CAR_Public/991203.MBX                 C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

                Friday, December 3, 1999, Vol. 1, No. 213

                                 Headlines

ACTION PERFORMANCE: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in Arizona
ALABAMA: Must Give Driver's Exams in Foreign Language, 11th Cir. Rules
AMERICAN AIRLINES: Liable for Emotional Distress on Turbulent Flight
CENTEX HOMES: TX Ct Says Warranties Of Habitability Can't Be Waived
CHICAGO CITY: Asks Sp Ct to Review Share of Liability in 92 Loop Flood

COCA-COLA BELGIUM: Will Appeal Ruling That Stops Confidence Campaign
COMPUTER ASSOCIATES: Securities Fraud Suit to Go Forward in Long Island
ESCROW COMPANIES: CA Controller Connell's Suit Recovers At Least $13.6M
ESCROW COMPANIES: Might Have to Refund $500M, CA Controller Says
FORD MOTOR: Judge Proceeds with Bench Trial after Mistrial on Ignition

FRONTIER INSURANCE: Contests 7 Securities Suits in NY Re 1994 Finances
ILM SENIOR: NY SP Ct Partly Dismisses Securities Suit
METLIFE INSURANCE: Seals Settlement Pact with MA over Deceptive Sales
NAVIGANT CONSULTING: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in Il.
ORBITAL SCIENCES: Ct Oks Class Status for Securities Suit in Virginia

ORBITAL SCIENCES: Sued Nov 10 After Restatement of Financial Statements
PERVASIVE SOFTWARE: Finkelstein & Krinsk File Securities Suit in Texas
PLAINS ALL: Barrack Rodos Files Securities Suit in Texas
PLAINS ALL: Berman, DeValerio Files Securities Suit in Texas
PLAINS ALL: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in Texas

PLAINS ALL: Savett Frutkin Files Securities Suit in Texas
REGISTRAR OF MORTGAGE: British Columbia Denies Duty for Eron Collapse
SAFETY COMPONENTS: Schoengold & Sporn File Securities Suit in N.J.
SAFETY COMPONENTS: Weiss & Yourman File Securities Suit in New Jersey

SMITH BARNEY: Sued in NJ for Forfeiting Contributions to Employee Plan
STARNET COMMUNICATIONS: Berger & Montague Announce on Securities Suit
STARNET COMMUNICATIONS: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in Delaware
TECH SQUARED: Minn. Ct Denies Injunction on Reorg. With Digital River
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Ex-Smoker Cancer Victim Shows How He Eats From Tube

TOBACCO LITIGATION: High Court Wary Of Classifying Tobacco As Drug
USED BATTERIES: Il. & Fla. Investigate; Sears Says Exide Bribed Buyer
Y2K: Israeli Lawyer Sues Microsoft for Failing to Warn about Bug

* Journal Says Litigation Furthers Public Goal of Ending Workplace Bias
* Rand Study Urges Broader Role For Judges In Class Actions

                             *********

ACTION PERFORMANCE: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in Arizona
------------------------------------------------------------------
Milberg Weiss (http://www.milberg.com)announced on November 30, 1999
that a class action has been commenced in the United States District
Court for the District of Arizona on behalf of persons who purchased the
publicly traded securities of Action Performance Companies, Inc.
("Action Performance") (Nasdaq:ACTN) between July 27, 1999 and November
4, 1999 (the "Class Period"). The complaint charges Action Performance
and certain of its officers and directors with violations of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff, you must move the Court no later
than 60 days from November 30. If you wish to discuss this action or
have any questions concerning this notice or your rights or interests,
please contact plaintiffs' counsel, William Lerach or Darren Robbins of
Milberg Weiss at 800/449-4900 or via e-mail at wsl@mwbhl.com.

The complaint alleges that on 7/6/99, the Company's wholly owned
subsidiary goracing.com filed a registration statement with the SEC for
an initial public offering ("IPO") to raise $80 million. Because Action
Performance would own 80% of the stock of goracing.com subsequent to the
IPO, the top officers of Action Performance needed to make the IPO
successful. To this end, it was essential that Action Performance appear
to be successfully growing. Thus, defendants issued allegedly false
statements about the state of Action Performance's business and the
shipment of certain of its products to Home Depot.

On 11/4/99, Action Performance issued a press release announcing its
preliminary 4thQ F99 results. These preliminary results were worse than
defendants represented, principally due to the fact that an $8 million
sale to Home Depot had not occurred as of 9/30/99, which was contrary to
defendants' prior statements. On these disclosures, Action Performance's
stock price declined $24-7/8 to $12-1/4 per share on enormous volume of
9.8 million shares, a 51% decline in one day. As a result of the
defendants' false statements, Action Performance's stock price traded at
inflated levels during the Class Period. Contact: Milberg Weiss Bershad
Hynes & Lerach LLP William Lerach, 800/449-4900 wsl@mwbhl.com


ALABAMA: Must Give Driver's Exams in Foreign Language, 11th Cir. Rules
---------------------------------------------------------------------
On November 30, 1999, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down
a decision which overturned Alabama's policy of not giving drivers'
tests in foreign languages. That policy was adopted after voters
approved a referendum making English the official language. The ruling
forces Alabama to choose between accepting Federal highway funds and
deciding what language is used on the drivers' exams.

Once again, the Courts have ignored the will of the voters. In early
1998, the Arizona State Supreme Court struck down an amendment to
Arizona's state constitution that declared English the state's official
language. While the 11th U.S. Circuit ruling does not go as far, it
effectively cripples the law's intent that the state government operate
in English. The 11th Circuit decision affects the official English laws
of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

"This ruling opens the floodgate for demands that government services be
offered in any foreign language. The only question is what service and
what language will be next," declared Leo Sorensen, the Chairman of
English Language Advocates. "By ignoring Alabama's electorate, these
judges have turned democracy on its head." "Today, there are over 300
languages spoken throughout the United States. This ruling will force
states to offer government services in any language on demand,"
explained Barnaby Zall, ELA's lawyer.

                            Background

In 1990, Alabama voters adopted a Constitutional Amendment declaring
English the official language of their state, by a 9 to 1 majority. Soon
thereafter, Alabama changed its driver's license test procedures to
require drivers to take the test in English.

In late 1996, Martha Sandoval, a permanent resident alien from Mexico,
filed a class action challenge to Alabama's driver's test policy. She
claimed that the English policy discriminated against her and others who
don't know English.

U.S. Judge Ira DeMent of the Middle District of Alabama initially
dismissed Ms. Sandoval's claim of intentional discrimination. The
remaining question was whether Ms. Sandoval could sue under a claim of
"disparate impact." This is a difficult argument to sustain, as it has
no firm statutory basis.

Finding no support for her position in Congressional law -- the Civil
Rights Act is silent on language issues -- Sandoval managed to come up
with an "implied" right to sue, lurking in the Department of Justice's
regulations adopted under Title VI. In June 1998, Judge DeMent issued a
187-page decision in Sandoval's favor, finding that Alabama's English
language policy discriminated on the basis of national origin.

Alabama's Attorney General appealed Judge DeMent's decision to the U.S.
11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Department of Justice, seeking
to strike at English-language rules upheld in Garcia v. Spun Steak, (9th
Cir. 1993), then intervened in the appeal, placing its full weight on
the plaintiff's side. Bill Lann Lee, the long-unconfirmed Acting
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, advanced the novel theory
that under Title VI regulations, states accepting Federal Highway funds
cannot deny services in foreign languages.

Of the twenty-five States that have some measure of legal protection for
English, all accept Federal Highway funds and other monies from
Washington. Under Lee's argument, all States with a stated pro-English
policy will see their laws overturned. States will be forced to provide
services in any language on demand.

Leo Sorensen is the Chairman of English Language Advocates (ELA). He
immigrated to the United States from Denmark in 1955. ELA is a national
nonprofit grassroots organization working to protect our common language
in the courts against the coordinated attacks of multicultural
interests. Source: English Language Advocates; Contact: Bob Park,
President of English Language Advocates, 520-778-5811, or Barnaby Zall,
Legal Counsel for English Language Advocates, 301-231-6943


AMERICAN AIRLINES: Liable for Emotional Distress on Turbulent Flight
--------------------------------------------------------------------
A jury in a U.S. District Court in New York City October 7 found
American Airlines Inc., of AMR Corp., liable for passengers' emotional
distress on a turbulent flight in 1995. The jury awarded the plaintiffs
$ 2 million in damages, the highest amount ever awarded by a jury for
primarily emotional, rather than physical, injuries.

Thirteen passengers had filed suit against American for psychological
trauma endured when their flight hit severe turbulence, hurling some
passengers out of their seats. The plane, traveling from Los Angeles to
New York City, encountered a storm and had to make an emergency landing
in Chicago. Several plaintiffs testified that they had thought that they
and their children were going to die during several seconds of violent
turbulence.

The plaintiffs contended that the airline had neglected to take
appropriate measures--such as activating weather-sensing radar--to avoid
the storm. The plaintiffs also maintained that American had not turned
on the seatbelt sign to prepare passengers for the turbulence and ensure
their safety. (World News Digest Nov-18-1999)


CENTEX HOMES: TX Ct Says Warranties Of Habitability Can't Be Waived
-------------------------------------------------------------------
In a decision that plaintiffs lawyers say is a victory for consumers,
San Antonio's 4th Court of Appeals has ruled that homeowners cannot
waive the implied warranty of habitability by signing a contract of
adhesion.

According to the opinion in Michael M. Buecher, et al. v. Centex Homes,
homeowners were required to waive warranties of good and workmanlike
construction and habitability on their new homes; in place of the
implied warranties, Centex offered a limited home warranty.

But in a Nov. 17 decision written by Chief Justice Phil Hardberger, the
court ruled that such a basic protection could not be waived by a
homeowner. "The burden on the homebuilder is not great: only that the
home be built in a workmanlike manner and be fit for human habitation,"
Hardberger wrote. "It is a minimal standard, but it cannot be contracted
away by requiring the homeowner to sign a contract in which the
homeowner is in an inferior bargaining position." "Why should a home
buyer be forced to make such a Hobson's choice?" Hardberger wrote. "He
shouldn't."

A lawyer for Centex Homes says the company plans to appeal. "We believe
that Texas law allows us to substitute a detailed written warranty for
the general automatic warrantee," says Brian Woram, general counsel and
senior vice president of Centex Homes. "And we think that a detailed
warranty is best for everyone because it's specific and because we and
the customer both know what's covered and what's not. It helps to avoid
most arguments about what's covered and what's not," Woram says.

Buecher's lawyer, Bryan A. Woods, a San Antonio solo who's pursuing a
class action against Centex, says forcing buyers to waive implied
warranties of good workmanlike construction and habitability is a new
tactic among homebuilders in an effort to save millions on repair costs.
"New builders try to convince people that their one-year warranty is
it," Woods says. "And after that . . . they have to seek another
warranty. And of course those companies try to deny coverage. The
extended warranty [provider] will say, 'That's the builder's problem.' "
"There are untold thousands of homeowners going out of pocket and fixing
things they shouldn't be fixing," Woods says.

Woods, of course, welcomes the 4th Court's decision, which reversed and
remanded the case to the trial court. The homeowners Woods represents
had been seeking an injunction against Centex to prevent the company
from asserting that the implied warranties had been waived. Notes Woods,
"This is a good case and it has good solid authority to support it and
it's the right result." (Texas Lawyer Nov-22-1999)


CHICAGO CITY: Asks Sp Ct to Review Share of Liability in 92 Loop Flood
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The City of Chicago wants the Illinois Supreme Court to reverse an
appeals court decision that the city must share liability under
admiralty law for its supervision of a contractor whose work allegedly
caused the 1992 Loop flood.

The city filed a petition for leave to appeal Monday, saying the 1st
District Appellate Court's decision was thought to be the first to hold
that federal admiralty jurisdiction could reach claims where a
land-based defendants contracted or supervised an independent contractor
hired to perform work on navigable water.

And if left standing, the city warned, the 1st District opinion would
spread admiralty jurisdiction to anyone who merely hires a vessel,"
whenever the land-based defendant is accused of negligently supervising
the vessel or its crew.

A mountain of litigation will surely result as plaintiffs and defendants
alike seek this expanded admiralty jurisdiction whenever they believe
that admiralty rules of decision are more favorable to them than
otherwise applicable state tort law," the city wrote.

The case stems from what has been called the Great Chicago Flood, when a
freight tunnel wall under the Chicago River burst, resulting in flooded
basements and power outages throughout the downtown area.

The city hired Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. for a project to protect
bridges across the river by driving pilings near each span. The pilings
at the Kinzie Street bridge, however, allegedly were sunk too close to
the tunnel; a breach in the tunnel allowed water to flood area
basements.

The flood spurred numerous lawsuits by the property owners against Great
Lakes and the city. Great Lakes settled with 36 of the original
plaintiffs for $ 12 million, with Commercial Union Assurance Co. and
other insurers funding the settlement.

As part of the agreement, the original plaintiffs released Great Lakes
from liability, assigning the company all of their rights, interests and
claims against the city. Great lakes then assigned all of its claims
against the city to the insurers.

The insurers sued the city to hold it liable under admiralty law,
maintaining that the city failed to notify Great Lakes of the existence
and location of the tunnel once the company was hired to drive the
pilings.

The 1st District in September ruled that more than 25 insurance
companies and a class of more than 120 property owners seeking damages
for the flood could sue the city under principles of admiralty law,
clearing the way for a potential recovery of at least $ 12 million.

The 1st District reversed and remanded decisions by Cook County Circuit
Judge Donald J. O'Brien Jr. that admiralty law was beyond the reach of
actions brought by Commercial Union and more than 25 other insurers of
Great Lakes.

The 1st District reversed O'Brien on another issue, holding that the
property owners' assignment of damage claims to Great Lakes and their
insurers was valid under admiralty law. The insurers paid 36 plaintiffs
$ 12 million to settle their claims against Great Lakes.

The 1st District also held that the city's defense based on the Local
Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act was preempted
by the federal law. In re Chicago Flood Litigation (Commercial Union, et
al. v. City of Chicago), Nos. 1-98-0593, 1-98-2326, 1-98-2364, 1-98-2589
and 1-98-2664, consolidated.

But the city wrote in its petition for leave to appeal that under
admiralty law, one defendant can never be held liable for the acts of
another. Admiralty does not recognize joint and several liability; a
plaintiff may only seek to recover based on each defendant's
proportionate responsibility for its damages," the city wrote. ...
Accordingly, the plaintiffs here can advance admiralty claims based only
on the city's role in causing the flood."

Counsel for the City of Chicago are corporation counsel Mara S. Georges,
deputy corporation counsel Lawrence Rosenthal, chief assistant
corporation counsel Benna Ruth Solomon and Theodore R. Tetzlaff, Thomas
R. Mulroy, Jr. and Richard R. Steinken of the Chicago firm of Jenner &
Block. Hugh C. Griffin, of the Chicago firm of Lord, Bissell & Brook,
who represents the insurers, could not be reached for comment. The case
is In re Chicago Flood Litigation (Commercial Union, et al. v. City of
Chicago), No. 88612. (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Nov-30-1999)


COCA-COLA BELGIUM: Will Appeal Ruling That Stops Confidence Campaign
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Coca-Cola Belgium said Tuesday it will appeal a court decision to stop a
promotional campaign aimed at regaining consumer confidence after a
health scare this summer. Under its "Operation Restore" campaign, the
soft-drink company offered free drinks and discounts to hotels and
catering outlets in Belgium.

But the promotion was challenged as unfair by its main Belgian rival,
Chaudfontaine Distribution SA. Coca-Cola had to yank its products from
the shelves in June after dozens of Belgian youngsters fell ill. The
company denied its drinks posed any health risk. Belgium lifted the ban
on Coke, Fanta and Sprite sales two weeks after the crisis broke. (The
Orlando Sentinel Dec-1-1999)


COMPUTER ASSOCIATES: Securities Fraud Suit to Go Forward in Long Island
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Only days after a Delaware judge ordered three top executives of
Computer Associates International to return more than a half-billion
dollars worth of stock, a federal judge on Long Island has denied the
executives' motion to dismiss securities fraud claims brought by a class
of shareholders who bought the company's stock last year.

Eastern District Judge Thomas C. Platt ruled in In re Computer
Associates Class Action Securities Litigation, 98-CV-4839, that the
plaintiff shareholders had adequately pleaded their claims to allow the
case to go forward. Plaintiffs claim that Charles Wang, Computer
Associates' chief executive officer and chairman of its board of
directors, Sanjay Kumar, its president, and Russell M. Artzt, the
company's executive vice president, had violated @ 10(b) and Rule 10b-5
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by artificially inflating the
company's revenues to push up the stock price and trigger a $ 1.15
billion executive compensation package for themselves.

Judge Myron Steele of Delaware Chancery Court ruled that the three men
had to return 9.5 million shares worth nearly $ 558 million because a
1995 Key Employee Stock Ownership Plan adopted by the shareholders had
not contained a clause stipulating that the number of shares would be
adjusted in case of a stock split.

Under the plan, the three executives would receive approximately $ 1
billion of the Islandia, N.Y.-based company's common and restricted
stock as long as the price of its common stock exceeded $ 53.33 for 60
days during any 12-month period by the end of the company's fiscal year
2000. The price of the stock first reached the $ 53.33 threshold on Oct.
1, 1997, but did not trade consistently at that level until early 1998.

The plaintiffs, from a proposed class of some 200 persons who purchased
Computer Associates stock between Jan. 20, 1998, and July 22, 1998,
alleged the executives began at that time to take steps to artificially
inflate the software manufacturer's revenues.

Judge Platt said the plaintiffs' pleading met the heightened
particularity requirement of the Private Securities Litigation Reform
Act of 1995 to give a " strong inference that the defendant[s] acted
with [scienter]."

"Plaintiffs detail how defendants used specific accounting practices in
violation of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles to prematurely
recognize revenue," the judge said. "These allegations render
defendants' earning statements and other positive statements as
materially false at the time they were made, not merely optimistic
statements."

The executives' right to the stock in the incentive plan was vested on
May 22, 1998, after the price of Computer Associates stock exceeded the
$ 53.33 threshold for the 60th day within 12 months. About eight weeks
later, the company announced that it was reducing its estimate of its
future revenues by $ 100 million for the coming two quarters. One day
later, the share prices dropped to $ 17.50 per share.

"Unknown specifics, such as the exact amount the earnings have been
overstated, are not fatal in this case," Judge Platt wrote. "Plaintiffs
allege such a widespread fraudulent practice, that if true, would have a
huge net effect in error as to the company's overall figures and is the
type of information peculiarly within the defendants' control." (New
York Law Journal Nov-18-1999)


ESCROW COMPANIES: CA Controller Connell's Suit Recovers At Least $13.6M
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
State Controller Kathleen Connell's office has identified or recovered
more than $13.6 million owed to property buyers and sellers as the
result of an audit performed in connection with a class action lawsuit
filed on behalf of consumers earlier this year.

The lawsuit alleged that California's title insurance and escrow
industries engaged in illegal business practices in the administration
of escrow accounts from 1970 to present, systematically charging for
services never provided and failing to return unused funds to their
escrow customers.

"The filing of this lawsuit has finally exposed the decades of consumer
abuse that was systematically occurring in title and escrow
transactions," said Connell. "Our audits confirmed our initial
suspicions that title and escrow companies engaged in unlawful practices
which cost home and business owners millions of dollars in escrow
proceeds. It is my intention to recover every cent illegally withheld."

Since the lawsuit's filing, Connell's office has identified more than
$7.1 million owed to title customers alone from audits completed on 26
title companies and one escrow company. To date, 13 of the 27 companies
audited have repaid more than $2 million to the state. In addition,
another $6.5 million was voluntarily remitted to the Controller's Office
from other title and escrow companies operating in California.

Connell's office initiated audits on 50% of California's title companies
and will expand auditing efforts to the escrow industry by July 2000.
There are 114 active title companies and 471 escrow companies registered
in California. Connell anticipates a much larger recovery of funds as
audits expand to bigger companies.

"The $13 million we have already uncovered is significant, but we
believe this amount will pale in comparison to what we expect to recover
as the audits continue," said Connell. "My office mounted a massive
audit effort that will eventually review every escrow and title company
operating in California. They know we're coming and we've got their
attention.

"As we complete audits and companies voluntarily forward unlawfully held
funds to my office, we expect to see a tremendous surge in the amount of
money owed to escrow customers. The bottom line is that many of these
companies were aware they were engaged in illegal business practices,
and we are beginning to see them step forward and sheepishly turn over
funds."

Connell added that total state receipts from title and escrow companies
increased dramatically since the filing of the law suit -- from less
than $2 million during 1997 to $8.5 million during the six months
following the lawsuit filing.

Connell applauded the companies that voluntarily transferred over funds,
but cautioned that these payments are only "the tip of the iceberg, and
we expect our audits will uncover substantially more in diverted funds
owed to consumers." Connell's office estimates that as much as $500
million could be owed to escrow consumers because some of these illegal
actions have been continuing for 30 years.

The lawsuit contended that escrow and title companies illegally held
dormant and unclaimed escrow funds, retained fees charged to home buyers
for services not rendered and retained interest on deposited escrow
funds that should have been returned to customers. State law directs
escrow and title companies to only "hold" transaction funds in accounts
as a neutral third party and a fiduciary.

"Anyone who has ever employed the services of title or escrow agents
should periodically check our Web site to see if they are entitled to
recovered funds since new names are added weekly," said Connell, whose
office released a database of people currently owed funds.

"Home buyers should be acutely aware that at the close of escrow their
accounts should total out at zero, with all charges and costs accounted
for. Any remaining funds should be immediately returned to the buyers
and sellers."

Under California's Unclaimed Property Law, the majority of the illegally
held escrow funds must be immediately escheated to the state. This law
requires financial institutions to send to the state all assets that
have been dormant for three years.

The law also applies to the funds left unclaimed in escrow accounts. The
class action lawsuit was originally filed in Sacramento County Superior
Court on May 19. Escrow customers can determine if they are owed funds
by visiting the Unclaimed Property Bulletin Board at the State
Controller's Web site at www.sco.ca.gov or contact: Office of the
Controller of the State of California Byron Tucker/Susie Wong,
916/445-2636


ESCROW COMPANIES: Might Have to Refund $500M, CA Controller Says
----------------------------------------------------------------
Title-insurance and escrow companies might have to refund California
homebuyers and sellers as much as $ 500 million, the state controller
says. An initial round of audits ordered by Controller Kathleen Connell
revealed that 27 title-insurance and escrow companies are hoarding
millions of dollars that belong to their customers, Connell says. So
far, the audits have identified or collected $ 13.6 million that should
have been returned to buyers and sellers but wasn't.

The controller's office has filed a class-action lawsuit against both
industries. The suit alleges that companies charge for routine services
-- which they don't always provide -- and overcharge, then fail to
reimburse customers.

In some cases, companies didn't return the money because they said they
could not find their customers. "We'll be collecting a significant
amount of money if this initial audit is any indication," Connell said.
So far, the agency has only reviewed the records of 27 mostly small
companies. The state has 585 title and escrow companies. If a company
owes money but can't find the customer, it is supposed to forward the
money to the state.

To find out whether a title or escrow company owes you money:
* Call the controller's office at (800) 992-4647 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  weekdays; or
* Visit the agency's Web site at www.sco.ca.gov and from there, click
  on the icon titled "Unclaimed Property." Then click on "Program
  Description," which will allow you to search by your name.

You can request a claim form over the telephone or complete one online.
If nothing shows up, check again later. The state plans to add new names
weekly.

Many homeowners might have no idea they are missing money. That was the
case with Charles Moore of Fullerton. About a month ago, Moore, who owns
an appliance-installation business, discovered that he was due about $
1,200 from the 1986 purchase of his house. He found his name on the
agency's Web site. "It should have been in our pockets a long time ago,"
Moore said.

Thousands of California residents stand to receive a similar repayment.
For those who are owed money, the state estimates that the average due
ranges from $ 1,000 to $ 1,500.

Auditors are checking transactions dating as far back as 1970. The state
hopes to complete the audits by mid-2001.

Since the lawsuit was filed in May, title and escrow companies have
stepped up their pace in forwarding money to the state. During the past
six months, the state has received $ 8.5 million in unclaimed funds.
That's compared with $ 5.9 million during 1997 and 1998.

It's not surprising, Connell said, that some details would escape a
buyer's notice. "It's a very demanding, emotional time," she said.
"They're moving furniture, getting their kids re-enrolled in school,
looking for the grocery store. The last thing they're thinking about is
getting a statement from the escrow company." (The Orange County
Register Dec-2-1999)


FORD MOTOR: Judge Proceeds with Bench Trial after Mistrial on Ignition
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Two weeks after a jury deadlocked in a class action against Ford Motor
Co., Alameda County Superior Court Judge Michael Ballachey on Wednesday
proceeded with a bench trial to decide whether the automaker practiced
unfair competition when it allegedly installed faulty ignition modules
in its vehicles.

Ballachey could order a recall of cars as well as disgorgement of
company profits that may have resulted from any such defect.

The bench trial was supposed to begin after a jury had decided whether
Ford violated the state Consumers Legal Remedies Act by trying to hide
the problem from consumers. But after five months of testimony and 10
days of jury deliberations, Ballachey was forced to declare a mistrial
Nov. 18 after jurors reported they could not reach the necessary 9-3
vote either way.

On Wednesday, plaintiffs' attorneys brought Michael Brownlee, former
associate administrator for safety assurance with the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, back up to the stand. Additional
witnesses will give testimony over the coming weeks and likely through
the winter holiday season.

Plaintiffs' attorneys, representing about 3 million people who owned
Ford cars between 1983 and 1995, have said Ballachey's findings on the
complaint under the unfair competition law will be binding. To the
extent that the remedy is deemed sufficient, the class might elect not
to go forward with the consumer fraud complaints -- the portion that
needs to be decided by the jury, said Steven Pavsner, a partner with
Maryland-based Joseph, Greenwald and Laake, in an interview last month.

But Ford attorneys have expressed concern about Ballachey's decision to
move forward with the bench trial before a jury decides its portion of
the case. "For the court to decide count 3 allegations of unfair
competition before a jury issues a verdict interferes with our right to
a jury trial," said Donald Lough, in-house counsel for Ford.

Ballachey, who formally retired from the bench earlier this year, agreed
to hear the Ford trial on special assignment. He is expected to hand the
baton off to another judge to preside over the second jury trial. (The
Recorder Dec-2-1999)


FRONTIER INSURANCE: Contests 7 Securities Suits in NY Re 1994 Finances
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Following Frontier Insurance Group Inc.'s November 5, 1994 announcement
of its third-quarter financial results, the Company was served with
seven purported class actions alleging violations of federal securities
laws by the Company and, in some cases, by certain of its officers and
directors. In September 1995, a pre-trial order was signed which
consolidated all actions in the Eastern District of New York, appointed
three law firms as co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs and set forth a
timetable for class certification, motion practice and discovery. In
November 1995, plaintiffs served a consolidated amended complaint
alleging violations by the Company of Section 10(b) of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10(b)(5) thereunder, seeking to impose
controlling person liability on certain of the Company's officers and
directors, and further alleging insider sales, all premised on negative
financial information that should have been publicly disclosed earlier.
Plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount in damages to be proven at trial,
reasonable attorney fees and expert witness costs.

In April 1997, the Court certified the class. Plaintiffs have subpoenaed
documents and deposed outside auditors and analysts. Plaintiffs have
also taken depositions from current or former officers, directors and
employees of the Company. The Company believes the suit is without
merit, has retained special legal counsel to contest this suit
vigorously.


ILM SENIOR: NY SP Ct Partly Dismisses Securities Suit
-----------------------------------------------------
On May 8, 1998, Andrew A. Feldman and Jeri Feldman, as Trustees for the
Andrew A. & Jeri Feldman Revocable Trust dated September 18, 1990,
commenced a purported class action on behalf of that trust and all other
shareholders of the Company and ILM II in the Supreme Court of the State
of New York, County of New York against the Company, ILM II and the
Directors of both corporations. The class action complaint alleges that
the Directors engaged in wasteful and oppressive conduct and breached
fiduciary duties in preventing the sale or liquidation of the assets of
the Company and ILM II, diverting certain of their assets and changing
the nature of the Company and ILM II. The complaint seeks damages in an
unspecified amount, punitive damages, the judicial dissolution of the
Company and ILM II, an order requiring the Directors to take all steps
to maximize shareholder value, including either an auction or
liquidation, and rescinding certain agreements, and attorney's fees. On
July 8, 1998, the Company joined with all other defendants to dismiss
the complaint on all counts.

Subsequent to the end of the fiscal year, in an oral ruling from the
bench on December 8, 1998, the Court granted the Company's dismissal
motion in part and gave the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint.
In sum, the Court accepted the Company's position that all claims
relating to so-called "derivative" actions were filed improperly and
were properly dismissed. In addition, the Court dismissed common law
claims for punitive damages, but allowed plaintiffs 30 days to allege
any claims which allegedly injured shareholders without injuring the
Company as a whole. The Board doubts that such a cause of action could
be alleged and continues to believe that this lawsuit is meritless. The
Board has directed outside counsel to continue vigorously contesting the
action.


METLIFE INSURANCE: Seals Settlement Pact with MA over Deceptive Sales
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The state attorney general's office and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.
have sealed a pact under which Massachusetts residents will receive $35
million to $ 55 million in compensation from the New York insurer under
a nationwide settlement stemming from deceptive sales practices. Under
the agreement, 230,000 state residents who bought MetLife policies or
annuities from 1982 to 1997 can receive up to 59 months of free life
insurance or pursue individual claims. MetLife agreed in August to a
nationwide settlement that it valued at $1.7 billion, the latest in a
string of multimillion-dollar agreements by insurers accused of fraud.
Attorney General Tom Reilly's office, which investigated MetLife, said
policyholders would receive $900 million of that total. Lawyers for
MetLife, the nation's second-largest insurer, and for policyholders in
class-action lawsuits against the company are expected to seek approval
for the settlement on December 2 before a federal judge. (The Boston
Globe Dec-2-1999)


NAVIGANT CONSULTING: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in Il.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
A securities class action lawsuit was commenced on behalf of purchasers
of the common stock of Navigant Consulting, Inc. (NYSE: NCI) ("Navigant"
or the "Company"), formerly known as Metzler Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: METZ),
between January 1, 1999 and November 21, 1999, inclusive, (the "Class
Period"), in the United States District Court for the Northern District
of Illinois.

The complaint charges Navigant and certain of its directors and
executive officers 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 about
the nature of the Company's financial results and business prospects
throughout the Class Period in the Company's public filings and public
statements. As a result of these misrepresentations and omissions, the
price of Navigant's common stock was artificially inflated throughout
the Class Period.

If you would like to discuss this action or if you have any questions
concerning this Notice or your rights as a potential class member or
lead plaintiff, you may contact Mr. Mark Punzalan, 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 navigant@bernlieb.com


ORBITAL SCIENCES: Ct Oks Class Status for Securities Suit in Virginia
---------------------------------------------------------------------
During the first quarter of 1999, a number of class action lawsuits were
filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
(the "District Court") against Orbital Sciences Corp., an officer and an
officer/director alleging violations of the federal securities laws, on
behalf of purchasers of the company's stock during the period from April
21, 1998 through February 16, 1999, and seeking monetary damages. On May
21,1999, the cases were consolidated into a single class action and, on
May 28, 1999, an amended consolidated class action complaint was filed
with the District Court. An additional class action complaint was filed
on behalf of purchasers of call options on July 1, 1999, which action
was consolidated with the previous action. The District Court also
denied the company's motion to dismiss and granted the plaintiff's
motion for class certification.


ORBITAL SCIENCES: Sued Nov 10 After Restatement of Financial Statements
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
In connection with the company's recent announcement of the restatement
of its financial statements for fiscal years 1997, 1998 and the first
two quarters of 1999, a class action lawsuit was filed in the District
Court on November 10, 1999 against the company, an officer and an
officer/director alleging violations of the federal securities laws, on
behalf of purchasers of the company's stock and call options during the
period from April 22, 1997 through October 29, 1999. On November 19,
1999, the District Court granted the plaintiffs leave to file an amended
complaint consolidating the new action with the previously consolidated
pending cases. While the amounts to be claimed may be substantial, the
company believes that the allegations are without merit and intends to
defend vigorously against such allegations.


PERVASIVE SOFTWARE: Finkelstein & Krinsk File Securities Suit in Texas
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Pervasive Software Inc. (NASDAQ:PVSW) is accused in a class action
lawsuit filed by Finkelstein & Krinsk of violating the federal
securities laws by misrepresenting the Company's true business
condition, demand for its products and the Company's ability to continue
to achieve profitable growth in order to inflate the price of the
Company's stock.

According to the Complaint, the Company and its controlling insiders
issued a series of false and misleading statements to the market
regarding, amongst other things, the Company's Tango product and
expected Tango business, while omitting to disclose known adverse facts
about the Company's long term growth and potential market for the
product. A number of the Company's insider's took advantage of the
inflated price of Pervasive stock to sell large amounts of stock,
reaping more than $11 million dollars in proceeds from their insider
sales.

Defendants' statements were false and caused Pervasive stock to trade at
artificially inflated levels during the Class Period (April 15, 1999 -
October 21, 1999). When the truth about defendants' misrepresentations
became known to investors, the price of Pervasive shares dropped
dramatically from Class Period prices as high as $38 per share to $12
per share on October 22, 1999, as the market digested the adverse
revelations.

The Complaint particularizes plaintiff's allegations of how the
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 Western
District of Texas and represents a class comprised of all individual and
institutional investors for the pertinent time period.

If you purchased or acquired a significant amount of Pervasive Software
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 not
later than January 3, 2000.

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.


PLAINS ALL: Barrack Rodos Files Securities Suit in Texas
--------------------------------------------------------
Counsel for Class Plaintiff, Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, issued the
following on December 1, 1999:

A class action has been commenced in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Texas on behalf of all persons who
purchased common Units of Plains All American Pipeline LP (NYSE: PAA)
("Plains" or the "Company"), between November 17, 1998 and November 29,
1999, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Plains and certain of its officers with violations
of federal securities laws by making misrepresentations about the
Company's business, earnings growth, and financial statements, as well
as its ability to continue to achieve profitable growth. During the
Class Period, Plains consistently reported profitable results claiming
that it was successfully executing its plan to expand its crude oil
sales business. While defendants were publicly reporting profits of more
than $35 million for the first, second, and third quarters of 1999,
Plains sold over $300 million of Plains Units in two consecutive public
offerings, including, most recently, a Public Offering on September 30,
1999. As Plains continued to report profits from operations, the price
of Plains Units reacted, rising to a Class Period high of $20-3/16 on
November 9, 1999. Then, on November 29, 1999, Plains revealed that it
had incurred a loss of over $160 million -- a loss that the complaint
alleges had been concealed since at least the spring of 1999 -- as the
result of speculative commodity trading.

The complaint further alleges that, contrary to the Company's
representations in the Initial Public Offering Prospectus and the
Secondary Offering Prospectus, Plains did not have the ability to and
was not monitoring its hedging activities. In fact, Plains revealed that
it would likely be restating its previously reported financial results
for each of the prior three quarters of fiscal 1999. This revelation
caused Plains Units to fall as low as $9-5/8 per Unit, a decline of 55%
from their Class Period High.

If you are a member of the Class described above, you may, no later than
January 28, 2000, move the Court to serve as lead plaintiff of the
Class, if you so choose. In order to serve as lead plaintiff, however,
you must meet certain legal requirements. If you wish to discuss this
action or have any questions concerning this case or your rights or
interests, please contact: Maxine S. Goldman, Shareholder Relations
Manager, at Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, 3300 Two Commerce Square, 2001
Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103, at 800-417-7305 or 215-963-0600,
fax number 888-417-7306 or 215-963-0838, or by e-mail at
msgoldman@barrack.com


PLAINS ALL: Berman, DeValerio Files Securities Suit in Texas
------------------------------------------------------------
Berman, DeValerio & Pease LLP issues the following press release on
December 1, 1999:

Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. (NYSE: PAA) was sued by a shareholder
in a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Texas on November 30, 1999. The lawsuit, which seeks class
action status, is brought for violations of sections 11, 12 and 15 of
the Securities Act of 1933 and sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The class consists of all persons who
purchased the common stock of Plains All American Pipeline during the
period May 12, 1999 through November 29, 1999 and units issued pursuant
to the October 1, 1999 offering.

"The action charges that Plains All American Pipeline issued false
financial statements as a direct result of the fraud and improper
conduct by one of its employees with regard to improper and highly risky
oil trading " said Jeffrey C. Block, one of the partners at Berman,
DeValerio & Pease LLP which is representing the plaintiff. According to
the lawsuit, Plains All American Pipeline was caused to report inflated
revenues and earnings for its 1999 first and second fiscal quarters due
to the fraudulent actions of one of its employees. Plains All American
Pipeline's common stock price was artificially inflated as a result of
this conduct and plummeted 47% in reaction to the disclosures of $160
million in losses from this improper oil trading by one of its
employees. If you purchased Plains All American Pipeline common stock
during the period May 12, 1999 through November 29, 1999, or pursuant to
the October 1, 1999 offering and suffered a loss on your investment, you
may wish to contact the lawyers at Berman, DeValerio & Pease LLP to
discuss your rights and interests:
Patrick Egan, Esq.
Jeffrey C. Block, Esq.
Berman, DeValerio & Pease LLP
One Liberty Square, Boston, MA 02109
E-Mail: bdplaw@bermanesq.com
(800) 516-9926
Website: http://www.bermanesq.com

In addition, under the federal securities laws you may, but not later
than sixty days from November 29, 1999 move the court to serve as lead
plaintiff of the Class, if you so choose. To serve as lead plaintiff,
however, you must meet certain legal requirements. You may contact the
attorneys at Berman, DeValerio & Pease LLP to discuss your rights
regarding the appointment of lead plaintiff.


PLAINS ALL: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in Texas
-------------------------------------------------------------
The following is an announcement made by Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz,
LLP on December 1, 1999:

A securities class action lawsuit was commenced on behalf of purchasers
of the common limited partnership units of Plains All American Pipeline,
L.P. (NYSE: PAA) ("PAAP" or the "Company"), between November 17, 1998
and November 29, 1999, inclusive, (the "Class Period"), in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

The complaint charges PAAP and certain of its directors and executive
officers with violations of Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of
1933 and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) 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 about the
Company's business and the adequacy of the Company's internal controls
in the Company's Registration Statement and Prospectus issued in
connection with its initial public offering on November 17, 1998 and
throughout the Class Period in the Company's other public filings and
public statements.

As a result of these misrepresentations and omissions, the price of
PAAP's common stock was artificially inflated throughout the Class
Period.

If you purchased or otherwise acquired PAAP securities pursuant to or
traceable to the IPO or 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 November 29, 1999.

Plaintiff has selected Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP to represent
the Class. If you would like to discuss this action or if you have any
questions concerning this Notice or your rights as a potential class
member or lead plaintiff, you may contact Mr. Mark Punzalan, 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 punzalan@bernlieb.com.


PLAINS ALL: Savett Frutkin Files Securities Suit in Texas
---------------------------------------------------------
The following is an announcement by law firm Savett Frutkin Podell &
Ryan, P.C. on December 2, 1999:

Savett Frutkin Podell & Ryan, P.C. hereby gives notice that a class
action complaint has been filed in the United States District Court for
the Southern District of Texas on behalf of a Class of persons who
purchased the common limited partnership units of Plains All American
Pipeline, LP (NYSE: PAA) ("PAA" or the "Company") in the initial public
offering, pursuant to the Registration Statement and Prospectus dated
November 17, 1998.

The complaint alleges that defendant PAA and certain officers violated
the federal securities laws (Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1933, as amended) by issuing a series of false and
misleading statements in their Registration Statement and Prospectus
issued in connection with the Initial Public Offering.

Any member of the proposed Class who desires to be appointed lead
plaintiff in this action must file a motion with the Court no later than
sixty (60) days from November 29, 1999. Class members must meet certain
legal requirements to serve as a lead plaintiff.

If you purchased PAA common limited partnership units in the initial
public offering or have questions or information regarding this action
or your rights, you may call or write: Barbara A. Podell, Esquire Savett
Frutkin Podell & Ryan, P.C. 325 Chestnut Street, Suite 700 Philadelphia,
PA 19106 Telephone: 800/993-3233 E-mail: sfprpc@op.net


REGISTRAR OF MORTGAGE: British Columbia Denies Duty for Eron Collapse
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The government of British Columbia argued in court on December 1 that
the province's Registrar of Mortgage Brokers has no legal duty to
compensate the 3,200 investors who lost $170-million in the collapse of
lender Eron Mortgage Corp.

The investors have launched a class action lawsuit against the
registrar. The suit claims the investors wouldn't have lost their money
if the mortgage watchdog had done a better job supervising Eron's
affairs.

Now the province is appealing a lower court decision that gave investors
the go ahead to organize the class action lawsuit. Clifton Prowse, a
lawyer for the province, told the B.C. Court of Appeal that it would be
bad public policy to give investors the general right to sue public
officials for their decisions.

The province's Mortgage Brokers Act does not even mention the word
'investor,' and the specific purpose of the law is not to protect the
private purse of investors, he argued. The appeal hearing continues.
(National Post (formerly The Financial Post) Dec-2-1999)


SAFETY COMPONENTS: Schoengold & Sporn File Securities Suit in N.J.
------------------------------------------------------------------
Schoengold & Sporn, P.C. announced on December 1, 1999 that a securities
class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for
the District of New Jersey on November 24,1999 against Safety Components
International Inc. ("Safety" or the "Company") (Nasdaq: ABAGE or ABAG)
and certain of the Company's key officers and directors on behalf of
purchasers of the common stock of Safety during the period March 30,
1997 through and including November 9, 1999 (the "Class Period").

The securities class action complaint charges the defendants with
violations of the federal securities laws (Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder), by, among other things, omitting material information and
disseminating materially false and misleading statements concerning the
Company's financial condition for each of the fiscal years 1998 and
1999. The price of Safety's shares were thereby artificially inflating
during the Class Period. On November 9, 1999, Safety announced that it
would restate its financial statements for fiscal 1998 and The
restatement prompted Nasdaq to suspend trading in Safety stock.

If you are a member of the class described above, you may seek to join
in the above class action on or no later than sixty days from November
12, 1999, by moving the Court to serve as lead plaintiff. This is not a
prerequisite to participation as a class member. Contact: Schoengold &
Sporn, P.C., 233 Broadway, New York, New York 10279, Tel: 800-232-8092,
Fax: 212-267-8137, E-Mail: SCHOENGOLD@AOL.COM


SAFETY COMPONENTS: Weiss & Yourman File Securities Suit in New Jersey
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm Weiss & Yourman announce on December 1, 1999 that a class
action lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court for the District of
New Jersey on behalf of purchasers of Safety Components International,
Inc. (Nasdaq: ABAGE) between March 30, 1997 through November 9, 1999,
inclusive (the "Class Period").

Safety Components is an independent supplier of automotive airbag fabric
and cushions with operations in North America, Europe, and Asia. Safety
also manufactures projectiles and other metal components for 20, 25 and
30 millimeter ammunition for the U.S. Armed forces.

The defendants include: Safety Components International, CEO Robert
Zummo and CFO Jeffrey Kaplan. The Complaint charges that the Class
suffered damages as a result of defendants' scheme and common course of
conduct which operated as a fraud and deceit in violation of Sections
10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

The Complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period, Defendants made
material omissions and disseminated materially false and misleading
statements regarding the Company's financial condition for each of the
fiscal years 1998 and 1999, by among other things, portraying Safety
Components as a growing company which was experiencing and would
continue to experience increased revenue for its products, driving
Safety's stock price to a Class Period high of $18.8125 per share.
Safety released the news regarding the Company's pending restatement of
its financials for fiscal 1998 and 1999 after the market closed on
November 9, 1999. The next day Nasdaq announced that trading in Safety
stock "will remain halted until Safety Components International has
fully satisfied Nasdaq's request for additional information."

If you are a member of the class described above, you may, no later than
sixty days from November 23, 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 James E. Tullman or Richard Acocelli, Weiss
& Yourman at 888-593-4771 or via e-mail at wynyc@aol.com or visit the
firm's web site at http://www.wyca.com


SMITH BARNEY: Sued in NJ for Forfeiting Contributions to Employee Plan
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Three New Jersey stockbrokers who were forced to forfeit their
contributions into a Salomon Smith Barney employee stock-purchasing plan
when they left the brokerage firm have filed a class action against
their former employer.

The complaint, Rosen v. Smith Barney Inc., filed Oct. 1 in Essex County
Superior Court, in New Jersey, seeks to recover the money that past and
current employees invested in the company's Capitol Accumulation Program
(CAP) .

According to the suit, brokers who earned more than $150,000 annually
were eligible to invest in Salomon Smith Barney's parent company,
Primerica, by purchasing restricted stock at a discounted price with a
portion of their pretax earnings. If an employee left the firm before a
two-year vesting period, the stock was returned to the company and the
broker lost all of his or her investment.

"This isn't a savings plan, this isn't a retirement plan, this is
strictly based on income," says Donna Chin, attorney for the named
plaintiffs and a partner at Livingston's Nagel Rice & Dreifuss. "A
percentage of their income was taken out of their paychecks and devoted
to purchasing this restricted stock. And if you left the company, you
forfeited the stock." Chin says the class is made up of more than a
hundred New Jersey brokers who bought into the investment plan.

In a typical 401(k) plan, an employer matches an employee's contribution
to the plan based on time of service. If the employee quits before he or
she is vested, all or part of the employer's contribution is forfeited.
However, in this case, the employee's income contribution is forfeited
as well.

Chin argues that the plan breaches the company's employment contract
with its brokers, which calls for the firm to pay "all earned income."

                    Voluntary Participation?

Sally Cates, a spokeswoman for Salomon Smith Barney, says the complaint
is baseless because the employees decided whether to join the plan.
"They voluntarily joined our employee stock incentive plan, they
resigned, and thereby gave up their claims," Cates said. "We think the
courts will agree with that."

But Chin says joining the program was not quite so voluntary. "Brokers
would get called into their supervisor's office and be told that they
were making them look bad if they didn't participate in the CAP plan,"
Chin says. "The way these brokers perceived this plan was that it was
necessary for employment."

Cates says the brokers signed contracts before purchasing the stock that
agreed to the forfeiture if they quit before they became vested. Chin
says the contracts were signed, but employees agreed to the stipulation
only because they thought it was the only way they could keep their jobs
and advance within the firm.

The suit, along with a similar class action in New York, was filed in
the wake of a decision in July by a Los Angeles County Superior Court
judge. Judge Aurelio Munoz held in Schachter v. Travelers Group Inc.,
BC191447, that Salomon Smith Barney's stock purchase plan violated
California labor laws. Damages were not determined, and Cates says the
firm plans to appeal the decision.

Chin says that the New Jersey action is similar to the California case.
"We are talking about the same standard," she says. "This is the same
agreement that they made brokers sign." (Legal Times Nov-15-1999)


STARNET COMMUNICATIONS: Berger & Montague Announce on Securities
Suit---------------------------------------------------------------------

The following was released on November 30, 1999 by Berger & Montague,
P.C.:

If you purchased Starnet Communications (OTC Bulletin Board: SNMM) stock
between March 9, 1999 and August 20, 1999 you are required to act before
December 14, 1999 if you wish to participate in the class action as a
representative plaintiff in the securities suit filed on October 15,
1999. Federal law requires that papers be filed by December 14, 1999. In
order to participate as a representative plaintiff, your signed
certification must be received in our office before that date.

The securities suit alleges that Starnet (OTC Bulletin Board: SNMM) and
certain of its officers and directors violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The complaint further alleges
that the defendants issued materially false and misleading statements
about the nature of the Company's business and failed to disclose
potential liabilities throughout the Class Period in the Company's
public filings and public statements.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that Starnet (OTC Bulletin Board:
SNMM) routinely violates Canadian gambling laws, and that the company
accepts wagers from North Americans, contrary to public representations
made throughout the Class Period.

As a result of these misrepresentations and omissions, the price of
Starnet's (OTC Bulletin Board: SNMM) common stock was artificially
inflated throughout the Class Period, enabling Defendants to sell
thousands of shares and reap millions of dollars in illicit insider
trading profits. On August 20, 1999, after a massive police raid, the
truth was finally revealed and the stock price plummeted by
approximately 60% of its market price.
If you wish to discuss this action, or the Abbott or Unisys actions, or
have any questions concerning this notice or your rights with respect to
this matter, you may call or write to: Sherrie R. Savett, Esq., Arthur
Stock, Esq., Douglas Risen, Esq., Susan Kutcher, Investor Relations
Manager, Berger & Montague, P.C. 1622 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA
19103, Phone: 888-891-2289 or 215-875-3000,
Fax: 215-875-4604 or by e-mail at InvestorProtect@bm.net or visit
Website: http://home.bm.net


STARNET COMMUNICATIONS: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in
Delaware-----------------------------------------------------------------------

The following is an announcement by Milberg Weiss on November 30, 1999:

Notice is hereby given that a class action lawsuit was filed in the
United States District Court for the District of Delaware, on behalf of
all persons who purchased the common stock of Starnet Communications
International, Inc. ("Starnet" or the "Company") (OTC Bulletin Board:
SNMM) between March 11, 1999, through August 20, 1999, inclusive (the
"Class Period").

If you wish to discuss this action or have any questions concerning this
notice or your rights or interests with respect to these matters, please
contact, at Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach ("Milberg Weiss"),
Steven G. Schulman or Samuel H. Rudman at One Pennsylvania Plaza, 49th
Floor, New York, New York 10119-0165, by telephone 800-320-5081, or via
e-mail: endfraud@mwbhlny.com or visit the firm's website at
http://www.milberg.com.

The complaint charges Starnet and certain of its officers and directors
(the "Individual Defendants") with violations of Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as well as Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder. The complaint alleges that defendants issued a
series of materially false and misleading statements concerning the
Company's operations and the true nature of the Company's business,
including undisclosed risks inherent to its Internet gaming operations.
Prior to the disclosure of the adverse facts described above, certain
insiders sold thousands of shares of Starnet common stock to the
investing public at artificially inflated prices. The Individual
Defendants realized over $3.5 million in proceeds from these insider
trading activities.

If you are a member of the class described above you may, not later than
sixty days from October 15, 1999, move the Court to serve as lead
plaintiff of the class, if you so choose. In order to serve as lead
plaintiff, however, you must meet certain legal requirements. Contact:
Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP, Shareholder Relations Dept.
1-800-320-5081, E-Mail: endfraud@mwbhlny.com


TECH SQUARED: Minn. Ct Denies Injunction on Reorg. With Digital River
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Tech Squared Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: TSQD) announced on December 2,
1999 that the court has denied a motion for a temporary injunction
against the company that, if issued, would have prevented Tech Squared
from completing a tax-free reorganization with Digital River, Inc.
(Nasdaq: DRIV) in accordance with a previously announced acquisition
agreement.

As announced in October, a Tech Squared shareholder sought the
injunction as part of a lawsuit filed in Minnesota District Court,
Hennepin County, in connection with Tech Squared's agreement with
Digital River. The suit also seeks unspecified damages and class action
status.

A special meeting of Tech Squared shareholders to approve a plan of
liquidation and dissolution is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. CST on Friday,
Dec. 10, 1999, at The Hilton Airport hotel, Bloomington, Minn. Upon
shareholder approval of the voluntary dissolution pursuant to the plan
of liquidation and dissolution, Tech Squared intends to complete the
sale of its operating assets for cash pursuant to a previously announced
asset purchase agreement, and to complete the reorganization with
Digital River.

Tech Squared believes the plaintiff's case is entirely without merit and
intends to continue to vigorously defend the lawsuit. In denying the
plaintiff's motion, the District Court noted, among other things, that
the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he is likely to prevail on the
merits of his claims against Tech Squared. The plaintiff is continuing
his discovery in the lawsuit. The court has not ruled on Tech Squared's
motion to dismiss the lawsuit. As previously announced, Tech Squared has
signed a definitive agreement with Virtual Technology Corp. (OTC
Bulletin Board: VTCO) under which VTC will acquire substantially all of
Tech Squared's operating assets for a cash purchase price of
approximately $3,000,000. The asset sale to VTC includes Tech Squared's
Net Direct, DTP Direct and distribution operations, along with various
trade and Internet domain names. Closing of the asset sale to Virtual
Technology is expected to occur shortly after shareholder approval of
the voluntary dissolution of Tech Squared.

Tech Squared, based in Minneapolis, is a national marketer and
distributor of mid- to high-end microcomputer hardware, software and
peripherals primarily to businesses in the desktop publishing, graphic
arts and pre-press industries, as well as an emerging customer base of
Internet and intranet site developers.


TOBACCO LITIGATION: Ex-Smoker Cancer Victim Shows How He Eats From Tube
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
An Orlando man with throat cancer, who represents hundreds of thousands
of sick Florida smokers in a landmark class-action lawsuit against Big
Tobacco, showed a jury on Wednesday how his wife must feed him through a
tube in his stomach.

Looking embarrassed, rail-thin Frank Amodeo removed his suit jacket and
tie, unbuttoned his shirt and took a seat right in front of the jury
box. Then his wife, Margaret, opened the air-tight cover on the tube
that protrudes from his stomach, creating a loud popping sound.

As some of the jurors leaned forward to watch, covering their mouths
with their hands, Margaret Amodeo showed the jury how she pours cans of
liquid protein drink into a large syringe that empties into a long
plastic tube connected to the opening in her husband's stomach.

It is a ritual that Amodeo, 60, and his wife of 40 years have repeated
several times a day since radiation treatment for his throat cancer in
1987 rendered the former clockmaker unable to eat or drink anything
through his mouth. The last bit of food to pass through his lips was a
piece of cake on his 48th birthday, but he became violently ill from it.

The pack-and-a-half per day smoker, who had his first cigarette at age
14, was subsequently diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent
aggressive radiation therapy. His prognosis was poor, with doctors
giving him only months to live. A priest even administered last rites,
Amodeo testified in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Much to his surprise, the
radiation shrank his tumor. But the treatment destroyed the flap in his
esophagus that prevents food from going into his lungs. With the stomach
tube, "I don't taste anything," Amodeo said in response to questions
from his lawyer, Stanley Rosenblatt. "I get hungry. And I'm always
thirsty."

Before the stomach tube, Amodeo said he had a feeding tube that ran from
his stomach up his throat and out his nose. But he had that removed in
favor of the less noticeable one in his stomach because, "I could not
stand to be seen with the tube hanging out of my nose and wrapped around
my ear."

Amodeo and Mary Farnan, 44, represent what has been estimated as 500,000
ailing Florida smokers, the class in the nation's first state-wide
class-action trial against Big Tobacco.

Amodeo testified that he tries to avoid being present when other people
eat because he does not want to make them feel uncomfortable. "I see
food, I smell it, and I crave it," he said. He and his wife now avoid
most social situations because, "everything revolves around food," he
said. And on big holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, Amodeo said
he spends the day watching football while his wife goes out and helps
prepare meals for homeless people.

Last July, the same jury now listening to Amodeo's testimony ruled that
smoking causes cancer, that cigarettes are a defective and dangerous
product and that their manufacturers used deceptive marketing to sell
them. Now the jurors must determine whether those actions and smoking
led to Amodeo's and Farnan's cancers. If they do, they could award the
pair monetary damages, and punitive damages to all of the ill smokers --
an award that tobacco attorneys fear could reach $ 300 billion.
(Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), Section: Local, Pg. 3B, Dec-2-1999)



TOBACCO LITIGATION: High Court Wary Of Classifying Tobacco As Drug
------------------------------------------------------------------
The Clinton administration's plan to regulate cigarettes as legal drugs
received a surprisingly hostile hearing before the Supreme Court on
Wednesday. In skeptical questioning, most of the justices suggested that
federal health regulators overreached three years ago when they claimed
power over cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

The prospect of federal control has alarmed the already beleaguered
tobacco industry, which believes that such regulation would threaten its
very survival.

Under a policy adopted in 1996 by the Food and Drug Administration,
regulators could have ordered the industry to reduce or eliminate
nicotine from cigarettes. Tobacco industry lawyers have feared that such
control eventually would result in the prohibition of cigarettes.

However, those possibilities appeared to fade quickly during Wednesday's
argument. The Supreme Court justices, looking closely at the Food, Drug
and Cosmetic Act of 1938, said that they did not see how cigarettes
could be classified in the same category as medicines. "It just doesn't
fit," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor exclaimed, describing her reaction to
calling a cigarette a drug.

Under the 1938 law, federal regulators can oversee drugs that are sold
to prevent diseases or cure illnesses, she said. But, she added, "it
strains credibility" to say that Congress meant to include cigarettes
under this rubric, since tobacco products are not sold as medicine.

And if cigarettes were covered by the law, they would "have to be
banned," O'Connor said, since their risks to health clearly outweigh
their benefits.

She noted that FDA lawyers had defined their authority so broadly as to
cover anything that is intended by its maker to have an effect on the
body. "Could the FDA regulate horror movies?" O'Connor wondered, since
such films are designed "to get the adrenaline pumping." No one has
seriously suggested anything of the sort, replied U.S. Solicitor Gen.
Seth Waxman, representing the administration.
"Well, 30 years ago, no one suggested the government could regulate
cigarettes," interjected Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, a regular
smoker.

The skepticism from O'Connor and Rehnquist was echoed in questions from
Justice Antonin Scalia, the court's other steady smoker, as well as from
those who might have been seen as more friendly to the anti-tobacco
arguments, including Justices David H. Souter and Anthony M. Kennedy.

Only Justices Stephen G. Breyer and John Paul Stevens strongly defended
the Clinton administration's stand.

With control over cigarettes, FDA officials had hoped to ban most
tobacco advertising, including sports promotions. They also intended to
forbid the sale of cigarettes through vending machines. Retailers would
be required to ask for photo identifications before selling cigarettes
to anyone younger than 27. Those proposed rules have been stalled
pending the outcome of the court battle.

Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., struck down the
FDA's claim of authority over tobacco products, and most of the justices
sounded Wednesday as though they will uphold that ruling. If they do,
the issue would move back to Congress. But the Republican-controlled
Congress recently has shown no enthusiasm for bringing tobacco under the
FDA's control.

However, anti-tobacco forces have been winning on other fronts. In a
series of legal settlements with the states, the major tobacco firms
have agreed to pay $ 246 billion to cover smoking-related health costs.

The Justice Department has brought a similar federal lawsuit against the
tobacco firms, and several class-action suits are pending in state
courts.

In 1995, then-FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler said newly discovered
evidence--industry documents--showed that tobacco industry officials had
known for decades that nicotine is addictive and that the amount of
nicotine in cigarettes can be manipulated.

Tobacco use "is the largest cause of preventable death in the United
States," the FDA added. Each year, more than 400,000 Americans die from
smoking-related illnesses. This new evidence, combined with the enormous
health consequences of smoking, justifies a sharp change in federal
policy, the administration said.

The justices were unswayed. What's new about this, Scalia asked, since
the health dangers of cigarettes have been documented for decades.
Certainly in 1964, when the surgeon general first warned Americans of
the hazards of smoking, ordinary Americans--as well as the FDA--knew of
the dangers, Rehnquist said. Maybe so, Waxman said, but the leaders of
the major tobacco companies testified under oath just a few years ago
that they believed cigarettes were not addictive. "No one believed
them," Scalia responded.

The sharp tone of the questioning came as a surprise. During the 1980s,
when the Ronald Reagan administration's policies were being attacked in
the courts by liberal interest groups, the Supreme Court ruled that
judges should defer to the decisions of executive agencies. Waxman
relied on that doctrine Wednesday, but without much success. Instead,
the justices questioned him on where the government's anti-tobacco
policy would lead. How could cigarettes be kept on the market, they
asked, if they are deemed to be drugs? Waxman said that the agency would
have to weigh the risks and would conclude, at least for now, that
prohibition would be a mistake.

But the question seemed to confirm the justices in their view that
cigarettes were not meant to be regulated as drugs by the FDA. A ruling
in the case (FDA vs. Brown & Williamson Tobacco, 98-1152) is expected in
several months. (Los Angeles Times, Part A; Page 1; National Desk,
Dec-2-1999)


USED BATTERIES: Il. & Fla. Investigate; Sears Says Exide Bribed Buyer
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Sears, Roebuck and Co. says its stores may have sold used batteries as
new for four years, but that it is not at fault. Instead, the Hoffman
Estates-based retailer blames Reading, Pa.-based Exide Corp., accusing
it in court documents of bribing a former battery buyer employed by
Sears.

Exide, for its part, says Sears' charges are groundless, and it is suing
the retailer over Sears' cancellation last year of its contract to
purchase millions of dollars of automotive and marine batteries from
Exide.

The allegations are surfacing as a result of a federal grand jury
investigation by the U.S. attorney's office for the southern district of
Illinois and an investigation by the Florida attorney general. Joe
Merkel, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, declined to comment.

Peggy Palter, a spokeswoman for Sears, said the company had only
recently received a copy of a sworn affidavit in which Joseph Calio, a
former Exide sales executive, told investigators for the Florida
attorney general that "Exide paid a former Sears battery buyer $20,000
in cash." The former buyer, Gary K. Marks of Lake Zurich, declined to
comment. Sears said he had worked for the company 27 years.

For more than 50 years, Sears purchased its batteries from Johnson
Controls Inc. But that changed a little more than a year after Marks
became the battery buyer in 1993.

John Van Zile, Exide's vice president and general counsel, said in a
statement: "In my opinion, the Sears counterclaim is an attempt to
divert attention from the fact that Sears owes Exide more than $15
million." Van Zile said Sears was told more than a year ago that
payments "might have been made by former Exide managers."

Earlier this year, while admitting no wrongdoing, Sears agreed to pay
$985,000 to cover the cost of Florida's investigation into the sale of
the used auto batteries. The investigation of Exide, however, is
continuing.

The settlement was the latest in a string of settlements for Sears this
year. In March, the company agreed to pay $154 million to settle a class
action concerning interest rates on its credit card portfolio. In
February, the company agreed to pay a $60 million fine in connection
with the handling of bankrupt credit card customers. (Chicago Tribune
Dec-2-1999)


Y2K: Israeli Lawyer Sues Microsoft for Failing to Warn about Bug
----------------------------------------------------------------
If computer giant Microsoft didn't have enough problems with its recent
antitrust conviction in the United States, an Israeli lawyer added a new
one Thursday a 500 million shekel ($ 118 million) class action suit over
the Y2K bug.

Lawyer Yehuda Ressler complained that Microsoft did not warn about the
possibility of computer malfunctions when the millennium starts, and
should be made to pay for upgrading computers to meet the challenge.

Microsoft Israel director Arieh Skup countered that Microsoft's Y2K
patches are all free, and his company has done more than any other to
combat the millennium bug.

Ressler complained that many computer owners have to give their machines
to experts to prepare for the changeover. ''Whether or not there is a
malfunction, you have to pay,'' he told Israel army radio.

Skup replied that Microsoft Israel translated the company's Y2K bug
Internet website into Hebrew, set up a free telephone help line and
prepared a compact disc (CD) with patches for potential bug problems.

That wasn't good enough for Ressler. ''Do I know what do to with a CD?
Do I know where to put it?'' he asked. Skup dismissed the lawsuit as a
nuisance. ''There will always be lawyers chasing publicity and riches,''
he said, ''and there is no way to stop it.'' (AP Worldstream Dec-2-1999)



* Journal Says Litigation Furthers Public Goal of Ending Workplace Bias
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Employers increasingly require employees to agree - in advance and often
as a condition of employment - to arbitrate claims against the employer
that may arise at work.

Although most workers do not realize it, they give up their right to sue
the employer when they sign mandatory arbitration agreements. In 1991,
the Supreme Court endorsed this trend when it held in Gilmer v.
Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 500 U.S. 20, that arbitration agreements
apply even to a statutory claim of employment discrimination. Despite
this Supreme Court imprimatur, commentators, practitioners, and
disenchanted claimants largely agree that arbitration is not a congenial
forum for employees. A greater problem - which affects all of us,
employers and employees alike - is that arbitrating discrimination
claims in a private forum fails to achieve a broader national policy: to
eliminate workplace discrimination.

In a typical arbitration, the parties choose the arbitrator, usually a
private individual who has experience in an industry but who has no
official status or authority. The arbitrator's power to resolve the
dispute stems from the parties' agreement to abide by the decision. The
parties pay the costs of the private hearing, including the arbitrator's
fee.

In contrast, when a claim is litigated, the decision-maker, whether
judge or jury, is an agent of the state. The decision is thus an
official judgment. The parties do not decide who will hear their case
and do not compensate the decision-maker. Judges are required to reach
unbiased decisions, explain the reasoning for their rulings, and ensure
that the jury applies correct standards of law.

Arbitrators generally issue only cursory decisions that indicate who won
the dispute and the amount of the award. These statements do not provide
the reason for the decision or an explanation of the grounds supporting
it.

Unlike a judicial determination, an arbitrator's decision is, for all
practical purposes, final. Judges, in contrast, are accountable to the
parties and to the public. When a judge ignores or misinterprets the
law, appellate courts or sometimes Congress may rectify the error.

Judicial adjudications and the process by which they are reached - from
the filing of a claim to the issuance of a final appellate determination
- are open to the public. Arbitration, on the other hand, is
confidential. Members of the public may not attend arbitration hearings;
arbitrators do not create a public record of the filings, the hearing,
or the ultimate award.

Many commercial parties prefer arbitration; it is often (but not always)
cheaper and faster than litigation. Because the parties control the
arbitration process, they can also control its costs. The absence of
motion practice and broad discovery orders also curtails expenses.
Because it is less formal than litigation, arbitration is often faster,
which contributes to lower costs. Arbitration also may be attractive to
some employees, especially those who find it difficult to obtain
counsel.

Nevertheless, the procedures that make arbitration less expensive than
litigation can be traps for unwary employees, especially when the issue
is discrimination. For instance, employees claiming discrimination often
require extensive discovery to determine how the employer treated
similarly situated fellow employees. They are unlikely to obtain this
information during arbitration.

Moreover, arbitrators are not bound by rules of evidence or procedure.
As a result, they tend to hear all evidence, which increases the
possibility that they will consider irrelevant or prejudicial evidence.
Arbitrators may apply inappropriate standards, such as industry
practices, rather than established legal standards. The absence of a
reasoned explanation of the decision means that the parties never know
why they won or lost.

In addition to these concerns, a structural bias favors employers.
Arbitrators have a natural incentive to favor the party most likely to
hire them again. In deciding workplace disputes, arbitrators may
unconsciously favor repeat customers who are, of course, the employers.
Finally, the demographic characteristics of arbitrators do not reflect
the participation of women and minorities in the workplace. According to
a securities industry study, arbitrators are most likely to be white (97
percent) and male (98 percent) with an average age of 60. Given this
structural bias and the absence of procedural safeguards, many employees
cannot effectively vindicate their discrimination claims through
arbitration.

In addition, there is a second, more fundamental problem with
arbitrating discrimination claims: arbitration is not as effective as
litigation in ending workplace discrimination.

We are all familiar with the statutory network - Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the
Americans With Disabilities Act - that gives working Americans the right
to sue employers who have discriminated against them because of race,
national origin, color, religion, sex, age, or disability. Successful
litigants are awarded compensatory and punitive damages to redress the
injury of discrimination. The public shares the interest of these
employees in fair, equal treatment at work and proper remediation when
those rights are violated.

We may need to be reminded, however, of the underlying purpose of the
discrimination statutes - to eliminate discrimination in the workplace.
This goal reflects and confirms the ideal of equality, a defining value
of the Constitution and American society. Ending discrimination is also
founded on more pragmatic considerations; ensuring equal opportunity in
the workplace reduces racial tension and removes artificial barriers to
economic growth.

When an individual pursues a claim of employment discrimination, that
person essentially becomes a private attorney general acting for the
common good to enforce the statute. Congress' choices - to award
attorney fees to successful plaintiffs and to authorize limited punitive
damages - underscore the public role of the private litigant. In the
face of the diminished number of employment-related class actions and
the budget constraints of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,
private litigants are the primary enforcers of workplace discrimination
statutes.

                      Resolution - and More

Litigation furthers the public goal of ending discrimination because
judicial determinations accomplish more than a simple resolution of the
dispute. In addition to solving the immediate problem, resolution in a
public forum generates specific and general deterrence, creates
precedent, develops uniform law, educates the community, and forms
public values. Each of these byproducts moves the community toward the
ultimate goal of ending workplace discrimination.

When individual employers are found to have violated the statutes, they
are unlikely to discriminate again. Such determinations cost an employer
money; the offender must compensate the employee and, in certain
circumstances, pay punitive damages. Although both litigation and
arbitration achieve this type of deterrence, public adjudication
achieves an additional level of deterrence because it has effects beyond
the immediate parties.

Resolution in a public forum also deters potential violators; the
example of a sanctioned employer discourages other employers from
engaging in similar practices. Potential violators can assess the threat
of sanctions only when they learn that others have been subject to
damages. The public forum of litigation makes this information available
to the parties, other employers, and the general public. In contrast,
the private and confidential character of arbitration means that only
the parties know about the claim and the award. While arbitration will
specifically deter the particular employer, it does not deter others.

A second benefit of litigation in a public forum is that it develops a
consistent and uniform law. The judicial process produces precedents and
procedural rules that influence the outcome of future cases. In the case
of employment discrimination, this consequence is particularly
propitious. Discrimination statutes are phrased in broad, aspirational
language that provides general operating principles and standards. It is
impossible to do otherwise; legislators cannot write laws that take into
account every possible situation. The courts, by applying a statute's
principles to specific situations, give meaning to the aspirational
language of the discrimination laws. Since the laws were enacted, the
courts have developed - and limited - methods of proving discrimination
claims. They have identified new forms of discrimination and rejected
other claims of discrimination.

The power of the courts to develop the law comes from Congress, which
authorized the judiciary to apply and thus to refine the law. This
authority is augmented by the training, experience, and ability of
judges. It is limited by appellate courts that review decisions and,
ultimately, by Congress and the Constitution. Arbitrators do not have
this authority or limitation; they are accountable only to the parties,
not to Congress or the public. Finally, they have no incentive to
develop the law and are, in fact, discouraged from developing precedent
even within the arbitral forum.

Third, litigating discrimination claims in a public forum educates the
community, because trial publicity teaches what conduct is legal or
illegal. The process itself is inherently valuable to the community.
Adjudication in a public forum gives concrete meaning and expression to
the public values embodied in discrimination statutes. Deciding
challenges to the law in a public forum imparts a sense of right and
wrong, of acceptable and unacceptable conduct. Employment discrimination
suits, which often challenge traditional practices and views, move the
community to accept the relatively new laws that ban employment
discrimination. Authoritative resolution by an official decision-maker
can more readily secure acceptance.

Concerns about mandatory arbitration agreements have prompted members of
Congress to introduce legislation that would amend the employment
discrimination statutes so that only post-dispute agreements to
arbitrate - those reached voluntarily after the claim has arisen - are
valid. Post- dispute arbitration agreements don't raise the same
fairness concerns because a plaintiff typically has had an opportunity
to consult with counsel to assess her claim and potential damages.
Although the Civil Rights Procedures Protection Act has been introduced
every year since 1994, neither chamber has seriously considered it.

Only a few appellate courts have imposed restrictions on arbitration
agreements mandated by employers. In Duffield v. Robertson Stephens &
Co., 144 F.3d 1182 (1998), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
held that employers may not require employees to sign mandatory
arbitration agreements as a condition of employment. According to
Duffield, the 1991 amendments to Title VII that "encourage" arbitration
did not authorize "take it or leave it" job offers. In Cole v. Burns,
105 F.3d 1465 (1997), the D.C. Circuit indicated that it will not
enforce arbitration agreements that require employees to pay their own
fees. The court reasoned that the cost of arbitration would discourage
employees from bringing claims and pursuing vigorous discovery. The
decision, written by Judge Harry Edwards, also endorsed a standard for
obtaining judicial review that would permit more appeals of arbitration
awards.

Even with judicial safeguards, arbitration is not as effective as
litigation in achieving the long-term public policy goal of ending
workplace discrimination. The public forum of litigation more fully
utilizes the tool of deterrence provided by Congress to achieve that
goal. Litigation allows the courts to develop the laws in a way that
maintains their effectiveness in identifying and preventing workplace
discrimination while accounting for the interests of employers. Judicial
resolution of private suits develops precedent that ultimately creates a
consistent and uniform law. As a single, unified interpreter of public
law, the judicial forum reinforces the public sentiment that workplace
discrimination is wrong.

Arbitration cannot produce general deterrence, development of law and
precedent, education, or the formation and affirmation of public values
as litigation does. Employment discrimination laws encompass two goals -
to end workplace discrimination and to provide redress for
discrimination - while arbitration only addresses one of them.

Thus, while arbitration may be a useful and appropriate forum in which
to resolve commercial disputes, it is neither useful nor appropriate for
employment discrimination claims.

Geraldine Szott Moohr is associate professor of law at the University of
Houston Law Center. She is the author of "Arbitration and the Goals of
Employment Discrimination Law," 56 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 395 (1999).
(Legal Times Nov-8-1999)


* Rand Study Urges Broader Role For Judges In Class Actions
-----------------------------------------------------------
Rejecting a number of other proposed solutions to perceived problems
with class action lawsuits, a new study from the RAND Institute for
Civil Justice says increasing judicial regulation of such litigation is
the key to a "better balance between public goals and private gains."

"Judges hold the key to improving the balance of good and ill
consequences of damage class actions," says the study.

                        Class Action Dilemmas
                Pursuing Public Goals for Private Gain

"If judges approve settlements that are not in class members' best
interest and then reward class counsel for obtaining such settlements,
they sow the seeds of frivolous litigation - settlements that waste
society's resources - and ultimately of disrespect for the legal
system," it says.

"If more judges in more circumstances dismiss cases that have no legal
merits, refuse to approve settlements whose benefits are illusory, and
award fees to class counsel proportionate to what they accomplish, over
the long run the balance between public good and private gain will
improve."

The study was conducted over three years and led by Deborah Hensler, now
a professor at Stanford Law School, with funding mostly from business
interests.

The authors trace most of the controversy over class actions to 1966,
when Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure was revised so that
members of a class would be considered plaintiffs unless they opted out.
State courts that previously had required class members to opt in then
revised their requirements to match the federal rule. To gather
empirical evidence, researchers assembled data on the number and types
of class actions from electronic sources, interviewed individuals in law
firms and corporations, and reviewed congressional testimony and
scholarly literature. Then they selected ten cases for case studies -
six alleging consumers were defrauded and four alleging mass torts.

"The image of class action lawyers as 'bounty hunters' pervades the
debate over damage class actions," they write. "Without greedy lawyers
to search them out, the argument goes, few, if any, such lawsuits would
ever be filed. "Our case studies tell a more textured tale of how damage
class actions arise and obtain certification." (Liability Week, No. 43,
Vol. 14; Pg. NA, IAC-ACC-NO: 57825725, Nov-8-1999)


                               *********


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