CAR_Public/990920.MBX                 C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

                Monday, September 20, 1999, Vol. 1, No. 159

                                 Headlines

AMPLIDYNE INC: Barrack Rodos Files Securities Suit In New Jersey
AMPLIDYNE INC: Milberg Weiss Announces Securities Suit In New Jersey
AMPLIDYNE: Weiss & Yourman Announces Securities Suit In New Jersey
AUTO INSURANCE: Suit Says Michigan Insurers Bilk Motorists By Refunding
CARDINAL HEALTH: Allegiance Assumes And Defends BHC Latex Gloves Cases

CARDINAL HEALTH: Dismissal Of Drugs Chargeback Under Appeal In Illinois
CENTURY BUSINESS: Shepherd & Geller Files Securities Suit In Ohio
CENTURY BUSINESS: Steven E. Cauley Files Securities Fraud Suit In Ohio
COCA-COLA: Accused Of Shredding Files Re Black Employees Bias Suit
COCA-COLA: Denies Document Shredding In Black Employees Bias Suit

DIAMOND MULTIMEDIA: CA Oks Securities Suit; Nation's High Ct Upholds
FEN-PHEN: Texas Woman Settles With AHP For A Fraction Of $23.3 Mil
GIO AUSTRALIA: Aussi Law Firm Warns Fd Ct Could Spell Out Class Action
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Irish Times Says Compensation Fight Yields Little
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: More Companies May Join Fund Depending On Talks

INSIGHT COMMUNICATIONS: Sued Over Late Fee Charges In Cable TV Bills
MERRILL LYNCH: Judge Monitoring Settlement Talks With Women Employees
MICROSOFT CORP: Journal Reviews Microsoft Case Re Leased Employees
PENTAIR INC: Essef Settles For Claims Over Bacteria Aboard M/V Horizon
REPUBLIC SERVICES: Schiffrin & Barroway Files Securities Suit In Fl.

UNISTAR FINANCIAL: Shepherd & Geller Files Securities Suit In Texas
UNITED COMPANIES: Contests Ruling Upheld By Sp Ct Re Alabama Mini Code
UNITED COMPANIES: DOJ Probes On Bias In Lending And Pricing Practices
UNITED COMPANIES: Settles In MA Claims Re Loan Origination Fees
US LIQUIDS: Milberg Weiss Updates Securities Suit Filed In Texas

USOP MERCHANDISING: Faces Securities Suits Over Strategic Restructuring
VIAGRA: Case Load Grows Against Insurers That Refuse To Pay
VIAGRA: Oxford's Appeal Process Criticized As 'Hidden'; Suit To Proceed

                              *********

AMPLIDYNE INC: Barrack Rodos Files Securities Suit In New Jersey
----------------------------------------------------------------
Counsel for Class Plaintiff, Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, issued the
following: A class action has been commenced in the United States
District Court for the District of New Jersey on behalf of all persons
who purchased the common stock of Amplidyne, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMPD) between
September 9 and September 14, 1999, inclusive.

The complaint charges Amplidyne and its Chief Executive Officer and
President with violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 as well as Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. The
complaint alleges that defendants issued materially false or misleading
statements regarding its products and the technology employed therein.
Because of the issuance of these false or misleading statements, the
price of Amplidyne common stock was artificially inflated during the
Class Period.

The plaintiff is represented by the law firm of Barrack, Rodos & Bacine.
If you are a member of the Class described above, you may, no later than
November 15, 1999, move the Court to serve as lead plaintiff of the
Class, if you so choose. In order to serve as lead plaintiff, however,
you must meet certain legal requirements. Contact
Maxine S. Goldman, Shareholder Relations Manager Barrack, Rodos &
Bacine, Counsel for Class Plaintiff 3300 Two Commerce Square 2001 Market
Street Philadelphia, PA 19103 800-417-7305 or 215-963-0600 fax number
888-417-7306 or 215-963-0838 e-mail at msgoldman@barrack.com


AMPLIDYNE INC: Milberg Weiss Announces Securities Suit In New Jersey
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The following was released today by Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach
LLP:

Notice is hereby given that a class action lawsuit was filed on
September 16, 1999, in the United States District Court for the District
of New Jersey, on behalf of all persons and entities who purchased the
common stock or warrants of Amplidyne, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMPD), between
September 9, 1999 and September 14, 1999, inclusive.

The complaint charges Amplidyne and its chief executive officer with
violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934 as well as Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. The complaint alleges
that Amplidyne issued materially false and misleading statements
regarding its products and technologies. As a result of these materially
false and misleading statements, plaintiff alleges that the price of
Amplidyne common stock was artificially inflated during the Class
Period.

Plaintiff is represented by the law firm of Milberg Weiss, among others.
If you are a member of the class described above you may, not later than
sixty days from September 16, 1999, move the Court to serve as lead
plaintiff of the class, if you so choose. In order to serve as lead
plaintiff, however, you must meet certain legal requirements.
Contact, at Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach ("Milberg Weiss"),
Steven G. Schulman, Samuel H. Rudman or Michael A. Swick at One
Pennsylvania Plaza, 49th Floor, New York, New York 10119-0165, by
telephone 1-800-320-5081 or via e-mail: endfraud@mwbhlny.com or visit
website at http://www.milberg.comTICKERS: NASDAQ:AMPD


AMPLIDYNE: Weiss & Yourman Announces Securities Suit In New Jersey
------------------------------------------------------------------
Sept. 16, 1999--A class action lawsuit will be filed tomorrow in U.S.
District Court for the District of New Jersey on behalf of purchasers of
Amplidyne, Inc., (Nasdaq:AMPD) between September 9, 1999 and September
14, 1999 inclusive. Amplidyne designs, manufactures and sells ultra
linear power amplifiers and related subsystems to the worldwide wireless
telecommunications market. The defendants include Amplidyne, Devendar
Bains, Tarlochan Bains, Harris Freedman, and Sharon Will.

The Complaint charges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10-b(5). The action
arises from damages incurred by the Class as a result of a scheme and
common course of conduct by defendants which operated as a fraud and
deceit on the Class during the Class Period. Defendants' scheme included
rendering false and misleading statements and/or omissions concerning
the present and future financial condition and business prospects of the
Company, as well as the financial benefits that would enure to Amplidyne
and its shareholders.

Plaintiff is represented by the law firms of Weiss & Yourman and Stull,
Stull & Brody. If you are a member of the class described above, you
may, no later than sixty days from the date of this release move the
Court to serve as lead plaintiff, if you so choose. In order to serve as
lead plaintiff, however, you must meet certain legal requirements.
Contact plaintiffs' counsel:

Michael D. Braun Stull Stull & Brody 888/388-4605 mdb@secfraud.com
Ronald Theda Weiss & Yourman 800/437-7918 wyinfo@wyca.com TICKERS:
NASDAQ:AMPD


AUTO INSURANCE: Suit Says Michigan Insurers Bilk Motorists By Refunding
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A lawsuit has been filed charging that Michigan insurance companies
bilked many state motorists when they refunded $ 1.2 billion last year
in premiums.

The suit says that, by reimbursing motorists insured on March 18, 1998,
the insurance companies missed giving money to many people who had paid
into the system for years but were not insured on that date. "The
distribution system was arbitrary, capricious and fundamentally unfair"
because it missed such motorists and paid the same amount to each person
regardless of how long they'd been paying for such coverage, the
class-action lawsuit states. It asks the court to adjust the $ 180
refund to reflect the correct amounts, and to order that a more accurate
reimbursement system be used in the future. The suit was filed in Wayne
County Circuit Court.

The attorney representing drivers challenging the distribution said
picking a single date as the one on which drivers qualified or failed to
qualify for the rebate wasn't fair. "Being simple doesn't make it
right," said Detroit attorney Stephen Wasinger, adding that no hearings
have been slated in the case.

But Doug Cruce, president of the Michigan Insurance Federation, called
the lawsuit's arguments "bogus." "We see this as a group of attorneys
out fishing for a lawsuit," he said. "The companies had no choice ... It
was refunded exactly the way it was collected."

Cruce argued that the only fair way to refund money was to reimburse
people who had insurance coverage on a certain date. "Where's the logic
of returning something to somebody who's moved out of state?" he asked.
"There's no question" it was done correctly.

The refund was ordered by the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association,
a private board of insurance companies. The fund pays medical claims
above $ 250,000 for those severely injured in auto accidents. Gloria
Freeland, general manager of the MCCA, said she had no comment on the
lawsuit, which was assigned to Circuit Judge Daphne Means Curtis.

Last year's refund came after it was reported the MCCA fund's surplus
had grown to $ 2.5 billion. The MCCA board bowed to legislative pressure
and returned $ 1.2 billion to policy holders. The surplus is again above
$ 1 billion, officials said.

This year, motorists are paying $ 5.60 for each vehicle insured to
support the catastrophic claims fund. (The Detroit News 9-16-1999)


CARDINAL HEALTH: Allegiance Assumes And Defends BHC Latex Gloves Cases
----------------------------------------------------------------------
On September 30, 1996, Baxter International, Inc. and its subsidiaries
transferred to Allegiance and its subsidiaries their U.S. health-care
distribution business, surgical and respiratory therapy business and
health-care cost-saving business, as well as certain foreign operations
(the "Allegiance Business") in connection with a spin-off of the
Allegiance Business by Baxter. In connection with this spin-off,
Allegiance, which was acquired by the Company on February 3, 1999,
assumed the defense of litigation involving claims related to the
Allegiance Business from Baxter Healthcare Corporation ("BHC"),
including certain claims of alleged personal injuries as a result of
exposure to natural rubber latex gloves described below.

Allegiance will be defending and indemnifying BHC, as contemplated by
the agreements between Baxter and Allegiance, for all expenses and
potential liabilities associated with claims pertaining to the
litigation assumed by Allegiance. As of June 30, 1999, there were
approximately 430 lawsuits involving BHC and/or Allegiance containing
allegations of sensitization to natural rubber latex products. Since
none of these cases has proceeded to a hearing on the merits, the
Company is unable to evaluate the extent of any potential liability, and
unable to estimate any potential loss. Because of the increase in claims
filed and the ongoing defense costs that will be incurred, the Company
believes it is probable that it will continue to incur significant
expenses related to the defense of cases involving natural rubber latex
gloves.


CARDINAL HEALTH: Dismissal Of Drugs Chargeback Under Appeal In Illinois
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
In November 1993, Cardinal Health Inc. and Whitmire Distribution
Corporation ("Whitmire"), one of the Company's wholly-owned
subsidiaries, as well as other pharmaceutical wholesalers, were named as
defendants in a series of purported class action lawsuits which were
later consolidated and transferred by the Judicial Panel for
Multi-District Litigation to the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois. Subsequent to the consolidation, a new
consolidated complaint was filed which included allegations that the
wholesaler defendants, including the Company and Whitmire, conspired
with manufacturers to inflate prices using a chargeback pricing system.
The wholesaler defendants, including the Company and Whitmire, entered
into a Judgment Sharing Agreement whereby the total exposure for the
Company and its subsidiaries is limited to $1,000,000 or 1% of any
judgment against the wholesalers and the manufacturers, whichever is
less, and provided for a reimbursement mechanism for legal fees and
expenses.

The trial of the class action lawsuit began on September 23, 1998. On
November 19, 1998, after the close of plaintiffs' case-in-chief, both
the wholesaler defendants and the manufacturer defendants moved for
judgment as a matter of law in their favor. On November 30, 1998, the
Court granted both of these motions and ordered judgment as a matter of
law in favor of both the wholesaler defendants and the manufacturer
defendants. On January 25, 1999, the class plaintiffs filed a notice of
appeal of the District Court's decision with the Court of Appeals for
the Seventh Circuit. On July 13, 1999, the Court of Appeals for the
Seventh Circuit issued its decision, which, in part, affirmed the
dismissal of the wholesaler defendants, including the Company and
Whitmire. On July 27, 1999, the class plaintiffs filed a Petition for
Rehearing with the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

In addition to the federal court cases described above, the Company and
Whitmire have also been named as defendants in a series of related
antitrust lawsuits brought by chain drug stores and independent
pharmacies who opted out of the federal class action lawsuits, and in a
series of state court cases alleging similar claims under various state
laws regarding the sale of brand name prescription drugs. The Judgment
Sharing Agreement mentioned above also covers these litigation matters.


CENTURY BUSINESS: Shepherd & Geller Files Securities Suit In Ohio
-----------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Firm of Shepherd & Geller, LLC announced that it has filed a
class action in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Ohio on behalf of all individuals and institutional
investors that purchased Century Business Services, Inc. (Nasdaq:CBIZ)
common stock between February 6, 1998 and November 23, 1998, inclusive.

The complaint charges that the Company and certain of its officers and
directors violated the federal securities laws by issuing false and
misleading statements about the Company's true acquisition costs,
revenue run rates and goodwill amortization periods, and the effects
these adverse undisclosed conditions would ultimately have on Century's
operations, liquidity, and stock price. When the truth about the Company
was revealed, the stock price fell sharply.

Shepherd & Geller, LLC is working closely with The Law Offices of Steven
E. Cauley, P.A., in prosecuting this case. If you would like to consider
serving as one of the lead plaintiffs in this lawsuit, you must take
appropriate action by November 16, 1999. Contact Shepherd & Geller, LLC,
Boca Raton Paul J. Geller, 561/750-3000 Toll Free: 1-888-262-3131
E-mail: pgeller@classactioncounsel.com or Shepherd & Geller, LLC, Media,
Pa. Scott R. Shepherd, 610/891-9880 Toll Free: 1-877-891-9880 E-mail:
sshepherd@classactioncounsel.com TICKERS: NASDAQ:CBIZ


CENTURY BUSINESS: Steven E. Cauley Files Securities Fraud Suit In Ohio
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices of Steven E. Cauley, P.A. announced that a Class Action
has been filed in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Ohio on behalf of all purchasers of Century Business
Services, Inc. (Nasdaq: CBIZ) common stock during the period February 6,
1998 through November 23, 1998.

According to the complaint filed by Steven E. Cauley, the defendants
issued false and misleading statements concerning, among other things,
the Company's true acquisition costs, revenue run rates and goodwill
amortization periods, and the effects these adverse undisclosed
conditions would ultimately have on Century's operations, liquidity and
stock price. When this information was finally revealed, the price of
Century common stock declined to prices far below those at which it
traded during the Class Period.

If you wish to serve as one of the lead plaintiffs in this lawsuit you
must file a motion with the court within 60 days of September 16, 1999.
Contact one of the attorneys listed below: Steven E. Cauley, Scott E.
Poynter Gina M. Cothern 2200 N. Rodney Parham Road Suite 218, Cypress
Plaza Little Rock, AR 72212 E-mail: CauleyPA@aol.com 1-888-551-9944 -
toll free


COCA-COLA: Accused Of Shredding Files Re Black Employees Bias Suit
------------------------------------------------------------------
In documents filed late yesterday, the lawyers for four black employees
of the Coca-Cola Company, who have filed a lawsuit accusing the company
of discriminating against blacks in pay, promotions and performance
evaluations, said they had evidence that Coca-Cola executives were
shredding documents that might be relevant to the case.

The lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, Cyrus Mehri, asked Federal District
Judge Richard W. Story for sanctions against the company. He cited a
June 23 letter from William A. Clineburg Jr., one of Coca-Cola's
lawyers, denying the existence of shredders in a room being used to
assemble documents for the company's defense. In the letter, Mr.
Clineburg wrote, "No data are being destroyed."

Mr. Mehri said an anonymous letter he received in June said that Coke
had set up a "document destruction room" to get rid of documents related
to the suit, which is seeking class-action status to include as many as
1,500 past or present black employees.

The lawsuit was filed on April 22 in Federal District Court in Atlanta
by four past and current employees ranging from a security guard to a
former executive who earned nearly $100,000 a year. They said that, on
average, Coke paid its black employees nearly $27,000 a year less than
its white employees.

The letter Mr. Mehri said he received, attached as an exhibit with the
motion filed, describes the room as having "a 24-hour operation" and
security surveillance.

According to the motion, the document room, known as Room 7 of the
Learning Center, was set up with some urgency late in May. Paul Markley,
an employee described in court documents as saying that he helped set up
the room, said another employee, Ginny Sutton, "requested that a
shredder be placed in Room 7." The motion also cites a custodian who
said he removed "bags of shredded material from outside Room 7."

A Coca-Cola spokesman, Ben Deutsch, said in a statement, "This
accusation is nothing more than an irresponsible attempt by plaintiffs'
counsel to seed erroneous information in the public and maliciously
attack the integrity and ethics of the company."

Mr. Deutsch acknowledged there was a room set up as described, but said
no shredding was taking place. "There has never been a shredder," he
said. "No discoverable information is being destroyed or altered."
No hearing date has been set. (The New York Times 9-17-1999)


COCA-COLA: Denies Document Shredding In Black Employees Bias Suit
-----------------------------------------------------------------Plaintiffs
in a racial discrimination lawsuit against Coca-Cola Co. are
accusing the soft drink company of shredding documents related to the
case. Company officials say they have done no such thing.

In a motion filed, the plaintiffs' attorneys said they have
''substantial evidence'' that the ''war room'' where company officials
and attorneys are working on the suit contains shredders that have
destroyed information. The motion said eyewitnesses have seen the
shredders and a custodian has said he removed bags of shredded material
left outside the room. The plaintiffs asked U.S. District Judge Richard
Story to order additional depositions of people who may have knowledge
of the ''war room'' and to punish the company for any misconduct.

Company officials disputed the allegations. ''We do have a room that is
being used to collect data and prepare a database requested by the
plaintiffs,'' said Coca-Cola spokesman Ben Deutsch. ''It contains no
shredders, and there never has been a shredder in it. Absolutely no
discoverable information is being destroyed or altered.''

The lawsuit, filed in April by four current or former black employees,
charges that Coca-Cola discriminates against blacks in pay, promotions,
performance evaluations and firings. The company denies the allegations.

The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for the suit. That would
add as plaintiffs all 1,500 salaried black employees who work for the
company nationwide. (AP Online 9-17-1999)


DIAMOND MULTIMEDIA: CA Oks Securities Suit; Nation's High Ct Upholds
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The nation's High Court turned down the pleas of Diamond Multimedia
Systems Inc., the technology industry and various amici to overturn a
California Supreme Court decision that had allowed out-of-state
investors to circumvent securities reform by pursuing securities fraud
suits in California state courts. Diamond Multimedia Systems Inc. et al.
v. Pass, No. 98-1612 (U.S., certiorari denied June 14, 1999).

The Supreme Court's denial of the company's petition for certiorari in
effect allows Diamond Multimedia shareholder plaintiffs to proceed in
California with their state law-based charges. And, in effect, it gives
the green light to other class actions in state court if they were filed
before Congress passed the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act
(SLUSA) in 1998. The SLUSA forced all large class action securities
fraud suits into federal court, where they would have to meet the
toughened standards of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of
1995.

Plaintiff attorney William Dato of Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes &
Lerach in San Diego, said the court should allow plaintiffs to proceed
with those cases filed before the SLUSA was passed. However, he noted
that the effect of the decision is limited to those "grandfathered"
cases. He estimated that there are at least 30 such actions pending in
the state courts.

                               Background

The stock price of Diamond Multimedia, a San Jose-based manufacturer of
graphics accelerators and modem products, had peaked at over $40 a share
in December 1995. At the time of a November 1995 offering, Diamond
Multimedia sold 3.15 million shares, and its co-defendant officers sold
315,041 shares at prices in the $30 per share range. In June 1996, after
Diamond Multimedia announced losses and a future write-down in
inventory, the value of the stock dropped to a low of $9
1/8 a share. The ensuing litigation claims that the officer defendants
were aware of adverse nonpublic information about Diamond Multimedia's
finances, products and present and future business prospects, and that
they were each aware of and approved false statements issued by or on
behalf of Diamond Multimedia during the class period.

The action was brought under California Corporations Code Sec. 25400,
which makes fraudulent manipulation of the market unlawful, and Sec.
25500, which provides shareholders with a civil remedy for violations of
Sec. 25400. Among its arguments for demurrer, Diamond Multimedia
contended that the plaintiffs had failed to plead jurisdictional
requisites, that the stock purchases had to have occurred in California,
and that the complainants had to be domiciled in the state.

While finding that the officer defendants could not be liable on the
plaintiffs' aiding and abetting allegations, and determining that the
corporation could not be liable for statements that had not been made in
connection with the November 1995 offering, the trial court rejected
Diamond Multimedia's jurisdictional argument. Diamond Multimedia then
sought a writ of mandamus to compel the entry of an order on
jurisdictional grounds in its favor. The California Court of Appeal
rejected the petition and Diamond Multimedia appealed.

In a 5-2 decision issued Jan. 4, 1999, the California Supreme Court held
that non-resident purchasers of stock in California corporations have
standing to bring fraud claims under the state's securities laws.

The panel concluded that Sec. 25500 "simply provides a remedy for third
parties whose sale or purchase of stock is affected by unlawful conduct
in California, making the remedy available without any express
territorial limitation." The panel also found no evidence that Sec.
25400 requires that the acts of market manipulation be performed with
the intent to induce a purchase or sale of stock in California.

                      Diamond Multimedia's Appeal

Diamond Multimedia filed a petition for certiorari in the U.S. Supreme
Court, arguing that the California law, as interpreted by the state's
high court, opened a wide hole in the securities reform dam Congress had
built. They said the decision in effect extends California law to
commerce that takes place beyond the state's boundaries.

Amici curiae the Washington Legal Foundation and the Allied Educational
Foundation joined in the petition because of "their ongoing interest in
controlling the abuse of nationwide class actions as a tool of
securities litigation."

The amici argued that the negative or "dormant" commerce clause is
violated because the decision purports to apply California law in a
nationwide class action, where many of the unnamed class members have
little or no connection to California, thereby directly regulating
securities transactions in other states. Such regulation of interstate
commerce conflicts with prior Supreme Court decisions establishing a per
se rule of "no direct regulation," they claimed.

Amici curiae the Securities Industry Association (SIA), the National
Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and the American Electronics
Association (AEA) also joined in the petition because the Diamond
Multimedia decision "sanction s the wholesale evasion of the Reform
Act's procedural and substantive safeguards against abusive litigation."
The SIA amici, among other things, also contended that the ruling
violated the commerce clause.

The plaintiffs responded that even the dissent in the Diamond Multimedia
decision recognized that it affects only those cases filed prior to the
SLUSA and only those cases where wrongs have been committed in
California.

"The limited express preemption provisions of SLUSA, enacted in 1998 but
which are expressly not applicable to state law actions filed before
SLUSA's effective date, confirm that prior to 1998, there was no
Congressional intent to preempt such actions," the plaintiffs
maintained.

           Supreme Court Denied The Petition Without Comment

The plaintiffs are represented by Leonard Simon, Alan Schulman, Mark
Solomon and William Dato of Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes & Lerach in
San Diego; Arthur Abbey, Jill Abrams and James Seirmarco of Abbey, Grady
& Squitieri; Daniel Berger and Jeffrey Leibell of Bernstein, Litowitz
Berger & Grossman; Jules Brody of Stull, Stull & Brody; and Nadeem
Faruqi of Faruqi & Faruqi, all in New York City.

Diamond Multimedia is represented by Steven Schatz, Terry Johnson,
Thomas Martin and Rebecca Mitchells of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich &
Rosati in Palo Alto, CA, and Joseph Grundfest, of the Stanford
University School of Law in Stanford, CA.

Daniel J. Popeo and R. Shawn Gunnarson with the Washington Legal
Foundation in Washington, DC, filed the brief on behalf of the amici
curiae the Washington Legal Foundation and the Allied Educational
Foundation.

Robert P. Varian, Patrick Thomas Murphy and Shelly E. Wharton of
Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP in San Francisco filed the brief on
behalf of amici curiae the SIA, the NVCA and the AEA. (Software Law
Bulletin, September 1999)


FEN-PHEN: Texas Woman Settles With AHP For A Fraction Of $23.3 Mil
------------------------------------------------------------------
A Texas woman who blamed the diet drug combination fen-phen for her
heart damage has agreed to settle a lawsuit against the manufacturer for
a fraction of the $23.3 million a jury awarded her.

News of the settlement came on the same day as reports that the company
American Home Products Corp. is close to settling most of the thousands
of diet pill lawsuits filed against it for at least $3 billion.

In the Texas case, Debbie Lovett, 36, of Grand Saline, blamed American
Home and subsidiary Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories for damage she suffered
after taking fen-phen for more than three months starting in October
1995.

Ms. Lovett's attorney Kip Petroff would not disclose the amount of the
settlement, but said the deal was reached after considering state law
that caps monetary awards in civil suits. ''The amount of the settlement
was significantly less than the amount of the verdict, but the amount of
the settlement is more than 90 percent of what we thought would be
awarded after all of the evidence was considered and after the statutory
cap on punitive damages was applied as required by law,'' Petroff said.

AHP spokesman Doug Petkus went a bit further in discussing the deal.
''While the amount is confidential, American Home Products can confirm
it totaled less than 10 percent of the amount returned by the jury,''
Petkus said.

Thousands of fen-phen cases have been filed across the nation, but Ms.
Lovett's lawsuit was the first to reach a jury. Jurors last month found
the company was fully liable for Ms. Lovett's ailments.

As for the larger settlement, two newspapers reported that final details
were being worked out and the deal could be announced soon.
The Star-Ledger of Newark said the settlement could exceed $5 billion,
and would resolve more than 4,100 lawsuits brought by 8,000 people. The
Wall Street Journal said the settlement would be about $3 billion. Both
reports cited anonymous sources.

American Home officials refused to comment on the possibility of a
wide-ranging settlement.

The Star-Ledger reported that the company's offer includes payments to
patients harmed by the diet drugs, along with follow-up medical
examinations for millions of other users. The Journal said those who
feel the agreement is inadequate could opt out and pursue cases on their
own. The Star-Ledger said unresolved issues on Wednesday included the
structure of the payout and the terms of a side deal with plaintiffs in
New Jersey, where a civil trial is under way over whether the Madison
N.J.-based drug maker should be liable for the cost of future medical
checkups.

The pending settlement would cover individual lawsuits and class-action
suits certified in eight states, the newspaper said. It would need a
federal judge's approval.

The Journal reported that the FBI is probing whether the American Home
revealed all it knew about dangers of Redux prior to its approval by the
government in 1996. The company denied knowing about any such inquiry.

American Home's stock has languished in recent months largely due to
uncertainty about how much it will have to pay to resolve the diet drug
lawsuits.

American Home made fenfluramine, the ''fen'' in the fen-phen combination
and gave the drug a brand name of Pondimin. It also made Pondimin's
chemical cousin Redux. American Home Products marketed Pondimin and
Redux until September 1997. That was when the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration pushed for their withdrawal after a Mayo Clinic study
linked the drugs to potentially fatal heart valve damage. Fenfluramine
had been sold since the 1970s but became widely used in the 1990s when
doctors prescribed it in combination with another drug, phentermine.
When taken alone, phentermine never was associated with health problems.
It remains on the market.


GIO AUSTRALIA: Aussi Law Firm Warns Fd Ct Could Spell Out Class Action
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm launching a class action against GIO Australia Holdings Ltd
warned that a Federal Court ruling next week could spell the end of
similar actions in the future. Melbourne-based Maurice Blackburn Cashman
said a Federal Court application to be heard on Friday week could, if
successful, declare class actions unconstitutional.
"Without class actions, thousands of Australians would have to issue
Common Law proceedings individually, which would tie up court systems
and expose people to costs and administrative hassles they do not have
to bear under the current class action system," partner Vera Culkoff
said.

The application has been made in relation to a class action the firm
issued against the manufacturers of Filshie clips, a sterilisation
device.

Lawyers for the defendants have applied to have the case struck out on
the basis that all class actions are unconstitutional as the Federal
Court does not have the power to adjudicate on them. The lawyers also
argue that the court has no jurisdiction to hear matters relating to
individuals not named as parties in class actions. "This will affect
thousands of people because class actions operate on the basis that all
people affected by the claim are included in it unless they choose to
opt out," Ms Culkoff said.

Late last month, the Australian Shareholders Association urged members
to join a class action against GIO, being run by Maurice Blackburn
Cashman. The ASA's call had followed revelations by GIO that it faced a
staggering $759 million loss in its reinsurance business. The news sent
GIO shares plummetting. Last year, the GIO board urged its shareholders
not to sell their shares to AMP Ltd, which was offering $5.35 per share.
GIO claimed AMP's offer undervalued the company. The ASA said it
believed the class action represented the best opportunity for GIO
shareholders, who rejected AMP's offer on the advice of the GIO board,
to recover their losses. (AAP Newsfeed 9-16-1999)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Irish Times Says Compensation Fight Yields Little
--------------------------------------------------------------------
September was supposed to mark the start of compensation payments from
German firms for the use of forced and slave labour in the second World
War.

The Jewish new year, which has started for about a week, traditionally
marks more than just a celebration of a new beginning. It represents the
start of a week-long period of reflection on, and repentance for, the
year that has passed.

For many Holocaust survivors and their families, looking back will lead
to a sense of disappointment. In spite of the international rows, the
statements of good intent and the high-profile handshakes and
agreements, little has emerged from the long campaigns for Holocaust
compensation.

September was supposed to mark the start of compensation payments from
German companies for their use of forced and slave labour during the
war. But the deadline - timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of
the Nazi invasion of Poland - has come and gone.

Months of bitter wrangling between lawyers, companies and diplomats lie
ahead. Meanwhile, a year after the landmark $ 1.25 billion (E1.2
billion) agreement with three Swiss banks over victims' bank accounts
and looted gold, the cash remains bogged down in a legal quagmire.

"I am devastated, because I keep meeting survivors who are not going to
survive much longer," says Lord Janner, the British peer who helped to
prompt early inquiries into Nazi plundering of Holocaust victims. "It is
so very sad. A man came up to me at Heathrow who said: 'I am very
grateful for what you people have done but I am getting very old. When
am I going to get anything to help me survive?' "

While some payments have emerged from smaller funds, including
humanitarian funds from Austrian and Swiss companies, the headline
settlements remain out of reach. The delays, complexity and downright
squabbling over freeing the Swiss settlement has affected the range of
Holocaust-related negotiations that have followed.

Mr Stuart Eizenstat, the US deputy Treasury secretary who has led the
international talks over Holocaust assets, says failings over the Swiss
bank settlement have shaped discussions with German companies over
forced labour. Claimants in the Swiss case focused on the level of the
overall settlement, leaving it to the courts to decide on how to
allocate the money. "We are now one year after the August 1998
settlement, and not one nickel has gone out," he says. "No one wants a
repeat of that."

One cause of the delay is the widespread use of class-action lawsuits in
compensation claims. Lawyers have brought claims on behalf of large
numbers of individuals in a group - such as workers in one factory. Such
suits can be launched with only one named plaintiff, but lawyers try to
identify others.

The final hearing on the allocation of the $ 1.25 billion is due to be
held at the end of November, but the court has yet to resolve basic
issues about the division of the settlement. Delays have led to growing
tensions between Jewish groups and class-action lawyers. The two sides
have argued over who should lead talks, and where they should be
resolved.

"I am not blaming the individual lawyers or the court, but it is the
nature of the class-action system. You have to hear claims, place
advertisements in newspapers around the world, create lists to identify
claimants and organisations. That is the way lawyers operate," says Mr
Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress.

Clashes between lawyers and Jewish groups have spilled over into other
negotiations, particularly over a proposed settlement with Austrian
banks.

The congress is challenging a $ 40 million settlement with Bank Austria
and Creditanstalt, on the grounds that it is too low and lawyers' fees
too high.

In the Swiss case, although most lawyers agreed to act pro bono -
without a fee - some are charging, and others are claiming expenses. The
total amount for lawyers' fees is limited to $ 25 million, with another
$ 20 million going on advertising to identify survivors. A group of
survivors has already pulled out of the settlement in protest at the
lawyers' fees, and one survivor is even suing her own lawyer.

In the German negotiations, where more lawyers are charging fees, the
fees could rise to hundreds of millions of dollars, depending on the
overall settlement. The German talks are taking time to establish who
should receive how much compensation - lawyers as well as the victims.

Some members of the Jewish community say the unseemly wrangle over
delays has left the survivors largely forgotten. "The tragedy is that
every day that goes by, someone who could be helped, won't be helped,"
says Mr Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
"The survivors are patient and waiting, but the reaper waits for no
one." (The Irish Times 9-17-1999)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: More Companies May Join Fund Depending On Talks
------------------------------------------------------------------
More than a dozen German companies are considering joining a fund to
compensate Nazi slave laborers, but are waiting to see the result of
negotiations next month in Washington before making a formal commitment,
the spokesman for the fund said Friday.

Wolfgang Gibowski said the number of the companies in the fund, now 16,
could rise to about 35 if the new firms decide to take part. ''Many
others have agreed to participate in the future, but they until now did
not enter the fund in a formal way,'' Gibowski said. ''If we make more
progress in the next negotiations in October, maybe we'll have a better
situation to get them in formally too.''

The key sticking point for the new companies is making sure that
participation in the fund will give them protection from future
lawsuits, Gibowski said. The fund was initially proposed under pressure
from class-action suits in the United States.

The next round of talks is scheduled for early October in Washington,
including Jewish groups, lawyers for the victims, the Israeli and
central European governments.

Gibowski declined to name the companies still waiting to formally join
the industry fund. (AP Worldstream 9-17-1999)


INSIGHT COMMUNICATIONS: Sued Over Late Fee Charges In Cable TV Bills
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Certain of the Company's individual systems have been named in purported
class actions in various jurisdictions concerning late fee charges and
practices. Certain of the Company's cable television systems charge late
fees to subscribers who do not pay their cable bills on time. Plaintiffs
generally allege that the late fees charged by such cable television
systems are not reasonably related to the costs incurred by the cable
television systems as a result of the late payment. Plaintiffs seek to
require cable television systems to provide compensation for alleged
excessive late fee charges for past periods. These cases are at various
stages of the litigation process.


MERRILL LYNCH: Judge Monitoring Settlement Talks With Women Employees
---------------------------------------------------------------------
A group of outraged female Merrill Lynch employees claim the Wall Street
giant is penalizing women who took part in a class-action discrimination
suit against the firm. Several of the women who filed claims and still
work at Merrill had their lawyers tell the judge overseeing settlement
proceedings they are treated like lepers and continue to be held back
from the best assignments and the best customers. "I feel like I've been
left out to dry," one woman who asked not to be identified told The Post
.

Attorneys representing the 900 women who filed claims against Merrill
squared off on a closed-session before Federal Judge Ruben Castillo.
The womens' lawyers argued that Merrill took revenge against the women
who cried discrimination before the suit was settled last year.

Judge Castillo is monitoring the progress of the settlement, which
requires Merrill to mediate or arbitrate the women's individual claims
in good faith. "I know dozens of women, including myself, who have not
had their claims negotiated in good faith by Merrill Lynch," another one
of the women told The Post following the hearing.

The judge called for the hearing after lawyers said they planned to take
all 900 claims against Merrill to mediation - rejecting the Wall Street
firm's assertion that only about one-third have merit.

After the hearing, attorneys for Merrill and the plaintiffs issued this
joint statement:

"We reported to the court that we've been engaged in a constructive
discussion regarding Merrill Lynch's diversity initiatives and we will
be reporting back to the court next month to update the status of these
discussions." (The New York Post 9-15-1999)


MICROSOFT CORP: Journal Reviews Microsoft Case Re Leased Employees
------------------------------------------------------------------
This month's interview examines the latest court decision relating to
the Microsoft case and what it means to employers with leased employees.
In the most recent decision of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
in the sevenyear-old case of Vizcaino, et al. v. Microsoft Corporation
(No. 98-71388), the court ruled that an entire group of independent
contractors and temporary employment agency workers employed by
Microsoft should be considered common law employees. Therefore, those
employees, who in a class action suit had challenged Microsoft's denial
of stock purchase benefits, were, in fact, entitled to those benefits.

The Microsoft decision raises a host of issues for employers with leased
workers or other types of contingent work forces. In the following
interview with EBPR editor Robert Pruter, John R. Quesnel, vice
president of professional services with New York Life Benefit Services
of Norwood, Mass., explains some of the issues and implications of the
Microsoft ruling. Mr. Quesnel, who has been active in the pension,
actuarial, and consulting field for 32 years, has responsibilities for
ERISA compliance and plan service operations and has written on various
issues relating to benefits for leased employees.

Q: Please explain the latest permutations of Vizcaino, et al. v.
Microsoft Corporation, where the Ninth Court expanded the number of
Microsoft's leased workers beyond the district court's definition by
adding employees of leasing agencies?

A: Basically, the case is about whether certain types of people who did
or didn't work for Microsoft should be eligible for Microsoft's 401(k)
plan and stock purchase plan. The district court limited the group of
employees with valid claims to those job functions that were previously
done by people whom Microsoft considered to be freelancers or
independent contractors. The IRS reclassified some of those positions
into common law employees of Microsoft, and Microsoft voluntary
converted others into leased arrangements where employees were given the
option of continuing to work with Microsoft as a leased employee of a
temporary staffing agency. But only these two classes-the ones that were
reclassified by the IRS or voluntarily converted by Microsoft-could be
considered a part of the class that had an action against the company.

The latest Ninth Circuit ruling found that all employees of the leasing
company also should be part of the class. So the court determined that
employees whom Microsoft considered to be employed by a leasing company
and only leased to them were, in fact, common law employees of
Microsoft. The real negative impact of this ruling on Microsoft is that
these leased employees should therefore be entitled to participate in
Microsoft's stock purchase plan.

Q: The Ninth Circuit clearly disagreed with the district court's
exclusion of the leased employees of the temporary staffing agencies.
What was the district court's understanding of the issue?

A: The district court apparently took the position that these employees
were employed by the staffing agency and not by Microsoft, so they were
not part of the IRS-reclassifieds and the Microsoft-reclassifieds.
However, the appellate court disagreed with this position, in a rather
far-reaching approach, and said that employees of the staffing agencies
also were common law employees of Microsoft.

Q: Should one surmise that the appellate court was viewing Microsoft's
approach as a subterfuge to put certain groups of employees outside its
benefits net by having the employees be hirees of the leasing agency
instead? Was the court in effect saying that an employer cannot use this
strategy of sending a certain group of employees into a leasing agency?

A: I'm not sure the court attributed any particular intent of that
nature. It did hold up a test that came from an earlier case, the Darden
case, in which five factors were cited as determinant of who in fact is
the employer. These factors were: ( I ) who recruited the employee? (2)
who trained the employee? (3) what is the duration of the employee's
employment? (4), does the employer have the right to assign leased
employees additional tasks other than what the leasing agency
specifically assigned? and (5) does the company in fact have control
over the relationship between the workers and the agency? Under this
five-factor test, the court determined that the leased employees of
Microsoft were common law employees of the company.

Q: Does the Microsoft case represent new ground to our understanding of
benefits relationships between the employer and leased employees?

A: First, one must remember that this is only the opinion of the Ninth
Circuit. Another court might take a totally different approach. In
addition, this case is far from over.

However, this case certainly goes pretty far to one end of the spectrum
in making a determination of who is considered an employee. This issue
is very gray, and there is very little guidance in this area. The IRS
has been promising guidance, but it hasn't been forthcoming. Meanwhile,
the leasing industry has grown dramatically-I think leased employees now
represent 4% of the U. S. work force. Thus, the issue is becoming more
prevalent and, with little guidance, employers often are trying to make
a best guess of what to do.

Q: If an employer does not want its leased employees to be deemed by the
IRS as common-law workers, what must it do or avoid doing?

A: Again, it is a difficult area, because there are not any bright lines
one can draw to definitely tell the employer where the safe areas are.
There are those five conditions outlined by the Ninth Circuit, for
example, and there have been other standards of that type. There are
some legislative proposals that would allow the employer to do certain
things to ensure that it is not deemed the employer of leased employees.

It goes back to the old adage, "If you look like a duck and walk like a
duck, then you're a duck." Employers and leasing companies should do all
that can be done either contractually or in practice to structure their
relationship in a way that would lead one to conclude that workers are
employees of the leasing agencies.

The related issue is the impact on an employer's employee benefit plans
if employees intended to be leased employees are, nevertheless,
determined to be common law employees. There were two plans involved in
the Microsoft case-a qualified plan and a stock purchase plan. In the
qualified plan, the employer has a little more opportunity to draft a
plan to exclude certain groups even if they are determined to be common
law employees. For example, the company might have been able to adapt
the qualified plan to specifically exclude the leased employees, even if
they were found to be common law employees, by attributing them to a
class to be excluded from the plan. An employer, however, cannot do this
in the stock purchase plan, because it doesn't allow for such
exclusions.

So it's a two-pronged approach. First, try to do everything you can to
make the employees look like what you want them to look like, and
second, in case you fail with the first part, you want to have at least
your qualified plan drafted carefully so that the employees at issue
will be excluded no matter whether they are considered, leased or common
law.

Q: You have mentioned the IRS plans to issue guidelines on leased
employees. Given the high visibility of the Microsoft case, and the fact
that many employers are looking for guidance in this area, why haven't
guidelines been forthcoming?

A: This is an important area for guidance, and one that is causing a lot
of consternation among a lot of employers. But unfortunately, we've
learned that the IRS apparently has put this issue on the back burner,
because, as I understand it, of other priorities.

Q: Putting yourself in the shoes of the IRS, what do you think would be
useful guidelines on this issue for employers?

A: I think the IRS must recognize that leasing arrangements are not
shams to cheat employees out of benefits, but rather that they are
becoming increasingly legitimate arrangements whereby employees can be
provided to employers. This may not have been the case when the leasing
business first started. Back then, it might have been more pointed
toward trying to allow small companies to be able to provide significant
benefits to higher paid employees without providing much to the rank and
file. But that's really not what the leasing business is about anymore.
Many times leasing is simply for convenience, for example, with smaller
employers that don't have the ability to handle human resources
functions.

To a certain extent, the IRS acknowledges this. But I think it needs to
look at what is going on in the leasing business today, and recognize
that it is a legitimate business, and then try to come up with
guidelines that everybody in fairness can live with.

Q: In the absence of clear guidelines on the issue in the regulatory
arena and a certain ambiguity in the case law, how should employers deal
with the issue of leased employees and benefit offerings?

A: The employer must proceed very cautiously, as we're still learning.
But if you, the employer, are trying to substantiate that a particular
group of workers are not your employees, but rather are employees of the
leasing company, then you want to do everything you can to support that
argument. For example, satisfy the five steps we discussed. Then, to
further protect yourself-particularly in the qualified plan area-draft
your plan in a manner such that if it is later determined that in fact
you made the wrong choice and that your employees were not what you said
they were, you still don't have to include them in your plan.

Q: Perhaps we should turn the issue around and ask what could employers
do to include leased employees in their benefit offerings. Benefits are
a cost of doing business, but is this a cost an employer ought to take
in certain areas, such as including leased employees?

A: In many cases, the leasing company might sponsor a plan that covers
the costs of employees its leases. One way or another the leasing
company reflects this cost back to the client company in terms of what
it charges for the employees. Or there might be an arrangement whereby
the leasing company and the client company cosponsor a benefit plan.
Again, however, one must be cautious. For example, take the case where a
client company sponsors a plan for employees, and the plan isn't
carefully drafted and then the employees are found to be employees of
the leasing company. Then, the client company can run afoul of the rules
that say you can't provide benefits for people who are not your
employees. It's sort of a two-edged sword.

Q: It appears that understanding the many permutations in the law over
the status of leased employees will be a difficult hurdle for employers.

A: This is the problem: With so many permutations, you can act in good
faith and no matter which way you go it can turn out to be wrong. It is
extremely important to seek the advice of competent legal counsel before
proceeding in this area. (Employee Benefit Plan Review, August 1999)


PENTAIR INC: Essef Settles For Claims Over Bacteria Aboard M/V Horizon
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Horizon Cruise Ship Litigation.

Twenty-eight lawsuits have been brought against Pentair's acquired Essef
Corporation, before the United States District Court of the Southern
District of New York, including a class action on behalf of passengers,
various individual passenger actions, and claims by Celebrity Cruises,
Inc., concerning alleged exposure by passengers to Legionnaire's
bacteria aboard the cruise ship M/V Horizon, a ship operated by
Celebrity.

The claims against Essef are based on allegations that Essef designed,
manufactured and marketed sand filters that were installed in a spa on
the Horizon and allegations that the spa contained bacteria that
infected certain passengers on cruises from December, 1993 through July,
1994. Claims have also been asserted against Celebrity; Fantasia
Cruising, Inc. (the Horizon's owner); the German company that designed
the spa; and several companies that designed, manufactured and marketed
other component parts of the spa. Plaintiffs in the individual passenger
actions, and Celebrity have recently amended their claims to include
claims for punitive damages. The aggregate claims in the class action
and other actions against Essef and the other defendants exceed $200
million. Essef is vigorously defending these matters and believes it has
meritorious defenses. Subject to reservations of rights served on Essef
by involved insurance carriers, and the outcome of a declaratory
judgment action brought by Fidelity & Casualty Insurance Company against
Essef and other potentially involved insurance carriers, Essef
anticipates that costs incurred in these matters, including defense
costs as well as payments made to plaintiffs, if any, will be paid by
the involved insurance carriers.

Essef and other defendants entered into an agreement, subject to court
approval, to settle the class action portion of the aforementioned
litigation. Claims in the class action exceed $100 Million, and Essef's
portion of the settlement will not exceed $535,000. In November, 1998,
the Court issued an order that preliminarily approved the settlement,
subject to final court approval. Essef's portion of this settlement will
be paid by one of its insurance carriers.


REPUBLIC SERVICES: Schiffrin & Barroway Files Securities Suit In Fl.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The following statement was issued today by the law firm of Schiffrin &
Barroway, LLP:

Notice is hereby given that a class action lawsuit was filed in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Fort
Lauderdale Division, on behalf of all purchasers of the common stock of
Republic Services, Inc. (NYSE:RSG) from January 28, 1999 through August
28, 1999, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Republic Services and certain of its officers and
directors with issuing materially false and misleading positive
statements concerning the Company's acquisitions and, in particular, the
estimated $ 500 million acquisition of Waste Management assets.

Plaintiff is represented by the law firm of Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP.
If you are a member of the class described above, you may, not later
than November 15, 1999, move the Court to serve as lead plaintiff of the
class, if you so choose. In order to serve as lead plaintiff, however,
you must meet certain legal requirements. Contact Schiffrin & Barroway,
LLP (Andrew L. Barroway, Esq.) toll free at 888/299-7706 or
610/667-7706, or via e-mail at info@sbclasslaw.com TICKERS: NYSE:RSG


UNISTAR FINANCIAL: Shepherd & Geller Files Securities Suit In Texas
-------------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Firm of Shepherd & Geller, LLC announced that it has filed a
class action in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Texas on behalf of all individuals and institutional
investors that purchased Unistar Financial Services Corp. (AMEX:UAI)
common stock between October 15, 1998 and July 20, 1999, inclusive.

The complaint charges that the Company and certain of its officers and
directors violated the federal securities laws by, among other things,
improperly amortizing and valuing its customer lists; misstating its
financial information in the Company's website, and failing to comply
with Texas insurance requirements. When the truth was finally revealed,
the price of UAI stock plummeted and, ultimately, halted trading.
If you would like to consider serving as one of the lead plaintiffs in
this lawsuit, you must take appropriate action no later than 60 days
from August 18, 1999. Contact Paul J. Geller SHEPHERD & GELLER, LLC 7200
West Camino Real, Suite 203 Boca Raton, FL 33433 (561) 750-3000 Toll
Free: 1-888-262-3131 E-mail: pgeller@classactioncounsel.com
or Shepherd & Geller, LLC, Media, Pa. Scott R. Shepherd, 610/891-9880
Toll Free: 1-877-891-9880 E-mail: sshepherd@classactioncounsel.com


UNITED COMPANIES: Contests Ruling Upheld By Sp Ct Re Alabama Mini Code
----------------------------------------------------------------------
In a class action lawsuit pending in Alabama state district court
involving 910 home equity loans alleged to be subject to the Alabama
Mini Code, Autrey v. United Companies Lending Corporation, the Alabama
Supreme Court, acting on an interlocutory appeal by the Company, upheld
the ruling of the trial court on a pre-trial motion that retroactive
application of the 1996 amendments to the Alabama Mini Code would be
unconstitutional as applied to the plaintiff's class. The 1996
amendments, which in general limited the remedy for finance charges in
excess of the maximum permitted by the Alabama Mini Code, were expressly
made retroactive by the Alabama legislature. The Company strenuously
disagreed with this holding and sought a rehearing by the Alabama
Supreme Court. The request for a rehearing was denied by the
Alabama Supreme Court and the matter was returned to the trial court for
a trial on the merits. The Company believes that the liability, if any,
should be limited to $495,000, the amount of the aggregated finance
charges allegedly exceeding the maximum permitted by the Alabama Mini
Code, plus interest thereon.

The Company intends to continue its vigorous defense of this matter. If
unsuccessful in its defense at a trial on the merits and related
appeals, the Company presently estimates that the liability of its
subsidiary could be approximately $15 million.

On June 6, 1999, counsel for the class plaintiffs filed a motion in the
Bankruptcy Court, pursuant to Section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code, for
relief from the automatic stay in order to continue with this
litigation, as such litigation had been stayed due to the commencement
of the Chapter 11 Cases. The Company has vigorously opposed such
requested relief and the Court has continued the hearing to September
15, 1999, with respect thereto.

United Companies Financial Corporation, operating through its
subsidiaries, services loans in 50 states and the District of Columbia,
subject to licensing or exemption from licensing requirements granted by
the states. In some of these states, the Companies are exempt from the
requirement to obtain a state license by result of their holding
licenses or approvals from federal agencies, including the U.S. Office
of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"). The applicable licensing
statutes in virtually all of these states and the applicable HUD
regulations require that an authorized mortgage loan servicer submit
annual audited financial statements to the regulatory authorities and
maintain a minimum net worth requirement.

The Companies failed to timely submit their audited financial statements
for the year ending December 31, 1998 in those jurisdictions where
required and will not meet the minimum net worth requirements as of
December 31, 1998 in those jurisdictions where required. A number of
state agencies and HUD have initiated action to terminate, revoke,
suspend or deny renewal of the Companies' licenses or exemption from
licensing because of the failure to meet these requirements. It is the
Companies' position that section 525 and other sections of the
Bankruptcy Code prohibit and stay a governmental unit (state or federal)
from denying, revoking, suspending, or refusing to renew a license or
other similar grant to a debtor in bankruptcy because, among other
things, such debtor is a debtor under the Bankruptcy Code, or has been
insolvent before the commencement of its bankruptcy case or during the
case. On July 23, 1999, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the
District of Delaware entered its Order granting a preliminary injunction
against the Attorney General of the State of Arkansas and the
Commissioner of the Arkansas Securities Department enjoining those
parties and others working under their supervision from taking any
action against United Companies Financial Corporation, United Companies
Lending Corporation and/or Ginger Mae, Inc. "with respect to their
servicing rights in Arkansas and their rights to do business in Arkansas
as a servicer of loans, including revoking, refusing to renew,
suspending, terminating the exemption from registration, conditioning,
or otherwise interfering with or impairing Debtors' rights to service
Arkansas loans." The Companies plan to attempt to obtain similar
injunctive relief against other state or federal agencies as may be
necessary to protect their right to continue to service loans in each of
the jurisdictions where they currently service loans. However, the facts
and applicable statutory language differs from jurisdiction to
jurisdiction and no assurance can be given that the Companies will be
successful in obtaining protective injunctive or other relief against
any particular governmental agency.


UNITED COMPANIES: DOJ Probes On Bias In Lending And Pricing Practices
---------------------------------------------------------------------
In August of 1998, the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") and the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") issued a letter to
United Companies Financial Corporation and its subsidiary United
Companies Lending Corporation indicating that they were initiating a
joint investigation of their lending and pricing practices, initially in
Philadelphia, PA-NJ PMSA.

The investigation focuses on compliance by the Company and its
subsidiary with the federal Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit
Opportunity Act and the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
("RESPA"). Specifically, DOJ seeks to determine whether the lending and
pricing practices of the Company and its subsidiary discriminate against
applicants based on race, national origin, sex, or age. The Company
believes this investigation by DOJ is part of an overall initiative by
that agency to review the practices of several large subprime lenders
and does not stem from any findings of wrongdoing by the Company. HUD
will be investigating whether relationships of the Company and its
subsidiary with mortgage brokers, home improvement dealers or other
third parties may violate the anti-kickback and anti-referral fee
prohibitions of RESPA.


UNITED COMPANIES: Settles In MA Claims Re Loan Origination Fees
---------------------------------------------------------------
In October 1998, UC Lending reached a settlement in an enforcement
action commenced by the Massachusetts Attorney General on behalf of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Massachusetts state court alleging
violations by UC Lending of certain regulations promulgated by the
Massachusetts Attorney General relating to, among other things, loan
origination fees, also known as "points", with respect to loans
originated in Massachusetts.

The settlement, involving payments and other terms by UC Lending
aggregating approximately $1.2 million, followed a decision by a federal
district court in Massachusetts upholding the validity of the
regulations and finding violations thereof by UC Lending. UC Lending had
maintained that the Massachusetts regulations were void because they
conflicted with the efforts of the Massachusetts legislature to supplant
the strict regulation of points with disclosure requirements, and were
inconsistent with the policies and interpretations of the Federal Trade
Commission as to what constitutes unfair and deceptive trade practices.
The federal district court found that the Attorney General's regulations
did not contravene the intent of the Massachusetts legislature and are
not inconsistent with applicable federal law.


US LIQUIDS: Milberg Weiss Updates Securities Suit Filed In Texas
----------------------------------------------------------------
Milberg Weiss updated the class action which was commenced in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of Texas on behalf of
purchasers of U.S. Liquids, Inc. (Amex: USL) common stock during the
period between May 12, 1998 and August 25, 1999.

On September 9, 1999, U.S. Liquids announced that the reopening of that
portion of its Detroit facility used for chemical fixation and
solidification services will be delayed more than the Company had
previously stated. The Company indicated that the facility was
contaminated with PCBs. As a result of these events, the Company will
take a one-time charge during the third quarter ending September 30,
1999. The Company now anticipates that its revenues for the third
quarter ending September 30, 1999, will be in the range of $60 million
to $61 million; revenues for the fourth quarter will be between $59
million and $60 million; revenues for the year ending December 31, 1999
will be in the range of $233 million to $234 million. The Company
anticipates that earnings for the third quarter will be in the range of
($0.03) to $0.05 per share; earnings for the fourth quarter will be
between $0.13 to $0.15 per share; and earnings for the year will be from
$0.68 to $0.75 per share. The one-time charge for remediation represents
($0.20) to ($0.14) per share for the third quarter and ($0.21) to
($0.14) per share for 1999.

The complaint charges USL and certain of its officers and directors with
violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The complaint alleges
that defendants' false and misleading statements about strong
profitability of USL's liquid waste management services, which generated
more than 90% of USL's revenue, would result in 20% EPS growth for USL
for the 3rdQ and 4thQ 1999 and 1999, allowed USL to complete secondary
offerings on 6/5/98 at $19 and on 3/12/99 at $21 and artificially
inflate its stock to a Class Period high of $26-3/8 on 2/9/99. USL sold
almost 6 million shares of its stock at as high as $21 for almost $120
million in proceeds, and allowed the Individual Defendants to reap, in
the aggregate, millions in bonuses through their false financial
reporting of USL's earnings, liabilities and equity, while concealing
USL's illegal dumping activities. On 8/25/99, just months after USL's
stock hit its Class Period high, USL revealed that, due to its
revelations that it was the subject of both an FBI and EPA investigation
resulting from improper dumping activities at its most profitable site,
its financial results were going to be much worse than earlier forecast,
and trading in USL's stock was halted. When trading resumed the price of
USL stock fell by over 50% to $6-5/8.

Plaintiff is represented by several law firms, including Milberg Weiss
Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP.

If you are a member of the Class described above, you may, no later than
60 days from August 31, 1999, move the Court to serve as lead plaintiff
of the Class, if you so choose. In order to serve as lead plaintiff,
however, you must meet certain legal requirements. Contact plaintiff's
counsel, William Lerach or Darren Robbins of Milberg Weiss at
800/449-4900 or via e-mail at wsl@mwbhl.com


USOP MERCHANDISING: Faces Securities Suits Over Strategic Restructuring
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Individuals purporting to represent various classes composed of
stockholders who purchased shares of US Office Products common stock
between June 5, 1997 and November 2, 1998 filed six actions in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and
four actions in the United States District Court of the District of
Columbia in late 1998 and early 1999. Each of the actions named USOP
Merchandising Co. and Jonathan J. Ledecky, the Company's former Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer, and, in some cases, Sands Brothers & Co.
Ltd. as defendants.

The actions claimed that the defendants made misstatements, failed to
disclose material information, and otherwise violated Sections 10(b)
and/or 14 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5 and
14a-9 thereunder in connection with the Company's Strategic
Restructuring Plan. Two of the actions alleged a violation of Sections
11, 12 and/or 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 and/or breach of contract
under California law relating to the Company's acquisition of
MBE. The actions seek declaratory relief, unspecified money damages and
attorney's fees. All of these actions have been consolidated and
transferred to the United States District Court for the District of
Columbia and the Company is awaiting filing of a consolidated amended
complaint. The Company intends to vigorously contest this action.

Sellers of three businesses that the Company acquired in the fall of
1997 and that were spun off in connection with the Company's Strategic
Restructuring Plan also have filed complaints in state court in
Michigan, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware,
and the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.
These lawsuits were filed on January 19, 1999, February 10, 1999 and
March 3, 1999, respectively, and name, among others, the Company as a
defendant. All three of these cases have been transferred and
consolidated for pretrial purposes with the purported class-action
pending in the United States District Court for the District of
Columbia.

The Company also has entered into a tolling agreement with the sellers
of another business acquired in December 1997. Each of these disputes
generally relates to events surrounding the Strategic Restructuring
Plan, and the complaints that have been filed assert claims of violation
of federal and/or state securities and other laws, fraud,
misrepresentation, conspiracy, breach of contract, negligence, and/or
breach of fiduciary duty. The Company believes that these claims may be
subject to indemnification, at least in part, under the terms of the
distribution agreement that was executed in connection with the
Strategic Restructuring Plan between the Company and the companies that
were spun off in the Strategic Restructuring Plan. The Company intends
to vigorously contest these actions.

On April 14, 1998, a stockholder purporting to represent a class
composed of all the Company's stockholders filed an action in the
Delaware Chancery Court. The action names the Company and its directors
as defendants, and claims that the directors breached their fiduciary
duty to stockholders of the Company by changing the terms of the self
tender offer for the Company's common stock that was a part of the
Strategic Restructuring Plan to include employee stock options. The
complaint seeks injunctive relief, damages and attorneys' fees. The
directors filed an answer denying the claims against them, and the
Company has moved to dismiss all claims against it. The Company believes
that this lawsuit is without merit and intends to vigorously contest it.



VIAGRA: Case Load Grows Against Insurers That Refuse To Pay
-----------------------------------------------------------
A South Florida man who claims that his insurer has illegally refused to
pay for the impotence drug Viagra has joined a growing number of
patients suing their managed care companies. Edward H. Ragan is the
named plaintiff in a federal suit filed this week in Miami that seeks
class action status. Ragan, a retired U.S. Customs Service officer from
Miami, suffers from erectile dysfunction. His doctor prescribed Viagra,
but Blue Cross and Blue Shield has refused to cover the cost of the
medication, said his attorney, Paul Geller of Shepherd and Geller in
Boca Raton.

The case is very straightforward. The insurance company gets paid
premiums and they are supposed to pay for prescription drugs. End of
story, Geller said. Geller believes Blue Cross decision not to cover the
drug is driven by economics and not medical necessity. We have this
fantastic, effective drug for a serious disorder that affects ones
life, and the insurance company that cashes its premium check month
after month is refusing to pay for the drug, Geller said.

Because of Hurricane Floyd, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida
offices in Jacksonville were closed and efforts to reach a spokesperson
were unsuccessful.

In March 1998, Viagra became the first pill approved by the Food and
Drug Administration to treat impotence. Since then, millions of
prescriptions have been written, but not every insurer has been willing
to pay for it. Those who do often limit the number of pills they will
pay for each month. The little blue pills, which are marketed by Pfizer
Inc., cost about $ 10 each. Pfizer has sold nearly $ 800 million worth
since Viagra went on the market.

Ragan isn't alone in his quest. Several similar suits have been filed
against other insurers for refusing to pay for Viagra. Earlier this
month a suit against Oxford Health Plans Inc. got a boost when a New
York federal judge refused the insurers request to dismiss the case.

Oxford argued that the patients needed to exhaust all of the insurers
internal appeals before going to court. The judge disagreed, noting that
the patients had made numerous telephone calls and written letters to
Oxford appealing the insurers decision.

How many times can policyholders be expected to contact their insurance
company before concluding they are wasting their time? wrote U.S.
District Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the Eastern District of New York.

In his suit, Ragan claims he requested in writing that Blue Cross
reconsider its refusal to pay, but never received a response. Said
Geller: This is a man who is up in arms. (BROWARD DAILY BUSINESS REVIEW
9-16-1999)


VIAGRA: Oxford's Appeal Process Criticized As 'Hidden'; Suit To Proceed
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A class action challenging the policy of Oxford Health Plans and Oxford
Health Insurance regarding coverage for the erectile dysfunction
treatment Viagra has been cleared to proceed in a searing decision by a
federal judge in Brooklyn.

Eastern District Judge Raymond J. Dearie rejected Oxford's contention
that the suit, Sibley-Schreiber v. Oxford Health Plans, 98 CV 3671,
should be dismissed for plaintiffs' failure to exhaust the
administrative claims process provided by the insurance plans.

The judge called Oxford's contention offensive to "notions of fairness
and common sense," given the fact that the exhaustion requirement is
hidden "behind an arguable thicket of misleading legalese" in the Oxford
membership handbook.

Each of the four plaintiffs claims to suffer from "organic impotence"
and to have been prescribed Viagra by a physician shortly after the drug
received FDA approval in March 1998. Oxford announced in June 1998 that
it would pay for only six Viagra pills per month, regardless of the
number of pills prescribed by a physician.

The plaintiffs described making numerous telephone calls to Oxford after
the announcement of the so-called "six pill policy," but said they were
never told either that there was any possibility of exception to the
policy or that they had any right to appeal to a higher authority.

In moving to dismiss the suit, Oxford argued that the insurance plans'
administrative appeal procedure is clearly set forth in the membership
handbook distributed by employers, and that the plaintiffs had not
exhausted that process.

But Judge Dearie criticized that argument as disingenuous. "It is
curious that defendants plead the doctrine of exhaustion as a shield
against litigation, yet rely on others to ensure that policyholders are
aware of the administrative process rather than simply educating
policyholders about the need to exhaust at the time adverse decisions
are made," he wrote.

"Relying on a simple provision in a handbook that the employee may or
may not see, much less understand, is unreasonable and merely encourages
the sleight of hand suggested here. The industry may not have it both
ways - insisting on compliance with the judicial requirement of
exhaustion and at the same time, hiding the requirement behind an
arguable thicket of misleading legalese."

In addition, Judge Dearie endorsed the plaintiffs' contention that the
pursuit of an administrative appeal would have been futile even if they
had been aware of the exhaustion requirement. Noting that they had made
repeated telephone calls to Oxford and sent letters of medical necessity
from treating physicians, all to no avail, Judge Dearie asked, "How many
times can policyholders be expected to contact their insurance company
before concluding that they are wasting their time?"

Lastly, Judge Dearie noted that the question remains open of whether the
exhaustion requirement is even appropriate in a case in which a
company-wide promulgation of limited coverage, unrelated to the specific
situations of individual claimants, is at issue.

"Indeed," he wrote, "exhaustion for the sake of exhaustion, without any
reasonable expectation of relief, serves no legitimate purpose except to
deter insureds from seeking redress in the only forum that would offer a
meaningful opportunity to vindicate rights secured in the insurance
contract."

Representing the plaintiffs were Steven Cooper, Jordan W. Siev and Alan
Arkin, of New York's Anderson Kill & Olick; Steven Fineman, of the New
York office of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein; Jacqueline E.
Mottek of San Francisco; and Robert A. Swift and William E. Hoese, of
Philadelphia's Kohn, Swift & Graf.

Defendants were represented by Frederick E. Sherman and Jayant W. Tambe
of New York; William J. Goldsmith of the Washington, D.C., office of
Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue; and Joseph L. Clasen, of Stamford, Conn.'s
Robinson & Cole. (New York Law Journal 8-25-1999)


                               *********


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Copyright 1999.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

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