CAR_Public/991007.MBX                 C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

                Thursday, October 7, 1999, Vol. 1, No. 172

                                 Headlines

AMPLIDYNE INC: Berger & Montague File Securities Suit In New Jersey
ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suit In Alabama Re High Fructose Syrup
ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suit In Alabama Re Lysine
ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suit In CA Re Monosodium Glutamate
ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suit In Canada Re Lysine

ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suit In Kansas Re Syrup And Citric Acid
ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suits In Alabama Re Citric Acid
ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suits In CA Re High Fructose Corn Syrup
ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suits In CA Re Syrup And Citric Acid
ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suits In Ill. Re High Fructose Syrup

ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suits In W. Vir. Re Syrup & Citric Acid
ARCHER DANIELS: Faces CA Antitrust Suit Re Syrup, Citric Acid & Lysine
ARCHER DANIELS: MDL On Sodium Gluconate Has Been Transferred To CA
ARCHER DANIELS: Sued In Columbia Over Syrup & Citric Acid Price-Fixing
ARCHER DANIELS: Under Govt Investigations Amid Class Antitrust Suits

AUTO INSURANCE: Journal Says State Farm Verdict Shows Need For New Law
AUTO INSURANCE: Reporting On State Farm Decision Said To Be Misleading
AUTO INSURANCE: State Farm To Pay $456 Mil For Substandard Repair Parts
COLEMAN CO: Wins Appeals Case; Can Keep Pension Assets When Plan Ended
FLORIDA STATE: Suit Says State Unlawfully Cuts Medical Assistance

GENERAL CHEMICAL: NJ Company Settles For Cryptosporidium Outbreak
GUN MANUFACTURER: Seeks Costs For Gunshot Victims Suits From Insurers
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Companies Expected To Offer $4.5 Bil
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Pressure Mounts On Germans To Reach Quick Agreement
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Stall Tactics Charged Over Holocaust Legal Claims

MCDONALD'S CORP: Australian Unit Fights Prize Claims
METABOLIFE INT'L: Sued In CA Over Ephedrine Warnings On Diet Supplement
P COM: CA Securities Fraud Suits Voluntarily Dismissed
P COM: Files Demurrer To CA State Securities Fraud Suits
SPRINT CORP: Shareholders Sue In NY And Kansas to Block MCI Merger

SURETY ACCEPTANCE: Sued Over FDCPA Violation In Debt Collection In Ariz
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Australia's Companies Face Second Class Action

                             *********

AMPLIDYNE INC: Berger & Montague File Securities Suit In New Jersey
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Berger & Montague, P.C. filed a class action lawsuit for violations of
the federal securities laws in the United States District Court for the
District of New Jersey against Amplidyne, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMPD) and
Devendar S. Bains, Amplidyne's Chief Executive Officer, Chief Accounting
Officer, President and Board Member, on behalf of all persons who
purchased Amplidyne common stock between September 9 and September 14,
1999, inclusive.

The Complaint alleges that Amplidyne and its highest officer violated
Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The
Complaint alleges that defendants issued materially false and misleading
statements by announcing that the Company had introduced new technology
that would offer Internet subscribers high speed wireless Internet
access at less cost than wired Internet access. Amplidyne's stock price
more than quadrupled in the days following the announcement, until it
was revealed that Amplidyne's technology was not new, but had been on
the market for at least a year. On this disclosure, the stock price
plummeted from its Class Period high of $16-3/4 per share to $7 per
share.

If you purchased Amplidyne common stock during the September 9 through
September 14, 1999, time period, you may wish to join the action. You
may move the court to serve as a lead plaintiff on or before November
15, 1999.

Contact Jill Sterbakov, Esq. Berger & Montague, P.C. 1622 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103 Phone: 888-891-2289 or 215-875-3000 Fax:
215-875-4636 Website: http://home.bm.nete-mail: InvestorProtect@bm.net


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


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


ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suit In CA Re Monosodium Glutamate
------------------------------------------------------------------
The Company, along with a least one other company, has been named as a
defendant in one putative class action antitrust suit filed in
California state court involving the sale of monosodium glutamate. This
action alleges violations of California antitrust and unfair competition
laws, including allegations that the defendants agreed to fix, stabilize
and maintain at artificially high levels the price of monosodium
glutamate, and seeks treble damages of an unspecified amount,
restitution, attorneys' fees and costs, and other unspecified relief.

The putative class in this action comprises certain indirect purchasers
of monosodium glutamate in the State of California from January 1, 1993
until July 1999. This action originally was filed on June 25, 1999 in
the Superior Court of San Francisco County and is encaptioned Fu's
Garden Restaurant v. Ajinomoto U.S.A., Inc., et al, Civil Action No.
304471.


ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suit In Canada Re Lysine
--------------------------------------------------------
The Company, along with other companies, had been named as a defendant
in twenty-two putative class action antitrust suits involving the sale
of lysine. Except for the actions specifically described below, all such
suits have been settled, dismissed or withdrawn.

                             Canadian Action

The Company, along with other companies, has been named as a defendant
in one putative class action antitrust suit filed in Ontario Court
(General Division) in which the plaintiffs allege the defendants reached
agreements with one another as to the price at which each of them would
sell lysine to customers in Ontario and as to the total volume of lysine
that each company would supply in Ontario in violation of Sections 45
(1)(c) and 61(1)(b)of the Competition Act. The plaintiffs seek
C$25,000,000 for violations of the Competition Act, C$10,000,000 in
punitive, exemplary and aggravated damages, interest and costs of the
action. This action was served upon the Company on June 11, 1999 and is
encaptioned Rein Minnema and Minnema Farms Ltd. v.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, et al., Court File No. G23495-99.


ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suit In Kansas Re Syrup And Citric Acid
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Company, along with other companies, has been named as a defendant
in a putative class action antitrust suit filed in Kansas state court
involving the sale of high fructose corn syrup and citric acid. This
action alleges violations of the Kansas antitrust laws, including
allegations that the defendants agreed to fix, stabilize and maintain at
artificially high levels the prices of high fructose corn syrup and
citric acid, and seeks treble damages of an unspecified amount, court
costs and other unspecified relief.

The putative class in the Kansas action comprises certain persons within
the State of Kansas that purchased products containing high fructose
corn syrup and/or citric acid during at least the period January 1, 1992
through December 31, 1994. This action was filed on May 7, 1996 in the
District Court of Wyandotte County, Kansas and is encaptioned Waugh v.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Case No. 96-C-2029. Plaintiff's
motion for class certification is currently pending.


ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suits In Alabama Re Citric Acid
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Company, along with other companies, had been named as a defendant
in eleven putative class action antitrust suits and two non-class action
antitrust suits involving the sale of citric acid. Except for the action
specifically described below, all such suits have been settled or
dismissed.

                           State Actions

The Company, along with other companies, has been named as a defendant
in one putative class action antitrust suit filed in Alabama state court
involving the sale of citric acid. This action alleges violations of the
Alabama antitrust laws, including allegations that the defendants agreed
to fix, stabilize and maintain at artificially high levels the prices of
citric acid, and seeks an injunction against continued alleged illegal
conduct, damages of an unspecified amount, attorneys fees and costs, and
other unspecified relief. The putative class in the Alabama action
comprises certain indirect purchasers of citric acid in the State of
Alabama from July 1993 until July 1995. This action was filed on July
27, 1995 in the Circuit Court of Walker County, Alabama and is
encaptioned Seven Up Bottling Co. of Jasper, Inc. v.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No. 95- 436. On June
25, 1999, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the lower court's denial of
defendants' motion to dismiss, and held that the Alabama antitrust laws
apply only to intrastate commerce. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion
for reconsideration of this decision and that motion currently is
pending before the Alabama Supreme Court.


ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suits In CA Re High Fructose Corn Syrup
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Company, along with other companies, also has been named as a
defendant in seven putative class action antitrust suits filed in
California state court involving the sale of high fructose corn syrup.
These California actions allege violations of the California antitrust
and unfair competition laws, including allegations that the defendants
agreed to fix, stabilize and maintain at artificially high levels the
prices of high fructose corn syrup, and seek treble damages of an
unspecified amount, attorneys fees and costs, restitution and other
unspecified relief.

One of the California putative classes comprises certain direct
purchasers of high fructose corn syrup in the State of California during
certain periods in the 1990s. This action was filed on October 17, 1995
in Superior Court for the County of Stanislaus, California and
encaptioned Kagome Foods, Inc. v Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. et al.,
Civil Action No. 37236. This action has been removed to federal court
and consolidated with the federal class action litigation pending in the
Central District of Illinois referred to above.

The other six California putative classes comprise certain indirect
purchasers of high fructose corn syrup and dextrose in the State of
California during certain periods in the 1990s. One such action was
filed on July 21, 1995 in the Superior Court of the County of Los
Angeles, California and is encaptioned Borgeson v.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No. BC131940. This
action and four other indirect purchaser actions have been coordinated
before a single court in Stanislaus County, California under the
caption, Food Additives (HFCS) cases, Master File No. 39693.

The other four actions are encaptioned, Goings v. Archer Daniels Midland
Co., et al., Civil Action No. 750276 (Filed on July 21, 1995, Orange
County Superior Court); Rainbow Acres v. Archer Daniels Midland Co., et
al., Civil Action No. 974271 (Filed on November 22, 1995, San Francisco
County Superior Court); Patane v. Archer Daniels Midland Co., et al.,
Civil Action No. 212610 (Filed on January 17, 1996, Sonoma County
Superior Court); and St. Stan's Brewing Co. v. Archer Daniels Midland
Co., et al., Civil Action No. 37237 (Filed on October 17, 1995,
Stanislaus County Superior Court). On October 8, 1997, Varni Brothers
Corp. filed a complaint in intervention with respect to the coordinated
action pending in Stanislaus County Superior Court, asserting the same
claims as those advanced in the consolidated class action. The parties
are in the midst of discovery in the coordinated action.


ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suits In CA Re Syrup And Citric Acid
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The Company, along with other companies, has been named as a defendant
in five putative class action antitrust suits involving the sale of both
high fructose corn syrup and citric acid. Two of these actions allege
violations of the California antitrust and unfair competition laws,
including allegations that the defendants agreed to fix, stabilize and
maintain at artificially high levels the prices of high fructose corn
syrup and citric acid, and seek treble damages of an unspecified amount,
attorneys fees and costs, restitution and other unspecified relief.

The putative class in one of these California case comprises certain
direct purchasers of high fructose corn syrup and citric acid in the
State of California during the period January 1, 1992 until at least
October 1995. This action was filed on October 11, 1995 in the Superior
Court of Stanislaus County, California and is entitled Gangi Bros.
Packing Co. v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No.
37217.

The putative class in the other California case comprises certain
indirect purchasers of high fructose corn syrup and citric acid in the
state of California during the period October 12, 1991 until November
20, 1995. This action was filed on November 20, 1995 in the Superior
Court of San Francisco County and is encaptioned MCFH, Inc. v.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No. 974120. The
California Judicial Council has bifurcated the citric acid and high
fructose corn syrup claims in these actions and coordinated them with
other actions in San Francisco County Superior Court and Stanislaus
County Superior Court.

The Company accepted a settlement agreement with counsel for the citric
acid plaintiff class. This settlement received final court approval and
the case was dismissed on September 30, 1998.


ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suits In Ill. Re High Fructose Syrup
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Archer Daniels Midland Co, along with other companies, has been named as
a defendant in thirty-one antitrust suits involving the sale of high
fructose corn syrup. Thirty of these actions have been brought as
putative class actions.

                          Federal Actions

Twenty-two of these putative class actions allege violations of federal
antitrust laws, including allegations that the defendants agreed to fix,
stabilize and maintain at artificially high levels the prices of high
fructose corn syrup, and seek injunctions against continued alleged
illegal conduct, treble damages of an unspecified amount, attorneys fees
and costs, and other unspecified relief. The putative classes in these
cases comprise certain direct purchasers of high fructose corn syrup
during certain periods in the 1990s. These twenty-two actions have been
transferred to the United States District Court for the Central District
of Illinois and consolidated under the caption In Re High Fructose Corn
Syrup Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1087 and Master File No. 95-1477.
The parties are currently appealing certain discovery rulings to the
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

On January 14, 1997, the Company, along with other companies, was named
a defendant in a non-class action antitrust suit involving the sale of
high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. This action which is
encaptioned Gray & Co. v. Archer Daniels Midland Co., et al, No. 97-69-
AS, and was filed in federal court in Oregon, alleges violations of
federal antitrust laws and Oregon and Michigan state antitrust laws,
including allegations that defendants conspired to fix, raise, maintain
and stabilize the price of corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup, and
seeks treble damages, attorneys' fees and costs of an unspecified
amount. This action was transferred for pretrial proceedings to the
United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois.


ARCHER DANIELS: Faces Antitrust Suits In W. Vir. Re Syrup & Citric Acid
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Company, along with other companies, also has been named as a
defendant in at least one putative class action antitrust suit filed in
West Virginia state court involving the sale of high fructose corn syrup
and citric acid. This action also alleges violations of the West
Virginia antitrust laws, including allegations that the defendants
agreed to fix, stabilize and maintain at artificially high levels the
prices of high fructose corn syrup and citric acid, and seeks treble
damages of an unspecified amount, attorneys fees and costs, and other
unspecified relief.

The putative class in the West Virginia action comprises certain
entities within the State of West Virginia that purchased products
containing high fructose corn syrup and/or citric acid for resale from
at least 1992 until 1994. This action was filed on October 26, 1995, in
the Circuit Court for Boone County, West Virginia, and is encaptioned
Freda's v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No. 95-C-
125.


ARCHER DANIELS: Faces CA Antitrust Suit Re Syrup, Citric Acid & Lysine
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Company, along with other companies, has been named as a defendant
in six putative class action antitrust suits filed in California state
court involving the sale of high fructose corn syrup, citric acid and/or
lysine. These actions allege violations of the California antitrust and
unfair competition laws, including allegations that the defendants
agreed to fix, stabilize and maintain at artificially high levels the
prices of high fructose corn syrup, citric acid and/or lysine, and seek
treble damages of an unspecified amount, attorneys fees and costs,
restitution and other unspecified relief.

One of the putative classes comprises certain direct purchasers of high
fructose corn syrup, citric acid and/or lysine in the State of
California during a certain period in the 1990s. This action was filed
on December 18, 1995 in the Superior Court for Stanislaus County,
California and is encaptioned Nu Laid Foods, Inc. v.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil Action No. 39693.

The other five putative classes comprise certain indirect purchasers of
high fructose corn syrup, citric acid and/or lysine in the State of
California during certain periods in the 1990s. One such action was
filed on December 14, 1995 in the Superior Court for Stanislaus County,
California and is encaptioned Batson v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et
al., Civil Action No. 39680.

The other actions are encaptioned Nu Laid Foods, Inc. v. Archer Daniels
Midland Co., et al., No 39693 (Filed on December 18, 1995, Stanislaus
County Superior Court); Abbott v. Archer Daniels Midland Co., et al.,
No. 41014 (Filed on December 21, 1995, Stanislaus County Superior
Court); Noldin v. Archer Daniels Midland Co., et al., No. 41015 (Filed
on December 21, 1995, Stanislaus County Superior Court); Guzman v.
Archer Daniels Midland Co., et al., No. 41013 (Filed on December 21,
1995, Stanislaus County Superior Court) and Ricci v. Archer Daniels
Midland Co., et al., No. 96-AS-00383 (Filed on February 6, 1996,
Sacramento County Superior Court). The plaintiffs in these actions and
the lysine defendants have executed a settlement agreement that has been
approved by the court and the California Judicial Council has bifurcated
the citric acid and high fructose corn syrup claims and coordinated them
with other actions in San Francisco County Superior Court and Stanislaus
County Superior Court.


ARCHER DANIELS: MDL On Sodium Gluconate Has Been Transferred To CA
------------------------------------------------------------------
The Company, along with other companies, has been named as a defendant
in three federal antitrust class actions involving the sale of sodium
gluconate. These actions allege violations of federal antitrust laws,
including allegations that the defendants agreed to fix, raise and
maintain at artificially high levels the prices of sodium gluconate, and
seek various relief, including treble damages of an unspecified amount,
attorneys fees and costs, and other unspecified relief.

The putative classes in these cases comprise certain direct purchasers
of sodium gluconate during periods in the 1990s. One such action was
filed on December 2, 1997, in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California and is encaptioned Chemical
Distribution, Inc, v. Akzo Nobel Chemicals BV, et al., No. C -97-4141
(CW).

The second action was filed on December 31, 1997, in the United States
District Court for the District of Massachusetts and is encaptioned
Stetson Chemicals, Inc. v. Akzo Nobel Chemicals BV, 97-CV-1285 RCL. The
third action, which was amended on February 12, 1998 to name the Company
as a defendant, was filed in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois.

On April 9, 1998, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
transferred all three sodium gluconate actions to the United States
District Court for the Northern District of California for coordinated
or consolidated pretrial proceedings. On October 29, 1998, the Company
executed a Settlement Agreement with counsel for the plaintiff class in
which, among other things, the Company agreed to pay $69,600 to the
plaintiff class. On May 28, 1999, the court granted final approval of
the settlement and dismissed the action.


ARCHER DANIELS: Sued In Columbia Over Syrup & Citric Acid Price-Fixing
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Company, along with other companies, also has been named as a
defendant in a putative class action antitrust suit filed in the
Superior Court for the District of Columbia involving the sale of high
fructose corn syrup and citric acid. This action alleges violations of
the District of Columbia antitrust laws, including allegations that the
defendants agreed to fix, stabilize and maintain at artificially high
levels the prices of high fructose corn syrup and citric acid, and seeks
treble damages of an unspecified amount, attorneys fees and costs, and
other unspecified relief.

The putative class in the District of Columbia action comprises certain
persons within the District of Columbia that purchased products
containing high fructose corn syrup and/or citric acid during the period
January 1, 1992 through December 31, 1994. This action was filed on
April 12, 1996 in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, and
is encaptioned Holder v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., et al., Civil
Action No. 96-2975. On November 13, 1998, plaintiff's motion for class
certification was granted.


ARCHER DANIELS: Under Govt Investigations Amid Class Antitrust Suits
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Federal grand juries in the Northern Districts of Illinois, California
and Georgia, under the direction of the United States Department of
Justice ("DOJ"), have been investigating possible violations by the
Company and others with respect to the sale of lysine, citric acid and
high fructose corn syrup, respectively. In connection with an agreement
with the DOJ in fiscal 1997, the Company paid the United States fines of
$100 million. This agreement constitutes a global resolution of all
matters between the DOJ and the Company and brought to a close all DOJ
investigations of the Company. The federal grand juries in the Northern
Districts of Illinois (lysine) and Georgia (high fructose corn syrup)
have been closed.

The Company has received notice that certain foreign governmental
entities were commencing investigations to determine whether
anticompetitive practices occurred in their jurisdictions. Except for
the investigations being conducted by the Commission of the European
Communities and the Mexican Federal Competition Commission as described
below, all such matters have been resolved as previously reported.

In June 1997, the Company and several of its European subsidiaries were
notified that the Commission of the European Communities had initiated
an investigation as to possible anticompetitive practices in the amino
acid markets, in particular the lysine market, in the European Union. On
October 29, 1998, the Commission of the European Communities initiated
formal proceedings against the Company and others and adopted a
Statement of Objections. The reply of the Company was filed on February
1, 1999 and the hearing was held on March 1, 1999. On August 8, 1999,
the Commission of the European Communities adopted a supplementary
Statement of Objections expanding the period of involvement as to
certain other companies. In September 1997, the Company received a
request for information from the Commission of the European Communities
with respect to an investigation being conducted by that Commission into
the possible existence of certain agreements and/or concerted practices
in the citric acid market in the European Union. In November 1998, a
European subsidiary of the Company received a request for information
from the Commission of the European Communities with respect to an
investigation being conducted by that Commission into the possible
existence of certain agreements and/or concerted practices in the sodium
gluconate market in the European Union.

On February 11, 1999 a Mexican subsidiary of the Company was notified
that the Mexican Federal Competition Commission had initiated an
investigation as to possible anticompetitive practices in the citric
acid market in Mexico. The ultimate outcome and materiality of the
proceedings of the Commission of the European Communities cannot
presently be determined. The Company may become the subject of similar
antitrust investigations conducted by the applicable regulatory
authorities of other countries.


AUTO INSURANCE: Journal Says State Farm Verdict Shows Need For New Law
----------------------------------------------------------------------
BODY: An Illinois jury's $ 456 million verdict over State Farm's use of
questionable auto parts shows the need for legislation that would bump
national class-action lawsuits to federal court, industry experts said
Tuesday.

''Here we have a judge and jury in Illinois essentially making policy
for the entire United States. This is the kind of case that belongs in
the federal court,'' said J.V. Schwan, counsel for the Civil Justice
Reform Campaign of Citizens for a Sound Economy, which seeks less
government involvement in business.

While the attorneys who brought the lawsuit against State Farm contend a
state court was the correct forum for the case against the
Illinois-based insurer, industry experts say the verdict runs counter to
rules and laws in many states authorizing insurers to use ''aftermarket
parts.''

''What's particularly objectionable in this case is that this is a
practice that state insurance regulators have examined time and again
and have permitted to be followed,'' said Ann Spragens, general counsel
and senior vice president for the Alliance of American Insurers.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected State Farm's argument that
certification of the national class violated the company's due-process
rights by allowing Illinois law to be used to judge claims from states
whose laws allow use of aftermarket parts.

Congress is considering a bill that would grant federal courts
jurisdiction in cases where any member of a proposed class resides in a
different state than any defendant. The legislation would require that
large cases be filed in federal court, preventing trial lawyers from
filing in courts likely to approve large awards.

Sherman Joyce, president of the American Tort Reform Association, said
allowing juries from one state to reach into another is unfair.

''It sends a very, very troubling message to businesses, to anybody who
is involved in commercial activities throughout the country, that they
could be adhering to the letter of the law in a particular state and
then find that they are subject to a class-action lawsuit,'' he said.

IIllinois was an appropriate forum for the State Farm lawsuit because
the contracts the company was alleged to have breached originated at the
company's Bloomington headquarters, said Trish Littleton, a plaintiffs'
attorney.

The jury's award designated $ 456 million to compensate the 4.7 million
current and former State Farm policyholders who had aftermarket parts
included on repair orders since July 1987. (The Atlanta Journal and
Constitution 10-6-1999)


AUTO INSURANCE: Reporting On State Farm Decision Said To Be Misleading
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The recent decision against State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.
in a class action lawsuit in Illinois was not about all automotive
aftermarket parts, as was widely reported, but about a small segment of
the aftermarket parts business. Sheet metal parts, the focus of the
lawsuit, are used for exterior repairs on vehicles. The aftermarket
parts industry generates $264 billion annually. Sheet metal parts
represent only 1.8 percent of the aftermarket and are typically sold
through body shops.

"The casual reference to 'aftermarket parts' in the recent Illinois
legal decision against State Farm infers that other aftermarket products
and services, such as under-the-hood repair parts, are guilty by
association, which is not true," said Gene Gardner, Automotive
Aftermarket Industry Association president. "On the contrary, most parts
purchased for cars used in auto racing are aftermarket parts, because of
their reputation for quality, innovation and durability."

Many original equipment (OE) replacement parts sold through car
dealerships and to independent repair facilities are produced by
independent parts manufacturers -- not car companies -- that market
those same products under their own brands in the aftermarket. In
addition, a significant number of aftermarket parts manufacturers have
long-established reputations for their innovative engineering
improvements over the parts used to build the OE manufacturer's typical
new car.

The lawsuit was brought by auto insurance policyholders against State
Farm, the nation's largest insurer. Policyholders claimed that State
Farm used inferior aftermarket sheet metal parts instead of more
expensive OE parts without informing the insureds. An Illinois jury
found that State Farm failed to perform its contractual obligations with
insured motorists and awarded the plaintiffs approximately $456 million
in compensatory damages. Punitive damages will be determined separately,
and would be in addition to this amount.

The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) is a Bethesda,
Md.- based association whose member companies manufacture, distribute
and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, tools, equipment, materials
and supplies. The organization is comprised of manufacturers,
distributors, jobbers, wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers'
representatives, and other companies doing business in the automotive
aftermarket. AAIA formerly served the automotive aftermarket as ASIA and
APAA. SOURCE Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association


AUTO INSURANCE: State Farm To Pay $456 Mil For Substandard Repair Parts
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A jury ordered the nation's largest auto insurer to pay $456 million for
allegedly cheating customers by ordering body shops to use substandard
repair parts.

Lawyers for State Farm policyholders complaining about ''aftermarket
parts'' had asked for more than $5.4 billion in damages in the
class-action lawsuit. A decision on parts of the suit was still pending.

The lawsuit, which went to the jury on Wednesday, accused the State Farm
Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., based in Bloomington, of breaching its
contract with policyholders to restore their cars to their pre-accident
condition.

Jurors decided that claim, while two consumer fraud counts accusing
State Farm of deceiving customers were to be decided by Williamson
County Circuit Judge John Speroni. Speroni was expected to rule within
the next few days.

Plaintiffs had sought $1.4 billion on the breach of contract claim
decided today and about $4 billion on the other counts.

The lawsuit involved parts such as door panels, hoods and fenders,
modeled on original parts produced by automakers but made without
benefit of the original specifications. About 15 percent of all
crash-repair parts used last year were aftermarket replacements,
according to insurance and auto-body repair groups.

Critics claim such parts fail to provide the same fit, finish, corrosion
protection and, in some cases, safety as the more expensive parts made
for automakers.

Industry analysts and some consumer advocates have said a large verdict
against State Farm could reduce the use of aftermarket parts in the
auto-repair business and drive up the price of crash repairs. During
trial, State Farm lawyers said the use of aftermarket parts saved
policyholders more than $233 million in premiums in 1998. The lawsuit
combines the potential claims of 4.7 million current and former State
Farm policyholders. (AP Online 10-4-1999)


COLEMAN CO: Wins Appeals Case; Can Keep Pension Assets When Plan Ended
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Coleman Co., a consumer-products maker partially owned by Sunbeam Corp.,
won't have to give up $ 13.9 million in surplus pension assets claimed
by former employees when Coleman ended the plan in 1989.

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday rejected an appeal by the employees, who
said they and 4,900 other workers were entitled to the surplus because
the plan didn't specifically say the money belonged to the company.

The case had drawn attention because a federal trial judge in 1997 said
the workers were entitled to the money. A federal appeals court later
overturned that ruling. Had the latest appeal succeeded, other companies
could have faced similar claims. Hvide has bankruptcy plan

Hvide Marine Inc., said it expects to emerge from bankruptcy by early
next year under a plan that would allow it to convert about $ 433
million of debt into stock.

The plan, filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, would cut
Hvide's debt by more than half.

Fort Lauderdale-based Hvide, which has 276 ships, voluntarily filed for
Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors on Sept. 8. The company
said it must refinance its bank loans before it can complete the plan.
The bankruptcy court has scheduled a Nov. 2 hearing on the proposal.

Under the plan, holders of trust convertible preferred securities would
receive 200,000 common shares of the reorganized company, and warrants
to buy 125,000 more. Holders of common stock would get warrants for
125,000 shares. The warrants, good for four years, could be exercised at
$ 38.49 a share. Bias suit targets Cracker Barrel

The NAACP and one of Atlanta's leading civil-rights firms is expected
today to announce the filing of a class-action race discrimination
lawsuit against the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, a nationwide chain
of restaurants.

The lawsuit alleges "egregious discrimination against African-American
employees on the basis of race" in the areas of hiring, firing, pay,
promotion and conditions of employment. On July 30, a lawsuit was filed
in Rome, Ga., against Cracker Barrel alleging racial discrimination in
employment.

Cracker Barrel is denying the allegations. "Cracker Barrel has not and
will not tolerate any form of known unlawful discrimination," said a
company statement also issued on Monday. Cracker Barrel has 408
restaurants nationwide, including in Boynton Beach, Deerfield Beach,
Pembroke Pines and West Palm Beach. Crowley to rename line

Crowley Maritime Corp. said that after the sale of its South America
liner services to Hamburg Sud it will operate its remaining Caribbean
and Latin American services under a new name, Crowley Liner Services
Inc. The Jacksonville-based company employs 280 workers at Port
Everglades and 90 in Miami. Earnings news hurts Pediatrix

Shares of Pediatrix Medical Group Inc. fell 27 percent to a three-year
low after the manager of pediatrician offices said its third-quarter
earnings would miss expectations.

Shares of Fort Lauderdale-based Pediatrix, which manages medical offices
in 25 states and Puerto Rico, fell $ 3.69 to $ 9.88.

Pediatrix said it expected earnings to drop from $ 4.7 million, or 30
cents a share, to $ 5.2 million, or 33 cents, for the quarter. Pediatrix
blamed lower revenue per patient for the shortfall, saying patients were
less seriously ill this quarter than a year earlier. Treasury rates rise

Interest rates on short-term Treasury securities rose in Monday's
auction.

The Treasury Department sold $ 8.5 billion in three-month bills at a
discount rate of 4.730 percent, up from 4.720 percent last week. An
additional $ 7.5 billion was sold in six-month bills at a rate of 4.870
percent, up from 4.810 percent.

The new discount rates understate the actual return to investors, 4.869
percent for three-month bills with a $ 10,000 bill selling for $
9,880.40 and 5.076 percent for a six-month bill selling for $ 9,753.80.
(Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) 10-5-1999)


FLORIDA STATE: Suit Says State Unlawfully Cuts Medical Assistance
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Three years after welfare reform began in Florida, an alarm is sounding
for about 1,000 families who have received a monthly government check
since October 1996.

When Florida's law took effect, more than 152,000 poor families - most
headed by single mothers - received cash assistance from the government.
Most were told they could get checks for just another two years. People
with little work experience got an extra year against their four-year
lifetime limit.

That time is running out. But officials say the image often conjured in
early debate talk about needy people being forced off a financial cliff
when their government benefits end has not materialized.

Most families have left welfare before reaching their deadline,
including those who got three-year limits that end today and after. In
July, the state caseload was down to fewer than 39,000 families,
according to Florida's welfare reform program, Work and Gain Economic
Self-Sufficiency.

The cases of those facing deadlines are reviewed by local welfare reform
coalitions, which can grant extensions as they did last year when the
first two-year deadline arrived.

As a result, many people have been walking down a slope rather than
going over the edge. But they have not had an easy time of it, and
others at the edge of the precipice don't understand how they got there.

More than half the Florida families slated to lose cash benefits live in
Miami-Dade County. Daniella Levine, executive director of the Human
Services Coalition of Miami-Dade, mentioned a study done by her group of
people moving from welfare to work.

"What we found was that across the board every single one of these
families was experiencing severe hardship," she said. "They were not
able to pay rent, they were not able to put food on the table, they were
unable to pay utility bills. "They're having periods of homelessness,
then they recoup. It's putting a tremendous stress on already stressed
families."

Aiysha Hepburn lost Medicaid coverage for herself and her 2-year-old
daughter, Kaycie, after her income rose too high. Families moving from
cash assistance to jobs qualify for Medicaid for at least six months.

Ms. Hepburn, who lives in Miami, joined a class-action lawsuit accusing
the state of unlawfully cutting off her medical assistance.

Several weeks ago, a letter arrived stating Kaycie's benefits had been
restored, but Ms. Hepburn wouldn't be eligible for Medicaid until she
spent $ 700 out of pocket on medical costs. The 21-year-old single mom
presently earns about $ 1,000 a month as a customer service
representative, more than she was making when her Medicaid was cut, but
she has no medical benefits at work. "Basically that means I'd have to
go into the emergency room every time" she needed a doctor, she said.
Ms. Hepburn wants to go back to school and move out of her mother's
home. But transportation and child care are problems. Her mother carries
Kaycie to day care while Hepburn makes the hourlong bus trip to work.
"It's about time that I started picking up the slack and I can't because
I have to catch the bus and there's just not enough time in the day for
all that," she said.

She's been unable to buy a car. "Of course I have bad credit because I
didn't have that much money and things happened," she said. While Kaycie
was off Medicaid, Ms. Hepburn said she had to borrow from friends to pay
for her daughter's prescriptions, which ran $ 30 to $ 50.

In Miami-Dade, many people uncertain about welfare requirements or with
troubles after leaving assistance are calling Switchboard of Miami. The
multi-service nonprofit organization runs a 24-hour helpline, which is
getting an increasing number of calls - up now to 140,000 annually, said
assistant executive director Gigi Laudisio. (Press Journal (Vero Beach,
FL) 10-1-1999)


GENERAL CHEMICAL: NJ Company Settles For Cryptosporidium Outbreak
-----------------------------------------------------------------
A chemical company has reached a settlement with plaintiffs in lawsuits
arising from a 1993 cryptosporidiosis outbreak linked with the city
water supply. General Chemical Corp. of Parsippany, N.J., and its
insurer have agreed to pay $ 1.5 million to the plaintiffs and their
lawyers.

The company was accused of selling the city a defective chemical for use
in the water treatment process. The company has denied the chemical was
defective.

"I think it's a fair and reasonable settlement for both sides," said
Michael Pollack, attorney for a number of the plaintiffs. "I'm going to
recommend it to my clients." If the Circuit Court approves the
settlement, the City of Milwaukee will be the only defendant left in the
lawsuits.

The claims stem from the 1993 discovery that cryptosporidia were loose
in the city's treated water. The microbes, commonly found in livestock
intestines, evidently got past treatment plant filters, health officials
said. Cryptosporidiosis, which causes flu-like symptoms, was blamed for
causing about 100 deaths, most involving people with AIDS, and sickening
more than 400,000 people.

The City of Milwaukee has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuits, said
deputy city attorney Rudolph Konrad. Both the settlement agreement and
the motion to dismiss will go before the court for approval on Oct. 19.
(The Associated Press 10-5-1999)


GUN MANUFACTURER: Seeks Costs For Gunshot Victims Suits From Insurers
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Baltimore gun maker Beretta U.S.A. Corp. has sued two insurers, seeking
coverage for suits brought against it by municipalities.

The suit, filed in federal court in Maryland, seeks a declaratory
judgment requiring the insurers, Federal Insurance Co. and Great
Northern Insurance Co., to cover the $150,000 already spent in defense
costs, all future defense costs and indemnification for any future
damage awards. The gun maker also seeks compensatory damages from the
insurers, both units of Warren, N.J.-based Chubb Corp., by claiming they
breached the insurance contracts by not providing defense costs to date.

The suit states that Beretta is a defendant in 13 suits brought by
municipal governments to recover costs of treating gunshot victims.
Numerous other gun makers besides Beretta have been named as defendants
in those suits. The first such suit was filed last October by the city
of New Orleans (BI, Nov. 9, 1998).

Beretta's attorney, Finley Harckham of Anderson Kill & Olick P.C. in New
York, said the suit was brought after the insurers denied claims filed
by Beretta. The insurers cited a products liability exclusion in the
policies, Mr. Harckham said. But, he countered, the municipal suits are
based on a theory of negligent marketing and distribution putting the
suits outside the scope of the exclusion.

A Chubb spokeswoman said the company would have no comment. (Business
Insurance 9-27-1999)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Companies Expected To Offer $4.5 Bil
--------------------------------------------------------------
Negotiators representing 16 German companies are expected to offer more
than $ 4.5bn in compensation for their use of wartime slave and forced
labour, in an attempt to settle a series of US class action lawsuits.

The offer from the German companies is the first time they have placed a
figure on what they are prepared to pay, and it includes a contribution
from the German government.

The figure is higher than initial German expectations of a settlement in
the region of $ 1bn, but remains substantially lower than proposals from
US class action lawyers who have claimed more than $ 20bn.

Lawyers representing Holocaust victims yesterday threatened to walk out
of compensation talks, which start today in Washington, if they received
"a paltry offer" from the German companies.

The compensation talks, to be held at the US State Department, have
reached a critical point as they broach the sensitive issue of financial
sums. Negotiators from both sides have threatened to withdraw if no
progress is made this week in the settlement process, which is being
brokered by Stuart Eizenstat, deputy US Treasury secretary.

The victims' lawyers, alongside Jewish and Polish groups, said yesterday
they would target three companies with advertising campaigns to press
them to settle the compensation talks without further delay.

The advertisements name the DaimlerChrysler and Ford, as well as Bayer,
the pharmaceutical giant, for their use of forced and slave labour.

Melvyn Weiss, the leading lawyer representing the forced and slave
labourers, said he had won support at the state and federal level to
introduce legislation to allow class action lawsuits to go ahead in case
the talks collapse.

However the German companies vigorously dispute estimates from the
victims' lawyers that some 2.3m forced and slave labourers remain alive
today, claiming instead that the figure is around 1m.

The number of survivors is of crucial importance to the size of the
final settlement, as compensation is calculated per survivor, in
addition to funds for the heirs of those who have died and community
groups in general.

The discussions have already moved towards a series of compromises,
including an agreement to pay survivors in eastern Europe similar sums
to their counterparts in the west. The German companies have also agreed
to pay compensation on behalf of companies which no longer exist.

But they failed to meet a German government deadline of resolving the
compensation discussions by September, to mark the 60th anniversary of
Hitler's invasion of Poland.

In an indication of the increasing frustration on the victims' side, Mr
Weiss said he was no longer prepared to discuss how to resolve the
lawsuits without a serious offer of compensation from the companies.

He said: "We are not going to sit through any more preliminary meetings
on legal closure or anything else, if they won't step up to the plate
and start negotiating - not with a take-it-or-leave-it offer or with a
pittance, but with a realistic offer that is reflective of their ability
to pay. Otherwise we are going to walk away from these meetings, because
we will read their offers as them walking away from these meetings."

The talks in Washington are expected to conclude today. (Financial Times
(London) 10-6-1999)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Pressure Mounts On Germans To Reach Quick Agreement
----------------------------------------------------------------------
As months of talks over creating a fund to compensate Nazi-era slave
laborers boil down to the crucial issue of money, leading politicians
pressured German businesses Tuesday to avoid embarrassing haggling and
reach a quick agreement.

Former federal justice minister Hans-Jochen Vogel, an elder statesman of
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democratic party, said businesses
could legally delay the payments for years.

''But now the aspect of showing humanity toward your fellow man stands
front and center,'' he said at a news conference one day before
negotiations resume in Washington. The planned compensation fund is
needed ''not to preserve a guilt complex or celebrate some ritual of
dismay,'' he said, but to educate coming generations about Nazi crimes.

Greens party legal expert Volker Beck said the fund should cover not
only those forced to work for German businesses, but those on farms and
in towns as well.

The German government's envoy, Otto Lambsdorff, also warned Tuesday that
the failure of the talks could damage relations with the United States,
pointing to an advertising campaign by a Jewish group that began this
week in U.S. newspapers against German firms.

The calls for progress comes as Germany, led for the first time by a
chancellor too young to remember World War II, increasingly tries to
move beyond its dark past and toward a more ''normal'' future in Europe.

Schroeder had proposed the fund a year ago for overlooked Nazi victims
with the hope that payments could begin Sept. 1 the 60th anniversary of
the start of World War II.

But the date passed with negotiators for German businesses and groups
representing Jewish and eastern European victims still embarrassingly
far apart. Schroeder's spokesman said Monday the chancellor hoped
payments could begin next year.

One of the leading class-action lawyers involved in the talks, Edward
Fagan of New York, demanded the German side come up with at least 10
billion marks (dlrs 5.5 billion/5 billion euros) if it wanted to keep
talking.

He also defended his demand for more than 20 billion marks (dlrs 11
billion/10 billion euros), saying that would amount to less than 10,000
marks (dlrs 5,400) for each of the 2.3 million eligible for
compensation.

German estimates, however, place the number of eligible survivors at
around 1 million.

Lambsdorff refused to comment Tuesday on how much the offer would be,
telling German radio only that ''20 billion (marks) is absurd'' and the
1.8 billion marks (dlrs 1 billion/906 million euros) initially offered
by German industry ''too little.''

The issue shows how World War II issues continue to play a major role in
Germany's relations with the outside world, even as it celebrates 50
years of democracy this year and the federal government's return to its
historic capital of Berlin.

Making matters worse are the neo-Nazi stirrings that continue to plague
the country.

The worst attack on a Jewish cemetery in a decade was front-page news
Tuesday and police said they had not ruled out neo-Nazis as the
perpetrators. The same day cemetery workers found the 103 overturned
graves, newly painted swastikas were found on a memorial to Berlin Jews
killed in the Holocaust.

Andreas Nachama, chairman of Berlin's Jewish community, called on police
to come up with a plan to protect the Weissensee cemetery the largest
Jewish burial ground in Europe, with 115,000 graves.

Otherwise, he said, attacks will continue and ''Berlin, Germany and even
we Jews here will fall into disrepute in the whole world.''

Raising the political temperature further were comments from a leading
conservative leader, Bavarian Gov. Edmond Stoiber, who suggested to his
Austrian counterparts they work out a coalition with a far-right party
that apparently finished second in elections there on Sunday.

Jewish leaders attacked Stoiber for suggesting cooperation with what
one, Michel Friedman, termed ''the party of the racist Joerg Haider,''
leader of the far-right Freedom Party. Other conservatives distanced
themselves from Stoiber as well.

Stoiber stood by his unsolicited advice, saying continuing the ''grand
coalition'' of main left and right parties that has led Austria since
1986 would leave voters frustrated and only strengthen fringe parties.

A prominent Jewish leader urged negotiators gathering in Washington on
Wednesday to reach a quick agreement on the amount of a proposed
compensation fund for Nazi-era slave laborers.

''It is no long five before 12 p.m., it is already 12 p.m.,'' Michel
Friedman, a board member of the Central Council of German Jews, was
quoted as saying in Wednesday's edition of the Saarbruecker Zeitung.
''Every additional negotiating day is a day less for the victims.''

German negotiators have promised to make an offer for the fund during
the opening day of talks Wednesday, but they refused to say more than it
would be ''considerable billions.'' Chief German negotiator Otto
Lamsdorff told Deutschland Radio that demands for 20 billion marks ($ 11
billion) ''were absurd.''

Under pressure from U.S. class-action lawsuits, 16 German companies have
agreed to launch a fund to compensate people forced to labor for them
during the Nazi era. The talks, however, have stalled on the size of the
fund. Also in dispute is the number of people who will be eligible for
compensation.

U.S. and German negotiators are chairing the two-day session, which
bring together German industry representatives, lawyers for the victims,
Jewish organizations as well as the governments of Israel and some
central European countries.

Friedman called the ongoing talks so far ''an unbearable piece of
theater.'' ''It must be clear that this is not about compensation or a
favor, but about the clear claim that the victims have to payment and
damages for damage to their health,'' Friedman said. (AP Worldstream
10-5-1999 & 10-6-1999)


HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Stall Tactics Charged Over Holocaust Legal Claims
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Attorneys representing Nazi-era slave laborers accused German firms of
stalling on holocaust-related legal claims, delaying a settlement in
hopes more of the elderly claimants will die before they can collect.

The charge, lodged against some of the best-known names in German
industry, came on the eve of two days of what are expected to be
difficult talks in Washington to settle claims that millions of workers
across Europe were forcibly drafted into Hitler's industrial war
machine.

"Soon there will be no one alive to apologize to," said New York
attorney Mel Weiss at a Washington press conference yesterday. He is one
of several lawyers who have filed class-action suits against the German
companies. "The biological solution - to stall and stall and stall - is
no solution at all," he said.

The German firms, including such well-known corporate names as
DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen, Bayer and Deutsche Bank, are anxious to
settle billions of dollars in claims from inmates forced to work in
concentration camps as well as ordinary workers in Eastern Europe who
were ordered to fill vacant factory slots before and during World War
II.

Swiss banks, facing similar legal claims over the accounts of holocaust
victims in their vaults, last year agreed to establish a $1.25 billion
fund to repay victims and their families.

In addition, holocaust-related legal claims have been filed against
European insurers, banks, and museums over insurance claims, stolen
property and money, and looted art.

The German companies, aided by German government representative Count
Otto Lambsdorff, are pushing for an overall settlement to provide legal
protection against multiplying class-action lawsuits filed over the past
18 months both in the United States and Germany.

Estimates on how many surviving victims were forced into Nazi slave and
labor camps range from 600,000 to 2.3 million. Slave laborers - those
forced to work in concentration camps for no pay - stand to get more
under any settlement than those merely forced to work for German
companies, often in lands captured by the Nazis in central and Eastern
Europe.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart Eizenstat will participate in the two
days of negotiations beginning today. State Department spokesman James
P. Rubin said the U.S. official role in the talks will be as a
"facilitator."

In addition, representatives of the governments of Poland, the Czech
Republic, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Israel, where many of the slave
and forced laborers lived or now live, will take part.

German sources said Mr. Lambsdorff, a former finance minister, is
prepared to offer a final global settlement of about $4 billion, a third
of which would be paid by the German government. Attorneys and elderly
former camp workers at the press conference on October 5 called that
offer far too low.

Mr. Weiss said the total settlement would be in excess of $20 billion.
"We are not going to accept peanuts but want to negotiate something fair
and credible," added Bob Swift, another of the plaintiffs' attorneys.
"We have a moral imperative to do it because of the age of the
survivors."

The German companies and the German government face a difficult
public-relations task. Many of the companies have already set up funds
to make reparations for Nazi-era labor abuses and they reject legal
claims made in U.S. courts for further payment.

But they also agreed early on to provide some kind of compensation to
elderly victims of the Nazis. The forced labor issue has complicated a
number of international business deals, including Deutsche Bank's 1998
takeover of New York-based Bankers Trust.

Steven Whinston, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, said the treaty
reunifying Germany in 1991 opened the way to seek reparations against
the German firms. He said the legal action did not set a precedent for
other reparations lawsuits, including one by descendants of American
slaves seeking restitution from the U.S. government.

"Slavery was acknowledged in the U.S. Constitution and was recognized as
a legitimate enterprise," he said. "Nobody can argue that the holocaust
or the use of slave labor was in any way legitimate under international
law." (The Washington Times 10-6-1999)


MCDONALD'S CORP: Australian Unit Fights Prize Claims
----------------------------------------------------
The Australian subsidiary of fast food giant McDonald's Corp challenged
on Tuesday a class action brought after 6,000 customers claimed to have
won significant prizes in a promotional competition.

Four claimants told the Brisbane Federal Court they should have won
prizes ranging from a camcorder to a car because they collected winning
stickers attached to food packaging between June 4 and August 5 this
year.

McDonald's Australia Ltd, 90 percent owned by McDonald's Corp, says the
claimants used stickers issued in 1998 for a similar competition run
that year.

McDonald's denies it erroneously re-issued 1998 stickers this year.
"It's a curiousity of this case that the applicants say they couldn't
possibly have got their tickets last year while McDonald's say they
couldn't possibly have made a mistake issuing the tickets," Justice John
Dowsett told the court.

The game was played by pasting stickers onto a McDonald's tray map. The
promotion advertised A$20 million (US$13 million) in prizes including
cars, trips to Disneyland in the United States, televisions and toy
vouchers.

Lawyers presenting the class action have told the court that some 1,100
customers claim to have won one of four cars on offer. The cars are
worth about A$30,000 each.

Barrister Murray Tobias for McDonald's told the court on Tuesday that
McDonald's had issued only four winning stamps in 1999 to account for
the four prize vehicles.

He questioned the claimants about how they could be sure they had
collected their stickers in 1999 rather than last year.

The claimants were the first of 35 from around Australia who were due to
give evidence and the court hearing was scheduled to continue for
another 11 days. (Reuters 10-5-1999)


METABOLIFE INT'L: Sued In CA Over Ephedrine Warnings On Diet Supplement
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A class action lawsuit has been filed in California against the makers
of an appetite suppressant that contains a supplement allegedly linked
to injuries and several deaths over the past five years (Yolanda Perez,
et al. v. Metabolife International, Inc., et al., No. 733138, Calif.
Super., San Diego Co.).

The complaint was filed Aug. 3 in San Diego County Superior Court
allegedly in an attempt to "disgorge" supplement manufacturer Metabolife
International Inc. of the "ill-gotten" profits it has received from the
sale of its diet drug products. (Text of Complaint in Section A.
Mealey's Document # 35-990812-005.)

According to the complaint, Metabolife International has failed in its
marketing of the product Metabolife 356 to adequately identify the
dangers associated with one of its ingredients, ephedrine.

The complaint alleges that despite being aware of several adverse events
linked by the FDA to ephedrine ingestion, Metabolife International
failed to conduct clinical testing of its diet drugs and neglected to
publish precautionary statements warning consumers of possible adverse
reactions to the supplement.

"Had consumers been adequately warned that the diet drug products could
lead to such permanent and life-threatening side effects, many if not
all would have chosen not to purchase these appetite suppressants, and
therefore such consumers' exposure to the dangerous diet drugs, as well
as other damages referred to herein, could have been avoided
completely," the complaint said.

                          'Natural' Sources

Many of the dietary supplements, including Metabolife 356, contain
botanical, so-called "natural" sources of ephedrine such as Ma huang and
ephedra, the complaint says.

However, many of these sources have also been blamed for hundreds of
reactions, ranging from nervousness to death, since the FDA warned
consumers of possible ephedrine-related dangers in 1994, according to
the lawsuit.

"In order to have the requisite information to make an informed decision
whether to take this medication for weight loss purposes, consumers
should have been informed by defendants of the extremely dangerous and
sometimes lethal effects of these diet drug products when used either
individually or in combination," the complaint says.

The putative class consists of California residents who claim Metabolife
International failed to disclose the risk of injury associated with the
product and that, as a result, they suffered injuries after taking the
product.

The class is seeking punitive damages and damages for out-of-pocket
expenses incurred by the sale of Metabolife 356.

"The members of the class seek an order of this Court requiring
defendants to disgorge all ill-gotten gains and awarding plaintiff and
the members of the class full restitution of all monies wrongfully
acquired by the defendants," the complaint says.

Additionally, the class has suggested injunctive relief that would
require the manufacturer to provide continuously updated product
warnings to Metabolife 356 users and consumers taking other diet drugs
that contain ephedrine.

The plaintiffs are represented by James C. Krause and Patrick N. Keegan
of Krause & Kalfayan in San Diego and James P. Frantz of Frantz & Geraci
of San Diego. (Mealey's Emerging Drugs & Devices 8-20-1999)


P COM: CA Securities Fraud Suits Voluntarily Dismissed
------------------------------------------------------
On November 13, 1998, a putative class action complaint was filed in the
United States District Court, Northern District of California, by Robert
Schmidt on behalf of himself and other P-Com stockholders who purchased
or otherwise acquired its Common Stock between April 15, 1997 and
September 11, 1998. The plaintiff alleged violations of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 by P-Com and certain of its officers and directors.
The complaint sought unquantified compensatory damages, attorneys' fees
and injunctive and/or equitable relief. On January 26, 1999, the
plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the Schmidt action. The court entered an
order dismissing the action without prejudice on January 29, 1999.

On December 3, 1998, a putative class action complaint was filed in the
United States District Court, Northern District of California, by Robert
Dwyer on behalf of himself and other P-Com stockholders who purchased or
otherwise acquired its Common Stock between April 15, 1997 and September
11, 1998. The plaintiff alleged violations of the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934 by P-Com and certain of its officers and directors. The
complaint sought unquantified compensatory damages, attorneys' fees and
injunctive and/or equitable relief. On December 22, 1998 and February 2,
1999, the plaintiff sought to voluntarily dismiss this action. On
February 11, 1999, the court entered an order dismissing the action
without prejudice.


P COM: Files Demurrer To CA State Securities Fraud Suits
--------------------------------------------------------
On September 23, 1998, a putative class action complaint was filed in
the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, by Leonard
Vernon and Gayle M. Wing on behalf of themselves and other P-Com
stockholders who purchased or otherwise acquired its Common Stock
between April 15, 1997 and September 11, 1998. The plaintiffs allege
various state securities laws violations by P-Com and certain of its
officers and directors. The complaint seeks unquantified compensatory,
punitive and other damages, attorneys' fees and injunctive and/or
equitable relief.

On October 16, 1998, a putative class action complaint was filed in the
Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, by Terry Sommer on
behalf of herself and other P-Com stockholders who purchased or
otherwise acquired its Common Stock between April 1, 1998 and September
11, 1998. The plaintiff alleges various state securities laws violations
P-Com and certain of its officers. The complaint seeks unquantified
compensatory and other damages, attorneys' fees and injunctive and/or
equitable relief.

On October 20, 1998, a putative class action complaint was filed in the
Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, by Leo Rubin on
behalf of himself and other stockholders who purchased or otherwise
acquired its Common Stock between April 15, 1997 and September 11, 1998.
This complaint is identical in all relevant respects to that filed on
September 23, 1998, which is described above, other than the fact that
the plaintiffs are different.

On October 26, 1998, a putative class action complaint was filed in the
Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, by Betty B.
Hoigaard and Steve Pomex on behalf of themselves and other P-Com
stockholders who purchased or otherwise acquired its Common Stock
between April 15, 1997 and September 11, 1998. This complaint is
identical in all relevant respects to that filed on September 23, 1998,
which is described above, other than the fact that the plaintiffs are
different.

On October 27, 1998, a putative class action complaint was filed in the
Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, by Judith Thurman
on behalf of herself and other P-Com stockholders who purchased or
otherwise acquired its Common Stock between April 15, 1997 and September
11, 1998. This complaint is identical in all relevant respects to that
filed on September 23, 1998, which is described above, other than the
fact that the plaintiffs are different.

On December 3, 1998, the Superior Court of California, County of Santa
Clara, entered an order consolidating all of the above complaints. On
January 15, 1999, the plaintiffs filed a consolidated amended class
action complaint superseding all of the foregoing complaints.

On March 1, 1999, defendants filed a demurrer to the consolidated
amended complaint and each cause of action stated therein. On May 13,
1999, the Court heard the defendants' demurrer and sustained the
demurrer with leave to amend the claims under the California Securities
laws and the common law claim of fraud. A claim under the business and
professions code remains.

All of these proceedings are at a very early stage and the Company is
unable to speculate as to their ultimate outcomes. However, the Company
believes the claims in the complaints are without merit and intends to
defend against them vigorously.


SPRINT CORP: Shareholders Sue In NY And Kansas to Block MCI Merger
------------------------------------------------------------------
The merger of Sprint Corp. and MCI WorldCom Inc. has attracted lawsuits
from shareholders seeking to block the deal and maximize the value of
their shares.

One lawsuit was filed Monday in New York City, even before the boards of
the two companies had endorsed the biggest merger in business history.
More Sprint shareholders flocked to area courts Tuesday in an attempt to
block the merger.

Four lawsuits were filed on behalf of individual shareholders in Johnson
County (Kan.) District Court seeking an injunction against the deal. The
lawsuits, which seek class-action status, named Sprint, Chairman William
T. Esrey and individual directors as defendants.

Sprint lawyers had not received copies of the lawsuits Tuesday
afternoon, and the company could not comment, said spokeswoman Laura
Meyer.

Shareholder lawsuits are common when big mergers are announced,
particularly when there are multiple bids. BellSouth Corp. emerged as a
bidder for Sprint last weekend, and both BellSouth and MCI WorldCom
sweetened their offers before Sprint's board of directors made its
choice.

One of the lawsuits was filed by Overland Park, Kan., lawyer Brad
Manson, who said his clients wanted to block the merger because
"shareholders were not apprised of developments in an appropriate time
frame."

Manson represents three Florida residents who contend that Sprint has
provided MCI with nonpublic information in an effort to encourage MCI
without providing similar information to other potential bidders.

The lawsuit alleges that by engaging in "preferential negotiation" with
MCI and failing to solicit other bidders, Sprint's actions are
"antithetical to the shareholders' best interests and serve no valid
corporate purpose."

The lawsuit asks that Sprint be required to announce its willingness to
hold discussions with any "bona fide" potential bidder and ensure that
none gets preferential treatment. In addition, the lawsuit asks that
Sprint supply stockholders with information they need to decide whether
to support any proposed merger. The lawsuit asked the court to rescind
the announced merger if it proceeds without the proposed steps.

Another lawsuit, filed on behalf of a shareholder from New Jersey, seeks
similar measures and asks for an injunction against any merger "unless
and until the company adopts and implements a procedure or process, such
as an auction, to obtain the highest possible price for the company."

On Monday a New York shareholder alleged in a lawsuit filed in New York
that Sprint's board had not properly considered the rival bid by
BellSouth. (The Kansas City Star 10-6-1999)


SURETY ACCEPTANCE: Sued Over FDCPA Violation In Debt Collection In Ariz
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
After holding that dishonored checks constitute debts for purposes of
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the U.S. District Court for the
District of Arizona certified a class of Arizona debtors who received
collection notices lacking validation notices and debt collection
warnings. Price, et al. v. Surety Acceptance Corp., No. 97-1145 PHX BMV
(JWS) (D. Ariz. 8/19/99).

Surety Acceptance Corp. mailed Eleanor L. Price and her husband, Donald
L. Price, two letters requesting payment for two dishonored checks.
Because neither correspondence contained a FDCPA mandated validation
notice or debt collection warning, the Prices sued Surety.

At the time of the suit, two unpublished opinions issued by another
District Court judge held that dishonored checks did not constitute a
debt under the FDCPA. Surety claimed that it relied on these decisions
and thus, did not draft its collection letters in compliance with the
act. Shortly after the Prices filed suit, however, the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals decided Charles v. Lundgren & Assocs. P.C., 119 F.3d
739 (9th Cir. 1997), which held that dishonored checks were indeed debts
for the purposes of the FDCPA.

Surety moved for summary judgment arguing that it could not be liable as
a matter of law because the 9th Circuit had not yet decided Lundgren
when it wrote to the Prices. The Prices moved for partial summary
judgment on the issue of whether Surety violated the FDCPA and also
moved for class certification. Although Surety did not oppose the motion
for certification, it did dispute the ability of one of the plaintiffs'
attorneys to represent the class.

                        Retroactive Effect

The court began by applying the 9th Circuit's three-part test for
determining if a decision applies retroactively. The court asked "(1)
whether the decision establishes a new principle of law; (2) whether the
retroactive application will further or retard the purposes of the rule
in question; and (3) whether applying the new decision will produce
substantial inequitable results."

Regarding the first element of the test, Judge W. Sedwick pointed out
that although Lundgren was a case of first impression in the Circuit,
the decision did not have an unexpected result as suggested by Surety.
He opined that other courts had issued published opinions, which held
dishonored checks were debts under the FDCPA, and recognized that
authority was split on the issue. Furthermore, said Judge Sedwick, the
Federal Trade Commission, the agency charged to enforce the act, "has
always taken the position that dishonored checks were 'debts' for the
purposes of the FDCPA."

The court ruled, however, that because the legislative history did not
conclusively state whether Congress intended the act to apply to the
collection of dishonored checks and a split of authority existed when
Surety mailed the notices, it could not conclude that Lundgren was or
was not clearly foreshadowed.

The District Court analyzed the two remaining factors of the test and
concluded that they militated in favor of according retroactive effect
to the Lundgren decision. The court reached this decision after finding:

* Retroactive effect would not retard the FDCPA's operation;
* Retroactive effect would not produce substantially inequitable
  results;
* It was not inequitable for Surety, a collection agency, to keep
  itself abreast of developing trends;
* The cost of complying with the FDCPA was minimal;
* Surety's reliance on unpublished orders was questionable given the
  known split of authority; and
* It furthered the purpose of the act to protect consumers.

The District Court explained that even if Lundgren did not pass the
retroactive effect test it would have relied on relevant authority from
the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Circuits to decide the underlying issue of
law. Using these decisions, the District Court ruled that dishonored
checks are debts for the purpose of the FDCPA.

                        Class Certification

Surety did not contest numerosity given that it mailed 1,000 form
letters, which mirrored those mailed to the Prices, to consumers in
Arizona. Nor did Surety dispute that commonality or typicality existed.
The only element of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 that Surety challenged was that
of adequacy of representation. Surety argued that this requirement was
lacking because Prices' counsel was sanctioned in the past. The Prices
countered that the lawyer in question was not involved in the case and
was only a member of the firm representing them. At oral argument,
Surety withdrew its objection.

After finding that a class action was maintainable, the court granted
the Prices' motion for partial summary judgment and motion for class
certification. It denied Surety's motion for summary judgment.

The court defined the class as "All persons with addresses in Arizona to
whom defendant sent collection letters in the forms entitled 'Returned
Check Notice' [of the type used in this case], which letters were not
returned as undelivered by the Post Office, in connection with attempts
to collect debts which are shown by defendant's records to be primarily
for personal, family, or household purposes during the one year period
prior to the date of filing this action."

O. Randolph Bragg of Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates Ltd. in Chicago and
Floyd Bybee of Bybee & Shaw in Tempe, Ariz., represent the plaintiffs.
William W. Holder of Sharecky, Cales & Holder PA in Phoenix represents
the defendant. (Consumer Financial Services Law Report 9-7-1999)


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Australia's Companies Face Second Class Action
------------------------------------------------------------------
A second class action was launched against Australia's major tobacco
companies, with demands that a 500 million dollar (325 million US) fund
be set up to prevent smoking-related diseases.

Tobacco Control Coalition Inc. (TCC) is suing Philip Morris Companies
Inc., WD and HO Wills Holdings Ltd. and Rothmans Holdings Ltd. in the
Federal Court alleging they engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.
The three companies already face a class action by thousands of
Australians who contracted smoking related diseases over the past three
years.

As well as the fund, the TCC want the companies to reimburse health and
medical groups for money spent on tackling tobacco health problems.

Neil Francey, for the TCC, told Justice Murray Wilcox, who also is
hearing the other action, that he wanted to consult experts involved in
a similar successful case in Massachusetts before preparing a statement
of claim.

Jeff Sher, QC, for Philip Morris, said the affidavit before the court
was "totally inadmissible if not entirely irrelevant" and the companies
had no indication what basis for the "extraordinary" claim was.

Wilcox ordered that the statement of claim be served by December 3 and
listed the matter for mention on December 17.

Outside the court, convener Andrew Penman said the TCC represented 65
health groups and organisations, and Australians who have smoked or who
may smoke cigarettes and who have not yet had symptoms of smoking
related disease. They were seeking unspecified compensation but also
wanted a fund established to help smokers give up.

He said it was up to the court to decide on the amount of the fund, but
the TCC estimated it would require 500 million dollars annually. "We
believe that the linkage between false and misleading conduct of the
industry and the harm that will be caused to our group of applicants is
in fact even clearer than in (the other class action) case," he said.

A Philip Morris spokeswoman later said their preliminary legal view was
that the case had numerous fundamental flaws and little prospect of
success. She said the industry paid 4.7 billion dollars annually in
tobacco taxes, three times more than the estimated expenditure by the
government on treating smoking related disease. (Agence France Presse
10-5-1999)


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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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