/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/010412.MBX              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

              Thursday, April 12, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 72


AR COMMUNICATIONS: Shalov Stone Files Securities Suit in New York
DETROIT POLICE: Accused of "Arresting" Homicide 'Witnesses'
EL PASO: Continue to Defend Suits over Conspiracy in Inflating Gas Rates
EL PASO: Named in Grynberg and Quinque Suits re Claims of Gas Royalties
ELGIN HIGH: Suit Alleges Boys Get Better Treatment in School Sports

FRED HUTCHINSON: Surgeon General Wants Cancer Trials Investigated
GAS RATES: Philadelphia Residents Protest Gas Company's Rate Increases
HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL: Named in Lawsuit v. LOCKFORMER over Degreaser
LASON, INC: Announces Amendment to Bank Credit Facility
LEAD PAINT: Cohen Milstein, City of Milwaukee Files Complaint

MEDICAL MANAGER: 11th Cir Upholds Dismissal of Securities Suit re Y2K
MERRILL LYNCH: Milberg Weiss Announces Securities Suit Filed in N.Y.
NAPSTER INC: Fd Judge Calls Failure to Block Copyright Songs a Disgrace
NEW YORK LIFE: Insurer Settles with Armenian Genocide Heirs
NY CITY: Panel Dismisses Challenge to Federal Oversight of AIDS Services

OPUS360 CORP: eBusiness Software Provider Reports Shareholder Suit in NY
SOUTHERN CO: CA Suits Allege of Manipulation of Wholesale Power Markets
TAINTED BLOOD: 5 International Firms to Pay HIV-Infected Haemophiliacs
TOBACCO LITIGATION: NY Ct Hears Cert. Arguments In Punitive Damages Case
TOBACCO LITIGATION: U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Targets Attorney Fees

U.K. HOSPITALS: Families Seek Group Litigation Order re Organs Scandal
WAR LITIGATION: Former Forced Laborers In Australia Seek Compensation


AR COMMUNICATIONS: Shalov Stone Files Securities Suit in New York
class action was commenced on behalf of all persons who purchased the
securities of Winstar Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WCII) in the period
from August 2, 2000 to April 2, 2001. The complaint names Winstar,
William Rouhana, Richard Uhl and Nathan Kantor as defendants.

The complaint alleges that the defendants made material
misrepresentations and omissions of material facts concerning the
company's business performance during the relevant time. According to the
complaint, throughout the relevant time period, defendants repeatedly
assured investors that the company was performing well, that the company
was enjoying strong growth and that it was well-funded to follow its
growth-oriented business plan through the first quarter of 2002. At the
same time, however, the complaint alleges that the defendants knew or
recklessly disregarded that Winstar was overstating revenues and assets.
In April 2001, contrary to prior representations, Winstar announced that
it was halting its expansion and laying off thousands of employees. The
company has delayed the filing of its annual Report on Form 10-K with the
SEC and its stock price has collapsed. The lawsuit was filed April 10 in
the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Contact: Mark J. Nemetz, Law Clerk, of Shalov Stone & Bonner,

DETROIT POLICE: Accused of "Arresting" Homicide 'Witnesses'
The law is clear here in Michigan and throughout the country: the police
can arrest someone only if they have probable cause to believe that the
person committed a crime.

The police cannot arrest people they think might know something about a
crime and lock them up so they will disclose what, if anything, they

Yet that is what dozens of people say the Detroit Police Department did
over the last few years: detaining witnesses in homicide cases, taking
them in handcuffs to police headquarters and holding them for questioning
for hours or even days without obtaining a court order or filing criminal

The accusations come from witnesses and criminal lawyers, who say that
the department has done this for years. The charges have come to the
forefront now because of federal statistics made available recently
showing that since 1996, Detroit has arrested far more people in homicide
cases than any other big-city police department, reporting an average of
nearly three arrests per killing. Most cities average roughly one arrest
per homicide case.

The numbers, which the police reported to the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, show that in 1998 and 1999, Detroit alone accounted for 1
in 13 homicide arrests in the country.

The statistics, coupled with several lawsuits alleging false arrest of
witnesses that the city lost or agreed to settle, have prompted more
people to come forward with accusations in recent weeks. A federal
lawsuit filed recently on behalf of witnesses claiming false arrest is
seeking class-action status.

Officials in Detroit, which has long had one of the nation's highest
homicide rates, say that the Police Department has no policy permitting
officers to arrest witnesses. But while officials have not acknowledged
that this has happened, they have not exactly denied it.

"I don't think anybody has anything to say, but gosh, and let's not let
that practice happen again,"' Mayor Dennis W. Archer said in an
interview. "For whatever reason may have provoked that practice, it's
going to be over."

City officials have offered varying reasons for the F.B.I. arrest
statistics, saying most recently that they are the result of computer
glitches or the arrests of people at homicide scenes on unrelated

The police chief, Benny N. Napoleon, said in a recent statement that he
was investigating "to determine what steps, if any, are necessary to
ensure that persons are not unconstitutionally detained."

Arresting witnesses would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment's
prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure, legal experts say.
The police are allowed to detain a person briefly at a crime scene if
they have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person was involved in a
crime, said Alan Saltzman, a professor at the University of Detroit Mercy
Law School. But when the police take people away from a crime scene or
any other location against their will, Professor Saltzman said, there
must be probable cause to believe that they are suspects. The police must
demonstrate that to a judge within 48 hours, he said.

"The law is obvious," Professor Saltzman said. "If you take somebody into
custody, that's an arrest, even if they're not charged, and you have to
have probable cause to make an arrest."

A state law allows prosecutors to ask a judge to issue an investigative
subpoena to persuade a reluctant witness to talk to the police about
unsolved murders, and a witness can be jailed for disregarding the
subpoena, but lawyers say no such subpoenas were sought.

Further muddying things is a sentence in the police manual stating that
at a homicide scene, "upon direction of the Homicide Section," an officer
"shall arrange transportation for witnesses to the headquarters building
for interviewing."

City officials said that sentence was being rewritten.

Law enforcement experts said they had never encountered a police
department with a practice of detaining witnesses to get information.

"In all the study and practice I've done in this area, this is the first
I've ever heard of it," said James J. Fyfe, a criminologist at Temple
University and a former New York City police officer.

And if the Detroit police had thoughts that detaining witnesses helped
them solve murders, they would have found the statistics disappointing.
According to the F.B.I., Detroit's homicide clearance rate -- the rate at
which suspects in a particular case were identified, though not
necessarily charged -- was 45.5 percent in 1999, less than in most other
big cities.

The issue of witness arrests comes as other serious questions are being
raised about the Detroit Police Department. The Justice Department is
investigating police shootings of civilians here and the conditions under
which some people have died or become ill in police detention. And the
City Council has been holding hearings about why the city has paid at
least $123 million since 1987 to settle lawsuits against the police.

Criminal lawyers in Detroit say that the practice of detaining witnesses
to compel them to cooperate has gone on for years. "It is absolutely
standard practice for them," said Corbett Edge O'Meara, a defense lawyer.
"I think it was due to laziness and just kind of a siege mentality that
exists in the Detroit Police Department. And they think they can get away
with it. It's a great racket for criminal defense lawyers. They arrest
people illegally, and then criminal defense lawyers like myself charge
people money to get a writ to get them out of jail."

Police testimony in one lawsuit filed by a witness who claimed false
arrest also seemed to suggest the practice was not unusual.

The plaintiff in that case was Janetta Toles, who said she was arrested
at her apartment in March 1997, taken to police headquarters and held
there for nearly four days. She had to leave her children, a 2-year-old
and and an 8-month-old, with a teenage neighbor she hardly knew. She was
never charged or offered a lawyer, could not make phone calls and was
released from detention for only a few hours during that time.

According to testimony in a civil suit Ms. Toles filed against the
department, the police held her to learn what she knew about a homicide
that people in her apartment building were suspected of committing.

In testimony and depositions in her civil suit, one homicide sergeant
testified that witnesses were frequently held overnight. Another sergeant
said the procedure of holding witnesses in homicide investigations was
part of his training.

"You're comfortable having violated someone's rights?" Ms. Toles's
lawyer, Daniel Romano, asked that sergeant, Reginald Harvel. "Yes,"
Sergeant Harvel replied.

"And you'll do it again, won't you?" Mr. Romano asked.

"Yes," Sergeant Harvel said.

Ms. Toles won her lawsuit, and the City of Detroit paid her $200,000.

After 1998, the city paid settlements in similar suits, including one
last year for $500,000 to five people who said they were held as
witnesses in a 1999 murder case. City officials said settlements are not
always an admission of wrongdoing but may be paid to end expensive

The issue arose again in September, according to the mayor and a recent
statement issued by Chief Napoleon. The United States attorney, asked by
the mayor to investigate police shootings, raised concerns about the high
number of homicide arrests and the possibility that some witnesses had
been improperly detained. Mr. Napoleon said in his statement that he had
ordered his commanders to "conduct a full review of the Police
Department's handling of arrests, and to ensure that all department
practices conform to the law and the recommendations of the U.S.

Since then, however, there have been other accusations of witness
arrests, which city officials would not comment on because of litigation.
In October, Maribel Franco-Rosario, a nursing mother, was handcuffed,
taken from her 3-week-old infant and held for three and a half days for
questioning by the police, who suspected her husband in a murder and were
looking for him, said her lawyer, Steven Fishman. A few hours after her
arrest, she had to be hospitalized for abdominal pain related to her
recent Caesarean section, and after that, Mr. Fishman said, the police
disregarded hospital recommendations that she see a gynecologist and
again detained her.

And in January, Barbara Berry said, the police went to two different
houses at 2 a.m. and rounded her up along with two of her sons, one son's
fiancee and a friend. They took them all to headquarters, along with Ms.
Berry's 2 1/2-month-old granddaughter and 7-year-old grandson. The adults
and the 7-year-old were kept in separate rooms and questioned.

The Berrys said the police kept showing them pictures of a murder suspect
and asking where he was. Ms. Berry said she did not recognize him. One
son, Antonio, 24, knew the suspect only by his street name, Hustleman,
and had bought a stolen stereo from him two years ago but said he had had
nothing to do with him since. The adults were held for 14 hours, released
after a relative called their lawyer, Mr. O'Meara.

The F.B.I. figures suggest that Detroit, at minimum, is "out of whack"
with other departments, said Maryvictoria Pyne, director of the F.B.I.
communications unit.

In 1999, the last year for which statistics are available, Detroit
reported 1,152 arrests in 415 murder cases. In 1998, the police made
1,310 arrests in 430 murder cases.

Experts say that kind of disparity is almost unheard of. In 1999, for
example, New York had 748 arrests in 664 cases and Chicago had 637
arrests in 642 cases.

When The Detroit Free Press inquired about the arrest numbers in March,
police officials issued a statement attributing the figures to people
jailed for interfering in investigations, fighting with investigators or
harboring suspects. Later, the paper quoted Chief Napoleon as saying that
a substantial portion of the people arrested in connection with homicide
cases were witnesses detained under a practice that allows investigators
to interview people away from sometimes-chaotic crime scenes.

The day that the Free Press article appeared, however, Mr. Napoleon said
in a statement that he had been misrepresented and had been referring to
detentions of witnesses at crime scenes until investigators determined if
they were suspects.

Mr. Napoleon declined to be interviewed for this article. Mr. Archer and
his press secretary, Greg Bowens, said the police had told them that an
"antiquated" computer system might explain the F.B.I. figures, and that
officers might have accidentally entered a suspect's name two or three
times. Mr. Bowens also said that people with outstanding warrants were
arrested at a homicide scene, and that the police listed those arrests in
connection with the homicide, even though they might have been completely
unrelated. And Mr. Archer said the police at a homicide scene might also
detain people who are "momentarily uncooperative."

Edgar Vann, the chairman of the Police Commission, a civilian panel that
monitors the department, called those justifications unsatisfactory.

"Those explanations that we've received are, you know, hard to believe,
difficult to accept for us," Mr. Vann said. "At the same time we've got
citizens who are lining up, talking a whole lot about 'Oh, yeah, I was
detained, too. They held me for two days, for three days.'" (The New York
Times, April 11, 2001)

EL PASO: Continue to Defend Suits over Conspiracy in Inflating Gas Rates
In late 2000, El Paso Natural Gas and El Paso Merchant Energy and several
of its subsidiaries, were named as defendants in four purported class
action lawsuits filed in state court in California. (Continental Forge
Co. v. Southern California Gas Co., et al, Los Angeles; Berg v. Southern
California Gas Co., et al, Los Angeles; John Phillip v. El Paso Merchant
Energy, et al, San Diego; John WHK Phillip v. El Paso Merchant Energy, et
al, San Diego.) Two of these cases, filed in Los Angeles, contend
generally that the company conspired with other unrelated companies to
create artificially high prices for natural gas in California; the other
two cases, filed in San Diego, assert that El Paso used Merchant Energy's
acquisition of capacity on the company's pipeline to manipulate the
market for natural gas in California. These cases have been moved to the
federal courts in California and we have filed motions to dismiss in the
San Diego actions. On March 20, 2001, two additional lawsuits, The City
of Los Angeles, et. al. v. Southern California Gas Company, et. al. and
The City of Long Beach, et. al. v. Southern California Gas Company et.
al. were filed in a Los Angeles County Superior Court.


In addition, on March 22, 2001, a lawsuit filed on behalf of a purported
class, Sweeties, et. al. v. El Paso Corporation, et al., was filed in
Superior Court of San Francisco, State of California. These cases seek
monetary damages against the company and make similar allegations to the
Continental Forge and Berg cases discussed above.

EL PASO: Named in Grynberg and Quinque Suits re Claims of Gas Royalties
In 1999, the company was served as a defendant in actions brought by Jack
Grynberg on behalf of the U.S. Government under the False Claims Act.
Generally, these complaints allege an industry-wide conspiracy to under
report the heating value as well as the volumes of the natural gas
produced from federal and Native American lands, which deprived the U.S.
Government of royalties. These matters have been consolidated for
pretrial purposes. (In re: Natural Gas Royalties Qui Tam Litigation, U.S.
District Court for the District of Wyoming.)

The company is also a named defendant in an action styled Quinque
Operating Company, et al v. Gas Pipelines and Their Predecessors, et al,
filed in 1999 in the District Court of Stevens County, Kansas. This class
action complaint alleges that the defendants mismeasured natural gas
volumes and heating content of natural gas on non-federal and non-Native
American lands. The Quinque complaint, once transferred to the same court
handling the Grynberg complaint, has been sent back to the Kansas State
Court for further proceedings.

El Paso tells investors the company is also a named defendant in numerous
lawsuits and a named party in numerous governmental proceedings arising
in the ordinary course of our business.

While the outcome of the matters discussed above cannot be predicted with
certainty, the company does not expect the ultimate resolution of these
matters will have a material adverse effect on its financial position,
operating results, or cash flows.

ELGIN HIGH: Suit Alleges Boys Get Better Treatment in School Sports
An Elgin High School girl who overcame barriers to play on the boys
football team filed a class-action lawsuit with three other students in
federal court Tuesday, alleging widespread disparities in the treatment
of boys and girls in sports.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, alleges that female
athletes at Elgin High School get inferior treatment in almost every
respect, from locker room and playing facilities to scheduling, parking,
concession-stand workers, coaches, timekeepers and more.

Although she won a highly publicized battle to play football last fall,
freshman Adrianna Delhotal was taunted and slurred constantly and school
officials failed to eliminate that hostile environment, the lawsuit

The suit seeks far-reaching redress for female athletes through 12
actions, such as construction of new locker rooms, improvements to
playing fields and facilities, better maintenance policies, more
equipment and assignment of team physicians and trainers on par with the

Peggy Sikora, whose daughter, Kellen, 15, a three-sport athlete, is one
of the students who filed the suit, said parents have repeatedly voiced
concerns to school officials to no avail. "Some of the parents asked,
'Why can't we build dugouts for the girls while the boys have them?' but
the issues have never been addressed," Sikora said in an interview

Elgin District 46 spokesman Larry Ascough said officials can't comment on
the allegations until they study the complaint. "We'll review them, and
if there's some merit, we'll address them," he said.

The lawsuit was filed under Title IX, a nearly 30-year-old federal law
mandating that no American "shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from
participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to
discrimination" in any school athletic program.

Ascough said the district has a Title IX compliance officer, but he did
not know whether the families of the girls who filed suit first filed
complaints with the district.

Foremost among the girls' complaints is that the boys have two locker
rooms dedicated to sports teams--one at the high school stadium and one
at the gymnasium. The lawsuit says there is no locker room for girls
sports, so female athletes must use facilities reserved for gym classes.

The lawsuit also alleges that many boys sports programs have twice as
many coaches as girls teams. And it says games for girls are scheduled on
weeknights, affecting attendance and studies, while the boys are more
likely to get prime-time hours on weekends.

Delhotal made headlines last year when she fought for the right to play
on the football team. But the lawsuit alleges that after the spotlight
turned away, Delhotal, a defensive end, experienced extraordinary

Her mother, Brenda Delhotal, declined to comment on the lawsuit Tuesday.
Robert W. Smith, an attorney for the girls, could not be reached for
comment. (Chicago Tribune, April 11, 2001)

FRED HUTCHINSON: Surgeon General Wants Cancer Trials Investigated
The surgeon general has called for a federal investigation into cancer
trials at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center that are the subject
of a proposed class-action lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed by an Alabama man last month in Kitsap County Superior
Court claims violations of laws on medical ethics, consumer protection
and the use of humans in research in the mid-1980s trials. It seeks
unspecified damages on behalf of 82 Hutchinson center patients

The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is William Lee "Pete" Wright Sr. of
Heflin, Ala., whose wife, Becky, died of leukemia in 1987 after she
received a bone-marrow transplant at the center.

The suit followed a series of articles in The Seattle Times alleging that
leukemia patients and their families were neither fully informed about
the risks of the experiments nor told that some doctors involved in the
trials had financial interests in the drugs being tested. At least 20
people died of graft failures, cancer relapses and new cancers linked to
the experimental treatment, the newspaper reported.

"I certainly think that we have to make sure that the systems are in
place to make sure that that doesn't happen again at this particular
research center," Surgeon General David Satcher told The Times in an
interview Monday at the meeting of the National Human Research
Protections Advisory Committee in Bethesda, Md.

Satcher also called for investigation of a separate experiment covered in
The Times series. In that trial, the newspaper alleged, breast-cancer
patients were given a drug intended to protect them against high-dose
chemotherapy, even though some researchers involved had concluded that
the drug didn't work. At least four women died of that treatment, the
newspaper reported.

Satcher praised the overall work of the Hutchinson Center, which receives
more funds from the National Cancer Institute than any other research

"These were more the exception than the rule in terms of its work, but
that's a struggle that we face," he said.

The center, which has challenged The Times' findings and harshly
criticized the series, has convened its own panel of outside experts and
others to review the way it handles financial conflicts and informed
consent. Hutchinson officials have declined comment on the lawsuit, but a
detailed response to the newspaper series is posted on the center Web

A preliminary staff review of the trials also is being conducted by the
Office for Human Research Protections of the federal Department of Health
and Human Services. It is that office, not the surgeon general's, that
has final say over whether a full investigation will be launched.

Office director, Dr. Greg Koski, said he has no immediate plans to order
a full investigation, and he is more interested in looking forward than

"We have to focus really to prevent harm rather than to look back and
punish," he said.

The surgeon general said he was troubled by Koski's stance.

"It's hard for me to believe that he would say that we were not
interested in what happened in those cases and didn't want to understand
them in detail, and the implications of it in terms of that center,
whether there does need to be changes," Satcher said. "I would say that
we need to look at it that way."

Both Satcher and Koski said the filing of the lawsuit would make any
federal investigation more complicated.

Cheryl Chambers, the sister of the Alabama woman who died of leukemia
after receiving a bone-marrow transplant at the center, spoke to the
research protections meeting in Maryland, and Wright's daughter, Mindy
Pritchard of Heflin, also attended.

Chambers, who had been Becky Wright's bone marrow donor, told the
committee that she feels she was misled by Hutchinson doctors and is
disappointed that a federal review in the late 1990s brought no action.

"Why was not something done about this?" Chambers asked. "As a sibling, I
cannot sue in the state of Washington, so I am here to state my case."

Chambers said she never thought to ask doctors about how many people had
died in the trial, or whether the doctors had any financial interests in
the experiment.

"When somebody is sick, you can't sit there and say, 'Do you have any
financial investment in this? If you do, let us know.' You don't ask any
questions about it. Your mind is not in that framework. What I would like
to see done is all have financial disclosure immediately," she said.

Genetic Systems, a Seattle-based biotechnology company, paid royalties
for an exclusive commercial license for 37 drugs developed at the center,
including three of the eight drugs used for the "antibody cocktail"
tested in Protocol 126. The company also gave stock and positions to
doctors involved, and it gave stock and cash to a center-affiliated

Genetic Systems and its successor corporation are named as defendants in
the lawsuit.

The National Human Research Protections Advisory Committee is helping the
Bush administration determine the need for reforms in experimental trials
involving humans. The committee will meet again July 30-31. (The
Associated Press State & Local Wire, April 11, 2001)

GAS RATES: Philadelphia Residents Protest Gas Company's Rate Increases
Irate city residents took to the streets April 9 to protest recent rate
increases by the city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works and sometimes
staggering utility bills that they say can devastate ratepayers on fixed

Just two days before PGW said it might begin turning off natural-gas
service to customers who have not paid their bills, a coalition
representing 187 community groups marched through Center City to the PGW
offices at Ninth and Montgomery Streets, gathering support for a possible
class-action lawsuit against PGW. "My last bill was $ 1,295!" said Herman
Epperson, of Germantown, carrying a bullhorn. "Normally, it's about $ 150
in the winter. I'm outraged at being ripped off by this gas company and
these high gas bills."

The rally, organized by the Urban Leadership Council, drew three dozen
marchers, who walked from 12th and Chestnut Streets to PGW's
headquarters. They collected signatures for a possible lawsuit aimed at
forcing PGW to lower its rates, said the Rev. Bruce Edwards, president of
the Urban Leadership Council, part of the Greater Philadelphia Urban
Affairs Coalition.

PGW, which has had three rate increases in the last five months, has
asked the state Public Utility Commission to approve a second base-rate
increase. The utility says the increase would boost the typical
residential bill by 7 percent and bring in an extra $ 65 million in
revenue. The other two increases were to cover natural-gas costs.

Residents and consumer activists shouted angrily outside PGW headquarters
on North Ninth Street, accusing the financially troubled utility of poor
service, high bills and inept management.

Salim Ali, a graphic artist who lives in the 1200 block of Mount Vernon
Street, said his monthly winter heating bills had soared from about $ 175
to $ 600 as a result of recent increases in PGW's base rates and gas-cost
surcharges 24 percent in November, an additional 30 percent in January,
and 6 percent more in February.

Combined with the coldest Philadelphia winter in three years, those
increases have left Ali and other customers reeling, he said. "You can't
keep on squeezing the people who don't have money," Ali said.

Peco Energy Co. has passed on similar gas-cost surcharges to its suburban
customers in recent months to recover money it has lost buying natural
gas on the wholesale market.

State Rep. Jewell Williams (D., Philadelphia) said most of the calls at
his North Philadelphia office since January have been from residents who
cannot afford to pay their PGW bills.

"They are people between low and low-moderate income. They are being
affected the most. For the really low-income, there are assistance
programs, but not for the people who are slightly above the poverty

Williams, who came to the rally, said he wants PGW to "review their books
and recognize the recent increases are a hardship." He suggested that the
cash-strapped utility could sell some of its parking lots and buildings
in North Philadelphia to nearby Temple University "and then use that
money as a grant to lower the gas rates."

Philip Bertocci, a Community Legal Services attorney who serves as the
public advocate for PGW residential customers, said PGW rates went up 50
to 60 percent during the winter heating season "and now people are seeing
huge bills."

"These bills are coming in really off the charts," said Bertocci, who
also represents several groups that have challenged PGW's recent rate
increases. "PGW has been so poorly managed over the last decade. The city
should give up the $ 18 million annual dividend it gets from PGW until
PGW has been put back on the path to recovery."

Kevin Boyle, a spokesman for PGW, said: "We're not out to shut anybody's
gas off. We simply want people to pay for the natural gas they've used.
We're willing to work with them in any way that we possibly can to make
payment arrangements."

"The prices that we pay have gone up as much as 400 percent. We have to
pass some of this on to customers in order to stay afloat," Boyle said.
"We've been granted authority by the PUC to begin shutting off service
later this week,"

Boyle said the base rate increase March 1 was the first increase in more
than 10 years, "and amounted to less than $ 5 a month to typical home
heating customers."

"The other rate increases were gas-cost hikes," he said. "There's no
denying they were steep, but it was something out of PGW's control.
There's no extortion on the part of PGW. If anything, there is a tendency
among a number of our customers to not pay their bills. We are the only
utility in the world that allows our customers to get away with that."
(The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 10, 2001)

HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL: Named in Lawsuit v. LOCKFORMER over Degreaser
With a federal judge's permission, plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit
against Lockformer Co. have added the company's chemical supplier as
another defendant.

Judge Harry D. Leinenweber agreed Tuesday that Honeywell International
Inc. could be added to the lawsuit filed in November. The suit alleges
that more than 100 homes could be contaminated by a degreaser used for
nearly 30 years by the metal forming and fabricating company at its Ogden
Avenue plant. The degreaser, containing the possible carcinogen
trichloroethene, or TCE, spilled numerous times over the years as workers
for a company now owned by Honeywell delivered the chemical to the plant.

Lockformer has said it was unaware that some of the chemical was landing
on the ground while the supplier filled rooftop storage tanks.

The homeowners sued Lockformer and its parent company after samples of
water from outside spigots showed the presence of TCE or its byproduct in
several of the wells.

The supplier also is a defendant in a suit filed last week in DuPage
County Circuit Court by 12 other residents living south of the plant and
a civil suit filed in January by Illinois Atty. Gen. Jim Ryan and the
DuPage state's attorney's office. (Chicago Tribune, April 11, 2001)

LASON, INC: Announces Amendment to Bank Credit Facility
Lason, Inc. (OTCBB:LSON) announced on April 10 that the Company has
signed a definitive agreement with its bank group, whose agent is Bank
One, Michigan, to amend its existing bank credit facility.

Terms of the amendment include a mechanism to improve the Company's
working capital position, reduce its liability to its earnout creditors,
and significantly de-leverage its balance sheet. This amendment to the
original credit facility is in place through January 2002. The Company
intends, prior to January 2002, to enter into further negotiations with
the bank group with regards to its credit facility.

"We are pleased that we were able to structure an amendment with the bank
group that addresses the needs of all affected parties, the Company, its
earnout creditors, and the bank group," stated Ronald D. Risher,
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Lason. "This
agreement provides us with the resources necessary to continue our
re-structuring, improve our working capital position and meet our
obligations while continuing to provide superior service to our customers
and, we believe, shows the confidence of the bank group in the current
Lason management team."

                       About the Company

LASON is a leading provider of integrated information management
services, transforming data into effective business communication,
through capturing, transforming and activating critical documents. LASON
has operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, Mauritius and
the Caribbean. The company currently has over 85 multi-functional imaging
centers and operates over 60 facility management sites located on
customers' premises.

LEAD PAINT: Cohen Milstein, City of Milwaukee Files Complaint
-------------------------------------------------------------The City of
Milwaukee on April 10 filed a complaint against the nation's largest
producer of lead pigments to force it to bear the primary responsibility
for the poisoning of children from lead paint.

The necessary clean up in Milwaukee will cost the City up to $100

Attorney Richard S. Lewis, a veteran litigator of childhood lead paint
poisoning cases, filed the case in behalf of the city. The complaint was
filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court against Texas-based NL
Industries, Inc., formerly known as the National Lead Company, and
against Mautz Paint. NL Industries produced millions of tons of lead
pigment. Mautz Paint is a Wisconsin paint company that also produced the
lead paint.

"Milwaukee has put together one of the best abatement programs in the
country, but the city is still devastated by the staggering costs of
abatement," Lewis said. "The only way to prevent the epidemic of
poisoning in the inner city is to hold companies like NL responsible for
their wrongdoing which caused the problem."

Decades before 1978, when lead paint was banned by federal law, the lead
paint and pigment industry knew that their product was killing and
seriously injuring hundreds of children each year. Already at the turn of
the 20th century, leading medical journals in Britain and in the United
States reported that children were dying from lead poisoning caused by
peeling or chalking lead paint. In 1909, France banned the use of lead
paint. Many countries followed suit in the years immediately following
World War I. In the 1920s and 1930s, medical journals cited hundreds of
cases of such poisonings, and reported the deaths of dozens of children.
Yet in 1930, National Lead was issuing lead paint coloring books to
children. Through the Lead Industries Association, which it was
instrumental in founding, it denied or downplayed reports of children
being poisoned by paint. National Lead sponsored major promotional
campaigns for lead pigment in the late 1930s and 1040s. National Lead and
Mautz Paint played important roles in the National Paint and Coatings
Association, which fought against warning labels for lead paint,
defeating or weakening regulations and legislation in California,
Maryland, and New York. Still today, Mautz Paint cans bear no warnings
that would protect purchasers against the dangers of sanding painted
surfaces when they prepare for repainting.

This action by the City of Milwaukee follows the favorable ruling last
week by a Rhode Island court, which permitted the State of Rhode Island
to proceed with its lawsuit against former manufacturers of lead paints
and pigments. Similar lawsuits have been filed by a number of local
governments, including the City of New York, the City of St. Louis, and
the County of Santa Clara, California.

The City of Milwaukee is represented by the law firms of Cohen, Milstein,
Hausfeld & Toll, of Washington, D.C.; Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann &
Bernstein, of San Francisco, New York, and Boston, Warshafsky, Rotter,
Tarnoff, Reinhardt & Bloch, S.C., of Milwaukee; and Ronald P. Britton,
S.C., of Milwaukee.

Lewis is a partner with Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll P.L.L.C., a
national class action law firm with offices in Washington, D.C., and
Seattle, Washington.

Cohen, Milstein regularly litigates plaintiffs' class action cases,
including those involving antitrust, health care, consumer protection,
product liability, civil rights, securities and other business class
actions, as well as environmental toxic tort actions.

Contact: Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll Richard S. Lewis, 202/408-4608
or Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein John R. Low-Beer, 212/355-9500

MEDICAL MANAGER: 11th Cir Upholds Dismissal of Securities Suit re Y2K
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, in a March 30, 2001 decision,
upheld an earlier decision dismissing a securities class action against
Medical Manager Corporation and its directors and officers. The company
was acquired by WebMD (Nasdaq: HLTH) in 2000. The action, originally
brought in the fall of 1998 on behalf of investors who claimed the
company failed in its prospectus to adequately disclose information about
Y2K compliance issues, was originally dismissed in January of 2000. It
was the first Y2K securities case in the country. The affirmation closes
the case.

"It is gratifying to see the conclusion of this case, and the
acknowledgement that Medical Manager Corporation did, in fact, provide
enough information for an investor to evaluate risks involved with
investing," said Larry Silverman, a shareholder with Akerman Senterfitt,
who represented Medical Manager.

The Judge agreed with the earlier ruling that Medical Manager made
forward-looking statements in the company prospectus that were protected
by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act.

Steve Hartz, Larry Silverman and Chris Carver of Akerman Senterfitt's
Miami office represented Medical Manager in the two-and-a-half year legal
battle. "The Court granted a clean win," said Hartz. "It also granted our
cross-appeal and is remanding the case to the District solely to
determine whether the case should be deemed frivolous under Rule 11 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. We are, of course, delighted with
the decision."

A copy of the decision may be viewed at

WebMD Corporation provides connectivity and a full suite of services to
the healthcare industry for improving administrative efficiencies and
clinical effectiveness enabling high-quality patient care.

MERRILL LYNCH: Milberg Weiss Announces Securities Suit Filed in N.Y.
law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP announces that a
class action lawsuit was filed on April 10, 2001, on behalf of purchasers
of the B2B Internet Holdrs Depositary Receipts (AMEX:BHH) between,
February 23, 2000 to April 9, 2001 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/merrill/

The action, numbered, 01 Civ. 3023, is pending in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York, located at 500
Pearl Street, New York, NY against defendants Merrill Lynch, Pierce,
Fenner & Smith Incorporated, Merrill Lynch & Co., Ahmass L. Fakahany,
John L. Steffens, E. Stanley O'Neal and George A. Schieren. The lawsuit
alleges claims under Sections 11, 12 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933
and seeks to recover damages.

The complaint alleges that the B2B Internet Holdrs depositary receipts
were "basket securities" whose price was directly related to, and moved
with, the price of 20 underlying securities held in the B2B Internet
Holdrs trust. The complaint further alleges that defendants violated the
federal securities laws by issuing and selling B2B Internet Holdrs
Depositary Receipts, in an IPO on February 23, 2000, pursuant to a
registration statement and prospectus that were materially false and
misleading because they failed to disclose that a substantial proportion
of the B2B Internet Holdrs trust's initial portfolio consisted of stocks
whose prices had been artificially inflated through the use of improper
practices relating to their initial public offering, and that they
therefore traded at artificially inflated prices. The price of B2B
Internet Holdrs has fallen from a March 14, 2000 high of $108 per B2B
Internet Holdr to a low of $4.26 on April 3, 2001.

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

NAPSTER INC: Fd Judge Calls Failure to Block Copyright Songs a Disgrace
her harshest rebuke since last summer, a federal judge Tuesday called
Napster's failure to block copyrighted songs from its service
"disgraceful" and once again raised the specter of shutting down the
online music-swapping service to stop piracy.

An attorney for songwriters presented U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn
Hall Patel with a list of more than 1,000 copies of two songs --
"Unchained Melody" and "Jailhouse Rock" -- that remain on Napster, more
than a year after songwriters demanded they be removed. Indeed, the
lawyer, Carey Ramos, said he could still find 84 percent of the
copyrighted music on the Napster system as recently as Monday.

"That I think is disgraceful," said Patel, pinching an inch-thick list of
copyrighted songs found on Napster. "With all the notice that you've had,
there are this many copies of 'Unchained Melody' on the system. You had
better find a way to get them off the system."

Tuesday's routine hearing to discuss Napster's compliance with Patel's
March 6 injunction that ordered it to block access to copyrighted songs
turned so rancorous Patel suggested that attorneys for Napster and the
record labels might want to "take it outside."

The record labels and songwriters repeated claims made in court
documents: that Napster's filtering efforts are a digital
smoke-and-mirror act that still leaves vast parts of their catalog
exposed to piracy.

Napster attorney Robert Silver depicted Napster's filtering efforts as
costly, elaborate and broad, resulting in the service blocking access to
some 1.3 billion song files and cutting the number of files available for
swapping in half.

Patel pressed Silver, asking how Napster's filtering could work so
effectively -- and still leave so many copies of songs free for the

Silver said Napster could filter out "99.9 percent" of the copyrighted
songs, but it can't catch every copy of every song. Individual tracks
will continue to float around the system, undetected, he said.

"Maybe the system needs to be closed down," said Patel.

Napster sought to portray Patel's questions as a rhetorical in nature --
not as a threat. Attorney Jonathan Schiller said officials from Napster
and the record labels will meet Friday with Patel's newly appointed
technical expert, A.J. "Nick" Nichols, to review the technical details of
Napster's filtering efforts -- and make recommendations to the judge on
how to improve the system.

The compliance dispute came at the end of a more-than-three-hour hearing,
in which Patel heard a series of other, procedural motions. Songwriters,
the majority of whom are represented by the Harry Fox Agency in New York,
asked Patel to recognize composers as a "class" whose rights would be
recognized in the copyright-infringement case.

Patel did not rule in the class-certification issue.

Another attorney, Hannah Bentley, argued that independent artists and
record labels from around the world should also be recognized as a
distinct "class." Patel indicated that she would reject the motion,
noting the proposal failed to meet the basic criteria: namely, an
identifiable group whose work is protected under U.S. copyright laws.

Patel also reacted coolly to an attempt by Matthew Katz, the original
producer for the classic rock bands Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape and
It's a Beautiful Day, to sue Napster's executives -- including Chief
Executive Hank Barry and founder Shawn Fanning -- along with venture
capital firm Hummer Winblad for copyright infringement.

Separately Tuesday, Napster said it has acquired the technology of
Gigabeat to add new music search and indexing features to Napster's

Along with the music indexing technology, Gigabeat co-founders Wilburt
Labio and Narayanan Shivakumar, as well as the Gigabeat engineering team,
have joined Napster. (San Jose Mercury News, April 11, 2001)

According to the Chicago Tribune, the judge appeared to take a dim view
of efforts to amplify Napster Inc.'s legal troubles but didn't
immediately rule Tuesday on requests to allow thousands of music
publishers, songwriters and other artists to join the case.

The National Music Publishers' Association asked the judge to certify its
26,000 members as a class deserving payments from Napster for copyright
songs that have been illegally traded. Lawyers for another group of
musicians also asked for class-action status. "I'm not going to supervise
the whole world," U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel said.

Patel also suggested she would dismiss Napster's major financial backers,
including acting Chief Executive Hank Barry and a San Francisco venture
capital firm, from the case. (Chicago Tribune, April 11, 2001)

NEW YORK LIFE: Insurer Settles with Armenian Genocide Heirs
A multimillion- dollar settlement has been reached in a class-action
lawsuit on behalf of heirs of the Armenian Genocide for unpaid life
insurance benefits against New York Life Insurance Co.

The class action represents thousands of ethnic Armenians living in the
United States and abroad (Marootian, et al. v. New York Life Insurance
Company). As part of the settlement, New York Life agreed To contribute
$3 million to Armenian civic organizations in addition to paying class
members 10 times the face-value amount of the policy on valid claims made
to the company.

New York Life, an American corporatiov, sold life insurance policies to
Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) during the period
prior to the Armenian Genocide, which began in 1915. Because Armenians
were killed or forced to flee their homes during the genocide, life
insurance policies, as were other important papers, were lost or

"As part of the settlement, New York Life will publish a list of names of
families who purchased life insurance in Turkey during the time prior to
the genocide," said Brian Kabateck, lead attorney for the class and
partner with the Los Angeles law firm of Quisenberry & Kabateck LLP.

"This is the first time New York Life has agreed to disclose this list.
Now, heirs of those policyholders will be able to file claims and New
York Life will pay these claims with interest."

"We appreciate New York Life for being forthcoming in providing a list of
insureds upon which we were able to have meaningful discussions and reach
a well-deserved settlement. This is in sharp contrast to the European
insurers that have not been as forthcoming with policyholder
information," said William M. hernoff, co-counsel in the lawsuit.

From 1915 to approximately 1920, more than 1.5 million Armenians were
murdered at the hands of the Ottoman Turks and tens of thousands more
were deported in what was the 20th century's first genocide. Today,
outside of the Republic of Armenia, the United States, in particular
California, is home to the largest population of Armenians in the world.

"It's appropriate that we reached this settlement in April," said
Kabateck, whose maternal ancestors were victims of the Armenian Genocide.

"On April 24, Armenians around the world will commemorate the 86th
anniversary of the genocide. New York Life's acknowledgment of the
genocide and the help it is giving to those who suffered is commendable.
They are one of the few companies, internationally, to acknowledge the
genocide and the tremendous impact it has on history."

Marootian, et al. v. New York Life Insurance Company was originally filed
in November 1999 yn federal court in Los Angeles. Representing the class
are Kabateck of Quisenberry & Kabateck LLP, Shernoff of Shernoff Bidart &
Darras, and Varkes Yeghiayan of Yeghiayan & Associates.

Contact: Quisenberry & Kabateck LLP, Los Angeles LaShawn King,
310/785-7966, ext. 203 www.qklaw.com or Shernoff Bidart & Darras,
Claremont, Calif. Carla Levenson, 909/621-4935, ext. 234

NY CITY: Panel Dismisses Challenge to Federal Oversight of AIDS Services
three-judge panel dismissed New York City's challenge to federal
oversight of the city's Division of AIDS Services and Income Support.

The decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
sent the matter back to Federal District Court. In their ruling, the
judges said they did not have jurisdiction in the case.

The city was appealing last year's decision by a federal judge in
Brooklyn who ruled that the city agency had failed to provide adequate
services for thousands of people with AIDS. In that ruling, the judge,
Sterling Johnson Jr., ordered the agency placed under a federal monitor
for three years. Judge Johnson found that the agency had delayed or ended
subsistence benefits like emergency housing, rent assistance, food stamps
and Medicaid that it administers for about 25,000 New Yorkers who have
AIDS or are H.I.V. positive. His ruling, delivered in September 2000,
specified no required action on the part of the city.

The federal judges considering the city's appeal stated that they lacked
jurisdiction to overturn the original ruling since the district court had
yet to determine what action the city had to take. "We will be able to
appeal again once the case becomes final," said Leonard Koerner, the
city's chief assistant corporation counsel. "The merits of the case shall
be reviewed again by circuit court at a later date."

The ruling on the agency, an arm of the Human Resources Administration,
came after the conclusion of a class-action lawsuit brought by Housing
Works Inc., an AIDS service and awareness group. "We had hoped they would
have simply upheld the lower court decision," said Armen Merjian, a
Housing Works lawyer. "But it was not wholly unexpected. They raised the
issue and indicated this might be one way they would rule. Substantially,
there's been no change." (The New York Times, April 11, 2001)

OPUS360 CORP: eBusiness Software Provider Reports Shareholder Suit in NY
Opus360 Corporation (Nasdaq: OPUS), a leading provider of eBusiness
software for acquiring and managing skilled professionals, reported that
it has been named as a defendant in a class action complaint, filed April
6, 2001 in United States District Court in the Southern District of New
York, alleging violation of federal securities laws.

The Company believes the claims described in the complaint are without
merit and will vigorously contest the complaint.

                   About Opus360 Corporation

Opus360 provides eBusiness software to enable companies to manage and
acquire skilled professionals strategically.

SOUTHERN CO: CA Suits Allege of Manipulation of Wholesale Power Markets
Five lawsuits have been filed in the superior courts of California
alleging that certain owners of electric generation facilities in
California, including Southern Company, engaged in various unlawful and
anticompetitive acts that served to manipulate wholesale power markets
and inflate wholesale electricity prices in California. Four of the suits
seek class action status. One lawsuit naming Southern Company, Mirant,
and other generators as defendants alleges that, as a result of the
defendants' conduct, customers paid approximately $4 billion more for
electricity than they otherwise would have and seeks an award of treble
damages, as well as other injunctive and equitable relief. The other
suits likewise seek treble damages and equitable relief. While two of the
suits name Southern Company as a defendant, it appears that the
allegations, as they may relate to Southern Company, are directed to
activities of subsidiaries of Mirant. One such suit names Mirant itself
as a defendant. Southern Company has notified Mirant of its claim for
indemnification for costs associated with these actions under the terms
of the master separation agreement that governs the spin off of Mirant.
Mirant has undertaken the defense of all of the claims. The final outcome
of these lawsuits cannot now be determined.

Previously, SOUTHERN owned all the outstanding common stock of Mirant. In
April 2000, SOUTHERN announced an initial public offering of up to 19.9
percent of Mirant and its intentions to spin off the remaining ownership
of Mirant to SOUTHERN's common stockholders within 12 months of the
initial stock offering. On October 2, 2000, Mirant completed an initial
public offering of 66.7 million shares. On February 19, 2001, SOUTHERN's
board of directors approved the spin off of the remaining ownership of
272 million Mirant shares to be completed in a tax free distribution on
April 2, 2001. As a result of the spin off, SOUTHERN's financial
statements and related information in Item 8 herein reflect Mirant as
discontinued operations.

TAINTED BLOOD: 5 International Firms to Pay HIV-Infected Haemophiliacs
Five international drug companies have agreed a GBP 5.3 million
settlement in a claim by 60 haemophiliacs who were infected with HIV by
contaminated blood products.

The settlement figure includes GBP4 million in general and special
damages and GBP1.32 million in legal costs. Ivor Fitzpatrick & Co, the
Dublin solicitors who are handling the High Court claim, have told the
haemophiliacs that the lawyers and other experts "have agreed to accept a
reduction in their fees" and have "all agreed to be paid on a scaled-down

The haemophiliacs have been told that the deal is strictly confidential,
and must not be discussed with anyone else.

The settlement figure represents a 150 per cent increase on the original
offer of GBP1.8 million plus GBP350,000 costs in November 1998. In
February last year, following "ongoing and intensive negotiations", that
offer was increased to GBP3 million, plus GBP1 million towards costs. The
costs in the original settlement offer represented 19 per cent of the
damages; they total one third of the current offer.

The five drug companies involved are Armour Pharmaceutical Company Inc,
Baxter Healthcare Corp, Miles Laboratories Inc, Immuno Ltd and
Osterreichisches Institut fur Haemoderivate GesmbH. The High Court
proceedings, issued in 1993, seek damages for HIV infection through
contaminated factor concentrates.

Armour (which supplied Factorate concentrate) and Baxter (which supplied
Hemofil) provided most of the blood products used by Irish haemophiliacs
between 1979 and 1986.

Tens of thousands of documents were made available by the drug companies
during the course of the High Court action.

Tests on blood samples obtained by High Court order from the Virus
Reference Laboratory in Dublin proved that most of the haemophiliacs had
been infected within a short period of time.

Some of the haemophiliacs involved have died since the proceedings
started. Survivors have to take substantial quantities of drugs every day
in order to stay alive. The daily drugs for each victim can cost the
state more than GBP300 much of which returns to the drug companies in

A number of the haemophiliacs also contracted hepatitis C from the
infected blood products. It is understood that the drug companies wanted
to be indemnified against any future claim in relation to hepatitis C,
but eventually agreed to settle on the basis of HIV infection alone, on
the basis that the haemophiliacs could claim full compensation from the
Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal. Awards by the tribunal are funded by
the state. The settlement is being made without admission of liability on
the part of the drugs companies.

A new HIV Compensation Tribunal is now being set up by the government.
Fitzpatrick's has sought an assurance from the Attorney General that
draft legislation setting up the tribunal will not bar the haemophiliacs
from making a further claim to the new tribunal. A spokesman for the
Department of Health said it was the minister's intention that a
haemophiliac who had received compensation from the drugs companies would
still be entitled to take a case to the compensation tribunal.

The proposed settlement is conditional on acceptance by all 60
haemophiliacs. It is understood that 59 of them have agreed to accept the
offer, but one is still refusing to accept the terms of the settlement.

Each plaintiff was asked to sign an "authorisation to negotiate
settlement", agreeing to accept a specified minimum compensation figure.
In many cases, that figure was GBP30,000, the lower limit of the
jurisdiction of the High Court. The rest of the settlement fund (less
legal expenses) would be apportioned individually by an "independent
expert" elected by the haemophiliacs. The size of each individual award
would depend on a number of factors, including the amount of compensation
received in other claims.

Fitzpatrick's asked a number of senior counsel and retired judges whether
they would act as independent experts. Three lawyers indicated their
willingness to act: former Supreme Court justice Jonah Barrington, former
Bar Council chairman John McMenamin and Bar Council vice-chairman Denis
McCullough. Ballot papers were sent out to the 60 plaintiffs and
Barrington was elected by a majority.

In the case of haemophiliacs who have already died and who have dependent
children, the High Court will decide the size of the payout.
Fitzpatrick's say they won't discuss the size of any settlement with any
of the other plaintiffs.

The GBP1.32 million in legal costs, including Vat, will be divided
between Ivor Fitzpatrick & Co, three senior counsel, nine junior counsel
and a number of experts. The haemophiliacs will have to pay separately
the costs of the independent expert and a $ 1,000 fee for access to a US
court document depository out of their damages award. (Sunday Business
Post, April 8, 2001)

TOBACCO LITIGATION: NY Ct Hears Cert. Arguments In Punitive Damages Case
A New York federal judge on March 15 heard oral arguments on whether or
not a mandatory, non-opt out fraudulent conduct and punitive damages case
should be certified as a class action (In re: Simon II Litigation, No.
00-CV-5332, Simon, et al. v. Philip Morris Inc., et al., No. 99-CV-1988,
Decie, et al. v. The American Tobacco Co. Inc., et al., No. 00-CV-2340,
Ebert, et al. v. Philip Morris Inc., et al., No. 00-CV-4632, Mason, et
al. v. The American Tobacco Co. Inc., et al., No. 00-CV-4442, The
National Asbestos Workers Medical Fund, et al. v. Philip Morris Inc., et
al., No. 98-CV-1492, Bergeron, et al. v. Philip Morris Inc., et al., No.
99-CV-6142, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey Inc., et al. v.
Philip Morris Inc., et al., No. 98-CV-3287, H.K. Porter Co. Inc. v. The
American Tobacco Co., et al., No. 97-CV-7658, Raymark Industries Inc. v.
The American Tobacco Co., et al., No. CV-0675, Falise, et al. v. The
American Tobacco Co., et al., No. 99-CV-7392, E.D. N.Y.; See 2/26/01,
Page 10).

                      Classes, Subclasses

In the Simon I class, the plaintiffs seek compensatory damages for cancer
due to its members' smoking and punitive damages. The Simon II class
involves a broader class of people who may have been injured by tobacco
and includes those suing in Simon I.

In an amended complaint, the Simon II plaintiffs seek an adjudication of
common liability issues, adjudication of punitive damages and declaratory
relief. The Simon II plaintiffs seek certification of a mandatory,
non-opt-out class of people who are alleged to have been harmed by
willful, wanton and oppressive misconduct by the tobacco defendants to
determine the tobacco companies' total liability for punitive damages.

Plaintiffs seek certification of a fraudulent conduct class, which would
determine the issues relating to the tobacco defendants' alleged
fraudulent, deceptive and conspiratorial course of conduct. This proposed
class would exclude the plaintiffs in Falise, et al. v. The American
Tobacco Co., et al. (No. 99-CV-7392, E.D. N.Y.) and Blue Cross and Blue
Shield of New Jersey Inc., et al. v. Philip Morris Inc., et al. (No.
98-CV-3287, E.D. N.Y.).

Plaintiffs also seek certification of a punitive damages class, which
would include all people who fall under the proposed subclasses: (1) all
people in the United States who have smoked defendants' cigarettes from
1920 through the date of class notice and who have been diagnosed with
certain smoking-related diseases, (2) the estates or personal
representatives of smokers who have died due to smoking-related
illnesses, (3) all people who have smoked defendants' cigarettes at any
time from 1920 through the date of class notice but who are not as of
that date suffering from a smoking-related disease, (4) any smoker who
has received medical treatment for smoking-related diseases, the cost of
which were paid in whole or in part by the U.S. Medicare Administration,
(5) all people with pending civil actions which have not proceeded to
final judgment, (6) all multi-employer health benefit plans established
under the Labor Management Relations Act that, as of Sept. 6, 2000, have
paid to detect, diagnose or treat certain smoking-related diseases, (7)
all other non-governmental entities in the United States who have
asserted claims on behalf of themselves or others and (8) certain
asbestos entities and asbestos entities' trusts, including all
manufacturers, distributors, and asbestos producers, and all asbestos
entities that are bankrupt.

                      Certification Sought

In a Dec. 22 motion for class certification, the Simon II plaintiffs
argue that the numerosity requirement is met because each of the classes
and subclasses are so numerous that joinder is impracticable.

Likewise, the plaintiffs maintain that the commonality requirement is
satisfied because there are questions of law common to each of the class
and subclass members.

"Because all issues concerning Defendants' fraudulent, deceptive, and
conspiratorial conduct (based on the same decades-long course of
behavior) and liability for punitive damages arise from factual questions
relating to Defendants' wanton and willful course of conduct and
financial condition, which do not vary from class member to class member,
proof of Defendants' fraudulent and deceptive conduct and entitlement to
punitive damages will be common to all class members and can be tried on
a classwide basis," the plaintiffs assert.

Additionally, plaintiffs maintain that the typicality requirement is met
because each class and subclass members' claims arise from the same
common course of fraudulent and malicious conduct by defendants, and each
class and subclass member must make substantially the same legal and
factual arguments to establish defendants' misconduct with respect to the
fraud and fraudulent concealment claims.


Moreover, plaintiffs maintain that the adequacy requirement is met
because there are no conflicts of interest among plaintiffs and members
of the subclass who are each separately represented and because
plaintiffs have retained counsel qualified to conduct the litigation.

"Certification of the Fraudulent conduct Class and Subclasses is also
appropriate because it is superior to the only other method available for
the adjudication of Defendants' fraudulent, deceptive and conspiratorial
conduct - individual litigation and trial," the plaintiffs add.

The smokers further argue that certification of the proposed classes and
subclasses, in conjunction with an overall trial structure, will permit
the claims to be adjudicated in a fair, efficient and manageable way.


In a Feb. 26 consolidated opposition, Philip Morris, RJR, Lorillard and
B&W note that the U.S. Supreme Court have twice rejected class
certification in mass tort cases, citing Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp. (527
U.S. 815 [1999]) and Amchem Products Inc. v. Windsor (521 U.S. 591

"Attempting to evade the unanimous federal authorities rejecting
certification, plaintiffs seek certification of only two supposedly
'common issues' - issues related to defendants' allegedly fraudulent
conduct and to punitive damages. As for the myriad of other, concededly
individual issues, plaintiffs would have this Court simply ignore them
for purposes of class certification. But the Court cannot ignore these
individual issues," the tobacco companies argue. "The sad truth is that
plaintiffs' 'trial plan' is a cruel hoax on the plaintiff class and the
judicial system."

Noting that Simon II purports to be a limited consolidation of 10 other
lawsuits already pending before the court, the tobacco companies argue
that the plaintiffs have not met their class certification requirements.

The tobacco companies add that punitive damages cannot be awarded to the
class on a limited fund theory or any other basis prior to a
determination of liability and compensatory damages to the class.

                         'Due Process'

"Another defect in the proposed certification is that it would trample
upon the due process rights of absent class members by adjudicating their
claims without providing sufficient notice or any opportunity to
opt-out," the defendants maintain.

The defendants add that there are serious conflicts that preclude class
certification and, because each of the conflicts exist within the various
subclasses, plaintiffs' breakdown of the case into subclasses does not
solve the problem.

"Even plaintiffs' purportedly common issues regarding whether defendants
engaged in fraud are individualized. Any special verdict form in
plaintiffs' proposed fraudulent conduct trial would have to cover a broad
range of conduct, and make countless individual findings concerning
discrete events, advertisements, and other actions over time. The
vastness of this enterprise belies any notion that common issues could
possibly predominate," the companies add.


On brief for the plaintiffs are Steven E. Fineman, Robert L. Lieff,
Richard M. Heimann, Elizabeth J. Cabraser and Robert J. Nelson of Lieff,
Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein in New York, Thomas M. Sobol of Lieff
Cabraser in Boston, Perry Weitz, Robert J. Gordon, Jerry Kristal, Richard
Akel and John M. Broaddus of Weitz & Luxenberg in New York, M. Frederick
Pritzker and Gregory T. Arnold of Brown, Rudnick, Freed in Boston and Jon
W. Barrett of Barrett Law Offices in Lexington, Miss.

Philip Morris is represented by Murray R. Garnick, David S. Eggert and
Eric Suter of Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C. RJR is represented by
Theodore M. Grossman of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue in Cleveland, Robert
H. Klonoff of Jones Day in Washington, D.C., and Harold K. Gordon, Byron
Stier and George Kostolampros of Jones Day in New York.

B&W is represented by David M. Bernick of Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago and
Peter A. Bellacosa of Kirkland & Ellis in New York. Lorillard is
represented by Alan Mansfield and Stephen L. Saxl of Greenberg Traurig in
New York and John K. Sherk III, Holly M. Pauling and Rebecca J. Schwartz
of Shook Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City, Mo. (Mealey's Litigation Report:
Tobacco, March 26, 2001)

TOBACCO LITIGATION: U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Targets Attorney Fees
A group representing more than 3 million American businesses launched an
assault March 14 on what it claims are "excessive" attorney fees paid to
private counsel representing states in tobacco litigation that yielded $
246 billion in settlements.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed 21 Freedom of Information Act requests
seeking all documents and contracts pertaining to the hiring of outside
counsel in tobacco litigation, whether competitive bidding was involved,
how much time was spent on the cases, whether any attorneys had made
contributions to state officials and the size of the attorney fees
awarded. The organization called on Congress to investigate the
"excessive legal fees."

"If we allow these trial lawyers to collect this massive windfall, the
damage to our economy could be incalculable," Chamber President and CEO
Thomas Donohue said. "They've made no secret of the fact that a portion
of those billions of dollars are earmarked for new causes of action, with
new businesses and industries on their 'hit' list. The threat is real and
no industry is immune."

Not surprisingly, trial lawyers are firing back at the Chamber's
allegations that the fees are "excessive."

"Not one penny of taxpayer dollars paid any attorney a dime in any of the
tobacco cases," Association of Trial Lawyers of America President Fred
Baron told the Los Angeles Times. "The states benefited dramatically from
that litigation."

The Chamber's Institute of Legal Reform said it is planning to introduce
legislation later this year in an attempt to curb what it views as some
of the excesses of class action lawsuits. (Mealey's Litigation Report:
Tobacco, March 26, 2001)

U.K. HOSPITALS: Families Seek Group Litigation Order re Organs Scandal
families of patients whose organs were retained by hospitals without
informed permission began an attempt on April 10 to start a national
class action for compensation.

Lawyers acting for the National Committee Relating to Organ Retention
(Nacor), which has 900 members, said an application has been made to the
High Court for a group litigation order.

A solicitor, Mervyn Fudge, said the application, which will be heard on
11 May, relates to the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. But it is
intended to pave the way for claims relating to 134 hospitals across
Britain. The proposed action will be a separate claim to the cases at
Alder Hey hospital, in Liverpool, which are already being treated

Mr Fudge, who was legal adviser for the Bristol Heart Children Action
Group in the Bristol Royal Infirmary inquiry, said: "It involves one case
against Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. The purpose of this is to
enfranchise all the people affected. It in no way singles out Leeds."

Litigation began in Liverpool after the Redfern report on Alder Hey
hospital. But the judge, Mr Justice Penry-Davey, agreed that this group
litigation order would only be in relation to Alder Hey and associated
hospitals in Liverpool.

Mr Fudge said: "I am sure the rest of the country does not want the
perception that justifiable claims are being left behind while Alder Hey
progresses." (The Independent (London), April 11, 2001)

WAR LITIGATION: Former Forced Laborers In Australia Seek
than 7,000 post-World War II migrants to Australia and New Zealand may be
eligible for compensation being paid to people forced into slave labor by
the Nazis, a migrant group said Wednesday.

Members of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said some
3,000 people in Australia and New Zealand have already applied for a
share of a 10 billion Deutsche mark (dlrs 4.5 billion) fund set up by the
German government and industry, but urged another 4,000 potentially
eligible people to apply before the Aug. 11 deadline.

Thousands of people, many of them from southern and eastern Europe,
emigrated to Australia and New Zealand after the war.

IOM director general Brunson McKinley said his organization expects to
handle claims from 200,000 people around the world by the Aug. 11

People who were put to work by the Nazis will be eligible for up to
15,000 Deutsche marks (dlrs 7,000) each in line with their suffering and
loss. ''No one is pretending that this ... could compensate adequately
these people who suffered as slave laborers,'' McKinley said. ''(The
money) is a form of recognition to say to the people who did go through
this harrowing experience that they are not forgotten.''

However, it is uncertain when victims would see the money, as a class
action lawsuit brought by a small group of former forced laborers remains
unresolved in the United States.

Under an agreement last year, German companies insisted on ''legal
peace'' in U.S. courts meaning a resolution of all pending lawsuits
seeking money in return for compensation.

McKinley said the IOM is hopeful that the lawsuit will be dismissed in
May, and that payments can be made from July. All claims would be subject
to checks in case of fraudulent petitions, he said.

McKinley said it is disappointing that many people forced into slave
labor by the Nazis had died before their suffering could be recognized.
''I think that this particular group of people were a little bit
forgotten and overlooked because there were many other groups that were
ahead of them and making there claims in a loud and more forceful
manner,'' he said. ''We want to find everybody who qualifies and help
them make a claim.'' (AP Worldstream, April 11, 2001)


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

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