CAR_Public/031031.mbx            C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R
  
           Friday, October 31, 2003, Vol. 5, No. 216

                        Headlines                            


ALASKA: Judge Enters TRO V. Taking Sex Offenders' DNA Samples
CATHOLIC CHURCH: Print Ad Seeks Victims Of Priest Sexual Abuse
CDH & AFFILIATES: Enjoined by Court From Securities Violations
DANA CORPORATION: Shareholders File Securities Suit in W.D. VA
DANA CORPORATION: Asks VA Court To Dismiss Stock Derivative Suit

ENRON CORPORATION: Judge Weighs Venue Change in Fastow Lawsuit
ESTEE LAUDER: Consumer Antitrust Lawsuit Re-Filed in CA Court
FEDERATED INVESTORS: Investors File Securities Suits in W.D. PA
FLEETBOSTON FINANCIAL: SEC Sues For Insider Trading, Stock Fraud
FLORIDA: Tree-owners Seek Certification For Citrus-Canker Suit

GROUND ZERO: Doctors Reveal Worker's Continuing Health Problems
JOHNSON & JOHNSON: FDA Warns Serious Problems With Cypher Stent
LIPPER CONVERTIBLES: SEC Launches Enforcement Proceedings in NY
MIRANT CORPORATION: Noteholders Launch ERISA Lawsuit in DE Court
MIRANT CORPORATION: Shareholders File Derivative Suits in DE, GA

MIRANT CORPORATION: Plaintiffs File Consolidated Suit in N.D. GA
MONTE FOODS: Recalls Canned Soup Because Of Undeclared Allergen
NEUROSMITH: Recalls Children's Plush Toys Due To Choking Hazard
OXFORD HEALTH: Reaches Settlement For Securities Lawsuit in NY
OXFORD HEALTH: FL Court Dismisses CT AG ERISA Violations Lawsuit

OXFORD HEALTH: Plaintiffs Appeal Dismissal of MSSNY Fraud Suit
OXFORD HEALTH: Arbitration Commences in NJ Consumer Fraud Suit
OXFORD HEALTH: Faces NY Policy Holders Suit For ERISA Violations
OXFORD HEALTH: NJ Court Dismisses Suit For State Law Violations
PRE-PAID LEGAL: Briefing Completed in Appeal of Suit Dismissal

PRE-PAID LEGAL: Faces Lawsuits For Fraud, Breach of Contract
PRE-PAID LEGAL: OK Court Dismisses Claims in Suit
PRE-PAID LEGAL: Discovery on Lawsuit Certification Starts in OK
PUTNAM INVESTMENTS: SEC, Massachusetts Accuse Company of Fraud
RUSSOUND INC.: Recalls A-V Controller/Amplifiers For Repairs

SHIMDAIWA INC.: Recalls 59T Hedge Trimmers for Fire/Burn Hazard
SONIC INNOVATIONS: Agrees To Settle Securities Fraud Suits in UT
STILLWATER MINING: Consolidated Stock Lawsuit Moved to MT Court
STYLE ASIA: Recalls 3,000 Cigarette Lighters Due To Fire Hazard
THE SARUT GROUP: Recalls Cigarette Lighters Due To Fire Hazard

                     Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Govt Starts Actions vs. Asbestos Claimants
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Victim Gets $100,000 from ACC
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: FM Seeks Asbestos PD Committee Appointment
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Senate Continues To Mull Asbestos Bill
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Badger Battles Multi-Party Asbestos Suits

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Electrolux Faces 20,700 Asbestos Plaintiffs
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Hardie Maintains Stance of Non-Liability
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: WABTEC Continues to Face Asbestos Suits
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Creditors Oppose Grace's Rep Appointment
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Judge Dismisses Asbestos Victims Suit

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Railroad Workers Commence Asbestos Lawsuits


                 New Securities Fraud Cases

ALKERMES INC.: Cauley Geller Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in MA
ALSTOM SA: Bernstein Liebhard Lodges Securities Suit in S.D. NY
GOODYEAR TIRE: Brodsky Smith Files Securities Fraud Suit in Ohio
PUTNAM MUTUAL FUNDS: Johnson Perkinson Files Stock Lawsuit in MA
PUTNAM MUTUAL FUNDS: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Suit in NY

PUTNAM MUTUAL FUNDS: Rabin Murray Launches Securities Suit in NY

                        *********


ALASKA: Judge Enters TRO V. Taking Sex Offenders' DNA Samples
-------------------------------------------------------------
United States District Judge John Sedwick issued a temporary
restraining order preventing the state of Alaska from demanding
DNA samples from convicted sex offenders who have completed
their sentences, as required by Alaska law passed this year, the
Anchorage Daily News reports.

An unnamed offender, identified as John Doe in court papers,
sued the state of Alaska earlier this month, after it asked him
to submit a DNA sample without first getting a warrant and
showing there was probable cause to believe a crime has been
committed.

Attorney for the plaintiff Darryl Thompson said that John Doe
was a registered sex offender who has finished his sentence and
is no longer on parole or probation.  He isn't under state
supervision or custody any longer and shouldn't have to give a
DNA sample, his attorney told Daily News.

Instead of blood samples, Alaska uses swabs to take DNA samples
from the mouth.  The suit alleges that this sampling violates
the plaintiffs' right to freedom from unreasonable search and
seizure.  The suit seeks to be certification as a class action
on behalf of all convicted Alaska sex offenders who have
completed their sentences and are not on parole or probation.  

The suit cited as basis a recent 9th United States Circuit Court
of Appeals decision stating that forcing parolees to submit
blood samples to the federal government violates their
constitutional rights unless there is reasonable suspicion that
a crime has been committed.

The temporary restraining order was signed earlier this month by
Judge James Singleton for Judge John Sedwick, who has extended
it until October 31.  He is still considering whether to issue a
preliminary injunction further extending the ban on state DNA
testing.

The law "requires free people to (submit to) the forced
extraction of biological data," Mr. Thompson told the Daily
News.  "They're doing it for law enforcement purposes."  
Thompson has argued that the judge should continue to block the
state from taking DNA samples until the lawsuit is resolved.

However, Kenneth Rosenstein, an assistant attorney general,
wrote in a response that preventing the state from taking DNA
samples would be against the public's interest.  It "would
deprive the state of a particularly effective identification
tool with respect to a class of offenders who exhibit a high
rate of recidivism and who commit a class of crimes that results
in the type of evidence from which DNA information can be
derived," he wrote, the Daily News reports.

In written arguments, Mr. Rosenstein said the 9th Circuit
decision should not apply to this case because Alaska does not
draw blood to get the samples.  He added that the state law
provides another method for identifying offenders.  It can be a
tool for exonerating people as well as a way to detect repeat
offenders, according to court documents.

Attorneys told the Daily News they expect Judge Sedwick to make
a decision by the end of this week on whether he will continue
to block the state from taking DNA samples while the lawsuit is
pending.  The judge also scheduled a hearing on the issue on
class action certification for November 7.


CATHOLIC CHURCH: Print Ad Seeks Victims Of Priest Sexual Abuse
--------------------------------------------------------------
Spurred by the class action against the Covington Archdiocese,
an ad set to appear in USA Today this week urges anyone abused
by a priest serving in the Diocese of Covington since 1956 to
come forward, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

"(This) is the first of its kind in the nation", said Jeff
Anderson, a St. Paul, Minnesota lawyer who has tracked similar
litigation for 20 years, of the advertisement.  Similar ones are
scheduled to appear in Kentucky and Ohio newspapers.  Boone
Circuit Judge Jay Bamberger is overseeing the nation's first
class action suit against a Roman Catholic diocese.  

"The legal purpose of the advertisements is to give victims the
opportunity to opt out of the class-action suit," Bob Steinberg,
an attorney representing the alleged victims told the Enquirer.  
"It also gives any victim we do not know about the opportunity
to confidentially come to us."

The church has acknowledged that 158 people have been abused in
the Covington Diocese by 30 priests since 1953.  Attorneys for
the plaintiffs have claimed the true number of victims is more
like 500 to 1,000.

"One of the principal problems with cases like this is getting
victims to come forward," Peter Isely of Milwaukee, a regional
director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests told
The Enquirer.  "Coming forward is the last thing many survivors
want to do."

Mr. Isely said his group has placed advertisements of its own in
Roman Catholic publications, urging alleged victims to come
forward.

Before 1988, the Covington Diocese included 57 of the state's
102 counties, covering central and eastern Kentucky.  The
diocese is now much smaller; it currently spans 14 counties and
serves 89,000 parishioners.

The ad includes a clip-out form people must fill out if they
decide to opt out of the class action.  All alleged victims are
included in the suit unless they opt out.  Attorneys didn't
release the cost of the ad, but a standard black-and-white,
half-page advertisement in the USA Today sells for up to
$58,000, while a full-page advertisement can cost nearly
$90,000.

"Treating these types of claims like they are 'coupon cases' is
not the best way to proceed," Mr. Anderson, who has represented
some 700 alleged victims from Los Angeles to Cincinnati, told
The Enquirer.  "I'm always pleased to see victims getting some
kind of justice, but in my opinion, a class-action suit is not
the best way to heal the survivors."


CDH & AFFILIATES: Enjoined by Court From Securities Violations
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Honorable Jack T. Camp of the United States District Court
for the Northern District of Georgia permanently enjoined CDH &
Affiliates, Inc. and C. David Hallman from future violations of
Sections 10(b) and 15(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
and Rule 10b-5 thereunder.
     
The Commission's complaint alleged that from September 1997
through at least June 1999, Mr. Hallman and CDH, a corporation
that Mr. Hallman controlled, fraudulently raised more than $2.2
million in fees from at least 27 customers, purportedly to
prepare corporate bond offerings and sell the bonds for its
customers.  

According to the complaint, Mr. Hallman and CDH misappropriated
the funds for their own purposes.  The complaint also alleged
that in an effort to avoid detection of their scheme, Mr.
Hallman and CDH continued until at least July 2001 to tell their
customers that the customers' bond issues would be funded and
made other misrepresentations to encourage the customers to
believe that funding was imminent.
     
In granting the SEC's motion for summary judgment against Mr.
Hallman and CDH, the court found that Mr. Hallman made numerous
misrepresentations to CDH's customers, including false claims
that he had sold bonds for some issuers, that bond sales were
imminent and that the high yield investment programs he
described to investors would generate large returns when, in
fact, those programs did not exist.  The Court also found that
Mr. Hallman and CDH operated as unregistered brokers while
selling this investment scheme to CDH's customers.   

The suit is styled, "SEC v. CDH & Affiliates, Inc. and C. David
Hallman, Civil Action Number 3:02-CV-017-JTC (ND Ga.)." (LR-
18431)
     

DANA CORPORATION: Shareholders File Securities Suit in W.D. VA
--------------------------------------------------------------
Dana Corporation and its directors face a securities class
action filed in the United States District Court for the Western
District of Virginia, styled "Kincheloe v. Dana Corp., et al.,"
on behalf of all persons, other than the defendants, who own
Dana common stock and who are similarly situated.

In this action, the plaintiffs allege that the director
defendants breached their fiduciary duties to the Company's
shareholders in connection with the offer.  The plaintiffs seek
an order that this action can properly be maintained as a class
action, directing the director defendants to exercise their duty
of care by giving due consideration to any proposed business
combination.  They also seek an order directing the director
defendants to ensure that no conflict exists between their own
interests and those of Dana's shareholders or, if any such
conflict exists, to ensure that all such conflicts are resolved
in the best interests of Dana's shareholders.


DANA CORPORATION: Asks VA Court To Dismiss Stock Derivative Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Dana Corporation asked the Circuit Court for the City of Buena
Vista, Virginia to dismiss the consolidated shareholder
derivative action, styled "In re Dana Shareholder Litigation,"
filed against it and directors.  

The amended complaint alleges that:

     (1) Dana's directors breached their fiduciary duties by
         their conduct in considering, evaluating and responding
         to ArvinMeritor's private proposal in June and the
         Offer and

     (2) the defendants' disclosures in the Schedule 14D-9   
         omitted certain material information.

The plaintiffs in this action are seeking an order restricting
the use of the Rights (as defined in the Rights Agreement) and
damages in an unspecified amount.  Dana and its directors
believe the allegations in this action are without merit.

On September 25, 2003, Dana and its directors filed a demurrer
seeking the dismissal of this action on the grounds that the
plaintiffs failed to satisfy certain conditions which, under
Virginia law, must be satisfied before commencing a derivative
action.


ENRON CORPORATION: Judge Weighs Venue Change in Fastow Lawsuit
--------------------------------------------------------------
US District Judge David Hittner, who initially recused himself
from Enron-related cases along with several other federal judges
in Houston because he had invested in the bankrupt company, said
he would rule soon on the request to move the trial of the wife
of former Enron Corporation finance chief Andrew Fastow out of
Houston, AP Newswire reports.

Lea Fastow, once Enron's assistant treasurer, is the first
former Enron executive scheduled to go to trial in Houston on
February 10.  Her attorneys told AP she "may well bear the
initial brunt of local incense over the company's collapse."  
Ms. Fastow is charged with six counts of filing false tax forms
and conspiracy for allegedly participating in and profiting from
some of her husband's schemes that led to the once high-flying
energy company's downfall in fall 2001.

Her lawyer, Mike DeGeurin, backed off on the defense stance in
court papers that a change of venue is vital for the case.  He
told AP he would be willing to keep the trial in Houston if
impartial jurors could be found after questioning potential
jurors individually - a process normally reserved for capital
murder cases in Texas.  Prosecutors said they would agree to
such questioning, saying an impartial jury could easily be found
in the jury pool that comes from 13 counties.

Andrew Fastow is charged with nearly 100 counts that include
conspiracy, insider trading, money laundering, fraud and filing
false tax forms for allegedly masterminding myriad partnerships
and financing schemes that inflated profit and hid debt at Enron
while enriching him, his wife and others.  His lawyers have said
they plan to ask to move his April 20 trial as well.


ESTEE LAUDER: Consumer Antitrust Lawsuit Re-Filed in CA Court
-------------------------------------------------------------
The antitrust class action against Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.,
other cosmetic retailers and several department stores has been
re-filed in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of California, for settlement purposes.

The suit was initially filed in the Superior Court of the State
of California in Marin County on behalf of a nationwide class of
consumers of prestige cosmetics at retail for personal use from
eight department stores groups that sold such products in the
United States.  Plaintiffs alleged that the Department Store
Defendants, the Company and eight other manufacturers of
cosmetics conspired to fix and maintain retail prices and to
limit the supply of prestige cosmetics products sold by the
Department Store Defendants in violation of state and federal
laws.  The plaintiffs sought, among other things, treble
damages, equitable relief, attorneys' fees, interest and costs.

The settlement requires Court approval and, if approved by the
Court, will result in the plaintiffs' claims being dismissed,
with prejudice, in their entirety.  There has been no finding or
admission of any wrongdoing by the Company in this lawsuit.  The
Company entered into the settlement agreement solely to avoid
protracted and costly litigation.

In connection with the settlement agreement, the defendants,
including the Company, will provide consumers with certain free
products and pay the plaintiffs' attorneys' fees.  


FEDERATED INVESTORS: Investors File Securities Suits in W.D. PA
---------------------------------------------------------------
Federated Investors, Inc. and the Federated-sponsored mutual
funds faces several securities class actions filed in the United
States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
seeking unspecified damages, on behalf of people who purchased,
owned and redeemed shares of Federated-sponsored mutual funds
during the period from November 1, 1998 through September 3,
2003.

The suit alleges that the Company engaged in illegal and
improper trading practices including market timing and late
trading in concert with certain institutional traders, which
allegedly caused financial injury to the mutual fund
shareholders.  

The Company is reviewing the allegations and will respond as
appropriate, it stated in a disclosure to the Securities and
Exchange Commission.  Additional lawsuits containing similar
allegations to those described above may be filed in the future.


FLEETBOSTON FINANCIAL: SEC Sues For Insider Trading, Stock Fraud
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission obtained an ex parte
temporary restraining order and asset freeze issued by the US
District Court in Boston, Massachusetts against a former
FleetBoston Financial Corporation employee and his relatives in
connection with insider trading in securities of the Company.   

According to the Commission's complaint, the defendants bought
FleetBoston securities late on Friday, October 24, just prior to
the Monday, October 27 announcement of Fleet's acquisition by
Bank of America Corporation.  The Commission's complaint alleges
that the purchasers engaged in illegal insider trading and,
without the freeze, would have realized profits of at least
$500,000, and potentially more than $1 million.
     
According to the SEC's court pleadings filed on October 27,
Guillermo Garcia Simon, a former FleetBank employee at the
bank's Buenos Aires office, together with his wife Victoria
Arana Simon and his brother Andres Garcia Simon, purchased 1100
Fleet call options during the last hours of trading on Friday,
October 24 at a cost of about $11,000.  The call options
entitled the purchasers to buy Fleet stock for $35 per share.   
At the time, Fleet stock was trading at about $31 per share.  
The acquisition price of $45 per share was announced before the
market opened on Monday, October 27.  

During the day on October 27, Fleet's stock price rose to $39.66
by 1 p.m., a 24% increase, with the call options increasing in
value by over $500,000, and the value of the underlying stock
increasing by over $864,000.
     
The complaint alleges that the defendants traded while in
possession of material, nonpublic information about
FleetBoston's merger with Bank of America in violation of
Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5.   
The Commission seeks permanent injunctive relief, the
disgorgement of all illegal profits, and the imposition of civil
monetary penalties.
     
The Hon. Nancy Gertner of the US District Court for the District
of Massachusetts granted the Commission's emergency request for
a temporary restraining order freezing the traders' account and
prohibiting them from transferring or disposing of the
securities or any trading proceeds.  The Commission obtained the
order on the day the option purchase transaction would have
settled, or become finalized.  In addition, the court's order
requires the defendants to provide account information and
prohibits the defendants from destroying documents.

The suit is styled "SEC v. Guillermo Garcia Simon, et al., USDC,
District of Massachusetts, C.A. No. 03-12079-PBS." (LR-18429)
     

FLORIDA: Tree-owners Seek Certification For Citrus-Canker Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Three homeowners who lost trees to the state's citrus canker
eradication program are seeking class action status as they
demand the state compensate them for their property, The Palm
Beach Post reports.  

Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Thomas Barkdull listened to
arguments on the merits of the case in a hearing on the class-
action issue on Monday.  However, attorneys for the homeowners
indicated the three-day hearing also will focus on the state's
methods in deciding which trees to eliminate and its policies on
notifying tree owners about their rights.  

The case has the potential to bankrupt the eradication program
if the state is forced to compensate property owners for their
losses, agriculture department spokesman Mark Fagan told the
Post.

About 640,000 residential trees have been destroyed statewide
since Florida began its fight to eradicate citrus canker, which
weakens trees and can cause fruit to drop early.  The disease
makes the fruit unsightly but does not kill the tree or render
fruit inedible.  

The agriculture department's program cuts down infected trees
and also seeks to remove any citrus tree within 1,900 feet of
the canker to prevent the spread of the disease.  When workers
take a tree to the chipper, the homeowner is given a $100
voucher for the first tree and $55 for each additional tree.

The state considers an exposed tree to have no value, Mr. Fagan
said.  This is one point homeowners are disputing, lead attorney
Malcolm Misuraca, who traveled from Newport Beach, California,
to take on the state, told the Post.

The first witness during Monday's hearing was plaintiff Ann
Nixon Gazourian, whose 11-year-old tangerine and Ruby Red
grapefruit trees were cut down.  Agriculture department
officials eventually informed her that they made a mistake: The
1,900 perimeter dissected her property; her trees were in fact
beyond their reach.

Legal battles over the citrus canker program are being waged on
several fronts.  Earlier this month, the Florida Supreme Court
heard arguments on whether the program is based on sound science
and whether the state had the right to go into homeowners' back
yards to inspect and take trees not infected with citrus canker.


GROUND ZERO: Doctors Reveal Worker's Continuing Health Problems
---------------------------------------------------------------
Workers at Ground Zero continue to suffer from health problems,
two years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, doctors told
a congressional panel Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.

Dr. Robin Herbert and Dr. Stephen Levin examined 8,000 ground
zero workers, 75% of whom had persistent respiratory problems.  
Additionally, 40% also suffer from mental health problems after
the terrorist attack.  The doctors also revealed that 40% of the
workers do not have health insurance and 1/3 of them are
unemployed.  The co-directors also told the panel that the
workers are at risk for developing cancer in the next decade.

Workers testified at a New York hospital before the House saying
they had trouble breathing, suffered from post-traumatic stress
disorder and no longer had the strength to do their old jobs, AP
reports.

"I can't tell you how hard it is living like this," David Rapp,
a construction worker who spent five months at the World Trade
Center site and now always carries an oxygen tank and uses three
inhalers told the panel.  "The fear of not being able to take my
next breath is unbearable."

John Graham, a carpenter and emergency services worker who spent
three days a week at the site for several months, told the Panel
he has asthma and is sometimes too sick to work.  "I'm a
chronically ill man who's anxious about my ability to support my
family," he said, AP reports.

The doctors also appeared before the panel to seek enough
funding to allow them to screen more than 10,000 workers a year
for the next 20 years.  The present funding - $56 million of $90
million allocated last year - is only enough to continue to
screen and monitor the workers for five years.

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., the chairman of the
Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and
International Relations, questioned why more people hadn't been
examined and why some government agencies hadn't coordinated
their information, AP stated.  Lawmakers also questioned federal
officials about how much they knew about the health risks at
ground zero in the days after the attack and about how many
workers were told of the danger.


JOHNSON & JOHNSON: FDA Warns Serious Problems With Cypher Stent
---------------------------------------------------------------
Following a letter to doctors issued by the US Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) linking Johnson & Johnson's newest heart
device to more than 60 deaths, saying it may cause blood clots
and other side effects, J&J's shares dove to their lowest point
in more than a year before recovering somewhat, Reuters reports.

It was the second warning sent to doctors since the launch of
the device in April 2003.  Regulators said the company's drug-
coated stent, a tiny wire mesh device used to prop open
surgically cleared arteries and deliver medicine to keep them
open, resulted in more than 290 cases of blood clots among
patients 30 days after receiving the device, and was linked to
deaths in more than 60 clotting cases.

Johnson & Johnson told Reuters the device is safe and showed
lower rates of clotting than traditional bare-metal stents.  
"They're posting this update because it's brand-new technology
that's only been out on the market for about six months, so the
FDA feels it's important to encourage physicians to report any
(clotting) when using the Cypher stent," said Terri Mueller, a
J&J spokeswoman.  "Despite this call for physicians to report
(clotting), our rate is still well below that of a bare-metal
stent."

In other cases, the stent was associated with injury requiring
medical or surgical intervention, the statement added.  The FDA
has also received more than 50 reports, some involving deaths,
that J&J considers to be possible hypersensitivity reactions,
the statement said.  The symptoms include pain, rash,
respiratory alterations, hives, itching, fever and blood
pressure changes.

"We've implanted over 100 of these stents and I haven't seen any
of those problems," Lloyd Kline, a cardiologist with Rush
University Medical Center in Chicago told Reuters.  "We need
more information. Was it used in the way it was used in the
trials? Are these the very sickest patients? There are a lot of
questions that need to be answered."

The long-awaited devices have been expected to revolutionize the
treatment of clogged coronary arteries, by sharply reducing the
need for repeat procedures.  Analysts have expected the drug-
coated stents to double the size of the current market to $5
billion by 2005.  In July, the FDA sent the first letter to
doctors, which said it was reviewing reports of problems with
the stent and was working with J&J to reduce the incidence of
potentially deadly blood clots.

JP Morgan analyst Michael Weinstein told Reuters his concern was
that events of this type may have been underreported.  The
actual incidence of blood clots, he noted, is still quite low at
roughly 0.06 percent.

In its letter, the FDA added it does not have enough information
to determine whether the incidence of clotting and
hypersensitivity reaction with the Cypher stent differs from
those experienced with stents that are not coated with drugs.  
The cause of these events has not yet been determined, the FDA
said, adding that it was working with the company to gather more
information.

The FDA letter also noted that hundreds of thousands of patients
have been successfully treated with the Cypher stent, the first
of its kind on the U.S. market.  More than 300,000 patients
worldwide have had Cypher implanted, Mr. Mueller told Reuters.

Mark Ricciari, an interventional cardiologist at Northwestern
Memorial Hospital, who participated in some of the clinical
trials testing the stent, told Reuters that unless the incidence
of blood clotting is more than 1 percent there should be no
cause for alarm, and it probably will not change the way the
device is being used.  "This is getting a lot of scrutiny
because it has been marketed so aggressively and has been
adopted so readily, more than any other product I've ever seen,
he said.

Shares in Johnson & Johnson fell $1.06, or 2.1 percent, to close
at $49.48 on the New York Stock Exchange.  Earlier the stock
dropped as low as $48.10, Reuters reports.


LIPPER CONVERTIBLES: SEC Launches Enforcement Proceedings in NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed an enforcement
action against Edward J. Strafaci, the former portfolio manager
of the Lipper convertible hedge funds, charging him with fraud
in connection with the valuation of the funds.  Simultaneously,
the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New
York announced Mr. Strafaci's indictment on criminal charges
arising from the same conduct.

The Commission's complaint, filed in the US District Court for
the Southern District of New York, alleges that from at least
1998 until January 2002, Mr. Strafaci knowingly and recklessly
overstated the value of the convertible bonds and preferred
stock held by the funds, resulting in the dissemination of
materially false and misleading fund valuations and performance
figures to investors and prospective investors, and the filing
of false reports with the Commission.  

The complaint alleges that, contrary to representations in the
funds' offering materials, Mr. Strafaci valued the Funds'
convertible securities at prices materially in excess of, and
not reasonably related to, market prices or the fair value of
such securities.
     
The hedge funds involved are:
     
     (1) Lipper Convertibles, L.P., f/k/a Lipco Partners, L.P.  
               
     (2) Lipper Convertibles Series II, L.P.
     
     (3) Lipper Offshore Convertibles, L.P.; and
     
     (4) Lipper Fixed Income Fund, L.P.
     
Each of the funds was allegedly managed by Lipper & Company,
L.P., an investment adviser registered with the Commission, or
an affiliate; three of the funds were registered with the
Commission as broker-dealers.
     
According to the complaint, during the relevant period, Mr.
Strafaci was the portfolio manager for each of the funds and was
an executive vice-president and the Director of Fixed Income
Money Management for the Managing Entities.  Mr. Strafaci
resigned these positions in January 2002, and is now allegedly
the majority shareholder of, and portfolio manager for a hedge
fund holding company.  He resides in Colts Neck, New Jersey.
     
The complaint charges Mr. Strafaci with violating or aiding and
abetting violations of certain antifraud provisions of the
federal securities laws and with aiding and abetting various
books-and-records and reporting provisions applicable to
registered investment advisers and broker-dealers.   
Specifically, the complaint charges that Mr. Strafaci violated
Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rule 10b-
5 thereunder; and aided and abetted violations of Section 17(a)
of the Exchange Act and Rules 17a-3(a)(2), 17a-3(a)(11), 17a-
4(b)(8) and 17a-5(d) thereunder; and Sections 204, 206(1) and
206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rules 204-
2(a)(16) and 204-2(e)(3) thereunder.  The complaint seeks a
permanent injunction, disgorgement, and civil money penalties.  
The litigation is pending.
     
The Commission's investigation is continuing.  The Commission
acknowledges the assistance and cooperation of the US Attorney's
Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal
Bureau of Investigation in this investigation.   

The suit is styled "SEC v. Edward J. Strafaci, 03 CV 8524 (CSH)
SDNY." (LR-18432)
     

MIRANT CORPORATION: Noteholders Launch ERISA Lawsuit in DE Court
----------------------------------------------------------------
Mirant Corporation faces a lawsuit filed by certain holders of
senior Mirant Americas Generation notes maturing after 2006 in
the United States District Court for the District of Delaware,
titled "California Public Employees' Retirement System, et al.
v. Mirant Corporation, et. al."  The suit named as defendants:

     (1) Mirant Corporation,

     (2) Mirant Americas, Inc.,

     (3) Mirant Americas Generation,

     (4) certain past and present Mirant directors, and

     (5) certain past and present Mirant Americas Generation
         managers

Among other claims, the plaintiffs challenge certain dividends
and distributions made by Mirant Americas Generation.  
Plaintiffs seek damages in excess of one billion dollars.  

The committee representing unsecured creditors of Mirant
Americas Generation, LLC has filed a motion in Mirant's
bankruptcy proceedings seeking to pursue claims against Mirant,
Mirant Americas, Inc., certain past and present Mirant
directors, and certain past and present Mirant Americas
Generation managers similar to those asserted in this suit.


MIRANT CORPORATION: Shareholders File Derivative Suits in DE, GA
----------------------------------------------------------------
Mirant Corporation and certain of its directors and officers
face four shareholders' derivative suits, alleging the directors
breached their fiduciary duty by allowing the Company to engage
in alleged unlawful or improper practices in the California
energy markets in 2000 and 2001.

Two suits pending in the Superior Court of Fulton County,
Georgia were consolidated on March 13, 2003, with the name of
the consolidated action being "In re Mirant Corporation
Derivative Litigation."  The consolidated action has been
removed by Mirant to the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Georgia.  One more suit has been removed by
Mirant to the United States District Court for the District of
Delaware.


MIRANT CORPORATION: Plaintiffs File Consolidated Suit in N.D. GA
----------------------------------------------------------------
Plaintiffs filed an amended, consolidated class action against
Mirant Corporation in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Georgia.  The suit also names as defendants
certain of the Company's current and former officers and
directors and Southern Company.

Several suits were initially filed on behalf of participants and
beneficiaries of the Company's 401(k) plans, alleging that
defendants breached their duties under the Employee Retirement
Income Securities Act (ERISA) by, among other things:

     (1) concealing information from the Plans' participants and
         beneficiaries;

     (2) failing to ensure that the Plans' assets were invested
         prudently;

     (3) failing to monitor the Plans' fiduciaries; and

     (4) failing to engage independent fiduciaries to make
         judgments about the Plans' investments.

The plaintiff seeks unspecified damages, injunctive relief,
attorneys' fees and costs.

On September 2, 2003, the district court issued an order
consolidating the suits.  On September 23, 2003, the plaintiffs
filed an amended and consolidated complaint.  


MONTE FOODS: Recalls Canned Soup Because Of Undeclared Allergen
---------------------------------------------------------------
Monte Foods, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania firm, in cooperation
with the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and
Inspection Service, is voluntarily recalling approximately
31,650 lbs. of canned soup because of an undeclared allergen
(egg).

The products being recalled are 19 oz. cans of "FOOD LION, Ready
To Serve, CHUNKY GRILLED SIRLOIN STEAK WITH VEGETABLES."  The
top of each can is stamped with a use by code: "JUL2005," a lot
code: "PF3G24," a variety symbol: "PK" and an establishment
number: "P-51."

The cans included in the recall are labeled as "CHUNKY GRILLED
SIRLOIN STEAK WITH VEGETABLES," but they actually contain
"Chunky Grilled Chicken with Vegetables and Pasta."  The pasta
contains egg whites.

The soup was produced on July 24, 2003 and distributed to retail
stores in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North
Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and
West Virginia.

FSIS has received no reports of allergic reactions associated
with consumption of this product.  Anyone concerned about an
allergic reaction should contact a physician.  The problem was
discovered by Del Monte Foods.

For more details, contact Melissa Murphy, Director of Public
Relations, by Phone: (412) 222-8713 or contact the recall
information line at Del Monte Foods by Phone: (800) 828-9980.


NEUROSMITH: Recalls Children's Plush Toys Due To Choking Hazard
---------------------------------------------------------------
Neurosmith, of Long Beach, California, in cooperation with the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is recalling 4,400 Pet
Me Platypus(tm) children's toys following reports of three
incidents wherein the plastic button covers detached, posing a
small parts choking hazard to young children. No injuries were
reported.

Pet Me Platypus is a musical plush toy with a green head, yellow
beak and legs, and blue body.  The toy features four geometric
shape buttons: a red heart, yellow star, orange circle, and
green square.  The recalled units have Model #42080 engraved on
the battery box cover and batch numbers FV23, FV24, FV25, FV27,
FV28, FV29, or FV30 printed vertically on the right side of the
cover.

The toys, manufactured in China, are sold exclusively at Target
stores nationwide from August 2003 through October 2003 for
about $20.

For more information, contact the Company by Phone:
(800) 220-3669 ext. 1066 between 7:30 am and 4:30 pm PT Monday
through Friday.


OXFORD HEALTH: Reaches Settlement For Securities Lawsuit in NY
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Southern District of
New York granted final approval to the settlement proposed by
Oxford Health Plan, Inc. for the consolidated class action filed
relating to the October 27, 1997 decline in the price per share
of the Company's common stock.  The suit names as defendants the
Company, certain of its officers and directors, and the
Company's former independent auditor, KPMG LLP.

On March 3, 2003, the Company agreed with the plaintiffs to
settle the suit for $225 million.  In connection with the
Settlement, the Company incurred an additional pretax charge of
$45 million, net of insurance recoverable, in the first quarter
of 2003, which charge, along with prior charges, fully covers
all of the Company's expenses relating to the settlement, and
related legal fees and expenses.

The court granted final approval to the Settlement on June 11,
2003.  The excess insurance carriers responsible for the first
$25 million under the Company's $200 million Excess Insurance
policies contributed $25 million to the Settlement, but the
other carriers under the policies refused to contribute to
the Settlement.  Accordingly, the Company paid $200 million of
the Settlement and paid the Excess Insurance carriers an
additional premium of $8 million.

Also, in connection with the Settlement, plaintiffs settled the
class claims against KPMG LLP for $75 million and a derivative
shareholder action against KPMG LLP in the name of the Company
pending in state court was dismissed with prejudice.


OXFORD HEALTH: FL Court Dismisses CT AG ERISA Violations Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court in Florida dismissed the
Connecticut Attorney General's suit against Oxford Health Plans,
Inc. and three other health maintenance organizations (HMOs) on
behalf of a putative class consisting of all Connecticut members
of the defendant HMOs who were enrolled in plans governed by the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

The suit, initially filed in the United States District Court in
Connecticut, alleged that the named HMOs breached their
disclosure obligations and fiduciary duties under ERISA by,
among other things:

     (1) failing to timely pay claims;

     (2) the use of inappropriate and arbitrary coverage
         guidelines as the basis for denials;

     (3) the inappropriate use of drug formularies;

     (4) failing to respond to member communications and
         complaints; and

     (5) failing to disclose essential coverage and appeal
         information.

The suit sought preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining
the defendants from pursuing the complained of acts and
practices.

Also, on September 7, 2000, a group of plaintiffs' law firms
commenced an action in federal district court in Connecticut
against the Company and four other HMOs on behalf of a putative
national class consisting of all members of the defendant HMOs
who are or have been enrolled in plans governed by ERISA within
the past six years.

The substantive allegations of this complaint, which also
claimed violations of ERISA, were nearly identical to that filed
by the Connecticut Attorney General.  The complaint demanded the
restitution of premiums paid and/or the disgorgement of profits,
in addition to injunctive relief.  Although this complaint was
dismissed without prejudice as to the Oxford defendants, another
identical complaint against the Company was filed on December
28, 2000 in the federal district court in Connecticut under
the caption "Patel v. Oxford Health Plans of Connecticut, Inc."

On November 30, 2000, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict
Litigation (JPMDL) issued a Conditional Transfer Order,
directing that the Connecticut Attorney General action be
transferred to the Southern District of Florida for consolidated
pretrial proceedings along with various other ERISA and
Racketering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) cases
pending against other HMOs, which order was confirmed on April
17, 2001.

On November 13, 2001, the JPMDL issued a Conditional Transfer
Order, directing that the Patel action also be transferred to
the consolidated proceedings in Florida, which order was
confirmed on February 20, 2002.  By Order dated September 26,
2002, Judge Moreno of the Southern District of Florida, denied
the motion for class certification made by plaintiffs in the
member proceeding.

The Company reached agreement to settle the Patel action by
paying the individual plaintiffs a total of $12,500, which case
has now been dismissed.  By Orders dated September 18, 2003,
Judge Moreno granted the motion of Oxford and other defendants
to dismiss the Connecticut Attorney General action and ruled
that the Subscriber Track in this MDL was closed in light of
the dismissal of all cases in that track.


OXFORD HEALTH: Plaintiffs Appeal Dismissal of MSSNY Fraud Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Plaintiffs appealed the New York State Court's dismissal of a
class action filed against Oxford Health Plans, Inc. and its New
York HMO subsidiary by the Medical Society of the State of New
York (MSSNY), on behalf of all members of the MSSNY who provided
health care services pursuant to contracts with the Company
during the period August 1995 through the present.

Another similar suit, filed by three individual physicians is
pending in the same court.  Both suits asserted claims for
breach of contract and violations of New York General Business
Law, Public Health Law and Prompt Payment Law, based on, among
other things, the Company's alleged:

     (1) failure to timely pay claims or interest;

     (2) refusal to pay all or part of claims by improperly
         "bundling" or "downcoding" claims, or by including
         unrelated claims in "global rates;"

     (3) use of inappropriate and arbitrary coverage guidelines
         as the basis for denials; and

     (4) failure to provide adequate staffing to handle
         physician inquiries.

The complaint filed by the MSSNY seeks a permanent injunction
enjoining the Company from pursuing the complained of acts and
practices, as well as attorney's fees and costs.

By Order dated January 23, 2003, the court granted the Company's
motion to stay the purported class action case and compel
arbitration.  The court further dismissed the claims under the
Prompt Pay Law and the Public Health Law.  The court later
granted the Company's motion to dismiss the MSSNY complaint in
its entirety.  MSSNY and the individual physicians filed notices
of appeal regarding the January 23, 2003 and January 24, 2003
Orders.


OXFORD HEALTH: Arbitration Commences in NJ Consumer Fraud Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Arbitration is proceeding in the class action filed against
Oxford Health Plans, Inc. in New Jersey State Court by Dr. John
Sutter, a New Jersey physician.  The suit was filed on behalf of
all New Jersey providers who provide or have provided health
care services to members of the Company's health plans.

The suit asserts claims for breach of contract, breach of the
implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, and violations of
the New Jersey Prompt Pay Act and Consumer Fraud Act, and seeks
compensatory damages, treble damages on the Consumer Fraud Act
claim, punitive damages, reformation of the provider contracts,
and attorney's fees and costs.

On October 25, 2002, the court dismissed the complaint and
granted the Company's motion to compel arbitration.  On December
11, 2002, Dr. Sutter filed the same purported class action
complaint with the American Arbitration Association (AAA).  The
arbitration is proceeding, although Oxford has recently filed
motion papers seeking to dismiss all but one of the claims in
this case.


OXFORD HEALTH: Faces NY Policy Holders Suit For ERISA Violations
----------------------------------------------------------------
Oxford Health Plans, Inc. and Triad Healthcare, Inc. faces a
class action filed in the United States District Court in the
Southern District of New York on behalf of all Oxford members
who are or were Oxford policy holders with coverage for
chiropractic care.

The suit alleges that Oxford and Triad, which Oxford has engaged
to assist in managing chiropractic services, have breached their
disclosure obligations and fiduciary duties under Employee
Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by, among other things:

     (1) the use of inappropriate and cost-based criteria as the
         basis for denials;

     (2) providing financial incentives to Triad to deny care;

     (3) failing to disclose such financial incentives and
         misrepresenting that chiropractic coverage would be
         based on medical necessity; and

     (4) intentionally delaying the payment of claims

The complaint demands the restitution of premiums paid and/or
the disgorgement of profits, in addition to injunctive relief
and attorney's fees.


OXFORD HEALTH: NJ Court Dismisses Suit For State Law Violations
---------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for New Jersey dismissed the
class action filed against Oxford Health Plans, Inc. on behalf
of all of the Company's members in New Jersey between 1993 and
the present who were injured by the actions of third parties and
with respect to whom the Company recovered reimbursement for
medical expenses pursuant to the subrogation provision in the
Company's member certificates.

The complaint, originally filed in state court, alleged that any
subrogation payments collected by the Company were in violation
of New Jersey law and insurance regulations, and sought monetary
damages and injunctive relief.  The Company removed the case to
federal court, where it was consolidated with other, similar
complaints against other HMOs.

By Order dated March 5, 2003, the court denied the joint motion
by the Company and the other defendants to dismiss the
complaint.  The court also denied the Company's separate motion
to dismiss based on lack of standing, but indicated that it
would grant such a motion on summary judgment if Oxford provided
evidence that it would never seek to collect on a subrogation
lien against the only named plaintiff identified as an Oxford
member.  The court granted the Company's subsequent summary
judgment motion and dismissed the complaint.


PRE-PAID LEGAL: Briefing Completed in Appeal of Suit Dismissal
--------------------------------------------------------------
Briefing in the appeal of the United States District Court for
the Western District of Oklahoma's decision dismissing the
securities class action against Pre-paid Legal Services, Inc.
and various of its executive officers has been completed.

The suit seeks unspecified damages on the basis of allegations
that the Company issued false and misleading financial
information, primarily related to the method the Company used to
account for commission advance receivables from sales
associates.  

On March 5, 2002, the court granted the Company's motion to
dismiss the complaint, with prejudice, and entered a judgment in
favor of the defendants.  Plaintiffs thereafter filed a motion
requesting reconsideration of the dismissal which was denied.  
The plaintiffs have appealed the judgment and the order denying
their motion to reconsider the judgment to the Tenth Circuit
Court of Appeals.  In August 2002 the lead institutional
plaintiff withdrew from the case, leaving two individual
plaintiffs as lead plaintiffs on behalf of the putative class.  

The Company is unable to predict when a decision will be made on
this appeal, and the ultimate outcome of the case is not
determinable.


PRE-PAID LEGAL: Faces Lawsuits For Fraud, Breach of Contract
------------------------------------------------------------
Pre-paid Legal Services, Inc., certain of its officers,
employees, sales associates and other defendants face multiple
lawsuits filed since the second quarter of 2001 in various
Alabama and Mississippi state courts by current or former
members seeking actual and punitive damages for alleged breach
of contract, fraud and various other claims in connection with
the sale of memberships.

As of September 30, 2003, the Company was aware of 30 separate
lawsuits involving approximately 285 plaintiffs that have been
filed in multiple counties in Alabama, although since September
30, the claims of approximately 181 plaintiffs in five of the
Alabama cases have been dismissed with prejudice pursuant to a
settlement payment of $27,000.  

As of September 30, 2003, the Company was aware of 18 separate
lawsuits involving approximately 432 plaintiffs in multiple
counties in Mississippi, although since September 30 the court
has granted the Company's motion to dismiss the plaintiff's
claims in one of the cases for failure to state a claim.  
Certain of the Mississippi lawsuits also name the Company's
provider attorney in Mississippi as a defendant.  

Proceedings in several of the eleven cases which name the
Company's provider attorney as a defendant have been stayed
pending the Mississippi Supreme Court's ruling on the Pre-Paid
defendants' appeal of a trial court's granting of a partial
summary judgment that the action is not required to be submitted
to arbitration.  At least three complaints have been filed by
the law firm representing plaintiffs in eleven of the cases on
behalf of certain of the Mississippi plaintiffs and others with
the Attorney General of Mississippi in March 2002, December 2002
and August 2003.  The Company has responded to the Attorney
General's requests for information with respect to these
complaints, and as of September 30, 2003, the Company was not
aware of any further actions being taken by the Attorney
General.  

In Mississippi, the Company has filed lawsuits in the United
States District Court for the Southern and Northern Districts of
Mississippi in which the Company seeks to compel arbitration of
the various Mississippi claims under the Federal Arbitration Act
and the terms of the Company's membership agreements, and has
appealed the state court rulings in favor of certain of the
plaintiffs on the arbitration issue to the Mississippi Supreme
Court.  These cases are all in various stages of litigation,
including trial settings beginning in Alabama in December 2003,
and in Mississippi in February 2004, and seek varying amounts of
actual and punitive damages.  While the amount of membership
fees paid by the plaintiffs in the Mississippi cases is $500,000
or less, certain of the cases seek damages of $90 million.  

Additional suits of a similar nature have been threatened.  The
ultimate outcome of any particular case is not determinable.


PRE-PAID LEGAL: OK Court Dismisses Claims in Suit
-----------------------------------------------------
The District Court of Canadian County, Oklahoma dismissed the
class action allegations in the lawsuit filed against Pre-paid
Legal Services, Inc. by Gina Kotwitz, George Kotwitz, Rick
Coker, Richard Starke, Jeff Turnipseed and Aaron Bouren on
behalf of all sales associates of the Company.

The amended petition seeks injunctive and declaratory relief,
with such other damages as the court deems appropriate, for
alleged violations of the Oklahoma Uniform Consumer Credit Code
in connection with the Company's commission advances, and seeks
injunctive and declaratory relief regarding the enforcement of
certain contract provisions with sales associates, including a
request stated in June 2003 for the imposition of a constructive
trust as to earned commissions applied to the reduction of debit  
balances and disgorgement of all earned renewal commissions
applied to the reduction of debit balances.  

On September 23, 2003 the court entered an order dismissing the
class action allegations upon the motion of the plaintiffs.  The
order provides that the action will proceed only on an
individual basis, and that the hearing on plaintiffs' motion for
class certification previously set for February 2004 was
cancelled.  The ultimate outcome of this case is not
determinable.


PRE-PAID LEGAL: Discovery on Lawsuit Certification Starts in OK
---------------------------------------------------------------
Discovery on class certification issues for the lawsuit filed
against Pre-paid Legal Services, Inc. and certain of its
executive officers has commenced in the United States District
Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Caroline Sandler, Robert Schweikert, Sal Corrente, Richard
Jarvis and Vincent Jefferson filed the suit on behalf of all
sales associates of the Company and alleges that the marketing
plan offered by the Company constitutes a security under the
Securities Act of 1933 and seeks remedies for failure to
register the marketing plan as a security and for violations of
the anti-fraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 in connection with
representations alleged to have been made in connection with the
marketing plan.  The complaint also alleges:

     (1) violations of the Oklahoma Securities Act,

     (2) the Oklahoma Business Opportunities Sales Act,

     (3) breach of contract,

     (4) breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing and
         unjust enrichment,

     (5) violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act and

     (6) negligent supervision

This case is subject to the Private Litigation Securities Reform
Act.  Pursuant to the Act, the Court has approved the named
plaintiffs and counsel and an amended complaint was filed in
August 2002.  The Pre-Paid defendants filed motions to dismiss
the complaint and to strike the class action allegations on
September 19, 2002, and discovery in the action was stayed
pending a ruling on the motion to dismiss.  

On July 24, 2003, the court granted in part and denied in part
the Pre-Paid defendants' motion to dismiss.  The claims asserted
under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Oklahoma
Securities Act were dismissed without prejudice.  The motion was
denied as to the remaining claims.  On July 23, 2003, the Court
denied the motion to strike class action allegations at this
time.  Accordingly, the case will now proceed in the normal
course as to the remaining claims.

Discovery has commenced on class certification issues, which is
expected to be completed by March 2004, but no hearing has been
scheduled.  The ultimate outcome of this case is not
determinable.


PUTNAM INVESTMENTS: SEC, Massachusetts Accuse Company of Fraud
--------------------------------------------------------------
In separate civil complaints, the US Securities and Exchange
Commission and Massachusetts regulators accused Putnam
Investments of securities fraud, making the mutual fund company
the first to be formally charged in a widening probe into
improper trading, Reuters reports.

The complaints said that Putnam Investments, the fifth-largest
US mutual fund company with $272 billion in assets under
management, knew for five years that some of its fund managers
were breaking securities laws but looked the other way.

In a news conference, Massachusetts Secretary of the
Commonwealth William Galvin, the state's top securities
regulator, said Putnam, a unit of insurer Marsh & McLennan Cos.
Inc., and former Putnam fund managers Justin Scott and Omid
Kamshad committed fraud by skirting written company policies
against "market timing."  "This is about personal deceit, breach
of duty, breach of trust and corporate deceit," he said, Reuters
reports.

Market timing involves quick-paced buying and selling of mutual
fund shares with an eye to profit from stale prices.  While it
is not illegal, it is prohibited by many companies, including
Boston-based Putnam, because it drives up trading costs and
waters down returns for long-term investors.

The charges against Putnam sent a chill through Boston, the hub
of the mutual fund industry, which manages about $7 trillion in
assets, and through the previously squeaky clean industry
itself.  For many of the 95 million Americans who invest in the
funds, the funds hold all of their retirement savings, often
through company pension plans.

According to Mr. Galvin's complaint, Justin Scott, a 15-year
Putnam veteran, has been the chief investment officer and
managing director of Core Equities, while Mr. Kamshad, who has
been with the company seven years, was chief investment officer
for International Core Equities.  Regulators charged that both
used information that no other investors had to generate profits
for themselves.  

Putnam warned Mr. Kamshad about his market timing in 2000, but
he continued to make the trades into this year, Mr. Galvin
alleged.  Mr. Galvin is demanding that the managers give back
the profits they made through market timing and that Putnam
reimburse customers losses market timing may have caused.  More
importantly, Mr. Galvin said he wants Putnam to admit that it
violated consumer trust and breached its fiduciary duties -- a
step the Boston company did not seem ready to take.

"We regret that the regulators felt compelled to take these
actions," Putnam said in a statement, adding it was cooperating
and would reimburse any losses caused by its employees' improper
trades, Reuters states.

Putnam told Reuters while it had identified most of the market
timing activities, its firewalls were not foolproof. The company
said that in a bid to end such abuses, it will soon begin
charging a short-term redemption fee across all global and
international funds in its retirement business.

John Gilmore, Kamshad's attorney who is a partner at Piper
Rudnick, told Reuters, "The trades at issue did not violate any
rule, regulation or statute," adding he will fight the charges.

Separately, the SEC filed a civil suit against Mr. Scott and Mr.
Kamshad in federal court in Boston, saying their excessive
trading hurt other fund investors at the company.

Mr. Galvin, who began probing Putnam only last month, said he is
also investigating activities at three other large mutual fund
companies and said these charges "should send a message to
everyone in the fund industry."

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the SEC and Mr. Galvin
have been probing improper mutual fund trading for weeks.  In
addition to letting fund managers engage in market timing, Mr.
Galvin said Putnam also turned a blind eye when members of a
local union engaged in market timing in their retirement plans.
One union member made $1 million in profits.  Massachusetts
regulators told Reuters they were led to the questionable trades
by a Putnam call center employee.

Already some Putnam investors are getting skittish.  A trustee
for the $29 billion Massachusetts state pension fund plan, which
invests about $1 billion in international equities with Putnam,
told Reuters the fund will likely fire Putnam as soon as
Thursday when the board holds an emergency meeting.

Research firm Morningstar Inc. is also considering whether to
advise private investors to get out of Putnam. "Clearly the
biggest question is why (Putnam) didn't act more forcefully when
they found out about this activity," said Morningstar analyst
Kunal Kapoor.

Putnam, which built its reputation with high-flying growth funds
in the 1990s, fell on hard times when the stock market bubble
burst.  According to data from Financial Research Corporation,
in 2002 and so far this year, Putnam ranked as having had the
largest customer withdrawals of any mutual fund company


RUSSOUND INC.: Recalls A-V Controller/Amplifiers For Repairs
------------------------------------------------------------
Russound Inc., of Newmarket, N.H., in cooperation with the U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission, is recalling 1,200 units of
the Russound CAV6.6 Audio Video Controller/Amplifiers for
repairs following 1 report of a controller/amplifier short
circuiting and smoking, though no injuries or property damage
were reported.

The recalled Russound CAV6.6 Controller/Amplifiers have serial
numbers ranging between 03141500000000 and 03281500000500, which
can be found on the back panel in the upper right hand corner.
The black amplifiers also have the words, "CAV6.6 Multizone
Controller" printed in silver letters on the front of the unit.

The devices, manufactured in S. Korea, were sold at Electronics
distributors and resellers and audio/video retailers nationwide
between May 2003 and September 2003 for about $2,200.

For more information, contact the Company by Phone:
(800) 638-8055 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through
Friday or visit the company's Website:
http://www.russound.com/cav.alert.


SHIMDAIWA INC.: Recalls 59T Hedge Trimmers for Fire/Burn Hazard
---------------------------------------------------------------
Shindaiwa, Inc., of Tualatin, Oregon, in cooperation with the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has announced the
recall of some 59,200 units of Professional Hedge Trimmers since
the fuel cap on the hedge trimmer can leak, posing a fire and
burn hazard.  There have been no reports of injuries in
connection with this product.

The hedge trimmers have red engine covers, a red fuel cap and a
label on the recoil starter that reads "Professional Shindaiwa."
The recall includes all model DH 230/231 and HT 230/231 with
serial numbers up to 3080000.  The serial numbers are printed on
a nameplate on the engine cover.

The hedge trimmers, manufactured in Japan, were sold at
Shindaiwa dealers nationwide from August 1997 to August 2003 for
between $370 and $450 depending on the model.

For more information, contact the Company by Phone:
(800) 521-7733 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through
Friday.  


SONIC INNOVATIONS: Agrees To Settle Securities Fraud Suits in UT
----------------------------------------------------------------
Sonic Innovations, Inc. reached an agreement in principle to
settle the securities class action lawsuits that have been
consolidated under the caption Lynda Steinbeck et al v. Sonic
Innovations, Inc., et al., in the United States District Court
for the District of Utah.

The settlements call for a cash payment of seven million
dollars, which will be funded by Sonic Innovations' D&O
insurance.  The settlement will have no impact on Sonic
Innovations' financial condition.  Final settlement is
contingent on negotiation and execution of a formal settlement
stipulation and court approvals of the settlement following
notification to members of the class and an opportunity for
class members to object.

Andy Raguskus, President and CEO, said in a statement, "Although
we continue to believe that the claims were without merit and we
were prepared to defend ourselves vigorously, we believe it is
in the best interests of our shareholders to take this
opportunity to settle without affecting the financial condition
of the Company.  We look forward to having the distraction and
expense of the class action litigation behind us.  We prefer to
focus our energy on building shareholder value and superior
products for our customers."

Sonic Innovations designs, develops, manufactures and markets
advanced digital hearing aids designed to provide the highest
levels of satisfaction for hearing impaired consumers.

For more information, contact Stephen L. Wilson, Senior Vice
President and CFO by Phone: 1-801-365-2804, Andrew G. Raguskus,
President and CEO by Phone: 1-801-365-2800 or visit the firm's
Website: http://www.sonici.com.


STILLWATER MINING: Consolidated Stock Lawsuit Moved to MT Court
---------------------------------------------------------------
The consolidated securities class action filed against
Stillwater Mining Company and certain senior officers has been
transferred to the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Montana.

In 2002, seven lawsuits were filed in United States District
Court, Southern District of New York, purportedly on behalf of a
class of all persons who purchased or otherwise acquired common
stock of the company from April 20, 2001 through and including
April 1, 2002.  They asserted claims against the Company and
certain of its officers under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Plaintiffs challenge the accuracy of certain public disclosures
made by the company regarding its financial performance and, in
particular, its accounting for probable ore reserves.  In
September 2002, an amended complaint was filed which
consolidated the cases and lead counsel was appointed to
represent the plaintiffs.  

In October 2002, defendants moved to dismiss the complaint and
to transfer the case to federal district court in Montana.  The
motion to transfer the case was granted May 9, 2003.  The motion
to dismiss has not yet been ruled upon.


STYLE ASIA: Recalls 3,000 Cigarette Lighters Due To Fire Hazard
---------------------------------------------------------------
Style Asia, Inc. of Moonachie, N.J., in cooperation with the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, is recalling 3,000 of
the Wristwatch Lighter and 5,000 of the Cigarette-shaped Lighter
since the lighters do not have qualified child resistant
mechanisms and pose a fire hazard to children.  There have been
no reports of injuries regarding the product.

The Wristwatch lighter is an actual digital wristwatch with a
cigarette lighter incorporated into it.  The Cigarette Shaped
lighter is designed to resemble a filter tipped cigarette.  The
lighters, manufactured in China, were sold nationwide primarily
through internet sales.

For more information, contact the Company by Phone:
(800) 522-7465 between 9 and 5 ET Monday through Friday.  The
Firm's Media Contact is Dinesh Sadhwani, National Sales Manager,
at (800) 522-7465.


THE SARUT GROUP: Recalls Cigarette Lighters Due To Fire Hazard
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Sarut Group Group d/b/a as City Limit of New York, N.Y., in
cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, is
recalling 3,100 units of the Fish-Shaped Cigarette Lighter since
it lacks the required child resistant mechanisms and can expose
children to fire hazards.

There have been no reports of injuries regarding the product.

These novelty cigarette lighters have a metallic colored plastic
body and are shaped to resemble a fish and come in a variety of
18 different colors. Colored designs are painted on the body of
the fish. The lighters contain a black lighter insert which can
be pulled out of the body of the fish. The inserts have a white
colored fish skeleton painted on the side.

The lighters, manufactured in France, were sold through internet
sales and distribution to retail firms from 2002 to 2003.

Consumers are urged to return the lighters to the retail firm or
Sarut Group for a full refund and a discount coupon on your next
purchase.

For more information, contact Beverly Olivier, Customer Service
Representative at the Sarut Group by Phone: (800) 345-6404
between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. E.T. Monday through Friday.


                     Asbestos Alert


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Govt Starts Actions vs. Asbestos Claimants
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Irish Government takes its first steps towards recouping
legal costs from hundreds of public sector workers who have
sought damages for anxiety over exposure to asbestos, according
to The Irish Times.

The move follows a landmark Supreme Court judgment earlier this
year, which overturned a ruling in favor of a worker who
developed an "irrational fear" of getting cancer following
exposure to asbestos in Leinster House.

The Irish Times reports that the State Claims Agency, which
handles almost all personal injury cases against the State, will
tomorrow seek permission from the High Court to recoup legal
costs from almost 500 asbestos claimants.

The claimants targeted are public sector employees who have
worked in buildings such as Aras an Uachtar in, the National
Gallery, the National Museum and the Department of Health
headquarters. They have claimed psychological damage - but no
physical harm - over exposure to the potentially cancerous
building material. The agency estimates it has been forced to
spend an average of 5,000 euros per case, or 2,300,000 euros in
total, on legal costs preparing for these cases.

The adversarial action is aimed at dispelling the perception
that the State is a "soft touch" for compensation claims.

The Government earlier feared it was facing another major
lawsuit following a series of successful legal cases over
exposure to asbestos.

A total State liability of 50,000,000 euros had originally been
suggested, but this will be substantially reduced as a result of
the Supreme Court ruling last February.

In the case, the State successfully appealed an award of 61,800
euros to a worker for exposure to asbestos dust while working in
the basement of Leinster House in the late 1980s.

In the decision, the Chief Justice, Justice Keane, said the law
should not be extended by the courts to allow plaintiffs to
recover damages for psychiatric injury "resulting from an
irrational fear of contracting a disease because of their
negligent exposure to health risks by their employers, where
their risk is characterized by their medical advisers as very
remote".

The Government welcomed the ruling and is using the opportunity
to take action against other claimants in the hope it will undo
some of the damage caused by "copycat" cases, such as the Army
deafness claims, which have cost the State almost 350 million
euros.

Work to remove asbestos from all State buildings is continuing.
The Office of Public Works began a removal program in all 6,000
State buildings five years ago and it is expected to conclude
next year, according to the Irish Times report.



ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Victim Gets $100,000 from ACC
-----------------------------------------------------------
An asbestos victim is receiving $100,000 from ACC in a case that
his lawyer described as a precedent, according to a report from
NZPA.

The bulk compensation is believed to be the first $100,000
payout ACC has paid out since the Injury Prevention
Rehabilitation and Compensation Act was brought in on April 1
last year, reports NZPA.

Hazel Armstrong, the victim's lawyer, who specializes in
occupational safety law, it was the first time a person whose
exposure to the cause of the disease was prior to the
introduction of the Act had been paid out.

An ACC review officer found in the man's favor in May, meaning
the case did not go to court.

"It's not just that he has got his $100,000...this is possible
for all people with lung cancers or mesothelioma diagnosed as
caused by asbestos," Armstrong told NZPA.

"These people did not think they would be eligible for lump sum,
a lot of them have retired and haven't been exposed to asbestos
since April 2002."

Because many were retired they could not receive weekly ACC
compensation payouts. Bulk payment was the most appropriate for
those afflicted, she told NZPA.

"The reason why it's important to get these guys compensation
now...is because they are dying.

"If you give them the independence allowance, they are going to
die in a couple of months. An ongoing allowance is not what
these guys need."

Armstrong said others should be able to initiate their own
claims now.

NZPA contacted the recipient of the $100,000, but the man, who
did not give his name, said he did not want to discuss the
matter.

A spokeswoman for ACC Minister Ruth Dyson said she needed
further information before commenting on the case.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: FM Seeks Asbestos PD Committee Appointment
---------------------------------------------------------------
Jacksonville College asks the Court to direct the United States
Trustee to appoint an official committee of asbestos property
damage claimants, in the bankruptcy cases involving Federal-
Mogul Corporation and its debtor-affiliates.

Scott L. Baena, Esq., at Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod
LLP, in Miami, Florida, explains that no other official
creditors committee in these cases has acknowledged that it owes
a fiduciary duty to property damage claimants, leaving a
substantial and far-flung constituency to vie for its own piece
of the pie without any formal representation in these cases.

Jacksonville College, among others, once asked the U.S. Trustee
to appoint a PD Committee pursuant to Section 1102(a)(1)3 of the
Bankruptcy Code. Despite a seemingly positive response from the
U.S. Trustee over one month ago, no action has been taken thus
far. Jacksonville College is concerned that the Debtors'
bankruptcy cases are quickly approaching a critical juncture, as
a reorganization plan that purportedly has the support of the
Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors and the Official
Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants was filed in
March 2003, with absolutely no input whatsoever from holders of
PD Claims.

Mr. Baena relates that PD Claims against the Debtors have
principally arisen from three segments of the business of T&N
Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Federal Mogul Corporation.
T&N was engaged in the manufacture and sale of an asbestos
product known as Sprayed Limpet Asbestos. The Limpet process of
spraying a mixture of asbestos and cement onto surfaces --
initially for thermal and acoustical insulation, later also for
fire protection -- was invented in England in the early 1930s by
a T&N subsidiary known as J.W. Roberts. Over the ensuing
decades, manufacturing Limpet for the patented Limpet process of
spraying asbestos onto surfaces became the principal business of
that subsidiary.

From 1934 to 1962, T&N was also the owner of a Pennsylvania
corporation known as Keasbey & Mattison Company. T&N purchased a
majority of Keasbey's shares in 1934 and the balance by 1938.
Keasbey sold a wide variety of asbestos-containing materials,
including Limpet, textiles, insulation, and pipe throughout the
U.S. between 1934 and 1962.

T&N also brokered raw asbestos fiber. Beginning in the late
1920s, T&N began to acquire asbestos mines or mining interests
and, between 1932 and the late 1970s, supplied raw fiber to
various U.S. manufacturing companies.

By the Claims Bar Date, Mr. Baena reports that:

    (1) over 2,000 PD Claims, representing hundreds of millions
        of dollars of claims or more were filed against the
         Debtors;

     (2) at least 800 different entities filed a PD Claim, with
         many entities filing multiple claims;

     (3) at least 10 PD Claimants filed over 10 PD Claims; and

     (4) at least 700 PD Claimants appear to have filed claims
         without counsel.

On December 21, 2001, Mr. Baena recounts that Lon Morris College
filed a request seeking the appointment of an Asbestos PD
Committee.  After full briefing and argument on the Original
Motion, the Court denied Lon Morris' request and intoned that,
"wouldn't it better to stage this so that we have a property
damage bar date and then see how many claims there are, and then
we see whether we need a committee."

At a February 26, 2002 hearing, the U.S. Trustee recognized
that, "(t)ypically if there were only five or six creditors in a
case, there wouldn't be a committee."

"Without question, the breadth and diversity of the PD Claims
warrants the formation of a PD Committee," Mr. Baena says.

Mr. Baena notes that in all but one bankruptcy case in which
both asbestos PI Claims and PD Claims of any consequence are at
issue, separate committees were formed to represent the
interests of PIand PD Claimants. Mr. Baena cites In re Armstrong
World Industries, Inc. (Case No. 00-04471, District of
Delaware); In re USG Corp. (Case No. 01-02094, District of
Delaware); In re W.R. Grace & Co., et al. (Case No. 01-01139,
District of Delaware); and In re The Celotex Corporation (Case
Nos. 90-10016-8BI and 90-10017-8BI, Middle District of Florida,
Tampa Division). In the case of United States Mineral Products
Company (Case No. 01-02471), a joint asbestos committee has been
formed to represent asbestos claimants' interests. Due to the
limited assets of the debtor in comparison to its liabilities,
only one asbestos committee was constituted.

Mr. Baena maintains that the U.S. Trustee likely did not appoint
any asbestos PD Claimants to serve on the PI Committee because
he was personally aware from experience in the other asbestos
bankruptcy cases pending in Delaware of the divergent issues
that exist between asbestos PI and PD Claimants and their
inability to function within a single committee. Moreover, the
PI Committee has engaged the same counsel that presently
represents the official asbestos personal injury committees in
each asbestos case pending in Delaware in which such a committee
was appointed, as well as a multitude of other cases pending
elsewhere. As a result, the counsel's professional
responsibility prevents it from advancing the interests of any
constituency other than PI Claimants. Most importantly, counsel
for the PI Committee has expressly stated that the PI Committee
does not and will not represent the interests of PD Claimants.

Mr. Baena also notes that the counsel for the Commercial
Creditors' Committee apprised the Court that, based on the
Debtors' advice, it did not believe that PD Claims would be
allowed in these cases.

The bias and prejudice against PD Claimants is best demonstrated
by the circumstances surrounding the negotiation of the Plan and
the agreements reached on the terms of the Plan, according to
Mr. Baena. At the hearing on Lon Morris' request, Peter Wolfson,
the Creditors' Committee's counsel, advised the Court that
Professor Francis McGovern had begun discussions with certain
non-Committee bondholders regarding a reorganization plan and
that Professor McGovern had also begun discussions with the
Creditors' Committee. However, rather than attempt to include PD
Claimants in the Plan negotiations, the Creditors' Committee and
the PI Committee argued against the appointment of a PD
Committee in a patent attempt to disenfranchise PD Claimants.
Mr. Baena contends that the lack of inclusion of PD Claimants in
the negotiation of the Plan by the Commercial Committee and the
PI Committee continued despite the Court's rumination that both
Committees owe a fiduciary duty to PD Claimants. Even the
Debtors' counsel indicated at the February 26, 2002 hearing,
"[t]he only other thing I would point out is I appreciate you
finding, in the interim, that at least one or more of the
committees does have a fiduciary duty to them [PD Claimants] and
they have that audience to speak to." To which the Court
responded, "I don't think there was any question about it."

Mr. Baena informs the Court that Jacksonville College's asbestos
trial counsel, Martin Dies, Esq., in Orange, Texas, is
preeminently qualified to serve as its designee on a PD
committee in these cases. The involvement of the counsel would
have a meaningful, positive impact on the Debtors'
reorganization. Jacksonville College's asbestos counsel is among
the most experienced PD trial lawyers in the nation and has
participated extensively in every asbestos bankruptcy case,
which has implicated PD Claims. Mr. Dies has served as:

     (i) co-chair of the NGC Asbestos Property Damage Committee
         and as a member of the Negotiating Subcommittee, which
         negotiated NGC's confirmed reorganization plan;

    (ii) the primary draftsperson for the NGC Property Damage
         Asbestos Claims Resolution Procedures, which procedures
         have since served as a model for claims resolution
         facilities in other asbestos bankruptcies;

   (iii) a member of the post-confirmation Property Damage
         Advisory Committee in the Celotex bankruptcy;

    (iv) the chair of the Official Committee of Asbestos
         Property Damage Claimants of US Gypsum;

     (v) a member of the Official Committee of Asbestos Property
         Damage Claimants of W.R. Grace; and

    (vi) a member of the Asbestos Claimants Committee of US
         Mineral Products.

The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors asserts that an
asbestos property damage claimants' committee is neither
necessary nor appropriate. The Creditors' Committee explains
that the existing official committees represent the interests of
all unsecured creditors. The Creditors' Committee represents the
interests of all unsecured non-asbestos personal injury
claimants. This includes trade creditors, litigation claimants,
holders of rejection damage claim as well as asbestos property
damage claimants.

The Committee also asserts that the consensual reorganization
plan the Debtors filed does not discriminate against asbestos
property damage claimants. The Plan provides the asbestos
property damage claimants with the same treatment afforded
against other general unsecured creditors, excluding asbestos
personal injury claimants.

It is also inappropriate to form an additional committee this
late in the proceedings. The Debtors' cases have been pending
for more than two years. The deadline for filing asbestos
property damage claims passed more than seven months ago. Since
then, the Debtors and the official creditor constituencies have
filed the Plan and a draft disclosure statement. To appoint
another committee at this point would unnecessarily disrupt the
current plan process. It would be costly and duplicative of the
time and effort of the committees in these cases to date.

The Creditors' Committee notes that it has always been willing
to discuss matters with the property damage claimants subject to
appropriate confidentiality restrictions. The Creditors'
Committee is also willing to have a property damage claimant
added to the Committee.

Charlene D. Davis, Esq., at The Bayard Firm, in Wilmington,
Delaware, informs the Court that the Creditors' Committee made
this offer to the Office of the U.S. Trustee this past summer
after one member resigned. The U.S. Trustee, however, did not
accept the offer. Nevertheless, the offer remains open.

The Official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants
supports the Creditors Committee's arguments. (Federal-Mogul
Bankruptcy News, Issue No. 44; Bankruptcy Creditors' Service,
Inc., 609/392-0900)


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Senate Continues To Mull Asbestos Bill
-----------------------------------------------------------
Senate is unlikely to pass legislation this year settling
asbestos-related lawsuits, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle,
D-S.D., said recently.

Daschle has criticized an industry-proposed settlement fund, but
said differences on the fund could still be worked out this
year. Getting any deal into legislation language, though, and
passed by Congress is unlikely, Daschle said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah,
responded that there is plenty of time. "They know the score,"
Hatch said of the Democrats.

He would like to see Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.,
try to force the bill to the Senate floor with a procedural
device called a cloture motion.

"In two weeks we'll go to cloture and see they if kill off the
bill," Hatch said.

A Democratic aide reacted angrily to Hatch's suggestion.

"Moving to cloture at this juncture would be counterproductive
and inject a level of partisanship into the debate that we don't
need," the aide said.

A Senate Republican leadership aide said the idea hadn't been
cleared with Frist. The aide said that if an agreement could be
reached in the Senate that met business, insurance company and
union concerns, the House would certainly go along and the
agreement could quickly become law.

The latest proposal, drafted by Frist and a top insurance trade
group, proposed a funding plan of about $114 billion to assist
victims of asbestos exposure.

Insurers would contribute over the next 27 years about
$46,000,000,000. Defendant companies would contribute about $57
billion over the next 23 years. Another $ 1,500,000,000 would
come from existing bankruptcy trusts. The fund would reach about
$114,000,000,000 due to investment earnings.

In addition, the proposal would put defendants on tap for
another $10,000,000,000 in contingency payments, should trust
funds run low.

The funding is intended to last 27 years. But if the fund and
contingency fund were to prove insufficient to meet victims'
claims, victims could return to court to seek redress.

In a letter to Frist Tuesday, Daschle commended Frist for making
the offer, which he called promising. Still, Daschle said, there
are remaining concerns that the size of the trust fund will be
inadequate.

AFL-CIO president John Sweeney expressed similar concerns to
Frist Monday, saying a fund of $153,000,000,000 would be more
appropriate. Sweeney had announced earlier that he opposed the
offer, but some found reason for optimism in Sweeney's repeating
the union group's objections and putting a specific price tag on
a counter proposal.

Senate Democratic aides said it showed the union is interested
in keeping negotiations going. Senate Republican aides said that
may be true, but it could also be an attempt to provide
political cover should the talks fail.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Badger Battles Multi-Party Asbestos Suits
--------------------------------------------------------------
Badger Meter reports that it is a defendant in two multi-party
asbestos suits as a result of its membership in certain trade
organizations.  The company was a defendant in five multiparty
asbestos suits at June 30.

The cases are pending in state court in Mississippi. The Company
does not believe the ultimate resolution of these issues will
have a material adverse effect on the Company's financial
position or results of operations, either from a cash flow
perspective or on the financial statements as a whole.

Badger Meter provides utilities and industrial customers with
instruments that measure and control the flow of liquids.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Electrolux Faces 20,700 Asbestos Plaintiffs
----------------------------------------------------------------
Electrolux AB reports that as of September 30, 2003, the Group
had a total of 535 lawsuits pending, representing around 20,700
plaintiffs, according to its latest regulatory filing with the
Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the filing, a total of 166 new cases were filed
during the third quarter of 2003, and 12 were resolved. Around
20,000 of the plaintiffs refer to cases pending in the state of
Mississippi.

Litigation and claims related to asbestos are pending against
the Group in the US. Almost all of the cases refer to externally
supplied components used in industrial products manufactured by
discontinued operations prior to the early 1970s. Almost all of
the cases involve multiple plaintiffs who have made identical
allegations against many other defendants who are not part of
the Electrolux Group.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Hardie Maintains Stance of Non-Liability
-------------------------------------------------------------
James Hardie Industries would not suffer any ongoing financial
or legal liability from asbestos claims, chief executive officer
Peter Macdonald told The Melbourne Age.

The Medical Research and Compensation Foundation established by
James Hardie in February 2001 to handle future asbestos-related
liabilities for the group said it may not have enough funds to
cover future claims, The Melbourne Age reports.

But Macdonald said it was an entirely independent entity with no
legal claim against the parent company.

"James Hardie's legal and financial position is unchanged by
these announcements by the foundation," Macdonald told investors
and reporters at a briefing.

"There was no parent company liability before or after the
establishment of the foundation, there is no basis for legal
action by the foundation against the former parent or any
related entity.

"James Hardie is confident it can defend any such action that is
brought by the foundation."

The potential for any asbestos claims to have a material adverse
effect against James Hardie "is was and looks to continue to be
remote", Macdonald added.

"James Hardie has no legal obligation to provide further funding
to the foundation," he said.

"We are very confident of our position. There is no basis for
successful legal action against James Hardie."

The foundation's assets were "almost at the same level" as they
were when it was established five years ago, Macdonald said.

Its shortfall warning was based on actuarial estimates of the
likely liability to be incurred by future claims.

"The foundation's funding is sufficient for many years even if
there is no return on the assets of the foundation," he said.

Macdonald confirmed the foundation had unsuccessfully sought
increased funding from James Hardie, The Melbourne Age reports.

The building materials company called a share trading halt
before making the presentation.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: WABTEC Continues to Face Asbestos Suits
------------------------------------------------------------
Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp continues to face
asbestos-related litigation in various state courts, according
to its latest regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange
Commission.

Actions have been filed against and certain of its affiliates in
various courts across the United States by persons alleging
bodily injury as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing
products.

WABTEC reports that since 2000, the number of such claims has
increased. Most of these claims have been made against its
wholly-owned subsidiary, Railroad Friction Products Corporation,
and are based on a product sold by RFPC before it acquired
American Standard Inc.'s 50% interest in RFPC in 1990. WABTEC
acquired the remaining interest in RFPC in 1992. These claims
include a suit against RFPC by ASI seeking contribution and
indemnity for asbestos claims brought against ASI that ASI
alleges claim exposure to RFPC's products, the filing says.

Most of these claims, including all of the RFPC claims, are
submitted to insurance carriers for defense and indemnity or to
non-affiliated companies that retained the liabilities for the
asbestos-containing products at issue. Neither WABTEC nor its
affiliates have to date incurred material costs related to these
asbestos claims. The company cannot, however, assure that all
these claims will be fully covered by insurance or that the
indemnitors will remain financially viable.

WABTEC says its ultimate legal and financial liability with
respect to these claims, as is the case with other pending
litigation, cannot be estimated with certainty.   It is subject
to a variety of environmental laws and regulations, according to
the filing.   


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Creditors Oppose Grace's Rep Appointment
-------------------------------------------------------------
Creditors of W.R. Grace & Co. recently challenged a bid to
appoint a former New Jersey judge to represent people with
asbestos claims against the company in its Chapter 11 case.

C. Judson Hamlin, the attorney that W.R. Grace has sought to be
named as representative of future asbestos claimants, has served
as adviser to the district court that is overseeing litigation
issues in the company's Chapter 11 case, according to papers
filed by D.K. Acquisition Partners L.P., Bear Stearns & Co.
Inc., Fernwood Associates L.P. and Deutsche Bank Trust Company
Americas.

As an adviser to the federal court that decides litigation
questions, the papers said, Hamlin enjoys special influence that
should block him out of serving as "futures representative," a
role in which he would act as an advocate.

Hamlin has served as a court-appointed adviser to U.S. District
Court Judge Alfred M. Wolin, who oversees asbestos litigation
issues in W.R. Grace's and four other asbestos-related Chapter
11 cases in Wilmington.

Hamlin's dual role has been spotlighted in papers filed by some
creditors in another of the cases, that of Owens Corning.

Some creditors of Owens Corning asked Wolin to recuse himself
from the case, due to an alleged conflict created when Hamlin
and another adviser in that case, David R. Gross, also served as
advocates in another asbestos-related Chapter 11 case.

The W.R. Grace creditors group papers were filed in opposition
to a bid by the company to have Hamlin appointed futures
representative, a matter that is set for court review Nov. 17.

Members of the challenging group have said W.R. Grace, which
filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection April 2, 2001, owes
them $150,000,000.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Judge Dismisses Asbestos Victims Suit
----------------------------------------------------------
Judge Gray Evans recently dismissed a lawsuit against seven
Mississippi attorneys accused of scamming asbestos victims out
of millions of dollars from settlements, saying the suit
"clearly intended to harass, intimidate and embarrass" them, AP
reports.

Sen. Barbara Blackmon, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant
governor, was a defendant in the suit in which 15 named and 200
unnamed victims from Holmes County were suing for $200,000,000.
The plaintiffs also wanted the original asbestos cases to be
reopened.

The Holmes County lawsuit also named the state senator's husband
- state Rep. Edward Blackmon - and attorneys Shane Langston,
Dennis Sweet, T. Roe Frazer II, Richard Schwartz and Richard
Freese as defendants.

In an order Wednesday, he wrote that all claims against the
defendants were dismissed because there were no specific
allegations against them in the complaint. The order also said
the suit was barred by the statutes of limitations.

Blackmon's campaign released a statement saying the senator and
others named have been vindicated by the dismissal.

"The logical conclusion to be drawn from such a baseless action
against Sen. Blackmon two weeks before the general election is
that it was politically contrived and motivated," the statement
said.

The suit was filed on October 21 and the general election is
November 4.  Evans ordered a November 14 sanctions hearing for
Kevin Muhammad, the Fayette attorney who represented the
asbestos victims, saying Muhammad's lawsuit "is part of a
continuing pattern of abuse of the judicial system" by Muhammad.

Muhammad has filed several other lawsuits against some of the
same attorneys and was recently sanctioned by a judge for a
frivolous lawsuit.

A spokesman for Muhammad denied political motivation for the
filing.

"This has nothing to do with playing politics," Marvin Muhammad
told AP. "These are people that talked to us and convinced us
that they had been wronged."

Marvin Muhammad said the suit's timing could not be controlled.

"It's not up to us to determine when people come to us crying
out," he told AP.

The 1998 cases were filed against asbestos manufacturers and
were settled for an undisclosed amount.

The suit claimed the attorneys did not disclose the amounts of
the settlements to the victims, had many victims sign blank
release forms, and gave them less than they were promised or no
money at all.

The lawsuit said many of the victims are ill because of asbestos
exposure and cannot afford medication.

Marvin Muhammad said Wednesday's hearing to dismiss the suit was
"illegal" and that the ruling is being appealed. Neither he nor
Kevin Muhammad attended Wednesday's hearing.

"I find it strange that a judge would fine a lawyer for doing
something that an attorney asked them to do," Marvin Muhammad
said. "We're being made to appear that we're on a witch hunt. We
did not go seeking after any of these clients. But it is
starting to manifest how corrupt some of these lawyers are. You
don't have all of these people coming out of the woodwork crying
foul for no reason."


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Railroad Workers Commence Asbestos Lawsuits
----------------------------------------------------------------
More than 3,500 railroad workers are flooding the West Virginia
courts with cases against the makers of locomotive products that
contained asbestos, the state Supreme Court was told, according
to an AP report.

"Railroads are regulated from top to bottom, from stem to stern
by the federal government, and they always have been,"
Charleston lawyer Ben Bailey argued. "They regulate the
equipment, they regulate the hours. They even regulate the
sound."

Bailey was one of several lawyers for manufacturers which asked
the justices to block the claims from continuing. The claims are
part of a consolidated mass of lawsuits alleging harmful
exposure to asbestos.

Because it resists heat and flame, asbestos was used in such
products as railroad brakes and steam generators. When inhaled,
its fibers can cause several ailments including mesothelioma, an
inoperable form of lung cancer. Lawsuits filed nationwide allege
some companies hid knowledge of these harms for much of the last
century.

Hancock Circuit Judge Martin Gaughan ruled in July 2002 that
such laws as the Federal Railroad Safety Act do not pre-empt the
claims. But Gaughan also agreed to submit the issue as three
"certified questions" to the Supreme Court.

The manufacturers, which include American Standard, Railroad
Friction Products Corp. and Viad Corp., contend the federal laws
immunize them from asbestos claims.

"It doesn't matter whether it's the railroad that's using the
locomotive or the manufacturer who designs and constructs and
supplies the materials for the locomotive," said Daniel
Markewich, a New York lawyer for Viad, told AP. "(The
plaintiffs) absolutely do, under this law, have no cause of
action against railroad manufacturers in any court."

Several of the justices challenged that argument.

"What you are saying is, a railroad worker, unlike any other
type of worker in the world, has no cause of action against the
manufacturer of a defective product," Justice Joseph Albright
told AP.

The justices were reminded of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in
March in a West Virginia case, which allows railroad workers to
seek asbestos-related damages directly from their employers.

The justices were also told that courts in at least 10 other
states have agreed that federal laws pre-empt these lawsuits.

"That's a compelling argument," said Justice Spike Maynard.

Robert Daley, a lawyer for the workers, argued that federal law
has supplanted some of the rulings cited by the parts makers.

"These types of cases are not pre-empted, and have not been pre-
empted for decades," Daley told AP.

Daley, of Pittsburgh, also maintained that the federal laws
governing railroads do not extend to all possible claims. He
alleged that under manufacturers' logic, a pedestrian could not
sue if struck by a defective train wheel that spun off the
rails.

"There have simply been no regulations pertaining to asbestos,"
Daley told AP.

Monongalia Circuit Judge Robert Stone sat in for Justice Robin
Davis, whose husband represents workers in the consolidated
case. The court did not say when it might rule on the certified
questions.


                    New Securities Fraud Cases


ALKERMES INC.: Cauley Geller Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in MA
---------------------------------------------------------------
Cauley Geller Bowman & Rudman, LLP initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the District of
Massachusetts on behalf of purchasers of Alkermes, Inc. (Nasdaq:
ALKS) common stock during the period between April 22, 1999 and
July 1, 2002, inclusive.

The complaint charges Alkermes and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934.  Alkermes is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the
development of controlled-release drug delivery technologies and
their application to existing or new drug therapies.

The complaint alleges that during the class period, defendants
artificially inflated the price of Alkermes shares by issuing a
series of materially false and misleading statements about the
Company's New Drug Application (NDA) for Risperdal Consta.

The true facts, which were known by each of the defendants
during the Class Period but were concealed from the investing
public, were as follows:

     (1) In an attempt to decrease development expenses and
         speed the product to market, defendants concealed the
         deficient nature of the manufacturing process for
         Medisorb polylactide-glycolide polymer used to
         manufacture Risperdal Consta, resulting in quality
         management issues and delays in the development
         program;

     (2) In order to conceal lot-to-lot variations resulting
         from the manufacturing process for Medisorb polymer,
         defendants minimized process development and validation
         requirements, including the establishment of
         specifications and analytical tests necessary to
         control those variations;

     (3) Significant quality issues for the manufacture of
         Risperdal Consta existed at the Wilmington, Ohio
         facility, impacting the ability of the Company to meet
         clinical development timelines for Risperdal Consta.

     (4) In order to avoid disclosure of the serious
         deficiencies of the Medisorb manufacturing process,
         particularly the lot-to-lot variation in molecular
         weight for Medisorb polymer, and in order to find a way
         to fix the desired molecular weight of the Risperdal
         Consta finished drug product, defendants patented a
         method to degrade the finished product to the desired
         molecular weight.

     (5) Defendants' revenue projections for Risperdal Consta
         were grossly inflated based on defendants' concealment
         of the fact that Risperdal's adverse effects and safety
         or tolerability issues worsen when Risperdal is
         formulated using Medisorb technology and used as
         intended.

     (6) Defendants concealed that due to the combined effect of
         the financial agreements reached with its joint venture
         partner, Janssen, Risperdal Consta would not be
         profitable unless it achieved the high end of sales
         projections, an unlikely outcome because of the
         worsening of Risperdal's adverse effects and safety or
         tolerability issues when the drug is formulated using
         Medisorb technology and used as intended.

     (7) The serious safety concerns for Risperdal "oral" and
         Risperdal Consta "depot" products, such as
         cerebrovascular effects in elderly patients,
         extrapyramidal symptoms, QT interval prolongation and
         diabetes, which were detected in clinical trials that
         went unreported to worldwide regulatory authorities for
         long periods, in some cases for studies completed well
         before the beginning of the Class Period, were
         negatively impacting the regulatory review process.

     (8) For one or more reasons related to the known but unmet
         manufacturing, safety or efficacy requirements for the
         drug, the NDA for Risperdal Consta would not be
         approved on July 1, 2002.

     (9) The failure to disclose the defective nature of the
         Risperdal Consta chemical and manufacturing controls,
         clinical program, safety and other issues preventing
         the Company from realizing product approval would
         prevent investors from learning the extent of the
         misrepresentations made to them during the Class
         Period.

As a result of the defendants' false statements, Alkermes stock
traded at inflated prices during the Class Period, increasing to
as high as $70.06 on February 16, 2000, whereby the Company sold
$200 million worth of its own securities. On July 1, 2002,
defendants announced the receipt of a non- approvable letter for
Risperdal Consta. As a result of this announcement, Alkermes'
stock price dropped precipitously over the next two days to a
low of $4.04, or a loss of 93% from its Class Period high of $98
per share, on total volume of 29 million shares.

For more information, contact Samuel H. Rudman, David A.
Rosenfeld, Jackie Addison or Heather Gann, by Mail:
P.O. Box 25438, Little Rock, AR 72221-5438, by Phone:
1-888-551-9944 (toll free), by Fax: 1-501-312-8505, by E-mail:
info@cauleygeller.com, or visit the firm's Website:
http://www.cauleygeller.com.



ALSTOM SA: Bernstein Liebhard Lodges Securities Suit in S.D. NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York, on behalf of all persons who acquired
securities of Alstom SA (NYSE: ALS) between May 26, 1999 to June
29, 2003, inclusive.  The lawsuit names as defendants:

    (1) Alstom,

    (2) Pierre Bilger,

    (3) Patrick Kron, and,

    (4) Philippe Jaffre

The Complaint charges that Alstom and certain of its officers
and directors violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder, by issuing a series of material misrepresentations
to the market during the Class Period.

Specifically, the Complaint alleges that Defendants made
numerous false and misleading public statements concerning the
financial performance of its transportation subsidiary, Alstom
Transportation Inc. (ATI). For example, Defendants did not
properly recognize costs incurred in a rolling -- stock supply
railcar contract at ATI and lacked the internal controls needed
to ascertain its true financial condition. As a result,
Defendants reported inflated financial results, which inflated
the price of Alstom securities during the Class Period.

The truth was revealed at the end of the Class Period when
Alstom announced that it was conducting an internal review
following notice of accounting improprieties on a railcar
contract by ATI. As part of the review, the Company found that
"losses have been significantly understated in ATI's
accounts,"in substantial part due to accounting improprieties by
the understatement of actual costs incurred, including "the non-
recognition of costs incurred in anticipation of shifting them
to other contracts, and by the understatement of forecast costs
to completion." As a result, the Company announced that it would
record an additional net after-tax charge of 51 million euros
($58 million) for the year ended March 31, 2003.

The Company also announced that the SEC and the FBI had begun
informal inquiries into the issues related to ATI and that both
the Senior Vice President and the Vice President of Finance of
ATI were suspended pending the completion of the review. In
response to this announcement, the price of Alstom securities
closed at $3.41 per share, less than 10% of the Class Period
high of $34.98 per share.

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


GOODYEAR TIRE: Brodsky Smith Files Securities Fraud Suit in Ohio
----------------------------------------------------------------
Brodsky & Smith, LLC initiated a securities class action in the
United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
on behalf of shareholders who purchased the common stock and
other securities of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (NYSE:GT),
between October 22, 1998 and October 22, 2003 inclusive.

On October 22, 2003, Goodyear announced that its 1998-2002
results had to be restated to eliminate over $100 million in
revenue that had been improperly recorded.  The complaint
alleges that defendants violated federal securities laws by
issuing a series of material misrepresentations to the market
during the Class Period, thereby artificially inflating the
price of Goodyear securities.

For more information, contact Marc L. Ackerman or Evan J. Smith,
by Mail: Two Bala Plaza, Suite 602, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004, by
Phone: toll free 877-LEGAL-90, or by E-mail: clients@brodsky-
smith.com


PUTNAM MUTUAL FUNDS: Johnson Perkinson Files Stock Lawsuit in MA
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Johnson & Perkinson initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the District of
Massachusetts against defendants Marsh & McLennan Companies,
Inc., Putnam Investments Trust, Putnam Investment Management
LLC, Putnam Investment Funds, each of the Funds listed above,
Justin M. Scott, Omid Kamshad and John Does 1-100, on behalf of
purchasers of the securities of the Putnam Funds family of funds
between November 1, 1998 and September 3, 2003, inclusive,
seeking to pursue remedies under the Securities Exchange Act of
1934, the Securities Act of 1933 and the Investment Advisers Act
of 1940.

The subject Funds, and their respective symbols, are as follows:

     (1) Putnam American Government Income Fund

     (2) Putnam Arizona Tax Exempt Income Fund

     (3) Putnam Asset Allocation: Balanced Portfolio

     (4) Putnam Asset Allocation: Conservative Portfolio

     (5) Putnam Asset Allocation: Growth Portfolio (Sym: PAEAX)

     (6) Putnam California Tax Exempt Income Fund

     (7) Putnam Capital Appreciation Fund

     (8) Putnam Capital Opportunities Fund

     (9) Putnam Classic Equity Fund

    (10) Putnam Convertible Income-Growth Trust

    (11) Putnam Discovery Growth Fund

    (12) Putnam Diversified Income Trust

    (13) Putnam Equity Income Fund

    (14) Putnam Europe Equity Fund

    (15) Putnam Florida Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (16) Putnam Fund for Growth and Income (Sym: PGRWX)

    (17) George Putnam Fund of Boston

    (18) Putnam Global Equity Fund (Sym: PEQUX)

    (19) Putnam Global Income Trust

    (20) Putnam Global Natural Resources Fund

    (21) Putnam Growth Opportunities Fund (Sym: POGAX, POGBX,
         POGCX, PGOMX)

    (22) Putnam Health Sciences Trust

    (23) Putnam High Yield Advantage Fund

    (24) Putnam High Yield Trust

    (25) Putnam Income Fund

    (26) Putnam Intermediate U.S. Government Income Fund

    (27) Putnam International Capital Opportunities Fund

    (28) Putnam International Equity Fund

    (29) Putnam International Growth and Income Fund

    (30) Putnam International New Opportunities Fund (Sym:
         PINOX)

    (31) Putnam Investors Fund

    (32) Putnam Massachusetts Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (33) Putnam Michigan Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (34) Putnam Mid Cap Value Fund

    (35) Putnam Minnesota Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (36) Putnam Money Market Fund

    (37) Putnam Municipal Income Fund

    (38) Putnam New Jersey Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (39) Putnam New Opportunities Fund

    (40) Putnam New Value Fund (Sym: PANVX)

    (41) Putnam New York Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (42) Putnam New York Tax Exempt Opportunities Fund

    (43) Putnam OTC & Emerging Growth Fund

    (44) Putnam Ohio Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (45) Putnam Pennsylvania Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (46) Putnam Research Fund

    (47) Putnam Small Cap Growth Fund

    (48) Putnam Small Cap Value Fund

    (49) Putnam Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (50) Putnam Tax Exempt Money Market Fund

    (51) Putnam Tax Smart Equity Fund

    (52) Putnam Tax-Free High Yield Fund

    (53) Putnam Tax-Free Insured Fund

    (54) Putnam U.S. Government Income Trust

    (55) Putnam Utilities Growth and Income Fund

    (56) Putnam Vista Fund

    (57) Putnam Voyager Fund (Sym: PVOYX)

The action was filed The Complaint alleges that defendants
violated 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 investors (including Defendants Scott and Kamshad and
the John Doe defendants) to engage in the "timing" of their
transactions in the Funds' securities. Timing is excessive,
arbitrage trading undertaken to turn a quick profit. Timing
injures ordinary mutual fund investors -- who are not allowed to
engage in such practices -- and is acknowledged as an improper
practice by the Funds in their prospectuses.

In return for receiving extra fees defendants allowed the
defendants Scott, Kamshad and the John Doe defendants to engage
in timing, to the detriment of class members, who paid for the
favored investors' improper profits.  These practices were
undisclosed in the prospectuses of the Funds, which falsely
represented that the Funds actively police against timing.

For more information, contact Peter McDougall by Mail: Johnson &
Perkinson, 1690 Williston Road, P.O. Box 2305, South Burlington,
VT 05403, by Phone: 1-877-266-2133 (toll free), or by E-mail:
pmcdougall@jpclasslaw.com.


PUTNAM MUTUAL FUNDS: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Suit in NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a securities
class action in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York on behalf of all purchasers of
shares of the Putnam Family of Funds during the period between
November 1, 1998 and September 3, 2003, inclusive, seeking to
pursue remedies under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the
Securities Act of 1933 and the Investment Company Act of 1940.

The Funds and the symbols for the respective Funds subject to
the lawsuit are:

     (1) Putnam American Government Income Fund

     (2) Putnam Arizona Tax Exempt Income Fund

     (3) Putnam Asset Allocation: Balanced Portfolio

     (4) Putnam Asset Allocation: Conservative Portfolio

     (5) Putnam Asset Allocation: Growth Portfolio (Sym: PAEAX)

     (6) Putnam California Tax Exempt Income Fund

     (7) Putnam Capital Appreciation Fund

     (8) Putnam Capital Opportunities Fund

     (9) Putnam Classic Equity Fund

    (10) Putnam Convertible Income-Growth Trust

    (11) Putnam Discovery Growth Fund

    (12) Putnam Diversified Income Trust

    (13) Putnam Equity Income Fund

    (14) Putnam Europe Equity Fund

    (15) Putnam Florida Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (16) Putnam Fund for Growth and Income (Sym: PGRWX)

    (17) George Putnam Fund of Boston

    (18) Putnam Global Equity Fund (Sym: PEQUX)

    (19) Putnam Global Income Trust

    (20) Putnam Global Natural Resources Fund

    (21) Putnam Growth Opportunities Fund (Sym: POGAX, POGBX,
         POGCX, PGOMX)

    (22) Putnam Health Sciences Trust

    (23) Putnam High Yield Advantage Fund

    (24) Putnam High Yield Trust

    (25) Putnam Income Fund

    (26) Putnam Intermediate U.S. Government Income Fund

    (27) Putnam International Capital Opportunities Fund

    (28) Putnam International Equity Fund

    (29) Putnam International Growth and Income Fund

    (30) Putnam International New Opportunities Fund (Sym:
         PINOX)

    (31) Putnam Investors Fund

    (32) Putnam Massachusetts Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (33) Putnam Michigan Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (34) Putnam Mid Cap Value Fund

    (35) Putnam Minnesota Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (36) Putnam Money Market Fund

    (37) Putnam Municipal Income Fund

    (38) Putnam New Jersey Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (39) Putnam New Opportunities Fund

    (40) Putnam New Value Fund (Sym: PANVX)

    (41) Putnam New York Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (42) Putnam New York Tax Exempt Opportunities Fund

    (43) Putnam OTC & Emerging Growth Fund

    (44) Putnam Ohio Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (45) Putnam Pennsylvania Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (46) Putnam Research Fund

    (47) Putnam Small Cap Growth Fund

    (48) Putnam Small Cap Value Fund

    (49) Putnam Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (50) Putnam Tax Exempt Money Market Fund

    (51) Putnam Tax Smart Equity Fund

    (52) Putnam Tax-Free High Yield Fund

    (53) Putnam Tax-Free Insured Fund

    (54) Putnam U.S. Government Income Trust

    (55) Putnam Utilities Growth and Income Fund

    (56) Putnam Vista Fund

    (57) Putnam Voyager Fund (Sym: PVOYX)

The wrongful conduct alleged in, and which is the subject of the
lawsuit, relates to "late trading" of mutual fund shares by
certain customers of the fund. Specifically, the conduct
complained of relates to allegations that certain of those who
invested in certain of the various defendants' mutual funds
improperly arranged to place orders after 4 p.m. Eastern Time on
a given day at that day's price (instead of the next day's
price, which the order would have received had it been processed
lawfully). This allowed mutual fund investors who engaged in the
same wrongful course of conduct to capitalize on information
available only after 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time while others who
bought shares in the subject mutual funds could not so benefit.

The wrongful conduct alleged in and which is the subject of the
lawsuit relates to "timing." As used, "timing" is an investment
technique involving short-term, "in and out" trading of mutual
fund shares designed to take advantage of inefficiencies in the
way mutual fund companies price their shares, particularly
shares of international funds. It is alleged, further, that
while the mutual fund companies purported to guard against
timing, they allowed select investors to time their trades to
the detriment of other mutual fund investors and for the benefit
of the mutual fund companies.

For more information, contact Charles J. Piven, P.A., by Mail:
The World Trade Center-Baltimore, 401 East Pratt Street, Suite
2525, Baltimore, Maryland 21202, by Phone: 410/332-0030, or by
E-mail: hoffman@pivenlaw.com.


PUTNAM MUTUAL FUNDS: Rabin Murray Launches Securities Suit in NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
Rabin, Murray & Frank, LLP initiated a securities class action
in United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York, case number 03-CV-8323, on behalf of all persons or
entities who purchased or otherwise acquired Putnam Discovery
Growth Fund (Nasdaq:PVYBX) (Nasdaq:PVYCX) (Nasdaq:PVYMX), Putnam
Diversified Income Trust (Nasdaq:PSIBX) (Nasdaq:PDVCX)
(Nasdaq:PDVMX), Putnam Equity Income Fund (Nasdaq:PEQNX)
(Nasdaq:PEQCX) (Nasdaq:PEIMX), Putnam Europe Equity Fund
(Nasdaq:PEUBX) (Nasdaq:PEUMX), and other Putnam family of funds,
between November 1, 1998 and September 3, 2003, inclusive.

The complaint names as defendants Marsh & McLennan Companies,
Inc., Putnam Investments Trust, Putnam Investment Management
LLC, Putnam Investment Funds, each of the Funds, and,
John Does 1-100.

The Funds, and the symbols for the respective Funds named below,
are as follows:

     (1) Putnam American Government Income Fund

     (2) Putnam Arizona Tax Exempt Income Fund

     (3) Putnam Asset Allocation: Balanced Portfolio

     (4) Putnam Asset Allocation: Conservative Portfolio

     (5) Putnam Asset Allocation: Growth Portfolio (Sym: PAEAX)

     (6) Putnam California Tax Exempt Income Fund

     (7) Putnam Capital Appreciation Fund

     (8) Putnam Capital Opportunities Fund

     (9) Putnam Classic Equity Fund

    (10) Putnam Convertible Income-Growth Trust

    (11) Putnam Discovery Growth Fund

    (12) Putnam Diversified Income Trust

    (13) Putnam Equity Income Fund

    (14) Putnam Europe Equity Fund

    (15) Putnam Florida Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (16) Putnam Fund for Growth and Income (Sym: PGRWX)

    (17) George Putnam Fund of Boston

    (18) Putnam Global Equity Fund (Sym: PEQUX)

    (19) Putnam Global Income Trust

    (20) Putnam Global Natural Resources Fund

    (21) Putnam Growth Opportunities Fund (Sym: POGAX, POGBX,
         POGCX, PGOMX)

    (22) Putnam Health Sciences Trust

    (23) Putnam High Yield Advantage Fund

    (24) Putnam High Yield Trust

    (25) Putnam Income Fund

    (26) Putnam Intermediate U.S. Government Income Fund

    (27) Putnam International Capital Opportunities Fund

    (28) Putnam International Equity Fund

    (29) Putnam International Growth and Income Fund

    (30) Putnam International New Opportunities Fund (Sym:
         PINOX)

    (31) Putnam Investors Fund

    (32) Putnam Massachusetts Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (33) Putnam Michigan Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (34) Putnam Mid Cap Value Fund

    (35) Putnam Minnesota Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (36) Putnam Money Market Fund

    (37) Putnam Municipal Income Fund

    (38) Putnam New Jersey Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (39) Putnam New Opportunities Fund

    (40) Putnam New Value Fund (Sym: PANVX)

    (41) Putnam New York Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (42) Putnam New York Tax Exempt Opportunities Fund

    (43) Putnam OTC & Emerging Growth Fund

    (44) Putnam Ohio Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (45) Putnam Pennsylvania Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (46) Putnam Research Fund

    (47) Putnam Small Cap Growth Fund

    (48) Putnam Small Cap Value Fund

    (49) Putnam Tax Exempt Income Fund

    (50) Putnam Tax Exempt Money Market Fund

    (51) Putnam Tax Smart Equity Fund

    (52) Putnam Tax-Free High Yield Fund

    (53) Putnam Tax-Free Insured Fund

    (54) Putnam U.S. Government Income Trust

    (55) Putnam Utilities Growth and Income Fund

    (56) Putnam Vista Fund

    (57) Putnam Voyager Fund (Sym: PVOYX)

The Complaint alleges that defendants violated 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 investors (the John Doe defendants) to engage in the
"timing" of their transactions in the Funds' securities.

Timing is excessive, arbitrage trading undertaken to turn a
quick profit.  Timing injures ordinary mutual fund investors --
who are not allowed to engage in such practices -- and is
acknowledged as an improper practice by the Funds.  In return
for receiving extra fees defendants allowed the John Doe
defendants to engage in timing, to the detriment of class
members, who paid, dollar for dollar, for the favored investors'
improper profits.  These practices were undisclosed in the
prospectuses of the Funds, which falsely represented that the
Funds actively police against timing.

For more information, contact Eric J. Belfi, or Gregory Linkh by
Phone: (800) 497-8076 or (212) 682-1818, by Fax: (212) 682-1892,
or by E-mail: info@rabinlaw.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

                        *********


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