CAR_Public/990927.MBX                C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

               Monday, September 27, 1999, Vol. 1, No. 164

                                Headlines

AVIATION SALES: Kaplan Kilsheimer Files Securities Suit In Florida
AVIATION SALES: Milberg Weiss Announces Securities Suit In Florida
COMPUTER LEARNING: Contests Suit In Penn Over Placement Services
COMPUTER LEARNING: Settles For Securities Suit Transferred To Virginia
COMPUTER LEARNING: Sued In 5 States Over Course Misrepresentations

ELBIT MEDICAL: Announces Receipt Of Shareholders Claim Filed In Haifa
ELSCINT LTD: Announces Receipt Of Shareholders Claim Filed In Haifa
J.D. EDWARDS: Attorney Alfred Announces Shareholder Lawsuit In Colorado
LEASECOMM: Suit Filed In Middlesex For Lessees Sued On Missing Payments
MCA: Michael P. Marsalese Files Amended Securities Complaint In Mich.

NINTENDO: Parents' Lawsuit Slams Pokemon As Bad Bet For Addicted Kids
NORDSTROM INC: Fights CA Suit Re Price-Fixing Of Cosmetics & Fragrances
NORDSTROM INC: Files Demurrer To CA Suit Over Staff Vacation Policy
NORDSTROM INC: Sued In New York Over Price-Fixing Of Nine West Shoes
OGDEN CORP: Milberg Weiss Announces Securities Suit In New York

PAYDAY LENDERS: Edelman Combs Sues Collection Law Firm Ferleger
PEAPOD INC: Consumers File Amended Complaint Over Fraud
PHILIP SERVICES: Bankruptcy Ct Oks Disclosure Statement Under Ch 11
RENT-A-CENTER: 8th Cir Affirms RICO Claim Dismissal For Lack Of Standing
RENT-A-CENTER: Decries Merit Of Suit Over Violations of CA Labor Laws

REPUBLIC SERVICES: Spector & Roseman Files Shareholder Suit In Florida
STEWART ENTERPRISES: Kirby McInerney Files Securities Suit In Louisiana
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Cigarette Makers Denounce Federal Suit As Hypocrisy
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Cover-Up Lasted 45 Years; Fd Suit Cites Documents
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Judge Dismisses Suit by African Americans

TOBACCO LITIGATION: National Post Says Nations Join Treasure Hunt
TOBACCO LITIGATION: The N.Y. Times Says Fd Suit Is Without Foundation
TOBACCO LITIGATION: The Washington Post Says Fd Suit The Best Leverage
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Win In Florida Goes Up In Smoke; Ruling On Sept 30
TRIMBLE: Announces Settlement For Securities Lawsuit

VITAMIN PRICE-FIXING: 5 Companies Slapped With $88 Mil Fines In Canada

* Bill Would Limit Class Actions; House Measure Passes 222-207

                           ********

AVIATION SALES: Kaplan Kilsheimer Files Securities Suit In Florida
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Kaplan, Kilsheimer & Fox LLP has filed a class action lawsuit against
AVIATION SALES COMPANY (NYSE:AVS) and certain of its officers and
directors in the United States District Court for the Southern District
of Florida. The suit is brought on behalf of all persons who purchased
the common stock of AVS between June 11, 1999 and September 17, 1999,
inclusive.

The complaint charges defendants with violations of the federal
securities laws and regulations of the United States. The complaint
alleges that during the Class Period, defendants made false and
misleading statements and omissions regarding, among other things:

1) demand for its services,
2) the lease of two Airbus aircraft converted by the Company;
3) costs and expenses; and
4) delays in opening new facilities.

As a result of these misrepresentations and omissions, the price of AVS
common stock was artificially inflated during the Class Period.

Plaintiff is represented by Kaplan, Kilsheimer & Fox LLP. If you are a
member of the Class, you may move the court, no later than November 22,
1999 to serve as a lead plaintiff for the class. In order to serve as a
lead plaintiff, you must meet certain legal requirements. If you have
any questions about this Notice, the action, or your rights, please
contact: Laurence D. King, Esq. Christine M. Comas, Esq. Kaplan,
Kilsheimer & Fox LLP 805 Third Avenue -- 22nd Floor New York, NY 10022
800/990-2743 212/687-1980 fax: 212/687-7714 info@kkf-law.com TICKERS:
NYSE:AVS


AVIATION SALES: Milberg Weiss Announces Securities Suit In Florida
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The following was released by Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP:

Notice is hereby given that a class action lawsuit was filed on
September 23, 1999, in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Florida, on behalf of all persons who purchased the common
stock of Aviation Sales Company (NYSE:AVS), between June 11, 1999 and
September 17, 1999, inclusive.

The complaint charges Aviation Sales and certain of its officers and
directors 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 Aviation Sales and certain of its officers and
directors issued a series of materially false and misleading statements
regarding the growing demand for the Company's services, its operations
and earnings. As a result of these materially false and misleading
statements, plaintiff alleges that the price of Aviation Sales common
stock was artificially inflated during the Class Period.

Plaintiff is represented by Milberg Weiss, Kaplan Kilsheimer & Fox LLP
and Cherry & Flynn. If you are a member of the class described above you
may, not later than sixty days from September 23, 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 or Samuel H. Rudman 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.com


COMPUTER LEARNING: Contests Suit In Penn Over Placement Services
----------------------------------------------------------------
On July 9, 1999, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Company in
the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, on
behalf of all students who attended the Learning Center located on
Market Street in Philadelphia within six years of July 9, 1999 who have
not obtained employment in a computer-related job through the Company's
placement services. On August 2, 1999, the case was removed to the
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The complaint alleges, among other things, that this Learning Center
failed to provide certain educational services and resources,
misrepresented certain information respecting services, resources,
occupational opportunities and student outcomes, and violated certain
provisions of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer
Protection Law.

The Company intends to defend the Company vigorously in the lawsuits;
however, there can be no assurance that we will be successful in
defending the Company in any of these proceedings. Even if it prevails
on the merits in such litigation, we expect to incur significant legal
and other defense costs as a result of such proceedings. These
proceedings could involve substantial diversion of the time of some
members of management, and an adverse determination in, or settlement
of, such litigation could involve the payment of significant amounts, or
could include terms in addition to such payments, which could have a
severe impact on our business, financial condition and results of
operations.


COMPUTER LEARNING: Settles For Securities Suit Transferred To Virginia
----------------------------------------------------------------------
On March 13, 1998, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Company
in the United States District Court for the Central District of
California on behalf of all purchasers of our Common Stock from July 31,
1997 through March 10, 1998. Over the following two months, eight
additional similar cases were filed in United States District Courts:
two in the Central District of California; five in the Northern District
of Illinois; and one in the Eastern District of Virginia.

The complaints alleged violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934, including allegations that the Company was experiencing
"operations difficulties" and failed to disclose the alleged
difficulties. The complaints also alleged that Company insiders realized
profits by trading their shares of Company stock while in possession of
material adverse information. All of the complaints were filed on behalf
of classes of shareholders of Company Common Stock beginning as early as
March 11, 1997 and ending as late as April 7, All of these shareholder
lawsuits were consolidated and transferred to the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The Company entered into a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs in
February 1999, whereby the Company settled these allegations and agreed
to compensation to members of the plaintiffs' class. The terms of the
settlement, which received final judicial approval on July 9, 1999 and
has been approved by the plaintiffs, provided for the payment of $3.0
million in cash ($2.35 million was covered by the Company's insurance
policy) and the issuance of 550,000 shares of CLC Common Stock, subject
to certain price protection features, which resulted in an additional
463,152 shares of CLC Common Stock being issued to guarantee a total
settlement of $7.5 million. The Company's $650,000 cash portion of the
settlement agreement was paid in April 1999, and the remaining $2.35
million cash obligation was paid in June 1999.

On April 16, 1999, the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia modified a confidentiality order that had been
entered in the case. The modification permitted the Company's counsel to
share with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission material
that we had obtained in discovery from certain third parties who had
been trading in our common stock. The Company sought the modification of
the confidentiality order because it believes that the material in
question might evidence violations of federal securities laws by those
third parties.


COMPUTER LEARNING: Sued In 5 States Over Course Misrepresentations
------------------------------------------------------------------
On May 5, 1998, a class action lawsuit was filed against Computer
Learning Centers Inc. in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Bergen
County, New Jersey, on behalf of all students who attended a Learning
Center in New Jersey within six years of May 5, The complaint alleges,
among other things, that our Learning Centers in New Jersey failed to
provide certain educational services and resources, misrepresented
certain information respecting services, resources, occupational
opportunities and student outcomes and violated certain provisions of
the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

Between June 1, 1998 and May 31, 1999, the Company was named as
defendant in seven other lawsuits in California, Texas, Virginia,
Michigan and New Jersey by individual students or groups of students who
formerly attended one of our Learning Centers. The complaints allege,
among other things, that our affected Learning Centers failed to provide
plaintiffs with certain educational services and resources and
misrepresented certain information respecting services, resources,
student outcomes and violated certain provisions of the applicable state
consumer laws. During the second quarter of 1999, two of these seven
cases were settled resulting in payments to the former students of
immaterial amounts.


ELBIT MEDICAL: Announces Receipt Of Shareholders Claim Filed In Haifa
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Elbit Medical Imaging Ltd. (NASDAQ: EMITF) announced that it has been
served with a Statement of Claim, as well as a Motion that the Claim be
recognized as a representative (class action) claim. The Claim and the
Motion were submitted to the District Court of Haifa by Mr. David
Gesser, a shareholder of Elscint Ltd., against the Company, Elscint,
Elbit Medical Holdings Ltd., (a subsidiary of the Company), Elron
Electronic Industry Ltd. and 6 former Directors of the Elscint. The
Motion was submitted by the applicant on behalf of all persons who were
minority shareholders of Elscint as of the date of submission of the
Claim, as well as all minority shareholders of Elscint who held
Elscint's shares on February 18, 1999.

The principal subject matter of the Claim is the plaintiff's allegation
that the Company, through the assistance of the former Directors of
Elscint, caused damage to be suffered by Elscint and the discrimination
of the minority shareholders of the Elscint, while acting in a conflict
of interests between those of Elscint and its shareholders and the
interests of the control holders of Elscint.

It shall be noted that the subject mater of the Claim is similar to a
different claim, submitted by Mr. Jonathan Aderet, former President of
Elscint, for details see a Press Release published by the Company on
September 7, 1999. Mr. Aderet himself is one of the defendants in the
Claim. In the Claim the Plaintiff challenges, inter alia, Mr. Aderet's
authority to submit the mention previous claim. In terms of the Motion,
the applicant has requested that Elscint, or alternatively all or part
of the defendants, be ordered to purchase from each of the members of
the represented group all shares held by them at a price of US$ 27.46
per share, and as an interim relief, that Elscint be directed to
purchase all minority shares, at a price of US$ 14 per share. The
Company intends to vigorously oppose and defend the claim.


ELSCINT LTD: Announces Receipt Of Shareholders Claim Filed In Haifa
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Elscint Ltd. (NYSE: ELT), a subsidiary of Elbit Medical Imaging Ltd.
(Nasdaq: EMITF), announced that it has been served with a Statement of
Claim, as well as a motion that the Claim be recognized as a
representative claim.

The Claim and the Motion were submitted to the District Court of Haifa,
by a shareholder of the Company, against the Company, Elbit Medical
Imaging Ltd., Elbit Medical Holdings Ltd., (a subsidiary of Elbit
Medical Imaging Ltd.), Elron Electronic Industry Ltd. and 6 former
Directors of the Company. The Motion was submitted by the applicant on
behalf of all persons who were minority shareholders of the Company as
of the date of submission of the Claim, as well as all minority
shareholders of the Company who held Company shares on February 18,
1999.

The principal subject matter of the Claim is the plaintiff's allegation
that Elbit Medical Imaging Ltd., through the assistance of the former
Directors of the Company, caused damage to be suffered by the Company
and the discrimination of the minority shareholders of the Company,
while acting in a conflict of interests between those of the Company and
its shareholders and the interests of the control holders of the
Company.

It shall be noted that the subject mater of the Claim is similar to a
different claim, recently submitted by Mr. Jonathan Aderet, former
President of the Company. Mr. Aderet himself is one of the defendants in
the Claim. In the Claim, the Plaintiff challenges, inter alia, Mr.
Aderet's authority to submit the mention previous claim. In terms of the
Motion, the applicant has requested that the Company, or alternatively
all or part of the defendants, be ordered to purchase from each of the
members of the represented group all shares held by them at a price of
US$ 27.46 per share, and as an interim relief, that the Company be
directed to purchase all minority shares, at a price of US$ 14 per
share. The Company intends to vigorously oppose and defend the claim.


J.D. EDWARDS: Attorney Alfred Announces Shareholder Lawsuit In Colorado
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The following is an announcement by the Law Office of Attorney Alfred G.
Yates Jr: Attention: J.D. Edwards & Company Shareholders (JDEC)

YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED that a Class Action has been commenced in the
United States District Court for the District of Colorado on behalf of
purchasers of J.D. Edwards Company (JDEC) common stock between January
22, 1998 and December 3, 1998, inclusive.

The complaint charges J.D. Edwards and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The
complaint alleges that via a series of false and misleading statements
regarding the continued strong demand for J.D. Edwards' core
WorldSoftware product for the IBM AS/400 operating system, the
successful introduction and technological superiority of its most
important new product, OneWorld, for the UNIX/Windows NT operating
systems and the successful reorganization of its direct sales force,
which it forecast would lead to very strong software license revenue
growth, increased profit margins and EPS of $.72-$.90 in F99, defendants
artificially inflated J.D. Edwards stock from $24-7/8 in mid 1/98 to a
Class Period high of $49-3/8 in 9/98. As J.D. Edwards stock soared to
record levels, the nine top insiders at J.D. Edwards sold 3,992,183
shares of their J.D. Edwards stock at prices as high as $49 for
$151,500,000 in proceeds. In December 1998, when J.D. Edwards revealed
that its growth of software license revenue had fallen sharply, that the
share of its license revenue represented by OneWorld sales had also
fallen sharply, indicating a lack of success with this vital new
product, and that it was suffering from sales force productivity
problems, its stock collapsed from $37 on 12/3/98 to $24 on 12/4/98, a
35% drop. Thus, this lawsuit.

Plaintiffs are represented by the Law Office of Alfred G. Yates Jr. If
you are a member of the class, you may, not later than 60 days from
September 2, 1999, move the court to serve as a lead plaintiff of the
class, if you so choose. In order to serve as a lead plaintiff, however,
you must meet certain legal requirements. Contact Alfred G. Yates Jr,
Esq., 519 Allegheny Building, 429 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, 15219, Telephone toll free at 800-391-5164 or
412-391-5164, or via e-mail at yateslaw@aol.com


LEASECOMM: Suit Filed In Middlesex For Lessees Sued On Missing Payments
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Kathy Schrader and David Lafferty have something in common. Each lives
out West, far from the Massachusetts finance company that helped
Schrader lease software for her home business and Lafferty buy a
membership in a wholesale club.

Schrader, of Colorado, and Lafferty, of New Mexico, also share something
else: They've been sued by that same Waltham-based company in a
courthouse more than a thousand miles away.

Schrader and Lafferty are among a number of small business owners
nationwide who have been targeted by Leasecomm's team of lawyers and
collection agents for nonpayment, always in distant Massachusetts
courts.

"They're huge bullies," Schrader said from her Colorado home last week.

But if a Middlesex Superior Court judge allows a class-action suit to
move forward, Leasecomm could be facing claims from thousands of its own
customers who didn't have the time or money to fly across the country to
challenge the company's claims in court.

At issue is a provision in Leasecomm's standard contract allowing it to
sue its customers only in Massachusetts - a forum that's very convenient
for the company, but imposes unwanted travel and legal costs on anyone
who is at odds with the company.

"It puts the out-of-state lessees at a severe disadvantage," said
Kenneth D. Quat of Concord, the lawyer who filed the class-action suit.
"We think Leasecomm's practice of filing all the cases in Massachusetts
is an unfair and deceptive trade practice, because it seems designed to
and has the effect of preventing the lessees from defending their
cases."

Quat's firm, Arnold & Kangas, is asking the court to invalidate all
Leasecomm contracts that state that the company can only sue in
Massachusetts courts. The suit also demands that Leasecomm and its
$79-million-a-year parent company, Microfinancial, repay any judgments
obtained after 1995 - potentially millions of dollars.

Leasecomm officials declined comment on the lawsuit. But their lawyer,
Richard J. McCarthy of the Boston firm of Edwards & Angell, said the
contract terms are clearly spelled out in documents clients sign. The
company is scheduled to respond to the suit by mid-October.

"They don't have to sign the agreement to begin with," McCarthy said.
Pursuing scofflaws in Massachusetts alone "means Leasecomm can handle
those cases much more efficiently," he said. "That reduces costs."

McCarthy added that the clause limiting litigation to Massachusetts was
upheld twice in state appeals courts in 1994. The plaintiffs, however,
are relying on a 1995 Supreme Judicial Court decision holding that such
clauses must be "fair and reasonable" to be enforceable.

Quay counters that forcing a Mom-and-Pop store owner from Iowa to come
to Massachusetts to defend a $2,000 claim against a multimillion-dollar
company is anything but fair or reasonable. Leasecomm lawyers file
thousands of collection actions every year in district courts in
Massachusetts, lawyers say.

Meanwhile, the state attorney general's office has received 77
complaints so far this year about Leasecomm's business practices, a
spokeswoman said.

Lafferty's problems began shortly after he signed his lease. He says he
missed two $60 payments while taking care of his wife, who was dying of
cancer. After she died, he said, he called Leasecomm, explained the
situation, and paid for the two past-due months on his credit card. He
also paid six months ahead, so he could visit his wife's relatives and
friends in upstate New York.

When he got back, the 61-year-old former Amway salesman was stunned to
find a notice in his mail that Leasecomm had sued him in Cambridge
District Court and won a default judgment against him for more than
$2,000. A call from a collection agent soon followed.

"I said: 'I paid the payments through November. I have a record on my
credit card,' " Lafferty said. He said he grew angry when the collection
agent disputed that and threatened to sue him again. But Lafferty said
he was intimidated by the official-looking court documents and couldn't
afford a lawyer or the flight to Massachusetts. But within a month of
paying up, he received a letter from the Utah surplus company saying it
was going out of business.

Typically, a small business owner agrees to buy equipment - credit card
processing machines, security systems, or computer software - from a
Leasecomm-backed vendor, often at a seemingly-inflated price. Then the
equipment doesn't work, the vendor goes out of business, or the customer
is overbilled. When he or she stops paying, they discover that their
lease is "noncancellable" and that Leasecomm's lawyers have sued them
for at least the entire amount owed, sometimes more.

Schrader, who sells almost 50,000 jars of her Jethro's Original salsa
each year, was one of the few who did fight back. Schrader said that if
she had had more time for research before a big trade show, she never
would have agreed to pay Leasecomm $1,798.20 for the same software
advertised on the Internet for as little as $315.

But when she discovered that Leasecomm was also charging her sales tax,
despite rulings from Colorado officials that her purchase was
tax-exempt, she stopped paying and was promptly sued in Waltham District
Court for just over $ 1,100.

Even though the trip to Massachusetts would no doubt cost more than she
could win, Schrader flew here on Aug. 17 and the next morning met
Leasecomm's lawyer in a courthouse hallway. "He said, 'Do you want to
settle this?' " Schrader said. "And I said, 'Pay me $1,500, and we're
out of here.' "He said, 'Pay me $990, and we're out of here.' So I said,
'I guess I'll see you in front of the judge.' "

The court ruled in Schrader's favor, throwing out Leasecomm's suit,
ordering the company to fix her credit rating and reimburse her last
payment of $154.69 to cover some of her costs.

Yet instead of a check and a notice that her credit was restored,
Leasecomm sent Schrader a letter last week saying they were again suing
her and notifying credit agencies that she is a deadbeat.

"How many other people have they done this to?" she asked. "It really
needs to be looked into. I think they're running an incredible scam."
(The Boston Globe 9-24-1999)


MCA: Michael P. Marsalese Files Amended Securities Complaint In Mich.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices of Michael P. Marsalese announced that on September 23,
1999, it filed a First Amended Class Action Complaint with the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of
David R. Yadlosky and all other persons or entities who purchased the
various securities of Mortgage Corporation of America, including the
pass-through-pools of real estate interests, during the Class Period,
January 1, 1986 through January 28, 1999.

Additionally, on August 30, 1999, Michael P. Marsalese filed a Renewed
Motion to Appoint Lead Plaintiff and for Approval of Lead Plaintiff's
Choice of Lead Counsel, which will be heard before the Honorable Judge
George Caram Steeh on November 2, 1999.

The First Amended Complaint charges: that the accounting firms of Grant
Thorton and Doeren Mayhew & Co. failed to properly conduct audits of
MCA; that eleven securities broker-dealers failed to properly conduct
due diligence of the various securities their registered representatives
and/or agents sold to the general public; as well as several officers
and directors of MCA and its affiliated entities committed securities
fraud and breached their fiduciary duty to the investors of MCA. The
First Amended Complaint further alleges that the Defendants conspired
with the officers and directors of MCA to defraud the investors, which
lead to the massive loses the investors have experienced. The First
Amended Complaint also alleges that these activities fall under the
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), which if
successful, authorizes treble damages. Plaintiff seeks to recover
damages on behalf of all persons or entities that purchased the various
securities of MCA (the "Class").

If you are a member of the Class described above, you may, no later than
60 days from August 9, 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.

The Plaintiff is represented by the Law Firm of Michael P. Marsalese,
Contact Law Offices of Michael P. Marsalese CONTACT: Michael P.
Marsalese of Law Firm of Michael P. Marsalese, 248-258-1932


NINTENDO: Parents' Lawsuit Slams Pokemon As Bad Bet For Addicted Kids
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Two Pokemon pack rats are suing the maker of the wildly popular trading
cards, charging that the pocket monsters are turning them into
pint-sized gamblers. Alex Silverman and Andrew Imber, two 9-year- old
friends from Merrick, L.I., say they were forced to empty their piggy
banks to buy endless packs of low-value cards in the hope of buying a
rare one.

The suit says the cards' maker, Nintendo, randomly includes a rare one
in the 11-card packages that sell for $3 to $11. Thus, the lawsuit says,
kids are forced to empty their pockets to get the rare cards, which can
be resold for $30 to $100.

Alex and Andrew joined two kids from San Diego in filing the suit, which
claims Nintendo is involved in an "illegal gambling enterprise" and
demands the company stop randomly including rare cards in regular packs.

The federal class-action suit seeks unspecified damages.

One of the kids' lawyers, Neil Moritt of Garden City, L.I., said the
Pokemon craze has the three elements of gambling. "You pay to play ...
there is the element of chance, and you've got a prize," he said. "It's
gambling." Alex, who used to be a frenzied collector, said "I spent lots
of money on it. It's like gambling, kind of." He and fellow
fourth-grader Andrew said they spent thousands of dollars trying to get
the scarce cards that are a big status symbol with their friends.
"People are stealing them and trading them," said Alex.

Andrew said, "Sometimes I used to get too into it and I wouldn't think
about anything else."

The boys' mothers say the cards spark thefts and fights, and cause older
kids to cheat younger ones out of valuable cards. Their schools have
banned the cards. "It teaches gambling," said Marci Imber. "A 9-year-old
shouldn't be gambling to get a rare card."

Janet Silverman said she decided it was time to cut back on the
obsessive collecting "when they came home from school asking to spend
$100 for a card from a friend."

The suit, filed in San Diego, accuses Nintendo of conspiring to engage
"in a pattern of racketeering activity ..." It charges that the
entertainment giant violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations law - known as RICO - which is usually used against
suspected mobsters.

Court papers said Nintendo, along with U.S. distributor Wizards of the
Coast and licenser 4 Kids Entertainment, stand to rake in $1.2 billion
this year alone.

Nintendo's lawyer, Richard Flamm, called the suit "baseless" and said
Moritt's law firm has filed similar actions against other trading-card
makers. "To our knowledge, none of these cases has been successful in
asserting that trading cards is a form of illegal gambling," he said.
(The New York Post 9-24-1999)


NORDSTROM INC: Fights CA Suit Re Price-Fixing Of Cosmetics & Fragrances
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Company is a defendant along with other department stores in nine
separate but virtually identical lawsuits filed in various Superior
Courts of the State of California in May, June and July 1998 that have
now been consolidated in Marin County state court. The plaintiffs seek
to represent a class of all California residents who purchased cosmetics
and fragrances for personal use from any of the defendants during the
period May 1994 through May 1998. Plaintiffs' consolidated complaint
alleges that the Company and other department stores agreed to charge
identical prices for cosmetics and fragrances, not to discount such
prices, and to urge manufacturers to refuse to sell to retailers who
sell cosmetics and fragrances at discount prices, resulting in
artificially-inflated retail prices paid by the class in violation of
California state law. The plaintiffs seek treble damages in an
unspecified amount, attorneys' fees and prejudgment interest.
Defendants, including the Company, have answered the consolidated
complaint denying the allegations. Discovery has just commenced and
defendants have begun the process of producing documents and responding
to plaintiffs' discovery requests. Plaintiffs have not yet moved for
class certification.

Because the cosmetics and Nine West lawsuits described below are still
in their preliminary stages, the Company is not in a position at this
time to quantify the amount or range of any possible losses related to
those claims. The Company intends to vigorously defend itself in those
cases.


NORDSTROM INC: Files Demurrer To CA Suit Over Staff Vacation Policy
-------------------------------------------------------------------
On June 10, 1999, the Company was named as a defendant in Christopher
King and Luis Mendoza v. Nordstrom, a case filed in the Superior Court
of the State of California for the County of San Diego, Case No. 731580.
The suit was filed on behalf of two former employees of the Company, as
well as on behalf of the general public and on behalf of a purported
class described as "all similarly situated former or current employees
of Nordstrom who are or were employed by Nordstrom in California,
Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas,
Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah and/or Washington and
who forfeited vested vacation time and/or were denied compensation in
lieu thereof."

The Plaintiff's complaint alleges that the Company has in place a "use
it or lose it" vacation policy under which vacation must be used or it
is forfeited at the end of the year and that such policy violates the
laws of the 14 states listed above. The complaint includes causes of
action for violation of the separate laws of the 14 listed states,
conversion, unjust enrichment and violation of California Business and
Professions Code Section 17200 et seq.

Plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, statutory penalties, interest,
injunctive and other equitable relief, costs of suit including attorneys
fees, restitution, disgorgement, an accounting, and punitive damages.
The Company has filed a demurrer to the entire complaint, which is
scheduled to be heard on September 24, 1999.


NORDSTROM INC: Sued In New York Over Price-Fixing Of Nine West Shoes
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The Company was named as a defendant in a number of substantially
identical lawsuits filed in federal district courts in New York and
elsewhere beginning in January and February 1999. In addition to Nine
West, a leading manufacturer and retailer of women's non-athletic
footwear and accessories, other defendants include various department
store and specialty retailers. The lawsuits have now been consolidated
in federal district court in New York and purport to be brought on
behalf of a class of persons who purchased Nine West footwear from the
defendants during the period January 1988 to mid-February 1999.
Plaintiffs' consolidated complaint alleges that the retailer defendants
agreed with Nine West and with each other on the minimum prices to be
charged for Nine West shoes.

The plaintiffs seek treble damages in an unspecified amount, attorneys'
fees and prejudgment interest. Defendants have moved to dismiss the
consolidated complaint, and briefing on the motion is complete.

The Court has stayed discovery pending its decision on the motion to
dismiss, and plaintiffs have not yet moved for class certification. In
addition, the Federal Trade Commission has opened investigations based
on the allegations in the pending Nine West lawsuit, as has the Attorney
General of the state of New York. The Company and the other defendants
have begun submitting documents and information to those agencies.


OGDEN CORP: Milberg Weiss Announces Securities Suit In New York
---------------------------------------------------------------
The following was released by Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP:

Notice is hereby given that a class action lawsuit was filed on
September 22, 1999, in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York, on behalf of all persons and entities who
purchased the common stock of Ogden Corporation (NYSE:OG), between March
11, 1999 and September 17, 1999, inclusive.

The complaint charges Ogden and certain of its officers and directors
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 Ogden and certain of its officers and directors issued a
series of materially false and misleading statements regarding the
Company's reorganization and its operations. As a result of these
materially false and misleading statements, plaintiff alleges that the
price of Ogden common stock was artificially inflated during the Class
Period.

Plaintiff is represented by Milberg Weiss, Law Offices of Brian Barry,
Law Offices of Lionel Z. Glancy and the Law Offices of Lawrence G.
Soicher. If you are a member of the class described above you may, not
later than sixty days from September 22, 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.com


PAYDAY LENDERS: Edelman Combs Sues Collection Law Firm Ferleger
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Chicago law firm of Edelman, Combs & Latturner has filed a class
action lawsuit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act against a
local collection law firm for attempting to use the Illinois bad check
laws to collect checks issued in connection with "payday loans." The
lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Chicago. Guyton v.
Ferleger & Associates, Ltd.

"Payday loans" are short term, very high interest rate loans. The loans
are typically two weeks in duration and carry annual percentage rates of
200% to over 2007.5%. The lender generally obtains a post-dated check as
a means of repayment. The loans are typically "rolled over" on multiple
occasions.

"Payday loans" are generally made to consumers facing financial
emergencies. Once a consumer obtains a "payday loan," he or she will
often be unable to pay it off except from the proceeds of additional
"payday loans." Often, the "payday loans" force the borrowers into
unnecessary bankruptcies.

Postdated checks are central to the operations of "payday lenders." If a
"payday loan" is not repaid, the lender presents the check for payment.
If the check is not paid, the lender threatens or attempts to enforce
the bad check statutes against the borrower.

The lawsuit contends that the bad check statutes do not apply to a check
issued in connection with a payday loan and that any attempt by a debt
collector to use them in that context violates the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act.

In a September 13, 1999 decision, a federal district judge in
Springfield, Illinois found that "the Illinois bad check statute, 720
ILCS 5/17-1a does not apply to agreements to hold post-dated checks
because the payee knows the check is no good when written." Hartke v.
Illinois Payday Loans, Inc., No. 99-3119 (C.D.I11. Sept. 13, 1999).

The plaintiff is represented by Edelman, Combs & Latturner, a Chicago
law firm that concentrates in representation of consumers against
lenders, car dealers, debt collectors, and other businesses. Edelman,
Combs & Latturner has filed numerous class action lawsuits against
"payday lenders" and debt collectors that try to enforce such loans.

Daniel A. Edelman stated that, "The only reason payday lenders obtain
postdated checks is to threaten use of the bad check statutes for
failure to repay the loans. The lenders obviously know that the checks
are worthless when issued -- if the borrower had $300 he or she would
not be borrowing $300 at 500% interest. The lenders also know that about
one out of four of their borrowers will not be able to repay the loans
(1). To insist that a financially desperate borrower write what is known
to be a bad check and then try to enforce the bad check statutes against
that borrower when he or she is unable to repay the loan is
unconscionable." Helen Huntley, "Short loans, high rates, regulator
questions," St. Petersburg Times, Oct. 25, 1998, p. 1H (20%); Letter
from payday loan executive Bonnie Schoenberg to editor of Crain's
Chicago Business, Oct. 5, 1998 ("Most payday lenders have bad debt
averaging over 25%). The SEC filings of ACE Cash Express, Inc., a
publicly traded payday lender, state that net charge-offs as a
percentage of payday loan revenue ranged from 13.6% to 32.6% in various
recent quarters.

Contact Daniel A. Edelman of Edelman, Combs & Latturner, LaSalle Street,
18th floor, Chicago, Illinois 60603, telephone 312-739-4200, fax,
312-419-0379


PEAPOD INC: Consumers File Amended Complaint Over Fraud
-------------------------------------------------------
Three Boston area consumers filed an Amended Complaint in a Class Action
Lawsuit for fraud and breach of contract against the Internet grocery
delivery company, Peapod, Inc.

The lawsuit alleges that Peapod and Stop & Shop Supermarket Company,
Inc. fraudulently represented to their customers that Stop & Shop
groceries could be purchased over the Internet through Peapod at the
same prices available in Stop & Shop stores. In fact, Peapod charged its
Boston area customers prices that sometimes exceeded Stop & Shop store
prices by more than thirty (30) percent.

The consumers' lawyer, Thomas Evans of Cohen & Fierman, LLP noted that
"Peapod's customers trusted Peapod's representations that they were
getting in-store prices. It appears that their trust was misplaced."
"Our law firm represents retailers who sell on the Internet. We advise
them to implement a system of periodic legal review of the accuracy of
all representations on their Web sites."

Peapod and Stop & Shop have admitted that sometime in February of 1999
they began charging Boston area customers higher prices for groceries
purchased online than for groceries sold in Stop & Shop stores.
According to Stop & Shop the marked-up prices were charged to as many as
4,500 customers of Peapod, constituting more than five (5) percent of
Peapod's customers nationwide.

The suit also alleges that Peapod, on certain items, charged prices that
were more than twenty percent higher than the prices listed for those
items on Peapod's Web site. When one customer called Peapod to complain,
a Peapod representative responded by telling him that the prices on
Peapod's Web site are just "estimated prices."

Contact Cohen & Fierman, LLP. Thomas Evans, (617) 523-0505


PHILIP SERVICES: Bankruptcy Ct Oks Disclosure Statement Under Ch 11
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Philip Services Corp. (TSE/ME: PHV) announced that the United States
Bankruptcy Court has approved the Company's form of Disclosure
Statement.

The Disclosure Statement provides a detailed description of the
Company's Restructuring Plan ("the Plan") and will be used to solicit
votes in support of the Company's reorganization under Chapter 11. The
U.S. Court has set a deadline of October 25, 1999 for creditors and
holders of claims against the Company to submit their votes on the Plan,
and has scheduled a hearing for November 3, 1999 to consider
confirmation of the Company's Plan. If approved, the Company will
proceed with the implementation of the Plan and expects to emerge from
Chapter 11 in December 1999.

"This is another positive for Philip as we proceed through the mechanics
of the filing process," said Robert Knauss, Chairman. "With the
disclosure hearing behind us we are on track with our timelines and our
goal to move quickly to complete our financial reorganization."

Under the Company's Plan approximately US$ 1 billion in existing
syndicated secured debt will be converted into US$ 250 million in senior
secured debt, US$ 100 million in convertible payment-in-kind debt and 91
percent of the common shares of the restructured Company. Holders of
impaired unsecured claims will receive a pro rata share of US$ 60
million in unsecured payment in-kind notes and 5 percent of the common
shares of the restructured Company, while existing shareholders will
retain 2 percent of the common shares of the restructured Company. Other
potential equity claims will receive 0.5 percent and Canadian and U.S.
class action claims against the Company would be settled for 1.5 percent
of the equity of the restructured Company. As previously described in
the Company's Plan, immediately following Plan implementation the
resulting outstanding shares of the Company will be consolidated on the
basis of one common share for every 273 common shares held. The
consolidation will result in the restructured Company having 24 million
common shares issued and outstanding.


RENT-A-CENTER: 8th Cir Affirms RICO Claim Dismissal For Lack Of Standing
------------------------------------------------------------------------
In a case of first impression, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
affirmed the dismissal of RICO claims brought by consumers that
purchased rent-to-own goods stating that the consumers lacked standing
because they did not suffer injury from the use or investment of
racketeering income. In addition, the court held that the persons
allegedly conducting the RICO enterprise, THORN Americas, were not
sufficiently separate from the Rent-A-Center Stores. Fogie v. THORN
Americas Inc., No. 98-2442 (8th Cir. 8/10/99).

                        The Alleged Scheme

In a class action suit, Minnesota consumers sued THORN Americas and its
parent company, THORN EMI North America Holdings, and the ultimate
parent company, THORN EMI, alleging RICO and usury claims based on the
household good sales and rentals from their retail stores,
Rent-A-Center. Rent-A-Centers sold or leased household goods like
furniture and appliances to consumers. When the consumers leased the
goods, they entered into an agreement with the store to pay a portion of
the price of the good plus interest and would take possession of the
good for a period of time. The initial time period for rental was either
weekly or monthly and then the consumer would either renew the agreement
for an additional time period or would return the merchandise. After so
many renewals, the consumer would retain ownership.

After certifying the class of consumers, the District Court determined
that the potential class included approximately 58,000 consumers had
that entered into rental agreements after August 1990 in Minnesota. The
District Court further determined that the agreements were governed
under the Consumer Credit Sales Act and were considered "consumer credit
sales," declaring that the agreements were in fact usurious. The
District Court then determined that Rent-A-Center charged an excessive
rate of interest and that the sales constituted "unlawful debt" under
RICO. Based on the determination, the District Court ordered that the
rental agreements be rescinded ab initio and ordered that the consumers'
payments be returned. The District Court also ordered injunctive relief
stating that Rent-A-Center be prevented from receiving future payments
from the voided agreements. Thereafter, the District Court modified the
injunction, holding the 29,898,250 plus 3,418 a day in escrow until the
special master's plan for refunds could be distributed to each consumer.

Following the order for injunction, the District Court entered summary
judgment in favor of THORN for the non-usury claims and on the RICO
violations. The consumers appealed.

                     Section 1962(a) Standing

The District Court ruled that the consumers could not recover for
alleged violation of 1962(a) because they did not have standing. The
court held they lacked standing because they were not the class of
plaintiffs that were injured by the use or investment of racketeering
income by the predicate acts of the racketeering activity. Further, the
District Court stated that the collection of unlawful debt in itself was
not a violation of the RICO statute.

Addressing this issue for the first time, the 8th Circuit framed the
issue, which has divided the federal circuits, as: whether only those
injured by the use or investment of racketeering income have standing to
bring a 1962(a) suit.

The consumers argued that they could satisfy the requirement because
they could offer proof of the reinvestment of the money back into the
retail store.

Siding with the majority of the circuits, the 8th Circuit determined
that only "a person injured by predicate racketeering acts such as
Rent-a-Center's unlawful debt collection, is not injured 'by reason of'
a violation of 1962(a). Rather, that person is injured by conduct
constituting only a predicate act." The 8th Circuit reasoned that the
RICO statute was drafted for the purpose to prevent injury from the use
or investment of the racketeering income and does not cover otherwise
unlawful practices covered under another part of the substantive law.
Further, the 8th Circuit stated, those injuries were compensated under
the usury laws and reinvestment was not sufficient to show standing
because the injury was not separate from the investment. Therefore, on
the 1962(a) claims, the 8th Circuit upheld the summary judgment
dismissal for lack of standing.

                     Separate Enterprise Requirement

The District Court also granted summary judgment on the consumers' RICO
1962 (c) claims on the grounds that the RICO enterprise alleged was not
distinct from the person conducting the enterprise.

The consumers assert that THORN Americas and its parent company
conducted the usurious rental purchase business nationwide while THORN
EMI Holdings received much of the illegal income. The consumers stated
that some of the wholly-owned subsidiaries were the enterprise and they
conducted the racketeering activities for THORN.

In determining whether a wholly-owned subsidiary must be sufficiently
distinct from its parent company or other related subsidiaries to
satisfy the distinctiveness requirement, the 8th Circuit examined the
again mixed Circuit decisions.

However, in affirming the District Court's summary judgment, the 8th
Circuit stated that although the parent company, THORN EMI, and the
subsidiaries had different roles in the alleged enterprise that was a
typical role of every parent-subsidiary relationship. Rather, in order
to satisfy the distinctiveness requirement, the consumers must have
shown more than their status as separate legal entities. The 8th Circuit
found that the allegations only proved that the entities were one
corporate family operating under common control, thus not sufficient to
satisfy the requirement.

The consumers further appealed based on the summary judgment of their
claims under 1962(d) on the grounds that the THORN subsidiaries were
participants in a RICO conspiracy.

The District Court based its summary judgment on the grounds that the
consumers lacked standing and that the claim failed as a matter of law.

However, the 8th Circuit stated that the summary judgment on those
grounds was the not the correct standard to be applied.

Instead, the 8th Circuit affirmed on different grounds. The summary
judgment was instead affirmed on the grounds that a parent and
subsidiary cannot conspire within itself.

Holding that was the case in this action, the consumers' allegations
were insufficient according to the 8th Circuit and it affirmed the
District Court's summary judgment as to the 1962(d) claim.

Therefore, the 8th Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision in all
respects, except that it vacated without prejudice the District Court's
judgment creating a cy pres fund. Opinion by: U.S. Circuit Court Judge
Bowman. (Civil RICO Report 9-15-1999)


RENT-A-CENTER: Decries Merit Of Suit Over Violations of CA Labor Laws
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Rent-A-Center, Inc., (NASDAQ:RCII) said that it has seen a press release
issued by a plaintiff's attorney that states a putative class action
lawsuit has been filed against the Company under certain California
state employment laws in state court in Los Angeles, CA. According to
the press release, the suit asserts claims for nonpayment of overtime
wages to current and former assistant managers and inside/outside
managers of the Company in California who are compensated based upon an
annual salary and a monthly bonus.

Rent-A-Center has not yet been served in the case, nor has it received a
copy of the complaint. In response to the allegations contained in the
press release, the Company's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, J.
Ernest Talley said, "We believe the lawsuit to be baseless and without
merit. We have examined these issues in the past and are confident that
our employment practices are fair, competitive and are properly
classified under California law as exempt from overtime requirements.
Accordingly, we will vigorously defend the Company against these
allegations."


REPUBLIC SERVICES: Spector & Roseman Files Shareholder Suit In Florida
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Spector & Roseman announced that a class action lawsuit has been filed
in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
on behalf of all persons and entities who purchased the common stock of
Republic Services, Inc. (NYSE:RSG) between January 28, 1999 and August
28, 1999, inclusive.

The Complaint alleges that Republic and certain of its officers and
directors violated the federal securities laws. According to the
Complaint, during the Class Period, defendants issued a series of
materially false and misleading public statements about the assets the
Company had acquired from Waste Management. The issuance of these false
and misleading statements caused the price of Republic's common stock to
be artificially inflated during the Class Period and enabled the Company
to sell over $ 1.2 billion of common stock in a public offering and to
raise $ 500 million in a note offering. Plaintiff seeks to recover
damages on behalf of all purchasers of Republic common stock during the
Class Period.

The plaintiff is represented by the law firm of Spector and Roseman,
P.C., among others. If you are a member of the Class described above,
you may, no later than 60 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. If you wish to discuss this action or have any questions
concerning this notice or your rights or interests, please contact
plaintiff's counsel Robert M. Roseman or Joshua H. Grabar toll free at
888/844-5862 or via E-mail at classaction@spectorandroseman.com or visit
website at http://www.spectorandroseman.com


STEWART ENTERPRISES: Kirby McInerney Files Securities Suit In Louisiana
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The following is an announcement by the law firm of Kirby McInerney &
Squire, LLP:

The law firm of Kirby McInerney & Squire, LLP has filed a class action
lawsuit on behalf of all purchasers of Stewart Enterprises, Inc.
(NASDAQ: STEI) securities during the period between October 1, 1998 and
August 12, 1999, inclusive.

The action, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern
District of Louisiana charges Stewart certain of its directors and
officers and others with violations of the federal securities laws by
reason of material misrepresentations and omissions concerning Stewart's
business and operations. During the class period, Stewart's common stock
traded as high as $ 23 per share. While other companies in its industry
suffered highly-publicized business reversals, defendants maintained
that those trends were not materially impacting Stewart. Stewart's stock
price consequently escaped the collapses that its competitors
experienced, and the company was able to complete a public offering of
12.5 million shares at $ 16.75 per share in early 1999. In connection
with that offering, the company's chairman sold more than 700,000 shares
of his own stock. On August 12, 1999, after the close of trading, the
company disclosed that its business would decline due to industry-wide
trends. In the wake of this announcement, Stewart's stock price plunged
below $ 5 per share, including a decline of 39% in the first day of
trading following the announcement. Needless to write, the company has
not offered to rescind the shares sold pursuant to its public offering,
and the chairman has not offered to turn the profitable portions of his
sales into the corporate treasury.

Plaintiffs have retained Kirby McInerney & Squire, LLP to pursue their
claims. If you are a member of the class described above, you may, not
later than sixty days from August 24, 1999, move the Court to serve as a
lead plaintiff of the class, if you so choose. In order to serve as lead
plaintiff, however, you must met certain legal requirements. Contact Ira
M. Press, Esq. Mark A. Strauss, Esq. Ms. Jennifer Grissom, Paralegal
KIRBY McINERNEY & SQUIRE, LLP 830 Third Avenue 10th Floor New York, New
York 10022 Telephone: (212) 317-2300 or Toll Free (888) 529-4787 E-Mail:
jgrissom@kmslaw.com TICKERS: NASDAQ:STEI


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Cigarette Makers Denounce Federal Suit As Hypocrisy
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Tobacco industry vows to fight effort to recover health care costs, says
u.s. colluded with it for decades.

The government filed its massive lawsuit against the tobacco industry
last Wednesday to recover smoking-related health care costs and
immediately stood accused of hypocrisy for filing suit after colluding
with the industry for decades.

Cigarette makers denounced the suit and vowed never to settle out of
court, as they did last year for a whopping $ 246 billion after they had
been sued by the states on similar grounds.

They sought to shift attention from charges of their own misconduct to
the government's practice of supporting tobacco farming, assisting the
sale of cigarettes overseas, promoting smoking in the armed services and
reaping billions of dollars in cigarette taxes while doing little to
discourage smoking.

Justice Department officials and some legal observers expressed doubt
that the government's "unclean hands" would pose a significant obstacle,
however. The government can argue that proof of industry misconduct
surfaced only recently with the disclosure of incriminating internal
industry documents.

Nor was this the suit's only potential weak point. Some of its legal
underpinnings are largely untested, and the cigarette makers'
congressional supporters are likely to rally behind them.

For the government's part, its most compelling argument is likely to be
that new documents disgorged by the industry in the last two or three
years have created a paper trail suggesting a pattern of fraud and
deceit in its steadfast insistence that cigarettes were not harmful.

                Tough Lobbies Confronted by Clinton

The suit represents an effort by President Clinton to leave a lasting
mark on the government's relationship with the tobacco business. In
taking on the tobacco industry--and similarly the gun
manufacturers--Clinton has confronted two of the toughest business
lobbies, so politically potent that previous presidents have been
afraid, if not unwilling, to touch them.

Although the Justice Department suit states no specific dollar amounts,
it seeks many billions of dollars in damages, both to reimburse the
government for the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses and to
penalize the industry for what the government alleges was its 45-year
campaign to lie about the risks and addictive nature of smoking. Justice
officials estimate the cost to government health programs--Medicare,
veterans' programs and others--of treating people with smoking-related
illnesses at $ 20 billion a year.

Industry and legal observers said that the suit, if successful, likely
would result in a large increase in the price of cigarettes--perhaps as
much as 55 cents a pack. That means smokers would underwrite the costs,
as they are in the case of the tobacco companies' settlements with the
states.

Anti-smoking groups voiced hope that the prospect of huge damages would
prompt the industry to make concessions concerning cigarette regulation.

Tobacco stocks dropped last Wednesday, with Philip Morris Cos. down more
than 3% and RJR Reynolds Tobacco Holdings off more than 4%.

The Justice Department also quietly announced that it had dropped its
extensive, five-year criminal investigation of the cigarette companies.
The inquiry had netted only one misdemeanor conviction of a small
Oakland, Calif., company. But in filing its civil lawsuit, it all but
guaranteed further hostilities with the cigarette companies.

Complicating the picture is the fact that the next presidential election
is less than 14 months away. Many observers believe that a Republican
president would take the steam out of the lawsuit. Thus, it may be in
the cigarette companies' interest to drag out the suit as long as
possible.

Seth Moskowitz, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the nation's
second-largest cigarette maker, said that the company does not "believe
that the federal government has any basis for filing this suit. . . .
We're going to vigorously defend ourselves. . . . When the law is
applied and the case is judged on its merits--rather than on rhetoric or
sound bites--the courts will find that the Department of Justice simply
doesn't have a valid case."

The 131-page complaint unveiled by Atty. Gen. Janet Reno charges the
five largest cigarette companies and their public relations and research
arms with engaging in a nearly half-century conspiracy, continuing to
this day, to mislead, defraud and conceal from the American people and
the federal government what the industry knew about the injurious
effects of smoking on health and the addictive nature of cigarettes.

That part of the suit, brought under the Racketeer Influenced, Corrupt
Organizations Act, recites a litany of secret meetings and agreements,
starting with a now-famous meeting of top cigarette company executives
at New York's Plaza Hotel in 1953. It was then that the executives
agreed to counter emerging scientific information about the health
hazards of smoking with a sweeping public relations campaign whose
alleged goal was to confuse the public.

                  Industry's 1954 'Frank Statement'

The Plaza Hotel meeting led to publication of "A Frank Statement to
Cigarette Smokers" in more than 400 newspapers around the country in
1954 in which the industry said: "We accept an interest in people's
health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration
in our business."

Instead, said Reno at Wednesday's news conference, the cigarette
companies "waged an intentional coordinated campaign of fraud and
deceit. It has been a campaign designed to preserve their enormous
profits whatever the cost--in human lives, human suffering and in
medical resources."

Among the many incidents cited in which the companies suppressed
important health information from the public is a 1963 decision by Brown
& Williamson Tobacco Co. to withhold information from the U.S. surgeon
general about the addictive nature of nicotine. The 1964 Surgeon
General's Report, the first to warn consumers about the hazards of
smoking, did not conclude that nicotine was addictive.

"The companies have conducted themselves without regard to the truth,
without regard to the law and without regard to the health and life of
the American people," Reno said.

The Justice Department also cited two quite technical health care
statutes: the Medicare Secondary Payer Act and the Medical Care Recovery
Act.

Under each, the government is seeking to recover the amount it actually
expended treating people with tobacco-related illnesses such as lung
cancer, heart disease and emphysema. The government is attempting to
recoup only that portion of the cost of care that can be attributed to
the cigarette manufacturers' deceptive behavior.

Thus the government will seek reimbursement for only part of the money
it has spent taking care of people with such illnesses. Exactly how much
will be determined by the evidence gathered during the lawsuit,
according to Acting U.S. Assistant Atty. Gen. David Ogden.

In addition to monetary damages, the government is seeking fundamental
changes in the industry's behavior, notably its advertising. It is also
demanding that the industry pay for a nationwide anti-smoking campaign.
"The important thing is to ask the court to order public education, to
attempt to counter the effect of the tobacco industry's campaign," Ogden
said. "This is not about banning a product. It's about stopping fraud.
This is about stopping illegal conduct, and it's about getting
compensation for it," Ogden said.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), one of the industry's staunchest foes
on Capitol Hill, said that the government's action "is clearly the right
thing to do. . . . This lawsuit is the strongest action which the
administration can take to end the predatory and deceptive conduct of
the tobacco industry."

However, tobacco lawyers said that they intend to fight rather than
settle. They said that they will try to force the government to try the
damage claims of each patient individually rather than aggregating them
in a single lawsuit. Courts have taken varying stances on whether the
government can lump together such claims. They allowed the states to
aggregate the cases of Medicaid recipients who were treated for
smoking-related illnesses, but in some private class-action cases courts
have ruled the other way.

Tobacco officials also cited a recent analysis by the Congressional
Research Service, which found that smokers do not impose net costs on
the government. The study found that, while smokers who die of
smoking-related ailments increase medical costs at that time, future
medical costs are reduced because the smokers do not live to suffer
other illnesses.

In addition, the analysis said, smokers pay billions of dollars in
excise taxes and, because of higher mortality rates, collect less in
Social Security pensions.

                       Issue of 'Unclean Hands'

Particularly complex is whether the government has "unclean hands" in
its effort to blame the tobacco industry for smokers' addictions. The
question, experts said, is whether the government would have behaved
differently had it known everything the cigarette industry knew.

"The federal government has spent tens of millions of dollars throughout
the years warning the citizens of the United States about the health
risks of smoking," said Greg Little, associate general counsel for
Philip Morris. "That's why we believe it is absurd for the federal
government to stand up today and announce that somehow it was unaware of
the health risk of smoking and has no responsibility for the tobacco
policy of the last 50 years."

But New York University law professor Stephen Gillers said, "No one is
innocent in this story." He contended that the government "has to be
careful to acknowledge some responsibility--at least moral
responsibility"--while also arguing that the companies' behavior was so
reprehensible that they must be made to pay.

"This lawsuit--as other lawsuits that we've seen in the last several
years-- is based on all the new information that we never knew about
before that has come from the tobacco industry's own internal files,"
said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles). Congressional supporters of
the tobacco industry probably will try to make it difficult for the
government to pursue its claims by refusing to authorize any additional
money to prosecute the massive case. Lawmakers already have slapped down
the Justice Department's request for an additional $ 20 million for
fiscal 2000 to help finance the lawsuit.

Mississippi Atty. Gen. Mike Moore, who repeatedly has urged Reno to sue
the industry, said, "I believe the government has a good case, but I
think it's going to be a very hard and long fight."

Named in the suit, which was filed in federal district court in
Washington, are Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson,
Lorillard Tobacco Co. and the Liggett Group, as well as the Council for
Tobacco Research and the Tobacco Institute, the industry's research and
public relations arms. (Los Angeles Times 9-23-1999)


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Cover-Up Lasted 45 Years; Fd Suit Cites Documents
---------------------------------------------------------------------
On Dec. 15, 1953, a cloudy and windy day in New York City, top
executives of the nation's tobacco companies met at the Plaza Hotel to
confront what they considered a crisis: studies showing a link between
cigarettes and cancer.

They acted quickly. Less than three weeks later, they issued a "frank"
statement insisting there was "no proof" that smoking causes lung
cancer. "We believe the products we make are not injurious to health,"
they said.

That meeting, according to a groundbreaking Clinton administration
lawsuit filed against tobacco companies, began a decades-long campaign
to deceive the public about the health risks of smoking. The lawsuit,
citing newly disclosed industry documents, says the industry knew even
45 years ago that smoking was deadly.

The industry argues that the government has a laughable, politically
motivated case and says it will try immediately to have it dismissed.
But if that doesn't happen, what could emerge is a years-long epic
battle between Big Government and Big Tobacco that is unprecedented in
several ways and that could trigger much higher cigarette prices.

The lawsuit doesn't specify an amount, but damages could reach hundreds
of billions of dollars, the amount taxpayers spent to treat
smoking-related illnesses in the past and what they might still pay out
in the future.

The lawsuit has the potential to change how the industry operates and
how government uses litigation to make policy. Its claims are based on
two statutes never tried before in court, and its goals go way beyond
money. It seeks smoking-cessation programs, advertising restrictions, a
public education campaign and the release of industry documents.

In essence, the government is trying to do in the courtroom what it
could not do in Congress, which rejected a bill last year that would
have settled government claims in exchange for $ 516 billion in payments
over 25 years.

The federal lawsuit was filed at a time when cigarette makers already
are facing bitter legal challenges, including a class-action lawsuit in
Florida and a pending Supreme Court ruling about the government's right
to regulate tobacco products.

But the federal challenge may dwarf any others. "Right now, it's
probably the largest quake on the Richter scale the industry has ever
suffered," says Mary Aronson, a policy and litigation analyst who
studies the industry for institutional investors.

                      Hard Choices For Industry

Legal analysts say the industry, which last November reached a $ 206
billion, 25-year settlement with 46 states, might have little choice but
to seek a separate deal with the federal government.

"For the first time, the tobacco industry is confronting someone its own
size," Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe says. "The underlying legal
arguments are quite strong. The evidence is staggering."

For smokers, a settlement could tack on another 50 to 60 cents a pack,
which now averages about $ 3, Merrill Lynch analyst Emanuel Goldman
says.

For investors, the suit puts additional pressure on tobacco stocks. The
suit names the nation's largest tobacco firms, which together make up
98% of the U.S. market: Philip Morris Inc.; Philip Morris Companies;
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco; American Tobacco; Brown & Williamson Tobacco;
British-American Tobacco P.L.C.; British-American Tobacco; Lorillard
Tobacco; and Liggett and Myers.

The industry has largely passed its prior settlements costs on to
consumers, but it has not gone unscathed. Stocks of tobacco marketers
fell close to 52-week lows last Wednesday.

Philip Morris, the nation's largest cigarette maker, dropped 1 1/8 to $
34 . RJ Reynolds lost 1 3/16 to $ 27 5/16. Brooke Group fell 1 5/16 to $
17 3/4, and Loews, parent of Lorillard Tobacco, eased 1 15/16 to $ 71
11/16. This year, Philip Morris has seen its stock price fall more than
30%.

This is not the first time the U.S. government has taken on an entire
industry. It did so in 1908 when it filed an anti-trust lawsuit to break
up Standard Oil's monopoly. And in the late 1970s, it sued auto
companies for conspiring to suppress development of pollution-control
devices.

But analysts say this lawsuit is unparalleled because of the scope of
potential damages and the legal statutes involved.

The complaint relies in part on the 1962 Medical Care Recovery Act, or
MCRA, which gives the government the right to sue to recover medical
costs in some cases. The law has never been used to go after a whole
industry and does not specifically allow the government to combine
thousands of claims.

"This is an extraordinary situation," says David Ogden, acting assistant
attorney general for the civil decision. He says there's no parallel to
what he describes as a decades-long campaign to mislead the public.
"Their deliberate falsehoods caused a large number of people to continue
smoking," he says. "This is not about banning a product but about
banning fraud."

The lawsuit alleges that the industry:

* Made false and misleading statements about whether smoking causes
  disease, even though executives knew disease was a possible result.

* Promoted biased research to assist in defending lawsuits brought by
  smokers and suppressed research that suggested smoking caused
  disease.

* Lied about the addictive qualities of nicotine.

* Refrained from developing, testing and marketing potentially less
  hazardous products.

* Denied it marketed products to children, even though it sought to
  capture the youth market.

                         The Industry's Side

The industry argues that the government has no explicit legal statute
that allows it to recover Medicare costs or to aggregate its claims. It
says the government long knew about tobacco's health risks, because it
has required warning labels on cigarettes since 1966.

Philip Morris says the government already receives $ 6 billion a year in
tobacco tax revenue and makes more money per pack from cigarettes than
the industry does. In addition, it says, the government provided free
cigarettes to servicemen until 1974 and continues to subsidize tobacco
farmers.

"This case is going nowhere," says Mark Smith, spokesman for Brown &
Williamson Tobacco Corp. "We relish the opportunity to get into court
with these folks because it's going to be embarrassing for them."

Joining the industry in opposing the lawsuit are business groups
concerned that it could set a dangerous precedent. "Who's next?" asks
Bruce Jostin, executive vice president of the Chamber of Commerce. "No
business can feel secure in the United States when the enormous power of
the Justice Department can be unleashed against them for the purpose of
raising revenue and scoring political points."

President Clinton denies that the action was politically motivated. "We
did our best to work with (the industry) and with the Congress to
resolve many of these matters . . . and they declined," he said
Wednesday at the White House.

                          How Strong A Case?

Perhaps the strongest aspect of the government's lawsuit, some analysts
say, is its application of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act, a law known as RICO. The lawsuit includes more than
100 allegations of mail and wire fraud under the RICO statute. "If RICO
was, among other things, designed to infiltrate drug organizations, this
(lawsuit) fits the paradigm," University of Notre Dame law professor G.
Robert Blakey says. "The tobacco industry morphs from dealing in tobacco
to dealing in highly addictive nicotine. They developed among themselves
an industry-wide conspiracy to continue the use of drugs and targeted
children. "No family of the mob even remotely approaches this."

In the tobacco case, authorities allege that executives engaged in a
campaign of misinformation for nearly half a century. By invoking RICO
civil provisions, Attorney General Janet Reno is seeking to restrain the
industry from engaging in the same conduct in the future.

Blakey, an expert in RICO's use to break up organized crime, says the
stakes for the tobacco industry -- given the existing evidence of the
industry's less-than-candid dealings -- "are just too high to risk going
to trial."

                          Far-Reaching Effects

In the end, he says, the effect of this lawsuit could rival the
influence of existing policy such as the Sherman Anti-trust Act and its
role in breaking up the oil industry in 1911. "There has to be a change
of behavior on the part of this industry," he said. "I think you will
see that."

Any damages recovered by the government would either be funneled back
into the Treasury or would directly replenish individual health
programs.

The Justice Department is seeking $ 20 million to finance the lawsuit,
but it has yet to get a commitment from Congress. Justice officials say
they are confident of getting enough money to move ahead with the case.

The case, filed in U.S. District Court, has been assigned to Judge
Gladys Kessler, 60, who was appointed by Clinton in 1994 after serving
as an associate judge in D.C. Superior Court. If the case is not
dismissed, it could last well beyond Clinton's presidency.

There is nothing in the lawsuit, however, to prevent a new
administration from dropping the case in 2001. (USA Today 9-23-1999)


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Judge Dismisses Suit by African Americans
-------------------------------------------------------------
A federal judge has dismissed a proposed class action civil rights suit
brought by African American smokers of menthol cigarettes who say they
were targeted in an aggressive marketing campaign but were never warned
of the increased health risks of smoking mentholated cigarettes.

"Plaintiffs have not cited any authority holding that the type of
'targeting' alleged in this case violates Sections 1981 or 1982," U.S.
District Judge John R. Padova wrote in his 25-page opinion in Brown v.
Philip Morris Inc. "Plaintiffs have cited no case law, and the court can
find no basis for creating a cause of action under these sections to fit
this case. Holding that defendants could limit plaintiffs' freedom to
contract or to own property simply by targeting plaintiffs with
intensive advertising that caused plaintiffs to choose defendants'
dangerously defective mentholated tobacco products would require a
radical departure from the jurisprudence of Sections 1981 and 1982, a
departure this court is not prepared to make," Padova wrote.

The plaintiffs in the suit allege that tobacco companies have for many
years targeted African Americans and their communities with specific
advertising to lure them into using mentholated tobacco products. Every
year, the suit said, the tobacco industry spends millions of dollars on
advertising designed exclusively to appeal to African Americans.
Low-income African American communities in major United States cities
have more tobacco billboards than do neighboring more affluent white
communities, the suit said.

The suit relied heavily on a recently released report of the Surgeon
General titled "Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Groups," that
documents the targeting of the African American community by the tobacco
companies. Based on the conclusions of the report, the suit alleged
that, as part of its overall scheme, the tobacco industry intentionally
replaces thousands of African American users who die each year by
unfairly and illegally targeting young African Americans on the basis of
their race. The report found that African American daily smokers begin
smoking when they are young, noting that 82 percent had their first
cigarette before the age of 18, 62 percent before the age of 15, and 32
percent before the age of 14."Thus, a Black person who does not begin
smoking in childhood or adolescence is unlikely ever to begin," the
report concluded, and the younger an African American person begins to
smoke, the more likely he or she is to become a heavy smoker and to die
of lung cancer.

The suit alleged that tobacco companies pursued a course of intentional
conduct and a conspiracy of deception and misrepresentation against the
African American public to promote and maintain sales of mentholated
tobacco products in order to maximize their profits. The alleged
conspiracy consists of three strategies: (1) acting in concert to
represent falsely that their mentholated tobacco products are safe for
African Americans to use; (2) engaging in a concerted campaign to
saturate the African American community with dangerous, defective and
hazardous products which they know cause harm, in violation of the civil
and Constitutional rights of African Americans; and (3) misrepresenting,
suppressing, distorting and confusing the truth about the health dangers
of mentholated tobacco products.

With respect to relevant statutes of limitations, the plaintiffs argued
that the defendants' intentional acts of fraudulent concealment tolled
any such statutes. Until 1997, when the tobacco companies released some
39,000 documents, they said, the plaintiffs were not aware of the
successful concealment of a massive conspiracy to mislead the American
public regarding the safety of mentholated tobacco products and the
tobacco companies' successful effort to conceal the defective, harmful
and hazardous nature of those products.

And with the release to the public of the Surgeon General's Report in
1998, they said, the African American public realized for the first time
the true extent of the tobacco industry's pattern of targeting the
African American community with mentholated tobacco products and the
harmful health effects of those defective products on plaintiffs and the
proposed class members.

                         Motions to Dismiss

But defense lawyers argued that neither Section 1981 nor 1982 prohibit
discriminatory advertising. The complaint was fatally flawed, they
argued, because the plaintiffs hadn't alleged the deprivation of any
interest protected by these statutes. Both civil rights claims failed,
they argued, because the plaintiffs failed to allege a deprivation of
either contractual rights protected under Section 1981 or property
rights protected under Section 1982.Padova agreed, saying "Sections 1981
and 1982 do not encompass discriminatory advertising."

The plaintiffs argued that their claims were not just a matter of
discriminatory advertising but of "targeting," which they alleged was
intensive advertising involving a "very invidious scheme of racial
discrimination which has existed for a long time and has resulted in a
disparate impact of African Americans who are dying at greater rates and
who suffer diseases caused by smoking mentholated cigarettes than in the
white community."

But Padova found that the claims still fell short of meeting either
statute. "Plaintiffs do not claim defendants offered them different
contractual terms than they offered to white smokers, but rather that
responding to defendants' intensive advertising, they chose to use the
defective mentholated tobacco products, and thereby suffered serious
injury," Padova wrote.

The plaintiffs cited several cases in which they said courts recognized
targeting as a cause of action.

But Padova found that none of the cases could compare directly to the
claims of African American menthol-cigarette smokers. "Plaintiffs would
have to contend that the tobacco products defendants offer for sale to
African Americans were defective in a way that the products they offer
for sale to whites were not," he wrote. But the suit made no such
contention, Padova said, because "the mentholated products defendants
sell to African Americans are just as defective and dangerous as the
mentholated products they sell to whites.

"The plaintiffs were also forced to concede that, while a much higher
percentage of African American smokers than white smokers use
mentholated cigarettes, "African Americans still comprise the minority
of users of mentholated tobacco products," Padova noted.

Padova also said the plaintiffs "do not allege that defendants are
offering the defective mentholated products only to African Americans;
rather, plaintiffs contend that defendants are targeting African
Americans with advertisements for mentholated tobacco products and, as a
result, African Americans are more likely to choose mentholated products
than are whites."

While the suit alleged aggressive advertising that compels African
Americans to purchase defective products, Padova found that the tobacco
companies' actions "are not coupled with a refusal or even a reluctance
to sell non-mentholated tobacco products to plaintiffs, or even with a
refusal or reluctance to sell mentholated tobacco products to whites."
The defense lawyers, Padova said, correctly pointed out that the
plaintiffs concede that tobacco companies advertise their products to
both African- American and white consumers, and sell their products to
both African- American and white smokers.

As a result, Padova said, "the actual products and terms of sale are the
same for African American and white consumers." (The Legal Intelligencer
9-24-1999)


TOBACCO LITIGATION: National Post Says Nations Join Treasure Hunt
-----------------------------------------------------------------
In this age of litigation, it was inevitable that nations would join the
ranks of civil litigants. Nevertheless, there is something curious in
nations lining up with their own personal injury attorneys to file suit
in U.S. courts among workers in neck braces and widows in mourning. It
is all part of the new tobacco war, and nations like Canada are limping
into courtrooms from Texas to New York to claim their own share of
U.S.-style damages. These curious victims are seeking massive damages
from tobacco companies and, while their theories range from the
implausible to the incredible, hope springs eternal when billions are in
the balance.

Recently, Ontario decided to join the growing list of government-victims
in seeking tobacco damages. When Ontario Health Minister Elizabeth
Witmer announced her plans, she was asked why she would file in the U.S.
rather than her own courts. She responded honestly that the U.S. courts
offered more money in damages. Unlike British Columbia, which recently
filed in Canada, Ontario is getting a U.S. lawyer and a U.S. jury, in
hopes of a U.S. verdict. It may seem odd that Ontario would refuse to
litigate its own claims under the laws established for its citizens, but
nothing concentrates the governmental mind more than the prospect of
$40-billion in revenue (all figures in U.S. dollars).

Canada will join a growing list of newfound victims in U.S. courts,
including Guatemala, Brazil, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela.
In a moment stolen from Claude Rains in Casablanca, these countries
claim that they were 'shocked, shocked' that tobacco could be harmful to
the citizens they so cherish and protect. Of course, these countries did
not discover victimization in their past until the tobacco companies
agreed to fork over $200-billion to the states in the tobacco
settlement. All these nations now insist that they too were deceived
about the risks of smoking and, due to this deception, they allowed
their citizens to engage in a harmful practice. Now, racked with guilt,
they have come to express their shock -- and seek massive damages.

The federal court will now witness a truly bizarre scene: Countries with
often infamous human rights or environmental records seeking
health-based damages in the name of their citizens. In the case of
Guatemala, the justification may be found in that country's 'Historical
Clarification Commission,' which recently found the U.S. and private
companies responsible for 'the country's archaic and unjust
socio-economic structure.' Such 'historical clarification' is certainly
useful when victimology rises to the level of national policy.

In Brazil's case, Amnesty International has cited the country for the
use of police and 'death squads' in hundreds of killings. Apparently,
the government will not tolerate anyone but its own security forces
killing its citizens. Brazil's environmental and workplace conditions
are also deplorable. Yet, while Brazilian citizens choke on the smoke
from hundreds of thousands of acres of burning rain forest and
catastrophic levels of pollution, the Brazilian government insists that
it would have taken steps to protect its citizens if only it knew that
smoking was addictive. These countries may soon be joined by countries
such as Russia, where the degraded life expectancy of many citizens
makes tobacco illnesses look like a long-term investment. In the Russian
Duma, there is growing support for a monopoly over tobacco sales, at the
same time the country is pursuing damages from the product it wants to
sell exclusively.

These countries' anger does not extend to their own tobacco companies.
Some countries actually have tobacco monopolies or domestic companies
dominating the market. Guatemala insists that, while U.S. tobacco
companies 'lied to Guatemala by misrepresenting cigarettes as harmless,'
their domestic companies were also deceived and not part of the fraud.
Brazil, the world's leading tobacco exporter, also claims to be an
unwitting victim of 'Big Tobacco.' Brazil's moral outrage studiously
avoids its own tobacco companies, which the U.S. has cited 11 times in
the last year for exporting tobacco containing 20 prohibited pesticides
hazardous to human health. Likewise, a Brazilian subsidiary played the
critical role in developing fumo louco, or 'crazy tobacco.' Still grown
and exported by Brazil, fumo louco was genetically altered to increase
nicotine levels, and is so potent that farmers can become dizzy
harvesting it. Even if this history is 'clarified' and the parent
company blamed entirely for such indiscretions as fumo louco, Brazil is
still suing over a product it has taxed and exported worldwide in
massive quantities.

Canada and these other nations, however, cannot hold a candle to the
U.S. government's pursuit of tobacco dollars. The U.S. Justice
Department filed suit for billions in damages for a product that it has
long subsidized and taxed as a major source of general revenue. Even
with the Clinton Administration denouncing tobacco's evils, there is no
call to prohibit the product that the president calls the leading killer
of his citizens. Instead, the government will increase its take from
cigarette sales, from 24 cents per pack to 39 cents by 2002. State taxes
are often twice the federal level, giving the government the highest
profit margin from tobacco sales.

Projected tobacco revenues were vital for the Clinton Administration's
proposed balanced budget and tax cuts. Ironically, due to its addictive
element, tobacco is the perfect revenue source, since presumably smokers
will bear increasing costs to feed their addiction. As with the state
settlement, any federal damages would likely be tied to future tobacco
sales, only increasing the federal dependence on nicotine products.
Smoking may be hazardous to your health, but quitting would be
positively lethal for the government.

What may be missing in the federal lawsuit is an injury. Since tobacco
shortens lifespans, the federal government has actually saved money in
veterans' benefits, social security, Medicare, disability and other
federal programs. A study by the respected Harvard economist Kip Viscusi
found that smokers actually produce a net benefit for the government of
32 cents per pack.

The legal deficiencies in a federal law are all too apparent to the U.S.
Justice Department. Janet Reno, the Attorney General, last year told the
Senate that the Justice Department found no good-faith basis to sue for
tobacco damages. A few months later, however, President Clinton
announced in his State of the Union Address that a federal action would
seek to recoup billions in damages. Justice is now in the process of
reverse engineering, from a verdict to a theory in litigation. If
successful, the federal government will have achieved a litigant's
dream. For decades, it has assisted in the growing of tobacco, profited
off its sales, saved money from the use of the product, and now would
secure a windfall of money for losses that it did not suffer. Such
claims would make most 'slip-and-fall' lawyers blush.

Neither Canada nor the U.S. is willing to wait any longer in seeking
damages. If anyone is going to fleece U.S. and Canadian companies, by
right and tradition, it should be their own governments. With the
addition of lawsuits from health insurance companies, unions and an
assortment of other institutional litigants, the growing roster of
megavictims now has all the decorum and deliberation of a stampede for
carrion on the Serengeti Plain. These new litigants, however, may find
slim pickings: The host of legal barriers they must overcome range from
jurisdictional questions to statutes of limitations to methods of proof.
For example, a major Florida class action experienced a sharp reversal
of fortune when an appellate court ordered trials on each individual
claim.

This does not mean that tobacco lawsuits are frivolous, or that real
victims should not sue to recover. Rather, if successful, these new
litigants would strip the tobacco companies of assets before any real
victim could possibly collect. Smokers may prove to be our most selfless
citizens, smoking our way to new highways and federal programs. Ask not
what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.
(National Post (formerly The Financial Post) 9-23-1999)


TOBACCO LITIGATION: The N.Y. Times Says Fd Suit Is Without Foundation
---------------------------------------------------------------------
With great fanfare, the Federal Government has announced that it and the
American public have been duped in an adroit campaign by tobacco
companies, a deception that has forced Medicare to spend billions of
dollars in treating tobacco-related illnesses. The gist of the
Government's racketeering and fraud lawsuit, which was filed last
Wednesday, is that for the past 45 years, the industry concealed the
health hazards of smoking and the addictive effects of nicotine.

This argument is entirely without foundation.

In legal theory, the key element to any successful civil fraud claim is
"differential knowledge" -- A cannot deceive B if B already knows the
truth. In this case, therefore, it is not enough to show that tobacco
companies hid information about the dangers of smoking. The Government
must show that the companies knew something that the Government did not:
that smoking was potentially harmful.

That contention seems impossible to prove. The addictive properties of
nicotine have been known and debated for ages, and for the last 40 years
the Government has regulated all aspects of tobacco production and
distribution. For instance, the Government has prevented tobacco
companies from making certain health-related claims about their products
-- like the assertion that lower levels of tar carry lower health risks.
Since 1964, the Government has prescribed the warnings that go on all
cigarette packages and advertisements. More recently, Congress conducted
hearings intended to force tobacco executives into public confessions of
wrongdoing.

Given this evidence, could any claim that the Government did not know of
tobacco's dangers be credible?

The Government is also suing on the behalf of individual Medicare
recipients, military veterans and Federal employees, who it claims were
also deceived. But the lawsuit does not name any individual smokers, and
it will undoubtedly seek to keep individual smokers from testifying and
being cross-examined. This would be a smart strategy because it works
with juries. The states used a similar approach when they successfully
sued tobacco companies on behalf of Medicaid patients. But it is utterly
unsound in principle.

If individual smokers are left out of the courtroom, tobacco companies
cannot question them on their knowledge of smoking's health risks. This
questioning is crucial for fairness. After all, when individual smokers
have sued, virtually all their cases have rightly floundered, because
the risks of smoking were so obvious that everyone knew about them, with
or without the required cigarette warnings.

The Federal Government, by seeking to recover medical expenses of
Medicare smokers, should have no greater rights than the individual
smokers themselves. If the smoker can't win, neither should the
Government. Simply to amass millions of dubious claims into one de facto
class-action lawsuit does nothing to overcome their fundamental
weaknesses.

No matter how it is sliced, litigation is not the way to deal with the
regulation of tobacco. If the Federal Government wants to reduce
consumption of cigarettes, it, like the states, can raise cigarette
taxes. If it wants to protect taxpayers from bearing the costs of
smoking, it can impose higher Medicare premiums on smokers. If it thinks
that the Food and Drug Administration should regulate tobacco products
as if they were prescription drugs, then it can amend the agency's
statutory authority.

But what it must not do is circumvent the political process by using its
legal might to pummel the tobacco industry. It is unseemly for the
greatest litigating force on earth to resort to a lawsuit at this late
date -- after spending years regulating and preaching against tobacco.
(The New York Times 9-24-1999)


TOBACCO LITIGATION: The Washington Post Says Fd Suit The Best Leverage
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Federal suit filed last Wednesday against the tobacco industry
offers a rare opportunity for a national accounting of the damage that
the industry has done to the nation's health. Unlike the previous
private class actions and suits by the states, a suit by the federal
government treats the problem of the multi-decade scheme by the
companies to misrepresent the addictive qualities of nicotine and the
adverse health consequences of smoking as a national one in which all
Americans have an interest.

It would be nice, of course, if this public health problem could be
dealt with another way. But the industry has resisted the
administration's proposals for common-sense regulation of tobacco, and
it scuttled the legislative initiative as well. At this point, a lawsuit
is the administration's best leverage against the heavy public cost of
smoking.

This is not to accuse the government, as the industry is doing, of
filing purely political litigation. If the suit has legal merit, the
fact that it may also be a powerful tool in support of administration
policy objectives makes no difference. And merit is of course the issue;
the government's action faces some formidable legal obstacles that could
make it short-lived.

The industry has seized upon the supposed absence of a federal cause of
action to argue that the suit is just a nefarious political stunt. The
truth is, however, that whether the law permits this suit is a question
to which we can only learn the answer if the government proceeds with
it. If the department's reading of the law is wrong, it will emerge with
egg on its face soon enough. Before the federal government decides,
however, to take no action in the face of the clear public harm this
industry continues wittingly to do, it is well worth finding out
precisely what sorts of recovery the law does permit.

It is also wrong for Congress to use the appropriations process to
interfere with the suit. The administration has asked for $ 20 million
to fund the litigation. Given the magnitude of the possible damages,
this is a relatively small sum. Congress should not put itself in the
position of denying a potentially massive recovery for the taxpayer by
nickel-and-diming the Justice Department on a major piece of litigation.
(The Washington Post 9-24-1999)


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Win In Florida Goes Up In Smoke; Ruling On Sept 30
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The tobacco industry may have celebrated prematurely a few weeks ago,
when it won a major victory in the Miami class action brought by smokers
who claim cigarettes made them ill.

A three-judge panel of the Third District Court of Appeal on Sept. 3
ruled that damages in the case must be considered one smoker at a time,
ending the risk of a potentially crushing multibillion-dollar punitive
damage award.

Industry lawyers were elated. The stocks of lead defendants Philip
Morris Cos. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. rose the day the decision was
announced. An analyst with Solomon Smith Barney in New York proclaimed
that "the most threatening aspects of the . . . class action have been
removed."

Well, not exactly.

The Third District second-guessed itself and tossed out the order. Now,
both sides will make oral arguments for their positions Sept. 30, and
the appeal court will issue a new ruling.

In August, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Robert Kaye had ruled that jurors in
the case -- which seeks damages on behalf of all Florida smokers who
have suffered smoking-related illnesses -- could levy a one-time lump
sum damage award against the industry for its conduct in hiding the
dangers of smoking from the public. That raised the specter of a titanic
billion-dollar award.

Now, the latest action means, for the moment, that the gun is again
resting at Big Tobacco's head. And, even worse for the industry, that
gun has been reloaded with better ammunition. The lawyers for the
plaintiffs in the landmark class action, Miami lawyers Stanley and Susan
Rosenblatt, have for the first time been given the financial resources
to fight their industry opponents toe-to-toe.

Ironically, the money is coming from their opponents.

The Rosenblatts were scheduled to receive from the tobacco industry at
least some of the $49 million in fees and costs they obtained in 1997 in
settlement of another smoker case. That settlement, reached in a case
brought on behalf of flight attendants nationwide who said they suffered
health problems from exposure to tobacco smoke in airplane cabins,
became final earlier this month when lawyers opposing the deal dropped
their challenge in the Florida Supreme Court.

The money comes at a welcome time for the Rosenblatts, who have financed
their suit themselves and have had trouble meeting expenses in the
Florida smokers trial. In the course of that trial, they have been
unable to pay their experts and obtain full transcripts of testimony in
the case. A court reporting service pulled automated transcription
equipment from the courtroom after the attorneys were late with their
lease payments.

The Rosenblatts, as well as the attorneys representing the tobacco
industry, are barred by a gag order from publicly commenting on the
case. But, according to a source familiar with the case, the influx of
cash means the Rosenblatts are going to be able to retain additional
lawyers to assist them and increase their technological resources.

"The bottom line is that they have been severely strapped for cash in
the last year and a half," the source said. "It's going to be much more
of a fair fight. It's a pretty daunting prospect for the industry." When
that fight will resume is unclear. The smokers trial in Miami-Dade
Circuit Court remains on hold, pending the outcome of the punitive
damages issue in the Third District.

In July, following months of testimony, a six-member jury in the case
ruled that smoking is addictive and causes cancer, heart disease and
other ailments, and that cigarette makers lied for decades to the public
about the risks.

The trial was to resume this month, when the jury was to hear the
damages claims of two plaintiffs, who serve as representatives of the
entire class. (The Recorder 9-24-1999)


TRIMBLE: Announces Settlement For Securities Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------
Trimble (Nasdaq:TRMB) announced the settlement of the securities class
action lawsuit filed on December 6, 1995 against the Company and certain
of its current and former officers and directors.

The final court-approved settlement was funded by insurance proceeds and
payment by the Company of one million eight hundred thousand dollars, ($
1.8 million).

The entire amount of the Company's obligation was previously reserved.
The company provides end-user and OEM solutions for diverse applications
including surveying, mapping/GIS, agriculture, construction, mining,
military, commercial aviation, automotive, vehicle tracking and timing.


VITAMIN PRICE-FIXING: 5 Companies Slapped With $88 Mil Fines In Canada
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Five companies in the world bulk vitamin cartel have pleaded guilty to
rigging Canadian markets - affecting milk, bread and other foods - and
were slapped with fines totalling $88 million.

The penalties for fixing prices of vitamins and additives used in animal
feed and human food are the largest criminal fines in Canadian history
and the largest ever imposed under the Competition Act.

The conspiracy, involving F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. of Switzerland, BASF
AG of Germany, Rhone-Poulenc SA of France and two Japanese corporations,
Eisai Co. Ltd. and Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., as well as several
others still under investigation, took hold in 1990-91 and lasted into
1999, according to an agreed statement of facts.

''Every Canadian was affected,'' said Competition Commissioner Konrad
von Finckenstein. ''The Bureau will aggressively pursue the parties
involved in international cartels that target Canadian consumers from
outside the country,'' he said. ''The criminal behaviour will not be
tolerated.''

The commodities rigged by the cartel for extra profit included vitamins
A, E, C, B2 (riboflavin), B4 (choline chloride), B5 (calpan), B6, beta
carotene and bulk premixes for animal feed.

''These are added to a whole range of products such as milk, orange
juice, cereals, breads in addition to feed additives,'' said Harry
Chandler, deputy federal competition director.

The five companies recorded sales in Canada of $668 million during their
conspiratorial decade and pushed some prices as much as 30 per cent
above competitive levels.

Lawyers involved in the matter note that despite von Finckenstein's
chest-beating, the stupendous case fell into Ottawa's lap gift-wrapped
and was not the result of Canadian sleuthing or policy.

The world cartel unravelled under the pressure of lengthy grand jury
investigations in Texas and collapsed when Rhone-Poulenc officials
earlier this year decided to come clean to the U.S. Department of
Justice in exchange for immunity.

''The competition bureau couldn't have found this on its own,'' said
Liberal MP Dan McTeague (Pickering-Ajax-Uxbridge), a consumer advocate,
citing Canada's archaic laws. ''Someone else had to go and dig the
information. They had to connect the dots. My 2-year-old son could have
done this.''

Canadian prosecutor Martin Low described to the Federal Court of Canada
how Hoffmann-La Roche - commonly called Roche - and BASF vied with each
other this spring in a scramble to co-operate with Ottawa, serve up
evidence from well-briefed executives from around the world who flew in
voluntarily to confess details of the illegal conspiracy, and negotiate
the corporate punishment.

In prior U.S. plea-bargaining Hoffmann-La Roche paid a fine of $500
million (U.S.), BASF $225 million and other conspirators a further $65
million.

In Canada, Roche again led the pain parade, agreeing to a fine of $48
million (Cdn.) on the vitamin and additive conspiracies, including five
$8 million fines on charges for which the maximum is $10 million.

Roche also pleaded guilty and paid $2.9 million for its part in a
different conspiracy with Archer Daniels Midland Co. to fix the market
for citric acid, a crime for which ADM last year paid a $16 million fine
to Ottawa.

For the vitamin conspiracies BASF agreed to pay Ottawa $18 million,
Rhone-Poulenc $14 million, Daiichi $2.5 million and Eisai $2 million.

Low said the fines were big enough to eliminate most illicit profit, but
the conspirators got a bit of a discount in Canada because they spared
the justice department the enormous difficulties of trying to get a
conviction under Canada's Competition Act at trial against non-Canadian
companies and executives.

Competition Bureau officials estimate that the conspirators sold product
for $668 million in Canada over the years as they organized market-share
allocation throughout the world at annual meetings of top executives in
Basel, Switzerland.

Roche was the group leader with $382 million in sales, and the cartel
inflated some vitamin prices as much as 30 per cent above competitive
levels, Low said.

He said the big fines carry their own warning, that BASF cleaned out its
top management, and that eight different class-action suits will give
individual Canadians vehicles to seek additional redress from the
conspirators. ''They still face huge legal fees and civil liability, and
some individuals will go to jail here and elsewhere.''

Hoffmann-La Roche said that the criminal investigation involved only the
European Vitamins and Fine Chemicals Division of the company, that Roche
Canada officials are not implicated or charged, and that the criminal
European managers have been removed.

''Roche has taken extensive measures to correct the situation,'' the
company said.

Last week Russell Cosburn, former vice-president of Chinook Group Ltd.
of Toronto, was sentenced to nine months for conspiring with BASF, UCB
SA and Akzo Nobel Chemicals BV to rig the market for vitamin B4 (choline
chloride), an additive in pig and poultry feed. Ontario's Superior Court
of Justice ordered Cosburn, now retired, to serve his term in the
community and perform 50 hours of community service.

Hoffmann-La Roche is behind two of the biggest drug launches in the past
year. Herceptin, the first breast-cancer drug to work at the gene level
of the disease, was approved in Canada last month. Earlier this summer,
the company launched the anti-obesity drug Xenical. (The Toronto Star
9-23-1999)


* Bill Would Limit Class Actions; House Measure Passes 222-207
--------------------------------------------------------------
Legislation approved in the House would require state judges to transfer
the lawsuits to federal courts.

The House of Representatives approved legislation September 23 that
would make it difficult, if not impossible, to bring successful large
class-action lawsuits against tobacco companies, gun makers and a
variety of other businesses.

The legislation was supported by many major industries, from automobile
and chemical producers to small aircraft makers and insurance companies.

It would require state court judges, who have often been more
sympathetic to plaintiffs in such suits, to transfer most of their
class-action lawsuits to federal courts. The federal rules on class
actions are often more stringent than many state court procedures and,
as a result, plaintiffs' lawyers have been making greater and more
successful use of state courts in recent years in many kinds of
lawsuits.

Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the measure was approved
222-207 on a vote largely along party lines. It followed heavy lobbying
and ferocious campaign fund raising on both sides -- big business vs.
the trial lawyers -- and is similar to a bill that enjoys bipartisan
support in the Senate. The Senate bill is sponsored by Sens. Charles
Grassley, R-Iowa, and Herb Kohl, D-Wis.

White House officials said that they had recommended that the president
veto the legislation if it reaches his desk because it would lead to the
widespread dismissal of many kinds of claims that plaintiffs are now
winning and which have had the effect of protecting consumers and
deterring corporate misconduct.

Supporters of the House legislation said the measure is aimed at ending
abusive maneuvers by trial lawyers. They condemned what they say is a
growing number of instances in which state judges are making decisions
that have nationwide implications in tobacco and other lawsuits against
businesses. The supporters also say state court judges are often biased
against out-of-state defendants.

The cases affected would include everything from employment
discrimination, environmental disasters and health care fraud to product
liability cases such as asbestos suits.

"This bill will correct a statutory anomaly, as well as the gaming of
the system by plaintiff attorneys," said Rep. James Moran, D-Va., and
one of the sponsors of the legislation. "Now a judge in one state
decides the laws in all the states. But I don't want the laws of
Virginia to be decided by some judge in Texas." (The Contra Costa
Newspapers 9-24-1999)

Most Democrats and the White House opposed the measure, saying it would
make it harder for individuals to seek redress from a wrongdoing
company.

The measure would grant federal courts jurisdiction in cases where any
member of the proposed class is a citizen of a state different from any
defendant.

Shifting many class-action lawsuits away from state courts would prevent
such practices as "forum shopping," in which attorneys file suits in
states where they are more likely to get a favorable ruling, supporters
of the measure said. "Hundreds of frivolous lawsuits are filed in
favorable state courts and used as high-stakes court-endorsed blackmail
devices against companies that usually settle rather than face a long
and arduous court battle," said Rep. John Linder, R-Ga.

Many state residents would be denied access to their own state courts,
and the legislation coincides with "a time when the chief justice, among
others, has repeatedly expressed serious concerns about the increasingly
burdensome workload of the federal courts," the administration said.

"This is really the camel's nose under the tent," said Frank Clemente,
director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch. He said passage would be a
victory for corporate interests pressing Republican allies to pass
legislation giving them more protection from what they regard as
predatory liability lawsuits.

Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., the chief sponsor of the legislation,
argued that legislation was necessary because different certification
standards for class actions in the states have opened the way for abuse.
Attorneys, he said, shop around until they find the one judge in the one
state "who thinks anything goes." He said his bill would keep purely
local matters in state courts. (Washington AP)

But opponents of the legislation said that it was outrageous for a
Congress that has left so many federal judgeships vacant -- by failing
to confirm White House's nominees -- to now be broadly expanding the
caseload of an already overworked federal judiciary. There are 64
vacancies in the federal district and appeals courts, and judges have
complained that their workload has increased dramatically, in part
because of legislation that has created new federal crimes and in part
because Congress has not created any new judge positions for nearly a
decade.

As a result, critics said, those class-action lawsuits that would not be
dismissed by the federal courts as a result of the legislation would be
significantly delayed.

"This represents a sealed, locked, closed and forever impenetrable door
to justice," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. Other opponents of
the legislation called it a form of "backdoor immunity" for tobacco
companies and gun makers.

The legislation's critics include a policy group of federal judges
headed by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the Conference of Chief
Justices of state courts, 15 state attorneys general, a number of lawyer
organizations, and a broad array of civil rights, disabilities,
consumer, anti-tobacco, gun control and health care groups.

The organizations pushing for the legislation include some of the
nation's most significant business interests, including the U.S. Chamber
of Commerce, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, DaimlerChrysler and
General Motors, the International Mass Retail Association, Pfizer,
Philip Morris, Procter & Gamble. The lobbyists working for the
legislation have included Jack Quinn, a former White House counsel in
the Clinton administration, and Arthur Culvahouse Jr., a former White
House counsel to President Ronald Reagan.

The most notable opponents of the legislation included the Association
of Trial Lawyers of America and Public Citizen, a consumer group founded
by Ralph Nader that led a coalition of other public interest
organizations. Nader met at the White House last month with John
Podesta, the president's chief of staff, along with representatives from
the trial lawyers and other groups. The groups working to defeat the
bill include the American Heart and Lung Associations, the Campaign for
Tobacco-Free kids, the Violence Policy Center (a gun control group), and
a number of labor organizations.

The legislation was endorsed by a number of Republican legislators who
campaigned on pledges of returning political power to the states.
Thursday they found themselves in the position of arguing that the state
courts need to be curtailed and that the federal judiciary is better
equipped to handle cases. While the Republicans said the issues were not
the same, some Democrats said it reflected hypocrisy.

"These are the same people who say we need to return power to the local
level, to the individual level, and here they are now arguing to bring
this back to the federal government," said Rep. Melvin L. Watt, D-N.C.
"This is absolutely contrary to the horse that my colleagues road to the
Congress on, the states' rights horse." Information from the Associated
Press was used to supplement this report. (Sun-Sentinel (Fort
Lauderdale, FL) 9-24-1999)


                               *********


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

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

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