition and prospects in order to artificially inflate and maintain
the price of its American Depositary Shares (ADSs), and misrepresented
or omitted to state material facts in its registration statement and
prospectus issued in connection with its merger with ForeFront, which
also is alleged to have artificially inflated the price of its ADSs.

The Company believes that it has meritorious defenses to these actions.
Although it cannot presently determine the outcome of these actions, an
adverse resolution of these matters could significantly negatively
impact its financial position and results of operations.


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Trial Opens In Smokers' Medical Monitoring Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Attorneys on both sides needed a total of four hours to lay out the
relevant arguments they will use in this latest court battle involving
Big Tobacco, the Associated Press Newswires reports.

Plaintiffs contended that an alleged conspiracy by the tobacco industry
to get smokers hooked provides the basis for liability for medical
monitoring and stop-smoking programs.  However, industry attorneys said
the hazards of smoking have been known for decades, and a decision to
smoke is a matter of personal freedom.

Tobacco companies "made a choice to get together and conspire.  They
made a choice to addict.  They made a choice to target youth," Russ
Herman, plaintiffs' lead attorney, told a state district court jury
Tuesday.

The lawsuit on behalf of 1.5 million Louisiana smokers and former
smokers seeks no individual payments of compensation to the smokers.
Instead, it wants the industry to pay for cessation programs and
medical monitoring for still non-sick smokers.  The Louisiana
plaintiffs say cigarette-makers are liable because they conspired to
manipulate the nicotine levels in their products to keep the smokers
hooked, a contention long-denied by the industry.

Mr. Herman said he would show that the heads of major tobacco companies
had a "gentleman's agreement" to hide the dangers of smoking from the
public and refused to remove nicotine from cigarettes because they
feared financial collapse.

The industry also considered youths "a crop to be harvested" and
targeted them with advertising campaigns, Mr. Herman said.  However,
Ronald Shoales, an attorney for Philip Morris, said the plaintiffs were
trying to raise "a complicated hodgepodge.  That stuff makes for good
theater."

Mr. Shoales said that health risks associated with smoking have been
common knowledge for decades.  Warnings have been on cigarette packages
since 1966, said Mr. Shoales, and radio-television advertisements for
cigarettes have been banned since 1971.

People have known for a long time that smoking is dangerous," Mr.
Shoales said.  "But today, adults still choose to smoke."  Mr. Shoales
also said that since the mid-1950s, about 50 million U.S. residents
have quit smoking, and smoking-cessation clinics and programs, many of
them free, are available across the country.

"It's their choice," Mr. Shoales said of smokers.  "It's their freedom.
It's a right given to them by society and the government."

Philip Wittmann, an attorney for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, said
the medical monitoring that the plaintiffs are requesting for current
and former Louisiana smokers is not routinely recommended by the
medical profession simply because a person smoked.  Mr. Wittmann said
the sought-after tests result in many false readings that would lead to
unnecessary biopsies and other potentially dangerous medical
procedures.

There has been no estimate of what a finding for the plaintiffs would
cost the industry.  However, a smaller class action in West Virginia
that sought only medical monitoring carried a potential price tag of
hundreds of millions of dollars.  The tobacco industry won that suit.

The first phase of the trial, with arguments and counter-arguments, is
expected to range from six months to a year.  If the industry is found
liable, other phases will be held to determine such issues as the
responsibility of individual smokers and to set how much the industry
would have to pay to set up the programs.


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Philip Morris Defrauded "Light" Users, Lawyers Say
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Makers of Marlboro Lights and Cambridge Lights cigarettes should pay
Illinois smokers billions of dollars for leading them to believe the
"light" brands are less harmful than regular cigarettes, a plaintiffs'
lawyer argued in court on Tuesday, the Associated Press Newswires
reports.

Both sides in the trial of a class action that began Tuesday against
Philip Morris Companies said the lawsuit is the first in the nation
that accuses a tobacco company of consumer fraud.  The lawsuit, which
is being heard in Madison County Circuit, is based on the allegation
that Philip Morris tried to persuade customers that cigarettes branded
"light" contain lower doses of tar and nicotine, a charge denied by
Philip Morris.

In his opening statement, plaintiffs' lawyer Stephen Tillery said the
corporation has known for years that "light" or "low-tar" cigarettes
emit the same amount of toxins as regular brands, and sometimes more,
yet helped perpetuate the myth that the brands are less harmful.

"What on earth would possess a company to do such a thing?" the East
St. Louis, Madison County-based lawyer, Stephen Tillery, asked Judge
Nicholas Byron, who is hearing the case without a jury.  Mr. Tillery
quickly answered his own question, "The almighty dollar."

Philip Morris spokesman Michael York said the company will set out to
prove that it never claimed brands labeled "light" were any better for
smokers than regular brands.  The machine used by the Federal Trade
Commission since the 1960s, to measure cigarette toxins indeed shows
"light" brands deliver lower levels of the harmful chemicals, said John
Mulderig, Philip Morris' associate general counsel.

However, Mr. Mulderig said the company included an insert inside its
Marlboro cigarettes for several months, starting in November 2002,
explaining that "light" cigarettes should not be considered any safer
than regular brands.  "There is no such thing as a safe cigarette," is
the insert's opening sentence.

In November 2001, the National Institutes of Health and the National
Cancer Institute issued a report saying that "light" and similarly
labeled cigarettes are no better for smokers than regular brands.  The
report also said smokers tend to switch to a "light" brand out of the
mistaken impression such cigarettes are better for their health.


WAL-MART STORES: MA Court Allows Fine of $25 For Unmarked Store Items
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Quincy, Massachusetts District Court Judge Mark Coven ruled that the
Quincy Wal-Mart store can be fined $25 for every item that is not
marked in the store, the Patriot Ledger reports.  The ruling took
effect on Wednesday.

Self-styled consumer advocate Colman Herman filed the suit, saying the
store violated the state pricing regulation on all but a handful of
items.  Mr. Herman earlier led efforts to defend the state's item
pricing law against Home Depot, which resulted in a $3.8 million class
action settlement.

The judge appointed his staff attorney, James Comerford, to monitor the
store's compliance over the next six months, the Patriot Ledger
reports.  "I feel good about it. Wal-Mart has been on notice for some
time," Mr. Herman said.  He said that instead of responding to his
initial complaint about its pricing practice, Wal-Mart "chose instead
to blow me off."

Wal-Mart's lawyer, Richard Quinby, of Boston, told the judge on
Thursday that the store was complying with the pricing regulation.  He
could not be reached for comment yesterday about the decision.
Comerford reported that about one-third of the merchandise in the store
lacked price tags, The Patriot Ledger states.

Mr. Herman took Walgreens and Home Depot to court in 2000 over the same
issue and won.  Home Depot's lawyers argued that the judge lacked
authority to require that everything at its Willard Street store be
tagged, but the Supreme Judicial Court upheld Coven's decision.


WAL-MART STORES: Asks For Retrial of Oregon Employee Overtime Wage Suit
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. asked the United States District Court in Oregon
for a retrial of class action filed against it by its employees,
alleging the world's largest retailer made employees work without pay,
the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette states.

The suit was filed by Carolyn Thiebes and Betty Alderson, who worked in
managerial positions at stores in the Salem, Oregon area, on behalf of
400 Wal-Mart employees.  The suit charged that there was a pattern of
forcing employees to work overtime without pay, a violation of the
federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

During the trial, jurors heard testimony from 48 hourly workers from 18
separate stores who said off-the-clock violations weren't isolated to
certain managers, the Democrat-Gazette reports. After a four-day
deliberation, the jury found the Company guilty of requiring employees
to work off the clock.  The verdict was the first guilty verdict for
the Company.

The Company asked for a retrial, saying there were "legal and
procedural errors" behind the decision.  Wal-Mart spokesman Bill Wertz
said the motion for a new trial would be filed late Tuesday.  He didn't
rule out a possible appeal of the verdict, but he said "our attorneys
felt an appeal wasn't the best course of action."  Mr. Wertz said he
had not seen the motion and could not comment on the alleged legal and
procedural errors made in the trial, the Democrat-Gazette states.
James M. Piotrowski, an attorney for the 400 current and former Wal-
Mart employees in the case, could not be reached for comment Tuesday
evening.

Some observers predicted a long legal battle, with Wal-Mart using its
resources to fight the charges in court.  "Their track record of
dragging it out as long as possible will hold true in this case,"
predicted Jill Cashen, a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial
Workers International union in Washington. The union is attempting to
organize Wal-Mart workers throughout the country.  Some retail
observers said the sector is extremely competitive.  Workers are
expected not just to punch the clock, but to do whatever it takes to
make shoppers happy, the Democrat-Gazette states.

The problem is exacerbated by the dimming employment outlook.  The
number of payroll jobs declined by 101,000 in December, according to
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with losses concentrated in the
retail, transportation and manufacturing sectors.  Nationwide, the
unemployment rate was unchanged, at 6 percent.  "In this job market
workers may feel their job is threatened if they don't go above and
beyond" management's expectations, said Patricia M. Johnson, a partner
at Outcalt & Johnson, a Seattle retail consulting firm.  "You have
cultures based on the idea that you're going to go the extra mile for
the customer," she said. "There's a gray area where an employee may
perceive something is being mandated by management."


                           Asbestos Alert


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: ABB Finalizes Bankruptcy Plan to Settle US Suits
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Struggling Swiss-based engineering giant ABB Ltd. released details of a
US$1.2 billion plan to settle spiraling asbestos claims, hoping to
close its crippling U.S. litigation this spring.  The latest plan is
$100 million more a ABB's first proposal in October and will force the
Company to take a US$250 million to US$300 million charge in the fourth
quarter.

ABB's Chief Financial Officer Peter Voser said lawyers for the 111,000
plaintiffs had agreed to the package, and he was confident it would be
accepted by at least 75 percent of the claimants - necessary for it to
proceed to court in Delaware.  If a court accepts the proposal, ABB
will be able to shield itself against future asbestos claims, which
have cost the company about US$1 billion so far and led to a record net
loss of US$691 million in 2001.

Analysts welcomed the proposal and shrugged off fears that ABB's net
loss could hit US$600 million in 2002 due to the writedown, which will
also dent its weak capital base.  "Despite the fact that the final
figure is slightly higher then previously expected by ABB, the total
sum is clearly below the US$2 billion to US$3 billion that the market
feared," said Mark Diethelm, an analyst with Zuercher Kantonalbank.

Mr. Diethelm said he expects a short-term increase in ABB's subdued
share price.  He also said ABB is likely to get easier access to
capital markets once the company receives a final court approval in
spring.

ABB last month was forced to scrap a US$1.5 billion bank credit
facility because the unprofitable company was unable to tap capital
markets after Moody's Investor Services cut its credit rating to junk
status. Standard & Poor's followed with a downgrade earlier this week
due to risks related to ABB's asbestos plan.  S&P welcomed the
announcement, but kept its junk level rating unchanged.

The company is currently restructuring, cutting more than 10,000 jobs
and selling some assets.  ABB bought Combustion Engineering, which
manufactured boilers with asbestos insulation, in 1990.  The Company
faces claims from people who did not work for Combustion Engineering
but came into contact with the unit's products.  Staff have already
received compensation.  In 2000 ABB sold Combustion Engineering's
operational assets to French company Alstom for about US$1.6 billion,
but still faces thousands of claims.

Under the plan, ABB will provide a cash and stock settlement worth
US$400 million, as well as US$812 million stemming from Combustion
Engineering, which ABB plans to put into bankruptcy protection.  The
cash offer will be paid in installments from 2004 to 2009.  Once the
case proceeds to court, ABB will put Combustion Engineering into
Chapter 11 and create a trust fund for current and future asbestos
victims.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Halliburton Plaintiffs Agree to Delay Settlement
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Halliburton, provider of products and services to oil and energy
industries, announced it has reached an agreement with asbestos
plaintiffs that will extend an agreement to stay more than 200,000
pending asbestos claims against its subsidiary, DII Industries, maker
of flow control products, measurement and power systems.

As a result of the hearing, Halliburton will file under seal a status
report and copies of settlement agreements reached with plaintiffs
attorneys by January 31.  On December 18, Halliburton announced it had
reached an agreement that, in principle, would settle all personal
injury asbestos cases against the company, while allowing the company
to retain control of DII, formerly known as Dresser Industries, and
another subsidiary that faces asbestos claims.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Honeywell Settles 236,000 Asbestos Claims
--------------------------------------------------------------
Honeywell International(NYSE:HON) said it has reached an agreement with
90 percent of the asbestos claimants of a unit, a crucial step in
putting the uncertainty regarding its asbestos liabilities behind it.

Morris Township, New Jersey-based Honeywell said it settled with about
236,000 of claimants with asbestos-related claims against its former
brick and cement making unit, the North American Refractories Company.
The agreement also puts a cap on future NARCO-asbestos claims.  The
manufacturing conglomerate, whose products range from jet engines to
thermostats, said it will create a trust to pay asbestos-related
settlements as part of the agreement.  The Company in December said it
would set aside $900 million for NARCO asbestos liabilities, and that
estimate has not changed, Honeywell said.

"This announcement is a step in the right direction as the company
tries to put the asbestos nightmare behind it," said Paul Nisbet, an
analyst at JSA Research Inc.  However, he remains cautious on the
agreement.   "The $900 million amount is a reasonable number, but I am
still waiting to see if that fully covers all of Honeywell's claims,"
he said.

Asbestos was widely used for fireproofing and insulation until the
1970s, when scientists concluded that inhaled fibers could be linked to
cancer and other diseases.  An avalanche of asbestos personal injury
claims in the late 1980s and '90s has cost more than $54 billion in
settlements so far and driven more than 50 US companies into
bankruptcy.

Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) and Sealed Air Corporation (NYSE:SEE)
both reached asbestos settlements in recent weeks.  A small portion of
heat-resistant bricks and cement made by NARCO contained asbestos,
resulting in thousands of claims partially indemnified by Honeywell.
NARCO, which was owned by Honeywell from 1979 to 1986, filed for
Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2002.  There were about
116,000 asbestos-related claims pending prior to the bankruptcy filing.

The settlement payments will be made over a four-year period.
Contributions required to fund future claims would be capped at an
annual level that would not have a material impact on Honeywell's
operating cash flows, assuming completion of ongoing settlement
negotiations, the company said in a statement.

In addition, US Bankruptcy Court Judge Judith Fitzgerald at a hearing
in Pittsburgh approved an extension of a stay until February 18,
temporarily enjoining any claims against Honeywell, the company said.
"These are important steps toward resolving a significant portion of
Honeywell's asbestos claims," said Honeywell's General Counsel Peter
Kreindler.

Honeywell and NARCO are trying to establish a trust under the
bankruptcy code.  If approved by the bankruptcy court, the trust would
bar any future NARCO-related asbestos claims against Honeywell and
NARCO in state and federal courts.  Any future claims would instead be
directed to the federally supervised trust.  The Company also said then
it would make a voluntary contribution of $700 million in stock by the
end of the year, bringing the total to $800 million for 2002.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: OC Files Reorganization For Asbestos Creditors
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Owens Corning (OTC Bulletin Board: OWENQ) announced that it filed a
Joint Plan of Reorganization in the United States Bankruptcy Court for
the District of Delaware.  The Company and 17 of its United States
subsidiaries, together with the Official Committee of Asbestos
Claimants, and the Legal Representative for future asbestos personal
injury claimants, filed the Plan.

Owens Corning filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S.
Bankruptcy Code on October 5, 2000.  The filing was necessitated by the
growing demands on the company's cash flow resulting from the
substantial costs of asbestos personal injury litigation.

"The filing of this Plan is an important milestone for Owens Corning. I
am proud that we are taking these steps to resolve our asbestos
liability once and for all," said David T. Brown, chief executive
officer.  "This Plan advances our objective of emerging from Chapter 11
as quickly as possible as a strong and competitive company well
positioned to serve our customers."

The Plan provides for partial payment of all creditors' claims, in the
form of distributions of new common stock and notes of the reorganized
company, and cash.  Additional distributions from potential insurance
and other third-party claims may also be paid to creditors, but it is
expected that all classes of unsecured creditors will be impaired.
Therefore, the Plan also provides that the existing common stock of
Owens Corning will be cancelled, and that current shareholders will
receive no distribution or other consideration in exchange for their
shares.

The percentage recovery and value of the payments made to each class of
creditors will depend upon a number of factors.  Those factors include
the value of the shares of new common stock and notes to be issued by
the company, the amount of cash available for distribution, the
resolution of certain inter-creditor issues, and the ultimate aggregate
asbestos liability.

The Plan sets forth a proposed consensual framework to determine
creditor distributions, with recoveries based on aggregate asbestos
claims of $16 billion, and a preferred recovery to holders of bank
claims of $400 million, in addition to pro rata recovery on the balance
of their claims.  In the event that financial creditors do not agree to
the terms of the proposed consensual Plan, the Court has scheduled
hearings on the confirmation process to begin April 1, 2003.

Under either a consensual or a non-consensual Plan, a majority of the
newly issued common stock, together with notes, and cash, as well as
the assets of the existing Fibreboard insurance trust will fund a new
trust created under the Plan pursuant to Section 524(g) of the U.S.
Bankruptcy Code.  The Section 524(g) Trust will assume all obligations
of Owens Corning, Fibreboard, and their respective subsidiaries and
affiliates, for current and future asbestos personal injury claims and
demands, and will, through Owens Corning and Fibreboard sub-trusts,
make payments to claimants in accordance with trust distribution
procedures.  In addition, the Plan of Reorganization provides for an
injunction protecting the newly reorganized company from any asbestos
personal injury claims and demands.

The company expects to file with the Court a proposed Disclosure
Statement regarding the Plan on or before February 28, 2003.  Votes on
the Plan may not be solicited until the Court approves the Disclosure
Statement.

For more information, visit the Website: http://www.ocplan.comor call
1-800-GETPINK.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Charge Pushes PPG to Loss in 2002
----------------------------------------------------------------
Charges related to a settlement of asbestos claims took a big bite out
of 2002 earnings at PPG Industries Inc., the glass, chemicals and
coatings manufacturer.  PPG, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh, said
it lost $69 million, or 41 cents per share, in 2002.  However, the
company had a string of special items, including a charge of $484
million, or $2.85 per share, for the asbestos settlement.  Two other
items included $52 million, or 31 cents per share, for restructuring
and $9 million, or 5 cents per share, for accounting changes.

Excluding those items, PPG said net income was $476 million, or $2.80
per share, on sales of $8.1 billion.  Analysts surveyed by Thomson
First Call were looking for PPG to earn $2.54 per share in 2002.  The
Company said fourth-quarter net income was $94 million, or 54 cents per
share, including a $4 million charge to reflect the increase in value
of stock included in the asbestos settlement.  Minus that item, net
income was $98 million, or 57 cents per share, which exactly matched
analysts' forecast.  Fourth-quarter net income was $1.99 billion.

PPG, Downtown, announced the asbestos settlement in May.  The $2.7
billion agreement ended all current and future injury claims against
PPG and Pittsburgh Corning for asbestos products manufactured,
distributed or sold by the companies.  PPG owned a 50 percent stake in
Pittsburgh Corning, which manufactured high-temperature pipe insulation
that contained asbestos between 1962 and 1972.  Pittsburgh Corning
filed for bankruptcy in 2000.

PPG and its insurers will make payments for the settlement over a 21-
year period, the company said in May.  It said it would take a charge
to cover its cash contributions to the settlement and that it would
contribute 1.4 million shares of its stock to the settlement fund.
During the full year, PPG cut manufacturing and overhead costs by $140
million, the company said, while it reduced its debt by more than $400
million.

However, Raymond LeBoeuf, chairman and chief executive officer, warned
of economic difficulty in the year ahead.  "We expect the global
economic environment to be challenging once again in 2003," he said.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Boss Holdings, Inc. Faces Asbestos-Related Litigation
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Boss Holdings, Inc. (OTC: BSHI) has been named as a defendant in
several lawsuits alleging past exposure to asbestos contained in gloves
manufactured or sold by one of the Company's predecessors-in-interest,
all of which actions are being defended by one or more of the Company's
products liability insurers.


COMPANY PROFILE

Boss Holdings, Inc. (OTC: BSHI)
221 W. 1st St.
Kewanee, IL 61443
Phone: 309-852-2131
Fax: 309-852-0848

Employees                  : 120
Revenues                   : $33,700,000
Net Income                 : $800,000
Assets                     : $23,200,000
Liabilities                : $4,600,000
(As of December 31, 2001)

Description: Subsidiary Boss Manufacturing Company (BMC) imports and
markets gloves and protective wear sold through mass merchandisers,
hardware stores, and other retailers in the US and Canada.  It also
sells its products directly to commercial users in the agricultural,
automotive, energy, construction, and lumber industries.  BMC's Warren
Pet division makes and markets pet supplies (collars, chains, rawhide
products, toys) to retailers in the US.  BMC was founded in 1893 and
made overalls before evolving into a manufacturer of work gloves.
Formerly named Vista 2000, the company's gloves and protective gear
make up 90% of its sales.


ASBESTOS ALERT: CNR Asbestos Liability Funds Considered Adequate
----------------------------------------------------------------
The North American railway industry has made adequate provision for
potential liabilities arising from asbestos-related claims from sick
employees, concludes a report by a New York-based investment dealer.
The review was undertaken after Montreal-based Canadian National
Railway Co. took a surprise $115-million charge this week arising from
asbestos-related claims on its U.S. operations, said Merrill Lynch
Global Securities Research and Economic group.  "The asbestos-related
claims class is mostly limited to mechanics who worked before the early
1980s" in the maintenance shops, it said.

The asbestos was used in insulation for boilers in steam locomotives
and for brake pads.  The steam locomotives with the insulation were
either cleaned or taken out of service in the early 1960s and the brake
pads containing asbestos were eliminated in the early 1980s, the
investment dealer said.

Merrill Lynch estimates that there are 15,000 asbestos-related cases
filed against the US railways.  "With an average payout of
approximately $15,000 (U.S.), this equates to $225-million, or roughly
one-half of the $500-million that we estimate the rails (railways) have
already cumulatively reserved on their balance sheets," the investment
dealer said.

The asbestos scare has presented a good buying opportunity for Toronto
Stock Exchange-listed Canadian National and New York Stock Exchange-
listed Union Pacific Corporation and Burlington Northern Santa Fe
Corporation, it concludes in a report released on Wednesday.

The evidence from railways other than Canadian National indicates that
asbestos-related claims are stable or declining, New York-based Bear
Stearns said.  The investment dealer forecast only modest claims from
asbestos.  Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. has fewer than 200 asbestos
cases outstanding and faces significantly less risk from asbestos
claims than the other major carriers, Bear Stearns said.  It employs
far fewer workers in the United States than the other railways.

A large proportion of the CNR claims arise from its acquisition of
Illinois Central in 1999, RBC Capital Markets said.  CNR had been
accounting for the claims case by case, but it is now adopting an
actuarial method of determining the potential liability, which is more
consistent with U.S. railway accounting, RBC said.  In Canada, workers
are covered for work-related health claims by no-fault provincially
administered workers' compensation plans, RBC added.

In the United States, railway workers are covered by the Federal
Employers' Liability Act, which was passed by the US Congress in 1908.
Under that legislation, workers can be compensated by their employers
when negligence can be shown, such as a failure to provide a safe
working environment.  The FELA legislation precludes punitive damage
awards, which have been part of larger settlements in other industries,
Morgan Stanley said.


COMPANY PROFILE

Canadian National Railway Company (NYSE: CNI)
935 de la GauchetiŠre St. West
Montreal, Quebec H3B 2M9, Canada
Phone: 514-399-5736
Fax: 514-399-3779
Toll Free: 888-888-5909
http://www.cn.ca

Employees                      : 22,668
Revenue                        : $3,428,000,000
Net Income                     : $457,000,000
Assets                         : $11,803,000,000
Liabilities                    : $7,806,000,000
(As of December 31, 2001)

Description: With tracks that stretch from Vancouver, British Columbia,
to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canadian National Railway (CN Rail) is
Canada's #1 railroad.  The Company, which operates a network of nearly
18,000 route miles in Canada and the US, hauls freight such as forest
products, petroleum and chemicals, and grain and fertilizers.  CN Rail
operates 29 intermodal terminals and offers supply chain logistics and
distribution. It also links with six ports in Canada and three ports in
the US to provide overseas shipment of goods.  The Company plans to
acquire rail operators Ontario Northland Rail and BC Rail, both owned
by the Canadian government.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Gorman-Rupp, Subsidiaries Face Asbestos Related Suits
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Numerous business entities in the pump and fluid-handling industries
have been targeted in a series of lawsuits in several jurisdictions by
various individuals seeking redress to claimed injury as a result of
the entities' alleged use of asbestos in their products.

The Gorman-Rupp Company (AMEX: GRC) and two of its subsidiaries have
been drawn into this mass-scaled litigation, typically as one of
hundreds of co-defendants in a particular proceeding.  The allegations
in the lawsuits involving the Company and/or its subsidiaries are
vague, general and speculative, and the cases have not advanced beyond
the early stage of discovery.  In certain situations, the plaintiffs
have voluntarily dismissed the Company and/or its subsidiaries from
some of the lawsuits after the plaintiffs have acknowledged that there
is no basis for their claims.  Insurers of the Company have engaged
legal counsel to represent the Company and its subsidiaries and to
protect their interests.

Management does not currently believe that these proceedings, or the
industry-wide asbestos litigation, will materially impact the Company's
results of operations, liquidity or financial condition.


COMPANY PROFILE

The Gorman-Rupp Company (AMEX: GRC)
305 Bowman St.
Mansfield, OH 44902
Phone: 419-755-1011
Fax: 419-755-1251
http://www.gormanrupp.com

Employees                  : 1,055
Revenue                    : $202,900,000
Net Income                 : $14,600,000
Assets                     : $148,100,000
Liabilities                : $40,200,000
(As of December 31, 2001)

Description: Gorman-Rupp makes a range of pump models used in
agriculture and construction work, sewage treatment, petroleum
refining, agriculture, and fire fighting.  Gorman-Rupp's pumps range in
size from 1/4- inch (one gallon per minute) to 84-inch (500,000 gallons
per minute).  Smaller pumps are used for dispensing soft drinks and
making ice cubes while large pumps find use in the refueling of
aircraft and boosting low water pressure in municipal and commercial
fresh water markets.  Gorman-Rupp sells mainly through about a thousand
distributors in the US (over 80% of sales) and Canada.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Washington Group Intl. Faces Asbestos Related Claims
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Washington Group International, Inc. (OTC: WGII) is a defendant in
various lawsuits resulting from allegations that third parties
sustained injuries and damage from the inhalation of asbestos fibers
contained in materials used in construction projects.  In addition,
based on proofs of claims filed with the court during the pendency of
its bankruptcy proceedings, Washington is aware of other potential
asbestos claims against it.

The company believes that it has substantial third party insurance
coverage for a significant portion of these existing and potential
claims, and remaining amounts will not have an adverse material impact
on its financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

While it expects that additional asbestos claims will be filed against
it in the future, it has no basis for estimating the number of claims
or individual or cumulative settlement amounts and, accordingly, no
provision has been made for future claims.


COMPANY PROFILE

Washington Group International, Inc. (OTC: WGII)
Morrision Knudsen Plaza, 720 Park Blvd.
Boise, ID 83729
Phone: 208-386-5000
Fax: 208-386-7186

Employees                      : 35,000
Revenue                        : $905,215,000
Net Income                     : $9,272,000
Assets                         : $1,600,022,000
Liabilities                    : $1,015,722,000
(As of September 27, 2002)

Description: Washington Group International remains one of the largest
US construction and engineering firms, even after a stint with
bankruptcy.  It provides design and construction services for projects
such as bridges, highways, manufacturing plants, mining, nuclear
facilities, pipelines, power facilities, and railroads; it also
operates mines and provides environmental management services.  The
former Morrison Knudsen doubled in size after buying Raytheon's
engineering and construction unit in 2000, then changed its name to
Washington Group International.  However, the company believed the
Raytheon transaction caused it to slide into bankruptcy.  Washington
Group emerged from bankruptcy in early 2002.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Zemex Corporation Subsidiary Faces Asbestos Litigation
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The subsidiary of ZEMEX Corp., Suzorite Minerals, was named in a total
of nine cases in which the plaintiff(s) alleged injury from asbestosis
allegedly caused by the Company's products.  The Company has been
dismissed from six of these cases.

The following three cases remain open and the Company fully expects to
be dismissed in due course.  The Company's insurance carrier is
providing for the defense of these cases.


COMPANY PROFILE

Zemex Corporation (NYSE: ZMX)
Canada Trust Tower, BCE Place,
161 Bay St., Ste. 3750
Toronto, Ontario M5J 2S1, Canada
Phone: 416-365-8080
Fax: 416-365-8094
http://www.zemex.com

Employees                      : 323
Revenue                        : $57,300,000
Net Income                     : $900,000
Assets                         : $97,500,000
Liabilities                    : $20,800,000
(As of December 31, 2001)

Description: Zemex Corporation's industrial minerals segment (70% of
sales) operates subsidiaries that produce mica (used in coatings,
friction materials, and oil well drilling applications) and feldspar
(sodium and potassium varieties), kaolin clay, talc, and sands (used in
the ceramics, glass, coatings, plastics, and fiberglass industries).
Applications include glassware, plumbing fixtures, and ceramic tiles.
Other subsidiaries (collectively known as Alumitech) offer aluminum
recycling and produce ceramic fiber-based heat-containment systems (ETS
Schaefer).  The Bermuda-based Dundee Bank owns almost 37% of Zemex.

                     New Securities Fraud Cases

DIVERSA CORPORATION: Wolf Haldenstein Commences Securities Fraud Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP initiated a securities class
action on behalf of purchasers of the common stock of Diversa Corp.
(Nasdaq: DVSA) between February 14, 2000 and December 6, 2000,
inclusive, in the United States District Court, Southern District of
New York against the Company and:

     (1) Jay M. Short,

     (2) Karin Eastham,

     (3) James H. Cavanaugh,

     (4) Bear Stearns Co., Inc.,

     (5) J.P. Morgan Securities, Inc. (as successor-in-interest to
         Chase H&Q),

     (6) Chase H&Q,

     (7) Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown,

     (8) Credit Suisse First Boston (as successor-in-interest to DLJ),

     (9) ABN Amro Securities (as successor-in-interest to ING Baring
         Furman Selz),

    (10) ING Baring Furman Selz,

    (11) Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith, Inc.,

    (12) Morgan Stanley, Robertson Stephens, Inc. (as successor-in-
         interest to FleetBoston Robertson Stephens Inc.),

    (13) Salomon Smith Barney, Inc.,

    (14) SG Cowen Securities Corp.,

    (15) Warburg Dillon Read,

    (16) RBC Dain Rauscher (as successor-in-interest to Dain Rauscher
         Wessels),

    (17) Dain Rauscher,

    (18) Needham & Company, Inc.,

    (19) Pacific Growth Equities, Inc.,

    (20) RBC Dain Rauscher (as successor-in-interest to Tucker Anthony)
         and

    (21) Tucker Anthony

The complaint alleges violations of Sections 11 and 15 of the
Securities Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder.  On
February 14, 2000, Diversa commenced an initial public offering of
7,250,000 of its shares of common stock at an offering price of $24 per
share.  In connection therewith, Diversa filed with the SEC a
registration statement, which incorporated a prospectus.

The complaint further alleges that the Prospectus was materially false
and misleading because it failed to disclose, among other things, that:

     (i) the Underwriter Defendants had solicited and received
         excessive and undisclosed commissions from certain investors
         in exchange for which the Underwriter Defendants allocated to
         those investors material portions of the Diversa shares issued
         in connection with the Diversa IPO; and

    (ii) the Underwriter Defendants had entered into agreements with
         customers whereby the Underwriter Defendants agreed to
         allocate Diversa shares to those customers in the Diversa IPO
         in exchange for which the customers agreed to purchase
         additional Diversa shares in the aftermarket at pre-determined
         prices.

In addition, the complaint alleges that certain of the Underwriter
Defendants improperly utilized their analysts, who were compromised by
undisclosed conflicts of interest, to artificially inflate or maintain
the price of Diversa stock.

For more details, contact Fred Taylor Isquith, Thomas Burt, Gustavo
Bruckner, Michael Miske or Derek Behnke by Mail: 270 Madison Avenue,
New York, New York 10016, by Phone: (800) 575-0735 by E-mail:
classmember@whafh.com.  All e-mail correspondence should make reference
to Diversa.


HOTELS.COM: Schiffrin & Barroway Commences Securities Suit in N.D. TX
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP initiated a securities class action in the
United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas on
behalf of all purchasers of the common stock of Hotels.com
(Nasdaq:ROOM) from October 23, 2002 and January 6, 2003, inclusive.

The complaint charges Hotels.com and certain of its officers and
directors with issuing false and misleading statements concerning its
business and financial condition.  Specifically, the complaint alleges
that:

     (1) the Company lacked sufficient internal controls and therefore
         was unable to understand its true financial standing;

     (2) that the Company's revenues and net income for the fourth
         quarter 2002 have been overstated, because the Company did not
         experience an increase in average daily rates (ADRs); and

     (3) because of these problems, the value of the Company's balance
         sheet and income statement were materially overstated at all
         relevant times.

On January 6, 2003, the Company announced that it would fall materially
short of hitting its forecasted projections.  In response to the news
that Hotels.com previously-reported financial results may not in fact
be what they seemed (an accurate financial summary of the Company's
operations), Hotels.com's shares plummeted 31% - the biggest drop since
the Company went public in March 2000 - on NASDAQ, where the Company
was one of the largest percentage losers (Reuters).  The shares closed
down 25% or $15.02 and dropped from $59.04 per share on January 3, 2003
(Friday) to $44.02 per share on January 6, 2003 (Monday) on a heavy
volume 10,782,900 shares.

For more details, contact Marc A. Topaz or Stuart L. Berman by Phone:
(888) 299-7706 (toll free) or (610) 667-7706 by E-mail:
info@sbclasslaw.com or visit the firm's Website:
http://www.sbclasslaw.com


HOTELS.COM: Cauley Geller Commences Securities Fraud Suit in N.D. Texas
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cauley Geller Bowman & Coates, LLP initiated a securities class action
in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas
on behalf of purchasers of Hotels.com (Nasdaq: ROOM) publicly traded
securities during the period between October 23, 2002 and January 6,
2003, inclusive.

The complaint charges Hotels.com and certain of its officers and
directors with issuing false and misleading statements concerning its
business and financial condition.  Specifically, the complaint alleges
that:

     (1) the Company lacked sufficient internal controls and therefore
         was unable to understand its true financial standing;

     (2) that the Company's revenues and net income for the fourth
         quarter 2002 have been overstated, because the Company did not
         experience an increase in average daily rates (ADRs); and

     (3) because of these problems, the value of the Company's balance
         sheet and income statement were materially overstated at all
         relevant times.

On January 6, 2003, the Company announced that it would fall materially
short of hitting its forecasted projections.  In response to the news
that Hotels.com previously-reported financial results may not in fact
be what they seemed (an accurate financial summary of the Company's
operations), Hotels.com's shares plummeted 31% -- the biggest drop
since the Company went public in March 2000 -- on Nasdaq, where the
Company was one of the largest percentage losers (Reuters).  The shares
closed down 25% or $15.02 and dropped from $59.04 per share on January
3, 2003 (Friday) to $44.02 per share on January 6, 2003 (Monday) on a
heavy volume 10,782,900 shares.

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


MERRILL LYNCH: Kaplan Fox Commences Securities Fraud Suit in S.D. NY
-----------------------------------------------------9---------------
Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP initiated a securities class action against
Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., and Internet stock analyst and First Vice
President of Merrill Lynch, Henry Blodget, in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of all
persons or entities who purchased the common stock of Homestore.com
(Nasdaq:HOMS) between September 8, 1999 and September 21, 2001
inclusive.

The complaint alleges that defendants violated the federal securities
laws by issuing analyst reports regarding Homestore that recommended
the purchase of Homestore common stock and which set price targets for
Homestore common stock, without any reasonable factual basis.
Furthermore, when issuing their Homestore analyst reports, the
defendants failed to disclose significant, material conflicts of
interest which they had, in light of their use of Mr. Blodget's
reputation and his Homestore analyst reports, to obtain investment
banking business for Merrill Lynch.  Furthermore, in issuing their
Homestore analyst reports, in which they were recommending the purchase
of Homestore common stock, the defendants failed to disclose material,
non-public, adverse information which they possessed about Homestore.

Throughout the class period, the defendants maintained a "BUY/BUY" or
"ACCUMULATE/BUY" recommendation on Homestore in order to obtain
lucrative financial deals for Merrill Lynch.  As a result of
defendants' false and misleading analyst reports, Homestore common
stock traded at artificially inflated levels during the class period.

For more details, contact Frederic S. Fox or Donald R. Hall by Mail:
805 Third Avenue, 22nd Floor, New York, NY 10022 by Phone:
(800) 290-1952 or (212) 687-1980 by Fax: (212) 687-7714 by E-mail
address: mail@kaplanfox.com or visit the firm's Website:
http://www.kaplanfox.com

                              *********


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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