/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/991117.MBX                 C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

                Wednesday, November 17, 1999, Vol. 1, No. 201


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Texas Jury Awards Silicosis Plaintiff $ 1.9 Mil
BANK OF AMERICA: Il. Suit over Bounced-Check Fees Forces Bank To Pay
BERGEN BRUNSWIG: Finkelstein & Krinsk File Securities Suit
BERGEN BRUNSWIG: Weiss & Yourman Announce Shareholder Suit In CA
CAPITAL SENIOR: Dela Suit By Investors Seek Rescission Of Property Sale

CBS: Minn. Ct Will Hear Female Employees' Charges Of Bias In Jan. 2000
CITIZENS INC: First Investors' Shareholders Sue In Il. Over Acquisition
CITY OF TOLEDO: Statute Of Limitations Does Not Bar ADA Suit In Ohio
CONN. POLICE: Ct Orders Permanent Injunction Over Tel Interception
COX COMMUNICATIONS: Contests CA Suit Over Sale Of Cable TV Services

COX COMMUNICATIONS: Suits Re Charge Of Late Fees Go On In Multi States
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Envoy Sees Slave Labor Talks Deadlocked
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Hagens Berman Says Poles Sue German Corporate Giants
I.N.S.: Brooklyn Suit Says Fed Program For Hondurans Is Undermined
LA POLICE: Lawsuit Accuses Of Countenancing And Cover-Up Of Misconduct

PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE: Probe On Alleged Shortchanging Settlement Likely
PUBLISHERS CLEARING: AGs File Objection In Il. To Proposed Settlement
SAENZ: Fds Find CA Food Stamp Rule Illegal; Families Can Have Car & SSI
TAMPA GENERAL: Hospital, Pregnant Women Agree To Monetary Terms
UNILAB CORP: Announces Settlement For NY Suit Over Proposed UC Merger

UNION CARBIDE: New Case Over Bhopal Gas Disaster Hailed In India
VERSANT CORP: Moves To Dismiss Consolidated Securities Suit In CA
VITAMIN PRICE-FIXING: Fight Can Come With Opt-Out Clause In Settlement


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Texas Jury Awards Silicosis Plaintiff $ 1.9 Mil
Gomez worked as a sandblaster for about six years and claimed exposure
to silica through abrasive sand blasting. His diagnosis of silicosis is
not disputed, sources said. Medical testimony indicated Gomez will be
disabled from work in about 15 years and will die in about 20 to 25
years from respiratory failure.

Humble Sand and Gravel maintained that the warning was adequate and that
Gomez's employer was the sole cause of injuries by not providing a safe
environment in which to work, sources said. The defense further argued
that Gomez was negligent because he was aware of the dangers and read
and understood the warnings, sources added.

Defense moved for a directed verdict on preemption, sophisticated user
and learned intermediary doctrine, which was denied. Final judgment in
this case has not yet been issued. The defense is planning an appeal.

Case name and no.: Raymond Gomez v. Humble Sand & Gravel, No. A-152-368
Plaintiff(s)/Decedent(s): Raymond Gomez
Verdict(s): $ 1.9 million
Date: Sept. 3
Court: Texas 60th District Court, Jefferson Co.
Judge: Gary Sanderson
Humble Sand & Gravel, supplier of flint bags.
Sources said there were 15 other named defendants, all of which settled
before trial. The settled defendants include manufacturers, retailers,
abrasive suppliers and respiratory protection defendants, sources said.
Negligence and failure to provide an adequate warning on Humble's bag of
flint used in abrasive blasting
Plaintiff Expert(s):
Gary Friedman, pulmonologist in Houston, and Vernon Rose, industrial
hygienist in Houston.
Defense Expert(s):
Jerry Householder, PHDB liability expert, Baton Rouge, La. and Emma
Vasquez, vocational expert, Houston.
Plaintiff Attorney(s):
Lance P. Bradley and Darren Brown of Proust & Umphrey in Beaumont, TX
Defense Attorney(s):
Mike Dodson and Christy Amuny of Pete & Dodson in Beaumont, Texas
(Mealey's Litigation Report: Asbestos, New Publication, Vol. 14, No. 17,

BANK OF AMERICA: Il. Suit over Bounced-Check Fees Forces Bank To Pay
Before tossing out tomorrow's junk mail, Bank of America customers might
want to comb that stack for a nondescript white envelope offering them $
50 for bouncing checks. What the country's biggest bank gets for its
money is peace of mind, knowing that customers who take the 50 bucks now
can't sue the bank later.
But peace of mind does not come cheaply.

Bank of America estimates that 1.4 million customers may be able to cash
in on its offer to settle an Illinois couple's class-action lawsuit over
the bank's system of processing checks and levying charges for the
rubber ones. The Charlotte-based bank has offered a total of $ 9 million
to cover that tab, while denying the couple's charges of fraud.

Dana and Andrea Patterson of Fairview Heights, Ill., complained that the
bank would first pay off the largest check that arrived after their
account emptied. The Pattersons claimed that Bank of America thus got
more $ 25 bounced-check fees than it would have if it had paid the
checks in the order they arrived.
For example, say five checks hit the bank on a day when there isn't
enough money in an account to cover all of them. If the bank processes
the biggest one first and the four smaller ones bounce, the bank would
assess a $ 25 fee for each and make $ 100. But if the bank processes the
checks in order of the numbers on them, perhaps three of the smaller
checks would clear and only two bounce, allowing the bank to charge only
$ 50 in fees.

The Pattersons have mounted the most successful consumer attack on the
practice so far. Courts in Alabama and Tennessee have tossed out similar
class actions.
When it adopted the practice two years ago, Bank of America projected a
$ 14 million increase in fees. Even though it costs banks only 50 cents
to $ 1.50 to handle a bad check, spokesman Ellison Clary said Bank of
America is just trying to recoup its processing costs by paying
customers' largest checks first.

Most customers like it that way, Clary said. "We do know that, for a
great majority of our customers, the larger checks tend to be for
important payments like the mortgage, the car, the insurance," he said.
"Customers want to see that they go through without a hitch."

Until the late 1980s, most banks either processed checks in order of the
numbers on them or the smallest checks first, according to a lawyer for
the Pattersons, Doug Sprong. The largest-check-first practice grew more
common as banking consultants began telling their customers about the
simple programming change in check-processing machines that could
produce increases in bounced-check fees, he said. "Now it's become
standard practice among the big banks," Sprong said. "It hits everybody.
It doesn't matter who you are."

Not all banks use the system, although it's legal under state and
federal laws. First Citizens of Raleigh and Wachovia, based in
Winston-Salem, both process checks in order of the numbers on them. But
mega-banks, such as First Union, that use the largest-check-first system
see no reason to change it despite Bank of America's multimillion-dollar

Under the present law, forcing banks to disclose how they levy
bounced-check charges was the most important victory possible, Sprong
said. "If you look at your statements, it's almost impossible to figure
out what's going on," he said. "Our suit could force banks to disclose;
then if the customer doesn't like it, he can take his business to
another bank."

Bank executives acknowledged in court that they hadn't notified
customers of the change in 1997 because there was no legal requirement
to do so. But in August, the bank sent notices about the procedure with
every checking account customer's statement. "And new customers are made
aware of the practice as they sign their deposit agreements," Clary
said. It's not an issue for most bank customers, he said. They manage
their checking accounts to avoid bounced-check charges or pay the bank
more to cover their checks if the money runs out.

Bank of America customers who receive the claims administrator's white
envelopes were identified as people who bounced more than one check in a
single day, Sprong said. To share in the settlement, they must fill out
a claim form by Dec. 31. They don't have to prove when the harm
occurred. "If they can identify a month or even a year when this
happened ...," he said. "I tell people, 'You do the best you can.'" A
customer who wants to hire his own lawyer and sue Bank of America must
formally decline the settlement by Dec. 15. (News & Observer

BERGEN BRUNSWIG: Finkelstein & Krinsk File Securities Suit
Bergen Brunswig Corporation (NYSE:BBC) is accused in a class action
lawsuit of fraudulently misrepresenting the Company's condition, earning
growth, financial statements and the Company's ability to continue to
achieve profitable growth in order to inflate the price of the Company's

According to the Complaint filed by Finkelstein & Krinsk, the Company
and its controlling insiders issued a series of false and misleading
statements to the market regarding the acquisitions of Stadtlander Drug
Co., Inc., and PharMerica, Inc. while omitting to disclose known adverse
facts about the Company's troubled operations, diminished profitability
and true financial conditions.

The Complaint particularizes plaintiff's allegations of how Company's
management violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and specifies
the Company's false statements and omitted material facts. The Complaint
has been filed in United States District Court for the Southern District
of California and represents a class comprised of all individual and
institutional investors for the pertinent time period.

Defendants' statements were false and caused Bergen Brunswig stock to
trade at artificially inflated levels during the Class Period (March 16,
1999 - October 14, 1999). When the truth about defendants'
misrepresentations became known to investors, the price of Bergen shares
dropped dramatically from a Class Period high of over $25 per share,
reaching as low as $6.44 per share in intra-day trading on October 19,
1999, as the market digested the adverse revelations.

If you purchased or acquired a significant amount of Bergen Brunswig
stock during the Class Period, you can join in the action on favorable
terms without cost or expense to you by contacting Finkelstein & Krinsk.
Members of the Class who wish to actively participate must act by no
later than December 21, 1999. For any inquiries or to discuss this
lawsuit and alternatives, contact: Jeffrey R. Krinsk at Finkelstein &
Krinsk, the Koll Center, 501 West Broadway, Suite 1250, San Diego, CA
92101 by calling toll free 877-493-5366 or E-Mail -
fk@class-action-law.com Or fax 619-238-5425.

BERGEN BRUNSWIG: Weiss & Yourman Announce Shareholder Suit In CA
A class action lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court for the
Central District of California on behalf of purchasers of Bergen
Brunswig Corporation, (NYSE: BBC) between March 16, 1999 through October
14, 1999, inclusive.

Bergen Brunswig Corporation is a leading supply channel management
company, specializing in the supply of pharmaceuticals, medical-surgical
supplies and specialty healthcare products as well as information
management solutions and consulting services.

The defendants include: Bergen Brunswig Corporation, Donald R. Roden,
and Neil F. Dimick. The Complaint charges that defendants violated
Sections 10(b), 14(a) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
and rules 10b-5 and 14a-9 of the Securities Exchange Commission as well
as sections 11, 12(2) and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933. The action
arises from damages incurred by the Class as a result of a scheme and
common course of conduct by defendants which operated as a fraud and
deceit on the Class during the Class Period. Defendants' scheme
included, among other things, rendering false and misleading statements
and/or omissions concerning the financial condition of the Stadtlander
Drug Co., which Bergen Brunswig purchased in early 1999 from Counsel

Plaintiff seeks to recover damages on behalf of class members and is
represented by the law firm of Weiss & Yourman. If you are a member of
the class described above, you may, no later than sixty days from
October 22, 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. If you wish to discuss this action or have
any questions concerning this notice, please contact plaintiffs' counsel
Ronald Theda at 800-437-7918 or via e-mail at wyinfo@wyca.com or visit
the firm's web site at www.wyca.com Contact: Ronald Theda of Weiss &
Yourman, 800-437-7918, wyinfo@wyca.com

CAPITAL SENIOR: Dela Suit By Investors Seek Rescission Of Property Sale
On or about October 23, 1998, Robert Lewis filed a putative class action
complaint on behalf of certain holders of Assignee Interests in NHP
Retirement Housing Partners I Limited Partnership ("NHP") in the
Delaware Court of Chancery against NHP, Capital Senior Living Corp.,
Capital Senior Living Properties 2-NHPCT, Inc. and Capital Realty Group
Senior Housing, Inc. (collectively, the "Defendants"). Mr. Lewis
purchased 90 Assignee Interests in February 1993 for $180. The complaint
alleges among other things, that the Defendants breached, or aided and
abetted a breach of, the express and implied terms of the NHP
Partnership Agreement in connection with the sale of four properties by
NHP to Capital Senior Living Properties 2-NHPCT, Inc. The complaint
seeks, among other relief, rescission of the sale of those properties
and unspecified damages. The Company believes the complaint is without
merit and intends to vigorously defend itself in this action.

CBS: Minn. Ct Will Hear Female Employees' Charges Of Bias In Jan. 2000
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued findings
that there is probable cause to believe that CBS discriminates
nationwide against women at its owned and operated television stations.
The EEOC found that the evidence "indicates that female Technicians have
been subjected to disparate treatment in salary, amount of over-time,
promotion opportunities, and training" at CBS. The EEOC finding also
found that "evidence of record indicates a sexually hostile environment
at (CBS), in that female Technicians have been subject to endure verbal
sexual harassment by their colleagues and by management."

The EEOC's findings support the claims of female technicians who have
been battling CBS in federal court with a class action suit in Minnesota
since 1996. That suit is being brought on behalf of female technicians
at six CBS TV stations from Los Angeles to New York City, and alleges
that female technicians are denied promotions and lucrative job
assignments that are routinely given to men. For example, at WCCO-TV in
Minneapolis, CBS has not promoted a single female technician to a
supervisory position. At KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, WBBM-TV in Chicago and
WCBS-TV in New York, data shows that overtime is overwhelmingly awarded
to male technicians.

The women who brought the lawsuit against CBS are technicians who have
been with CBS more than 18 years. They estimate that CBS' discrimination
has cost each of them hundreds of thousands of dollars. The lawsuit in
Minnesota includes some 165 women. The plaintiffs' lawsuit in Minnesota
is scheduled to go to trial in January 2000. It is unclear what effect
the lawsuit or the EEOC findings will have on the pending merger between
CBS and Viacom.

One of the plaintiffs' lawyers, Susan Stokes of Sprenger & Lang,
Minneapolis and Washington, DC, says she is encouraged by the EEOC's
determination: "CBS has for years resisted the efforts of these women to
try to make the work environment at CBS a level playing field. We hope
CBS will take the EEOC's finding to heart and try to eliminate the
obstacles that women face at its television stations."

Stokes is a partner in the Minneapolis office of Sprenger & Lang, which
specializes in national employment class action litigation. A copy of
the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finding follows.

What follows is the Amended Determination from the U.S. Employment
Opportunity Commission, New York District Office:

Ms. Linda Karpell   Charging Party
332 West 89th Street
New York, NY 10024

CBS, Inc.    Respondent
51 W. 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
Charge No. 160970885

On behalf of the Commission, I issue the following amended determination
on the merits of the subject charge filed under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, as amended (Title VII). All requirements for
coverage have been met.

Charging Party alleges that she was discriminated against because of her
sex, female. Charging Party further alleges that Respondent retaliated
against her by terminating her on the basis of her sex.

Respondent denies the allegations.

Evidence of record indicates that Charging Party and other similarly
situated female Technicians have been discriminated against by
Respondent. The evidence indicates that female Technicians have been
subjected to disparate treatment in salary, amount of over-time,
promotion opportunities, and training. In addition, evidence of record
indicates a sexually hostile environment at Respondent, in that female
Technicians have been subject to endure verbal sexual harassment by
their colleagues and by management. Evidence of record also indicates
that several female Technicians have been retaliated against for
complaining about sex discrimination.

Based on the foregoing, I have determined that there is reasonable cause
to believe that Charging Party and other similarly situated females have
been discriminated against in violation of Title VII.

This determination is final. Title VII requires that if the Commission
determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that violations
have occurred, it shall endeavor to eliminate the alleged unlawful
employment practices by informal methods of conference, conciliation,
and persuasion. Having determined that there is reason to believe that
violations have occurred, the Commission now invites the Respondent to
join with it in an effort toward a just resolution of this matter. A
representative of this office will be in contact with the Respondent in
the near future to begin the conciliation process. Disclosure of
information obtained by the Commission during the conciliation process
will be made in accordance with Title VII and the Commission's
Procedural Regulations.

When the Respondent declines to enter into settlement discussions, or
when the Commission's Representative is unable to secure a settlement
acceptable to the Office Director, the Director shall so inform the
Respondent in writing of the court enforcement alternative available to
the Commission.

On Behalf of the Commission:
OCT 29, 1999    Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
District Director

Contact: Susan Stokes of Sprenger & Lang, Minneapolis, 612-871-8910, or
Paul Sprenger of Sprenger & Lang, Washington DC, 202-265-8010

CITIZENS INC: First Investors' Shareholders Sue In Il. Over Acquisition
In March 1999, the Company was served with a summons regarding an action
entitled Berdeaux Living Trust v. First Investors Group, Inc., Donald L.
Dennis, H. Marie Dennis, Winona Drewes and Citizens, Inc. in U.S.
District Court, Southern District of Illinois. The complaint alleged
that the defendants defrauded the plaintiffs and other persons who were
preferred shareholders of First Investors Group, Inc. in connection with
an acquisition of First Investors completed by the Company in early
1999. In the acquisition, the Company issued approximately 610,000
shares of its Class A Common Stock to shareholders of First Investors
pursuant to a registration statement declared effective by the
Securities and Exchange Commission in December 1998. The plaintiffs
sought class action certification on behalf of approximately 1,860
persons who were preferred shareholders of First Investors. Damages were
alleged based upon alleged violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 and the Illinois securities laws as well as under
Illinois common law fraud and against the defendants other than the
Company, for breach of fiduciary duty. The Company prepared an answer
which vigorously denied the allegations, on October 22, 1999, the
District Court dismissed the complaint without prejudice.

CITY OF TOLEDO: Statute Of Limitations Does Not Bar ADA Suit In Ohio
Because the City of Toledo's ongoing failure to install curb ramps
constituted a continuing violation of the Americans with Disabilities
Act, the pertinent statute of limitations did not prevent class action
plaintiffs from proceeding with their ADA claim. Deck v. City of Toledo,
No. 3:98CV74 16 NDLR 17 (N.D. Ohio 1999).

Individuals with mobility impairments filed a class action suit
contending that the city failed to install curb ramps that met statutory
requirements. They succeeded in their motion for a preliminary

The city subsequently filed a motion for partial summary judgment on
claims involving all intersections where streets or sidewalks were
constructed or altered two years prior to the date upon which the
parties agreed to toll the statute of limitations.

The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio denied the city's
motion. Since the ADA lacked any specific statute of limitations, the
court applied the 2-year limitations period set forth in the state
personal injury statute as the one most analogous to the ADA. It
initially rejected the plaintiffs' argument that this statute of
limitations did not apply because the city's acts constituted present
violations of the ADA. Even if individuals with disabilities were still
"suffering the ramifications of having noncompliant ramps scattered
throughout the community," this did not "create a present violation of
the ADA if the ramps were constructed and in plain view two years prior
to the commencement of the lawsuit."

However, the evidence supported the plaintiffs' claim that the city's
actions constituted continuing violations of the ADA, the court found.
The city first failed to act in compliance with the ADA after its
enactment and then repeatedly failed to comply with that statute. In
addition, injury to the plaintiffs could have been avoided if the city
had complied with the statute and constructed curb ramps that would have
allowed greater accessibility.

Further, the plaintiffs did not have to prove that the city specifically
intended to discriminate against individuals with disabilities, the
court determined. Thus, they were not barred from asserting their
claims, given the fact that at least one of the ramps was undisputedly
constructed within the statutory limitations period and the fact that
the city's actions qualified as a continuing ADA violation. (National
Public Employment Reporter 11-3-1999)

CONN. POLICE: Ct Orders Permanent Injunction Over Tel Interception
In re State Police Litigation * U.S. District Court (Docket No.
B-89-606) * Oct. 8, 1999. Permanent Injunction Nevas, J.

Upon stipulation of all of the parties to the Stipulation of Settlement
of Class Action dated May 7, 1999 ("Settlement Stipulation") in the
above-captioned cases, and specifically in accordance with Paragraph
III. S of that Settlement Stipulation, and incorporating herein all
definitions set forth in that Settlement Stipulation, and pursuant to
Fed. R. Civ. P. 65, it is hereby ordered that the following Permanent
Injunction is entered:

The Defendants are prohibited from conducting any interception1 of any
wire communication to or from Connecticut State Police facilities,
except as authorized by law.

The Defendants are prohibited from conducting any aural electronic
surveillance of attorney-client meetings at State Police facilities and
from disclosing the contents of any such meeting previously recorded to
any person except the following:

    * The United States Attorney or his designee;
    * Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and
    * Any other person pursuant to a court order from any state or
      federal court.

This injunction shall not prohibit the interception of any telephone
conversation to or from a Connecticut State Police facility or the legal
use or disclosure of the information or materials contained in any such
conversation where all of the following conditions exist:

    * A Connecticut State Police employee, or person acting on behalf
      of the CSP, is a party to the conversation;
    * Such employee or person has notice of the wire interception; and
    * Such employee or person has available for use at that CSP
      facility a telephone line or lines that are not subject to wire

Except as authorized by law, the Defendants are restrained from
disclosing to an person the existence or contents of any intercepted
wire communication, made to or from any Connecticut State Police
facility, or information or material derived therefrom. This injunction
shall not prohibit any such disclosure to any of the following

    * The United States Attorney or his designee;
    * Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation;
    * The Commission appointed by the Governor consisting of the
      Attorney General, the Chief State's Attorney and the Governor's
    * Lawyers on the Attorney General's staff; or
    * To any person pursuant to a court order from any state or federal

Until ten (10) days following the Completion Date, the Defendants are
restrained from in any way altering or destroying any and all records,
tapes, notes, logs, transcripts or other tangible evidence of any
intercepted wire communication to, from or within a Connecticut State
Police facility made during a Covered Period.

Until ten (10) days following the Completion Date, the Defendants are
restrained from in any way altering or destroying any and all policies,
orders, regulations, directives, rules, letters, notes, memoranda or
other documents which in any way refer to the wire interception or other
electronic surveillance of conversations made to, from or within a
Connecticut State Police facility during the period from January 1, 1978
through November 9, 1989.

Nothing in this order shall prohibit the reuse of audio and/or video
tapes made after the entry of this permanent injunction, which were
recorded in accordance with the provisions of this permanent injunction,
or require the retention of records made in connection with such audio
or video tapes that are not normally retained in the ordinary course of

This permanent injunction represents the stipulated agreement of the
parties. While it is binding upon the parties until or unless modified,
its provisions are not to be construed as an admission by any party with
respect to the constitutional, statutory and other legal rights or
duties of persons who are parties or nonparties in this Action or any
other action, nor shall this Order be construed in such a manner so as
to prejudice or affect Defendants or any persons rights or duties in any
context except as expressly set forth herein for purposes of
effectuating the Settlement Stipulation in this Action.

This permanent injunction supersedes and renders null and void any
previous injunctive orders entered in this Action. This permanent
injunction may be modified only by order of this Court. 1"Interception"
is defined for purposes of this permanent injunction as it is in 18
U.S.C. @2510(4). For purposes of this injunction only, and subject to
its terms and limitations, including without limitation the provisions
of paragraph 8 hereof, the parties agree that "interception" as used
herein includes listening and/or recording the subject communications by
means identified in 18 U.S.C. @2510(4). (The Connecticut Law Tribune

COX COMMUNICATIONS: Contests CA Suit Over Sale Of Cable TV Services
On October 9, 1997, three individual subscribers filed a putative class
action suit in Superior Court of the State of California, County of San
Diego against Cox and its cable television system subsidiaries in
California arising out of the manner in which such systems sell premium
channel cable services. The suit alleges that Cox's California Systems
unlawfully require limited basic cable customers to purchase the
expanded basic services tier in order to purchase premium channels,
i.e., channels sold on an a-la-carte basis such as Home Box Office and
Showtime. The suit asserts causes of action under California antitrust
and consumer protection laws. The suit seeks injunctive relief as well
as an order awarding the class members compensatory damages, plus
statutory damages, punitive damages, interest and attorney's fees.

On February 13, 1998, the Court granted Cox's motion to stay the suit
and referred it on grounds of Primary Jurisdiction to the Federal
Communications Commission for consideration of issues best addressed by
the FCC's expertise should the plaintiffs elect to file a complaint with
the FCC. The plaintiffs filed a Petition for Order to Show Cause against
Cox on October 1, 1998. In addition, they sought to have the stay lifted
by the court. On January 15, 1999, the court denied the plaintiff's
motion to lift the stay. On July 19, 1999, the FCC dismissed the
Petition without prejudice to any further FCC action at a later date. In
doing so, the FCC found that Cox has complied with the rules at issue
with regard to its southern San Diego operations where the three named
petitioners are subscribers. At a status conference on October 21, 1999,
the Court gave the plaintiffs 30 days to file an amended complaint and
the defendants 30 days thereafter to file a response. Cox will continue
to defend the action vigorously. The outcome of this matter cannot be
predicted at this time.

COX COMMUNICATIONS: Suits Re Charge Of Late Fees Go On In Multi States
Cox and certain subsidiaries are defendants in eight putative subscriber
class action suits in state courts in Arizona, Oklahoma, Louisiana,
Florida, Nebraska, Indiana, Texas and Nevada initiated between October
17, 1997 and December 17, 1998. The suits all challenge the propriety of
late fees charged by the subsidiaries to customers who fail to pay for
services in a timely manner. The suits seek injunctive relief and
various formulations of damages under various claimed causes of action
under various bodies of state law. These actions are in different stages
of defense and, in four cases, the parties have reached settlement
agreements. Settlements in Oklahoma and Florida have been approved by
the court. Settlements in Arizona and Nevada are pending court approval.
The court approval of the settlement of the Florida case is on appeal,
pending oral argument. The remaining actions are being defended
vigorously. The outcome of these matters cannot be predicted at this

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: German Envoy Sees Slave Labor Talks Deadlocked
A German envoy to negotiations on compensating Nazi-era laborers said
Monday he had few hopes of reaching a settlement as a new round of talks
began. ''I am certainly not purely optimistic,'' German government
negotiator Otto Lambsdorff said. ''I don't know what will come out at
the end, how we can proceed, whether we can proceed.''

Talks on establishing a foundation to pay victims forced to work for
Nazi Germany during World War II are stalled over how much money
survivors should get. The two-day meeting in Bonn is the sixth in the
negotiations. The German government and a group of German companies have
offered 7 billion marks ($3.7 billion/3.6 billion euros). Victims'
attorneys are demanding more.

Lambsdorff, speaking on West German Radio, said he could not rule out a
collapse of the talks and called on all sides to compromise. But lawyers
say they will raise their demands on behalf of the victims even higher.
Meanwhile, German industry and the government have bickered publicly
over who should offer more money. ''We're very far apart,'' attorney
Edward Fagan said Monday, adding that the talks were ''on the verge of
potentially collapsing.''

Lambsdorff, U.S. government envoy Stuart Eizenstat and German industry
representatives avoided reporters as they arrived Tuesday for the talks
at the former Foreign Ministry building in Bonn.

Lawyers for Nazi-era laborers are threatening to walk out of talks on a
compensation settlement unless Germany raises its offer, one of the
attorneys said Tuesday as a new round of talks began. ''The majority of
the lawyers is ready to walk out of the talks,'' said Edward Fagan, one
of 12 lawyers representing people forced to work for Nazi Germany during
World War II.

Yet Fagan also said there were signs Germany would boost the 7 billion
marks ($ 3.7 billion/3.6 billion euros) in compensation offered by some
of the nation's largest companies and the government. A figure of up to
10 billion marks ($ 5.3 billion/5.1 billion euros) has now been raised
in the negotiations, Fagan told reporters on the sidelines of the talks.
He refused to elaborate or to say whether that would satisfy the
attorneys' demands.

In the endgame over money amounts, Fagan on Tuesday branded the German
proposal officially on the table ''preposterous'' even after the
government said Monday it was raising its part of the offer by 50
percent, to 3 billion marks ($ 1.6 billion). The companies have offered
4 billion marks (2.1 billion dollars/2.05 billion euros), but say they
are having trouble raising even that amount.

An Israeli government representative at the talks also said the German
offer fell short. Bobby Brown urged the companies Tuesday to ''put in a
dignified amount,'' though he specified no figure. ''I am always
hopeful, but we still have a long way to go,'' he said.

While lawyers have said they will raise their demands on behalf of
victims even higher, German industry and the government have bickered
publicly over who should offer more money.

German companies proposed the fund under pressure of class-action
lawsuits in the United States. But as the negotiations drag on, lawyers
have suggested it might be better to simply fight the cases in court.

Time is critical. All sides acknowledge the victims are elderly, and
more are dying every day. On Monday, the German government confirmed it
was raising its offer by 50 percent, to 3 billion marks ($ 1.6 billion).
But that increase was proposed as lawyers unveiled an independent study
showing that German industry made the present-day equivalent of almost $
100 billion from using Nazi-era slave and forced labor. Fagan said
lawyers would be demanding a number well above $ 10 billion for the
fund. Lambsdorff dismissed the study, saying it's ''not serious and
doesn't get us anywhere.''

The companies have offered 4 billion marks (2.1 billion dollars), but
say they are having trouble raising even that amount. Gibowski has
called on the government to raise its offer again and contribute an
amount equal to what industry has pledged. But Lambsdorff insisted
Monday that the companies could do more, even though not all firms that
profited from slave labor might ultimately sign up for the foundation.
''German business has an overall responsibility for what occurred in
World War II,'' he told German radio. ''You can't base it on individual
companies and how much they profited from it.''

So far, one of the only issues the sides have agreed on is how to
protect the firms from future lawsuits industry's main concern. The U.S.
government has said if lawsuits are filed, it would recommend they be
handled by the foundation. About 50 firms have said they will contribute
to the fund. On Monday, auto parts and appliance maker Robert Bosch
added its name to the 16 other companies that have publicly stated their

The fund aims to compensate about 235,000 slave laborers, or people who
were expected to be worked to death in concentration camps. Also
included are hundreds of thousands of other forced laborers, mostly
non-Jews from Eastern Europe, although those numbers are in dispute. The
total amount of people covered by the fund could range from 1.5 million
to 2.3 million.

Participants in the talks include the German and U.S. governments,
class-action lawyers, German industry, Jewish groups, Israel, Ukraine,
Poland, Russia, Belarus and the Czech Republic. A delegation
representing British World War II prisoners who were forced to work for
the Nazis was flying to Germany on Tuesday to press for compensation.
(AP Worldstream Nov-16-1999)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Hagens Berman Says Poles Sue German Corporate Giants
A group of Polish World War II slave laborers now residing in Britain
today filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against a number of German
corporations, claiming the companies illegally profited from the use of
Nazi slave labor drawn from Poland during the war. If approved by the
United States District Court of Northern California, the suit would
represent potentially thousands of survivors, as well as their heirs.
The suit is believed to be the first to specifically represent former
slave laborers exiled from Poland and now living abroad.

According to Steve Berman, the Seattle attorney who filed the class
action suit, Polish citizens were considered by the Nazis to be an
inferior, subhuman race, and were categorically forced to work as slave
laborers for a number of German companies. "These German multi-nationals
fully cooperated with the Nazis to exploit and profit from the forced
labor of these innocent citizens taken from Poland," Berman says.
"Polish citizens were forced to work under brutal and intolerable
conditions, while the companies they worked for prospered. As if that
wasn't enough, these Polish prisoners were not only brutalized by the
Nazis, but the defendants as well," he added.

According to the suit, the defendants were fully complicit in the brutal
treatment of the Polish forced laborers. The suit claims company
officials gave Polish slaves inadequate clothing, were forced to wear
yellow badges with a violet "P" on it, and were treated inhumanely to
stigmatize them as inferior human beings. "Company officials of the
defendants' in this suit were extremely brutal to these Poles," Berman
says. "They supervised the slave laborers in plants and mines where they
knew racist and violent Nazi guards stood watch. Furthermore, the same
company officials often visited Nazi concentration camps to coldly
choose workers from the starved and brutalized slave populations. These
companies profited considerably from the labors of their Polish victims,
but have never paid one honest cent for their suffering."

The suit also claims that by 1944, at the peak of Nazi supremacy, the
defendants and other German companies in cooperation with the Nazis, had
forced over 1.6 million Poles to work at their plants under intolerable

The named plaintiffs in the suit include Polish born citizens Ryszard
Staniszewski, Eugeniusz Konecki, Danuta Krzyzanowska, Wieslawa
Bereznicka, Eugenia Mustajew and several others, all of whom are now
permanent residents of the Britain. The suit names numerous defendants
including, Bayer AG, Daimler Chrysler AG, Thyssen Krupp AG, Siemens AG,
Hoechst AG, BSAF AG and German Doe Corporations 1-100. Contact: Steve
Berman of Hagens Berman P.S., 206-623-7292.

I.N.S.: Brooklyn Suit Says Fed Program For Hondurans Is Undermined
Lawyers accused the Immigration and Naturalization Service of
undermining a federal program that offers work permits to Honduran
immigrants so they can help relatives at home recover from the
devastation of Hurricane Mitch.

In a class-action lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn,
four immigrant advocacy groups said the agency's processing center in
Vermont had failed to provide short-term work permits to thousands of
Hondurans who have been entitled to them for months.

In early January, Hondurans living in the United States were offered the
chance to apply for temporary protected status under a law that protects
some foreign nationals from deportation when their home country has been
devastated by armed conflict or a natural disaster.

Hurricane Mitch struck Honduras and other parts of Central America in
October and November 1998. The immigration service immediately announced
that it would suspend deportations to the affected countries as a
humanitarian gesture; when the full extent of the damage became clear,
Attorney General Janet Reno expanded the gesture with the offer of
temporary protected status.

Lawyers for the Honduran immigrants said that officials in Vermont had
improperly demanded documentation from immigrants that was not legally
required for temporary protected status, further delaying the issuance
of permits. The program for Hondurans is set to expire on July 5, 2000.

Immigration officials in Washington acknowledged that there had been
problems in processing some applications. "Over all, there was a
misunderstanding or misconception on the part of the Vermont Service
Center," said Bill Strassberger, an I.N.S. spokesman. "Their
understanding of the regulations was that there was more documentation
required than actually was necessary. That's now been clarified and we
are working to get the applications processed."

The lawsuit and the official response underscored recurrent problems at
the Vermont center, which handles immigration cases from states along
the East Coast from Maine to Virginia. Applicants for citizenship and
for green cards have waited as long as three years -- longer than in
other regions -- for the Vermont center to locate and then process their
requests. Its handling of the Honduran program has drawn criticism from
immigration lawyers.

Nearly 107,000 Hondurans nationwide applied for the benefit by the
August deadline, and nearly 70,000 had received a work permit as of the
first week of November, according to the agency. However, of the nearly
36,000 requests for work permits received at the Vermont center, 21,000
were sent back with a demand for more information. No other service
center in the country raised questions about so many applications.

To receive the legal right to live and work in the United States while
their country is rebuilding, Hondurans had to show they had resided in
the United States since Dec. 30, 1998, and had not traveled outside the
country since Jan. 5, 1999. But many applicants to the Vermont center
received letters telling them they had to prove, instead, that they had
resided in the country before Dec. 30, 1998. Some were told they had to
prove they had not traveled outside the United States since the day they
had arrived.

Not only were the demands illegal, the lawsuit charges, but the agency
ignored a legal obligation to issue temporary permits so that applicants
could get jobs while their files were being processed. "Temporary
protected status is nothing new -- it has been used with dozens of
countries," said Charles Wheeler, a lawyer at the Catholic Legal
Immigration Network in San Francisco. "The I.N.S. has never requested
this level of documentation."

Most of the Hondurans who applied for the temporary protected status are
in the country illegally, immigrant advocates said. They may be
unemployed or working at black-market jobs for low wages. A work permit
would give them a chance to earn more and send more to their families,
Mr. Wheeler said. (The New York Times Nov-16-1999)

LA POLICE: Lawsuit Accuses Of Countenancing And Cover-Up Of Misconduct
A man whose conviction for illegal gun possession was thrown out because
of evidence uncovered in the Rampart police division scandal filed a
federal civil rights lawsuit Monday against present and former officials
of the Los Angeles Police Department, the Police Commission, the city
attorney's office and the City Council. In a suit seeking class action
status, Miguel A. Hernandez, 41, accused the civilian agencies of
countenancing and condoning a cover-up of police misconduct.

Responding to the suit, Chief Assistant City Atty. Tom Hokinson called
the charges "irresponsible . . . wild and unfounded."

Drafted by attorney Stephen Yagman, a longtime police critic, the suit
accuses the city attorney's staff of pressuring police officers to tell
the same story by suggesting that unless they cooperate in a joint
defense, they could be ineligible for indemnification if punitive
damages are awarded against them in a civil action. The lawsuit further
charges that the City Council and the Police Commission share blame for
the current scandal because of their failure to investigate or fully
punish police misconduct. It asks for an injunction that would disband
the Rampart police division and the department's anti-gang unit, known
as CRASH, and it accuses all the defendants of violating the federal
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Practices Act (RICO) to the extent that
they participated in the bogus prosecution of innocent people.

Hernandez, the plaintiff in the suit, had his conviction thrown out last
week by Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler at the request of the
district attorney's office. He was one of four people whose convictions
were overturned after an investigation of LAPD Officer Rafael Perez's
claim that he and his partner, Nino Durden, routinely set up suspects,
planting guns and drugs on them. (Los Angeles Times Nov-16-1999)

PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE: Probe On Alleged Shortchanging Settlement Likely
A federal judge Monday said he wants a quick investigation into
allegations that the Prudential Insurance Company of America
shortchanged the settlements of customers victimized by deceptive life
insurance practices.

U.S. District Court Judge Alfred Wolin did not formally grant approval
for the investigation, but he is expected to sign the order later this
week. The probe was prompted by 25 Prudential employees who alleged in
separate discrimination lawsuits that they were instructed not to give
full compensation to policyholders deceived by illegal sales practices
between 1982 and 1995.

To settle a class action civil suit brought by life insurance
policyholders, Prudential agreed in 1996 to set aside about $ 2 billion
to reimburse customers who claim they were deceived by the Newark-based
insurer. About 1.1 million customers have filed such claims.

The questionable sales practices included churning, in which customers
were told they could use the cash value of their life insurance policy
to buy a second policy at no additional cost. But after buying more
coverage, the customers were left with one worthless policy and high
premiums on a second policy.

Brad Friedman, a lawyer with Milberg Weiss, the New York firm that
represented policyholders in the class action suit and is monitoring the
payments being made by Prudential, said he would like the investigation
into the new allegations to be completed by mid-December.

Friedman said his law firm expects to send teams of lawyers to
Prudential's Minneapolis office to interview the employees making the
charges, as well as the Prudential managers who allegedly ordered the
settlements of customers to be reduced. "We want to find out if these
allegations are true," Friedman said.

Prudential, which had joined with Milberg Weiss in calling for the
investigation and wants to be part of the probe, denies any wrongdoing.
"We're anxious for the investigation to take place,"said Bob DeFillippo,
a Prudential spokesman."There is no evidence to support the charges."
DeFillippo noted that the employees who made the charges are scheduled
to loss their jobs at the end of the year, when the insurer concludes
its restitution program.

The employees making the allegations work in Minnesota in one of three
national offices set up to process applications of policyholders who
claimed they were deceived. The employees made their allegations as part
of a racial and sexual discrimination lawsuit filed in September and
October. They say they were trained by Prudential managers not to give
the highest rating when scoring the claim of deceived policyholders. The
highest rating would mean the policyholder would be entitled to full
reimbursement from Prudential, plus interest.

At Monday's hearing, Fred Neff, a lawyer representing the Prudential
employees, asked Wolin to exclude Prudential from the investigation.
Wolin didn't rule on the motion, asking Neff instead to produce a list
of employees and lawyers who Neff felt should not be allowed to
participate in the probe. (The Record (Bergen County, NJ) Nov-16-1999)

PUBLISHERS CLEARING: AGs File Objection In Il. To Proposed Settlement
Michigan Attorney General Jennifer M. Granholm announced November 15
that she and the Attorneys General of 20 states filed objections with
the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to the
proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit against Publishers
Clearing House (PCH).

Granholm said: "The proposed settlement is as misleading as PCH's use of
the term 'guaranteed winner.' I hope the judge will stop this sham from
going into effect." Granholm added: "Instead of calling this a
settlement, it should be called a surrender document. General Lee
received better surrender terms at Appomattox than the public will in
this mess. Consumers deserve better from these rip-off artists."

According to the objections, consumers are unlikely to understand the
notice or figure out how to correctly file a refund claim. The
combination of a hard-to-understand, small print notice and a claims
process that creates unreasonable obstacles for consumers is unfair. PCH
told Congress that, in 1997 alone, 125,000 consumers spent more than
$125 million on promotional items, but the restitution fund is only $10
million -- out of which $3 million can be used for attorneys' fees for
class counsel and another $3 million can be applied toward expenses. PCH
agreed on November 9, 1999, to reimburse at 100% all "accepted" claims;
but it is unclear what "accepted" means. Another troubling aspect of the
settlement is that it offers three additional entries into the PCH
sweepstakes to consumers who had purchased merchandise.

According to the Attorneys General, even if consumers do figure out how
to correctly file a refund claim, the proposed settlement will not
adequately compensate deceived consumers.

According to Attorney General Curran, Maryland, to receive a refund for
merchandise they purchased, consumers must return the merchandise at
their own expense and provide the amounts they paid and the dates of
their purchases. "Rather than help consumers, this proposed settlement
hinders them," said Attorney General Curran. "It will send many
vulnerable, elderly consumers into the same confusing legalistic
quagmire they confronted when they tried to understand the actual
sweepstakes rules."

The Attorneys General are also concerned that many of the 43 million
consumers who were mailed Notices did not understand that if they did
nothing they would be bound by the settlement. The proposed settlement
provides that consumers are bound and cannot pursue any independent
action against PCH unless they affirmatively opt-out of the settlement.

Also, the settlement allows PCH to continue to deceive consumers in the
future. PCH will only have to make minimal changes in its business
practices as a result of this agreement. Granholm stated: "PCH pays a
pittance to some victims and is allowed to go back to those same victims
to rip them off again and again. That is akin to a convicted bank robber
paying a small fine and serving his time on probation working as a bank
manager. This is a bad deal."

The other states joining the objections in the case of Vollmer, et al. v
Publishers Clearing House are Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut,
Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland,
Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington and

According to The Kansas City Star of Nov-16-1999, Missouri Attorney
General Jay Nixon, who last month filed his own civil lawsuit against
Publishers Clearing House, called the private settlement "fundamentally
flawed." He said it "sets up a restitution pool that is far too small"
and doesn't require adequate changes in Publishers Clearing House's

Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall has not sued the company but has
cautioned consumers that the money available in the private class action
is "approximately $ 4 million, and this amount is not enough to provide
a full refund to everyone."

Attorneys in the private class-action case and officials with Publishers
Clearing House responded that the settlement would benefit consumers.
They questioned the motives of the attorneys general and disputed their
contentions and figures.

The attorneys general have contended that private lawyers will profit
most from the settlement, with fees totaling up to $ 3 million. Douglas
Sprong, one of the lawyers who filed the private class-action case, said
Publishers Clearing House had agreed to refund 100 cents on the dollar
to plaintiffs who filed claims in the case. He challenged the attorneys
general to show how the settlement was unfair. He also said that the
settlement of claims probably would surpass $ 12 million and that
attorney fees would be separate from that amount.

Publishers Clearing House and other sweepstakes companies have come
under growing scrutiny. Congress has conducted hearings on the marketing
of magazines, books and other products through tactics that lead some
people to think they have won millions of dollars in a sweepstakes.

Christopher Irving, a Publishers Clearing House spokesman, said the
settlement was fair and comprehensive. "The attorneys general would have
you believe we decided this on our own when, of course, plaintiffs'
attorneys agreed to it and, in fact, a federal judge gave it preliminary
approval," Irving said.

Notices of the private settlement were mailed to about 42 million
people. But officials said Monday that they didn't know how many people
had filed claims or had formally opted out of the class-action
settlement by the deadline of Nov. 5.

However, attorneys in the case said people who did not file claims for
refunds on goods they bought from Publishers Clearing House probably
would get nothing from the settlement. In addition, they said people who
did not formally opt out of the class could not now file an individual
lawsuit against Publishers Clearing House.

Attorneys were less certain on whether Publishers Clearing House
customers who neither filed a claim nor opted out of the case could seek
reimbursement from a case filed by an attorney general.

Some consumer advocates said the notices sent to potential claimants
were complicated and difficult to understand. Deborah Zuckerman, a staff
attorney for the AARP Foundation, which advocates for senior citizens,
said her organization also opposed the private settlement. "It was
difficult for people to understand what their options were. ... They
made the process for opting out of the class more difficult," she said.
She said a hot line set up by AARP for members to phone in with
questions was quickly overloaded.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Belleville area lawyers
who filed the suit -- Steven A. Katz, his sister, Judy L. Cates, and
Douglas R. Sprong -- say Nixon and his colleagues are wrong. Katz said
consumers will collect between $ 14 million and $ 16 million on their
claims against Publishers Clearing House. Sprong said Nixon settled
earlier with that company's chief rival, American Family Publishers, for
only $ 50,000. And that went to Nixon's office, not to consumers, he
added. Katz said he was outraged by Nixon's assertion. The restitution
pool had been capped at $ 10 million, but that cap has been removed and
Publishers Clearing House will pay 100 percent of all valid claims, Katz

Sprong said a toll-free number set up to answer questions had fielded
hundreds of thousands of calls. His office responded to more than 30,000
inquiries, he said, and sent someone to personally help a blind woman
from St. Louis file her claim.

Deadline for filing claims was Nov. 5. A "fairness hearing" to finalize
the case is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Nixon said the settlement "doesn't require Publishers Clearing House to
make the changes necessary to its marketing pieces." He and the other
attorneys general say the settlement does not prohibit misrepresentation
of prize amounts or ensure awarding of all that is advertised. Nor does
it prevent targeting of consumers who are especially vulnerable, they

But Sprong said the settlement's requirements are tougher than those
Nixon obtained against American Family Publishers. "That was our
starting point," he asserted.

The settlement does not prevent attorneys general from suing to add
consumer protections, Katz added. Katz said U.S. District Judge Patrick
Murphy, who is presiding over the case, had invited state attorneys
general to a meeting to voice any concerns. He said they declined.

Nixon and his colleagues charge that most consumers would receive no
restitution except three more sweepstakes entries.

But Katz said neither law nor logic would allow a blanket payout. In
fact, some consumers have criticized the suit, saying they are happy
with the way Publishers Clearning House handled its sweepstakes, he
said. Claims are still being processed. The highest to be paid so far is
$ 56,000, Katz said. The firm has not yet determined how much it will
ask for its fee, including expenses. The settlement allows the three
lawyers to ask for up to $ 3 million.

SAENZ: Fds Find CA Food Stamp Rule Illegal; Families Can Have Car & SSI
A class action on behalf of severely disabled individuals and their
families, has resulted in a federal clarification that a food stamps
eligibility rule long applied by California is illegal.

The mother of a paraplegic six-year-old girl is the lead plaintiff in
the class action Anderson v. Saenz, now pending in federal court in San
Francisco. She and her children became homeless after losing all welfare
and food stamps because of a California rule that considered the
family's car too expensive. California enforced this rule despite a
provision of federal food stamp law that exempts a car needed to
transport a disabled household member.

The California rule, now proved invalid, stated that a person is not a
member of her household for purposes of food stamps or welfare if she
receives disability benefits (Supplemental Security Income or "SSI").
"The rule forced parents like Ms. Anderson into the agonizing choice
between keeping a car needed for a disabled child and feeding their
families," said Emma Leheny of Western Center on Law and Poverty, lead
counsel for plaintiffs.

A federal policy interpretation issued Nov. 1, 1999, clarifies that the
vehicle exemption is in fact available to all families that need a car
to transport a disabled household member, regardless of whether that
member receives SSI. "The interpretation is especially important now
that so many low-income families need a reliable car to go to work,"
said Clare Pastore, also of Western Center. She estimated that several
thousand California families will be affected by the policy
clarification. Added Michael Keys of National Center on Youth Law,
"Congress never intended for a family to go without food because one of
its children is disabled."

Plaintiffs are represented by Western Center on Law and Poverty,
National Center on Youth Law and San Diego Friends of Legal Aid.
Contact: Western Center on Law and Poverty Emma Leheny, 213/487-7211,
ext. 26 Clare Pastore, 213/487-7211, ext. 25

TAMPA GENERAL: Hospital, Pregnant Women Agree To Monetary Terms
The class action says Tampa General and USF did not inform women of the
risks of a drug study and amnio tests.

A lawyer for poor pregnant women who didn't understand the medical
experiments performed on them at Tampa General Hospital has reached
agreement with the hospital and a university on a monetary settlement,
according to federal court records. The settlement would help resolve a
federal lawsuit, which has been pending since January 1990, when a
public interest lawyer with Florida's largest law firm sued on behalf of
279 women.

Lawyers representing the women, Tampa General Hospital and the
University of South Florida all declined to comment Monday on the
financial terms. They noted that the settlement process is not over and
that non-monetary terms still need to be worked out. The case had been
scheduled to go to trial in April.

The women's lead attorney, Stephen F. Hanlon of Holland & Knight's
Tallahassee office, argues that they were done "dignitary harm" by not
being properly informed about the risks the study posed to their
pregnancies. He does not identify a woman, fetus or newborn who suffered
medical harm from the procedures. The case was the first one Hanlon
brought after Holland & Knight hired him to head a full-time public
interest section. The women were part of a study of combining two drugs
that had been used separately to reduce the chances of respiratory
problems in premature infants. As part of the research, the women
underwent amniocentesis, a test that causes spontaneous abortion in one
out of 100 cases. Hanlon argued that the consent forms were misleading
and not as clear as the forms given to paying patients.

A judge certified the case as a class action in 1996. In a hearing this
year, lawyers said that the large number of medical records involved
contributed to the case's nearly 10-year length.

Hanlon filed the notice of a financial settlement last month. He
declined Monday to discuss specifics, or the non-financial issues that
still await resolution.
"I believe it is stupid, frankly, to discuss the terms of settlement in
the middle of the settlement process," Hanlon said.

One of the lead plaintiffs in the case is Flora Diaz, who was 18 when
the lawsuit was filed. In 1987 Ms. Diaz entered TGH with a high-risk
pregnancy, according to the lawsuit. Diaz was drowsy from several
injections when a nurse told her that amniocentesis would be necessary
to check her baby's lungs. Diaz's mother was asked to sign the consent
form and told that the amniocentesis would not hurt the baby. After she
asked questions, Diaz's mother was told that if the test was not done,
the baby would be born early and die, the lawsuit states. Flora Diaz had
the amniocentesis. Her daughter Erica was delivered in November 1987 and
has grown normally. (St. Petersburg Times Nov-16-1999)

UNILAB CORP: Announces Settlement For NY Suit Over Proposed UC Merger
UNILAB Corporation (AMEX: ULB) announced November 16 that it has entered
into a settlement of a purported class action, Bond Opportunity Fund, et
al. v. Unilab Corporation, 99 Civ. 11074 (LAP), which was filed on
November 4, 1999 in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York against Unilab and its Board of Directors. The
action had sought to enjoin the special meeting of stockholders
scheduled for November 23, 1999 to vote on approval and adoption of the
agreement and plan of merger between Unilab and UC Acquisition Sub,
Inc., a corporation formed by Kelso & Company. The settlement is subject
to completion of confirmatory discovery, completion of definitive
documentation relating to the settlement, and court approval. In
connection with the settlement, the Company is filing with the
Securities and Exchange Commission a Proxy Statement Supplement, which
will be available online at www.edgar-online.com

UNION CARBIDE: New Case Over Bhopal Gas Disaster Hailed In India
Survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster in India welcomed a
class-action lawsuit filed in US federal court against Union Carbide

The lawsuit, filed on Monday, claims Union Carbide and its former top
officer violated international law and human rights in the gas disaster.
It also seeks unspecified damages and wants the Manhattan Federal Court
to take back control of litigation which was moved to India in 1986 for
jurisidictional reasons.

"We welcome the development," Alok Pratap Singh, leader of a pressure
group of survivors and relatives of the disaster's victims, told AFP by
telephone from the central Indian city of Bhopal. "Anything that can put
Union Carbide in its place is welcome."

At least 1,750 people were killed instantly and 2,500 within a week when
tonnes of toxic gas leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in
Bhopal on the night of December 2-3, 1984. The death toll has steadily
mounted, and officials say nearly 7,000 people have died so far. Tens of
thousands who survived continue to suffer from a variety of ailments
related to the disaster.

The lawsuit filed in New York names former Union Carbide chairman Warren
Anderson -- who lives in the United States -- as a defendant.

Kenneth McCallion, plaintiffs lawyer for the victims and family members,
said a key issue in the suit was the 1986 ruling which granted Union
Carbide's request to have the case tried in India.

The suit alleged that Union Carbide and Anderson had violated that
ruling by failing to appear in an Indian court on criminal charges over
the past seven years. Singh, an activist since 1984, said Union Carbide
had treated Bhopal-based courts with "an attitude multinationals show
for Third World judicial process. "No wonder nobody has been punished so
far, not a single Union Carbide official has gone to jail for the deaths
of so many. "Would this have happened had the victims belonged to the
West? The company is not alone to be blamed. Successive Indian
governments have not shown any guts to take on Union Carbide."

Union Carbide paid New Delhi 470 million dollars in a 1989 settlement
which was criticized as woefully inadequate. Only a fraction of those
who sued for damages have received money. "We opposed the 1989
settlement then, and we still feel it was a wrong decision of the Indian
government," Singh said. "Union Carbide would not have got away with a
such amount if the deaths had occurred in the West."

Criminal charges against the defendants are pending in India. A Bhopal
court has ruled that the company and Anderson were fugitives under
Indian law and ordered forfeiture of their property. "What is going on
Indian courts is a farce," Singh said. "If the fresh case brings the
guilty to justice, it will be welcome." (Agence France Presse,

VERSANT CORP: Moves To Dismiss Consolidated Securities Suit In CA
The Company and certain of its present and former officers and directors
were named as defendants in four class action lawsuits filed in the
United States District Court for the Northern District of California,
filed on January 26, 1998, February 5, 1998, March 11, 1998 and March
18, 1998, respectively. On June 19, 1998, a Consolidated Amended
Complaint was filed in the above mentioned court, by the lead Plaintiff
named by the court. The amended complaint alleges violations of Sections
10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act, and Securities and
Exchange Commission Rule 10b-5 promulgated under the Securities Exchange
Act, in connection with public statements about the Company's expected
financial performance. The complaint seeks an unspecified amount of
damages. The Company vigorously denies the plaintiffs' claims and has
moved to dismiss the allegations. The Plaintiff has filed a response to
the Company's motion to dismiss and the Company has filed an opposition
to Plaintiff's response. The motion to dismiss was submitted to the
court for consideration on November 13, 1998 and the court has not yet
issued a decision.

The selling shareholders of the Soft Mountain shares have demanded that
the Company repurchase for approximately $1.1 million the 245,586 shares
of the Company's common stock issued to them in conjunction with the
Company's purchase of all of Soft Mountain's shares. The demand alleges
that the Company has not registered the shares issued in the transaction
in a timely manner. The Company disputes the right of such shareholders
to receive such payment, however any potential settlement could result
in the payment of cash or the issuance of additional Versant stock.
Settlement discussions are ongoing. Arbitration or litigation may result
if a settlement cannot be reached. On April 9, 1999, the Company filed a
Form S-3 registration statement for shares of the Company's common stock
issued to the Soft Mountain shareholders and others. The registration
statement became effective May 14, 1999.

VITAMIN PRICE-FIXING: Fight Can Come With Opt-Out Clause In Settlement
It seemed as though the fighting was over when seven of the world's
largest drug companies agreed on Nov. 3 to pay $ 1.17 billion to settle
a class action stemming from a global plot to fix the price of bulk
vitamins mixed into everything from breakfast cereal to animal feed. But
among plaintiffs' lawyers involved in the case, the infighting has
actually just begun.

Among class actions, this one is unusual because all the class members
are companies, many of them large corporations with brand names like
Tyson Foods Inc. and Kellogg Co. About 100 companies may opt out of the
settlement to pursue individual suits for more in damages.

The chief agitator for the potential opt-outs is Kenneth L. Adams, of
Washington, D.C.'s Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky. He is counsel to
Tyson, Quaker Oats Co. and 85 other companies, as of Nov. 3. Every day,
it seems, Adams has signed on another vitamin purchaser as his client.
(About a month ago, when asked how many companies he represented, he
said that he had "75 as of today, but who's counting?") There are seven
other law firms from around the country with clients that may opt out.
Adams, whose clients made more than 20 percent of the vitamin purchases
at issue, has gone to war with the lawyers who negotiated the class
settlement over a single term the "most favored nation" clause. Should
any of the opt-outs reach a settlement with the defendants for more
money within two years, the clause provides that the defendants must
make up the difference to the class. "It was custom-designed, apparently
because the class lawyers believe their settlement is too low," said
Adams. "Why are they afraid that somebody else is going to get more?"
Adams claims that the MFN clause employed in this case is highly
unusual. Routinely, these clauses offer the defendants that settle first
a rebate in the event that the plaintiffs cut a cheaper deal with the
holdouts later in the case. That works to encourage early settlement.
But here, Adams contended that the class lawyers, led by Boies &
Schiller and Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll, have turned the clause "on
its head." This one, he insisted, will make it more difficult for
opt-outs to pursue a future settlement because the defendants will also
have to pony up more money for the class. And the class lawyers left
money on the table to get it, he said. His clients alone made $ 1.5
billion in vitamin purchases.

As Adams presents the issue, the MFN clause is a time-honored provision
that is being twisted in this case. In fact, this clause is a very
strange animal in the class action setting, and the two academics who
have led the charge against class action abuses cannot agree on whether
this clause is good or bad. Susan P. Koniak, a professor at Boston
University School of Law, said that the clause in the vitamin case taxes
the opt-outs. "Every dollar that you spend litigating after you opt out
is partly a dollar that's going to other people," she said. The use of
such a clause, she said, suggests that the settlement is "the
defendants' deal."

But John C. Coffee Jr., of Columbia University School of Law, disagreed.
"I don't think defendants enter into them simply to chill opt-outs," he
said, noting that "the defendant is exposed to very much increased
liability." There is powerful evidence against the defendants, which
include Swiss giant Roche Holding A.G., German chemical maker BASF A.G.
and Rhone-Poulenc, of France. In May, Roche and BASF pleaded guilty and
paid $ 700,000 the largest criminal fine ever to the Justice Department.
One executive will go to jail. Professor Coffee expects opt-outs to use
the criminal convictions, as the cases go forward, to get more money.
"That means that the whole class is likely to free-ride on the
opt-outs," he said. "It's ironical, because often, the opt-outs get to
free-ride on the class." To class counsel, it's Adams who's doing the

Jonathan D. Schiller filed the first vitamin case back in 1997, for J&R
Feed Services Inc., of Cullman, Ala. He recalled that "there was no
Justice Department indictment, there was no certainty they would prevail
in this ambitious charge of price fixing, and these companies were
scared, understandably, that they would suffer retaliation from their
only source of supply and be driven out of business." The guilty pleas
made liability a slam-dunk. Still, there was a "real risk" that the
defendants would show that their overcharges on vitamins were less than
10 percent of the prices charged, said Robert Silver, the Boies &
Schiller partner who worked on the MFN clause. Under the settlement,
purchasers will recover about 20 percent of what they paid during the
decade that the vitamin cartel operated. Adams intends to ask U.S.
District Judge Thomas Hogan, of Washington, D.C., to strike the MFN
clause at a Nov. 22 hearing on preliminary approval of the settlement.
David Boies, who came up with the idea of the clause, isn't fazed by
Adams: "He's quite right in one sense: I want the class to have the best
of both worlds....They get a record settlement now and they get
assurance that if there is more money later, they'll get that too."
Coffee, for one, doesn't think that Adams will scuttle the settlement
with his challenge. But, he admited, "It's an interesting question."
This story originally appear in The National Law Journal. (The Legal
Intelligencer Nov-15-1999)


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