/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/100202.mbx             C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

            Tuesday, February 2, 2010, Vol. 12, No. 22


AT&T MOBILITY: Settles D. N.J. Early Termination Fee Litigation
CITIZENS FINANCIAL: N.D. Ill. Suit Complains About Overdraft Fees
CITY OF FARGO: State Entitled to List of Class-Action Claimants
COMMONWEALTH LAND: Court Says Title Insurance RICO Suits Proceed
COVIDIEN PLC: 9th Cir. Affirms Pulse Oximetry Antitrust Dismissal

COVIDIEN PLC: "Natchitoches" Settlement Hearing Set for March 10
DIEDRICH COFFEE: Court Denies TRO to Stall Green Mountain Merger
DIEDRICH COFFEE: Paid Full Settlement in "Willems" Suit in Oct.
DRINK: Former Servers & Bartenders File Class Action Lawsuit
EHARMONY, INC: Settles Same-Sex Matching Class Action Litigation

FIRSTPLUS HOME: Class Action Litigation Pulls Down Credit Rating
ILLINOIS BELL: Argues Right to Receive Unclaimed Settlement Funds
MDL 1715: Ameriquest Settles 712,000 Borrowers for $22 Million
MGIC INVESTMENT: Motion to Dismiss Consolidated Suit Pending
PETLAND INC: 29 Ariz. Puppy Mill Claims Dismissed & 2 Survive

PFIZER INC: Pa. Super. Ct. Upholds Class Decertification Decision
SEARS ROEBUCK: Lawn Mower Status Conference Adjourned to March
ST. JOSEPH'S MEDICAL: Lawsuit Levies Unnecessary Surgery Charges
STAPLES INC: Inks $42 Million Global Labor Litigation Settlement
TOYOTA MOTOR: Halts U.S. Sales of Camry & Seven Other Models

TOYOTA MOTOR: Lawyers Are Busy Fielding Calls & Filing Lawsuits
UNION CITY: Class Action Suit Accuses Police of Racial Bias
UNITED AIRLINES: Small Chicago Firm Gets Most of Pilot Case Fees
UNITED STATES: Govt. To Pay $7.4 Mil. in Debt Collection Lawsuit

* J. Kevin Snyder to Lead Dykema's Class Action Defense Team


AT&T MOBILITY: Settles D. N.J. Early Termination Fee Litigation
Venuri Siriwardane at The Star-Ledger reports that AT&T Mobility
told its customers via e-mail today that it has settled all
claims and causes of action in Hall, et al. v. AT&T Mobility LLC
fka Cingular Wireless LLC, et al., Case No. 07-cv-05325 (D. N.J.)
(Linares, J.).

The suit alleged AT&T's flat-rate early termination fee --
usually between $150 and $175 -- was unlawful.  Though the
telecommunications giant strongly denied any wrongdoing, it
agreed to settle "to avoid the burden and cost of further
litigation," the notice said.

If the settlement is approved, AT&T will pay New Jersey customers
a total of $16,000,000 in cash and $2,000,000 in "non-cash
benefits." Company spokesman Marty Richter said it is not yet
clear how the settlement fund would be divided among customers.
The settlement would affect customers who were charged a flat-
rate ETF between Jan. 1, 1998 and Nov. 4, 2009, or customers
whose contract included a flat-rate ETF provision at any time
after Jan. 1, 1998.

"It's important to note that the litigation involves old early
termination fee policies of the old AT&T Wireless and Cingular,"
said Richter, adding that the firm now prorates its ETF to
decrease fees over the life of the contract.
The Federal Communications Commission today asked four major
wireless carriers -- AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-
Mobile U.S.A. -- and Google to explain their ETF policies and how
they communicate them to consumers. In the past, carriers have
said the fees are necessary to subsidize the cost of mobile
phones. Critics say they stifle competition and generate revenue
for carriers.

Between now and June 14, 2010, AT&T customers can submit claim
forms at http://www.ATTMETFSettlement.com/-- a specialized Web  
site hosted by Rust Consulting, Inc., which serves as the Claims
Administrator in this litigation.  

The Plaintiff Class is represented by:

          Brian R. Strange, Esq.
          12100 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1900
          Los Angeles, CA 90025

               - and -  

          James E. Cecchi, Esq.
          5 Becker Farm Road
          Roseland, NJ 07068

Defense Counsel is:

          Andrew B. Joseph, Esq.
          500 Campus Drive
          Florham Park, NJ 07932

CITIZENS FINANCIAL: N.D. Ill. Suit Complains About Overdraft Fees
A class action lawsuit filed last week would require Citizens
Bank to refund hundreds of millions of dollars in allegedly
unlawful overdraft charges -- which Citizens Bank often charged
even when the customers had enough funds in their accounts to pay
for the purchase.

The Complaint in Duval v. Citizens Financial Group, Inc., Case
No. 10-cv-00533 (N.D. Ill.) (Bucklo, J.), was filed on behalf of
Jessica Duval, of Goffstown, N.H., and other bank customers who
say they were unfairly and illegally charged overdraft fees by
Citizens Financial Group Inc., for charges she made on her
ATM/debit card.  

CFG is the parent company of Citizens Bank and Charter One Bank.  
The class action lawsuit alleges that these charges violate
federal and state law, as well as the contractual relationship
the bank has with its customers.  The lawsuit seeks certification
of a class action on behalf of Citizens Bank and Charter One Bank
customers who were improperly charged overdraft fees or who
received insufficient disclosures about such overdraft fees.

"While the federal government has begun to regulate overdraft
fees, Citizens Bank and other banks continue to abuse customers
and improperly charge overdraft fees.  Moreover, customers must
be compensated for bank practices that caused hundreds of
millions of dollars in improperly charged fees," said:

          Hassan Zavareei, Esq.
          2000 L Street, N.W., Suite 808
          Washington, DC 20036
          Telephone: (202) 973-0900

who represents the plaintiff.

Counsel of record to Ms. Duval is:

          Jeffrey D. Kaliel, Esq.
          2000 L Street, N.W., Suite 808
          Washington, DC 20036
          Telephone: (202) 973-0900

"Citizens Bank manipulates the posting of transactions to incur
$37 overdraft fees on accounts, and customers cannot stop the
bank from making arbitrary decisions that their accounts have
been 'overdrawn.'  The bank punishes customers and their families
with these charges, causing further pain for families already
stressed by the poor economic situation," Mr. Zavareei said.  

Citizens Financial Group, Inc., is a $151 billion commercial bank
holding company.  It is headquartered in Providence, R.I., and,
through its subsidiaries, has more than 1,500 branches and
approximately 3,500 ATMs and approximately 22,600 employees.  Its
two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of
Pennsylvania.  They operate a 12-state branch network under the
Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and
Vermont, and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and

The complaint alleges that Citizens Bank and Charter One
manipulates debit transaction posting to cause overdraft fees
even when there are sufficient funds to pay for a certain
purchase.  Citizens Bank uses several different methods to cause
a customer to incur an overdraft fee even when her account has
never been overdrafted.  

The complaint also alleges that Citizens Bank directly violates
the terms of its account agreement by allowing purchases and
withdrawals even when a customer has an insufficient balance.  
For example, one contractual provision states that the bank will
not allow withdrawals when there are insufficient funds.  In
fact, the class action alleges that the bank does allow
withdrawals on insufficient funds even at its own ATMs -- and it
does so without any prior warning to the customer.  According to
the complaint, the bank does this for the sole purpose of
charging its own customers an overdraft charge.
The complaint also alleges that Citizens Bank has not allowed its
customers to opt out of "overdraft protection," as recommended by
Federal regulators.

CITY OF FARGO: State Entitled to List of Class-Action Claimants
The Associated Press reports that U.S. District Judge Ralph
Erickson says North Dakota's child support enforcement program
should receive a list of people who joined in a class action
lawsuit over excessive traffic fines in Fargo.

The ruling in Sauby v. City of Fargo, Case No. 07-cv-00010 (D.
N.D.), affects about 14,000 people who filed valid claims for
reimbursement because the city was charging more for traffic
fines than state law allows.  

As reported in the Class Action Reporter on Dec. 17, 2009, the
state asked for the list of participating class members to see if
any of them are behind on child support payments. Lawyers for the
class argued that the information should not be released.

COMMONWEALTH LAND: Court Says Title Insurance RICO Suits Proceed
Shannon P. Duffy at The Legal Intelligencer reports that in a
major setback for several title insurers, a federal judge has
refused to dismiss a trio of class action consumer RICO suits
that accuse the companies of engaging in a pervasive pattern of
overcharging for title insurance by systematically ignoring
entitlement to statutory discounts.

Although title insurers have been battling a wave of consumer
litigation in recent years, the three decisions by U.S. District
Judge Joel H. Slomsky mark the first time that a court has green-
lighted RICO claims.

Defense lawyers had urged Judge Slomsky to dismiss the RICO
claims, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to plead a proper RICO
enterprise since an insurer and its agents cannot be considered
legally "distinct."

Judge Slomsky disagreed, saying "plaintiffs have satisfied the
minimum 'person' and 'enterprise' distinctiveness requirement
because the combination of Commonwealth Land and the title agents
constitute a single 'enterprise' separate and distinct from the
'person' of defendant Commonwealth Land and this combination is
permissible under RICO jurisprudence."

In a footnote to his 38-page opinion in Coleman v. Commonwealth
Land Title Insurance Co., Case No. 09-cv-00679 (E.D. Pa.), Judge
Slomsky noted that he had handed down nearly identical opinions
in two other cases -- Schwartz v. Lawyers Title Insurance Co.,
Case No. 09-cv-00841 (E.D. Pa.), and Levine v. First American
Title Insurance Co., Case No. 09-cv-00842 (E.D. Pa.) -- changing
"only the factual averments and the names of the parties in
appropriate places."

In the suits, homeowners claim they were overcharged for title
insurance when they purchased or refinanced because they were
never told that they qualified for a discounted premium.

Under Pennsylvania law, title insurance rates are governed by a
statute that calls for a 10 percent "reissue rate" discount
whenever a property owner purchases title insurance within 10
years of obtaining a policy issued on the same property and a 20
percent "refinance rate" discount if the property owner applies
for title insurance within three years of obtaining a previous

The plaintiffs team in all three cases:

          Todd S. Collins, Esq.
          Elizabeth W. Fox, Esq.
          BERGER & MONTAGUE, P.C.
          1622 Locust Street
          Philadelphia, PA 19103-6365
          Telephone: 215-875-3000

               - and -  

          Ann Miller, Esq.
          ANN MILLER, LLC
          834 Chestnut St., Suite 206
          Philadelphia, PA 19107
          Telephone: 215-238-0468

               - and -  

          Daniel M. Harris, Esq.
          Anthony P. Valach, Esq.
          150 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 300
          Chicago, IL 60606
          Telephone: 312-960-1802

contend that the routine and systematic overcharging of consumers
is exactly the sort of conduct the civil RICO statute was
designed to address.

"Title insurers and their agents take advantage of consumers'
ignorance and trust by (1) deliberately misrepresenting and
overstating the amount of money due for title insurance; (2)
concealing from consumers that they are being overcharged; and
(3) having title agents, acting in their capacity as settlement
agents, pay the inflated bills on the consumers' behalf out of
the consumers' mortgage loan proceeds -- monies that have been
entrusted to the title agents in their capacity as settlement
agents," the plaintiffs wrote.

But defense lawyers argued that the RICO claims were riddled with
fatal flaws and failed to satisfy the strict requirements imposed
by both the U.S. Supreme Court and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of

Commonwealth Title and Lawyers Title are represented by:

          Darryl J. May, Esq.
          Paul Lantieri, III, Esq.
          Jessica M. Anthony, Esq.
          1735 Market Street, 51st Fl.
          Philadelphia, PA 19103
          Telephone: 215-864-8340

First American is represented by:

          Charles A. Newman, Esq.
          One Metropolitan Square, Suite 3000
          St. Louis, MO  63102-2741
          Telephone: 314-241-1800

In their briefs, the defense teams argued that title insurers
have no fiduciary duty to disclose the alleged entitlement to the
discounted rate or to inform plaintiffs of the non-disclosure.

Judge Slomsky disagreed, saying, In "light of the complexity of
title insurance rates and the expertise of defendant and title
agents . . . the argument that defendant had no duty to disclose
the right to the discounted rate is not persuasive."

Instead, Judge Slomsky found, the insurers and their agents "had
the responsibility to charge the correct rate, and disclosure of
the correct rate is part and parcel of that responsibility."

But the main thrust of the defense motions was to challenge the
plaintiffs' RICO theory by attacking their pleading of an
"association-in-fact" enterprise.

The RICO enterprise alleged by the plaintiffs, they argued, does
not satisfy the "distinctiveness" requirement of RICO as
explained in copious federal case law.

To satisfy the "distinctiveness" requirement under  1962(c), the
defense team said, a plaintiff must allege that the RICO
"enterprise" is distinct from the defendant "person" alleged to
have violated RICO and that the "enterprise" is distinct from the
alleged pattern of racketeering activity.

But the plaintiffs lawyers argued that the insurers are the
liable "person" and the "enterprise" is an association-in-fact
between the insurers and their title agents in Pennsylvania.

The title agents are subject to the insurers' control and take a
percentage of the premiums collected as their remuneration for
their services.

But defense lawyers insisted that since the insurers acted only
through their agents, the "person" and "enterprise" are one and
the same and therefore fail to satisfy RICO's distinctiveness

Judge Slomsky sided with the plaintiffs, finding that their
allegations are valid, at least in theory, because "these title
agents are independent and distinct entities and individuals."

The title agents "are not employees" of the insurers, Judge
Slomsky noted, "but rather they are non-exclusive agents who work
with different title insurance companies."

Although title agents have an "agency agreement" with the
insurer, Judge Slomsky said, "they are still separate,
independent entities who do not function as subsidiaries or

COVIDIEN PLC: 9th Cir. Affirms Pulse Oximetry Antitrust Dismissal
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the
decision of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of
California dismissing all claims in a consolidated class action
against Covidien plc, according to the company's Jan. 26, 2010,
Form 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
for the quarter ended Dec. 25, 2009.

Beginning on Aug. 29, 2005, with Allied Orthopedic Appliances,
Inc. v. Tyco Healthcare Group, L.P., and Mallinckrodt Inc., 12
consumer class actions have been filed in the U.S. District Court
for the Central District of California.

In all of the complaints, the putative class representatives, on
behalf of themselves and others, seek to recover overcharges they
allege they paid for pulse oximetry products as a result of
anticompetitive conduct by the company in violation of the
federal antitrust laws.

The 12 complaints were subsequently consolidated into a single
proceeding styled In re: Pulse Oximetry Antitrust litigation.
By stipulation among the parties, six putative class
representatives dismissed their claims against the company,
leaving six remaining putative class representatives as
plaintiffs in the consolidated proceeding.

On Dec. 21, 2007, the district court denied the plaintiffs'
motion for class certification.

On March 14, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth
Circuit denied the plaintiffs' request for leave to appeal the
district court's denial of their motion for class certification.

On July 9, 2008, the district court granted the company's motion
for summary judgment which resulted in the dismissal of all

The plaintiffs have appealed both rulings to the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

On Jan. 6, 2010, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district
court's order granting summary judgment dismissing all claims
against the company.

Covidien Public Limited Company -- http://www.covidien.com/--  
formerly Covidien Ltd. is engaged in the development, manufacture
and sale of healthcare products for use in clinical and home
settings.  The company operates in three business segments:
medical devices, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

COVIDIEN PLC: "Natchitoches" Settlement Hearing Set for March 10
A settlement hearing is scheduled for March 10, 2010, in
Natchitoches Parish Hospital Service District v. Tyco
International, Ltd., et al., Case No. 05-12024 (D. Mass.) (Saris,
J.), which names Covidien, Ltd. (nka Covidien plc), as a
defendant, according to the company's Jan. 26, 2010, Form 10-Q
filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the
quarter ended Dec. 25, 2009.

The class-action suit was filed against the company on Sept. 15,

In the complaint, the putative class representative, on behalf of
itself and others, seeks to recover overcharges it alleges
that it and others paid for sharps containers as a result of
anticompetitive conduct by the company in violation of federal
antitrust laws.

The district court held hearings on the plaintiff's motion for
class certification on April 13, 2007, and on Sept. 18, 2007.

On Aug. 29, 2008, the district court granted the plaintiffs'
motion for class certification.

On Dec. 5, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
denied the company's request for leave to appeal the district
court's granting of the plaintiffs' motion for class

On Jan. 8, 2010, the company reached a settlement agreement
pursuant to which the company will pay the certified class $32.5
million to resolve all claims in the suit.

The Plaintiff is represented by:

          Daniel Berger, Esq.
          BERGER & MONTAGUE, P.C.
          1622 Locust Street
          Philadelphia, PA 19103
          Phone: 215-875-3026

               - and -

          Brett Cebulash, Esq.
          1501 Broadway, Suite 1416
          New York, NY 10036
          Phone: 212-398-0055

The defendants are represented by:

          Margaret Branick-Abilla, Esq.
          Five Palo Alto Square
          3000 El Camino Real
          Palo Alto, CA 94306-2155
          Phone: 650-843-5067

               - and -

          Christopher D. Dusseault, Esq.
          333 South Grand Avenue
          Los Angeles, CA 90071-3197
          Phone: 213-229-7855

DIEDRICH COFFEE: Court Denies TRO to Stall Green Mountain Merger
The Superior Court of the State of California has denied the
plaintiff's application for a temporary restraining order on
Diedrich Coffee, Inc.'s planned merger with Green Mountain Coffee
Roasters, Inc., according to the company's Jan. 25, 2010, Form
10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for
the quarter ended Dec. 9, 2009.

On Nov. 10, 2009, an action entitled George Mendenhall,
individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated v. J.
Russell Phillips, et al., was filed in the Superior Court of the
State of California for the County of Orange.

In this action, the plaintiff named as defendants Diedrich, the
members of the Board, Peet's and Peet's wholly owned subsidiary,
Marty Acquisition Sub, Inc.

Among other things, the Complaint alleges that the members of the
Board breached their fiduciary duties to Diedrich's stockholders
in connection with the transactions previously contemplated by
the terminated Peet's Agreement, allegedly resulting in an unfair
process and unfair price to such stockholders.

The Complaint seeks class certification and certain forms of
equitable relief, including enjoining the completion of the
transactions previously contemplated by the terminated Peet's

Diedrich believes that the allegations of the complaint are
without merit and intends to vigorously contest the action.

On Dec. 23, 2009, an amendment to the Complaint was filed in the

The Amended Complaint names as defendants Diedrich, the members
of the Board, GMCR and Acquisition Sub.

Among other things, the Amended Complaint alleges that the
members of the Board breached their fiduciary duties to Diedrich
stockholders by failing to provide adequate disclosures of
material information concerning the transaction and also seeks an
equitable assessment of attorneys' fees and expenses for the
benefit allegedly conferred by Plaintiff's counsel on Diedrich
stockholders through Plaintiff's alleged involvement in the

The Amended Complaint seeks class certification, certain forms of
equitable relief, including enjoining the completion of the
transaction contemplated by the Merger Agreement with GMCR until
additional disclosures are provided, and an award of attorneys'
fees and expenses.

On Dec. 30, 2009, plaintiff filed an application with the Court
for a temporary restraining order, a schedule for a motion for
preliminary injunction and expedited discovery.

On Dec. 31, 2009, the Court denied the Application in its

Diedrich Coffee, Inc. -- http://www.diedrich.com/-- is a  
specialty coffee roaster, wholesaler and retailer.  The company
sells brewed, espresso-based and various blended beverages
primarily made from its own fresh roasted premium coffee beans,
as well as light food items, whole bean coffee and accessories,
through company operated and franchised retail locations.

DIEDRICH COFFEE: Paid Full Settlement in "Willems" Suit in Oct.
Diedrich Coffee, Inc., in October 2009, paid approximately
$384,000 to fully settle the purported class-action suit styled
Deborah Willems, et al. v. Diedrich Coffee., et al., according to
the company's Jan. 25, 2010, Form 10-Q filing with the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission for the quarter ended Dec. 9,

The complaint was filed Feb. 2, 2007, in Orange County,
California Superior Court on behalf of another former employee
who worked in the position of general manager.

The case involves the issue of whether employees and former
employees who worked in California stores during specified time
periods were deprived of overtime pay, missed meal and rest
breaks.  In addition to unpaid overtime, this case seeks to
recover waiting time penalties, interest, attorneys' fees and
other types of relief on behalf of the current and former
employees in the purported class.  In October 2009, the Company
paid approximately $384,000 to fully settle this lawsuit.

Diedrich Coffee, Inc. -- http://www.diedrich.com/-- is a  
specialty coffee roaster, wholesaler and retailer.  The company
sells brewed, espresso-based and various blended beverages
primarily made from its own fresh roasted premium coffee beans,
as well as light food items, whole bean coffee and accessories,
through company operated and franchised retail locations.

DRINK: Former Servers & Bartenders File Class Action Lawsuit
Jessica Chapman at The Culinary Underbelly reports that six
former Drink servers and bartenders say their former employer
made them eat the costs of walk-outs, unsigned credit card
receipts, and register shortages in a class action filed this
week in Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota.  The suit
says supervisors also altered time sheets in order not to pay
them all the hours they worked. Since they only made minimum wage
to begin with, the practice meant they made even less than
minimum wage.

Among other things, the suit says management would sporadically
"announce that the 'till was off' and would require all
bartenders who were working to pay . . . to make up for the
alleged shortages, which generally ranged from $40 to $200" and
"refused to provide documentation of the . . . shortages."

Drink has locations in both Uptown and downtown.  Spin Nightclub,
which is under the same ownership as Drink, is also named in the
suit.  The six employees worked for both the Updown and downtown
Drink locations.

EHARMONY, INC: Settles Same-Sex Matching Class Action Litigation
eHarmony, Inc., has entered into an agreement to settle a class
action lawsuit brought against the company.  The action, Carlson,
et. al., v. eHarmony, Inc., et al., Case No. _______ (Calif.
Super. Ct., Los Angeles Cty.), was filed in 2007 on behalf of a
class of gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals in California who
alleged that they were unable to use the company's website to be
matched with same-sex partners.

The company has not admitted any wrongdoing or liability.  The
proposed settlement is subject to approval by the Court,
following notice to members of the class.

In March 2009, eHarmony launched a same-sex matching service
called Compatible Partners.  The settlement agreement includes
provisions by which eHarmony will modify and maintain certain
features on the eHarmony.com and Compatible Partners websites to
make them even more welcoming to people who seek same-sex
matches.  These provisions include:

     (A) Maintain the Compatible Partners website and the ability
         for people to select "man seeking man" or "woman seeking
         woman" options from a drop-down menu on the eHarmony.com

     (B) Identify Compatible Partners as a service "Brought to
         you by eHarmony" instead of "Powered by eHarmony"

     (C) Display eHarmony's trademark logo on the Compatible
         Partners page

     (D) Indicate in the URL line, HTML line or a tab to first-
         time Compatible Partners users that they are on an
         eHarmony website

     (E) Include a "Gay Dating" link on the bottom of
         eHarmony.com alongside other links to "Jewish Dating,"
         "Senior Dating," "Hispanic dating," and the like

The Settlement Agreement also provides for individuals seeking
both same-sex matches and opposite-sex matches to pay a single
subscription fee.

Additionally under the settlement, all claims will be dismissed
and a $2 million settlement fund will be established.  
Approximately $500,000 will be designated as a fund for claims by
the class. Any unclaimed portion of this fund will be donated to
a charity designated by the court.  Fees to the class counsel
will be awarded by the court.

Terms for distribution of the settlement fund and other
settlement terms will be disclosed in a notice to be sent to
class members after preliminary court approval.

"We are delighted that eHarmony is making its remarkable
technology available to the gay and lesbian community in a way
that is more welcoming and inclusive," said co-lead counsel for
the plaintiff class:

          Todd M. Schneider, Esq.
          180 Montgomery Street, Suite 2000
          San Francisco, CA 94104
          Telephone: (415) 421-7100

"eHarmony can be proud of the reputation that it has built as the
best dating site on the Internet and it can be proud of the
relationship that it is building with the gay and lesbian
community," said co-lead counsel for the plaintiff class:

          Jeremy Pasternak, Esq.
          445 Bush St., 6th Floor
          San Francisco, CA 94108
          Telephone: (415) 693-0300

"This is an excellent agreement. It is gratifying to see
eHarmony, Inc. support matching for the gay and lesbian
community, which makes the Internet a more open place," said co-
lead counsel for the plaintiff class:

          Joshua G. Konecky, Esq.
          180 Montgomery Street, Suite 2000
          San Francisco, CA 94104
          Telephone: (415) 421-7100

"eHarmony is happy to move beyond this litigation so it can
continue building Compatible Partners into a successful service,"
said outside counsel to eHarmony:

          Robert E. Freitas, Esq.
          1000 Marsh Road
          Menlo Park, CA 94025-1015
          Telephone: (650) 614-7400

                       About eHarmony, Inc.

Pasadena, Calif.-based eHarmony, Inc. -- http://www.eharmony.com/
-- was founded in 2000 and is a pioneer in using relationship
science to match singles seeking long-term relationships. Its
service, available in the United States, Canada, Australia and
United Kingdom, presents users with compatible matches based on
key dimensions of personality that are scientifically proven to
predict highly successful long-term relationships.

FIRSTPLUS HOME: Class Action Litigation Pulls Down Credit Rating
Fitch Ratings has downgraded to 'C' -- junk status -- all 35
classes in eight FirstPlus Home Loan Owner Trust residential
mortgage backed security (RMBS) transactions listed below. The
affected classes have an aggregate balance of approximately $34

The downgrades are a result of the ongoing suspension of interest
and principal to bondholders by US Bank National Association (the
Trustee). Amounts otherwise payable to bondholders are being
retained in the trust pending further developments resulting from
litigation involving the transactions. The revised ratings
reflect both the increased likelihood of both permanent interest
shortfalls and principal writedowns. Since bond loss amounts
cannot be estimated at this time, Recovery Ratings have not been
assigned to the bonds.

Over the past several years, there has been litigation involving
the FirstPlus Home Loan Owner Trusts based on consumer protection
statutes in various states. Most of these class action lawsuits
have been settled. However, on Aug. 7, 2009, the Eighth Circuit
Court of Appeals reversed a district court's decision and thus
significantly increased the amount of potential liability to the
trusts in four Missouri class actions. The Trustee petitioned for
a rehearing in these cases but was subsequently denied.

In separate Arkansas litigation, the Greene County District Court
most recently ruled in December 2009 in favor of the plaintiffs
stating that the interest paid on the mortgage notes was
exorbitant and that the class members are entitled to recovery
from the Trusts.

As a result of the ongoing litigation and the possibility that
the Trust and the Trustee could be held liable for the alleged
actions of the originators, the Trustee decided to suspend all
distributions to holders in October 2009 pending further
developments. This status continued in effect as of the January
2010 remittance date.

At this time, it is undetermined when or if these transactions
will receive distributions of interest and principal. In
addition, all funds that are retained will first be distributed
as a payment of fees and costs incurred by the Trustee in
performing its duties. The fees and costs due to the Trustee will
increase the likelihood that the bonds will incur non-recoverable
interest shortfalls and/or principal writedowns resulting in a

Fitch will continue to monitor these transactions for ongoing
developments and their potential impact on the bonds' outstanding

ILLINOIS BELL: Argues Right to Receive Unclaimed Settlement Funds
Amelia Flood at The Madison County Record reports that Madison
County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack is set to hear a defense motion
asking him to modify an order that settled a seven-year old class
action case for more than $21 million last November.

Defendant Illinois Bell Telephone Company (AT&T Illinois) seeks
an appeal of the award and a cross appeal is in the works from
the plaintiffs' side.

Judge Stack's Nov. 10 order granted the plaintiffs in the suit
summary judgment.

The suit was brought against Illinois Bell Telephone and
Ameritech Corp. over improper rates the companies charged

Lead plaintiff Big Sky Excavating sued the companies in 2003
alleging that they made mistakes in distributing $90 million in
refunds and favored certain customers over others. The $90
million was part of a legistlative compromise about redressing
the overcharges in 2001.

The Theis Law Firm P.C. was later added as another lead

Madison County Circuit Judge Phillip Kardis certified the class
action in 2004, finding the compromise violated Illinois'

The Illinois Supreme Court later reversed that ruling.

Judge Stack inherited the case when Judge Kardis retired.

In February 2009, Stack granted Big Sky's move for summary
judgment. The plaintiffs' legal team had argued that the phone
companies had only returned about $60 of the $90 million at

Judge Stack's Nov. 10 order found the remaining damages to total
just under $22 million.

In the order, he divided the damages. The lead plaintiffs were
each to receive $10,000. Stack granted the attorneys
$7,223,952.00 in legal fees for more than 3,000 hours of work on
the case.

The remaining refund available to class members was a total of
$14,427,905.00 or $21.20 per phone line, as noted in Stack's

Any unpaid funds were to be deposited with the Circuit Clerk's
Office to be distributed to the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance

The plaintiffs had sought an award closer to $30 million.

In the Dec. 9, 2009 motion, Illinois Bell asks Judge Stack to
modify the Nov. 10 order to allow the company to keep the
unclaimed funds.

It argues that distributing unused funds to the foundation should
only be approved in limited circumstances.

"These circumstances are not present here," the motion reads. It
goes on to argue that other courts have allowed the company to
keep unclaimed refunds in the past.

The lead plaintiffs and class is represented by Glenn Bradford
and Terrence O'Leary.

The defendants are represented by John Papa and others.

The case is Madison case number 03-L-715.

MDL 1715: Ameriquest Settles 712,000 Borrowers for $22 Million
E. Scott Reckard at the Los Angeles Times reports that to settle
29 class-action lawsuits consolidated in In re Ameriquest
Mortgage Co. Mortgage Lending Practices Litigation, MDL No. 1715;
Master Docket No. 05-cv-07097 (N.D. Ill.) (Aspen, J.), alleging
predatory lending, the Ameriquest group of subprime lenders has
pledged $22 million to repay aggrieved borrowers and their
lawyers -- a fraction of its payments in previous suits before it
shut down as the mortgage meltdown set in.

The agreement potentially affects 712,000 borrowers from what
once was the nation's largest subprime lender, based in Orange
County. Many of the loans were from Argent Mortgage Co., an arm
that funded borrowers through mortgage brokers.

Also settling were AMC Mortgage Services Inc., Bedford Home Loans
Inc., Town & Country Credit Corp., Olympus Mortgage Co. and
Ameriquest Mortgage itself.

The proposal, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago last month,
bars parties from discussing it.  Its terms were spelled out in
the letters mailed to borrowers beginning last week and online


The agreement covers loans as far back as Dec. 14, 2001, and
sorts claims into five categories, including hefty upfront
charges, interest rates that were higher than promised by nine-
tenths of a percentage point or more, and loans with variable
rates when fixed rates were promised.

Payments to borrowers will vary depending on the relative
strengths and potential damages of each type of claim.

The proposal excludes borrowers who accepted previous individual
and class-action settlements.

Those include Ameriquest's 2006 payment of $325 million to end an
investigation by 49 state attorneys general who alleged it had
deceived borrowers, falsified loan documents and pressured
appraisers to overstate home values; and a San Mateo County
private-party lawsuit on behalf of California, Texas, Alabama and
Alaska borrowers that the company settled for $50 million in

The attorneys general settlement provided an average of more than
$900 for borrowers who accepted it.

By contrast, the class-action settlement, which must be approved
by a federal judge, works out to a bit more than $30 for each
potential class member, and only $20 after administrative costs
and the proposed distribution of $7.3 million in legal fees.

Because nonbank lenders such as Ameriquest sold their loans, they
maintained very little capital and had few assets to recover when
they closed up shop, said Benjamin G. Diehl, a deputy attorney
general for California who helped craft the states' agreement
with Ameriquest.

"Unfortunately, there isn't much left for borrowers," Diehl said.

The borrowers have until Feb. 22 to opt out of the settlement if
they wish to pursue their own lawsuits. To receive settlement
funds, they must fill out and submit a claim form no later than
March 9. If they do neither, they would get no money and give up
all rights to pursue damages.

Class-action lawyer Robert Green of San Francisco said about 20%
of such claim forms typically are returned.

If that occurs in the Ameriquest class actions, it would boost
recovery to an average of about $100 per claim.

The settlement includes no payment from the estate of Ameriquest
founder Roland E. Arnall, a billionaire who died in 2008, or from
the Wall Street firms that funded subprime lenders and
transformed the loans into securities that proved toxic when the
housing bubble burst.

The Plaintiff Class is represented by:

          Kelly M. Dermody, Esq.
          Embarcadero Center West
          275 Battery Street, Suite 3000
          San Francisco, CA 94111

               - and -  

          Rachel Geman, Esq.
          250 Hudson Street, 8th Floor
          New York, NY 10013

               - and -  

          Gary Klein, Esq.
          Shennan Kavanagh, Esq.
          RODDY KLEIN & RYAN
          727 Atlantic Avenue, 2nd Floor
          Boston, MA 02111

               - and -  

          Jill Bowman, Esq.
          JAMES HOYER ET. AL.
          One Urban Centre, Suite 550
          4830 West Kennedy Blvd.
          Tampa, FL 33609-2589

The Defendants are represented by:

          Bernard E. LeSage, Esq.
          1000 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1500
          Los Angeles, CA 90017

MGIC INVESTMENT: Motion to Dismiss Consolidated Suit Pending
MGIC Investment Corp.'s motion to dismiss a consolidated class
action complaint remains pending in the U.S. District Court for
the Eastern District of Wisconsin, according to the company's
Jan. 26, 2010, Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission.

Five previously-filed purported class action complaints filed
against the company and several of its executive officers were
consolidated in March 2009 in the U.S. District Court for the
Eastern District of Wisconsin and Fulton County Employees'
Retirement System was appointed as the lead plaintiff.

The lead plaintiff filed a Consolidated Class Action Complaint on
June 22, 2009.

Due in part to its length and structure, it is difficult to
summarize briefly the allegations in the Complaint but it appears
the allegations are that the company and its officers named in
the Complaint violated the federal securities laws by
misrepresenting or failing to disclose material information

     (i) loss development in the company's insurance in force,

    (ii) C-BASS, including its liquidity.

The Complaint also names two officers of C-BASS with respect to
the Complaint's allegations regarding C-BASS.

The purported class period covered by the Complaint begins on
Oct. 12, 2006 and ends on Feb. 12, 2008.

The Complaint seeks damages based on purchases of the company's
stock during this time period at prices that were allegedly
inflated as a result of the purported misstatements and

With limited exceptions, the company's bylaws provide that its
officers are entitled to indemnification from the company for
claims against them of the type alleged in the Complaint.

The company filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint in August
2009 and briefing related to this motion was completed in
November 2009.

MGIC -- http://www.mgic.com/-- the principal subsidiary of MGIC  
Investment Corporation, is the nation's leading provider of
private mortgage insurance coverage with $212.2 billion primary
insurance in force covering 1.36 million mortgages as of December
31, 2009.  MGIC serves over 3,300 lenders with locations across
the country, Puerto Rico, and other locations helping families
achieve homeownership sooner by making affordable low-down-
payment mortgages a reality.

PETLAND INC: 29 Ariz. Puppy Mill Claims Dismissed & 2 Survive
Chris Balusik at the Chillicothe Gazette reports that just two of
31 claims made against Chillicothe, Ohio-based Petland Inc. under
the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act will be
allowed to move forward in court, with the remaining 29 claims
against the company having been dismissed last week.

Petland said it is "pleased, but not surprised," with the Court's
ruling in Martinelli, et al. v. Petland, Inc., et al., Case No.
09-cv-00529 (D. Ariz.).  

"Despite (the Humane Society of the United States') deceptive
press release touting a legal win, the court's ruling leaves only
two claimants who will be permitted to present the facts of their
case to determine if they are entitled to any reimbursement of
money based upon the claimed illnesses of their dogs."

U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell, in the ruling out of
Arizona filed Tuesday, declared that further court action will be
needed to resolve claims by the two individual Petland customers
who think they bought puppies from company stores based on
alleged misrepresentations of the animals' breeding and health
made by Petland employees.

The lawsuit is an amended complaint that followed dismissal of a
similar class action lawsuit filed in March 2009 by six Petland
customers. Those customers claimed they bought Petland puppies
with the understanding they were bred by legitimate breeders, but
later they thought the animals came from substandard "puppy
mills." That lawsuit was dismissed because the court thought
allegations of misleading actions by Petland were not specific
enough to warrant the lawsuit moving forward.

The door was left open by the court, however, for plaintiffs to
refile the lawsuit with more specifics included.  As reported in
the Class Action Report on Sept. 13, 2009, with a number of new
plaintiffs added, it was.

Judge Campbell, in his most recent ruling, indicated 29 of the
claims still lacked any specific indications that any Petland
employee, Web site or brochure misrepresented the breeding or
health of the animals sold or that the customers' beliefs about
the puppies' origins were the determining factor in their
decision to buy the pets.

"The basis for this (puppy origin) belief was not provided, and
the complaint did not otherwise allege that Plaintiffs relied on
misrepresentations about the origin of Petland puppies when they
made their purchases," the ruling says.

"In fact, not a single Plaintiff has alleged that he or she ever
visited the Defendant's websites, received Defendant's written
brochures or relied on a written health certificate or warranty."

The judge also said the court cannot assign motives as to why
each person decides to buy a pet.

"A person might buy a puppy because he falls in love with it in
the store window, he has heard it will make a good guard dog, he
likes the price, he is referred to the store by a friend or he
finds the store convenient," Campbell wrote. "It is not
necessarily true that every purchaser would base his or her
decision on the fact that the puppy was 'the finest available' or
was bred by professional, hobby or USDA-approved breeders -- key
misrepresentations identified in the amended complaint."

Those 29 complaints were dismissed.

The two that survived involved puppy purchases by Elliott Moskow
from a Petland store in Topsham, Me., and Karen Galatis in
Manchester, N.H. The two stores involved with the claims,
according to Petland, were individually owned and operated
franchise stores and not corporate-run and have since closed.

Petland also indicated Wednesday that it has found no evidence
that either Mr. Moskow or Ms. Galatis contacted Petland Inc. to
discuss resolution of their complaints prior to the filing of the

Mr. Moskow alleges that he specifically asked before purchase
whether Petland receives puppies from "puppy mills" and was told
the company does not.  Ms. Galatis said a Petland employee
specifically assured her that her puppy had "never been sick, was
up to date on his shots, was not hypoglycemic and was lethargic
and quiet only because he was stuck in a cage all day long."

Without making a decision on the validity of their claims, Judge
Campbell ruled that their questioning prior to purchase and the
specifics of the exchanges provided to the court put their two
claims on a different level than the others.

"In both cases, the factual allegations of the amended complaint
reasonably suggest that the Plaintiffs relied on what they were
told by Petland employees," he wrote.

The court, therefore, indicated it would allow the two
plaintiffs' RICO claim to move forward. It also ruled that an
unjust enrichment claim -- asserting Petland profited and
benefitted from an intent to defraud the two plaintiffs -- will
be considered, as will a claim by Mr. Moskow against Petland
under the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The claims brought by the other plaintiffs in the case cannot be
refiled, with the court concluding they had "been afforded an
adequate opportunity to plead their cases."

The court will be setting a scheduling conference for the case at
a later date.

All claims against The Hunte Corp., a puppy breeder also named in
both the original and amended lawsuits, were dismissed.

The Humane Society of the United States, an animal rights
activist group not affiliated with local Humane Society shelters,
supported the class action claim and provided attorneys with its
Animal Protection Litigation section to help the legal team
preparing the case.

"Unscrupulous puppy sellers like Petland reap massive profits by
pushing unhealthy puppies on well-intentioned dog-lovers who
would never knowingly buy a puppy mill dog," said Jonathan
Lovvorn, vice president and chief council for Animal Protection
Litigation. "This industry has been systematically lying to
consumers for decades about the source of the dogs they sell, and
it's time for a major correction."

Petland said the rejection of the larger class action in the case
reinforced its position that it does not use substandard

"Petland is also pleased to report that the Court rejected
plaintiffs' broad claims relating to the sale of pets from
substandard breeders, referred to by HSUS as 'puppy mills,'" the
company indicated. "Petland supports humane breeding practices
and the humane treatment of all animals and has provided such
support for more than 40 years."

PFIZER INC: Pa. Super. Ct. Upholds Class Decertification Decision
Gina Passarella at The Legal Intelligencer reports that a class
of plaintiffs in a case against Pfizer over its alleged off-label
marketing of an epilepsy drug was properly decertified when
Pfizer presented new evidence that the class's main expert didn't
prove class members' individual doctors relied on the marketing,
the Pennsylvania Superior Court said.

The appellate court also ruled a class can be decertified after a
decision on the merits if new evidence comes to light. The three-
judge Superior Court panel vacated a summary judgment motion in
favor of Pfizer now that the class is decertified because leaving
the judgment intact would preclude absent class members from
bringing individual suits on the same issue.

John K. Weston of Sacks & Weston in Jenkintown, Pa., represents
the former class led by Gregory Clark and Linda Meashey in Clark
v. Pfizer Inc.  He argued before the Superior Court in November
that Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Mark I. Bernstein
improperly decertified the class in February -- a month before

Mr. Weston said depositions of a sampling of Pennsylvania doctors
who said they prescribed Neurontin for off-label uses but weren't
influenced to do so by any Pfizer marketing campaign were not
enough to overturn the class.  He said it doesn't matter if the
doctors said they weren't affected by such a campaign because
that is an issue for the jury to decide.

Mr. Weston also took issue with the fact that decisions were made
in the case between the time the class was certified in 2007 and
when it was decertified in 2009. In March 2008, Bernstein granted
Pfizer's motion for summary judgment as to the breach of express
warranty claims by purchasers of the generic form of Neurontin,
gabapentin, which was made by manufacturers not owned by Pfizer.

In the same Feb. 9 motion where the class was decertified,
Bernstein also granted a summary judgment motion by Pfizer on the
plaintiffs' class claims for breach of warranty and Pfizer's
motion for summary judgment regarding members of the class who
benefited from the off-label use of Neurontin.

In arguing the class couldn't be decertified after a partial
summary judgment, Weston relied on language in Pennsylvania Rule
of Civil Procedure 1710(d), which states "an order under this
rule may be conditional and, before a decision on the merits, may
be revoked, altered or amended. . . ."

Dechert's Robert C. Heim, Esq., argued on behalf of Pfizer and
said the courts have to make class certification decisions early
in a case and can always decertify later. He said certifications
are made on the presumption that injury could be shown on a
classwide basis.

In citing the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's 2009 decision in
Basile v. H&R Block as well as a 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals decision in Barnes v. American Tobacco, Superior Court
Judge Cheryl Lynn Allen said that while there is a general rule
under Rule 1710 that classes can't be decertified after rulings
on the merits, there is also a long-standing exception. Courts
can decertify after a ruling on the merits when new facts or
circumstances arise.

"In this case, after the trial court certified the class,
defendants discovered and produced the deposition testimony of
various doctors to establish that Neurontin was prescribed for
reasons other than defendant's misrepresentations," Allen said.
"This evidence constituted the changed circumstances necessary to
empower a trial court to revisit its prior certification order,
as it called into question the feasibility and manageability of
the class."

The class had relied on an expert report by Meredith Rosenthal,
an assistant professor of health, economics and policy at Harvard
School of Public Health. She concluded in her national study that
Pfizer's alleged unlawful conduct "'would likely have resulted in
impact'" to the class members because "'economic theory and
empirical evidence suggests'" such marketing activities increase
off-label prescriptions, according to the opinion.

In Clark, the plaintiffs relied on the report to prove classwide
causation and reliance for the Pennsylvania class members.
Rosenthal said in depositions that she didn't consult or review
testimony of Pennsylvania doctors. In a similar case in
Massachusetts, a district court judge denied certification based
on Rosenthal's statistical model, Allen said.

She said Pfizer produced evidence to show Pennsylvania doctors
prescribed Neurontin for other reasons aside from marketing
pitches, so the class had to show doctor-by-doctor that Pfizer's
alleged misrepresentations caused them to prescribe the medicine.
Allen said Rosenthal's report doesn't fulfill that requirement.

"In sum, statistical probability does not substitute for actual
inquiry, as a general showing of percentages does not tend to
prove that the class members' specific doctors relied upon
defendants' statements or that defendants' statements were the
proximate cause of an injury," Allen said.

The judge said the plaintiffs didn't meet their burden of showing
commonality and typicality in order to certify the class.

Allen invoked res judicata principles in vacating the entry of
summary judgment in the class's breach of warranty claim. Under
the facts and procedure of Clark, she said it would be unfair to
bind the absent class members to what would ultimately be a final

"The trial court ruled against the absent class members on only
one of their four claims and then decided to dissolve the entire
class, thus terminating the class action litigation and the
absent class members' ability to proceed with their cause of
action," Allen said. "As a result, the absent class members,
having received the requisite notice, are bound by the judgment
entered against them even though the trial court ruled that the
class action was unsustainable under the law."

SEARS ROEBUCK: Lawn Mower Status Conference Adjourned to March
Amelia Flood at the The St. Clair Record reports that a January
status conference in a St. Clair County class action brought over
lawn mower horsepower marketing has been moved to March.

According to a letter and signed order from Jan. 5, the Jan. 11
status conference in Rhonda Lemay v. Sears Roebuck Company, et.
al., has been moved to March 4, 2010, at 10:00 a.m.

Lemay's class action is one of a number filed nationwide against
Sears and other lawnmower makers. It alleges that the company
mismarked lower power machines and sold them as their higher
powered counterparts.

Lemay had moved to consolidate her case with another suit pending
in St. Clair County filed by lead plaintiff Andrew Stone.

However, Mr. Stone opposes the move.  He filed a motion late last
year arguing that Lemay's move to consolidate the case was
improper and his case, as the older suit, should take precedence
and proceed.

Lemay's class action is one of the four 2009 class action cases
that remain in St. Clair County.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael O'Malley is presiding.

Mr. Lemay is represented by JoDee Favre and others.

Sears is represented by Charles Swartwout and others.

Mr. Stone is represented by Richard Burke.

The Lemay case is St. Clair case number 09-L-085.

ST. JOSEPH'S MEDICAL: Lawsuit Levies Unnecessary Surgery Charges
Baltimore's WBAL-TV 11 News and WBALTV.com report a class action
lawsuit has been filed against St. Joseph's Medical Center after
a doctor was accused of performing unnecessary surgeries.

It's part of a federal investigation and hospital review that
found cases where Dr. Mark Midei placed stents in patients'
arteries that weren't medically necessary.

At least one victim filed a claim with the Healthcare Alternative
Dispute Resolution Office. More than 350 patients were informed
they may have received unnecessary stents. The procedure costs
about $10,000.

In a statement sent to WBAL-TV Thursday evening, the hospital
said: "SJMC continues to put our patients' best interests first.
Since first becoming aware of these issues involving a single
physician, SJMC has taken aggressive action to correct the
problem, including by providing information to the patients who
are potentially affected.

"Based on medical review, the hospital does not believe that
patients who were treated and received a stent that was not
supported by their catheterization film are at immediate risk. As
part of its effort, SJMC also has notified the patients' primary
care physicians and cardiologists to inform them of the
situation. Patients and their physicians have been contacted by
letter sent via overnight delivery."

A hospital representative said recently that the physician is no
longer employed or affiliated with the hospital. A representative
for Dr. Midei told 11 News that the doctor wasn't ready to
comment yet.

STAPLES INC: Inks $42 Million Global Labor Litigation Settlement
Staples, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS) has reached a global settlement in
several retail wage and hour class action lawsuits related to the
alleged misclassification of its assistant store managers
concerning overtime pay.

Under the terms of the global settlement, which is subject to
court approval, the Company has agreed to pay $42 million to
resolve the allegations and avoid further distraction from
litigation that has been ongoing for the past three years. The
Company has also agreed to drop its appeal of a verdict against
it last year in New Jersey. The amounts associated with the
previous verdict will be included in the settlement amount, as
will interest and class counsel's attorney fees.

Staples believes that its store labor model, which is based on a
commitment to fair and respectful treatment of its associates, is
fully compliant with applicable state and federal law. The global
settlement involves no admission of wrongdoing in connection with
the allegations, which claimed that assistant store managers were
misclassified as exempt from overtime pay. The settlement amount
resolves claims for damages dating back as far as 2002 in some
cases and covers more than 5,500 current and former associates.

                             About Staples

Staples, the world's largest office products company, is
committed to making it easy for customers to buy a wide range of
office products, including supplies, technology, furniture, and
business services. With 2008 sales of $23 billion and 91,000
associates worldwide, Staples serves businesses of all sizes and
consumers in 27 countries throughout North and South America,
Europe, Asia and Australia. In July 2008, Staples acquired
Corporate Express, one of the world's leading suppliers of office
products to businesses and institutions. Staples invented the
office superstore concept in 1986 and is headquartered outside

TOYOTA MOTOR: Halts U.S. Sales of Camry & Seven Other Models
Yuri Kageyama, a Business Writer for The Associated Press,
reports from Tokyo that Toyota's decision to suspend U.S. sales
of eight of its most popular models -- including the Camry,
America's best-selling car -- to fix faulty gas pedals is a
stunning blow to the automaker's reputation and endangers its
fledgling earnings recovery.

The move, unprecedented in scale for an automaker, is also a
symbol of the dramatic failings of the aggressive growth strategy
Toyota Motor Corp. pursued under former President Katsuaki
Watanabe, a cost-cutting expert, who led the Japanese automaker
to the No. 1 spot in global vehicle sales, dethroning General
Motors Co. in 2008, analysts say.

The sales suspension to fix gas pedals that could stick and cause
acceleration without warning was announced in the U.S. late
Tuesday. Last week, Toyota recalled the same eight models,
involving 2.3 million vehicles.

Toyota is also halting production at six North American car-
assembly plants, beginning the week of Feb. 1, and gave no date
on when production could restart.

Although Toyota's Japan plants are not affected, the problem
could spread to Europe, where a similar accelerator part is being
used, and could affect millions more vehicles.

The problem part comes from one U.S. supplier and does not affect
models that use parts from different suppliers, said a Toyota
official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Analysts said the production stoppage signaled a more serious
crisis for Toyota than recalls, which are fairly routine for

TOYOTA MOTOR: Lawyers Are Busy Fielding Calls & Filing Lawsuits
Nathan Koppel the The Wall Street Journal says that Toyota Motor
Corp., it is safe to say, will keep lawyers busy for months to
come, reporting that plaintiffs' lawyers across the county are
fielding calls from consumers who complain that they have been
injured -- or fear they will be -- by unintended acceleration
in a range of Toyota vehicles.

"We are investigating a number of fatalities and various injuries
across the country," Fabrice Vincent, Esq., a lawyer with San
Francisco's Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, which has
fielded about two dozen calls from Toyota owners, told Mr.

In San Diego, attorney Tim Pestotnik, Esq., said he has been
retained in connection with an August crash that killed off-duty
California highway patrolman Mark Saylor and three family
members, who were riding in a Lexus that allegedly accelerated
beyond control and hit another vehicle.  "The brakes didn't
work," said Mr. Pestotnik.

Mostly, though, consumers are complaining about minor injuries
or, more commonly, a fear that they might be injured, according
to attorneys.

Product recalls typically lead to a spike in litigation, said
James O'Gara, Esq., a New York attorney who specializes in
product-liability suits. The tendency among consumers is to think
"everything that goes wrong has something to do with" a recall,
he said.

Many owners who haven't been injured are still claiming that they
have been damaged by a drop in the resale value of their Toyota
and Lexus vehicles.  Attorneys are jockeying to bring class
actions on behalf of potentially thousands of such owners.

Consumers also will seek to recover the costs of securing
alternate transportation while they await repairs for the
problem, said California attorney Michael Louis Kelly, Esq.  
"The question is whether Toyota will reimburse them," said Mr.
Kelly, who added that his firm, Kirtland & Packard LLP, is
fielding about 100 calls and 100 emails a day from concerned
consumers, and has already filed two suits seeking class-action

UNION CITY: Class Action Suit Accuses Police of Racial Bias
KCBS-TV in California reports that the Union City Police
Department has not protected black kids from a Latino gang,
according to a class action suit filed by the family of a
murdered teenager.

Vernon Eddins, 14, was shot to death outside Barnard-White Middle
School on December 21, 2007.  His mother, Angelique Paige, claims
she was discouraged from filing police reports when she
complained that her son had been assaulted by alleged members of
a group known as the Decoto Gang.

"The police told Miss Page that Union City was the Decoto's city
and suggested that she move away," said her attorney, Arnold
Woods, at a news conference last week.

Mr. Eddins murder was committed before several eye witnesses and
no arrests have been made. That situation was all the more
egregious, Woods said, because Decoto gang members have bragged
about the slaying online.

Union City., Calif., Police Chief Greg Stewart said he could not
comment on the specifics of pending litigation. The department
has a "long-standing record of being responsive to and defending
the rights of all members of our diverse community," he said in a
prepared statement.

Mr. Stewart said the department would continue to devote
resources to the Eddins case and to other violent crime

UNITED AIRLINES: Small Chicago Firm Gets Most of Pilot Case Fees
Lynne Marek at The National Law Journal reports that the $44
million payday coming for some United Airlines pilots next week
from the settlement of a pension dispute will include a $16.4
million payout for their Illinois lawyers.

Myron M. Cherry & Associates of Chicago will get the lion's share
of the Feb. 3 payment, raking in $9.8 million as class counsel in
the long-shot labor dispute.  Korein Tillery, a St. Louis-based
firm, will take home $6.6 million for chipping in over three
years.  They represented 2,200 senior United pilots who claimed
in a December 2006 federal lawsuit filed in Chicago that they
were shortchanged by their union in a distribution of pension
benefits related to the airline's bankruptcy.

"We thought that was a wrong that was so clear that we could
squeeze it into some legal theory," said Myron "Mike" Cherry, who
said the award is among the top three biggest ever for his firm.

The two small firms triumphed over big-law rivals.  Once the
pilot plaintiffs defeated a motion for summary judgment last July
by the union Air Line Pilots Association International, which was
represented by Mayer Brown, and won denial of a motion for
reconsideration in September, the case preliminarily settled in
October and reached final settlement last month. The settlement
was announced last week after a period for appeals had lapsed.

The union's bid fell short despite assistance from United and its
counsel at Kirkland & Ellis and Reed Smith.

The case may represent the biggest award ever in a fair
representation case, in which unions are sued over their
responsibility to fairly represent their members.  "There are
relatively few successful fair representation cases, and this is
a very significant amount of recovery," said Harry Rissetto,
Esq., senior counsel at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Washington,
D.C. While Mr. Rissetto wasn't involved in the United case, he
has represented major airlines.

Stephen Tillery, Esq., said he got his firm into the case because
it had "some very good facts," namely the skewed distribution of
funds that negatively affected older pilots.

Mr. Cherry's firm had two full-time lawyers and three part-time
attorneys on the case, while Korein Tillery assigned one full-
time lawyer and three occasional attorneys.

UNITED STATES: Govt. To Pay $7.4 Mil. in Debt Collection Lawsuit
insideARM.com reports that the United States will pay some $7.4
million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by military
veterans over the government's debt collection tactics in
recovering money owed for on-base purchases.

More than 6,700 former members of the military will receive
$10,000 each in the settlement.  A Federal judge in San Francisco
approved the settlement Thursday.

At issue in the case was the government's practice of
"administrative offset," or intercepting certain federal payments
-- like income tax refunds and social security benefits -- to pay
down other debts owed to the U.S. In the case, the lead plaintiff
argued that the debt he incurred on a base in 1993 had reached
the 10 year statute of limitations for the offset program before
the government began withholding income tax refunds in 2004.

Julius Briggs, a disabled Army veteran, filed the case in 2007
after the U.S. had kept some $2,300 in tax refunds over the
previous three years to pay down a $1,857 charge account debt he
ran up buying uniforms and other items on a military base in

Once the class was certified, other veterans complained that the
Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), which grants credit
to military members for on-base purchases, miscalculated interest
and fees and failed to send proper notices after they left the
military. Many more also alleged that the offset was used after
the statute of limitations had passed.

The court sided with the class earlier, agreeing that Briggs'
debt had passed the allowable time for the government to use the
offset. The 10-year statute of limitations was lifted in 2008.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the case is among the first
class actions ever to challenge the debt collection tactics of a
federal agency.

* J. Kevin Snyder to Lead Dykema's Class Action Defense Team
The Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that Los Angeles

          J. Kevin Snyder, Esq.
          333 South Grand Avenue, Suite 2100
          Los Angeles, CA 90071
          Telephone: 213-457-1800
          Telephone: 213-457-1850

has been appointed team leader of the firm's Class Action Defense

Mr. Snyder's practice focuses on complex business and
intellectual property litigation in state and federal court,
defending class actions including cases brought under consumer
and unfair competition statutes, wage and hour laws, the Fair
Credit Reporting Act, the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act,
and the Truth in Lending Act, the firm said.

The attorney said that the team consists of a core group of about
50 lawyers nationwide who handle class action cases. He explained
that his role was to "facilitate putting together our response"
when lawsuits are filed against clients by coordinating staffing
and "marshalling all the various resources across the country to
make sure we're doing the best job for the client."

He said he was looking forward to "being able to coordinate our
resources and more effectively market the firm's expertise in the
class action area."

Mr. Snyder estimated that the firm is currently handling about 50
class actions across the country.

The 27-year veteran attorney emphasized that class action defense
"has been a significant part of my practice since the beginning,"
adding that there is "a lot of challenge working on cases where
there is typically much at stake, clients who are sophisticated,
and in an area that's complex and challenging."

Mr. Snyder began his legal career with Buchalter Nemer after
earning his under graduate and law degrees from USC. He then
moved on to spend about 10 years at Robins, Kaplan, Miller &
Ciresi LLP before joining Dykema about four and a half years ago.

The Midwest-based Dykema maintains offices in California,
Illinois, Michigan, Texas and Washington, D.C., and a national
practice focused on serving domestic and foreign-based companies
and institutions on a variety business issues including corporate
governance, litigation, growth strategies and risk reduction,
financial services, mergers and acquisitions, international
trade, and e-commerce.


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.  Gracele D. Canilao, Leah Felisilda and Peter A. Chapman,

Copyright 2010.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
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Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to
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