CAR_Public/991227.MBX                 C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

                Monday, December 27, 1999, Vol. 1, No. 228

                                 Headlines

ACTION PERFORMANCE: Cohen, Milstein Files Expanded Securities Suit
ALLSTATE INSURANCE: Fl. Ct Rules for Full Medical Payment for Accidents
BAKER HUGHES: Stull, Stull Files Securities Suit in Texas
BANK ONE: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in Illinois
BANK ONE: Garwin, Bronzaft Files Securities Suit in Illinois

BANK ONE: Spector & Roseman Files Securities Suit in Illinois
BANK ONE: Stull, Stull Files Securities Suit in Illinois
BANK ONE: Wolf Haldenstein Files Securities Suit in Illinois
CASTLE ENERGY: Continues to Contest Royalty Owners’ Claims in Texas
CASTLE ENERGY: EPA Is Investigating Sludge Waste Near Indian Refinery

FEN-PHEN: AHP Settles in MS after Verdict & Defends National Settlement
GOLDEN BEAR: Announces Settlement of Securities Suit Pending Approval
GPU ENERGY: Proposes Payment for Expenses Incurred during Outages in NJ
INSPIRE INSURANCE: Shepherd & Geller Files Securities Suit in Texas
KROGER CO: Anticipates Appeal against CA Judgment over Egg Price-Fixing

LASON INC: Berger & Montague Files Securities Suit in Pennsylvania
LASON INC: Lionel Z. Glancy Files Expanded Securities Suit in Michigan
LASON INC: Mantese Miller Files Expanded Securities Suit in Michigan
LASON INC: Spector & Roseman Files Securities Suit in Michigan
LASON INC: Wasinger Kickham Files Securities Suit in Michigan

LAWRENCE LIVERMORE: Asian-American Scientists Sue over Employment Bias
LIFE FINANCIAL: Rabin & Peckel Files Securities Suit in New York
MACY’S EAST: Suit Filed in Fl. Says Cramped Aisles in Violation of ADA
MCDERMOTT INT’L: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in Louisiana
MGIC INVESTMENT: Announces Lawsuit in Georgia Re Violation of RESPA

MICROSOFT CORP: ON24 Says Attys. Are Coordinating More Than 50 Suits
NAVIGANT CONSULTING: The Pomerantz Firm Files Securities Suit
PACER INT’L: Truck Drivers Sue Subsids. in CA for Deduction of Earnings
PLAINS ALL: Weiss & Yourman Files Securities Suit in Connecticut
PMI MORTGAGE: Announces Lawsuit in Georgia Re Violations of RESPA

RIBOZYME PHARMACEUTICALS: Beatie and Osborn Files Colo. Securities Suit
SMITHKLINE BEECHAM: Will Contest Pa. Lawsuit over Risk of Lyme Vaccine
STB SYSTEMS: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in Texas
TYCO INT’L: Cohen, Milstein Files Securities Suit in New Hampshire
UICI: Decries Merit of Securities Suits over Losses at Credit Card Unit

UICI: Shepherd & Geller Files Securities Suit in Texas
VERITY INC: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in California
WALT DISNEY: Derivative Claims in CA Are Stayed Pending Dela Resolution
XEROX CORP: Wolf Haldenstein Files Securities Suit in Connecticut

* Fed Proposes to Drop Prohibition on Gathering Loan Applicants’ Data

                              *********

ACTION PERFORMANCE: Cohen, Milstein Files Expanded Securities Suit
------------------------------------------------------------------
The following notice is issued by the law firm of Cohen, Milstein,
Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. on behalf of its client, who filed a lawsuit
in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona on
behalf of all persons who purchased the publicly traded securities of
Action Performance Companies, Inc. (Nasdaq:ACTN) between July 27, 1999
and December 16, 1999 (the "Class Period").

Earlier, the firm had filed an action for ACTN purchasers between July
27, 1999 and November 4, 1999. The complaint charges Action Performance
and certain of its officers and directors with violations of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

The complaint alleges that on July 6, 1999, 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 November 4, 1999, 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 September 30
1999, which was contrary to defendants' prior statements. On December
16, 1999, Action Performance announced that 1stQ F2000 results would
fall below expectations and the spin-off of goracing.com would be
delayed indefinitely. On these disclosures, Action Performance's stock
price declined to below $10 per share, its lowest level in nearly 4
years. As a result of the defendants' false statements, Action
Performance's stock price traded at inflated levels during the Class
Period.

Contact: Steven J. Toll or Tamara J. Driscoll at 888/240-1238 or
206/521-0080, 999 Third Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98104. CONTACT:
Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. Steven J. Toll or Tamara J.
Driscoll, 888/240-1238 facsimile - 206/521-0166 stoll@cmht.com or
tdriscoll@cmht.com


ALLSTATE INSURANCE: Fl. Ct Rules for Full Medical Payment for Accidents
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
A ruling against Allstate Insurance Co. for failing to pay full medical
claims in no-fault accidents could cost the company up to $600 million,
an attorney for Florida policyholders said December 22.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Margarita Esquiroz issued a summary judgment
December 21. The class-action case involved medical bills filed with
Allstate on personal injury protection mandated by Florida law.

A state appeals court upheld a similar ruling in an individual case
against State Farm in October.

An Allstate spokeswoman said it was premature to predict how much, if
anything, the company would have to pay.

Attorney John Ruiz, who represents Allstate policyholders, estimated
that more than 200,000 claims filed with Allstate since October 1992
were not fully paid. ''Allstate was continuously as a business practice
failing to pay as required by law by either not paying at all or
reducing the amounts,'' Ruiz said.

Allstate spokeswoman April Hattori said Allstate, based in Northbrook,
Ill., maintains it does not have to pay for independent medical
examinations in personal injury cases and plans to appeal.


BAKER HUGHES: Stull, Stull Files Securities Suit in Texas
---------------------------------------------------------
The following is an announcement by the law firm of Stull, Stull & Brody
on December 22:

Notice is hereby given that a securities class action lawsuit was filed
in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
against Baker Hughes, Inc. ("Baker Hughes" or the "Company") (NYSE: BHI)
on behalf of all persons who purchased or acquired the common stock of
Baker Hughes at artificially inflated prices (the "Class") between May
3, 1999 and December 8, 1999, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint alleges that defendant violated the federal securities
laws (Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule
10b-5 promulgated thereunder) by misrepresenting or failing to disclose
material information about the Company's publicly reported revenues and
earnings. As a result of defendant's false and misleading statements and
omissions, prices for Baker Hughes' securities were artificially
inflated during the Class Period, such that persons who purchased or
otherwise acquired Baker Hughes' securities during the Class Period were
damaged by overpaying for their securities. On December 8, 1999, Baker
Hughes announced that the Company planned to restate its prior financial
statements as a result of "various accounting issues" at its INTEQ
drilling unit which would cost the Company between $40 and $50 million.

Contact: Tzivia Brody, Esq. at Stull, Stull & Brody by calling toll-free
1-800-337-4983, or by e-mail at SSBNY@aol.com, or by fax at
212-490-2022, or by writing to Stull, Stull & Brody, 6 East 45th Street,
New York, NY 10017.


BANK ONE: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in Illinois
--------------------------------------------------------------
Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP announced on December 22 that a
securities class action lawsuit was commenced on behalf of purchasers of
the common stock of Bank One, Inc. (NYSE: ONE) ("Bank One" or the
"Company"), between October 22, 1998 and November 10, 1999, inclusive,
(the "Class Period"), in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois.

The complaint charges Bank One 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
concerning the Company's earnings, business and prospects. Specifically,
the complaint charges that Bank One reported inflated results because
its subsidiary First USA improperly recorded revenues from late fees,
penalties and interest by failing to post credit card payments on time.
As a result of these misrepresentations and omissions, the price of Bank
One's common stock was artificially inflated throughout the Class
Period. When the truth was disclosed, Bank One's stock price crashed,
losing approximately 54% of its value from its class period high.

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
One@bernlieb.com


BANK ONE: Garwin, Bronzaft Files Securities Suit in Illinois
------------------------------------------------------------
The following was released by Garwin, Bronzaft, Gerstein & Fisher, LLP:

Notice is hereby given that on December 14, 1999, a securities class
action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois against Bank One Corp. ("Bank One")
(NYSE:ONE - news), First USA, and certain officers and directors of Bank
One and First USA on behalf of all persons and entities who purchased
the stock of Bank One during the period October 22, 1998 and November
10, 1999, inclusive (the "Class Period"). The complaint alleges that
defendants violated the federal securities laws, including Sections
10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, by
making false and misleading statements in press releases and filings
with the Securities and Exchange Commission, concerning, among other
things, the business, financial condition, earnings and prospects of
Bank One and its wholly-owned subsidiary, First USA. Specifically, the
Complaint alleges that Bank One achieved its financial results from
First USA's improperly recorded revenues from late fees, penalties and
interest by failing to post credit card payments on time.

After a series of partial disclosures beginning on August 24, 1999, and
ending on November 10, 1999, the facts concerning defendants' conduct
became widely known, including a report that First USA was the target of
an investigation by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the
stock price of Bank One plummeted from its Class Period high of $63.563
per share to close at $34.625 per share on November 10, 1999.

Contact: Garwin, Bronzaft, Gerstein & Fisher, LLP, 1501 Broadway, Suite
1416, New York, NY 10024, 1-888-398-5553, Kevin Landau, Esq.
klandau@gbgf-law.com or Wechsler Harwood Halebian & Feffer LLP, 488
Madison Avenue, New York New York 10022 Robert I. Harwood, Esq., Jeffrey
M. Haber, Esq. or Frederick W. Gerkens, III, Esq., Telephone:
1-877-935-7400 (toll free), or Wechsler Harwood's Shareholder Relations
Department, Shannon Cooper, e-mail: scooper@whhf.com


BANK ONE: Spector & Roseman Files Securities Suit in Illinois
-------------------------------------------------------------
Spector & Roseman, announced on December 22 that a class action lawsuit
has been filed in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois on behalf of all purchasers of the common stock of
Bank One Corp. ("Bank One" or the "Company")(NYSE: ONE) during the
period from October 22, 1998 and November 10, 1999, inclusive (the
"Class Period").

The Complaint alleges that Bank One and certain of its officers and
directors violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934. According to the Complaint, during the Class Period,
defendants issued a series of materially false and misleading public
statements about the Company's business, financial condition, and
earnings and prospects as they pertained to both Bank One and its
wholly-owned subsidiary, First USA. According to the Complaint, Bank
One's reported financial results were actually achieved as a result of
First USA's improper recording of revenues from late fees, penalties and
interest by failing to post credit card payments on time. The issuance
of these false and misleading statements caused the price of Bank One's
common stock to be artificially inflated during the Class Period.

On August 24, 1999, a series of disclosures began to reveal the truth
about the Company. Soon it was widely known that, among other things,
First USA was the target of an investigation by the Office of the
Comptroller of Currency. Finally, on November 10, 1999, Bank One
announced that earnings would be as much as 15% lower than revised
analysts' expectations. As a result of these disclosures, the price of
Bank One's stock collapsed from its Class Period high of $63.563 per
share to close at $34.625 per share on November 10, 1999.

Contact: Spector & Roseman, P.C., Philadelphia Robert M. Roseman,
plaintiff's counsel, 888/844-5862 by email at
classaction@spectorandroseman.com or visit Website at
http://www.spectorandroseman.comor Joshua H. Grabar, plaintiff's
counsel, 888/844-5862 by email at classaction@spectorandroseman.com or
visit website http://www.spectorandroseman.com


BANK ONE: Stull, Stull Files Securities Suit in Illinois
--------------------------------------------------------
The following is an announcement from the law firm of Stull, Stull &
Brody:

Notice is hereby given that a class action lawsuit was filed on Dec. 23,
1999, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of
Illinois on behalf of all persons who purchased the common stock of Bank
One Corp. (NYSE:ONE)("Bank One" or the "Company") between Oct. 22, 1998,
and Nov. 10, 1999 (the "Class Period").

The complaint alleges that defendants violated the federal securities
laws, including Sections 10(b) and 20 of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934, as amended, by making false and misleading statements in press
releases and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission,
concerning, among other things, the business, financial condition,
earnings and prospects of Bank One and its wholly-owned subsidiary,
First USA. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that Bank One achieved
its financial results from First USA's improperly recorded revenues from
late fees, penalties and interest by failing to post credit card
payments on time.

After a series of partial disclosures beginning on Aug. 24, 1999, and
ending on Nov. 10, 1999, the facts concerning defendants' conduct became
widely known, including a report that First USA was the target of an
investigation by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the
stock price of Bank One plummeted from its Class Period high of$63.563
per share to close at $34.625 per share on Nov. 10, 1999.

Contact: Tzivia Brody, Esq. at Stull, Stull & Brody by calling toll-free
1-800-337-4983, or by e-mail at SSBNY@aol.com or by fax at 212/490-2022,
or by writing to Stull, Stull & Brody, 6 East 45th Street, New York, NY
10017.


BANK ONE: Wolf Haldenstein Files Securities Suit in Illinois
------------------------------------------------------------
On December 23, 1999, Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP filed a
class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois on behalf of investors who bought Bank One
Corp. (NYSE: ONE) ("Bank One" or the "Company") stock between October
22, 1998, through November 10, 1999 (the "Class Period").

The lawsuit charges Bank One and several of its top officers with
violations of the securities laws and regulations of the United States.
The complaint alleges that defendants issued a series of false and
misleading statements concerning the Company's operations, revenue, and
earning trends. Specifically, Bank One is alleged to have misled the
market concerning its financial results by improperly recognizing
revenue from its wholly-owned subsidiary, First USA, which, in turn,
improperly recorded revenue from late fees, penalties, and interest by
failing to post credit card payments on time. Following a series of
disclosures beginning August 24, 1999, the Company's stock price
declined from a Class Period high of $63.563 to $34.625 at the end of
the Class Period.

Contact: Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP at 270 Madison
Avenue, New York, New York 10016, by telephone at 800-575-0735 (Michael
Miske, Gregory Nespole, Esq., Fred Taylor Isquith, Esq. or Shane T.
Rowley, Esq.), via e-mail at classmember@whafh.com or whafh@aol.com or
visit the website at http://www.whafh.com(All e-mail correspondence
should make reference to Bank One.)


CASTLE ENERGY: Continues to Contest Royalty Owners’ Claims in Texas
-------------------------------------------------------------------
In May 1996, Larry Long, representing himself and allegedly "others
similarly situated," filed suit against the Company, three of the
Company's natural gas marketing and transmission and exploration and
production subsidiaries, Atlantic Richfield Company ("ARCO"), B&A
Pipeline Company, a former subsidiary of ARCO ("B&A"), and MGNG in the
Fourth Judicial District Court of Rusk County, Texas. The plaintiff
originally claimed, among other things, that the defendants underpaid
non-operating working interest owners, royalty interest owners, and
overriding royalty interest owners with respect to gas sold to Lone Star
pursuant to the Lone Star Contract. Although no amount of actual damages
was specified in the plaintiff's initial pleadings, it appeared that,
based upon the volumes of gas sold to Lone Star, the plaintiff may have
been seeking actual damages in excess of $40,000,000.

After some initial discovery, the plaintiff's pleadings were
significantly amended. Another purported class representative, Travis
Crim, was added as a plaintiff, and ARCO, B&A and MGNG were dropped as
defendants. Although it is not completely clear from the amended
petition, the plaintiffs have apparently now limited their proposed
class of plaintiffs to royalty owners and overriding royalty owners in
leases owned by the Company's exploration and production subsidiary
limited partnership. In amending their pleadings, the plaintiffs revised
their basic claim to seeking royalties on certain operating fees paid by
Lone Star to the Company's natural gas marketing subsidiary limited
partnership. No hearing has been held on the plaintiffs' request for
class certification. After a lengthy period of inactivity the
plaintiff's counsel has recently sought to continue or settle the case.
At present no class has been certified and no trial date set.

Based upon the revised pleadings, management of the Company initially
determined that the worst possible exposure for the Company and its
subsidiary limited partnerships for all gas sold to Lone Star, were they
to lose the case on all points, was less than $3,000,000. However, the
Company sold all of its Rusk County oil and gas properties to UPRC in
May of 1997. The sale to UPRC effectively removed any possibility of
exposure by the Company or its subsidiary limited partnerships to claims
for additional royalties with respect to production after May 1997, thus
reducing the exposure to the Company and its subsidiaries to less than
$2,000,000 in actual damages if they were to lose the case on all
points. Although the Company believes that the plaintiff's claims are
without merit and intends to continue to vigorously defend itself in
this matter, the Company cannot predict the ultimate outcome.


CASTLE ENERGY: EPA Is Investigating Sludge Waste Near Indian Refinery
---------------------------------------------------------------------
In December 1995, IRLP sold the Indian Refinery to American Western
Refining Limited Partnership ("American Western"), an unaffiliated
party. As part of the related purchase and sale agreement, American
Western assumed all environmental liabilities and indemnified IRLP with
respect thereto. Subsequently American Western filed for bankruptcy and
sold the Indian Refinery to an outside party pursuant to a bankruptcy
proceeding. The new owner is currently dismantling the Indian Refinery.

During fiscal 1998, the Company was also informed that the United States
Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") has investigated offsite acid
sludge waste found near the Indian Refinery and was also investigating
and remediating surface contamination in the Indian Refinery property.
Neither the Company nor IRLP was initially named with respect to these
two actions.

In October 1998, the EPA named the Company and two of its refining
subsidiaries as potentially responsible parties for the expected
clean-up of the Indian Refinery. In addition, eighteen other parties
were named including Texaco Refining and Marketing, Inc., the refinery
operator for over 50 years. The Company subsequently responded to the
EPA indicating that it was neither the owner nor operator of the Indian
Refinery and thus not responsible for its remediation.

In November 1999, the Company received a request for information from
the EPA concerning the Company's involvement in the ownership and
operation of the Indian Refinery. The Company expects that it will
respond to the EPA information request during the second quarter of
fiscal 2000.

In September 1995, Powerine sold the Powerine Refinery to Kenyen
Resources ("Kenyen"), an unaffiliated party. In January 1996, Powerine
merged into a subsidiary of Energy Merchant Corp. ("EMC"), an
unaffiliated party, and EMC assumed all environmental liabilities. In
August 1998, EMC sold the Powerine Refinery to a third party which is
seeking financing to restart the Powerine Refinery. In July of 1996, the
Company was named a defendant in a class action lawsuit concerning
emissions from the Powerine Refinery. In April of 1997, the court
granted the Company's motion to quash the plaintiff's summons based upon
lack of jurisdiction and the Company is no longer involved in the case.

Although the environmental liabilities related to the Indian Refinery
and Powerine Refinery have been transferred to others, there can be no
assurance that the parties assuming such liabilities will be able to pay
them. American Western, owner of the Indian Refinery, filed for
bankruptcy and is in the process of liquidation. EMC, which assumed the
environmental liabilities of Powerine, sold the Powerine Refinery to an
unrelated party, which the Company understands is still seeking
financing to restart that refinery. Furthermore, as noted above, the EPA
named the Company as a potentially responsible party for remediation of
the Indian Refinery and has requested relevant information from the
Company. Estimated gross undiscounted clean up costs for this refinery
are $80,000,000 - $150,000,000 according to third parties. If the
Company were found liable for the remediation of the Indian Refinery, it
could be required to pay a percentage of the clean-up costs. Since the
Company's subsidiary only operated the Indian Refinery five years,
whereas Texaco and others operated it over fifty years, the Company
would expect that its share of remediation liability would be
proportional to its years of operation, although such may not be the
case.

An opinion issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 1998 in a comparable
matter supports the Company's position. Nevertheless, if funds for
environmental clean-up are not provided by these former and/or present
owners, it is possible that the Company and/or one of its former
refining subsidiaries could be named a party in additional legal actions
to recover remediation costs. In recent years, government and other
plaintiffs have often sought redress for environmental liabilities from
the party most capable of payment without regard to responsibility or
fault. Whether or not the Company is ultimately held liable in such a
circumstance, should litigation involving the Company and/or IRLP occur,
the Company would probably incur substantial legal fees and experience a
diversion of management resources from other operations.

Although the Company does not believe it is liable for any of its
subsidiaries' clean-up costs and intends to vigorously defend itself in
such regard, the Company cannot predict the ultimate outcome of these
matters due to inherent uncertainties.


FEN-PHEN: AHP Settles in MS after Verdict & Defends National Settlement
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
According to the Associated Press of December 23, 1999, AHP’s
Mississippi fen-phen case may put its national settlement in jeopardy.
The settlement of a lawsuit by the users of a diet drug cocktail might
encourage plaintiffs in other states to opt out of a national settlement
with a drug marker.

The company late December 21 night settled lawsuits consolidated on
behalf of about 1,400 Mississippi residents. American Home Products came
to the bargaining table just hours after a jury awarded five plaintiffs
$150 million in compensatory damages. That award, however, was
superseded by the statewide settlement of an undisclosed sum, sealed in
court, which analysts estimated to be between $200 million and $300
million, or about $ 180,000 per plaintiff.

The $4.83 billion national settlement would cover up to six million
people who used fen-phen. "If larger numbers opt out, it may destroy the
economics of the deal from American Home's perspective," said Manhattan
Institute legal scholar Walter Olson, who has been among those watching
the trial in rural southwest Mississippi. "They'll say, 'We're paying
this and still facing suits.' "In practice, it's hard to keep a deal
together when people start changing their minds if it's in their
interest to do so."

Fen-phen users have until April to decide whether to accept the national
settlement. It pays people who used the drug more than 60 days between
$500 and $297,000, depending on the severity of health problems.

Nationally, about six million people took the mix of fenfluramine and
phentermine after it came out in the mid-90s. American Home withdrew
Pondimin and Redux from the market in 1997 after a Mayo Clinic study
linked fenfluramine to potentially fatal heart valve damage.

Executives at American Home Products, however, maintained on December 22
that the deal reached in Mississippi will have "negligible" effects on
the national settlement. "We don't believe the settlement in Mississippi
will have any negative impact or interfere with the settlement at all,"
said Louis Hoynes Jr., senior vice president and general counsel for the
company.

The company has set aside reserves to cover costs beyond the national
settlement.

Nevertheless, the settlement comes at an awkward time for American Home,
which announced plans last month to merge with Warner-Lambert, another
large drug maker. A recent slide in American Home's stock has hurt the
value of the deal, which has gone from $70 billion to $56 billion. While
Hoynes dismissed speculation that the settlement would upset merger
efforts, the company is still facing more litigation, starting with a
suit next month in Massachusetts. Estimates put the number of separate
trials against the company by ex-fen-phen users at about 8,000. "There
have been trials scheduled in the last few months, many have been
settled," Hoynes said. "That process will continue into the new year and
run parallel with operations of the national settlement."

In addition, lawyers connected to the Mississippi trial are pursuing a
class-action suit in Leslie County, Ky., on behalf of users there. Like
the Jefferson County, Miss., trial, the suit filed in Kentucky would
bring a trial to a rural part of the state where many believe juries
sympathize with victims and punish large companies.

Attorneys and plaintiffs involved in product liability suits agree. A
suit filed by 17 plaintiffs and Owens Corning against the tobacco
industry is expected to begin in Jefferson County in February. Last
year, plaintiffs in a Jefferson County asbestos suit were awarded $50
million.

Phentermine hasn't been linked to problems when taken alone. It is made
by another company and is still on the market. The lawsuit by five
people in Mississippi, who did not agree to the national settlement,
accused American Home of putting profit over health concerns. They
alleged the drug combination left them with pulmonary hypertension. "At
least now we can get the proper health care that we need," said
plaintiff Vinester Williams, 35, who wept after December 21's verdict.
"It was unbelievable that we were treated the way we were," Williams
said. "It hurts to know the company was saying we weren't sick."

In the only other verdict to be rendered in a fen-phen lawsuit, Debbie
Lovett, 36, of Grand Saline, Texas, was awarded $23.3 million in July by
a jury. The case was later settled for less than 10 percent of that
amount during an appeal.

A report on the Record (New Jersey) of December 23 says that AHP made a
conference call on December 22 to assure investors that the national
settlement and merger proposal will remain intact even as the company
faces numerous diet drug lawsuits in several other states. "We don't
believe the settlement in Mississippi will have any negative impact or
interfere with the (proceedings) of the national settlement," AHP's
general counsel, Louis Hoynes, said. "Some will be settled, some will go
to trial." "We have no reason to believe that this settlement will have
any adverse impact on our merger agreement at all," Hoynes said. "We can
manage this litigation."

Still, the timing was poor for Madison-based AHP as its stock price
falls and the merger proposal with Morris Plains-based Warner-Lambert
would be jeopardized if too few diet drug users signed up for the
national accord.

The Record (New Jersey) says that the biggest concern may be New
York-based Pfizer Inc. Pfizer has made a hostile bid for Warner-Lambert
currently worth $ 72.4 billion, a 39 percent premium for Warner-Lambert
shareholders over the AHP deal.

Analyst Kent Blair of Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette said it's too early to
judge the success of the national settlement. But the Mississippi
verdict should not be viewed as a sign that it could fall apart, he
said. "They say they have adequate reserves," Blair said of the AHP
executives' comments. "The settlement was within they parameters they
expected."

Analysts say American Home's stock has languished in recent months
because of investors' fears of costly jury awards in Mississippi and
other states. Pfizer's attempts to crack the merger deal with
Warner-Lambert has added to the pressure. "Everybody on Wall Street is
betting, just on the price of stock, that Pfizer is going to get
Warner-Lambert," Blair said.

The swift settlement just hours after the verdict in Mississippi
combined with the conference call on December 22 went a long way in
stopping a stock selloff on Wall Street. AHP's stock closed at $ 40 a
share, a 1 percent drop from December 21. Since April, when the share
price reached a one-year high of $ 70, the stock has lost nearly half
its value.

AHP's Hoynes said Mississippi presented "an unfavorable litigation
environment" that is not representative of other states. Although some
lawyers valued the confidential statewide settlement at $ 500 million,
Hoynes said the real figure was "substantially less than that number."
He added that the payment will come from a reserve account AHP
established when it announced the national settlement offer in October.

Pfizer and Warner-Lambert were silent after the American Home conference
call. Both stocks closed slightly higher in trading on December 22.
Pfizer closed at $ 33.75 a share; Warner-Lambert closed at $ 82.94.

Pfizer's deal would almost certainly mean the removal of the top
Warner-Lambert executives and the board, all of whom are fighting for
the friendly merger with AHP instead.

But a Pfizer takeover won't be easy. All three companies will defend
their positions in Delaware Chancery Court beginning in January. Among
other things, Pfizer is contesting a $ 2 billion breakup fee
Warner-Lambert would be forced to pay AHP if their deal falls through;
Warner-Lambert is trying to kill a marketing pact with Pfizer that made
Warner's Lipitor cholesterol treatment one of the top-selling drugs in
the world with $ 4 billion in sales this year; and Warner-Lambert is
attempting to delay a Pfizer solicitation to Warner's shareholders,
which asks them to fire Warner's board.

The national settlement litigation is being handled in Philadelphia by
U.S. District Court Judge Louis Bechtle, who gave preliminary approval
to AHP's national settlement offer last month. The class-action
settlement is open to 5.8 million Americans who used the drugs Redux or
Pondimin, one half of the fen-phen combination.


GOLDEN BEAR: Announces Settlement of Securities Suit Pending Approval
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Golden Bear Golf, Inc. announced on December 23 a series of agreements
that will settle the class action litigation filed after its restatement
of earnings on July 27, 1998, and will also result in Golden Bear Golf
becoming a private company. The settlement of the class action
litigation will be accomplished with funds to be paid to the Company by
its insurer, with a contribution by its auditors.

If approved by United States District Court Judge Dan Hurley, the
securities class action will be settled for a sum of $3.5 million. After
payment of legal fees and costs, the remaining funds will be divided
among those persons who purchased Golden Bear Golf shares during the
period beginning with the Company's initial public offering on August 1,
1996 and ending upon the Company's announcement of its restated earnings
and financial condition on July 27, 1998.

As part of the class action settlement, the Company has undertaken to
take steps to acquire the shares held by the public shareholders at a
cash price of $ 0.75 per share. Currently there are 2,744,962 shares of
Golden Bear Golf held by public shareholders.

The price for the publicly held shares was the result of negotiations
between Golden Bear Golf and attorneys for the class action plaintiffs
and has the approval of a committee of independent directors. Morgan
Stanley Dean Witter has provided a fairness opinion in connection with
this proposed transaction.

"The settlement agreements announced today will conclude the class
action litigation and provide some value for the public shareholders,"
stated Stephen S. Winslett, Chief Operating Officer of Golden Bear Golf.
"We recognize that prolonged litigation would have been expensive and
made it more difficult to come to a fair resolution for all parties
involved."


GPU ENERGY: Proposes Payment for Expenses Incurred during Outages in NJ
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
GPU Energy is talking to officials in more than 10 New Jersey
communities about possible payments for expenses they incurred during
power failures last July, a spokesman for the utility said on December
22.

The spokesman, Ron Morano, would not say whether the utility had already
offered the Two Rivers Council of Mayors, an association of
municipalities in Monmouth County, 80 percent of their expenses, as
Mayor Edward J. McKenna of Red Bank reported.

The blackouts were caused by the failure of two GPU Energy transformers.
More than 170,000 customers lost power.

The settlement would not resolve a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf
of Monmouth County residents, or other private claims. More than 3,300
individual claims have been filed against the utility, about half of
which have been settled, Mr. Morano said. (The New York Times December
23, 1999)


INSPIRE INSURANCE: Shepherd & Geller Files Securities Suit in Texas
-------------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Firm of Shepherd & Geller, LLC announced on December 23 that it
has filed a class action in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Texas on behalf of all individuals and
institutional investors that purchased the common stock of INSpire
Insurance Solutions, Inc. (the "Company") (Nasdaq:NSPR) between January
28, 1998 and October 14, 1999, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges that the Company and certain of its officers and
directors violated the federal securities laws by providing materially
false and misleading information about the Company's financial condition
and new contracts, representing that the new contracts would provide
significant "recurring" revenue when, in fact, the contracts were
generally contingent on the profitability of the Company's customers. As
a result of these false and misleading statements the Company's stock
traded at artificially inflated prices during the class period. The
Defendants took advantage of the inflated stock price by selling
millions of dollars of stock in a secondary public offering in March,
1998. When the truth about the Company was revealed, the price of the
stock dropped significantly.

Contact: Shepherd & Geller, LLC, Boca Raton Jonathan M. Stein,
561/750-3000 Toll Free: 888/262-3131 E-mail:
jstein@classactioncounsel.com or Shepherd & Geller, LLC, Media, Pa.
Scott R. Shepherd, 610/891-9880 Toll Free: 877/891-9880 E-mail:
sshepherd@classactioncounsel.com


KROGER CO: Anticipates Appeal against CA Judgment over Egg Price-Fixing
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Report in Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission as
of December 20, 1999:

On September 13, 1996, a class action lawsuit titled McCampbell, et al.
v. Ralphs Grocery Company, et al, was filed in the Superior Court of the
State of California, County of San Diego, against Ralphs Grocery Company
("Ralphs/Food 4 Less") and two other grocery store chains operating in
the Southern California area. The complaint alleged, among other things,
that Ralphs/Food 4 Less and others conspired to fix the retail price of
eggs in Southern California. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants'
actions violated provisions of the California Cartwright Act and
constituted unfair competition. The plaintiffs sought damages they
purported to have sustained as a result of the defendants' alleged
actions, which damages were subject to trebling under the applicable
statute, and an injunction from future actions in restraint of trade and
unfair competition. A class was certified consisting of all retail
purchasers of white chicken eggs sold by the dozen in Los Angeles,
Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Imperial and Orange counties from
September 13, 1992.

The case proceeded to trial before a jury in July and August 1999. On
September 2, 1999, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Ralphs/Food 4
Less and against the plaintiffs. Judgment was entered in favor of
Ralphs/Food 4 Less on November 1, 1999. Ralphs/Food 4 Less anticipates
that plaintiffs will appeal the judgment.


LASON INC: Berger & Montague Files Securities Suit in Pennsylvania
------------------------------------------------------------------
Berger & Montague, P.C. (http: home.bm.net) announced that on December
23, 1999, it filed a class action lawsuit for violations of the federal
securities laws in the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania against Lason, Inc. (NASDAQ:LSON) and its Chief
Executive Officer, on behalf of all persons who purchased Lason common
stock between December 9, 1999, and December 17, 1999, inclusive.

The Complaint charges that the defendants violated Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The Complaint alleges that
defendants issued a press release on December 9th stating that the
Company was unaware of any reason for a recent decline in the Company's
stock price. In fact, the defendants were aware that customers were
curtailing orders, which would cause a significant revenue shorfall in
the fourth quarter. Upon announcement of this revenue shortfall, after
the market closed on December 17th, Lason stock lost 50% of its value.

Contact: Sherrie R. Savett, Esq. Arthur Stock, Esq. Berger & Montague,
P.C. 1622 Locust Street Philadelphia, PA 19103 Phone: 888/891-2289 or
215/875-3000 Fax: 215/875-4604 Website: http://home.bm.nete-mail:
InvestorProtect@bm.net


LASON INC: Lionel Z. Glancy Files Expanded Securities Suit in Michigan
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The following was issued on December 23 by the Law Offices of Lionel Z.
Glancy:

Notice is hereby given that a Class Action has been filed in the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of
all persons who purchased the common stock of Lason, Inc. ("Lason")
(Nasdaq: LSON) between August 14, 1998 and December 17, 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 Lionel Z. Glancy, Esquire, or Michael Goldberg, Esquire, of the
Law Offices of Lionel Z. Glancy, 1801 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 311,
Los Angeles, California 90067, by telephone at (310) 201-9150, or toll
free at (888) 773-9224 or by e-mail to info@glancylaw.com

The Complaint alleges that Lason and certain of its officers and
directors artificially inflated the price of Lason's shares in violation
of the federal securities laws. Among other things, plaintiff claims
that defendants' material omissions and the dissemination of materially
false and misleading statements regarding the nature of Lason's revenue
and earnings drove Lason's stock price to a Class Period high of
$64.9375 per share.

Contact: Lionel Z. Glancy, lglancy@aol.com, or Michael Goldberg, both of
the Law Offices of Lionel Z. Glancy, 310-201-9150 or 888-773-9224


LASON INC: Mantese Miller Files Expanded Securities Suit in Michigan
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Notice was given on December 23 that a Class Action has been commenced
in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
on behalf of a class (the "Class") consisting of all persons who
purchased Lason, Inc. securities between August 14, 1998 and December
17, 1999 (the "Class Period"), announces Mantese Miller and Mantese,
P.L.L.C.

The action asserts claims against Lason, Inc. ("Lason") (Nasdaq: LSON)
and certain of its directors and officers. Defendants are charged with
violations of sections 10(b), and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act
of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder by reason of material
misrepresentations and omissions during the Class Period concerning
Lason's revenues and earnings.

Contact: E. Powell Miller, Esquire, or Marc L. Newman, Esquire, of
Mantese Miller and Mantese, P.L.L.C., 1301 W. Long Lake Road, Suite 135,
Troy, Michigan 48098, by telephone at 248-267-1200, by e-mail to
mlnewman@ameritech.net or fax 248-267-9551


LASON INC: Spector & Roseman Files Securities Suit in Michigan
--------------------------------------------------------------
Spector and Roseman, P.C. issued the following announcement: Pursuant to
Section 21(D)(A)(3)(a)(i) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, notice
is hereby given that a Class Action has been commenced in the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of
a class (the "Class") consisting of all persons who purchased the common
stock of Lason Inc. ("Lason") (Nasdaq:LSON -news) between Dec. 9, 1999,
and Dec. 17, 1999, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Lason and one of its officers with violations of
federal securities laws. Among other things, plaintiff claims that
defendants' material omissions and the dissemination of materially false
and misleading statements regarding the nature of Lason's financials
artificially drove Lason's stock price to a class period high of $24 5/8
per share. The complaint charges Lason common stock fell to a low of $11
7/16 per share after Lason restated its revenue and earnings, inflicting
enormous damages on investors. Plaintiff seeks to recover damages on
behalf of class members and is represented by Spector and Roseman, P.C.

Contact: Spector & Roseman, P.C., Philadelphia Plaintiff's Counsel
Eugene A. Spector, 888/844-5862 by e-mail at
classaction@spectorandroseman.com or visit website at
http://www.spectorandroseman.com


LASON INC: Wasinger Kickham Files Securities Suit in Michigan
-------------------------------------------------------------
Pursuant to Section 21(D)(A)(3)(a)(i) of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934, Wasinger Kickham and Kohls gives notice on December 22 that a
Class Action has been commenced in the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of a class (the "Class")
consisting of all persons who purchased the common stock of Lason Inc.
("Lason") (Nasdaq:LSON) between Nov. 15, 1999, and Dec. 17, 1999,
inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Lason and certain of its officers with violations
of federal securities laws. Among other things, plaintiff claims that
defendants' material omissions and the dissemination of materially false
and misleading statements regarding the nature of Lason's financials
artificially drove Lason's stock price to a class period high of $33 3/8
per share.

Lason common stock fell to a low of $11 7/16 per share after Lason
revealed the truth regarding the state of its revenue and earnings,
inflicting enormous damages on investors. Plaintiff seeks to recover
damages on behalf of class members and is represented by Wasinger
Kickham and Kohls, a law firm with significant experience in prosecuting
class actions, and substantial expertise in actions involving corporate
fraud.

Contact: Stephen Wasinger, Esquire, or Greg Hanley, Esquire, of Wasinger
Kickham and Kohls, 26862 Woodward Ave., Suite 100, Royal Oak, Mich.,
48067, by telephone at 248/414-9900, or by e-mail to
swasinger@wkklaw.com


LAWRENCE LIVERMORE: Asian-American Scientists Sue over Employment Bias
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Nine Asian-Americans who are veteran employees at the Lawrence Livermore
Laboratory filed a complaint with the State of California asking that it
investigate possible discrimination at the federal government's weapons
laboratory. In the complaint to the California Department of Fair
Employment and Housing, the workers say they are paid less and promoted
less often than their white counterparts.

The complaint comes at a time when some Asian-American scientists have
said that a federal security crackdown has unfairly singled them out.

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson created a committee to look at the
possibility of discrimination against Asian-American workers after the
arrest of Wen Ho Lee, the Taiwan-born American nuclear weapons scientist
fired from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and indicted
on charges of violating security measures.

One employee involved in the California complaint, Kalina Wong, said:
"At the lab, there are no Asian-Americans in upper management in the
technical fields despite the large number of us. In addition, there are
no Asian Americans in a position with authority to make decisions on
labwide policy. Like every other American, we want to be treated fairly
and equitably by our employer."

The laboratory was closed for the Christmas weekend, and no one could be
reached for comment.

Brad Yamauchi, a partner with Minami, Lew & Tamaki, a law firm
specializing in cases involving federal employees, said the complaint
would be amended in two weeks to make it a class-action case. "We are
seeking all remedies to make sure the discrimination does not continue,"
Mr. Yamauchi said. "That can include individual remedies for lost pay
and promotions. It can include injunctive relief to change the way they
evaluate and change the pay scales of employees and how they do
promotions."

The plaintiffs say they hope the investigation will provide evidence
supporting their accusations. "We don't have across-the-board statistics
that would actually prove or disprove the claims," Mr. Yamauchi said.

Barbara Osborne, the deputy director of enforcement field operations at
the Energy Department, said the laboratory would have 30 days to respond
to the complaints. "We'll be looking to see if Asians are paid lower
wages than others who are not Asian," Ms. Osborne said. "And it's not
simply looking at Caucasians, it's looking at anybody who is not Asian."

If the complaints are found to be valid, they will be forwarded to the
department's judicial body, the Fair Employment and Housing Commission,
which can award damages of $150,000 per plaintiff, plus back wages and
other compensation. "If they decide the law has been violated, they will
award damages," Ms. Osborne said.

Lawrence Livermore is also involved in litigation involving a
discrimination case filed a year ago by some female employees. "They are
very similar claims," Mr. Yamauchi said. (The New York Times December
24, 1999)


LIFE FINANCIAL: Rabin & Peckel Files Securities Suit in New York
----------------------------------------------------------------
The following is an announcement from the law firm of Rabin & Peckel LLP
on December 23:

A class action complaint has been filed in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of all persons or
entities who purchased or otherwise acquired Life Financial Corporation
("Life Financial" of the "Company") (NASDAQ: LFCO) common stock during
the period June 24, 1997 through March 3, 1999, inclusive (the "Class
Period"), including those who acquired the common stock pursuant to the
Company's Registration Statement and Prospectus declared effective by
the SEC on June 24, 1997.

The Complaint alleges that defendants violated the Securities Act of
1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by making a series of
materially false and misleading statements concerning the Company's
financial results during the Class Period. On March 3, 1999, the Company
announced that it would have to restate its financial results for the
fiscal years 1996 and 1997 and the first, second and third quarters of
the fiscal year 1998, including those in the Registration Statement. The
Company stated that it would have to restate net income, shareholders
equity, and earnings per share for the afore mentioned time period and
retroactively measure credit enhancement assets using the "cash-out"
accounting method. The restatement was required because the financial
statements improperly used the practice of measuring and accounting for
all excess cash flows by using the "cash-in" accounting method as
opposed to the "cash-out" method mandated pursuant to Generally Accepted
Accounting Principles. The Complaint alleges that as a result of these
false and misleading statements the price of Life common stock was
artificially inflated throughout the Class Period causing plaintiff and
the other members of the Class to suffer damages.

Contact: Rabin & Peckel LLP Elana M.B. Bourkoff, Esq. 800/497-8076
212/682-1818 Fax: 212/682-1892 E-mail: email@rabinlaw.com Website:
http://www.rabinlaw.com


MACY’S EAST: Suit Filed in Fl. Says Cramped Aisles in Violation of ADA
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Department store aisles packed with merchandise are supposed to increase
sales, but disabled people who say the crowding keeps them from shopping
at some Macy's stores have filed a lawsuit. The lawsuit accuses Macy's
East, which operates 87 stores in 15 East Coast states, of violating the
Americans with Disabilities Act. Among other accessibility requirements,
the law requires main store aisles to be 36 inches wide. "Particularly
at this time of year... the aisles are so crowded that the footage in
many aisles has been narrowed to 17 inches," said Phyllis Resnick of
Miami Beach, vice president of Access Now, an advocacy organization that
is one of the plaintiffs in the suit filed December 22 in federal court
in Miami.

The suit, which seeks class-action status, was filed on behalf of
wheelchair users. But anyone who has ever been denied access to a Macy's
East store would be covered, said attorney Rosemarie Richard.
"Basically, anyone in a wheelchair who's ever been to a Macy's falls
into that category," Richard, of Stuart, said. "For years the stores
have been pretty inaccessible to wheelchair users just because of the
narrowness of the aisles."

Ronnie Taffet, vice president of public relations for Macy's East, said
on December 23 that the company had not received the lawsuit, so she
could not comment on it.

Analyst Walter Loeb, publisher of the Loeb Retail Letter, pointed out
that retailers are under intense pressure during the holidays to move
merchandise. "You can say that some retailers are getting overly anxious
to be in the aisles promoting it all the time," he said. "The ADA action
to some extent may help clean up the stores."

The holiday timing of the lawsuit was accidental, Richard said. It
follows an October decision by a federal judge in San Francisco who
ordered a Macy's store there to improve accessibility; weeks since then
were spent inspecting Macy's East stores, she said.

Resnick's husband, Edward, another plaintiff, is a retired attorney who
has used a wheelchair since 1954 because of polio. Resnick said the
couple was excited by the adoption of the ADA in 1990 and looked forward
to visiting places they previously were not able to go. "And lo and
behold, here it is 1999 and we still can't get into places," she said.
"Or if we can, we can't do much once we get inside."

Macy's East is a division of Cincinnati-based Federated Department
Stores Inc. (The Record (Bergen County, NJ) December 24, 1999)


MCDERMOTT INT’L: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in Louisiana
-----------------------------------------------------------------
The following is an announcement from Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes &
Lerach, LLP:

Notice is hereby given that a class action lawsuit was filed on December
21, 1999, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District
of Louisiana, on behalf of all purchasers of the common stock of
McDermott International, Inc ("McDermott" or the "Company") (NYSE: MDR)
between May 21, 1999, through November 11, 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 Michael A. Swick at One Pennsylvania Plaza, 49th
Floor, New York, New York 10119-0165, by telephone 1-800-320-5081 or via
e-mail: endfraud@mwbhlny.com or visit website at http://www.milberg.com

The complaint charges McDermott and certain of its senior officers and
directors with violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 as well as Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. The
complaint alleges that defendants issued a series of materially false
and misleading statements concerning the Company's estimated liability
for asbestos related product liability claims. The complaint further
alleges that the material under-reporting of the Company's reasonable
and expectant liability for asbestos related claims in the Company's
fiscal 1999 financial results allowed defendants to improperly
manipulate executive bonuses for both fiscal years 1999 and 2000.

Contact: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP Shareholder Relations
Dept., 800/320-5081 E-Mail: endfraud@mwbhlny.com


MGIC INVESTMENT: Announces Lawsuit in Georgia Re Violation of RESPA
--------------------------------------------------------------------
MGIC Investment Corporation (NYSE: MTG) announced on December 24 that a
class action complaint has been filed against its Mortgage Guaranty
Insurance Corporation subsidiary (MGIC) in Federal District Court in
Augusta, Georgia. The lawsuit alleges MGIC has violated the Real Estate
Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) by entering into various transactions
with lenders (including GSE pool insurance, captive reinsurance and
contract underwriting) that were not properly priced, in return for the
referral of mortgage insurance. MGIC is aware of similar lawsuits filed
against certain other mortgage insurers in that court. MGIC will
aggressively defend against this lawsuit and in due course will answer
the complaint and deny liability.


MICROSOFT CORP: ON24 Says Attys. Are Coordinating More Than 50 Suits
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Attorneys are coordinating more than 50 private class action lawsuits
against Microsoft Corporation. The claims follow a decision last month
in which US district Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled Microsoft had a
monopoly in the PC operating systems arena.

A report on Time Warner Cable, Newsbytes, on December 22 shows the
headline, “In Race To Sue Microsoft, Some Trip.”  According to the
report, ever since Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson tarred the software
giant as a bully and monopolist in his November findings of fact, dozens
of lawyers have filed suits seeking damages for consumers and
corporations allegedly overcharged for Microsoft products.

But, as reported by the Washington Post, the race to sue is producing
some memorable legal bloopers. Lawyers behind one lawsuit filed in a
California state court, for instance, seemed momentarily confused about
Microsoft's core business. The complaint suggests at one point that the
software maker is actually competing in the generic drug market. "These
arrangements have enabled Microsoft Corporation to exclude other
developers of Intel-compatible PC operating systems from obtaining the
supply of such generic drugs' active pharmaceutical ingredient ('API'),"
the complaint states on page two.

Why the mix-up? A lawyer in the firm drafted the complaint by replacing
key words in a suit filed against a pharmaceutical company. Apparently,
not all of the drug references were altered.

Seeking the triple damages typically awarded plaintiffs in private
antitrust suits, many lawyers are finding Microsoft an irresistible, if
somewhat confusing, target. But few firms have much expertise in high
technology, in part because the industry has only recently attracted the
attention of antitrust enforcers. Most plaintiffs' firms have scored
their largest victories courtesy of more traditional product-liability
matters.

One of the firms claims that the Redmond, Wash.-based company is
principally located "within the State of Texas." The law firm also
declares that it will represent consumers who purchased a computer
system through "MacIntosh Computer Company"( it meant Apple Computer
Inc.). A few pages later, the firm lists as possible plaintiffs anyone
who has purchased Windows 2000. (That's bound to be a tiny number - like
zero - as Windows 2000 has yet to go on sale.)

Another law firm contended in its complaint that "Microsoft withheld
technical information from Netscape, preventing development of a Windows
95 version of Netscape Navigator." That seems unlikely, since a Windows
95 version of Navigator hit the market years ago. So how could Microsoft
have "prevented" it from being developed? One of the lead lawyers in the
case explained it meant that Microsoft had sought to delay a Windows 95
Netscape product, in effect "preventing" Netscape from developing a
Windows 95-based browser for a period of time.

Microsoft officials contend that gaffes in the lawsuits are emblematic
of the mistakes in logic that underlie all the allegations against the
company. (Reported By The Washington Post)


NAVIGANT CONSULTING: The Pomerantz Firm Files Securities Suit
-------------------------------------------------------------
The following is an announcement by the law firm of Pomerantz Haudek
Block Grossman & Gross LLP on December 23:

Please take notice that Pomerantz Haudek Block Grossman & Gross LLP
(http://www.pomerantzlaw.com)has filed a class action complaint on
behalf of those who purchased the common stock of the following company
during the period between May 6, 1999 and November 19, 1999, inclusive
(the "Class Period"):

NAVIGANT CONSULTING, INC. (NYSE:NCI) Navigant Consulting, Inc.
("Navigant" or the "Company") (NYSE:NCI), formerly known as Metzler
Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: METZ), and several of the Company's senior officers
have been charged with failing to disclose material information about
its accounting practices, and issuing a series of false and misleading
statements which sought to artificially inflate the rate at which the
Company was growing in order for the individual defendants to realize
huge profits on improper stock purchases which were financed with
inappropriate loans from Navigant itself.

Contact: Andrew G. Tolan, Esq. of the Pomerantz firm at 888-476-6529 (or
(888) 4-POMLAW), toll free, or at agtolan@pomlaw.com by e-mail. Those
who inquire by e-mail are encouraged to include their mailing address
and telephone number.


PACER INT’L: Truck Drivers Sue Subsids in CA for Deduction of Earnings
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Two subsidiaries of Pacer Logistics, Interstate Consolidation, Inc. and
Intermodal Container Service, Inc., are named defendants in a class
action filed in July 1997 in the State of California, Los Angeles
Superior Court, Central District, alleging, among other things, breach
of fiduciary duty, unfair business practices, conversion and money had
and received in connection with monies allegedly wrongfully deducted
from truck drivers' earnings. Plaintiffs have demanded in excess of $8.8
million, together with unspecified punitive damages, costs and interest,
as well as equitable relief. The defendants have entered into a Judge
Pro Tempore Submission Agreement dated as of October 9, 1998, pursuant
to which the plaintiffs and defendants have waived their rights to a
jury trial, stipulated to a certified class, and agreed to a minimum and
a maximum judgement amount. A decision is expected in January of 2000.
The Company has defended and will continue to defend this action
vigorously and believes that its defenses are meritorious.


PLAINS ALL: Weiss & Yourman Files Securities Suit in Connecticut
----------------------------------------------------------------
The following is an announcement by the law firm of Weiss & Yourman on
December 23:

A class action lawsuit against Plains All American Pipeline, LP ("PAAP"
or the "Company")(NYSE:PAA) was commenced in the United States District
Court for the District of Connecticut on behalf of purchasers of PAAP
securities. If you purchased PAAP securities between November 17, 1998
and November 29, 1999, inclusive, including all persons who purchased
PAAP common units in or traceable to the Company's initial offering on
or about November 17, 1998, your rights may be affected.

The complaint charges defendants with violations of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 and the Securities Act of 1933. The complaint
alleges that defendants issued a series of false and misleading
statements that falsely inflated the Company's earnings and caused the
Company's stock price to plummet.

Contact: Mark D. Smilow or David C. Katz at (888) 593-4771 or (212)
682-3025 or via Internet electronic mail at wynyc@aol.com or by writing
Weiss & Yourman, The French Building, 551 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1600, New
York City 10176.


PMI MORTGAGE: Announces Lawsuit in Georgia Re Violations of RESPA
-----------------------------------------------------------------
PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. announced on December 24 that it has been
named as a defendant in a federal class action lawsuit, captioned G.
Craig Baynham and Linnie Baynham v. PMI Mortgage Insurance Company,
alleging violations by the company of Section 8 of the Real Estate
Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The lawsuit has been filed in U.S.
District Court, Southern District of Georgia. "PMI has opened the door
to homeownership for hundreds of thousands of families. Everything we do
in our business, from writing primary mortgage insurance to working with
lenders and non-profit organizations to craft affordable housing
programs, is designed to expand homeownership. We are proud of our
accomplishments and we intend to build upon those accomplishments in the
year 2000 and beyond," said W. Roger Haughton, PMI's Chairman and CEO.
"PMI is an ethical company, we intend to vigorously defend ourselves in
this litigation, and we are confident that we will prevail."

Supplementary information received with the complaint indicates that
several other mortgage insurance companies have been named as defendants
in lawsuits with similar allegations recently filed in the same federal
court as the case pending against PMI.

PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., with headquarters in San Francisco, is one
of the largest private mortgage insurers in the United States. In
addition, PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. provides mortgage guaranty
reinsurance in Hong Kong and, through a subsidiary, provides private
mortgage insurance in Australia and New Zealand. PMI together with its
parent company, The PMI Group, Inc. (NYSE: PMA), and its corporate
affiliates, is a leader in risk management technology, and provides
various products and services for the home mortgage finance industry, as
well as title insurance.


RIBOZYME PHARMACEUTICALS: Beatie and Osborn Files Colo. Securities Suit
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The following is an announcement from the law firm of Beatie and Osborn
LLP on December 23:

On November 19, 1999, a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in
Colorado against Ribozyme and its CEO and President Ralph E.
Christoffersen. The lawsuit, which seeks nation-wide class action
status, was filed on behalf of investors who acquired Ribozyme
Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("Ribozyme") (NASDAQ: RZYM) common stock between
the close of trading on November 15, 1999 and November 17, 1999 (the
"Class Period").

The lawsuit alleges that defendants misled investors by issuing a false
press release on November 15 headlined "Colorado Pharmaceutical Co.
Makes Cancer Drug History," stating that Angiozyme, one of the Company's
drugs in development, "has taken an important step forward...making both
clinical history and industry news" and that a press conference will be
held on November 17 at which the Company's "CEO and President, Ralph E.
Christoffersen, Ph.D. ...will explain Angiozyme and its recent
history-making leap, an achievement which may be of great significance
to cancer patients everywhere." As a result, Ribozyme common stock
increased from $10 5/8 to as high as $22 per share. Ultimately,
investors discovered the Company had no "history-making" progress to
report but was merely announcing that Angiozyme had entered Phase I/II
testing -- a development the Company had twice previously indicated
would occur before the end of 1999. Ribozyme shares then declined to
close at $9 5/16 per share on November 17, 1999.

Contact: Eduard Korsinsky, Esq. Ben Coleman, Legal Assistant Beatie and
Osborn LLP 599 Lexington Avenue - 42nd Flr New York, NY 10022 Telephone:
(800) 891-6305 Fax: (212) 888-9664 E-mail: bandolaw@aol.com Internet:
http://www.bandolaw.com


SMITHKLINE BEECHAM: Will Contest Pa. Lawsuit over Risk of Lyme Vaccine
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Responding to a Lyme disease vaccine class action brought against it,
SmithKline Beecham (NYSE: SBH) Spokesman Brian Jones said none of the
theories used as the basis for allegations in the lawsuit is new to
SmithKline, the medical community or the FDA.

As reported by Mealey Publications' Drug & Medical Device report, the
lawsuit, filed in West Chester, Pa., claims the vaccine developed to
prevent Lyme disease causes an incurable form of autoimmune arthritis
and, for some, could produce symptoms far worse than those brought on by
the illness.

The complaint, filed in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas,
alleges SmithKline Beecham, manufacturer of LYMErix, failed to warn
doctors and the general public that nearly 30 percent of the population
is predisposed to a degenerative autoimmune syndrome which is triggered
by contents of the inoculation.

According to the class action, SmithKline used high concentrations of a
surface protein called OspA as the foundation for its vaccine. When
bitten by a Lyme-infected parasite, humans are not exposed to OspA
protein. The levels of OspA that enter the blood stream at any phase of
the three-dose LYMErix vaccine, however, place patients classified by
genetic type HLA-DR4+ at risk of developing a condition referred to as
"treatment-resistant" Lyme arthritis, the lawsuit says.

"Once this autoimmune reaction is triggered, it cannot be cured and can
only be treated symptomatically for the remainder of the vaccine
recipient's life," the complaint says. Jones said the alleged
association between the OspA protein and arthritis had been hypothesized
when LYMErix was being developed. However, at the conclusion of
pre-market trials for the vaccine, an independent medical review board
determined there was no link between LYMErix and the development of
autoimmune arthritis, he said.

Jones added that among those who participated in clinical trials for the
vaccine, an equal number of participants were diagnosed as suffering
from autoimmune arthritis in both the vaccine and placebo groups.

And since the vaccine was approved, SmithKline has not been made aware
of any unusual side effects suffered by the more than 1 million
Americans who have been inoculated with LYMErix, Jones said. "There is
simply no evidence of this association," he said. "As such, we will
defend our product vigorously."

The class action includes counts of negligence, unfair trade practices
and a bid for medical monitoring of those who are placed at risk of
developing autoimmune arthritis but have not yet been diagnosed with the
condition.

The class action complaint was filed by Stephen A. Sheller and Albert J.
Brooks Jr. of Sheller, Ludwig & Badey in Philadelphia. Sheller said that
in the wake of filing the class action, he expects to file claims on
behalf of people who received the LYMErix vaccine and are now suffering
from the autoimmune arthritis. (Mealey Publications Reports, December
23, 1999)


STB SYSTEMS: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in Texas
---------------------------------------------------------
Milberg Weiss (http://www.milberg.com)announced on December 23 that a
class action has been commenced in the United States District Court for
the Northern District of Texas on behalf of purchasers of STB Systems
Inc. ("STB") (Nasdaq:STBI) common stock during the period between Aug.
25, 1997 and May 1, 1998 (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges STB and certain of its officers and directors with
violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. STB manufactured and
sold multimedia systems and specialized technology products, primarily
for use in personal computers. In May 1999 STB was acquired by 3Dfx
Interactive Inc. The complaint alleges that pursuant to defendants'
common scheme and wrongful course of business, defendants knowingly made
false and misleading statements about the demand for and success of
STB's products while concealing the fact that because of ongoing quality
problems with STB products, two of STB's largest customers had informed
defendants that they were no longer willing to accept and/or pay for
shipments of defective STB products. In an attempt to raise badly needed
cash for STB and sell some of their own STB shares via a public
offering, defendants attempted to conceal these problems, and falsely
represented that STB was generating record performance, based in large
part upon the particularly strong paced results of STB's Specialized
Technology Group and the phenomenal success of the Velocity 128 graphics
accelerator which ensured that STB would post strong earnings per share
growth during FY97-FY98. These false statements were designed to and did
allow STB stock to continue to trade at artificially inflated levels as
high as $30-1/2 per share, and allowed defendants to complete the sale
of $66 million of STB stock at dramatically inflated levels. Then, on
May 1, 1998, just five weeks after defendants had sold $66 million of
STB shares at $22 per share, the price of STB shares plummeted to just
$10-7/8 per share as defendants revealed that, contrary to their prior
representations, certain of STB's large OEM customers were delaying
purchases and that STB's gross margins had been ravaged. Defendants'
revelations devastated the price of STB stock, and as investors came to
appreciate the poor condition of STB's operations, the price of STB
dropped to less than $6 per share.

Contact: plaintiffs' counsel, William Lerach or Darren Robbins of
Milberg Weiss at 800/449-4900 or via e-mail at wsl@mwbhl.com


TYCO INT’L: Cohen, Milstein Files Securities Suit in New Hampshire
------------------------------------------------------------------
The following notice is issued by the law firm of Cohen, Milstein,
Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. on behalf of its client, who, on December 22,
filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of
New Hampshire on behalf of all persons or entities who purchased or
otherwise acquired the securities of Tyco International Ltd. between
October 1, 1998 and December 8, 1999 (the "Class Period").

The Complaint charges that Tyco and certain of its officers and
directors violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934 as well as Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. Specifically,
the Complaint alleges that defendants caused Tyco to utilize accounting
methods which made it appear that U.S. Surgical Corporation and AMP
Inc., two of the companies recently acquired by Tyco, were experiencing
healthy growth after they were acquired by Tyco. In fact, the appearance
of growth was misleading to investors since it was not disclosed that
defendants caused U.S. Surgical and AMP to write off large assets just
prior to these acquisitions being finalized. Because the extent and
nature of these write-offs were not fully and clearly disclosed in SEC
filings or elsewhere, purchasers of Tyco securities during the Class
Period were misled and paid artificially high prices for their Tyco
securities.

Contact: either of the following: Andrew N. Friedman or Robert Smits at
888/240-0775 or 202/408-4600 (1100 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 500 -
West Tower, Washington, D.C. 20005).


UICI: Decries Merit of Securities Suits over Losses at Credit Card Unit
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
UICI (NYSE: UCI) (the "Company") announced on December 22 that UICI,
Gregory T. Mutz (the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer)
and certain other officers have been named as defendants in purported
class action lawsuits alleging violations of federal securities laws
arising in connection with recently-announced losses at its credit card
unit. The suits allege, among other things, that the defendants failed
to properly disclose all material information associated with its credit
card operations. UICI believes that the allegations in the suits are
wholly without merit and intends to defend the suits vigorously.

Mr. Mutz commented: "It is a sad fact of life in our increasingly
litigious business environment that disappointed investors, and, in
particular, their lawyers, will seek to point fingers after an
announcement such as the one we made with respect to our credit card
operations. I pledge that I will not let the baseless allegations in
these suits and the Company's efforts to defend itself distract me and
the UICI management team from redoubling our efforts to create
shareholder value."


UICI: Shepherd & Geller Files Securities Suit in Texas
------------------------------------------------------
The Law Firm of Shepherd & Geller, LLC announced that it has filed a
class action in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Texas on behalf of all investors that purchased UICI
(NYSE:UCI) common stock between April 16, 1999 and December 9, 1999,
inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges that the Company and certain of its officers and
directors violated the federal securities laws by issuing materially
false and misleading information about the Company's earnings and by
recording inadequate reserves in connection with credit card losses
suffered by the Company's United CreditServ subsidiary. By misleading
the investing public, UCI stock traded at artificially inflated prices
during the class period. Once the truth was revealed, the stock price
fell 66%.

Contact: Jonathan M. Stein SHEPHERD & GELLER, LLC 7200 West Camino Real,
Suite 203 Boca Raton, FL 33433 (561) 750-3000 Toll Free: 1-888-262-3131
E-mail: jstein@classactioncounsel.com or Scott R. Shepherd SHEPHERD &
GELLER, LLC 117 Gayley St., Suite 200 Media, PA 19063 (610) 891-9880
Toll Free: 1-877-891-9880 E-mail: sshepherd@classactioncounsel.com


VERITY INC: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in California
------------------------------------------------------------------
Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP announced on December 22 that a
securities class action lawsuit was commenced on behalf of purchasers of
the common stock of Verity, Inc. (NYSE: VRTY) ("Verity" or the
"Company"), between December 1, 1999 and December 14, 1999, inclusive,
(the "Class Period"), in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California.

The complaint charges Verity 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 concerning the
Company's projected earnings for the quarter ended November 30, 1999.
Specifically, the complaint charges that defendants knew that Verity
would not meet analysts' projections because the Company failed to close
three deals before the end of the quarter. Nevertheless, defendants
continued to make positive statements about Verity's ability to meet its
numbers and failed to disclose to the public that the Company would
experience an earnings shortfall. As a result of these
misrepresentations and omissions, the price of Verity's common stock was
artificially inflated throughout the Class Period. When the truth was
disclosed, Verity's stock price crashed, losing approximately 46% of its
value.

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
Verity@bernlieb.com


WALT DISNEY: Derivative Claims in CA Are Stayed Pending Dela Resolution
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
In re The Walt Disney Company Derivative Litigation.

On October 8, 1998, the Delaware Court of Chancery dismissed an amended
and consolidated complaint filed on May 28, 1997 that named each of the
Company's directors as of December 1996 as defendants. The amended
complaint, filed by William and Geraldine Brehm and thirteen other
individuals, had sought, among other things, a declaratory judgment that
the Company's 1995 employment agreement with its former president,
Michael S. Ovitz, was void, or alternatively that Mr. Ovitz's
termination should be deemed a termination "for cause" and any severance
payments to him forfeited. The complaint also sought compensatory or
rescissory damages and injunctive and other equitable relief from the
named defendants, as well as class-action status to pursue a claim for
damages and invalidation of the 1997 election of directors. In its
ruling on October 8, 1998, the Delaware court dismissed all counts of
the amended complaint.

On November 4, 1998, plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal from the
court's decision.

Similar or identical claims have also been filed by the same plaintiffs
(other than William and Geraldine Brehm) in the Superior Court of the
State of California, Los Angeles County, beginning with a claim filed by
Richard and David Kaplan on January 3, 1997. On May 18, 1998, an
additional claim was filed in the same California court by Dorothy L.
Greenfield. All of the California claims have been consolidated and
stayed pending final resolution of the Delaware proceedings.


XEROX CORP: Wolf Haldenstein Files Securities Suit in Connecticut
-----------------------------------------------------------------
On December 23, 1999, Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP filed a
class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
District of Connecticut on behalf of investors who bought Xerox
Corporation common stock (NYSE: XRX) ("Xerox" or the "Company") between
January 25, 1999, through December 10, 1999 (the "Class Period").

The lawsuit charges Xerox and several of its top officers with
violations of the securities laws and regulations of the United States.
The complaint alleges that defendants issued a series of false and
misleading statements concerning the Company's operations and earning
trends. Specifically, Xerox is alleged to have misled the market
concerning the declining demand for its products and services and to
have engaged in a course of conduct to conceal these trends. As the
truth emerged, Xerox's share price declined nearly 50%. Prior to the
damaging disclosures, however, Xerox insiders are alleged to have sold
hundreds of thousands of shares for proceeds of over $51 million.

Contact: Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP at 270 Madison
Avenue, New York, New York 10016, by telephone at 800-575-0735 (Michael
Miske, Gregory Nespole, Esq., Fred Taylor Isquith, Esq. or Shane T.
Rowley, Esq.), via e-mail at classmember@whafh.com or whafh@aol.com or
visit our website at om   http://www.whafh.com(All e-mail
correspondence should make reference to Xerox.)


* Fed Proposes to Drop Prohibition on Gathering Loan Applicants’ Data
---------------------------------------------------------------------
For over 20 years lenders have been prohibited from gathering
information about the race, religion, ethnicity, or gender of their loan
applicants -- except in the case of mortgage lending, where the data
must be collected and reported for government monitoring purposes. The
Federal Reserve Board has now issued a proposal to drop that
prohibition. The change would have consequences that were not intended.
And the cost --particularly to banks and others who are trying to
increase minority access to credit -- would far exceed any benefit.

A decade ago, Congress amended the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, or
HMDA, to require the reporting of application data by race, national
origin, gender, and income level. The subsequent decade saw a dramatic
increase in mortgage lending to and homeownership by minorities. Some
have argued that the availability of the HMDA data, reflecting lower
minority lending and higher decline rates, acted as a wakeup call to the
industry.

Now, with the focus having shifted to other credit products such as
small-business lending, the same argument is being advanced to support
the collection of data on the race and sex of borrowers.

But the argument is based on the false premise that another wakeup call
is needed. In recent years banks have been very focused on the needs of
minorities and women, and have been actively seeking ways to meet those
needs in every product line. In particular, a great deal of effort has
been devoted to increasing access for small businesses.

Creative partnerships, targeted investments, technical assistance,
counseling and training, and other innovative programs -- some of them
first developed in the mortgage context -- are being undertaken by banks
to assist in the development of small businesses owned by minorities and
women, and to provide for their particular needs. The Consumer Bankers
Association's 1999 small-business banking survey reported, for example,
that nearly 80% of the banks surveyed have loan programs specifically
targeted to minority-owned small businesses.

Financial institutions would benefit from some additional information on
the characteristics of their small-business customers -- because it
could assist them in meeting their customers' needs or measuring
performance goals. But many of them are genuinely concerned that the
proposed change in the law would hurt them more than it would help.
Their experience with HMDA data taught them that any statistical
difference in the numbers of loans to different groups or in their
denial rates -- whatever the social or economic cause of the difference
-- could be used to target banks for enforcement actions.

Lenders trying to do the right thing have been forced to publicly defend
their HMDA data, which paint an incomplete picture of lending decisions
and take no account of historical and economic factors outside of the
lenders' control. Nevertheless, the data have been used repeatedly to
target lenders for enforcement actions by the regulators, the Department
of Housing and Urban Development, and the Justice Department.

Justice and the other regulatory and enforcement agencies have urged the
Fed to relax the prohibition so that they can obtain the information
collected by the lenders and use it in enforcement actions -- just as
they use the HMDA data. As the agencies explained in a letter urging the
Fed to issue the proposal, "The prohibition (on data collection)
inhibits effective monitoring and enforcement of ECOA (the Equal Credit
Opportunity Act). Without the necessary data, enforcement agencies must
rely on other investigative techniques that are less efficient,
accurate, or complete."

It is not hard to see why many financial institutions are concerned
about the impact of the proposal. Any data collected by a financial
institution would be available to examiners, regulators, enforcement
agencies, and ultimately the public. The bank could expect to be the
target of costly enforcement actions, regardless of the merits, with its
own data used against it. Without any protection against the public
availability of the data and its misuse, very few lenders would take the
risk of gathering it. The Fed has even declined to extend the protection
-- slight as it is -- of the new ECOA self-testing privilege to the
voluntarily collected data.

Every meaningful effort to eradicate discrimination should be supported.
But the Fed's proposal would do little to assist that effort. The
information generated would be useful neither to draw broad conclusions
about the level of lending nationwide nor to target individual lenders
in any significant way. The only source for the data would be the
lenders who voluntarily collect the information, and that would amount
to only a small percentage of the industry.

Of course, there would always be some banks that would collect the
information, once it was allowed, because their genuine desire to use it
for outreach and monitoring would overcome their concerns. It would be
ironic if the ones who are most eager to expand access found themselves
the latest targets of enforcement agencies and class-actions.

Even if it were widely collected, however, how significant would this
information really be to anyone but the lender who collected it?

Those who did collect information would gather only what was appropriate
for their purposes -- for example, for the internal monitoring of a
particular product or service. Each institution would approach the
process differently, relying on its own definitions and measures. (For
example, what is the definition of a woman-owned small business? What is
the size of a small business?) The data would not be of any relevance
outside of the business unit conducting the survey. Public availability
of the information would lead inevitably to erroneous conclusions about
both the lender and the industry as a whole.

If, on the other hand, the purpose is to encourage lenders to undertake
self-evaluation for fair lending compliance, then this approach is
misguided. Banks already recognize that minorities and women have
historically faced barriers, including limited access to capital, and
they are looking for ways to overcome those barriers. Rather than being
threatened with prosecution, banks need some assurance that the
information they collect for that purpose would not be made available to
those whose goal is to find legal violations. Self-evaluations cannot be
undertaken in a fishbowl. Strong protections against the public
availability of this information would do more than threats of
enforcement to encourage lenders to monitor their own practices.

When the Fed issued a similar proposal several years ago, it listened to
arguments on both sides of the debate and unanimously concluded that the
decision was a sensitive one of public policy that should be left to
Congress. Nothing has happened to change the facts or the concerns on
either side of this debate, and the Fed has no basis for reversing its
previous position. (The American Banker December 23, 1999)


                               *********


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

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by Bankruptcy
Creditors' Service, Inc., Princeton, NJ, and Beard Group, Inc.,
Washington, DC.  Theresa Cheuk and Peter A. Chapman, editors.

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

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
publication in any form (including e-mail forwarding, electronic
re-mailing and photocopying) is strictly prohibited without prior
written permission of the publishers.

Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to be
reliable, but is not guaranteed.

The CAR subscription rate is $575 for six months delivered via e-mail.

Additional e-mail subscriptions for members of the same firm for the
term of the initial subscription or balance thereof are $25 each.  For
subscription information, contact Christopher Beard at 301/951-6400.


                    * * *  End of Transmission  * * *