/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/000327.MBX                 C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

                 Monday, March 27, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 60


AMES DEPARTMENT: Group for Disabled Files Nationwide Suit in Washington
AVT CORPORATION: Responds to Securities Lawsuit Filed in Washington
CAMPBELL SOUP: Chief Executive Resigns
COCA-COLA: Picks African American VP to Oversee Diversity
CYBERGUARD CORP: Company Facing Shareholder Suit in FL Sues KPMG

DIABETES DRUG: Recalled Rezulin Subject of Suits
FIRST ALLIANCE: Troubled Lender Seeks Chapter 11 Protection
GM FOODS: Consumer Advocacy Leader Predicts Federal GMO Labeling Action
GUN MANUFACTURERS: Cities, Counties Use Buying Power for Safer Firearms
HEALTH PRIVACY: Health Records May Not Be Confidential

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Austria Appoints Official to Deal with Compensation
JDA SOFTWARE: Announces Dismissal of Securities Lawsuits
MOTOROLA INC: Enters Settlement Agreement for Securities Suit in NJ
MOTOROLA INC: Faces 7 Cases in AZ over Water, Soil and Air Pollution
MOTOROLA INC: IL Suits Challenge Safety of Cellular Phone

MOTOROLA INC: Named in Securities Suit Re Bankrupt Iridium World
MOTOROLA INC: Securities Suit Filed '95 Pending in IL; Trial Vacated
MOTOROLA INC: Voluntary Dismissal Proposed for Securities Suit in PA
NAVY CHAPLAIN: Evangelical Chaplains Sue Claiming Promotion Bias
PHASE METRICS: Tech Workers Sue to Get Paid for Long Hours

PRESSTEK, INC: Settles Shareholder Class and Derivative Suits
SOLUTION 6: Extends $150 Mil Elite Offer Again for FTC Review
VASTAR RESOURCES: Forms Special Committee to Evaluate BP Amoco Proposal
VIVENDI: US Filter's Shareholders Sue over Illegal Payoffs in Takeover

* Megan's Law in NJ Modified to Protect Sex Offenders' Privacy


AMES DEPARTMENT: Group for Disabled Files Nationwide Suit in Washington
Spurred by complaints from two disabled District residents, a civil
rights group filed a class-action lawsuit on March 23 accusing Ames
Department Stores Inc. of failing to make its aisles, counters and
dressing rooms accessible to people using wheelchairs.

The suit alleges that the discount retailing chain has not complied with
the Americans With Disabilities Act and has violated state and local
laws. Lawyers said that the allegations were triggered by an Ames store
in Northeast Washington and that a survey of 50 other Ames stores across
the nation revealed similar problems.

Company officials said the suit surprised them. In a statement, Ames
said that it had promised improvements that extend beyond the legal
requirements and that the company has been committed to making its
stores accessible.

The suit was filed on behalf of the Disability Rights Council of Greater
Washington and disabled shoppers. It is an amended version of a
complaint filed in August that targeted 10 Washington area Ames stores.
Pending a judge's approval, the expanded suit would allow lawyers to
represent thousands of Ames customers nationwide.

The lawyers seek a court order to force Ames to make changes and pay
unspecified damages to customers and would-be customers who faced
structural barriers.

"The Constitution says, 'We the People,' and that means me," said Katie
Savage, 50, a writer from Northwest Washington who said her wheelchair
would catch in the entry gate whenever she went to an Ames store on
Rhode Island Avenue NE. Although the gate was redesigned, Savage said
the aisles remain congested and narrow, and the counters are too high.
Savage and George Aguehounde, 42, of Northeast Washington, contacted the
Disability Rights Council and other advocates, laying the groundwork for
the suit.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, it comes five months after a
federal judge found that the San Francisco flagship store of Macy's West
had "multiple and pervasive access barriers" in violation of federal
law. The ruling was seen as a warning to other retailers. Ames has more
than 450 stores in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, posting
about $ 4 billion in annual sales.

The Americans With Disabilities Act, which took effect in 1992, covers
commercial facilities, government buildings and public places. "It's
very important for corporate America to understand, if we are able to
prove these allegations, that it cannot simply ignore the Americans With
Disabilities Act and state statutes with impunity and only obey them
after they are brought to court," said John W. Nields, an attorney for
the plaintiffs.

Co-counsel Elaine Gardner, from the Washington Lawyers' Committee for
Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, said Ames was made aware in May 1998 of
the difficulties experienced by Savage, Aguehounde and other disabled
shoppers but did nothing for 15 months. That led to the filing of the
suit last summer. After that, Gardner said, entry gates were changed and
some improvements were made.

Lawyers then surveyed Ames stores in 11 states and found similar
problems, Gardner said. They also found other frustrated shoppers, she

The Disability Rights Council has won agreements from other major
retailers--including the Giant and Safeway supermarket chains--to make
stores more accessible. (The Washington Post, March 24, 2000)

AVT CORPORATION: Responds to Securities Lawsuit Filed in Washington
On March 21, 2000, a lawsuit was filed in the United States District
Court for the Western District of Washington alleging that during the
period January 20, 2000 through March 17, 2000, AVT Corporation
(Nasdaq:AVTC) and several officers and directors made or participated in
misrepresentations about the Company's business and future prospects.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages on behalf of a proposed class of
purchasers of the Company's stock during that period. The Company
believes that the allegations of the lawsuit are without merit and
intends to vigorously defend this action.

CAMPBELL SOUP: Chief Executive Resigns
Campbell, which faces a class action shareholder lawsuit alleging that
it improperly recorded revenues for its condensed soup sales, announced
on March 23  Mr Morrison had resigned, giving no reason for the move.

A failed attempt by food giant Campbell's to soup up sales by
redesigning the tin cans immortalised by Andy Warhol's classic
silkscreen image of the 1960s has ended with the resignation of the
company's chief executive Dale Morrison. Mr Morrison announced the
revamping of the traditional red and white labels last June after 18
months of design work to "update and refresh" the product's appeal.
However, sales of the company's most famous product continued to fall
and last month analysts criticised its sales and marketing strategy.

Mr Morrison will be replaced on a temporary basis by former Campbell
chief executive David Johnson, who will lead the company until a
long-term successor is found. Campbell introduced the red and white
label in 1898 and saw it become an American icon in the 1960s, helping
it control 80pc of the condensed soup market with sales of 1.5 billion
cans a year.

However, the company issued a profits warning last June and was
criticised last month in a report from Salomon Smith Barney questioning
cuts in marketing and advertising spending that helped boost its latest
quarterly profits by 28pc to $281m. The report stated: "Given that
Campbell generates about 50pc of its annual profits from soup, the cut
in marketing and advertising in its prime selling season makes little
sense to us."

Last month, it recalled 109,000 pounds of canned vegetable and beef soup
in 13 US states after pieces of metal were found in its soup. Last week,
that is, the week beginning March 20, Goldman Sachs' food analyst Nomi
Ghez lowered her profits estimates for the next two years, citing
concern over declining soup sales.

Chairman Philip Lippincott said that Campbell has "great brands and
wonderful people" and will have a "wonderful future". However, shares in
the company, which also sells Homepride sauces and Pepperidge Farm
crackers, failed to respond. (The Daily Telegraph(London), March 24,

COCA-COLA: Picks African American VP to Oversee Diversity
Coca-Cola's new chairman Daft on March 23 told employees that he is
promoting Juan Johnson to the newly created position of vice president
and director of diversity strategies, news from The Atlanta Journal and
Constitution, March 24, 2000, says. Johnson, a 42-year-old company
veteran, will report directly to Daft. "In his new position, Juan will
be responsible for developing and executing company strategies for
building, maintaining and leveraging diversity throughout our business
system," Daft said in an internal memo. "Diversity is a clear business
imperative for our company and will continue to be a top priority for

This is the company's second promotion of an African-American to a key
position in a week, the report says. On March 22, Coretha Rushing, an
executive assistant with an extensive background in human resources
management, was appointed head of human resources, as has been reported
in the CAR.

The appointments come as former and current black employees are
organizing a bus ride for "justice" from Atlanta to next month's annual
shareholders meeting in Delaware, trying to pressure the company into
settling an increasingly controversial racial discrimination suit.

The planned three-bus convoy has caught the attention of both Wall
Street and the national media, increasing the stakes for the world's
largest soft drink company at a time when Daft has made several moves to
try to get this matter behind him.

Not only has he appointed new heads of diversity and human resources, he
has said he will be linking his success and compensation --- as well as
his managers' --- to meeting soon-to-be-established diversity goals. He
also said that additional diversity initiatives, which Johnson helped to
formulate, will be announced shortly.

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution report raises the question: Has
Daft moved rapidly enough?

In late January, the federal judge in the discrimination case indicated
that he would be ordering settlement talks, which he did in early
February, the report relates. Yet the first face-to-face negotiating
sessions, which will be facilitated by a mediator, have not yet taken
place, the report points out. They are currently scheduled for April 17
and 18 --- only one day before the shareholders meeting in Wilmington,
the report says.

Several analysts said it could be damaging for Coke's image if the
planned rally at the annual meeting gets widespread publicity nationally
and, possibly, around the world. "The discrimination case has been
elevated from a regional issue to a more important issue receiving
heightened national coverage," said Scott Wilkins, an analyst for
Deutsche Bank. "Now, more than ever, it is incumbent to settle the
matter, because clearly the plaintiffs have pushed this thing into a
higher gear. ... Clearly, Coke is in a no-win situation, and any company
which is primarily a marketing company will do its utmost to expedite a
settlement in a case like this."

To press their case for a quick settlement, about 150 former and current
African-American employees will travel to rallies in Greensboro, N.C.,
Richmond and Washington before reaching Wilmington. Organizers will
discuss plans for the bus trip Saturday at St. Philip AME Church in

The key organizer of the ride, former human resources manager Larry
Jones, said Daft's appointments of Johnson and Rushing don't go far
enough to address concerns about the company's treatment of
African-Americans. "We have simply lost our tolerance for tokenism and
symbolism," Jones said. "Those days are gone. It's time now for some
genuine fundamental discussions that will actually deal with issues ---
including settling the lawsuit and implanting structural changes."
What's more, Jones has talked about the possibility of a calling for a
national boycott of Coke products in the future.

Analysts are sure to ask Daft questions about the prospects for settling
the suit before the annual meeting when he addresses them on April 4 in
New York, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution report says. "You don't
want to see it get to the point of a national boycott," said analyst
Bill Pecoriello of Sanford Bernstein.

Wilkins and some other analysts point out that Daft has done a great
deal on diversity since, in effect, taking over the company in December.
"It's unfair to judge the company too harshly because they have been
undergoing a change in management," Wilkins said. "Doug Daft is not
sitting on his hands on this issue."

The federal suit, filed by eight current and former employees, alleges
that Coca-Cola has discriminated against African-Americans in pay,
promotions and performance evaluations. The plaintiffs are seeking
class-action status so they can represent about 2,000 current and former
black salaried employees in the United States.

The company has denied the suit's allegations and opposed plaintiffs'
efforts to make it a class-action case. (The Atlanta Journal and
Constitution, March 24, 2000)

CYBERGUARD CORP: Company Facing Shareholder Suit in FL Sues KPMG
KPMG Peat Marwick has moved to dismiss a lawsuit brought by CyberGuard
Corp. that accuses the accounting firm of professional malpractice in
the auditing of the Fort Lauderdale firms books.

The maker of security software in September sued KPMG for more than $ 10
million, charging the firm failed to detect CyberGuards improper booking
of software sales revenue.

KPMG calls the suit an act of unmitigated chutzpah, in its motion to
dismiss. CyberGuard contends that KPMG should have discovered and
prevented [CyberGuard] from engaging in the fraudulent financial
reporting perpetrated by CyberGuards own management for its own benefit.

The suit, which has been reported in the CAR, was transferred to Broward
Circuit Court this month; CyberGuard originally filed the complaint in
Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

The litigation stems from events that came to light in August 1998,
beginning with KPMGs resignation as CyberGuards independent auditor
after more than two years at the post. In its resignation letter to
CyberGuard, KPMG wrote it could no longer rely on [CyberGuard]
managements representations.

KPMG delivered its resignation on a Friday afternoon. The following
Monday, CyberGuard announced that it would restate financial results for
the third quarter ended March 31, 1998, after a review of its
revenue-recognition policies. In addition, the company suspended
chairman and chief executive Robert Carberry and chief financial officer
William Murray. (Each eventually left the company.)

The news served as a bombshell and caused CyberGuards stock to plummet
from $ 6.19 to $ 1.88 -- a 70 percent drop -- the day of the
announcement. The next day, three shareholder lawsuits seeking
class-action status were filed against CyberGuard in U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of Florida. The suits, which have been
consolidated, alleged CyberGuard misled investors about its financial
performance. KPMG also is a defendant. A hearing on a motion to dismiss
the suit is set for May.

CyberGuard had disclosed its Asian operation was booking revenue --
tallying money as having come in -- on software it shipped to resellers
before the resellers actually sold the merchandise. It later had to
restate its results for the 1997 and 1998 fiscal years.

At no time prior to the release of its annual financial statements for
1997 and the first three quarters of its fiscal year 1998 did KPMG
inform CyberGuard officials of any deficiency in the companys
recognition of revenue from the sale of software, CyberGuard alleges in
its suit. It wasnt until Aug. 6, 1998, that KPMG notified CyberGuard of
a potential problem, though the suit adds there was no indication a
restatement of the financial statements would be required.

KPMG is accused of breaching its fiduciary duties to CyberGuard,
according to the suit, by failing to disclose material information,
putting its own self-interest before the best interests of CyberGuard,
and timing the termination of the relationship so as to maximize the
harm to CyberGuard and its shareholders.

KPMG believes the lawsuit has no merit, said spokesman John Fidler. The
Company said it will contest the suit vigorously. KPMG's local counsel
is West Palm Beach solo practitioner Edward A. Marod.

KPMG's language is more forceful in its motion to dismiss the suit. KPMG
says CyberGuard seeks to have this court turn its independent outside
auditors into the insurers of CyberGuards own misconduct and, thereby,
to shift the costs and liability of a lawsuit brought against the
company by a class of stockholders claiming that CyberGuard defrauded
them by issuing false and misleading financial statements.

The suit against KPMG is the culmination of an internal investigation at
CyberGuard conducted by Dennis A. Nowak, a partner with Tew & Nowak in
Miami. He also filed the suit against KPMG. Findings of the
investigation are privileged, Nowak said. However, he indicated
CyberGuard plans to take no legal action against former company
officials Carberry and Murray.

As for KPMGs motion to dismiss the suit, Nowak was hardly surprised,
suggesting that what accountants say when accused of their own
malpractice? Nowak said accountants would say its managements fault.

Meanwhile, CyberGuard appears to have stabilized its once precarious
financial condition. It posted its first-ever operating profit of $
148,000 for the quarter ended Dec. 31. It had a net loss of $ 62,000 on
$ 4.37 million in revenue for the quarter. The stock rebounded. (Broward
Daily Business Review, March 23, 2000)

DIABETES DRUG: Recalled Rezulin Subject of Suits
A pair of class-action lawsuits was filed on March 23 seeking refunds
and payments for medical tests for the estimated 1.9 million Americans
who took the Rezulin diabetes drug, which was recalled after being
linked to liver failures and death. Lawsuits have already been filed by
individuals in several states who claim they were hurt by the drug.
These newest lawsuits, though, appear to be the first in the nation by
people who took Rezulin, but haven't suffered harm, according to lawyers
who filed the cases.

"You're talking about people who have to go back to their physicians and
need to be followed over a period of time," said Stephen Sheller of
Sheller, Ludwig & Badey, a Philadelphia firm involved in the lawsuits.
"The problem is we don't know over what period of time they can develop
a (liver) problem," he continued. "And we now know that a lot of people
whose liver tests were negative developed liver problems, anyway."

One lawsuit was filed by Barbara Rowan, an East Brunswick woman, in
Superior Court in Middlesex County. The other lawsuit was filed by a
Florida man in Superior Court in Morris County, where the drug's
manufacturer, Warner-Lambert Co., is based.

Rezulin was withdrawn earlier amid a blizzard of controversy over the
rising number of cases of liver failures and deaths attributed to the
drug. To date, 90 cases of liver failure and 63 deaths have been linked
to the diabetes pill.

The withdrawal followed a series of damaging disclosures that plagued
Warner-Lambert as well as the Food and Drug Administration, which
approved the drug three years ago but was continually rocked by negative
news reports about side-effect data.

Those reports included conflicts of interest and fudged data attributed
to clinical-trial investigators; safety data reported belatedly to the
FDA, and the early removal of an FDA doctor who was assigned to review
Rezulin after criticizing links to liver toxicity.

The revelations prompted Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog group, to
call for a criminal investigation of Warner-Lambert, and members of
Congress to consider hearings about the FDA's handling of the drug,
which was given a six-month priority review in 1997.

Wall Street, however, has taken the drug recall in stride. The numerous
warnings issued by the FDA over the past two years prompted a drastic
slide in sales to the point where most analysts didn't expect Rezulin to
be a big seller anymore.

"I don't think the litigation will be as big as you see over diet
pills," said Hemant Shah, an analyst who follows the drug industry,
referring to the massive litigation against American Home Products
Corp., which has agreed to pay $ 4.8 billion to settle thousands of

In a statement, Warner-Lambert declined to comment on pending
litigation, but insisted it had adhered to FDA regulations. "We
acknowledge that some patients have experienced adverse events while
taking Rezulin. However, the company adequately warned about risks
associated with the product, and we intend to vigorously defend any
lawsuits." (The Star-Ledger, March 24, 2000)

FIRST ALLIANCE: Troubled Lender Seeks Chapter 11 Protection
The First Alliance Corporation in Irvine, Calif., a nationwide home
equity lender facing a host of lawsuits accusing it of deceptive sales
practices, announced on March 23 that it had stopped making new loans to
homeowners and had filed for bankruptcy protection.

The mortgage company, which had offices in more than a dozen states,
including New York, New Jersey and California, said that it had closed
its loan offices and laid off 85 percent of its work force of roughly
480 employees. Several employees said the company was offering generous
severance payments.

Under federal law, one immediate effect of the bankruptcy filing is to
freeze all the pending consumer lawsuits facing the company and force
those plaintiffs, who include many elderly homeowners and the AARP, to
pursue their claims in bankruptcy court. Also caught in the bankruptcy
litigation freeze is a consumer class-action case pending in Federal
District Court in Newark, and a shareholder class-action lawsuit filed
in state court in Orange County, Calif.

The bankruptcy cases cover the parent company and several subsidiaries,
including its flagship, the First Alliance Mortgage Company.

The Chapter 11 filings, seeking a reorganization of the company rather
than its liquidation, were made in Federal Bankruptcy Court in Santa
Ana, Calif., hours after the company asked the Nasdaq market to suspend
trading in its stock pending an important announcement.

In a statement to employees and investors, the company said it was
forced to file for bankruptcy protection because of legislative
proposals in several states that would cap the size of its loan fees,
and by the "recent unwarranted negative publicity against the company
arising from the joint stories by The New York Times and ABC News 20/20

Those stories, published in The Times on March 15 and broadcast the same
evening on ABC, detailed the numerous consumer complaints, lawsuits and
regulatory actions pending against First Alliance, including allegations
that it failed adequately and clearly to disclose the extremely high
fees or "points" it charged, which sometimes totaled as much as 25
percent of the loan.

First Alliance, as noted in the stories, has denied the accusations and
insists that it has fully disclosed all the terms of its loans to its

In the company's statement, Brian Chisick, the founder and chairman,
said that "these unfair and inaccurate stories have devastated the
company's 30-year reputation and acutely hindered the company's
relationships with businesses, consumers and regulators."

Sheila Canavan, one of the San Jose lawyers representing the AARP and
several homeowners in their cases against First Alliance, said that her
firm was considering whether it could challenge the company's bankruptcy
filing as having been made in bad faith. "The bankruptcy filing appears
designed to protect them from having to make long-overdue restitution,"
she said.

Besides the consumer cases and the shareholder lawsuit, First Alliance
is also facing lawsuits by regulators in Illinois and Massachusetts. The
company withdrew from Washington State, where it was facing a regulatory
action aimed at suspending its license.

It is less clear how the bankruptcy filing will affect those regulatory
actions. Patricia D. Kelly, the chief of the attorney general's consumer
protection division in Illinois, said that she did not expect her
state's lawsuit against the company to be affected.

"When a company files for bankruptcy, that does not preclude the state
from exercising its police powers," Ms. Kelly said. "So we will continue
to proceed in state court to seek an injunction and any other relief we
are entitled to."

Financial records provided to investors by First Alliance on March 14
showed no signs of financial distress. As of Dec. 31, the company had
assets of more than $112 million, including more than $15 million in
cash, and liabilities of just $33 million. According to those records,
the company's single largest debt is a $14.1 million line of credit owed
to Lehman Brothers. The list of creditors included in the bankruptcy
filing is available yet so it is not immediately possible to determine
others that may have significant claims against the company.

William J. Ahearn, a spokesman for Lehman, said that his company had
taken no action to precipitate the bankruptcy filing and had not been
aware of it until it was announced.

It is likely, however, that Lehman will emerge as one of the largest
creditors of First Alliance, which would give it significant influence
over the reorganization process. Lehman Brothers also has a small equity
stake in First Alliance, which it acquired as part of its fee for
providing the mortgage company's line of credit.

Several bankruptcy experts said that the company's apparent financial
health suggested that its bankruptcy filing was a move to help it cope
with the litigation it is facing without destroying the company's value
to its shareholders. "Companies facing the kind of massive consumer
litigation that First Alliance faces may find that Chapter 11 is the
only opportunity the business has to survive," said Elizabeth Warren, a
bankruptcy professor at the Harvard Law School.

Michael Venditto, a bankruptcy lawyer in New York City, pointed out that
an avalanche of litigation had propelled a number of major companies,
including all the country's asbestos manufacturers, to seek bankruptcy
court protection over the last 20 years. "Over time, litigation will
slowly bleed a company, so you want to stop the bleeding at the earliest
possible moment," Mr. Venditto said. "If properly handled, it could be
the best possible move for shareholders."

The largest of those shareholders are Mr. Chisick and his wife, Sarah,
who jointly own more than 12.4 million shares of the company's stock.

As of March 23, that stake was worth roughly $22.4 million, down from
nearly $300 million at the end of 1997, before First Alliance's mounting
legal problems damped investors' appetite for the company's shares. When
the shares last traded, they changed hands for $1.8125 each.

The Chisicks, who still own nearly 70 percent of the company's
outstanding shares, were able to reap profits of roughly $135 million
when First Alliance first sold shares to the public in 1996.

Besides shareholders, other Wall Street investors have an indirect stake
in First Alliance's loan operations. Since 1993, the company has sold
nearly $2 billion of its loans to various Wall Street trust funds, which
in turn sold a form of promissory note to pension funds and other
institutional investors.

Analysts who monitor those notes, which are called mortgage-backed
securities, said that the bankruptcy should not directly affect
noteholders. Many of the deals were insured, guaranteeing investors that
they would be paid principal and interest in a timely fashion, one
analyst said.

First Alliance is still responsible for servicing the loans that were
sold to the trust funds, collecting monthly payments from homeowners and
forwarding part of that money to the trust funds. But Jerry Hager, the
company's general counsel, said that First Alliance did not anticipate
any interruption in its servicing operations.

Founded in 1971, First Alliance describes itself as a subprime lender,
one that specializes in making loans to people whose past credit
problems or low income prevent them from borrowing from traditional
lenders. Because of the additional risks involved in making such loans,
the company has said, it must charge higher ees in interest rates than
conventional lenders do.

Regulators have argued, however, that many of First Alliance's customers
could qualify for traditional loans at much lower cost, and that the
company's high fees are not related in any way to the creditworthiness
of its borrowers. (The New York Times, March 24, 2000)

GM FOODS: Consumer Advocacy Leader Predicts Federal GMO Labeling Action
The director of a consumer advocacy umbrella group predicts that within
two years Congress will require labeling of food containing genetically
modified organisms as pressure builds on the issue in state

There are several states with labeling legislation pending, said Chad
Dobson of the Consumer's Choice Council. Dobson added that he would not
be surprised if more states propose such legislation over the next four

"What we're seeing is people all over the country are getting
concerned," Dobson said. Dobson added that it's just a question of how
long it will take Washington to catch up with that concern.

Dobson spoke at a Washington press breakfast about GMOs Feb. 25. The
meeting was part of an effort by federal and state advocacy
organizations to develop and coordinate legislation on liability and
labeling of foods with GMOs. Speakers at the meeting included United
Kingdom Labor MP Alan Simpson of Nottingham, Iowa family farmer George
Naylor, and attorney Elizabeth Cronise of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfield &
Toll. Cronise is one of the attorneys representing farmers in a
class-action lawsuit against Monsanto which seeks to compel the St.
Louis-based company to pay for damages allegedly caused by its
genetically engineered seeds (See PTCN, Dec. 16, 1999, Page 3).

In Maine, there is a ballot initiative to force labeling of foods with
GMOs. A bill to require such labeling was introduced Jan. 26, 1999, but
was thrown out through a motion of indefinite postponement on May 13. It
would take a two-thirds majority of both Maine houses to revive the

Minnesota and California have GMO food labeling legislation pending.
California's was introduced Feb. 16, while Minnesota's was introduced
Feb. 28. In New Hampshire, such a measure was voted down in the House
Commerce Committee on Feb. 23. The New Hampshire bill also would have
banned sale or importation of genetically engineered seeds. In
California, there is also a ballot initiative that would impose GMO
labeling requirements for food.

The legislatures of Mississippi and Vermont have legislation pending
that would force labeling on GMO seeds when they are sold to farmers.
Iowa and Minnesota have measures pending that would impose moratoriums
on sale and distribution of GMO seeds.

In Nebraska, two bills were heard in the legislature's agriculture
committee Feb. 8 and were not acted upon. One of them would have made
farmers using GMO crops liable for damages if pollen from their crops
blew onto a neighboring farmer's crops and damaged them. The other bill
would have developed a process for certifying GMO-free product.

In Maryland, a bill is pending that would outlaw sale, distribution or
use of "terminator technology," a genetic engineering process that
renders seed incapable of producing second generation seed.

Riehl said NFPA is against all the endeavors. "We would oppose any
legislation that would unjustifiably undermine public confidence in the
technology and food derived from the technology," said Riehl, senior
director for government affairs, in an interview.

Referring to the food labeling bills, Riehl said, "It makes it very
difficult for the food industry. We're not in a position to be able to
print up 50 labels for 50 different jurisdictions." Riehl insisted there
is no scientific justification for labeling food with GMOs.

In testimony before the New Hampshire House Commerce Committee, Riehl
said that the bill would cover foods making up more than half the food
on grocery shelves. "Requiring warning labels for these products will
create a false impression that there are dangers associated with
consumption of such products or that their nutritional value has been

"Furthermore," he testified, "mandatory labels for these products would
present a tremendous and costly enforcement problem to the state and
result in huge costs to food processors, retailers and, ultimately
consumers, while producing absolutely no benefits."

Addressing the Nebraska bill that would develop a standard for
certifying one's crop as GMO-free, Riehl said FDA already allows for
voluntary labeling as long as it is truthful and not misleading. "If any
changes need to be made, it should be done at the FDA level, not at the
state level where the food industry would be required to make 50
different labels for 50 different states," Riehl said.

          Iowa farmer decries GMO cross-pollination problem

Naylor complained of the difficulty of trying to raise non-GMO crops due
to cross-pollination and GMOs in seeds. "This is really a nightmare out
there. We don't know what we're planting. We don't know what we're
putting into the food supply," he said.

Naylor contacted his local seed dealer this year to request that the
supplier guarantee that the non-GMO corn seed he purchases is indeed
free of genetically engineered seeds. "They would not certify my seed is
non-GMO," he said.

Council members include the Americans for Democratic Action, American
Rivers, Asia Pacific Environmental Exchange, Bellerive Foundation,
Center for a New American Dream, Center for International Environmental
Law, Center of Concern, Choice USA, Comercio Justo Mexico, A.C.,
Community Nutrition Institute, Conservation International, Consumer
Policy Institute, Consumers Unity and Trust Society, Co-op America,
Defenders of Wildlife, Earth Island Institute, Environmental Defense
Fund, Environmental Quality Initiative, Equal Exchange, ESP Canada, Fair
Trade Federation, Falls Brook Center, Farm Verified Organic, Inc.,
Forest Stewardship Council, Friends of the Earth, Global Ecolabeling
Network, Greenpeace International and Green Seal.

Also, HeadWaters International Inc., Institute for Agriculture and Trade
Policy, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Institute for Policy Studies,
International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements,
International Labor Rights Fund, Marine Stewardship Council, Mothers and
Others for a Livable Planet, National Audubon Society, National
Environmental Trust, National Wildlife Federation, and Natural Resources
Defense Council, Oxfam International, Pacific Environmental and
Resources Center, Pesticide Action Network, Physicians for Social
Responsibility, Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Alliance, Robert
F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, Sierra Club, Songbird
Foundation, Sustainable America, Swiss Coalition of Development
Organizations, TerraChoice Environmental Services Inc., The Food
Alliance, Humane Society of the United States, Trade Research
Consortium, TransFair USA, Union of Concerned Scientists USA, United
States Student Association, Urban Ecology and the World Wildlife Fund.
(Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News, March 2, 2000)

GUN MANUFACTURERS: Cities, Counties Use Buying Power for Safer Firearms
Increasing pressure on gun manufacturers, a coalition of 28 cities and
counties now will use collective buying power to give preference to
companies that follow the lead of Smith & Wesson in signing an agreement
to produce safer firearms and stick to a code of responsible conduct. In
announcing the tactic, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew
Cuomo said preferential buying would prod the rest of the industry to
fall into line behind the deal because sales to law- enforcement
agencies represent 20 to 30 percent of the US gun market. Two gunmakers,
Glock Inc. and Browning, have said they will not sign.

The federal government agreed to pay $ 508 million, the largest award
yet in an employment discrimination case, to settle a lawsuit by
hundreds of women who said they were denied jobs and promotions at the
US Information Agency and Voice of America. The agreement ends a 23-year
battle that began after Carolee Brady applied for a job as a USIA
magazine editor, but was told managers wanted a man. Her complaint
ballooned into the class-action suit, with roughly 1,100 women alleging
they also had lost opportunities because of gender bias. The settlement
calls for the women to share the award equally.

The Justice Department reopened a grand jury probe to consider indicting
former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for a 1976 car bombing in
Washington that killed two people, one of them ex-ambassador Orlando
Letelier, the Washington Post reported. US investigators arrived in
Santiago, Chile, for court proceedings involving 42 potential witnesses.
The Post said prospects were slim that Pinochet would be extradited to
the US, but an indictment would increase pressure on Chile to try
Pinochet for human-rights abuses.

NASA, in trying to do more missions with less money and fewer people,
made management mistakes that contributed to a string of recent failures
in space, agency chief Daniel Goldin said. He told a Senate hearing on
why NASA has encountered so many difficulties this year, including two
lost probes to Mars, that the agency has reduced its work force from
25,000 to 18,500 over seven years while emphasizing a "faster, better,
cheaper" philosophy that calls for less costly missions. But NASA will
hire 2,000 new workers, and establish a formal training program for
young engineers, among other plans, he said.

Georgia lawmakers voted to phase out the electric chair and make lethal
injection the state's primary means of execution, two months after a
similar move in neighboring Florida. If Gov. Roy Barnes (D) signs the
measure, Alabama and Nebraska would be the only states still using
electrocution exclusively.

The Army has replaced hundreds of Patriot missiles in the Mideast and
South Korea after discovering a pattern of technical glitches in the
air-defense system, the Pentagon said. The acknowledgement confirmed a
Wall Street Journal report that flawed missiles were swapped with newer
ones after "significant ... failures were found." Experts said the cause
could be age-related. (The Christian Science Monitor, March 24, 2000)

HEALTH PRIVACY: Health Records May Not Be Confidential
Most patients assume that what they tell their doctor is confidential.
In many respects, the battle for health privacy has already been lost,"
says Robert Gellman, a Washington, D.C., privacy consultant and member
of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics. "Of all the
records about you that are maintained by third parties, health records
are the most widely circulated," says Gellman, "more than financial
records, school records, even video rental records."

Although that's long been true, patient advocates now fear the growing
use of computerized medical records compounds the loss of medical
privacy. "Once you put the medical record in a computer, it can wind up
anywhere," says HMO industry critic Jamie Court of Consumers for Quality
Care. "That's the direction we're going and it's frightening, especially
when you talk about genetic information."

The recent cyberattacks on such high-profile Internet sites as Yahoo and
Amazon highlight the concern: If hackers can disrupt major players in
the e-commerce world, how safe is your doctor's Web site?

Properly encrypted and password protected, it might be safer than paper
files left lying on a counter or in a storeroom, say some advocates. But
sometimes things go wrong.

In February, for example, medical records on several thousand patients
at the University of Michigan Medical Center were inadvertently placed
on the Internet, where they sat for two months. A student doing an
online search discovered the files, which included names, addresses,
Social Security numbers and other data. The site was promptly shut down.

"I'm certainly not happy about it," Cary Johnson told the Associated
Press. Her 2-year-old son's record was on the site. "I guess technology
is helping us to do some things and hurting us in other ways."

Even before medical records went online, patient information was
anything but private. Some patients have learned that the hard way:

   An HIV-positive Pennsylvania man employed by a state transit agency
sued in 1995 after the agency learned of his condition through a review
of prescription drug records. A federal appeals court ruled against him.
The court's decision said that since the employer paid for the drug
plan, it had a right to see the information.

   An Atlanta truck driver lost his job in early 1998 after his employer
learned from an insurance company that he had sought treatment for
drinking problems.

   Following a state review of a doctor in Kentucky, an investigator
called one patient's employer -- the FBI -- to say the man was being
treated for depression. As a result, the FBI took the employee's gun
away and ordered him to undergo a two-day psychiatric exam, which found
him fit for duty.

                             Access to records

Researchers, public health officials, police and others can get medical
records. Apply for life insurance and your health problems might go on
file at the Medical Information Bureau, an insurance industry
clearinghouse with files on more than 15 million Americans and

Insurers often demand detailed information from providers, including
mental health counselors and doctors, in order to justify continued

"Managed care companies are requesting much more information than they
need to make coverage decisions," including "comments about suicide
attempts, extramarital affairs, job-related problems and drug or alcohol
abuse," says Paul Appelbaum, vice president of the American Psychiatric

Employers -- the very group most patients fear will get their private
information -- are able to get medical information from insurers and
others, says Janlori Goldman of the Health Privacy Project at Georgetown

"Employers may say, 'You just doubled our premium, what's going on?'
There's no federal law that prevents the insurer from giving that
information to employers," she says.

The first federal standards aimed at guarding electronic medical records
are now under review by the Department of Health and Human Services,
which received more than 40,000 comments on the draft proposal. The
proposed privacy safeguards don't cover paper records.

If upheld as written, the standards would reduce access by employers,
allow patients to get copies of their own records and require permission
from patients in certain circumstances to release information.

No consent, however, would be needed to release information related to
medical treatment, payment or health-care operations, such as auditing,
checking credentials of staff or quality assurance work. (Patients often
give consent to release information, sometimes unknowingly, whenever
they sign up for health insurance or fill our forms at doctors'

Some patient advocates say the standards don't do enough to prevent
abuses, while insurers fear the proposed standards are too costly and
burdensome. Congress could pass broader legislation, but so far has not
done so.

"Right now, once information leaves a doctor's office, there are no
federal regulations that protect the privacy of that information," says
Goldman of Georgetown University.

Medical information routinely leaves doctors' offices: After a patient
sees a doctor or fills a prescription, claims are sent to insurers and
third-party bill collectors.

In turn, that information is sometimes given to drug companies or
marketers. Insurers can "mine" prescription data, looking for patients
with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart failure
to enroll them in special programs .

Sometimes office-visit and prescription information is used in ways
patients don't expect. Lisa Greenbaum, of Santa Barbara, Calif., was
surprised to get a call at home last summer from a local Rite Aid
pharmacy, reminding her to refill her prescription. Later, a letter
came. "As much as I'd like to assume they have my best interest in mind,
I suspect it's based on financial considerations," says Greenbaum. "It
is good for me to take my medication regularly, but it's also good for
them because I have to refill." She asked that the calls stop. Finally,
a magazine about diabetes -- filled with drug company ads -- arrived at
her home. Greenbaum doesn't have diabetes, but takes a drug commonly
used by diabetics. "If I had had housemates or others I didn't want to
know (that information), I wouldn't appreciate that," she says.

Rite Aid says it reminds patients who take medication for chronic
conditions to refill prescriptions as a public service, says spokeswoman
Sarah Datz. "Many patients, particularly the elderly, thank us for
reminding them," she says. The reminders are made by Rite Aid
call-center workers. As for the magazine, Datz says it was the
first-of-a-kind and is nondescript on the outside, so prying housemates
would have to unseal it for more information. Patients can call to
request that the calls or magazines stop.

The drug-store chain CVS is being sued by patients in Massachusetts who
say they were targeted for direct-mail advertising in 1998 from
pharmaceutical companies -- based on information gathered by CVS when
they filled prescriptions. "CVS got zero consent (for this program),"
says Arthur Shingler of Finkelstein & Krinsk, which brought the
class-action suit. "If consumers understand what information is going to
be stored on a database and how it's going to be used, then it's their
right to choose whether to be included," he says. "But when you take
that right away, the potential abuses are phenomenal." CVS says it never
sold the patients' names to drug companies, but did provide them to a
mailing house, which then sent written materials. "The suit has no merit
whatsoever," says Todd Andrews, spokesman for CVS.

                             Medical necessity

The threat to privacy strikes at the heart of medicine. "Confidentiality
of communication within the doctor-patient relationship is one of the
cornerstones of good medical care," says Donald Palmisano, co-chair of
the American Medical Association's task force on medical privacy.
Without confidentiality, patients are reluctant to tell doctors what
they need to know. The California Health Care Foundation noted that one
out of six people surveyed last year took some kind of action to prevent
misuse of health information -- including lying to their doctors, paying
out of their own pockets for care covered by insurance or avoiding
medical care altogether.

Some privacy experts say the fear that technology will make medical
records less private is misplaced. But nearly all agree that more
protection is needed, for both paper and electronic records. "Threats to
health information are driven by greed and economics, not technology,"
say Jack Segal, spokesman for the American Health Information Management
Association, a group representing 40,000 medical record managers.
"People shouldn't be afraid of the technology," he says. "What should
concern them is the lack of a federal law that says, 'You company (drug
manufacturers, insurers, etc.) have to handle this information in a
certain way that protects it.'" (USA TODAY, March 23, 2000)

HOLOCAUST VICTIMS: Austria Appoints Official to Deal with Compensation
    VIENNA, March 23, (Agence France-Presse) -- The head of Austria's
rightist Freedom Party, Vice Chancellor Susanne Riess-Passer, said today
that the government must consider compensating victims of Nazi wartime
confiscation laws as soon as claims for forced laborers are settled.
Austria has appointed an official to deal with compensation for about
240,000 surviving forced laborers, but has been criticized for not
extending the mandate to confiscated property.

JDA SOFTWARE: Announces Dismissal of Securities Lawsuits
JDA(R) Software Group Inc. (Nasdaq: JDAS), an international provider of
enterprise retail solutions, announced on March 23 that the U.S.
District Court for the District of Arizona dismissed, without leave to
amend, all pending securities class action complaints previously filed
against the company and certain of its current and former directors and

The complaint, originally filed on Jan. 13, 1999, alleged that the
company misled investors as to certain aspects of its business and
prospects. The case has been reported in the CAR.

The Plaintiffs in the case have the right to appeal.

MOTOROLA INC: Enters Settlement Agreement for Securities Suit in NJ
A class action, In Re Nextel Communications Securities Litigation,
against Nextel Communications, Inc., certain of its officers and
directors and Motorola for alleged violations of Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and SEC Rule 10b-5, is
pending in the United States District Court for the District of New
Jersey. The pending complaint, a consolidation of cases previously filed
against Nextel, was filed on July 11, 1995 and maintains that the
defendants artificially inflated the price of Nextel common stock
through a series of alleged misrepresentations and omissions. Plaintiffs
propose a class period of July 22, 1993 through January 10, 1995 and
seek an unspecified amount of monetary damages. On February 17, 2000,
the parties entered into a stipulation of settlement. The hearing of the
proposed settlement is scheduled for June 15, 2000.

MOTOROLA INC: Faces 7 Cases in AZ over Water, Soil and Air Pollution
Motorola is currently a named defendant in seven cases arising out of
alleged groundwater, soil and air pollution in Phoenix and Scottsdale,
Arizona. McIntire et al. v. Motorola remains pending in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Arizona, while Baker et al. v.
Motorola et al., Lofgren et al. v. Motorola et al., Bentancourt et al.
v. Motorola et al., Ford et al. v. Motorola et al., Wilkins et al. v.
Motorola et al and Dawson et al. v. Motorola, et al. are pending in the
Arizona Superior Court, Maricopa County.

The McIntire lawsuit, filed on December 20, 1991, involves approximately
920 plaintiffs who allege that the operations of Motorola at several
facilities in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona have caused property
damage and health problems by contaminating the soil, groundwater and
air in the area surrounding those facilities. The Baker lawsuit, filed
on February 11, 1992, is a class action, involving six representative
individual named plaintiffs, alleging that Motorola and a number of
other defendants contaminated the soil, air and groundwater in the
Phoenix/Scottsdale area, diminishing property values and exposing
members of the class to possible adverse health effects.

On August 24, 1994, the Baker court certified two classes, a property
damage class consisting of all persons who since 1987 were residents,
property owners or lessees of property which overlies, or is adjacent
to, the alleged groundwater pollution, and a medical monitoring class
consisting of all persons who resided in Phoenix and/or Scottsdale for
more than one year continuously during the years between 1955 and 1989,
and who received potable drinking water containing trichloroethylene at
a level equal to or exceeding 2.0 parts per billion, on average.
Motorola is now the sole remaining defendant in the property claims in
Scottsdale and East Phoenix.

The Lofgren, Bentancourt, Ford, Wilkins and Dawson lawsuits, filed on
April 6, 1993, July 16, 1993, June 10, 1994, July 19, 1995 and August 7,
1997, respectively, were consolidated. The consolidated cases involved
more than 200 plaintiffs, alleging that Motorola and a number of other
defendants contaminated the soil, air and groundwater in the
Phoenix/Scottsdale area, causing health problems. On June 1, 1998, the
Lofgren court ruled inadmissible proffered testimony from each of the
plaintiffs' medical causation experts and granted summary judgment on
those personal injury claims in favor of Motorola and the other
remaining defendants. An appeal is expected after the court formally
enters final judgment.

All seven pending lawsuits described above seek compensatory and
punitive damages. The McIntire complaint includes personal injury and
property damage claims and seeks injunctive relief. The Baker complaint
seeks damages for medical monitoring and alleges claims for property,
business and economic loss and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.
The consolidated Lofgren cases involve claims for personal injury.

MOTOROLA INC: IL Suits Challenge Safety of Cellular Phone
Jerald P. Busse, et al. v. Motorola, Inc. et al., filed on October 26,
1995 in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Chancery Division,
is a purported class action alleging that defendants have failed to
adequately warn consumers of the alleged dangers of cellular telephones
and challenging ongoing safety studies as invasions of privacy. All
claims were dismissed on defendants' motion. Upon plaintiffs' motion for
reconsideration, the Court allowed the plaintiffs to replead the
invasion of privacy claims. Defendants have once again filed a motion
for summary judgment.

Kane, et al., v. Motorola, Inc., et al., filed on December 13, 1993 in
the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, alleges that plaintiffs'
brain cancer was caused by or aggravated by a prototype communication
device. Medica et al., v. Motorola, Inc., et el., filed September 7,
1999, alleges that use of a Motorola cellular phone caused plaintiff
Phil Medica's malignant brain tumor.

MOTOROLA INC: Named in Securities Suit Re Bankrupt Iridium World
Motorola has been named as one of several defendants in a number of
nearly identical putative class action securities lawsuits arising out
of alleged material misrepresentations or omissions regarding
difficulties in the satellite communications business of Iridium World
Communications, LTD, Iridium LLC and Iridium Operating LLC. Freeland v.
Iridium World Communications, LTD, et al., Yong v. Iridium World
Communications, LTD, et al., Kleinman v. Iridium World Communications,
LTD, et al., Marshall v. Iridium World Communications, LTD, et al.,
Ackerman v. Iridium World Communications, LTD, et al., Hargrove v.
Iridium World Communications, LTD, et al., Turner v. Iridium World
Communications, LTD, et al., Astiazaran v. Iridium World Communications,
LTD, et al., Coyle v. Iridium World Communications, LTD, et al.,
Demopoulos v. Iridium World Communications, LTD, et al., Evans v.
Iridium World Communications, LTD, et al., Ginechese v. Iridium World
Communications, LTD, et al., Hammerschmidt v. Iridium World
Communications, LTD, et al., Hoyt v. Iridium World Communications, LTD,
et al., Mace v. Iridium World Communications, LTD, et al., Mandelbaum v.
Iridium World Communications, LTD, et al., Maytorena v. Iridium World
Communications, LTD, et al., Phiel v. Iridium World Communications, LTD,
et al., Strougo v. Iridium World Communications, LTD, et al., and Garvin
v. Iridium World Communications, LTD, et al., have all been filed in the
US District Court for the District of Columbia.

The purported classes consist of purchasers of Iridium securities during
the period from July 14, 1998 to May 13, 1999. A motion to consolidate
the cases is currently pending. As a result of bankruptcy proceedings
regarding Iridium LLC and other Iridium business entities, these cases
have been stayed as to the Iridium business defendants but are
continuing as to Motorola and all other defendants.

In addition, Motorola has been named as a defendant in Andrews, et al.
v. Iridium World Communications, LTD, et al., in the Superior Court of
California (San Diego). The approximately 42 plaintiffs were purchasers
of Iridium securities and allege violations of California law relating
to securities.

MOTOROLA INC: Securities Suit Filed '95 Pending in IL; Trial Vacated
Motorola and several of its officers and directors are named defendants
in a consolidated class action, Kaufman, et. al. v Motorola, Inc., et.
al., for alleged violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act and SEC Rule 10b-5. The case was filed on May
19, 1995 and is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois. Plaintiffs claim that Motorola and the individual
defendants inflated the price of Motorola stock by failing to timely
disclose a buildup of cellular phone inventory with its distributors.
The district court has certified a class consisting of purchasers of
Motorola common stock during the period of November 4, 1994 through
February 17, 1995. Plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount of damages. A
recent trial date of March 6, 2000 was vacated and no new trial date has
been set.

MOTOROLA INC: Voluntary Dismissal Proposed for Securities Suit in PA
On October 16, 1998, the plaintiffs in Pennsylvania Bancshares, Inc. et
al. v. Motorola, Inc., et al., a purported class action filed on October
10, 1995 in the Court of Common Pleas, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania,
filed a notice of voluntary dismissal with prejudice as to all claims
for monetary relief and without prejudice as to all claims for equitable
relief. Plaintiffs alleged that Motorola systematically engages in
deceptive trade practices, including without limitation, intentionally
misrepresenting the quality of certain types of cellular telephones. The
dismissal is currently before the court for decision.

NAVY CHAPLAIN: Evangelical Chaplains Sue Claiming Promotion Bias
A group of Navy evangelical chaplains has filed a class-action suit in
federal court, accusing the Navy of censorship and of systematically
denying promotions in favor of mainline-religion officers.

Arthur Schulcz Sr., the attorney who brought the legal action on behalf
of 11 retired and current chaplains, contends the Navy Chaplain Corps
operates a "religious patronage system."

Mr. Schulcz's suit charges the corps stacks promotion boards with
liturgical Christians who advance their denomination chaplains at a much
higher rate than evangelicals. The suit recounts cases of purported
censorship in violation of Navy regulations that guarantee religious
freedom of expression.

Cmdr. Frank Thorpe, a Navy spokesman, said the service had not yet seen
the suit. He defended the chaplain corps, saying, "The Navy prides
itself on our role of defending freedom of religion as well as
practicing it. The Navy chaplains from more than 110 faith groups
provide spiritual leadership to our sailors in a free and open fashion."

One liturgical superior in Okinawa, Japan, called a Church of the
Nazarene colleague's sermon "hogwash" and ordered the chaplain, Lt.
Michael Belt, to change it, according to the suit.

The case, filed in U.S. District Court here, follows Navy efforts last
summer to court-martial an evangelical minister who contends his
Catholic superior censored his sermons at a base in Naples.

Lt. Cmdr. Philip Veitch, a member of the Reformed Episcopalian Church,
says he submitted a letter of resignation under threat of court-martial.
The Navy inspector general is now investigating his complaint.

The class-action suit charges the Navy with "discriminatory treatment"
and "religious animosity against non-liturgical Christians" in violation
of the Constitution's First and Fifth amendment guarantees of free
speech and equal treatment.

The suit accuses the Navy of a "long and continuing pattern of . . . a
chaplain promotion system that uses promotion boards dominated by
chaplains personally selected by the chief of chaplains to select other
chaplains for promotion; the establishment of religious quotas for
chaplain promotions; the establishment of a preferred religious
tradition; and unconstitutional discrimination and hostility on
religious grounds against non-liturgical chaplains, . . . "

The legal papers state that the Air Force and Army assemble
chaplain-promotion boards to include officers from other specialties.

"You may find isolated cases of discrimination but it's not part of a
pattern," said Mr. Schulcz, referring to those two services.

The suit states that in the late 1980s the Navy adopted "The Thirds"
policy. It allocated all chaplain positions by thirds to Catholics,
liturgical Protestants and non-liturgicals. The system is unfair, the
suit says, because liturgical Protestants make up only one-ninth of Navy
personnel, while evangelicals account for over 50 percent of the
service's religious population.

The suit quotes a 1995 memo from an evangelical chaplain. It contends
that only 14 non-liturgical Navy chaplains have filled 119 top positions
the past 15 years. The suit also states that only one non-liturgical has
held the position of chief of chaplains since 1917.

The suit also says that the Navy's own internal investigation documented
the discrimination, but was ignored. It says a minority affairs officer
submitted a report in 1997 to the chief of naval operations that stated
"the board may have systematically applied a denominational quota

There are 810 Navy chaplains representing 110 denominations for sailors
of more than 200 different faiths.

The suits asks the court to order the Navy to reform the promotion
process by eliminating quotas, assigning only one chaplain to the board
and bringing chaplain denominations more in line with the Navy
population. (The Washington Times, March 24, 2000)

PHASE METRICS: Tech Workers Sue to Get Paid for Long Hours
First, Rex Bothell racked up 60- and 70-hour workweeks with his former
high-tech company without getting a cent of overtime pay. Then, the firm
laid him off when the disc drive industry took a downturn.

"Until the day I was laid off, all those hours I worked -- sometimes 16
hours in a day -- I thought when this company really starts rolling,
they'll take care of me," said Bothell of Concord, who worked as a field
service engineer for Phase Metrics, a global disc testing company with
an office in Fremont. "Instead, I was water under the bridge. They just
said bye-bye."

Now, Bothwell is striking back to get back the pay he believes he
deserves. Bothell is suing for 650 hours of back overtime pay. He joins
dozens of other Bay Area high-tech workers who are taking their
companies to court or who recently won sizable settlements for overtime

In addition to suits filed by individual workers, 1,600 plant engineers
are suing Pacific Bell for up to $100 million in back pay in what could
be the costliest overtime pay class-action lawsuit in California

The burst of overtime litigation comes against the backdrop of a new
state law that requires overtime pay after eight hours of work in a day
and broadens the reach of the law to include more workers.

The lawsuits are a reaction, in large part, to a failure by a growing
number of fledgling startup companies to grasp labor law and to
companies that purposely manipulate the law to get more work out of
their bedraggled employees, according to the state labor commission.

At the same time, workers are learning that suing for overtime is an
effective way to wrench compensation from high-tech companies that
dangle the promise of a fat payoff in the future in exchange for long
work hours. "A lot of it is the Silicon Valley gold-rush mentality,"
said attorney Michael Herrick, who represents Bothell in his case
against Phase Metrics. "There is this complete ignorance by the employee
and the employer that they are all going to strike it rich and that
workers should sacrifice themselves and compromise their families now
because they'll be rewarded down the road. But what happens when it
doesn't work out?"

Most of Herrick's cases are overtime cases -- he says he has a "drawer
full of them." His clients accuse the firms of denying them
time-and-a-half pay for overtime by misclassifying them as
administrators, professionals or executives all legally exempt positions
in which employees are not paid overtime no matter how many hours they
work, he said.

In addition to alleged naivete about workplace rules, the increase in
lawsuits also stems from exemption abuses by California companies that
went mostly unchallenged because the labor enforcement arm of the state
was severely weakened by Republican administrations, said Michael
Moreno, principal analyst with the state Industrial Welfare Commission.

"There were lots and lots of abuses because the computer professional
industry was making their own interpretations of who was exempt and who
wasn't, from overtime," Moreno said. "But they can't expect to work
people 50, 60, or more hours a week without paying overtime. We have the
teeth now to enforce the law, and complaints will be investigated."

Before the law changed, California companies for almost the past two
years didn't have to pay overtime unless workers were employed more than
40 hours in a week and made less than $27.63 an hour, or fell under one
of the exempt career categories.

California had a long history of paying overtime after eight hours per
day until a controversial decision by the Industrial Welfare Commission,
whose members supporting the change were appointed by then-Gov. Pete
Wilson. They changed the rules from requiring overtime for any work over
eight hours a day to overtime for any work over 40 hours a week.

The new state law, which kicked in at the beginning of this year,
restores the right to overtime after 8 hours in a single day. It also
broadens the coverage to include more workers, regardless of higher pay.
Up until the change in the law, state rules followed federal regulations
and exempted overtime pay to workers making $27.63 or more. The new
state law means anyone from minimum-wage workers to $250-an-hour
temporary computer consultants are now eligible for time-and-a-half pay.

Some firms, particularly those that employ pricey temporary computer
consultants, are gearing up for a fight to revamp the law in a way that
will be less costly for their companies. And some temp workers are
worried they may lose future jobs to their colleagues who do qualify for
overtime exemptions -- and who may be more tempting to a company that
relies on intense periods of concentrated work to meet a deadline or
make a product.

"The Industrial Welfare Commission needs to carefully thread a needle
and make sure neither employer or employees get stuck in the eye," said
Carl Guardino, president and chief executive officer of the Silicon
Valley Manufacturing Group, which represents 160 high-tech members.

According to Guardino, Silicon Valley companies are adopting a
wait-and-see attitude about the new law. "The real tragedy would be to
lose any flexibility, which is beneficial to the economy (and) the
worker, and fundamental in the information age."

As part of the new law, the labor commission agreed last month to
appoint a wage board made up of employees and employers to evaluate
overtime exemptions. The idea is to help clarify for companies and
employees whether workers such as Bothell are exempt from overtime

In Bothell's case, he was installing and fixing machines that test discs
in the hard drives of computers. He made around $24 an hour as a
salaried employee. Over the year he worked for Phase Metrics, he
averaged 57.5 hours a week. There were days he worked 14, 16 or 18 hours
a day. He wore a pager 24 hours a day and responded to clients' calls on
weekends and in the middle of the night.

The company told Bothell he wasn't eligible for overtime because he fell
under the administrative exemption -- a category reserved for highly
skilled managers who make policy for a company instead of helping
produce a product.

"That's baloney. They taught me how to do the work," Bothell said. "I
have been a mechanic all my life and they are trying to compare my
position to an engineer who makes twice as much money as I make," he
said. "It doesn't matter what title you give me. Call me janitor, call
me specialist, just pay me what I am worth."

The company stands by its decision to use the exemption. "We feel we
properly handled our wage and employment matters and vociferously defend
our practices," said Dewey Hockemeyer, chief financial officer at Phase

It's not just the employers who have to navigate the sometime fuzzy laws
around overtime. Workers themselves are full of misconceptions about
overtime. "The most common one is people think if they are on salary,
they are not entitled to overtime," said Bay Area attorney Mark
Thierman, who is representing the 1,600 workers suing Pac Bell. "What
matters is what you spend your time doing on the job, not that you're on
salary or that you have a particular job title."

In the Pacific Bell back-pay case, the battle is over exemptions. Pac
Bell said workers didn't qualify for overtime. "We feel there is an
administrative exemption for these workers and we believe we are
following the law," said Rodd Aubrey, a spokesman for Pacific Bell. The
"administrative" category is a kind of vague catch-all exemption that is
most often abused, Thierman said. Administrators are exempt only if they
"customarily exercise discretion and independent judgment" in making
decisions for the company, such as dictating human resources guidelines
or tax policy, labor attorneys say.

Executives are exempt if they spend at least half their work time
supervising two or more people, according to the state labor commission.
And professionals are those who are prohibited from working in their
field unless they hold a specialized degree such those held by a CPA,
doctor, lawyer, teacher or engineer. The exemptions were developed as a
response from industry lobbyists as the nation made the transition from
a manufacturing economy to an information economy, according to labor
law specialists.

In the 1930s, when the bulk of the nation's wage and hour laws were
written, the idea was to put more people to work. If the factory forced
one worker to do the work of two people, that was one less person with a
job, so overtime kicked in as a penalty.

"Now, just because someone is working on a computer instead of a
carburetor doesn't change the nature of the work," said Herrick, the
attorney representing Rex Bothell. "If you are collecting research,
providing content, troubleshooting, programming systems, writing
software, you are producing the product of the company. And you should
be getting paid overtime."

And what about Bothell? The day after he was laid off at Phase Metrics,
he got a salaried job at Zygo Corp. in Sunnyvale, doing the same work.
Only he gets paid overtime. (The San Francisco Chronicle, MARCH 24,

PRESSTEK, INC: Settles Shareholder Class and Derivative Suits
Presstek, Inc. (Nasdaq: PRST) a provider of direct digital imaging
technologies to the printing and publishing industry, announced on March
24 that it has entered into a definitive agreement with the plaintiffs
to settle the class action lawsuit, and has executed a memorandum of
understanding with respect to settlement of the derivative law suits
filed against Presstek and certain of its officers and directors in the
United States District Court of the District of New Hampshire.

Under the terms of the class action settlement, $22 million, in the form
of shares of common stock, will be paid to the class, with the number of
shares to be issued determined by a formula valuing the stock at
different time periods. The company has reserved the right to pay the
settlement in cash at the time the settlement becomes effective. In the
memorandum of understanding in the derivative litigation, the company
has agreed to certain therapeutic improvements to its internal policies,
many of which have already been instituted, including company policies
on insider trading, the functioning and membership of its audit
committee, and the policies pertaining to corporate communications. Both
the class action and derivative settlements are conditioned upon final
approval by the United States District Court. As a result of the
settlements, the company recorded a liability of $23.2 million in the
fourth quarter of 1999.

SOLUTION 6: Extends $150 Mil Elite Offer Again for FTC Review
News from Sydney, March 24 AAP says that Software group Solution 6
Holdings Ltd has announced that it has extended the expiration date of
its $11.00 per share cash bid for US-based Elite Information Group Inc.
The offer will now expire at 5.00pm New York City time on April 13 2000.
Solution 6 said the expiration date is being extended to provide the US
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) time to complete its review of the
proposed merger. "The expiration date will be further extended is
necessary to provide the FTC adequate time to complete such review and
approval," the company said.

This is the second time that the Australian based software group has
extended the Elite offer, due to the timing of the FTC review, following
the first extension in January this year. The FTC requested information
on the deal, following the filing of a class action against Solution 6
and Elite in the United States. The law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes
and Lerach LLP alleged that Elite's board of director by entering in an
agreement with Solution 6 had violated their fiduciary duties to Elite

Solution 6 said that it and Elite believed "that the plaintiff's claims
are without merit" and that they intended to defend the action

Under the $150 million offer, launched in December last year, Solution
6's subsidiary - EIG Acquisition Corp - is offering $11.00 per share for
all the outstanding share in Elite.

Solution 6 chief executive Chris Tyler said earlier that he was
confident of a positive outcome for the deal in the near future. "(The
merger) is still under review by the FTC, but in a week to ten days we
should get a clear signal from the FTC," he told journalists on March
20. "We should get the go-ahead." (AAP NEWSFEED, March 24, 2000)

VASTAR RESOURCES: Forms Special Committee to Evaluate BP Amoco Proposal
Vastar Resources, Inc. (NYSE: VRI) announced on March 23 that it has
formed a special committee of independent directors to evaluate BP
Amoco's (NYSE: BPA) $ 71.00 per share proposal to purchase the
approximately 17.6 million shares, or 18.1 percent, of Vastar's common
stock that are publicly traded.

The special committee has retained Salomon Smith Barney Inc. and Petrie
Parkman & Co., Inc. to act as its financial advisors and Fried Frank
Harris Shriver & Jacobson to act as its legal counsel.

Vastar also announced that, in connection with the BP Amoco proposal,
six lawsuits purporting to be class actions have been filed in the
Delaware Chancery Court against the company, its directors, ARCO (NYSE:
ARC) and BP Amoco. Vastar believes that these lawsuits are without

As previously announced on March 16, 2000, BP Amoco advised Vastar's
board of its intention to commence a tender offer for the minority
stockholding of the company. The proposal is conditioned on BP Amoco's
acquisition of ARCO, which currently owns the balance of Vastar's stock.

Vastar Resources, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, finds, develops
and produces natural gas and liquid hydrocarbons. The company is
currently active in more than 100 key producing fields, with production
in the Gulf of Mexico shelf, Gulf Coast, Rocky Mountains and
Mid-Continent areas, and a growing exploratory and development presence
in the Gulf of Mexico deepwater trend.

Vastar says in its press release that shareholders are strongly advised
to read both the tender offer statement and the
solicitation/recommendation statement when they become available.

VIVENDI: US Filter's Shareholders Sue over Illegal Payoffs in Takeover
Milberg Weiss (http://www.milberg.com)announced on March 23 that a
class action has commenced in the United States District Court for the
Central District of California on behalf of persons who tendered shares
of US Filter Corporation (NYSE:USF) to Vivendi S.A. (Nasdaq:VVDIY) and
its wholly-owned subsidiary, EAU Acquisition Corp., in connection with
Vivendi's purchase of the outstanding shares of US Filter at $31.50 per

The complaint charges Vivendi and certain of its senior executives with
violations of the federal securities laws arising out of defendants'
unlawful payments to senior US Filter executives to obtain their support
in consummating the Tender Offer and their agreement to tender their own
shares. Plaintiff alleges that by offering to pay special payments to
senior US Filter executives, defendants have violated the provisions of
Section 14 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the SEC
regulations promulgated thereunder.

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

* Megan's Law in NJ Modified to Protect Sex Offenders' Privacy
Acting on orders from a federal judge, the state attorney general on
March 23 issued new guidelines to make sure information about sex
offenders isn't disseminated as widely under the so-called Megan's Law.

The new regulations require anyone notified that a sex offender lives
near their home or school to sign papers saying they will not
disseminate the information. The judge who ordered changes in the law
said sex offenders' privacy rights were being violated. Megan's Law is
named for Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and
murdered in 1994 by a convicted sex offender who lived across the street
from her home. Megan's Law categorizes convicted sex offenders in three
levels, based on the perceived danger they present. For those deemed
most dangerous, the law allows prosecutors to make public an offender's
name, age and address, as well as their job and its location.

Acting on a class-action lawsuit brought by the state Public Defender's
Office, U.S. District Judge Joseph Irenas in December said New Jersey
failed to implement consistent standards on how notifications are
conducted in all 21 counties. (Chicago Tribune, March 24, 2000)


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

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