/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/000830.MBX             C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

            Wednesday, August 30, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 169


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Dallas Jury Awards $9 Mil to Tyler Pipe Employees
BARR LABORATORIES: Cipro Patent Settlement Subject of Antitrust Claim
BARR LABORATORIES: Companies Allege of Blocking Access to Raw Materials
BARR LABORATORIES: FTC Investigates on Hatch-Waxman Patent Litigation
BARR LABORATORIES: Tamoxifen Patent Settlement Subject of DOJ Query

BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: Tires Made in Venezuela Mislabelled
BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: Says Production Lifted and Tires Flown for Recall
BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: Toyota supports Firestone Despite Courtroom Drama
BUFFETS INC: Faces Securities Suit in MN; Insurer Reimburses for Defense
BUFFETS INC: Investors Sue to Enjoin Proposed Merger with Caxton-Iseman

CONSOLIDATED NATURAL: Dominion Transmission Subject of Regulators' Case
CONSOLIDATED NATURAL: Named in QuinQue and Grynberg Cases Re Gas
FEN-PHEN: Fed Judge in PA OKs AHP's Nationwide Settlement
FLORIDA: Foster Child Advocates Call in Big Guns
FRANK E. BEST: 'Never on Sunday' Does Not Apply in Merger World

GEORGIA POWER: Attorneys Move Employee Racial Bias Suit To Federal Court
GTECH HOLDINGS: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in Rhode Island
MEDIA VISION: Former Chief Executive Pleaded Guilty to Securities Fraud
PEPSIAMERICAS, INC: Investors’ Suit Seeks to Enjoin Whitman Transaction
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Meaning of Agreement with Flight Attendants Disputed

VETERINARY CENTERS: Suits Filed in DE over Proposed Merger with Recap


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Dallas Jury Awards $9 Mil to Tyler Pipe Employees
For the second time in eight days, a jury came down solidly on the side of
long-time employees against Tyler Pipe Industries, Inc. (Delaware) with a
multi-million dollar award for illnesses and disease related to asbestos
exposure in the workplace. The Dallas jury verdict follows hot on the heels
of an Aug. 19 decision of a Smith County jury, which awarded $9 million to
eight Tyler Pipe employees. The trials, both brought by the Dallas law firm
of Baron & Budd, took place simultaneously.

By a vote of 9-2, a Dallas County jury awarded $17 million dollars to
compensate seven Tyler Pipe employees for pain and mental anguish, loss of
earning capacity, physical impairment and medical care related to
asbestosis, a degenerate lung disease.

The $17 million jury award approved by 9 of the 11 jurors was in the same
ballpark as the $21 million sought by the plaintiffs in the 15-day trial.

"The jury deliberated two days before returning the record-setting verdict
in the seven disputed asbestos cases," said the plaintiff's lead attorney
Rick Nemeroff. "During deliberations, the only question asked by the jury
was 'Will we be awarding punitive damages?' Punitive damages were not
sought in this case."

This is only the tip of the iceberg of lawsuits that plague Swan
Transportation Co., Tyler Pipe's parent company. A September trial is on
the Tyler docket and at least one other lawsuit is on its way to court.
Also, between 350 and 400 other current and former employees of Tyler Pipe
-- all diagnosed with asbestos- or silica-related illnesses and diseases --
have expressed their intention to file lawsuits. The amount of damages for
each plaintiff must be considered separately by the court. Therefore, legal
redress sought by Type Pipe employees cannot be heard as a class-action
suit, nor can the claims of large numbers of plaintiffs be considered
during the same trial. If an appeals court upholds the verdict in either of
the two trials, future Tyler Pipe asbestos cases may deal only with
awarding of damages.

The dollar amount of damages awarded to each of the seven plaintiffs by the
Dallas County jury ranged from $1.9 million to $3.12 million. "All of these
men had a total of 187 years of working in the foundry at Tyler Pipe,"
Nemeroff said.

The American dream of these seven men turned into a nightmare, Nemeroff
added. "These guys are just working men whose education level ranges from
6th grade though high school. None of them went farther than high school.
They are average guys with wives, children and grandkids and they were
trying to take care of their families," Nemeroff said. "They are simple
folks who put work above everything else. Their expectation was that if you
worked real hard, took care of your family and took care of your company,
then after retirement the company would take care of you. They never
imagined they were working toward a death sentence," he said.

"They were basically taken advantage of by a company that put profits ahead
of worker safety. Tyler Pipe made a conscious, cold-hearted decision that $
100,000 a year was too much to spend on respiratory safety and equipment.
The company would rather pay a fine of a couple of thousand dollars leveled
by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) officials than fix what was
wrong. Finally, it became a situation that was left up to a jury to deal

An environmental report issued to Tyler Pipe in 1981 noted that air
pollution was the No. 1 hazard to workers. "The various environmental and
safety problems observed do not appear to require high technology or fancy
'end-of-the-pipe' fixes," the report states. "Much of the problem rests on
basic attitudes which reflect little knowledge of the material used in the
foundry and little respect for human health and safety."

Before the trial began, Tyler Pipe executives had seen the handwriting on
the wall, Nemeroff said. "Tyler Pipe did not call a single corporate
representative during the trial. The trial was left in the hands of six
corporate lawyers in the Jackson & Walker law firm of Dallas, one of the
biggest firms in Texas. No wonder the jurors were angry," he said.

As early as the 1920s chronic lung problems were associated with inhalation
of asbestos, a fireproof insulation material whose fibers break down over
time, shedding minute particles into the air.

At Tyler Pipe, equipment used to transport molten iron to molds in the
plant were lined at one time with cement containing asbestos. Even coats
and gloves worn by the workers contained asbestos and the air ducts in some
parts of the plant were lined with it.

Contact: Rick Nemeroff, 214-523-6258, or Alice Guerra, 210-732-8111, or
210-710-5869, both of Baron & Budd

BARR LABORATORIES: Cipro Patent Settlement Subject of Antitrust Claim
On July 14, 2000, Louisiana Wholesale Drug Co. filed a class action
complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
New York against Bayer Corporation, the Rugby Group and Barr Laboratories
Inc. The complaint alleges that the Company and the Rugby Group agreed with
Bayer Corporation not to compete with a generic version of Ciprofloxacin
("Cipro") pursuant to an agreement between the defendants. The plaintiff
purports to bring claims on behalf of all direct purchasers of Cipro from
1997 to present. On August 1, 2000, Maria Locurto filed a similar class
action complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern
Division of New York. On August 4, 2000, Ann Stuart et al filed a class
action complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden
County. This complaint alleges violations of New Jersey statutes relating
to the Cipro agreement.

The Company believes that its agreement with Bayer Corporation is a valid
settlement to a patent dispute and cannot form the basis of an antitrust
claim. Although it is not possible to forecast the outcome of these
matters, the Company intends to vigorously defend itself. It is anticipated
that these matters may take several years to be resolved but an adverse
judgment could have a material adverse impact on the Company's financial

BARR LABORATORIES: Companies Allege of Blocking Access to Raw Materials
In February 1998, Invamed, Inc., which has since been acquired by Geneva
Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a division of Novartis AG ("Invamed"), named the
Company and several others as defendants in a lawsuit filed in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of New York, charging that
the Company unlawfully blocked access to the raw material source for
Warfarin Sodium. In May 1999, Apothecon, Inc., a division of Bristol-Meyers
Squibb, Inc. ("Apothecon"), filed a similar lawsuit. The two actions have
been consolidated.

The Company believes that the suits filed against it by Invamed and
Apothecon are without merit and intends to defend its position vigorously.
These actions are currently in the discovery stage. It is anticipated that
this matter may take several years to be resolved but an adverse judgment
could have a material adverse impact on the Company's consolidated
financial statements.

BARR LABORATORIES: FTC Investigates on Hatch-Waxman Patent Litigation
On June 30, 1999, the Company received a civil investigative demand from
the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") for interrogatories and a subpoena for
documents relating to the January 1997 settlement of the Hatch-Waxman Act
patent litigation relating to Ciprofloxacin which had been pending in the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The FTC is
investigating whether the parties have engaged or are engaging in unfair
methods of competition or affecting commerce in violation of Section 5 of
the Federal Trade Commission Act.

The Company believes that the patent challenge process under the
Hatch-Waxman Act represents a pro-consumer and pro-competitive alternative
to bringing generic products to market more rapidly than might otherwise be
possible. The Company believes that once all the facts are considered, and
the benefits to consumers are assessed, that the DOJ and FTC investigations
described above will be resolved. However, consideration of these matters
could take considerable time, and while unlikely, any adverse judgment in
either matter could have a material adverse impact on the Company's
consolidated financial statements.

BARR LABORATORIES: Tamoxifen Patent Settlement Subject of DOJ Query
In 1998 and 1999, the Company was contacted by the Department of Justice
("DOJ") regarding the March 1993 settlement of the Tamoxifen patent
litigation. Barr continues to cooperate with the DOJ in this ongoing
examination, and believes that the DOJ will ultimately determine that the
settlement was appropriate and a benefit to consumers. The DOJ has not
contacted the Company about this matter in over a year.

BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: Mislabelled Tires Made in Venezuela
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc told Congressional investigators on August 28
that the company inadvertently mislabelled nine models of tires made in
Venezuela as having a safety layer requested by Ford Motor Co when they did
not, CNN's internet site reported.

The investigators, who were studying the recall of 6.5 mln tires at
Firestone's headquarters in Nashville on Tuesday, also discovered that
Firestone knew about tire tread separation problems in Venezuela as early
as last year, CNN said.

Congress plans to hold hearings on Bridgestone/Firestone's tire problems on
Sept 6, according to Congressional spokesman John Tripp.

Chris Karbowiak, Bridgestone/Firestone's vice-president for communications
said: "We look forward to providing Congress information that will help
them better understand the complexities of the issues involved." He added:
"Since May we have been working closely with NHTSA (National Highway
Transportat ion Safety Administration) to determine what problems, if any,
may exist with these tires ... While we all would like to have the specific
cause identified for the incidents involving these tires, the research and
process takes time."

Ford urged Bridgestone/Firestone to recall its tires made in Venezuela.
Ford said it has asked Firestone to follow its example and replace tires
manufactured in Valencia, Venezuela, which are labelled as having three
nylon layers, but actually only have two. Safety campaigners say the nylon
layers help to keep the tread from separating from the tires under high

However, Firestone spokesman Ken Fields said there are no plans for a
recall, and suggested there was a misunderstanding at Ford about a recall.
"We have been made aware of an unintentional mistake in the labelling
process. We have corrected it", he said.

Due to the idling of Ford plants, analysts have lowered their third quarter
estimates for Ford, but raised them for the fourth quarter. Gary Lapidus of
Goldman Sachs cut his third quarter earnings estimate for Ford by 6 cents
to 52 cents per share, and raised the fourth quarter estimate by 2 cents to
92 cents a share.

Meanwhile, a Chicago law firm filed suit against both Firestone and Ford
seeking class action status to cover injury and medical costs of victims of
accidents that followed the tire failure. (AFX European Focus, August 29,

BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: Says Production Lifted and Tires Flown for Recall
The world's largest tyre maker Bridgestone Corp. said it had chartered a
Boeing 747 and upped production at a fourth plant in Japan to speed up a
mass tyre recall in the United States. "Along with additional increases at
the three plants already engaged in the emergency programme, that will
bring Bridgestone's cumulative emergency increase to 650,000 tyres by
December," the Japanese firm said.

Bridgestone last Wednesday began an airlift of replacement tyres on
scheduled flights from Japan to speed up the recall of 6.5 million tyres by
its Firestone division in the United States. "Now, Bridgestone has
chartered a Boeing 747 jumbo jet to begin shuttling tyres across the
Pacific at the beginning of September," it said in a statement.
"Bridgestone is mobilising its entire global organisation to complete the
recall as rapidly as possible."

Firestone announced the recall on August 9 over safety fears, prompting a
Congressional investigation and a national class action lawsuit in Chicago
this week.

The fourth Bridgestone plant at Hikone, 156 miles (250 kilometres) west of
Tokyo, will supply Dueler H/T689 tyres to the recall programme, helping to
lift the emergency shipment from 450,000 tyres first targeted for December.

The recall should be completed before the initial deadline of next spring,
Bridgestone has said. Apart from being a public-relations disaster, the
fiasco is costing the Japanese company 350 million dollars in a one-off
loss this year. The company has lowered its net profit target for 2000 to
67 billion yen (626 million dollars) from the original estimate of 90
billion yen because of the massive recall. (Agence France Presse, August
29, 2000)

BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: Toyota supports Firestone Despite Courtroom Drama
Toyota, the world's third-largest carmaker, gave its support to Firestone
as a possible courtroom drama loomed for the Japanese parent of the
troubled US tyremaker.

Toyota said that it had no plans to change its business relationship with
Bridgestone, Firestone's Tokyo-based parent, and played down the potential
of car sales falling on the back of negative publicity from Firestone.

Bridgestone is recalling 6.5 million of the Firestone 15-inch Wilderness,
ATX and ATX II tyres used on Ford's popular Explorer sport-utility
vehicles. It is beefing up tyre production in Japan and airlifting them to
the US.

Washington is not seeking to broaden a recall of tyres beyond those,
according to Rodney Slater, US Transportation Secretary.

But analysts in Tokyo said the costs of the recall are only one issue for
Bridgestone, and they were now looking at the possible legal action against
the Japanese company.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is
investigating 62 deaths and more than 100 injuries potentially linked to
failures of the Firestone tyres.

On Sunday lawyers involved in the case of a couple killed in a May 1999 car
accident said Masatoshi Ono, Firestone's chief executive, has been ordered
to testify in court on September 15.

A spokesman for Bridgestone said the company was not aware of the order.
"We have not heard anything about the order, so we can't make any
comments," he said.

The lawyers are representing children of Patricio and Nidia Leal, who were
killed when their Ford Explorer, fitted with Firestone ATX tyres,
overturned last year.

The lawyers issued a statement saying that John Pope, a Texas state
district judge, ordered Mr Ono and other Firestone executives to give a
deposition in the lawsuit in Nashville next month.

They said Mr Ono's testimony would be crucial in the case, which is
expected to go to trial in Starr County, Texas, on October 16.

"We can't rule out the possibility of the risk of punitive damages against
the company which could burden it with millions of dollars," said Tatsuo
Yoshida, auto parts analyst at ABN Amro Securities.

"Even if Bridgestone insures itself against possible product liability, it
could be exposed to class action lawsuits, although the scale of liability
could be smaller in general," he said.

On Monday Bridgestone's shares recovered some ground in Tokyo after a
savage slide last week. (The Times (London), August 29, 2000)

BUFFETS INC: Faces Securities Suit in MN; Insurer Reimburses for Defense
The Company and seven of its present and/or former directors and executive
officers have been named as defendants in a Corrected, Third Amended,
Consolidated Class Action Complaint brought on behalf of a putative class
of all purchasers of common stock of the Company from October 26, 1993
through October 25, 1994 (the "class period") in the United States District
Court for the District of Minnesota.

The third complaint alleges that the defendants made misrepresentations and
omissions of material fact during the class period with respect to the
Company's operations and restaurant development activities, as a result of
which the price of the Company's stock allegedly was artificially inflated
during the class period. The third complaint further alleges that certain
defendants made sales of common stock of the Company during the class
period while in possession of material undisclosed information about the
Company's operations and restaurant development activities. Plaintiffs
allege that the defendants' conduct violated the Securities Exchange Act of
1934 and seek damages of approximately $90 million and an award of
attorneys fees, costs and expenses.

The defendants have answered the third complaint,  denying all liability
and raising various affirmative defenses. Discovery was substantially
completed as of February 26, 1999. By Order entered on June 17, 1999, as
amended by Order dated August 18, 1999, the District Court certified the
proposed plaintiff class.

On May 28, 1999, the defendants moved for summary judgment on all claims.
Plaintiffs also moved for partial summary judgement against the Company and
Mr. Hatlen for a portion of the class period. The District Court heard oral
argument on the respective motions on December 10, 1999, and denied both
the Plaintiffs and Defendants summary judgement motions on May 11, 2000.
Management of the Company continues to believe that the action is without
merit and is vigorously defending it.

The defendants have given notice of the plaintiffs' claim to its insurance
carrier. The insurance company is reimbursing the defendants for a portion
of the costs of defense under a reservation of rights. Although the outcome
of this proceeding cannot be predicted with certainty, the Company's
management believes that while the outcome may have a material effect on
earnings in a particular period, the probability of a material effect on
the financial condition of the Company, not covered by insurance, is

BUFFETS INC: Investors Sue to Enjoin Proposed Merger with Caxton-Iseman
Six purported class actions (BROWN V. HATLEN, ET AL.; BURTON V. HATLEN, ET
HATLEN, ET AL.; AND BLECH V. HATLEN, ET AL.) have been  commenced  on
behalf of putative  classes of the public shareholders of Buffets in Dakota
County (Minnesota) District Court (the "Court") seeking, among other
things, to enjoin the proposed merger of Buffets with Caxton-Iseman

The complaints name as defendants Buffets and each member of Buffets' board
of directors. The complaints allege,  among other things, that Buffets'
directors breached their fiduciary duties by approving the merger and not
maximizing value for Buffets'  shareholders.  In addition,  the complaints
allege that certain of the directors have conflicts of interest that
prevented them from acting in the best interests of Buffets' shareholders.
By Order filed on August 7, 2000, the Court ordered that the six actions be
consolidated under the name IN RE BUFFETS, INC. SHAREHOLDER LITIGATION,
that certain law firms be appointed as co-lead counsel and liason counsel
for the plaintiffs, and that the plaintiffs serve and file a consolidated
and amended complaint within 30 days. Defendants have not yet received any
consolidated or amended complaint. However, Buffets believes that the
claims alleged in the six original complaints are without merit.

Pursuant to the June 4, 2000 Agreement and Plan of Merger with an affiliate
of Caxton-Iseman Capital, Inc. and a wholly-owned subsidiary of that
affiliate, the Company agreed that Buffets, Inc.'s board of directors would
take all necessary action to exempt the merger and the merger agreement
from the operation of Buffets' share rights agreement and to terminate the
outstanding preferred stock purchase rights under the rights agreement
immediately before the completion of the merger. In furtherance of this
requirement, as of June 4, 2000, the Company's board of directors approved
an amendment to the Company's rights agreement to effect the foregoing.

CONSOLIDATED NATURAL: Dominion Transmission Subject of Regulators' Case
CNG's interstate natural gas pipeline, Dominion Transmission, Inc. is
involved in several proceedings before the Enforcement Section of the
Office of the General Counsel at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
These proceedings concern an audit of Dominion Transmission's compliance
with marketing affiliate regulations, certain storage well drilling
practices, and a matter affecting capacity allocation for the pipeline's
services. These proceedings are in various stages of discovery, and their
outcome cannot be determined at this time. The Company does not anticipate
that these proceedings will result in a material adverse effect to the

CONSOLIDATED NATURAL: Named in QuinQue and Grynberg Cases Re Gas
Consolidated Natural Gas CO/VA and the directors party to the suit were
served with a purported Class Action Complaint, Civil Action No. 17114-NC,
styled Gerold Garfinkel v. Raymond E. Galvin, Paul E. Lego, Margaret A.
McKenna, William S. Barrack, Jr., Steven A. Minter, J. W. Connolly, George
A. Davidson, Jr., Richard P. Simmons, and Consolidated Natural Gas Company.
On or about March 15, 2000, the Parties submitted a Stipulation of
Dismissal to the Court.

A class action was filed by Quinque Operating Co. and others against
approximately 300 defendants, including the Company and several of its
subsidiaries, in Stevens County Kansas. The cases have been consolidated
with the Grynberg case, and have been stayed pending the ruling on the
motion to dismiss.

FEN-PHEN: Fed Judge in PA OKs AHP's Nationwide Settlement
A federal judge approved a national settlement on August 28 that covers
tens of thousands of people who took fen-phen, the diet drug combination
that was sold by American Home Products.

The settlement, which American Home has said will cost up to $3.75 billion,
offers benefits depending on a person's injuries, ranging from refunds for
the cost of the drugs to cash payments of more than $1 million to those
harmed the most.

About 200,000 people have registered so far to join the settlement, which
was approved by United States District Court Judge Louis C. Bechtle in

But the settlement's approval does not resolve American Home's legal
problems with fen-phen. At least 45,000 people have decided not to join the
settlement and are instead pursuing separate lawsuits.

In New Mexico, for example, hundreds of people have filed suits against
American Home, contending that the company knew the diet drug combination
could cause dangerous side effects but did not warn consumers. And in July,
an Oregon jury awarded $29.2 million to two people who suffered heart valve
damage. Weeks later that case was settled for an undisclosed amount.

Last month, American Home said it would increase the $4.75 billion it has
set aside to pay for the fen-phen litigation. The company gave few details
but said that the new money would be "significantly less" than the $4.75
billion already put into its fen-phen reserve.

The company said that Judge Bechtle's decision "resolves the vast majority"
of the fen-phen claims. But some lawyers representing fen-phen users said
that they might appeal the settlement. Many lawyers had filed papers
opposing the national settlement, saying that it was not fair and offered
too little compensation for injuries. "Some people may get sick in the
future and not be covered," said Edward Blizzard, a lawyer in Houston.

But the lawyers chosen to represent the plaintiffs in the national
class-action case said that the settlement covered any person who had taken
the drug for more than 60 days. Even if those people are not ill, the
lawyers said, they will get money to pay for a test to look for heart valve
damage. "We feel we've protected everyone," said Arthur Levin, a lawyer in

Millions of prescriptions for fen-phen were written before Sept. 15, 1997,
when American Home took the diet drugs off the market. A prescription for
the fen-phen combination included American Home's Pondimin, its brand name
for fenfluramine, and phentermine, another diet drug. American Home also
sold Redux, a drug discovered by Interneuron Pharmaceuticals, which was
marketed as the improved version of Pondimin.

American Home said it had done more than a dozen clinical trials since 1997
that showed that serious heart valve disease among former diet drug users
was rare and that the actual incidence of heart valve damage was "far
lower" than was suggested when the drugs were taken off the market.

Shares of American Home were unchanged at $54.56 on August 28. In
after-hours trading, they climbed as high as $56.06. (The New York Times,
August 29, 2000)

FLORIDA: Foster Child Advocates Call in Big Guns
Florida child advocates suing the state on behalf of foster children have
called in the big guns.

Children's Rights, a New York-based nonprofit known for its battles with
state child-welfare agencies, has joined Tallahassee lawyer Karen Gievers
and more than two dozen others to take on Florida's Department of Children
& Families.

The result is a melding of national perspective with intense trial
experience and local knowledge of Florida's failing foster-care system,
Gievers said Monday. "It's easier for the state and the governor to ignore
a lawsuit when there's just one children's advocate standing up trying to
reform and revamp the system," she said. "But when you have working with
you virtually everyone who is currently playing a role in helping Florida's
foster-care system, that sends an entirely different message."

Gievers presented a thick lawsuit, packed with graphic details about the
dangers foster care poses for 15,000 children in Florida's system, in a
news conference in mid-June. The suit, which focused on 31 plaintiffs from
across the state, was filed in federal court in West Palm Beach. Gievers
said she plans to file for class-action certification in early September.

Last Thursday, 12 lawyers gathered in Fort Lauderdale in a four-hour
strategy session. They then amended the suit to include 23 other plaintiffs
and a handful of additional legal advocates.

Now experts from three of Florida's law schools are part of the legal team,
along with heavy-hitting trial lawyers as well as legal aid and advocacy

"You'd think with 12 lawyers in the room there are going to be egos. There
hasn't," John Walsh, of Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Advocacy Project in
Palm Beach County, said of last week's strategy session. "That's been
because when Children's Rights is talking about what they're knowledgeable
about, I think everyone else in the room is intelligent enough to know,
'Let's just listen.'"

Children's Rights is currently enforcing judicial judgments in foster-care
cases in Connecticut, Philadelphia, New York, Kansas, Kansas City, Mo., and
Washington, D.C., said Director Marcia Robinson Lowry. The group also is
involved in pending cases in Milwaukee, New Jersey and Tennessee.

In Washington, D.C., the group got the district's child-welfare agency
placed under federal receivership for failing to implement court-ordered

Florida's child-welfare officials have yet to see a copy of the amended
complaint, said Cecka Green, a department spokeswoman. Nor was staff aware
of additional child advocates joining the suit. But whatever is to come,
Green said the department will be ready for it. If that means going to
court, then so be it. "Legislative policy should not be determined in the
courtroom," she said.

Instead, Green said, the department urges its critics to come forward and
work with staff to improve the system. "We are vigorously implementing a
settlement agreement in Broward that has implications statewide," she said
of a county-specific class-action suit settled in February. "... We are
making changes to the system. It will not happen overnight."

Specifically, she said, the department is focusing on improving foster
homes, matching children with the appropriate home, investigating any homes
that have problems and making sure children are equipped to make it as
adults once they have outgrown foster care.

The advocates' amended lawsuit highlights crowding in Florida's foster
homes, which puts children at risk of sexual and other abuse and neglect.
It also states more than 76 percent of Florida's foster children who go
home end up re-entering the system within a year.

Gievers said her goal is to persuade a judge to assign a federal monitor to
ensure Florida reforms.

Lowry said no matter what the outcome, a very public lawsuit alone will
make a difference by revealing the flaws in the system and focusing
political attention on the issue. "I hope, finally, children's voices are
going to be heard," Lowry said, "and after years of very, very serious
neglect and abuse, the system is finally going to serve these children's
needs and protect these children." (Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL),
August 29, 2000)

FRANK E. BEST: 'Never on Sunday' Does Not Apply in Merger World
In an issue of first impression ruling, Vice Chancellor Leo Strine decided
that when the last of the 20 days a shareholder has for demanding appraisal
of stock falls on a Sunday, a shareholder who waits until Monday to make
that demand is out of luck and out of court. Nelson v. Frank E. Best Inc.
(Delaware Corporate Litigation Reporter, August 7, 2000)

GEORGIA POWER: Attorneys Move Employee Racial Bias Suit To Federal Court
for Georgia Power Co. on Monday moved an employee racial discrimination
lawsuit from Fulton County Superior Court to U.S. District Court. Moving
the case to federal court could restrict attorneys on both sides from
communicating with members of the potential class because of a rule for the
Northern District of Georgia that prohibits such communication without
court approval.

Federal court is "the most appropriate venue'' for the lawsuit, given that
violations of federal civil rights statutes are alleged, said company
spokesman Todd Terrell. "We fully expected this,'' said Steven J.
Rosenwasser, an attorney for the employees, who said his legal team does
not object to the change.

In a lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court July 27, three Georgia
Power Co. employees alleged the utility and its parent, Southern Co.,
foster a "pattern of discriminating against African-Americans'' who work
there and show "reckless indifference'' to a racially hostile workplace.

The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status to represent 2,100 African-
American employees.

Last week four more employees of Georgia Power and other Southern Co.
subsidiaries joined the lawsuit. Terrell said Georgia Power will file its
official response to the allegations in federal court by a Sept. 15
deadline. (The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, August 29, 2000)

GTECH HOLDINGS: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in Rhode Island
law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP announces that a class
action lawsuit was filed on August 25, 2000, on behalf of purchasers of the
securities of GTECH Holdings Corporation ("GTECH" or the "Company") (NYSE:
GTK) between, April 11, 2000 and July 25, 2000 inclusive. A copy of the
complaint filed in this action is available from the Court, or can be
viewed on Milberg Weiss' website at: http://www.milberg.com/gtech/

The action, numbered 00 413L, is pending in the United States District
Court, District of Rhode Island, located at Federal Building and U.S.
Courthouse, Two Exchange Terrace, Providence, RI 02903 against defendants
GTECH Holdings Corporation, William Y. O'Connor (Chairman and CEO of GTECH
until July 6, 2000) and W. Bruce Turner (Chairman as of July 6, 2000). The
Honorable Ronald R. Lagueux is the Judge presiding over the case.

The complaint alleges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder,
by issuing a series of material misrepresentations and omissions to the
market between April 25, 2000 and July 25, 2000. For example, as alleged in
the complaint, the defendants failed to disclose (i) that GTECH was
suffering from an inability to close significant contracts, including
contracts in Columbia, Italy, Portugal and Asia; (ii) that GTECH's
inability to close contracts would negatively impact revenues by as much as
$48 million dollars; (iii) that the Company's projections of success were
lacking in a reasonable basis at all times because of defendants' inability
to close the contracts GTECH highlighted during the Class Period; and (iv)
that costs at GTECH were climbing at an alarming rate which in turn had
significantly reduced earnings.

Contact: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP, New York Steven G.
Schulman or Samuel H. Rudman 800/320-5081 GTECHcase@milbergNY.com

MEDIA VISION: Former Chief Executive Pleaded Guilty to Securities Fraud
With an oft-delayed trial date drawing near, the former chief executive of
Media Vision Technology Inc. has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges in
connection with one of Silicon Valley's biggest corporate scandals.

Paul Jain, who presided over Media Vision's spectacular crash into
financial ruin in the early 1990s, entered his plea during a hastily
arranged hearing last Friday in federal court in Oakland. The plea deal,
which could still expose Jain to a lengthy prison term, draws the Media
Vision saga closer to finality after seven years of investigations,
lawsuits and indictments that resulted from the Fremont company's collapse.

By admitting his role in inflating company profits, Jain became the fourth
top Media Vision official to cut a deal with federal prosecutors, avoiding
a trial that is scheduled to begin Sept. 18. The only target left standing
is Steven Allan, the company's former chief financial officer and
apparently the sole defendant who will face a jury to answer charges that
he instigated a massive securities fraud that cost investors tens of
millions of dollars.

Jain, 55, of Berkeley, was indicted two years ago for fraud, money
laundering and insider trading, one of the few securities fraud cases in
Northern California to result in criminal charges. The Securities and
Exchange Commission also has filed a civil complaint against Jain, Allan
and other former company officials.

"It's been six and a half years and Mr. Jain is prepared now and has come
to grips with what happened," said Richard Pachter, one of the Sacramento
attorneys representing Jain. "He fully and completely accepts
responsibility for his part of what happened and wants to move forward with
his life and accept the consequences of his actions."

Under the terms of the plea deal, Jain has agreed to cooperate with the
government, including testifying at Allan's upcoming trial. Based on the
eight-page plea agreement between Jain and the U.S. attorney's office,
Allan has emerged as the principal villain in the investigation into what
happened at Media Vision, a once-flourishing company that established
itself as a leading provider of multimedia kits and sound boards.

While Jain admits substantial involvement in a corporate plot to defraud
investors by cooking the company's books, he depicts Allan as the one who
devised a way to dupe investors, auditors and securities regulators through
an elaborate accounting scam.

The original indictment in the case alleged that Jain and Allan falsely
inflated the company's revenues and profits in 1993, creating phony sales
and false inventory and then hiding millions of dollars in returned
products from the books. Jain, in his plea agreement, admits to helping
create $ 6 million in false inventory to boost profits, and to helping
conceal millions in returned inventory from auditors.

However, Jain states in his plea agreement that Allan created the scheme,
shortly after an early 1994 meeting at which it became clear Media Vision
was going to fall short on its revenues.

Court papers filed by prosecutors last week in Allan's case maintain that
Media Vision's market worth fell $ 200 million between March 1994 and May
1994 as information trickled out about the company's plight. In May, Media
Vision disclosed its problems and terminated Jain, Allan and other

Media Vision filed for bankruptcy later in the year. It has been
reorganized under different management as Aureal Semiconductor Inc.
Two years ago, Rains told the Mercury News: "Steve is not the person who is
responsible for the problems that occurred at Media Vision."

Jain's cooperation against Allan could help reduce his prison sentence, but
there is likely to be legal wrangling over his ultimate punishment. The
plea deal does not spell out the sentence which, under federal guidelines,
often depends in white collar cases on how much money was lost by victims.

In court papers, prosecutors suggest that the price tag for the Media
Vision fraud was the $ 200 million market loss. That could expose Jain to a
sentence of as much as seven to nine years. Jain, who was alleged to have
illegally reaped $ 1.49 million in profits on insider trading, also faces a
substantial fine that was not specified in the plea agreement.

Jain is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 1.

Pachter, Jain's lawyer, would not say what he will suggest for Jain's
sentence, but does not agree with the government's assessment of the price
tag for the fraud. A class action lawsuit against Media Vision resulted in
a $ 28 million settlement for investors. "That is certainly something we
are looking at," Pachter said of the sentence. "It's a complicated issue."

The closest precedent in a Bay Area securities fraud case involved two
former executives of California Micro Devices, who were convicted and
sentenced to about three years in prison, despite a government request for
much longer prison terms. But a federal appeals court ordered a new trial
in that case.

Federal prosecutors here are currently probing two other securities fraud
cases that may overshadow the Cal Micro and Media Vision cases, according
to securities filings and lawyers familiar with the investigations.

There is an ongoing criminal investigation into the Informix Corp., a
troubled Menlo Park software company that already has paid more than $ 100
million to settle securities fraud lawsuits. The other case involves San
Francisco-based McKesson HBOC Inc., the nation's largest drug wholesaler,
accused in securities fraud lawsuits of major accounting irregularities
that forced the company to restate billions of dollars in revenue last
year. (San Jose Mercury News, August 29, 2000)

PEPSIAMERICAS, INC: Investors’ Suit Seeks to Enjoin Whitman Transaction
PepsiAmericas, Inc. (NYSE: PAS) announced that a purported class action
lawsuit has been filed in the District Court in Hennepin County Minnesota
seeking primarily to enjoin the merger of PepsiAmericas and Whitman

The complaint, which was filed by Randy Cox, a purported stockholder of
PepsiAmericas, names PepsiAmericas, Dakota Holdings, LLC and the directors
of PepsiAmericas as defendants. The complaint alleges that the
consideration to be paid to the public shareholders of PepsiAmericas in the
merger is unfair and inadequate. The plaintiff seeks, among other things,
class action certification, a declaration that the merger agreement with
Whitman is unenforceable, and preliminary and permanent injunction from
proceeding with or closing the proposed merger unless and until
PepsiAmericas implements a procedure to obtain the highest price for its

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Meaning of Agreement with Flight Attendants Disputed
Three years after tobacco companies and hundreds of flight attendants who
claimed health problems from secondhand smoke signed a landmark settlement,
the two sides now are disputing the meaning of that agreement.

Attorneys representing hundreds of flight attendants accuse Big Tobacco of
trying to unravel the settlement. Should that happen, they say, it could
take more than 200 years to get all of their secondhand-smoke cases to

During a hearing last week, lawyers for the 800 or so flight attendants who
have filed suit so far told Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Robert Kaye that Big
Tobacco wants to rehash all of the issues relating to liability, negligence
and breach of warranty -- issues the flight attendants attorneys claim were
resolved by the 1997 settlement. To add insult to injury, the attorneys
say, the tobacco companies want those plaintiffs who are not Florida
residents to post a $ 100 bond, a demand they say would cost up to $
200,000, should the number of suits filed reach the expected 2,000.

I think they are going to attack every aspect of the case they can, said
Miles McGrane, whose Miami firm represents several hundred flight
attendants who claim secondhand smoke on board flights made them sick. I
think it goes back to the fact that they are surprised Stanley [Rosenblatt,
the attorney who originally won the settlement on behalf of the flight
attendants] was able to find six firms to take these cases.

Not so, say attorneys hired to represent Big Tobacco.

We are asking them to do what they would do in any normal case. You must
prove liability, causation and damages, and thats what was contemplated
under the settlement agreement, said Anthony Upshaw, who represents
cigarette maker Brown & Williamson, one of the named defendants. Other
defendants are Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Lorillard Tobacco.

The dispute revolves around the interpretation of a settlement agreement
signed by cigarette manufacturers and flight attendants. It grew out of a
multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit filed in 1991 by Miami lawyers
Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt, who, in July, won an unrelated $ 145 billion
lawsuit against the tobacco industry on behalf of Florida smokers. The
flight attendants suit, filed in 1991, was filed on behalf of all former
and current nonsmoking flight attendants who suffered serious health
problems as a result of exposure to cigarette smoke from passengers who
were allowed to light up in airline cabins.

For six years, the Rosenblatts fought to bring the flight attendants case
to trial. But in 1997 they agreed to a deal. Though the flight attendants
would get no money, the agreement would allow them to file suit
individually. As part of the agreement, the tobacco companies also waived
the statute of limitations for future lawsuits, a huge concession in the
eyes of cigarette makers and many outside observers. It also provided $ 300
million in funding for research into secondhand smoke and shifted the
burden of proof to the defendants to show that secondhand smoke did not
cause the flight attendants lung cancer, pulmonary disease, bronchitis,
sinusitis or emphysema.

Our point is that once we prove that the plaintiffs diseases were caused by
[secondhand smoke], then they are liable, said Steve Hunter, another
attorney who represents the flight attendants.

Attorneys for Big Tobacco, however, say that liability still must be proven
in court. They point to the second page of the settlement agreement, which
reads, in part, that the agreement shall not be deemed or construed to be
an admission or evidence of any violation of any statute or law or of any
liability or wrongdoing by any defendant.

The row between the two sides erupted further over the question of
requiring each plaintiff who doesnt live in Florida to post a $ 100 bond.
The request is in keeping with a state law that dates back to 1828 and
requires non-Florida residents who are plaintiffs in a case to post bond.
Marvin Weinstein, another attorney representing the flight attendants,
called the demand mean-spirited, ludicrous, and a violation of the spirit
of the settlement agreement.

Weinstein argued that the law is unconstitutional because it violates a
plaintiffs right to due process and open access to the courts. Weinstein
delivered a 15-minute diatribe outlining the history of the law, the
reasons it existed and the numerous challenges to its constitutionality.

My initial reaction is wow, said Douglas Chumbley, one of the attorneys
representing Big Tobacco, after Weinstein finished. I didnt know it would
engender such a reaction. I wasnt here in 1828, but I am here in the year
2000 and that statute is still on the books and it is Florida law.

While Kaye said Weinstein made a persuasive argument, he asked that both
sides file further legal arguments on the issues and told them to return in
about two weeks to hash them out.

Although the individual suits will be heard by numerous judges, Kaye, who
helped to engineer the settlement agreement, is the appointed referee in
any common disputes that may arise before the cases go to trial.

We have to figure out what the trial will look like. In order to do that,
we have to thrash out these issues, said Kaye.

Consequently, the first case expected to go to trial -- that of 71-year-old
Sonoma, Calif., resident Bland Lane -- has been postponed from its
scheduled trial date in October, said McGrane. (BROWARD DAILY BUSINESS
REVIEW, August 29, 2000)

VETERINARY CENTERS: Suits Filed in DE over Proposed Merger with Recap
On August 11, 2000, Veterinary Centers of America Inc. entered into an
Amended and Restated Agreement and Plan of Merger with Vicar Recap, Inc., a
Delaware corporation and wholly owned by Green Equity Investors III, L.P.,
and Vicar Operating Company, Inc., a Delaware corporation and wholly owned
subsidiary of the Company.

Six complaints have been filed relating to the Merger. The Company and
members of the Board of Directors have been named as defendants in class
actions lawsuits filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery and the California
Superior Court.

According to the terms of the Merger Agreement, the Company will be merged
with and into Recap, with the Company as the surviving corporation (the
"Merger"). In the Merger, each outstanding share of the Company's stock,
par value $.001 per share, (other than shares held by certain members of
management and employees that are retained as shares of the surviving
company, shares held by dissenting stockholders, Recap, GEIII and in the
Company's treasury) will be converted into the right to receive a cash
payment of $15.00, without interest. Certain members of management and
employees of the Company will retain shares of common stock of the Company
as common stock of the surviving corporation or provide other consideration
of equivalent value to acquire, in aggregate, approximately 266,666 shares
of common stock of the surviving company. The Board of Directors, relying
on the recommendation of a special committee of the Board of Directors,
comprised of directors who have no financial interest in the Merger that is
different from the interests of the company's public stockholders,
unanimously approved the Merger Agreement. The Merger is subject to
stockholder approval and other customary closing conditions.

Completion of the proposed Merger is subject to, among other things, the
condition that all financing necessary in connection with the completion of
the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement shall have been
obtained. The total amount expected to be required is approximately $540
million, to be comprised of approximately $251 million of credit
facilities, $120 million of debentures, $156 million of equity
contributions and $13 million of cash from the Company.

While the allegations contained in each complaint are not identical, the
complaints generally assert that the $15.00 per share price to be paid to
Veterinary Centers' public stockholders is inadequate and does not
represent the value of the assets and future prospects of the Company. The
complaints also generally allege that the defendants engaged in
self-dealing without regard to conflicts of interest and that the
defendants breached their fiduciary duties in approving the Merger

The complaints seek certification of a class of all our stockholders whose
stock will be acquired in connection with the Merger and seek injunctive
relief that would, if granted, prevent the completion of the Merger. The
complaints also seek unspecified damages, attorneys' fees and other relief.
The company claims that the allegations contained in the complaints are
without merit and intend to contest the actions vigorously. The individual
defendants have advised the company that they also believe that the
allegations in the complaints are without merit and that they intend to
contest the actions vigorously.

Regardless of whether the Merger is consummated or the outcome of the
lawsuits, the Company may incur significant related expenses and costs that
could have an adverse effect on the Company's business and operations.


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, Managing Editor.

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

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