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               Friday, October 8, 1999, Vol. 1, No. 173


AMPLIDYNE INC: Lawsuits Assigned to Judge Mary L. Cooper In New Jersey
BI INC: Ct Decertifies Class And Dismisses Claim On Channel Stuffing
CLOROX CO: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit In CA
COCA-COLA: Lawyers File Motion In Bias Suit; Invoices Show Shredder
DEVRY INC: Canadian Ct Rejects Class Over Misrepresentation Of Program

FLORIDA POWER: Employees Age Bias Class Removed; Case Runs Into 2000
HMO: Aetna's Huber Sees Class Action Suit 'Almost Inevitable'
HMO: Philadelphia RICO Lawsuit Against Aetna Is Thrown Out
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Attorneys Warn Of Walkout From Pittance
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Compensation for Nazi Era Labor To Rise

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Jewish Organizations Help With Settlement Paperwork
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Poland Debates On Compensation For Seized Property
INT'L RECTIFIER: Ct Dismisses Some Securities Claims In CA
LASER TECHNOLOGY: Colorado Co Settles In Principal For Shareholder Suit
MALT-O-MEAL: Law Firms Issue Notice On Salmonella Nationwide Class Suit

MCDONALD'S: Student Denied Prize Told Brisbane Ct She Wants To Hurt Mac
OGDEN CORP: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit In New York
PROVIDIAN FINANCAL: Talks In CA Could End In Settlement Worth Millions
SHELL OIL: Homeowners with Leaking Plumbing Get $950 Mil Settlement
STEWART ENTERPISES: Bernstein Announces Deadline For Securities Suit

TOBACCO LITIGATION: 5th Cir Oks Class Of Casino Workers
USDA: Black Farmers Association Calls For Class Suit Deadline Extension
WINN-DIXIE: Fl Ct Preliminarily Approves Settlement For Staff Bias Suit
Y2K LITIGATION: New York Law Journal Talks About Products Liability


AMPLIDYNE INC: Lawsuits Assigned to Judge Mary L. Cooper In New Jersey
Keller Rohrback L.L.P. announced that several class action lawsuits
filed by shareholders of Amplidyne, Inc. (Nasdaq:AMPD) have been
assigned to the Honorable Mary L. Cooper, U.S. District Court in the
District of New Jersey. Class action shareholder suits have been filed
against Amplidyne and certain officers and directors on behalf of
shareholders who purchased or otherwise acquired Amplidyne, Inc
(Nasdaq:AMPD) securities between September 9, 1999 and September 14,

Shareholders assert that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10-b(5) established

If you are a member of the class described above, you may, no later than
sixty days from September 16, 1999 move the Court to serve as lead
plaintiff, if you so choose. In order to serve as lead plaintiff,
however, you must meet certain legal requirements. Shareholders should
return completed information packets as soon as possible, including
certification forms, received from Keller Rohrback's Shareholder
Department (fax: 206/623-3384).  Contact Keller Rohrback L.L.P. (Lynn L.
Sarko or Elizabeth Leland, Esq.) toll free at 800/776-6044, or via
e-mail at investor@kellerrohrback.com with mailing address and telephone
number provided.

BI INC: Ct Decertifies Class And Dismisses Claim On Channel Stuffing
On August 27, 1997, the Company became a party to a class action
complaint filed against it and certain of its officers and directors by
CB Partners and Michael Connor in the District Court for the County of
Boulder, Colorado. The complaint included various claims under
securities laws as well as for common law fraud.

On April 28, 1999, a motion to amend the complaint was filed with the
Court, which dropped all references to the alleged misrepresentations
and non-disclosures in the initial complaint and instead alleged the
factual theories of channel stuffing (i.e., shipping of product to
distributors with knowledge that distributors are accumulating
inventory) and the making of overly optimistic projections of revenues
and earnings.

On August 23, 1999, the Court: (a) allowed the filing of the amended
complaint; (b) granted in part and denied in part, the Company's motion
for summary judgment; (c) held that a class action is no longer
maintainable and decertified the class; (d) dismissed the claim of
channel stuffing; (e) rejected the amended complaint's reliance on the
fraud-on-the-market theory and the corresponding presumption of reliance
in an action based on securities fraud; and (f) dismissed all factual
allegations supporting the claim of overly optimistic projections and
earnings to artificially inflate the Company's stock price but for the
allegation that such statements were allegedly made on September 10 and
11, 1996, and relied upon until September 12, 1996.

On September 13, 1999, the Plaintiffs and the Company (and other
defendants) submitted a Stipulated Motion to Dismiss. In that motion the
Plaintiffs and Defendants asked the Court to dismiss the case with
prejudice (which means the claims cannot be brought by these Plaintiffs
again) because the Plaintiffs no longer desired to proceed with the case
in light of the Court's August 23, 1999 ruling. The Court approved the
dismissal of the case, with prejudice, as of September 21, 1999. The
resolution of this matter did not have a material adverse impact on the
Company's financial position or results of operations.

CLOROX CO: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit In CA
Milberg Weiss announced that a class action has been commenced in the
United States District Court for the Northern District of California on
behalf of purchasers of The Clorox Company (NYSE:CLX) common stock
during the period between October 19, 1998 and August 11, 1999.

The complaint charges Clorox with violations of Section 10(b) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, by making misrepresentations about
Clorox's business, earnings growth and financial results and its ability
to continue to achieve profitable growth. By issuing these allegedly
false and misleading statements, Clorox artificially inflated its stock
price from $ 97 at the outset of the Class Period to a Class Period high
of $ 132-5/16. However, on August 12, 1999, Clorox disclosed that its
4thQ F99 revenues had declined and its stock dropped to $ 83-3/4.

Plaintiff is represented by Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP.
Contact William Lerach or Darren Robbins of Milberg Weiss at
800/449-4900 or via e-mail at wsl@mwbhl.com TICKERS: NYSE:CLX

COCA-COLA: Lawyers File Motion In Bias Suit; Invoices Show Shredder
Lawyers for four black employees at the Coca-Cola Company filed a motion
that included invoices from a Staples store in Atlanta, showing that
someone at Coke had ordered a shredding machine in late April, after a
discrimination lawsuit was filed.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs have accused the company of destroying
documents that might be relevant to their suit.

The motion also included a Coke memorandum outlining steps to create
Room 7, which has become known as the war room, in the company's
Learning Center, where lawyers and company executives assembled
documents to defend Coke in the lawsuit. The company has vehemently
denied the allegations in the suit, which was filed April 22.

The four employees contend they were denied promotions, raises and other
rewards because of their race. Their lawyers are seeking class-action
status to include as many as 1,500 current or former black employees.

The memorandum, dated May 26, lists a "paper shredder machine" among the
"room requirements." An accompanying description says: "Heavy duty
machine with capacity to shred large volume of paper at one time." The
memo also mentions "using incinerator at records storage facility."
(The New York Times 10-7-1999)

DEVRY INC: Canadian Ct Rejects Class Over Misrepresentation Of Program
In July, 1996, the Company and DeVry Canada were served with a purported
class action lawsuit in Canada by a former student alleging breach of
contract and misrepresentation about the quality of the DeVry
Institutes' educational programs, seeking up to CDN $400 million in
compensatory and punitive damages. In July 1998, the Canadian court
rejected the plaintiffs' motion to certify the lawsuit as a class action
in the Province of Ontario.

In fiscal 1996, the Ontario Ministry of Education and Training
temporarily suspended and later conditionally reinstated the processing
of financial aid applications for students attending the Company's
Toronto-area schools. During the third quarter of fiscal 1999, the
Company successfully concluded the resolution of all outstanding issues
with the Ontario Ministry of Education and Training, including the full
refund of amounts believed to have been inappropriately disbursed.
DeVry's Toronto-area campuses have now received full unconditional
reinstatement as a participant in the Province's student financial aid

FLORIDA POWER: Employees Age Bias Class Removed; Case Runs Into 2000
The case brought against the utility by former Florida Power employees
is itself growing aged, as it stalls, awaiting a federal court ruling
expected next year. Despite four years of litigation, the age
discrimination suit against Florida Power Corp. is destined to run into
the next millennium, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said Wednesday.

A recent order by presiding U.S. District Court Judge Terrell Hodges
removed class-action status from the 116 plaintiffs until a critical
legal issue is decided by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal,
plaintiffs' attorney Scott Charlton of Tampa said. It easily could be
spring before an opinion comes down, he said. "If he (Hodges) does what
he says he's going to do, it will stay the trial action . . . which
could be six to nine months easily," Charlton said.

According to Charlton, Hodges wants to know how the 11th Circuit court
feels about the theory of "disparate impact," which in this case
pertains to whether Florida Power's layoffs in the mid-1990s unfairly
affected people 40 and older. About half of the plaintiffs fit that age
group, Charlton said.

Neither the 11th Circuit Court nor the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on
this issue, Hodges pointed out in his Aug. 26 order. In addition,
circuit courts of appeal around the country disagree on what "disparate
impact" means, he wrote.

The 11th Circuit encompasses Florida, Georgia and Alabama. "His analysis
is the 11th Circuit has not clearly ruled on this issue," Charlton said.
"It's a very important legal issue." By turning to the 11th Circuit
Court, Hodges is averting an even lengthier court battle over the 1995
case, Charlton said. Without a firm legal opinion in place, either the
plaintiffs or the company would appeal if it lost, he said.

Officials with Florida Power, which filed the motion to decertify the
plaintiffs last year, could not be reached for comment on the order. In
previous statements, the St. Petersburg-based company has denied
targeting employees based on their age, claiming an unwillingness to
adopt to new company policies as one reason for the layoffs.

Hodges' order addressed two other motions, as well. He denied Florida
Power's motion for summary judgment, which could have ended the case. He
also turned down the plaintiff's motion to enforce what Charlton and his
clients believe was an $ 11-million settlement offer made by Florida
Power last December.

At the time, Florida Power acknowledged participating in settlement
negotiations but denied reaching a firm agreement. Charlton, who
obtained letters from individual clients that would have released the
company from the lawsuit, said the company reneged on its offer. (St.
Petersburg Times 10-7-1999)

HMO: Aetna's Huber Sees Class Action Suit 'Almost Inevitable'
Aetna Life & Casualty Co chairman and chief executive Richard Huber said
it is "almost inevitable" that the company will be the target
of one of the new wave of class action lawsuits being filed against
health maintenance organisations (HMO).

He also said in an interview in the Wall Street Journal that he is
meeting with industry leaders and corporate customers to develop a
strategy for dealing with the lawsuits. Huber said filing of a suit
against Aetna is "almost inevitable. Trial lawyers go for deep pockets."

In the past week, Huber has sent e-mails and released a personal video
in an effort to boost employee morale.

He said fighting a class action suit could cost millions of dollars, but
predicted a suit would not be successful, much like the suits the
company routinely faces. He said there are currently 40 suits pending
against Aetna's U.S. Healthcare division.

Huber said that following the sharp declines in HMO share prices last
week, interest in healthcare stocks will reusme as soon as "trial
lawyers find someone else to pick on."

Huber also said the market has over reacted to the losses announced last
month in the Prudential health business and described the negative
analyst reaction as "a lynch mob". Aetna bought Prudential in August.
He said the Prudential is covering losses -- running at an annual rate
of 200 mln usd -- under the terms of the sale through the end of the
year. By then, Huber said, Aetna will have Prudential's administrative
costs down and productivity rate up. (AFX News 10-6-1999)

HMO: Philadelphia RICO Lawsuit Against Aetna Is Thrown Out
A lawsuit that accused Aetna Inc. of false advertising and pressuring
doctors to cut costs and lower standards for the care of health
maintenance organization subscribers has been tossed out of court. The
lawsuit had been filed under the federal Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act.

The Supreme Court ruled in January that insurers can be sued under RICO,
a law originally aimed at organized crime.

U.S. District Court Judge John P. Fullam rejected the lawsuit's claim
that doctors were moved to put their economic interests ahead of the
patient's welfare in every case. Even if HMOs pressured doctors, the HMO
would not be to blame for the doctors' ethical lapse, Aetna said in a
statement. "Clearly, we are pleased with the judge's decision," said
Aetna spokeswoman Joyce Oberdorf, noting that in cases against HMOs,
"class-action lawsuits are not so easy to assemble. What is the common
harm...is very difficult to develop."

The lawsuit sought class-action status and claimed Aetna attracted
potential customers by saying it was dedicated to quality medical care.
Instead, the suit alleged, Aetna encouraged system-wide cost-cutting
that undermined medical care, in part, by offering financial incentives
to doctors who saw more patients and penalizing doctors who did not.
Gary Bender and Joseph and Jo Ann Maio, all of Philadelphia, filed the
suit in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on behalf of themselves and
nearly 6 million people who enrolled or renewed HMO membership in Aetna
from July 1996 to the present.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a Santa Monica, Calif.,
consumer group, was representing the HMO members. The lawsuit had sought
unspecified monetary damages and asked that Aetna stop misleading
customers (BestWire, April 23, 1999). The Foundation for Taxpayers and
Consumer Rights filed a similar lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente in
California State Court.

The precedent for RICO lawsuits against insurance companies was set by a
unanimous Supreme Court decision in the case of Humana Inc. vs. Mary
Forsyth, the largest class-action suit ever filed in Nevada. In the 1989
case, Nevada patients claimed that a subsidiary of Humana secretly
negotiated a rebate with a hospital, then failed to pass the discount on
to subscribers. The Supreme Court upheld the Nevada patient's right to
sue under RICO, which tripled the damages that could be awarded in the

Through its subsidiaries, including Aetna U.S. Healthcare; Aetna
Financial Services and Aetna International, Aetna provides health
insurance, financial services and retirement-benefit plans. Aetna's
stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "AET".
(BestWire 10-6-1999)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Attorneys Warn Of Walkout From Pittance
Attorneys for survivors of Nazi slave labor warned Tuesday that they
would walk out of negotiations with German corporations unless they were
offered ''meaningful compensation'' when talks resume.

''We are not going to fall over dead and accept a pittance,'' said Bob
Swift, an attorney in the class-action suit that involves an estimated
2.3 million people --- about half of them Jews --- who survived forced
and slave labor under the Nazi regime during World War II.

Eight countries and about three dozen companies that used slave labor
are involved in the negotiations with several organizations representing

Attorney Mel Weiss called a possible $ 3.8 billion settlement offer
reported in Tuesday's Washington Post a ''paltry amount.'' He said it
would mean payments of about $ 200 per victim after set-asides for
future payments to heirs and related claims.

Victims' advocates are seeking more than $ 20 billion, Weiss said, to
bring survivor payments in line with other cases, including ones
involving Volkswagen and Siemens, in which victims received about 10,000
deutschmarks, or about $ 6,000.

Unless the German companies offer payments in line with previous
settlements, Weiss said, ''we're going to walk away'' and pursue the
cases in the courts.

Meanwhile, B'nai B'rith International, a Jewish organization that has
been active in supporting the suits, unveiled a series of newspaper
advertisements that began running this week in The New York Times
linking several of the high-profile companies, including Mercedes-Benz,
Bayer and Ford Motor Co., to slave labor. The companies either directly
used --- or are American parents of German companies that used --- slave
labor during the war.

Richard D. Heideman, president of B'nai B'rith International, said
additional companies would be targeted for ads in the $ 250,000

But B'nai B'rith would not call for a boycott against the companies, he
said. Jewish groups have long opposed Arab boycotts against companies
seen to be sympathetic to Israel.

The German government had set a Sept. 1 target date for completion of
negotiations, but Weiss said it appeared the German strategy was for a
''biological solution,'' which would delay settlement until virtually
all the slave laborers died.

Rudy Kennedy of London, England, who heads a group of about 250 slave
laborers, said both he and his father were pressed into service for I.G.
Farben, the pharmaceutical manufacturer. His father lasted only six
weeks before he died. Kennedy called the reported offer of $ 200
''peanuts. It is an insult.'' (The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Compensation for Nazi Era Labor To Rise
Negotiators representing 16 German companies and the German government
are understood to be ready to pay up to DM10bn ($ 5.4bn) in a
comprehensive compensation package over Holocaust-era abuses of human

People close to talks at the US State Department said the German offer -
which included details of the structure of the proposed settlement - was
substantially more than the DM8bn offer already suggested.

However, they stressed the German offer had not been made directly to
lawyers and international organisations representing the victims. A
direct proposal is expected to be made later today.

The two days of talks in Washington represent a crucial stage in the
exhaustive efforts to negotiate a settlement to a series of class action
lawsuits over wartime slave and forced labor used by German industry.

The settlement is also designed to cover claims over the looting of
assets, including businesses, by German banks and insurance companies.

Lawyers representing Nazi victims said they were encouraged by the
German approach to a possible settlement, but insisted that the DM10bn
figure would not provide sufficient compensation for all the lawsuits.

Under the proposed deal, slave laborers - who worked in concentration
camps would receive 38 per cent of the total settlement, while forced
laborers - who were kept in detention camps - would receive 28 per cent.
The differing levels are intended to reflect the harsher treatment of
concentration camp survivors, half of whom are Jewish.

The money would be paid into a single humanitarian fund, which would
then distribute cash to survivors as well as educational and remembrance

German negotiators estimate that 900,000 survivors would be eligible for
compensation, although this figure is disputed by the US class action
lawyers. It is thought separate deals could be expected for deported
laborers from Poland and the Czech Republic. The German negotiating team
was unavailable for comment.

In exchange for settling the lawsuits, the German companies - which
include DaimlerChrysler, Degussa and Deutsche Bank - expect "legal
closure" preventing future litigation in US courts. Class action
lawyers, who have already called for a settlement of more than $ 20bn,
said the suggested German offer was insufficient to cover all the
claimants. (Financial Times (London) 10-7-1999)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Jewish Organizations Help With Settlement Paperwork
The Jewish Community Relations Council and Jewish Family Service are
offering to help Holocaust survivors and their heirs fill out necessary
documents and claim forms regarding the class-action settlement with the
Swiss banks.

Last year the banks and Jewish groups reached a $ 1.25 billion
agreement. It ended years of wrangling between Jewish agencies and Swiss
banks over money deposited by Jews in accounts before and during World
War II, as well as assets seized by the Nazis and stored in the banks.

Most Holocaust survivors -- or their heirs -- are expected to get a part
of the settlement, officials said. (Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Poland Debates On Compensation For Seized Property
Parliament opened debate Wednesday on a bill to compensate former owners
of property seized during the Nazi and communist eras, an issue delayed
years for fear that its potentially huge costs could undermine Poland's
struggle to reform its economy.

Legislation approved by the Solidarity-led government of Prime Minister
Jerzy Buzek would offer 50 percent compensation to people, including
Jews, whose property was seized between 1939 and 1962.

The government proposes to pay compensation in bonds or return half of
the seized property, if it still exists and has no new private owner.
The law would not apply to national parks and monuments.

On the first day of what is expected to be a long debate, the ruling
parties argued that the draft legislation is an appropriate compromise
between the claims of former owners and the ability of the state to
compensate them. The leftist opposition immediately countered that the
measure is too costly.

Crafted during months of discussion, the proposal shows a ''maximum of
good will on the government's side'' because it protects ownership of
people who in good faith bought the seized property, said Janusz
Lewandowski of the Freedom Union, the junior coalition partner.

He warned, however, that that compensation equivalent to only 50 percent
of seized property might draw protests from former owners who had
expected more.

The ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance said that while it believes
the idea of full restitution is right, the state could never afford it.
The leftist leader, Wieslaw Kaczmarek, said Poland needs the money for
reforms, restructuring of the ailing mining and steel industries and the
servicing of Poland's foreign debt.

Poland also needs to have its finances in order if it is to meet its
goal of joining the European Union by 2003.

Another leftist deputy, Piotr Ikonowicz, suggested limiting compensation
to a maximum of 30,000 zlotys (dlrs 7,500) and awarding it only in cases
where property was lost due to the change of Poland's borders after
World War II or when a communist nationalization decree was violated.
''The nation cannot pay today an exorbitant tax for a narrow group of
former owners,'' Ikonowicz said.

Because the communist regime seized farms and factories across the
country, as well as all of central Warsaw, some predict that Poland
could face as many as 170,000 claims from 2.5 million people, totaling
dlrs 27 billion to dlrs 32 billion. That is about the equivalent of
Poland's annual government budget.

A desire to settle compensation claims has been prompted in part by
lawsuits in the United States seeking the return of property that once
belonged to Polish Jews. Two class-action suits, one in New York by 11
American Jews and one in Chicago by four plaintiffs, have accused the
Polish government and treasury of illegally seizing Jewish properties
after World War II.

On Sept. 29, U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur in Chicago dismissed the
suit filed in that city, saying it was an issue outside the court's
authority an argument also made by Polish officials. Last Monday, Shadur
deinied a motion to reconsider the case, according to court spokesman
Daniel Lehmann.

The New York case is still pending. (AP Worldstream 10-6-1999)

INT'L RECTIFIER: Ct Dismisses Some Securities Claims In CA
International Rectifier Corp. and certain of its directors and officers
have been named as defendants in three class action lawsuits filed in
Federal District Court for the Central District of California in 1991.
These suits seek unspecified but substantial compensatory and punitive
damages for alleged intentional and negligent misrepresentations and
violations of the federal securities laws in connection with the public
offering of the Company's common stock completed in April 1991 and the
redemption and conversion in June 1991 of the Company's 9% Convertible
Subordinated Debentures Due 2010. They also allege that the Company's
projections for growth in fiscal 1992 were materially misleading. Two of
these suits also named the Company's underwriters, Kidder, Peabody & Co.
Incorporated and Montgomery Securities as defendants.

On March 31, 1997, the Court, on the Company's motion for summary
judgment, issued the following orders: (a) the motion for summary
judgment was granted as to claims brought under Sections 11 and 12(2) of
the Securities Act of 1933; (b) the motion was denied as to claims
brought under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and
the Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 10b-5; and (c) the motion
was granted as to the common law claims for fraud and negligent
misrepresentation to the extent said claims are based on representations
contained in the offering prospectus and was denied as to other such
claims. The Court also granted the summary judgment motion brought by
the underwriters. The plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration or
certification of an interlocutory appeal of these orders was denied.

On January 28, 1998, the Court decertified the class pursuing common law
claims for fraud and negligent misrepresentation and granted the
defendants' motion to narrow the shareholder class period to June 19,
1991 through October 21, 1991. Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration or
certification of an interlocutory appeal of these rulings was denied.

Although the Company believes that the remaining claims alleged in the
suits are without merit, the ultimate outcome cannot be presently
determined. Trial is scheduled for August 1999. No provision for any
liability that may result upon adjudication of these matters has been
made in the consolidated financial statements.
JOHN D.: Hospital's Reject Of Overweight Applicants Doesn't Violate ADA

Some of you have weight restrictions that apply to various jobs. Others
do not. May you have a policy of not hiring overweight job applicants,
or would that violate the ADA? May you even ask an applicant about his
or her weight, or would that question violate the law's prohibition on
preemployment inquiries about disabilities? Those questions were
answered in the following case.


John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital maintained a maximum weight
limitation standard for job applicants. The policy excluded all
applicants whose actual weight exceeded the maximum desirable weight for
large-framed men and women plus 30 percent of that weight, as published
by a Metropolitan Life Insurance Company actuarial survey. The weight
limitation applied to all applicants for positions within the hospital
system and was applied equally, regardless of race or sex.

A group of applicants rejected for employment because of their weight
filed a class-action lawsuit against Archbold. Sandra Murray alleged
that she had applied for a respiratory therapist position at the
company's Grady General Hospital. Although she claimed that she was
qualified for the job, the hospital didn't offer it to her because her
height-to-weight ratio failed the guidelines.

The thrust of the applicants' complaint was that the hospital enforced a
policy that disqualified them from employment if they exceeded a
standard weight relative to their height, thereby discriminating against
them by regarding them as being disabled in violation of the ADA. The
trial court dismissed all of their claims.

                            Court's Opinion

All of the applicants were rejected because they couldn't meet the
hospital's weight policy. Significantly, none of the applicants alleged
their actual weight, and none alleged that they were disabled by morbid
obesity. All of them argued they were discriminated against because the
hospital perceived they had a disability (weight) as a result of its
height-to-weight ratio guidelines.

The court recognized that the applicants were proceeding only on the
theory that the hospital regarded them as having an impairment. They
argued that while they weren't specifically impaired under the ADA, they
were treated by the hospital as having a substantially limiting

The hospital's arguments were simple and straightforward. First, the
applicants' weight conditions did not constitute actual impairments
within the meaning of the ADA. Second, the hospital's weight policy
merely excluded applicants who were overweight, not those who were
disabled. Because none of the applicants could show that they suffered
an impairment because of weight, such as morbid obesity, they were not
disabled under the Act, according to the hospital.

The court stated the key issue was whether the hospital perceived the
applicants as having the kind of physical or mental impairment protected
by the ADA, regardless of whether they actually had one. They had to
prove that the hospital's weight policy worked against an impermissible
impairment. Their only argument was that the hospital regarded them as
disabled because their respective weights exceeded the height-to-weight
ratios prescribed by the weight policy.

Exceeding the boundaries of the hospital's weight policy, however, was
not a disability because the policy drew the line at figures that would
exceed the maximum desirable weight for large-framed men and women plus
30 percent of that height, figures that are well below the measures for
morbid obesity.

The court next turned to the applicants' claim that enforcing the weight
policy constituted an impermissible preemployment medical inquiry. The
ADA prohibits you from making inquiries of a job applicant about whether
he or she has a disability or about its nature and severity. The
hospital argued that inquiring about an applicant's physical
characteristics, such as height and weight, is not prohibited by the

The court held that the hospital's weight policy -- inquiring into an
applicant's weight rather than his or her would-be "disability" as that
term is defined by the ADA -- was not illegal. Whether the policy was
unfair, heartless, or harsh was not the issue. The issue was whether it
was an impermissible preemployment medical inquiry. The court held it
was not. Murray v. John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital.

                            Bottom Line

While this case clearly holds that the hospital's policy of not hiring
overweight job applicants did not violate the ADA because the applicants
were not regarded as disabled, it should not be regarded as a signal for
all of you to immediately adopt height and weight policies. Generally,
those policies must be job-related and consistent with business

In other words, you must have a good business reason for rejecting
applicants because of their height or weight. The policies may also tend
to impermissibly screen out applicants because of their sex (female) or
race because members of certain races tend to be shorter than others.
(Georgia Employment Law Letter September, 1999)

LASER TECHNOLOGY: Colorado Co Settles In Principal For Shareholder Suit
Laser Technology, Inc. (Amex: LSR), a designer, manufacturer and
marketer of pulse laser measuring instruments and systems, announced it
believes it has reached an agreement in principal for the settlement
with plaintiffs of previously-disclosed class-action and derivative

"While we are not at liberty to disclose specific terms of the proposed
settlement, which requires a fairness ruling from the court, we are very
pleased to have reached an agreement in principal which applies to all
of the outstanding shareholder litigation issues," stated Blair Zykan,
President and Chief Executive Officer of Laser Technology, Inc.
"Attorneys will be drafting documents during the next few weeks and we
plan to present the settlement to the judge in a preliminary fairness
hearing at the earliest possible date. At that time, details of the
settlement agreement will be fully disclosed."

"We believe that the terms of the settlement will leave Laser Technology
in a strong position to execute its strategy for continued growth,"
continued Zykan. "Our operating results in future years should benefit
from lower legal costs and from management's ability to devote its full
attention to the enhancement of shareholder values through revenue and
earnings growth. Although the shareholder lawsuits have absorbed a great
deal of management's time in recent months, our Company has established
a number of strategic alliances during Fiscal 1999 which target new
market opportunities. The reduction in litigation-related distractions
will most certainly improve the productivity of our Company in the
upcoming fiscal year."

Laser Technology, Inc. manufactures and markets laser-based speed and
distance measuring instruments, which utilize proprietary technology
developed by the Company. Its products are sold worldwide and are used
in a wide variety of applications, including traffic speed enforcement,
natural resource management, GIS mapping, surveying, sporting
/recreational activities, and marine facilities management. The
Company's headquarters and primary manufacturing facilities are located
in Englewood, Colorado.

MALT-O-MEAL: Law Firms Issue Notice On Salmonella Nationwide Class Suit
Keller Rohrback, L.L.P., a national class action law firm based in
Seattle and the Zimmerman Reed, P.L.L.P law firm with offices in
Minneapolis and Phoenix announced October 6 that the Court has ordered
Notice of the Class Action Litigation currently pending against
Malt-O-Meal Company.

The class was certified by the Honorable John Sommerville on January 28,
1999, and ordered to proceed as a nationwide class action on behalf of
"all persons in the United States who became ill as a result of eating
plain toasted oats cereal contaminated with salmonella bacteria which
was manufactured between March 1998 and May, 1998 by Malt-O-Meal at its
plant in Northfield, Minnesota." Persons who fall within this definition
are considered to be "Class Members" in this class action lawsuit. This
cereal may have been packaged under the following brand names,
distributed and sold in approximately 37 states:

MALT-O-MEAL, America's Choice (A&P), Bi-Lo, Tops, Janet Lee
(Albertson's), Millville (Aldi), Acme, Jewel, Lucky, Value Wise, IGA,
Signature (FSA), Hannaford Brothers, Harris-Teeter, Hill Country Fare
(H.E. Butt), Laura Lynn (Ingles), Kroger, Our Family (Nash Finch),
Pathmark, Safeway, Shaw's, Stater Brothers, Cub, Flavorite, Foodland,
Natures Best, Shop N Save, Sweetlife, Delchamps, Eagle, Finast, Food
Club, Fry's, Kingston, Meijer, Schnucks, Smith's, Weis, Western Family

Plaintiffs are seeking damages for injuries resulting from Malt-O-Meal's
alleged failure to discover and prevent salmonella from contaminating
its toasted oats cereal products that were manufactured between March
and May, 1998 and distributed for human consumption nationwide.
Plaintiffs allege that Malt-O-Meal's salmonella-contaminated cereal
caused thousands of consumers to become ill.

Malt-O-Meal acknowledges that some quantity of salmonella agona was
found in some quantity of plain toasted oats cereal manufactured on
certain dates in 1998 but denies that all of its cereal was so
contaminated and puts all claimants to their proof with respect to
whether they received and consumed contaminated plain toasted oats
cereal and as a result became ill. The Notice advises all class members
that to protect their legal rights, they must either register as part of
this on-going case or elect to "opt-out" and handle their claim
individually." The Notice also states that the official registration
form must be completed and returned postmarked to Zimmerman Reed,
P.L.L.P. no later than December 16, 1999, at the following address:

Mr. Charles S. Zimmerman ZIMMERMAN REED, P.L.L.P. 901 North Third Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401 800/960-9614 e-mail: cak@zimmreed.com

Charles S. Zimmerman, Senior Partner for Zimmerman Reed stated that
"this Class Notice provides an opportunity for all affected members to
register for the purpose of obtaining compensation for their injuries
and/or illness once the case reaches resolution." Mr. Zimmerman went on
to say "It is very important for all persons who consumed the
contaminated cereal to complete an Official Registration Form as set
forth in the Notice." If you wish to discuss this announcement or have
information relevant to the case, you may contact Keller Rohrback L.L.P.
(Lynn L. Sarko or Britt L. Tinglum, Esq.) toll free at 800/776-6044, or
ZIMMERMAN REED, P.L.L.P. (Charles S. Zimmerman, Esq.) toll free at
800/960-9614 or at cak@zimmreed.com by e-mail. Those who inquire by
e-mail are asked to provide their mailing address and telephone number.

MCDONALD'S: Student Denied Prize Told Brisbane Ct She Wants To Hurt Mac
An English PhD student told the Federal Court in Brisbane she wanted to
do everything in her power to harm the reputation of global fast food
giant McDonald's. The student, who moved to Australia with her husband
and two children, aged six and three, last year, said she was "angry"
because McDonald's refused to grant her prize - a $200 toy shop voucher.
"I wrote to them because I was concerned that people in this society
could do such a thing," Anne Marie Crosse (Crosse) told the court. "I
will do all that is in my power and what's my power? Not a lot."

Ms Crosse was giving evidence at the trial into a dispute over thousands
of prizes in the McDonald's Monopoly McMatch and Win Competition. She
told the court she recalled the day she collected the winning ticket to
complete the prize set, but denied collecting it last year because she
was too poor to buy McDonald's.

She said she arrived in Australia with her family in May 1998 with "no
money" and lived off welfare benefits in Coffs Harbor in New South Wales
because there was no work in research. The family did not eat at
McDonald's during that time and only occasionally ate Hungry Jacks
because the restaurant was nearby, she told the court.

A Brisbane hairdresser, a New South Wales teenager and an energy company
manager have all given evidence so far claiming to have won the major
prize of a $29,000 four wheel drive vehicle.

A hairdresser told the Federal Court in Brisbane she did not use
outdated stamps to claim the top prize in the controversial McDonald's
monopoly McMatch and Win competition this year. Tracy Anne Hodges from
Meadowbrook in suburban Brisbane told the Federal Court in Brisbane she
collected the stamps during the course of the competition from June 4 to
August 5. Ms Hodges said she presented her entry to claim the $29,000
Holden HRV four-wheel-drive prize to Loganlea McDonalds on July 18.

During heated cross examination by barrister Murray Tobias, QC, for the
fast food chain, the single mother said she had played the game last
year. When he suggested she had been mistaken in her belief she had
obtained the key stamps of Park Lane and Coventry Street as part of this
year's competition she said she did not agree. Ms Hodges told the court
she had disposed of the old stamps and "tray map" from the previous year
when she moved house late last year. She agreed the key stamps were
discolored and without the golden arches. She also said she could not
explain why it took her two weeks to claim the car prize although she
had collected the Park Lane ticket between late June and early July. Ms
Hodges told the court she realised she had won only when she sat down to
stick the stamps onto the tray map on the day she claimed the prize.

Eight witnesses are on standby to give evidence during proceedings as
part of a two-week trial being heard before Justice John Dowsett.

McDonald's is defending the class action. McDonald's said only four
stamps for the car prize were issued during the competition, while 1,100
claimants in the class action are claiming the car prize. They are among
more than 6,000 claimants across five Australian states seeking prizes
from the competition which was run between June 4 and August 5 this
year. McDonald's have accused the claimants of "lying" and "cheating" in
the game, while lawyers for the claimants say McDonald's have embarked
on a cover up.

To play the game, participants collected stamps on allocated products
and matched them with squares on a Monopoly tray mat to win Disneyland
holidays, toy shop vouchers, camcorders, computers and the car.

During the hearing, the court was told New South Wales high school
student Amanda Mary Louise Purtle was so excited when she discovered she
had the winning ticket for the new car that she woke her parents and had
her photo taken and celebrated into the early hours of the morning. She
denied suggestions by barrister Murray Tobias, QC, for the fast food
chain, that she had swapped stamps with friends to complete the set.

An internal McDonald's memorandum of understanding about a store poster
outlining the terms and conditions of the competition was tendered in
court. In tendering the document, barrister John Griffin, QC, on behalf
of the claimants, said the June 29 memo stated a "significant number" of
stores were not displaying the poster.

The court also heard that discoloured stamps on disputed entries may be
scientifically tested to determine the age of the stickers. About 150
million stamps were printed, with 100 million of those issued during the
competition, the court was told.

The trial continues. (AAP Newsfeed 10-6-1999)

OGDEN CORP: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit In New York
The following is an announcement by the law firm of Bernstein Liebhard &
Lifshitz, LLP:

A securities class action lawsuit was commenced on behalf of purchasers
of the common stock of Ogden, Inc.(NYSE:OG), between March 11, 1999 and
September 17, 1999, inclusive, in the United States District Court for
the Southern District of New York.

The complaint charges Ogden and certain of its executive officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and
Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. The complaint alleges that the
defendants issued materially false and misleading statements and failed
to disclose material facts throughout the Class Period in the Company's
public filings and public statements. As a result of these
misrepresentations and omissions, the price of Ogden's common stock was
artificially inflated throughout the Class Period.

If you purchased or otherwise acquired Ogden securities during the Class
Period, and either lost money on the transaction or still hold the
stock, you may wish to join in the action to serve as lead plaintiff. In
order to do so, you must meet certain requirements set forth in the
applicable law and file appropriate papers no later than 60 days from
September 22, 1999. Plaintiff has selected Bernstein Liebhard &
Lifshitz, LLP to represent the Class. Contact Michael S. Egan, Esq., or
Ms. Nicole Meyer, Director of Shareholder Relations at Bernstein
Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP, 10 East 40th Street, New York, New York 10016,
(800) 217-1522 or 212-779-1414 or by e-mail at meyer@bernlieb.com

PROVIDIAN FINANCAL: Talks In CA Could End In Settlement Worth Millions
Providian Financial and the San Francisco district attorney's office are
holding talks to settle accusations of consumer fraud and unfair
business practices, people with knowledge of the discussions said.

The talks -- which could force the giant credit card company to pay tens
of millions of dollars in penalties and refunds to customers -- are said
to be at a sensitive stage and an agreement is far from certain, the
sources said.

San Francisco's Providian, the nation's sixth-largest issuer of credit
cards, said settlement talks have taken place in the past but wouldn't
comment on whether they are still continuing.

"We can confirm that we have cooperated fully with the district attorney
since day one and that we have discussed settlement," said Konrad Alt,
the company's chief of public policy.

David Pfeifer, chief of special investigations in the San Francisco
district attorney's office, said: "Providian has been meeting with us,
but we're not going to characterize the nature of the meetings. Beyond
that, we have no comment."

Terms of a potential settlement couldn't be determined. But legal
experts said it's standard for prosecutors to demand that a company make
restitution to customers, pay penalties and halt abusive actions in
unfair-business-practices cases like Providian's.

"I would expect the district attorney's office to seek restitution for
any wronged customers, civil penalties and assurances of changed
business practices," said Darryl Rains, a San Francisco attorney with
the firm Morrison & Foerster.

No information was available about the size of the proposed settlement.
But customers have filed thousands of complaints against the San
Francisco credit card company with consumer protection and law
enforcement agencies in recent years, and a payout of tens of millions
of dollars is possible, legal experts said.

The district attorney's office began investigating Providian earlier
this year after receiving a large number of complaints involving such
issues as unauthorized product sales, deceptive interest rate
disclosures, and fee gouging.

While Providian has never admitted a pattern of abuses, company
officials insist that they are cleaning up their act. Last May,
Providian announced an "enhanced customer-satisfaction program," a
series of reforms including a promise to cancel products if customers
felt they were sold deceptively. Later, the company said it had
discovered tens of thousands of cases in which it had levied late fees
when it actually had received payments in time. It set aside $ 20
million to repay those customers.

"Our top priority in recent months has been to improve service to our
customers, and we believe we are making considerable progress," said

If Providian and the district attorney's office fail to reach an
agreement, prosecutors could file a civil suit against the company.
Alternatively, they could press criminal charges, though legal observers
said such action is less likely.

Action by the district attorney's office, whether civil or criminal, is
something Providian undoubtedly wants to avoid. A trial would feature an
embarrassing parade of aggrieved customers and contrite employees
slamming what they would characterize as a culture of deception at the

Last May, following press reports of the district attorney's office
probe, Providian's stock fell more than 35 percent, and shares have
never recovered. Investors apparently fear that legal action against the
company could cut into profits.

Meanwhile, District Attorney Terence Hallinan faces a difficult
re-election bid next month. A strong settlement with Providian announced
before the election could bolster his campaign.

"If you get a good settlement, everybody would be happy. But if you
screw it up, everybody is on your back," said one former city

Providian still faces other legal challenges. Bank regulators from the
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are reviewing the company's
consumer practices. And private lawsuits seeking class-action status
pending in state and federal courts are likely to proceed no matter what
the district attorney's office does.

"We don't believe that the district attorney's office can compromise the
claims of private citizens," said Eric Gibbs, a lawyer representing
consumers in a case combining nine separate lawsuits against Providian
in San Francisco Superior Court. (The San Francisco Chronicle 10-6-1999)

SHELL OIL: Homeowners with Leaking Plumbing Get $950 Mil Settlement
One of the most successful consumer settlements in United States history
provides replacement of leaking polybutylene (PB) plastic plumbing
systems and reimbursement for property damage.

For individuals who purchased their homes after August 21, 1995, this is
especially important because they must notify the Consumer Plumbing
Recovery Center by December 31, 1999 of their intention not to
participate in this settlement and instead seek another remedy. Those
homeowners must file an "Exclusion Request" card signifying their
intention to opt-out or they will automatically be covered by the terms
of this settlement.

The $950 million settlement in Cox v. Shell Oil Company, a national
consumer class action, provides relief for homeowners with qualifying
leaks in PB plumbing systems installed since January 1, 1978. Since the
program began just over four years ago, the Consumer Plumbing Recovery
Center (CPRC) has spent over $700 million and replumbed almost 250,000
U.S. homes.

Homeowners who have had a leak in PB plumbing or who have purchased
their home after August 21, 1995 should contact the Consumer Plumbing
Recovery Center's toll-free number 800-392-7591 to speak with a
representative or to obtain a complete printed settlement notice. The
complete notice also is available on the internet at

"We have one goal with this settlement, and that is to provide consumers
with a remedy for qualifying leaks in polybutylene plumbing," said Donna
Koestner, Claims Manager, of the CPRC, which was created to administer
the claims process. "Our representatives are prepared to move quickly
when we hear from a home owner or property owner who qualifies to be
helped by the CPRC and this settlement."

Eligible claimants include owners of mobile homes, single-family
dwellings, multi unit structures or property with a qualifying leak in
polybutylene (PB) plumbing either inside the home or in a yard service
line which was installed between January 1, 1978 and July 31, 1995.
Consumers should call the Consumer Plumbing Recovery Center to determine
eligibility for relief under the terms of this settlement. Eligibility
for this program is determined by: the installation date of the PB
system and the type and date of the leak(s). Some people's eligibility
has already expired. Qualifying future leaks are also covered by this
settlement. The deadline for participating is determined by the date the
PB system was installed and can range from 10 to 17 years from the date
of installation.

Since the national settlement was approved on November 17, 1995 by the
Chancery Court for Obion County in Union City, Tennessee (Civil Action
18,844), the CPRC has received more than a million inquiries from
consumers and more than 600,000 people have filed claim forms.

Consumers have found the CPRC's plumbing replacement program to be
easier than they expected. "We were more than satisfied with the quality
and timing of the plumbing replacement and repairs," said Nancy Gilliam,
of Tuscon, Arizona. "We were impressed by our experience with the CPRC.
They helped us through this process and understood our concerns. We were
fully reimbursed for our leak-related property damage as well."

PB plumbing systems have been installed in millions of homes in the U.S.
since the late 1970s. This plumbing system is most easily identifiable
by its gray, plastic and flexible pipes. The pipes are joined by plastic
or metal fittings held in place by small aluminum or copper bands about
the size of a man's wide wedding band.

Inside the home, a person can determine whether PB plumbing exists by
inspecting pipes in the attic, crawl spaces, or water heater closet (the
system often is hidden under insulation). Consumers should check outside
their homes for blue, gray, or black piping at the water meter or where
the pipe enters the structure.

PB pipe should not be confused with PVC or CPVC which is a rigid white
or off-white plastic. PB pipe is not used for drains, waste or vent
piping, yard sprinkler systems, irrigation systems, fire sprinkler
systems, sewer lines, faucets, or fixtures.

"Homeowners with PB plumbing systems who have had a leak or who bought
their home after August 21, 1995 should call the toll-free number and
find out more," said Tim Taylor, General Manager, of the CPRC. "The CPRC
is eager to provide homeowners the relief they are eligible to receive."
Contact Jamie Moss, 201-493-1027, for Consumer Plumbing Recovery Center

STEWART ENTERPISES: Bernstein Announces Deadline For Securities Suit
Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP, ("Class Counsel"), which represents
hundreds of shareholders in a class action suit against Stewart
Enterprises, Inc., (NASDAQ:STEI) and certain of its officers and
directors, announces that investors who purchased or acquired Stewart
Enterprises stock during the Class Period (December 15, 1998 through
August 12, 1999, inclusive) have until October 25, 1999 to seek status
as a class representative.

Many of you have received packets from Class Counsel in the mail and/or
by email containing important information regarding this case, including
information on how to become a class representative. If you have
received such a packet and wish to join, you must return the
Certification so that it is received no later than October 18, 1999, to
BY MAIL Or BY FAX Stewart Enterprises 1(800)863-0598 Class Action
Department C/O Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP 10 East 40th Street
New York, NY 10016. Contact Sandy Liebhard, Esq. or the Stewart
Enterprises Class Action Department at 1(800)217-1522 or at
stewartent@bernlieb.com TICKERS: NASDAQ:STEI by e-mail. Those who
inquire by e-mail are asked to provide their mailing address and
telephone number.

TOBACCO LITIGATION: 5th Cir Oks Class Of Casino Workers
A divided panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 19
affirmed certification of a class of persons exposed to secondhand smoke
and other fumes aboard a floating casino (Dennis Mullen, et al. v.
Treasure Chest Casino LLC, et al., No. 97-31189, 5th Cir.). (Text of
Mullen Opinion and Dissent in Section B. Mealey's Document #

Three employees of the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, La., claimed
that they each were diagnosed with asthma and bronchitis while employed
at the floating casino. They filed a class action against the casino
under the Jones Act for negligence and operating an unseaworthy vessel
by having a defective or improperly maintained air conditioning and
ventilating system.

The plaintiffs' treating physician, Kathleen McNamara, testified in a
deposition that as many as half of the 300 casino employees she treated
suffered from similar respiratory problems, which she attributed to
extremely smoky conditions in the casino.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in 1997
certified a class under Rule 23(b)(3). Under the trial plan, liability
issues common to all class members would be tried in Phase I, with the
jury deciding if the employees are seamen within the meaning of the
Jones Act, if the casino is a vessel, if the casino was unseaworthy
because of the on-board air quality and if the casino is negligent. If
the plaintiffs are successful, the court envisioned a Phase II
consisting of waves of trials involving about five class members at a
time trying the issues of causation, damages and comparative negligence.

The casino appealed.

The Fifth Circuit majority found that the class size of 100 to 150
members generally satisfied the numerosity requirement. The trial court
reasonably inferred from the nature of the class members' employment
that they would be geographically dispersed and that current employees
might be unwilling to sue individually for fear of retaliation.

The panel majority also found that the class satisfied the commonality
requirement for at least one of several common issues: operation of an
unseaworthy vessel, members' status as seamen and negligence. The legal
and remedial theories of the named plaintiffs and the class members
appear to be the same, the majority said.

While the panel majority agreed with the casino that differences among
the named plaintiffs create variances in the way they will prove
causation and damages - such as smokers versus nonsmokers - it said that
does "not affect the alignment of their interests."


The panel also found no fault with the ruling that common issues
predominate over individual issues. There is no evidence the court
limited its inquiry into predominance, the appeals court said, and
"explicit in the district court's decision is a finding that causation
is a unique issue that will be resolved in the trial plan's second-phase
individual trials."

"The common issues in this case, especially negligence and
seaworthiness, are not only significant but also pivotal. Moreover, this
case does not involve the type of individuated issues that have in the
past led courts to find predominance lacking," the panel wrote, citing
Amchem Products v. Windsor, Georgine v. Amchem Products and Castano v.
American Tobacco. "Here, by contrast, the putative class members are all
symptomatic by definition and claim injury from the same defective
ventilation system over the same general period of time.

"Because all of the claims are under federal law, there are no
individual choice-of-law issues. And, because negligence and
doctrine-of-seaworthiness claims are time-tested bases for liability,
the district court could reasonably evaluate the significance of the
common issues without first establishing a track record."

The appeals court said the casinos overstate the importance of
statements by the named plaintiffs as to the possible causes of their
problems in attempting to defeat the trial court's superiority finding.
The panel said the plaintiffs are lay witnesses whose opinions have
negligible evidentiary value and would probably be inadmissible.

                      Secondhand Smoke Testimony

"The medical experts already deposed in this case have unwaveringly
cited excessive second-hand smoke as the most likely Casino-related
factor to have exacerbated or caused the putative class members'
respiratory problems," the majority panel said. "It is thus likely that
the trial will focus on excessive second-hand smoke as both the effect
of the defective ventilation system and the cause of the putative class
members' respiratory problems.

"Furthermore," the panel majority wrote, "even if the class does claim
at trial that the Casino's ventilation system was defective in relation
to more than tobacco smoke, we are confident that the district court can
ably manage this case as a class action. Our precedent limits a
negligent party's liability to injuries that are caused by the same
condition that rendered the party negligent. . . . The court can easily
abide by this precedent by instructing the jury to answer special
verdicts finding whether the Treasure Chest was negligent, or the Casino
was unseaworthy, as to each alleged causal agent, i.e., tobacco smoke,
dust mites, fungi, paint fumes, et cetera. The court can then properly
limit the injuries for which the phase-two juries could find Treasure
Chest liable.

"Thus," the panel majority add, "if the phase-one jury were to find that
Treasure Chest was negligent as to tobacco smoke but not as to paint
fumes, any class member whose injuries were found by a phase-two jury to
be caused by paint fumes would be unable to recover. Even though
rendering multiple special verdicts would complicate the task for the
phase-one jury and the court, we would see no abuse in the district
court's finding such a process superior to conducting duplicative
individual trials."

The casino class, the panel said, lacks the problem of the Castano
tobacco class and its million members.

                         7th Amendment Concerns

The panel said the issue of having different juries rule on the same
case was not raised by either party. And the panel added that it sees no
risk of infringing on Seventh Amendment rights.

"The Seventh Amendment does not prohibit bifurcation of trials as long
as 'the judge [does] not divide issue between separate trials in such a
way that the same issue is reexamined by different juries,'" the panel
wrote, citing case law.

"In Castano, we were concerned that allowing a second jury to consider
the plaintiffs' comparative negligence would invite that jury to
reconsider the first jury's findings concerning the defendants'
conduct," the court said, referring to its tobacco class ruling. "We
believe that such a risk has been avoided here by leaving all issues of
causation for the phase-two jury.

"Thus, in considering comparative negligence, the phase-two jury would
not be reconsidering the first jury's findings of whether Treasure
Chest's conduct was negligent or the Casino unseaworthy, but only the
degree to which those conditions were the sole or contributing cause of
the class member's injury," the panel said. "Because the first jury will
not be considering any issues of causation, no Seventh Amendment
implications affect our review of the district court's superiority


Judge Emilio M. Garza dissented, saying the possibility of several
causes of the named plaintiffs' illnesses makes class treatment
unfeasible. While two complain of secondhand smoke, he said, one
complained only of dusty air vents and germs on employee radios.

"For example, if the class jury finds the ventilation system negligent
because of excessive smoke, a plaintiff should not be able to recover
for injuries caused by dust or germs," Judge Garza wrote. "If it finds
the ventilation system negligent solely because of high levels of dust
or germs, plaintiffs should not be able to recover for injuries caused
by smoke, temperature, or paint fumes.

"Put simply, an individual jury might award damages caused by smoke,
even though the class jury found Treasure Chest liable only as to
excessive dust or germs," the judge added. "This sort of 'mix-and-match'
verdict simply does not satisfy the elements of negligence, because it
would hold Treasure Chest liable for hazards that were never found to
constitute a negligent breach of duty. The district court failed to
consider the potential for its bifurcated approach to yield such
illegitimate verdicts."

Judge Garza said individual Phase II juries would inevitably be required
to inquire into issues already ruled on by the Phase I jury.

"Under the trial plan, comparative negligence will be considered by the
individual juries, whereas the Casino's negligence will be considered by
the class jury. These issues are too closely related to allow bifurcated
treatment," he said.

The plaintiffs are represented by Scott R. Bickford, John R. Martzell,
Richard A. Filce and Marcia Suzanne Montero of Martzell & Bickford in
New Orleans. Treasure Chest Casino is represented by Lisa N. Sibal and
William J. Kelly III of Adams & Reese and Lynn M. Luker of Luker, Sibal
& McMurtray, both in New Orleans. (Mealey's Litigation Report: Tobacco

USDA: Black Farmers Association Calls For Class Suit Deadline Extension
In a list ditch effort, black farmers leader John Boyd Jr., president of
the National Black Farmers Association, urges U.S. Agriculture Secretary
Daniel R. Glickman for a 180-day extension to allow black farmers
adequate time to facilitate a claim package.

Several law firms will not be finished preparing claim packages by the
Oct. 11 deadline. "Surely we should have an enlargement of time, since
USDA had discriminated against Black farmers for decades," said Boyd.
Currently, thousands of farmers are victims of Hurricane Floyd.
"Secretary Glickman knows full well that farmers can't comply with the
consent decree if they can't get to their records," Boyd continued.

Boyd's request has also received support from the Congressional Black
Caucus (CBC). In a letter to Secretary Glickman CBC members request an
additional 180-day enlargement. The USDA had been treating black farmers
unfairly for 16 years. Certainly an additional 180 days is a modest
request for relief for our besieged black farmers, the letter said.

In a letter to Judge Friedman, Boyd again urged for an extension as of
today. Claimants who filed their claims and received unfavorable
decisions have been partially due to the insufficient supporting
documents. Most of these claimants have been told by attorneys they do
not need supporting documents, therefore ending up with unfavorable
decisions. It is crucial that Black farmers be given the opportunity to
show how they were treated over the years by USDA.

National Black Farmers Association Inc., was founded in 1995 by John
Boyd to bring a social and economic change for black farmers. (U.S.
Newswire 10-6-1999)

WINN-DIXIE: Fl Ct Preliminarily Approves Settlement For Staff Bias Suit
Reports on sales and earnings of Winn-Dixie  for the first quarter of
fiscal 2000, Winn-Dixie include the following:

"In July, 1999, the Company, without admitting any wrongdoing, reached a
settlement with the named plaintiffs in a discrimination class action
lawsuit filed on behalf of certain female and African-American present
and former associates. The settlement has been preliminarily approved by
the U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Florida, and the process of
class notice and the receipt of claim forms have begun. The settlement
amount is approximately $33 million, which the Company will pay from
accruals over the next seven years."

Y2K LITIGATION: New York Law Journal Talks About Products Liability
Much has been written about the Y2K problem, as a result of which
computer systems may malfunction or shut down altogether. This could
start a chain of events leading to injuries to persons and property.

Consider, for example, the following. An embedded chip regulates the
time-release of chemicals into the water supply of a town. In 2000, the
chip fails and lethal doses of toxic chemicals are released, sickening
thousands. The manufacturer of the time-release device is sued under the
theory that its product had a defect that caused physical damage.

This nightmare almost happened. The Deseret News reported on June 16,
1998, that a lethal quantity of toxic purification chemicals was
released into a Utah town's water supply when town officials attempted
to test their water purification system for Y2K compliancy. One town
official was quoted as saying "I could have killed the whole town."
Because of the ubiquitous use of computer systems and microchips in our
society, catastrophes of this magnitude could occur.

While products liability is not the only area where there will be
significant legal exposure, much Y2K-related litigation is expected in
this area. Below is a brief overview of U.S. products liability law in
the Y2K context and a summary of recent developments that will impact
Y2K litigation.

                          Theories of Liability

In the U.S., a manufacturer that produces a product deemed to be
defective, or others in the chain of distribution, can be sued under
several theories of liability. The most common, negligence and strict
liability, are discussed below. These theories are not mutually
exclusive and, depending upon the circumstances surrounding the injury,
a plaintiff may sue under both of them.


A company found legally negligent is one that did not observe the
requisite level of care in manufacturing, designing or marketing its
product. In order for a company to be liable for negligence, the
plaintiff must prove that: (1) the company owed a duty of care to the
plaintiff (e.g., to produce a safe product); (2) it breached that duty
of care; (3) the company's action was the proximate cause of the
accident and (4) the plaintiff suffered damages.

Generally, the duty of care extends to all persons who use or can
reasonably be expected to come into contact with a manufacturer's
products. If the manufacturer fails to exercise the standard of care
that other similarly situated manufacturers use, it may be liable for
injuries that result when the product is used in a foreseeable manner.
Strict Liability. U.S. courts have held that a manufacturer will be
strictly liable for injuries if its products are deemed to be in a
defective condition that is "unreasonably dangerous" to users. A product
is unreasonably dangerous if either it is dangerous beyond the
expectation of the ordinary consumer, or a less dangerous alternative or
modification was economically feasible.

While the specific elements for proving a strict liability claim will
vary in each jurisdiction, generally, a plaintiff must prove that: (1)
the company was engaged in the business of manufacturing or selling the
product; (2) the product was defective at the time of sale; (3) the
product was unreasonably dangerous to foreseeable users; (4) the product
was intended to and did reach the user without substantial change to the
condition in which it was sold and (5) it caused physical or property

                          Defective Products

Product defects arising out of the product's manufacturing, design
and/or marketing processes can subject a manufacturer to liability.

                         Manufacturing Defect

A manufacturing defect occurs when the product was designed properly but
was incorrectly assembled or damaged in production. In the Y2K context,
most cases probably will not be brought under this theory even if the
problem is the result of a manufacturing flaw. The actual process that
created the defective system will not likely be the problem. Rather, it
will likely be the result of a design decision made when preparing the
underlying programming.

                             Design Defect
Whereas a manufacturing defect is typically isolated to one assembly
line, a design defect condemns the manufacturer's entire production of a
particular product. A manufacturer is expected to design his products so
that they are safe for their foreseeable and intended use.

In the Y2K context, a court could find that a recently designed product
is defective if it is not Y2K compliant, especially since it is
relatively easy and inexpensive nowadays to make a product compliant. On
the other hand, a court likely would not find a defect in a product that
was consciously designed 20 years ago to use two-digit date fields,
since memory space was generally less available and more expensive at
that time.

                  Marketing Defect ("Duty to Warn")

The manufacturer has a duty to warn of a product's dangers when the
manufacturer either knows or should have known that the product is
likely to be dangerous in its intended or foreseeable use (or misuse).
In the Y2K context, a manufacturer could be liable if he sells a product
that is reasonably foreseeable to malfunction because of a Y2K glitch,
and he fails to provide adequate warnings of such risks.

Additionally, manufacturers have a duty to warn consumers of dangers
discovered after the product enters the marketplace. This duty may
require the manufacturer to recall its products or offer a "fix" if
defects are discovered after they are sold to the consumer. This basis
for liability may have special applications to the Y2K problem because
so much attention has been paid to the topic over the last several

                         Claims Limitations

Where applicable, a defendant can assert the following theories and
defenses in a products liability case to reduce or eliminate its

                         Economic Loss Rule

This rule states that an injured party cannot bring a tort claim if he
only suffers economic losses, including to the product itself, instead
of physical injury or injury to other property. This doctrine could bar
Y2K product liability claims where the effect of the failure is business
interruption resulting purely in economic loss. The injured party in
such a case would be limited to any contractual claims he may have.

If the transaction in dispute involves services rather than a product,
it may be deemed to fall outside of the Uniform Commercial Code,
allowing an injured party to bring a tort action in certain
jurisdictions for negligence related to the performance of contractual
services. Certain contracts, such as software licenses, may possess
elements of both services and goods. Courts will need to decide whether
the economic loss rule should apply to such contracts.

                        Statutes of Limitation

Many states have a three-year statute of limitation for strict liability
and negligence suits, which usually begins to run from the date of the
alleged injury. Based on the long passage of time that may be involved
in Y2K cases, statutes of limitation may play a large role in limiting
products liability cases.

                          Statutes of Repose

Recognized in some states, these statutes terminate any right of action
after a specified time following the manufacture or first sale of the
product, regardless of whether or not there has yet been an injury. As
with statutes of limitation, statutes of repose may limit products
liability claims.

                           State of the Art

Most jurisdictions recognize that a product cannot be regarded as
defectively designed simply because after sale, and before the time of
injury or trial, there was a technological breakthrough making it
possible to reduce or eliminate the product's risk of harm. Thus, courts
have usually held that the question of whether it was feasible to design
a safer product must be determined as of the time of original design.

In Y2K negligent design cases, for example, such a defense could be used
if the noncompliant product was designed many years ago when computer
power was less and memory space expensive. However, this defense would
be of limited value with a product designed in recent years.

  Assumption of the Risk/Contributory Negligence/Comparative Fault

These are common defenses in products liability actions. Depending upon
the jurisdiction where suit is brought, these defenses can either reduce
damages or completely bar recovery.

To establish the defense of assumption of the risk, a defendant must
prove that the plaintiff not only had knowledge that the risk existed
and an appreciation of its character, but must also show that he
voluntarily accepted the risk. Contributory negligence or comparative
fault defenses apply if the defendant proves that the plaintiff's own
negligence contributed to his injury. In such cases, the plaintiff's
claims will be reduced in proportion to the defendant's fault, or barred

The Y2K problem has been highly publicized. Plaintiffs who fail to take
reasonable steps to prepare for it may be held to have assumed the risk
or otherwise may be deemed culpable for the damages arising out of
system failures.

               Alteration or Modification of the Product

Some jurisdictions bar liability if the plaintiff either altered or
modified the injury-causing product in a significant and unforeseeable

                          Recent Developments

In the last couple of years, the business community has directed its
attention to Y2K and the onslaught of litigation that is expected. This
attention has produced two separate pieces of federal legislation, one
of which attempts to limit the advantages a plaintiff may gain by suing
first and asking questions later.

Irrespective of the new Y2K laws, there are other factors that will
prove challenging to plaintiffs. For example, in certain pending Y2K
cases, plaintiffs are already experiencing difficulties proving physical
damages. Additionally, the Supreme Court's decision in Kumho Tire
Company v. Carmichael, U.S., 119 S. Ct. 1167 (1999), may have
far-reaching effects with regard to expert testimony offered in Y2K
product liability cases.

Federal Legislation. The first piece of Y2K federal legislation,
entitled The Year 2000 Information and Readiness Disclosure Act (Act),
was enacted on Oct. 19, 1998. Rather than attempting to regulate
litigation, this law was primarily designed to encourage voluntary
sharing by businesses of information concerning their Year 2000

Generally, the Act provides safe harbor protections for any entity
issuing good-faith disclosures (e.g. not fraudulent) by limiting the
admissibility of such statements offered as evidence at trial. Among the
more relevant carve-outs of the Act is that it neither applies to any
lawsuit pending as of July 14, 1998 nor to actions concerning serious
personal injury or death.

The more recent federal legislation, entitled The Y2K Act, was passed on
July 20, 1999, and includes regulation of a plaintiff's ability to reap
litigation rewards from Y2K failures. The Y2K Act requires that a
plaintiff notify the prospective defendant to give it an opportunity to
cure the alleged Y2K defect.

Additionally, the statute provides for proportional liability among
defendants, and caps punitive damages for small businesses at $ 250,000,
a cap that does not apply if a jury finds that the defendant acted with
a specific intent to injure the plaintiff. The Y2K Act also attempts to
limit the ability of plaintiffs to file federal class action lawsuits by
removing a good number of Y2K class actions from original federal
jurisdiction. The statute is not applicable to suits involving claims
for personal injury or death.

                       Current Y2K Litigation

Plaintiffs filing Y2K actions to date have, for the most part, limited
their allegations to claims concerning breach of warranties, fraud,
negligent misrepresentation and failure to warn. This trend may have
been spurred by the number of earlier cases which were dismissed on the
grounds that plaintiffs had yet to experience any physical injury.

California Superior Court for Santa Clara County sustained two demurrers
entered by the defendants in Issokson v. Intuit Inc., Index No.
CV773646, (Cal. Super. Ct., filed April 28, 1998) because, as the
software presently worked, the plaintiff failed to prove he had present
damages. New York Supreme Court Judge Ira Gammerman similarly dismissed
the consolidated action pending against Intuit in New York. See
Faegenburg v. Intuit Inc., No. 98602587 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., filed May 27,

However, in the next few months, plaintiffs will be in a position to
assert present physical damage as products and systems malfunction. The
number of products liability claims will likely increase significantly
as plaintiffs will no longer have to rely solely on breach of warranty
and contractual claims to recoup their losses.

Kumho Tire Company v. Carmichael. Y2K products liability litigation will
be heavily dependent on expert testimony. Kumho Tire Company v.
Carmichael will have crucial consequences for the admissibility of
expert testimony in Y2K lawsuits.

In that case, the Supreme Court held that the trial judge must ensure
that all expert testimony (not just scientific, technical or specialized
expert testimony) meets the relevance and reliability standard required
by Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence and established by Daubert
v. Merrill-Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993).

In a typical Y2K products liability case, an expert would likely testify
about what was the state of the art at the time the software was
developed, whether or not the programmer should have anticipated the Y2K
problem, whether a fix existed, and whether the defect was responsible
for the alleged damages of the plaintiff. Under Kumho Tire, the trial
judge is required to act as a gatekeeper and exclude all expert
testimony that does not rely on established principles governing
software design.

This decision could very well limit the many consultants that have
recently declared themselves as "experts." However, legal scholars
speculate that the decision could also encourage parties to forum shop
and bring suit in jurisdictions that have not adopted the Federal Rules
of Evidence in state proceedings.


The potential for Y2K products liability litigation is significant. As
stated above, most claims will allege faulty designs that resulted in
personal injury or physical damage to property.

Y2K actions involving purely economic injury will be covered, for the
most part, by contract law. Potential litigants, in order to maneuver
within the Y2K products liability litigation minefield successfully,
need to be aware of developing legislation and case law in this area.
(New York Law Journal 9-27-1999)


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