CAR_Public/031024.mbx            C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R
  
           Friday, October 24, 2003, Vol. 5, No. 210

                        Headlines                            

ALBERTSON'S: Settles Sex Bias Suit Over Contraceptive Coverage
APARTHEID LITIGATION: Victims Place Hopes on American Lawsuits
ARKANSAS: Cattle Farming Firm To Sue Over Required Fee Program
BRITISH AMERICAN: Judge Issues $25T/Day Fine For Nondisclosure
CATHOLIC CHURCH: Bridgeport Diocese Settles Sex Abuse Lawsuit

CHEVRONTEXACO: Trial Commences in Ecuador Environmental Lawsuit
CREDIT SUISSE: Judge Urges Verdict in Quattrone Securities Trial
EL RANCHERITO: Ordered by Court to Pay Workers $1M in Back Wages
FUJITSU: Settlement For Suit Over Defective Hard Drive Eminent
GOODYEAR TIRE: Faces New Lawsuit Over Entran II Heating Hose

HOLLYWOOD: MPAA Pushing For Compromise on Oscar Screeners Ban
HUSQVARNA: Recalls Walk-Behind Mowers Due to Loose Blade
IBM CORPORATION: Workers Seek Payments in IL Cash Pension Suit
ILLINOIS: DHS Seeks To Block Report on Sex Offenders Treatment
JANUS CAPITAL: Seeks Consolidation of Securities Fraud Lawsuits

NUTRAQUEST: Files Bankruptcy Due To Suits Over Diet Supplement
OBESITY LITIGATION: Senate Bill Proposed To Curb Fast Food Suits
OHIO: Hepatitis Suit Settlement Could Be Only One Week Away
OXYCONTIN LITIGATION: Jury to Deliberate Drug Prescription Case
PUTNAM INVESTMENTS: Security Regulators To File Civil Fraud Suit

RJ REYNOLDS: IL Court Postpones "Lights" Cigarettes Suit Trial
SACRED HEART: Settles Athlete's Gender Discrimination Lawsuit
SONY COMPUTER: Parents File Suit Linking Video Game To Shooting
SYCAMORE NETWORKS: Reaches Settlement For Securities Suit in NY
UNICASH FINANCIAL: Faces Trio of Lawsuits Over Loans Program

UNITED STATES: Senate Refuses To Pass Class Action Fairness Act
VAN DER MOOLEN: Share Prices Drop Over US Securities Fraud Suits
VICTORIA'S SECRET: Pays $50,000 Fine For Online Security Glitch


                      Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Makers, Insurers Agree on Fund
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Victims in Brazil Cry for Justice
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Labor Unions Urged to Counteract Reform
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Causes GP Profits to Soar
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Keyspan Unit to Pay $400T for Asbestos

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Defendants Settle Asbestos Suits
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Insurer Eyes $331M Asbestos Claims Cost
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Grace Asks for Approval for Asbestos Lawyer
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: PPG Blames Asbestos Liabilities for 3Q Drop

                   New Securities Fraud Cases

ALLIANCE CAPITAL: Barrack Rodos Commences Securities Suit in NJ
SUREBEAM CORPORATION: Bull Lifshitz Lodges Securities Suit in CA


                        *********


ALBERTSON'S: Settles Sex Bias Suit Over Contraceptive Coverage
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Albertson's supermarket chain agreed to settle a class
action filed in the United States District Court in Arizona,
alleging that the Company's health plan violates women's rights
by excluding prescription contraceptives from coverage, the
Arizona Republic reports.

A half-dozen female workers, backed by Planned Parenthood and
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), filed the
suit on behalf of thousands of female employees.  The suit
alleges that the grocer forced women into an untenable choice,
paying for expensive contraceptives or getting pregnant, that
men did not face.  It further states 85 percent of sexually
active women of child-bearing age become pregnant if they do not
use birth-control pills, IUDs or other protective measures.  
Plaintiffs are all identified as company employees in Arizona:

     (1) Julie Testa,

     (2) Stephanie Nieves,

     (3) Tamara Varga,

     (4) Heidi Ruiz-Ochoa,

     (5) Lavino Taylor and

     (6) Sophia Moreno

Under the settlement, the company will pay $50 to $150 to female
employees who used prescription contraceptives, depending on how
long they worked for the company.  More than 70,000 women
enrolled in the health plan during a three-year period are
covered by the settlement.

Josh Konecky, an Oakland attorney for the plaintiffs, told the
Arizona Republic the suit was submitted as a formality so that a
federal judge can confirm settlement terms negotiated earlier
this year.  He said that agreement would be entered into court
record within days.  Lawrence Katz, a Phoenix attorney for
Albertson's, said the company began covering contraceptives in
June.

Mr. Konecky added several similar legal actions have succeeded,
but the Albertson's case is groundbreaking because of its
nationwide impact.  He said the outcome would benefit more than
10,000 female employees at the company while advancing an
industry trend for covering prescription contraceptives.

"This is a basic health need that's borne by women," Mr. Konecky
told the Republic, "and to deny it is a form of discrimination.
The trend is for employers to cover their female workers .
Albertson's has done the right thing here.  They've created a
workplace that's going to take care of its employees."

"I'm really excited," Ms. Nieves, a Glendale resident who still
works at Osco and is studying to be a pharmacist told the
Republic.  "And I'm glad it's benefiting a lot of women."


APARTHEID LITIGATION: Victims Place Hopes on American Lawsuits
--------------------------------------------------------------
Still awaiting compensation from the current government, scores
of apartheid victims have pinned their hopes on the distant
courts of the United States, where lawsuits have been filed
against top international corporations they claim helped prop up
the racist government, AP newswire reports.

On Tuesday, Michael Hausfeld, the US lawyer representing 80
members of the Khulumani, a support group for apartheid victims,
who had filed suit in New York last November against 20
multinational corporations, including ChevronTexaco and IBM, met
with the group to share their stories and field questions.

Meanwhile, another US lawyer, Ed Fagan - who came to prominence
in a landmark $1.25 billion settlement with Swiss corporations
on behalf of Holocaust victims - met with his South African
clients in Sasolburg, a small town about 40 miles south of
Johannesburg.  He filed a class action in New York on behalf of
those who suffered occupational disabilities and lost pension
funds during apartheid.

President Thabo Mbeki has repeatedly said his government would
not support the lawsuits, a disappointment to those who hoped
the government would be sympathetic.  To date, the only avenue
for reparations was through the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission, formed to help heal apartheid's wounds, which
decided on a one-time government payment of $92.4 million, but
only to the 22,000 victims who testified in the hearings.

It has left people like Thomas Masilo empty-handed.  "Must I go
pinch? Become a criminal? An old man like me? That's what the
government is making me do," said Mr. Masilo, 62, who was in the
crowd of demonstrators shot upon by apartheid police in the town
of Sharpeville in 1960.  Sixty-nine people were killed, among
them two of his cousins and an uncle.  Amid gunfire he crawled
300 yards to safety, passing those crumpled to the ground with
bullets in their backs.  What became known as the Sharpeville
massacre became a turning point in the struggle against
apartheid, exposing the oppressive reach of the regime.  Mr.
Masilo, who is unemployed and joined the suit on behalf of his
dead relatives, said he was disappointed by the government's
stance.

At the meeting in a dusty gym in the poor town of Sasolburg,
Silas Mokwena, a 48-year-old pipe fitter said the money was
desperately needed.  The ruling African National Congress "is
not good for us," he said.  "We were expecting money so that we
can pay for our kids' education and the money has not come
through."

Abraham Motloung, 45, said he has faith in Mr. Fagan's lawsuit,
adding they were the only ones who have reached out to his
community.  "We had the National Party (the ruling party during
apartheid), it was not good for us.  We have the ANC, it is not
good for us. Why should we vote? ... They are both the same,"
said Mr. Motloung, who has never been employed.

The lawsuit is based on U.S. law that gives American courts
jurisdiction over violations of international law, regardless of
where they occur.  It points to several businesses, including
automobile makers it says provided armored vehicles used to
patrol black townships and arms manufacturers and oil companies
it says violated international sanctions imposed to protest the
apartheid regime.

Government officials have said South Africa's problems should be
resolved at home.  Apartheid began in 1948 and was held together
by a web of racist laws that stripped even the most basic rights
from those who were not white.  As efforts to overthrow the
white regime grew, authorities began jailing some opponents,
killing others without trial and forcing many into exile.  
Apartheid ended in 1994, with the nation's first all-race
elections.

Mr. Hausfeld said if the current lawsuit fails, he will appeal.
The victims "should never give up hope," he said.


ARKANSAS: Cattle Farming Firm To Sue Over Required Fee Program
--------------------------------------------------------------
Peek Farms Partnership, an Arkansas cattle farming operation,
has filed a lawsuit seeking class action status over the
required beef check-off program, which involves the required
payment of a $1-per-head fee on cattle sold by American beef
farmers in the United States, Associated Press Newswires
reports.   

Peek Farms' lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, asks
the court to stop Arkansas' portion of the national program from
collecting money from cattle farmers and to order a refund of
money collected in Arkansas since 1985, a total that could reach
more than $17 million.

The lawsuit which was brought in federal court by plaintiff beef
farmers and other groups opposed to the checkoff program, seeks
a remedy imposed nationwide by the federal court, one which
would stop payment of the fee for a marketing campaign with
which they do not agree.

The Eighth US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the
national program, known for its slogan, "Beef:  It's What's For
Dinner," is unconstitutional.  A three-judge panel of the
appeals court affirmed a lower court decision, which had held
that the mandatory program infringes on the First Amendment
rights of the cattle ranchers.

Recently, after the defendant marketing program appealed the
three-judge panel's decision, the Court opted not to convene all
the court's judges to hear the matter or to have the original
three-judge panel rehear it.  Meanwhile, the ranchers and
farmers have to continue paying the fee until all appeals are
exhausted.


BRITISH AMERICAN: Judge Issues $25T/Day Fine For Nondisclosure
--------------------------------------------------------------
US District Judge Gladys Kessler fined British tobacco company,
BAT Investments Limited $25,000 per day, beginning last Friday,
until the company complies with an earlier order to turn over
documents related to the Justice Department's suit against the
cigarette industry, AP Newswire reports.

As of Wednesday, $75,000 had been paid, company spokesman David
Betteridge told AP.  He said his company was trying to appeal
Judge Kessler's decision, arguing the documents sought by the
government, which allegedly describe efforts to hide the health
dangers of cigarettes and touch on evidence destruction, are
privileged.

The company is owned by British American Tobacco PLC, which also
owns Louisville, Ky.-based Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., the
third-largest U.S. cigarette manufacturer.

The Bush administration inherited the lawsuit from the Clinton
administration.  The suit seeks to collect damages from tobacco
companies for profits allegedly earned through fraudulent
practices and to bar the companies from similar future behavior.


CATHOLIC CHURCH: Bridgeport Diocese Settles Sex Abuse Lawsuit
-------------------------------------------------------------
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport confirmed Tuesday that
it has settled another sexual-abuse claim against one of its
priests, Rev. Joseph Moore - apart from last Wednesday's $21
million settlement of claims by 40 victims, ConnPost.com
reports.

Diocesan spokesman Joseph McAleer would not disclose the amount
of this latest settlement at the victim's request, but said it
was being paid, as were the other settlements, through insurance
and the sale of undeveloped surplus diocesan property.  Rev.
Moore, reached at his home in Rutland, Vt., refused to comment
either on the accusation against him or the settlement.

Bridgeport lawyer Bruce Gordon, who represents the victim in
this case, offered no comment, except to say that it is in the
process of being settled.

The settlement was apparently reached at the same time the
lawsuit on the case was filed in Superior Court.  In the
lawsuit, the victim, called only John Doe, claims he was
sexually assaulted on several occasions by Rev. Moore at
Assumption Parish in Westport between 1973 and '75 when he was a
child.  The suit claims diocesan officials had learned that Rev.
Moore had been abusing children but assigned him to Assumption
Church anyway, where he would still have access to children.  

In 2001, the diocese settled another claim against Rev. Moore,
who was accused of molesting a boy at St. Mary Parish in Bethel
in the early 1980s.  Mr. McAleer said Rev. Moore in 1997 was
removed from ministry and no longer has authorization to serve
as a priest.

Rev. Moore was stationed at St. Theresa's Parish in Trumbull
from 1972 to '73, Assumption Church from 1974 to '75, St. Joseph
Church in Danbury from 1976 to '81, and St. Mary's Church in
Bethel from 1982 to '83.  From 1984 to '96, he is listed in
church records as being on duty "outside the diocese."


CHEVRONTEXACO: Trial Commences in Ecuador Environmental Lawsuit
---------------------------------------------------------------
Trial has started in a class action filed in Ecuador against
ChevronTexaco Corporation, on behalf of 30,000 indigenous
Ecuadorians whose lives and livelihoods were allegedly adversely
affected by Texaco, Inc.'s operations there from 1971 to 1992,
the Washington Post reports.

During this period, Texaco drilled 323 oil wells and dug 627
pits for use in the drilling or production process, and
extracted 1.5 billion barrels of oil from the region, as part of
an international consortium.

The plaintiffs allege that Texaco failed to use "acceptable
industry standards" to dispose of the 18.5 billion gallons of
wastewater in a region of virgin jungles, wetlands and broad
Amazon tributaries.  The pits the company dug were unlined and
toxic waste allegedly seeped into the streams and rivers where
most of the 500,000 people who live there rely for household
water.  Plaintiffs allege the clean-up costs would surpass $1
billion.

In 1992, the Company sold its stake to the state oil company and
fellow consortium member Petroecuador, the Washington Post
reports.  In 1995 Texaco paid out $40 million to clean up 207
pits holding toxic wastewater.  That work was later certified by
the Ecuadoran government and the Company considered its
obligations fulfilled.

During the time of the Company's operations, Ecuador had no
environmental protection laws for the oil industry.  In 1999,
the country passed a measure holding oil companies responsible
for cleaning up pollution from past operations, and deemed it
retroactive.

The Company intends to challenge the retroactive application of
the law.  Lawyers for ChevronTexaco Corporation, formed in 2001
from the merger of Texaco and Chevron Corporation, deny the
company is liable.  They argue plaintiffs cannot sue a company
that ceased to exist after the merger.

"We think that the allegations against the company are false,
and are not backed up by credible evidence,"  Ricardo Veiga,
vice president and general counsel of ChevronTexaco Latin
America Products, told reporters Wednesday in Quito, the
capital, the Post reports.

The suit was initially filed in New York, but in August 2002 the
US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit sent it to Ecuador,
ruling that the Ecuadorian judicial system's decision would be
legally binding on the parent corporation in the United States.  
Environmental attorneys say it is among the first cases
worldwide in which a US court has recognized as binding a
foreign court's jurisdiction over a US company for damaging the
environment.

Among the plaintiffs in the suit are the Cofan Indians, who
dwell in a settlement in Lago Agrio, Ecuador.  Although
surrounded by rain-swollen rivers, this community of Cofan
Indians now trusts only water drawn from deep in the ground by
their tiny well.  For years, they have watched family members
and friends grow sick from drinking or bathing in the
contaminated river water.

"Always we have counted on water from the Aguarico, until it was
contaminated," Toribio Aguinda, a Cofan leader from the
riverside village of Cofan Dureno, 15 miles east of here told
The Post.  "We have asked them for help in the past.  But they
have always forgotten us."

The trial could have strong consequences for the environmental
movement, US corporations doing business overseas, and poor
Ecuadorians who have never had a voice in their country's
judicial system, The Post reports.  The trial, which follows a
decade of legal maneuvering in the United States, convenes at a
time when hostility to free trade and foreign corporations is
rising in many parts of Latin America.  Last week, the president
of Bolivia was driven from office by protests over his free-
market economic policies.


CREDIT SUISSE: Judge Urges Verdict in Quattrone Securities Trial
----------------------------------------------------------------
Federal Judge Richard Owen urged the jury to try harder to reach
a verdict in former Credit Suisse First Boston star banker Frank
Quattrone's obstruction of justice trial, the Associated Press
reports.  The jury is on its fourth day of deliberations, but
has reported to Judge Owen they substantially disagreed on the
verdict.

Mr. Quattrone is charged with obstruction of justice and witness
tampering, after he forwarded an e-mail to CSFB employees on
December 5,2000, urging them to "catch up on file cleanup by
destroying some files."  Prosecutors allege that Mr. Quattrone
was blocking federal and regulatory probes into CSFB's
allocation of hot new stocks during the Internet boom.

"This is an important case," Judge Owen told jurors, AP reports.  
"This trial has required a lot of time, effort and money from
both the defense and prosecution."

The judge also cautioned the jurors not to yield their honest
beliefs, but said "you should not hesitate to re-examine your
own views and change your opinion if convinced it's erroneous.

The trial was earlier suspended for two days, after one juror's
wife had a baby.  Mr. Quattrone's defense team moved for a
mistrial, asserting the delay exposed jurors to extensive trial
publicity.  The motion was denied.  A mistrial would force the
government to decide whether to try the case again.

Mr. Quattrone has contended he did not know the scope of the
investigations, and was simply following a bank policy that
required some document destruction, AP reports.


EL RANCHERITO: Ordered by Court to Pay Workers $1M in Back Wages
----------------------------------------------------------------
The owners of the Effingham-based El Rancherito have agreed to
pay nearly $1 million in back wages after an investigation by
the U.S. Department of Labor found the Mexican restaurant chain
had denied its workers the minimum wage and overtime pay, AP
Newswire reports.

Under the terms of a settlement filed Wednesday in federal
court, El Rancherito agreed to pay $943,455 to more than 300
workers at 19 restaurants in 17 communities.

Labor officials said the restaurant chain violated federal law
by routinely paying cooks, dish washers, waiters and busboys for
40 hours a week when they worked 60 hours or more.  They also
didn't pay the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour in some
cases, officials said.

The investigation began in June after a smaller inquiry into the
restaurant's finances revealed flawed paperwork and underpaid
workers - many of whom speak only Spanish, said Tim Reardon,
regional administrator of the department's wage and hour
division.  "We will go to where low-wage workers need our
assistance," Mr. Reardon said. "It's the low-wage workers that
need our help the most."

The settlement must be approved by a federal judge and then the
restaurant will have five years to pay the back wages plus
interest.  A lawyer representing the restaurant's owners had no
comment on the settlement, AP states.


FUJITSU: Settlement For Suit Over Defective Hard Drive Eminent
--------------------------------------------------------------
The class action against Fujitsu over hard drives that crashed
has come to an end, with the firm deciding to settle its
difference with the plaintiffs who brought the case, the
Inquirer.net reports.

US citizens who bought some models of Fujitsu 3.5-inch IDE hard
drives are to be compensated to the tune of $42.5 million for
the disks, and for PCs that contained the disks.  The lawsuit
not only claimed damages against Fujitsu, but against Gateway,
HP and others.  The defendants deny the claims.

A Santa Clara court has ratified the settlement, which allows
expenses for HDDs, for data recovery services, or for future
expenses for HDDs or data recovery problems.  The proposed
settlement still has to be finally approved, an action that may
take 10 months, the notice said.  If people feel they have a
claim, or feel they do not like the settlement, they have a
chance to express their views to the court.


GOODYEAR TIRE: Faces New Lawsuit Over Entran II Heating Hose
------------------------------------------------------------
Canadian businesses and homeowners have launched a $30-million
class action lawsuit at the Court of Queen's Bench in Calgary
against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Goodyear Canada Inc.,
over allegations the company manufactured and sold faulty
heating hoses, the Globe & Mail.com reports.

The lawsuit follows a $236-million settlement with American
consumers who recently went to court complaining about the same
type of hoses.  

Cases on both sides of the border center on a product called
Entran II, which was used in radiant floor heating systems and
to melt snow on driveways, sidewalks and roofs.  The Canadian
plaintiffs allege that a material - nitrite/neoprene - used in
the hoses deteriorated, quickly leading to leaks, clogs, high
heating bills and cracked and weeping floor boards, as well as
water and sludge damage to property and buildings.  There was
also "substantial cost" to replace the heating systems and
depreciation in property value, according to the lawsuit.

The suit, led by Alberta-based Mike Myshak Management Ltd.,
accuses Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear Tire & Rubber and Toronto-
based Goodyear Canada of negligence related to the hoses they
manufactured between 1989 and 1993 for use in heating systems
designed by a company called Heatway Systems.  The allegations
have not been proven in court, and no statements of defense have
been filed.

Goodyear Canada spokeswoman Jane Wilcox said her company has not
seen the lawsuit and therefore cannot comment on it.  Goodyear
Tire & Rubber did not return calls, The Globe and Mail reports.


HOLLYWOOD: MPAA Pushing For Compromise on Oscar Screeners Ban
-------------------------------------------------------------
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is working
towards a compromise on the controversial ban on "screener"
videos that studios send to members of the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) for consideration for the annual
Oscar awards, Reuters/Hollywood Reporter states.

The MPAA instituted the ban to prevent pirated copies of the
movies from being produced, but the ban raised opposition from
different groups.  One major point made by opponents of the ban
was that it prevented small, independent films from reaching
Academy members, and tilted the favor to big studios.  
Independent producers argue the ban will particularly hurt their
films since these do not play as widely in theaters compared to
films released by major studios, which means industry voters
would be less likely to see them, an earlier Class Action
Reporter story (October 10,2003) story.

However, the MPAA leadership this week has been working towards
a compromise with the AMPAS.  One selling point has been the
argument that if the Academy members promise not to allow
encoded screeners out of their possession, then if any screeners
are pirated, they can be traced back to the recipients, who can
be punished, possibly by expulsion from the Academy.  MPAA Jack
Valenti is expected to circulate a detailed proposal to major
Hollywood studios this week.  

However, the MPAA might face several drawbacks because the
compromise might also divide the film community between screener
haves and have-nots.  The debate seems to have shifted to how to
handle other awards groups, such as the Hollywood Foreign Press
Association (HFPA), which organizes the Golden Globes, the
guilds, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)
and the various critics groups, Reuters reports.

Questions like whether the other groups can police their members
as effectively as it is assumed the Academy can and whether the
studios should be seen as favoring the Academy over other awards
groups remain.

The HFPA is scheduled to meet Wednesday, Reuters reports.  HFPA
president Lorenzo Soria said "If the policy, which at the moment
is no screeners for anybody, becomes no screeners for anybody
but the Academy -- and that's a big if -- it's something that is
of great concern to us.  Keep in mind, the Academy votes
primarily on English-language movies, and it votes category by
category.  We vote in all categories and in addition to English-
language movies consider about 40 foreign films, so screeners
have become an essential part of the process for us."

In a statement issued Tuesday, Screen Actors Guild (SAG)
national executive director/CEO Bob Pisano said the guild was
"very encouraged" that the MPAA is reconsidering its position,
according to Reuters.  He added that "(SAG) looks forward to
working with the MPAA, studios and independent producers to
protect against piracy while affording our SAG Nominating
Committee members the opportunity to view all eligible
performances within this compressed awards season."

The Writers Guild of America is expected to release a statement
this week, supporting the compromise even if it applies only to
the Academy.  The Directors Guild of America, for its part, has
yet to take an official position on the issue but also is
expected to release a statement Wednesday, Reuters states.

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association has cancelled its
awards due to the screener ban.  President Jean Oppenheimer,
told Reuters that the group would not revisit that decision
until it sees any possible MPAA compromise.  The New York Film
Critics Circle also weighed in Tuesday, saying, "Though the New
York Film Critics Circle is opposed to the MPAA screener ban,
the group does not plan to withhold its awards for 2003 in
protest."

Even at the Academy, several logistical issues remain.  
Traditionally, the Academy has not provided lists of its members
to the studios and their various awards consultants; the award
campaigners have had to develop the lists on their own.  It is
not clear yet how these listings will be handled in case of a
compromise.

If the MPAA does rule that screeners will be sent to Academy
members only, sources within the unofficial coalition of studio
specialty arms opposing the ban said Tuesday that such a
proposition might not end the controversy, Reuters reports.

"There are a lot of issues on the table," one indie veteran told
Reuters.  "I don't know if (the proposition of sending screeners
to Academy members only) is going to fly with the group.  What's
going to happen to SAG, BAFTA, the Hollywood Foreign Press? What
are they going to say?"

Sources indicated that those against the ban are now preparing
to step up their efforts to build on the string of scathing open
letters directed at Valenti and the MPAA over the past two
weeks, Reuters/Hollywood Reporter states.


HUSQVARNA FOREST: Recalls Walk-Behind Mowers Due to Loose Blade
----------------------------------------------------------------
Charlotte, N.C.-based Husqvarna Forest and Garden Company, in
cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,
announced the voluntary recall of 9,900 units of Husqvarna Royal
53S or ROY53INTEK Walk-Behind Lawn Mowers with serial numbers
between 24600001 to 31000205 following 15 reports of blades
coming off, 41 reports of loose blades and one report of a
consumer being struck in the toe by a blade.  A loose blade bolt
could cause the blade to come loose or the blade adapter to
crack, resulting in the blade falling off.  Should this
condition occur, the operator or a bystander could be injured.

The walk-behind lawn mowers are gas-powered and have an orange
body with a black push-handle.  They are capable of being
operated with or without a bag attachment.  The model number and
serial number can be found on a decal mounted above the left
rear wheel axle.

The mowers, manufactured in the U.K., were distributed by
Husqvarna dealerships and Lowe's Home Improvement Centers from
December 2002 through August 2003 for about $500.

For more details, contact Husqvarna technical support
representatives between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET
Monday through Friday by Phone: (800) 448-7543 Ext. 3.


IBM CORPORATION: Workers Seek Payments in IL Cash Pension Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
In a brief submitted to the US District Court in the Southern
District of Illinois, workers in a high-profile pension lawsuit
against International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE:IBM)
(IBM) are asking the company be required to make payments to
some participants of an IBM retirement plan dating back to 1995,
Dow Jones Newswire reports.

Their request is a crucial step in a long fight that touches on
whether IBM failed to pay longer-service workers their fair
share of benefits when it converted to a cash-balance pension
plan in 1999.

In July, Judge G. Patrick Murphy ruled in favor of the
plaintiffs in a case contesting the conversion, concluding the
pension plan didn't treat all participants fairly.  However, he
left unresolved the question of what the workers should receive
in damages, and directed parties in the case to propose what
relief the court should order to address the violations.

"If the court approves the payment request, retired workers
would get remedial payments if earlier benefits amounted to less
than they would have been under the new formula, and some
current employees would see benefits bumped up", says Doug
Sprong, a benefits lawyer who represented the plaintiffs.  

"What many would ultimately get would be larger benefits," he
told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.  "We don't go to court to get
less money."

About 150,000 workers are represented in the suit.  Mr. Sprong
added plaintiffs haven't yet put a dollar amount on possible
damages because they lack data needed to make the calculations.  
The current and former employees want IBM to recalculate accrued
pension benefits with a different formula than initially used.

IBM is also required to propose damages, but hasn't yet done so.
Mr. Sprong said the company is widely expected to propose that
it make no retroactive payments.

IBM spokeswoman Kendra Collins declined to comment on the
assertion.  "IBM will file its response to the proposed remedies
with the courts," she said.  "Our position hasn't changed; we
continue to feel our plans are nondiscriminatory."

The company is expected to appeal Judge Murphy's decision, but
the company hasn't been free to do so until damages have been
determined.

Cash-balance plans like the one at the center of the IBM case
are increasingly controversial.  Employees have waged a long war
over the pensions in other class action suits against Xerox
Corporation, Cigna Corporation and AT&T Corporation.

Judge Murphy's ruling has made the powerful corporate lobby that
supports the plans apprehensive.  The group includes big
employers and benefits-advisory firms such as Watson Wyatt & Co.
and Towers Perrin.  The decision has deepened federal gridlock
that began in 1999 when the Internal Revenue Service stopped
approving new cash-balance plans because of age-discrimination
concerns.

In September, the House of Representatives passed an amendment
sponsored by Rep. Bernard Sanders, a Vermont Independent, that
would prohibit the Treasury Department from getting involved in
efforts to overturn the IBM decision.  The agency has been
working for nearly a year to finalize rules addressing whether
cash-balance plans are age discriminatory.  The long-awaited
guidance had widely been expected to support cash-balance
plans.

Such plans leave investing to employers and promise fixed
benefits, like traditional pensions.  Like 401(k)s, they are set
up as individual accounts, with benefit and interest credits.
Age-discrimination charges focus on the fact that employers
often reset the clock when converting to cash-balance plans,
bringing older workers' benefits into line with those of younger
workers.


ILLINOIS: DHS Seeks To Block Report on Sex Offenders Treatment
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Illinois Department of Human Services attorneys filed an
emergency motion in the United States District Court in Chicago
seeking to prevent the public release of an expert's opinion on
the state's treatment of 180 convicted sex offenders at a Joliet
site where they are indefinitely confined, the Associated Press
reports.

The lawyers contended that the report written by Dr. Fred
Berlin, a psychologist and physician at Johns Hopkins University
in Baltimore, would "seriously undermine the effectiveness" of
the residents' treatment.  

The department also wants to keep the report from the sex
offenders, who are the plaintiffs in a federal class action
filed by the American Civil Liberties Union last year on
conditions at the state site.  The suit alleges the sex
offenders confined in Joliet are living under punitive
conditions and receiving inadequate mental health treatment.

Dr. Berlin toured the site and interviewed staff and residents
in August 2002.  In his report, Dr. Berlin said that he found
the program to be "a substantial departure from accepted
practice, judgment and/or standards in the field of inpatient
mental health treatment," according to court documents.

The state contends Dr. Berlin wasn't told of improvements in the
program.  The motion also raised concerns that the sex offenders
could use the report as a reason to drop out of treatment.  
"There is a reasonable likelihood that (residents) will read the
untested report and question the effectiveness of their
treatment providers and confront them with its contents," the
motion said.

US District Judge Harry Leinenweber decided Tuesday to hold a
hearing to determine if the report should be kept confidential,
the Associated Press reports.  No date was set.

"In 19 years I've never seen the government try to suppress a
report even from being disclosed to the plaintiffs," ACLU
attorney Benjamin Wolf told AP.


JANUS CAPITAL: Seeks Consolidation of Securities Fraud Lawsuits
---------------------------------------------------------------
Janus Capital Group is seeking to consolidate more than three
dozen securities class actions filed against it in several
federal courts, the Denver Post reports.

Nine lawsuits are pending in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York, another nine in the
District of New Jersey and three in the District of Eastern
Pennsylvania, according to the Pacer U.S. Party/Case Index.  The
most suits, 16, are in federal court for the District of
Colorado, located in Denver.  Some of those federal cases were
initially filed on the state level in Denver District Court, but
all but one has been transferred to federal courts.

The suits were commenced after New York Attorney General Eliot
Spitzer in early September revealed that the Company permitted
Canary Capital Partners LLC, a New Jersey hedge fund, to market-
time, or make short-term trades, in two Janus funds.  The suits
similarly allege that the Company breached its fiduciary duties
to its fund holders when it allowed that practice.  Market
timing, although not illegal, can dilute the returns available
to longer-term investors in a mutual fund and add to the costs
they must cover.

The suits further allege violations of federal securities laws
because:

     (1) Janus misled and defrauded fund holders when fund
         prospectuses said market timing was not allowed, while
         side agreements were reached to allow it;

     (2) Certain investors, in particular large market-timers
         and hedge funds, were given special treatment,
         violating requirements that investors be treated
         similarly;

     (3) Mutual funds at Janus were not priced in such a way to
         stop gains from market timing, although such
         adjustments are allowed.

The Company and at least one plaintiff want the suits
consolidated for "judicial efficiency," although they have not
agreed on where to consolidate the suits.

"We believe that the lawsuit should stay in a (state) court in
front of a Colorado judge and Colorado jury," Julie Williamson,
a lawyer with Hoffman Reilly told the Denver Post.  Another
plaintiff, Leona Marini, who filed in federal court in Denver,
wants all the cases consolidated here.  Attorneys for Marini
favor Denver as the venue because Janus is here and the alleged
violations occurred here.

"All of the complaints allege improper administration of the
Janus mutual funds, which was primarily directed or managed from
Janus' offices in Colorado," Marini's attorneys argued in a
filing, The Denver Post reports.

The Company want the suits consolidated in New York federal
court, and if that can't be done then Denver, Janus spokesman
Blair Johnson told the Post.  "The District Court in Manhattan
is a logical venue because it's generally considered to be the
court with the most experience in dealing with complex
securities litigation," Mr. Johnson said.

"We take these allegations seriously and will respond to the
suits in due course," Mr. Johnson continued.  "As we've said all
along, our focus remains on doing what's right for our fund
shareholders."

Steve Thel, a securities law professor at the Fordham University
Law School in New York said that the Company seems like its
leaning towards a settlement.  "Mutual funds more than any
investment institution have to keep a reputation for integrity,"

Janus recently admitted to having a dozen market-timing
agreements, although it said only four were active and only
seven mutual funds were involved, such admissions are why Mr.
Thel sees a settlement as likely.


NUTRAQUEST: Files Bankruptcy Due To Suits Over Diet Supplement
--------------------------------------------------------------
Dietary supplement firm Nutraquest, formerly known as Cytodyne
Technologies, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in
United States Bankruptcy Court in Trenton, New Jersey, the
Associated Press reports.  The company attributed the filing to
the lawsuits filed against it, over its product Xenadrine RFA-1,
which contains ephedra, an herbal stimulant that critics claim
causes heart-related problems by increasing blood pressure in
some users.

In May, a California court ordered the Company to pay $12.5
million to California consumers who filed a class action,
alleging that the Company misled consumers by making exaggerated
and false claims about Xenadrine RFA-1's safety and
effectiveness.  The Company has denied the charges and is
appealing the ruling.

On February 16,2003, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler
collapsed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after taking Xenadrine
RFA-1 to lose weight.  His body temperature rose to more than
108 degrees and he died the next day.  A bottle of the
supplement was found in his locker, AP reports.  

Toxicology tests confirmed "significant amounts" of an over-the-
counter supplement containing ephedra led to Mr. Bechler's
heatstroke, along with other factors, the medical examiner said.  
Mr. Belcher's widow subsequently filed a lawsuit in US District
Court in Fort Lauderdale, seeking $600 million in damages and a
ban on the sale of ephedra-based products.

"As with many other industries that have been plagued with
litigation, this small company simply could not handle the
financial and time-consuming drain of the increasing lawsuits
filed by plaintiffs' lawyers across the country," the company
said in a prepared statement, AP reports.  "The Chapter 11
filing automatically stays all litigation, and all claims will
be dealt with in Bankruptcy Court.

Nutraquest "continues to believe that the majority of the
litigation against the company is entirely without merit," the
statement read.  "Millions of Americans have enjoyed the
benefits of our products, which will continue to be distributed
and will continue to be successful."

Kiley Bechler's lawyer, David Meiselman, told AP the Chapter 11
filing was an attempt by the company's president, Robert
Chinery, to protect his personal assets.  "Our intention is to
go after Mr. Chinery and his assets and make sure he is going to
have to work the rest of his life to satisfy any judgment we may
get against him," Mr. Meiselman said.


OBESITY LITIGATION: Senate Bill Proposed To Curb Fast Food Suits
----------------------------------------------------------------
Tort-reform champion Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has introduced
a bill is seeking to prohibit obese Americans from suing food
companies for weight-related medical conditions, entitled the
"Commonsense Consumption Act," CBSMarketwatch.com reports.

Last year, several lawsuits were filed against fast-food giant
McDonald's, alleging that plaintiffs were unaware of the
potentially harmful effects of the company's food because the
fast-food giant does not make its nutritional information
"adequately available."  They also accused McDonald's of being
deceptive about ingredients in its products.  A federal judge in
New York already threw out two such lawsuits earlier this year.

The legislation is part of the move by Republican legislators to
curb class actions and the sway of powerful trial lawyers.  In a
similar development, the Senate refused to pass a White House-
backed bill, seeking to move class actions from state courts to
federal courts and seeking to curb "runaway litigation against
business." (related story in this issue)

"The logic of (obesity lawsuits) is ridiculous," Sen. McConnell
testified recently before a Senate subcommittee,
CBSMarketWatch.com reports.  "If we keep this up, it will not be
long until we sue car dealers when we get speeding tickets."

"Americans should stop blaming others and instead take personal
responsibility for their own food choices," Dr. Gerard Musante,
a clinical psychologist and founder of the Structure House
weight-loss facility in Durham, NC, told CBS.  "Negative
lifestyle choices cause obesity, not a trip to a fast-food
restaurant or a cookie high in transfat."

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the chairman of the Judiciary
Committee's subcommittee on administrative oversight and the
courts, denounced the effects of what he considers to be a
proliferation of "frivolous" lawsuits.  "The potentially
detrimental effects of runaway verdicts is well known, but there
are huge costs that arise from the defense of unjustified
lawsuits as well," he told CBS.

Groups like the National Restaurant Association expressed their
support for the legislation, saying that businesses worry that
they will not be able to afford liability insurance if the suits
continue.  

"It would take only one lawsuit of this nature to potentially
put me out of business and take away all that I have worked
for," said Wayne Reaves, a restaurant association board member
who testified before the subcommittee.

In a written statement, David S. Casey Jr., the president of the
Association of Trial Lawyers of America, urged Congress not to
usurp the courts' power.  "As always, the ATLA stands on the
side of our civil justice system," he said, CBS reports.  "The
courts themselves - not editorial pages, not the Internet, not
state legislatures, not Congress - are the best forum for
determining the merits of any lawsuit."


OHIO: Hepatitis Suit Settlement Could Be Only One Week Away
-----------------------------------------------------------
Attorneys for the plaintiffs and the defendant health care
providers in the Norman Regional Hospital Hepatitis C litigation
on Wednesday announced that a $25 million settlement of the
pending class action lawsuit could be reached as early as next
week, the Norman Transcript Online reports.

According to a statement released by Glen D. Huff, attorney for
Norman Regional, the Cleveland County, Ohio district judge
overseeing progress of the cases toward settlement authorized
attorneys in the litigation to make the announcement in response
to recent news accounts of settlement discussions.

District Judge William Hetherington previously had issued a
protective order prohibiting all parties from discussing the
proposed settlement until its terms are finalized, "because
disclosure of the terms being discussed might jeopardize the
settlement negotiations, as well as possibly mislead the public
and the patients involved," Mr. Huff stated.

Negotiations are ongoing and no final agreement has yet been
reached, Mr. Huff said.  Because the litigation involves a
plaintiff class of over 1,000 patients, the proposed settlement
will require court approval, he added.  "Notice will be given to
all potential members of the class, and a hearing set for the
court to hear evidence in support of the settlement," Mr. Huff
stated.

Most of the claims are against Norman Regional Hospital where
the pain management clinic was located; Dr. Jerry Lewis, M.D.,
who operated the clinic; and nurse anesthetist James Hill, who
is accused of reusing needles when administering intravenous
pain medicine to patients through heparin locks.


OXYCONTIN LITIGATION: Jury to Deliberate Drug Prescription Case
---------------------------------------------------------------
Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Wednesday whether pain
specialist, Dr. Cecil Byron Knox III, 54, and his assistant,
nurse Beverly Gale Boone, 44 illegally prescribed drugs that
contributed to the overdose deaths of seven people, AP Newswire
reports.

The pair are charged in a 69-count indictment that includes
racketeering, conspiracy, fraud and drug charges stemming from
Knox's practice at Southwest Virginia Physical Medicine and
Rehabilitation P.C.

Dr. Knox, a former paid speaker for OxyContin maker Purdue
Pharma, would endear himself to patients by lavishing them with
personal care, witnesses testified.  Instead of the lab coat
that many doctors wear, Dr. Knox preferred a bolo tie and cowboy
boots.  Prosecutors argue that Dr. Knox and Ms. Boone ignored
evidence that some of the patients had problems with drug abuse,
and that 10 patients either died or were seriously injured from
overdoses shortly after receiving prescriptions.  OxyContin, a
brand name for the drug oxycodone, is among the most-abused
prescription medications.  

During the seven-week trial, defense lawyer Tony Anderson argued
that the doctor and his staff may have made mistakes while
trying to navigate the ever-changing health care system.  
However, the intent, he said, always was to get the best
benefits for Knox's patients.  

"These people were trying to do it the right way," Mr. Anderson
said Tuesday at closing arguments.  "This practice is no more a
criminal enterprise than any other organization represented in
this room."

In all, Mr. Anderson said Dr. Knox and his staff received
$5,032.85 more than they should have from over-billing
government programs and insurance companies - an amount that
suggests a procedural mistake rather than an organized attempt
at fraud.

Prosecutors described Dr. Knox's practice as unprofessional and
disorganized, a "fraternity house, where patients would come and
hang out," Assistant US Attorney Rusty Fitzgerald said.  The
operation was nevertheless lucrative for Dr. Knox and his staff,
Mr. Fitzgerald said.  During a one-year period, Dr. Knox wrote
3,332 prescriptions for OxyContin and charged insurers
$1,600,000 for the drugs in a gargantuan effort at soothing pain
that ranked him near the top in the country among doctors.

Mr. Anderson argued Tuesday that prosecutors never proved that
injuries to patients directly resulted from Dr. Knox's care.
Instead, Mr. Anderson said prosecutors belittled Dr. Knox as an
eccentric in hopes of turning the jury against him.

"Over the past seven weeks, there's been a complete and total
character assassination of Dr. Knox," he said.

Closing arguments for the defense were to continue Wednesday
before Chief US District Judge Samuel Wilson hands the case to
the jury.


PUTNAM INVESTMENTS: Security Regulators To File Civil Fraud Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Massachusetts' securities regulators plan to file a civil-fraud
complaint against Putnam Investments, both investigators and the
firm said, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.   
This development would mark the first formal charges against a
mutual-fund firm in a widening inquiry of allegedly improper
trading by the mutual-fund industry.  

The well-known class action law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes
& Lerach said it filed a suit in U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of New York, against Putnam and its parent,
alleging violations of securities laws relating to rapid trading
in Putnam funds.

The complaint by the Massachusetts Securities Division is
expected to say that Putnam, one of the nation's largest fund
complexes, allowed some customers in 401(k) retirement plans
using Putnam funds to rapidly buy and sell shares in
international portfolios, creating profits at the expense of
long-term investors, WSJ reports.

Such trading is not illegal for the participants.  However, the
kind of trading in question can run counter to language in the
prospectuses of the fund company, which say that the fund
discourages rapid exchanges, often called market timing.

"The issue has a clear focus," William Galvin, Massachusetts
secretary of the Commonwealth, who oversees the securities
division told WSJ.  "Are there two sets of investors, one with
special privileges?  Are there first-class travelers when it
comes to mutual funds?"

Mr. Galvin, who announced his probe last month, after New York
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer made the first public allegations
in the mutual-fund scandal said, "our investigation is moving
along very quickly."  Mr. Galvin said he was in contact with the
Securities and Exchange Commission, which also is probing the
fund industry, about coordinating their inquiries.

Numerous marquee financial companies, including Bank of America
Corporation, Bank One Corporation and Alliance Capital
Management Holdings LLP, have been caught up in the various
fund-trading investigations so far.  Some top fund executives
have lost their jobs.   Last week, a former senior official with
Fred Alger Management Inc. pleaded guilty to obstructing Mr.
Spitzer's investigation.

Until now, no fund company has faced civil or criminal charges.  
Mr. Galvin said he also is investigating allegations of improper
trading among Prudential Securities brokers.   As part of that
investigation, Mr. Galvin's office subpoenaed employees from
Fidelity Investments, Morgan Stanley and Franklin Resources Inc.

Putnam executives said that Mr. Galvin's inquiry focused on
trading at three plans:  Fluor Hanford Inc., a unit of Fluor
Corp. that handles US government cleanup of a nuclear waste site
in Washington State and covers 11,000 people; the Joint Industry
Board of the Electrical Industry, which covers 30,000
electricians in New York state; and Boilermakers Union, Local 5,
in New York, which covers 1,000 persons.

Putnam has been vocal about efforts to discourage market timing.  
The company said retirement plans across the industry often do
not have restrictions on trading at retail mutual funds, because
the industry historically has permitted free access to their
funds.

The company recently said it was now in the process of adding
one percent redemption fees for trades of international-fund
shares within 90 days, a restriction already in force for its
retail funds sold to investors outside retirement plans.

The latest revelations come at a bad time for Putnam, which has
been struggling to reverse poor performance of its funds during
the bear market.  Putnam's assets under management are now $272
billion, down 30 percent from $391 billion at the end of 1999.   
This year, through the end of August, investors pulled more than
$8 billion from Putnam funds, more than from any other big firm,
according to fund researcher Financial Research Corporation.


RJ REYNOLDS: IL Court Postpones "Lights" Cigarettes Suit Trial
--------------------------------------------------------------
Madison County Circuit Court judge George Moran postponed the
trial for a consumer fraud class action against cigarette firm
RJ Reynolds, over its "lights" cigarettes, the Associated Press
reports.  The trial was set to begin on October 28.

On July 11, Judge Moran refused to postpone the trial, saying
there was no reason for a postponement.  The Company appealed
the ruling to the Fifth District Appellate Court, who upheld
Judge Moran's decision last week, stating that it's always up to
the lower court judge to grant or deny stays.

"We're pleased we're getting more time," Seth Moskowitz, a
spokesman for the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based company, told AP.  
The Company asserted that the case should be delayed while a
similar lawsuit against Philip Morris Inc. was on appeal before
the Illinois Supreme Court.  Whatever happened in that case
stood to influence the Reynolds case, the Company argued.

Last month, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed to hear its appeal
of the landmark $10.1 billion verdict in a class action charging
the Company with misleading smokers about the dangers of light
cigarettes, an earlier Class Action Reporter story (September
19,2003) states.  The high court also slashed the Company's
appeal bond to $6 billion, plus future payments at hundreds of
millions of dollars a year.

In his order postponing the trial, Judge Moran wrote he didn't
know in July how the Philip Morris post-trial proceedings would
unfold.  He said the case took twists and turns after his July
ruling that made it more relevant to the R.J. Reynolds case.  
After 90 days, "a hearing will be conducted to determine whether
continuing the stay is appropriate" beyond the next 90 days,
Judge Moran wrote, AP reports.

The judge did not immediately return a telephone message left at
his office Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Lawyer Stephen Tillery, who represents plaintiffs in both
lawsuits, told AP  "We were opposed to a stay of the litigation,
but we understand the logic of the court's ruling."


SACRED HEART: Settles Athlete's Gender Discrimination Lawsuit
-------------------------------------------------------------
Former Sacred Heart University basketball player Tara Brady
settled a lawsuit against the school that alleged she was
removed from the team and lost her scholarship because she was
pregnant, ConnPost.com reports.

In a statement released by Sacred Heart and the Women's Law
Project, a Philadelphia-based group that helped represent Ms.
Brady, the university did not admit wrongdoing, though it agreed
to "clarify its existing policy prohibiting all discrimination
on the basis of sex."  Details of the settlement were not
disclosed.

The lawsuit alleged that the Fairfield University violated Title
IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits
federally funded educational institutions from engaging in sex
discrimination.  Under Title IX, schools cannot exclude students
from any activity on the basis of pregnancy or childbirth.  Ms.
Brady also sought money for the scholarship she lost and for the
"emotional distress" she suffered.

While SHU did not agree it was wrong, the publicity it received
was less than desirable.  Ms. Brady called a press conference in
the spring to announce she had filed a lawsuit, and her story
was reported on ESPN's "SportsCenter," as well as in newspapers
and on other television shows.  Ms. Brady sat out the 2001-02
basketball season at Sacred Heart because of her pregnancy
before her scholarship was not renewed.  The scholarship was
restored after a hearing that May, but Ms. Brady said she felt
her relationship with coach Ed Swanson was beyond repair, and
she transferred to West Chester University in Pennsylvania.

"I brought this lawsuit so I could complete my interrupted
education and so that students in the future would know their
rights," Ms. Brady said in a statement.  "I am happy that the
settlement reached today accomplishes both of those goals."

Ms. Brady's mother, Cindi, said the family will not comment on
the settlement.

James M. Sconzo, an attorney with Halloran & Sage, the firm that
represents Sacred Heart, said, "Sacred Heart is equally
satisfied with the resolution of this matter."

SHU also agreed to include its policies on hardship waivers,
out-of-season incapacitation due to injury, illness or
pregnancy, and the NCAA policy on pregnancy in its Student-
Athlete Handbook and its Athletics Policies and Procedures
Manual.  "We are happy to provide our students with a more
complete Student-Athlete Handbook, one that details procedures
relating to existing policies we have had in place," SHU
athletic director Don Cook said in a statement.

Ms. Brady was a member of the SHU basketball team for two years,
and she was the team's second-leading scorer as a sophomore.  
She has said she was told to leave school prior to her junior
year, at which time she was pregnant.  She later found out she
had been medically sidelined, or red-shirted, and she returned
to school during the spring of 2002.  She gave birth to her son,
Sean, on February 1, 2002.  Three months later she was awarded
her scholarship back at a university hearing, but she ultimately
decided to transfer.

"The relationship with the coach was not one in which she
thought that she'd be able to continue there," Carol Tracy of
the Women's Law Project said at the time the lawsuit was filed.

Ms. Brady was a member of the West Chester basketball team last
year in her home state, and she filed the lawsuit in the spring
after, according to Ms. Tracy, an attempt at a settlement with
SHU was unsuccessful.  Ms. Brady is now a senior at West
Chester.


SONY COMPUTER: Parents File Suit Linking Video Game To Shooting
---------------------------------------------------------------
A $246 million lawsuit was filed in Cocke County Circuit Court
Monday against the designer, marketer, and retailer of the video
game series "Grand Theft Auto" on behalf of the families of two
people shot by teenagers who claimed their actions were inspired
by the game, AP Newswire reports.

Aaron Hamel, 45, a registered nurse, was killed and Kimberly
Bede, 19, of Moneta, Virginia, was seriously wounded when their
cars were hit June 25 by .22-caliber bullets as they passed
through the Great Smoky Mountains.

Stepbrothers William Buckner, 16, and Joshua Buckner, 14, of
Newport, were sentenced in August to an indefinite term in state
custody after pleading guilty in juvenile court to reckless
homicide, endangerment and assault.  The boys told investigators
they got the rifles from a locked room in their home and decided
to randomly shoot at tractor-trailer rigs, just like in the
video game "Grand Theft Auto III."

Miami lawyer Jack Thompson and local lawyer Richard Talley
alleged the game "inspires and trains players to shoot at
vehicles and persons."  "These kids simply decided to take the
thrill of that game out to Interstate 40 and started pointing at
cars," Mr. Thompson said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Mr. Thompson, who said he sent letters to Sony and Wal-Mart to
drop the game before the shootings, said, "It's not like this is
coming out of the blue, they chose to ignore this danger."

Douglas Lowenstein, president of the industry Entertainment
Software Association, called the shootings "an unspeakable
tragedy" but said blaming a game played by millions for the
boys' actions was "misguided and counterproductive."

"There is no credible evidence that violent games lead to
violent behavior," he said.  "While video games may provide a
simple excuse for the teenagers involved in this incident,
responsibility for violent acts belongs to those who commit
them."

San Mateo, Calif.-based Sony and Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-
Mart did not return calls for comment Tuesday.  The lawsuit
alleges the retail giant sold the game to the Buckners about a
year before the shootings.

Mr. Thompson has made similar claims in the past and lost,
notably a $33 million lawsuit against video game makers stemming
from the 1997 school shooting near Paducah, Ky., by a 14-year-
old boy.  The 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case
last year that it was "simply to far a leap from shooting
characters on a video screen to shooting people in a classroom."

The suit claims marketer Sony Computer Entertainment America
Inc., designers Take-Two Interactive Software and Rockstar
Games, and Wal-Mart, are liable for $46 million in compensatory
damages and $200 million in punitive damages.


SYCAMORE NETWORKS: Reaches Settlement For Securities Suit in NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
Sycamore Networks, Inc. reached a settlement for the
consolidated securities class action filed in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York against it,
several of its officers and directors and the underwriters for
the Company's initial public offering on October 21, 1999, and
the Company's follow-on offering on March 14, 2000.

The amended complaint was filed on behalf of persons who
purchased the Company's common stock between October 21, 1999
and December 6, 2000.  The amended complaint alleges violations
of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, primarily based on the
assertion that the Company's lead underwriters, the Company and
the other named defendants made material false and misleading
statements in the Company's Registration Statements and
Prospectuses filed with the SEC in October 1999 and March 2000
because of the failure to disclose:

     (1) the alleged solicitation and receipt of excessive and
         undisclosed commissions by the underwriters in
         connection with the allocation of shares of common
         stock to certain investors in the Company's public
         offerings and

     (2) that certain of the underwriters allegedly had entered
         into agreements with investors whereby underwriters
         agreed to allocate the public offering shares in
         exchange for which the investors agreed to make
         additional purchases of stock in the aftermarket at
         pre-determined prices.

The amended complaint alleges claims against the Company,
several of the Company's officers and directors and the
underwriters under Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act.  It
also alleges claims against the Company, the individual
defendants and the underwriters under Sections 10(b) and 20(a)
of the Securities Exchange Act.  The amended complaint seeks
damages in an unspecified amount.

The action against the Company is being coordinated with
approximately three hundred other nearly identical actions filed
against other companies.  The actions seek damages in an
unspecified amount.  On October 9, 2002, the court dismissed the
individual defendants from the case without prejudice based upon
stipulations of dismissal filed by the plaintiffs and the
individual defendants.

The Company has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and
related agreements which set forth the terms of a proposed
settlement between the Company and the plaintiff class.  It is
anticipated that any potential financial obligation of the
Company to plaintiffs pursuant to the terms of the MOU and
related agreements will be covered by existing insurance.

Therefore, the Company does not expect that the settlement will
involve any payment by the Company.  The MOU and related
agreements are subject to a number of contingencies, including
the negotiation of a settlement agreement and its approval by
the Court.  The Company is unable to determine whether or when a
settlement will occur or be finalized.  In the event that a
settlement is not finalized, the Company is not currently able
to estimate the possibility of loss or range of loss, if any,
relating to these claims.


UNICASH FINANCIAL: Faces Trio of Lawsuits Over Loans Program
------------------------------------------------------------
Class action lawsuits have commenced in the Ontario Superior
Court in Toronto against each of National Money Mart Company,
Cash Money Cheque Cashing Inc. and Unicash Franchising Inc.,
carrying on business as Unicash Financial Centres, over
allegations that each of the defendants charge criminal rates of
interest on short-term loans given to gainfully employed
consumers, Canada Newswire reports.

The Statements of Claim, issued Tuesday, October 21, 2003 allege
damages arising from interest rates charged by each of Money
Mart, Cash Money and Unicash on loans given to customers between
paydays.  The Defendants provide loans based on a percentage of
the borrower's next paycheque.  The loans become due on or
around the borrower's next pay day.  If the loans are repaid
before the due date, they purport to carry a legal interest rate
of slightly less than 60% per annum.

However, as alleged in the Statements of Claim, if the loans are
repaid after the due date (that is, after the borrower's next
payday), additional interest is charged, including interest
described as a "cheque cashing fee" and a "late charge."  In the
claims it is alleged that the cumulative interest charges
contravene the interest rate provisions of the Criminal Code.

Kenneth D. Mortillaro, an individual who has taken payday loans
from each of the defendants, brings these actions on behalf of
all persons who have taken or will take payday loans and did not
or will not repay the loan by the due date and, consequently,
have paid or been charged or will pay or will be charged
interest on a payday loan from any of the defendants.  The class
actions are all Canada-wide, except the claim against Money
Mart, which excludes Quebec and British Columbia.

The Plaintiff and proposed class in the claim against Money Mart
is represented by the law firm Paliare Roland Rosenberg
Rothstein LLP.  The Plaintiff and proposed class in the claims
against Cash Money and Unicash are jointly represented by the
law firms Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP and Koskie
Minsky LLP.

All three Statements of Claim can be viewed on the website of
Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP (www.paliareroland.com).  
The Statements of Claim against Cash Money and Unicash can also
be viewed on the website of Koskie Minsky
(www.koskieminsky.com).  Information about the class actions can
also be obtained via a toll free telephone information number,
1-888-880-8609, or by E-mail:
predatorylending@paliareroland.com.


UNITED STATES: Senate Refuses To Pass Class Action Fairness Act
---------------------------------------------------------------
The United States Senate refused to consider the controversial
Class Action Fairness Act, which seeks to move most large class
actions to federal courts, where it is harder to seek
compensation, Reuters reports.

Congressional Republicans and President George Bush were
supporting the legislation, which would curb what they call
"runaway litigation against business."  Democrats in the Senate,
who are friendlier to lawyers and consumer groups over corporate
interests, in the Senate opposed the bill, saying this would
cause federal courts to be clogged up with cases, delaying them
and causing other problems, an earlier Class Action Reporter
(October 24,2003) story reports.  

It is a "special interest piece of legislation designed
exclusively to protect those who are wealthy in America and
powerful in America from even being held accountable in court,"
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) told the Washington Post.

The Democratic minority used a procedural motion to block a vote
on bringing the bill to the floor for consideration.  The mostly
Republican backers of the bill needed 60 votes to clear the
procedural hurdle; they came nail-bitingly close, getting 59
votes, with 39 senators voting against them, Reuters reports.  
Although Senate Republicans said they would try again, and some
Democrats spoke of possible compromise, there is little
legislative time left for such efforts this year.

"We're only one short," Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican
whip, told Reuters.  He said it was inevitable that "we'll be
coming back to this bill at some subsequent time with a pretty
good likelihood that we'll be able to get the 60th vote."

Business interests were very disappointed.  "This was a missed
opportunity to help a struggling economy rebound," Bruce Josten,
executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told
Reuters.  "Companies will have to continue to carry a reserve of
financial resources to pay settlements to the trial bar."

Supporters of the bill asserted that companies are being
burdened by a flood of class actions filed in state courts where
judges are more inclined to harsh judgments against out-of-town
corporations.  Receiving particular focus is the Madison County
Circuit Court in Illinois, which is popular for being friendly
for class actions.  So many lawyers have flocked to Madison
County in southern Illinois to sue companies that class-action
cases filed there surged to 76 in 2002, from two in 1998, court
records show, Bloomberg Business News reports.  

"Some county judge in Illinois should not be making decisions
that affect consumer law in all 50 states," Republican Sen.
Charles Grassley of Iowa, a co-sponsor, told AP.

Eight Democrats and one independent, Sen. James Jeffords of
Vermont, voted with fifty Republicans in the failed effort to
bring the bill to the floor.  One Republican, Sen. Richard
Shelby of Alabama, voted with Democrats to block the bill,
Reuters reports.


VAN DER MOOLEN: Share Prices Drop Over US Securities Fraud Suits
----------------------------------------------------------------
Shares in Dutch specialist market maker Van Der Moolen Holding
dropped yesterday, skimming six year lows, over jitters brought
about by the shareholder class actions filed against it in the
United States District Court in the Southern District of New
York, Forbes reports.

The suits, filed on behalf of all persons who purchased the
Company's American Depository Receipt shares (ADRs) between
October 18, 2001 through October 15, 2003, also names as
defendants:

     (1) Friedrich M.J. Bottcher,

     (2) Frank F. Dorjee,

     (3) James P. Cleaver, Jr., and

     (4) Casper F. Rondeltap

The defendants are charged with violations of Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder, an earlier Class Action Reporter story
(October 22, 2003) states.  

The suits allege that as a specialist on the NYSE, Van der
Moolen is required to uphold the rules and requirements of the
NYSE.  One such requirement that Van der Moolen must adhere to
is called the "negative obligation."   The negative obligation
is the duty to hang back and not trade for the specialist firm's
own account when enough public investor orders exist to pair up
naturally, without undue intervention.  Rather than uphold its
duties, Van der Moolen, during the class period, repeatedly
violated its duties by engaging in an illegal scheme to drive up
the Company's financial results.

The shares were down 3.8 percent at 7.05 euros by 0740 GMT after
earlier touching 7.00, narrowly above the 6.98 low they hit
earlier this week, their weakest since May 1997, as news of the
suits hit local media.

"It looks like the broader public didn't pick up on this
yesterday . The market's dropping on a sort of delayed knowledge
of this," Eureffect asset manager Gert Jan Geels told Forbes.

"This is not positive for Van der Moolen -- though when
something like this has happened, it's almost 100 percent sure
you'll be sued by someone somewhere in the States," Andre Sirks,
trader at broker Stroeve told Forbes.



VICTORIA'S SECRET: Pays $50,000 Fine For Online Security Glitch
---------------------------------------------------------------
Lingerie giant Victoria's Secret has agreed to pay the state of
New York a $50,000 fine while promising to improve computer
security practices after a glitch on its Web site allowed
viewers to browse other customers' online orders, AP Newswire
reports.

The stores' Columbus-based parent company, Limited Brands, said
it fixed the problem within days of being notified by a customer
who noticed the discrepancy last November.  New York Attorney
General Eliot Spitzer announced the fine and settlement with
Limited on Tuesday.

A glitch in a feature allowing customers to check their order
status allowed them to randomly call up other orders, seeing
details such as sizes, prices, customer names and addresses.  
The faulty site didn't reveal credit card numbers or allow
visitors to search orders by name.

Spokesman Anthony Hebron said the company is notifying about 560
customers who were affected nationwide by mail.  New York was
the only state to take legal action, he said Wednesday.

The settlement requires Victoria's Secret to provide refunds or
credits to affected customers in New York.  It also requires the
company to establish an information security program and hire an
external auditor to review it yearly.  The company has not yet
determined the number of customers in the state or the amount of
potential refunds, Mr. Hebron said.


                      Asbestos Alert


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Makers, Insurers Agree on Fund
------------------------------------------------------------
Asbestos manufacturers and their insurers have been at bitter
odds over a bill that would create a trust fund to compensate
hundreds of thousands of victims of asbestos exposure.  However,
they recently came to an important agreement, which removed a
major obstacle to Senate action on the measure, reported The New
York Times.

At issue was how much each side would contribute to the fund.   
Under the terms of the agreement, the fund would pay $114
billion over 27 years, with insurers contributing 46 percent of
the money and the manufacturers, 54 percent, according to people
close to the talks.  The pact also would increase compensation
to certain victims, offering more than the bill currently
specifies.

The agreement, brokered by Senator William Frist, the Senate's
majority leader, does not ensure passage of the legislation.  
Trial lawyers and labor unions have lobbied heavily against the
bill, arguing that the fund is not big enough. At the same time,
there are still outstanding differences between the
manufacturers and the insurers.

"There are a lot of other issues, but this (the size of the
fund) is one fundamental aspect, which to me is the biggest
stumbling block," said Senator Frist, shortly after the
agreement was reached.

There are an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 asbestos exposure
victims seeking compensation for their injuries -- so many
lawsuits that some of the major manufacturers have been forced
to seek bankruptcy protection. Earlier this year, the Senate
Judiciary Committee approved a bill, sponsored by Senator Orrin
Hatch, Republican of Utah that would set up the trust fund.
But the bill quickly became bogged down.

Recently, with the Senate running out of time to consider the
measure, Dr. Frist brought both sides together in the Capitol.  
"You don't have a lot of time," said Dr. Frist.  He told them
that they needed to come together to help the lawmakers reform
this problem, according to one participant in the talks.  The
sides were so bitterly opposed that they could not even sit in
the same room; instead, Dr. Frist's aides put them in separate
rooms and shuttled offers back and forth, the participant said.

The Hatch bill creates 10 categories of victims, offering them
compensation that ranges from medical monitoring to a flat
$1,000,000 payment for people with mesothelioma, an asbestos-
related cancer.  Under the agreement, compensation would be
increased in six of 10 of those categories.  Participants said
the deal also revised a provision, favored by trial lawyers,
that would allow lawsuits if the fund could not meet its
obligations in any given year.

Michael E. Baroody, an official with the Asbestos Alliance,
which represents one group of asbestos manufacturers, said the
agreement "marks a major step forward."

On the other hand, Carlton Carl, a spokesman for the Association
of Trial Lawyers of America, said the deal "means nothing other
than that the companies and their insurers, who were responsible
for millions of Americans being poisoned by asbestos, sat around
in a room trying to come up with the smallest amount of money
they could pay to get out of their liabilities."


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Victims in Brazil Cry for Justice
---------------------------------------------------------------
Joao, one of the estimated 2,500 asbestos victims in Brazil,
fights for payouts, claiming the company never warned him that
the dust was harmful.

In an Al-Jazeera report, Joao says, "I was proud of the company,
they paid a good salary."

Joao, 71, suffers from an asbestos-related lung disease. He
claims Eternit deceived him because he was not informed of the
dangers of asbestos so he never wore masks.

The Al-Jazeera report says French and Swiss-based companies
continue wide-scale mining of chysotile, or `white' asbestos in
Brazil, despite a prohibition on its use in their own countries.
Its use in new buildings was also banned in the UK in 1999.

Unlike the world's leading exporter, Canada, most of Brazil's
asbestos remains in the country, and can be found in 60% of
houses despite being a grade one carcinogen with no safe limit
of exposure.

Factory inspector Fernanda Giannasi, 45, who has gained
international fame by waging a fierce campaign to ban the toxic
substance, took up Joao's fight for compensation.

Giannasi says she has been at the bunt of harassment as she
receives death threats and suffered court writs by international
asbestos companies. In 2001, she was nominated Woman of the Year
in Brazil.

"Until 1993, I believed that the fiber could be used safely.
Then I realized it was not feasible, and began to widen this
discussion in society for the replacement of asbestos. Today I
am certain that it is a just and necessary fight," Giannasi told
Aljazeera.net.

Asbestos exposure can cause respiratory diseases, lung cancer
and asbestosis.

A survey in August this year by ABREA, the national association
of asbestos victims, involving 1022 former cement industry
workers at the Eternit plant in Osasco, Sao Paulo, found 24 had
died from asbestos-related diseases. Another 25 fatalities were
not officially recognized as asbestos-related diseases.

It also found 223 cases of respiratory disorders, 192 cases of
pleura plaques (a thickening of the membrane covering the
lungs), 109 cases of asbestosis and two surviving lung cancer
victims.

Encouraged by Giannasi, the pioneers in the fight against
asbestos exposure were former workers of the now-defunct Eternit
company (owned by Saint Gobain) in Osasco, Sao Paulo.

In 1995, they created the national association, ABREA. Many of
the victims were first contacted at the funerals of others.

The organization carries out medical tests on victims and has
over 500 cases in the Brazilian courts, seeking compensation for
its members who have refused settlements.

Precedent across the Atlantic suggests that any victory will be
hard-won.

It took five years of legal battles to secure a landmark $30
million settlement between the Cape asbestos mines group and
South African communities, and a further year for the firm to
pay out.

"Central to the Cape case was that multinational companies
undertaking hazardous operations overseas should be held
accountable for resultant injuries," says Cecil Skeffers of the
South African-based NGO Concerned People Against Asbestos.

The Cape claimants' solicitor, Richard Spoor, is now chasing
other mining companies, including Eternit, for their operations
in South Africa. The uncompensated victims of the company in
Brazil will be closely watching his progress.

The Cape workers brought a private lawsuit, which was heard in
UK courts. For Brazilians to do the same in France and
Switzerland would require financial aid and the will of victims
to hold out.

The payout offered by the companies in Brazil is usually $3000.
But, some victims accept it because of their desperate need for
money, the need to address their disability and their distrust
of the judicial system.

"It wasn't until a number of companies had shut down that the
workers came to us. All of them were very ill. Nobody had ever
told them that asbestos was dangerous. If it was brought up at
all, they were told `it is safe because it is white," says
Giannasi.

To ban asbestos would bring huge unemployment to states like
Goias, where 200,000 people are involved in the production
chain. Exports are worth over $30 million to Brazil every year.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Labor Unions Urged to Counteract Reform
------------------------------------------------------------
A Republican senator urged labor groups to make a counter-
proposal on the asbestos litigation reform plan with strong
faith that the bill will be inked this year, according to a
Reuters report.

An AFL-CIO official does not share Senate Republican Leader Bill
Frist's optimism, saying Dr. Frist and other Senate Republicans
already knew where unions stood on the issue.  Reuters reports
that the Republicans want to jump-start stalled legislation to
end asbestos lawsuits and establish a fund, supported by
asbestos companies and insurers, to pay claims of people
sickened by the mineral.

However, last week Democrats and the AFL-CIO labor federation
said a proposal from Sen. Frist's office for a $114 billion fund
to compensate asbestos victims was too small to have any chance
of passage in the Senate, closely divided along party lines.  
With lawmakers hoping to adjourn in November, and the agenda
already crowded with items including funding for the Iraq war,
the thumbs-down from unions and their Democratic allies
seriously clouded prospects for passage of an asbestos bill this
year.

Sen. Frist, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, appeared not
to be taking the rejection as final, and requested a specific
labor counter-offer.  "If we can get a response (from labor), I
believe we could address asbestos reform in a very reasonably
short time period, before we are out, whenever that is going to
be, this year," Sen. Frist, a Tennessee Republican, said.

Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, sponsor of an earlier proposal for
an asbestos victims' fund that congressional auditors say would
be worth about $136 billion, was more blunt.  "They (the unions)
have to get off their duffs and tell us what they want," Sen.
Hatch told Reuters in a Capitol hallway.

"That's not what they told us last week.  They told us that (the
$114 billion proposal) was their final offer," Peg Seminario,
AFL-CIO's occupational health official, said when told of Sen.
Frist's and Sen. Hatch's comments.

Asbestos was widely used for fireproofing and insulation until
the 1970s, when scientists concluded that inhaled fibers could
be linked to cancer and other diseases.  Thousands of lawsuits
by victims have driven 67 companies into bankruptcy.

Ms. Seminario, in a phone interview with Reuters, said it was
not fair to say that labor had not made its position clear.
Months ago, she said, the AFL-CIO said it favored a proposal by
Vermont Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy that would provide a
compensation fund for asbestos victims of between $128,000,000
and $185,000,000.  She said AFL-CIO officials were prepared to
continue talking to senators about the issue, but doubted a bill
of such complexity could be finished in the waning weeks of this
year.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Causes GP Profits to Soar
-------------------------------------------------------
Atlanta-based maker of Brawny paper towels has a reason to
celebrate as its profits soar to more than double in its third
quarter results largely due to its asbestos liability insurance
and better market conditions.

Georgia Pacific Corp said it earned $189,000,000, or 75 cents a
share, in the three months ending Sept. 30, compared to a profit
of $66,000,000, or 27 cents a share, for the same period a year
ago.

Georgia-Pacific provided an update on its management of asbestos
liabilities. New claims filed in the third quarter were
considerably less than projected.

Georgia-Pacific is one of the world's leading manufacturers of
tissue, packaging, paper, building products, pulp and related
chemicals. It employs about 61,000 people in North America and
Europe.

In addition to Brawny, its consumer tissue brands include
Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Mardi Gras and Vanity Fair.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Keyspan Unit to Pay $400T for Asbestos
-----------------------------------------------------------
Keyspan Corporation's subsidiary recently agreed to pay $400,000
to resolve an asbestos-related lawsuit and filed a stipulation
discontinuing the suit.

In March 2003, a jury rendered a verdict against KeySpan
Generation LLC, and other defendants in the amount of
$47,000,000 in a proceeding filed by a plaintiff claiming injury
from asbestos exposure at generating facilities formerly owned
by the Long Island Lighting Company and others.  

In connection with the May 1998 transaction with the Long Island
Power Authority, costs incurred by KeySpan for liabilities for
asbestos exposure arising from the activities of the generating
facilities previously owned by LILCO, including the facility
involved in the case, are recoverable from LIPA through a Power
Supply Agreement between LIPA and KeySpan.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Defendants Settle Asbestos Suits
-----------------------------------------------------
Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Standard Steel Press and
Metropolitan Life chose to settle during jury selection in
Dauphin County recently an asbestos-related case.

Norman Kulig of Hummelstown and his wife, Victoria, sued the
companies in a case that could have become one of the largest
asbestos liability cases ever seen in central Pennsylvania.

The Patriot News reports that Norman Kulig was diagnosed with a
form of cancer called deciduoid mesothelioma in January 2002.
Asbestos has been linked with that particular form of cancer.

Kulig claims he was exposed to asbestos while he worked as an
electrician at various industrial and commercial job sites for
D&S Contracting from 1992 until December 2002.

Kulig also claims to have been exposed to brake and clutch
materials containing asbestos at North Penn Arco Gas Station in
Lansdale, where he worked from 1977 to 1979.

All the parties settled as the case was set to go to trial
before Judge Lawrence F. Clark. Details of the settlement were
not filed with the court and attorneys in the case could not be
reached as of presstime.

Kulig sued Standard Steel Press because he claims he was exposed
to asbestos on his father's clothing when his father worked
there from 1963 to 1969 and then as a machinist at Sand Mar
Manufacturing from 1969 to 1974.

Kulig's father said he was exposed to Carborundum grinding
wheels containing asbestos while working at Standard Steel
Press.

"An October 14, 1983, memorandum from the law department of
Carborundum to management stated that the diamond grinding wheel
and cubic boron nitride [or borazon] grinding wheel contained an
asbestos mixture called Bakelite containing 33% asbestos by
weight," wrote Richard A. Lemen, a Jasper, Ga.-based asbestos
expert.

An EPA filing in 1982 revealed that Carborundum had used 8,400
pounds of Bakelite in 1981, said Lemen's letter.

Kulig's 29-page complaint claims "inhaling the fibers and dusts
led to his cancer.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the chest and abdomen
first recognized by physicians in 1943.

"By the early 1960s, it was well established that this disease
was causally associated with exposure to asbestos in both men
and women, and currently there has not been established any
level of exposure below which there is no risk of developing
mesothelioma," Lemen wrote.

Kulig's lawsuit was filed in Allegheny County in March 2002, but
was transferred to Dauphin County.

Documents related to the suit fill at least 10 boxes in the
Dauphin County Prothonotary's Office.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Insurer Eyes $331M Asbestos Claims Cost
------------------------------------------------------------
Boston insurer, Liberty Mutual Group, said that a growing number
of asbestos claims would cost the company another $331,000,000
this year, the Boston Herald reported.   

The company, which is owned by its policy holders, joins many of
its peers -- such as The Hartford and Travelers -- which have
hiked their set-asides in recent years in order to keep pace
with a rise in asbestos related lawsuits.  Liberty's most recent
set-aside, which represented a $215,000,000 after-tax earnings
hit, brings to about $1.2 billion the amount of cash it has
locked away to cover asbestos claims.

"We have been adding to asbestos reserves pretty aggressively
over the last several years," said Matt Coyle, Liberty's
director of investor relations.  "The number would have been a
lot worse if previous action had not been taken."

The company's 2003 earnings through September 30 more than
doubled, compared with last year's first nine months, even with
the asbestos charge, Mr. Coyle said.

Liberty said it earned $416,000,000 on $12,400,000,000 in
revenue for the first nine months of this year, compared with
earning $207,000,000 on $10,400,000,000 in revenue during the
same period last year -- figures appearing in a report which is
the first of what the company expects will be regular quarterly
financial updates for bond investors, according to Mr. Coyle.

Karen Hovarth, an analyst at A.M. Best Co., said the asbestos
set-aside probably would not have a major impact on liberty's
finances.  The set-asides are largely a reaction by insurers to
an increase in class-action lawsuits against manufacturers of
asbestos products, Ms. Hovarth said.

Best estimates that asbestos claims will ultimately cost the
property and casualty insurers about $65,000,000,000, spread
among many decades, with about $20,000,000,000 in unfunded
liabilities remaining, Ms. Hovarth said.  "The (asbestos)
payouts will eventually tail off, but we are nowhere near that,"
added Ms. Hovarth.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Grace Asks for Approval for Asbestos Lawyer
---------------------------------------------------------------
W.R. Grace & Co. asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington,
Del., to name a New Jersey attorney to represent the interests
of people who make asbestos claims against the company in the
future, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Grace, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2001 to manage
its mounting asbestos liabilities, said it likely will seek
approval of a restructuring plan that would channel all current
and future asbestos personal injury claims to a trust. To do
that, the building materials and chemical company must have a
future claims representative appointed in the case, the motion
filed Oct. 13 and obtained by Dow Jones Newswires said.

After discussing candidates with the various committees in its
case, Grace selected C. Judson Hamlin as the future claims
representative, court papers said. Hamlin is a former judge and
was given statewide responsibility in New Jersey for various
mass tort matters, including litigation on breast implants,
contraceptive devices and large-scale environmental claims,
court papers said.

Hamlin was recently appointed to the mass tort advisory
committee of the New Jersey Supreme Court and served as
executive director of claims administration for the National
Diet Drug Class Action Settlement Trust, the motion said.

The attorney also has experience with various asbestos cases as
a special consultant and was appointed compliance master in 2002
for the Cooper Tire $2 billion national class action settlement,
court papers said.

Dow Jones reports that a hearing on Hamlin's appointment is
scheduled for Nov. 17, with objections due Oct. 31.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: PPG Blames Asbestos Liabilities for 3Q Drop
----------------------------------------------------------------
Earnings of the Pittsburgh-based company plunge as the company
sets aside money to settle its asbestos liabilities.

PPG Industries reports a net income of $142,000,000 for the
three months ended Sept. 30, down from $148,000,000 a year ago.
The company's revenues rose to $2,210,000,000 from
$2,070,000,000.

"We see continuing of a slow but likely uneven escalation in the
economy, which, in combination with our improved business mix
and our unwavering commitment to generating cash and reducing
costs, will only amplify any gains that the economic expansion
brings," said PPG Chairman and Chief Executive Raymond W.
LeBoeuf.


                   New Securities Fraud Cases


ALLIANCE CAPITAL: Barrack Rodos Commences Securities Suit in NJ
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Barrack, Rodos & Bacine has initiated a class
action in the United States District Court for the District of
New Jersey on behalf of purchasers of the AllianceBernstein
Funds family of funds owned and operated by Alliance Capital
Management Holding L.P. and its subsidiaries and affiliates
between October 2, 1998 and September 29, 2003, inclusive.

The action has been brought against Alliance Capital Management
Holding L.P.; Alliance Capital Management L.P.; Alliance Capital
Management Corp.; AXA Financial, Inc.; Gerald Malone; Charles
Schaffran; Edward J. Stern; Canary Capital Partners, LLC; Canary
Investment Management, LLC; Canary Capital Partners, Ltd.; each
of the Funds; each of the registrants of the Funds; and John
Does 1-100.

The complaint charges defendants with violations of Sections 11
and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933; Sections 10(b) and 20(a)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder; and Section 206 of the Investment
Advisers Act of 1940.  

The Complaint charges that, throughout the Class Period,
defendants failed to disclose that they improperly allowed
certain hedge funds, including Canary and certain Alliance hedge
funds, to engage in improper and/or unlawful trading practices,
including "timing" and "late trading."  

Timing is excessive, arbitrage trading undertaken to turn a
quick profit.  "Late trades" are trades received after 4:00 p.m.
(EST) that are filled based on that day's net asset value, as
opposed to being filled based on the following day's net
asset value, as required by SEC regulations.  In return from
earning extra fees from Canary and other favored investors,
Alliance Capital Management Holding L.P. and its subsidiaries
and affiliates permitted and facilitated Canary's timing and
late trading activities, to the detriment of class members who
paid, dollar for dollar, for Canary's improper profits.  These
practices were undisclosed in the prospectuses of the Funds,
which falsely represented that the Funds actively discouraged
short-term timing transactions.

For more details, contact Maxine Goldman, the Shareholder
Relations Manager, by Mail: Barrack, Rodos & Bacine,3300 Two
Commerce Square, 2001 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 by
Phone: 800-417-7305 or 215-963-0600 by Fax: 888-417-7306 or
215-568-1838 or by E-mail: mgoldman@barrack.com.


SUREBEAM CORPORATION: Bull Lifshitz Lodges Securities Suit in CA
----------------------------------------------------------------
Bull & Lifshitz initiated a securities class action in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of
California on behalf of purchasers of SureBeam, Inc.
(Nasdaq:SUREE) common stock during the period March 16, 2001 and
August 20, 2003.

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

     (1) that the Company was improperly recognizing revenue in
         violation of GAAP;

     (2) that the Company's improper revenue recognition was
         done through its recognition of revenue from non-
         affiliated parties when the Company knew that such
         parties could not pay and for which SureBeam would
         forgive those receivables;

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

     (4) that as a result, the values of the Company's earnings,
         net income and earnings per share were materially
         overstated at all relevant times.

The Class Period begins on March 16, 2001, after SureBeam
successfully launched an Initial Public Offering (IPO), wherein
it obtained net proceeds of $60 million.  The Class Period ends
on August 25, 2003.  On that date, SureBeam shocked the
investing public when it announced that the Company would now
trade under the ticker symbol "SUREE" because it had missed the
deadline to file its Form 10-Q in accordance with NASDAQ
Marketplace Rule 4310(c)(14).

Investor reaction was swift and negative, with SureBeam stock
falling from a close of $1.82 on Friday, August 22, 2003, to
a close of $1.59 on Monday, August 25, 2003, or a single-day
decline of more than 12% on a very high trade volume.

For more details, contact Peter D. Bull or Joshua M. Lifshitz by
Phone: (212) 213-6222 by Fax: (212) 213-9405 or by E-mail:
counsel@nyclasslaw.com

                        *********

A list of Meetings, Conferences and Seminars appears in each
Wednesday's edition of the Class Action Reporter. Submissions
via e-mail to carconf@beard.com are encouraged.

Each Friday's edition of the CAR includes a section featuring
news on asbestos-related litigation and profiles of target
asbestos defendants that, according to independent researches,
collectively face billions of dollars in asbestos-related
liabilities.  The Asbestos Defendant Profiles is backed by an
online database created to respond to custom searches. Go to
http://litigationdatasource.com/asbestos_defendant_profiles.html

                        *********


S U B S C R I P T I O N   I N F O R M A T I O N

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by
Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Fairless Hills,
Pennsylvania, USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Frederick, Maryland
USA.  Enid Sterling, Roberto Amor, Aurora Fatima Antonio and
Lyndsey Resnick, Editors.

Copyright 2003.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
publication in any form (including e-mail forwarding, electronic
re-mailing and photocopying) is strictly prohibited without
prior written permission of the publishers.

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

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

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