CAR_Public/030207.mbx                C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

                Friday, February 7, 2003, Vol. 5, No. 27

                            Headlines

CANADA: Plaintiffs Move For Certification of Lawsuit For Disabled Kids
ENRON CORPORATION: Former Trader Admits To Wire Fraud In Energy Crises
INDIANA: County Commissioners Vote To Stop $25 Inmate Fee Due To Suit
INDONESIA: State-Owned Forest Company Blamed For West Java Landslides
INSURANCE COMPANIES: Chubb Chief Pushes For Group To Defend V. Lawsuits

ISM CANADA: Privacy Suit To Proceed Despite Recovery Of Hard Disk Drive
MICHIGAN: Appeals Court Grants Certification To Warren Residents' Suit
NEW YORK: Protesters File Complaint Seeking Permission For March To UN
SIMS TRADING: HK Court Orders HK$15,000 Fine Due To Pollution of River
SLAVERY REPARATIONS: Landmark Lawsuits To Be Heard in IL Federal Court

SPIEGEL INC.: CFO James Cannataro Resigns, In Wake of Securities Probe
TRAK INC.: Voluntarily Recalls Snowshoe Bindings Due To Injury Hazard
TYSON FOODS: Trial Begins in Lawsuit Over Hiring of Illegal Immigrants
UWATEC AG: Voluntarily Recalls 390 Computers Due To Calculating Defect
VIRGINIA: "Titanic" Salvage Firm Puts Off Special Shareholders' Meeting

WALT DISNEY: CA Federal Court Orders Securities Lawsuits Consolidated

                           Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: European Insurers Urged to Come Clean on Asbestos
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Lawyer's Group Confronts Asbestos Lawsuit Limits
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Plaintiffs Now Suing Smaller Companies
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Dow Chemical Increases Asbestos Reserves to $2.2B
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Federal-Mogul Corp. to File Reorganization Plan

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Claimants Accept Gencor Settlement Offer
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Honeywell's Asbestos Settlement May Be Copied
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Lawyers Now Train Their Sights On Lonmin
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Travelers Reports Another Asbestos Suit in Hawaii
ASBESTOS ALERT: Conoco Inc. Not Liable for "Slight" Asbestos Exposure
ASBESTOS ALERT: JT Thorpe Co. Battles 80T in Asbestos-Related Claims
ASBESTOS ALERT: Manitowoc Downplays Asbestos-Related Lawsuits
ASBESTOS ALERT: Watts Faces Asbestos-Related Lawsuits in MS, NJ Courts

                     New Securities Fraud Cases

CABLE & WIRELESS: Fruchter & Twersky Commences Securities Lawsuit in NY
COSI INC.: Paskowitz & Associates Commences Securities Suit in S.D. NY
MERILL LYNCH: Kaplan Fox Commences Securities Fraud Lawsuit in S.D. NY
VERITAS SOFTWARE: Green & Jigarjian Files Securities Lawsuit in N.D. CA



                              *********


CANADA: Plaintiffs Move For Certification of Lawsuit For Disabled Kids
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Arguments for the US$100 million class action filed against the Ontario
government on behalf of families of severely disabled children will be
presented in the Ontario Superior Court this week, canoe.ca reports.

The suit was filed on behalf of 2,000 Ontario families, because the
province failed to provide support for disabled children such as
respite care and group homes.  The suit says such services are mandated
under provincial law.  However, the government cut social services
funding in 1997, leaving the families to fend for themselves.

Families should not have to surrender their severely disabled children
to the government to provide them with proper care, lawyers for the
plaintiffs argue.  "People shouldn't be told to abandon their children
at hospitals and have to give up custody," Anne Lacarde, the lead
plaintiff in the suit, told canoe.ca.

Ms. Lacarde almost lost custody of her son, now 13, a few years ago
when she was told the only way he could receive treatment for his rare
neurological disorder was to sign over custody to the Children's Aid
Society.  A highly public battle with the province enabled Ms. Lacarde
to keep her son, although he lives in a group home.

However, a spokeswoman for Brenda Elliott, minister of community,
family and children's services, told canoe.ca no parent in the province
has had to relinquish custody of a child for special-needs care for at
least two years.

"The ministry spends over half a billion dollars (annually) on services
for special-needs children," said Christine Bujold.  "Parents don't
have to give up custody of their children to receive these services."

Superior Court Justice Maurice Cullity will hear arguments for
certifying Ms. Lacarde's suit as a class action this week.


ENRON CORPORATION: Former Trader Admits To Wire Fraud In Energy Crises
----------------------------------------------------------------------
One of Enron Corporation's former top traders pleaded guilty to
conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the energy trader's
schemes to manipulate prices in California's energy market, the US
Attorney's office said, according to a Reuters report.

Trader Jeffrey Richter, 33, admitted having conspired to "game" energy
prices during California's 2000-2001 energy crises.  He is the second
high-level Enron trader to admit to the conspiracy, the first being
Timothy Belden.  Mr. Belden, Enron's former top West Coast energy
trader, pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to wire fraud.  Mr.
Belden has agreed to assist in the ongoing investigation, as part of
his deal.

"This is the second top Enron trader who has now admitted that Enron's
manipulation of the California energy markets was illegal," said US
Attorney Kevin Ryan said in announcing the guilty plea, Reuters stated.
Prosecutors also warned their investigation into the manipulation of
California's energy market would continue.

Mr. Richter also pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI
and the US Attorney's Office during their continuing investigation into
Enron's fraudulent trading practices, the statement said.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein said Richter's guilty plea was
further proof of fraudulent practices in California's energy market.
Ms. Feinstein told Reuters she and several other US senators planned on
proposing legislation next week that would raise the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission's ability to "ferret out and penalize those who
practice fraud and manipulation."

Mr. Richter supervised Enron's West Power Division, responsible for
trading in California's short-term power market before the Houston-
based energy giant filed for bankruptcy in December 2001.  Richter, who
reported to Belden in Enron's Portland, Oregon office, faces a maximum
penalty on each of the two counts of five years imprisonment and up to
a $250,000 fine, Reuters states.  He was released Tuesday after posting
a $500,000 bond.

During the winter of 2000-2001, California encountered a severe energy
shortage.  The crisis plunged the state into blackouts, bankrupted the
state's biggest public utility and forced Gov. Gray Davis to declare an
emergency.  In the meantime, Enron racked up huge profits.  The Company
collapsed a year later over accounting scandals.

California energy officials have alleged that the schemes initiated by
the traders, named "Get Shorty" and "Load Shifty" exacerbated a severe
energy shortage during the winter of 2000-01. Short-term power prices
rose tenfold while the state's grid operators scrambled to keep the
lights on.

Mr. Richter admitted he was part of the Enron team of traders behind
such the now-infamous schemes, which exploited anomalies in
California's badly flawed energy market.  Under the "Load Shift"
strategy, Enron traders allegedly filed false power delivery schedules
aimed at boosting prices by creating the appearance of "congestion" on
California's high voltage transmission lines, Reuters reports.

Enron profited from the phony schedules by offering to drop or revise
deliveries, a move that entitled them to compensation from the state
when the grid operators thought congestion threatened to overwhelm the
transmission system, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Under the "Get Shorty" scheme, Enron traders fabricated and sold
emergency back-up power to California, received payment, then canceled
the schedules and covered their commitments by buying power at a lower
price in a neighboring market.


INDIANA: County Commissioners Vote To Stop $25 Inmate Fee Due To Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Martinsville County, Indiana commissioners have stopped collecting a
$25 fee from inmates booked into the jail in the wake of a lawsuit
claiming the fee is illegal, the Indianapolis Star reports.  On the
advice of County Attorney Pete Foley, the commissioners voted this week
to discontinue collecting the book-in fee until the federal court
action is settled.

New Albany attorney Bart M. Betteau filed the suit in the US District
Court for Southern Indiana, on behalf of Michael G. Simmons, 41, of
Martinsville.  Mr. Simmons was arrested on August 19 on charges
including reckless driving, driving while suspended and fleeing a
police officer.  His wife paid the $25 fee.  The charges are still
pending.  The suit seeks a refund of the $25 to Mr. Simmons and also a
refund of all the fees collected from other inmates since the county
began collecting the fee about 10 months ago.

Mr. Betteau told the Indianapolis Star that the fee is unconstitutional
because it violates a defendant's right to due process.  "When the
government takes something from you, they have to do it in a way that
gives you notice and the opportunity for a hearing," Mr. Betteau said.

The book-in fees are collected in cash, from commissary funds or bond
money posted by inmates, he added.  "The sheriffs have the authority to
waive the fee for someone who can't pay, but if you ask them to give
you a written list of the criteria to determine someone is indigent,
they can't do it," he said.

Bartholomew, Clark, Clay, Hendricks, Morgan and Vigo counties have
adopted some version of the fee.  The Morgan commissioners approved it
in April.  The Sheriff's Department expected to take in about $75,000 a
year to help offset prisoners' medical care.  Sheriff Robert Garner
said this week the account has about $20,000, the Indianapolis Star
reports.


INDONESIA: State-Owned Forest Company Blamed For West Java Landslides
---------------------------------------------------------------------
State-owned forestry company PT Perhutani has increasingly come under
fire for its failure to stop the rampant deforestation blamed for the
recent deadly landslides that killed more than 30 people in West Java,
the Jakarta Post reports.  An alliance of non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) is planning to launch a class action.

West Java Governor, R. Nuriana, has officially reprimanded the
Perhutani office responsible for the management of forests in the
province, including the forest on Mount Mandalawangi. On January 28 mud
and rocks came flowing down, burying dozens of houses in the regency of
Garut, leaving at least 21 people dead.  Three days later, 10 villagers
died when a landslide swept over their homes in the adjacent regency of
Kuningan.

"Since before the implementation of regional autonomy," said the
Governor, "the central government, through Perhutani, has been the sole
manager of forests in West Java, which have been damaged (by
deforestation)," he said.  However, a spokesman for Perhutani, shifted
the blame to locals, who, he said, looted the forests and converted
them into farmland.

"Several times we demanded firm action against the forest settlers, but
the legal authorities did nothing," said the Perhutani spokesman,
Dachlan Sudrajat.

In addition, the state-owned forestry company is facing a class action
from an alliance of NGOs.  The head of the West Java forestry office,
Edi Supriadi, accused the state-owned Perhutani of failing to maintain
the ecological balance in the province.

"It (Perhutani) should not just want to make a profit by selling logs
from the forests, but should also manage the forests properly along
with the locals.  It should not allow the forests to be looted and in
the end blame the villagers for deforestation," said Mr. Supriadi.

The local forestry office said that in 20 years the amount of forests
in West Java and the adjacent province of Bantan has fallen from 1,774,
186 hectares to 1,000,186 hectares, due to the continued development of
industrial areas and housing settlements.


INSURANCE COMPANIES: Chubb Chief Pushes For Group To Defend V. Lawsuits
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
To help prevent the directors' and officers' liability insurance
marketplace from eroding, an insurance executive urged his industry to
work together against a pattern of egregious class action securities
lawsuits.

Speaking before members of the Professional Liability Underwriting
Society, John J. Degnan, vice chairman of The Chubb Corporation, called
on the insurance industry to establish an Institute for Securities
Class Action Defense.  The institute would help "confront and reverse a
very troubling pattern of abusive, outrageously aggressive and, in some
cases, downright dishonest conduct on the part of the plaintiffs' bar
in class action securities litigation," Mr. Degnan said.

"It troubles me, frankly, to watch the plaintiffs' bar cloak itself in
the robes of protectors of the public's interest in good corporate
governance, while it almost methodically settles case after case for
the limits of available insurance in a well documented process that
advances the financial interests of the advocates to a far greater
degree than it does of the shareholders," he added.

While such litigation has caused D&O loss costs to rise, leading to
higher D&O insurance rates, narrower coverage terms and conditions, and
larger deductibles, Mr. Degnan warned that such short-term marketplace
benefits for insurers may be outweighed by serious long-term
consequences.

"For those of us who want to be in this business for the long haul,
there needs to be a focus on bringing costs down and ensuring that
rates are reasonable so that the coverages we provide continue to
represent a rational buying decision," he said.  "We should not
replicate the circumstances of the mid-1980s when casualty markets
withdrew capacity and spawned the Bermuda insurance industry.  Make no
mistake: Our insured companies and their directors and officers will
find over time an efficient mechanism for transferring risk."

By establishing a defense institute, Mr. Degnan suggested the insurance
industry could fight back against a small number of law firms that have
been able to "drive strategy and public relations in a concerted
manner" against the more diverse interests of insurers, their customers
and defense lawyers.  To support his proposal, he pointed to the
success the industry has had when it has collectively resisted "truly
unjust--even specious--theories of coverage or of liability" involving
tobacco, repetitive stress and electromagnetic fields and when it
created an initiative addressing environmental liability concerns.

To be funded initially by insurers, agents and brokers with an interest
in the D&O business, the Institute for Class Action Defense would be
"devoted exclusively toward advancing the successful defense of all
securities class action litigation," Mr. Degnan said.  Its activities
would include:

     (1) facilitating the archiving and dissemination of information
         about litigation theories, settlement approaches, Rule 11
         findings and unreported decisions;

     (2) creating a proprietary databank of pleadings and briefs,
         expert reports, deposition transcripts, published research,
         publicly available discovery, plaintiffs damage theories and
         Daubert motions pertaining to such theories.  (The databank
         may have valuable loss control benefits for directors and
         officers.);

     (3) submitting amicus briefs on issues that may impact securities
         litigation;

     (4) acting as a public information source that provides the
         defense perspective on securities class actions;

     (5) creating a repository of cost containment devices, a listing
         of defense firms, defense experts and litigation management
         firms; and

     (6) considering reinsurance or capital markets solutions to reduce
         the risk taken by an insurer and insured customer that have a
         resolve to avoid capitulation.


ISM CANADA: Privacy Suit To Proceed Despite Recovery Of Hard Disk Drive
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The class action filed against ISM Canada over the theft of a hard
drive containing about a million personal records will proceed, despite
the Regina police's recovery of the drive.  The loss of the hard drive
containing records from Saskatchewan government employees and customers
of Canada's largest mutual funds company is considered Canada's biggest
privacy disaster.

Investigators showed off the 30-gigabyte Western Digital internal drive
at a press conference Wednesday and tried to reassure clients whose
data it contained that the information probably wasn't copied or sold.
Regina police described it as a petty crime by an employee with no
interest in the valuable data, the Globe and Mail reports.  The
employee has already been arrested, and will face a charge of theft
under $5,000 in court.

However, investigators acknowledged that it's impossible to know what
happened to the data.  "We can determine if somebody accessed the drive
but to confirm if something was copied from the drive? No," Detective-
Sergeant Gerry Novak, of the Regina Integrated Technological Crime
Unit, told the Globe and Mail.

"We are satisfied at this point that that information has not been used
unlawfully," said Regina police Detective-Inspector Garry Hoedel.

The class action seeks damages from the Company as well as the
Saskatchewan government, Investors Group Financial Services, the
Workers' Compensation Board and Co-operators Life Insurance Co. All had
client data on the hard drive.

Tony Merchant, the lawyer heading the suit, had said damages could run
into the "tens of millions of dollars and beyond."  Mr. Merchant told
the Globe and Mail that finding the hard drive doesn't quash the
lawsuit, it just limits the damages.

The Saskatchewan government has also indicated it is looking into legal
action, but the minister responsible said the province will likely
continue to do business with ISM after the issue has been resolved.


MICHIGAN: Appeals Court Grants Certification To Warren Residents' Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Michigan's Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's decision denying
class certification to a lawsuit filed by several Warren residents over
the silver maple trees planted by the city on public easements between
the sidewalks and the street curb in front of the resident's homes, the
Associated Press reports.

The suit alleges that as the trees matured, the roots began to destroy
the residents' properties.  Among the damage alleged by the plaintiffs
were:

     (1) the roots obstructed sewer pipes which resulted in raw sewage
         and water backups into their homes;

     (2) the roots lifted the concrete sidewalk blocks which made the
         paths uneven and dangerous; and

     (3) the roots destroyed lawns and killed grass and vegetation

The Macomb County Circuit Court in August 2000 denied certification to
the suit.

In the unanimous decision released Wednesday, the Court of Appeals said
"granting class certification here would promote the convenient
administration of justice."  The appellate court remanded the case back
to the trial court, AP states.

The city has taken some measures to help residents, including
established a cost-sharing plan for sidewalk replacement and formation
of a Sidewalk and Tree Board of Review.


NEW YORK: Protesters File Complaint Seeking Permission For March To UN
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The City of New York faces a lawsuit filed by groups opposing the
impending war with Iraq, alleging the City is violating First Amendment
rights by denying permission for a rally and march past the United
Nations next week, the Associated Press reports.

The United for Peace and Justice coalition plans a huge anti-war march
and rally on February 15.  They say the march past the United Nations
is essential because the organization is responsible for monitoring
activity in Iraq.

The City has offered to let the demonstrators use a plaza across the
street for a stationary rally.  The suit seeks a judge's order that a
permit allowing a parade of 50,000 to 100,000 people.  Chris Dunn, a
staff attorney for the New York Civil Liberties Union, who filed the
lawsuit for the anti-war group, said the city refuses to permit a
parade under any circumstances, citing concerns over congestion and
related issues.  The court papers note the city routinely issues
permits for large-scale marches in midtown Manhattan, including the St.
Patrick's Day parade and the Thanksgiving Day parade, AP reports.

A message left with city attorneys wasn't immediately returned, AP
said.


SIMS TRADING: HK Court Orders HK$15,000 Fine Due To Pollution of River
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Food importer Sims Trading was ordered by a Hong Kong High Court to pay
a HK$15,000 (US$1,923) fine for polluting the Shing Mun River with a
mayonnaise salad dressing that spilled from a dropped carton, the
Associated Press reports.

The dressing was full of highly concentrated organic matters that could
have "bleached the river completely," Environmental Protection
Department official Chiu Tak-lun was quoted by local media as saying.
The Company was convicted last year but appealed, saying the spilled
dressing was slippery and could have created a hazard in the work place
if it had not been washed away immediately, company spokeswoman Annie
Chu told AP.  A High Court judge rejected the company's argument in
June and ordered Sims to pay up.

The judge had said that instead of spraying the dressing with water,
which flushed it into the nearby Shing Mun River, Sims workers could
have covered up the mess with sand or wiped it away with cloth after
the spill, AP states.

Sims Trading won't contest the court's judgment and has revised its
procedures for handling discharge, Ms. Chu told AP.  The case came to
light on Tuesday in a report on Hong Kong's 771 pollution convictions
in 2002.

Environmental Protection Department spokeswoman Natalia Leung declined
immediate comment to The Associated Press.


SLAVERY REPARATIONS: Landmark Lawsuits To Be Heard in IL Federal Court
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The historic slavery reparations class actions, brought on behalf of 35
million Africans in the United States, have been consolidated and will
be litigated before US District Court Judge Charles R. Norgle Sr. in
Chicago, SFBayview.com reports.  The suits name as defendants:

     (1) Aetna Casualty,

     (2) Fleet Boston Financial Corporation,

     (3) CSX Corporation,

     (4) Lloyds of London,

     (5) Lehman Brothers,

     (6) Norfolk Southern,

     (7) Westpoint Stevens,

     (8) RJ Reynolds Tobacco,

     (9) Williamson,

    (10) Liggett Group Inc.,

    (11) Loews Corporation,

    (12) Brown Brothers Harriman,

    (13) New York Life Insurance and

    (14) Union Pacific

The suit was filed on behalf of people who have ancestral ties to
enslaved Africans in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina,
South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.  The suit, commenced
in March 2002, is the first legal challenge against businesses they
said benefited from slavery.  Plaintiffs are asking for an independent
panel of historians and seeking reimbursement and damages.  Plaintiffs'
lawyers include Edward Fagan, who helped Holocaust survivors bring
highly publicized suits against Swiss banks, and German companies that
used forced and slave labor in World War II, an earlier Class Action
Reporter story states.

Lead attorney Roger Wareham announced, "The lawsuits targeting several
corporations that profited from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade will be
vigorously litigated by our Corporate Restitution Team (CRT).  We are
working in tandem with the growing national reparations movement to
secure compensation for the gross exploitation of the labor of African
people - labor that built these corporations into the multi billion
dollar industries they are today."

Viola Plummer, a veteran human rights activist and leader in the
reparations movement, citing Judge Norgle's record, told SFBayview.com,
"His blatant disregard for justice in a number of cases raises many red
flags for us."

Those concerns are well founded.  Judge Norgle has a reputation among
attorneys for unduly deferring to prosecutors.  In 1999, his handling
of an extortion and fraud case, convicting former Chicago Treasurer
Miriam Santos, was rife with egregious judicial blunders.  The 7th US
Circuit Court of Appeals overturned her conviction, citing "the sheer
number of errors that crept into the trial (that) could have biased the
jury," SFBayview.com reports

Undaunted, Ms. Plummer told SFBayview.com, "We are crystal clear that
the courts do not determine the parameters of our struggle.
Reparations for Africans are an international issue, and the battle
will be waged in many spheres.  Our people, conscious and mobilized in
the streets, will exact reparations on the local, national and
international level.  It is a matter of necessity."


SPIEGEL INC.: CFO James Cannataro Resigns, In Wake of Securities Probe
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Spiegel, Inc.'s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
James R. Cannataro resigned Wednesday, complicating the uncertainty at
the Company, which faces a United States Securities and Exchange
Commission probe due to its late filing of financial reports, DM News
reports.  The Company submitted its 10-K report for the 2001 fiscal
year late, saying financial problems "raise substantial doubt about the
company's ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable
period of time."

Several securities class actions are being readied against the Company,
purporting to be on behalf of purchasers of the Company's stock from
April 24,2001 to April 19,2002.  The suits all allege the Company
issued false and misleading statements about its business and financial
condition.

Spokeswoman Debbie Koopman minimized the late filing, telling DM News,
"We filed a 10-K, and within it is the auditor's opinion.  That's
typical accounting language.  We've been working to get our loan
agreements renegotiated.  If you file your financials without that in
place, you will get that type of language.  There were no surprises."

Still, the filing reveals challenges facing the company, including that
it has been unable to negotiate a new credit facility with lending
institutions or obtain an amended settlement agreement with MBIA
Insurance Corp., which insures payments, DM News reports.

300 Spiegel employees were laid off from call centers in Bothell, WA,
and Hampton, VA, last month.  Some of the layoffs were related to a
slowdown in sales after the holidays and an increase in use of the
company's online shopping sites.

"(The lawsuit has) been out there for some time," Ms. Koopman told DM
News.  "The 10-K mentions four shareholder lawsuits pending against the
firm, all containing the same allegations.  The company believes they
lack merit and intends to defend against them vigorously."


TRAK INC.: Voluntarily Recalls Snowshoe Bindings Due To Injury Hazard
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Trak Inc., doing business as Karhu, Inc. is cooperating with the US
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) by voluntarily recalling
about 420 snowshoe bindings.  Screws and other hardware used to keep
the bindings intact are too short, causing the binding to separate from
the shoe.  This poses a fall hazard to consumers.

CPSC and Trak Inc. are not aware of any injuries involving these
bindings.  This recall is being conducted to prevent the possibility of
injury.

This recall involves bindings sold on the "Karhu Meta Sweeper" and
"Karhu Morph Sweeper" snowshoes.  The orange, hybrid snowshoe Meta is
120 cm and has blue universal bindings.  The blue Morph Sweeper is 130
cm with blue universal bindings.  The snowshoes are high back, with a
front toe strap and a pivot point.

Skiboards.com web site, LL Bean, Cabela's, Erehwon Mountain Outfitters,
and Vail Bicycle stores sold these snowshoes nationwide during November
2002 for about $250.

For more details, contact Trak Inc. by Phone: (888) 288-2668 between 9
am and 5 pm ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm's Website:
http://www.karhu.com.


TYSON FOODS: Trial Begins in Lawsuit Over Hiring of Illegal Immigrants
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Trial in the class action against Tyson Foods, Inc. over its practice
of hiring illegal immigrants for its poultry processing plants, has
begun in North Carolina federal court, the Associated Press reports.
Besides the company, other defendants are:

     (1) Gerald Lankford, 63, of North Wilkesboro, NC, a former human
         relations manager,

     (2) Robert Hash, 49, of Greenwood, Arkansas, and

     (3) Keith Snyder, 42, of Bella Vista, Arkansas

Federal prosecutors told jurors Wednesday that "corporate greed"
motivated Tyson Foods Inc. to hire illegal immigrants at its poultry
processing plants and high-ranking executives did nothing to stop it.
Assistant US Attorney John McCoon began laying out the government's
case in his opening statement, saying prosecutors will clearly show the
nation's largest meat company conspired from 1992 to 2001 to hire
illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

The Company sought these employees "who would work for low wages and
never complain - no matter how much they were exploited - because they
were illegal aliens," Mr. McCoon said.  He added that some Company
executives encouraged the practice because it allowed the company to
pad its bottom line.

"This trial is about corporate greed," Mr. McCoon said.


The Company, which was to present its opening statements after McCoon
concluded, has denied the government charges and rejected efforts to
settle the case.  The trial is expected to last up to two months.  The
jury was seated Tuesday, AP states.


UWATEC AG: Voluntarily Recalls 390 Computers Due To Calculating Defect
----------------------------------------------------------------------
UWATEC AG is cooperating with the United States Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC) by voluntarily recalling about 390 dive computers
manufactured in 1995 and sold under the model name Aladin Air X NitrOx.
Software in the dive computers may inaccurately calculate desaturation
times, resulting in possible decompression sickness.  The Company has
received five reports of decompression sickness allegedly associated
with the use of the 1995 dive computers.

This recall involves Aladin Air X NitrOx dive computers manufactured in
1995.  The manufacture date is located on the back of the dive
computer, in the lower right hand corner.  The date code reads the
number of the month followed by a decimal point and the year, for
example, "01.95."  The dive computers are blue and black with the words
"Aladin" and "NitrOx" printed across the front.  Aladin Air X NitrOx
dive computers with date codes other than "95" are not included in this
recall.

Scuba diving stores sold the dive computers nationwide from July
1995 through March 1996 for between $950 and $1,200.

For more details, contact the Company by Phone: (800) 806-0640 anytime
or visit the firm's Website: http://www.uwatec.com


VIRGINIA: "Titanic" Salvage Firm Puts Off Special Shareholders' Meeting
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The company that salvaged the Titanic shipwreck postponed a special
shareholders' meeting at which it was expected to give up its salvage
rights, The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star (Norfolk, VA) reports.

R.M.S. Titanic Inc. (Titanic Inc.) said it cannot meet with
shareholders as scheduled on Wednesday, because the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) is still studying the company's latest proxy
statement, according to filings with Norfolk's Federal Court and the
SEC.  Last year, SEC notified Titanic Inc.'s biggest stockholder that
it is preparing civil charges against the company or its leaders.

In its latest quarterly report, filed January 22, the Atlanta-based
company said it lost nearly $1.5 million during the past nine months
and is consulting bankruptcy lawyers.

The Company began salvaging the Titanic in 1987, soon after discovery
of the shipwreck.  The company was awarded sole salvage rights by
Norfolk's federal court in 1994.  Norfolk judges have supervised the
salvage work ever since.  Since a hostile takeover in 1999, the company
has faced economic and legal turmoil.  It has spent more than $550,000
on lawyers during the past year, and expects greater legal expenses
during the next six months, the quarterly report said.

RMS Titanic faces several expensive actions:

     (1) a stockholder is suing the company, on behalf of all the
         stockholders, alleging fraud and self-dealing, in a class
         action pending in Norfolk's federal court;

     (2) a lawsuit is pending in Florida between the company and its
         former vice president, G. Michael Harris, who led the last
         salvage expedition in 2000, and was fired during the voyage.
         The trial is scheduled for April;

     (3) a group of stockholders is likely to sue the company to
         prevent it from relinquishing its salvage rights.  That
         challenge likely would be filed in Norfolk.

     (4) the company faces possible civil charges from the SEC, which
         has been investigating it for two years.  The investigation
         stems from the 1999 takeover by a group of entertainment
         executives.

At the time of the takeover the company's stock sold for $3.50 a share.
It closed last Friday at 10 cents a share.

In November, a New York judge ordered the company to pay legal fees and
sanctions for suing stockholders who criticized the company on the
Internet.  The judge has not yet set the amount of that fine.

Meanwhile, the fate of 6,000 artifacts recovered from the ocean floor
around the Titanic remains uncertain.  A Richmond, Virginia, appeals
court ruled last year that R.M.S. Titanic does not own the artifacts
but is merely their caretaker.  The company now must apply for a
salvage award, compensation for salvage work, from the Norfolk court.
The amount of that award, where the money would come from and who
ultimately would own the artifacts, remains unknown.


WALT DISNEY: CA Federal Court Orders Securities Lawsuits Consolidated
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Central District of California
ordered the securities class actions pending against Walt Disney
Corporation to be consolidated.  The suit also names as defendants the
Company's Chief Executive Officer and its Chief Financial Officer, and
was filed on behalf of purchasers of the Company's common stock between
August 15, 1997 and May 15, 2002.

Several suits were initially filed, alleging that the defendants
violated federal securities laws by not disclosing the pendency and
potential implications of the Stephen Slesinger, Inc. lawsuit described
above prior to the Company's filing of its quarterly report on Form 10-
Q in May 2002.  The plaintiffs claim that this alleged nondisclosure
constituted a fraud on the market that artificially inflated the
Company's stock price, and contend that a decline in the stock price
resulted from the May 2002 disclosure.  The plaintiffs seek
compensatory damages and/or rescission for themselves and all members
of their defined class.

Several of the plaintiffs filed motions asking the court to appoint
lead plaintiffs and counsel, and to consolidate the related actions
into a single case.  On December 10, 2002, the motion to consolidate
the cases was granted, but the motions to appoint lead plaintiffs and
counsel were denied.  On December 16, 2002, the plaintiffs filed
another motion proposing new candidates to serve as lead plaintiffs,
and for appointment of lead counsel.

                           Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: European Insurers Urged to Come Clean on Asbestos
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Europe's beleaguered insurers and re-insurers must give shareholders
better information about their asbestos exposures or risk seeing their
share values being cut further, investment bank Fox-Pitt, Kelton says.

These companies, whose share prices have recently been pummeled because
of fears over their financial strength created by tumbling equity
values, have failed to reassure shareholders about their exposure to
claims from both American and European workers over asbestos, analyst
William Hawkins said.  He said the quality of disclosure they have
provided so far on US claims, that could total $200,000,000,000
(125,000,000,000 pounds), is "limited and patchy and . inadequate for
the potential size of the issue."

Given the size of the European industry's exposure to the problem and
the threat that further charges to pay rising claims poses to future
profits, Mr. Hawkins said he expected European firms should at least
match the level of disclosure provided by American rivals.  If they
don't, analysts could be forced to cut the valuations on their shares
even further, he said.

He said the recent actions by US insurers show that companies with
large asbestos exposures should have doubled their reserves in the past
two years to take account of new claims for compensation.  While firms
such as Munich Re, Allianz and Royal & Sun, have recently boosted their
US asbestos reserves substantially, Zurich Financial has set aside less
than rivals, while Swiss Re has done nothing since boosting its
reserves in 1994-1995, Mr. Hawkins said.

Apart from the massive asbestos problem in America, there is the
potential for substantial asbestos-related litigation in Europe as
well, Mr. Hawkins said.  However, European insurers and re-insurers
have not taken this prospect seriously enough.  "'Don't worry it's not
an issue' no longer satisfies when a stock is coming out of its second
year of negligible profits," he added.

Companies should explain to shareholders what the situation is in
Europe and why they are so confident it will not follow the American
precedent, he said.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Lawyer's Group Confronts Asbestos Lawsuit Limits
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The nation's largest lawyers' group is jumping into the debate over
multibillion-dollar asbestos lawsuits and, in an unusual move, may
endorse efforts to limit who can sue.  A plan to be debated at the
American Bar Association's winter meeting in Seattle would put the
400,000-member organization on the same side as big business groups the
ABA often opposes.

ABA President-elect Dennis Archer said massive asbestos lawsuits have
become a problem and the association should not remain on the sidelines
as Congress considers limits on them later this year.  Courts are
overwhelmed with claims by people who have been exposed to cancer-
causing asbestos but are not sick yet, Mr. Archer said, and the people
who are really ill "are dying before they have their day in court."

The ABA plan would not bar suits from people with cancer.  It restricts
lawsuits to those with asbestos-related pulmonary disease and defines
what the medical standard is.  The proposal opens a deeply personal
debate among lawyers.  Many defense and plaintiffs' lawyers have made
huge amounts of money from the suits.  About 600,000 asbestos-related
lawsuits are in courts around the country, and thousands more are being
filed each year.  Under the proposal approved by an ABA commission, 90
percent of those cases would be barred, critics say.

Mary Alexander, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of
America, said in a letter to Mr. Archer that it would be a "tragic
mistake" for the ABA to limit access to courts for people who otherwise
would have a jury determine if they were ill and deserved compensation.
Opponents will try to defeat the plan when the ABA's policy-making
board takes it up.  Asbestos victims may travel to Seattle to share
personal accounts of their illnesses.

Roger Sullivan, who represents people in Libby, Montana, a town plagued
by asbestos problems related to a former vermiculite mine, said the ABA
proposal excludes people who are ill but don't have cancer.  "Real
people who are already suffering would have their misery compounded,"
he said.

The ABA debate comes with a backdrop of economic woes caused by
asbestos lawsuits.  More than 60 companies have sought bankruptcy
protection since 2000 because of asbestos exposure claims and large
settlements.  A study by the Rand Institute for Civil Justice said the
suits could cost businesses more than $200,000,000,000.

"It is somewhat surprising the ABA, which almost always sleeps in the
same bed as the trial lawyers association, is strongly considering a
proposal that would significantly reduce asbestos litigation," said
Lester Brickman, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law in New York.
Mr. Brickman said the ABA, despite the controversy, belongs in the
debate over asbestos and should use its lobbying muscle to ensure that
people who are really ill win compensation.

The asbestos plan is being shepherded by Mr. Archer, who becomes the
ABA's first black president this summer.  Mr. Archer, the former
Detroit mayor, said he was distressed as a city leader to see asbestos
lawsuits force companies into bankruptcy, hurting entire communities.

Those bankruptcies dry up help for people with legitimate claims, he
said.  While he works for a law firm that has represented defendants in
asbestos cases, Mr. Archer said he has not personally been involved in
asbestos litigation.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Plaintiffs Now Suing Smaller Companies
--------------------------------------------------------------------
A year ago, Robert Arkell, general counsel of Longview Fibre Co., was
puzzled to learn the paper maker was the target of an asbestos lawsuit.
He knew the company had never made anything containing asbestos.  It
must be a mistake, he thought, but he was wrong.

Because Longview used a product that contained asbestos in one of its
paper plants, it was swept up in a new wave of asbestos lawsuits
targeting thousands of companies with seemingly remote connections to
the deadly fireproofing and insulating mineral.  By the end of the
year, the company was facing about 600 lawsuits.

"We were taken by surprise, and we continue to be surprised," Arkell
says.

Now, with most of the original asbestos miners and asbestos-using
product makers under bankruptcy-court protection, plaintiffs' attorneys
are turning to companies once considered too small to sue.  Many of the
smaller fry lack resources to defend thousands of lawsuits or pay huge
verdicts.  The companies do have one thing in common - plentiful
insurance.

As a result, lawsuits are piling up against consultants, engineering
firms, plant owners, and maintenance and construction contractors, all
of whom are being blamed for workers' exposure to asbestos.  Recent
research at Rand Corporation shows that more than 8,000 companies now
are named as defendants in asbestos litigation.

The newest wave of claims is hitting a range of companies, from Exxon
Mobil Corp. and Dow Chemical Co. to smaller companies such as WS
Bellows Construction Corporation, a commercial office builder in
Houston.  "It has very little to do with whether anybody knowingly did
anything wrong," says Bellows Vice President Jim Stevens.  "It's more
about who has deep pockets."

Plaintiffs' lawyers in search of potential clients have conducted mass
X-ray screenings across the country.  Workers whose lungs show the
scarring that can indicate asbestos-related disease often are recruited
for new lawsuits, even though most aren't suffering ill effects at the
time of filing.

About 200,000 claims in the US are pending, each typically naming
dozens of companies as defendants.  As of 2000, about $54,000,000,000
had been paid to asbestos claimants, a Rand Institute of Civil Justice
report said.

With smaller companies, plaintiffs' lawyers are eyeing defendants'
insurance coverage for "premises" or "operations" claims, which cover
injuries occurring on the insured party's property.  Consultants,
engineers, construction contractors and any company that ever operated
those plants can be sued.

A recent suit against 73 defendants cited claims against any company
that ever "manufactured, sold, designed, supplied, distributed, mined,
milled, relabeled, resold, processed, applied or installed" asbestos-
containing materials.  About 35 of the defendants were contractors or
operators who didn't use asbestos directly.

The surge in premises claims is leading to more legal battles between
insurance companies and their policyholders. Kirk Liddell, president
and chief executive of Irex Inc., says his insurance companies are
"fighting us at every corner."

Randy Maniloff, a Philadelphia attorney with a firm that represents
insurers in asbestos cases, says, "The real change that is taking place
on the asbestos landscape is an all-out effort by plaintiffs and
policyholders to find ways to increase the insurance industry's share
of the total asbestos bill."


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Dow Chemical Increases Asbestos Reserves to $2.2B
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Chief Executive Officer William Stavropoulos increased the reserves of
Dow Chemical Co. for asbestos claims to $2,200,000,000 accounting for
$522,000,000 of the fourth-quarter loss.  Dow inherited thousands of
asbestos lawsuits when it purchased Union Carbide Corporation for about
$10,000,000,000 two years ago.

Dow took a charge of $828,000,000 to cover asbestos losses and said the
charge plus high energy costs led to a fourth quarter net loss of
$809,000,000, or 89 cents per share, compared with a net loss of
$37,000,000, or 4 cents per share, one year ago.  Quarterly revenue
totaled $6,910,000,000.  Dow Chemical Co., the largest U.S. chemical
maker, said it will cut up to 4,000 jobs this year.

"They knew the asbestos was there but they didn't do adequate due
diligence," said James Halloran, who helps manage about $24,000,000,000
at National City Wealth Management Services, which holds 3.05 million
Dow shares.  "A lot of companies got caught by surprise with how active
the attorneys have been with asbestos lawsuits.  It appears Dow is
trying to make a good-faith effort to record their potential
liability."

Asbestos, a combination of minerals used until the 1980s as a fire
retardant, has been tied to cancer and respiratory diseases.  Many of
the claims against Union Carbide involve allegations of exposure to
asbestos on the job.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Federal-Mogul Corp. to File Reorganization Plan
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Federal-Mogul Corporation announced that it plans to file a
reorganization plan in early March to emerge from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
protection.  The announcement came on the heels of news that Federal-
Mogul intends to acquire most of Honeywell's Bendix friction materials
business in exchange for taking on all current and future Bendix
liability in asbestos lawsuits.

The deal hinges on a bankruptcy court issuing a permanent injunction
shielding Honeywell from those claims.  Bendix makes brakes and brake
linings that once included asbestos.  Southfield-based Federal-Mogul,
which makes engine bearings, pistons and other automotive components,
filed for bankruptcy in 2001 because of asbestos litigation expenses
and slumping sales.

The reorganization plan will convert all claims from creditors and
asbestos claimants into equity in the reorganized company, according to
a statement issued by Federal-Mogul.  Specifically, 49.9 percent of the
new common stock will be distributed to noteholders, the company said.
The rest will be distributed to a trust that will benefit current and
future asbestos claimants.

Federal-Mogul Chairman and Chief Executive Frank Macher said the plan
"will eliminate over $2,500,000,000 of interest-bearing indebtedness,
remove the taint of asbestos liabilities from the company and give
customers, suppliers and other stakeholders the confidence they need in
the long-term health and success of Federal-Mogul."

Completion of the Bendix acquisition is subject to regulatory
approvals, and the deal will not be finalized until Federal-Mogul
emerges from bankruptcy.  As part of the Bendix deal, Federal-Mogul
will assume all current and future asbestos liabilities for Bendix.
Federal-Mogul would receive the entire Bendix business except for
plants in Cleveland, Tenn., and Elberton, Ga.  Honeywell will keep
operating them for up to two years, providing their products
exclusively to Federal-Mogul, said Kimberly Welch, a Federal-Mogul
spokeswoman.

No cash will change hands, she said, but Honeywell will give Federal-
Mogul about $2,000,000,000 worth of insurance against asbestos claims.
"We expect these insurance provisions to cover the vast majority of
Bendix claims," she said.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Claimants Accept Gencor Settlement Offer
----------------------------------------------------------------------
South African asbestos claimants have accepted in principle mining
group Gencor's revised settlement offer, according to Gencor and the
claimants' lawyers.  Gencor said the claimants had met the deadline
imposed by it for the acceptance of the final amount, R460,000,000,
which Gencor offered to pay them without any admission of liability.

"Consensus has been reached as to how this amount will be allocated to
settle both the English and South African litigation," Gencor said in a
statement.

Attorneys for the claimants, Ntuli Noble & Spoor Inc, formally notified
Gencor's attorneys that they had accepted the company's offer in total.
However, they warned that although significant progress had been made
between the parties in December last year, important issues remained to
be discussed and agreed on.  "A settlement is therefore by no means
certain, but the attorneys for the claimants are cautiously
optimistic," the law firm stated.

Gencor said earlier in the day that the deadline was set to end delays
in the negotiations, which it said were slowing the unbundling of its
stake in Impala Platinum.  It said that while all parties had agreed to
the total amount due to potential claimants in December 2002, Gencor
had revised the total offer marginally to accommodate the disagreements
among lawyers for the claimants.

Lawyers first stepped in to prevent the unbundling of Gencor when an
out-of-court settlement between them and British mining house Cape plc
came undone.  Gencor was then targeted as it had taken over many of
Cape plc's South African assets when the Britons disinvested from the
country in 1979.  The parties will resume discussions with a view to
negotiating the remaining terms of a proposed settlement agreement.

Gencor said that should the negotiations be successful and a settlement
agreement concluded it would pave the way for Gencor's unbundling to
continue.  The unbundling timetable will be subject to and in
accordance with JSE Securities Exchange regulations.  About 7500
claimants are seeking compensation from the Gencor for ailments they
contracted while working on or living near asbestos mines.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Honeywell's Asbestos Settlement May Be Copied
------------------------------------------------------------------
Honeywell International's deal to escape asbestos exposure by selling
its Bendix unit to a company in Chapter 11 is a creative use of
bankruptcy law that could be repeated by others, legal experts said.
The Company posted a $1,470,000,000 US loss in its fourth quarter as it
took $2,830,000,000 in charges for restructuring, asset writedowns and
potential resolution of many asbestos-related claims.

Federal-Mogul, will take on the Bendix brake pads business, which has
about $1,000,000,000 in annual sales, solely in exchange for assuming
its asbestos liabilities.  The acquisition sets off a process where
Honeywell can receive a court order barring any more claims against it
related to its ownership of Bendix.  Such a move is potentially the
first where a debtor made an acquisition with asbestos liabilities and
helped the seller.

"When the debtor makes an acquisition, everything else flows," said
David Berkin, attorney at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago.  "Depending on
their circumstance, other companies would be interested in this
structure."

That situation depends on finding a willing buyer and seller, with an
asset that brings value to the group in Chapter 11.  These liabilities
are then added to Federal-Mogul's existing pot of asbestos claims,
which are paid for by a trust set up in bankruptcy reorganization.
Emerging from bankruptcy, Federal-Mogul is protected from future
claims, and by extension Honeywell would receive the same treatment.

Federal-Mogul's deal was reviewed by its bankruptcy court judge and
received considerable support from its creditor committees.  It plans
to emerge from Chapter 11 this year with the asbestos claimants owning
50.1 per cent of its new shares in a trust to pay out liabilities.

"This is a good deal for everybody concerned. It makes sense for the
claimants. It makes sense for Federal-Mogul. And it makes sense for us,
and common sense is likely to prevail," David Cote, Honeywell's chief
executive, said.  "Honeywell, a major maker of aerospace and automotive
products and engineered materials, still could be liable for asbestos-
related claims over products made by another division it sold in 1986."

"Any mention of the word asbestos with any company drops the stock
because of the many bankruptcies" big asbestos cases have caused, said
aerospace analyst Paul Nisbet of JSA Research in Newport, R.I.
"Getting rid of (the Bendix liability) was a necessity if the stock was
to do well in the future."  He added it probably will take several
months to complete the deal.

Many otherwise healthy companies face significant asbestos exposure
through units, but cannot, or will not take the whole group into
bankruptcy.  Recent studies estimate nearly 60 companies are in
bankruptcy protection due to asbestos claims, while asbestos-related
litigation costs could reach $275,000,000,000.

Honeywell recently struck another settlement for its Narco unit,
following settlements by ABB, Halliburton and Sealed Air.  One person
close to negotiations in those deals said no one wanted bankruptcies
and "the sound rational approach is to make compensation available
now".  For example, ABB would have been litigated for at least 10 years
in 12 different countries without a settlement.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Lawyers Now Train Their Sights On Lonmin
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Lawyers for South African asbestos victims plan to turn their attention
to British-based Lonmin after a settlement agreement has been reached
with Gencor.  Richard Spoor, one of the lawyers representing 37 former
employees of asbestos miners in the Johannesburg High Court litigation
against Gencor, said that it was "time other mining companies come to
the table".

Speaking during a break in negotiations with Gencor, where lawyers were
thrashing out the final settlement with the mining company, Mr. Spoor
said "We have done research into the matter and they (Lonmin) can
expect a call from us as soon as we have finished here."

According to Mr. Spoor, his firm, Ntuli, Noble & Spoor, is already in
consultation with Swiss lawyers about legal action against Eternit,
which owned Kuruman Cape Blue Asbestos and Danielskuil Cape Blue
Asbestos.  He confirmed that Lonmin, formerly Lonrho, was targeted
because Lonrho owned shares in Duiker Exploration from 1975 until 2000.
Duiker Exploration owned two small asbestos mines at the time.

Xstrata bought the company, now called Duiker Mining in March last year
from Swiss company Glencor.  Ian Farmer, director of Lonmin, said the
news had "caught him by surprise".

Xstrata confirmed that they did not have any interest in Duiker
Exploration when it was mining asbestos.  Xstrata originally expressed
an interest in Gencor's stake in Impala, but Gencor's involvement in
asbestos claims is believed to have put a damper on that plan.  There
was also some speculation that Xstrata was eyeing Lonmin, but the
latest allegations could put paid to any such plans.

Lawyers representing asbestos victims last year acted against Gencor in
the Johannesburg High Court, calling for an interdict to block the
distribution to shareholders of the 46% stake in Impala Platinum.  It
was argued that Gencor was liable for the actions of a subsidiary
because it had access to environmental assessment reports.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Travelers Reports Another Asbestos Suit in Hawaii
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Travelers Property Casualty Corp. (NYSE:TAPa) said it was notified that
actions have been filed in Hawaii alleging the company participated in
an effort to "inappropriately induce plaintiffs to accept low
settlement amounts" in connection with asbestos-related claims against
a policyholder, according to information in an 8-K filing with the US
Securities and Exchange Commission.

The plaintiffs in the Hawaii action seek damages that include punitive
ones, the filing said.  Travelers said it hasn't formally been served
in the action and hasn't evaluated the action, and whether a temporary
restraining order already in place is applicable.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Conoco Inc. Not Liable for "Slight" Asbestos Exposure
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The Louisiana Supreme Court, which has a reputation for being among the
more liberal courts, reversed that trend by deciding not to allow
emotional-distress and punitive-damage awards for "slight" exposure to
asbestos to four families who were exposed to asbestos-laden topsoil
bought from a Conoco Inc. contractor (Jimmy and Brenda Bonnette, et al.
v. Conoco Inc., et al., No. 01-C-2767, La. Sup.), said an attorney with
the Coalition for Asbestos Justice.

In a 6-1 ruling the state high court vacated $472,000 in damages
awarded by the Calcasieu Parish District Court to nine adults and three
children for mental anguish, risk of contracting an asbestos-related
disease and punitive damages.  The Supreme Court upheld nearly $15,000
in damages for diminution of property because of the asbestos
contamination.

The opinion was written by Justice Catherine D. Kimball and joined by
Justices Pascal F. Calogero Jr., Jeffery P. Victory, Chet D. Traylor,
John L. Weimer and ad hoc Justice Walter F. Marcus Jr.  Justice
Bernette J. Johnson dissented, writing that in addition to the property
claims, the fear of cancer, mental anguish and punitive damages awards
should be affirmed.

If the court had allowed this award, it would have, in effect, added
Louisiana to the list of "judicial hell holes" for asbestos litigation
that includes Mississippi, Texas and New York.  The court found no
evidence that the plaintiffs currently have cancer or any other
asbestos-related condition, and it overturned an appeals court decision
to award four families damages for increased risk of contracting
asbestos-related disease, emotional distress and punitive damages.

Among the other important aspects of the Louisiana Supreme Court's
decision is that courts do look at decisions in other states. While
those decisions aren't binding, they can be influential.  The Louisiana
court was among the first to award damages to pay for medical
monitoring of people who weren't sick--for the rest of their lives.

The court did repeatedly use the word "slight" in its opinion for not
allowing recovery, which does leave the door open for cases alleging
"substantial" exposure, so this is not a "slam dunk case," he said.

The case of Bonnette vs. Conoco Inc. arose out of the delivery topsoil
to families in Westlake, Louisiana in the mid-1990s from Conoco dirt
contractor Daigle Brothers Inc.  The topsoil was removed from a housing
demolition project on property near a Conoco refinery and, after
testing, showed levels of asbestos.  Plaintiffs filed a class action
against Conoco alleging an increased risk of contracting an asbestos-
related cancer and emotional distress, and they sought punitive damages
in addition to property-damage claims.  A trial of four families'
claims resulted in each adult plaintiff receiving $10,000 for the
increased risk of developing cancer.  Awards to each of three minor
children were fixed at $20,000 for mental anguish and $20,000 for the
increased risk of developing cancer.  Each plaintiff also was awarded
$7,500 in punitive damages.  The Third Circuit Louisiana Court of
Appeal affirmed the award on Sept. 12, 2001.


COMPANY PROFILE

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP)
600 N. Dairy Ashford
Houston, TX 77079
Phone: 281-293-1000
Fax: 281-293-1440
http://www.conocophillips.com

Employees                       : 38,700
Revenue                         : $24,050,000,000
Net Income                      : $1,661,000,000
Assets                          : $35,217,000,000
Liabilities                     : $20,877,000,000
(As of December 31, 2001)

Description: Conoco Inc. is now half of ConocoPhillips after a merger
in 2002 with Phillips Petroleum.  ConocoPhillips is the third-largest
integrated oil and gas company in the US, behind Exxon Mobil and
ChevronTexaco.  The company has net proved reserves of 8.7 billion
barrels of oil equivalent and a refining capacity of 2.6 million
barrels per day.  It sells fuel at more than 17,000 outlets in the US
under the 76, Circle K, Conoco, and Phillips 66 brands.  To gain
regulators' blessing for the merger, the company agreed to sell
refineries and marketing networks in Colorado and Utah.  Outside the
US, ConocoPhillips has operations in nearly 50 countries.


ASBESTOS ALERT: JT Thorpe Co Battles 80T in Asbestos-Related Claims
-------------------------------------------------------------------
JT Thorpe Company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection so it
can continue to operate while it deals with more than 80,000 claims
alleging asbestos-related bodily injury. US Bankruptcy Court Judge
Karen Brown oversaw a hearing for the Houston-based industrial
contractor's plan of reorganization.

In its voluntary petition for Chapter 11 protection, JT Thorpe listed
more than $100,000,000 in assets and $100,000,000 in debt.  As part of
the plan, asbestos claims of qualified pre-existing settlement
claimants will be paid before other asbestos claims.  Other asbestos
claims will be paid on a first-in-first-out basis, according to the
plan.  The Claims Review Procedure will give priority in processing to
exigent claims, of which all living claimants filing a mesothelioma
claim are automatically considered.

The company said that reorganizing itself under Chapter 11 provides the
only legal process that can resolve the asbestos lawsuits.  The company
hopes to emerge from bankruptcy before the end of the year.  JT Thorpe
stated that although it installed, maintained and sold insulation or
refractory lining products - many of which contained asbestos - it
maintains that it never made the products.  The asbestos-based
litigation has led JT Thorpe and its insurers to pay more than
$110,000,000 in settlements and legal defense costs.


COMPANY PROFILE

J T Thorpe Company
6833 Kirbyville Avenue
Houston, TX 77033

Revenues                       : $18,914,928
Net Income                     : $78,566
Assets                         : $7,629,783
Liabilities                    : $7,537,590
(As of December 31, 2001)


BANKRUPTCY HIGHLIGHTS
Chapter 11 Petition Date       : October 1, 2002
Case Number                    : 02-41487
Court                          : Southern District of Texas
Judge                          : Judge Karen K. Brown
Counsel                        : William A. (Trey)Wood, III, Esq.
                                 Bracewell & Patterson, L.L.P.
                                 711 Louisiana St., Suite 2900
                                 Houston, TX 77002-2781
Trustee                        : Diane Livingstone
                                 Office of the U.S. Trustee
                                  515 Rusk, Houston, TX 77002

Description: J T Thorpe Company has operated as a specialty contractor
engaged in sale, installation, maintenance, repair removal and handling
of refractory and acid masonry linings and related products in
industrial settings.  During the period of it operation, J T Thorpe
Company (and at various times subsidiaries, incorporated in Texas, and
a division operating under the name Thorpe Insulation Company; and a
division operating under the name Thorpe Products Company) also engaged
in the sale, fabrication, installation, maintenance, repair removal or
handling of thermal insulations, primarily in connection with
industrial applications.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Manitowoc Downplays Asbestos-Related Lawsuits
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Manitowoc Company, Inc. (NYSE: MTW) is involved in legal actions
involving asbestos-related claims in which it is one of numerous
defendants.

After taking into consideration legal counsel's evaluation of such
actions, and the liabilities accrued with respect to such matters, in
the opinion of management, ultimate resolution is not expected to have
a material adverse effect on the consolidated financial statements of
the company.


COMPANY PROFILE

The Manitowoc Company, Inc. (NYSE: MTW)
500 S. 16th St.
Manitowoc, WI 54221-0066
Phone: 920-684-4410
Fax: 920-683-8129
http://www.manitowoc.com


Employees                 : 6,120
Revenue                   : $1,116,600,000
Net Income                : $45,600,000
Assets                    : $1,080,800,000
Liabilities               : $817,000,000
(As of December 31, 2001)

Description: Manitowoc Company makes ice-making, beverage-dispensing,
and refrigeration products, as well as cranes and other material-
handling equipment.  Its ice-making and beverage-dispensing machines
serve the restaurant, hospitality, and convenience store markets.
Manitowoc sells its crawler cranes, tower cranes, boom trucks, and
related equipment to companies in the construction and mining
industries.  The company, which began at the turn of the 20th century
as a shipbuilder, also operates shipyards that build, service, and
repair commercial and military vessels.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Watts Faces Asbestos-Related Lawsuits in MS, NJ Courts
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Watts Industries, Inc. (NYSE: WTS) is a defendant in about 55 actions
filed in Mississippi and New Jersey state courts alleging injury or
death as a result of exposure to asbestos.  These filings typically
name multiple defendants and are filed on behalf of many plaintiffs.
They do not identify any products of the Company as a source of
asbestos exposure.

Based on the facts presently known to it, the Company does not believe
this litigation will have a material adverse effect on its liquidity,
financial condition or results of operations.


COMPANY PROFILE

Watts Industries, Inc. (NYSE: WTS)
815 Chestnut St.
North Andover, MA 01845-6098
Phone: 978-688-1811
Fax: 978-688-5841
http://www.wattsind.com

Employees                 : 3,899
Revenue                   : $548,900,000
Net Income                : $26,600,000
Assets                    : $520,500,000
Liabilities               : $271,200,000
(As of December 31, 2001)

Description: Products of include Watts Industries, Inc. (NYSE: WTS)
ball valves, safety relief valves, pressure regulators, float valves,
and drainage products. The company sells most of its valves for use in
plumbing, heating, water-quality, and water-flow control equipment.
Watts Industries markets primarily through commissioned businesses that
sell to plumbing and heating wholesalers, do-it-yourself markets, and
distributors. Director Tim Horne and his family control the company.

                     New Securities Fraud Cases

CABLE & WIRELESS: Fruchter & Twersky Commences Securities Lawsuit in NY
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Fruchter & Twersky LLP and Abraham & Associates initiated a securities
class action on behalf of purchasers of publicly traded securities of
Cable & Wireless PLC (NYSE: CWP) between the period of August 6, 1999
and December 6, 2002, inclusive against the Company and certain of its
officers and directors, in the United States District Court in New
York.

The Company announced, in an August 6, 1999 press release that it had
agreed to sell One 2 One, a British based mobile telecommunications
operator, to Deutsche Telekom.  The announced terms of the agreement
detailed that Deutsche Telekom would pay 6.9 billion pounds sterling in
cash for 100% of the equity ownership interest in One 2 One.
Additionally, Deutsche Telekom would provide for the repayment of 237
million pounds of shareholder loans, and would assume nearly 1.5
billion pounds of third-party debt.

The complaint alleges that those statements were materially false and
misleading because they failed to reveal that an essential term of the
One 2 One deal was a 1.5 billion pounds tax indemnification clause
agreed to by Cable, and specifically, a trigger clause, involving a
future downgrade of Cable's long-term debt rating below a predetermined
level, which would trigger a 1.5 billion pounds cash commitment on
behalf of Cable.

Moody's investment service announced on December 6, 2002, that it would
downgrade the long-term debt rating of Cable from Baa1 to Baa2.  The
Company then surprised the market in a press release that same day
revealing that, as a result of the downgrade, the aforementioned
"ratings trigger" was activated.  The announcement resulted in a 40
percent decline in the price of Cable's ADRs, from a closing price of
$3.90 per ADR on December 6, 2002, to a close at $2.33 per ADR on
December 9, 2002, on uncommonly high trading volume.

The Company filed a Form 6-K with the SEC on December 9, 2002 including
a statement concerning the tax indemnification "ratings trigger"
clause.

For more details, contact Jack G. Fruchter by Mail: One Pennsylvania
Plaza, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10119, by Phone: (212) 279-5050
or (800) 440-8986, by Fax: (212) 279-3655, or by E-mail:
Fruchter@FruchterTwersky.com.


COSI INC.: Paskowitz & Associates Commences Securities Suit in S.D. NY
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Paskowitz & Associates initiated a securities class action on behalf of
purchasers of the common stock of Cosi, Inc. (NASDAQ: COSI: news)
between November 21, 2002 and February 3, 2003, inclusive, in the
United States District Court, Southern District of New York.  The named
defendants are the Company, former CEO Andy Stenzler, and the members
of Cosi's Board of Directors who signed the Registration Statement for
Cosi's November 21, 2002 initial public offering.  Also named as a
defendant is the lead underwriter for that offering, William Blair &
Co., LLC.

The suit alleges that defendants violated Section 11 of the Securities
Act of 1933 by issuing a false and misleading Registration Statement
and Prospectus in connection with Cosi's initial public offering of 5.5
million shares at $7 per share on November 21, 2002.  The prospectus
represented that the proceeds of the offering were anticipated to be
sufficient to fund the Company's fast growth business plan for at least
two years, allowing Cosi to open between 53 and 59 new company-owned
specialty sandwich shops in 2003.

Just ten weeks after the offering, on February 3, 2003, Cosi shocked
the market by announcing the immediate resignation of CEO and co-
founder Andy Stenzler from his position, that Cosi would lay off
personnel, that it would open just 10 new stores in 2003, and that it
would immediately reverse its touted company-owned stores business
model to one involving turning the business over to franchisees.

The suit alleges that, at the time of the initial public offering,
Cosi's business plan had already failed, and that the proceeds raised
in the offering were far less than anticipated, and less than were
needed to fund even the Company's short term needs, let alone its
ambitious business plan for 24 months.

The suit alleges that the defendants failed to exercise reasonable due
diligence to ensure that the Prospectus disclosed all material facts.
In reaction to this unexpected bad news, Cosi shares fell
significantly, closing at $2.80 per share on February 4, 2003, down
$1.67 or almost 40% in just two trading days.

For more details, contact Laurence D. Paskowitz by Phone: 800/705-9529
or by E-mail: classattorney@aol.com


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

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

Furthermore, in issuing their Homestore analyst reports, in which they
were recommending the purchase of Homestore common stock, the
Defendants failed to disclose material, non-public, adverse information
which they possessed about Homestore.  Throughout the class period, the
defendants maintained a "BUY/BUY" or "ACCUMULATE/BUY" recommendation on
Homestore in order to obtain lucrative financial deals for Merrill
Lynch.  As a result of defendants' false and misleading analyst
reports, Homestore common stock traded at artificially inflated levels
during the class period.

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


VERITAS SOFTWARE: Green & Jigarjian Files Securities Lawsuit in N.D. CA
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Green & Jigarjian LLP initiated a securities class action in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of California, on
behalf of purchasers of VERITAS Software Corporation (Nasdaq:VRTS)
publicly traded securities during the period between January 24, 2001
and January 16, 2003, inclusive.

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

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

     (2) the Company had improperly accounted its transaction with AOL
         Time Warner;

     (3) the Company's improper treatment of its transactions and
         revenue recognition policies resulted in material
         overstatement of revenue and income at all relevant times.

The complaint also alleges that the scheme deceived the investing
public regarding Veritas's business, operations and management and
inflated the intrinsic value of the Company's shares.  On January 17,
2003, the Company announced the restatement of its 2000, 2001 and 2002
financial statements as a result of its improper accounting for
transactions with AOL Time Warner.  The release stated in part: "(t)he
transactions involved a $50 million software purchase by AOL and a $20
million advertising services purchase from AOL."

For more details, contact Robert S. Green by Phone: 415/477-6700 by E-
mail: gj@classcounsel.com or visit the firm's Website:
http://www.classcounsel.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
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Beard Group, Inc., Washington, D.C.  Enid Sterling, Aurora Fatima
Antonio and Lyndsey Resnick, Editors.

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

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
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