CAR_Public/040129.mbx           C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R
  
          Thursday, January 29, 2004, Vol. 6, No. 20

                       Headlines                            

ANTI-PSYCHOTIC DRUGS: Groups Issue Side Effects, Risk Warning
BBK ENTERPRISES INC: Recalls 630 Tree Climbers For Injury Hazard
BELLSOUTH CORPORATION: Judge Dismisses Antitrust Lawsuit In FL
CANADA: Lawyer Asks Sexually-Abused Sea Cadets To Join Lawsuit
CINCINNATI LIFE: To Pay $1M To Settle Burial Policy Lawsuit

CITIGROUP INC.: FL Couple Files Securities Fraud Lawsuit In NY
CONNECTICUT: State Court Grants Certification To Back Taxes Suit
DAIMLERCHRYSLER: Court Denies Certification Of 'Mini-Van' Suit
FARMERS INSURANCE: AC Affirms Certification Of Overtime Lawsuit
FLORIDA: Lee County Impact Fees Suit Moves To Trial in FL Court

GLOBAL CROSSING: Underwriters Commence Suit For Accounting Fraud
HEALTHSOUTH CORPORATION: Ex-CEO Eyes Grand Jury In Fraud Lawsuit
HEPATITIS C: Pact Deemed Final As 30-Day Protest Period Passes
HOLOCAUST LITIGATION: Mengele Survivors Relate Unknown Suffering   
JC PENNEY: Appeals Court Upholds Severance Plan Suit Dismissal

JENNY CRAIG: Reaches Pact With Vegetarians In 'Labeling' Lawsuit
MARTHA STEWART: Judge Seats 12-Member Jury For Securities Trial
MASSACHUSETTS: High Court Refuses Injunction To Stop MCAS Exam
MASTERCARD: Wal-Mart Stores To Stop Accepting Firm's Debit Cards
MICROSOFT CORPORATION: To Settle NC Suit With $89.2M In Vouchers

MISSISSIPPI: Appeals Court Upholds Desegregation Pact Approval
PUTNAM FUNDS: Arbitrator To Decide On Compensation For Ex-Chief
SCG MIYAIRI: Recalls Liquid Propane OPD Valves For Fire Hazard
TELXON CORPORATION: Fairness Hearing Set February 12, 2004 in OH
TV AZTECA: Shareholders File Securities Fraud Lawsuit in S.D. NY

VANS INC.: Labels Suit as "Factually Incorrect, Without Merit"
WORLDCOM INC.: Ex-Finance Chief's Trial Postponed To April 7

                  New Securities Fraud Cases  

AMERICAN BUSINESS: Brian Felgoise Launches Securities Suit in PA
BIOPURE CORPORATION: Lead Plaintiff Motion Deadline Set March 1
BIOPURE CORPORATION: Kaplan Fox Commences Securities Suit in MA
DEUTSCHE BANK: Cauley Geller Launches Securities Suit in S.D. NY
MICROMUSE INC.: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Suit in N.D. CA

NETWORK ENGINES: Schatz & Nobel Lodges Securities Lawsuit in MA
REDBACK NETWORKS: Schatz & Nobel Launches Securities Suit in CA
ROYAL DUTCH: Wechsler Harwood Files Securities Fraud Suit in NJ
SECURITY BROKERAGE: Stull Stull Files Securities Suit in S.D. NY
TV AZTECA: Brian Felgoise Files Securities Fraud Suit in S.D. NY

TV AZTECA: Brodsky & Smith Lodges Securities Lawsuit in S.D. NY
TV AZTECA: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in S.D. NY

                         *********


ANTI-PSYCHOTIC DRUGS: Groups Issue Side Effects, Risk Warning
-------------------------------------------------------------
In the February issue of the journal Diabetes Care, four medical
societies say that people taking certain drugs for
schizophrenia, manic-depression, autism, dementia or several
other psychiatric disorders should be carefully watched for
signs they are developing diabetes, obesity or high cholesterol,
the Associated Press reports.

The recommendation, released Tuesday, from the American Diabetes
Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the North
American Association for the Study of Obesity, and the American
Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, follows recent studies
that link those potential side effects to certain anti-psychotic
drugs.  The statement deals with six now available in the United
States: Abilify, Clozaril, Geodon, Risperdal, Seroquel and
Zyprexa.

The medications differ in their risks of promoting the various
side effects, the statement says.  So a patient who develops a
problem with one drug can be gradually switched over to another
drug with less potential for that problem.  For example, a
switchover should be considered if a patient has a weight gain
of 5 percent or more, the statement says.  Obesity and diabetes,
like high cholesterol, raise a person's risk of heart disease.

The recommendation says doctors should screen patients before
starting them on such a drug or as soon as possible afterward,
noting such things as a history of obesity and diabetes in the
patient and the family, and the patient's weight, blood pressure
and cholesterol levels.  Doctors should also monitor the patient
once therapy has begun.

Patients and family members should be informed of the potential
for the side effects, and be told of signs of diabetes and
especially those of a life-threatening complication called
diabetic ketoacidosis, the statement says.  That complication is
marked by such symptoms as weight loss, nausea, vomiting, rapid
breathing and dehydration.  That complication has appeared in
some people using anti-psychotics, and it was an early tip-off
that the drugs might be linked to diabetes.


BBK ENTERPRISES INC: Recalls 630 Tree Climbers For Injury Hazard
----------------------------------------------------------------
BBK Enterprises Inc., of San Antonio, Texas, in cooperation with
the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), is
voluntarily recalling 630 BBK 10010 Tree Climbers since the
steel back brace on the tree climber can weaken and fail, posing
a serious injury hazard to the user.  There have been no reports
of incidents or injuries relating to this product.

The recalled BBK Tree Climbers have a model number of BBK 10010,
which can be found on the outside of the box. The climber, which
is primarily used by hunters, has a 2-piece climbing stand with
a green powder coat finish, a camouflage padded seat and an
expanded metal platform. A yellow warning label on the climber
has BBK's name, address, and phone number printed on it.

The tree climbers, manufactured in China, were sold at Hunting
gear retailers and distributors nationwide, including Mattoon
Rural King Supply, Johnston Seed, Everharts Sporting Goods and
Sportsradein, sold the tree climbers between August 2003 and
October 2003 for about $90. The recalled units were also sold on
the BBK Enterprises Web site: www.bbkhuntingsystems.com.

Consumers are urged to stop using these climbers immediately and
call BBK or the retail store to return the units and receive
reimbursement.

For more information, contact BBK at (800) 228-4846 between 8
a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or log on to their Web
site at www.bbkhuntingsystems.com.


BELLSOUTH CORPORATION: Judge Dismisses Antitrust Lawsuit In FL
--------------------------------------------------------------
U.S. District Judge Alan Gold dismissed a lawsuit against
BellSouth Corporation, alleging that the Company broke antitrust
law by illegally requiring customers seeking high-speed DSL
lines to buy its local phone service, the Associated Press
reports.

The lawsuit, filed last year, sought to band together customers
in a class action in the nine Southern states where BellSouth
provides 85 percent of local phone service and 80 percent of the
fast digital phone lines.  The suit claimed the dual-service
requirement artificially raised the market price for local
service and helped BellSouth maintain a monopoly.  Under state
regulations, existing DSL customers can switch to a different
local provider if the company has an agreement in place with
BellSouth.

Judge Gold ruled that the customers lacked legal standing to
pursue the lawsuit and failed to state any valid legal claims
against the Baby Bell, AP reports.  After-hours calls to
BellSouth and the customers' attorneys were not immediately
returned.


CANADA: Lawyer Asks Sexually-Abused Sea Cadets To Join Lawsuit
--------------------------------------------------------------
A lawyer is asking all victims of sexual abuse on the HMCS
Discovery in Stanley Park to join the class action he filed
against the Canadian federal government, the Vancouver Sun
reports.

The suit alleges the government set up the sea cadet program but
didn't properly monitor it.  Last week a B.C. Supreme Court
judge certified the lawsuit.

Lawyer Robert Gibbens told the Sun that police have interviewed
about 50 victims, and estimated that the actual number of boys
abused between 1967 and 1977 could be as high as 200.  

"A lot of these individuals may not be inclined to launch an
individual action, and it's somewhat easier for them to get into
a class action," Mr. Gibbens said.  "A lot of these individuals
really right now lead quiet lives of desperation because they
are not employed or they've had a very desultory earning history
because of this abuse when they were children . they just have a
difficulty adjusting to present-day life."

"We've got to go against the federal government for systemic
negligence. They were the ones that set it up, they failed to
monitor and control this (program) over a 10-year period," Mr.
Gibbens continued.  "These people who were responsible for the
sea cadets at that particular time were basically surrogate
parents."

Mr. Gibbens told the Sun he wanted the message about the suit
out across Canada.  He intends to publish notices in newspapers
about the proceeding.  The amount of money targeted for each
victim will depend on pain and suffering, and other factors such
as wage loss.  If the plaintiffs are successful, the total
amount of damages could be very large.

The government, which denies the allegations, has since named
several former officers as third parties to the suit, including
Conrad Sundman and Ralph Bremner, both of whom have been
convicted of sexually assaulting several sea cadets, who were
generally between the ages of 13 and 17 when they were abused.


CINCINNATI LIFE: To Pay $1M To Settle Burial Policy Lawsuit
-----------------------------------------------------------
Cincinnati Life Insurance Co. reached a $1 million settlement
for the class action filed against it, claiming a company it
bought charged blacks more for burial insurance, the Associated
Press reports.

The suit alleges that Inter-Ocean Insurance Co. charged blacks
an average of 16.5 percent more than whites between 1947 and
1968.  Cincinnati Life acquired Inter-Ocean in 1973.

Under the settlement announced by state insurance officials,
about 8,000 black customers or their descendants could collect
at least $25 for each policy.  Those who still have active
policies or who already were paid death benefits could receive
up to an additional $75.  The agreement also includes a $100,000
administrative fine and $116,751 to cover the cost of Ohio's
investigation, AP reports.


CITIGROUP INC.: FL Couple Files Securities Fraud Lawsuit In NY
--------------------------------------------------------------
Law firm Babbitt, Johnson, Osborne & LeClainche, P.A., announced
that it has filed a lawsuit against Citigroup and its Salomon
Smith Barney brokerage for fraud and outrageous conduct on
behalf of a retired Palm Beach County couple who lost their life
savings on WorldCom, Business Wire reports.

As WorldCom and MCI investors face a Feb. 20 deadline to opt out
of a class action suit against Citibank and Citigroup Global
Markets, Inc. (formerly Salomon Smith Barney), the Jupiter
couple filed the suit independently of the class action.

Jack and Elaine Holtsberg said they lost money by relying on
favorable statements from former Salomon telecommunications
analyst Jack Grubman in prominent financial publications, even
as the stock was collapsing. Mr. Holtsberg is a retired salesman
for a Miami television station, and Mrs. Holtsberg works as a
substitute teacher and personal assistant to an older couple in
Palm Beach County.

Theodore Babbitt, the West Palm Beach attorney retained by the
plaintiff, said the suit is a sharp departure from previous
suits and stands to affect anyone who invested in WorldCom by
relying on Grubman's advice in the financial media. "This suit
stands for the proposition that anyone who bought WorldCom stock
and lost money potentially has a right to sue Salomon Smith
Barney," said Babbitt, a partner at the West Palm Beach
plaintiff's firm Babbitt, Johnson, Osborne & LeClainche, P.A.
"Anyone who read and believed the statements of Jack Grubman and
acted on that belief is a potential claimant. This same
principle could apply to investors in Enron, Global Crossing and
other stocks. We intend to recover not only the value of Mr.
Holtsberg's stock at its height, but punitive damages at an
appropriate time."

The 24-page, six-count suit says Mr. Holtsberg made investment
decisions relying on Grubman's statements in Fortune Magazine,
Forbes Magazine, Smart Money, Business Week and the Wall Street
Journal, all publications to which he subscribed.

The suit is being filed independently of the Citigroup Salomon
class action suit in U.S. District Court in New York, where
WorldCom investors face a Feb. 20 deadline to opt out of the
class action. Those who fail to opt out of the class action in
U.S. District Court in New York by that date will automatically
be included in the class action and therefore cannot pursue
individual claims.

"Class action claimants usually receive only pennies on the
dollar for their original investments," said Babbitt Johnson
partner Joseph Osborne, who is also representing the Holtsbergs.

The suit documents Mr. Grubman's touting the stock even in the
midst of its collapse on NASDAQ in 2000. The suit further
documents the interlocking business relationships among
Citigroup President Sanford Weill, WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebers,
and Grubman, who served as an advisor and analyst for WorldCom
in acquisitions and as a participant in board and subcommittee
meetings. According to the suit, Salomon earned $343 million
from telecom investment banking fees in 1998 alone, when the
brokerage gave Mr. Grubman a compensation package of $25 million
a year. "Grubman was not an independent or objective analyst but
rather a materially and knowingly conflicted analyst," the suit
says.

The suit is far broader than another suit filed in August 2003
by the Babbitt firm on behalf of Anthony Amodio, a retired
employee of MCI (now WorldCom) who was a Salomon Smith Barney
customer. (Amodio v. Citigroup, Inc., et al., Fifteenth Judicial
Circuit, Palm Beach County, Fl., Case No. 502003 CA 008635,
Judge Arthur Wroble). Unlike Mr. Amodio, the Holtsbergs were
neither WorldCom employees nor Salomon customers. In June 2002,
regulators charged WorldCom Inc., with fraud after MCI WorldCom
admitted to hiding nearly $4 billion in costs. WorldCom stock
fell to an all-time low of a few cents from its high of $60.

In late 2003, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in New York
certified a class action suit against MCI, (formerly WorldCom)
and Citigroup Global Markets, granting class status to anyone
who bought publicly traded shares of WorldCom or MCI from April
29, 1999, to June 25, 2002.


CONNECTICUT: State Court Grants Certification To Back Taxes Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Connecticut Superior Court granted class certification to a
lawsuit filed against the city of New Haven and private
collection firm JER Revenue Services, on behalf of at least
2,500 delinquent taxpayers, the New Haven Register reports.

Chick's Drive-in owner Joseph E. Celentano filed the suit, which
involves a $33,111 collection fee that the city and JER Revenue
Services, which the city hired to collect back taxes, tacked
onto a $220,745 back tax bill dating back to 1987 on the Bowl
Drive-in movie theater property off Front Avenue and Route 1.  
Mr. Celentano is represented by Wallingford lawyer, Jennifer
Ranciato and New Haven lawyer, John R. Williams.

Superior Court Judge Richard Arnold granted certification to the
suit, saying that it met a number of key requirements to be
heard as a class action.

"The plaintiffs have satisfied their burden of establishing that
this case meets all requirements governing class certification,"
Judge Arnold wrote.  "The proposed class is certified as: All
persons, corporations, businesses and/or limited liability
companies who owned property and were taxpayers of the city of
West Haven at any time from July 10, 2002 and the present, as
set forth on appropriate grand lists for the subject time
periods."

"Mr Celentano, John Williams and I are pleased that the case has
been certified as a class action," Mr. Ranciato told the
Register.  "This will allow the taxpayers to get refunds of the
illegal and unconstitutional collection fees that the city and
JER have been charging."

"This is America, and the American dream involves working in
order to make money," he added.  "Neither the city nor JER
Revenue Services understand this. In fact, JER recently demanded
$10,086.51 for sending two letters and making a couple of phone
calls. The taxpayers know this is a scam and are not putting up
with it."

West Haven Corporation Counsel Michael Farrell said "none of the
issues changes as a result of class certification." "We believe
that this will work to everyone's advantage, because this will
finalize the issue once and for all, as far as everyone is
concerned," Mr. Farrell told the Register. "If it had only been
Lawrence Mall and the issue was decided, next year or the year
after, someone else could raise the issue. . This will put all
those claims to rest."


DAIMLERCHRYSLER: Court Denies Certification Of 'Mini-Van' Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania County
denied certification of lawsuit brought against DaimlerChrysler
Corporation, on behalf of Edward Solarz, and other min-van
owners, asserting breach of implied warranties, breach of
express warranty, breach of contract, breach of duty of good
faith and fair dealing, and violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair
Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act.

The Plaintiffs, Edward Solarz, Matthew Ginsburg, and Kathleen
Dolan seek to certify a  class of certain DaimlerChrysler
minivan owners, who between 1995 and 2000, purchased minivans
manufactured by DaimlerChrysler from their local dealerships.
Specifically, in 1995, Solarz purchased a 1996 Chrysler minivan
from D'Ambrosia Dodge in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and Ginsberg
purchased a 1996 Dodge Caravan from Cherry Hill Dodge, Cherry
Hill, New Jersey.  In 2000, the Dolans purchased a 2000 Dodge
Grand Caravan Sport from Frank C. Videon Dodge in Newtown
Square, Pennsylvania.

Soon after purchasing these vehicles, Plaintiffs discovered that
their minivans did not have a "park-brake interlock." The park-
brake interlock minimizes the chance that a vehicle will be
inadvertently moved because the gears are "locked" in the
"park" position unless the brake pedal is depressed. Although
the park-brake interlock was a standard feature on many
comparable minivans, DaimlerChrysler did not offer this feature
on the minivans purchased by Plaintiffs. On August 1, 2000, the
Dolans' parked minivan began to roll down the street after their
1 1/2 year old daughter accidentally shifted the minivan's
transmission from "park" into "drive." After their mechanic
informed them that their minivan lacked the park-brake
interlock, the Dolans' sought the help of their dealership.
However, they were told that the minivan could not be modified
to add a park-brake interlock. Despite their requests,
DaimlerChrysler did not modify the minivan.

In April 2001, the plaintiffs commenced this class action, and
seek to certify the class consisting of Pennsylvania residents
who purchased or leased a new Chrysler minivan from February 10,
1995 through the date the last new 2000 model Chrysler was sold
in Pennsylvania, and who continue to own or lease the
minivan.     


FARMERS INSURANCE: AC Affirms Certification Of Overtime Lawsuit
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Court of Appeals of New Mexico affirmed a ruling by the
District Court of Bernalillo County, granting class
certification of a lawsuit brought against Farmers Insurance
Exchange (FIE) and Marty Draper, on behalf of Robert Salcido,
Robert Zeissel, Barbara Boltrek, Gust Karmeris, Jr ., and James
Hruschak, et al., seeking to recover overtime payments for work
they performed as claims adjusters of the company.

In July 2001, Plaintiffs brought this action under NMSA 1978 of
the New Mexico Minimum Wage Act, seeking to recover overtime
payments for work they performed as claims adjusters for FIE.
Defendants represent that FIE is a reciprocal insurance exchange
company that sells insurance policies, collects insurance
premiums, and reinsures risks and invests premiums. FIE's sales
of insurance and reinsurance business appears to primarily
involve the adjustment and settlement of claims. The claims
adjusters who sought class certification held the titles of
personal lines claims representative, senior claims
representative, and special claims representative.
      
Before Plaintiffs brought this action, several other classes of
claims adjusters throughout the country were certified in
similar class action suits brought against FIE. Three months
after Plaintiffs initiated the case at bar, the class action
suits in Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico,
Oregon, and Washington were consolidated into one multi-district
litigation, by stipulation of the parties.

That action was bifurcated into two phases: liability and
damages. The classes in the MDL agreed to argue FIE's liability
under the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the overtime
laws of the seven states where the actions originated. Also as
part of the agreement, FIE stipulated to the certification of a
class composed of those claims adjusters who have worked in one
or more of the seven states during the class period, while
holding the titles of personal lines claims representatives,
senior claims representatives, and special claims
representatives. The parties further agreed to jointly submit a
proposed class certification order.
      
Soon after the MDL stipulation was approved, Plaintiffs in the
present action filed an emergency motion to certify their
proposed class, strike Defendants' response to the certification
motion, and to send notice to class members. Plaintiffs argued
that Defendants should be precluded from opposing class
certification based on FIE's stipulation in the MDL. Plaintiffs
stated that they were willing to accept the MDL class definition
even though it varied slightly from the definition they
originally proposed. Rejecting Plaintiffs' argument, the
district court concluded it had an obligation to evaluate the
proposed class under Rule 1-023(F) independent of Defendants'
stipulation in the MDL.
      
Following a hearing on the merits of the Plaintiffs' motion for
class certification, the district court certified a class
composed of personal lines claims representatives, senior claims
representative, and/or special claims representative who worked
for FIE while in New Mexico between September 17, 2000, and the
date the court approved notice to the class members is mailed.
In their application for interlocutory review of the class
certification, Defendants challenge certification of the class
on two grounds:

     (1) the district court improperly relied on the class  
         stipulation in the MDL without a separate finding that
         the Plaintiffs had satisfied each of the elements
         required under Rule 1-023; and

     (2) the named Plaintiffs are not members of the purported
         class they seek to represent.
      
Defendants seek approval of the application for appeal, arguing
that certification in this case was manifestly erroneous, will
make settlement inevitable, and that the Court's decision would
resolve an unsettled legal issue that is important to the
litigation and important in itself.


FLORIDA: Lee County Impact Fees Suit Moves To Trial in FL Court
---------------------------------------------------------------
The suit filed in Florida State Court over Lee County School
impact fees is headed to trial in March, the Bonita Daily News
reports.  

The fees are designed to offset the demand new growth places on
infrastructure.  Lee County collects the fees for fire and
emergency medical service, roads, parks and schools, with fees
totaling from $6,059 to $7,131, depending on the fire district.  
There is no statute authorizing impact fees.  Their collection
and use is governed only by case law produced by other
challenges.

The suit questions the methodologies of impact fee consultants
who have studied and supported impact fees across Florida, so
the ramifications could be felt statewide.  Lawyer for the
plaintiffs Jeff Garvin says he can show there's no justification
to collect the fees at all based on the cost of the
infrastructure and the high property taxes newly built property
owners typically pay, the Daily News reports.

Earlier this month, Judge James Seals appointed Mr. Garvin and
fellow plaintiffs' lawyer Ted Trippe to represent everyone who
has paid the fee - $2,232 for a single-family home - since
county commissioners created it at the beginning of 2002.  Any
of the nearly 9,000 who have paid the fee can opt out of the
suit, but Mr. Garvin said he expects 7,500 or so to join.

Assistant county attorney Tom Wright said the class status
ruling makes no difference to the arguments of the case.  The
plaintiffs should have asked for class status earlier, he told
the Bonita Daily News, and the case might not have dragged on
for two years.  "It's dragged on and dragged on," he said.  "We
filed a motion for trial May the year before last."

The lengthy case has included claims of a biased judge by the
county, claims Judge Seals and then an appeals court rejected.
The suit could have statewide ramifications, as other counties
look to impact fees to help meet the demands of growth.


GLOBAL CROSSING: Underwriters Commence Suit For Accounting Fraud
----------------------------------------------------------------
Global Crossing Ltd.'s founder and former chairman Gary Winnick
and other former top company officials faces a lawsuit filed in
the United States District Court in New York by the underwriters
of its $1 billion security offering in April 2000, Dow Jones
Business News reports.

In the suit, Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and
Merrill Lynch & Co. allege that the defendants, including Global
Crossing founder and former Chairman Winnick, should have known
about the firm's plot to misstate financial results.  The
underwriters asserted that they relied upon the signed
statements of Mr. Winnick, former Chief Financial Officer Dan J.
Cohrs, former Chief Operating Officer David L. Lee and other
former executives and directors in agreeing to facilitate the $1
billion preferred stock offering.

The Company and the underwriters were named as defendants in a
shareholder class action filed shortly after the Company's
filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2002.  Shareholders
allege that those signed statements attesting to the accuracy of
the company's books were false.

In their lawsuit, the underwriters argue that any fault lies
with the Global Crossing executives and directors they have
sued.  The underwriters deny any liability in the class action
suit, but if they are "found liable in that action, such
liability will have been caused by the actions or omissions" of
the Global Crossing officials, according to their new lawsuit.  
The suit seeks reimbursement from Winnick and the other former
officials if Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch are
ordered to pay damages in the class-action suit.  It also seeks
unspecified damages and legal costs beyond that conditional
reimbursement, Dow Jones reports.


HEALTHSOUTH CORPORATION: Ex-CEO Eyes Grand Jury In Fraud Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Former HealthSouth Chief Executive Officer Richard Scrushy asked
the court to make prosecutors reveal whether anyone linked to
the Company served on the grand jury that indicted him on fraud
charges, the Associated Press reports.

The request came as Mr. Scrushy awaits trial on charges that he
manipulated Company earnings by billions to meet Wall Street
forecasts.  He has pleaded innocent to the charges.  The trial
begins August 23, 2004.  The defense also filed several other
motions, including a demand that prosecutors point them to the
key documents that will be used during the trial.

According to Abbe Lowell, Mr. Scrushy's attorney, defense
attorneys are left to sort through more than 1 million paper
documents and thousands more in digital form that the government
has turned over. "We appreciate the government's thoroughness
but not at the expense of specificity," he told AP.

The defense also asked a judge to throw out an FBI recording of
Mr. Scrushy that was secretly made by former chief financial
officer William Owens and to explain its claims against Mr.
Scrushy in more detail.  In the event that Mr. Scrushy is
convicted, the defense asked that jurors be allowed to determine
how much of his money and assets the government should be
allowed to seize.

Mr. Lowell added letting someone with ties to the company serve
on the panel would amount to having an alleged victim sitting in
judgment of someone accused of a crime.  "This would be
fundamentally unfair," he said.

U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said, "These types of pleadings are
expected in criminal cases, and the United States will file its
written responses in the near future."  She declined further
comment, AP reports.


HEPATITIS C: Pact Deemed Final As 30-Day Protest Period Passes
--------------------------------------------------------------
The $25 million settlement of a class action over the exposure
of hundreds of patients to Hepatitis C is deemed final after a
30-day period to oppose it passed without protest, the
Associated Press reports.

The suit was filed on behalf of 65 former patients of a pain
management clinic who developed hepatitis C after nurse
anesthetist James Hill reused needles and syringes to inject
intravenous pain medication into the patients' IVs.  The suit
also names as defendants:

     (1) Norman Regional Hospital which housed the pain
         management clinic attended by the patients,

     (2) Dr. Jerry Lewis, the clinic's operator,

     (3) Oklahoma City-based Northwest Surgical Center, and

     (4) the Oklahoma Center for Orthopedic and Multi-Specialty
         Surgery

Under the settlement, patients will get $332,500 apiece, while a
man who became ill will receive $710,000.  Others who tested
positive for hepatitis B will receive varying amounts and 754
who tested negative will get $625 each.  Five attorneys who were
appointed by the court as the plaintiffs' co-counsel will divvy
up 3 percent of the $25 million settlement, or $750,000.

"The final order lays out the process and procedure to verify
those plaintiffs entitled to a part of the global settlement,"
said Cleveland County District Judge William Hetherington, who
presided over the class action that included 1,234 plaintiffs,
AP reports.  Because no appeals were filed, the lawsuit is
considered "in judgment, which means it's been disposed of," he
said.


HOLOCAUST LITIGATION: Mengele Survivors Relate Unknown Suffering   
----------------------------------------------------------------
Several victims have come forward in written testimonies
relating to a settlement with victims of the Holocaust,
revealing that they were tortured under the guise of scientific
research, the Associated Press reports.

A few testimonies submitted to a settlement committee in the
last year will be released on Monday, Gideon Taylor, executive
vice president of the Conference on Jewish Materials Claims
Against Germany, told AP.  So far, 1,778 Jewish victims of Nazi
medical experiments from 33 countries have responded.

Elizabeth Fried, 88, revealed that she survived eight months at
the hands of Dr. Josef Mengele and other Nazis.  She said Dr.
Mengele included her in his experiments for eight months in 1944
because she was a twin.  In her testimony, she said the
experiments took away her ability to have children. "Dr. Mengele
took blood often and gave me injections. He never looked me in
the eye. I also had to clean and cook for him as if I were his
maid," she wrote, AP reports.

Another 73-year-old woman, who remained anonymous, asserted that
Dr. Mengele injected her with drugs and chemicals or where "they
made cuts into my body and left the wounds open for them to
study."  "I was used as a guinea pig for medical experiments,"
she writes, AP reports.  At another point, she says, "As bad as
the experiments were, without them I would not be here today to
write this."

Their stories, told to Jewish groups dispersing money from
Holocaust court settlements, prove that thousands more were
tortured under the guise of scientific research than previously
thought.  "We certainly didn't expect this number," Mr. Taylor
said of the 1,778 who responded, many noting that they were less
interested in the $5,400 payouts that will begin getting mailed
this week than in having their stories known, AP reports.  

He said such a large number of people making claims indicates
there were thousands more who either died during the experiments
or have died in the years since.  "Our knowledge has been
significantly broadened," he said.

In submissions likely to change the way history books chronicle
one of the worst horrors of the Holocaust, several victims have
agreed to let their names be released.  Among those was Polish-
born U.S. resident Hyman Turenshine, 76, who said he remained
silent for years about the sterilization experiments he
underwent in Auschwitz in 1944 - but was motivated to speak out
by those who suggest the Holocaust never occurred.  Written
statements by Mr. Turenshine and others who are speaking out
will be given to Holocaust institutions, including the United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

"Every day when I go to wash or shave, I look down at the number
tattooed on my arm and am reminded and haunted by everything
that happened," Mr. Turenshine said, according to AP.  "The
payment isn't what's important to me. Instead, our stories need
to become part of a permanent historical record."


JC PENNEY: Appeals Court Upholds Severance Plan Suit Dismissal
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
affirmed a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Western
District of Pennsylvania granting Summary Judgment, in favor of
the Defendant, of a lawsuit brought against The J.C. Penney
Company, on behalf of Plaintiff Joseph R. Lettrich, et al., over
a Separation Allowance Program which Defendant terminated in
1993.

In 1998, Mr. Lettrich filed suit against J.C. Penney in the
United States District Court for the Western District of
Pennsylvania pursuant to 502(a)(1)(B) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C.
1132(a)(1)(B), on behalf of himself and others similarly
situated.  He contended that the Company's attempt to notify
participants of the termination of the Plan failed to satisfy
ERISA's notice and disclosure requirements set forth in 29
U.S.C. 1024(b)(1)(B) and 29 C.F.R. 2520.104b-1(b)(1).  He also
contended that his benefits under the Plan were vested and
therefore survived the termination of the plan.

The District Court adopted the Magistrate Judge's Amended Report
and Recommendation as the opinion of the court. Accordingly, the
District Court held that the disclosure in the Proxy Statement
J.C. Penney sent to Mr. Lettrich was legally sufficient notice
of the Plan's termination.  After the District Court granted
summary judgment in favor of J.C. Penney, Mr. Lettrich appealed
to this Court.



JENNY CRAIG: Reaches Pact With Vegetarians In 'Labeling' Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Superior Court of the State of California, San Diego County
announced that a preliminary settlement has been reached in the
lawsuit brought against Jenny Craig International, Inc. et al.,
on behalf of Mohini Sarin, Shobhana Sarin, and other vegetarians
who purchased "Vegetarian" or "Meatless" Sample Packages from
Jenny Craig, or any item listed on Jenny Craig's "Vegetarain" or
"Meatless" Menu, during the period January 1, 1998 to present.

The lawsuit alleges that Jenny Craig improperly labeled certain
food products as "vegetarian" or "meatless". Plaintiffs allege
that this practice constituted an unfair, unlawful, or
fraudulent business practice, deceptive trade practice, and
false and misleading advertising.

Pursuant to the settlement, Jenny Craig will:

     (1) reformulate certain products so that effective May
         2004, the products on the "Meatless" Menu will be free
         of certain enzymes and other ingredients that may, in
         some cases, be derived from butchered animals;

     (2) starting in May 2004, offer to clients who introduce
         themselves as vegetarians, and who object to consuming
         animal gelatin, an alternative source of vitamins, and;

     (3) offer a coupon in the vegetarian publication for a 25%
         discount on any one-time food purchase between $50 and
         $100 for all current or returning customers.

A final settlement hearing will be held on February 27, 2004.

For more information, contact Elizabeth S. Balfour, by Mail:
12544 High Bluff Drive, Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92130-3051.


MARTHA STEWART: Judge Seats 12-Member Jury For Securities Trial
---------------------------------------------------------------
U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum has seated the 12-
member jury in the Martha Stewart criminal trial, after days of
questioning, Reuters reports.  The jury, composed of eight women
and four men, will now sit behind closed doors as the parties in
the suit try to weed out those with strong biases.  Six
alternates were also selected.

Among the members of the jury were a minister who counsels
married couples, a computer technician and a pharmacist born in
Uganda.  Also included are a translator, a woman who recently
sued her dry cleaner for damages over an antique dress, an
events planner whose husband knows high-profile technology
analyst Mary Meeker, and a man who blames the Enron scandal for
losses in his mutual fund.

They will decide whether the lifestyle trendsetter and her
former Merrill Lynch & Co. broker Peter Bacanovic obstructed an
investigation and lied to investigators with regard to her sale
of shares of ImClone Systems stock just before ImClone shares
dropped on news that the FDA had rejected a key drug
application.  ImClone founder Sam Waksal is Ms. Stewart's
friend.  

Judge Cedarbaum, just before impaneling the jury, issued an
order blocking Ms. Stewart's defense team from arguing that she
is being prosecuted because of her celebrity and that she was
exercising her right to free speech when she publicly proclaimed
her innocence.  The judge, in a further blow to the defense
team, also said Ms. Stewart's lawyers cannot ask jurors to
speculate why prosecutors did not bring insider trading charges
against Ms. Stewart.

Lawyers were expected to make opening statements on Tuesday in
the highly anticipated trial, which will be held four days a
week and will likely last a month, Reuters reports.  The third
witness on their list is also one of the most crucial; Douglas
Faneuil, Mr. Bacanovic's former assistant at Merrill Lynch.  Mr.
Faneuil, who could take the stand as early as this week, has
pleaded guilty in the case and is cooperating with prosecutors.  
He is expected to contradict Ms. Stewart and Mr. Bacanovic about
the reasons behind the sale of ImClone stock when he takes the
stand.


MASSACHUSETTS: High Court Refuses Injunction To Stop MCAS Exam
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts denied a request for
an injunction to stop the state from giving the Massachusetts
Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam, pending the outcome
of a class action filed against it, the Boston Globe reports.

The suit, filed on behalf of several students, alleges the test
unfairly discriminates against minority, special education, and
other students who have not been adequately prepared for the
exam.  The plaintiffs seek to have the test abolished.  

The court ruled that an injunction "would undermine educator
accountability and hinder education reform."  The ruling,
however, did not faze the plaintiffs' lawyers, who said the
ruling was a minor setback.  The ruling only dealt with a small
portion of the case, and lawyers for the students told the Globe
they are not abandoning their efforts to have the MCAS declared
unconstitutional.

"The case is very much alive," attorney David Godkin told the
Globe.  "The plaintiffs fully intend to press forward with all
their claims that the test has and continues to violate the
constitutional rights of students."

Meanwhile, state officials are hailing the decision as a sign of
more favorable rulings for MCAS.  "This historic decision
ensures that no student will ever again graduate from a
Massachusetts public school without the fundamental skills
needed to succeed in this country," state education Commissioner
David P. Driscoll said in a statement, The Globe reports.

The High court also rejected the plaintiffs' appeal of a lower
court's April 2003 decision, refusing to stop the state
Department of Education from denying diplomas to seniors who
have not passed the 10th-grade exam.  The plaintiffs argued that
officials are violating the intent of the 1993 Education Reform
Act because the test focuses too narrowly on English and math.

The High Court ruled that MCAS legislation gave state officials
discretion to phase in subjects such as history and science "in
a reasonable manner and on a reasonable timetable."  In
addition, the ruling said, state officials "could properly
conclude that a student should have competence in `reading,
writing, and arithmetic' before being tested on competence in
science, history, and other areas."

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield in
September 2002 but has since moved back and forth between state
and federal courts, the Globe reports.  In January last year,
after a federal judge said the suit centered on issues of state
law, the case was refiled in Suffolk Superior Court with appeals
made in the SJC.

Yesterday, judges strongly agreed with the original rulings,
saying "the plaintiffs have not shown that there is a likelihood
of success" of the lawsuit based on the evidence given to the
courts.


MASTERCARD: Wal-Mart Stores To Stop Accepting Firm's Debit Cards
----------------------------------------------------------------
Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores will no longer accept signature
debit cards from Mastercard, in response to an antitrust class
action filed against the card company that was settled in June,
The Saratogian reports.

Wal-Mart initiated the suit, on behalf of several merchants.  
The merchants alleged that they did not want to accept
consumers' MasterCard or Visa-branded signature-based debit
cards, which do not require a PIN, and that the associations
violated the antitrust laws by tying acceptance of debit to
acceptance of credit.

Mastercard agreed to settle the suit by paying $100 million a
year for 10 years into a settlement fund for eligible merchants,
except for the first year when the payment will be $125 million,
according to MasterCard's Web site.

"The fees charged by MasterCard for its signature debit are
simply too high, which led us to eliminate this payment option
rather than pass these costs on to our customers," Mike Cook,
Wal-Mart's vice president and assistant treasurer, said in a
news release, The Saratogian reports.

The PIN-based cards, such as ones banks issue, will still be
accepted along with the regular MasterCard credit card.

MasterCard General Counsel Noah J. Hanft has called the
settlement fair.  Barbara Coleman, a MasterCard spokeswoman,
said Wal-Mart is the only company to stop the use to the
signature debit, The Saratogian reports.


MICROSOFT CORPORATION: To Settle NC Suit With $89.2M In Vouchers
----------------------------------------------------------------
Microsoft Corporation reached an $89.2 million settlement for
the class action, styled "MJM Investigations, Inc. v.
Microsoft," alleging violations of North Carolina's antitrust
and unfair competition laws, the Knight Ridder / Tribune
Business News reports.

The suit alleges that the Company violated state laws to
maintain a monopoly for certain software.  As a result, it
overcharged customers who purchased its MS-DOS, Windows, Word,
Excel and Office software.  The suit was filed on behalf of
businesses or individuals who purchased the company's software
between December 9, 1995 and December 31, 2002.

Under the settlement, customers will receive $5 or $10 vouchers
for each Microsoft software license they purchased over the six-
year period.  Customers with five or fewer licenses need not
submit documentation of their purchases.

The vouchers will entitle customers to be reimbursed for
purchases of computer hardware or software made by any
manufacturer, including desktop, laptop or tablet computers,
printers, scanners, monitors and keyboards.  Businesses or
individuals therefore will spend their own money on computer
products, and then mail a proof of purchase with the vouchers to
a settlement administrator, who sends back a check for the
amount of money spent.  The purchases must be made after
September 19, 2003 and the reimbursement request postmarked by
July 26, 2008.

Class action members will receive $10 for each Microsoft Windows
95, 98 or Millennium Edition operating system software license
and $5 for each Microsoft Office, Word or Excel software
license.  Members of the suit also can receive $5 for each
operating system software license for Microsoft MS-DOS, Windows
versions 1.0 to 3.2, Windows NT Workstation or Windows 2000
Professional.

Microsoft allowed a wide timeframe for purchases to try to
preempt new, similar lawsuits, Kieran Shanahan, lead plaintiff's
counsel in the case told the Tribune Business News.  The wide
window also has a practical effect for consumers.  "It certainly
should increase individual claims, making it more worthwhile for
individuals to submit claims," he said.

A court-authorized notice was mailed to potential class members
last week, but anyone who fits the eligibility requirements can
be a claimant.  Eligible participants must have purchased their
Microsoft software from any source except directly from
Microsoft.  Eligible consumers include those who bought software
by mail, Internet or in a store, for use in North Carolina.  
Customers also are part of the class if Microsoft software was
already installed on computers they purchased.  Potential class
members must submit claim forms by July 26.  Vouchers will be
mailed out "shortly after" the North Carolina Business Court
grants final approval of the settlement and any appeals are
resolved, according to the notice.  The court is scheduled to
consider final approval of the settlement at a hearing on May
27.


MISSISSIPPI: Appeals Court Upholds Desegregation Pact Approval
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a $503
million desegregation case settlement. The suit accused the
state of Mississippi of neglecting its historically black
universities for decades, the Minneapolis Star Tribune states.

The appeals court upheld a lower federal court's decision saying
that it did not abuse its discretion in approving the agreement
covering Jackson State, Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley
State universities.

The settlement has been criticized for being "inadequate to
upgrade programs at the school," and for posing stiffer
admission requirements and a condition that 10 percent of the
schools' enrollment be non-black.  

The federal panel wrote that the settlement contained "generous"
funding for academic programs and that settling the case now
would avoid potentially protracted and costly litigation.  
Further, "the 10 percent threshold will provide historically
black universities with a legitimate incentive to recruit and to
attract other-race students," the panel wrote.

"The settlement is educationally sound and the results will be
carefully monitored for compliance and accountability,"
Mississippi Commissioner of Higher Education David Potter told
the Star-Tribune.

Alvin Chambliss Jr., an attorney for opposing plaintiffs, who
included alumni and faculty of the schools, said the settlement
does not provide enough money for the establishment of
professional programs, without which black colleges will die, he
told the Star-Tribune.  He said the matter might be appealed to
the Supreme Court.

Armand Derfner, an attorney representing other class action
plaintiffs who supported the settlement of the 29-year-old case,
said: "We agree that the settlement is not all it could be, but
it's a floor from which we hope we can make further progress."


PUTNAM FUNDS: Arbitrator To Decide On Compensation For Ex-Chief
---------------------------------------------------------------
Marsh & McLennan Cos., the largest insurance broker in the world
said, in a regulatory filing, that an arbitrator will determine
whether Lawrence J. Lasser, the former chief executive of
scandal-plagued mutual fund unit Putnam Investments, should be
compensated following his dismissal by the company.

Investigations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
and state regulators in New York and Massachusetts into so-
called "market timing" trading at Putnam were made public in
late October 2003, and just a week later, Lasser -Putnam's long-
time president and chief executive officer, stepped down in
favor of a new management team. Charles E. "Ed" Haldeman,
recently a senior managing director and co-head of investments
at Putnam, succeeded Lasser.

According to an 8k filed by Marsh with the SEC, a hearing has
already been initiated "with respect to the amount of money, if
any, owed to Mr. Lasser in connection with his termination from
Putnam." According to a 2001 filing, Lasser would be entitled to
as much $31 million if he were to retire from the company.

Marsh spokeswoman Barbara Perlmutter said the company could not
comment on pending arbitration.

Putnam reached an agreement in November with the SEC over
allegations the firm allowed some favored customers, and its own
fund managers, to take part in market timing of Putnam mutual
funds. According to terms of the agreement, Putnam neither
confirmed nor denied the SEC's findings but agreed not to
contest them. The SEC has yet to say what penalties or other
monetary relief it will demand of the firm. Regulators in
Massachusetts and New York have said they will continue their
investigation into the allegations.

Last month, the California State Teachers' Retirement System,
the nation's third-largest pension fund, voted to rescind
Putnam's agreement to manage a $312 million large-cap growth
account within CalSTRS' overall $45 billion U.S. equity
portfolio. The teachers' fund joined the California Public
Employees' Retirement System--the nation's largest pension fund-
-and state pension funds in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Massachusetts,
New York, Vermont and Rhode Island, as well as private companies
such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in withdrawing funds from Putnam.
The firm had been the fifth-largest mutual-fund manager in the
United States.

The firm is also facing at least three class action lawsuits
filed by current or former shareholders of Marsh & McLennan over
the market timing allegations.

Separately, the company announced on January 27 that they would
begin limiting expense ratios on all of their funds to below the
industry averages in the respective peer groups, a standard
currently met by 95% of Putnam's $162 billion in mutual fund
assets. The company also announced it would reduce sales charges
on 'A' shares and restrict the maximum allowable purchases of
'B' shares, as well as capping expenses for six international
and global funds.

"We view these steps taken by Putnam and its new CEO...as
positive and proactive for the franchise," equity analyst Jay
Gelb of Prudential Equity Group Inc. wrote of the changes. "The
impact to Putnam from market timing allegations has been
disappointing, but the changes put forth by the new management
team should lead to improved corporate governance practices."

On the afternoon on Jan. 27, shares of Marsh & McLennan were
trading at $47.43, down 1.78% from their previous close.


SCG MIYAIRI: Recalls Liquid Propane OPD Valves For Fire Hazard
--------------------------------------------------------------
SCG Miyairi (Thailand) Company, LTD, of Thailand, in cooperation
with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), is
recalling 21,000 SCG Liquid Propane Overfill Protection Devices
(OPD valves) for serious fire/ burn hazard.

When the cylinder on the gas grill is filled to capacity and
exposed to increased temperatures, liquid propane instead of gas
vapor can leak out and cause the gas regulator valve to freeze.
When the regulator valve thaws, if it has not been turned off,
gas will flow to the grill. The resulting build-up of gas in the
grill can pose a serious fire hazard to consumers. SCG has
received five reports involving leaks from the OPD valve, though
no injuries have been reported.

The recalled SCG Overfill Prevention Devices (OPD) have "V5QA
OPD" engraved on the body and handle and either "DT 3.8" or "DT
3.8A" printed on one side of the wrench pad and "07-02," "08-
02," or "10-98" printed on the other side. The valves are
installed on 20-pound liquid propane gas cylinders manufactured
by the Sahamitr Pressure Container Public Co. Ltd. in Thailand.
The cylinders are marked "SMPC DOT-4BA240" and have a serial
number in the range of 375201 to 396800. There is no hazard with
the cylinders. Sold at: Department and hardware stores
nationwide sold the gas cylinders with the recalled OPD valves
from August 2002 through August 2003 for about $30. Some
cylinders also were sold with certain Sunbeam gas grills.

Consumers are urged to stop using the gas cylinders immediately
and contact the company. SCG will identify, for callers who have
one of the recalled units, a local LP gas exchange center which
will replace the cylinder with one that has a new OPD valve. Do
not take the LP gas cylinder to an LP gas refiller. Consumers
should not attempt to remove the OPD or gas valve themselves.

For more information, contact SCG Miyairi at (800) 636-9346
between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit
their Web site at http://www.scgmiyairi.com.


TELXON CORPORATION: Fairness Hearing Set February 12, 2004 in OH
----------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Northern District of
Ohio, Eastern Division announced that a settlement hearing will
be held before the Honorable Kathleen O'Malley in the United
States Courthouse, Courtroom 16A, 801 W. Superior Ave.,
Cleveland, Ohio, 44113-1840 at 4:00 p.m., on February 12, 2004,
in regards the Proposed Settlement, of at least $37,000,000, of
a class action lawsuit, on behalf of all persons who purchased
Telxon Corp. securities, including common stock, call options,
notes and debentures, and sellers of put options, during the
period from May 21, 1996 through February 23, 1999, inclusive,
against Telxon Corporation, and:

     (1) Frank E. Brick, and

     (2) Kenneth W. Haver

For more information, contact Counsel for Plaintiff Zwerling,
Schachter & Zwerlling, LLP by Mail: 845 Third Avenue, 6th Floor,
New York, NY 10022.


TV AZTECA: Shareholders File Securities Fraud Lawsuit in S.D. NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
Mexican broadcaster TV Azteca SA denied charges in the several
securities class action filed against it in the United States
District Court in the Southern District of New York, under
federal judge John Sprizzo, Dow Jones Business News reports.

Three American law firms have filed the suits, seeking damages
for alleged false and misleading statements the company made to
investors.  The firms that have filed suits are: Charles Piven;
Cauley Geller Bowman & Rudman LLP; and Schiffrin & Barroway LLP.

The suits allege that inadequate disclosure of a series of debt
transactions linked to wireless phone unit Unefon SA in 2003
artificially inflated TV Azteca's share price.  The suit was
filed on behalf of purchasers of TV Azteca, S.A. de C.V.
publicly traded securities during the period between October 6,
2003 and January 7, 2004, inclusive, an earlier Class Action
Reporter story (January 27,2004) states.

"The company denies any wrongdoing and intends to vigorously
defend these actions," TV Azteca said in a filing with the
Mexican Stock Exchange, Dow Jones reports.  The Company added
that it expects the suits to be consolidated into one in the
coming weeks, and that the court should designate one firm to
represent the shareholders.

U.S. and Mexican regulators are also looking into the
transactions to determine whether TV Azteca chairman Ricardo
Salinas Pliego and Unefon chairman Moises Saba should have
disclosed more details to investors.

TV Azteca acknowledged this month that Salinas Pliego and Saba
were the unnamed investors who bought $325 million in Unefon
debt owed to Canadian supplier Nortel Networks last year. They
paid $107 million for the obligations, which they later sold
back to Unefon at face value.  The company said Tuesday that
questions related to the class action suits can be addressed to
its lawyer Richard Spehr, at Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP in New
York.


VANS INC.: Labels Suit as "Factually Incorrect, Without Merit"
--------------------------------------------------------------
The securities class action filed against Vans, Inc. in the
United States District Court for the Central District of
California is "factually incorrect and without merit," Company
general counsel Craig Gosselin stated, the Pasadena Star-
Reporter states.

The suit names as defendants the athletic apparel company, one
of its current officers and a former officer.  The class action
was commenced on behalf of an institutional investor on behalf
of purchasers of Vans Inc. common stock during the period
between March 24, 1999 and May 23, 2002.

The suit alleges the Company filed false and misleading
statements that inflated the market price of its securities.  
Beginning in 1998, Vans allegedly posted product orders to three
distribution centers - Unique Services, Pronto Services and
Special Dispatcher - even though orders for the merchandise were
never really placed.  The orders allegedly were made to inflate
the company's EPS, or earnings per share, on a quarterly basis.

"The complaint says we shipped products that we didn't have
customers for, parked it at a third-party distribution and
posted the revenue," Mr. Gosselin told the Star-Reporter.  "We
believe this is factually inaccurate in a number of ways."

Vans, which received the complaint Friday night, intends to
bring a motion to dismiss the suit as soon as possible, he
added.  

Attorneys with Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP and the
law offices of Charles J. Piven P.A., which are representing
shareholders in the action, could not be reached Monday, despite
repeated attempts, the Star-Reporter states.


WORLDCOM INC.: Ex-Finance Chief's Trial Postponed To April 7
------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court in New York postponed the trial
of former WorldCom, Inc. finance chief Scott Sullivan to April
7, granting a request by his defense team for more time to
prepare, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Sullivan faces charges of ordering WorldCom accountants to
move operating expenses off the books so the company could
appear to turn a profit when it was losing money.  The
telecommunications giant collapsed into bankruptcy in 2002, and
investigators have since uncovered $11 billion in accounting
irregularities, AP reports.

The trial originally had been set for February 4.


                  New Securities Fraud Cases  

AMERICAN BUSINESS: Brian Felgoise Launches Securities Suit in PA
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices of Brian M. Felgoise, P.C. initiated a
securities class action in the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, on behalf of shareholders
who acquired American Business Financial Services, Inc.  
securities between January 27, 2000 and June 25, 2003,
inclusive, against the company and certain key officers and
directors.

The action charges that defendants violated the 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 Brian M. Felgoise, by Mail: 261
Old York Road, Suite 423, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, 19046, by
Phone: (215) 886-1900, or by E-mail:
securitiesfraud@comcast.net.


BIOPURE CORPORATION: Lead Plaintiff Motion Deadline Set March 1
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Pomerantz Haudek Block Grossman & Gross LLP
announced that the deadline to seek appointment by the court as
one of the lead plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against
Biopure Corporation and three of the Company's senior officers,
on behalf of all persons or entities who purchased the
securities of Biopure during the period between March 17, 2003
and December 24, 2003, inclusive, is set for Monday, March 1.

The lawsuit charges that Biopure issued a number of positive
statements regarding the progress of Biopure's application for
regulatory approval to market Hemopure in the United States for
patients undergoing orthopedic surgery, which was submitted to
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is alleged that by the
beginning of the Class Period, the FDA had informed defendants
of flaws in the Hemopure application which put defendants on
notice that FDA approval was in serious doubt, including citing
"safety concerns" arising from adverse clinical data submitted
as part of the Company's application. Yet, before defendants
disclosed these adverse facts, they conducted at least two
offerings of Biopure common stock and generated millions of
dollars in proceeds. In addition, certain high-level Biopure
insiders sold hundreds of thousands of Biopure common shares at
artificially inflated prices.

On December 24, 2003, after the Securities & Exchange Commission
threatened civil litigation, defendants stunned the market by
announcing that, in fact, the FDA had halted further clinical
trials of Hemopure due to safety concerns. Defendants also
disclosed that the commercial release of Hemopure in the United
States would be delayed beyond mid-2004. As a result of these
disclosures, Biopure common stock lost 16% of their value on
December 26, 2003, to close at $2.43 per share. This was a
decline of more than 239% from the stock's Class Period high of
$8.25 per share, reached on or about August 21, 2003.

For more information, contact Andrew G. Tolan, by Phone:
888-476-6529 (or (888) 4-POMLAW) toll free, or by E-mail:
agtolan@pomlaw.


BIOPURE CORPORATION: Kaplan Fox Commences Securities Suit in MA
---------------------------------------------------------------
Kaplan Fox initiated a class action lawsuit in the United States
District Court for the District of Massachusetts, on behalf of
all persons or entities who purchased or acquired the common
stock of Biopure Corporation between March 17, 2003 through
December 24, 2003 inclusive, against Biopure Corporation, and:

     (1) Thomas A. Moore,

     (2) Carl W. Rausch, and

     (3) Ronald F. Richards

The complaint charges Biopure 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
thereunder.  The complaint alleges that during the Class Period,
defendants issued a series of false and misleading statements
and filed periodic reports with the Securities and Exchange
Commission.  The complaint alleges that during the class period
defendants issued numerous positive statements about the
progress of its application to the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration seeking regulatory approval to market Hemopure in
the United States.  However, as early as March 2003, the FDA had
informed defendants that proposed clinical trials could not go
forward because of "safety issues." Accordingly, defendants knew
that the FDA approval was in jeopardy.

On December 24, 2003, the last day of the class period,
defendants shocked the market by issuing a press release after
the close of the market that Biopure had received a Wells Notice
from the SEC, indicating the staff's preliminary decision to
recommend that the Commission bring civil injunctive proceedings
against the company and that the FDA had halted further clinical
trials of Hemopure due to safety concerns. Defendants also
stated that they would respond to the FDA's concerns by mid-
2004, thereby delaying the commercial release of Hemopure in the
United States, if at all, beyond the mid-2003 target date
defendants had previously stated.

The market reacted swiftly and dramatically to these
disclosures. On December 26, 2003, the price per share for
Biopure common stock plummeted 13.83% from its previous trading
day's closing price to close at $2.43 per share, a decline of
over 70.5% from its class period high of $8.25 per share on or
about August 21, 2003.

For more information, contact us by E-mail: mail@kaplanfox.com,
or visit the firm's Website: http://www.kaplanfox.com.


DEUTSCHE BANK: Cauley Geller Launches Securities Suit in S.D. NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Firm of Cauley Geller Bowman & Rudman, LLP initiated a
class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York, on behalf of all purchasers of
shares of the Scudder Family of Mutual Funds which are managed
by Deutsche Bank AG during the period between January 22, 1999
and January 12, 2004, inclusive.

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

(1) Scudder 21st Century Growth Fund   (Sym: SCNAX, SCNBX,  
         SCNCX)

     (2) Scudder Aggressive Growth Fund   (Sym: KGGAX, KGGBX,
         KGGCX)

     (3) Scudder Blue Chip Fund   (Sym: KBCAX, KBCBX, KBCCX)

     (4) Scudder Capital Growth Fund (Sym: SDGAX, SDGBX, SDGCX,
         SDGRX, SDGTX)

     (5) Scudder Dynamic Growth Fund   (Sym: KSCAX, KSCBX,
         KSCCX)

     (6) Scudder Flag Investors Communications Fund   (Sym:
         TISHX, FTEBX, FTICX, FLICX)

     (7) Scudder Global Biotechnology Fund   (Sym: DBBTX, DBBBX,
         DBBCX)

     (8) Scudder Gold & Precious Metals Fund   (Sym: SGDAX,
         SGDBX, SGDCX)

     (9) Scudder Growth Fund   (Sym: KGRAX, KGRBX, KGRCX)

    (10) Scudder Health Care Fund   Sym: SUHAX, SUHBX, SUHCX)

    (11) Scudder Large Company Growth Fund   (Sym: SGGAX, SGGBX,
         SGGCX, SCQRX)

    (12) Scudder Micro Cap Fund   (Sym: SMFAX, SMFBX, SMFCX,
         MGMCX, MMFSX)

    (13) Scudder Mid Cap Fund   (Sym: SMCAX, SMCBX, SMCCX,
         SMCRX, BTEAX, BTCAX)

    (14) Scudder Small Cap Fund   (Sym: SSDAX, SSDBX, SSDCX,
         SSDRX, BTSCX)

    (15) Scudder Strategic Growth Fund   (Sym: SCDAX, SCDBX,
         SCDCX, SCDIX)

    (16) Scudder Technology Fund   (Sym: KTCAX, KTCBX, KTCCX,
         KTCIX)

    (17) Scudder Technology Innovation Fund   (Sym: SRIAX,
         SRIBX, SRICX)

    (18) Scudder Top 50 US Fund   (Sym: FAUSX, FBUSX, FCUSX)

    (19) Scudder Contrarian Fund   (Sym: KDCAX, KDCBX, KDCCX,
         KDCRX)

    (20) Scudder-Dreman Financial Services Fund   (Sym: KDFAX,
         KDFBX, KDFCX)

    (21) Scudder-Dreman High Return Equity Fund   (Sym: KDHAX,
         KDHBX, KDHCX, KDHRX, KDHIX)

    (22) Scudder-Dreman Small Cap Value Fund (Sym: KDSAX, KDSBX,
         KDSCX, KDSRX, KDSIX)

    (23) Scudder Flag Investors Equity Partners Fund   (Sym:
         FLEPX, FEPBX, FEPCX, FLIPX)

    (24) Scudder Growth & Income Fund   (Sym: SUWAX, SUWBX,
         SUWCX, SUWRX, SUWIX)

    (25) Scudder Large Company Value Fund   (Sym: SDVAX, SDVBX,
         SDVCX)

    (26) Scudder-RREEF Real Estate Securities Fund (Sym: RRRAX,
         RRRBX, RRRCX, RRRSX, RRRRX)

    (27) Scudder Small Company Stock Fund   (Sym: SZCAX, SZCBX,
         SZCCX)

    (28) Scudder Small Company Value Fund   (Sym: SAAUX, SABUX,
         SACUX)

    (29) Scudder Tax Advantaged Dividend Fund   (Sym: SDDAX,
         SDDBX, SDDCX, SDDGX)

    (30) Scudder Flag Investors Value Builder Fund   (Sym:
         FLVBX, FVBBX, FVBCX, FLIVX)

    (31) Scudder Focus Value+Growth Fund   (Sym: KVGAX, KVGBX,  
         KVGCX)

    (32) Scudder Lifecycle Mid Range Fund   (Sym: BTLRX)

    (33) Scudder Lifecycle Long Range Fund   (Sym: BTILX, BTAMX)

    (34) Scudder Lifecycle Short Range Fund   (Sym: BTSRX)

    (35) Scudder Pathway Conservative Portfolio (Sym: SUCAX,
         SUCBX, SUCCX)

    (36) Scudder Pathway Growth Portfolio (Sym: SUPAX, SUPBX,
         SUPCX)

    (37) Scudder Pathway Moderate Portfolio   (Sym: SPDAX,
         SPDBX, SPDCX)

    (38) Scudder Retirement Fund Series V  (Sym: KRFEX)

    (39) Scudder Retirement Fund Series VI   (Sym: KRFGX)

    (40) Scudder Retirement Fund Series VII   (Sym: KRFGX)

    (41) Scudder Target 2010 Fund   (Sym: KRFBX)

    (42) Scudder Target 2012 Fund   (Sym: KRFCX)

    (43) Scudder Target 2013 Fund   (Sym: KRFDX)

    (44) Scudder Total Return Fund   (Sym: KTRAX, KTRBX, KTRCX,
         KTRGX)

    (45) Scudder Emerging Markets Growth Fund   (Sym: SEKAX,
         SEKBX, SEKCX)

    (46) Scudder Emerging Markets Income Fund   (Sym: SZEAX,
         SZEBX, SZECX)

    (47) Scudder European Equity Fund (Sym: DBEAX, DBEBX, DBECX,
         MEUEX, MEUVX)

    (48) Scudder Global Fund   (Sym: SGQAX, SGQBX, SGQCX, SGQRX)

    (49) Scudder Global Bond Fund   (Sym: SZGAX, SZGBX, SZGCX)

    (50) Scudder Global Discovery Fund   (Sym: KGDAX, KGDBX,
         KGDCX)

    (51) Scudder Greater Europe Growth Fund   (Sym: SERAX,
         SERBX, SERCX)

    (52) Scudder International Fund   (Sym: SUIAX, SUIBX,
         SUICX)

    (53) Scudder International Equity Fund   (Sym: DBAIX, DBBIX,
         DBCIX, BEIIX, BEITX, BTEQX)

    (54) Scudder International Select Equity Fund (Sym: DBISX,
         DBIBX, DBICX, DBITX, MGINX, MGIVX, MGIPX)

    (55) Scudder Japanese Equity Fund   (Sym:  FJEAX, FJEBX,
         FJECX)

    (56) Scudder Latin America Fund   (Sym: SLANX, SLAOX, SLAPX)

    (57) Scudder New Europe Fund   (Sym: KNEAX, KNEBX, KNECX,
         KNEIX)

    (58) Scudder Pacific Opportunities Fund   (Sym: SPAOX,
         SBPOX, SPCCX)

    (59) Scudder Worldwide 2004 Fund   (Sym: KWIVX)

    (60) Scudder Fixed Income Fund   (Sym: SFXAX, SFXBX, SFXCX,
         SFXRF, MFINX, MFISX)

    (61) Scudder High Income Plus Fund (Sym: MGHYX, MGHVX,
         MGHPX)

    (62) Scudder High Income Fund   (Sym: KHYAX, KHYBX, KHYCX,
         KHYIX)

    (63) Scudder High Income Opportunity Fund   (Sym: SYOAX,
         SYOBX, SYOCX)

    (64) Scudder Income Fund   (Sym: SZIAX, SZIBX, SZICX)

    (65) Scudder PreservationPlus Fund   (Sym: BTPIX, BTPSX)

    (66) Scudder PreservationPlus Income Fund (Sym: PPIAX,
         PPLCX, DBPIX)

    (67) Scudder Short Term Bond Fund   (Sym: SZBAX, SZBBX,   
         SZBCX

    (68) Scudder Short Duration Fund   (Sym: SDUAX, SDUBX,
         SDUCX, MGSFX)

    (69) Scudder Strategic Income Fund   (Sym: KSTAX, KSTBX,  
         KSTCX)

    (70) Scudder US Government Securities Fund   (Sym: KUSAX,
         KUSBX, KUSCX)

    (71) Scudder California Tax-Free Income Fund   (Sym: KCTAX,
         KCTBX, KCTCX)

    (72) Scudder Florida Tax-Free Income Fund   (Sym: KFLAX,
         KFLBX, KFLCX)

    (73) Scudder High Yield Tax-Free Fund   (Sym: NOTAX,   
         NOTBX, NOTCX, NOTIX)

    (74) Scudder Intermediate Tax/AMT Free Fund   (Sym: SZMAX,
         SZMBX, SZMCX)

    (75) Scudder Managed Municipal Bond Fund   (Sym: SMLAX,
         SMLBX, SMLCX, SMLIX)

    (76) Scudder Massachusetts Tax-Free Fund   (Sym: SQMAX,
         SQMBX, SQMCX)

    (77) Scudder Municipal Bond Fund   (Sym: MGMBX, MMBSX)

    (78) Scudder New York Tax-Free Income Fund   (Sym: KNTAX,
         KNTBX, KNTCX)

    (79) Scudder Short Term Municipal Bond Fund   (Sym: SRMAX,
         SRMBX, SRMCX, MGSMX, MSMSX)

    (80) Scudder EAFE r Equity Index Fund   (Sym: BTAEX, BTIEX)

    (81) Scudder Equity 500 Index Fund   (Sym: BTIIX)

    (82) Scudder S&P 500 Stock Fund   (Sym: KSAAX, KSABX, KSACX)

    (83) Scudder Select 500 Fund  (Sym: OUTDX, OUTBX, OUTBX,
         OUTRX

    (84) Scudder US Bond Index Fund (Sym: BTUSX )

    (85) Scudder Cash Reserves Fund

The complaint charges Deutsche Bank, Scudder Investments,
Deutsche Investment Management Americas Inc., Deutsche Asset
Management, Inc., the Fund Registrants, Scudder Funds, and the
Doe Defendants with violations of the Securities Act of 1933,
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, among other claims, and for
common law breach of fiduciary duties.

The Complaint alleges that during the Class Period the
defendants engaged in illegal and improper trading practices, in
concert with certain institutional traders, which caused
financial injury to the shareholders of the Scudder Mutual
Funds. According to the Complaint, the Defendants
surreptitiously permitted certain favored investors, including
the Doe Defendants, to illegally engage in "timing" of the
Scudder Mutual Funds whereby these favored investors were
permitted to conduct short-term, "in and out" trading of mutual
fund shares, despite explicit restrictions on such activity in
the Scudder Mutual Funds' prospectuses.

For more information, contact Samuel H. Rudman, or David A.
Rosenfeld, Client Relations Department: Jackie Addison, Heather
Gann or Chandra West, by Mail: P.O. Box 25438, Little Rock, AR
72221-5438, by Phone: 1-888-551-9944 toll free, Fax:
1-501-312-8505, or E-mail: info@cauleygeller.com.

MICROMUSE INC.: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Suit in N.D. CA
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a securities
class action in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California against Micromuse, Inc. and
certain of its senior executive officers, on behalf of
shareholders who purchased, converted, exchanged or otherwise
acquired the common stock of Micromuse, Inc. between January 20,
2000 and December 29, 2003, inclusive.

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

For more information, contact Charles J. Piven, 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.


NETWORK ENGINES: Schatz & Nobel Lodges Securities Lawsuit in MA
---------------------------------------------------------------
Schatz & Nobel initiated a lawsuit seeking class action status
in the United States District Court for the District of
Massachusetts, on behalf of all persons who purchased the
securities of Network Engines, Inc. from November 6, 2003
through December 10, 2003, inclusive.

The Complaint alleges that Network Engines, a provider of server
appliance hardware and custom integration services, and certain
of its officers and directors, knew but failed to disclose that
Network Engines was in the process of renegotiating its
distribution agreement with EMC Corporation, and that in
connection, EMC was demanding price reductions which would
negatively effect Network Engines' future financial results.
Nevertheless, defendants continued to issue positive statements
emphasizing the Company's strong financial performance and its
purportedly successful relationship with its largest customer,
EMC.

On December 11, 2003, Network Engines announced, inter alia,
that it had renegotiated its distribution contract with EMC and
that, as amended the agreement would have a negative impact on
Network Engines. On this news, shares of Network Engines fell
$3.92 per share or 39% to close at $6.10 per share, and have
continued to decline since that time.

For more information, contact Nancy A. Kulesa, by Phone:
(800) 797-5499, by E-mail: sn06106@aol.com, or visit the firm's
Website: http://www.snlaw.net.


REDBACK NETWORKS: Schatz & Nobel Launches Securities Suit in CA
---------------------------------------------------------------
Schatz & Nobel, LLP initiated a lawsuit seeking class action
status in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of California, on behalf of all persons who purchased
the publicly traded securities of Redback Networks, Inc. from
April 12, 2000 through October 10, 2003, inclusive. Also
included are all those who acquired Redback's shares through its
acquisitions of Abatis Systems Corporation and Merlin Systems,
Inc.

The Complaint alleges that certain of Redback's officers and
directors issued materially false and misleading statements
concerning Redback's financial condition. Specifically, while
defendants were touting Redback's relationship with Qwest
Communications International, they knew, but failed to disclose,
that Qwest had only agreed to purchase large quantities of
Redback products it did not want or need because Qwest
executives were receiving shares of Redback stock; that Redback
was giving shares of its stock to Qwest insiders in exchange for
sales contracts from Qwest; and that Qwest had no obligation to
make further purchases from Redback.

During the Class Period, while Redback traded as high as $179
per share, defendants sold over $142 million of their own stock.
On October 10, 2003, Redback filed a form S-4 with the SEC that
stated the SEC was investigating various transactions involving
Qwest, including transactions between Redback and Qwest. On
November 3, 2003, Redback filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
protection.

For more information, contact Nancy A. Kulesa, by Phone:
(800) 797-5499, by E-mail: sn06106@aol.com, or visit the firm's
Website: http://www.snlaw.net.


ROYAL DUTCH: Wechsler Harwood Files Securities Fraud Suit in NJ
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Wechsler Harwood LLP initiated a class action
lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of
New Jersey, on behalf of persons or entities who purchased or
otherwise acquired the securities, including the common stock
traded in overseas markets and the American Depository Receipts
trading on the NYSE, of Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and/or The
Shell Transport and Trading Company, PLC between December 3,
1999 and January 9, 2004, inclusive, against defendants Royal
Dutch, Shell Transport, and:

     (1) Shell Petroleum N.V.,

     (2) the Shell Petroleum Limited,

     (3) Maarten van der Bergh,

     (4) Judy Boynton,

     (5) Malcolm Brinded,

     (6) S.L. Miller,

     (7) Harry J.M. Roels,

     (8) Paul D. Skinner,

     (9) M. Moody-Stuart,

    (10) Jeroen van der Veer, and

    (11) Philip R. Watts

The allegations are that defendants violated sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder by the Securities and Exchange
Commission, and all amendments thereto, by issuing a series of
material misrepresentations to the market during the Class
Period.

In particular, defendants deliberately violated accounting rules
and guidelines relating to oil and gas reserves which resulted
in a shocking and unprecedented overstatement of oil and gas
reserves, the eventual disclosure of which damaged purchasers of
Royal Dutch and Shell Transport securities and rocked the
investment community.

Royal Dutch and Shell Transport had classified and reported, in
SEC filings and other public documents, certain reserves as
"proved reserves" from a project off the western coast of
Australia called the Gorgon Joint Venture, and various projects
in Nigeria. In fact, unbeknownst to investors, the reserves did
not meet SEC and industry requirements necessary to be
classified as "proved," and were improperly reported as proved
reserves in Royal Dutch's and Shell Transport's financial
reports, thereby materially artificially inflating a key measure
of the companies' financial position and competitive standing.
As a result of these material misrepresentations, Royal Dutch
and Shell Transport's true value in the marketplace was severely
overstated and misunderstood.

On January 9, 2004, Royal Dutch announced that it was going to
write-down its proved oil and gas reserves by 20%, or 3.9
billion barrels, from 19.5 billion barrels to 15.6 billion
barrels. The write-down:

     (i) cut Shell's reserve life from 13.4 years to 10.6 years;

    (ii) increased its worldwide 5-year average reserve
         replacement cost per barrel from $5.49 to $12.57 --
         $7.06, or 128% greater than the industry average of
         $5.51;

   (iii) increased Shell's finding and development costs to
         $7.90 per barrel -- well above the costs of its
         competitors; and

    (iv) reduced Shell's Appraised Net Worth downward by up to
         7.1%, or $9.6 billion.

Following the announcement, Royal Dutch ADRs fell 7.87% from
$52.76 to $48.61 on the NYSE and Royal Dutch ordinary shares
fell by 7.10% from the U.S. equivalent of $52.91 to $49.15 on
the Amsterdam exchange. Shell Transport ADRs were down 6.96%
from $44.81 to $41.69 on the NYSE and Shell Transport ordinary
shares were down 6.84% on the London exchange from the U.S.
equivalent of $7.36 to $6.86. In addition, Moody's placed the
Aaa rating of Royal Dutch and Shell Transport under review for
possible downgrade because the write-down materially and
adversely affected the companies' reserves-to-debt ratio.
Following the belated disclosure, most analysts and commentators
concluded that, because of the magnitude of the write-down and
the clear SEC and industry guidelines relating to reserve
classification, the reserve overstatements could not have been a
result of error or accident, but rather, that the reserves were
knowingly overstated to preserve the companies' credit rating
and to shore up their competitive position.

For more information, contact Craig Lowther, Wechsler Harwood
Shareholder Relations Department, by Mail: 488 Madison Avenue,
8th Floor, New York, New York 10022, by Phone: (877) 935-7400
toll free, or by E-mail: clowther@whesq.com.


SECURITY BROKERAGE: Stull Stull Files Securities Suit in S.D. NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
Stull Stull & Brody, LLP initiated a class action lawsuit in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York, on behalf of a class consisting of all who purchased or
otherwise acquired shares or other ownership units of Alliance
Capital Management's AllianceBernstein Family of Mutual Funds
and/or Massachusetts Financial Services' Family of Mutual Funds,
which is a subsidiary of Sun Life Financial, Inc. between
January 1, 2001 and September 30, 2003, inclusive.

The Complaint charges that, throughout the Class Period,
defendants Security Brokerage, Inc. and Daniel G. Calugar  
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 from at least 2001 to
September 2003, Calugar, trading through Security Brokerage,
engaged in a scheme involving market timing of various mutual
funds using investments totaling between $400-$500 million.
Market timing refers to the practice of short term buying and
selling of mutual fund shares in order to exploit inefficiencies
in mutual fund pricing.

Most of Calugar's market timing trades were through two mutual
fund families: Alliance Capital Management, LP and Massachusetts
Financial Services.

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

MFS Funds:

MFS Capital Opportunities Fund (Nasdaq: MCOFX, MCOBX, MCOCX,
MFCRX, MCOTX, EACOX, EBCOX, ECCOX)
MFS Core Growth Fund (Nasdaq: MFCAX, MFCBX, MFCCX, MCFRX,
MCRRX), MFS Emerging Growth Fund (Nasdaq: MEGRX, MEGBX, MFECX,
MFERX, EAGRX, EBEGX, ECEGX)
MFS Growth Opportunities Fund (Nasdaq: MGOFX, MGOBX)
MFS Large Cap Growth Fund (Nasdaq: MCGAX, MCGBX)
MFS Managed Sectors Fund (Nasdaq: MMNSX, MSEBX, MMNCX)
MFS Mid Cap Growth Fund (Nasdaq: OTCAX, OTCBX, OTCCX, MMCRX,
MCPRX, EAMCX, EBCGX, EGCRX)
MFS New Discovery Fund (Nasdaq: MNDAX, MNDBX, MNDCX, MFNRX,
MNDRX, EANDX, EBNDX, ECNDX)
MFS New Endeavor Fund (Nasdaq: MECAX, MECBX, MECCX, MNERX,
MENRX)
MFS Research Fund (Nasdaq: MFRFX, MFRBX, MFRCX, MFRRX, MSRRX,
EARFX, EBRFX, ECRFX)
MFS Strategic Growth Fund (Nasdaq: MFSGX, MSBGX, MFGCX, MSGRX,
MSTRX, EASGX, EBSGX, ECSGX)
MFS Technology Fund (Nasdaq: MTCAX, MTCBX, MTCCX, MTQRX, MTERX)
Massachusetts Investors Growth Stock Fund (Nasdaq: MIGFX, MIGBX,
MIGDX, MIGRX, MIRGX, EISTX, EMIVX, EMICX)
MFS Mid Cap Value Fund (Nasdaq: MVCAX, MCBVX, MVCCX, MMVRX,
MCVRX, EACVX, EBCVX, ECCVX)
MFS Research Growth and Income Fund (Nasdaq: MRGAX, MRGBX,
MRGCX, MGIRX, MRERX)
MFS Strategic Value Fund (Nasdaq: MSVTX, MSVCX, MQSVX, MSVRX,
MVSRX, EASVX, EBSVX, ECSVX)
MFS Total Return Fund (Nasdaq: MSFRX, MTRBX, MTRCX, MFTRX,
MTRRX, EATRX, EBTRX, ECTRX)
MFS Union Standard Equity Fund (Nasdaq: MUEAX, MUSBX, MUECX)
MFS Utilities Fund (Nasdaq: MMUFX, MMUBX, MMUCX, MMURX, MURRX)
MFS Value Fund (Nasdaq: MEIAX, MFEBX, MEICX, MFVRX, MVRRX,
EAVLX, EBVLX, ECVLX)
Massachusetts Investors Trust (Nasdaq: MITTX, MITBX, MITCX,
MITRX, MIRTX, EAMTX, EBMTX, ECITX)

MFS Aggressive Growth Allocation Fund (Nasdaq: MAAGX, MBAGX,
MCAGX, MAARX, MAWAX, EAGTX, EBAAX, ECAAX)
MFS Conservative Allocation Fund (Nasdaq: MACFX, MACBX, MACVX,
MACRX, MCARX, ECLAX, EBCAX, ECACX)
MFS Growth Allocation Fund (Nasdaq: MAGWX, MBGWX, MGCWX, MGARX,
MGALX, EAGWX, EBGWX, ECGWX)
MFS Moderate Allocation Fund (Nasdaq: MAMAX, MMABX, MMCAX,
MAMRX, MARRX, EAMDX, EBMDX, ECMAX)
MFS Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MFBFX, MFBBX, MFBCX, MFBRX, MBRRX, EABDX,
EBBDX, ECBDX)
MFS Emerging Markets Debt Fund (Nasdaq: MEDAX, MEDBX, MEDCX)
MFS Government Limited Maturity Fund (Nasdaq: MGLFX, MGLBX,
MGLCX)
MFS Government Mortgage Fund (Nasdaq: MGMT, MGTBX)
MFS Government Securities Fund (Nasdaq: MFGSX, MFGBX, MGFDX,
MGSRX, MGVSX, EAGSX, EBGSX, ECGXX)
MFS High Income Fund (Nasdaq: MHITX, MHIBX, MHICX, EAHIX, EMHBX,
EMHCX, MHIIX, MHIRX)
MFS High Yield Opportunities Fund (Nasdaq: MHOAX, MHOB, MHOCX,
MHOIX)
MFS Intermediate Investment Grade Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MGBFX,
MGBVX, MGBCX, MGBEX, MIBRX)
MFS Limited Maturity Fund (Nasdaq: MQLFX, MQLBX, MQLCX, EALMX,
EBLMX, ELDCX, MLDRX)
MFS Research Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MRBFX, MRBBX, MRBCX, EARBX,
EBRBX, ECRBX, MRBIX, MRBRX)
MFS Strategic Income Fund (Nasdaq: MFIOX, MIOBX, MIOCX, MFIIX)
MFS Alabama Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MFALX, MBABX)
MFS Arkansas Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MFARX, MBARX)
MFS California Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MCFTX, MBCAX)
MFS Florida Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MFFLX, MBFLX)
MFS Georgia Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MMGAX, MBGAX)
MFS Maryland Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MFSMX, MBMDX)
MFS Massachusetts Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MFSSX, MBMAX)
MFS Mississippi Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MISSX, MBMSX)
MFS Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MMBFX, MMBBX)
MFS Municipal Limited Maturity Fund (Nasdaq: MTLFX, MTLBX,
MTLCX)
MFS New York Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MSNYX, MBNYX, MCNYX)
MFS North Carolina Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MSNCX, MBNCX,
MCNCX)
MFS Pennsylvania Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MFPAX, MBPAX)
MFS South Carolina Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MFSCX, MBSCX)
MFS Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MSTNX, MBTNX)
MFS Virginia Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MSVAX, MBVAX, MVACX)
MFS West Virginia Municipal Bond Fund (Nasdaq: MFWVX, MBWVX)
MFS Emerging Markets Equity Fund (Nasdaq: MEMAX, MEMBX, MEMCX,
MEMIX)
MFS Global Equity Fund (Nasdaq: MWEFX, MWEBX, MWECX, MWEIX,
MGERX)
MFS Global Growth Fund (Nasdaq: MWOFX, MWOBX, MWOCX, MWOIX,
MGLRX)
MFS Global Total Return Fund (Nasdaq: MFWTX, MFWBX, MFWCX,
MFWIX, MGRRX)
MFS International Growth Fund (Nasdaq: MGRAX, MGRBX, MGRCX,
MQGIX)
MFS International New Discovery Fund (Nasdaq: MIDAX, MIDBX,
MIDCX, EAIDX, EBIDX, ECIDX, MWNIX, MINRX)
MFS International Value Fund (Nasdaq: MGIAX, MGIBX, MGICX,
MINIX)
MFS Research International Fund (Nasdaq: MRSAX, MRIBX, MRICX,
EARSX, EBRIX, ECRIX, MRSIX, MRIRX)

AllianceBernstein Funds:

U.S. Stock Funds
AllianceBernstein Growth & Income Fund (Sym: CABDX, CBBDX,
CBBCX)
AllianceBernstein Health Care Fund (Sym: AHLAX, AHLBX, AHLCX)
AllianceBernstein Disciplined Value Fund (Sym: ADGAX, ADGBX,
ADGCX)
AllianceBernstein Mid-Cap Growth (Sym: CHCAX, CHCBX, CHCCX)
AllianceBernstein Real Estate Investment Fund (Sym: AREAX,
AREBX, ARECX)
AllianceBernstein Growth Fund (Sym: AGRFX, AGBBX, AGRCX)
AllianceBernstein Select Investor Series Biotechnology Portfolio
(Sym: ASBAX, AIBBX, ASBCX)
AllianceBernstein Small CapValue Fund (Sym: ABASX, ABBSC, ABCSX)
AllianceBernstein Premier Growth Fund (Sym: APGAX, APGBX, APGCX)
AllianceBernstein Select Investor Series Technology Portfolio
(Sym: AITAX, AITBX, AITCX)
AllianceBernstein Value Fund (Sym: ABVAX, ABVBX, ABVCX)
AllianceBernstein Quasar Fund (Sym: QUASX, QUABX, QUACX)
AllianceBernstein Technology Fund (Sym: ALTFX, ATEBX, ATECX)
AllianceBernstein Select Investor Series Premier Portfolio (Sym:
ASPAX, ASPBX, ASPCX)
AllianceBernstein Utility Income Fund (Sym: AUIAX, AUIBX, AUICX)

Value Funds
AllianceBernstein Balanced Shares (Sym: CABNX, CABBX, CBACX)
AllianceBernstein Disciplined Value Fund (Sym: ADGAX, ADGBX,
ADGCX)
AllianceBernstein Global Value Fund (Sym: ABAGX, ABBGX, ABCGX)
AllianceBernstein International Value Fund (Sym: ABIAX, ABIBX,
ABICX)
AllianceBernstein Real Estate Investment Fund (Sym: AREAX,
AREBX, ARECX)
AllianceBernstein Small Cap Value Fund (Sym: ABASX, ABBSX,
ABCSX)
AllianceBernstein Utility Income Fund (Sym: AUIAX, AUIBX, AUICX)
AllianceBernstein Value Fund (Sym: ABVAX, ABVBX, AVBCX

Blended Style Series
U.S. Large Cap Portfolio (Sym: ABBAX, ABBAX, ABBCX)

Global & International Stock Funds
AllianceBernstein All-Asia Investment Fund (Sym: AALAX, AAABX,
AAACX)
AllianceBernstein Global Value Fund (Sym: ABAGX, ABBGX, ABCGX)
AllianceBernstein Greater China ``97 Fund (Sym: GCHAX, GCHBX,
GCHCX)
AllianceBernstein International Premier Growth Fund (Sym: AIPAX,
AIPBX, AIPCX)
AllianceBernstein International Value Fund (Sym: ABIAX, ABIBX,
ABICX)
AllianceBernstein Global Small Cap Fund (Sym: GSCAX, AGCBX,
GSCCX)
AllianceBernstein New Europe Fund (Sym: ANEAX, ANEBX, ANECX)
AllianceBernstein Worldwide Privatization Fund (Sym: AWPAX,
AWPBX, AWPCX)

Select Investor Series
AllianceBernstein Select Investor Series Biotechnology Portfolio
(Sym: ASBAX, AIBBX, ASBCX)
AllianceBernstein Select Investor Series Premier Portfolio (Sym:
ASPAX, ASPBX, ASPCX)
AllianceBernstein Select Investor Series Technology Portfolio
(Sym: AITAX, AITBX, AITCX)

Taxable Bond Funds
AllianceBernstein Americas Government Income Trust (Sym: ANAGX,
ANABX, ANACX)
AllianceBernstein Bond Fund Corporate Bond Portfolio (Sym:
CBFAX, CBFBX, CBFCX)
AllianceBernstein Bond Fund Quality Bond Portfolio (Sym: ABQUX,
ABQBX, ABQCX)
AllianceBernstein Bond Fund U.S. Government Portfolio (Sym:
ABUSX, ABUBX, ABUCX)
AllianceBernstein Emerging Market Debt Fund (Sym: AGDAX, AGDBX,
AGDCX)
AllianceBernstein Global Strategic Income Trust (Sym: AGSAX,
AGSBX, AGCCX)
AllianceBernstein High Yield Fund (Sym: AHYAX, AHHBX, AHHCX)
AllianceBernstein Multi-Market Strategy Trust (Sym: AMMSX,
AMMBX, AMMCX)
AllianceBernstein Short Duration (Sym: ADPAX, ADPBX, ADPCX)

Tax-Exempt Bond Funds
AllianceBernstein Intermediate California Muni Portfolio (Sym:
AICBX, ACLBX, ACMCX)
AllianceBernstein Intermediate Diversified Muni Portfolio (Sym:
AIDAX, AIDBX, AIMCX)
AllianceBernstein Intermediate New York Muni Portfolio (Sym:
ANIAX, ANYBX, ANMCX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund National Portfolio (Sym:
ALTHX, ALTBX, ALNCX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund Arizona Portfolio (Sym:
AAZAX, AAZBX, AAZCX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund California Portfolio (Sym:
ALCAX, ALCBX, ACACX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund Insured California Portfolio
(Sym: BUICX, BUIBX, BUCCX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund Insured National Portfolio
(Sym: CABTX, CBBBX, CACCX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund Florida Portfolio (Sym:
AFLAX, AFLBX, AFLCX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund Massachusetts Portfolio (Sym:
AMAAX, AMABX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund Michigan Portfolio (Sym:
AMIAX, AMIBX, AMICX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund Minnesota Portfolio (Sym:
AMNAX, AMNBX, AMNCX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund New Jersey Portfolio (Sym:
ANJAX, ANJBX, ANJCX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund New York Portfolio (Sym:
ALNYX, ALNBX, ANYCX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund Ohio Portfolio (Sym: AOHAX,
AOHBX, AOHCX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund Pennsylvania Portfolio (Sym:
APAAX, APABX, APACX)
AllianceBernstein Muni Income Fund Virginia Portfolio (Sym:
AVAAX, AVABX, AVACX)

Investors in the State of Rhode Island 529 Plan, known as the
CollegeBoundfund(*), may have invested in one or more of the
funds listed below:

AllianceBernstein Growth & Income Fund
AllianceBernstein Mid-Cap Growth Fund
AllianceBernstein Premier Growth Fund
AllianceBernstein Quasar Fund
AllianceBernstein Technology Fund
AllianceBernstein Quality Bond Portfolio
AllianceBernstein International Value Fund
AllianceBernstein Small Cap Value Fund
AllianceBernstein Value Fund

Calugar also engaged in late trading of MFS and Alliance funds.
Late trading refers to the practice of placing orders to buy or
sell mutual fund shares after close of market at 4:00 p.m. EST,
but at the mutual fund's Net Asset Value, or price, determined
at the market close. Late trading enables the trader to profit
from market events that occur after 4:00 p.m. EST but that are
not reflected in that day 's price. Because of Security
Brokerage's status as a broker-dealer, it was permitted to
submit trades received from its clients before 4:00 p.m. EST to
the National Securities Clearing Corporation after 4:00 p.m.
EST.

Calugar and Security Brokerage thus participated in a scheme
with Alliance and MFS to engage in market timing that most other
fund investors were not permitted to do. The Mutual Funds as
well as Calugar profited at the expense of such investors.
Calugar and Security Brokerage made trading profits of $175
million from their market timing and late trading at Alliance
and MFS. The Mutual Funds profited by way of increased advisory
and other fees.

On December 22, 2003, the SEC filed civil fraud charges against
Security Brokerage, and its president and majority owner,
Calugar, for their participation in a scheme to defraud mutual
fund shareholders through improper late trading and market
timing.

For more information, contact Tzivia Brody, by Mail: 6 East 45th
Street, New York, NY 10017, by Phone: toll-free 1-800-337-4983,
Fax: 212/490-2022, by E-mail: SSBNY@aol.com, or visit the firm's
Website: http://www.ssbny.com.


TV AZTECA: Brian Felgoise Files Securities Fraud Suit in S.D. NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices of Brian M. Felgoise, P.C. initiated a
securities class action in the United States District Court for
the Southern District of New York, on behalf of shareholders who
acquired TV Azteca, S.A. de C.V. securities between October 6,
2003 and January 7, 2004, inclusive, against the company and
certain key officers and directors.

The action charges that defendants violated the 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 Brian M. Felgoise, by Mail: 261
Old York Road, Suite 423, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, 19046, by
Phone: (215) 886-1900, or by E-mail:
securitiesfraud@comcast.net.


TV AZTECA: Brodsky & Smith Lodges Securities Lawsuit in S.D. NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
Brodsky & Smith, LLC initiated a securities class action lawsuit
in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
New York, on behalf of shareholders who purchased the common
stock and other securities of Television Azteca SA de CV,
between October 6, 2003 through January 7, 2004 inclusive.

The Complaint alleges that defendants violated federal
securities laws by failing to disclose certain related-party
transactions between a privately-held company jointly owned by
TV Azteca's Chairman and President and one of the Company's
affiliates.

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


TV AZTECA: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in S.D. NY
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Bernstein, Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP initiated a
securities class action lawsuit in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of all
persons who purchased or acquired TV Azteca, S.A. de C.V.
securities between October 6, 2003 and January 7, 2004

The complaint charges that defendants violated sections 10(b)
and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder, by issuing a series of material
misrepresentations to the market during the Class Period. During
the Class Period, defendants failed to disclose certain related-
party transactions between a privately-held company jointly
owned by the Company's Chairman, Ricardo Salinas Pliego and the
Company's President, M. Saba Masri and one of the Company's
affiliates -- Unefon Corporacion RBS, a wireless
telecommunications provider in Mexico.

Specifically, defendants denied any affiliation with a "white-
knight" group of investors that had saved Unefon from bankruptcy
back in June of 2002. Defendants stonewalled disclosure of the
true facts, including ignoring advice from their securities
lawyers in the U.S., until a spin-off of Unefon was completed in
December 2002. The spin-off anticipated that Unefon's shares
would be registered to trade in the U.S. markets facilitating a
merger with Salinas' other telecommunications holdings. Then, on
January 9, 2004, defendants stunned the markets by admitting
that the "white-knight" investors were in fact Salinas and Saba
who made a profit of $218 million when their privately-held
company bought Unefon's debt for $107 million and then sold it
back for $325 million.

Market reaction to defendants' belated disclosures was severe.
By January 12, 2003, the first day of trading following the
Company's admission the price of TV Azteca securities fell more
than 14.9 percent in value to close at $7.76 per share in heavy
trading volume.

For more information, contact Bernstein, Liebhard & Lifshitz,
LLP, The Shareholder Relations Department, by Mail: 10 East 40th
Street, New York, New York 10016, by Phone: (800) 217-1522 or
(212) 779-1414, or by E-mail: TZA@bernlieb.com.


                        *********

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

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

                        *********


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

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

Copyright 2004.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
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