CAR_Public/031223.mbx            C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R
  
          Tuesday, December 23, 2003, Vol. 5, No. 253

                        Headlines                            

ALLIED GROUP: Court Grants Jury Trial In NFS Acquisition Lawsuit
ANEURX GRAFTS: FDA Updates Physicians On Related Mortality Risks  
BANK OF AMERICA: IL Court Denies Motion To Remand Consumer Suit
BOILER-ROOM OPERATORS: SEC Orders Administrative Proceedings
BOTANICLAB: California Plea Bargain Reached on Herbal Treatment

CALIFORNIA: San Francisco Sex Workers Demand Legal Protection
CANADA: Ontario Court Rules For Same Sex Couples in Bias Lawsuit
CHATTEM INC: Agrees To Settlement Of Dexatrim Product Lawsuit
CIGNA HEALTHCARE: Judge To Approve Racketeering Suit Settlement
CLASSIC FOODS: Recalls 15,760 lbs of Chili Due to Misbranding

CRATE & BARREL: Recalls 800 Hanukkah Menorahs Due to Fire Hazard
ETHICON INC.: Warns Against Fake PROLENE Mesh For Hernia Repair
FLORIDA: Appeals Court Upholds Summary Judgment on Poll Tax Suit
FLORIDA: Doctor Guilty in LUPRON Lawsuit, Faces Prison Sentence
HANOVER COMPRESSOR: SEC Lodges Civil Complaints V. Ex-Officers

HOLIDAY VILLAGE: Mount Laurel Intends To Join Room Safety Suit
HP HOOD: Recalls Fat Free Buttermilk Quarts For Undeclared Eggs
INFORMIX CORPORATION: Ex-CEO Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud
INMET MINING: Settles Lawsuit Over Papua New Guinea Mine Waste
J.P. MORGAN: Employees Launch Suit In Overtime Pay Dispute in NY

MASSACHUSETTS FINANCIAL: Might Discuss Fee Cuts with AG Spitzer
MERRILL LYNCH: SEC Files Proceedings V. Merrill Lynch Executive
ORACLE CORPORATION: Oral Arguments Expected in Last Half of 2004
PHILIP MORRIS: Judge Awards Fees, Expenses In Antitrust Lawsuit
SMITHFIELD FOODS: Appeals Court Partly Affirms Sanction Motion

TOBACCO LITIGATION: First Australian Tobacco Suit Proceeding
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Law Firms Get Millions In MA Tobacco Lawsuit
TOBACCO LITIGATION: NY Jury Awards Widow $350T In Smoking Suit
TYSON FOODS: Recalls Chicken Patties For Possible Metal Content

                 New Securities Fraud Cases

BIOVAIL CORPORATION: Weiss & Yourman Files Securities Suit in NY
BIOVAIL CORPORATION: Glancy & Binkow Lodges NY Securities Suit
INVESCO FUNDS: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in CO
MFS FUNDS: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Fraud Lawsuit in MA
MARSH & MCLENNAN: Weiss & Yourman Files Stock Lawsuit in S.D. NY

NETWORK ENGINES: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Lawsuit in MA
TOPAZ GROUP: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Fraud Lawsuit in WA
TOPAZ GROUP: Weiss & Yourman Commences Securities Lawsuit in WA
WATSON PHARMA: Bernstein Liebhard Lodges Securities Suit in CA

                        *********


ALLIED GROUP: Court Grants Jury Trial In NFS Acquisition Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that policyholders who sued
Allied Group, Inc. over Nationwide Financial Services (NFS)'
acquisition of the Des Moines insurance company in 1998 are
entitled to a jury trial in their nearly six-year-old case, the
Des Moines Register reports.

Allied Group, now an arm of Nationwide, had contended that
certain portions of the class action were not subject to a jury
trial.  The plaintiffs contested that argument and were
supported by a number of trial advocacy groups.

"This is not a common occurrence" to deny a jury trial, Cedar
Rapids attorney John M. Bickel told the Register.

Attorneys for Allied had claimed that facts of the case were so
complex they could not be competently resolved by a jury.  They
said 100,000 pages of documents already have been produced in
the case.  The lawsuit deals with claims by Allied policyholders
that the company's directors shifted $500 million in assets from
the policyholders' share of the company in order to benefit
investors who owned the publicly held portion of the company.  

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling last week, said there
was no reason to believe a judge would do a better job of
deciding such a complicated case than would a jury.  Lawyers for
Allied and Nationwide could not be reached Wednesday for
comment. The trial is expected within a year, The Register
reports.


ANEURX GRAFTS: FDA Updates Physicians On Related Mortality Risks  
----------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated information
to the medical community about the risk of mortality associated
with use of the AneuRx Stent Graft System.  The system is
implanted in patients to prevent rupture of abdominal aortic
aneurysms (AAA).

These devices remain safe and effective.  The purpose of the
notification is to provide additional information to physicians
so they can make a more informed decision about using the
product to treat their patients.

FDA originally approved these devices in 1999 based on clinical
studies conducted by the manufacturer, which began in 1996.  The
agency has continued to monitor the devices since they came on
the market and has provided a number of reports to the medical
community to supplement other scientific reports.

Since the previous public health notice in April 2001, FDA has
worked with the manufacturer, Medtronic AVE, as well as other
sources, to obtain more complete follow-up data on a group of
study patients who received the flexible model of the AneuRx
Stent Graft.

The information in today's notification is based on an FDA
analysis of follow-up data for 942 patients enrolled in
Medtronic's pre-market clinical trial. The analysis estimated
that there was 2.7% mortality three years after the patients in
this group were implanted with the device. The risk of aneurysm-
related death beyond three years appears to be at least 0.4% per
year, but it is difficult to accurately estimate this because of
the small number of patients so far followed for more than three
years.

The notification emphasizes the importance of following the
manufacturer's instruction regarding careful selection and
follow-up monitoring of patients. The notification also provides
several factors that physicians should consider in determining
the risk-benefit profile and the appropriate treatment for a
patient with AAA.

Details of FDA's analysis, along with a discussion and
recommendations to physicians, are reported in the Public Health
Notification: Updated Data on Mortality Associated with
Medtronic AVE AneuRx Stent Graft System. The notification is
available at: http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/safety/aneurx.html.


BANK OF AMERICA: IL Court Denies Motion To Remand Consumer Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois,
Eastern Division denied Plaintiffs motion to remand a lawsuit,
filed in state court against Bank of America Mortgage, on behalf
of Todd and Deborah Budnick, alleging that Bank of America
Mortgage improperly retained extra per diem interest on their
mortgage loan.

Allegations are drawn from the Budnicks's complaint state that
in December of 2002, the Budnicks sold a parcel of real estate.  
Bank of America Mortgage held the Budnick's mortgage.  In
connection with the payoff of the mortgage, a third-party title
insurance company collected money from the Budnicks.  The payoff
statement prepared by Bank of America Mortgage included an
anticipated per diem interest charge for a date, which turned
out to be past the actual closing date.

According to Bank of America Mortgage, it chose the date because
it anticipated that the loan would be paid off but did not know
when the closing would take place.  Bank of America failed to
refund the anticipated but unearned interest after the Budnicks
fully paid off their loan.  The Budnicks' claims center on the
anticipated but unearned interest.  They do not challenge the
rate of interest charged by Bank of America Mortgage and
expressly disclaim any usury or federal claims, as well as any
recovery over $75,000 inclusive of damages and fees.


BOILER-ROOM OPERATORS: SEC Orders Administrative Proceedings
------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission issued an Order
Instituting Public Administrative Proceedings Pursuant to
Section 15(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against
Paul Wayne Mason (a/k/a Louis Ronnie Sarpy), Kristin Luck Emery,
and Laurence Mark Anderson (a/k/a Ron Laurence), all former
boiler-room operators in Orange County, California.  

Mr. Mason is incarcerated in the Chuckawalla Valley State
Prison, located in Blythe, California.  Ms. Emery is
incarcerated in the Orange County Jail, located in Santa Ana,
California.  Mr. Anderson is a resident of Los Angeles,
California.

In the Order, the Division of Enforcement alleges that the U.S.
District Court for the Central District of California has issued
a permanent injunction against Mr. Mason, Mr. Emery, and Ms.
Anderson and found them liable for defrauding investors by using
fraudulent boiler-room sales practices to offer and sell
unregistered securities of North American Medical Products, Inc.
(NAMP), including making false and misleading statements and
material omissions to prospective investors about, among other
things, the amount of commission being paid on the sale of NAMP
stock and NAMP's business prospects.
     
The Commission instituted this administrative proceeding after
the District Court entered Judgments by Default against Mr.
Mason, Ms. Emery, and Mr. Anderson:  

     (1) permanently enjoining them from future violations of
         Sections 5 and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933,
         Sections 10(b) and 15(a) of the Securities Exchange Act
         of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder;

     (2) ordering Mr. Mason individually to disgorge $227,259,  
         consisting of $176,515 in ill-gotten gains plus
         prejudgment interest of $50,744;  

     (3) ordering Mr. Mason, Ms. Emery, and Mr. Anderson jointly
         and severally to disgorge $414,474, consisting of
         $379,660 in ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest
         of $34,814;  

     (4) imposing a penny stock bar against Mr. Mason, Ms.
         Emery, and Mr. Anderson;

     (5) imposing a civil penalty of $230,000 on Mr. Mason; and

     (6) imposing a civil penalty of $120,000 on both Ms. Emery
         and Mr. Anderson.

A hearing will be scheduled before an administrative law judge
to determine whether the allegations contained in the Order are
true, to provide Mr. Mason, Ms. Emery, and Mr. Anderson an
opportunity to dispute these allegations, and to determine what,
if any, remedial sanctions against Mr. Mason, Ms. Emery, and Mr.
Anderson are appropriate and in the public interest pursuant to
Section 15(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  

The suit is styled "Securities and Exchange Commission v. North
American Medical Products, Inc., et al., 03 Civ. 250."


BOTANICLAB: California Plea Bargain Reached on Herbal Treatment
---------------------------------------------------------------
The founders of Brea, California-based BotanicLab, accused of
secretly lacing an herbal product with potentially dangerous
prescription drugs, pleaded no contest yesterday to reduced
misdemeanor charges, Knight-Ridder/ Tribune Business News
reports.

The plea bargain reached with the Orange County District
Attorney's Office calls for BotanicLab and its founders Sophie
Chen, her brother John Chen and Allan Wang to pay more than
$510,000 in criminal and civil fines and agree not to run an
herbal product business in California.

BotanicLab and its lead product, PC-SPES, garnered national
attention a few years ago as prostate cancer patients began
reporting benefits from the herbal concoction, which was sold
widely through distributors and over the Internet, the Tribune
Business News reports.  Some oncologists vouched for the herbal
product's benefits, and academic and government researchers
conducted or prepared to launch clinical trials to investigate
the pill's medicinal properties.

However, it all ended in February 2002 when BotanicLab recalled
PC-SPES after the California Department of Health Services and
other labs conducted tests that confirmed the presence of
prescription drugs.  The labs said they found warfarin, a blood
thinner, and DES, a drug once used to treat prostate cancer that
had fallen out of favor because it can cause blood clots, cancer
and other side effects.

Critics condemned the product as a cruel hoax in which
prescription drugs designed to relieve or mask symptoms were
illegally mixed with the herbs.  The company said the product
had been unintentionally contaminated during the manufacturing
process in China.

The Chens and Mr. Wang faced as many as 20 years in prison if
convicted on all seven felony and seven misdemeanor counts of
conspiracy to make and sell adulterated pills and falsely
promote them as cancer remedies.  With the agreement, they
receive one-year suspended sentences and probation.

Orange County Deputy District Attorney Byron Nelson, the lead
prosecutor in the case, told the Tribune Business News it was
"the most complicated and difficult" he'd ever been involved in,
in part because of the difficulty in gathering and presenting
"certain kinds of evidence."

Mr. Nelson said he was "stonewalled" by the Food and Drug
Administration in his efforts to gain evidence.  "This case was
an all-pervasive situation where members of the public were
seriously endangered by the product developed by this company,"
he said.  "It was sold nationally and internationally, but all
we can do is protect the people in the state of California. And
that's what we attempted to do and I think we achieved."

Stephen Nelson, an attorney for Sophie Chen, characterized the
plea bargain as a vindication of his client.  The plea bargain
"demonstrates that the district attorney finally recognized the
true facts of the case, that is, that the entire PC-SPES
contamination issue was overblown and that whatever minor
contamination may have occurred was unintentional," Mr. Nelson
said.

Ronald Gottschalk, an attorney for a La Jolla prostate cancer
patient and others who filed a class action against the company,
termed the plea bargain a "sell-out" and said he plans to ask
federal authorities for a grand jury investigation.  The court
appearance by the Chens and Wang drew a small contingent of
supporters, including several prostate cancer patients who want
the product back on the market.

Among the supporters was Democratic Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally,
who earlier this year unsuccessfully introduced a bill that
sought to allow the "contaminant-free" original formula of
ingredients contained in PC-SPES to be marketed in California.
Mr. Dymally said he supports the product because it helped in
his treatment for prostate cancer and that it doesn't matter if
the product is "herbal or prescription drug."

Mr. Nelson said Sophie Chen, who owns the patent to the PC-SPES
formula, is planning to have it tested in clinical studies in
England and, if the tests are successful, would likely license
it to a company to develop and market.


CALIFORNIA: San Francisco Sex Workers Demand Legal Protection
-------------------------------------------------------------
San Francisco's prostitutes and strippers are calling on the
city's newly elected young mayor to help decriminalize the
world's oldest profession and crack down on abuses of exotic
dancers, AFP reports.

Dancers charge that the city's outgoing mayor, Willie Brown, the
former lawyer of a prominent strip club owner, ignored years of
labor law and safety violations in San Francisco's strip clubs.  
The California Labor Commissioner has held hearings for a decade
in which dancers aired grievances and recovered back pay, but
dancers say the abuses continued.

Fed up with non-enforcement of labor laws, dancers have filed
two class action lawsuits against the city's strip clubs
charging that managers seized their tips, failed to pay them
wages, and charged them hundreds of dollars per shift for the
privilege of working.  They say these illegal fees led to a
climate that coerced them into prostitution at increasingly low
rates.  "We are not trying to close the clubs, what we want is
safe working conditions and we want to have our labor rights
respected," San Francisco dancer activist Daisy Anarchy told
AFP.

Ms. Anarchy and other dancers are particularly angry that police
ignored the presence of illegal private booths in the clubs
which dancers say led to assaults by customers.  When they
complained to police, dancers say investigators failed to take
their concerns seriously.  Local prosecutors say the charges
were hard to substantiate.

San Francisco police say they will enforce laws in the clubs,
but some dancers fear that police will attempt to solve the
problem by arresting them.  The liberal city's strippers and
prostitutes have also criticized police for cracking down on
street prostitution and private brothels, which they say has
only driven the prostitution business into the strip clubs.

Many who support strippers' labor rights here say
decriminalizing prostitution is potentially a far more effective
solution than attempting to stamp out the market for sex.  San
Francisco activists have formed a U.S. chapter of the Sex
Workers Outreach Project (SWOP), an Australian-based group which
successfully advocated for the decriminalization of prostitution
there.  

SWOP-USA founder Robyn Few points out that legalization of
prostitution typically creates a brothel model like that which
currently exists in Nevada.  However, decriminalization repeals
existing prostitution laws and allows women to work for
themselves, as opposed to allowing the strip clubs to corner the
brothel business.

SWOP-USA presented prostitution decriminalization initiatives
for the California cities of San Francisco and nearby Berkeley
last week.  It has also drafted statewide legislation for the
2004 national elections.

Shortly after presenting their proposed legislation at San
Francisco City Hall, the group held a ceremony at a nearby park
to commemorate the 48 women killed by Gary Ridgway, the worst
known U.S. serial killer who was on Thursday sentenced to 48
life sentences in Seattle.  Mr. Ridgway confessed to murdering
the 48 women, mostly prostitutes during a two-decade crime
rampage that the San Francisco prostitutes say was tough to
solve, at least in part, because hookers with information
distrusted police.

During the memorial for Mr. Ridgway's victims, which SWOP-USA
organized in 17 U.S., European and Asian cities, the group
called for an end to violence against sex workers and equal
protection under the law.  "I am a human being. I am a valuable
person in our society and I want you to see that I am a
prostitute and I am worthy," said Ms. Few who likened her
struggle to that of the gay rights movement.

"I am sick and tired of the stigmatization and discrimination
that is allowed by the criminalization of prostitution, a
commodity that people want and desire, but yet are shamed to say
that they do, or want, or desire," she added.


CANADA: Ontario Court Rules For Same Sex Couples in Bias Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Benefits for same-sex couples will now be retroactive to April
17, 1985, when equality guarantees were included in the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms, after an Ontario Superior Court
ruled Friday that the Canadian government discriminated against
them by denying pension benefits to survivors whose partners
died before 1998, the Associated Press reports.

The provincial court's judgment will affect 1,500 gays and
lesbians and be worth about $75 million in survivor benefits,
said Douglas Elliot, lead counsel for the national class action
suit.  "It's a gigantic decision, first of all because it's
going to make a real difference in the quality of life for
thousands of gay men and lesbians," Mr. Elliot said.

The suit alleged discrimination against same-sex couples by
denying survivor pension benefits to gays and lesbians whose
partners died before January 1, 1998.

The government had contended that providing benefits retroactive
to January 1, 1998, was generous and in step with the evolving
legal status of same-sex relationships.  Justice Ellen Macdonald
dismissed the argument.

"I can find nothing generous in codifying a mechanism for
discrimination that has been in existence since at least the
advent of the charter," she said, referring to the 1985 rights
charter.

Albert McNutt, of Truro, Nova Scotia, who fought for a
survivor's pension after his partner Gary Pask died in 1993,
said the decision helps him feel "fully included in the race of
human beings."  "This is a huge step for the gay community in
Canada," Mr. McNutt said.

His lawyer, Dawna Ring, said she hoped that Prime Minister Paul
Martin's government would not appeal the decision, AP states.

Canada jumped to the forefront of gay rights in June when it
announced plans to legalize same-sex marriages.  The decision
followed court rulings in Ontario and British Columbia that
allowed gays to marry.  Canada is expected to introduce
legislation legalizing gay marriage next year after the Supreme
Court of Canada gives a nonbinding opinion on a tentative bill.
Quebec was the only province not represented in the benefits
lawsuit because it operates a separate pension plan.

The federal government imposed the 1998 cutoff date when it
introduced legislation granting a variety of rights to same-sex
couples in 2000.  The government had argued that extending
benefits to the class action group would have implications for
other marginalized groups.


CHATTEM INC: Agrees To Settlement Of Dexatrim Product Lawsuit
-------------------------------------------------------------
Chattem, Inc., a leading marketer and manufacturer of branded
consumer products, announced that the Company and The Delaco
Company, successor by merger to Thompson Medical Company, Inc.
and the company from which Chattem acquired the Dexatrimr brand
in 1998, have entered into a memorandum of understanding with
the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee in "In re Phenylpropanolamine
(PPA) Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1407," pending before
the United States District Court for the Western District of
Washington, Buisnesswire reports.  

The memorandum of understanding memorializes certain settlement
terms concerning products liability lawsuits relating to
Dexatrim containing PPA.  The memorandum of understanding
contemplates that the Company will commence a national class
action settlement of all PPA claims in the first quarter of
2004.  The Company will then seek final approval of the
settlement at a fairness hearing on the settlement terms.  

Claims would be settled in the class action pursuant to an
agreed upon settlement matrix that is designed to evaluate and
place settlement values on cases.  If the class settlement is
approved, it is expected that a judgment will be entered and the
Company will pay the finally determined amount of the settlement
into a settlement trust fund.  The Company will then publish
notice of the final settlement and details on how plaintiffs can
submit claims and the deadlines for making such claims.  If the
Company is able to complete a final settlement agreement and
successfully obtain approval from the court in each of the
foregoing steps, which it presently believes it will be able to
do, it is expected that final approval of the class settlement
and funding of the settlement will occur in mid-2004.

Based upon the memorandum of understanding and the settlement
matrix, MDL Judge Barbara J. Rothstein has entered a stay of
discovery in all federal court Dexatrim PPA cases to allow the
PSC and Chattem to negotiate a final settlement agreement and
for Chattem to then file its class action settlement.  Chattem
will seek a similar stay in state court cases.  Approximately
70% of the Company's cases are included in the MDL.  Judge
Rothstein ordered that the Dexatrim Case Scoring System and
Matrix remain confidential until a final settlement agreement is
entered.

The Company believes it can fund its total commitment to the
settlement for all cases to be settled under the terms of the
settlement matrix from its product liability insurance and cash
on hand.  The Company had approximately $26 million in cash at
the end of its 2003 fiscal year.  Chattem currently has
available approximately $60 million of product liability
insurance.  The Company believes that the settlement will
include a substantial majority of the claims by users of
Dexatrim products containing PPA, but that some claims may elect
to "opt out" of the settlement.

If the settlement is completed, based on the proposed settlement
matrix and information currently known to the Company about the
number and characteristics of the pending cases, the Company
estimates that it will record a charge of approximately $20-$25
million, or $12.8-$16.5 million (approximately $.66-$.83 per
share) net of taxes, for all settlement costs, administrative
expenses and costs of defense related to resolving the Dexatrim
litigation during fiscal 2004.


CIGNA HEALTHCARE: Judge To Approve Racketeering Suit Settlement
---------------------------------------------------------------
A massive settlement of a racketeering class action filed
against Cigna HealthCare breezed through a final hearing in
federal court in Miami Thursday, with the judge indicating he
will approve the deal but expressing concern over the level of
lawyers' fees, Knight-Ridder / Tribune Business News reports.

The accord, which affects some 930,000 current and former
physicians who were affiliated with Cigna, will become official
once U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno issues his order, most
likely before the end of the year.  This comes two months after
a similar accord was reached between the same lawyers and Aetna
in the racketeering case.

Under terms of the settlement, now valued by experts for the
plaintiffs' lawyers at $1.3 billion, Cigna will pay physicians
for improperly denied claims as old as 12 years with no upper
limit on the total reimbursements.  The agreement also creates a
$15 million foundation to help address major national health
concerns - a provision also found in the Aetna pact.  In
addition, Cigna said it already has spent $400 million to modify
its claims processing systems to satisfy the doctors, and the
company will pay up to $55 million in attorneys' fees.

Only one doctor, who insisted that Cigna still would unjustly
deny claims, spoke against the agreement on Thursday.  One
lawyer for two doctors objected to the proposed fees for the
plaintiffs' attorneys.  Dr. David Rogers, a gynecologist from
Frisco, Texas, said he feared Cigna would continue to deny
payment for many services his office provides beyond routine
physicals - counseling patients about medical problems and
performing "stick" urinalyses, for example.

Dr. Rogers said he was not satisfied that Cigna would have to
provide a listing of covered procedures and their billing codes
on its Web site for doctors.  That, he told the Tribune Business
News, would not ensure the mammoth health maintenance
organization would cover all the services necessary for
patients.  By listing the covered procedures, "The evil will
have a face, but the denials won't stop," he asserted.

Judge Moreno countered, indicating he understood what Dr. Rogers
was saying but that he had not offered convincing evidence.  
"These objections would have to rise to a level at which I would
decide the settlement is not fair," Judge Moreno said.

The judge said he had received only seven objections to the
proposed settlement, and that 699 doctors had opted-out to
retain their right to sue individually.  Judge Moreno said he
was concerned about the $55 million in attorneys' fees because
one group of lawyers is to receive $12 million, largely for work
done in a state court.

"I don't know if I have the authority to approve that portion of
the fees," Judge Moreno said.  "I'll have to think about it."

Seven other HMOs remain as defendants in the lawsuit.  They have
appealed Judge Moreno's certifying the doctors as a class, and a
ruling is pending from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in
Atlanta.  Judge Moreno has scheduled a trial against those
companies for June.


CLASSIC FOODS: Recalls 15,760 lbs of Chili Due to Misbranding
-------------------------------------------------------------
Classic Foods, L.P., a Fort Worth, Texas, firm, in association
with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and
Inspection Service (FSIS), is voluntarily recalling
approximately 15,760 pounds of chili because the product label
does not list wheat and corn flour, which are potential
allergens.

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 an FSIS inspector.

The products being recalled are cases of "SONIC, America's
Drive-In, CHILI, 06600."  The cases subject to recall bear the
packaging code 33443 or 33493.  The establishment number "13516"
is found inside the USDA mark of inspection on each case.  Each
case contains six, five-pound pouches of chili and each pouch is
stamped with the product code 06600 and the package code 33443
or 33493.

The chili was produced on December 10, 15 and 16 and was shipped
to restaurant distributors in Mississippi.

For more information, contact Dawn Mudge, Classic Foods office
manager, at (817) 271-8501.


CRATE & BARREL: Recalls 800 Hanukkah Menorahs Due to Fire Hazard
----------------------------------------------------------------
Crate and Barrel of Northbrook, Illinois, in cooperation with
the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision (CPSC), is recalling
800 Hanukkah menorahs since the acrylic base of the menorah can
ignite if the candles are allowed to burn completely, creating a
fire hazard.  There has been one reported incident, but no
injuries.

The Crate and Barrel "Hanukkah Menorah" has a clear acrylic base
with brass candle cups.  The menorah accommodates nine standard
menorah candles.  Its SKU number is 589-055.

The Hanukkah menorahs, manufactured in India, were sold at Crate
and Barrel stores nationwide and online at
www.crateandbarrel.com from October 2003 through December 18,
2003 for about $25.

For more information, contact Crate and Barrel, by Phone: toll-
free at (800) 323-5461 anytime.


ETHICON INC.: Warns Against Fake PROLENE Mesh For Hernia Repair
---------------------------------------------------------------
Ethicon, Inc., in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA), alerted healthcare professionals to a
counterfeit polypropylene mesh product labeled as PROLENE
polypropylene mesh -a non-absorbable mesh used in hernia repair
and other surgery.  The authentic PROLENE mesh is manufactured
by Ethicon, Inc.

Preliminary testing of the counterfeit PROLENE by FDA indicates
that some samples are not sterile, although at this time FDA is
not aware of a significant increase in the number of infections
related to use of the counterfeit product.  Additional
preliminary testing indicates that the counterfeit product has a
molecular structure similar to other polypropylene mesh products
currently on the market.  FDA is continuing to test the
material.

The FDA is continuing to investigate whether the counterfeit
product is still being marketed.  In the meantime, it recommends
that healthcare professionals carefully examine all
polypropylene mesh products and not use any suspected of being
counterfeit. If they believe the counterfeit product may have
been implanted in patients, they should continue to monitor the
patients as they would any patient with a polypropylene mesh
implant.  Although FDA has not had reports of excess infections
with the counterfeit product, the agency continues to be
concerned about sterility.

The counterfeit mesh is labeled with lot numbers RBE609
(expiration date 1/07) and RJJ130 (expiration date 7/07).  It
can be further identified by one of the following:

     (1) A packaging seal that does not tear open smoothly;

     (2) An additional small seal on top corner edges of the
         package;

     (3) A fabric end that is jagged or not cleanly cut on the
         3" side; and

     (4) An Ethicon logo in a thicker than usual typeface.

In a Public Health Notification, the FDA encouraged the medical
community to report adverse events related to the counterfeit
mesh to the FDA through procedures established by their medical
facility or through MedWatch, the FDA's voluntary reporting
program.  Ethicon also manufactures PROLENE sutures, which are
not the subject of this alert.


FLORIDA: Appeals Court Upholds Summary Judgment on Poll Tax Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit affirmed a ruling by
the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
granting summary judgment on Plaintiffs' poll tax claim, but
reversed and remanded - for further proceedings on the equal
protection and voting rights claims, a lawsuit filed on behalf
of Thomas Johnson, Derrick Andre Thomas, et al. against Governor
Jeff Bush, of the State of Florida; Katherine Harris, State
Secretary, et al., in their roles as members of the state
Clemency Board.

The suit stems from a complaint filed in September, 2000, by
eight Florida citizens, on behalf of all Florida citizens who
have been convicted of a felony and successfully completed all
terms of incarceration, probation, or parole, but who are still
ineligible to vote under Florida's felon disenfranchisement law.
The Florida Constitution provides that "(n)o person convicted of
a felony ... shall be qualified to vote or hold office until
restoration of civil rights or removal of disability."

The Plaintiffs sued members of Florida's Clemency Board in their
official capacity, alleging that this law violates the First,
Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Twenty-Fourth Amendments to the
United States Constitution and Sections 2 and 10 of the Voting
Rights Act of 1965.  After excluding certain expert testimony,
the district court granted summary judgment to the Defendants on
all claims, and the Plaintiffs appealed.  


FLORIDA: Doctor Guilty in LUPRON Lawsuit, Faces Prison Sentence
---------------------------------------------------------------
Dr. Victor Souaid, a urologist, received prison time Friday for
giving dozens of prostate cancer patients lowered dosages of
medication, then billing them for the full amount, the
Associated Press reports.

Dr. Souaid was sentenced to four years and three months in
federal prison.  He pleaded guilty in September to 59 counts of
health care fraud and unlicensed wholesale distribution of a
prescription drug, Lupron.  He has already surrendered his
medical license.

In Dr. Souaid's plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop a
product tampering charge for allegedly diluting the drug.  He
could have faced up to 590 years in prison before the deal.  
Lupron doesn't cure prostate cancer but is supposed to stop the
cancer from worsening by halting production of testosterone.

Dr. Souaid billed his patients' insurance companies between $644
and $693 for an office visit and injection with the drug.  He
billed the companies for up to four times the amount of the drug
he administered.

More than 40 percent of 100 patients the FBI contacted showed
testosterone levels at or near normal.  If they had received
Lupron in the amounts Dr. Souaid had purported, they should have
shown little or none of the male hormone.  Prosecutors also said
Dr. Souaid sold to wholesale broker $1.4 million worth of Lupron
that was supposed to go to patients.  He did not have a license
to sell the drugs.


HANOVER COMPRESSOR: SEC Lodges Civil Complaints V. Ex-Officers
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed two civil
complaints, along withconsent offers, in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and
instituted and simultaneously settled a cease and desist
proceeding, all in connection with material financial
misstatements by Hanover Compressor Company, of Houston, Texas.
     
In a civil injunctive action, against Charles D. Erwin,
Hanover's former Chief Operating Officer, and Michael J. McGhan,
its former Chief Executive Officer, the SEC alleges that both
defendants violated the antifraud provisions of the federal
securities laws and aided and abetted Hanover's violations of
the reporting provisions of the federal securities laws, while
Mr. McGhan also aided and abetted Hanover's violations of the
record keeping and internal control provisions of the federal
securities laws.  

The SEC alleges that Mr. Erwin violated Section 17(a) of the
Securities Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and 13(b)(5) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5, 13b2-1, and
13b2-2 thereunder, and aided and abetted Hanover's violations of
Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act and Rules 12b-20, 13a-1 and
13a-13 thereunder.  

The SEC alleges that Mr. McGhan violated Section 17(a) of the
Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rules
10b-5 and 13b2-2 thereunder, and aided and abetted Hanover's
violations of Sections 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A), and 13(b)(2)(B) of
the Exchange Act and Rules 12b-20, 13a-1 and 13a-13 thereunder.
     
Without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint,
Mr. McGhan and Mr. Erwin each agreed to consent to a permanent
injunction against further violations of those laws, the payment
of a civil money penalty ($110,000 for Mr. Erwin and $80,000 for
Mr. McGhan), and a five year bar against serving as an officer
or director of a publicly held company.   Mr. Erwin will also
disgorge $417,900 in illicit profits, plus prejudgment interest
of $64,271, based on his sale of Hanover stock in March 2001.
          
In the cease-and-desist proceeding, the Commission accepted
offers of settlement from Hanover and William S. Goldberg,
Hanover's former interim Chief Financial Officer, in which they
consented, on a neither admit nor deny basis, to findings by the
Commission that Hanover violated the record keeping, reporting
and internal control provisions of the federal securities laws
and Mr. Goldberg caused those violations.
     
Hanover agreed to cease and desist from violating, and Mr.
Goldberg agreed to cease and desist from causing violations of,
Sections 13(a) and 13(b)(2) of the Exchange Act and Rules 12b-
20, 13a-1, and 13a-13 thereunder.
     
The SEC also filed a civil action against Mr. Goldberg, in the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, alleging
that Mr. Goldberg aided and abetted Hanover's violations of the
record-keeping, reporting and internal control provisions of the
Exchange Act.  Without admitting or denying the allegations in
the complaint, Mr. Goldberg agreed to pay a civil penalty of
$50,000 to settle the action.  

The suits are styled "SEC v. Charles D. Erwin and Michael J.  
McGhan, Civil Action No. H-03-5764," and "SEC v. William S.  
Goldberg, Civil Action No. H-03-5765."


HOLIDAY VILLAGE: Mount Laurel Intends To Join Room Safety Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Mount Laurel Township in Pennsylvania is seeking to join a
class action alleging utility rooms at Holiday Village East have
inadequate ventilation, which could cause a potentially lethal
buildup of carbon monoxide gas, the Courier Post reports.

In legal papers filed Friday in Superior Court in Burlington
County, township solicitor Michael L. Mouber cited a matter of
public safety and seeks a court-administered program to inspect,
monitor and repair any defects at the builder's expense, as well
as an education and maintenance program.

"On behalf of the homeowners, we're delighted that the town has
listened to our plea and has intervened on our behalf," said
Harry Schmoll of Peppergrass Lane, a retired municipal judge who
filed the original lawsuit with his neighbors late last year.  
"This will help speed things up and get the matter resolved."

The suit alleges the 5-by-10-foot utility rooms do not allow
sufficient airflow to support the operation of a gas furnace,
hot water heater and clothes dryer.  If there is not enough
ventilation, lint from the dryer could clog the furnace intake,
resulting in the buildup of lethal, odorless carbon monoxide.

Because of the 10-year statute of limitations, the suit pertains
only to homes built on or after November 30, 1992.  Mr. Schmoll
said as many as 500 of the development's 965 homes could be
eligible.

The lawsuit against Holiday Village East is virtually identical
to one involving Orleans Homebuilders of Bensalem, Pennsylvania,
which was joined by the township and settled in March.  In that
case, 3,644 homeowners received free carbon monoxide detectors,
repairs to improve ventilation, safety education and
reimbursement of legal fees - costing the builder $1.4 million.

Holiday Village East, a 55-and-older community between Elbo Lane
and Moorestown-Mount Laurel Road, was built during the 1990s by
J.S. Hovnanian & Sons of Mount Laurel.

Peter Hovnanian, whose company has built more than 4,500 homes
in the region since 1964, has maintained his company met all
building code requirements when the development was constructed
and that the homes received approvals from township inspectors.
Hovnanian did not return a phone call for comment.

Raymond Holshue, the township's director of community
development, conducted utility room inspections earlier this
year and found several with inadequate combustion air
requirements at Holiday Village East. To repair the alleged
defects, larger airflow vents or a louvered door must be
installed, he said. "It's simple to fix, it would take about 15
minutes and it would be inexpensive,' Holshue said.

Schmoll sought to replace his hot water heater last year but
failed township inspection due to inadequate air flow in his
utility room. He paid Home Depot $225 to install a louvered door
and bought a carbon monoxide detector. Schmoll, who moved to
Holiday Village East six years ago and serves on the community's
board of trustees, asked for the township's help two weeks ago
at its regular council meeting. "When people get together as a
class and bring a lawsuit, they have much more power as
consumers to seek justice,' Schmoll said.

A court date has not been scheduled.


HP HOOD: Recalls Fat Free Buttermilk Quarts For Undeclared Eggs
---------------------------------------------------------------
HP Hood, in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA), is recalling all quart containers of Hood
Cultured Fat Free Buttermilk with a code date of DEC 30 25-08.
The code is located on the top of the carton.

Consumers should note that there may be egg in quart containers
of Hood Cultured Fat Free Buttermilk and it is not indicated on
the ingredient label.  People who have an allergy or severe
sensitivity to eggs run the risk of serious or life-threatening
allergic reaction if they consume this product.

This product has been distributed to retail locations in
Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut,
Vermont and New York.  No adverse reactions to this product have
been reported.  The issue is confined to quart containers of
Hood Cultured Fat Free Buttermilk with a code date of DEC 30 25-
08.  No other products are affected.

Consumers may return the affected buttermilk to their local
store to obtain a refund.  For more information, call the
Company by Phone: 1-800-242-2423.


INFORMIX CORPORATION: Ex-CEO Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud
--------------------------------------------------------------
According to federal prosecutors, Phillip White, the former
chief executive of Informix Corporation, pleaded guilty to
securities fraud stemming from improper accounting at the
database software company now owned by International Business
Machines Corporation, Reuters reports.

Mr. White, 61, was indicted by a federal grand jury in November
2002 and charged with eight counts of securities, wire and mail
fraud.  Last week, he pleaded guilty to a single count of filing
a false registration statement with the US Securities and
Exchange Commission.  Mr. White, who was chairman and CEO at the
time, admitted that when he registered 12 million shares of
company stock for distribution to Informix employees in July
1997, he knew the company's most recent annual financial
statements were not accurate and should have been restated to
reflect improperly booked revenue.

Mr. White's sentencing is scheduled for March 24 in federal
court in San Francisco, California.  Federal sentencing
guidelines call for a maximum penalty of up to five years in
prison and a fine of $250,000.  However, parties to the plea
agreement decided the damage to shareholders from the violation
could not be reasonably estimated and agreed that prison time
could be extended to as long as 12 months.  Mr. White could not
be reached for comment, Reuters reports.

Walter Konigseder, the former vice president in charge of
European operations for Informix, was indicted by a federal
grand jury in October 2000 for wire and securities violations.
Federal prosecutors have been unable to secure extradition for
Mr. Konigseder, who is a German citizen and a resident of
Munich.


INMET MINING: Settles Lawsuit Over Papua New Guinea Mine Waste
--------------------------------------------------------------
Inmet Mining Corporation settled a class action against its
Australian unit Ok Tedi Mining Ltd. and BHP Billiton Ltd, the
Associated Press reports.

The lawsuit, launched in 2000, alleged breach of a 1996
settlement of claims for damages arising from environmental
impacts of the Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea.  Under the
settlement, the plaintiffs agreed that Ok Tedi is in compliance
with the terms of the 1996 settlement, Inmet told AP.

The settlement provides for dismissal of the proceedings and is
subject to court approval, which is expected by mid-January.  In
November, Inmet received $111 million from Barrick Gold
Corporation after a ruling in a separate lawsuit.

Shares in Inmet traded up 36 cents at $15.65 Friday on the
Toronto stock market, the Associated Press reports.


J.P. MORGAN: Employees Launch Suit In Overtime Pay Dispute in NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
Tracie Cooper, a JP Morgan account officer, Peter Gary McIntyre,
a JP Morgan associate and Janne Peltier, a former client
services officer, filed a class action in the United States
District Court for Southern District of New York late Thursday,
against JP Morgan Chase & Co., seeking back pay for overtime
they say they and other employees weren't paid the Dow Jones
Business News reports.

The employees claim that JP Morgan for at least three years
prior to the complaint has willfully violated the Fair Labor
Standards Act by misclassifying low-level employees as salaried
exempt employees and, as a result, not paid them overtime.  Ms.
Cooper has worked at JP Morgan since 1996, Mr. McIntyre since
1994.  Ms. Peltier worked at the company from 1994 to 2002.

A JP Morgan spokeswoman wasn't immediately available to comment,
the Dow Jones Business News reports.


MASSACHUSETTS FINANCIAL: Might Discuss Fee Cuts with AG Spitzer
---------------------------------------------------------------
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Massachusetts
Financial Services (MFS) is in talks with the New York Attorney
General Eliot Spitzer and has indicated it would be willing to
discuss cutting mutual-fund management fees, Reuters reports.

The negotiations come as Alliance Capital Management Holding LP
announced on Thursday it would pay a record-setting $250 million
settlement to compensate mutual fund investors and cut fees to
settle fraud charges involving improper trading.  The newspaper,
citing people familiar with the matter, said that MFS, a unit of
No. 3 Canadian insurer Sun Life Financial, is being investigated
over whether it let as much as $2 billion in "timing" money flow
into 11 of its biggest and most popular funds at peak moments.
According to the paper, people familiar with the matter say MFS
has contended the figure is perhaps half that amount.

Company officials were not immediately available for comment,
Reuters reports.

On December 8, Sun Life announced the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission said it would recommend enforcement action
be taken against MFS for "market timing," a practice of letting
brokers and hedge funds trade rapidly in and out of its funds'
shares to profit from stale price data in violation of fund
policies.


MERRILL LYNCH: SEC Files Proceedings V. Merrill Lynch Executive
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Daniel L. Gordon,
former head of Merrill Lynch's Global Energy Markets Group, with
securities violations in connection with his role in three
separate illegal transactions.   

The Commission's complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in
Houston, alleges that Mr. Gordon aided and abetted Enron
Corporation's financial fraud by engaging in a risk-free energy
trade that was designed to overstate Enron's reported 1999
income.  The Commission's complaint also alleges that Mr. Gordon
falsified the books and records and circumvented the internal
controls of Merrill Lynch in connection with two other
transactions.  

In one transaction, Mr. Gordon, through an offshore entity he
controlled, created and sold a bogus electricity call option to
Merrill Lynch and pocketed the $43 million option premium.  In
the other transaction, Mr. Gordon and others allegedly falsified
the earnings figures for his Merrill Lynch energy business in an
effort to secure a high sales price for the business.  Mr.
Gordon's business was later sold to Allegheny Energy, Inc.
based, allegedly, on the false earnings figures.
     
Simultaneous with the filing of this action, the Commission has
agreed to accept Mr. Gordon's offer to settle this matter.  Mr.
Gordon has agreed, without admitting or denying the allegations
in the complaint, to the entry of a final judgment permanently
enjoining him from future violations of Sections 10(b), 13(a),
13(b)(2), and 13(b)(5) and of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934 and Rules 10b-5, 12b-20, 13a-1, 13a-13, and 13b2-1
thereunder.  Mr. Gordon has also consented to be barred from
serving as an officer or director of a public company under
Section 21(d)(2) of the Exchange Act.
     
The Commission's complaint alleges that, in late December 1999,
Mr. Gordon and others at Merrill Lynch entered into an energy
transaction with Enron that they knew had the purpose and effect
of inflating Enron's income by approximately $50 million.  The
transaction involved two off-setting electricity call options -
one physical and one financial.   As alleged, Mr. Gordon knew
and explained to others at Merrill Lynch that the two options
were "back to back" and "delta-neutral," or, essentially, a
wash.   

Nevertheless, Mr. Gordon and others demanded a multi-million
dollar fee for entering into the transaction because Enron was
determined to complete the transaction by year-end 1999.  Enron
ultimately agreed to pay Merrill Lynch a $17 million fee to
close the transaction.  In 2000, Enron approached Mr. Gordon and
others seeking to unwind the transaction before trading under
the off-setting energy options was scheduled to begin.   As
alleged in the complaint, Mr. Gordon learned that Enron had
contemplated unwinding the transaction before the transaction
had even closed.  The deal was unwound in June 2000 after
Merrill Lynch agreed to reduce its fee to $8.5 million to
terminate the transaction.   

The complaint alleges that Mr. Gordon aided and abetted Enron's
violations of the antifraud, reporting, books and records, and
internal controls provisions of the federal securities laws in
connection with this transaction.  This transaction forms the
basis, in part, for the Commission's action against Merrill
Lynch and two of its executives filed on March 17, 2003.  
     
In addition to aiding and abetting Enron fraud, the Commission
alleges that Mr. Gordon also engaged in violative conduct in two
other transactions.  First, the Commission alleges in its
complaint that, in 2000, Mr. Gordon became aware that Merrill
Lynch sought certain insurance to hedge obligations Merrill
Lynch had assumed under a long-term energy contract.  

As further alleged, Mr. Gordon identified a company that was
purportedly willing and able to provide that insurance.  In
fact, as alleged, the company was an offshore entity that Mr.
Gordon controlled and had created for purposes of providing the
insurance.  Mr. Gordon purported to negotiate with that entity
to obtain the necessary insurance, in exchange for a payment by
Merrill Lynch of $43 million.  Merrill Lynch agreed and paid the
$43 million fee, which, as alleged, Mr. Gordon transferred to
accounts under his control and for his benefit.  In connection
with this conduct, the complaint alleges that Mr. Gordon
knowingly falsified or caused to be falsified Merrill Lynch's
books and records and knowingly circumvented Merrill Lynch's
internal controls.
     
In the final transaction, the Commission alleges that Mr. Gordon
and othersfalsified the earnings figures for Merrill Lynch's
Global Energy Markets (GEM) business for purposes of making the
business more attractive to prospective purchasers.  As alleged,
Mr. Gordon and others inflated GEM's earnings by creating a
false justification for releasing approximately $40 million in
reserves and recognizing it as income in 2000.   

The complaint also alleges that Mr. Gordon was aware that others
at Merrill Lynch had also improved GEM's financials by removing
expenses and arbitrarily increasing the business' 1999 revenue.  
Mr. Gordon and others provided the falsified financial
information for GEM to Allegheny Energy, Inc., which ultimately
purchased the business.  In connection with this conduct, the
complaint alleges that Mr. Gordon knowingly falsified or caused
to be falsified Merrill Lynch's books and records and knowingly
circumvented Merrill Lynch's internal controls.
     
As noted above, Mr. Gordon has agreed to file a consent and
final judgment settling the Commission's action against him.  In
the consent, Mr. Gordon, without admitting or denying the
allegations in the complaint, has agreed to the entry of a
permanent antifraud injunction prohibiting him from future
violations of certain provisions of the federal securities laws.  
Under the settlement, Mr. Gordon also will be barred permanently
from serving as an officer or director of any public company.   
In addition, Mr. Gordon has agreed to cooperate in the
Commission's ongoing investigation.
     
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York
filed criminal charges against Mr. Gordon for his role in the
sale of the bogus electricity call option and the falsification
of books and records relating to GEM.  Mr. Gordon has agreed to
plead guilty to these charges, pursuant to which he will forfeit
the proceeds of his unlawful conduct.
     

ORACLE CORPORATION: Oral Arguments Expected in Last Half of 2004
----------------------------------------------------------------
Oral arguments over the dismissal of a consolidated securities
class action filed against Oracle Corporation and its chief
executive officer is expected in the later half of 2004 in the
United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The suit also
names as defendants the Company's Chief Financial Officer and a
former Executive Vice President.

The suit, filed on behalf of purchasers of the Company's stock
during the period from December 15, 2000 through March 1, 2001,
alleges that the defendants made false and misleading statements
about the Company's actual and expected financial performance
and the performance of certain of its applications products,
while certain individual defendants were selling Company stock,
in violation of Federal securities laws.  Plaintiffs further
alleged that certain individual defendants sold Oracle stock
while in possession of material non-public information.

On March 12, 2002, the court granted the Company's and the
individual defendants' motion to dismiss the amended
consolidated complaint.  On April 10, 2002, plaintiffs filed a
first amended consolidated complaint and on September 11, 2002,
the court granted defendants' motion to dismiss that complaint.

On October 11, 2002, the plaintiffs filed another amended
complaint.  In this second amended complaint, the plaintiffs
added allegations that the defendants engaged in accounting
violations and made misstatements about the Company's financial
performance, beginning on December 14, 2000.  

On November 8, 2002, the Company filed a motion to dismiss the
second amended consolidated complaint.  On December 9, 2002,
plaintiffs filed their opposition to the motion to dismiss the
second amended complaint and also moved to amend this complaint
to expand their accounting allegations.  On March 24, 2003, the
court dismissed the second amended complaint with prejudice.

Plaintiffs appealed that dismissal and, on August 11, 2003,
filed their appellate brief in the United States Court of
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Defendants filed their response
on October 8, 2003 and plaintiffs filed their reply on November
26, 2003.  

The Company believes that it has meritorious defenses against
this action.  No class has been certified.


PHILIP MORRIS: Judge Awards Fees, Expenses In Antitrust Lawsuit
---------------------------------------------------------------
In a press release Friday, Altria Group, the owner of Philip
Morris USA, said a federal court in Greensboro, North Carolina,
awarded a total of $75.3 million in attorneys fees and expenses
in a previously settled tobacco growers class action, the Dow
Jones Business News reports.

The company said Philip Morris is responsible for paying 77%, or
$58 million, of the total award comprised of $70.8 million in
fees and $4.5 million in expenses.  Plaintiffs' counsel had
requested $175 million in fees and expenses, and Philip Morris
had argued that a total fee award of no more than $27 million
was fair and reasonable.

In May, Phillip Morris and other cigarette makers reached a
settlement with a group of growers to resolve a lawsuit related
to tobacco leaf purchases.  The suit, filed in February 2000,
alleged that Philip Morris and others violated antitrust laws by
rigging bids at tobacco auctions.

As part of the deal, the defendants agreed to purchase a certain
percentage of their tobacco leaf needs from the growers over the
next decade, and make a $200 million cash settlement payment to
farmers named in the class.  Philip Morris had estimated its
share of the settlement to be between $79 million and $145
million.

New York Stock Exchange-listed shares of Altria closed at
$54.92, up 45 cents, or 0.8%, on composite volume of 9.1 million
shares.  Average daily volume is 6 million shares.


SMITHFIELD FOODS: Appeals Court Partly Affirms Sanction Motion
--------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, affirmed in part,
and reversed in part a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the
Middle District of Florida granting Defendants' motions for
sanctions with respect to a second amended complaint in a
lawsuit filed on behalf of Eugene C. Anderson, Cynthia Bailey
Watson, et al. against Smithfield Foods, Inc., Joseph W. Luter,
III.

Plaintiffs Eugene C. Anderson, Cynthia Bailey Watson, Roger Dae
Pickett, Marvin Carnagey, Keith Dotson, Jim Braum, Linus
Solberg, Betty Janssen, and Don Webb own land abutting Defendant
Smithfield Foods, Inc., the world's largest hog producer and
pork processor.  Plaintiffs bring this putative class action on
their own behalf and for all others similarly situated, alleging
that Smithfield and its CEO, Joseph W. Luter, III, are liable
under the civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), for business practices    
amounting to racketeering.
      
Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint alleged that Defendants
polluted land and water in violation of numerous laws and
regulations, and lied about and profited from these
environmental transgressions.  Plaintiffs alleged that this
conduct gives rise to liability under RICO because it
constitutes a pattern of money laundering and wire and mail
fraud. Defendants moved, to dismiss the First Amended Complaint
for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
The district court granted the Defendants' motion.

The district court's order went on, however, to identify defects
in the Plaintiffs' RICO claims, noting that the Plaintiffs had
insufficiently alleged the specific intent required to prove
mail and wire fraud, that their allegations that Defendants
profited from violating environmental laws were insufficient to
show money laundering, that the facts they alleged were too
vague to show the enterprise required for RICO liability, and
that they had failed to allege the harm required by RICO. The
district court then gave the Plaintiffs thirty days to file
another amended complaint.
      
The Plaintiffs then filed a Second Amended Complaint. They again
sought to recover under RICO. In this complaint, however, they
dropped the money laundering allegations, but elaborated on
their mail and wire fraud allegations and added new allegations
of extortion. Defendants again moved to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6). The district court granted this second motion to
dismiss.

When the Defendants moved to dismiss the Second Amended
Complaint, they also moved for sanctions asserting that the
Plaintiffs had improperly pleaded RICO claims in the Second
Amended Complaint. The district court granted the motion and  
imposed monetary sanctions in the amount of $128,563.43 to
defray the fees and costs incurred by the Defendants in
attacking the Second Amended Complaint. The court imposed the  
sanctions because it concluded that the Plaintiffs had not made
a reasonable inquiry into the viability of the RICO claims
before filing the Second Amended Complaint. The Plaintiffs
appealed.


TOBACCO LITIGATION: First Australian Tobacco Suit Proceeding
------------------------------------------------------------
Big Tobacco is again facing litigation after Myriam Cauvin, a
smoking addict, won the right to proceed with Australia's first
class action against cigarette companies, smh.com.au reports.

Mr. Cauvin says Philip Morris and British American Tobacco (BAT)
should be forced to set up a national compensation fund because
of their gross contravention of consumer laws.  On Friday, NSW
Supreme Court Judge, Virginia Bell, ruled that even though Ms
Cauvin was broke, her claim was bona fide and she had an
arguable case.  Justice Bell said a "substantial number of
persons, including public health authorities" could take on big
tobacco - and that it might as well be Ms. Cauvin.

The Blaxland 41-year-old is not basing her claim on negligence
but is instead using the Trade Practices Act, under which the
conduct of the companies will be the issue, not her's.  The act
allows someone to claim on behalf of other people - provided
they can be identified.  Ms. Cauvin began smoking aged 10,
seduced by advertising and dubious homespun wisdom.

"The Alpine lady was gorgeous; the Marlboro man was gorgeous. It
was all so country, free, beautiful, fresh," she said yesterday.  
"There were some warnings about how bad it was but my aunt said,
'they were saying that about peanut butter and raincoats'."

A lung transplant later, and with her immune system badly
damaged, she still smokes.  However, her greatest lament is for
her 16-year-old son's childhood.  "My son has had a pretty shit
life because from the age of three he has been looking after me,
being my nurse," he said.

Ms. Cauvin and Rolah McCabe - who lost her claim against BAT
despite proving it had disposed of relevant documents - had
exchanged messages of support.  Ms. McCabe died of cancer
earlier this year.  Ms. Cauvin failed last year to persuade a
court that the companies should pay back $230 million worth of
taxes to fight smoking after the High Court ruled that a state
tax was invalid.  That is subject of a further appeal in the
High Court next year.

Her barrister, Neil Francey, told Justice Bell that the cost of
taking on the tobacco companies in individual cases meant it was
"probably the last opportunity for this to be dealt with in any
comprehensive way".

Ms. Cauvin's solicitors, Maurice May and Co, believe smokers
will come out of the woodwork, and they hope that state
governments will take up their standing invitation to join the
fight.  


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Law Firms Get Millions In MA Tobacco Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
A jury on Friday awarded nearly $100 million in additional fees
to law firms that represented Massachusetts in the 1998 tobacco
settlement, but rejected the firms' claim to billions more, the
Associated Press reports.

The jury agreed with the firms that they deserved more than the
$775 million they are already slated to receive, but rejected a
claim that they are due the amount owed under their original
contract, which would have amounted to a total of $2 billion
through 2025 and $6.4 billion through 2050.  Under the jury's
decision, the firms were awarded 10.5 percent of the money the
state will receive from the settlement through 2025, up from the
9.33 percent they are currently getting.  The difference adds up
to an extra $96.5 million, according to the law firms'
calculation.

Robert Popeo, an attorney for the law firms, did not immediately
return a call seeking comment, AP states.

The jury deliberated for nearly two days following a six-week
trial that detailed the intricacies of contract law and rehashed
the history of the 1998 national settlement between the states
and the tobacco industry.  While the legal fees for the private
attorneys involved in the case were controversial across the
country, only in Massachusetts did it result in a lawsuit.  It
was the only state in which the fees remained unresolved five
years after the settlement.  Only two of the five firms filed
the lawsuit, but all will benefit from the jury award.

During the trial, attorneys for Brown Rudnick Perlack & Israel
and Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein argued that the firms
were entitled to a full 25 percent of the state's proceeds,
which could total $8.3 billion through 2025.

Because they were willing to take on the enormous risk of suing
an industry that had never previously lost a lawsuit, the firms
were entitled to full payment, the attorneys argued.  They also
argued that the state of Massachusetts must live up to its word
and be stopped from changing rules midstream.  "A deal's a deal"
was Mr. Popeo's repeated mantra.

The state argued that paying the firms the full amount would be
a violation of the standard of reasonableness that governs all
legal fees.  They called several former leaders of the
Massachusetts Bar Association to the stand.  They said that
paying the firms the full amount would be unreasonable because
of the unique nature of the tobacco settlement, which is paying
states billions of dollars in perpetuity.  The state also called
to the stand a former partner at Brown Rudnick, who said that
pursuing the additional millions was "patently unethical."

States received about $8 billion this year from a 1998
settlement between the industry and 46 states as well as an
earlier settlement between the industry and four states.


TOBACCO LITIGATION: NY Jury Awards Widow $350T In Smoking Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
A New York state jury awarded $350,000 to Gladys Frankson, a
woman who blamed a tobacco company after her husband - a smoker
for more than four decades - died of lung cancer, the Associated
Press reports.  The verdict marked the first time a jury awarded
damages against a tobacco company.

Ms. Frankson, whose husband, Harry, began smoking in 1954 at age
13, won the damages in state Supreme Court on Thursday.  The
jury also determined that punitive damages will be assessed
against the defendant, the Brown & Williamson Tobacco
Corporation, which makes Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Harry Frankson died in 1999 after years of trying - and failing
- to quit smoking, his family's lawyer Michael London said.  He
had been diagnosed the year before with lung cancer stemming
from his use of the unfiltered cigarettes, Mr. London said.

After his death, his wife sued, charging that the original
manufacturer of Lucky Strikes, the American Tobacco Co., failed
to warn its customers about the dangers of smoking.  American
Tobacco merged with Brown & Williamson in 1995.

"What the jury found was that the company was denying for years
that the cigarettes are addictive and that they cause lung
cancer," Mr. London told AP.

An attorney for Brown & Williamson, Gareth Cooper, said Mr.
Frankson "knew and understood the risks of smoking."  He added
that "we have strong arguments for appeal and are confident that
this decision will be reversed."

The family originally asked for $400 million in compensatory
damages and unspecified punitive damages.  A hearing to
determine punitive damages will be held January 7.  Juries in
Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, California, Oregon and Kansas have
made similar awards.

Brown & Williamson, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is
the nation's third-largest cigarette manufacturer, according to
its Web site.


TYSON FOODS: Recalls Chicken Patties For Possible Metal Content
---------------------------------------------------------------
Tyson Foods Inc., a Vicksburg, Missouri, firm, in cooperation
with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and
Inspection Service (FSIS), is voluntarily recalling
approximately 19,900 pounds of fully cooked frozen grilled
chicken patties that may contain pieces of metal.

The products subject to recall are approximately 14.8 pound
cases of "MCCARTY FOODS, Southern Grilled, Fully Cooked, Grilled
Chicken Patties-CN."  Each case contains three 4.93-pound bags
of chicken patties.  Each case bears the establishment number
"Est. P-17728" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The chicken patties were produced on September 25, 2003 and were
sent to distributors in Ohio, California, Texas, Florida,
Arkansas, and Indiana who in turn supply the product to school
districts.  The products subject to recall have one of the
following package codes: 2683VIC0611, 2683VIC0612, 2683VIC0613,
2683VIC0614, 2683VIC0615, 2683VIC0616, 2683VIC0617, 2683VIC0618,
or 2683VIC0619.

For more details, contact Willie Barber, consumer relations
manager, by Phone: 479-290-4714 (consumers) or contact Ed
Nicholson, public relations manager, by Phone: 479-290-4591
(media).


                  New Securities Fraud Cases


BIOVAIL CORPORATION: Weiss & Yourman Files Securities Suit in NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
Weiss & Yourman initiated a class action lawsuit against Biovail
Corporation and its officer, in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of purchasers
of Biovail securities between May 17, 2002 and October 30, 2003,
inclusive.  

The complaint charges the defendants with violations of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  The complaint alleges that
defendants issued false and misleading statements, artificially
inflating the stock.

For more information, contact: James E. Tullman, Mark D. Smilow,
or David C. Katz, by Mail: The French Building, 551 Fifth
Avenue, Suite 1600, New York, New York 10176, by Phone:
(888) 593-4771 or (212) 682-3025, or by E-mail: info@wynyc.com.


BIOVAIL CORPORATION: Glancy & Binkow Lodges NY Securities Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Glancy & Binkow, LLP initiated a securities
class action in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York, on behalf of a class consisting
of all persons who purchased securities of Biovail Corporation
between May 17, 2002 and October 30, 2003, inclusive.

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

Biovail is a pharmaceutical company engaged in the development,
manufacture and marketing of medications utilizing advanced drug
delivery technologies for the treatment of chronic medical
conditions. Despite defendants' representations to the contrary
during the Class Period, the Complaint alleges that:

     (1) Biovail was aware that its aggressive growth
         projections could not be maintained due to a rise in
         internal expenses and competition;

     (2) Biovail was aware that it could not achieve its
         forecasted growth projections due to an increase in
         production and sales costs; and

     (3) Biovail was aware that it could not achieve its
         forecasted growth projections because of slow internal
         growth and added expenses associated with its recent
         acquisitions.

For more information, contact Lionel Z. Glancy, by Mail: 1801
Avenue of the Stars, Suite 311, Los Angeles, California 90067,
by Phone: (310) 201-9161 or Toll Free at (888) 773-9224, or by
E-mail: info@glancylaw.com.


INVESCO FUNDS: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in CO
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
District of Colorado on behalf of all purchasers of INVESCO
Advantage Health Sciences Fund (Nasdaq: IAGHX), (Nasdaq: IGHBX),
(Nasdaq: IGHCX); INVESCO Core Equity Fund (Nasdaq: ICEAX),
(Nasdaq: ICEBX), (Nasdaq: IINCX), (Nasdaq: FIIIX), (Nasdaq:
IEIKX); INVESCO Dynamics Fund (Nasdaq: IDYAX), (Nasdaq: IDYBX),
(Nasdaq: IFDCX; Nasdaq: FIDYX; Nasdaq: IDYKX); INVESCO Energy
Fund (Nasdaq: IENAX; Nasdaq: IENBX), (Nasdaq: IEFCX; Nasdaq:
FSTEX; Nasdaq: IENKX); INVESCO Financial Services Fund (Nasdaq:
IFSAX; Nasdaq: IFSBX; Nasdaq: IFSCX), (Nasdaq: FSFSX), (Nasdaq:
FSFKX); and other Invesco Mutual Funds that are managed by
Invesco Funds Group, Inc., which is a subsidiary of Amvescap
PLC, from December 5, 1998 through November 24, 2003, inclusive,
seeking to pursue remedies under the Securities Act of 1933, the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Investment Company Act
of 1940.

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

     (1) INVESCO Advantage Health Sciences Fund (Sym: IAGHX,
         IGHBX, IGHCX)

     (2) INVESCO Advantage Fund (Sym: IADAX, IADBX, IADCX)

     (3) INVESCO Latin American Growth Fund (Sym: IVSLX)

     (4) INVESCO Core Equity Fund (Sym: ICEAX, ICEBX, IINCX,
         FIIIX, IEIKX)

     (5) INVESCO Dynamics Fund (Sym: IDYAX, IDYBX, IFDCX, FIDYX,
         IDYKX)

     (6) INVESCO Energy Fund (Sym: IENAX, IENBX, IEFCX, FSTEX,
         IENKX)

     (7) INVESCO Financial Services Fund (Sym: IFSAX, IFSBX,
         IFSCX, FSFSX, FSFKX)

     (8) INVESCO Gold & Precious Metals Fund (Sym: IGDAX, IGDBX,
         IGDCX, FGLDX)

     (9) INVESCO Health Sciences Fund (Sym: IAHSX, IBHSX, IHSCX,
         FHLSX, IHSKX)

    (10) INVESCO International Core Equity Fund (formerly known
         as International Blue Chip Value Fund) (Sym: IBVAX,
         IBVBX, IBVCX, IIBCX)

    (11) INVESCO Leisure Fund (Sym: ILSAX, LSBX, IVLCX, FLISX,
         ILEKX)

    (12) INVESCO Mid-Cap Growth Fund (Sym: IMGAX, IMGBX, IMGCX,
         IVMIX)

    (13) INVESCO Multi-Sector Fund (Sym: IAMSX, IBMSX, ICMSX,
         ICMSX)

    (14) AIM INVESCO S&P Index Fund (Sym: ISPIX)

    (15) INVESCO Small Company Growth Fund (Sym: ISGAX, ISGBX,
         ISGCX FIEGX ISCKX)

    (16) INVESCO Technology Fund (Sym: ITYAX, ITYBX, ITHCX,
         FTCHX, ITHKX)

    (17) INVESCO Total Return Fund (Sym: IATRX, IBTRX, ITRCX,
         FSFLX)

    (18) INVESCO Utilities Fund (Sym: IAUTX, IBUTX, IUTCX,
         ISTUX)

    (19) AIM INVESCO Cash Reserves Fund (currently known as AIM
         Money Market Fund) (New symbol: AIMXX)

    (20) AIM INVESCO Tax-Free Money Fund (Sym: FFRXX)

    (21) AIM INVESCO Treasurers Money Market Reserve Fund (Sym:
         IMRXX)

    (22) AIM INVESCO Treasurers Tax-Exempt Reserve Fund (Sym:
         ITTXX)

    (23) AIM INVESCO US Government Money Fund (Sym: FUGXX)

    (24) INVESCO Advantage Fund (Sym: IADAX, IADBX, IADCX)

    (25) INVESCO Balanced Fund (Sym: IBLAX, IBLBX, IBNCX, IBFIX,
         IMABX, IBLKX)

    (26) INVESCO European Fund (Sym: IEUAX, IEUBX, FEURX, IEUKX)

    (27) INVESCO Growth Fund (Sym: IAGWX, IBGWX, IBGCX, FLRFX,
         IGWKX)

    (28) INVESCO High-Yield Fund (Sym: IAHYX, IBHYX, IHYCX
         FHYPX, IHYKX)

    (29) INVESCO Growth & Income Fund, (Sym: IGIAX, IGIBX,
         IGRCX, IVGIX, IGIKX)

    (30) INVESCO Real Estate Opportunity Fund (Sym: IAREX,
         IBREX, IRECX, IVSRX)

    (31) INVESCO Select Income Fund (Sym: IASIX, IBSIX, ISICX,
         FBDSX)

    (32) INVESCO Tax-Free Bond Fund (Sym: IXBAX, IXBBX, ITFCX,
         FTIFX)

    (33) INVESCO Telecommunications Fund (Sym: ITLAX, ITLBX,
         INTCX, ISWCX, ITEKX)

    (34) INVESCO U.S. Government Securities Fund (Sym :IGVAX,
         IGVBX, IUGCX, FBDGX)

The wrongful conduct alleged in and which is the subject of the
lawsuit relates to "timing." The lawsuit alleges that timing
injures ordinary mutual fund investors who are not allowed to
engage in such practices and benefits the mutual fund companies.

For more information, contact Charles J. Piven, by Mail:  The
World Trade Center-Baltimore, 401 East Pratt Street, Suite 2525,
Baltimore, Maryland 21202, by Phone: 410/986-0036, or by E-mail:
hoffman@pivenlaw.com.


MFS FUNDS: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Fraud Lawsuit in MA
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
District of Massachusetts, on behalf of all purchasers of shares
of the MFS Mutual Funds, which are managed by Massachusetts
Financial Services Company, a subsidiary of Sun Life Financial,
Inc. during the period between December 15, 1998 and December 8,
2003, inclusive, seeking to pursue remedies under the Securities
Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the
Investment Company Act of 1940.

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

     (1) MFS Capital Opportunities Fund (Nasdaq:MCOFX),
         (Nasdaq:MCOBX), (Nasdaq:MCOCX), (Nasdaq:MFCRX),
         (Nasdaq:MCOTX), (Nasdaq:EACOX), (Nasdaq:EBCOX),
         (Nasdaq:ECCOX)

     (2) MFS Core Growth Fund (Nasdaq:MFCAX), (Nasdaq:MFCBX),
         (Nasdaq:MFCCX), (Nasdaq:MCFRX), (Nasdaq:MCRRX)

     (3) MFS Emerging Growth Fund (Nasdaq:MFEGX),
         (Nasdaq:MEGBX), (Nasdaq:MFECX), (Nasdaq:MFERX),
         (Nasdaq:MEGRX), (Nasdaq:EAGRX), (Nasdaq:EBEGX),
         (Nasdaq:ECEGX)

     (4) MFS Growth Opportunities Fund (Nasdaq:MGOFX),
         (Nasdaq:MGOBX)

     (5) MFS Large Cap Growth Fund (Nasdaq:MCGAX),
         (Nasdaq:MCGBX)

     (6) MFS Managed Sectors Fund (Nasdaq:MMNSX),
         (Nasdaq:MSEBX), (Nasdaq:MMNCX)

     (7) MFS Mid Cap Growth Fund (Nasdaq:OTCAX), (Nasdaq:OTCBX),
         (Nasdaq:OTCCX), (Nasdaq:MMCRX), (Nasdaq:MCPRX),
         (Nasdaq:EAMCX), (Nasdaq:EBCGX), (Nasdaq:ECGRX)

     (8) MFS New Discovery Fund (Nasdaq:MNDAX), (Nasdaq:MNDBX),
         (Nasdaq:MNDCX), (Nasdaq:MFNRX), (Nasdaq:MNDRX),
         (Nasdaq:EANDX), (Nasdaq:EBNDX), (Nasdaq:ECNDX)

     (9) MFS New Endeavor Fund (Nasdaq:MECAX), (Nasdaq:MECBX),
         (Nasdaq:MECCX), (Nasdaq:MNERX), (Nasdaq:MENRX)

    (10) MFS Research Fund (Nasdaq:MFRFX), (Nasdaq:MFRBX),
         (Nasdaq:MFRCX), (Nasdaq:MFRRX), (Nasdaq:MSRRX),
         (Nasdaq:EARFX), (Nasdaq:EBRFX), (Nasdaq:ECRFX)

    (11) MFS Strategic Growth Fund (Nasdaq:MFSGX),
         (Nasdaq:MSBGX), (Nasdaq:MFGCX), (Nasdaq:MSGRX),
         (Nasdaq:MSTRX), (Nasdaq:EASGX), (Nasdaq:EBSGX),
         (Nasdaq:ECSGX)

    (12) MFS Technology Fund (Nasdaq:MTCAX), (Nasdaq:MTCBX),
         (Nasdaq:MTCCX), (Nasdaq:MTQRX), (Nasdaq:MTERX)

    (13) Massachusetts Investors Growth Stock (Nasdaq:MIGFX),
         (Nasdaq:MIGBX), (Nasdaq:MIGDX), (Nasdaq:MIGRX),
         (Nasdaq:MIRGX), (Nasdaq:EISTX), (Nasdaq:EMIVX),
         (Nasdaq:EMICX)

    (14) MFS Mid Cap Value Fund (Nasdaq:MVCAX), (Nasdaq:MCBVX),
         (Nasdaq:MVCCX), (Nasdaq:MMVRX), (Nasdaq:MCVRX),
         (Nasdaq:EACVX), (Nasdaq:EBCVX), (Nasdaq:ECCVX)

    (15) MFS Research Growth and Income Fund (Nasdaq:MRGAX),
         (Nasdaq:MRGBX), (Nasdaq:MRGCX), (Nasdaq:MGIRX),
         (Nasdaq:MRERX)

    (16) MFS Strategic Value Fund (Nasdaq:MSVTX),
         (Nasdaq:MSVLX), (Nasdaq:MQSVX), (Nasdaq:MSVRX),
         (Nasdaq:MVSRX), (Nasdaq:EASVX),  (Nasdaq:EBSVX),
         (Nasdaq:ECSVX)

    (17) MFS Total Return Fund (Nasdaq:MSFRX), (Nasdaq:MTRBX),
         (Nasdaq:MTRCX), (Nasdaq:MFTRX), (Nasdaq:MTRRX),
         (Nasdaq:EATRX), (Nasdaq:EBTRX), (Nasdaq:ECTRX)

    (18) MFS Union Standard Equity Fund (Nasdaq:MUEAX),
         (Nasdaq:MUSBX), (Nasdaq:MUECX)

    (19) MFS Utilities Fund (Nasdaq:MMUFX), (Nasdaq:MMUBX),
         (Nasdaq:MMUCX), (Nasdaq:MMURX), (Nasdaq:MURRX)

    (20) MFS Value Fund (Nasdaq:MEIAX), (Nasdaq:MFEBX),
         (Nasdaq:MEICX), (Nasdaq:MFVRX), (Nasdaq:MVRRX),
         (Nasdaq:EAVLX), (Nasdaq:EBVLX), (Nasdaq:ECVLX)

    (21) Massachusetts Investors Trust (Nasdaq:MITTX),
         (Nasdaq:MITBX), (Nasdaq:MITCX), (Nasdaq:MITRX),
         (Nasdaq:MIRTX), (Nasdaq:EAMTX), (Nasdaq:EBMTX),
         (Nasdaq:ECITX)

    (22) MFS Aggressive Growth Allocation Fund (Nasdaq:MAAGX),
         (Nasdaq:MBAGX), (Nasdaq:MCAGX), (Nasdaq:MAARX),
         (Nasdaq:MAWAX), (Nasdaq:EAGTX), (Nasdaq:EBAAX),
         (Nasdaq:ECAAX)

    (23) MFS Conservative Allocation Fund (Nasdaq:MACFX),
         (Nasdaq:MACBX), (Nasdaq:MACVX), (Nasdaq:MACRX),
         (Nasdaq:MCARX), (Nasdaq:ECLAX), (Nasdaq:EBCAX),
         (Nasdaq:ECACX)

    (24) MFS Growth Allocation Fund (Nasdaq:MAGWX),
         (Nasdaq:MBGWX), (Nasdaq:MCGWX), (Nasdaq:MGARX),
         (Nasdaq:MGALX), (Nasdaq:EAGWX), (Nasdaq:EBGWX),
         (Nasdaq:ECGWX)

    (25) MFS Moderate Allocation Fund (Nasdaq:MAMAX),
         (Nasdaq:MMABX), (Nasdaq:MMACX), (Nasdaq:MAMRX),
         (Nasdaq:MARRX), (Nasdaq:EAMDX), (Nasdaq:EBMDX),
         (Nasdaq:ECMAX)

    (26) MFS Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MFBFX), (Nasdaq:MFBBX),
         (Nasdaq:MFBCX), (Nasdaq:MFBRX), (Nasdaq:MBRRX),
         (Nasdaq:EABDX), (Nasdaq:EBBDX), (Nasdaq:ECBDX)

    (27) MFS Emerging Markets Debt Fund (Nasdaq:MEDAX),
         (Nasdaq:MEDBX), (Nasdaq:MEDCX)

    (28) MFS Government Limited Maturity Fund (Nasdaq:MGLFX),
         (Nasdaq:MGLBX), (Nasdaq:MGLCX)

    (29) MFS Government Mortgage Fund (Nasdaq:MGMTX),
         (Nasdaq:MGTBX)

    (30) MFS Government Securities Fund (Nasdaq:MFGSX),
         (Nasdaq:MFGBX), (Nasdaq:MFGDX), (Nasdaq:MGSRX),
         (Nasdaq:MGVSX), (Nasdaq:EAGSX), (Nasdaq:EBGSX),
         (Nasdaq:ECGSX)

    (31) MFS High Income Fund (Nasdaq:MHITX), (Nasdaq:MHIBX),
         (Nasdaq:MHICX), (Nasdaq:EAHIX), (Nasdaq:EMHBX),
         (Nasdaq:EMHCX; (Nasdaq:MHIIX), (Nasdaq:MHIRX)

    (32) MFS High Yield Opportunities Fund (Nasdaq:MHOAX),
         (Nasdaq:MHOBX), (Nasdaq:MHOCX), (Nasdaq:MHOIX)

    (33) MFS Intermediate Investment Grade Bond Fund
         (Nasdaq:MGBFX), (Nasdaq:MGBVX), (Nasdaq:MGBCX),
         (Nasdaq:MGBEX), (Nasdaq:MIBRX)

    (34) MFS Limited Maturity Fund (Nasdaq:MQLFX)
         (Nasdaq:MQLBX), (Nasdaq:MQLCX), (Nasdaq:EALMX),
         (Nasdaq:EBLMX), (Nasdaq:ELDCX), (Nasdaq:MLDRX)

    (35) MFS Research Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MRBFX), (Nasdaq:MRBBX),
         (Nasdaq:MRBCX), (Nasdaq:EARBX), (Nasdaq:EBRBX),
         (Nasdaq:ECRBX), (Nasdaq:MRBIX), (Nasdaq:MRBRX)

    (36) MFS Strategic Income Fund (Nasdaq:MFIOX),
         (Nasdaq:MIOBX), (Nasdaq:MIOCX), (Nasdaq:MFIIX)

    (37) MFS Alabama Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MFALX),
         (Nasdaq:MBABX)

    (38) MFS Arkansas Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MFARX),
         (Nasdaq:MBARX)

    (39) MFS California Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MCFTX),
         (Nasdaq:MBCAX), (Nasdaq:MCCAX)

    (40) MFS Florida Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MFFLX),
         (Nasdaq:MBFLX)

    (41) MFS Georgia Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MMGAX),
         (Nasdaq:MBGAX)

    (42) MFS Maryland Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MFSMX),
         (Nasdaq:MBMDX)

    (43) MFS Massachusetts Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MFSSX),
         (Nasdaq:MBMAX)

    (44) MFS Mississippi Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MISSX),
         (Nasdaq:MBMSX),

    (45) MFS Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MMBFX), (Nasdaq:MMBBX)

    (46) MFS Municipal Limited Maturity Fund (Nasdaq:MTLFX),
         (Nasdaq:MTLBX), (Nasdaq:MTLCX)

    (47) MFS New York Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MSNYX),
         (Nasdaq:MBNYX), (Nasdaq:MCNYX)

    (48) MFS North Carolina Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MSNCX),
         (Nasdaq:MBNCX), (Nasdaq:MCNCX)

    (49) MFS Pennsylvania Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MFPAX),
         (Nasdaq:MBPAX)

    (50) MFS South Carolina Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MFSCX),
         (Nasdaq:MBSCX)

    (51) MFS Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MSTNX),
         (Nasdaq:MBTNX)

    (52) MFS Virginia Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MSVAX),
         (Nasdaq:MBVAX), (Nasdaq:MVACX)

    (53) MFS West Virginia Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq:MFWVX),
         (Nasdaq:MBWVX)

    (54) MFS Emerging Markets Equity Fund (Nasdaq:MEMAX),
         (Nasdaq:MEMBX), (Nasdaq:MEMCX), (Nasdaq:MEMIX)

    (55) MFS Global Equity Fund (Nasdaq:MWEFX), (Nasdaq:MWEBX),
         (Nasdaq:MWECX), (Nasdaq:MWEIX), (Nasdaq:MGERX)

    (56) MFS Global Growth Fund (Nasdaq:MWOFX), (Nasdaq:MWOBX),
         (Nasdaq:MWOCX), (Nasdaq:MWOIX), (Nasdaq:MGLRX)

    (57) MFS Global Total Return Fund (Nasdaq:MFWTX),
         (Nasdaq:MFWBX), (Nasdaq:MFWCX), (Nasdaq:MFWIX),
         (Nasdaq:MGRRX)

    (58) MFS International Growth Fund (Nasdaq:MGRAX),
         (Nasdaq:MGRBX), (Nasdaq:MGRCX), (Nasdaq:MQGIX)

    (59) MFS International New Discovery Fund (Nasdaq:MIDAX),
         (Nasdaq:MIDBX), (Nasdaq:MIDCX), (Nasdaq:EAIDX),
         (Nasdaq:EBIDX), (Nasdaq:ECIDX), (Nasdaq:MWNIX),
         (Nasdaq:MINRX)

    (60) MFS International Value Fund (Nasdaq:MGIAX),
         (Nasdaq:MGIBX), (Nasdaq:MGICX), (Nasdaq:MINIX)

    (61) MFS Research International Fund (Nasdaq:MRSAX),
         (Nasdaq:MRIBX), (Nasdaq:MRICX), (Nasdaq:EARSX),
         (Nasdaq:EBRIX), (Nasdaq:ECRIX), (Nasdaq:MRSIX),
         (Nasdaq:MRIRX)

The wrongful conduct alleged in and which is the subject of the
lawsuit relates to "timing."  The lawsuit alleges that timing
injures ordinary mutual fund investors who are not allowed to
engage in such practices and benefits the mutual fund companies.

For more information, contact Charles J. Piven, by Mail: The
World Trade Center-Baltimore, 401 East Pratt Street, Suite 2525,
Baltimore, Maryland 21202, by Phone: 410/986-0036, or by E-mail:
hoffman@pivenlaw.com.


MARSH & MCLENNAN: Weiss & Yourman Files Stock Lawsuit in S.D. NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
Weiss & Yourman initiated a securities class action against
Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. and its officers, in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of New York, on
behalf of purchasers of Marsh & McLennan securities between
January 3, 2000 and November 3, 2003, inclusive.

The complaint charges the defendants with violations of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  The complaint alleges that
defendants issued false and misleading statements, artificially
inflating the stock.

For more information, contact Mark D. Smilow, David C. Katz, or
James E. Tullman, by Mail: The French Building, 551 Fifth
Avenue, Suite 1600, New York, New York 10176, by Phone:
(888) 593-4771 or (212) 682-3025, or by E-mail: info@wynyc.com.


NETWORK ENGINES: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Lawsuit in MA
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a securities
class action in the United States District Court for the
District of Massachusetts, on behalf of shareholders who
purchased, converted, exchanged or otherwise acquired the common
stock of Network Engines, Inc. between November 6, 2003 and
December 10, 2003, inclusive.

The action charges that defendants violated federal securities
laws by issuing a series of materially false and misleading
statements to the market throughout the Class Period which
statements had the effect of artificially inflating the market
price of the Company's securities.

For more information, contact Charles J. Piven, by Mail: The
World Trade Center-Baltimore, 401 East Pratt Street, Suite 2525,
Baltimore, Maryland 21202, by Phone: 410/986-0036, or by E-mail:
hoffman@pivenlaw.com.


TOPAZ GROUP: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Fraud Lawsuit in WA
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a securities
class action in the United States District Court for the
District of Washington against defendant The Topaz Group, Inc.
and certain of its officers and directors, on behalf of
shareholders who purchased, converted, exchanged or otherwise
acquired the common stock of The Topaz Group, Inc. between March
21, 2002 and August 20, 2003, inclusive.

The action charges that defendants violated federal securities
laws by issuing a series of materially false and misleading
statements to the market throughout the Class Period which
statements had the effect of artificially inflating the market
price of the Company's securities.

For more information, contact Charles J. Piven, by Mail: The
World Trade Center-Baltimore, 401 East Pratt Street, Suite 2525,
Baltimore, Maryland 21202, by Phone: 410/986-0036, or by E-mail:
hoffman@pivenlaw.com.


TOPAZ GROUP: Weiss & Yourman Commences Securities Lawsuit in WA
---------------------------------------------------------------
Weiss & Yourman initiated a class action in U.S. District Court
for the District of Washington on behalf of those who purchased
Topaz Group, Inc. securities between March 21, 2002 and August
20, 2003, inclusive.

The complaint charges that the company and certain of its
officers violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934.  Specifically, the complaint alleges that
defendants issued false and misleading financial statements by
overstating inventory, understating allowances for doubtful
accounts and improperly recognizing revenue, in violation of
GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles).

The complaint alleges that plaintiff and other members of the
class suffered damages when they purchased Topaz shares at
prices artificially inflated by defendants' conduct.

For more information, contact Weiss & Yourman, by Phone:
(800) 437-7918, E-mail: info@wyca.com, or visit the firm's
Website: http://www.wyca.com.


WATSON PHARMA: Bernstein Liebhard Lodges Securities Suit in CA
--------------------------------------------------------------
Bernstein, Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP initiated a securities class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Central District of California, on behalf of all persons who
purchased or acquired Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. between
November 2, 1999 and November 13, 2001, inclusive.

The complaint alleges that Watson and certain of its officers
and directors violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder, by issuing materially false and misleading
statements concerning the Company's business.

In particular, the Complaint alleges that defendants' statements
were materially false and misleading because they failed to
disclose and misrepresented these material facts:

     (1) that Watson was materially overstating its financial
         results by failing to write down the value of its
         inventories and the value of certain of the Company's
         assets;

     (2) that Watson was experiencing significantly increased
         competition for generic drugs and was also experiencing
         manufacturing difficulties; and

     (3) that based on the foregoing, defendants' positive
         statements about the Company were lacking in a
         reasonable basis at all times and were therefore
         materially false and misleading.

Prior to the disclosure of the true facts about the Company,
defendants used millions of shares of Watson common stock to
acquire other businesses.

On November 13, 2001, Watson shocked the market when it
announced its financial results for third quarter 2001 which
were well below expectations. Furthermore, the Company announced
that it was writing off almost all of its investment in Dilacor
XR and that the Company was writing off over $20 million in
additional impaired inventory.

In response to this negative announcement, the price of Watson
common stock plummeted, trading down almost $20 per share, to
close trading at $28.54 per share, compared to the prior day's
close of $47.15 per share, on tremendous volume of over 15.3
million shares traded -- almost 20 times the average trading
volume for Watson shares.

For more information, contact Ms. Linda Flood, Director of
Shareholder Relations, by Mail: 10 East 40th Street, New York,
New York 10016, by Phone: (800) 217-1522 or (212) 779-1414, or
E-mail: WPI@bernlieb.com.


                        *********

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

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

                        *********


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

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

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

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
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