/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/100224.mbx             C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

           Wednesday, February 24, 2010, Vol. 12, No. 38


AUSTRALIA: Homeowners Complain about RAAF Fighter Jet Noise
BANK OF NOVA SCOTIA: Court Certifies Employee Overtime Class
BGL LTD: Nigerian Court Certifies Investor Plaintiff Class
BRAZILIAN CONSULATE: Accused of Not Paying Overtime Compensation
CIBC: Bank Awarded Legal Fees in Overtime Class Action Lawsuit

HALLIBURTON CO: Class Loses Second Bid to Secure Certification
HEWLETT-PACKARD: Suit Complains About Defective Computer Chip
HUGHES COMMS: Most of Satellite Internet Service Suit Survives
NEW YORK: Settlement Inked in Abuse & Mistreatment Registry Case
PFIZER INC: Class Certified in Canadian Neurotin Drug Case

PORSCHE CARS: Wins Dismissal of N.J. 911 Carrera Defect Lawsuit
PULTE HOMES: N.D. Calif. Dismisses Marketing & Lending Suit
RUSSIA: Poland Joins Katyn Massacre Class Action Suit
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA: Proposition 209 Enforcement Challenged
WACHOVIA CORP: Judge Cuts Ehrenhaus v. Baker Fees by $1 Million

WAL-MART STORES: Fires Lead Plaintiff in Sexual Harassment Case


AUSTRALIA: Homeowners Complain about RAAF Fighter Jet Noise
Ben Smee at The Herald reports that support is growing for a $150
million class action against Australia's Department of Defence
over noise from the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

A group of Port Stephens councillors will bring up the issue at a
council meeting next month, claiming new noise exposure forecasts
around RAAF Base Williamtown will reduce the value of 1,500
properties that have been reclassified.

The accuracy of the noise forecast contours, which are used to
restrict development, has been called into question by the
department's response to compensation calls.

Defence claimed the forecasts were not an appropriate method for
directing compensation, admitting the lines were effectively

"Actual noise levels and noise effects on the ground will depend
on how the aircraft is operated," a Defence spokeswoman said.

"[The noise map used to restrict development] is only a forecast
of aircraft noise exposure."

Defence also said it was "highly probable" that use of the Salt
Ash Weapons Range would be limited once the Joint Strike Fighter

Modelling using a publicly available RAAF computer program shows
decreasing the use of the range by 50 per cent would move the
noise forecast contours away from affected residential areas at

Despite the uncertainty, the noise contours have been adopted and
are already affecting development.

Port Stephens councillor Steve Tucker briefly raised the prospect
of a class action at last week's council meeting, and said he had
support to have the plan adopted.

"The Department of Defence has imposed this on us," he said.

"Imagine if you had a go-kart track and you wanted to turn it
into a V8 Supercar track. You wouldn't be allowed to do it or
you'd have to pay so much for noise attenuation.

"We've got all these homes and we're going to wipe $100,000 off
the value off each of them."

Councillor Glenys Francis said last week that Defence had treated
the people of Port Stephens "with disdain".

"They're sitting back there and treating us like a bunch of
idiots," Cr. Francis said.

"Over the years we've not ever had input, we've not ever had
consultation and I don't understand how we think that's OK."

Mayor Bruce MacKenzie said he thought the idea of suing the RAAF
was "tooth fairy stuff".

BANK OF NOVA SCOTIA: Court Certifies Employee Overtime Class
Tara Perkins at CTV News reports that an Ontario Superior Court
judge has certified a national class action suit that alleges
Bank of Nova Scotia did not properly pay overtime to its
employees. The case relates to the pay of about 5,000 employees
who have worked in Scotiabank branches since the year 2000.

Justice George Strathy said in reasons released Friday that he
has concluded there is evidence of "systemic wrongs" in this
situation, stemming "from a policy that failed to reflect the
realities of the workplace because it put the onus on the
employee to obtain prior approval for overtime rather than
requiring the employer to ensure that employees were paid for
overtime that they were permitted or required to work.

"The systemic wrongs included the failure of Scotiabank to
establish a system-wide procedure to record overtime, making it
all the more difficult for employees to obtain fair compensation
for their overtime work," he wrote.

"We're disappointed with the certification," said Scotiabank
spokeswoman Ann DeRabbie. "We've got some time before we need to
make any decisions, so we'll be reviewing the judge's comments
and determining our next steps."

She added that "we're committed to treating our employees fairly
and with respect."

Mr. Justice Strathy noted that his conclusions differ from those
in a recent similar case against CIBC, which was not certified.
Unlike that case, "there is evidence in this case that the
failure to pay overtime occurred because of the policy, not
independent of the policy," Mr. Justice Strathy wrote.

He said that he thinks employees of Scotiabank would have a
justifiable concern that they would not be perceived as team
players if they tried to go through internal or other channels to
obtain overtime.

Coverage of Scotiabank's motion to dismiss appeared in the Class
Action Reporter on Nov. 20, 2009.  

BGL LTD: Nigerian Court Certifies Investor Plaintiff Class
Peter Nkanga at 234NEXT.com reports that a Lagos High Court has
given nod to 80 aggrieved investors, bonded in a class action
suit, to seek legal remedies against a Lagos asset management
company, BGL Ltd., for an alleged N30 billion financial fraud in
a private placement offer.

In the nation's first class action lawsuit in the margin loan
crisis, Justice Charles Archibong of the Federal High Court,
Ikoyi, Lagos, certified the suit and appointed two investment
houses, EP Staff Investments Ltd. and Gold and Gate Resources
Ltd., to act as representatives for "all the investors" who
subscribed to BGL's PP.

"Any unnamed person falling within the Class of
Plaintiffs/Applicants on whose behalf this action has been
brought in a representative capacity are hereby restrained from
filing any separate action(s) except with the leave of this
Honourable Court," said Mr. Archibong in his court order.

Ope Banwo of Banwo, Adeyemo and Igbokwe Chambers, representing
the 80 investors, said the court order is being brought against
BGL Plc, three banks, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Chartered
Institute of Stockbrokers (CIN) over BGL Ltd.'s Private Placement
held between 2007 and 2008.

In the beginning

In November 2007, BGL Limited (now Plc), a registered broker and
capital market operator, advertised a Private Placement offer of
4.3Billion Ordinary Shares at N7 per share to raise N30.1Billion

BGL approached some staff of Shell Petroleum Development Company
(SPDC) in Port Harcourt whom they considered "a select list of
potential investors" with the capacity to subscribe to "a minimum
of 1,000,000 shares and multiples of 100,000 shares thereafter".

After only few of them purchasing the minimum N7million share
units, BGL encouraged others to form a Special Purpose Vehicle
(SPV) in order to avail them funds it had obtained from First
Inland Bank (now Finbank), the lead underwriters for the Private

BGL promised them that "within the next 18-24 months", it would
be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange via an Initial Public
Offering and that the value of the shares would increase to
between N15-N30 by December 2008. It also said that allotment of
shares and share certificates would be issued soon after the

BGL's stock broking subsidiary, BGL Securities Ltd., said it
would provide an Over the Counter (OTC) market on "Bloomberg" and
"Reuters" for shareholders seeking liquidity, while it was
promised that an Annual General Meeting (AGM) would hold after
the placement.

By March 13, 2008, to further convince them, BGL's executive
director, Henry Laraiyetan, a former senior employee of First
Inland Bank, wrote:

"I can only assure you are making a worthwhile investment & would
be shaking hands with Edgar (handling the transaction) in about
13 months from now. Do encourage as many of your colleagues as
possible to Investment (sic) in the BGL PP and even increase your
level of business dealings with us." Convinced, about 80 SPDC
Staff incorporated EP Staff Investments Ltd. In turn, BGL
Securities Ltd gave them two separate loans totalling over
N700million for them to invest in its Private Placement; while EP
Staff contributed over N235million as 30% equity.

The set-up

By August 2009, Finbank Plc. was found guilty of excessive non-
performing loans. BGL with Finbank officials then decided to
shift its debt unto BGL shareholders who received margin loans,
by allegedly forging documents authorising a facility from the
bank to them.

To achieve this, a staff of BGL's Corporate Treasury, Bolaji
Oyemade, said "there is urgent need for BGL to provide Finbank
with the passport photographs of our shareholders who took
advantage... to invest in BGL PP." The photographs were said to
be needed to update KYC (Know-Your-Customer) requirements with

Mr. Oyemade scheduled a meeting between BGL, its shareholders and
Finbank at the bank's head office in Lagos on August 31 and
September 2, 2009 where EFCC operatives led by Wakili Mohammed,
an Assistant Commissioner of Police, allegedly intimidated,
harassed and detained the shareholders so as to force them sign
documents and issue post-dated cheques showing their perceived
indebtedness to Finbank.

Counselled by their lawyer and a financial analyst, Olufemi
Awoyemi of Proshare Nigeria Ltd., they refused, stating that
before they took the loan, BGL had told them there was a
corporate guarantee in place with Finbank, thus not making them
liable for BGL's debt.

"These people are been hounded to pay a loan BGL took. These same
people invested their own money based on promises BGL made, which
as at today, have not been fulfilled. They are not listed on the
Stock Exchange, the shares cannot be traded. There's no OTC, no
AGM, nothing," Mr. Awoyemi said.

Who is to blame?

Finbank's External Relations Group Head, Ekuma Eze's response on
the matter was "...disclosure by us will be a breach of our duty
of confidentiality in the Banker-customer relationship."

EFCC's spokesperson, Femi Babafemi, said he needed time to get
facts on the allegations of Mr. Mohammed's involvement, who he
said was now based in Kano.

Meanwhile, regulators lapsed into a blaming game. Nigerian Stock
Exchange spokesman, Sola Oni, said his agency did not play any
role in BGL's Private Placement and added "You may wish to
contact the Apex Regulator, SEC, on the issues of Private
Placement." SEC spokesperson, Lanre Oloyi, however, said his
agency had no regulatory authority over BGL's Private Placement
being that it was a limited liability company during its PP. He
asked that further enquiries on BGL's non-listing on the Exchange
be directed to NSE.

"Whether BGL was a private company or otherwise, it is subject to
regulations under the SEC. Therefore they should be held
accountable for incompetence and failure of execution of
responsibility. SEC cannot escape that," Mr. Awoyemi said.

When contacted, BGL's legal representative, Ishmael Ebhodaghe,
said "the case is in court and it would be sub judice to say
anything on this matter." When Mr. Oyemade was approached at BGL
office located on Catholic Mission Street, Lagos Island, he
questioned NEXT's interest in the matter.

"I won't just give you an audience because you are a third party.
You do not have the capacity to come and say you want to report
on this. I don't see the strength of your presence in this
matter. I don't see what you are representing," Mr. Oyemade said.

Legally, Mr. Banwo said BGL contravened section 159 (1) and (2)
of the Companies and Allied Matters Act by "giving financial
assistance directly or indirectly" to EP Staff to acquire shares
in its own Private Placement. He also said BGL is guilty of
rendering "false and misleading statements" as spelt out in
sections 107 and 108 of the Investments and Securities Act (ISA).

"This class action is critical for these investors because they
stand to lose their jobs, their investments and their entire live
savings, all because some people are allowing illegalities to
thrive. It is now for any person who has suffered the same wrong
to apply to be joined in the suit or be excluded in the action,"
Mr. Banwo said.

Mr. Archibong adjourned the case till March 22, 2010 ordering the
notice certifying the Class Action be advertised in at least two
national dailies newspapers.

BRAZILIAN CONSULATE: Accused of Not Paying Overtime Compensation
Courthouse News Service reports that a class action claims The
Consulate General of Brazil in Houston stiffs workers for
overtime, in Houston Federal Court.

A copy of the Complaint in Ayoub v. The Consulate General of
Brazil in Houston, Case No. 10-cv-00503 (S.D. Tex.), is available


The Plaintiff is represented by:

          Glenn W. Patterson, Jr., Esq.
          11 Greenway Plaza, Suite 2820
          Houston, TX 77046
          Telephone: 713-961-1200

CIBC: Bank Awarded Legal Fees in Overtime Class Action Lawsuit
Tara Perkins at CTV News reports that Justice Joan Lax, who in
June 2009 dismissed a motion for class certification in an
overtime case against CIBC, ordered last week that CIBC be
reimbursed for $525,000 in legal costs, noting that the
allegations raised significant reputational and financial issues
for the bank and attracted widespread media attention.

Coverage of Justice Lax's decision that the lawsuit against CIBC
didn't meet the test of a class-action suit because each employee
would have an individual claim that lacked commonality with the
others appeared in the Class Action Reporter on Nov. 20, 2009.

HALLIBURTON CO: Class Loses Second Bid to Secure Certification
Courthouse News Service reports that the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the denial of class
certification in a securities fraud lawsuit accusing Halliburton
and former CEO David Lesar of overstating the company's assets
and understating its potential liability in asbestos litigation.

The federal appeals court in New Orleans upheld the district
court's assessment that investors failed to prove "loss
causation" -- that Halliburton's correction of previous
misstatements caused the stock price to fall and investors to
lose money.

Halliburton and Mr. Lesar argued that the lower court had applied
the wrong standard for loss causation by requiring them to actual

"Our review of the district court's order and the evidence leads
us to conclude, however, that the district court fully understood
loss causation under our precedent and correctly applied the
legal standard," Senior Judge Thomas Reavley wrote.

Investors accused Halliburton and Mr. Lesar of understating the
company's exposure in asbestos litigation by $20 million to $30
million, providing an inaccurate accounting of engineering and
construction revenue, and overstating the cost-savings of a
merger with Dresser Industries.

A copy of the Honorable Judge Thomas Reavley's Feb. 12, 2010,
decision in The Archdiocese of Milwaukee Supporting Fund, Inc. v.
Halliburton Co., et al., No. 08-11195 (5th Cir.), is available


The Plaintiff-Appellant is represented by:

         Richard S. Schiffrin, Esq.
         280 King of Prussia Rd.
         Radnor, PA 19087
         Telephone: 610-667-7706

               - and -  

         Marc R. Stanley, Esq.
         3100 Monticello Ave., Suite 750
         Dallas, TX 75205
         Telephone: 214-443-4301
[Erroneous content redacted Feb. 2, 2010]

Halliburton Co., the Defendant-Appellee, is represented by:

         Thomas E. Bilek, Esq.
         1000 Louisiana St., Suite 1302
         Houston, TX 77002
         Telephone: 713-227-7720

HEWLETT-PACKARD: Suit Complains About Defective Computer Chip
Courthouse News Service reports that Hewlett-Packard Pavilion
Notebook and Presario Series 6000 and 9000 come with a defective
nVidia C51 chip that makes it difficult or impossible to connect
to the wireless Internet, according to a class action in San Jose
Federal Court.

A copy of the Complaint in Perron, et al. v. Hewlett-Packard
Company, Case No. 10-cv-00695 (N.D. Calif.), is available at:


The Plaintiffs are represented by:

          Michael F. Ram, Esq.
          RAM & OLSON
          555 Montgomery St., Suite 820
          San Francisco, CA 94111
          Telephone: 415-433-4949

               - and -

          Marc H. Edelson, Esq.
          45 W. Court St.
          Doylestown, PA 18901
          Telephone: 215-230-8043

               - and -

          Jeffrey L. Kodroff, Esq.
          John A. Macoretta, Esq.
          1818 Market St., Suite 2500
          Philadelphia, PA 19103
          Telephone: 215-496-0300

HUGHES COMMS: Most of Satellite Internet Service Suit Survives
Maria Dinzeo at Courthouse News Service reports that a federal
judge in San Francisco refused to dismiss a class action accusing
a California satellite Internet service provider of touting
"super-fast" Internet access that turned out to be "slow and

The lead plaintiffs, representing about 80,000 California
customers, claimed that "HughesNet customers consistently receive
slow and spotty service that falls woefully short of the fanciful
claims" outlined on the company's Web site and in advertisements.

HughesNet said its maximum download speed ranged from 1.0
megabits per second for residential service to 5 megabits per
second for "ElitePremium Plan" subscribers.

But users said the "service during peak times generally performs
at speeds lower even than what HughesNet states as 'typical'

They added that HughesNet charges "unconscionable" early
cancellation fees of $400, in breach of its own subscriber

U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti ruled that California law should
be applied to the case, as the class members would be unable to
seek punitive damages under Maryland law.

Judge Conti dismissed their claims regarding the early
termination fees, as they failed to explain how the fees were
"unconscionable," but found that the class has shown how they
relied on Hughes' allegedly false promises of fast Internet.

Judge Conti said the plaintiffs could amend their claims over the
early termination fees.

A copy of the Honorable Judge Samuel Conti's Order in Walter, et
al. v. Hughes Communications, Inc., et al., Case No. 09-cv-02136
(N.D. Calif.), is available at:


Plaintiff Tina Walter is represented by:

          Robert M. Bramson, Esq.
          Jennifer Susan Rosenberg, Esq.
          2125 Oak Grove Rd., Suite 120
          Walnut Creek, CA 94598
          Telephone: 925-945-0200

               - and -

          Derek T. Braslow, Esq.
          Harris Lee Pogust, Esq.
          Robert N. Wilkey, Esq.
          161 Washington St., Suite 1520
          Conshohocken, PA 19428
          Telephone: 610-941-4204

               - and -

          Joshua Caleb Ezrin, Esq.
          221 Main St., Suite 1460
          San Francisco, CA 94105
          Telephone: 415-568-2555

Plaintiff Christopher Bayless is represented by Ms. Walter's
lawyers as well as:

          Frank James Johnson, Esq.
          501 W. Broadway, Suite 1720
          San Diego, CA 92101
          Telephone: 619-230-0063

               - and -

          Alan R. Plutzik, Esq.
          2125 Oak Grove Rd., Suite 120
          Walnut Creek, CA 94598
          Telephone: 925-945-0200

Plaintiff Eric Schumacher is represented by:

          William M. Audet, Esq.
          221 Main St., Suite 1460
          San Francisco, CA 94105
          Telephone: 415-568-2555

               - and -

          Francis A. Bottini, Jr., Esq.
          501 W. Broadway, Suite 1720
          San Diego, CA 92101
          Telephone: 619-230-0063

Hughes Communications, Inc. and Hughes Network Systems LLC, the
Defendants, are represented by:

          Robert B. Hawk, Esq.
          J. Christopher Mitchell, Esq.
          525 University Ave., 4th Floor
          Palo Alto, CA 94301
          Telephone: 650-463-4008

NEW YORK: Settlement Inked in Abuse & Mistreatment Registry Case
A class action legal settlement has been reached in Finch, et al.
v. New York State Office of Children and Family Services, et al.,
Case No. 04-cv-01668 (S.D.N.Y.), that could restore the
employment rights of up to 25,000 New Yorkers.  According to the
settlement agreement-reached between Class Counsel:

          Thomas Hoffman, Esq.
          250 W. 57 St., Suite 1020  
          New York, N.Y. 10107
          Telephone: 212-581-1180
          E-mail: thoff93452@aol.com

and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services
(OCFS), thousands of people listed on a statewide "Abuse and
Maltreatment Register" could receive hearings to have their names

The Abuse and Maltreatment Register, which is maintained by the
OCFS, a New York State Agency, contains the names of individuals
accused of maltreating children. Most child-related employment
and licensing agencies must check the Register before hiring. As
a result, prospective hires generally cannot work with children
until their names are cleared from the Register.

Since placement on the Register restricts employment rights,
people listed have a constitutional right to a name-clearing
hearing. The class action lawsuit alleges that this right was
violated between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2007 because a
large percentage of 25,000 requested hearings were terminated,
with no hearing held. Citing statistics that show that 50% to 70%
of those who receive hearings are exonerated, Mr. Hoffman says
that the difference between a hearing and no hearing is often the
difference between a steady job and unemployment.

Under the terms of the settlement, the State will send notices to
the roughly 25,000 people on the Register whose Requests for
Hearings were terminated between 2003 and 2007. The notice will
inform people that they may have a right to request a new
hearing. Those who respond by expressing interest in a hearing
will have their records reviewed by OCFS, which must produce
documentation of a hearing decision. If the State agency is
unable to produce a decision, a new hearing will be scheduled.

OCFS also agreed not to re-institute a project that terminated
Hearing Requests when an employer or licensing agency lost
interest in an applicant. The right to a hearing, according to
Mr. Hoffman, is independent of an employer's interest in an
applicant. This is especially true since most employers cannot
afford to maintain interest in job candidates unable to work
while they await hearings.

Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of the U.S. District Court, Southern
District of New York gave preliminary approval for the settlement
on February 17, 2010. A Fairness Hearing will be held on April
20, 2010 in which Judge Scheindlin will decide whether to grant
final approval. If she does grant final approval, Class Counsel
Thomas Hoffman will monitor the implementation of the terms of
the settlement for up to three years.

Judge Scheindlin must still determine how swiftly the state must
schedule and decide requested hearings. Currently, an average of
8 to 10 months or longer pass before hearing requests are
decided. "This is much too long a time period while the
individual is waiting to become employed," says Mr. Hoffman.
During these difficult economic times, Mr. Hoffman said, it is
particularly important that people receive a prompt hearing to
decide whether their name belongs on this list.

A Web site has been established at:


to provide information for people who have not received a
requested hearing.

The attorneys who negotiated the settlement on behalf of OCFS are
Assistant Attorney General Robert L. Kraft and OCFS Senior
Counsel Emily Reeb Bray.

PFIZER INC: Class Certified in Canadian Neurotin Drug Case
Cary O'Reilly at Bloomberg News reports that Mr. Justice Paul
Perell certified a plaintiff class is Goodridge v. Pfizer Canada
Inc., Court File No. 06-cv-307728CP (Ont. Super. Ct. J.), which
claims that Pfizer failed to warn consumers about the risks of
its Neurontin epilepsy drug.

The class includes individuals in every province except Quebec,
according to court records.  Mr. Justice Perell declined to
certify claims the drugmaker promoted Neurontin for unapproved
uses or that it might be liable for generic versions of the

The suit alleges that use of Neurontin, a prescription
anticonvulsant, causes an increased risk of suicidal behavior in
patients, and that Pfizer didn't warn consumers about it. The
company faces about 1,200 similar lawsuits in the U.S. Pfizer
disputes any connection between suicide and Neurontin use.

"We are very pleased that Canadians who experienced suicidal
behavior from using Neurontin, and their family members, will be
allowed to go forward with their claims," said:

          Michael J. Peerless, Esq.
          SISKINDS LLP
          680 Waterloo Street
          P.O. Box 2520
          London, Ontario N6A 3V8
          Telephone: (519) 672-2121

who is representing the class.

Chris Loder, a spokesman for Pfizer, told Bloomberg the company
is "disappointed" at the judge's ruling, though it welcomed his
decision to strike the claims on improper marketing and generic

Mr. Justice Perell also refused to allow a claim for punitive
damages to remain a common issue, Mr. Loder said in an e-mailed
statement to Bloomberg.  "Neurontin is an important medicine that
has been widely studied for more than two decades," Mr. Loder
said. "There is an extensive body of science on the use of
Neurontin and physicians have prescribed it to treat millions of
patients safely and effectively."

PORSCHE CARS: Wins Dismissal of N.J. 911 Carrera Defect Lawsuit
The Honorable Susan D. Wigenton dismissed Noble v. Porsche Cars
North America, Inc., Case No. 08-cv-03658 (D. N.J.), which, as
detailed in the Class Action Reporter on July 25, 2008, alleged
that the Porsche 911 has a defective Porsche 996 water-cooled
engine and sought payment for all repair and replacement costs.  

A copy of Judge Wigenton's Feb. 19, 2010, Opinion is available


The Plaintiff is represented by:

          Andrew Lowe O'Connor, Esq.
          Elliott Louis Pell, Esq.
          Robert H. Solomon, Esq.
          Bruce H. Nagel, Esq.
          NAGEL RICE, LLP
          103 Eisenhower Parkway
          Roseland, NJ 07068
          Telephone: 973-618-0400

Porsche is represented by:

          Matthew A. Goldberg, Esq.
          Eric M. Henry, Esq.
          Joseph Kernen, Esq.
          DLA PIPER LLP
          One Liberty Place
          1650 Market Street, Suite 4900
          Philadelphia, PA 19103
          Telephone: 215-656-3377

PULTE HOMES: N.D. Calif. Dismisses Marketing & Lending Suit
On February 18, 2010, the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California dismissed with prejudice a
putative class action lawsuit filed against Pulte Homes, Inc.,
Pulte Home Corporation and Pulte Mortgage LLC.  

Kaing v. Pulte Homes, Inc., et al., Case No. 09-cv-05057 (N.D.
Calif.) (Conti, J.), alleged, among other things, that Pulte
engaged in misconduct that contributed to the mortgage crisis, as
related in the Class Action Reporter on Nov. 3, 2009.

The suit drew from reports issued by the Laborer's International
Union of North America ("LiUNA") and other union-related groups
that attempt to blame Pulte and other large homebuilders for the
mortgage crisis. In fact, the attorneys who drafted the suit
lifted sections of one union sponsored report and inserted them
verbatim into the complaint.  The lawsuit was filed by Hagens
Berman Sobol Shapiro, LLP, which has worked with LiUNA to file at
least one other class action lawsuit against another national

According to Pulte Homes, for some time, LiUNA and other union
groups have engaged in an intimidation campaign against Pulte in
order to coerce the Company to force its independent trade
partners to sign union agreements. As part of that campaign,
these union groups have been behind false claims that Pulte and
other residential homebuilders engaged in improper practices with
respect to the sale of homes. They have pressed these same false
claims through official-looking, but misleading, reports,
lawsuits, media articles and testimony before various State and
Federal regulatory and rulemaking proceedings.

The Court had the opportunity to address many of these
allegations in the lawsuit and found them lacking in merit,
specifically citing that the Plaintiff did not have a "plausible
claim" and that the Plaintiff had an "insurmountable problem"
because Plaintiff could not show that the alleged damages were
caused by the alleged misconduct of Pulte. The Court found that
Plaintiff's legal theory depended on a myriad of factors beyond
Pulte's control, such as unemployment, a general weakening
economy and other economic factors that can have unpredictable
effects on the housing market.

The swift dismissal, which came only four months after the case
was filed, was with prejudice, meaning that the Plaintiff's
attorneys cannot amend their complaint. A copy of the final order
is available at http://is.gd/8WQcY

                         About Pulte Homes

Pulte Homes (NYSE: PHM) -- http://www.pulteinc.com/-- is one of  
America's largest home building companies with operations in 69
markets, 29 states and the District of Columbia. In 2009, Pulte
Homes brands received more top rankings than any other
homebuilder in the annual J.D. Power and Associates 2009 New-Home
Builder Customer Satisfaction Studysm. Pulte Mortgage LLC is a
nationwide lender offering Pulte customers a variety of loan
products and superior service.

RUSSIA: Poland Joins Katyn Massacre Class Action Suit
Legalbrief Today reports that the Polish Government has joined a
class-action on a lawsuit brought against Russia for the 1940
Katyn Massacre where 20,000 Poles were killed by the USSR, citing
a report at:


The suit, filed in May in the European Court of Human Rights, is
being brought by 13 Polish citizens who are relatives of the
victims. They allege that the Russian Government failed to
provide adequate investigations into the incident and did not
grant the relatives victim status. The Polish Government joining
the suit gives it more legitimacy and enables the government to
submit proposals to the court. Russia has until 19 March to
respond to the allegations.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA: Proposition 209 Enforcement Challenged
Maria Dinzeo at Courthouse News Service reports that in a federal
class action, Hispanic and black students say California
Proposition 209's ban on affirmative action "has created a racial
caste system" by admitting a disproportionate number of white and
Asian students into the University of California system.

The class compares Prop. 209 to the Tuskegee experiment -- in
which the government left poor black sharecroppers with untreated
syphilis, so it could study the progression of the fatal disease
-- and Plessy v. Ferguson's notorious "separate but equal"
ruling. It claims that Prop. 209 passed in 1996 only because
California's white majority electorate "overrode the overwhelming
opposition" of minority voters.  "Proposition 209 promised a
'color blind' Constitution.  But that was and is a lie," the
complaint states. It says that Prop. 209 actually "has been the
sentry at the gate, denying the plaintiffs the chance for an
equal and integrated education as promised by the Fourteenth

Also called the California Civil Rights Initiative, the campaign
for Prop. 209 was led by African-American UC Regent Ward
Connerly, an opponent of affirmative action and racial
preferences, which he claims actually discriminate against

This class action, led by the Coalition to Defend Affirmative
Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality
by Any Means Necessary (BAMN), claims Prop. 209 discriminates
against poor minority students who are unable to inflate their
grade point averages because their high schools do not offer the
required advanced placement courses.  (Advanced placement courses
can offer a multiplier, so that an A may count as 6 points rather
than 4, or a B as 4.5 points rather than 3.)

Most of the plaintiffs are applying to prestigious schools such
as UC-Berkeley or UCLA, according to their attorney Ronald Cruz.

Mr. Cruz says his clients are concerned that their grade point
averages will not be high enough to ensure their acceptance.

Mr. Cruz said in an interview that the average grade point
average of a UC Berkeley student is 4.2 -- an average impossible
to attain without an AP multiplier.

The plaintiffs' grade point averages range from 3.0 to 4.25,
Mr. Cruz said.  He said many are worried that "they will be
rejected because they can't compete" with white and Asian
students from more prosperous school districts.

Plaintiffs who attend UC Berkeley and UCLA say they feel
uncomfortable being underrepresented.  "In class, if they are the
only black or Latino student and race is being discussed, they
are being looked at and expected to be the authority," Mr. Cruz

The University of California's enforcement of Prop. 209 "puts a
stamp of inferiority on black and Hispanic students," Mr. Cruz
said.  He said that if affirmative action were reinstated,
minority students "won't feel like they have to prove themselves
or represent their entire race" on UC campuses.

The UC president's office said it is "too early in the process"
to comment on the merits of the lawsuit.

But the office did say, "It's the law.  If this opens up another
discussion, that's well and good, but, as long as Proposition 209
is the law, we're obliged to follow it.  Meanwhile, our academic
preparation programs are helping underrepresented minority
students fulfill our admissions requirements and compete for

The class demands a permanent injunction preventing the UC system
from enforcing Prop. 209.

A copy of the Complaint in Coalition to Defend Affirmative
Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality
by Any Means Necessary, et al. v. Schwarzenegger, et al., Case
No. 10-cv-00641 (N.D. Calif.), is available at:


The Plaintiffs are represented by:

          George B. Washington, Esq.
          Shanta Driver, Esq.
          645 Griswold St., Suite 1817
          Detroit, MI 48226
          Telephone: 313-963-1921

               - and -

          Ronald Cruz, Esq.
          2015 Filbert St.
          Oakland, CA 94607
          Telephone: 510-501-2435

WACHOVIA CORP: Judge Cuts Ehrenhaus v. Baker Fees by $1 Million
Chris Baysden at the Triangle Business Journal reports that North
Carolina Business Court Judge Albert Diaz recently cut attorneys'
fees in a class-action case by $1 million because he thought
lawyers had charged too much per hour and spent too much time
working on the case.

The ruling sprung from Ehrenhaus v. Baker -- the shorthand name
of a class-action lawsuit filed in Mecklenburg County by a
shareholder after a 2008 announcement that Wells Fargo & Co. was
buying Wachovia Corp. for $15 billion. That complaint alleged
that Charlotte-based Wachovia and its board had breached their
fiduciary duties to shareholders in regard to the merger.

The lawsuit ended up settling and did not prevent the companies
from merging. As part of the settlement, Wells Fargo agreed to
pay as much as $1.98 million in attorney fees to the plaintiff's
counsel, which consisted of lawyers from Greg Jones & Associates
and Wolf Popper.  Jones is a Wilmington attorney known for doing
personal injury work, while New York City-based Wolf Popper has
expertise in securities litigation.

Judges typically don't get involved in fee arrangements between
clients and their attorneys. But class-action cases are an
exception because most members of the class don't have an
opportunity to negotiate a fee arrangement with the attorney that
ends up representing them.

For that reason, judges have the power to act as a guardian or
fiduciary for the class, says Press Millen, Esq., a Womble
Carlyle attorney who was not involved in the Wachovia case but
has experience with such issues.  Judge Diaz, in a Feb. 5 order,
exercised that authority and reduced the plaintiff's attorneys
fees down to just $932,622.

According to court documents, Wolf Popper's billing rates ranged
from $285 per hour for work done by paralegals up to $750 per
hour for work done by partners.

In explaining the reduction, Judge Diaz wrote that the court
found, "That the time spent by counsel on the case appears to be
somewhat excessive, given that litigation on the merits in this
case effectively ended at the preliminary injunction stage."  
Judge Diaz added in the order that the hourly rates of Wolf
Popper attorneys are much higher than those typically charged by
attorneys in North Carolina.

"I respect the court's ruling even though we did not get the fee
that we had asked for," says:

          Gregory Jones, Esq.
          3015 Market St.
          Wilmington, NC 28403
          Telephone: (910) 338-2629

"I hate it especially for my co-counsel because I know the
expertise, time and perseverance they put into this."

Mr. Jones says he was originally approached about the case due to
his Internet marketing presence.  He then contacted Wolf Popper
about joining him on the case.

Judge Diaz declined to comment on the case, as did:

          Robert M. Kornreich, Esq.
          WOLF POPPER, LLP
          845 Third Avenue
          New York, NY 10022
          Telephone: (212) 759-4600

Asked about the order, Wells Fargo spokeswoman Christine Shaw
wrote in an e-mail that, "The amount of the fee awarded was
solely within the province of the judge and we respect his
decision. We are pleased that the matter is resolved."

Ted Frank, the founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-
based nonprofit Center for Class Action Fairness, says it's
common to see class-action lawsuits filed after mergers. "There's
some token relief," says Frank. "You pay the attorneys to go away
and everybody's happy except the shareholders."

He complains that, unlike Judge Diaz, judges often will rubber
stamp the settlement that's in front of them.  Mr. Frank is not
familiar with the Ehrenhaus v. Baker case.

It's uncertain whether North Carolina judges will follow Diaz's
lead in the future. Recession aside, the state's recent economic
growth has attracted the attention of big businesses and outside
law firms. That could lead to more mergers and more class-action
lawsuits in the state.

But Mr. Millen, the Womble Carlyle attorney, says that could be
offset by a 2005 federal law called the Class Action Fairness
Act, which made it easier to move class-action cases from state
to federal courts.

WAL-MART STORES: Fires Lead Plaintiff in Sexual Harassment Case
Tresa Baldas at The National Law Journal reports that Wal-Mart
Stores Inc. may have opened the door to yet more legal troubles
when it fired the lead plaintiff in a sexual harassment lawsuit
last week, along with the woman's husband, according to their

          Cory Rosenbaum, Esq.
          11 Penn Plaza, Fifth Floor
          New York, NY 10001
          Telephone: 212-732-7922

Thursday, Mr. Rosenbaum said that he is preparing to file
retaliation charges against the retailer over what he called a
"bizarre" decision to fire his client and her husband just weeks
after the sexual harassment suit was filed.

The plaintiff, Melissa Jackson, is one of several women who is
suing Wal-Mart, alleging the retailer knowingly allowed an
associate at a store in Monticello, N.Y., to work alongside them,
despite their complaints that he had sexually harassed them.

The suit, Jackson, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Case No.
10-cv-00499 (S.D.N.Y.) (Robinson, J.), was filed on Jan. 22,
2010.  On Feb. 16, 2010, after working the midnight shift, Mrs.
Jackson and her husband were fired, according to Mr. Rosenbaum.

"I don't know why they would do that," said Mr. Rosenbaum, who
called his clients model employees. "They've both been there for
a decade, and within two weeks of filing a lawsuit they get
fired. It doesn't make any sense. It's clearly retaliation."

Officials at Wal-Mart were not available for comment.  The lawyer
who represents the Monticello store:

          Michael S. Hanan, Esq.
          Princeton Pike Corporate Center
          997 Lenox Drive, Building 3
          Lawrenceville, NJ 08648-2311
          Telephone: 609-896-3600

did not return calls for comment.  And a response to the sexual
harassment lawsuit has not been filed yet.

Mr. Rosenbaum also has an age discrimination lawsuit pending
against the same Wal-Mart store. In that suit, filed Feb. 11, a
group of nine employees is suing Wal-Mart for $20 million,
alleging the Monticello store routinely fires older, more
experienced workers and replaces them with younger, less
experienced employees.


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

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