CAR_Public/040123.mbx           C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R
  
           Friday, January 23, 2004, Vol. 6, No. 16

                        Headlines                            

ADECCO SA: Swiss Stock Exchange Launches Stock Fraud Probe
BROWNING: Recalls 12,500 Flashlight Batteries For Injury Hazard
CANADIAN PACIFIC: Derailment Victim's Widow Commences Two Suits
EATON VANCE: MA Court Certifies in Part Securities Fraud Lawsuit
FLORIDA: Judge Certifies Homeowners Suit V. School Impact Fees

GRANT THORNTON: SEC Launches Admin. Proceedings For Stock Fraud
HEWLETT PACKARD: Asks Court To Dismiss Apartheid Victims' Suit
HEWLETT PACKARD: TX Court Stays 2 Floppy Disk Consumer Lawsuits
HEWLETT PACKARD: Plaintiffs Seek New Trial for NC Consumer Suit
JAPAN AIR: Planes Continue To Be Grounded As Inspections Proceed

MARTHA STEWART: NY Court Enters Second Day of Jury Selection
MASSACHUSETTS: State Survey Reveals Cops Ticket Minorities More
MICHIGAN: Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Favor of City Insurer
MICROSOFT CORPORATION: 35 Firms Battle Over Antitrust Suit Fees
NEW YORK: Former Chief Will Pay Settlement Amid Fraud Charges

NORTHWEST AIRLINES: Angry Passengers Launch Privacy Suit in MN
OREGON: Former Hospital Workers Sue To Recover Wages, Benefits
RURAL CELLULAR: MN Court Dismisses Equity Securities Fraud Suit
STYLING TECHNOLOGY: SEC Institutes Proceedings For Stock Fraud
TENNESSEE: Fire Razes Tennessee Nursing Home, 3 Dead, 12 Injured

UNITED STATES: President Bush To Tout "Fairness" Reform Bill
UPPER DECK: Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Insurer in Fees Suit
VERTEX PHARMACEUTICALS: Court Sentences Lawyer For Stock Fraud
WORLDCOM INC.: Judge Dismisses More Bondholder Claims in Suits

                     Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: PA State Judge Barred from Bench For Life
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Honeywell-Federal Mogul Deal Falls Through
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Proposed Asbestos Settlement Angers Victims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Michigan Plant May Have Produced Asbestos
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: JH Sees No Future Asbestos Liabilities

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Victim Gets GBP285,000 Asbestos Payout
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Ameren Reports Latest on Asbestos Suits
ASBESTOS ALERT: Justice Department Files Asbestos Suit V. Firm

                 New Securities Fraud Cases

ADECCO SA: Federman & Sherwood Launches Securities Suit in NY
ADMINISTAFF INC.: Marc Henzel Lodges Securities Suit in S.D. TX
ADVANCED MARKETING: Federman & Sherwood Files CA Stock Lawsuit
ADVANCED MARKETING: Marc Henzel Commences Securities Suit in CA
ADVANCED MARKETING: Charles Piven Launches Securities Suit in CA

ADVANCED MARKETING: Paskowitz & Associates Files Lawsuit in CA
AMERICAN PHYSICIANS: Marc Henzel Commences Securities Suit in MI
BLUE RHINO: Marc Henzel Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in C.D. CA
GILEAD SCIENCES: Marc Henzel Lodges Securities Suit in N.D. CA
IBIS TECHNOLOGY: Federman & Sherwood Files Securities Suit in MA

PRICESMART INC.: Marc Henzel Lodges Securities Suit in S.D. CA
RYLAND GROUP: Federman & Sherwood Files Securities Suit in TX


                        *********


ADECCO SA: Swiss Stock Exchange Launches Stock Fraud Probe
----------------------------------------------------------
The Swiss Stock Exchange commenced two preliminary
investigations into the activities of beleaguered staffing firm
Adecco S.A. (ADEN.VX), over charges of alleged insider trading
and a possible breach of the exchange's publication rules, the
Dow Jones Newswire reports.

Early last week, Adecco announced that it had discovered flaws
in the accounting of its units in some countries, causing its
stock prices to fall sharply.  The Company's Chief Financial
Officer Felix Weber also stepped down last week.  Though Adecco
repeatedly declined to indicate the scope and size of the
accounting flaws, Mr. Weber reportedly said, according to the
New York Times last week, that the accounting problems didn't
entail major irregularities but were due to a change in the
audit approach of the company.

Juerg von Arx, a spokesman for the Swiss Stock Exchange, told
Dow Jones the probes were launched Tuesday but he warned they
could take months to complete.  He didn't elaborate on the scope
of the investigations apart from saying the derivative insider
trading probe is carried out by the bourse's Surveillance Board,
while the inquiry into a possible breach of the bourse's
publication rules will be handled by the Admission Board.  The
publication rules requires Swiss-listed companies to make
market-moving news available to all interested parties by
publishing an official press release.

The Company already faces several shareholder class actions, as
well as separate probes by the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission, a New York court and the Swiss Banking Commission.  

The bourse's spokesman declined to comment if the probe was
related to Mr. Weber's reported comments in the New York Times.  
He also declined to comment on whether the Swiss stock exchange
is investigating possible breaches of accounting rules, Dow
Jones reports.


BROWNING: Recalls 12,500 Flashlight Batteries For Injury Hazard
---------------------------------------------------------------
Browning, of Morgan, Utah, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission (CPSC), is recalling 12,500 Browning
CR123A lithium batteries sold with Browning Black Ice
flashlights since the batteries can short out, causing the
flashlight's canister to rupture and pose injury to the
consumer.  Browning has received two reports of the flashlights
rupturing, but no injuries have been reported.

The recalled 3-volt lithium batteries were packaged in pairs
with Browning Black Ice 6-volt Xenon 6 LED flashlights. The
batteries were also sold separately in packs of two. No other
Black Ice model flashlights are involved in this recall.

The flashlights were sold at hunting and sporting goods stores
nationwide during December 2003 for about $50.

For more information, contact Browning at (800) 637-0230 between
8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. MT Monday through Friday or visit the
firm's Web site at www.Browning.com/recall.


CANADIAN PACIFIC: Derailment Victim's Widow Commences Two Suits
---------------------------------------------------------------
Canadian Pacific Railway, its subsidiaries and tank car
manufacturers face two similar wrongful death suits, filed in
Minneapolis and in Bismarck, by the widow of a man killed after
a deadly derailment two years ago in Minot, North Dakota,
seeking more than $75,000 in damages and a jury trial,
Associated Press Online reports.

MeLea Grabinger's husband, John, 38, died after the January 18,
2002, derailment sent a deadly cloud of anhydrous ammonia over
Minot.  More than one million liters of the chemical spilled
from tanker cars near the couple's rural home.  The wreck on the
west edge of Minot ruptured 11 tank cars carrying anhydrous
ammonia. The chemical spilled on the ground and formed a vapor
cloud. Hundreds of people sought treatment for burns and
breathing problems.  Ms. Grabinger alleges the railway failed to
properly inspect, maintain and repair its track.  

Minneapolis lawyer Tim Thornton, who represents the railway, has
not yet filed a formal response to the lawsuit, but he said
workers maintain the track every day.  Lawyers say they still
get calls from people injured after the derailment of the train,
which was headed to Minnesota from Alberta, AP reports.

Robert Bolinske Sr., a Bismarck lawyer, told AP he and others
are waiting for the report from the U.S. National Transportation
Safety Board on its investigation into the derailment. Company
documents and witnesses cannot be accessed until the report is
finished, he said. "Basically, the case is in limbo until the
report comes out."  NTSB officials said they expect to issue the
report sometime this spring, AP states.

Mike Miller, a Fargo, N.D., lawyer, said he represents nearly
900 people as part of a lawsuit he hopes will gain class action
status.  Mr. Miller told AP he has been talking to Canadian
Pacific lawyers.

Last summer, North Dakota's Health Department fined the railway
$925,000 US for alleged environmental violations stemming from
the spill.  State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said $500,000
of the settlement was earmarked to build a rural water system
for a housing subdivision west of Minot that was engulfed by an
ammonia cloud.  The remainder was compensation for violation of
air- and water-pollution and hazardous-waste laws, Mr. Stenehjem
said.

Canadian Pacific agreed to the settlement, although the railway
said it was neither admitting nor denying the Health
Department's allegations that North Dakota's air-quality and
hazardous-waste laws were violated.


EATON VANCE: MA Court Certifies in Part Securities Fraud Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the District of
Massachusetts granted in part and denied in part the Plaintiffs
Motion for Certification of a lawsuit brought against Eaton
Vance Corporation.  Investors allege the defendants violated
federal securities laws by issuing false and misleading
registration statements in connection with four separate
investment funds.   

On May 25, 2001, Donald and Elizabeth Chesner filed suit against
Eaton Vance, Classic and the relevant executives.  On October
15, 2001, the Chesners filed an amended and consolidated
complaint that added three additional named plaintiffs.  These
plaintiffs included C. Woodson Bassett, Jr., Neil Macy and
Richard K. Bialeck, acting as trustee of the Sophie B. Bialeck
Trust.  The consolidated complaint also named as additional
defendants the Prime Rate, Institutional and Advisers funds,
along with the corresponding executives.

The four named plaintiffs purchased shares in only the Classic
and Prime Rate funds, and none purchased shares in the
Institutional or Advisers funds.  Plaintiffs purchased their
shares pursuant to specific registration statements that were
issued in 1998 and 2000.  More specifically, the Chesners
purchased shares of Classic in 1998 pursuant to the Classic
prospectus dated April 1, 1998.  The Chesners purchased
additional Classic shares in 1999 pursuant to the November 2,
1998 prospectus.  Bassett purchased Classic shares in 1998
pursuant to the November 2, 1998 prospectus.  The Bialeck Trust
purchased Classic shares in 2000 pursuant to the prospectus
dated March 15, 2000.  Lastly, Macy purchased Prime Rate shares
in 2000 pursuant to that fund's March 15, 2000 prospectus.       
      
The named plaintiffs' amended and consolidated complaint alleged
that the registration statements and prospectuses contained
false and misleading statements in violation of Sections 11,
12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933.  The complaint
also alleged violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C., but these claims
have been dismissed. The named plaintiffs propose that the class
encompass investors who purchased shares in all four funds
between May 25, 1998 and March 5, 2001.

The Court now grants Plaintiffs permission to represent a class
of investors who purchased shares pursuant to the Classic
prospectuses dated April 1, 1998, November 2, 1998 and March 15,
2000.  The named plaintiffs' motion for class certification on
the Section 12(a)(2) claims is denied.  The named plaintiffs'
claims against the Institutional and Advisers funds are
dismissed for lack of Article III standing and the named
plaintiffs cannot represent investors who purchased shares in
those funds.  Finally, the named plaintiffs' motion for class
certification as to the Prime Rate fund is denied.

The defendants in this case are the Eaton Vance Corporation,
four Eaton Vance mutual funds, and the individual trustees and
executives of those funds.  The four mutual funds are each
separate corporate entities.  These funds include the EV Classic
Senior Floating-Rate Fund, Eaton Vance Prime Rate Reserves,
Eaton Vance Institutional Senior Floating- Rate Fund, and Eaton
Vance Advisers Senior Floating-Rate Fund.


FLORIDA: Judge Certifies Homeowners Suit V. School Impact Fees
--------------------------------------------------------------
Florida Judge James H. Seals granted thousands of homeowners the
right to join a lawsuit against Lee County over school impact
fees, The News-Press.com reports.

"Judge Seals has now entered an order," wrote attorney Jeff
Garvin in an e-mail to The News-Press on Monday.  Mr. Garvin and
his partner, Theodore Tripp, had asked the judge to certify the
two-year-old lawsuit as a class action.

A suit with four plaintiffs in December 2001 could represent the
interests of more than 7,500 people, Mr. Garvin said in his e-
mail.  "The notice to the class members should go out in the
next two weeks," he said.

The plaintiffs argue county commissioners miscalculated the fees
and made them higher than they should be.  Impact fees are one-
time charges on new developments for public services, such as
roads, parks and schools.  The fees have collected more than $36
million in escrow, which would go toward school construction.  
If the plaintiffs win and impact fees are reduced, they would be
entitled to a hefty portion of this pot.

County and school district officials could not be reached for
comment, the News-Press.com reports.  County offices were closed
in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Homeowners Tina Brown and Patricia Shatto, First Home Builders
of Florida and the Lee Building Industry Association filed the
lawsuit against the county and the Lee County School Board.
County commissioners approved the fees in November 2001.

Earlier this month, Lee County Commissioner Andy Coy offered
school board members half of those fees in a proposal that they
received warmly, but they have not voted on it yet.  In August
the plaintiffs offered to settle the suit, but commissioners and
board members rejected the offer.  The county and school board
are splitting the cost of the defense.  The board has committed
to paying up to $100,000.


GRANT THORNTON: SEC Launches Admin. Proceedings For Stock Fraud
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission instituted public
administrative proceedings pursuant to Commission Rule 102(e)
and cease-and-desist proceedings against Grant Thornton LLP,
Doeren Mayhew & Co. P.C., Peter M. Behrens, Marvin J. Morris and
Benedict P. Rybicki for misconduct in connection with their
audit of MCA Financial Corporation's financial statements for
the fiscal year ended January 31, 1998.
     
At the time, MCA was a mortgage banking company based in
Southfield, Michigan.  Grant Thornton is a national accounting
firm headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.  Doeren Mayhew is an
accounting firm based in Troy, Michigan.  Grant Thornton and
Doeren Mayhew jointly audited MCA's 1998 annual financial
statements.  Mr. Behrens, a 46-year-old resident of Troy,
Michigan, is a partner in the Detroit office of Grant Thornton.  
Mr. Morris, a 60-year-old resident of Grosse Pointe Park,
Michigan, and Mr. Rybicki, a 40-year-old resident of Grosse
Pointe Park, Michigan, are directors of Doeren Mayhew.
     
In the Order Instituting Proceedings, the Commission's Division
of Enforcement alleges that in connection with the 1998 MCA
audit, the respondents caused and aided and abetted MCA's
violations of the antifraud and reporting provisions of the
federal securities laws, violated or caused and aided and
abetted violations of Section 10A of the Exchange Act and
engaged in improper professional conduct.
     
Specifically, the Division alleges:
     
     (1) MCA violated the antifraud and reporting provisions of
         the federal securities laws by filing materially false
         and misleading 1998 annual financial statements with
         the Commission and using those financial statements in
         connection with a public offering of debentures;

     (2) MCA's 1998 annual financial statements were materially
         false and misleading because MCA utilized related party
         transactions to inflate and mischaracterize its income,
         assets and equity;
          
     (3) Mr. Behrens and Mr. Morris were the engagement partners
         for the 1998 MCA audit;

     (4) Mr. Rybicki was the engagement manager for that audit;

     (5) the audit, the respondents knew that MCA failed to
         disclose several million dollars of material, related
         party transactions in its 1998 annual financial
         statements;
          
     (6) despite this knowledge, Grant Thornton and Doeren
         Mayhew jointly issued a report containing an
         unqualified opinion on MCA's 1998 annual financial
         statements and consented to the inclusion of their
         report in MCA's debenture offering materials;
          
     (7) the respondents failed to inform MCA's Board of
         Directors that MCA's 1998 annual financial statements
         did not disclose millions of dollars of material,
         related party transactions;
          
     (8) the respondents did not adequately plan the 1998 MCA
         audit, did not act with sufficient skepticism in
         conducting the audit, and did not obtain enough
         evidence to support their conclusions and, thus,
         engaged in improper professional conduct.

A hearing will be scheduled before an administrative law judge
to determine whether the Division's allegations are true, to
provide the respondents an opportunity to dispute the
allegations, and to determine what remedial sanctions are
appropriate under the circumstances of this case.
     
Previously, the Commission in April 2002 filed a complaint in
the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
against seven former executives of MCA.  The defendants are
Patrick Quinlan, MCA's former CEO and Chairman of the Board of
Directors, Lee Wells, MCA's former President and Chief Operating
Officer and member of the Board of Directors, Keith Pietila,
MCA's former Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating
Officer, Alexander Ajemian, MCA's former Controller and
Treasurer, John O'Leary, MCA's former Senior Vice President of
Corporate Finance, Cheryl Swain, MCA's former Vice President of
Marketing Syndication and Kevin Lasky, MCA's former Vice
President of Portfolio Management.
     
The complaint alleges that MCA sold two different types of
securities and engaged in a fraudulent scheme with regard to
both.  First, the complaint alleges that MCA sold $71 million of
securitized interests in pools of mortgage loans from 1994
through 1999 while knowingly misrepresenting the risk, rate of
return and historical performance of the interests in the
offering materials.  The complaint alleges that, as a result,
investors lost at least $49 million.  

Second, the complaint alleges that MCA engaged in the fraudulent
sale of $19 million in debentures between 1994 and 1999 by
including financial statements that materially inflated its
assets, income and equity in registration statements and annual
and quarterly reports filed with the Commission.  The complaint
further alleges that MCA materially inflated its assets, income
and equity by improperly:

     (i) recognizing gains on sale of real estate to related
         parties;  

    (ii) valuing certain mortgages held for resale;

   (iii) failing to disclose related party mortgages held for
         resale;
     
    (iv) failing to write down uncollectible related party  
         receivables; and

     (v) failing to disclose MCA's potential liability in
         connection with the fraudulent sale of the securitized
         interests in pools of mortgage loans.

The complaint alleges that as a result, investors in the
debentures lost all $19 million invested.  The complaint alleges
that all seven defendants violated, or aided and abetted
violations of, the antifraud provisions of the federal
securities laws as a result of their conduct in connection with
MCA's fraudulent sale of securities.  In addition, the complaint
alleges that Mr. Quinlan, Mr. Wells, Mr. Pietila, Mr. Ajemian
and Mr. O'Leary violated, or aided and abetted violations of,
the periodic reporting and corporate record-keeping provisions
of the federal securities laws.
     
The complaint seeks, among other things, injunctive relief and
civil penalties against all seven defendants.  In addition, the
complaint seeks to bar Mr. Quinlan, Mr. Wells, Mr. Pietila and
Mr. Ajemian from acting as an officer and director of a public
company in the future.
     
Also, Mr. Wells, Mr. Pietila, Mr. Ajemian, Mr. Swain and Mr.
Lasky have pled guilty to federal criminal charges arising out
of MCA's fraudulent scheme.  Mr. Pietila has been sentenced to
48 months in prison and ordered to pay $256 million in
restitution.  Mr. Ajemian was sentenced to 37 months in prison
and ordered to pay $256 million in restitution.  Mr. Lasky was
sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $128 million
in restitution.  Mr. Wells and Mr. Swain have not been sentenced
yet.  Mr. Quinlan and Mr. O'Leary were indicted on federal
criminal charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank
fraud and making false statements to the Commission arising out
of MCA's fraudulent scheme on June 23, 2002.  The criminal trial
of Mr. Quinlan and Mr. O'Leary is scheduled to begin in April
2004.  Finally, the Michigan Attorney General's Office has filed
state felony securities fraud charges against Mr. Pietila and
three other defendants.   

The suit is styled "SEC v. Quinlan, Wells, Pietila, Ajemian,
O'Leary, Swain and Lasky, Case No. 02-60082, USDC, E.D.  Mich.,
Judge Battani," while the civil suit is styled "US v. Quinlan,
Wells, Pietila, Ajemian, O'Leary, Swain and Lasky, Case No. 01-
80514, E.D. Mich., Judge Feikens."


HEWLETT PACKARD: Asks Court To Dismiss Apartheid Victims' Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Hewlett Packard Co. asked the United States District Court for
the Southern District of New York to dismiss a class action,
styled "Digwamaje et al. v. Bank of America et al.," that names
the Company and numerous other multinational corporations as
defendants.  The suit was filed on behalf of current and former
South African citizens and their survivors who suffered violence
and oppression under the apartheid regime.

The lawsuit alleges that HP and other companies helped
perpetuate, and profited from, the apartheid regime during the
period from 1948-1994 by selling products and services to
agencies of the South African government.  Claims are based on
the Alien Tort Claims Act, the Torture Protection Act, the
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and state
law.

The complaint seeks, among other things, an accounting, the
creation of a historic commission, compensatory damages in
excess of $200 billion, punitive damages in excess of $200
billion, costs and attorneys' fees.


HEWLETT PACKARD: TX Court Stays 2 Floppy Disk Consumer Lawsuits
---------------------------------------------------------------
Texas court stayed two consumer class actions filed against
Hewlett Packard Co. until the conclusion of two earlier similar
suits against the Company.  

Alvis v. HP is a nationwide defective product consumer class
action that was filed in state court in Jefferson County, Texas
by a resident of Eastern Texas in April 2001.  In February 2000,
a similar suit captioned "LaPray v. Compaq" was filed in state
court in Jefferson County, Texas.

The basic allegation is that HP and Compaq sold computers
containing floppy disk controllers that fail to alert the user
to certain floppy disk controller errors.  That failure is
alleged to result in data loss or data corruption.  The
plaintiffs in the suits seek injunctive relief, declaratory
relief, damages and attorneys' fees.

In July 2001, a nationwide class was certified in the LaPray
case, which the Beaumont Court of Appeals affirmed in June 2002.  
Compaq has filed a petition for review by the Texas Supreme
Court.  In June 2003, the Texas Supreme Court agreed to review
the certification of a class and heard oral arguments on October
15, 2003.  

A class certification hearing was held on July 1, 2003 in the
Alvis case, and the court granted plaintiffs' motion to certify
a nationwide class action.  The Company has filed an appeal of
that certification with the 9th Court of Appeals in Beaumont,
Texas.  

On June 4, 2003, "Barrett v. HP" and "Grider v. Compaq" were
each filed in state court in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, with
factual allegations similar to the first two suits.  The
plaintiffs in Barrett and Grider seek, among other things,
specific performance, declaratory relief, damages and attorneys'
fees.  The parties are conducting discovery in Barrett.  On
November 5, 2003, the court heard HP's motion to dismiss Barrett
v. HP and Grider v. Compaq, which motion was subsequently
denied.  


HEWLETT PACKARD: Plaintiffs Seek New Trial for NC Consumer Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
Plaintiffs are seeking a new trial for the unfair business
practices consumer class action filed against Hewlett Packard
Co. in North Carolina State Court, styled "Hughes v. Hewlett-
Packard Company."

Initially, a similar suit was filed in the Superior Court of
California in Riverside County, styled "Stevens v. HP," (renamed  
Erickson v. HP).  Consumer class action lawsuits have been
filed, in coordination with the original plaintiffs, in 32
additional states.  The various plaintiffs throughout the
country claim to have purchased different models of HP inkjet
printers over the past four years.  

The basic factual allegation of these actions is that affected
consumers who purchased HP printers received half-full or
"economy" ink cartridges instead of full cartridges.  Plaintiffs
claim that the Company's advertising, packaging and marketing
representations for the printers led the consumers to believe
they would receive full cartridges.  These actions seek
injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits, compensatory
damages, punitive damages and attorneys' fees under various
state unfair business practices statutes and common law claims
of fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

In the initial California matter, the court granted summary
judgment in the Company's favor and denied class certification.  
In October 2003, the California appellate court affirmed the
lower court's decisions and dismissed the plaintiff's appeal.  
The matter was certified as a class action, however, in North
Carolina state court, where it was filed as "Hughes v. Hewlett-
Packard Company." The Company prevailed at the trial of this
case, which concluded in September 2003; plaintiffs are seeking
a new trial and sanctions in that matter.  The litigation is not
in trial in other jurisdictions and has been dismissed in five
jurisdictions thus far.


JAPAN AIR: Planes Continue To Be Grounded As Inspections Proceed
----------------------------------------------------------------
Sixteen Japan Air System planes remained out of service due to
cracks in their engines and the carrier announced more flight
cancellations after completing emergency inspections, Associated
Press Online reports.  The Federal Aviation Administration,
meanwhile, said Wednesday that "preliminary" information
gathered from U.S. carriers and Pratt & Whitney, the
manufacturer of the jet engines, indicates that the problem is
isolated to the JAS fleet.

JAS has grounded more than 200 flights since beginning
inspections Monday on all 25 of its MD-81 and MD-87 aircraft.
The review was prompted by two cases of engine trouble earlier
this month.  With two-thirds of those planes still grounded, 59
flights would be canceled Thursday, affecting some 4,400
passengers.  Nine planes will be in service, including two that
had had faulty engines replaced, the airline said in a
statement.

Pratt & Whitney, the East Hartford, Connecticut-based commercial
and military aircraft jet engine builder produced the engines,
AP reports.  The cause of the engine cracks still has not been
determined, but JAS is asking the Company to investigate the
problem as it conducted repairs, JAS spokesman Tomonari Sato
told AP.  Earlier, JAS cited a possible design flaw as the
cause.

FAA spokesman Les Dorr told AP the agency is working closely
with Japan's civil aviation authorities, Pratt & Whitney and
U.S. carriers that fly MD-80s, such as American Airlines, Alaska
Airlines and Delta Air Lines.  "The preliminary information
indicates that this is limited to the JAS fleet and is not
typical of worldwide experience," Mr. Dorr said.  "If we need to
take some safety action, whatever that might be, we would not
hesitate."

A Pratt & Whitney spokesman said its engineers have been
dispatched to Japan and are also working on the problem at the
company's Connecticut headquarters, AP reports.  "We are working
with JAS to understand what the problem they seem to have is and
get their fleet back in operation," Pratt spokesman Mark
Sullivan said.  "We've seen these kinds of problems periodically
in the past."

On January 6, an MD-81 had to abort its takeoff at Fukuoka
airport in southern Japan due to vibrations in an engine.  A MD-
87 returned to Kagoshima airport, in southern Japan, the next
day after developing a similar problem.  Inspections of the two
planes turned up cracks in a compressor in their engines.  
Subsequent checks on all JAS aircraft of the same type turned up
additional cracks and, in some cases, missing blades.  Officials
had said cracks or missing blades in the compressor can cause a
plane's engine to vibrate, lose power, or even stop.

Officials at U.S. carriers told The Seattle Times they had
experienced similar problems previously in the same type of
engines in their fleets but that they were not aware of any at
present.  The affected aircraft were produced by McDonnell
Douglas, which merged with Boeing Co. in 1997. JAS uses the
aircraft only for domestic flights.


MARTHA STEWART: NY Court Enters Second Day of Jury Selection
------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court in New York revealed several
members of the jury who will decide domestic maven Martha
Stewart's fate in the insider trading trial against her and her
former Merrill Lynch broker Peter Bacanovic, Reuters reports.

Ms. Stewart faces five counts including obstruction of justice
and securities fraud, so far, the most famous celebrity to face
trial since the crackdown on white-collar corruption began two
years ago.  She allegedly saved about $51,000 by selling Inclone
stock on December 27, 2001 - just before a negative government
report about a highly touted ImClone cancer drug sent the stock
plummeting, an earlier Class Action Reporter story (January
21,2004) states.

Ms. Stewart has asserted that she and her broker, Peter
Bacanovic of Merrill Lynch & Co., had a standing agreement to
sell when the stock fell to $60.  Mr. Bacanovic faces five
counts of his own and will stand trial with her.  Prosecutors,
however, assert that ImClone founder Sam Waksal, a personal
friend of Ms. Stewart, informed her of the impending
developments.  

Ms. Stewart appeared in court for the second day of jury
selection, while the defense team's jury consultant Julie
Blackman studied potential jurors as they filed into the
courtroom.  More than 30 people were interviewed during the
first session on Tuesday, with about 13 told they might be asked
to return next week.  About 28 were to be questioned on
Wednesday, Reuters states.

Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum then questioned potential jurors
individually in a private room in the presence of lawyers and
the defendants.  The judge has barred reporters from the
sessions, and is releasing edited transcripts of the interviews
the following day.

According to court papers, the potential jurors include a man
who thinks he had a dishonest stockbroker and another who lost
money in the Enron scandal.  A transcript of the first session,
cleaned of names and addresses, showed a wide range of
individuals in the jury pool, with only a few expressing strong
feelings about Ms. Stewart.  In several cases, those views were
grounds for dismissal.  One person said Ms. Stewart "rubs me the
wrong way," while another, a freelance writer, said he had "a
kind of animus" for the defendant.

"We really want jurors who do not bring the baggage of
preconceptions with them," Judge Cedarbaum said at one point,
Reuters reports.  "In this case, in which there has been so much
publicity, a lot of people have vague and often erroneous ideas
about what is involved. But animus toward any of the parties is
a different matter."


MASSACHUSETTS: State Survey Reveals Cops Ticket Minorities More
---------------------------------------------------------------
A detailed state survey on racial profiling, compiled from April
2001 to June 2003 by Northeastern University's Institute on Race
and Justice and released Tuesday, shows minorities were
disproportionately ticketed by Massachusetts law enforcement
agencies, the Associated Press reports.

The data shows that 247 of the 341 agencies studied gave a
greater proportion of tickets to minorities than expected given
the racial makeup of the driving population.  Some of the
communities gave only a slightly disproportionate number of
tickets to minorities, but in others the numbers were striking.  
Milton, just outside Boston, had the widest disparity.  Fifty-
eight percent of the people ticketed in the city were
minorities, while the study estimated that only 15.8 percent of
drivers were minorities.  

Milton Deputy Police Chief Richard Wells Jr. told AP his town
has many major highways and borders on diverse neighborhoods in
both Quincy and Boston.  The department has never received a
racial profiling complaint but has scheduled diversity training
for officers, he said.  "Do we need to look at everything? Yes,
clearly," Mr. Wells said.

State Public Safety Secretary Edward Flynn called the release of
the data an "absolutely essential first step" in starting a
dialogue on racial profiling in Massachusetts, AP reports.  The
data doesn't prove that racial profiling is occurring in the
state, Mr. Flynn said, but "the data provides us a basis from
which to ask intelligent questions."

The report was released a day after Attorney General Tom Reilly
told a Martin Luther King Day audience that the state's law
enforcement officials were committed to eliminating racial
profiling.  "In the end, we are going to do everything within
our power to eliminate the practice of 'driving while black,'"
AG Reilly told AP.


MICHIGAN: Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Favor of City Insurer
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower
court ruling in favor of the United States Fire Insurance Co.,
relating to its defense of the City of Warren, Michigan in a
class action filed by residents, LexisNexis reports.

The homeowners sought damages for property damage and health
problems relating to a 1998 backup of the city's sewage problem.  
U.S. Fire Insurance defended the city under a reservation of
rights and ended up paying a US$1.57 million settlement on
behalf of the city.  The insurer later filed the suit to obtain
reimbursement, claiming that the underlying losses were subject
to a total pollution exclusion in CGL and umbrella policies
issued to the city.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
awarded the insurer US$1.57 million, stating that the pollution
exclusion was unambiguous and applied to the sewage spills.  The
court, however, refused to grant attorney's fees and prejudgment
interest.

In an unpublished ruling, the appellate court stated that "a
total pollution exclusion clearly applies to damage caused by
sewage leaks into residential homes."  The City of Warren,
Mich., which was sued by homeowners in a class action and other
individual suits, is not entitled to coverage for the defense or
settlement of those suits, the appeals court held, LexisNexis
reports.

The Sixth Circuit agreed that the exclusion is unambiguous and
"clearly pertains to the escape of sewage waste onto the
property of the Warren homeowners."  The sewage that escaped is
clearly a "pollutant," it held.

"The influx of sewage into the homes of various Warren residents
constituted an 'escape' of waste water and sewage. Moreover,
regardless of whether sewage is considered 'traditional'
environmental pollution of the industrial sort, we think that it
is composed of 'solid, liquid, [or] gaseous . . . irritant[s] or
contaminant[s], including . . . waste,'" Justice Alice M.
Batchelder wrote for the court.

The suit is styled "United States Fire Insurance Co. v. City of
Warren, Nos. 02-1066, 02-1082 and 02-1085, 6th Cir."


MICROSOFT CORPORATION: 35 Firms Battle Over Antitrust Suit Fees
---------------------------------------------------------------
35 law firms are gearing up for a fight against software giant
Microsoft Corporation, over a US$269 million legal bill incurred
over the defense and settlement of a consumer antitrust class
action against the Company, styled "Lingo v. Microsoft."

Lead counsel for the plaintiffs Townsend and Townsend and Crew
has organized support from a group of high-profile lawyers and
professors to support its claim, which is split between Townsend
and the 34 other firms that worked on the case, TheLawyer.com
reports.

Townsend believes there is a great chance of success, based on
the large amount of money spent on the case, the size of the
settlement, the risks involved in taking on a company the size
of Microsoft and the fact that the case almost collapsed when
Microsoft attempted to settle in a deal that would have left
consumers with nothing.

The software giant has already paid out $1.1 billion, in
software vouchers, to settle the case and could end up adding
another $258 million in attorneys' fees and $11 million in
costs.  Several class members have filed statements opposing the
fees and Microsoft is considering whether it will respond.  The
settlement agreement and petition for attorneys fees will be
reviewed at the end of March, TheLawyer.com reports.


NEW YORK: Former Chief Will Pay Settlement Amid Fraud Charges
-------------------------------------------------------------
Former New York Futures Exchange Chairman Norman Eisler and his
company First West Trading Inc. will pay regulators $4.9 million
to settle charges of price manipulation and false reporting, The
Commodity Futures Trading Commission told Reuters Wednesday.  
Mr. Eisler, who left the NYFE in May 2000, neither admitted nor
denied the charges in settling the case with the CFTC.

"The settlement announced today with these defendants should
send a clear warning sign to those who aspire to manipulate any
market within the Commission's jurisdiction," Gregory Mocek, the
commission's director of enforcement, said in a statement.

Richard Glaser, associate director of the division, said the
penalty was among the largest assessed against an individual and
his firm in the last few years, although larger ones had been
levied against energy trading firms charged with attempted
market manipulation.

The CFTC said that as a member of the NYFE settlement committee
between at least August 1999 to May 2002, Mr. Eisler had been
able to manipulate settlement prices of the PSE Technology Index
Option contract.  The manipulations inflated the value of the
First West trading account on average by more than $2 million a
day, an illegal activity that allowed Mr. Eisler to avoid or
dramatically reduce margin calls against the First West account,
the CFTC said.  The false settlement prices were also
disseminated to the NYFE and members of the public.

Mr. Eisler was no longer responsible for determining settlement
prices after May 2000, and the prices changed significantly.  In
combination with repeated margin calls, the changes caused the
First West account value to drop to negative $4.8 million.

An attorney for Mr. Eisler was not immediately available to
comment, Reuters reports.


NORTHWEST AIRLINES: Angry Passengers Launch Privacy Suit in MN
--------------------------------------------------------------
Northwest Airlines faces a lawsuit filed in the United States
District Court in St. Paul, Minneapolis, after it revealed that
it shared passenger data with NASA after the September 11,2001
terrorist attacks, the Associated Press reports.

The airline industry has publicly declared that it will not
cooperate with developing a government passenger-screening
program because of concerns that they would infringe on customer
privacy.  Northwest Airlines earlier asserted that the Company
"did not provide that type of information to anyone," but later
admitted turning over the information to NASA.  

In a statement, Northwest said that it participated in the NASA
program after the terrorist attacks to assist the government's
search for technology to improve aviation security.  "Northwest
Airlines had a duty and an obligation to cooperate with the
federal government for national security reasons," the airline
said, an earlier Class Action Reporter story (January 20, 2004)
reports.

The suit, filed on behalf of passengers, alleges that the
airline violated its own privacy policy as well as federal and
state laws with the disclosure.  According to the US
Transportation Department, figures show the airline carried more
than 10.9 million people during that time.

Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said Wednesday that the
airline has no comment on the lawsuit, the Associated Press
reports.  Shawn Raiter, an attorney with the Larson King law
firm in St. Paul, told the Star Tribune for its Wednesday
editions that he will attempt to get millions of Americans
certified as an affected class.


OREGON: Former Hospital Workers Sue To Recover Wages, Benefits
--------------------------------------------------------------
Former Woodland Park Hospital employees have filed a class
action in hopes of recovering wages and benefits they claim are
being withheld by a Tennessee-based company that last week shut
down the Northeast Portland facility and its sister hospital in
Southeast Portland, Knight-Ridder / Tribune Business News
reports.

Two plaintiffs were included in the claim as of Tuesday
afternoon, but Portland attorney Giles Gibson said he expected
additional former workers from Woodland Park as well as
Eastmoreland Hospital to join the suit, filed Friday in the US
District Court in Portland, Oregon.

The hospital closings left about 500 workers jobless when
Symphony Healthcare, based in Nashville, Tennessee, shut down
the money-losing facilities.  Ken Perry, Symphony's chief
executive officer, could not be reached for comment Tuesday but
earlier cited declining business and the company's exclusion
from large metro-area health insurance plans as the catalysts
for the closures.

The law firm of Goldberg, Mechanic, Stuart & Gibson helped the
workers seek class-action status under the federal Worker
Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.  Under the act,
employers with more than 100 workers must give 60 days' notice
when they close a work site with more than 50 workers or lay off
500 employees or one-third of a work site.  Notice must be sent
to workers, local officials and the state's dislocated worker
unit.  The act does not apply to some cases, including instances
of "unforeseen business circumstances."

Jacquelyn Schram, a former Woodland Park nurse, is the lead
plaintiff in the suit.  Ms. Schram hasn't worked at the hospital
for several weeks as a result of a workplace injury and is not
owed back pay, Mr. Gibson, a partner at the law firm, told The
Tribune Business News.

However, under the WARN act, Mr. Gibson said, she and other
plaintiffs are entitled to recover lost benefits and wages that
she would have earned had she continued to work during the two
months after the hospital closed.  Most of the former hospital
workers, who include nurses, technicians and therapists who
typically earn between $20 to $25 an hour, are owed about three
weeks of back pay, he said.  Many workers also claim that funds
deducted from paychecks for 401(k) retirement accounts never
showed up in their accounts.

Upon hearing about the class action, Laura Maskell, former
president of Woodland Park's medical staff, said Tuesday that
she would soon gather with a group representing dozens of former
hospital workers to decide whether they should join the class
action.

Meanwhile, a group of unidentified doctors on the Woodland Park
medical staff, seeking to purchase the facility from Symphony,
on Monday evening agreed to hire an appraiser this week, Dianne
Danowski-Smith, a spokeswoman for the group told the Tribune
Business News.


RURAL CELLULAR: MN Court Dismisses Equity Securities Fraud Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota
granted Defendants Motion to Dismiss a lawsuit brought against
Rural Cellular Corporation, and certain of its officers and
directors, on behalf of all persons who purchased or
otherwise obligated themselves to purchase the publicly traded
equity securities of Rural Cellular Corporation between May 7,
2001, and November 12, 2002, alleging violations of the
Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, arising from Defendants'
issuance of alleged false financial statements and other alleged
false and misleading statements about RCC's operating
performance.  

On November 12, 2002, RCC restated its financial statements for
2001 and the first two quarters of 2002. The restatement
involved two accounting issues:

     (1) RCC's treatment of certain derivatives and hedge
         instruments under Statement of Financial
         Accounting Standards No. 133; and

     (2) impairment charges to goodwill and licenses that RCC
         recorded pursuant to SFAS No. 142. The restatement also
         recalculated RCC's preferred stock dividends.

Overall, RCC's financial statements were overstated by $16
million in 2001 and $417 million in 2002.  Plaintiffs claim that
they were damaged because RCC knowingly and/or recklessly failed
to disclose these errors until November 2002.

Essentially, Plaintiffs assert that RCC failed to disclose its
accounting errors in a timely manner and that the November 2002
financial restatement was too late.  Plaintiffs further allege
that Defendant Arthur Andersen made one false or misleading
statement, but substantially participated in the issuance of all
of the allegedly false or misleading statements because it
failed to disclose that RCC's financial statements were not in
accordance with required standards.
      
Plaintiffs claim that statements RCC made from May 7, 2001 to
November 5, 2001, were false and misleading because the
statements failed to account for RCC's understatements of net
interest expense, preferred stock dividends, and net losses.
Plaintiffs claim that RCC knew that these statements were false
or misleading based on its review of "internal Rural Cellular
data."

Plaintiffs further claim that RCC's and Arthur Andersen's
statements made from February 25, 2002, to May 6, 2002, were
false and misleading because they failed to account for the
overvalue of RCC's licenses and goodwill.  Plaintiffs contend
that RCC knew that its licenses and goodwill were overstated by
$417 million, based on its review of "internal Rural Cellular
data."


STYLING TECHNOLOGY: SEC Institutes Proceedings For Stock Fraud
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission issued an Order
Instituting Public Proceedings and Notice of Hearing Pursuant to
Section 12(j) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against
Styling Technology Corporation, a company formerly headquartered
in Scottsdale, Arizona.  

In the Order, the Division of Enforcement alleges that Styling
failed to comply with Section 13(a) of the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934 and Rules 13a-1 and 13a-13 promulgated thereunder by
failing to file annual reports with the Commission for fiscal
years 2000 through 2003 and quarterly reports since the second
quarter of 1999.  

A hearing will be held before an administrative law judge to
determine whether it is necessary and appropriate for the
protection of investors to suspend or revoke the registration of
Styling's securities.  The administrative law judge will issue
an initial decision on this matter within 120 days.   


TENNESSEE: Fire Razes Tennessee Nursing Home, 3 Dead, 12 Injured
----------------------------------------------------------------
A fire hit Tennessee retirement facility, Home Away from Home,
Inc., killing three people and injuring at least 12 others
Tuesday this week, the Associated Press reports.

According to Blount County officials, firefighters struggled in
bitter cold to put the fire out.  The cause of the blaze has not
yet been determined, Blount County Sheriff Jim Berrong told AP.

The fire was believed to have started at about 9 p.m. at the
center, and firefighters took more than two hours to get in
under control. Most of the roof collapsed in the fire, which
also scorched brickwork and awnings.

One of the residents died after being trapped in the building,
Marian O'Briant, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, told AP
early Wednesday.  Some of the injured were treated for smoke
inhalation, burns and one victim suffered a hip fracture.
Emergency workers helped residents from the facility as about a
dozen ambulances converged on the ranch-style, brick building
near Maryville, about 15 miles south of Knoxville.

A witness told The Knoxville News Sentinel that he was visiting
his girlfriend, a center employee, when they heard a loud
explosion.  Smoke alarms sounded and the fire spread quickly,
the witness said.


UNITED STATES: President Bush To Tout "Fairness" Reform Bill
------------------------------------------------------------
In his third State of the Union address, President Bush was
expected to call on the U.S. Senate to pass class action
legislation that was already voted down last fall.  However, the
bill has been resurrected with minor changes due to anticipated
vote switching by key Democrats.

Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Christopher Dodd (D- CT) and
Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who voted against the bill last October,
negotiated in secret with GOP Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist
to craft a compromise touted as a giveaway to big business at
the expense of consumers.  The bill is expected to be up for
another vote soon after the Senate reconvenes.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has declared S. 1751, the  "Class
Action Fairness Act," its top priority this legislative session.  
However, the bill slams the courthouse door shut on Americans
seeking justice for corporate wrongdoing on a host of issues,
including consumer fraud, discrimination, and environmental
pollution by moving nearly all class action litigation from
state to federal courts, where there is a backlog of 34,000
cases.  This venue switch to defendant-friendly, plaintiff-
hostile federal courts could mean many of these cases will never
be heard.

"Under this legislation, cases involving discrimination and
basic civil rights will be put behind business interests,
rolling back 50 years of progress," said Nancy Zirkin, deputy
director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a member
of the coalition.  "The federal court system's case backlog
alone all but guarantees these important cases will not be
heard."

A new study by Theodore Eisenberg of Cornell University and
Geoffrey P. Miller of New York University Law School found that
there is no class action litigation crisis, directly rebutting
claims by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  The authors found that
there was no real dollar increase in client recoveries through
settlements or fee awards over the past decade, undercutting the
Chamber's argument that costs have skyrocketed.  

This study is the first independent empirical evaluation of
attorney fees and settlements in class action cases, in contrast
to the phony grassroots effort fronted by the U.S. Chamber
through its insurance, pharmaceutical and tobacco members.  That
bogus campaign has spent more than $40 million to create the
"crisis" atmosphere, according to Public Citizen.


UPPER DECK: Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Insurer in Fees Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against
The Upper Deck Company, LLC relating to its suit seeking
declaratory relief against its insurer Federal Insurance Co.,
styled "The Upper Deck Company, LLC v. Federal Insurance Co.,
No. 02-56081, 9th Cir."

The Company manufactures sports and entertainment trading cards,
and sells these packs, some of which contain randomly inserted
"chase" cards, which can have substantial value because of their
limited production.  The chance of finding a chase card in a
pack is typically displayed on the package's wrapping and other
advertising materials, LexisNexis reports.

The Company faced a class action filed in July 1996, charging it
with violating California law and the Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).  The suit alleged that the
practice of inserting chase cards in packs of trading cards
amounted to illegal gambling, and that the plaintiffs had "been
injured in their business or property" as a result of the
Company's RICO violations.

Federal Insurance Co. insured the Company under successive
primary and umbrella commercial general liability policies.  The
Company then tendered defense of the underlying action to
Federal.  In late 1996, Federal rejected tended on the basis
that no coverage was afforded under the policies, and the
Company asked Federal to reconsider.  Federal again denied
coverage.  The Company then filed a suit in the U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of California, alleging breach
of contract and seeking declaratory relief.

The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.  The
District Court concluded that Upper Deck failed to establish
coverage was available under the policy because the underlying
allegations were intentional as there was no "occurrence" as
required by the policy.  The court declined to decide whether
Federal breached its duty to defend, LexisNexis reports.  On
appeal, Upper Deck maintained that the underlying suit could
have been construed to assert damages for personal injury to
children as a result of a gambling addiction.

The appellate court ruled that coverage is not afforded to an
insured for underlying allegations regarding violation of
gambling statutes because the alleged injuries do no constitute
bodily injury as defined by the insurance policy.  The Ninth
Circuit panel disagreed with the Company, finding that "a
thorough review of the underlying complaint and other extrinsic
evidence available to Federal at the line of tender reveals no
claim that could reasonably be construed as seeking recovery for
bodily injury as defined in the policies."


VERTEX PHARMACEUTICALS: Court Sentences Lawyer For Stock Fraud
--------------------------------------------------------------
A federal judge sentenced attorney Andrew S. Marks, of Wayland,
Massachusetts, to a year and a day in prison in connection with
insider trading charges brought by the U.S. Attorney for the
District of Massachusetts.   

On October 3, 2003, Mr. Marks, formerly the highest-ranking
attorney at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Cambridge-based
biotechnology company, pled guilty to a one-count information
filed by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts
charging him with unlawful insider trading in connection with
his September 2001 sale of Vertex stock.  

The criminal information alleged that, on September 20, 2001,
Mr. Marks learned that Vertex planned to announce the suspension
of clinical trials of one of its promising drugs on September
24.  According to the information, on September 21, Mr. Marks
liquidated all of his Vertex stock despite having previously
acknowledged in writing that the impending release would not be
viewed favorably by Wall Street and that he should not sell his
Vertex shares.
     
According to the criminal information, at the time he traded,
Mr. Marks was the designated attorney for employees to contact
regarding compliance with Vertex's employee securities trading
policy.  In that capacity, the information alleged, Mr. Marks
wrote Vertex's CEO an email on September 20, advising him to
make sure that an employee who had requested permission to trade
had no knowledge of the impending press release.  According to
the information, Mr. Marks' email went on to say, "I guess I am
troubled about any employee trading prior to that release
because it is likely to have an effect on the stock (looks like
I can't sell any shares) and, depending on the degree of that
effect, could create the perception of insider trading."

The criminal information alleged that, on September 21, less
than 24 hours after writing this email to the CEO, Mr. Marks
sold 20,900 shares of Vertex at an average price of $22.81 per
share, receiving $476,765.  According to the information, Mr.
Marks traded in breach of a fiduciary duty not to trade in
Vertex's stock while in possession of material, nonpublic
information regarding Vertex.  

As a result of the conduct described in the information, the
U.S. Attorney charged Mr. Marks with criminal violations of the
antifraud provisions of federal securities laws, Section 10(b)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5
thereunder.  Mr. Marks was also sentenced to two years of
supervised release following his incarceration, and to pay a
$3,000 fine.
     
On December 3, 2002, the Commission filed a complaint against
Mr. Marks in connection with the same conduct in Massachusetts
federal court.  The Commission's complaint alleged that Mr.
Marks violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Section 17(a) of the
Securities Act of 1933.  In that action, which is still pending,
the Commission seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement plus
prejudgment interest, and civil penalties, and further seeks an
order barring Mr. Marks from acting as an officer or director of
any publicly-traded company.   


WORLDCOM INC.: Judge Dismisses More Bondholder Claims in Suits
--------------------------------------------------------------
Federal Judge Denise Cote, who is overseeing class action claims
against Worldcom Inc., dismissed 30 more claims filed by
bondholders against the telecommunications company, including
nine actions that were dismissed in their entirety, The Dow
Jones Business News reports.

The claims were similar to those brought by Alaska's Department
of Revenue and state pension fund, which were dismissed in
November by Judge Cote.  The claims involved a $6 billion
WorldCom public bond offering in 1998 and a $2 billion offering
in December 2000.  Judge Cote dismissed the 1998 bond claim due
to statute of limitation problems, and the 2000 claim because
she deemed the offering to be a private placement.

Lawyers for WorldCom's board of directors and the underwriting
syndicate that handled the bond deals had asked Judge Cote to
apply the November ruling to nearly three dozen similar claims
by various pension funds and institutional investors, and her
ruling Tuesday did just that.  The underwriters include
securities firms J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America
Corporation, Dow Jones reports.

Two other bond tranches at issue in the litigation - the May
2000 and May 2001 bond offerings, totaling $17 billion - are
unaffected by Judge Cote's decision, as are stock-related claims
pending against WorldCom and its underwriters.

Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP, the attorney
representing the bondholders, didn't immediately return a call
seeking comment, Dow Jones reports.

WorldCom's $11 billion accounting fraud first came to light in
June 2002, a few months before the telecommunications firm filed
for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy court protection.  Now known as MCI
Inc., the company's plan of reorganization was approved in
October.


                     Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: PA State Judge Barred from Bench For Life
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Court of Judicial Discipline stripped an Allegheny County
Common Pleas Court judge who was sent to federal prison for
extortion charges last year of his designation and barred him
from holding a position of judicial authority, according to a
Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

The ruling, the harshest penalty that maybe handed down by the
disciplinary court, makes Joseph Jaffe ineligible to hold
judicial office upon his release, the report said.  The ruling,
which was anticipated, was issued on January 19 by the
Harrisburg panel that tries allegations of judicial misconduct.

Judge Jaffe pleaded guilty last year to extorting $13,000 from
attorney Joel Persky, whose firm had 1,300 asbestos cases
pending before Jaffe.  Mr. Persky contacted federal authorities
after the extortion attempt, the report said.

Earlier in 2003, after Judge Jaffe was indicted but before he
was sentenced to 27 months in prison, the same court suspended
the judge without pay.  He was, however, allowed to keep his
medical benefits.  Under federal sentencing guidelines, Judge
Jaffe could have received 30 months imprisonment, but the judge
supervising his case cut three months off the prison term after
hearing from character witnesses who testified on Judge Jaffe's
behalf.

Judge Jaffe, of Upper St. Clair, said at his sentencing hearing
that he'd be a "model citizen" if he could serve his time at
home, but that request was denied, according to the Pittsburgh
Post Gazette.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Honeywell-Federal Mogul Deal Falls Through
---------------------------------------------------------------
Honeywell recently terminated talks with Federal-Mogul of
possible sale of its brake product unit to shield the New
Jersey-based company from asbestos liabilities.  Bendix lists
around 71,000 pending asbestos claims according to a regulatory
filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Honeywell said it could not reach an agreement with the bankrupt
auto-parts maker on terms of the deal.  Federal-Mogul would have
acquired the Bendix brake products unit in exchange for
shielding Honeywell from all current and future Bendix-related
asbestos liabilities, based on the original provisions of the
deal.

The Honeywell unit makes brakes and brakes systems, and asbestos
was once a key component of these products. Asbestos was widely
used for fireproofing and insulation until the 1970s, when
scientists concluded that inhaled fibers could cause cancer and
other diseases.

Reuters reports that the Big Three automakers filed suit in
September to stop Honeywell from selling the unit, saying the
deal would be a "fraudulent transfer" of asbestos liabilities.
In November, Federal-Mogul's letter of intent to acquire the
unit expired.

Last April, Equitas Ltd., a British reinsurer, announced it
would pay $472,000,000 to Honeywell to settle the company's
claims arising from asbestos-related liabilities at Bendix and
at North American Refractories Co., which Honeywell sold in
1986, AP reports.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Proposed Asbestos Settlement Angers Victims
----------------------------------------------------------------
In a news conference at the Colorado Capitol recently, victims
of asbestos-related diseases and their families air their
grievances on the bill that aims to set an asbestos fund of
around $110,000,000,000.

"I was really looking forward to old age, and a few good years
left, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen," said
Frank Irvin. "I'm against this legislation because it's going to
deprive people of their rights."

Mr. Irvin, 70, was a carpenter in Denver for 45 years.  He said
his asbestosis caused so many medical bills that he's forced to
keep working - no longer as a master carpenter, but as a janitor
for the same firm.

Along with other asbestos victims and their families, Mr. Irvin
calls on U.S. senators Wayne Allard and Ben Nighthorse Campbell
to vote no on Senate bill 1125, sponsored by senators Orrin
Hatch, R-UT and Bill Frist, R-TN.

The group allege that the corporations lied or failed to inform
the workers and their families the dangers of asbestos and
should not get a bailout through the legislation.

Carolyn Benton of Greeley, who lost her husband to asbestos-
related cancer in 2003 and Steve Sanchez of Saguache, who lost
his father to the same illness, known as mesothelioma, also
spoke at the news conference.

The Colorado Progressive Coalition, a state consumer protection
organization, says that if the Senate bill becomes law,
thousands of pending cases and settlements would be wiped out
and payments to asbestos sufferers could be delayed for years
because of a backlog in cases.

The Rocky Mountain News reported that skeptics say the fight is
over whether to offer generous settlements or extremely generous
settlements. If the settlements get too generous, they'll come
back to bite everyone, in the form of higher taxes, higher
prices for goods or higher premiums from insurers whose reserve
accounts are drained, they say.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Michigan Plant May Have Produced Asbestos
--------------------------------------------------------------
Federal officials are investigating a Michigan plant that may
have processed a form of asbestos for nearly 50 years, putting
workers and thousands of homeowners at risk, according to a
report from the Associated Press.

Vermiculite arrived by trainloads for decades in Michigan from a
mine in Libby, Mont. and was processed mainly into home
insulation under the brand name Zonolite. The plant also made a
fireproofing product called Mono-Kote, the report said.

Zono-lite/W.R. Grace, has been the target of a federal
investigation since 2000.

The study will determine whether contamination still exists, who
may have been exposed, at what levels, and for how long.

If the researchers are on the right track, as many as 700,000
homes in Michigan have insulation laced with the asbestos, the
report said.

Researchers and federal officials say the tainted mineral has
killed hundreds and sickened thousands of miners and their
families. It was sent to nine processing facilities in Michigan
between the 1940s and 1990, according to federal officials.

The Dearborn plant is among 28 nationwide that is part of the
initial phase of a federal accounting of the contamination and
its effects on workers, neighbors and consumers.

The eight other Michigan sites - Elsie, River Rouge, Milan,
Warren, Reed City and three in Grand Rapids - will be part of
studies, according to investigators, AP reports.

"The potential hazard is enormous" to the Dearborn plant's
workers, Dr. Michael Harbut, former chair of the Occupational
and Environmental Medicine Section of the American College of
Chest Physicians, told the Detroit Free Press.

Harbut, of Royal Oak, has treated thousands of asbestos exposure
victims.

Bill Corchran, a spokesman for Connecticut-based W.R. Grace,
said he had no comment on the Dearborn investigation because he
was not familiar with the area.

In addition to the contaminated vermiculite ore, the company
used raw asbestos from Canada.

W.R. Grace, owner of the Libby mine and of the Dearborn plant,
"has provided a list of former workers, and we will be
attempting to contact them," Mark Johnson said, senior scientist
with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry, which is coordinating the probe, the report mentioned.

The Michigan Department of Community Health, which is conducting
the health assessment for the federal government, will send its
initial findings to the federal agency in February.

But T.J. Bucholz, department spokesman, would not release
details, or say how many workers may have been employed at the
Dearborn plant, the report said.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: JH Sees No Future Asbestos Liabilities
-----------------------------------------------------------
James Hardie, a dual-listed construction company, stated that
funds for further legal claims on asbestos-related illnesses
will not be forthcoming, according to a report from an article
in the website of Ethical Corporation.

The statement comes in response to a review conducted by the
Australian Medical Research and Compensation Foundation that
there were insufficient funds to cover existing and future
litigation, the article said.

The foundation was set up as an independent entity by JH in 2001
and provided with a fund pool of $A300 million.

A company statement said that, "there can be no legal basis on
which shareholders funds could be used to provide additional
funds to the foundation and the duties of the directors would
preclude them from doing so".

Since the early 1990's two Australian companies, JH and CSR have
been inundated with legal claims seeking compensation from
former employees and their families who argue that poor safety
standards allowed workers, mainly during the 1950's and 1960's,
to be exposed to large amounts of asbestos fiber without
adequate protection.

Exposure to asbestos dust can lead to fatal lung problems such
as emphysema, lung cancer and other illnesses, according to
independent studies.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Victim Gets GBP285,000 Asbestos Payout
-----------------------------------------------------------
Jim Guthrie, 52, a man with little more than a year to live has
won a record GBP285,000 in compensation after contracting cancer
through exposure to asbestos, the Independent reported.

The payout is said to be the highest of its type to someone who
is still alive. Legal cases normally take so long that the
victim is dead before payments can be made, according to the
report.

The compensation awarded to Mr. Guthrie signals a huge and
increasing bill for industry and its insurers as cases of
mesothelioma increase in the next two decades. The number of
people dying from the incurable disease, which can take between
30 and 40 years to develop, is expected to increase from 3,000 a
year to more than 10,000 in 15 to 20 years' time. Experts
predict that more than 160,000 people will die of the cancer
during the next 16 years.

Mr. Guthrie, a former British Gas manager who lives in
Edinburgh, contracted mesothelioma after breathing asbestos
fibers while an apprentice joiner in his teens working for the
St Cuthbert's Cooperative Society.

Married with a teenage son, Mr. Guthrie finds it difficult to
walk upstairs and will soon be forced to move house. He is
taking morphine to control the pain.

"I have accepted it and I live every day to the fullest I can,"
Mr. Guthrie told the Independent.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the union Unison, which
backed Mr. Guthrie, said the problem would increase rapidly.
"Jim's case is not unique: the true extent of damage caused by
asbestos exposure is a time bomb," the Independent reported


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Ameren Reports Latest on Asbestos Suits
------------------------------------------------------------
Ameren Corporation reports that the Company, UE, CIPS,  Genco
and CILCO, along with many other parties, continue to face many
asbestos-related lawsuits.

According to the Company's latest filing with the Securities and
Exchange Commission, most of the suits have been filed in the
Circuit Court of Madison County, Illinois. The total number of
defendants named in each case ranges from as many as 110 parties
to as few as six. The average number of parties is 60 co-
defendants in the cases that are currently pending.

The claims filed against Ameren, UE, CIPS, Genco and CILCO
allege injury from asbestos exposure during the plaintiffs'
activities at the electric-generating plants.  In the case of
CIPS, its former plants are now owned by Genco, and in the case
of CILCO, most of its former plants are now owned by AERG.  Each
lawsuit seeks unspecified damages in excess of $50,000, which,
if proved, typically would be shared among the named defendants.

Since the filing of the Ameren Companies' quarterly period ended
June 30, 2003, nine more asbestos-related lawsuits have been
filed against Ameren, UE and CIPS, mostly in the Circuit Court
of Madison County, Illinois and two cases have been settled.  

The following table presents the status of the asbestos-related
lawsuits that have been filed against the Ameren Companies as of
Oct. 31, 2003:

================================================================
                  Specifically Named as Defendant
---------------------------------------------------------------
               Total(a)  Ameren   UE     CIPS      Genco   CILCO
---------------------------------------------------------------
Filed....         173     14      116      66        2       13
Settled...         19      -       13       8        -        1
Dismissed...       63      -       48      20        -        1
Pending...         91     14       55      38        2       11
================================================================
Addition of the numbers in the individual columns does not equal
the total column because some of the lawsuits name multiple
Ameren entities as defendants, the filing noted.

Ameren, UE, CIPS, Genco and CILCO believe that the final
disposition of these proceedings will not have a material
adverse effect on their financial position, results of
operations or liquidity, the filing said.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Justice Department Files Asbestos Suit V. Firm
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Wisconsin Department of Justice files an environmental
enforcement lawsuit against a Bonduel business and seeks a court
order to force the Company to clean up asbestos contamination.

The suit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court, names Whitewater
Gresham Estates LLC and its principals, Russell Obermeier and
Daniel DeCaster, according to a Post-Crescent report.

Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager said the department is
seeking a court order requiring that the parties properly
dispose of the asbestos-contaminated debris resulting from their
demolition of the old Alexian Brothers Novitiate property on the
Red River last summer, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.

According to the complaint, which was filed at the request of
the Department of Natural Resources, asbestos-containing
material was not removed from the 182,000-square-foot building
before it was demolished May last year.

                 New Securities Fraud Cases

ADECCO SA: Federman & Sherwood Launches Securities Suit in NY
-------------------------------------------------------------
Federman & Sherwood, LLP initiated a securities class action in
the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New
York, on behalf of shareholders of Adecco common stock during
the period between March 16, 2000 and January 9, 2004,
inclusive.

The lawsuit alleges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5
thereby issuing a series of material misrepresentations to the
market between March 16, 2000 and January 9, 2004. Specifically
the complaint alleges that Adecco misrepresented the reasons for
the delay of its consolidated financial statements for the 2003
fiscal year.

For more information, contact: William B. Federman, by Mail: 120
N. Robinson, Suite 2720, Oklahoma City, OK  73102, by Phone:
(405) 235-1560, Fax: (405) 239-2112, or by E-mail:
wfederman@aol.com.


ADMINISTAFF INC.: Marc Henzel Lodges Securities Suit in S.D. TX
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices of Marc S. Henzel initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Texas, Houston Division, on behalf of purchasers of
Administaff, Inc. (NYSE: ASF) publicly traded securities during
the period between April 3, 2001 to July 31, 2002, inclusive.

The Complaint alleges that defendants violated Sections 10(b)
and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder, by issuing a series of material
misrepresentations to the market between April 3, 2001 and July
31, 2002, thereby artificially inflating the price of
Administaff securities.

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

     (1) that Administaff had inadequate and deficient pricing
         and billing systems and was incorrectly calibrating
         pricing for clients that experienced declines in
         average payroll cost per worksite employee;

     (2) that Administaff was incorrectly matching the price and
         cost for health insurance on new and renewing client
         contracts; and

     (3) that, in violation of Generally Accepted Accounting
         Practices and in order to retain its coveted place on
         the Fortune 500 listing, Administaff was improperly
         recognizing revenue by failing to net Administaff's
         worksite employee payroll costs against revenues.

On August 1, 2002, before the open of trading, Administaff
shocked the investing public when it released its financial and
operational results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2002,
reporting "a net loss and diluted net loss per share of $3.2
million and $0.11" as compared to Thomson Financial/First Call
estimates of $0.04 earnings per share.

Market reaction was swift and negative, with Administaff stock
falling from a close of $7.50 on July 31, 2002 to a close of
$4.20 on August 1, 2002, or a single-day decline of 44% in heavy
trading.

For more details, contact Marc S. Henzel by Mail: 273 Montgomery
Ave., Suite 202, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 by Phone: 610-660-8000 or
888-643-6735 by Fax: 610-660-8080 or by E-mail:
mhenzel182@aol.com      


ADVANCED MARKETING: Federman & Sherwood Files CA Stock Lawsuit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Federman & Sherwood, LLP initiated a securities class action in
the United States District Court for the Southern District of
California, on behalf of shareholders of Advanced Marketing
Services, Inc. common stock during the period between January
16, 1999 and January 13, 2004, inclusive.

The complaint alleges that defendants violated Sections 10(b)
and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5
thereby issuing a series of false and misleading
misrepresentations to the market during the class period thereby
artificially inflating the marketplace resulting in stock price
trading at artificially inflated levels. Specifically the
complaint alleges that Advanced Marketing erroneously stated net
income for the affected five (5) year period.

For more information, contact: William B. Federman, by Mail: 120
N. Robinson, Suite 2720, Oklahoma City, OK  73102, by Phone:
(405) 235-1560, Fax: (405) 239-2112, or by E-mail:
wfederman@aol.com.


ADVANCED MARKETING: Marc Henzel Commences Securities Suit in CA
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices of Marc S. Henzel initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of California on behalf of purchasers of Advanced
Marketing Services, Inc. (NYSE:MKT) between January 16, 1999 and
January 13, 2004, inclusive.

Defendant AMS is a wholesaler of general interest books.
Defendants include AMS, Michael Nicita and Edward Leonard.  The
Complaint charges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10-b(5).

The Complaint alleges that Defendants issued a series of false
and misleading statements to the investing community regarding
the financial status of the Company.  On January 14, 2004, AMS
announced that it would restate its previously filed financial
statements for the fiscal years in the five-year period ended
March 31, 2003.  

The restatement relates primarily to the timing and
quantification of recognition of revenue and reversal of accrued
liabilities. The effect of the restatement currently is expected
to be a total reduction to cumulative net income for the five-
year period of between approximately $3.0 million and $9.0
million.

For more details, contact Marc S. Henzel by Mail: 273 Montgomery
Ave., Suite 202, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 by Phone: 610-660-8000 or
888-643-6735 by Fax: 610-660-8080 or by E-mail:
mhenzel182@aol.com


ADVANCED MARKETING: Charles Piven Launches Securities Suit in CA
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a securities
class action in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of California, on behalf of shareholders who
purchased, converted, exchanged or otherwise acquired the common
stock of Advanced Marketing Services, Inc. between January 16,
1999 and January 13, 2004, inclusive, against defendant AMS and
certain of its senior officers.

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, P.A., 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.


ADVANCED MARKETING: Paskowitz & Associates Files Lawsuit in CA
--------------------------------------------------------------
Paskowitz & Associates initiated a class action lawsuit in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of
California, on behalf of purchasers of Advanced Marketing
Services Inc. common stock between January 16, 1999 and January
13, 2004, inclusive.

The complaint alleges that certain Advanced Marketing senior
officers, and the Company, violated the Securities Exchange Act
of 1934.

During the Class Period, Defendants are alleged to have issued
or caused to be issued a series of false and misleading
statements to the marketplace resulting in Advanced Marketing's
stock price trading at artificially inflated levels. The
Company's stock traded as high as $25.00 during the relevant
period. On January 14, 2004, the Company announced that it would
restate its previously filed financial statements for each of
the fiscal years in the five-year period ending March 31, 2003.
The false and misleading statements allegedly concern the
Company's net income, advertising revenue and related costs.
Plaintiff seeks to recover damages on behalf of class members
and is represented by Paskowitz & Associates, which has
significant experience and expertise in prosecuting class
actions on behalf of investors and shareholder in state and
federal courts.

For more information, contact Paskowitz & Associates, by Phone:
1-800-705-9529 toll free, or by E-mail: classattorney@aol.com.


AMERICAN PHYSICIANS: Marc Henzel Commences Securities Suit in MI
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices of Marc S. Henzel initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the Western
District of Michigan on behalf of purchasers of the securities
of American Physicians Capital, Inc. (Nasdaq: ACAP) between
February 13, 2003 and November 6, 2003, inclusive.  Notice was
published in The New York Times on January 3, 2004.

The Complaint alleges that defendants AP Capital Inc., William
B. Cheeseman and Frank H. Freund violated Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder.  More specifically, the Complaint
alleges that defendants failed to disclose and indicate:

     (1) that the Company's provisions for loss reserves were
         inadequate;

     (2) that defendants failed to sufficiently increase the
         Company's loss reserves during the Class Period; and

     (3) as a result of the foregoing, the Company's operating
         results, an important metric used to value the
         Company's financial performance, were overstated at all
         relevant times.

On November 6, 2003, AP Capital shocked the market when it
issued a press release announcing that its earnings release
scheduled for that afternoon will be delayed until Wednesday,
November 12, 2003 after the market closes.  The Company further
stated that it expects to announce a "substantial net loss" for
the quarter due to significant adjustments in reserves for
policy losses.  The additional reserves are expected to
approximate $43 million, before taxes ($28 million, net of tax).

In addition, as a result of the net loss, the Company expects
that, for the foreseeable future, it will not be able to report
the deferred tax asset that results from its accumulated net
operating losses and other timing differences. This will require
the Company to incur a non-cash charge of approximately $50
million to establish a valuation allowance in order to eliminate
the deferred tax asset.  The Company also said it will
discontinue offering workers' compensation and health care
insurance, which account for about 30 percent of its premiums.
Upon this news, shares of the Company's stock fell 37%, or
$10.34 per share, to close at $17.41 per share on extremely high
trading volume.

For more details, contact Marc S. Henzel by Mail: 273 Montgomery
Ave., Suite 202, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 by Phone: 610-660-8000 or
888-643-6735 by Fax: 610-660-8080 or by E-mail:
mhenzel182@aol.com     


BLUE RHINO: Marc Henzel Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in C.D. CA
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices of Marc S. Henzel initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the Central
District of California on behalf of purchasers of Blue Rhino
Corporation (Nasdaq: RINO) securities during the period between
August 15, 2002 and February 5, 2003.

The complaint charges Blue Rhino and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934.  The complaint alleges that each of the defendants is
liable as a participant in a fraudulent scheme and course of
business that operated as a fraud or deceit on purchasers of
Blue Rhino securities by disseminating materially false and
misleading statements and/or concealing material adverse facts.
The scheme:

     (1) deceived the investing public regarding Blue Rhino's
         business, operations, management and the intrinsic
         value of Blue Rhino common stock;

     (2) enabled defendants to acquire over $30 million in
         assets, purchased using artificially inflated Blue
         Rhino shares, to refinance debt upon more favorable
         terms with its lenders;

     (3) allowed defendants to sell $15.79 million worth of
         Company common stock in a private placement, as well as
         register over $23.8 million in shares of common stock
         for large shareholders that had entered into a private
         equity deal the prior year; and

     (4) caused plaintiff and other members of the Class to
         purchase Blue Rhino securities at artificially inflated
         prices.

For more details, contact Marc S. Henzel by Mail: 273 Montgomery
Ave., Suite 202, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 by Phone: 610-660-8000 or
888-643-6735 by Fax: 610-660-8080 or by E-mail:
mhenzel182@aol.com      


GILEAD SCIENCES: Marc Henzel Lodges Securities Suit in N.D. CA
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices of Marc S. Henzel initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of California on behalf of purchasers of Gilead
Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) securities during the period July
14, 2003 and October 28, 2003, inclusive.  The case is pending
against the Company and:

     (1) John C. Martin,

     (2) John F. Milligan,

     (3) Mark L. Perry,

     (4) Norbert W. Bischofberger,

     (5) Anthony Carraciolo, and

     (6) William A. Lee

The complaint charges Gilead and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated by
the SEC.  The complaint alleges that in an effort to allow
Gilead insiders to sell their Gilead stock at artificially
inflated prices, defendants falsely represented that strong
sales of Viread, the Company's HIV drug, during the second
quarter of 2003 was due to an increase in prescriptions and not,
as some analysts had cautioned, due to inventory build-up by
distributors stocking up ahead of a price increase.

Such statements were materially false and misleading because, as
defendants knew or recklessly disregarded, a material portion of
the second quarter Viread sales were attributable to
distributors stocking up ahead of a price increase.  Gilead
insiders sold a total of 303,981 shares in August 2003 at
artificially inflated prices, reaping gross proceeds of
$19,365,998.

On October 28, 2003, Gilead announced that sales of Viread in
the third quarter of 2003 would be materially less than expected
because distributors would meet end-user demand for Viread by
selling off overstock they accumulated in the second quarter. In
reaction to this announcement, the price of Gilead common stock
plummeted, falling $7.46 in one day, from a close of $59.46 per
share on October 28, 2003 to $52 per share on October 29, 2003.

For more details, contact Marc S. Henzel by Mail: 273 Montgomery
Ave., Suite 202, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 by Phone: 610-660-8000 or
888-643-6735 by Fax: 610-660-8080 or by E-mail:
mhenzel182@aol.com      
     

IBIS TECHNOLOGY: Federman & Sherwood Files Securities Suit in MA
----------------------------------------------------------------
Federman & Sherwood, LLP initiated a securities class action in
the United States District Court for the District of
Massachusetts, on behalf of shareholders of IBIS Technology
Corporation common stock during the period between October 2,
2003 and December 12, 2003, inclusive.

The lawsuit alleges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder, by issuing a series of material
misrepresentations to the market between October 2, 2003 and
December 12, 2003.

For more information, contact: William B. Federman, by Mail: 120
N. Robinson, Suite 2720, Oklahoma City, OK  73102, by Phone:
(405) 235-1560, Fax: (405) 239-2112, or by E-mail:
wfederman@aol.com.


PRICESMART INC.: Marc Henzel Lodges Securities Suit in S.D. CA
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices of Marc S. Henzel initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of California on behalf of purchasers of PriceSmart,
Inc. (Nasdaq: PSMT) publicly traded securities during the period
between December 20, 2001 through November 7, 2003, inclusive.

The complaint charges PriceSmart, Gilbert A. Partida, and Allan
C. Youngberg with violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder, by issuing a series of material misrepresentations
to the market between December 20, 2001 and November 7, 2003.

More specifically, the complaint alleges that the defendants'
statements were materially false and misleading because they
failed to disclose and/or misrepresented the following adverse
facts:

     (1) that the Company had materially overstated its net
         income and earnings per share;

     (2) that the Company had materially overstated its net
         warehouse sales;

     (3) that the Company's financial results were in violation
         of GAAP;

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

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

On November 10, 2003, before the markets opened, the Company
shocked the market by announcing that it would be restating its
financial results for fiscal year 2002 and the first three
quarters of fiscal year 2003. The market reacted swiftly to this
news, with the Company's stock falling more than 9% to close at
$8.34 per share on November 10, 2003

For more details, contact Marc S. Henzel by Mail: 273 Montgomery
Ave., Suite 202, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 by Phone: 610-660-8000 or
888-643-6735 by Fax: 610-660-8080 or by E-mail:
mhenzel182@aol.com


RYLAND GROUP: Federman & Sherwood Files Securities Suit in TX
--------------------------------------------------------------
Federman & Sherwood, LLP initiated a securities class action in
the United States District Court for the Northern District of
Texas, on behalf of shareholders of Ryland Group, Inc. common
stock during the period between October 22, 2003 and January 7,
2004, inclusive.

The lawsuit alleges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5
thereby issuing a series of material misrepresentations to the
market between October 22, 2003 and January 7, 2004.
Specifically the complaint alleges that Ryland shocked the
market on January 8, 2004 by announcing that new orders for the
fourth quarter had decreased 8.9%.

For more information, contact: William B. Federman, by Mail: 120
N. Robinson, Suite 2720, Oklahoma City, OK  73102, by Phone:
(405) 235-1560, Fax: (405) 239-2112, or by E-mail:
wfederman@aol.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 2004.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
publication in any form (including e-mail forwarding, electronic
re-mailing and photocopying) is strictly prohibited without
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Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed
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