/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/030224.mbx                C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R
                Monday, February 24, 2003, Vol. 5, No. 38


ABBOTT LABORATORIES: Faces Lawsuits Over False Pricing Under Medicaid
BERTELSMANN: Music Publishers Launch NY Suit Over Investment in Napster
BEZEQ: Tel Aviv Court Allows Consumer Suit Over Late Charges To Proceed
BOMBAY CO.: Agrees To Settle CA Overtime Wage Lawsuit For $1.35 Million
CABOT CORPORATION: Faces Antitrust Suit Over Carbon Black Pricing in MA

CALIFORNIA: Oakwood City Agrees To Settle Suit V. Rogue Police Officers
CAPRIUS INC.: NJ Court Consolidates Securities Fraud, Derivative Suits
CHICAGO: Officials To File Charges V. Club Owners Over Deadly Stampede
CREDIT CARD: Hacker Accesses Millions of Visa, MasterCard Customer Info
EXXON-MOBIL: Court Rejects Consumers Lawsuit Over Halted Gas Supplies

FASTFOOD LITIGATION: Plaintiffs To File Amended Consumer Obesity Suit
FIREWORKS OF ALABAMA: Recalls 72T Boxes of Sparklers Due To Fire Hazard
FORD MOTOR: Recalls Escort, Mercury Cars For Unneeded Airbag Deployment
HMO LITIGATION: KY Judge Grants Class Certification To Antitrust Suit
ILLINOIS: Mt. Prospect Settles Racial Bias Suit By Hispanic Motorists

ILLINOIS: Two Chicago Theaters Face Suit Over Commercials Before Movies
MCDONALD'S CORPORATION: Vegetarian Groups Intervene in Consumer Lawsuit
MERCEDES BENZ: NJ Court Grants Certification To Consumer Fraud Lawsuit
MERRILL LYNCH: To Settle For $80M SEC Probe Over Role in Enron Collapse
NIKE INC.: FL Attorney General Starts Probe Over Antitrust Violations

NISSAN MOTOR: Reaches Settlement In Race Bias Suit For Minority Buyers
PLAYNATION PLAY: Recalls 1,400 "Fun Buckets" For Strangulation Hazard
SECURITIES LITIGATION: NY Court Allows IPO Securities Suits To Proceed
TENET HEALTHCARE: Employees Lodge Suit Over False Financial Statements
TOBACCO LITIGATION: IL Legislators Mull Lowering Appeal Bonds For Firms

UNITED COMPANIES: Workers Settle Lawsuit Over Rash Use Of Their Funds
UNITED STATES: ACLU To Challenge Review Court Decision On Wiretapping
UNIVERSITY of MICHIGAN: Microsoft, Others Support Affirmative Action
WESTELL TECHNOLOGIES: Agrees To Settle Securities Fraud Suit in N.D. IL

                     New Securities Fraud Cases

BIO-TECHNOLOGY GENERAL: Berman DeValerio Launches Securities Suit in NJ
INTERSTATE BAKERIES: Cauley Geller Commences Securities Suit in W.D. MO
INTERSTATE BAKERIES: Shepherd Finkelman Commences Securities Suit in MO
PARAMETRIC TECHNOLOGIES: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in MA
SAWTEK INC.: Milberg Weiss Commences Securities Fraud Suit in M.D. FL

TRANSKARYOTIC THERAPIES: Wolf Popper Lodges Securities Suit in MA Court


ABBOTT LABORATORIES: Faces Lawsuits Over False Pricing Under Medicaid
Abbott Laboratories faces a number of class actions filed on behalf of
individuals or entities, are pending that allege generally that the
Company and numerous other pharmaceutical companies reported false
pricing information in connection with certain drugs that are
reimbursable under Medicare and Medicaid.  These cases generally seek
damages, treble damages, disgorgement of profits, restitution and
attorneys' fees.

The federal court cases have been consolidated in the United States
District Court in Massachusetts under the Multidistrict Litigation
Rules as "In re: Pharmaceutical Industry Average Wholesale Price
Litigation, MDL 1456."

Transfers to MDL 1456 are pending for the following additional cases,
which have all been removed to federal court:

     (1) "Rice," filed in July 2002 in the Superior Court for the State
         of California, Alameda County,

     (2) "Thompson," filed in August 2002 in the Superior Court for the
         State of California, San Francisco County,

     (3) "Turner," filed in September 2002 in the Superior Court for
         the State of California, San Francisco County; and

     (4) "Congress of California Seniors," filed in September 2002 in
         the Superior Court for the State of California, Los Angeles

One additional case is pending in federal court, named "County of
Suffolk, et al.," filed in January 2003 in the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of New York.  Cases are also pending
in five state courts:

     (i) "State of West Virginia ex rel. Darrell v. McGraw, Jr.,
         Attorney General," filed in October 2001 in the Circuit Court
         for the State of West Virginia, Kanawha County,

    (ii) "Peralta, a minor by and through his Guardian ad Litem,
         Filamena Iberia," filed in October 2001 in the Superior Court
         for the State of California, Los Angeles County,

   (iii) "Swanston, individually and on behalf of himself and all
         others similarly situated," filed in December 2002 in the
         Superior Court for the State of Arizona, Maricopa County,

    (iv) "Digel," filed in December 2002 in the Circuit Court for the
         State of Tennessee, Thirteenth Judicial District of Memphis;

     (v) "State of California ex rel. Ven-A-Care of the Florida Keys,
         Inc.," filed in January 2003 in the Superior Court for the
         State of California, Los Angeles

The Company has filed or intends to file a response in each case
denying all substantive allegations.

BERTELSMANN: Music Publishers Launch NY Suit Over Investment in Napster
German media giant Bertelsmann faces a class action filed in the United
States District Court in New York by a group of music publishers over
the company's investment in the Napster song-swapping service, the
Agence France-Presse reports.

The suit, filed on behalf of around 160,000 songwriters and publishers,
alleges the Napster file-sharing service led to massive copyright
abuse.  The suit seeks $US17 billion ($28.57 billion) in damages.  The
suit alleges that the Company's strategy to fund Napster extended the
life of the service, leading to greater number of copyrighted works
being shared illegally.  Among the four named plaintiffs in the suit
are legendary songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who penned
such classics as Jailhouse Rock and Stand By Me.

Randy Poe, the president of Leiber and Stoller Music Publishing told
the Agence France-Press the suit would open a new front in the music
industry's war against copyright piracy through free Internet
downloads.  "It's hard to understand sometimes, because the concept of
copyright is an intangible," Mr Poe said.  "But essentially what people
are doing is exactly the same as walking into Tower Records and putting
a CD under your shirt and walking out.  You are stealing from someone
who owns a right."

The suit further alleged that Bertelsmann was "fully aware of the
critical role its funding played in facilitating infringement by
Napster users."  Napster roared across the internet in 1999, when
founder and then-college student Shawn Fanning invented a method by
which users could easily pass files from computer to computer over the
world wide web.  At its peak, Napster claimed some 70 million users,
who could access and pass along a vast collection of music titles
freely, the Agence France-Presse reports.

BEZEQ: Tel Aviv Court Allows Consumer Suit Over Late Charges To Proceed
The Tel Aviv District Court allowed an NIS1 million class action to
proceed against telephone company Bezeq (TASE:BZEQ), on behalf of
people the Company charged for bill collection, despite their having
paid telephone bills before the Company opened proceedings against
them, Globes Online reports.

Judge Gavriel Kling granted class certification to the suit, covering
the Company's customers who paid their bills from March 1997 and until
the lawsuit was filed in 2000.  The claimant asserted that the Company
charged him NIS10 for paying his bill a few days late.  The claimant
claims that charging for overdue payment of a bill within two weeks of
its deadline is illegal, since Bezeq takes no action to collect unpaid
bills for 14 days after the deadline.

The Company claims the charge are clearly and explicitly permitted in
the Bezeq ordinance, which authorize it to collect a pre-set charge for
late payments of any telephone bill, regardless and independent of any
actual collection process, Globes Online reports.

Judge Kling's ruling states that the Company's Bezeq's authorization to
charge subscribers for collection of overdue payments was dependent on
the implementation of collection processes, i.e. only if and when Bezeq
took action to collect the bill.  He added that according to the
ordinance, Bezeq could charge the NIS 10 fee only if a collection
process was launched due to a returned check or a standing order that
was not honored.  Judge Kling also ruled that in the Age of Computers,
there was no evidence to Bezeq's allegation of higher costs for
maintaining a monitoring system for overdue bills.

BOMBAY CO.: Agrees To Settle CA Overtime Wage Lawsuit For $1.35 Million
Antique-furniture reproductions and home accessories company Bombay
Co., agreed to settle a class action filed in California State Court,
alleging overtime wage law violations for $1.35 million, Bloomberg.com
reports.  The suit alleged that the Company had improperly classified
its California store managers as exempt from overtime pay.  It sought
to recoup the pay on behalf of the mangers.

The Company said the expenses didn't hurt fourth-quarter profit,
Bloomberg.com reported.  Including the cost of settlement, the Company
said in a disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission, fourth-
quarter earnings still rose to the upper end of the earlier announced
range of 37 cents to 41 cents a share.  The Company had net income of
$11.7 million, or 35 cents a share, a year ago.

Shares of Fort Worth, Texas-based Bombay Co. rose 3 cents to $4.97 as
of 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock
has more than doubled in the past year, Bloomberg.com reported.

CABOT CORPORATION: Faces Antitrust Suit Over Carbon Black Pricing in MA
Cabot Corporation faces a class action filed by Technical Industries
Inc., alleging wrongdoing in the pricing of some products, according to
a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The suit is
pending in the United States. District Court for the District of
Massachusetts, and also names as defendants:

     (1) Phelps Dodge Corporation,

     (2) Columbian Chemicals Co.,

     (3) Degussa Engineered Carbons LP,

     (4) Degussa AG (G.DGX) and

     (5) Degussa Corporation

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Technical Industries and all
individuals or entities that purchased carbon black in the US directly
from the defendants from 1999 until the present, the Company filing
from last Friday said.

The Company said in a statement that the lawsuit was brought under US
antitrust laws and claims that the defendants conspired to fix, raise,
maintain or stabilize prices for carbon black sold in the US during
that time.  The plaintiffs seek treble damages and legal costs,
according to the filing.  The class of plaintiffs in this action hasn't
been certified.

The Company said it believes it has strong defenses to these charges,
according to the filing.

CALIFORNIA: Oakwood City Agrees To Settle Suit V. Rogue Police Officers
The City of Oakwood, California has agreed to settle for $10.9 million
several civil rights lawsuits filed against a group of police officers
who allegedly beat suspects and planted drugs on innocent people, the
Associated Press reports.

Former officers Clarence Mabanag, 37, Jude Siapno, 34 and Matthew
Hornung, 31, are currently facing trial in the United States District
Court in California for allegedly beating suspects and falsifying
police reports.  Alleged leader Frank "Choker" Velasquez avoided
prosecution by fleeing the country earlier.  119 plaintiffs filed
lawsuits saying the City's police department encouraged or ignored the
abuse during the summer of 2000.

City officials also agreed to implement reforms in the department,
including establishing a hot line to report police abuse and improving
citizen access to internal affairs investigators.  An outside monitor
will be named in the next two months to a five-year term to ensure the
reforms are implemented, the Associated Press reports.

"We did not bury our heads in the sand," City Attorney John Russo told
AP.  "We acknowledged freely our faults, and we've worked arm in arm
toward fixing the problem rather than hiding from or denying the

Federal Judge Thelton Henderson approved the settlement January 22, but
it remained sealed until Tuesday.  It ends nearly all civil legal
actions brought in connection with the officers.

CAPRIUS INC.: NJ Court Consolidates Securities Fraud, Derivative Suits
The United States District Court in New Jersey ordered the securities
class actions and the shareholder derivative suits pending against
Caprius, Inc. and its principal officers and directors consolidated.

The suits cover the period between February 14, 2000 and June 20, 2002.  
The suits allege that the individual defendants made alleged
misrepresentations to the plaintiff upon their acquisition of a
controlling interest in the Company in 1999 and thereafter made
other alleged misrepresentations and took other actions as to the
plaintiff to the supposed detriment of the plaintiff and the Company.

No answer has yet been filed to this complaint as the parties agreed to
extend the Company's time to answer the complaint.  Since January 1,
2003 an order was entered in the court consolidating the derivative
action and the class action.  The order further provides that the time
for the defendants to answer or otherwise move with respect to the
complaint in the class action is extended.  

CHICAGO: Officials To File Charges V. Club Owners Over Deadly Stampede
The Chicago nightclub where 21 people were killed in a stampede faces
criminal charges from city officials, who say the owners violated a
previous court order telling them to shut down the club because of
safety violations, including failure to provide enough exits, the
Associated Press reports.

Last week, the E2 Club became the site of one of the deadliest
stampedes in recent memory.  Hundreds of people stampeded down a
stairwell, after security guards broke up a fight, and someone sprayed
pepper gas or Mace.  A lawyer for the club operators alleged that
someone might have shouted a warning about a terrorist attack.  The
panic resulted in 21 people dead, and 57 people injured.

"We were literally piled from the top to the bottom of those steps, on
top of people, not able to move with people constantly pushing,"
witness Lemont James Jr., who suffered a dislocated jaw, told AP.

The club is operated by Le Mirage All-Night Studio Inc., which also
owned the Epitome restaurant downstairs.  In July, Cook County Circuit
Judge Daniel J. Lynch issued a court order telling them to shut down
second-floor operations.

"The management of this business is well aware of this court order,"
Chicago fire Commissioner James Joyce said at a news conference Monday
afternoon.  "The owner knows damn well he is not to operate that
second-floor facility."

Police Superintendent Terry Hillard told AP the club owned an elaborate
videotaping setup and said police were trying to monitor tapes to
determine exactly what had happened.  Officials say criminal contempt
charges could be filed this week.

An attorney for the club quickly responded to the city's allegations,
telling a news conference that his client had a deal to stay open, AP
reports.  Lawyers for both sides allegedly reached a deal in October
under which the second-floor nightclub would remain in operation.  
Another court hearing was scheduled for next month, Andre Grant, lawyer
for the Company said.  Under the deal, an upper level section of VIP
seating, known as the skyboxes, was to be closed. The skyboxes were
closed Monday, he continued.

City officials made no mention of any deal to keep the club open in
their public statements Monday but Mr. Grant said the city knew the
club was operating, AP reports.  "This is open use and the city is 100
percent aware of it, and in fact management has asked consistently and
repeatedly the city to assist with crowd control," he said.

CREDIT CARD: Hacker Accesses Millions of Visa, MasterCard Customer Info
A hacker was able to access more than five million Visa and MasterCard
accounts throughout the nation through a third party processor,
representatives for the card associations told Reuters.  Early
investigations have revealed that none of information, which would
include credit card numbers, was used in a fraudulent way, though.

MasterCard said it began to notify its members the week of February 3
that more than 2 million MasterCard accounts had been broken into after
the processor told it about the problem, MasterCard spokeswoman Sharon
Gamsin said.  About 3.4 million Visa accounts also have been accessed
in the incident, according to spokesman John Abrams.

Credit card associations, or groups of financial institutions who issue
the cards, said they could not specify when the breach occurred or how
it was accomplished, because it involved a third party processor used
by merchants and not Visa or MasterCard systems.  The associations said
they could not disclose the name of that processor, according to

"Visa's fraud team immediately notified all affected card issuing
financial institutions and is working with the third-party payment card
processor to protect against the threat of a future intrusion," the
association said in a statement.

Neither Visa nor MasterCard would disclose which institution were
involved.  "This is not something regional, it was throughout the
nation and could be any bank," Mr. Abrams told Reuters.

EXXON-MOBIL: Court Rejects Consumers Lawsuit Over Halted Gas Supplies
An Australian court rejected a class action against Exxon-Mobil's
Australian arm by 1.5 million gas consumers seeking compensation,
because they were without gas supplies following an explosion at the
company's Longford plant, on September 25, 1998, in which two men were
killed, Associated Press Newswires reports.

The court's decision did say that two companies could make claims for
property damage and left open the possibility that other firms can sue
for losses that occurred during the two weeks following the blast that
they were without gas supplies.

Esso was not liable for "purely economic losses" sustained by gas
consumers and businesses during the statewide halt to gas supplies,
wrote Justice William Gillard of the Supreme Court in the state of
Victoria.  Purely economic losses are revenue losses a business might
have suffered.

Justice Gillard ruled, however, that Esso was open to claims for
physical damage or property loss such as spoilage of goods caused
because of stoppage of gas supplies.  The Justice's ruling upheld the
Melbourne companies claims for physical damages.

The ruling applied only to the question of liability and did not award
compensation.  Therefore, the two firms will have to file separate
actions for compensation for the physical damages or property loss
suffered because of gas supply failures.

Esso had argued that under Australian law it had no legal
responsibility for the losses due to gas service stoppage, claimed by
the class action.  If the class action was successful, contended the
company, the legal principle such success rested upon would be a threat
to all Australian companies that supply raw materials or services.

Esso Australia chairman Robert Olsen said to reporters outside the
court that the decision against economic loss claims was a victory for
"common sense."  As to the portion of the judgment pertaining to its
liability for physical damage, Mr. Olsen said the judgment would have
to be further studied in order to determine whether the company will

In June of last year, a Supreme Court jury found Esso Australia guilty
on 11 criminal charges arising from the explosion.  The court fined the
company two million Australian dollars (US$1.1 million).

FASTFOOD LITIGATION: Plaintiffs To File Amended Consumer Obesity Suit
Pelman v. McDonald's, the lawsuit brought by two very overweight young
girls charging the company with responsibility for their obesity, has
not gone away.  Although the outrage and ridicule which commentators
heaped upon its premises could have produced, some thought, an early

However, Federal Judge Robert Sweet, it must be remembered, while
dismissing the case in the form and with the arguments with which it
appeared before him, provided extensive guidance on how the complaint
might be redrafted to give the lawsuit a better chance of getting to
trial another time, the Financial Times reports.

Judge Sweet told the plaintiffs' lawyers that they had not shown that
McDonald's products presented any health risk beyond what any ordinary
consumer could be expected to know.  If they, the lawyers, could show
that the health risk presented by the company's product was, in fact,
beyond what the ordinary consumer could be expected to know, then, said
Judge Sweet, he would look at the lawsuit of Perlman v. McDonald's

Judge Sweet even named the food that he thought might fall into the
category of health risk beyond what the ordinary consumer could be
expected to know - Chicken McNuggets, stuffed with additives and
containing twice the fat by weight of a hamburger.  Samuel Hirsch, Ms.
Pelman's lawyer, is expected to submit an amended lawsuit by the
deadline set by the court, this Friday, or seek an extension.

The legal analysts say that if the amended lawsuit is allowed to
proceed, copycat cases might be encouraged to try to make their way
through the courts.  It is expected that Mr. Hirsch would ask for class
action certification; therefore, potentially millions of overweight
young people could join his lawsuit.  

However, analysts say, even should Mr. Hirsch's lawsuit fail again, a
loose alliance of lawyers, many experienced in tobacco litigation, is
already working on other strategies to launch against the fast-food

Although there are parallels between tobacco-related illnesses and
those stemming from obesity, the question remains whether the fast-food
industry can be held legally to blame in the way cigarette companies
were for smoking-related illnesses.  Lawyers are finding it difficult
to build their cases, since food, unlike tobacco, is essential to life,
safe in moderation, and not generally considered addictive.  Consumers
are free to choose what they want to eat, and generally they are aware
that some foods are less healthful than others.

While such awareness by the consumer plays a role in the building of a
legal case, since Mr. Pelman, in its first round at least, Judge Sweet
did acknowledge that a food like Chicken McNuggets is more than just
chicken, which, ordinarily, the consumer might regard as a healthier
option than beef.  The judge wrote in his opinion, "It is as least a
question of fact as to whether a reasonable consumer would know -
without recourse to McDonald's website - that a Chicken McNuggets
contained so many other ingredients other than chicken and provided
twice the fat of a hamburger."

Richard Daynard, a professor at Northeastern University School of Law
and another tobacco lawyer who is turning his attention to obesity,
admits that product liability cases against the food companies are much
more difficult than those against tobacco.  He thinks another strategy
may work better:  alleging deceptive marketing under states' consumer
protection statutes, where injury does not have to be proven.  
Professor Daynard, for example, thinks even the label "low-fat" is
deceptive.  He parallels this strategy with that used in a trial now
under way against Philip Morris alleging it misled people into thinking
"light" cigarettes were more healthful than regular ones.

However, many lawyers believe that what could really alter the dynamics
of the legal battle, is, if any case gets past the initial motion for
dismissal that the defendant companies always file.  If plaintiffs can
survive that motion, the next step is "discovery," which give
plaintiffs' lawyers the opportunity to search corporate files for
incriminating documents.  Tobacco lawsuits made little progress for two
decades until documents were revealed showing that the cigarette makers
had covered up the risks of smoking and manipulated nicotine levels to
increase addictiveness.

Peter Bleakley, member of the law firm Arnold & Porter in Washington,
DC and an expert in defending product liability cases, says, "Cases
that appear frivolous can take on a different appearance if, during
discovery, you find in the files of a company letters or e-mails that
show that the company was aware of the dangers of a product and
suppressed it."  Even if nothing illegal could made out of this,
documents that show a company has targeted children or the obese could
be a public relations headache.

McDonald's argued in the Pelman case that it cannot be held responsible
for individual diet and lifestyle choices, given consumers' limitless
eating choices.  The Company has said that its food "can be and is part
of a healthy diet, based on the sound nutrition principles of balance,
variety and moderation."  The Company has responded to Judge Sweet's
comments on Chicken McNuggets by noting that the menu item is made from
chicken from a trusted supplier, and reaching the conclusion from this
observation that the item, Chicken McNuggets is a "quality product."  

McDonald's says it is sure an amended version of the Pelman case will
be dismissed, as was the first one.  However, an executive from another
food company, who has asked not to be named, says the industry should
not blame obesity entirely on unhealthy lifestyles and deny all
responsibility.  That was the path the cigarette makers took 20 years
ago, the executive said, he believes the food industry is going to have
to change its marketing: remove advertising that promotes over-
consumption and run campaigns linked with physical activities.

"Any food company that thinks it can get through this without changing
anything is kidding itself," the executive said.  "You can see the
collision course that is coming.  It's either going to be regulation,
legislation or litigation."

FIREWORKS OF ALABAMA: Recalls 72T Boxes of Sparklers Due To Fire Hazard
Fireworks of Alabama, Inc. is cooperating with the US Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC) by voluntarily recalling about 72,000 boxes of
bamboo stick sparklers.  The sparklers' bamboo-stick handles can catch
fire, burn and disintegrate and emit burning fragments during use.  
These sparklers present a fire hazard and a risk of burn injury.
The Company has not received any reports of injuries associated with
these bamboo stick sparklers.  This recall is being conducted to
prevent the possibility of injuries.
The recalled sparklers are packaged in a multicolored cardboard
box and sold with six sparklers per box.  The sparklers measure about
7-inches long.  Labels on the packaging read in part "Bamboo Stick
Color Sparklers," "6 PIECES," and "MADE IN CHINA."  Only bamboo
sparklers with "LB-N011-7" printed on the packaging are included in the
Variety stores sold these sparklers nationwide from June 2002 through
December 2002 for about $2 a box.
For more details, contact the Company by Phone: (800) 289-5569 between
9 am and 5 pm ET Monday through Friday.

FORD MOTOR: Recalls Escort, Mercury Cars For Unneeded Airbag Deployment
Ford Motor Company recalled more than 441,000 1997 Ford Escort and
Mercury Tracer cars worldwide, due to electrical fires and unintended
airbag deployment, possibly caused by a contaminated airbag monitor,
Reuters reports.

At least 159 reports were given to the Company, detailing unintended
airbag deployment which allegedly resulted in a small number of minor
injuries, including arm and facial abrasions from the airbags, Ford
spokesman Glenn Ray told Reuters.  At least eight lawsuits related to
the airbags have also been filed against Ford, Mr. Ray said.

Earlier this year, US regulators notified the Company of the defects.  
During an investigation, the Company discovered that the airbag
monitors could become contaminated from fluid leaks or condensation
from the heater case.

The Company instituted the recall so it could install a protective
shield over the airbag sensors.  Ford said the rate of reported
problems with the airbags is extremely low, but it decided to recall
the cars to fix the problem.  Ford will install a shield and waterproof
grease at no charge to customers at Ford and Mercury dealerships,
Reuters reports.  A majority of the 441,000 recalled cars are from the
United States, but some were also sold in Canada, Mexico, Europe and
elsewhere, Ford said.

HMO LITIGATION: KY Judge Grants Class Certification To Antitrust Suit
A Kentucky judge, Joseph Bamberger of the Boone County Court, issued an
order permitting Kentucky physicians to pursue a price fixing class
action case against the area's largest HMO's.  The action is a setback
for defendants:

     (1) Aetna Health Inc. (NYSE: AEF),

     (2) Humana, Inc. (NYSE: HUM),

     (3) Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield (NYSE: ATH) and

     (4) United Health Care, Inc. (NYSE: UNH)

Each of the defendants sought to force individual physician
arbitration.  "The order is an important legal breakthrough that will
allow physicians to prove that the HMO's are creating a local health
care emergency," Stanley M. Chesley of Waite, Schneider, Bayless &
Chesley, the physicians' attorneys, said in a statement.

The physician's case alleges that local doctors are paid less by the
HMO's than physicians performing the same procedures in similar
communities.  "The HMO's are creating a slow stranglehold on the
community, with low reimbursement rates that force dedicated and hard
working physicians to leave the Greater Cincinnati community," added
Chesley.  "This case will send a message to HMO's that they have a
responsibility to the communities to provide adequate numbers of
excellent physicians receiving proper payments for their skills and

Mr. Chesley's co-counsel, Richard S. Wayne of Strauss & Troy, another
Cincinnati firm was pleased with the order for another reason.  "This
breakthrough order shows that the Northern Kentucky Medical Society has
standing to bring the lawsuit," he said.  The case will be tried to a
jury prompting Mr. Wayne to point out, "I am confident that a jury,
when given the opportunity, will find the HMO's have put profit ahead
of the long term interests of the patients."

Judge Bamberger's decisions follows a similar order issued by Judge
David Davis, in Cincinnati.  In a related case, Judge Davis found that
the Academy of Medicine had standing to bring a similar action brought
by the Cincinnati Academy of Medicine and southwest Ohio physicians.  

No trial date is set for either case.

For more details, contact Stanley M. Chesley by Phone: 513-621-0267 or
contact Richard S. Wayne by Phone: 513-629-9472

ILLINOIS: Mt. Prospect Settles Racial Bias Suit By Hispanic Motorists
A settlement was approved recently in the class action that accused
Mount Prospect police officers of targeting Hispanics for traffic
stops, the Chicago Daily Herald reports.

According to the terms of the settlement, the village of Mount Prospect
will pay 41 Hispanic drivers, including the three main plaintiffs,
somewhat less than $13,000.  The plaintiffs' three attorneys will be
paid $150,000.

Peter Wilkes, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, believes his clients
have been well served by the lawsuit.  The case, Mr. Wilkes said, will
provide a financial compensation, modest as it may be, to 41drivers who
claim they were ticketed because of their ethnicity.  However, the
financial compensation for the class members was not the important
thing, Mr. Wilkes said.

Mount Prospect and other towns have acted to make reforms that will
benefit Hispanics in the city and suburbs for generations, Mr. Wilkes
said.  A clear message, the attorney added, has been sent that this
form of conduct will not be tolerated.

"So many changes have been made in Mount Prospect and other towns since
this case started," Mr. Wilkes said.  "Towns are making efforts,
whether it is cameras in squad cars or the elimination of arrest
quotas, to keep this from happening.  That is very satisfying."

Settlement of this lawsuit officially ends three years of inquiries -
four lawsuits and a federal investigation - into the alleged racial
profiling in Mount Prospect.

ILLINOIS: Two Chicago Theaters Face Suit Over Commercials Before Movies
Two Chicago theatre chains face a class action filed by a high school
teacher and a university professor, over commercials run before the
start of the movie, the Associated Press reports.

Theatre chains Classic Cinemas and Loews Cineplex Entertainment face
the suit, which asserts that commercials belong on TV, not on the movie
screen.  The suit further asserts that start-time delays from the on-
screen ads are a waste of the moviegoers' time.  One of the plaintiff's
lawyers told AP, "if you are forced to watch commercials, you should be
compensated for it."  

The suit seeks damages of $75 for each person in the class action, and
ask that the commercials be dropped, or that movie ads at least give
the actual start times for movies so you can come in after the
commercials and not miss any of the movie.  The lawsuits don't take
issue with movie previews, which also run before the feature.

A spokesman for Classic Cinemas calls the lawsuits ridiculous, AP
reports.  He says his theaters run only three minutes of commercials
per movie.

MCDONALD'S CORPORATION: Vegetarian Groups Intervene in Consumer Lawsuit
Michael B. Hyman, principal with Chicago law firm Much Shelist Freed
Denenberg Ament & Rubenstein, PC, announced today that he has
successfully intervened in a proposed settlement with McDonald's
corporation on behalf of a group of prominent members of the vegetarian
community.  At issue is the proposed allocation of $6 million in funds
to be directed to vegetarian organizations.  The funds are the result
of a proposed settlement in a class action suit filed against fast food
giant McDonald's practice in using beef products in the preparation of
its french fries and hash browns.

The objectors assert that the $6 million distribution, as proposed,
violates the terms of the settlement agreement by improperly directing
funds to non-vegetarian groups, groups hostile to vegetarianism and
groups in limited size and geographical reach.  "This proposed
distribution violates not just the letter, but the spirit of the
settlement agreement," Mr. Hyman said.

Specifically, the proposed settlement disbursements are directed at
twelve organizations.  Of the twelve, Hyman and the objectors argue
that seven are clearly not vegetarian organizations.  Moreover, an
eighth, the Vegetarian Resource Group, earmarked for $1.4 million or
23% of the settlement dollars, originally opposed the lawsuit.  The
court has set February 25 to specifically rule on the proposed
distribution plan.

Mr. Hyman concluded by saying, "this settlement should promote the
values of the vegetarian community, but as proposed, it is far from
achieving its purpose."

For more details, contact Jay Dinwoodie, Marketing Manager by Phone:
(312) 521-2122 or by E-mail: jdinwoodie@muchshelist.com

MERCEDES BENZ: NJ Court Grants Certification To Consumer Fraud Lawsuit
New Jersey Federal Court has ruled that a lawsuit accusing Mercedes-
Benz and its New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area dealers of
engaging in a conspiracy to fix the price of new Mercedes-Benz
automobiles may proceed as a class action on behalf of all Mercedes-
Benz purchasers in the tri-state region from 1991 through 1999.

The lawsuit is based in part on the allegations made by one of the
dealers in a counter suit against the Company.  The suit on behalf of
purchasers or lessees of new vehicles was filed in 1999.  In 2002 the
Company revealed, in its SEC filings, that a grand jury had been
empanelled to hear evidence relating to the allegations.

"We are very pleased that Judge Wolin has held that this case should go
forward on a class basis," Paul Gallagher of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld
& Toll,(DC) one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs said in a
statement.  "This decision enables everyone who purchased or leased a
new Mercedes-Benz between 1991 and 1999 to be represented in a single
action, which will determine whether each of the class members are
entitled to a refund resulting from a conspiracy by Mercedes and the
dealers not to discount prices below an agreed-upon level."

For more details, contact Deborah Schwartz by Phone: 301/897-8838 by
Fax: 301/897-9143 by E-mail: dschwartz@mediarelationsinc.com or visit
Cohen Milstein's Website: http://www.cmht.com

MERRILL LYNCH: To Settle For $80M SEC Probe Over Role in Enron Collapse
Investment firm Merrill Lynch will settle for $80 million an
investigation launched by the United States Securities and Exchange
Commission over its role in the Enron transactions, CBS Marketwatch

The settlement concludes the SEC probe into the firm's dealings with
the collapsed energy trader, which allegedly used off-the-books
partnerships to hide nearly $1 billion in debt and inflate profits.  
Enron later filed for bankruptcy in December 2001, one of the nation's
biggest bankruptcies.

Under the settlement, Merrill Lynch will record $80 million in
disgorgement, penalties and interest in its fourth quarter financial
results.  The Company, which did not admit or deny wrongdoing in the
settlement, also agreed not to violate federal securities laws in the

While the SEC has completed its investigation into Merrill's work with
the fallen energy trader, the securities firm still faces litigation
related to its Enron work.  A securities class action, spearheaded by
the University of California is pending in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York against several Wall Street
banks, including Merrill, J.P. Morgan and Citigroup.

"This is not the end of the Enron story by any means," Scott Wendelin,
head of Prospect Financial Advisors in Los Angeles told CBS
Marketwatch.  "But this is (Merrill's) first step on rebuilding
credibility for their clients and investors."

NIKE INC.: FL Attorney General Starts Probe Over Antitrust Violations
The Florida Attorney General's Office is investigating sports goods
manufacturer Nike, Inc. for allegedly fixing the retail price of shoes
and clothing, the Company revealed early this week, the Associated
Press reports.

The Company has denied the allegations and is "cooperating fully,"
Company spokesman Vada Manager told AP.  The Company earlier received a
notice of a civil investigation in January "in regard to issues of
pricing of products at retail."

The attorney general has asked several major sporting goods retailers
whether the Company withheld items because its most expensive shoes,
such as the top Air Jordan and Shox lines, weren't being sold at prices
the company considered suitable.  Sports Authority Inc. received a
letter dated January 3 from the attorney general requesting
information, Frank Bubb, the company's general counsel told AP.  He
declined to provide further details.

Joann Carrin, spokeswoman for the Florida attorney general's office,
said she couldn't confirm or deny the investigation because state
antitrust law prohibits it, AP reports.

NISSAN MOTOR: Reaches Settlement In Race Bias Suit For Minority Buyers
Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation reached a settlement in a federal
class action charging it with discrimination relating to the loan rates
it offered to minority buyers, the Associated Press reports.  Ten black
and Hispanic car buyers from Tennessee and Florida filed the class
action, saying that the Company charged them higher interest rates on
car loans than whites with similar credit ratings.

Under the settlement, the Company will pay US$5,000 to US$20,000 to
more than 125,000 plaintiffs, and will pay $1 million to Washington-
based consumer group America Saves.  The Company also agreed to tell
car buyers their interest rate may be negotiable.  

The Company also agreed to institute a credit pre-approval program
offering "no mark-up" rates to black and Hispanic buyers who have never
declared bankruptcy or had cars repossessed.  The "markup" is a
percentage in addition to the minimum percentage rate at which NMAC
approves credit.  It usually is split between the dealer and NMAC, AP

The case was the first in a series of recent lawsuits against
automobile financing companies and banks.  Plaintiffs' lawyers have
estimated tens of thousands of black consumers were overcharged $100
million or more by the automotive financing companies.

The Company has denied the claims in the suit, saying it does not
collect race or ethnicity information when credit is sought and that
all people are treated equally.

Attorneys on both sides said they agreed not to comment on the
settlement, which applies to borrowers at Nissan and Infiniti dealers,
until approved by US District Judge Todd Campbell.

PLAYNATION PLAY: Recalls 1,400 "Fun Buckets" For Strangulation Hazard
Playnation Play Systems is cooperating with the US Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC) by voluntarily recalling about 1,400 "Fun
Buckets," a vinyl bucket attached to a rope used to lift small items up
to backyard play sets' forts.  As children play on the play set's slide
or platform, the 6- to 8-ft free-hanging rope can become entangled
around the child's neck.  This presents a strangulation hazard to young
The Company is aware of two incidents where the bucket's rope became
entangled around the necks of two 4-year-olds.  Both of the children
were freed without injury.  However, CPSC knows of 135 children who
have died in the last 10 years from all types of ropes, leashes or jump
ropes attached to backyard play sets.
This recall involves "Fun Buckets" sold as an add-on option for
backyard play sets. The 14-inch-deep buckets are either yellow or green
vinyl and have a black nylon strap attached to the rope.  The "Fun
Bucket" was sold with a heavy wood bracket to attach it to the roof of
a play set fort.
Distributors of backyard play sets nationwide sold the fun buckets
from February 1998 through February 2003 for about $25.
For more information, contact the Company by Phone: (770) 792-9300
between 10 am and 5 pm ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm's
Website: http://www.playset.com.

SECURITIES LITIGATION: NY Court Allows IPO Securities Suits To Proceed
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Judge Shira A. Scheindlin allowed the IPO Securities Litigation filed
by thousands of investors against companies who made their initial
stock offerings during the technology stock bubble to proceed,
rejecting the defendants' omnibus motion to dismiss.

The suits name as defendants 55 underwriters, 309 issuers of stock in
high technology and Internet-related stocks and thousands of
individuals.  They target a high percentage of the more than 460 high
technology and Internet-related companies that raised capital by
selling ownership of their company to the public from January 1998 to
December 2000, the Associated Press reports.

The suits similarly alleged that the value of the plaintiffs'
investments plummeted as a result of alleged fraud - misstatements in
financial statements and prospectuses, unauthorized underwriter
agreements, improper disclosure - that caused the prices of stocks to
be artificially inflated.

Judge Scheindlin said she considered the claims and counterclaims made
in the suits, which were filed in the court from January to December
2001.  She also said, in her 238-page ruling, the plaintiffs presented
"a coherent scheme by underwriters, issuers and their officers to
defraud the investing public" by concealing, through misinformation,
various tie-in agreements, undisclosed compensation and analyst
conflicts to artificially boost the value of the new shares, AP

The decision came at the stage of litigation in which defendants
attempt to have lawsuits dismissed on the grounds that there are
insufficient allegations to put before a jury.  Judge Scheindlin said
some of the defendants could be dropped from the case because there was
not enough evidence against them, but that most would stand.

TENET HEALTHCARE: Employees Lodge Suit Over False Financial Statements
Employees of the nation's second biggest hospital chain Tenet
Healthcare Corporation commenced a class action against the Company and
its officers, including Chairman Jeffrey Barbakow, alleging they were
misled by false financial statements, Bloomberg.com reports.  

The suit, filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, further alleges that
the Company and its officers knew or should have known the company was
artificially inflating revenue by encouraging patients to undergo
unneeded surgeries and over-billing Medicare.

The suit, filed on behalf of employees participating in a stock
purchase plan, is the latest in several suits against the Company,
which has suffered a 55 percent drop in share value since federal
agents raided one of its hospitals in October.  Further, the US Justice
Department accused Tenet of filing phony Medicare claims, in a January
lawsuit seeking $323 million in damages, and about 30 securities suits
have been filed, Bloomberg.com reports.

"Defendants knew or were reckless or negligent in not knowing that
Tenet's financial results were artificially inflated"' the suit claims.

The suit says Tenet and its directors failed their fiduciary
responsibility to make sure the company complied with all laws and
regulations.  "They did not do so," the suit says.  "As a result,
plaintiff and plan participants suffered damages for which these
defendants are personally responsible."

Tenet spokesman Steve Campanini declined to comment, citing company
policy not to discuss pending litigation, Bloomberg.com reports.

TOBACCO LITIGATION: IL Legislators Mull Lowering Appeal Bonds For Firms
Illinois legislators are considering legislation that would reduce the
amount of money a tobacco company would have to post for an appeal bond
prior to appealing a judgment for the plaintiff smokers, the Associated
Press Newswires reports.

The idea has been proposed recently in the Illinois legislature, since
Philip Morris is engaged in a class action in Madison County, Illinois,
that alleges the company falsely claimed its "light" cigarettes were
less harmful.  The plaintiffs' lawyers are seeking $7.1 billion in
compensation for the smokers, and punitive damages potentially could be
many times that amount.

Ordinarily, the loser in such a lawsuit is required to post the amount
of the full award due the winning side, plus interest, as a bond,
before such loser is allowed to pursue an appeal.  The bond ensures
that the prevailing party will receive the amount of the award if the
original ruling is upheld by the appeals court.

However, the major tobacco companies argue that because of the size of
the jury awards, they are not able to post the amount of money that
might be required prior to appeal.  They say they might have to declare
bankruptcy instead, since if they do not have such amounts for the
bond, neither would they have the funds for the award.

"It is not hard to imagine a judgment getting up into the tens of
billions," Keith Teel, an attorney for Philip Morris and several other
tobacco companies recently told an Illinois Senate committee.  Such a
judgment probably would interrupt, and perhaps permanently end, the
massive payments tobacco companies are making to states under the 1998
settlement of a nationwide lawsuit against cigarette makers, Mr. Teel

Mr. Teel noted that a Florida jury had awarded smokers $145 billion in
a class action against cigarette makers.  Florida thereupon changed its
laws relating to appeal bonds in order to limit the amount required to
be posted to $500 million.

Senator James Clayborne, D-St. Louis, is sponsoring legislation that
would limit tobacco company appeal bonds to $25 million.  The senator
said details of the proposed bill are in the process of being worked
through, and the amount of the "cap" is not yet firm.

Senator Clayborne's bill is opposed by the American Lung Association,
Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco and the Illinois Trial Lawyers
Association, as well as the attorneys arguing the suit against Philip
Morris.  The bill also was criticized by Donald Garner, a law professor
at Southern Illinois University law school, who has written law journal
articles critical of tobacco companies.

"This is ill-considered, special-interest legislation," said Professor

UNITED COMPANIES: Workers Settle Lawsuit Over Rash Use Of Their Funds
Former employees who invested in United Companies Financial
Corporation's stock ownership plan have reached a $10 million
settlement with the failed company, over the owners' continued
investment of workers' funds in the company's stock, although the stock
price was collapsing, The Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

The settlement, which was filed recently in US District Court, in Baton
Rouge, Louisiana, settles a class action including several thousand
employees who participated in the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)
after September 1, 1995, but excludes the company's executives.

The four attorneys who represented the plaintiffs will receive 30
percent of the settlement, about $1.2 million.  Under the terms of the
settlement, the amount each employee receives from the settlement will
be based on how much he/she had invested in the ESOP.

The employees filed three separate class actions, which later were
consolidated, all claiming the management of United Companies should
not have invested employee funds solely in company stock, and that the
ESOP did not require that investments be exclusively in United

After the stock began to slide, the administrator of ESOP, US Trust
Company of California, continued to invest employee funds in United
Companies stock, the lawsuits say.  United Companies, a Baton Rouge-
based company that made high-risk consumer loans, filed for bankruptcy
protection from its creditors in March 1999.

The agreement with employees over stock investments is the second
settlement reached between United Companies and its former
stockholders.  Under the first agreement, about 7,500 non-employee
stockholders are splitting a $20.5 million settlement, approved in

In this case, stockholders sued J. Terrell Brown, United Companies'
former chief executive officer and president and Dale Redman, formerly
chief financial officer, claiming  the two officers hid from investors
hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.  That misleading behavior,
which artificially inflated the stock, led people to continue to buy
stock, thinking the company was on a stable financial footing, the
lawsuit claims.

Attorney fees and expenses amounting to about $7.2 million came out of
the $20.5 settlement.  US District Judge James Brady approved both

UNITED STATES: ACLU To Challenge Review Court Decision On Wiretapping
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil rights groups
challenged the United States' Justice Department's powers, by filing an
appeal of a review court decision allowing wiretapping as a
surveillance method, the Associated Press reports.

After September 11, Congress granted the government broader spying
authority after the attacks.  The review court's ruling was a huge
victory for the Bush administration, which argues that the surveillance
is an important component of its war on terror.

Part of the review panel's ruling removed legal barriers between the
surveillance operations of the Justice Department's criminal and
intelligence divisions, AP reports.  The two had been treated
differently because the standard for criminal wiretaps, instead of
those granted by the spy court, is considered more difficult because of
the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and

The ACLU argues that the review court misinterpreted the law, making it
too easy for the government to get permission to listen to telephone
conversations, read e-mail and search private property, and then use
the information in criminal cases.  Civil groups have worried that
there were not enough checks to ensure the surveillance won't extend to
law-abiding citizens.

The ACLU, and other American-Arab groups, further assert that they are
representing people who are monitored under warrants approved by the
super-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or "spy court,"
which deals with intelligence request involving suspected spies.

In the filing, the ACLU said the decision further "opens the door to
surveillance abuses that seriously threatened our democracy in the
past."  Other groups also have been concerned that the administration
was going too far with surveillance.

"The irony is no one can know for certain whether they are the subject
of these secret surveillance orders because they're secret," Ann
Beeson, ACLU's associate legal director told AP.  She said the group
has "taken this somewhat radical step" to protect those people.

The other groups involved in the appeal are:

     (1) the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers,

     (2) the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and

     (3) the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services

The Supreme Court may not allow the appeal because the ACLU was not one
of the parties in the review court case.  The ACLU filed arguments
opposing the government but was not directly involved.

UNIVERSITY of MICHIGAN: Microsoft, Others Support Affirmative Action
Microsoft Corporation and dozens of other major American companies
intend to support the University of Michigan's minority student
admissions policy, which the Bush administration has opposed, Reuters

The United States Supreme Court is preparing to review, in the coming
months, several cases involving the admissions to the University's law
school and undergraduate program.  President Bush has said the policy
amounts to a "quota system that unfairly rewards or penalizes
prospective students based solely on their race."

Black and other minority group advocates have defended affirmative
action as a way to remedy past discrimination and to achieve student
diversity, but critics have said that the programs amount to an
unconstitutional form of "reverse discrimination," Reuters states.

The software giant said such policies are critical to maintaining
racial and ethnic diversity at institutions of higher education.  "By
upholding the university's ability to include race and other factors in
the admissions process, the courts will preserve Microsoft's ability --
and that of other companies -- to recruit the diverse work force
necessary for success in today's global marketplace," Claudette
Whiting, Microsoft's senior diversity director, said in a company

Along with Microsoft, the other companies supporting the University

     (1) General Motors Corporation,

     (2) 3M,

     (3) Abbott Laboratories,

     (4) Bank One,

     (5) Boeing Co.,

     (6) Coca-Cola,

     (7) Intel,

     (8) Johnson & Johnson,

     (9) Pfizer, and

    (10) Sara Lee

More than 30 companies will sign a friend of the court brief supporting
the University of Michigan's affirmative action policy to be filed on
Tuesday in two lawsuits before the US Supreme Court.  In its own friend
of the court brief, No. 1 US automaker GM argues that, "In short,
universities, not businesses, 'are ideal institutions to foster' the
skills and values necessary for participation in a heterogeneous
society," Reuters states.

WESTELL TECHNOLOGIES: Agrees To Settle Securities Fraud Suit in N.D. IL
Westell Technologies, Inc. agreed to settle the consolidated securities
class action filed against it and certain executive officers and
directors of the Company in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois.  In addition, the Company announced an
agreement to settle the related consolidated derivative action, filed
in the United States District Court for the Northern District of

The actions generally alleged that the defendants violated the
antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws or state common
laws by making false and misleading statements in 2000 regarding
forecasts for the second quarter of Westell's fiscal 2001.  Under the
terms of the settlement agreement, all claims will be dismissed without
any defendant's admission of liability or wrongdoing.

Under the terms of the settlement, the Company's and its directors' and
officers' liability insurers will pay a total of $3.95 million to the
plaintiffs and their counsel.  The Company does not expect to pay
anything in connection with the settlement.  The shareholder class will
receive $3.35 million out of which the court will be asked to award
attorneys' fees and expenses to class counsel.  Counsel to plaintiffs
in the derivative action will receive the remaining $600,000 to settle
the derivative claim.  Beyond the financial settlement, the Company
agreed to adopt certain corporate governance and communications
procedures.  The agreement is subject court approval.

"These cases represent the last of any material litigation in which
Westell was involved when I arrived in July 2001 ", Van Cullens
Westell's President and CEO, said in a statement.  "We are very pleased
to have advanced the cases to this stage."

The parties expect that the Court will first consider the settlement at
a preliminary approval hearing that they anticipate will occur in March

For more details, contact Nicholas Hindman of Westell Technologies,
Inc. by Phone: 630/375-4136 (CFO) by E-mail: nhind@westell.com or Ken
Trantowski of KGT Communications Group by Phone: 630/469-8765 or by E-
mail: kennethg--trantowski@msn.com

                     New Securities Fraud Cases

BIO-TECHNOLOGY GENERAL: Berman DeValerio Launches Securities Suit in NJ
Berman DeValerio Pease Tabacco Burt & Pucillo initiated a securities
class action against Bio-Technology General Corporation (Nasdaq:BTGC)
and certain of its top executives, accusing the biopharmaceutical
company of issuing false and misleading financial statements to the

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the District of New
Jersey.  Plaintiffs seek damages for violations of federal securities
laws on behalf of all investors who bought the Company's common stock
from April 19, 1999 to August 2, 2002.

The lawsuit claims Bio-Technology defrauded investors by releasing
false and misleading financial statements about its revenue and
earnings, causing the company's stock to reach an artificially high

Bio-Technology stunned its investors on August 2, 2002 by announcing it
would have to revise and restate its prior financial results for 1999,
2000, 2001 and the first quarter of 2002.  According to the complaint,
Bio-Technology violated Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and
Securities and Exchange Commission rules, improperly accounting for:

     (1) development and startup costs associated with a new drug,

     (2) compensation charges resulting from stock option awards to
         certain employees and former employees; and

     (3) revenue from a 1999 product sale in which significant
         uncertainties about the realization of the invoiced amount

The market reacted swiftly to the company's announcement.  Bio-
Technology stock fell from a high of $4.16 on August 1, 2002 to a low
of $3.49 on August 2, 2002, a single-day decline of more than 15% on
heavy volume and a decline of more than 83% from the class period high
of $20.44 on March 1, 2000.

For more details, contact C. Oliver Burt, III by Mail: 515 North
Flagler Drive, Suite 1701, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 by Phone:
(561) 835-9400 by E-mail: lawfla@bermanesq.com or visit the firm's
Website: http://www.bermanesq.com

INTERSTATE BAKERIES: Cauley Geller Commences Securities Suit in W.D. MO
Cauley Geller Bowman Coates & Rudman, LLP initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri on behalf of purchasers of Interstate Bakeries Corporation
(NYSE: IBC) common stock during the period between September 17, 2002
and December 17, 2002, inclusive.

The suit alleges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder, by issuing a series of material misrepresentations to the
market between September 17, 2002 and December 17, 2002, thereby
artificially inflating the price of IBC common stock.  Throughout the
class period, as alleged in the Complaint, defendants issued numerous
statements regarding the Company's financial performance and future

Specifically, defendants claimed that the Company was experiencing a
rebound in the sales of its sweet cake products, which had slowed down
in the previous quarter, and described how the Company would be able to
increase prices for certain bread products and maintain its anticipated
level of profitability in the face of increasing commodity prices.  

The suit alleges that these statements were materially false and
misleading because they failed to disclose and/or misrepresented the
following adverse facts, among others:

     (1) that since the beginning of the class period, the Company was
         actually experiencing a negative variance with respect to cake
         sales as compared to the prior year and, therefore, had not
         seen any indication of any rebound in cake sales; and

     (2) the Company did not maintain sufficient centralized control
         over price increases to ensure that the Company could raise
         prices on bread products without damaging profitability;
         defendants knew that an increase in prices typically would
         result in a sacrifice in market share and the Company actually
         was exposed to significant risk with respect to its ability to
         attain profits based upon commodity prices.

On December 17, 2002, the last day of the class period, IBC shocked the
market by reporting extremely poor second quarter earnings, which it
attributed primarily to weak sales of its sweet cakes.  Following this
announcement, shares of IBC common stock plunged in value by over 35%,
from $23.16 per share on December 16, 2002, to $15.00 per share on
December 17, 2002, on extremely heavy trading volume that was almost
fifty (50) times more active than normal.  

Prior to the disclosure of the Company's true financial condition,
certain of the Individual Defendants and other IBC insiders sold shares
of their personally-held common stock for gross proceeds in excess of
$16 million.

For more details, contact Samuel H. Rudman, David A. Rosenfeld, 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

INTERSTATE BAKERIES: Shepherd Finkelman Commences Securities Suit in MO
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 Interstate Bakeries
Corp. (NYSE: IBC) between September 17, 2002 and December 17, 2002, in
the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.  
The suit names as defendants the Company and:

     (1) Frank W. Coffey,

     (2) Mark Dirkes,

     (3) James R. Elsesser,

     (4) Robert P. Morgan,

     (5) Charles A. Sullivan,

     (6) Richard D. Willson and

     (7) Paul E. Yarick

The defendants are all senior officers and/or directors of the Company
during the class period.  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 IBC's
business and financial condition during the class period.

Specifically, the suit alleges that, inter alia, defendants mislead
investors and the market regarding IBC's sales of critical products,
the Company's ability to increase prices of certain products without
adversely impacting market share and profits and IBC's ability to
maintain profits in the face of higher ingredient and commodity prices.

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

PARAMETRIC TECHNOLOGIES: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in MA
Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz LLP initiated a securities class action
on behalf of all persons who purchased or acquired common stock of
Parametric Technology Corporation (Nasdaq: PMTC) between October 19,
1999 through and including December 31, 2002, in the United States
District Court for District of Massachusetts against the Company and:

     (1) Steven C. Walske,

     (2) C. Richard Harrison,

     (3) Noel G. Posternak, and

     (4) Edwin J. Gillis

The complaint charges that the defendants violated Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder, by issuing a series of material
misrepresentations to the market between October 19, 1999 and December
31, 2002, thereby artificially inflating the price of Parametric common

Throughout the class period, as alleged in the suit, defendants issued
numerous statements and filed quarterly and annual reports with the SEC
which described the Company's increasing revenues and financial
performance.  The suit alleges that these statements were materially
false and misleading because they failed to disclose and/or
misrepresented the following adverse facts, among others:

     (i) that since fiscal 1999, in violation of Generally Accepted  
         Accounting Principles (GAAP) and its own revenue recognition
         policies, the Company had cumulatively overstated its
         previously recognized maintenance revenue from its service
         contracts by approximately $33.4 million;

    (ii) that the Company lacked adequate internal controls and was
         therefore unable to ascertain the true financial condition of
         the Company; and

   (iii) that as a result, the value of the Company's income and
         financial results were materially overstated at all relevant

On December 31, 2002, after the close of regular trading, Parametric
shocked the market by announcing that it had identified "$20 to $25
million of previously recognized maintenance revenue which should have
been deferred and recognized in fiscal 2003 and later periods."  
Accordingly, the Company announced, it "expects to report a
corresponding reduction in maintenance revenue in prior periods,
primarily in fiscal year 2002."

The next day of trading, on January 2, 2003, shares of Parametric
closed at $2.19 per share, after hitting an intraday low of $1.95, as
compared with a class period high of $32.88 per share, reached on
December 16, 1999.  Subsequent disclosures revealed that the Company
would be restating its financial results from fiscal year 1999 through
fiscal year 2002 because a cumulative total of $33.4 million in
maintenance revenue had improperly been reported as revenue during that

For more details, contact Ms. Linda Flood, Director of Shareholder
Relations, by Mail: 10 East 40th Street, New York, New York 10016, by
Phone: (800) 217-1522 or 212-779-1414 by E-mail: PMTC@bernlieb.com or
visit the firm's Website: http://www.bernlieb.com.

SAWTEK INC.: Milberg Weiss Commences Securities Fraud Suit in M.D. FL
Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP initiated a securities class
action on behalf of all persons who purchased securities of Sawtek,
Inc. (formerly Nasdaq: SAWS), currently a subsidiary of TriQuint
Semiconductor, Inc. (Nasdaq:TQNT) between January 7, 2000 and May 24,
2001, inclusive.

The action is pending in the United States District Court for the
Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, against the Company and:

     (1) Kimon Anemogiannis (President and CEO since November 14,

     (2) Gary A. Monetti (CEO from October 1, 1999 to November 14, 2000
         and director) and

     (3) Raymond A. Link (Senior V. P.-Finance, Treasurer and CFO)

The complaint charges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder, by issuing a series of materially false and misleading
statements to the market between January 7, 2000 and May 24, 2001.

The suit charges Sawtek and certain of its executive officers with
violations of federal securities laws.  Among other things, plaintiff
claims that defendants' material omissions and the dissemination of
materially false and misleading statements concerning Sawtek's business
operations and financial performance caused Sawtek's stock price to
become artificially inflated, inflicting damages on investors.

Sawtek designs, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of
electronic signal processing components, based on "surface acoustic
wave" or SAW technology, primarily for use in the wireless
communications industry.  The complaint alleges that during the class
period, defendants misrepresented Sawtek's financial performance by
improper "channel stuffing" - inflating revenue by shipping more
products than distributors could sell - and by disseminating false and
misleading statements concerning the Company's revenue and business
prospects despite a widespread downturn in the wireless and
telecommunications markets.

The Company's actual financial performance was revealed on May 23,
2001, when defendants' acknowledged that the Company's projected
results for the quarter ending June 30, 2001, would fall well below the
Company's previously issued revenue guidance.  By the close of trading
on the next day, May 24, 2001, the Company's stock price had plunged
more than seventeen percent (17%) from the previous day's close as a
result of this news.

For more details, contact Steven G. Schulman or U. Seth Ottensoser by
Mail: One Pennsylvania Plaza, 49th fl. New York, NY, 10119-0165 by
Phone: (800) 320-5081 by E-mail: sawtek@milbergNY.com or visit the
firm's Website: http://www.milberg.com

TRANSKARYOTIC THERAPIES: Wolf Popper Lodges Securities Suit in MA Court
Wolf Popper LLP initiated a securities class action against
Transkaryotic Therapies, Inc. (Nasdaq:TKTX), in the United States
District Court for the District of Massachusetts, on behalf of persons
who purchased TKT securities, or who sold put options, on the open
market from January 4, 2001 through January 14, 2003.

The suit alleges that during the class period, defendants made
misrepresentations and nondisclosures of material fact concerning TKT's
prospects for FDA approval of TKT's Replagal enzyme therapy for the
treatment of Fabry disease.  In fact, the suit alleges, defendants knew
by virtue of their ongoing communications with the FDA that the FDA
considered TKT's data on the primary pain reduction endpoint of TKT's
Phase II study to be uninterpretable, and further that the FDA
considered that TKT's cardiac and renal data did not support approval.

The true facts were first revealed after the close of the securities
markets on October 2, 2002, when TKT admitted that the FDA had
determined that TKT's data on pain reduction was "uninterpretable," and
that TKT had determined not to rely on that data to seek FDA approval
for marketing of Replagal.  Rather, defendants stated that TKT would
rely primarily on its data for cardiac and renal improvement in Phase
II tests for patients receiving Replagal.

At the January 14, 2003 Advisory Committee meeting to consider approval
of Replagal, a representative of the FDA testified that in a letter
dated December 22, 2000, and on a "frequent basis thereafter," the FDA
had advised TKT that "the clinical study data (from the Phase II
studies) had not provided substantial evidence of efficacy and fully
detailed the facts leading to that conclusion.  (The FDA's Center for
Biologics Evaluation and Research) recommended that additional clinical
studies be conducted." On January 15, 2003, TKT closed at $6.49, more
than 85% below its Class Period high.

TKT was motivated to make the materially false and misleading
statements during the class period, among other things, to sell $267
million in common stock in secondary public offerings.  Defendant
Richard F. Selden was similarly motivated to sell 90,000 shares of his
personal holdings of TKT common stock during the class period for total
consideration of $2,800,000.

On February 11, 2003, Mr. Selden resigned his positions as Chairman and
CEO of TKT.  Mr. Selden's loss of credibility with investors and the
FDA has been widely attributed as the cause of his resignation.

For more details, contact Robert C. Finkel by Mail: 845 Third Avenue,
New York, NY 10022 by Phone: 212-451-9620 or 877-370-7703 (toll free)
by Fax: 212-486-2093 or 877-370-7704 (toll free) by E-mail:
irrep@wolfpopper.com or visit the firm's Website:


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

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