/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/000921.MBX                C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

             Thursday, September 21, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 184


AUTOMOBILE DEFECTS: Sp Ct in TX Reverses Interlocutory Ruling on Cert.
BOSTON CELTICS: 1998 Suits over Reorganization Consolidated and Pending
BRIDGESTONE, FORD: Turn to Lawyers for Advice in Heat of Tire Problem
CANDIE'S INC: SEC Investigates on Acquisition of Michael Caruso
CANDIE'S INC: Settlement for Securities Suit Filed 1999 in NY Finalised

CRAYFISH CO: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in New York
FED GOVT: Doctors Sue over License Loss for Recommending Marijuana Use
GAMETECH INTERNATIONAL: Settles Securities Complaints in Arizona
GEORGI, SOUTHERN: Seeks Dismissal Of Employment Racism Suit
GIRL SCOUTS: Lawyer to Seek Class Status for Discrimination against Male

GUN MANUFACTURERS: Circuit Judge Dismisses Landmark Suit in Chicago
INMATES LITIGATION: PA Judge Closes Book on Overcrowdedness under PLRA
MARCOS: Victims Want Philippine Ct to Modify Decision on Swiss Accounts
MERRILL CORP: Awaits Finalisation of Settlement for Viking Merger Deal
MIKASA INC: Proposed Merger Contemplates Stock Conversion; Investors Sue

MP3.COM, INC: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in California
NATION'S BURGER: Ex-Manager Sues Chain Seeking Overtime Pay
NY CITY: Judge's Ruling Puts AIDS Agency under U.S. Monitor on Services
P&O: Passengers Who Fell Ill on Aussi Cruises Consider Lawsuit
PLACER NIUGINI: Decries Merit of Claims over Gold Mine Poisonous Waste

STEWART ENTERPRISES: Contests Securities Suits over Stock Offering
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Philip Morris Replaces Global Tobacco Chief


AUTOMOBILE DEFECTS: Sp Ct in TX Reverses Interlocutory Ruling on Cert.
Automobile purchasers initiated a class-action suit in a Texas court
alleging intentional concealment by manufacturers and dealers of production
defects which cause paint to peel and flake on certain trucks. Defendants
took an interlocutory appeal of the trial court's certification of the
class. An intermediate appellate court affirmed the class certification
decision with slight modifications. Defendants appealed to the Texas
Supreme Court under a statute making an exception to the general rule that
interlocutory rulings may not be challenged in the high court. The statute
allows for Supreme Court review of any interlocutory decisions concerning
class-certification in actions where a motor vehicle licencee is named as a
defendant. Plaintiffs challenged the court's jurisdiction to hear the
appeal on the ground that the statute was unconstitutional special
legislation. The Texas Supreme Court rejected that challenge.

Article III, @ 56 of the Texas Constitution prohibits the enactment of a
special law "[regulating] the practice or jurisdiction of . . . any
judicial proceeding or inquiry before courts." Special laws, defined as
those that are limited to a particular class of persons distinguished by
some characteristic other than geography, are valid only if there is a
reasonable basis for their passage and if they operate equally on all
within the class. The Court found the statute valid because it was
reasonable for the legislature to mark class actions involving motor
vehicle licensees for special treatment. The Court noted that a large
number of people in Texas own automobiles and will be affected by suits
against motor vehicle licensees, and that automobiles have often been the
subject of class action suits. These facts, as well as the fact that the
statute applies equally to all members of the class, supported the
conclusion that the law is valid. On the merits, the Court found the
certification to be improper. One Justice dissented. [Ford Motor Co. v.
Sheldon, 2000 Tex. LEXIS 48 (May 11, 2000)] (State Constitutional Law
Bulletin, July 2000)

BOSTON CELTICS: 1998 Suits over Reorganization Consolidated and Pending
As a member of the NBA, Celtics Basketball is a defendant along with the
other NBA members in various lawsuits incidental to the NBA's basketball
operations. Celtics Basketball will generally be liable, jointly and
severally, with all other members of the NBA for the costs of defending
such lawsuits and any liabilities of the NBA which might result from such
lawsuits. From time to time, the Partnership may become a party to legal
proceedings arising in the ordinary course of business.

In July and August 1998, four separate class action complaints were filed
by Boston Celtics Limited Partnership Unitholders in the Court of Chancery
of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County against BCLP II,
Celtics, Inc., Paul E. Gaston, Don F. Gaston, Paula B. Gaston, John H.M.
Leithead and John B. Marsh III, each a director or former director of
Celtics, Inc. BCLP II GP, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Celtics,
Inc. The named plaintiffs, who each purported to bring their individual
actions on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, are Kenneth
L. Rilander, Harbor Finance Partners, Maryann Kelly and Kathleen Kruse

Each of the Complaints alleges, among other things, that the Reorganization
was unfair to former BCLP II Unitholders, and seeks to recover an
unspecified amount of damages, including attorneys' and experts' fees and
expenses. The Partnership filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint filed by
Mr. Rilander on July 29, 1998, and discovery in that case has been stayed
by agreement of the parties. The Complaints have been consolidated. On
August 6, 1999, the Court of Chancery issued an opinion granting in part,
and denying in part, the Partnership's Motion to Dismiss, and on September
3, 1999, the plaintiffs filed an amended consolidated Complaint. On October
1, 1999, the Partnership filed an answer to the Complaint.

Although the ultimate outcome of the Complaint cannot be determined at this
time, management of the Partnership does not believe that the outcome of
these proceedings will have a material adverse effect on the Partnership's
financial position or results of operations.

BRIDGESTONE, FORD: Turn to Lawyers for Advice in Heat of Tire Problem
As Department of Transportation regulators and members of Congress have
turned up the heat on Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone/Firestone in the
wake of its Aug. 9 recall of 6.5 million tires fitted for Ford Explorers,
lawyers by the car-load have been engaged to help Bridgestone and Ford.

To address the growing array of public safety, customer relations and
products liability concerns, Firestone has turned to General Counsel Saul
Solomon, in the job only since mid-August, to round up advice. Counseling
the company on the congressional investigations and regulatory issues are
Washington, D.C., lawyers Victor Schwartz and Mark Behrens, of Crowell &
Moring; Theodore Hester, of Atlanta's King & Spalding; Gerry Sikorski, of
Holland & Knight L.L.P.; and Howard Baker Jr., George Cramwell Montgomery
and James Range, of Memphis, Tenn.'s Baker, Denelson, Bearman & Caldwell
P.C.; as well as Frances Prell and Colin Smith, of Holland & Knight's
Chicago office.

Meanwhile, Hugh Whiting, of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pegue, is advising on
class actions, and Aubrey Harwell, of Nashville's Neal & Harwell, is
providing advice on an array of matters. Besides pitching in with Congress,
Mr. Smith and Ms. Prell are spear-heading outside counsel work on the
personal injury suits, and Mr. Smith is advising on DOT issues. Reflecting
the tenor of the times, Mr. Smith said, "I'm not sure what I'm doing

For Ford, Group Vice President and Chief of Staff John Rintamaki, Deputy
General Counsel Richard Manetta, Asst. General Counsel John Mellen and
Asst. General Counsel Rob Biskup are advising the company on its response,
along with John Beisner, Lee Blaylock and A. B. Culvahouse Jr., of the
Washington, D.C., office of O'Melveny & Myers L.L.P. Jack Trigg, of
Denver's Wheeler Trigg & Kennedy, and Warren Platt, of Phoenix's Snell &
Wilmer L.L.P., are assisting in the case. (The National Law Journal,
September 18, 2000)

CANDIE'S INC: SEC Investigates on Acquisition of Michael Caruso
On August 4, 1999, the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission
advised the Company that it had commenced a formal investigation into the
actions of the Company and others in connection with, among other things,
the accounting issues that have been raised and that were the subject of an
investigation of the Special Committee of the Company's Board of Directors.

In connection with the Company's acquisition of Michael Caruso & Co., Inc
("Caruso") in September 1998, the Company made certain representations and
warranties concerning, among other things, its financial statements which
could result in a claim being made by the former stockholders of Caruso
against the Company. The Company is unable to determine the amount of the
liability, if any, which could arise if any claim were made by such

CANDIE'S INC: Settlement for Securities Suit Filed 1999 in NY Finalised
On May 17, 1999, a purported stockholder class action complaint was filed
in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York,
against the Company and certain of its current and former officers and
directors, which together with certain other complaints subsequently filed
in the same court alleging similar violations were consolidated in one
lawsuit, Willow Creek Capital Partners, L.P., v. Candie's, Inc. A
consolidated complaint was served on the Company on or about August 24,
1999. The consolidated complaint included claims under sections 11, 12 and
15 of the Securities Act of 1933 and sections 10(b) and 20(a) and Rule
10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

On or about January 31, 2000, the Company entered into a settlement
agreement with the plaintiffs to settle the class action for total
consideration of $10 million, payable in a combination of $4.0 million in
cash and shares of the Company's common stock and convertible preferred
stock. On July 7, 2000 a hearing was conducted by the court and on July 12,
2000, the court entered a final Judgment and Order of Dismissal approving
the settlement. On or before October 1, 2000, the Company is required to
make the final cash payment of $1.0 million.

CRAYFISH CO: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Suit in New York
The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP announces that a
class action lawsuit was filed on September 18, 2000, on behalf of all
persons who purchased the securities of Crayfish Co., Ltd. (Nasdaq: CRFH)
pursuant or traceable to the Company's March 8, 2000, initial public
offering and through August 22, 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/crayfish/

The action is pending in the United States District Court, Southern
District of New York, located at 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York
10007, against defendants Crayfish, Isao Matsushima, Atsuhiro Kumagai,
Hiroshi Miyazawa, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Nomura Securities
International, Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and Hikari Tsushin, Inc.

The complaint alleges that defendants violated Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15
of the Securities Act of 1933 by issuing a materially false and misleading
Registration Statement and Prospectus. As alleged in the complaint, the
Prospectus highlighted the Company's relationship with Hikari Tsushin, Inc.
("Hikari"). The complaint alleges that the Prospectus was materially false
and misleading because it failed to disclose: (i) that Hikari was suffering
from a massive decline in its business which would necessarily impact the
future profitability of Crayfish. The business decline at Hikari was
significant and pronounced and, as a result, Hikari was considering a
restructuring and consolidation of its business operations; (ii) that
Hikari's business decline was distracting it from selling Crayfish
products. Accordingly, the Company was subject to increased risk and
uncertainty as its only sales agent was in disarray; and (iii) as a result
of the foregoing, defendants' statements, opinions and projections about
the Company were lacking in a reasonable basis at all times.

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

FED GOVT: Doctors Sue over License Loss for Recommending Marijuana Use
The Clinton administration's three-year battle to prevent the use of
marijuana as medicine as allowed under California law got a well-deserved
rebuke this month. A federal judge wisely ruled that the administration
could not punish doctors who recommend the benefits of marijuana to their
patients. Such a policy, wrote Judge William Alsup, raises "severe First
Amendment doubts."

Proposition 215, approved by voters in California in 1996, made it legal
for seriously ill patients to obtain and use marijuana when that therapy
was recommended by a doctor. Seven other states have since enacted similar
measures. Marijuana possession remains illegal under federal drug laws. But
the federal government seldom prosecutes medical marijuana users because
the quantities are small and juries tend to sympathize with seriously ill
individuals. Instead the administration has tried to circumvent the
California law by threatening doctors who recommend marijuana with the loss
of their federal licenses to prescribe drugs.

A class action was brought by California doctors and AIDS and cancer
patients who want to use marijuana to curb nausea and weight loss. The suit
charged the federal government with interfering with patient-doctor
communications and violating free speech rights. Judge Alsup ruled that the
federal government could not revoke drug licenses merely because a doctor
makes a legitimate medical judgment, even if the doctor's recommendation
could then be used by a patient to obtain marijuana under Proposition 215
in violation of federal law. As the judge sensibly noted, a doctor may well
make a recommendation for marijuana without leading anyone to commit a
federal crime. A patient armed with that recommendation might lobby for a
change in federal drug laws, or enroll in a federally approved experimental
marijuana therapy program, or even travel to a country where medical
marijuana use is legal. Besides, it is the patient and not the doctor who
procures the drug.

Last year a report by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National
Academy of Sciences, found that ingredients in marijuana can be effective
for treating some symptoms associated with AIDS. It recommended development
of better delivery systems, such as inhalers or patches. In the interim, it
said that people who do not respond to other therapies should be allowed to
smoke marijuana in controlled situations. The Clinton administration should
stop threatening doctors and make marijuana available to sick individuals
who need relief. (The New York Times September 20, 2000)

GAMETECH INTERNATIONAL: Settles Securities Complaints in Arizona
On February 13, 1998, a purported securities class action complaint, WEISS
V. GAMETECH INTERNATIONAL, INC., No. 98-0268 PHX-ROS, was filed in the
United States District Court for the District of Arizona against the
Company and certain officers and directors alleging that defendants
violated Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 by making false
misleading statements and omissions in the Company's Form S-1 Registration
Statement in connection with the Company's public offering on November 25,
1997. Two other complaints making nearly identical factual allegations have
been consolidated with the WEISS action for all purposes as IN RE GAMETECH,
INC. SECURITIES LITIGATION, Master File No. Civ. 98-0268 PHX-ROS. On July
17, 1998, the Court appointed "lead plaintiff" and co-lead counsel.

On September 21, 1998, plaintiffs filed a consolidated complaint, alleging
a claim against the Company and the individual defendants under Section 11
of the Securities Act and a claim against the individual defendants under
Section 15 of the Securities Act, based upon the conduct alleged in the
original complaints. Plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount of damages.

On November 5, 1998, defendants moved to dismiss the complaint. On June 3,
1999 Defendants' motion to dismiss was granted in part and denied in part
by the Court. A stipulation of settlement has been filed with the Court
pursuant to which the Company and plaintiffs have agreed to settlement. The
Court approved full and final settlement of the complaint on September 8,

GEORGI, SOUTHERN: Seeks Dismissal Of Employment Racism Suit
Georgia Power Co. has asked a federal judge to dismiss a prospective class
action racial discrimination lawsuit against the utility.

The utility urged U.S. District Judge Orinda Evans to decide "on their own
merits'' racial discrimination claims of seven employees who sued the
company July 27. But the judge should deny their motion for certification
of a class action on behalf of all 2,100 African-Americans who have worked
for the utility and parent Southern Co. since July 1998, attorneys for
Georgia Power said.

A class action "is not appropriate in this case,'' the attorneys said in a
brief filed late Monday, citing a series of legal arguments and precedents.

For example, the lawyers cited a 1982 federal decision that held that "the
mere fact that an aggrieved party is a member of an identifiable class of
persons of the same race or national origin is insufficient to establish
his standing to litigate on their behalf all possible claims of
discrimination against a possible employer.''

The brief says a denial of class action status "will not preclude any other
individual from bringing his or her own claims.''

Steven Rosenwasser, attorney for the seven employees who filed the lawsuit,
Tuesday called the company's motion "nothing short of an attempt to prevent
African-American employees from exercising their civil rights

The lawsuit alleges that Georgia Power and Southern Co. foster a "pattern
of discriminating against African-Americans'' and shows a "reckless
indifference'' to a racially hostile workplace. The company has denied any
acts of unlawful discrimination or harassment. (The Atlanta Journal and
Constitution, September 20, 2000)

The Electricity Daily reports that the case on racial discrimination
against Georgia Power and its parent Southern Co. continues to cause public
relations and legal headaches for the Atlanta firms.

This past weekend, a downtown rally brought protestors shaking their fists
and carrying placards across from Georgia Power s corporate office tower.
Although the demonstration had fewer than 100 protestors, it received
coverage in the Atlanta newspapers and on local television. The rally was
in response to Georgia Power s recent filing in federal court in Atlanta,
in which the company answered the lawsuit. Six of the seven
African-American employees who filed suit attended the rally.

"For those of you who don t know what a glass ceiling is, turn around 180
degrees and look to the top," said Michael Edwards, a 13-year employee and
one of the plaintiffs, told the crowd, standing before the shining
corporate tower. "You ll never get there. ... They pay us less money for
doing the same jobs as our white counterparts." In response, the crowd
bellowed, "Southern style!" (The Electricity Daily, September 20, 2000)

GIRL SCOUTS: Lawyer to Seek Class Status for Discrimination against Male
A graphic designer for the Girl Scouts has filed a discrimination lawsuit
alleging that the organization denied him job promotions because of his
gender, according to court records made public yesterday.

Joseph Picca's lawsuit says that in his 15 years working at the Girl
Scouts' New York headquarters, he was denied one promotion and barred from
applying for two others.

Leonard Flamm, Picca's lawyer, said he will seek class action status for
the case to include the approximately 115 male employees at Girl Scouts
corporate headquarters. It will not include the numerous councils across
the nation that deal directly with scouting activity, he said.

Ten women and one man in the New York office are listed in Picca's
documents as having been appointed or promoted to positions senior to his
since 1988. The lone man, promoted in 1997, was fired in 1999, papers say.

Of the 14 employees in the graphics department where Picca designs
brochures and other materials, three are men, records say. The lawsuit says
the department's 11 women hold positions equal to or senior to Picca's,
whereas only one man does.

The Girl Scouts' "glass ceiling practices" have caused Picca "pain and
suffering," court papers say. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Girl Scouts spokeswoman Ellen Christie said she had not seen Picca's
lawsuit and could not comment on it directly. She said few organizations
work as hard as the Girl Scouts to ensure diversity and fairness in hiring
and promoting--in terms of race, ethnicity and gender. (The Washington
Post, September 20, 2000)

GUN MANUFACTURERS: Circuit Judge Dismisses Landmark Suit in Chicago
According to AP news from Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley's $433 million
lawsuit against the firearms industry was dismissed last week by Cook
County Circuit Judge Stephen Schiller who said the mayor might do better to
combat city crime through law enforcement methods and legislation. Judge
Schiller said the statistics represent the kind of evidence that calls for
legislation rather than court action. The city's statistics show that many
guns used in gang shootings in Chicago have actually been purchased at
suburban gun shops, many by so-called straw purchasers who bought them for
resale to criminals.

Daley pledged to appeal the decision and said Schiller, a former Criminal
Court judge, should have understood the need for the lawsuit. ``Who in his
right mind is going to be having this on the street in front of your
child?'' he said, holding up a rifle.

Daley also pledged to carry the fight to the Legislature this fall in an
effort to make sure there is state licensing of gun shops and a limit of
one gun purchase per month per person.
More than 30 cities and counties across the country have filed lawsuits
against the firearms industry, with mixed results. Last October, a state
judge allowed Atlanta's lawsuit to proceed, while an Ohio judge dismissed
Cincinnati's lawsuit.

Daley's lawsuit was filed in November 1998 following an undercover
investigation by Chicago police officers who posed as straw purchasers _
people with state firearms owners identification cards who buy guns for
those who lack such cards, usually because they have criminal records and
are ineligible. Daley said the $433 million was related to the cost of
police, medical and other services over a four-year period. Named as
defendants were 22 gun manufacturers, including such major names as
Beretta, Colt, Smith & Wesson and Browning.

James Valentino, an attorney for defendant Universal Firearms Ltd., said
the decision was important for all businesses, not just gun makers.  ``If
the manufacturer of a product can be held liable because somebody uses his
product illegally, then no manufacturer is safe,'' he said. He said police
should concentrate their efforts on straw purchasers.

INMATES LITIGATION: PA Judge Closes Book on Overcrowdedness under PLRA
Senior U.S. District Judge Norma L. Shapiro has officially closed the books
on Harris v. City of Philadelphia, the prison overcrowding lawsuit that has
been on her docket since 1982, by approving a final class action settlement
that will send future disputes to an arbitrator, at least for the next two

Judge Shapiro made it clear in her opinion that she was ending the case
only because the city now has the power to end it unilaterally -- by
invoking the provision in the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 (PLRA)
that allows defendants simply to call for an immediate termination of any
pending consent decree.

"It is with some concern that the court will approve this settlement. After
18 years, the population of the Philadelphia Prison System has nearly
doubled. Although new facilities have been, and are being built, they are
immediately filled beyond capacity," Judge Shapiro wrote. "Why then is this
a fair settlement?" Judge Shapiro asked. "The answer lies in the PLRA."

In the PLRA, Judge Shapiro said, Congress "decreed that a federal court
should not enforce legitimate consent decrees entered voluntarily by states
and municipalities unless it found unconstitutional conditions." That
limitation, she said, makes the two consent decrees in Harris "possibly
unenforceable if challenged."

In the 18 years that she has had the case, Judge Shapiro said, the
conditions in the Philadelphia prison system "have improved in some
respects under court supervision." As a result, she said, if the city
invoked the PLRA provision to end the consent decrees, the court would have
just 90 days to decide whether the current conditions are unconstitutional.
At the time the lawsuit was filed, Judge Shapiro said, "there is no doubt"
that the conditions in the Philadelphia prison system were
unconstitutional. "But the improvements over the ensuing years make the
result of a present challenge unclear," she wrote.

The settlement agreement provides for continued monitoring of conditions by
consultants to be hired by the city, and requires that the city fund some
House of Correction maintenance. The consultants will report to the city
solicitor and to the prison board of trustees. (The National Law Journal,
September 18, 2000)

MARCOS: Victims Want Philippine Ct to Modify Decision on Swiss Accounts
Victims of human rights abuses under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos
said Wednesday they will ask an anti-graft court to modify a decision on
Marcos' dlrs 627 million Swiss deposits so that some of the money can
compensate them.

In a ruling Tuesday, the anti-graft Sandiganbayan court said Marcos and his
family could not have amassed that much money legally and declared that the
Swiss deposits should be transferred to the government.

Selda, a group representing most of the 9,539 Filipinos who won a class
action lawsuit against Marcos' estate for human rights abuses, hailed the
court's ruling.

The human rights plaintiffs have been awarded dlrs 2 billion in damages by
the U.S. District Court in Hawaii, but Marcos' family claims it does not
have that amount.

The group said it will ask the Sandiganbayan to modify its ruling to call
on the government to set aside at least one-third of the money in the Swiss
accounts to compensate the human rights victims.

If the government obtains the money, it would be the largest amount ever
recovered from the billions of dollars Marcos and his wife, Imelda, are
alleged to have amassed during his 20 years in power.

''It's a positive first step for the government because it's an important
victory,'' said presidential Press Secretary Ricardo Puno.

Puno said it is premature to discuss how the money should be used since the
decision can still be appealed by the Marcoses and a law specifies that all
wealth recovered from the former president should fund land reform.

''We will have to see whether the law is in any way amended, otherwise the
government will have to comply with what the law says,'' Puno said.

Sandiganbayan Justice Catalino Castaneda Jr. said the decision was based on
the court's finding that the Swiss deposits were ''grossly disproportionate
to the salaries of the Marcos couple during the period of their
incumbencies'' and therefore were presumed to have been unlawfully

The Marcos family did not present evidence that the funds were legally
acquired and even said the money didn't belong to Marcos, Castaneda said.

Human rights lawyer Romeo Capulong, who represents Selda, said the ruling
is ''legally advantageous'' to the victims because they need not be tied to
a proposed dlrs 150 million settlement with the Marcoses.

The group had earlier rejected the settlement, saying it would have
absolved the Marcoses of misdeeds.

Marcos was president from 1966 until a popular revolt ousted him in
February 1986. He and his family were driven into exile in Hawaii, where he
died three years later without admitting any wrongdoing.

The court determined that the combined salaries of Marcos and his wife, who
served as governor of metropolitan Manila and as minister of human
settlements, were equivalent to only dlrs 304,300 over his 20-year

The Swiss bank deposits, which were transferred to an escrow account in the
Philippine National Bank in Manila, amounted to about dlrs 356 million when
they were discovered shortly after Marcos was toppled. Interest payments
have increased that to about dlrs 627 million.

The Swiss Federal Supreme Court has ruled that the money can be released to
the Philippine government if Imelda Marcos is convicted of criminal
wrongdoing in connection with the deposits, and if victims of human rights
violations are compensated.

An out-of-court settlement with the Marcoses could also free the funds.

Government lawyers claim that winning a case showing that the money could
not have been legally acquired by the Marcoses will meet the Swiss court's
conditions. (AP Worldstream, September 20, 2000)

MERRILL CORP: Awaits Finalisation of Settlement for Viking Merger Deal
Two purported shareholder class action lawsuits have been filed against
Merrill Corp. and each of the company's directors in Hennepin County
District Court in Minnesota on behalf of our unaffiliated shareholders. The
lawsuits, which were consolidated by order of the court, allege, among
other things, that (1) John Castro and Rick Atterbury unfairly possessed
non-public information concerning the prospects of our company when
negotiating with our company on behalf of themselves and Viking Merger Sub
and (2) the individual defendants breached their fiduciary duties to
shareholders by facilitating, through unfair procedures, Viking Merger
Sub's proposal to acquire Merrill Corp. to the exclusion of others, for
unfair and inadequate consideration. The lawsuits further allege that these
actions prevented or could prevent shareholders from realizing the full and
fair value of their stock. The plaintiffs sought preliminary and permanent
injunctive relief restraining the defendants from proceeding with a
transaction with Viking Merger Sub and a declaratory judgment that the
defendants have breached their fiduciary duties.

On October 22, 1999, Merrill, the defendant directors and the named
plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and the putative class of persons on
behalf of whom the plaintiffs brought the lawsuits, reached an agreement in
principle with respect to the settlement of this litigation. On that date,
counsel to each of the parties to the litigation entered into a memorandum
of understanding, agreeing to execute and present to the court as soon as
is practicable an appropriate stipulation of settlement and any other
documentation required in order to obtain approval by the court of the
settlement. The proposed settlement is subject to the approval of the
court, some additional limited discovery (which was completed) and the
closing of the merger (which was completed).

On August 14, 2000, the court ordered, among other things, that the
consolidated action may be conducted preliminarily as a class action and
set a final hearing for November 6, 2000 for final approval of the
settlement of this action. We anticipate that any settlement of this
litigation will not have a material adverse effect on our financial
condition, operating results or liquidity.

MIKASA INC: Proposed Merger Contemplates Stock Conversion; Investors Sue
On September 11, 2000, the Company issued a press release announcing the
Merger with French Company Verrerie Cristallerie D'Arques.

Since the announcement of the proposed merger, the Company and its
directors have been named as defendants in two substantially similar
purported class action lawsuits filed in the Court of Chancery of the State
of Delaware. The plaintiffs purport to represent a class of all persons
whose stock will be converted into the right to receive $16.50 in cash per
share in connection with the Merger.

While the allegations contained in the complaints are not identical, the
complaints generally assert that the $16.50 per share price does not
reflect the value of the assets and future prospects of the Company. The
complaints also generally allege that the director defendants engaged in
self-dealing without regard to conflicts of interest and that they breached
their fiduciary duties in approving the Merger Agreement. The complaints
seek remedies including unspecified monetary damages, attorneys' fees and
injunctive relief that would, if granted, prevent the completion of the

The Company believes that the allegations contained in these lawsuits are
without merit. While the Company and its directors intend to defend
themselves vigorously, no assurance can be given as to the outcome of these

                              PRESS RELEASE

The French Company Verrerie Cristallerie D'Arques, world leader in
Tableware, announces merger agreement with Mikasa to become No. 1 in
Tableware in the North American Market.

Paris, France, and New York, NY, September 11, 2000. J.G. Durand
Industries, S.A., the parent company of Verrerie Cristallerie d'Arques, the
world's largest glass and crystal manufacturer, and Mikasa, Inc.
(NYSE-MKS), a leading tabletop products company, have entered into a
definitive merger agreement.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Mikasa's public stockholders will
receive $16.50 per share in cash, which represents a 69% premium to the
last reported closing price of Mikasa stock. Alfred J. Blake, Chairman of
Mikasa, Raymond B. Dingman, President and Chief Executive Officer of
Mikasa, Anthony F. Santarelli, Executive Vice President of Mikasa, as well
as George T. Aratani, Chairman Emeritus and the founder of Mikasa, will
retain a substantial investment in Mikasa.

Philippe Durand, President du Directoire of J.G. Durand Industries and its
subsidiary Verrerie Cristallerie d'Arques, stated, "This merger allows
acceleration in our growth in the world's largest market for tabletop
products and the addition of very attractive brands, which are highly
valued by American consumers, and for which the development potential is
global. We expect Mikasa's management team, associates and suppliers to
continue the high standards that have made Mikasa a leader in the tabletop
industry. We are particularly optimistic about the international
opportunities available for Mikasa within our new alliance, given Verrerie
Cristallerie d'Arques's substantial experience in worldwide distribution.
With this combination, we are reinforcing our position as world leader in

Mikasa entered into the merger agreement following Board of Directors
approval based in part upon the unanimous recommendation of a special
committee comprised of non-management directors of Mikasa's Board of
Directors. The special committee has received an opinion from CIBC World
Markets that the price of $16.50 per share is fair from a financial point
of view to the stockholders other than the holders that will retain a
substantial investment.

Mr. Dingman, CEO of Mikasa, stated, "The transaction announced today
fulfills our long-standing commitment to deliver maximum value to our
stockholders while positioning Mikasa for accelerated growth and increased
opportunities for the future. Verrerie Cristallerie d'Arques is known
worldwide for its technical and manufacturing expertise and diverse
channels of distribution, while Mikasa is best known for its marketing
experience and design capabilities. The alliance will strengthen both
organizations and broaden the opportunities available to each company."

Following completion of the transaction, it is expected that Mikasa will be
operated as a stand-alone subsidiary and will return to being a privately
held company. Senior members of Mikasa management, including Messrs. Blake,
Dingman and Santarelli, will continue with Mikasa in their current roles.

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions,
including stockholder approval and receipt of regulatory and other
approvals. The transaction is not subject to any financing contingency.
Mikasa stockholder approval will be solicited by means of a proxy
statement, which will be mailed by Mikasa to stockholders upon completion
of the required Securities and Exchange Commission filing and review

Messrs. Blake, Dingman, Santarelli and Aratani, owning in the aggregate
approximately 54.9% of the outstanding shares of Mikasa, have committed,
except in certain circumstances, to vote their shares in favor of the
transaction and against any alternative transaction. The companies
currently anticipate completion of the transaction by the end of the fourth
quarter of 2000.

Mikasa stockholders are advised to read the proxy statement regarding the
merger when it becomes available because it will contain important
information. Mikasa stockholders will be able to obtain a free copy of the
proxy statement (once available) and other related documents filed by
Mikasa at the SEC's website www.sec.gov. The proxy statement and the
related documents may also be obtained from Mikasa, Inc., One Mikasa Drive,
Secaucus, New Jersey 07096 attention:Investor Relations. Mikasa, its
directors and executive officers and  certain other persons may be deemed
to be "participants" in the solicitation of proxies in connection with the
proposed transaction. Information regarding the participants will be
available on a Schedule 14A filed by Mikasa with the Commission.

Mikasa was advised in the transaction by UBS Warburg and J.G. Durand
Industries, S.A. was advised by Clinvest/Credit Lyonnais Investment Banking

Notwithstanding its recommendation and consistent with the terms of the
merger agreement, the special committee of Mikasa's board of directors has
requested that the special committee's financial advisor, CIBC World
Markets, be available to receive unsolicited inquiries from any other
parties interested in the possible acquisition of the Company. If the
special committee of Mikasa's board of directors concludes that the failure
to provide information to, or engage in discussions or negotiations with,
such parties would be inconsistent with its
fiduciary duties to Mikasa's stockholders, CIBC World Markets, in
conjunction with the special committee of Mikasa's board of directors, may
provide information to and engage in discussions and negotiations with such
parties in connection with any such indicated interest. Under specified
circumstances, Mikasa has the right to terminate the merger agreement and
to enter into an agreement with a party proposing a competing transaction.
The obligation of certain shareholders to support the merger agreement
would also terminate upon the termination of the merger agreement. The full
text of the merger agreement, which describes the obligations of Mikasa
under such circumstances, as well as the shareholder support agreement,
will be timely filed by Mikasa with the SEC
and should be available at no cost from the SEC's web site.

Verrerie Cristallerie d'Arques

Established in France in 1825, Verrerie Cristallerie d'Arques is the world
leader in tableware. Verrerie Cristallerie d'Arques achieved sales in 1999
of 1 billion euros, with over 80% generated outside France. It is
commercially present in 160 countries with 30 representative offices on 5
continents and production units in France, the United States, Spain and

Verrerie Cristallerie d'Arques, the specialists in automated crystal and
glassware production, is present in glassware and crystal products for
table and household decoration, in all the distribution channels and
international markets. The group markets its products in a larger portfolio
of famous brands including Cristal d'Arques, JG Durand, Luminarc, Arcoroc
and Salviati.

In the United States, the Verrerie Cristallerie d'Arques Group has a
production subsidiary in Millville, NJ, the Durand Glass Manufacturing
Company, and a sales subsidiary, Arc International North America.

Verrerie Cristallerie d'Arques, whose headquarters are in Arques (France),
employs 13,800 people, including 11,900 in France and 1,230 in the United


Mikasa, Inc. is a leading designer, developer and marketer of quality
tabletop products. The Company markets its products to retail accounts
including department stores, specialty retail stores and mass merchants,
and through Company operated retail stores.

Founded in 1948, Mikasa's growth in the 1960's was spurred by pioneering a
totally new direction in dinnerware-the casual style in the North American
market. This innovation proved to be immensely popular with the consumer
and was a catalyst for Mikasa's continuous rapid sales growth.

In 1978 Mikasa initiated its tabletop diversification efforts by designing
and outsourcing Mikasa crystal products from Europe to augment its already
successful dinnerware lines. During the 1980's this diversification effort
was expanded with the introduction of stainless flatware, gifts, table
linens and decorative accessories for the home.

With a sales volume of US $ 420 million in 1999, Mikasa is the North
American market leader in branded tableware. Today the Mikasa brand has
gained consumer recognition and respect as a market innovator and enjoys
substantial market share in both dinnerware and crystal.

Mikasa and its management team have demonstrated an ongoing ability to
anticipate emerging consumer trends with a long history of expertise in
outsourcing and rapid product development. This expertise has enabled the
Company to deliver an ongoing succession of stylish and successful product

Mikasa, with headquarters in Secaucus, NJ (United States), employs 4,000
associates. The Company owns and operates 167 retail stores in the United
States, Canada and Puerto Rico under the Mikasa name and markets its
products through 6,700 independent retail accounts including leading
department stores in North America. The Company markets its products under
the Mikasa, Studio Nova, Home Beautiful and Christopher Stuart brand names.

The matters described herein contain forward-looking statements that are
made pursuant to the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities
Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve a number
of risks, uncertainties and other factors beyond the Company's control,
which may cause material differences in actual results, performance or
other expectations. Those factors include risks and uncertainties relating
to the Company's ability to open new stores within planned parameters, the
success of new product introductions and the continued success of existing
products, our ability to enhance margins through future gains in
efficiency, the ability to establish a successful e-commerce function, the
capabilities of our distribution system to handle increased volume and the
general business risks associated with a consumer products company. These
and other factors are detailed in the Company's registration statements and
periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

                             SEC FILING

Further details in Mikasa's report filed with the SEC:

     On September 10, 2000, the Company entered into an Agreement and Plan
of Merger, with J.G. Durand Industries, S.A., a French societe anonyme,
Mountain Acquisition Corp., a Delaware corporation wholly owned by Durand
("Merger Sub"), Raymond B. Dingman (Chief Executive Officer, Chief
Operating Officer, President and a Director of the Company), the Raymond
Burnett Dingman Separate Property Trust, Anthony F. Santarelli (Executive
Vice President--Operations and a Director of the Company), Alfred J. Blake
(Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company), George T. Aratani
(Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors of the Company) and the George
T. Aratani and Sakaye I. Aratani Revocable Living Trust. Messrs. Dingman,
Santarelli, Blake and Aratani and certain trusts controlled by such persons
are referred to herein as the "Continuing Stockholders". Pursuant to the
Merger Agreement, Merger Sub will be merged with and into the Company (the

     The company reports that as a result of the Merger, each outstanding
share of the Company's common stock, par value $.01 per share (the "Common
Stock"), other than (i) a total of 2,672,800 shares of Common Stock held by
the Continuing Stockholders, which will be converted into shares of common
stock of the surviving corporation (the "New Common Stock"), (ii) treasury
shares and shares of Common Stock owned by any of the Company's
subsidiaries and (iii) shares held by stockholders who dissent in
accordance with Delaware law, will be converted into the right to receive
$16.50 in cash. Consummation of the Merger is subject to customary closing
conditions, including stockholder approval and receipt of regulatory and
other third-party approvals. Following the Merger, it is expected that the
Continuing Stockholders will own, in the aggregate, approximately 15.3% of
the capital stock of the surviving corporation, and Durand will own
approximately 84.7% of the capital stock of the surviving corporation, the
company says.

     Contemporaneously with the execution of the Merger Agreement, Durand,
Merger Sub and the Continuing Stockholders entered into a Support
Agreement, dated as of September 10, 2000 (the "Support Agreement"),
whereby the Continuing Stockholders have agreed to vote all their shares of
Common Stock in favor of the Merger Agreement and Merger and against any
alternative transaction, except in certain circumstances. As of the date
hereof, the Continuing Stockholders own approximately 54.9% of the
outstanding shares of Common Stock.

     Contemporaneously with the execution of the Merger Agreement, the
Company, Durand and the Continuing Stockholders entered into a
Stockholders' Agreement, dated September 10, 2000 (the "Stockholders'
Agreement"), pursuant to which, among other things, certain of the
Continuing Stockholders will have the right to nominate certain persons for
election to the Board of Directors of the surviving corporation, Durand
will have certain rights to purchase the New Common Stock held by the
Continuing Stockholders following the Merger, and the Continuing
Stockholders will have certain rights to sell such New Common Stock to
Durand, in each case at prices based on the performance of the surviving
corporation following the Merger (although such price shall not be less
than $16.50 per share).

     The information set forth above does not purport to be complete and is
qualified in its entirety by reference to the full text of the Merger
Agreement, the Support Agreement and the Stockholders' Agreement, copies of
which are attached hereto as Exhibits 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3, respectively, and
are incorporated herein by reference.

MP3.COM, INC: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in California
Milberg Weiss (http://www.milberg.com/mp3/)announced that a class action
has been commenced in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of California on behalf of purchasers of MP3.com, Inc.
(NASDAQ:MPPP) common stock during the period between January 13, 2000 and
September 7, 2000 (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges MP3.com and certain of its officers and directors
with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The complaint
alleges that defendants' false and misleading statements about strong sales
and the growth of MP3.com's existing Internet services, which generated
more than 90% of MP3.com's revenue, and the strong continuing growth of its
products for the next several quarters, which would result in 350% revenue
growth for MP3.com for the 1stQ, 2ndQ, 3rdQ and 4thQ fiscal 2000 over
fiscal 1999, artificially inflated MP3.com's stock to a Class Period high
of$36-1/2. On 9/7/00, it was revealed that, due to MP3.com's willful
illegal acts, including violations of United States copyright laws, its
financial results were going to be much worse than earlier forecast and
that MP3.com would be the subject of a potentially lethal damage award.
Upon this revelation, trading in MP3.com's stock was halted, last trading
at $5-21/32, a decline of over 85% from the Class Period high.

Contact: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP William Lerach,
800/449-4900 wsl@mwbhl.com

NATION'S BURGER: Ex-Manager Sues Chain Seeking Overtime Pay
A former manager of the Nation's Giant Hamburger store in Alameda filed a
federal lawsuit on Tuesday that accuses the El Cerrito-based chain of
failing to pay its managers overtime, in violation of state and federal
laws. Dominic D'Imperio of Hayward said Nation's Foodservice Inc. has not
paid overtime to managers of its 25 Northern California restaurants, even
though many of them worked 50 to 70 hours per week performing many of the
same duties as regular employees.

D'Imperio's suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, asks for
unpaid overtime wages plus interest, restitution and other damages. It also
asks that the case be deemed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of more than
100 current and former Nation's store managers.

"We want Nation's to follow the law, and that is either to pay overtime or
to make sure that store managers are actually doing management duties
rather than cooking and cleaning and all those things," said D'Imperio's
attorney, Laura Ho of Oakland.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which grants overtime for work in
excess of a 40-hour workweek, applies only to hourly, nonmanagement
workers. Chuck Shaw, Nation's vice president of operations, did not return
a call seeking comment yesterday. The current manager of the restaurant in
Alameda said, "I'm not aware of any kind of lawsuit" and declined to
comment further. He would not provide his name.

D'Imperio resigned as store manager of the Nation's on Webster Street in
Alameda in November 1999 after working there for six months. He said he
regularly worked from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. five days a week, typically without
breaks and during his lunch and rest periods.

At Nation's, employees who work under store managers, including assistant
managers, shift supervisors and crew members, are paid on an hourly basis.
Those employees have been paid overtime and have not reported any problems,
Ho said. (The San Francisco Chronicle, September 20, 2000)

NY CITY: Judge's Ruling Puts AIDS Agency under U.S. Monitor on Services
A federal judge in Brooklyn ruled on September 19 that a New York City
agency had failed to provide adequate services for thousands of people with
AIDS and ordered the agency placed under federal oversight for three years.

The judge, Sterling Johnson Jr. of Federal District Court, ruled that the
agency, the Division of AIDS Services and Income Support, had "chronically
and systematically" delayed or terminated subsistence benefits, including
emergency housing, rent assistance, food stamps, Medicaid and other
services, that it administers for about 25,000 New Yorkers who have AIDS or
are H.I.V.-positive. In his ruling, Judge Johnson wrote that the failures
of the agency, an arm of the city's Human Resources Administration, had
"devastating consequences." He wrote that in many cases, the agency had
terminated benefits like food stamps without notifying recipients.

His ruling came three months after the conclusion of a bench trial in a
class-action lawsuit brought in 1995 by Housing Works Inc., an AIDS
awareness group that has long sparred with the Giuliani administration over
city AIDS policies. "I've watched every day as our clients have suffered
under this callous, awful administration," said Armen Merjian, a staff
lawyer for Housing Works. "This is the medication they depend upon to live,
the food upon which they depend to feed themselves and their families, the
housing they need to find shelter and fight off this mortal illness."

The case of Delilah Howard is typical, Mr. Merjian said. Ms. Howard, 47, a
Housing Works client who is unable to work because of her illness, said in
an interview that she found an apartment she could afford on her city
housing subsidy, but lost the chance to rent it because the city agency
took more than a month to approve her application for the benefit. On
another occasion, Ms. Howard said, she found out from a grocery checkout
clerk that her food stamp coverage had been terminated. Her caseworker was
not in the office, she said, "so I spoke to someone else, who told me there
was nothing that they could do, that Albany cut my food stamps."

Under Judge Johnson's ruling, which takes effect immediately, people with
complaints like hers will be able to take them to the federal magistrate
judge appointed to monitor the agency, Cheryl L. Pollak, who has been
managing the case by overseeing the exchange of documents and other

Judge Pollak will not monitor the agency's day-to-day activities or
policies. After reviewing complaints, she may recommend penalties.

Mr. Merjian said Housing Works and other advocates for people with AIDS
would put together a system for reporting complaints.

Michael Hess, the city's corporation counsel, said last night that the city
would appeal the decision. He said it ignored important precedents and was
"confusing," because the judge did not explain what the city would have to
do to comply with it. Mr. Hess said the opinion "is very flawed, with all
kinds of mistakes," and was based on statistics from the mid-1990's that
have little to do with how the agency operates now. "New York City provides
more money and more services for AIDS-related people than any other city in
the nation," Mr. Hess said.

But Mr. Merjian called the ruling a "gigantic victory" and said it could
help people with other disabilities, since the case was brought under the
federal Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, another
federal law guaranteeing rights for disabled people. "Any time you win
under A.D.A., you create important precedent," Mr. Merjian said.

The suit, Henrietta D. v. Giuliani, was one of several that Housing Works
has brought against the Giuliani administration. Last October, the group
won a unanimous ruling from the State Court of Appeals that the city was
improperly requiring eligibility reviews of welfare clients who had already
been accepted by the AIDS agency.

In November, in another case brought by Housing Works, Justice Emily Jane
Goodman of State Supreme Court in Manhattan found the Division of AIDS
Services in violation of a city law requiring medically appropriate housing
for AIDS patients and ordered it to make emergency placements within 24

The class-action lawsuit decided on Tuesday was filed in response to the
Giuliani administrations cutbacks in the Division of AIDS Services and
Income Support, which was established in 1985 at the start of the AIDS
crisis, during the administration of Mayor Edward I. Koch. Mr. Merjian said
that while caseworkers had had an average of 34 clients before the
cutbacks, the caseloads soon reached 60 per caseworker at some of the
division's 10 centers.

Judge Johnson's decision cited findings that in a third of its cases, the
city took more than 30 days to provide emergency benefits that were
required within 72 hours. Among applicants for housing at one location, the
agency failed to meet its own deadlines on more than three-quarters of the
cases. It failed to pay rent on new apartments in 32 percent of cases.

Mr. Merjian said that when the class action was filed, about 16,000 people
were eligible for assistance; now, he estimated, 25,000 clients and 10,000
dependents relied on the city services. "When you're living with AIDS,
chances are you're going to be a class member," he said. "They have no
choice but to be on the dole."

Richard Torres, a plaintiff who testified at the trial, said yesterday that
the decision would have "a great effect." Mr. Torres, 46, testified that
after he was forced from his apartment by water damage in 1995, his
caseworker did not help him find a new apartment or secure emergency
housing. He was homeless until finding a Veterans Administration shelter.

The agency is meant to help people, Mr. Thurman said, but "they act as if
it's their money, their stamps." "The main thing," he said, "is just
getting people to do their jobs." (The New York Times, September 20, 2000)

P&O: Passengers Who Fell Ill on Aussi Cruises Consider Lawsuit
Sydney, Sept 20 AAP - Passengers who fell ill during two cruises on the P&O
Fair Princess could launch a class action against the company. A partner at
national law firm Maurice Blackburn Cashman, Eugene Arocca, said on
Wednesday more than 100 people who sailed on the cruises had contacted the

Mr Arocca said the decision on whether legal action would be taken would be
made when results of tests by the New South Wales Department of Health were
known. The results were expected to be available by this Friday.

Mr Arocca said passengers on board the ship for Pacific cruises from August
14 to August 28, and August 28 to September 10 had reported suffering from
flu-like viral infections and bacterial pneumonia. There had also been
mentions of legionnaires' disease and people were going to their doctors
and being tested for the illness, Mr Arocca said.

"We just think its unacceptable to a large degree," he told AAP. "We could
be talking about a thousand people unwell out of the two cruises." During
the second cruise four people were taken off the ship at Noumea for
hospital treatment.

Two people who were on the ship have died, including Geoffrey Dorber, 62,
who died last week in Sydney's St George hospital three days after
returning from the cruise. A Brisbane man who became ill on the trip has
also died, though the cause of death was put down as a heart attack.

The ship has been tested and declared free of legionnaire's disease, which
had been considered a possible source of the health problems. Mr Arocca
said he had no doubt the ship was safe since it returned to Sydney on
September 10 and was inspected by Health Department officers. The ship is
currently acting as accommodation for Sydney Olympics Broadcasting
Organisation technical staff. P&O has been reported saying it would defend
any legal action brought against it. (AAP Newsfeed, September 20, 2000)

PLACER NIUGINI: Decries Merit of Claims over Gold Mine Poisonous Waste
Port Moresby, Sept 20 AAP - Australian-based gold mining company Placer
Niugini Ltd has rejected as "outrageous and completely untrue" claims that
poisonous waste from its Pogera mine in the highlands province of Enga has
killed 183 people.

In parliament in Port Moresby on Tuesday, Laigaip/Porgera MP Opis Papo said
landowners around Pogera were planning a human rights abuse and
environmental damage class action against Placer Joint Venture (PJV) -
owned by Placer Niugini and the Papua New Guinea government - for the
deaths of landowners near the headwaters of the Strickland River since

In a series of questions to Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta, he asked him
to confirm that medical and scientific studies had shown that the deaths
were caused by poisoning of the river system by the rich gold mine. Papo
said the local landowners had previously viewed high mortality rates around
the Strickland headwaters as "mystery deaths", with symptoms that included
internal bleeding, abdominal pains and swellings. He alleged the deaths
were caused by arsenic poisoning and heavy metals.

Sir Mekere replied: "These are very serious claims ... and if they are true
it is not acceptable to the government that this level of contamination has
been allowed to take place and resulting in direct deaths of Papua New
Guineans." The prime minister said he would ask the Minister for the
Environment to investigate and make a full reply to parliament.

Placer Niugini managing director Evert van den Brand was at the mine site
on Wednesday, but he told the local Post-Courier newspaper that Papo's
claims were "politically-motivated". He said the same claims had been made
for the past eight years and had been disproved each time. Van den Brand
said a paper delivered at a recent medical symposium had ascribed the
deaths to "infectious disease". "We have reason to say this (mine waste) is
not the reason the people are dying," he said. "It is not the Pogera joint
venture's fault. If dumping of waste is blamed as causing the deaths, it is
patently untrue."

Van den Brand said a team of international scientific and environmental
experts gathered together by Australia's CSIRO had made a study of the
mine's waste disposal system and had approved the joint venture's waste
dumping, management and monitoring system. He said Papo's claims were
"outrageous and completely untrue". (AAP Newsfeed, September 20, 2000)

STEWART ENTERPRISES: Contests Securities Suits over Stock Offering
As previously reported in the CAR, during the fall of 1999, 16 putative
securities class action lawsuits were filed against the Company, certain of
its directors and officers and the lead underwriters of the Company's
January 1999 common stock offering. The company advises the SEC that 16
such lawsuits were filed. The suits have been consolidated, and the court
has appointed lead plaintiffs as well as lead and liaison counsel for the

The consolidated amended complaint alleges violations of Section 11,
12(a)(2) and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and 20(a)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder on behalf of purchasers of the Company's common stock during the
period October 1, 1998 through August 12, 1999. Plaintiffs generally allege
that the defendants made false and misleading statements and failed to
disclose allegedly material information in the prospectus relating to the
January 1999 common stock offering and in certain of the Company's other
public filings and announcements. The plaintiffs also allege that these
allegedly false and misleading statements and omissions permitted the
Chairman of the Company to sell Company common stock during the class
period at inflated market prices.

The plaintiffs seek remedies including certification of the putative class,
unspecified damages, attorneys' fees and costs, rescission to the extent
any members of the class still hold the Company's common stock, and such
other relief as the court may deem proper.

On February 25, 2000, the Company and the other defendants filed motions to
dismiss the complaint.  The plaintiffs filed briefs in support of their
opposition to those motions on April 19, 2000, and the defendants filed
reply briefs on May 26, 2000.

This litigation is in the earliest stages, and its outcome and the costs of
defending it cannot be predicted at this time. The Company believes that
the claims are without merit and intends to defend itself vigorously.

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Philip Morris Replaces Global Tobacco Chief
Philip Morris Cos. said Paul Hendrys resigned as president and chief
executive of its international tobacco operations, effective immediately.
Hendrys is being replaced by John Nelson, formerly senior vice president of
Philip Morris' U.S. tobacco business, the company said in a statement.
Nelson will report directly to William Webb, chief operating officer. The
overseas tobacco unit accounts for about a third of Philip Morris's annual
earnings. (The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, September 19, 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
Creditors' Service, Inc., Princeton, NJ, and Beard Group, Inc.,
Washington, DC. Theresa Cheuk, Managing Editor.

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

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

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

The CAR subscription rate is $575 for six months delivered via e-mail.
Additional e-mail subscriptions for members of the same firm for the
term of the initial subscription or balance thereof are $25 each.  For
subscription information, contact Christopher Beard at 301/951-6400.

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