CAR_Public/030204.mbx               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R
  
              Tuesday, February 4, 2003, Vol. 5, No. 24

                           Headlines                            

ALASKA: Jury Selection Starts In Bristol Bay Price-Fixing Suit Trial
ANTITRUST LITIGATION: European Union To Overhaul Rules For Price-fixing
ASSET RECOVERY: TX Attorney General Lodges Lawsuit Over Consumer Fraud
BANK OF AMERICA: More Sexual Harassment, Discrimination Claims Expected
BMW: Recalls 164T X5 Sport Utility Vehicles Over Potential Brake Defect

CALIFORNIA: Suit May Cost Orange County $416M in Property Tax Refunds
CALIFORNIA: Students Sue School, Say Gang Round-Up Targeted Minorities
CANADA: Senior Seeks To Commences Suit V. Ottawa Over Unpaid Supplement
COLORADO: ACLU Commences Lawsuit Against Denver Police Over "Profiling"
CREDIT SUISSE: NASD To File Securities Fraud Charges V. Frank Quattrone

CSX TRANSPORTATION: Plaintiff Wants To Turn Lawsuits into Class Action
FORD MOTOR: IL Sheriff Mulls Moratorium on Crown Victoria Police Cars
GREAT NORTHERN: Retirees Fear Loss of Benefits, Lawyer Prepares Lawsuit
HAWAII: Judge Grants Certification to Fraud Suit V. Professors' Union
ILLINOIS: Consumers Allege Chains Fixed Milk Prices

INDIAN FUNDS: Former Interior Head Neal McCaleb Heads Tribe's Growth
KOREA: Small Shareholders Get Stronger With Class System Implementation
LOUISIANA: Couple Sues To Seek Refunds For Fire Protection District Fee
MAINE: Chief Justice Orders Consent Decree Issue Settled in AMHI Suit
MARYLAND: Law Prevents Residents, Businesses From Suit Junk Advertisers

MERCURY MARKETING: MI Attorney General Sues For Consumer Act Violations
METROPOLITAN LIFE: Prepares For Historical Payout In Racial Bias Suit
MURIETTA FITNES: Gym Membership To Be Refunded in CA Lawsuit Settlement
PHILADELPHIA: FBI Probes Pension Board's Choice of Law Firm In Lawsuit
PLUG POWER: NY Federal Court Dismisses Bulk Of Securities Fraud Lawsuit

PROGRESSIVE CORPORATION: Court Rejects Certification For Consumer Suit
RHINO WIRELESS: Former Employees Sue Over Hostile Working Environment
SECURITIES LITIGATION: SEC Considers Creation of Mutual Funds Oversight
SBC PACIFIC: CA Resident's Small Claims Victory To Guide Other Lawsuits
THANH PHU: Customers Sue After Eating Salmonella-Infected Pork Rolls

TYCO INTERNATIONAL: Investors Name Lord Ashcroft in Securities Lawsuit
UNITED STATES: Navy Settles With Japanese Submarine Collision Victims
US TIMBERLANDS: DE Court Approves Securities Fraud Lawsuit Settlement
USAA: Workers Sue Alleging Retaliation After Complaining of Problems
UTAH: State's Child Welfare Suit In Limbo, Awaiting Legislative Action

*Pillar of American Labor Legislation To Be Overhauled in Law Revisions


                     New Securities Fraud Cases

AEGON N.V.: Cauley Geller Commences Securities Fraud Lawsuit in S.D. NY
AMERICREDIT CORPORATION: Shepherd Finkelman Files Securities Suit in TX
AMERICREDIT CORPORATION: Federman & Sherwood Files Investors Suit in TX
COMMONWEALTH ENERGY: Reuben & Novicoff Files Securities Suit in C.D. CA

                            *********

ALASKA: Jury Selection Starts In Bristol Bay Price-Fixing Suit Trial
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Jury selection begins next week in a class action brought by Bristol
Bay, Alaska, fishermen who accused processors and buyers of conspiring
to fix prices in the world's largest salmon fishery, the Associated
Press Newswires reports.

The Alakayak case, filed in state Superior Court by attorney Bruce
Stanford in the summer of 1995, poses questions of collusion, among
other things.  Class members are more than 3,500 permit holders in the
Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery.  They are seeking more than $1
billion in damages.

Jury selection is expected to take about two days, followed by opening
statements.  Superior Court Judge Peter A. Michalski has allocated
plaintiffs three weeks to present their case, and the defense, 45 days.  

The defense is drawing support from businessmen in the community, like
James Jansen, president of Lynden, Inc., whose transportation company
employs about 500 people.  "This lawsuit, if it goes the wrong way,
will be the end of the processing industry in Alaska," said Mr. Jansen.  
"We won't have a fishing industry."

Residents of the business community understand that the alleged price
fixing keeps costs down for the processors; otherwise, as one resident,
former mayor Margy Johnson put it, a jury decision for the plaintiffs
"will put some processors on their knees" and spell economic disaster
for the community of 2,500 people.

Many case watchers thought the years of litigation were over when Judge
Michalski, on July 2, 1999, issued summary judgments for all defendants
in the case.  Plaintiffs appealed.  The Alaska Supreme Court overturned
Judge Michalski's ruling in favor of the defendant Japanese
corporations, which ultimately purchase the fish, and the Seattle-based
processors.  The case was remanded to Superior Court.

The opinion, written by Chief Justice Dana Fabe, concluded there was
sufficient evidence of possible anticompetitive practices that the case
should go to trial.  Still, there was no direct evidence that the
processors and some of their Japanese parent companies met in back
rooms to set prices and market shares.  The plaintiffs on trial will
need to show more than simply a pattern of similar conduct by the
defendant firms, said Judge Fabe.


ANTITRUST LITIGATION: European Union To Overhaul Rules For Price-fixing
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
In an attempt to channel its energy into uncovering price-fixing
arrangements and breaking up cartels, the European Union has approved a
landmark overhaul of its antitrust laws, according to a report by The
New York Times.

The new laws, adopted by a vote of the economics ministers of the
union's 15 member nations, will shift much of the responsibility for
regulating ties between companies away from the European Commission and
back to individual countries and their courts.  Freed from the burden
of having to review and approve every proposed joint venture or
strategic alliance, authorities in Brussels will be able to concentrate
on attacking illegal cartels, which still skew competition in Europe.

"The new regulation cuts back this bureaucracy and allows the
commission to focus its attention on these cartel and price-fixing
agreements that are truly harmful to competition," said Mario Monti,
the European Union's competition commissioner.

Along with a reduction in their workload, the commission's
investigators won broader powers in pursuing companies suspected of
wrongdoing.  They now can raid the homes and cars of executives to
search for documents or other evidence, as long as they obtain a
warrant from a local court.  As the fines imposed in European cartel
cases have escalated into the hundreds of millions of dollars in recent
years, more executives have been stashing incriminating documents
outside their offices.

These new powers provoked howls of protest from European business
lobbyists.  They say the commission will be free to invade homes and
question employees of a suspect's family, without having to meet a
requirement of probable cause, as American investigators must.

"People will not have the right to remain silent," said Ulrike
Suchsland-Maser, a spokeswoman for the Federation of German Industries,
which represents about 700 German companies.  "Even housekeepers will
have to answer questions during these home searches."

The European Union's competition authority has suffered setbacks in
court recently in its regulation of mergers, but price-fixing has been
a rich target.  In 2001, the commission fined Roche of Switzerland,
BASF of Germany and other drug companies more than $850 million for
conspiring to fix the prices and market shares of vitamin products in
the 1990s.

Still, Europe remains a far more forgiving place than the United States
for people engaged in price fixing and other abuses.  No European court
has sent an executive to prison on a conviction.  The new rules, which
are scheduled to take effect in May 2004, do not provide for prison
time.

"The fines are now approaching US levels, but except for the United
Kingdom, which just introduced criminal legislation, there is no social
stigma attached to price fixing in Europe," said Julian Joshua, who
spent 25 years as an investigator in the commission's anti-cartel unit.

Companies are also worried because the new laws do not extend attorney-
client privilege to in-house lawyers.  In the United States, antitrust
authorities cannot seize information exchanged between in-house lawyers
and their colleagues.  However, such documents are fair game in Europe.  
Given that many cartels are international, involving both American and
European companies, Mr. Joshua said, Americans may find that European
authorities have seized and exposed information from their European
partners that would have been protected in the United States.

Enforcing the laws will become the responsibility of the member
national governments and their respective courts.  Intentionally the
new law will take effect on the day 10 new members are scheduled to
join the European Union.  That raises the prospect of 25 jurisdictions,
with their own languages and legal systems, enforcing the same laws.


ASSET RECOVERY: TX Attorney General Lodges Lawsuit Over Consumer Fraud
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott took an unusual step today, filing a
second lawsuit against a California telemarketing business that falsely
promised to recover unclaimed funds or assets for Texas residents, as
well as consumers nationwide.

The suit alleges that Asset Recovery Group Inc. and owners Robert
Barrere and Debra Millward of southern California continue to operate a
deceptive enterprise targeting Texas consumers by phone.  They continue
this practice even though a Travis County District Court issued a
default judgment and permanent injunction against the company in
September for failing to respond to the original lawsuit filed last
August.  The Company still owes the state about $20,000 in attorney
fees and investigative costs.

"My office is especially intolerant of individuals who, as repeat
offenders, ignore our state laws and make it their business to target
innocent Texans with empty promises of unclaimed money," said Attorney
General Abbott. "If these people want to do business in Texas, they
will have to pay up for their first judgment, reimburse victimized
consumers and operate under court order according to the strictest
letter of the law.  And we'll be watching."

Last August the state sued Mr. Barrere, Ms. Millward and their company
for numerous violations of the telephone solicitation laws.  The
company made automated phone calls in the wee hours of night to a
number of Austin residents.  The unidentified, recorded voice informed
residents that the company had reserved unclaimed assets on their
behalf valued at $500 or more.  The consumers were told to send a $25
check to receive an application for recovery of the assets, or call a
900 number for information, which would result in a similar expense.

The suit filed today alleges that the business practices of ARG, and
its various aliases used in Texas and nationwide, have violated the
Deceptive Trade Practices Act because they deceived consumers about the
overall nature of the services offered.  This suit also concludes that
by continuing to operate as they have, the defendants have violated a
permanent injunction ordered by a Travis County district judge in the
first lawsuit.

The Attorney General has now determined that a new set of Texas
consumers has fallen prey to these tactics.  Investigators received
photocopies of mail deposited in a drop-box, some of which contained
the names of Texas consumers.  The Attorney General additionally has
received affidavits from consumers attesting to both the phone calls
and their $25 payment to process the claims.

Therefore, many of these letters contained $25 checks as a fee for
receiving a form from ARG as a first step toward retrieval of the
alleged "assets."  The forms, when received, required consumers to fill
out private, personal information about themselves and mail them back
for processing.

The Attorney General's Office now possesses information detailing these
promised "assets."  The office acquired this information when the
company responded to consumer complaints filed with the Attorney
General's Consumer Protection Division, as well as from consumers who
received the "assets" after completing the form sent by ARG.  These
were not unclaimed assets, it turned out.  Instead, the company offered
"casino vouchers" worth $500 or offers of vacation opportunities.  The
Texas Attorney General has no evidence that this company actually
recovered assets or money belonging to any individual.

For more information, visit the Website:
http://www.window.state.tx.us/up/


BANK OF AMERICA: More Sexual Harassment, Discrimination Claims Expected
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Bank of America Securities could face more sexual harassment and
discrimination claims after 25-year-old analyst Racquel Willby filed a
suit against the Company, the Courier Mail reports.  Michael Shen, the
attorney representing Ms. Whilby, said that other employees past and
present have come forward.  Mr. Shen would not, however, confirm
whether or not he has accepted any of these individuals as clients.

Mr. Shen stressed that it is by no means certain that enough women
would step forward to warrant a class action suit.  The claim has also
been filed with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission,
according to an attorney familiar with the situation.  The attorney
said the EEOC is likely to pursue the case, adding that the commission
has a reputation for being aggressive in encouraging other claimants to
come forward, the Courier-Mail states.  

The attorney handling the case at the EEOC could not be reached for
comment.  Larry Pincus, a spokesperson for the EEOC, told the Courier-
Mail that the commission cannot comment on specific cases that may or
may not be under investigation.  Mr. Pincus said that in general if the
EEOC finds cause for any given claim it will likely try to negotiate an
agreement, and if one cannot be reached it would go to the courts.

For legal reasons BofA is saying nothing on the subject beyond an
official statement it issued Wednesday.  In the statement, the firm
said it "is committed to maintaining a workplace free of harassment and
discrimination.  The company considers such behavior unacceptable and
contrary to our core values.  We cannot comment specifically on pending
litigation, but we believe our position will be clearly established in
the course of the litigation."


BMW: Recalls 164T X5 Sport Utility Vehicles Over Potential Brake Defect
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
BMW recalled 164,000 X5 sport utility vehicles worldwide to fix a
potential brake defect at a total cost of up to 5 million euros ($5.4
million), the Associated Press reports.

The German automaker said vibrations can loosen the brake hose from  
its mounting in the front wheel suspension, causing it to grate against
suspension parts or the inside of the wheel.  Extended exposure could
cause the hose to wear through, causing a loss of brake fluid or total
failure of the front brake circuit, BMW spokesman Jochen Frey said.  No
accidents have been linked to the problem, he added, according to an
Associated Press report.

BMW sells about 40 percent of its X5s in the United States. The
vehicles in question were made between August 1999 and April 2002.  Of
those, 19,900 were sold in Germany, but BMW had no breakdown on other
countries where the SUVs were sold.


CALIFORNIA: Suit May Cost Orange County $416M in Property Tax Refunds
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A continuing court battle over rising property taxes could mean that
Orange County government, cities and schools may be forced to refund at
least $416 million in property taxes, an amount nearly double earlier
estimates, the Los Angeles Times reports.

With the case about to head to the state 4th District Court of Appeal,
Orange County Superior Court Judge John M. Watson resolved a final
issue, saying that officials should notify taxpayers of their right to
a refund if he is upheld.  County Auditor-Controller David E. Sundstrom
issued revised figures for the potential refunds.

The case stems from a lawsuit by Seal Beach homeowner and attorney
Robert Pool, who is challenging the way Orange County calculates
property tax increases.  It has broad implications because all 58
California counties use the same method.

Judge Watson ruled in December 2001, that the county violated the state
Constitution by boosting the assessed value of Mr. Pool's home more
than two percent in a year.  The two percent limit was placed in the
Constitution by Proposition 13.  Last month, Judge Watson made the
lawsuit a class action case.  He ruled that all Orange County property
owners whose assessments rose more than two percent a year since 1978,
potentially were harmed.

Attorneys for Orange County have defended the assessment method.  
Assessor Webster J. Guillory said the value of Mr. Pool's home jumped
four percent in 1999, to make up for the previous year, when there had
been no increase.  Counties frequently boost assessments more than two
percent to "recapture" taxes they could not collect when property
values dropped or stayed flat.

Orange County supervisors voted last year to back Judge Watson's
ruling, but allowed private attorneys for Assessor Guillory to appeal.  
Assessors throughout California are watching the case.

In determining what refunds might have to be issued, the County
Auditor-Controller David Sundstrom combed through the past four years
of tax information, because conventional assessment challenges by
property owners can go back four years.  Mr. Sundstrom has not
calculated what would be owed if repayments stretch back to 1978.

The refunds would not be the only losses if the appeal upholds Judge
Watson's ruling.  Orange County's taxing agencies would lose an
additional $167 million a year in future revenue because of lower
assessments.


CALIFORNIA: Students Sue School, Say Gang Round-Up Targeted Minorities
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU), on
behalf of three students at a Union City high school, recently filed a
class action accusing school officials of illegally rounding up
minority students and searching them as part of a crackdown on gang
activity, according to a report by The San Francisco Chronicle.

In the federal lawsuit filed in San Francisco, three students at James
Logan High Schools accused school officials and local police of
detaining about 60 students as part of a gang sweep on February 22,
2002.  In the course of two hours, the students were searched,
interrogated and photographed.  The information was then entered into a
"gang database," maintained by the Police Department, the suit alleges.

These gang databases, "gang books" that include the names and photos of
people who have never been arrested, are a controversial law
enforcement tool that has been dropped by many cities, including San
Francisco and Oakland.

"These high school students, most of them Latino or Asian, were
subjected to the most humiliating kind of treatment," said Ann Bricker,
an ACLU lawyer representing the students.   Ms. Bricker said she did
not know of any incidents of gang activity on the campus that preceded
the round-up.  "There was no justification for any of these actions,"
she added.

The students - Brian Benitez, 17; Victor Munoz, 15; and Jessica
Prentice, 16 - say students were stopped and detained because of their
racial or ethnic backgrounds.  Ms. Prentice said she was detained
because she was having lunch with Latino students.

Michael Riback, the lawyer for Union City has not seen the complaint.
However, Mr. Riback said there was "a significant amount of gang
activity" for several weeks prior to the disputed round-up.  Gangs made
up of primarily Asians and Latinos got into fights and confrontations
on campus, he said.

David Pava, deputy superintendent of the New Haven Unified School, said
that after parents complained to the school board about the sweep,
district officials set up a series of meetings with the families of
students who were targeted in the incident.  Mr. Pava defended the
sweep, saying officials were motivated by a desire to "maintain school
safety."


CANADA: Senior Seeks To Commences Suit V. Ottawa Over Unpaid Supplement
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Andre Le Corre alleged, during his recent court hearing, that he thinks
the Ottawa government owes him nearly $6,000, and said he also was in
court to help hundreds of thousands of Canada's poorer pensioners, who,
like himself, did not realize that they were eligible for additional
pension benefits, the National News reports.  Mr. Corre is a 76-year-
old retired medical-lab technician from Longueuil, south of Montreal.

Madam Justice Pepita Capriolo of the Quebec Superior Court has been
hearing Mr. Le Corre's application for certification of his lawsuit as
a class action.  If his application is granted, his lawsuit could cost
Ottawa up to $3 billion in arrears, according to an estimate.  Mr.
Corre's lawsuit says the federal government was negligent in failing to
notify Canada's poorer pensioners that they were eligible for the
Guaranteed Income Supplement.

There are 3.9 million Canadians receiving Old Age Security, 1.4 million
of whom also get the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).  Ottawa pays
the GIS to applicants who, not counting their Old Age Security
payments, have incomes of less than $12,648 a year.  The supplement
pays a maximum of $526 a month for a single pensioner.

Mr. Le Corre's lawsuit alleges Ottawa acted carelessly toward poor
elderly people, because the government could easily have used revenue
data banks to spot people who were not getting their full pension
benefits.

Federal lawyer Andre Lesperance told Justice Capriolo a class action is
not the right way to remedy the problem.  Pensioners, he said, can
apply to existing tribunals to review their pension rights.  "There are
other places where what Mr. Corre seeks can be done more efficiently,"
said Mr. Lesperance.  "If this class action is granted, a citizen,
whether in Whitehorse or Sept-Iles, Quebec, would have to come to the
Quebec Superior Court to seek eligibility and that is not practical."  

Mr. Lesperance told the court, as well, that the government has since
launched a media blitz and sent 100,000 letters to Old Age Security
beneficiaries.  A parliamentary committee looking into the problem has
estimated that more than 380,000 pensioners were eligible but did not
receive the supplement.  This could add up to $3 billion, said one of
Mr. Le Corre's lawyers.  However, under current rules, Ottawa will pay
only for the previous 11 months, should an entitled pensioner apply for
missed GIS.


COLORADO: ACLU Commences Lawsuit Against Denver Police Over "Profiling"
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado, which brought
the spy files put together by the Denver Police Department to light,
has filed a class action against the city, seeking to end police
intelligence-gathering policies such as videotaping peaceful
demonstrations and infiltrating meetings of organizations with no
record of criminal activities, the Charlotte Observer (NC) reports.

As police departments from New York City to Los Angeles press for
expanded surveillance capabilities in the wake of the September 11
terrorist attacks, Denver police find themselves held up as an example
of what can go wrong when police powers go largely unchecked.

Denver's ongoing police spy file scandal is a tale that spans nearly
five decades of secret intelligence gathering on more than 3,200 people
and 208 organizations.  Many of these people did nothing more than
attend peaceful protests at the state Capitol or meetings of groups
that police decided might represent a threat to public order.  Such
decisions included Amnesty International and the American Friends
Service Committee, both recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.

"These kind of practices have the potential to harm people's ability or
willingness to freely express criticism of government policies, thereby
chilling free speech," said Mark Silverstein, Colorado ACLU legal
director.  "To whom does this information go?  How widely has it been
shared?"

In an era of terrorist threats and heightened security, being labeled a
criminal extremist or tagged as a suspicious person in a government
database can have serious consequences, Mr. Silverstein added.

Although Denver city officials have admitted some practices were wrong,
Denver municipal lawyers are contesting the suit, arguing that no overt
harm was done.  Meanwhile, Denver has implemented a new policy allowing
police to collect intelligence only if there is "reasonable suspicion"
that a person is involved in criminal activity.

Neither Mayor Wellington Webb nor any other former mayor or police
chief acknowledges knowing that intelligence files were kept on  
peaceful protesters, although photocopies of some files show their
offices were sent that information on numerous occasions, giving rise
to questions about the effectiveness of the oversight that runs from
the executive to the city's departments.

Early on, Mayor Webb said virtually all of the police's paper files
were purged when the department transferred its intelligence records to
computers in 1999.  Almost all of the data on people dated back only
three years, the mayor maintained.

Officials claimed astonishment when six filing cabinets of paper
records surfaced last fall, and many of those files contained
information dating at least to the 1980s.  Denver officials now
acknowledge the spying began in the mid-1950s.

The alleged abuses in Denver evoke memories of police spying scandals
of the past, such as the FBI's Cointelpro operation under J. Edgar
Hoover, an undertaking which monitored civil rights leaders and anti-
Vietnam War groups.  Similar spying on activists by New York, Los
Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco police, largely in the 1960s and
1970s, resulted in court decrees prohibiting the practice.


CREDIT SUISSE: NASD To File Securities Fraud Charges V. Frank Quattrone
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) plans to file
civil charges against Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) investment
banker Frank Quattrone, the Wall Street Journal reports.  The charges
from the regulatory arm of the NASD include allegations that Mr.
Quattrone, the head of technology banking, failed to supervise CSFB's
technology-stock analysts, according to the article.

The notice also includes allegations involving Quattrone's role in the
securities firm's allocation of hot initial public offerings to
personal brokerage accounts of executives who were also CSFB
investment-banking clients, a practice recently outlawed by federal
regulators, the Journal said.

Officials at CSFB's offices in New York were not immediately available
for comment early on Friday morning, the Associated Press reports.  The
investment bank is a unit of Credit Suisse Group.  The NASD recently
disclosed its plan to file charges to Mr. Quattrone through a Wells
notice, the report said, which gives him the chance to rebut the claims
before the organization decides to take action.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the NASD is zeroing in on Mr.
Quattrone's position as the former head of CSFB's technology analysts.  
He is also being investigated by New York Attorney General Eliot
Spitzer for analysts' conflicts.  

The NASD declined to comment, the article said.  Mr. Quattrone said in
a statement to the paper that CSFB has found no evidence of wrongdoing
on his part and that he will cooperate with any regulatory inquiry.  
CSFB's policy is not to comment on regulatory issues regarding
individual employees, the company said in a statement to the Journal.


CSX TRANSPORTATION: Plaintiff Wants To Turn Lawsuits into Class Action
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The plaintiff in one of the many lawsuits filed against CSX
Transportation in the wake of a January 2000 rail car fire wants to
combine claims into a class action suit, the Ann Arbor News reports.  
About 200 north Flint and Genessee Township, Michigan filed individual
claims against the Company, after the fire forced them to evacuate
their homes.

The suits claim short-term expenses related to the evacuation and
longer-term damages, such as medical costs associated with the release
of pollutants during the fire, the Flint Journal states.  Jerry
Neyland, a Holbrook Avenue resident, said the plaintiffs probably would
get bigger settlements if they combined their claims in a class action
suit.  

A speculative settlement amount of $1,500 per claim is completely
unacceptable, he told the Flint Journal.  "We have suffered a lot more
than that," he said. "I won't be accepting that."

Neyland plans to go door-to-door urging plaintiffs to join a class
action. He said the attorney representing them -- Loyst Fletcher, Jr. -
- led them to believe they would receive $3,000-$5,000 each.  Mr.
Fletcher told the Journal he told residents the maximum they would get
if the cases went to court was $3,000-$5,000, but recommended a global
settlement because of the high number of complaints.  The $1,500 amount
was just a figure tossed out by CSX -- no settlement has been reached,
he said.

CSX spokesman David Hall said he couldn't comment because the
litigation is ongoing.  


FORD MOTOR: IL Sheriff Mulls Moratorium on Crown Victoria Police Cars
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The Illinois Sheriff's Association has called on police departments
statewide to consider a moratorium on the purchase of Ford Crown
Victoria police cars, citing safety concerns.  The association, which
represents 102 sheriffs, also directed its leadership to join a class
action lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. seeking more information about
how the automaker has tested the vehicle to ensure that it is safe from
fuel-fed fires caused by rear impacts.

The General Assembly of the Illinois Sheriff's Association passed the
resolution without dissent.  In commenting on the action by the
Sheriff's Association, Executive Director Greg Sullivan said, "Our
members want every available safety option to be considered and tested.
Our officers deserve nothing less.  Today, the Illinois Sheriff's
Association calls on Ford to spend every penny that is necessary to
protect our officers."

The three-page resolution lists the names of the thirteen law
enforcement officers across the U.S. who have burned to death since
1992 after their Crown Victoria Police Interceptors (CVPI) were struck
from behind at high speeds.

The sheriffs also called on Ford to allow and pay for independent
testing of the CVPI, and to allow and pay for independent testing of
safety alternatives, such as fuel tank liners (to guard against
puncture) and equipment that releases fire suppressants in the event of
a fuel leak.  The group also called on Ford to offer any additional
safety technology on the cars, including trunk packs, free to police
departments and municipalities.

Last September, in response to the growing number of officer deaths,
Ford announced that it was installing a system of shields around the
fuel tank to increase its protection against punctures.  Ford also
offered an additional safety package for the trunk, but said that it
would charge law enforcement departments $50 per car for this option.

Dallas police officer Patrick Metzler was killed in October, and New
York State Trooper Robert Ambrose died in November -- both in Crown
Victoria fuel- fed fires.  The City of Dallas filed suit in December,
seeking information from Ford about how the company determined that its
new shield system was safe enough and noting that the shields would not
have prevented all fuel tank punctures in the Metzler vehicle.

The City of Dallas also cited evidence that Ford's in-house test of the
shield system failed federal fuel leakage standards and that Ford had
packed the test vehicle's trunk with sandbags before conducting the
crash test.  The City also noted the availability of technologies to
improve fuel tank integrity and suppress fuel-fed fires, both of which
Ford has refused to test on the vehicles.

The resolution noted that more officers have been burned to death in
the Crown Vic than were killed by fires involving the Ford Pinto before
the Pinto was finally recalled by Ford.  The resolution was passed
unanimously on January 27 at the group's annual meeting.

For more details, contact Greg Sullivan by Phone: 217-496-2371 or by E-
mail: greg@ilsheriff.org


GREAT NORTHERN: Retirees Fear Loss of Benefits, Lawyer Prepares Lawsuit
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Large numbers of Great Northern Paper (GNP) retirees and their family
members recently packed the VFW Hall for an update on the status of
their health care insurance, the first in a series of steps the Maine's
Katahdin Area Retirees Association is taking to help protect GNP
retirees from losing their company-paid health care, the Bangor Daily
News (Bangor, ME) reports.

Diane A. Khiel, an Orono, Maine, lawyer, assured the large crowd of
concerned seniors that their interests are being represented by the
same attorneys representing laid-off unionized workers.  Ms. Khiel said
she attended the the meeting to become familiar with the retirees'
concerns in the event the group is forced to fight in court to keep
their health care benefits.

Ms. Khiel, who is working with the unions' attorneys, advised the
seniors that at some point their legal interests might become different
from the interests of the unions.  However, that point has not yet been
reached.  She said speaking as a group would be more effective should
retirees lose their health benefits.

Although GNP asked the bankruptcy court to eliminate its obligations to
pay for health insurance for the 677 former workers who have retired
since 1992, the bankruptcy judge ordered the benefits be paid at least
until the court convenes on February 4.

The Millinockett Regional Hospital plans to hold a public informational
meeting about Medigap insurance, a secondary insurance to Medicare, and
how to access low-cost prescriptions on February 7, the retirees group
plans to hold another meeting on the health care issue in a few weeks.  
Still another instance of go-it yourself gets under way in the United
States of America.


HAWAII: Judge Grants Certification to Fraud Suit V. Professors' Union
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A federal judge has opened the way for more than 600 professors and
instructors at the University of Hawaii's 10 campuses to sue the
University of Hawaii Professional Assembly for improperly collecting
money from nonmembers, Associated Press Newswires reports.

About 614 professors and instructors at the university are not members
of the union, about 20 percent of the bargaining unit.  Those employees
became eligible to join the lawsuit when US District Court Judge Helen
Gillmor granted the lawsuit class action status.

The lawsuit was filed by Sandra Swanson, an instructor at Maui
Community College, who says the fees the union collects from her
paycheck are equal to the cost of full union dues, about one percent of
her salary, even though she is not a member.

The law allows unions in Hawaii to collect money from nonmembers, but
the union is required to open its records to make sure nonmembers are
not subsidizing union activities unrelated to collective bargaining,
according to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which
is representing Ms. Swanson and other plaintiffs who may come forward.

"I do not have a problem with fees associated with representation,
which is collective bargaining and mediation," Ms. Swanson said.  "The
problem is that they are taking out a huge amount that does not relate
to that . It is not being properly itemized, there is no
accountability, and that is where the problem lies."

The lawsuit is intended to facilitate the return of any money that did
not cover collective bargaining costs, said Daniel Cronin, a spokesman
for the legal defense foundation.  It also seeks to have the union, in
the future, charge its non-members only for the cost of collective
bargaining.

Hawaii's Supreme Court has strictly limited union agreements to protect
the nonmembers' free speech and free association rights.  Workers
cannot be forced to be full members, pay full dues or support a union's
political activities, the Supreme Court has ruled.  The lawsuit also
names the state comptroller as a defendant, since the state withholds
the amount of money to be given the union from the university
employees' checks.


ILLINOIS: Consumers Allege Chains Fixed Milk Prices
---------------------------------------------------
Chicago, Illinois supermarket chains Jewel and Dominick's allegedly
charged identical prices for milk over a four-year period, beginning in
the summer of 1996, according to plaintiffs' opening arguments in a
class action accusing the two dominant store firms of price-fixing, the
Chicago Tribune reports.

So closely aligned were the chains' pricing structures for the staple,
whenever one changed milk prices, the other would match it within days,
the attorneys alleged.  Plaintiffs' lawyers estimated consumers were
overcharged $51 million to $125 million over the four-year period,
although attorneys for the grocery stores disputed the figures.  At one
point a gallon of premium milk was $3.69 in both chains.

Michael Connelly, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, acknowledged to Cook
County Circuit Judge John Morrisey that he possessed no "smoking gun"
proving collusion.  "Conspiracies are by their nature secret," Mr.
Connelly said.  However, Mr. Connelly also said he would offer evidence
that, when factored in with the chains' 70 percent area market
dominance, would prove the stores violated the state's antitrust laws.

Lawyers for the stores denied price-fixing and said they intend to show
the judge during the trial the methods used and factors considered in
setting milk prices.  For example, they said that although the
plaintiffs' lawyers focus on the shelf price, they instead should
compare the price paid at the register, which frequently fluctuates as
a result of promotions.

Gregory Lindstrom said that in March 2000, for example, milk prices in
Jewel and Dominick's differed at the register on 25 days that month, he
said.  The trial is expected to last four weeks, at the end of which
Judge Morrissey said he would issue a written opinion.


INDIAN FUNDS: Former Interior Head Neal McCaleb Heads Tribe's Growth
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Neal McCaleb, former Assistant Interior Secretary for Indian Affairs,
will lead business development activities and diversification
strategies for the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, the Associated Press
Newswires reports.

Mr. McCaleb, an enrolled citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, is also a
former state senator and former state transportation secretary.  Mr.
McCaleb will develop a plan for the Chickasaw Nation's long-term
economic growth.

"He brings with him a tremendous amount of knowledge, understanding and
experience of business development and tribal economies," Chickasaw
Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said.  "His contributions will
immediately be felt as he assists us with our business diversification
plans."

Mr. McCaleb said he plans to investigate current and potential market
opportunities for the tribe, including retail, entertainment,
information technology and government services contracting.  "My
purpose is to assist the Chickasaw Nation in the development of a
long-term strategy and implementation plan for the economic growth and
self-sufficiency of the Nation, for the long-term well-being of the
Chickasaw people," Mr. McCaleb said.

Mr. McCaleb is a former Oklahoma state legislator, director of the
State Department of Transportation and Secretary of Transportation
under Governors Henry Bellmon and Frank Keating, an earlier Class
Action Reporter story states.  He was named as a defendant in a class
action against the Bureau of Indian Affairs, over royalties owed to
native Americans.

For more than 100 years, the Interior Department has collected
royalties on behalf of the Indians, who own various pieces of land,
from those who graze livestock, cut timber, mine, drill for oil and
gas, and grow crops on it.  In 1996, Indians filed a lawsuit accusing
the Bureau of Indian Affairs of mishandling their collected monies (or
monies that should have been collected) for decades.  The five lead
plaintiffs say that for years BIA officials have not been able to
answer account holders' most basic questions regarding who is leasing
their land and what royalties are being paid.

Four months' after he was sworn in as BIA director, Mr. McCaleb was
notified in November 2001, that the court was considering holding him
in contempt, and the trial started the following month.   On September
2002, US District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth found Mr. McCaleb and
his boss, Secretary of the Interior Department Gail Norton, in contempt
for failing to reform the Indian trust fund system, an earlier Class
Action Reporter story recounts.


KOREA: Small Shareholders Get Stronger With Class System Implementation
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
With the imminent adoption of class actions in Korea, small shareholder
organizations have begun to get stronger, the ChosunIlbo reports.  
President Roh Moo-hyun has pushed strongly for the bill limiting the
voting rights of financial units of chaebols for their stakes in sister
firms, and all-inclusive taxation system on donations and inheritances.  
It is set to be implemented within 100 days of President Roh's
inauguration, an earlier Class Action Reporter story states.

Small-shareholder organizations have made the once-neglected category a
new force in the market.  Stock-related sites, such as Paxnet
(http://www.paxnet.co.kr)or 38 Communication (http://www.38.co.kr),
have seen the rise of hundreds of small shareholder clubs over the last
few years.  The site 38 Communication has shareholder's clubs not only
for listed businesses, KOSDAQ-registered businesses, and third-market
designated businesses, but also for unlisted businesses, the ChosunIlbo
reports.

The Gangwon Land Small-Shareholders Association has biannual off-line
meetings, and presents its recommendations to the management of firms.  
Last November, for the first time in Korea, the association succeeded
in having a board meeting to be held to deal with its recommendations.

The class action lawsuit system, which is endorsed by the transition
committee for president-elect Roh Moo-hyun, is expected to further
small-shareholder participation.  Experts hope that the system will
restrain large businesses from "window dressing" reform and from making
false announcements, the ChosunIlbo states.

Kim Gyeong-shin of Bridge Securities said that since 1998, domestic
businesses such as Samsung Electronics have been placing more faith in
small shareholders.  Mr. Kim added that as other businesses watch the
trend grow, more are starting to realize the importance of small
shareholders.


LOUISIANA: Couple Sues To Seek Refunds For Fire Protection District Fee
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
St. George, Louisiana's Sheriff's Offices faces a lawsuit filed by a
couple, over the St. George Fire Protection District annual fee.  A
Louisiana couple, Louis and Carol Dupuy, allege they double-paid the
fee and deserve a refund, the Advocate reports.

For two years, the bill for the fire protection fee has been included
on the annual tax bills sent to property owners in St. George's
district, which covers about 80,000 people in the southeast part of the
parish.  Property owners in the St. George district pay both the fee
and a $12.75 millage.  Attorney Gary P. Koederitz, who represents the
Dupuys, told the Advocate it appears that homeowners and mortgage
companies often both pay the fees, and the Sheriff's Office's method of
returning money isn't working well.  Atty. Koederitz said he envisions
using the Dupuy lawsuit, filed in State District Court in Baton Rouge,
as a class action to recover other double-payments. He said he wants to
find a low-cost, equitable way to get back extra fees.

Leu Anne Greco, an attorney for the Sheriff's Office, told the Advocate
the agency sends tax bills solely to residents, who are the only ones
legally bound to pay the bills.  "We don't double-bill," she said. "The
only time the mortgage company gets a bill is when they ask."

Sometimes mortgage companies or title companies request copies of the
bill -- and sometimes both a company and a homeowner pay it, the
Advocate states.  Many mortgage companies maintain escrow accounts to
pay taxes, insurance and other costs for their mortgage holders.  Money
for the escrow account comes from part of a property owner's monthly
mortgage payment.

When the Sheriff's Office finds a duplicate payment, it sends a form to
the mortgage company asking whether the refund should be sent back to
the company or to the homeowner, Ms. Greco told the Advocate.

The St. George fee was added to annual property tax bills for the 2001
tax year.  Homeowners like Dupuy who owe no property taxes because of
the state's homestead exemption still end up with a $32 amount due on
their bills because of the fee, the Advocate states. City-parish
officials are looking at collecting fees the same way for other fire
protection districts to make collection easier and reduce non-payments.


MAINE: Chief Justice Orders Consent Decree Issue Settled in AMHI Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Maine's Chief Justice has suggested that a negotiated settlement may be
the best way to resolve a contentious legal battle on whether to lift
court oversight over much of the state's mental health system, the
Associated Press Newswires reports.

Chief Justice Leigh Saufley of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court
recently took the highly unusual step of interjecting herself into the
Augusta Mental Health Institute (AMHI) consent decree trial.  This
trial aims to decide whether it is time to lift the Augusta Mental
Health Institute consent decree, signed in 1990 to settle a class
action brought by patients and former patients at AMHI, the state
psychiatric hospital.  The crux of the conflict between the state's and
patients' lawyers is whether the state's efforts to improve conditions
at AMHI has reached the goals set by the terms of the consent decree.

The case is expected to come before the Supreme Judicial Court
regardless of the outcome of the trial, but Judge Saufley will not
participate because she helped negotiate the decree's original language
in 1990, while serving as an assistant attorney general.  The trial
already has gone on for more than four weeks, and Judge Saufley has
urged lawyers to consider a settlement agreement rather than prolong
costly litigation, particularly in light of the state's growing budget
strain.

"We worked together before, and 14 years ago we came to resolution.  I
just wondered if given the change in government and the budget whether
you have had a chance to think about these kinds of things," Judge
Saufley said.   She pointed out that whichever side wins at trial, a
long and costly appeal is likely.

Judge Saufley arrived unannounced in Superior Court just as lawyers for
both sides and Court Master Gerald Rodman were about to leave for the
evening.  The judge wore no judicial robes, noting that she would have
no role in the case and was speaking unofficially.  She offered the
assistance of the Judicial Department's alternative dispute resolution
resources, including mediators who help with settlement negotiations in
complex cases.

Peter Darvin, a lawyer representing nearly 4,000 former AMHI patients,
said his team is willing to negotiate, but the state is aware of what
his clients want and so far has rejected their advances.  However,
Assistant Attorney General Phylis Gardiner said she did not know the
plaintiffs' position, opening at least one potential avenue for
negotiations.  "I am not sure we have a clear understanding of what
that would be," Ms. Gardiner said.

Mental health officials from the administration of Governor Angus King
claimed compliance, two years ago, with the requirements of the consent
decree.  However, lawyers represented in the class action from which
the consent decree arose, say the state has failed to meet the bulk of
the requirements.


MARYLAND: Law Prevents Residents, Businesses From Suit Junk Advertisers
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Maryland residents and businesses cannot sue companies that send junk
faxes in state court under a 1991 federal consumer protection law,
because state law does not give consumers that power, the Court of
Special Appeals ruled recently, the Associated Press Newswires reports.

"It will make Maryland the only state in the country that does not
allow private suits under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection
Act, said lawyer Stephen Ring, who was seeking to press a class-action
lawsuit. "I think the lower court's decision is ripe to be reversed on
appeal."

The appeals court upheld a Montgomery County judge's decision
dismissing the lawsuit against Investors' Alert Inc. and Access
Financial Consulting Inc.  Mr. Ring contends that the Texas-based
companies allowed Investors' Alert newsletter to be faxed to up to
50,000 machines at a time without permission.

Mr. Ring brought the lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court for a
Bethesda architect's office.  The lawsuit sought damages of $1,500 for
each of potentially thousands of faxes.  However, the Circuit Court
granted Investors' Alert's request to dismiss the lawsuit, and the
intermediate appeals court agreed.

Writing for a three-judge Court of Special Appeals panel, Judge Mary
Ellen Barbera said that while the federal law says consumer complaints
should be brought in state court, Maryland law has omitted a right for
individuals to sue under it.


MERCURY MARKETING: MI Attorney General Sues For Consumer Act Violations
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has taken legal action against
Pennsylvania based Mercury Marketing of Delaware, Inc., charging the
Company with civil fraud and violations of the Michigan Consumer
Protection Act.  The suit was filed in Ingham County Circuit Court
against the Company, which does business under the names Mercury
Internet and Venus Voice Mail Services, and company CEO Neal
Safterstein.  

Attorney General Cox alleges the company uses unfair and deceptive
business practices in the sale of Internet services, such as the design
and hosting of web pages and "toll free voice mail," that results in
unexpected and unauthorized charges being added to the telephone bills
of consumers, small businesses, and even churches in Michigan.  The
addition of unauthorized charges on telephone bills is referred to as
"cramming."

"Michigan's small businesses and hard-working citizens have enough on
their plate without having to continually comb their phone bills and
then go through the time and expense of removing unauthorized charges,"
Attorney General Cox said in a statement.  "The kinds of business
practices employed by Mercury Internet are deplorable and must be
stopped."

The suit and NIA allege that Mercury Internet and Venus Voice Mail
telemarketers do not disclose their intention to sell services but
simply obtain "verifying information."  Then, in a follow up mailing
about the company's services, consumers are notified for the first time
in small print and an inconspicuous location that unless they "cancel"
services a monthly service charge will be automatically added to their
telephone bill.  

The suit alleges that Mercury Marketing has billed Michigan businesses
that did not consent to purchase, and, in some instances, consumers who
did not even have Internet service.  Consumers who try and object or
"cancel" have experienced difficulty and delay in receiving credit for
unauthorized charges.


"This lawsuit should serve as a warning to companies telemarketing in
Michigan - if you do not follow the law, you will not do business in
Michigan," Attorney Cox said.  He offered these tips to avoid
unauthorized charges:

     (1) timely review all bills and statements, disputing in writing
         all unauthorized charges;

     (2) the written dispute should be addressed to the company who
         caused the charge to be placed on your bill and all billing or
         collection agents (in this case Mercury Marketing and your
         phone service provider);

     (3) immediately take control of any caller who provides vague
         information, demand to know the name and address of the
         company that is calling and if you are not interested clearly
         state this fact and hang up;

     (4) review what appears to be "junk mail" to ensure it is not
         confirmation of an alleged contract;

    (5) remember you can file a complaint about this and other consumer
        protection issues with the Attorney General's Consumer
        Protection Bureau

The Attorney General's office has received 42 complaints against
Mercury Internet and five against Venus Voice Mail.  Currently, the
Better Business Bureau has listed the company as having an
unsatisfactory standing due to a pattern of billing for unauthorized
services and for not responding to complaints.  The Attorney General's
action comes in addition to steps taken by the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) in 2000 against Mercury Marketing for cramming.  

For more details contact the Attorney General by Phone: 1-877-765-8388
or visit the Website: http://www.michigan.gov/ag.


METROPOLITAN LIFE: Prepares For Historical Payout In Racial Bias Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------------
For thousands of non-white Metropolitan Life Insurance policyholders
and their beneficiaries, a class action over discriminatory pricing
policies could mean a cash payout as early as this spring, The Miami
Herald reports.

Metropolitan Life, a subsidiary of MetLife, is one of many companies
offering settlement to minority policyholders who were sold life
insurance for a higher price than whites paid.  The company reached a
tentative $160 million settlement in August 2002, with the New York
State Insurance Department in a lawsuit related to policies sold
between 1901 and 1972.

Blacks and minorities were given "sub-standard" risk ratings and
charged more in premiums than whites.  The policies, valued below
$5,000, were sold in working class neighborhoods and often involved
door-to-door salesmen.


MURIETTA FITNES: Gym Membership To Be Refunded in CA Lawsuit Settlement
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Time is running out for about 800 fitness fans who want to get some of
the money they spent on memberships to a gym that was never built, The
Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) reports.

In 1999, Murrieta Fitness, Inc., the local franchisee, was supposed to
build a 27,500-square foot World Gym in Murrieta.  When the gym never
materialized, those who prepaid sued for a refund of their memberships,
ranging from $100 to $1,000 for a family pass.

As part of the settlement, Murrieta Fitness deposited $46,000 into a
trust in late November.  Participants in the lawsuit have until the end
of February to make their claim.  Unclaimed money will pay for
accounting and legal fees.  Anything then left over will go to schools
in Murrieta, said Mitchell S. Wagner, attorney for the plaintiffs.  
Participants in the lawsuit can call the Riverside accounting firm of
Ahern, Adcock and Devlin for information, by Phone: 909-683-0672.


PHILADELPHIA: FBI Probes Pension Board's Choice of Law Firm In Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is conducting
an investigation into the city pension board's awarding of legal work
to a law firm whose partners contributed thousands of dollars to the
campaigns of Democratic candidates, Associated Press Newswires reports.

As many as two dozen current and former officials of the city's Board
of Pensions and Retirement have been served subpoenas requiring them to
turn over to a grand jury any records of communication with City
Controller Jonathan A. Saidel, former finance director Michael Nadol
and others regarding the board's use of the law firm Barrack, Rodos &
Bacine, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in recent editions of its
newspaper.

The newspaper, citing anonymous sources, reported that investigators
are seeking records in connection with Mr. Nadol's written answers in
1999, to a judge's questions about why the pension board chose the
Barrack law firm to represent it in a class action.  Mr. Nadol, who had
been appointed finance director by current Governor Edward Rendell, who
was then Mayor of Philadelphia, was also Pension Board chairman at the
time choice of the Barrack law firm was made.

US District Court Judge William Alsup, who was presiding over the class
action, had asked city officials to swear that the thousands of dollars
in campaign donations from the Barrack law firm "in no way influenced"
selection of Barrack to represent the pension fund.

"We are going to cooperate with the investigation through our counsel.
I have no idea what is being investigated," said Leonard Barrack, whose
law firm specializes in suits like the one involving the pension fund.  
The lawsuit is seeking to recover money for stockholders, including the
pension board, which had invested in computer software maker Network
Associates.  The California-based company was sued after announcing
that bookkeeping problems had artificially inflated its stock price.  
The pension fund had invested more than $3 million in the company's
stock.

Judge Alsup said he is willing to make the pension board lead counsel
in the class action against Network Associates, but said he is not
willing to accept the Barrack law firm as lead counsel, citing the fact
that the city had hired Barrack without competitive bids.

Mr. Nadol wrote Judge Alsup on November 24, 1999, saying the judge's
suggestion about competitive bids would be costly and time-consuming.  
When the judge refused to change his mind, the pension board informed
the court the following month it would drop out as lead plaintiff.  
Network Associates agreed to pay shareholders $30 million when the
lawsuit was resolved in March 2001.  The law firm that replaced Barrack
was paid seven percent of that amount.


PLUG POWER: NY Federal Court Dismisses Bulk Of Securities Fraud Lawsuit
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A New York federal judge dismissed most arguments asserted in a class
action filed by a group of investors against Plug Power Inc., the Times
Union (Albany, NY) reports.  The suit names the Company and several of
its officers and directors as defendants.

The suit, filed on behalf of purchasers of the Company's stock between
February 14,2000 and August 2, 2000, alleges the defendants violated
certain federal securities laws by failing to disclose certain
information concerning the Company's products and future prospects, an
earlier Class Action Reporter states.

The suit alleges claims under Sections 11, 12 and 15 of the Securities
Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Exchange Act of 1934,
and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder.  The claims under the Securities
Act of 1933, however, were subsequently withdrawn.  

The suit alleges that the defendants made misleading statements and
omissions regarding the state of development of the Company's
technology in a registration statement and proxy statement issued in
connection with the Company's initial public offering and in subsequent
press releases, and are seeking damages.

The company said recently that the federal judge in Brooklyn dismissed
the plaintiffs' arguments relating to about five press releases, the
Times Union states.  Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP, the law
firm representing the investors, did not return a call for comment.  
Plug Power's in-house counsel, Ana-Maria Galeano, said the company has
yet to discuss its future strategy for the case.


PROGRESSIVE CORPORATION: Court Rejects Certification For Consumer Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ohio's Eighth District Court of Appeals refused to grant class
certification to a lawsuit filed against insurer Progressive
Corporation by Eric Augustus, a Kentucky resident dissatisfied with the
November 1998 repairs to his 1993 Chevrolet pickup truck.  The suit was
filed in 1999, accusing the Company of not fulfilling its contractual
duty to return his vehicle to "pre-loss condition" because the company
allowed the use of two non-Chevy replacement parts.

The appeals court said they denied class status because individual
questions of fact outweighed common questions of fact, the Insurance
Journal reports.  The decision averted "significant cost increases" in
auto insurance premiums, according to Ohio Insurance Director Ann Womer
Benjamin.  Mr. Benjamin added that state law expressly permits auto
insurers to make repairs with aftermarket, or generic, parts, also
known as non-OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts.

"Granting of this class action would have further coerced insurers from
using aftermarket parts, just as Avery v. State Farm, did in 1999,"
Kirk Hansen, claims director for the Alliance of American Insurers, an
industry trade group told the Insurance Journal.  "Too often the courts
let multi-state class actions usurp state regulation of insurance,
permitting judges to become de facto regulators of insurance industry
practices."

An Ohio Insurance Institute study found that the cost of building a
2001 Chevrolet Cavalier with OEM parts was $63,240, while the
manufacturer's suggested retail price was only $15,395.  Industry
observers believe that without non-OEM parts, manufacturers' large
share of the parts market could lead to even higher costs for auto
repairs, the Insurance Journal reports.  That, in turn, would lead to
higher premiums.

The Ohio Department of Insurance filed an amicus brief with the court
in support of Progressive, the nation's fourth-largest auto insurer, in
September of last year.  Mr. Benjamin told the Journal Ohioans "enjoy
one of the healthiest automobile insurance markets in the country" and
the suit, if allowed, would have destabilized the broader auto
insurance market in the state.  The appeals court upheld a lower court
decision.


RHINO WIRELESS: Former Employees Sue Over Hostile Working Environment
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Former employees of Long Island company Rhino Wireless commenced a
class action filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of New York, charging the Company and its chief, Darren
Matloff, of fraud and breach of contract within an environment "rife
with sexual and physical abuse and . psychological cruelty and
exploitation," the New York Post reports.  Rhino Wireless has been
operating in Long Island since 1994 and sells AT&T and VoiceStream cell
phone plans and products such as knife sets and calculators.  

Former employee Jessica Stoneburner thought she was applying to become
a management trainee for "a Fortune 500 company," but did not expect
she'd be scrubbing toilets at the crack of dawn five days a week.  
Valerie Eubanks answered a similar ad, after graduating from the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she didn't expect she'd
have to gobble like a turkey upon signing up new customers, the NY Post
reports.  Workers charge they labored up to 100 hours a week for as
little as $150.  Door-to-door salespeople are recruited through ads in
local newspapers and on Web sites like HotJobs.com, according to court
papers.

The former employees say Mr. Matloff used excessive tactics to control
his staff, the NY Post reports.  Ms. Stoneburner - who quit in April
2002 - told The Post that new employees were told to start work as soon
as possible, even if it meant leaving their current jobs without giving
notice.

In order to be promoted to manager, and earn a salary of $24,000 to
$30,000 a year, former employees said they had to have five new
trainees working under them - but if their new trainees didn't make at
least $40 a day in sales, they had to pay them $40 out of pocket.

"I made $14,000 in 2001 for working 80 hours a week, but spent about
$20,000 in order to get the job done," ex-employee Cary Bruce, 25, who
worked at the company for 2 1/2 years and quit in March 2002, told the
Post.

In one office exercise, called "Hump Day," to boost enthusiasm,
trainees had to simulate sex with an imagined celebrity in front of
their co-workers.  During Thanksgiving season, trainees were required
to gobble like a turkey in front of new customers, the former employees
said, the Post states.  

Mr. Matloff did not return calls, although his attorney, Alan Peal,
told The Post, "We don't believe there's any merit to the claims, since
the plaintiffs were independent contractors and signed papers to that
effect."


SECURITIES LITIGATION: SEC Considers Creation of Mutual Funds Oversight
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering an idea to
create a new regulatory oversight board for the mutual fund industry,
the New York Post reports.  "I expect any regulatory body that oversees
the mutual funds will have to take a close look at how well the funds
are disclosing their diversification, and I also expect there to be a
call for better disclosure of how portfolio manager compensation is
calculated," said Jacob Zamansky of Zamansky & Associates.

Mr. Zamansky, who brings class actions against brokers and other
financial service firms, said many individual investors bought funds
instead of stocks because they believed the advertising that suggested
funds were more diversified, and thus safer.

"The mutual funds did not do a good job of disclosing how concentrated
some of these portfolios had gotten," Mr. Zamansky said.  "I would
expect that to be a new area of regulation; investors will demand it."  

Mr. Zamansky also expects there to be a more complete disclosure of
portfolio manager compensation.  "Some fund managers get big bonuses
even if the fund loses money," he said.  "That's wrong.  We are
correcting that in the corporate world, and we have to correct that in
the fund world."  

The new self-regulatory organization also would be for enforcing the
fund's compliance with a new rule that forces funds to disclose to
shareholders how they vote their proxies.


SBC PACIFIC: CA Resident's Small Claims Victory To Guide Other Lawsuits
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
While plaintiff's small claims win of $3,270 against SBC Pacific Bell,
SBC Advanced Solutions and Ameritech is small, she hopes it will serve
as a guide to consumers about how they may proceed in class actions or
individually to win against a giant company, Contra Costa Times (Walnut
Creek, CA) reports.

Gini Graham Scott of Rockridge tried to get a wireless digital
subscriber phone line installed at her home, but more went wrong than
right.  Using a 300-page binder of documents, Ms. Scott described to
the Oakland Small Claims Court, at a hearing before Judge Winton
McKibben, how she lost time, money and business opportunities when her
wireless DSL installation was delayed due to equipment problems and the
technicians' lack of training.

Ms. Scott said the issues concerning the installation of her phone were
part of the systemic problems that affected thousands of customers.  
The main reason for the trouble, according to Ms. Scott, was that SBC
sold a service before its technicians had been trained to install it.  
Ms. Scott explained to the judge how her case was part of a larger
Problem, "Consumers are ignored, and the corporations don't have to pay
attention."

In court, SBC representatives tried to convince Judge McKibben that Ms.
Scott was "dazed and confused," but Ms. Scott, who has written three
books on conflict resolution and for whom going to court was a last
resort, was able to convince him otherwise.  The money she won as
damages in her suit is to compensate her for losses including the time
she spent - 30 hours over six weeks - dealing with the problems.


THANH PHU: Customers Sue After Eating Salmonella-Infected Pork Rolls
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Thanh Phu Pty Ltd faces a class action over the operations of the Thanh
Phu restaurant in Nicholson, Footscray, Australia, alleging the
restaurant allegedly sold contaminated pork rolls, resulting in the
death of a man and the illness of 195 people, the Australian reports.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn Cashman commenced proceedings against the
Company and its director, Van Hai Nguyen, in the Victorian Supreme
Court.  Nu Ly Tang, 64, filed the suit, after she was hospitalized for
salmonella poisoning and whose son Eric died after eating pork rolls
last month.

"We represent 30 people at this stage who have come to us and
instructed us, but the class action is brought on behalf of all those
who have suffered as a result," Maurice Blackburn Cashman product
liability partner Eugene Arocca told the Australian.  Mr. Arocca said
the food poisoning outbreak resulted in 195 people reporting illness
and 21 people in hospital.

The writ alleges the food sold at Thanh Phu between January 5 and 15
was contaminated because of failures to properly refrigerate all
ingredients, properly clean the premises, properly inspect the
premises, and ensure salmonella bacteria did not contaminate the food
for sale, the Australian reports.  Mr. Arocca said the claim could
potentially result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

It is expected the writ will be served on the defendants today.  
Comment was being sought from the restaurant owners, the Australian
stated.


TYCO INTERNATIONAL: Investors Name Lord Ashcroft in Securities Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Lord Ashcroft has been named in a shareholders' class action, filed in
the United States, over his role at troubled conglomerate Tyco
International, Ltd., the Daily Mail reports.

A spokesman for the former Tory Party treasurer said, "It is just
another class-action suit.  In Britain, we imagine that lawsuits mean
something, but in America, most of the time, they don't.  Don't take
this seriously."

Lord Ashcroft is accused, in the lawsuit, of selling GBP69 million in
Tyco shares near the peak while possessing "material adverse facts
about the company."  In total, five directors, including former chief
executive Dennis Kozlowski, sold more than GBP500 million of shares
when times appeared good.  The shares have since plunged nearly 75
percent.  Yet a probe has found no need to restate results reported
earlier.

The US shareholders' suit also accuses the company and its auditors,
PricewaterhouseCooper, of violating US securities laws by issuing
"false or misleading statements" about its prospects.  The lawsuits
charge that Tyco failed to alert investors about an estimated 700
corporate acquisitions that cost the firm $8 billion.

These omissions helped artificially inflate Tyco's stock, the lawsuits
charge, driving shares to a 52-week high of $60.09.  The stock has
plummeted 70 percent this year amid criminal indictments of ex-CEO
Dennis Kozlowski and two other former company executives, along with
lawsuits filed against the three by the Securities and Exchange
Commission and Tyco itself, an earlier Class Action Reporter story
states.

The consolidated securities case brought by the investors echoes other
civil allegations that the company improperly failed to disclose
hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and other related-party
transactions, involving Mr. Kozlowski and other executives and
directors.

Pricewaterhouse said the charge is "wholly without merit" and its work
was "appropriate and complied with all professional standards."


UNITED STATES: Navy Settles With Japanese Submarine Collision Victims
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The United States Navy reached a settlement with the last two families
of the 35 people on a Japanese fishing boat accidentally hit and sunk
by a US submarine, the Associated Press reports.  The settlement ends
all negotiations over compensation from the accident, said Makoto
Toyoda, a lawyer representing the two families.

In February 2001, the USS Greeneville plowed into the Ehime Maru during
a surfacing maneuver, killing nine of the 35 high school students,
teachers and crew aboard the ship.

The total settlement now reached $16.5 million after the agreement was
signed in the United States Embassy in Tokyo, the US Navy said in a
statement.  The figure includes a combined package of $13 million for
the other 33 families, signed in November.

Mr. Toyoda refused to disclose the amount paid to the two last
families.  Kyodo News reported that the amount roughly matched that of
the others.  The two families accepted the US offer earlier in January
after the submarine's former skipper, Scott Waddle, visited Japan last
month.  The relatives of 17-year-old student Yusuke Terata and ship
engineer Toshimichi Furuya said they would settle only if Waddle
visited.

During his December visit, Mr. Waddle placed flowers at a memorial for
the dead and met four young survivors and their families, AP reports.  
Mr. Waddle was reprimanded by a US military court of inquiry, but
retired with full rank and pension.


US TIMBERLANDS: DE Court Approves Securities Fraud Lawsuit Settlement
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The Delaware Court of Chancery approved the settlement proposed by US
Timberlands Company, LP (OTC Bulletin Board: TIMBZ) in the consolidated
class action commenced in connection with the Company's proposed going
private transaction.

The suit charges the Company, its general partner US Timberland
Services Co., LLC and the general partner's board of directors
alleging, with breach of fiduciary duty and self-dealing in connection
with the receipt by the Company of a revised offer, dated April 23,
2002, from a group led by senior management of the Company to take the
Company private.

The lawsuits were filed by the purported unitholders of the Company, on
behalf of all other similarly situated unitholders, and seek to have
the class certified and the purported unitholders bringing the action
named as a representative of the class.  In addition, the lawsuits seek
to enjoin the going private transaction, to rescind the going private
transaction if it is consummated, and to recover damages and attorneys'
fees.

For more details, contact Thomas C. Ludlow, Chief Financial Officer of
U.S. Timberlands Company, LP by Phone: 1-212-755-1100 or visit the
firm's Website: http://www.ustimberlands.com


USAA: Workers Sue Alleging Retaliation After Complaining of Problems
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Tampa, Florida attorney Jonathan Alpert filed what he says is the first
whistle-blower class action in the United States against insurance
giant USAA, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

The case is a compilation of allegations from former USAA employees who
accuse the insurance giant of retaliating when they complained about
problems in the company.  The issue first surfaced six weeks ago when
former USAA employee, Paula Brooks Tarr, filed a lawsuit, claiming she
was forced out after complaining that the company was unfairly denying
consumer claims.

In the revised and expanded lawsuit, filed recently in circuit court in
Tampa, Florida, Ms. Tarr is joined by fellow plaintiffs Mark Leonard,
Loretta Williams, Mary Lee and Carla Childs.  Paul Berry, a spokesman
in USAA's San Antonio, Texas, headquarters, vowed to "aggressively
defend the interests of our members and our fine reputation against
these baseless allegations."


UTAH: State's Child Welfare Suit In Limbo, Awaiting Legislative Action
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The resolution of a 10-year-old lawsuit against Utah's child welfare
system will remain in limbo while the Legislature decides the issue of
appropriating $1.9 million for 51 new caseworkers, the Deseret News
reports.

US District Court Judge Tena Campbell told attorneys for the state
Department of Human Resources and the advocacy group, National Center
for Youth Law (CENTER), that because any additional quality-of-care
agreements being worked out for more staff and training hinge on that
money, ending the lawsuit will have to wait.

Center attorneys argued that the state has twice agreed to implement
the settlement agreements - the latest effort to retool the agreement
yet again should not depend on the schedule of the Legislature, they
said.

"But this will be a lot easier if the Legislature goes along," said
Judge Campbell.  Waiting adds time to the case, she acknowledged, but,
on the other hand, future "legal wrangling" might be avoided by doing
so.  She noted that the last order for attorneys fees she issued to the
state almost would have paid for the new staff needed.

Both Governor Michael Leavitt and the Legislative Fiscal Analyst's
Office have recommended spending nearly $2 million in General Fund
money to implement the latest settlement agreement in the class action.  
The original lawsuit alleged that Utah's foster-care system was
endangering children, and the state's child welfare system was placed
under federal court oversight until a court-appointed monitor is
satisfied that Utah's child welfare system has been fixed.  A 180-step
agreement has been trimmed down to 92 steps that most likely will be
trimmed down again.

"This (waiting) is not what we had hoped for," said John O'Toole of the
National Center for Youth Law, located in Oakland.  "But the governor
has asked for the money, so maybe there is a chance of finally getting
this done."

Judge Campbell said in a November hearing that it appeared the
Department of Children and Family Services has never been given enough
money to adequately implement any of the agreements.  In the past, the
court monitor has reported the state has made numerous improvements and
substantial progress in overall quality of services and in the general
safety of the children in state custody, an independent survey
completed in September showed.  The court monitor, who is to issue his
annual report to Judge Campbell in the next few weeks, say several
improving changes have been made more recently, but several more are
still needed.


*Pillar of American Labor Legislation To Be Overhauled in Law Revisions
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Heeding the complaints of business, the Bush administration is
revamping decades-old labor regulations in an overhaul that could
result in higher-income Americans working longer days without overtime
pay, Associated Press Newswires reports.

The administration argues that the pillars of American labor law, which
established the 40-hour week, a minimum wage and overtime pay, are
antiquated.  The Labor Department says low-wage workers could see an
income boost under its plan.  However, labor unions fear changes would
severely restrict who is legally required to be paid for overtime work.  

"Nothing (in the new regulations) prohibits employers from requiring as
many hours as they want," said Chris Owens, public policy director for
the AFL-CIO.  "The overtime pay requirement is the only thing that acts
as a brake on excessive work hours."

It is just one of several changes the administration is pursuing in
relation to workplace regulations and programs, including the Family
Medical Leave Program, job training programs and unemployment
insurance.  The overtime changes are confined to a section of the 1938
Fair Labor Standards Act that defines blue-collar and white-collar
workers and determines who must be paid an hourly rate of time-and-a-
half for working beyond 40 hours a week.  About 80 million workers now
are covered by the overtime rules.

Under current regulations, employees are only exempted from the
overtime rules if they meet several criteria, including salary,
management and other administrative responsibilities and whether jobs
require advanced "intellectual" skills and training.  Under the salary
test, last updated in 1975, workers earning more than $8,060 a year,
who also meet other criteria, may be exempt from overtime.  The
administration wants to raise that salary level.

Low-wage workers are being hurt under the current overtime pay
regulations, said Tammy McCutchen, administrator of the Labor
Department's wage and hour division.  She said a minimum-wage worker
logging 40 hours a week earns more than $10,700 a year.  "If this
minimum level is raised, more employees automatically will be entitled
to overtime, thus providing additional protections to low-wage
workers," Ms. McCutchen said.

At the same time, however, the department is clarifying and simplifying
job descriptions and duties tests.  That could move many higher paid
workers into the exempt category, though Ms. McCutchen said she could
not quantify the impact.  "If the changes result in moving an employee
who previously received overtime into exempt status not entitled to
overtime, the law would no longer require the employer to pay
overtime," Ms. McCutchen said.

Employer groups such as the Chamber of Commerce complain that under the
complex rules involving job duties and salary levels, many highly
skilled, well-paid, professional workers are required to get overtime
pay.  A likely surge in overtime pay litigation aimed at employers also
is a concern.

The law "was created to protect those workers who had the least
economic leverage," said Randy Johnson, the chamber's labor vice
president.  "Now it has been distorted to provide overtime to engineers
making over $80,000 a year."

The Labor Department is expected to issue the new overtime pay rules
for public comment by the end of March.  Congressional action is not
required.  Unions acknowledge that the overtime regulations known as
"white collar exemptions" are outdated and confusing - they have
remained essentially unchanged for 50 years.

"They are so difficult to interpret that they generate more class
action lawsuits in the workplace than anti-discrimination laws," Labor
Secretary Elaine Chao said this week.  "We are going to change that by
bringing these regulations into conformity with the realities of the
21st century workplace."

Workers filed 79 federal collective action suits seeking overtime pay
in 2001, surpassing for the first time class actions against employers
for job discrimination, according to the American Bar Association.


                     New Securities Fraud Cases


AEGON N.V.: Cauley Geller Commences Securities Fraud Lawsuit in S.D. NY
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cauley Geller Bowman & Coates, LLP initiated a securities class action
in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York on behalf of purchasers of Aegon N.V. (NYSE: AEG) publicly traded
securities during the period between August 9, 2001 and July 22, 2002,
inclusive.  The suit names as defendants the Company and:

     (1) Don Shepark,

     (2) Kees Storm and

     (3) Jos B.M. Streppel

The defendants allegedly violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder,
by issuing a series of materially false and misleading statements to
the market between August 9, 2001 to July 22, 2002.  Aegon, through its
member companies, is an international insurer.

During the years preceding the class period, and during the class
period, as stock markets suffered substantial declines, increasing
numbers of investors gravitated from variable products to fixed
products.  Aegon distinguished itself from its competitors with the
claim that its purportedly broad product mix better enabled it to take
advantage of this market shift while it simultaneously assured
investors that it had sufficient reserves to fund the sharply
increasing guaranteed payout obligations required by its fixed
products.

The complaint further alleges that Aegon also assured investors that it
was less vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the equity and credit
markets than competitors because the Company matched "high quality
investment assets ... in an optimal way to the corresponding insurance
liability, taking into account currency, yield and maturity
characteristics."  The Company claimed that, for the foregoing reasons,
"[c]onsistency and reliability in earnings forecasting is a particular
source of pride" and that, while not immune to equity and real estate
market shifts, the Company was not subject to sharp downward variations
in annual net income.

Accordingly, the Company reduced its earnings guidance for 2002 but at
all relevant times maintained its forecast that 2002 net income would
at least equal 2001 net income.

The class period ends on July 22, 2002. The complaint alleges that, on
that date, the Company shocked the market, announcing that 2002 net
income would not equal 2001 net income but, on the contrary, would be
30% to 35% lower than 2001 net income. On this news, Aegon shares
declined from a closing price of $16.99 on Friday, July 19, 2002 to a
closing price of $13.25 on Monday, July 22, 2002, when trading resumed.

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


AMERICREDIT CORPORATION: Shepherd Finkelman Files Securities Suit in TX
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLC initiated a securities class
action on behalf of institutions, individuals and other investors who
purchased the common stock and other securities of AmeriCredit
Corporation (NYSE: ACF; "AmeriCredit" or "Company") between April 14,
1999 and September 16, 2002.  The suit was filed in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division.  
The suit names as defendants the Company and:

     (1) Michael R. Barrington,

     (2) Daniel E. Berce and

     (3) Clifton H. Morris, Jr.

The suit charges that Defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by issuing a series of false and
misleading statements regarding AmeriCredit's business and financial
condition during the class period.  Specifically, the suit alleges
that, inter alia, Defendants were improperly deferring delinquent loans
during the class period in order to avoid consumer defaults so that the
Company would have access to cash that otherwise would have been
restricted pursuant to the terms of controlling trust agreements.

For more details, contact James E. Miller by Phone: 1-866-540-5505 by
E-mail: jmiller@classactioncounsel.com, or contact James C. Shah by
Phone: 1-877-891-9880 by E-mail: jshah@classactioncounsel.com or visit
the firm's Website: http://www.classactioncounsel.com


AMERICREDIT CORPORATION: Federman & Sherwood Files Investors Suit in TX
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Federman & Sherwood initiated a securities class action in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Texas on behalf of
purchasers of the securities of AmeriCredit Corporation (NYSE: ACF)
between April 14, 1999 and January 15, 2003, inclusive.

The suit accuses AmeriCredit and certain of its officers and directors
with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  AmeriCredit
purchases auto finance contracts without recourse from franchised and
select independent automobile dealerships and makes loans directly to
consumers on used and new vehicles.  Plaintiff alleges that AmeriCredit
made materially false and misleading statements regarding the nature of
AmeriCredit's revenues and earnings causing AmeriCredit's stock to
become artificially inflated, resulting in damages for investors.  The
suit alleges that the Company was deferring delinquent loans to avoid
consumer default so the Company would have access to cash which
otherwise would have been restricted.

For more details, contact William B. Federman by Mail: 120 N. Robinson,
Suite 2720, Oklahoma City, OK 73102 by Phone: (405) 235-1560 by Fax:
(405) 239-2112 or by E-mail: wFederman@aol.com


COMMONWEALTH ENERGY: Reuben & Novicoff Files Securities Suit in C.D. CA
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Reuben & Novicoff initiated a securities class in the United States
District Court for the Central District of California on behalf of
plaintiffs David Barnes, Jesse Utt, and W. James Saul, and similarly
situated shareholders of Commonwealth Energy Corporation between
November 2000 and the present date, inclusive, against Joseph Saline, a
Director of Commonwealth Energy Corporation.  Commonwealth itself also
has been named as the Real Party in Interest.

The suit alleges that Mr. Saline violated federal securities laws and
requests that he be removed as a Director of Commonwealth, pursuant to
California Corporations Code section 304.  The suit alleges that in or
about 2001, Mr. Saline was elected to the Commonwealth Board of
Directors after acquiring 352,000 void Commonwealth shares.  On
November 14, 2002, Hon. James M. Brooks of the California Superior
Court for the County of Orange preliminarily ruled that Mr. Saline's
shares were illegally issued and void as a matter of law.

The suit also alleges that since at least October 2001 Saline has made
false statements concerning Commonwealth in formal proxy solicitations
and elsewhere in order to fraudulently obtain proxies, has interfered
with shareholder voting at Commonwealth's annual meeting, and has
breached his fiduciary obligations to Commonwealth and its
shareholders.

For more details, contact Timothy D. Reuben by Mail: 1100 Glendon
Avenue, Tenth Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90024, by Phone: 310/777-1990 by
E-mail: tdr@rnlaw.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-
mailing and photocopying) is strictly prohibited without prior written
permission of the publishers.

Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to be
reliable, but is not guaranteed.

The CAR subscription rate is $575 for six months delivered via e-mail.  
Additional e-mail subscriptions for members of the same firm for the
term of the initial subscription or balance thereof are $25 each.  For
subscription information, contact Christopher Beard at 240/629-3300.

                  * * *  End of Transmission  * * *