CAR_Public/990520.MBX              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

               Thursday, May 20, 1999, Vol. 1, No. 75

                            Headlines

ARCHER DANIELS: Updates Lysine, Citric Acid, Syrup Suits & More
AT&T: Caller Says Directory Service Discourages Second Requests
BANKRUPTCY LAW: House Prohibits Some Class Actions v. Creditors
COCA-COLA: May Email Employees About Race Discrimination Case
FORD MOTOR: Faulty Ignition Trial Begins in California

JEFFERSON PILOT: Facing Accusation of Deceptive Sales Practices
LIVENT INC.: Seeks Dismissal of NY Suit & Canadian Jurisdiction
NORCEN ENERGY: Employees Heated Over Loss of Pension Benefits
SECURITIES LITIGATION: Lead Plaintiff Complains He's Left Out
WRITERS GUILD: Judge Boots Out Writer Bias Case


                            *********


ARCHER DANIELS: Updates Lysine, Citric Acid, Syrup Suits & More
---------------------------------------------------------------
ARCHER DANIELS MIDLAND CO., along with other domestic and
foreign companies, was named as a defendant in a number of
putative class action antitrust suits and other proceedings
involving the sale of lysine, citric acid and high fructose corn
syrup. These actions and proceedings generally involve claims
for unspecified compensatory damages, fines, costs, expenses and
unspecified relief. The Company intends to vigorously defend
these actions and proceedings unless they can be settled on
terms deemed acceptable by the parties.

These matters have resulted and could result in the Company
being subject to monetary damages, other sanctions and expenses.
The Company has made provisions of $48 million in fiscal 1998,
$200 million in fiscal 1997 and $31 million in fiscal 1996 to
cover the fines, litigation settlements related to the federal
lysine class action, federal securities class action, the
federal citric class action and certain state actions filed by
indirect purchasers of lysine, certain actions filed by parties
that opted out of the class action settlements, certain other
proceedings, and the related costs and expenses associated with
the litigation described above. Because of the early stage of
other putative class actions and proceedings, including those
related to high fructose corn syrup, the ultimate outcome and
materiality of these matters cannot presently be determined.
Accordingly, no provision for any liability that may result
therefrom has been made in the unaudited consolidated financial
statements.

The Company, along with other companies, also has been named as
a defendant in seven putative class action antitrust suits filed
in California state court involving the sale of high fructose
corn syrup. These California actions allege violations of the
California antitrust and unfair competition laws, including
allegations that the defendants agreed to fix, stabilize and
maintain at artificially high levels the prices of high fructose
corn syrup, and seek treble damages of an unspecified amount,
attorneys fees and costs, restitution and other unspecified
relief. One of the California putative classes comprises certain
direct purchasers of high fructose corn syrup in the State of
California during certain periods in the 1990s. This action was
filed on October 17, 1995 in Superior Court for the County of
Stanislaus, California and encaptioned Kagome Foods, Inc. v
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. et al., Civil Action No. 37236. This
action has been removed to federal court and consolidated with
the federal class action litigation pending in the Central
District of Illinois referred to above. The other six California
putative classes comprise certain indirect purchasers of high
fructose corn syrup and dextrose in the State of California
during certain periods in the 1990s. One such action was filed
on July 21, 1995 in the Superior Court of the County of Los
Angeles, California and is encaptioned Borgeson v. Archer-
Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No. BC131940. This
action and four other indirect purchaser actions have been
coordinated before a single court in Stanislaus County,
California under the caption, Food Additives (HFCS) cases,
Master File No. 39693. The other four actions are encaptioned,
Goings v. Archer Daniels Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No.
750276 (Filed on July 21, 1995, Orange County Superior Court);
Rainbow Acres v. Archer Daniels Midland Co., et al., Civil
Action No. 974271 (Filed on November 22, 1995, San Francisco
County Superior Court); Patane v. Archer Daniels Midland Co., et
al., Civil Action No. 212610 (Filed on January 17, 1996, Sonoma
County Superior Court); and St. Stan's Brewing Co. v. Archer
Daniels Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No. 37237 (Filed on
October 17, 1995, Stanislaus County Superior Court). On October
8, 1997, Varni Brothers Corp. filed a complaint in intervention
with respect to the coordinated action pending in Stanislaus
County Superior Court, asserting the same claims as those
advanced in the consolidated class action. The parties are in
the midst of discovery in the coordinated action.  

The Company, along with other companies, also has been named a
defendant in a putative class action antitrust suit filed in
Alabama state court. The Alabama action alleges violations of
the Alabama, Michigan and Minnesota antitrust laws, including
allegations that defendants agreed to fix, stabilize and
maintain at artificially high levels the prices of high fructose
corn syrup, and seeks an injunction against continued illegal
conduct, damages of an unspecified amount, attorneys fees and
costs, and other unspecified relief. The putative class in the
Alabama action comprises certain indirect purchasers in Alabama,
Michigan and Minnesota during the period March 18, 1994 to March
18, 1996. This action was filed on March 18, 1996 in the Circuit
Court of Coosa County, Alabama, and is encaptioned Caldwell v.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No. 96-17. On
April 23, 1997, the court granted the defendants' motion to
sever and dismiss the non-Alabama claims. The remaining parties
are in the midst of discovery in this action.

ADM along with other companies had been named as a defendant in
twenty-one putative class action antitrust suits involving the
sale of lysine. Except for the action specifically described
below, all such suits have been settled, dismissed or withdrawn.  

The Company has been named as a defendant, along with other
companies, in one putative class action antitrust suit alleging
violations of the Alabama antitrust laws, including allegations
that the defendants agreed to fix, stabilize and maintain at
artificially high levels the prices of lysine, and seeking an
injunction against continued alleged illegal conduct, damages of
an unspecified amount, attorneys fees and costs, and other
unspecified relief. The putative class in this action comprises
certain indirect purchasers of lysine in the State of Alabama
during certain periods in the 1990s. This action was filed on
August 17, 1995 in the Circuit Court of DeKalb County, Alabama,
and is encaptioned Ashley v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al.,
Civil Action No. 95- 336. On March 13, 1998, the court denied
plaintiff's motion for class certification. Subsequently, the
plaintiff amended his complaint to add approximately 300
individual plaintiffs.

The Company, along with other companies, had been named as a
defendant in eleven putative class action antitrust suits and
two non-class action antitrust suits involving the sale of
citric acid. Except for the action specifically described below,
all such suits have been settled or dismissed.  STATE ACTIONS.
The Company, along with other companies, has been named as a
defendant in one putative class action antitrust suit filed in
Alabama state court involving the sale of citric acid. This
action alleges violations of the Alabama antitrust laws,
including allegations that the defendants agreed to fix,
stabilize and maintain at artificially high levels the prices of
citric acid, and seeks an injunction against continued alleged
illegal conduct, damages of an unspecified amount, attorneys
fees and costs, and other unspecified relief. The putative class
in the Alabama action comprises certain indirect purchasers of
citric acid in the State of Alabama from July 1993 until July
1995. This action was filed on July 27, 1995 in the Circuit
Court of Walker County, Alabama and is encaptioned Seven Up
Bottling Co. of Jasper, Inc. v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et
al., Civil Action No. 95-436. The Company currently is seeking
appellate review of the denial of its motion to dismiss this
action.  

ADM along with other companies has been named as a defendant in
five putative class action antitrust suits involving the sale of
both high fructose corn syrup and citric acid. Two of these
actions allege violations of the California antitrust and unfair
competition laws, including allegations that the defendants
agreed to fix, stabilize and maintain at artificially high
levels the prices of high fructose corn syrup and citric acid,
and seek treble damages of an unspecified amount, attorneys fees
and costs, restitution and other unspecified relief. The
putative class in one of these California cases comprises
certain direct purchasers of high fructose corn syrup and citric
acid in the State of California during the period January 1,
1992 until at least October 1995. This action was filed on
October 11, 1995 in the Superior Court of Stanislaus County,
California and is entitled Gangi Bros. Packing Co. v. Archer-
Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No. 37217. The
putative class in the other California case comprises certain
indirect purchasers of high fructose corn syrup and citric acid
in the state of California during the period October 12, 1991
until November 20, 1995. This action was filed on November 20,
1995 in the Superior Court of San Francisco County and is
encaptioned MCFH, Inc. v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al.,
Civil Action No. 974120. The California Judicial Council has
bifurcated the citric acid and high fructose corn syrup claims
in these actions and coordinated them with other actions in San
Francisco County Superior Court and Stanislaus County Superior
Court. As noted in prior filings, the Company accepted a
settlement agreement with counsel for the citric acid plaintiff
class. This settlement received final court approval and the
case was dismissed on September 30, 1998.

The Company, along with other companies, also has been named as
a defendant in at least one putative class action antitrust suit
filed in West Virginia state court involving the sale of high
fructose corn syrup and citric acid. This action also alleges
violations of the West Virginia antitrust laws, including
allegations that the defendants agreed to fix, stabilize and
maintain at artificially high levels the prices of high fructose
corn syrup and citric acid, and seeks treble damages of an
unspecified amount, attorneys fees and costs, and other
unspecified relief. The putative class in the West Virginia
action comprises certain entities within the State of West
Virginia that purchased products containing high fructose corn
syrup and/or citric acid for resale from at least 1992 until
1994. This action was filed on October 26, 1995, in the Circuit
Court for Boone County, West Virginia, and is encaptioned
Freda's v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No.
95-C- 125.

The Company, along with other companies, also has been named as
a defendant in a putative class action antitrust suit filed in
the Superior Court for the District of Columbia involving the
sale of high fructose corn syrup and citric acid. This action
alleges violations of the District of Columbia antitrust laws,
including allegations that the defendants agreed to fix,
stabilize and maintain at artificially high levels the prices of
high fructose corn syrup and citric acid, and seeks treble
damages of an unspecified amount, attorneys fees and costs, and
other unspecified relief. The putative class in the District of
Columbia action comprises certain persons within the District of
Columbia that purchased products containing high fructose corn
syrup and/or citric acid during the period January 1, 1992
through December 31, 1994. This action was filed on April 12,
1996 in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, and is
encaptioned Holder v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil
Action No. 96-2975. On November 13, 1998, Plaintiff's motion for
class certification was granted.

ADM along with other companies has been named as a defendant in
a putative class action antitrust suit filed in Kansas state
court involving the sale of high fructose corn syrup and citric
acid. This action alleges violations of the Kansas antitrust
laws, including allegations that the defendants agreed to fix,
stabilize and maintain at artificially high levels the prices of
high fructose corn syrup and citric acid, and seeks treble
damages of an unspecified amount, court costs and other
unspecified relief. The putative class in the Kansas action
comprises certain persons within the State of Kansas that
purchased products containing high fructose corn syrup and/or
citric acid during at least the period January 1, 1992 through
December 31, 1994. This action was filed on May 7, 1996 in the
District Court of Wyandotte County, Kansas and is encaptioned
Waugh v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Case No. 96-C-2029.
Plaintiff's motion for class certification is currently pending.

The Company, along with other companies, has been named as a
defendant in six putative class action antitrust suits filed in
California state court involving the sale of high fructose corn
syrup, citric acid and/or lysine. These actions allege
violations of the California antitrust and unfair competition
laws, including allegations that the defendants agreed to fix,
stabilize and maintain at artificially high levels the prices of
high fructose corn syrup, citric acid and/or lysine, and seek
treble damages of an unspecified amount, attorneys fees and
costs, restitution and other unspecified relief. One of the
putative classes comprises certain direct purchasers of high
fructose corn syrup, citric acid and/or lysine in the State of
California during a certain period in the 1990s. This action was
filed on December 18, 1995 in the Superior Court for Stanislaus
County, California and is encaptioned Nu Laid Foods, Inc. v.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No. 39693. The
other five putative classes comprise certain indirect purchasers
of high fructose corn syrup, citric acid and/or lysine in the
State of California during certain periods in the 1990s. One
such action was filed on December 14, 1995 in the Superior Court
for Stanislaus County, California and is encaptioned Batson v.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No. 39680. The
other actions are encaptioned Nu Laid Foods, Inc. v. Archer
Daniels Midland Co., et al., No 39693 (Filed on December 18,
1995, Stanislaus County Superior Court); Abbott v. Archer
Daniels Midland Co., et al., No. 41014 (Filed on December 21,
1995, Stanislaus County Superior Court); Noldin v. Archer
Daniels Midland Co., et al., No. 41015 (Filed on December 21,
1995, Stanislaus County Superior Court); Guzman v. Archer
Daniels Midland Co., et al., No. 41013 (Filed on December 21,
1995, Stanislaus County Superior Court) and Ricci v. Archer
Daniels Midland Co., et al., No. 96-AS-00383 (Filed on February
6, 1996, Sacramento County Superior Court). The plaintiffs in
these actions and the lysine defendants have executed a
settlement agreement that has been approved by the court and the
California Judicial Council has bifurcated the citric acid and
high fructose corn syrup claims and coordinated them with other
actions in San Francisco County Superior Court and Stanislaus
County Superior Court.  

The Company, along with other companies, has been named as a
defendant in three federal antitrust class actions involving the
sale of sodium gluconate. These actions allege violations of
federal antitrust laws, including allegations that the
defendants agreed to fix, raise and maintain at artificially
high levels the prices of sodium gluconate, and seek various
relief, including treble damages of an unspecified amount,
attorneys fees and costs, and other unspecified relief. The
putative classes in these cases comprise certain direct
purchasers of sodium gluconate during periods in the 1990s. One
such action was filed on December 2, 1997, in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of California and is
encaptioned Chemical Distribution, Inc, v. Akzo Nobel Chemicals
BV, et al., No. C -97-4141 (CW). The second action was filed on
December 31, 1997, in the United States District Court for the
District of Massachusetts and is encaptioned Stetson Chemicals,
Inc. v. Akzo Nobel Chemicals BV, 97-CV-1285 RCL. The third
action, which was amended on February 12, 1998 to name the
Company as a defendant, was filed in the United States District
Court for the Northern District of Illinois. On April 9, 1998,
the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred all
three sodium gluconate actions to the United States District
Court for the Northern District of California for coordinated or
consolidated pretrial proceedings. On October 29, 1998, the
Company executed a Settlement Agreement with counsel for the
plaintiff class in which, among other things, the Company agreed
to pay $69,600 to the plaintiff class. On March 15, 1999,
plaintiffs moved the court for preliminary approval of the
settlement.  

Following the public announcement of the grand jury
investigations in June 1995, three shareholder derivative suits
were filed against certain of the Company's then current
directors and executive officers and nominally against the
Company in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois and fourteen similar shareholder derivative
suits were filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery. The
derivative suits filed in federal court in Illinois were
consolidated under the name Felzen, et al. v. Andreas, et al.,
Civil Action No. 95- C-4006, 95-C-4535, and a consolidated
amended derivative complaint was filed on September 29, 1995.
This complaint names all then current directors of the Company
(except Mr. Coan) and one former director as defendants and
names the Company as a nominal defendant. It alleges breach of
fiduciary duty, waste of corporate assets, abuse of control and
gross mismanagement, based on the antitrust allegations
described above, as well as other alleged wrongdoing. On October
31, 1995, the Court granted the defendants' motion to transfer
the Illinois consolidated derivative action to the Central
District of Illinois, wherein it now bears the case number 95-
2279. On April 26, 1996, the court dismissed the suit without
prejudice and permitted the plaintiffs twenty-one days to refile
it. The plaintiffs refiled the complaint on May 17, 1996. The
defendants again moved to dismiss the complaint on June 1, 1996.
Plaintiffs have supplemented the complaint to include the
antitrust settlements and guilty plea described above.

The fourteen shareholder derivative suits filed in the Delaware
Court of Chancery have been consolidated as In Re Archer Daniels
Midland Derivative Litigation, Consolidated No. 14403. An
amended and consolidated complaint was filed on November 19,
1996. ADM moved to dismiss the complaint on December 12, 1996.
On May 29, 1997, the Company executed a Memorandum of
Understanding with counsel for both the Illinois and Delaware
shareholder derivative plaintiffs. This Memorandum of
Understanding provides for, among other things, $8 million to be
paid by or on behalf of certain defendants in these actions to
the Company and certain changes in the structure and policies of
the Company's Board of Directors. On May 30, 1997, the United
States District Court for the Central District of Illinois
preliminarily approved this settlement and on July 7, 1997,
final approval was granted. Certain entities appealed the final
settlement approval order to the United States Court of Appeals
for the Seventh Circuit. On January 21, 1998 the Court of
Appeals dismissed the appeal. On January 20, 1999, the judgement
of the Court of Appeals was affirmed by an equally divided
United States Supreme Court. On February 17, 1999, the Delaware
court dismissed the case.


AT&T: Caller Says Directory Service Discourages Second Requests
---------------------------------------------------------------
Frustrated by what she believes is AT&T's strategy to deprive
callers of a second listing from directory assistance, a woman
is suing the long-distance giant, according to the Associated
Press. Yong Soon Oh seeks class-action status for her lawsuit,
contending that everyone using directory assistance outside
their own area code has been cheated.

According to the AP story, the complaint stems from AT&T's
statement, filed with federal regulators, on what it can charge
for various services. The filing permits AT&T to charge $1.40
for each call to area code directory assistance, but requires
the company to answer up to two requests per call, the lawsuit
says. AT&T, however, unfairly hinders customers from availing
themselves of the second request, the lawsuit claims.

Mark Siegel, a spokesman at AT&T's headquarters, told AP that
the company denies any wrongdoing.

AP says the lawsuit alleges that when an AT&T operator or
recording asks, "What city, please" and "What listing, please,"
it unfairly implies the customer may not get a second request
after getting a response to a first request. The recording that
provides the customer's first request does not offer an option
to seek a second listing. This is an "unconscionable course of
conduct which makes it impossible, as a practical matter, for
(Oh) and the other members of the class to obtain the Area Code
Directory Assistance services to which they are entitled," the
lawsuit says. The reason, according to the lawsuit, is so AT&T
can "minimize the amount of time that it must devote to any
single call to Area Code Directory Assistance." AT&T thwarts
attempts by callers seeking compensation for not getting a
second listing, the lawsuit says, by telling customers they must
tell directory assistance at the beginning of call if they want
two listings.

Siegel declined to discuss specifics of the allegations, but
told AP, "If you want two listings, all you need to do is say
you need two listings, very simple, and you'll get them."

Oh could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The lawsuit, filed
last month in state Superior Court in Bergen County, New Jersey,
does not say where she lives. According to AP, messages left
Tuesday for her lawyers were not immediately returned.

The Associated Press also reported that AT&T filed last week to
have the case heard in U.S. District Court in Newark.


BANKRUPTCY LAW: House Prohibits Some Class Actions v. Creditors
---------------------------------------------------------------
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that many people who file
for bankruptcy protection could find it much harder to escape
their debts if a bill recently passed by the U.S. House of
Representatives is signed into law. The bill -- inspired by a
growing credit crisis that prompted 1.4 million U.S. households
to file for bankruptcy last year -- will be debated soon by the
Senate, perhaps as early as this week.

The bill also allows creditors to sue to challenge individual
bankruptcy filings, and it exempts creditors from certain types
of class-action lawsuits brought successfully by debtors in the
past. As an example, the SF Chronicle noted that Sears Roebuck
paid around $300 million in penalties and reimbursements in the
past two years to settle class-action lawsuits accusing it of
improperly collecting credit card debts from 180,000 bankruptcy
filers. The SF Chronicle reported that under the House-approved
bill, such class actions would be prohibited, according to Frank
Torres, legislative counsel for Consumers Union.

Debtors who felt they were mistreated by their creditors would
have to file suit individually, Torres told the Chronicle, and
chances are they wouldn't, because of the attorney fees. Torres
is one of those who blame the credit card industry for fueling
the bankruptcy crisis. He notes that card issuers mailed out 3.8
billion solicitations last year, most of them offering tempting
and "misleading" teaser interest rates good for only a few
months before rates of 18 percent and higher kick in. "People
who might not have been extended credit 10 years ago now get
it," he told the Chronicle. "That includes people who can be
severely affected by small changes in the economy. Then the
credit industry wonders why people go bankrupt, and wants the
government to take the responsibility off their shoulders."
Torres urges financially shaky consumers to fight temptation, to
"think twice before you pull out the plastic."

According to the SF Chronicle, that record number of bankruptcy
filings in the face of a strong, growing economy was about five
times the number filed in 1984. California, with 12 percent of
the nation's population, accounted for 205,000 filings, or
nearly 15 percent of the national total. The filers were allowed
to wriggle out of an estimated $40 billion in debts. Virtually
all of that, equivalent to $150 per U.S. resident, is likely to
get passed along to other consumers in the form of higher prices
and interest rates.

The House-passed bill would greatly strengthen the hand of the
credit card industry by allowing card issuers to legally
challenge individual bankruptcy filings. According to the San
Francisco Chronicle, the House passed the bill on May 5 by a
lopsided 313-to-108 vote after heavy lobbying by banks, credit
card issuers, retailers and finance companies. It's not certain
that the House bill will become law. Congress-watchers say the
Senate is less hawkish toward bankruptcy filers and that a
final, compromise version could be watered down. In addition,
President Clinton has vowed to veto any bankruptcy bill that he
considers too harsh. And he has stated outright that the bill
passed by the House fits that description.

However, the lopsided vote in the House suggests that a
presidential veto could get overridden. The San Francisco
Chronicle noted that it takes a two-thirds vote of both houses
to override a veto, and the House bill was approved by just
under three-fourths of those voting.


COCA-COLA: May Email Employees About Race Discrimination Case
-------------------------------------------------------------
The Associated Press reported that a federal judge has allowed
Coca-Cola Co. executives to continue sending emails to employees
about a racial discrimination lawsuit, as long as Coke makes it
clear that employees are free to join the case. U.S. District
Judge Richard Story issued a ruling setting guidelines for
communication with employees by both Coke management and
attorneys for the four black employees who filed the suit.

According to AP, the plaintiffs are one former and three current
black salaried employees, who sued Coke last month alleging that
the company discriminated against black employees in pay,
promotions, performance evaluations and terminations. They are
seeking class-action status for their suit, which would add as
plaintiffs all 1,500 salaried black employees who work for the
company nationwide.

AP wrote that the controversy arose when plaintiffs' attorneys
expressed concern about two emails Coke's chairman and chief
executive officer, M. Douglas Ivester, sent to nearly 10,000
Coke employees after the suit was filed.

"There is no indication that Ivester intended to pressure
potential class members into nonparticipation in this lawsuit
when he issued the two emails to Coca-Cola's associates," Story
said in his ruling, according to AP. "But there is an inherent
danger that these types of internal communication could deter
potential class members from participating in the suit out of
concern for the effect it could have on their jobs." To keep
that from occurring, he said, the company may discuss its views
in email communications as long as it includes a statement
explaining that the opinions expressed are those of Coca-Cola
and that "it is unlawful for Coca-Cola to retaliate against
employees who choose to participate in this case." Story said
Coke officials may not discuss the case directly with potential
class members, other than with managers for purposes of defense
preparation.

Associated Press also reported that the judge said the
plaintiffs' attorneys may speak freely about the case with any
potential class members who contact them, but are not allowed to
contact Coca-Cola's employees at work unless the employees have
retained them.


FORD MOTOR: Faulty Ignition Trial Begins in California
------------------------------------------------------
The Los Angeles Times reported that a $3-billion class-action
trial against Ford Motor Co. began this week in Alameda County
Superior Court. The No. 2 auto maker is being sued by California
consumers who claim Ford failed to disclose information about an
allegedly faulty ignition part installed in 22 million Ford
vehicles nationwide.

According to the Associated Press, the trial included
allegations that the automaker hid a potentially dangerous
stalling problem from government regulators and 3 million
California customers. Ford decided in 1982 to save $4 per
vehicle by mounting an ignition device, the thick film ignition
module or TFI, over the engine despite warnings from an engineer
that high temperatures would cause the device to fail and stall
the engine, attorney Paul D. Nelson told a Superior Court jury.
He said the warning was quickly borne out by a flood of
complaints from customers and dealers, replacement of the
devices in 15 million vehicles over 17 years, and high-level
company studies confirming the problem studies the company
withheld from federal safety officials and the public. The suit
seeks $3 billion in damages under a California law requiring
businesses to pay $1,000 for each deceptive sale or illegal
practice.

"The TFI module is essential to safe operation of the car,"
Nelson said in a nearly 2 1/2-hour opening statement, according
to the Associated Press. "Ford knew early on that it would fail
at extremely high rates, and knew how to fix it ... but had to
keep it secret."

AP wrote that Ford lawyer Warren Platt denied any safety
problem, product defect or deception of either the government or
the public. "This is the very best location for the TFI from the
standpoint of reliability and performance," a mounting chosen by
70 percent of manufacturers that use the TFI, Platt told the
jury. He said company and government studies have found that
mounting the TFI on the distributor above the engine does not
increase the risk of stalling or accidents. Five successive
investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration concluded the device was not a safety hazard,
Platt said. But Nelson contended Ford had withheld crucial
documents from the agency.

The Associated Press explained that the suit covers 1.8 million
owners and 1.2 million former owners in California of Ford
vehicles from model years 1983-95, when the TFI mounting was
used. It is the largest class-action suit to go to trial against
a U.S. auto maker. Lawyers estimate the trial will last two
months.


JEFFERSON PILOT: Facing Accusation of Deceptive Sales Practices
---------------------------------------------------------------
JP Life is a defendant in a proposed class action suit, and AH
Life is a defendant in a separate proposed class action suit.
Each suit alleges deceptive practices, fraudulent and negligent
misrepresentation and breach of contract in the sale of certain
life insurance policies using policy illustrations which
plaintiffs claim were misleading. Unspecified compensatory and
punitive damages, costs and equitable relief are sought in each
case.

While management is unable to make a meaningful estimate of the
amount or range of loss that could result from an unfavorable
outcome in either or both cases, management believes that it has
made appropriate disclosures to policyholders as a matter of
practice, and intends to vigorously defend its position.


LIVENT INC.: Seeks Dismissal of NY Suit & Canadian Jurisdiction
---------------------------------------------------------------
In a story copyrighted by Financial Post from National Post, it
is reported that Garth Drabinsky has asked a U.S. court to
dismiss a massive class-action suit launched against him by
Livent Inc.'s U.S. investors because it is 'fatally flawed.' In
a 33-page filing with U.S. District Court in New York, Mr.
Drabinsky argued the allegations of securities fraud leveled
against him in the United States should be dealt with by a
Canadian court.

According to the National Post, Drabinsky noted that the alleged
scheme was carried out by Canadians, at a Canadian company
headquartered in Toronto, and the co-founder of the live theatre
company said a Canadian court would offer 'the most convenient
forum' to hear the shareholders' claim. 'This case concerns
actions alleged to have been taken by various Canadian citizens
and Canadians entities in Canada,' stated the documents filed
with the U.S. court. 'Because the convenience of the parties and
the ends of justice would be better served if the action were
brought and tried in Canada, the complaint should be dismissed.'

The National Post reports that Mr. Drabinksy's legal salvo
arrived days after a New York judge dismissed a similar class-
action complaint against another Canadian company - Philip
Services Corp. - because the case 'predominantly concerns the
conduct of a major Canadian corporation in Canada.'

Investors in the Hamilton-based waste and scrap company lost
billions of dollars after it announced last year that its
financial statements in the previous three years had been wrong.
Philip's stock collapsed and shareholders launched a class
action against the company and auditors Deloitte & Touche,
according to the National Post.

Mr. Drabinsky was reported by the National Post as saying public
interest factors 'weigh heavily in favor of litigation in
Canada,' adding that 'the mere fact that Livent's securities
also trade in the U.S. does not render this court an appropriate
forum to hear plaintiffs' claims.' At the same time, he also
appealed to the overburdened U.S. court's caseload, arguing that
'dismissing this case would also reduce the strain on this
court's docket.'

The National Post explained that a class action representing
thousands of U.S. Livent shareholders was filed last February
against Deloitte & Touche, its principal accounting firm, and
eight of Livent's top directors and officers. The complaint,
filed on behalf of shareholders who purchased Livent stock
between March 5, 1996, and Aug. 7, 1998, alleges the company's
former managers and auditors 'recklessly disregarded the facts'
when auditing the company's books.

Livent's new management team, led by Michael Ovitz, announced a
number of alleged accounting irregularities at the company on
Aug. 10. Three months later, according to the National Post
story, Livent filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada and the
United States, and fired Mr. Drabinsky, and business partner
Myron Gottlieb. Last January, Messrs. Drabinsky and Gottlieb
were indicted on charges of accounting fraud and conspiracy in
the United States, and face a bevy of civil charges levied by
the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The National Post also wrote that the U.S. class action, which
brought together as many as 14 separate complaints under one
umbrella, also seeks remedy for allegations of 'undisclosed
kickbacks' carried out by Messrs. Drabinsky and Gottlieb 10
years ago while they managed movie theatre company Cineplex
Odeon.

In his court filing, Mr. Drabinsky scoffed at the so-called
kickback scheme as 'scurrilous allegations.' The National Post
reported that he said: 'Even when these allegations are graced
with an assumption that they are true, they relate to conduct
occurring long before the putative class period.'


NORCEN ENERGY: Employees Heated Over Loss of Pension Benefits
-------------------------------------------------------------
In a story copyrighted by Financial Post from National Post, it
is reported that former employees of Norcen Energy Resources
Ltd. are taking the company to court in a $20-million lawsuit,
claiming they were deprived of pension benefits after being laid
off in 1994 and 1995. The court case, launched by 120 former
executives, managers and senior professionals, is the second
major lawsuit filed in Alberta that challenges changes oil
companies made to pension plans at a time when there was massive
downsizing in the industry.

In their claim, the employees allege they were wrongly deprived
of pension benefits when the company changed its benefit plan in
early 1995 in the midst of a company restructuring. According to
court documents cited by the National Post, Norcen converted
from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan in
January, 1995, yet did not inform a number of employees who were
in the midst of being terminated, nor gave them the opportunity
to opt in to the new plan before they were laid off. If they
had, it would have netted the employees more money on their
termination, says the claim. The lawsuit also claims that Norcen
used surplus funds from the original plan for its own purposes.
The plan had a surplus of about $18-million prior to the
conversion. After the change and after laying off the employees,
the plan had a surplus of $56-million.

The National Post quoted a statement of defense in which Norcen
denies that it breached any obligations. The company says the
new plan was effective Jan. 1, 1995 for administrative
convenience only. The change applied to Norcen employees
employed after June 30, 1995.

The National Post also reported that a group of laid-off
employees from Imperial Oil Ltd. has filed a separate class-
action suit in Alberta claiming that company amended its pension
plan just prior to a major downsizing that began in 1991 that
cost hundreds of employees fair benefits.


SECURITIES LITIGATION: Lead Plaintiff Complains He's Left Out
-------------------------------------------------------------
In a story copyrighted by American Lawyer Media, L.P., The
Recorder reported on the strange experience of a lead plaintiff
in a securities suit. "I would specifically like to know if I am
your 'client' according to your records," Charles Chalmers asked
in a May 28, 1998, email to Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, a
Philadelphia law firm that specializes in filing securities
fraud class actions. He didn't get a yes or no answer. But
meanwhile, Barrack, Rodos was busy putting him forth as a "lead
plaintiff" in a class action that settled without his knowledge,
input or consent.

At the time, Chalmers, who was reported by The Recorder to be a
San Francisco lawyer, also had no idea what it meant to be a
"lead plaintiff." But he did some research on it that would
cause trouble for Barrack, Rodos and three other plaintiffs
firms involved. Chalmers' experience sheds light on what happens
in practice under the reforms to investor class actions that
Congress enacted in December 1995 to target abuses by plaintiffs
lawyers. And if his saga is any example, the law may not be
working as Congress intended.

The Recorder wrote that Chalmers' strange relationship with
Barrack, Rodos stems from his investment in Digital Lightwave
Inc., a Clearwater, Fla., maker of test products for high-speed
telecommunications networks. On Jan. 22, 1998, the company
announced that it would restate revenues sharply downward,
citing the " discovery of certain errors in the timing of
revenue recognition and a review of accounting policies and
procedures." Second-quarter revenues for 1997 would be restated
from $5.3 million to $2.7 million and third-quarter revenues
from $8.3 million to $1.4 million, according to the press
release. The next day, the first of 23 class actions alleging
securities fraud was filed in federal district court in Tampa.

According to The Recorder story, Chalmers monitors his
investments on the Internet, checking message boards and press
releases on Yahoo and other outlets. After Digital Lightwave
dropped its bombshell announcement, Chalmers noticed a slew of
press releases from law firms notifying investors of class
actions. A Jan. 26, 1998, release from Barrack, Rodos was among
the first. "I wanted to follow it," Chalmers told The Recorder,
after having lost about $39,360 on his investment. He emailed
Barrack, Rodos on Sunday, March 1, 1998, inquiring how he could
" monitor" the suits.

The Recorder reports that several hours later, he got an email
response -- a form letter from Maxine Goldman, "shareholder
relations manager" at the law firm. " Please be advised that we
would be delighted to have you join our action," it began,
urging him to send back information on how much stock he had
purchased "as soon as possible."

Chalmers was a partner at San Jose's Skjerven, Morrill,
MacPherson, Franklin & Friel until January 1998, when he opened
a litigation consulting firm. From his brief experience with
securities class actions in the 1970s, Chalmers recalled these
cases as a race to the courthouse that put the first law firm to
file its complaint in charge of the suit. The Recorder wrote
that while he didn't realize it, the flurry of press releases he
had seen on the Internet were evidence of a different sort of
race by the plaintiffs bar, triggered by the 1995 law. When
Congress passed the Securities Litigation Reform Act, the debate
centered on "lawyer-driven" class actions, which often had
nominal plaintiffs. Lobbyists pushing to pass the law invariably
cited a quote from Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach's
William Lerach, the most successful class action lawyer and the
prime target. He said, according to Forbes magazine, "I have the
greatest practice in the world. I have no clients."

The Recorder explained that the law's "lead plaintiff" provision
was supposed to take control away from the law firms and put it
in the hands of the investor with the largest financial stake,
which would then select counsel. It provides for a 60-day notice
period, after which anyone can move to be a lead plaintiff. In
practice, it has led to a 60-day scramble by law firms to
solicit investors like Chalmers.

The Recorder described how at first, Chalmers chafed when
Goldman, who is not a lawyer, urged him to sign up. By March 16,
she forwarded a letter with papers to sign. "Our intention is to
join you in the litigation," she wrote. The letter asked him to
sign and return an enclosed "Sworn Certification" the next day.
The certification, another requirement of the 1995 law, states
that Chalmers will not accept payment for being a
"representative party." When he signed the form, Chalmers says,
he thought that being a representative party meant that he had
agreed to be deposed and to show his investment record to assist
the case. Of lead plaintiffs, he admits, "I didn't know from
bupkis."

When Chalmers asked Goldman if he was, indeed, the law firm's
client, she was reported by The Recorder to have responded, "An
agreed order has been submitted which would appoint our group of
plaintiffs the lead plaintiff and us as lead counsel." Chalmers
emailed Goldman on July 22 with a list of nine questions, asking
her to identify the named plaintiffs in the case and whether
discovery had begun. She replied that the firm had sent out the
"Digital Lightwave newsletter" earlier that month, and she asked
whether he had received his copy. Chalmers sent back a curt e-
mail on July 23, telling her that the newsletter -- noting the
court's approval of "a group of plaintiffs represented by this
firm and two others as lead plaintiffs" -- contained "very
little 'news.'"

Chalmers got no response from Goldman, but he later learned on
Yahoo that the case had been settled. The Recorder story noted
that on July 28, Digital Lightwave issued a press release
announcing that the company would pay $4.25 million in cash and
$18 million in shares of stock to end the litigation. Goldman
finally emailed Chalmers on Aug. 3. She told him that she had
not responded to his earlier questions because she was "waiting
for the company to announce the proposed settlement." She
suggested that he check the newswires to find it.

"We are having a strange correspondence," Chalmers wrote back,
reminding her that he was a lawyer. "I assume there have been
depositions of witnesses related to liability. Is this correct?"
he asked. (In fact, The Recorder notes, depositions never took
place. The plaintiffs conducted interviews after the July
settlement.) That's when Chalmers had his first contact with a
lawyer from Barrack, Rodos.

According to The Recorder, Goldman referred him to M. Richard
Komins. Chalmers claims that he also got the run-around from
Komins, who finally forwarded a copy of the settlement
stipulation in early December, after U.S. District Judge Susan
Bucklew said from the bench that she was inclined to approve the
deal. When Chalmers got the document on Dec. 12, he says, he was
stunned to see his name referenced as a "lead plaintiff" in the
case. "They wanted to be sure that I didn't find out who I was
until after they had obtained her preliminary approval," he
surmises. Chalmers sprang into action once he discovered what
the 1995 law had to say about lead plaintiffs, demanding to
contact the other nine investors listed as lead plaintiffs. He
got little satisfaction.

In February, he addressed his concerns with Judge Bucklew in a
lengthy letter. By then, he had tracked down two other "lead
plaintiffs," who said they had never been told that they were
being proposed for such a role and that settlement had never
been discussed with them. According to The Recorder, one of them
was Bob McMurtry, of Depew, Okla., who says that he first
learned of the proposed settlement when Chalmers called. The
next day, he got a call from his law firm, West Palm Beach,
Fla.'s Burt & Pucillo, urging him to ignore Chalmers. "They
thought, you know, he was trying to pull something," McMurtry
says. The firm sent him an overnight package with papers
relating to the case, with an affidavit approving the settlement
to return via Federal Express. McMurtry held off for several
weeks, but he signed because he did not want to drag out the
proceedings to collect on his $7,512 loss.

The Recorder explained that Judge Bucklew took up Chalmers'
objections at a day-long hearing on March 12. When Chalmers
related his first conversation with Komins -- when the Barrack,
Rodos lawyer told him that he could not look at the evidence in
the case because it was subject to a protective order -- the
judge became alarmed. She had never issued a protective order
and wanted some answers from Barrack, Rodos. "To the best of my
recollection," says Komins, "my response was that there may have
been a confidentiality order." He also said that he didn't
remember writing the emails telling Chalmers the firm needed the
court's preliminary approval for the "authority" to give him a
copy of the settlement stipulation. "A staff person" might have
responded from his computer terminal, he offered.

But, according to The Recorder, it was clear that Barrack, Rodos
never consulted with Chalmers before cutting a deal with Digital
Lightwave. The June 26 document memorializing the settlement
notes that it is conditioned on the approval of the company's
directors. "Doesn't Congress clearly intend lead plaintiffs to
have a role somewhat comparable to the board of directors of
Digital Lightwave?" Chalmers asked Judge Bucklew.

Lawyers on both sides suggested that increased participation by
plaintiffs in these settlements would amount to an annoyance,
The Recorder explained. Glen DeValerio, of Boston's Berman,
DeValerio & Pease, concedes that the 1995 law demands increased
participation by investors in these suits. But, he says, "the
language is one thing, and the practicalities are another."
Digital Lightwave's defense counsel, Michael Torpey of Brobeck,
Phleger & Harrison in San Francisco, says that the 1995 law
envisioned one lead plaintiff. Even if that had been the case,
he says, " the plaintiff wouldn't have been in the room because,
Glen's right, we do a better job of settling without them."

Judge Bucklew said "there was a very poor job of communication"
with Chalmers, but she approved the settlement. On April 30, her
formal order reduced the plaintiffs' legal fees from 30 percent
to 25 percent of the settlement fund. Chalmers' efforts came to
naught, but The Recorder notes that his conviction in playing
his unexpected role impressed fellow "lead plaintiffs." James
Field, a Texas rancher who lost about $434,262, has the second-
largest claim. Field says that his lawyers, from Bala Cynwyd,
Pa.'s Schiffrin & Barroway, gave him "very little information."
In the end, they convinced him that objecting would do more harm
than good. He's written off his investment. Of Chalmers, he told
The Recorder, "I admired the man."


WRITERS GUILD: Judge Boots Out Writer Bias Case
-----------------------------------------------
A federal judge has dismissed a $138 million class-action lawsuit
filed against CBS and the Writers Guild of America by a scribe who
complained that an affirmative action program set up for Latino
writers at the net was discriminatory.  

Plaintiff Migdia Chinea-Varela sued after she discovered she would
be making less than required guild minimums if she accepted a
position on a CBS episodic. At the time, the net was participating
in a WGA-approved program that allowed Latino scribes into the
writing process on certain shows at half the normal pay rates.

On Monday in Los Angeles, U.S. District Court Judge J. Spencer Letts
granted a defendants' motion to dismiss. An order outlining the judge's
reasoning has yet to be filed.

"I think it's an injustice," Chinea-Varela said Tuesday from her
home in Glendale. "Justice was not served -- not for me, not for
Hispanics."

Chinea-Varela counts among her credits the films "Out of Danger,"
"Rocket Man" and "Southern Mischief" and the TV shows "The Incredible
Hulk," "Punky Brewster," "Phyllis" and "Fantasy Island."

In her Dec. 15 lawsuit, Chinea-Varela alleged she and other Hispanic
writers are being deliberately excluded from writing assignments because
of their heritage, and sought compensatory damages for lost wages.

"The guild set up another category of pay -- a lower category -- by
virtue of my ethnicity," said Chinea-Varela, who did not accept a post
at CBS and is studying law at UCLA.

The guild currently runs a similar program at ABC.

Chinea-Varela plans to appeal the judge's decision to the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals. "I just don't see an end to this," she said. "All I
ever wanted to do was to write. Why not pay professional writers what
they're due?"  (Daily Variety 19-May-1999)



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