/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/030114.mbx               C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R
               Tuesday, January 14, 2003, Vol. 5, No. 9


CANADA: Ottawa Fights Church Win In Residential Schools Abuse Lawsuit
CREDIT CARD: Visa, Mastercard Ask Judge To Dismiss Retailers' Lawsuit
eFUNDS CORPORATION: Firm, Top Execs Face Securities Fraud Lawsuit in WI
FIRST SECURITY: Acquisition Papers Must Be Turned Over To Shareholders
FLORIDA: County Passes Controversial Zoning Change For Historic Beach

FLORIDA: Reparation For Canker Program Damages Sought In Supreme Court
HOMELAND SECURITY: Non-Liability For Vaccine Makers Removed From Bill
LOCKFORMER: Ordered To Clean Up Pollution, Lisle Okays Shed For Cleanup
LOUISIANA: Tainted-Water Pact Hits Snag, Parish Hopes To Avoid Trial
MICROSOFT: Reaches $1.1B Accord With Consumers For Antitrust Violations

NEW JERSEY: Sues Gemstar, Tenet Healthcare Over State's Pension Losses
NEW JERSEY: Lawsuit Filed As Foster Care Loses Track Of 110 Abuse Cases
NEW MEXICO: Judge Says Retirement Home Excessively Charged Residents
NIKE INC.: Supreme Court To Consider Scope Of Corporate Free Speech
NORTH CAROLINA: Residents File Lawsuit V. Out-Of-State Mortgage Lender

RECORDING INDUSTRY: Attorneys General Settle Consumer Antitrust Suit
SOTHEBY'S: Attempts To Improve Financials In Effort To Sell Company
SUPREME COURT: Plans To Conduct Review On Arbitration Rules
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Flight Attendant Wins New Trial v. Tobacco Firms
TEXAS: Uni's Medical Branch Fights Release of Willed Body Program Info

UNITED STATES: INS Sets Special Registration Deadline For Muslim Men
UNITED STATES: Motion To Dismiss Air Force Discrimination Suit Denied
UNITED STATES: Peanut Growers Await Word On Two Lawsuits Against USDA
VIVENDI UNIVERSAL: Plaintiffs File Consolidated Securities Fraud Suit

*Stanford Clearinghouse Says 2002 Saw Record Number of Securities Suits

                     New Securities Fraud Cases   

BIO-TECHNOLOGY GENERAL: Dekel-Sabo Law Office Files Fraud Lawsuit in NJ
FOOTSTAR INC.: Bernstein Liebhard Commences Securities Suit in S.D. NY
HOTELS.COM: Milberg Weiss Lodges Securities Fraud Lawsuit in N.D. TX
LEAP WIRELESS: Shepherd Finkelman Probes Possible Securities Violations


CANADA: Ottawa Fights Church Win In Residential Schools Abuse Lawsuit
Less than two months after it announced an historic deal with the
Anglican Church of Canada, pledging cooperation in resolving Indian
residential school claims, the federal government has launched legal
action to overturn the Church's most important residential school court
victory to date, the National Post reports.

The government and lawyers for former students of native schools have
filed notices to appeal a sweeping ruling, made by Justice T.F. McMahon
of the Alberta Court of Queens Bench.  The judge dismissed almost all
abuse claims against the Anglican Church by former students of
residential schools in Alberta. Justice McMahon said, that because the
schools were operated or supervised by the Missionary Society of the
Anglican Church -- not by the Church itself -- only the Society, a
separate corporation without significant assets, could be held liable
for the abuses sustained by former students of the residential schools
in Alberta.

The claimants are still free to sue the government, which owned the
schools.  However, the judgment prevents hundreds from also seeking
compensation from the General Synod of the Anglican Church.  The ruling
was hailed as a victory for the Church, which has spent millions of
dollars defending itself against residential school claims across

Additionally, the Alberta decision may have strengthened the Church's
position in its long negotiations with the federal government, in which
both parties were searching for ways to share the burden of residential
school claims.  In November, the two groups finally agreed to cooperate
on the issue, a deal about which Archdeacon James Boyles of the
Anglican General Synod said that it allows the Church to "generally
leave behind its entanglement in litigation."

Weeks later, however, the government filed papers appealing the Alberta
decision with the Alberta Court of Appeal, seeking to re-entangle the
Anglican Church in hundreds of lawsuits in that province.  This week,
lawyers for the native plaintiffs did the same thing.

However, a spirit of good will seems to prevail.  Mr. Boyles said that
the government filed the Alberta appeal to protect its interest, in the
event that the November agreement is not ratified by the Anglican
Church.  The November agreement provides that the leaders of the
Anglican Church will pay 30 percent of all compensation awarded in
validated claims against the government and the Church.  In return,
Ottawa would cap the Church's liabilities at $25 million and halt the
practice of dragging the Church into any lawsuits in which it was not
already named.

CREDIT CARD: Visa, Mastercard Ask Judge To Dismiss Retailers' Lawsuit
Visa, USA and MasterCard International asked a judge to dismiss a
lawsuit alleging the credit card heavyweights conspired to monopolize
the lucrative debit-card market, the Associated Press Newswires
reports.  "There is no evidence of a conspiracy," Kevin Arquit, an
attorney for MasterCard told US District Judge John Gleeson at a three-
hour hearing in Brooklyn federal court.

The merchants, who seek billions of dollars in damages in a class
action brought in 1996, claim a paper trail shows the defendants
deliberately set out to crush independent electronic networks that
charge merchants less.  Their policies have "harmed merchants and
raised prices for all consumers," said the retailer's lawyer, Lloyd

Judge Gleeson reserved decision on whether the case should go to trial
tentatively set for April.  The arguments were the latest round of a
legal dispute pitting Visa and MasterCard against Wal-Mart Stores Inc.,
Sears Roebuck and Co. and other merchants across the nation.

The retailers allege the defendants secretly schemed to extend their
dominance to debit cards by mandating an "honor all cards" policy,
meaning any merchant who accepts their credit cards must accept their
look-alike debit cards as well.  They claim excessive transaction fees
have cost them more than $15 billion in the past decade, costs which
are ultimately passed on to the consumer.  Visa and MasterCard used
legal means to make their own debit cards more widely accepted, and in
doing so improved the market for all debit cards, their lawyers said.

At issue is how debit cards are processed.  Both Visa and MasterCard
want merchants to require customers to sign for their transaction.  The
cost is about $1.50 per $100 transaction, with the profits going to the
credit card companies and their member banks.  When consumers use their
PIN identification number, instead, the transactions are processed over
independent electronic networks that also handle ATM transactions, at a
cost of about 30 cents per transaction.  Since the merchants pay the
processing fees, they favor PIN transactions.

Attorneys for the retailers renewed their claims that internal memos,
meeting minutes, depositions and other documents offer clear proof that
Visa and MasterCard violated US antitrust laws.  They consider
the paper trail sufficient basis for keeping their case in court.

eFUNDS CORPORATION: Firm, Top Execs Face Securities Fraud Lawsuit in WI
An investor has filed a lawsuit against eFunds Corp. and its top
executives, alleging they inflated financial results by overestimating
revenue and underestimating tax payments, Associated Press Newswires

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, seeks
class action status and compensatory damages for investors who bought
eFunds shares between February 2, 2001 and October 24, 2002.  The
investor, Harvey L. Poppel of Sarasota, County, Florida, bought a total
of 49,000 eFunds shares between February and November 2001.  If he had
been aware of the defendants' "misrepresentations and omissions," said
Mr. Poppel, he would not have bought those shares, the lawsuit said.

During the class period, eFunds repeatedly reported strong revenue and
net income growth.  The lawsuit alleged the defendants were involved in
a "fraudulent scheme" and knew the public documents they issued were
"materially false and misleading," and did not comply with generally
accepted accounting standards.

These actions helped to inflate eFunds' stock price, so investors were
trading at artificially high prices, the lawsuit said.  eFunds in March
said it was revising its previously announced results for 2001, because
of the way it accounted for purchases of Access Cash International LLC.
The revision resulted in a $5 million revenue reduction.  eFunds also
said in March that the Securities and Exchange Commission was
conducting an inquiry involving the restatement of some 2001 results.  
In November, eFunds said it would not release third-quarter results
until the SEC completed its investigation.

FIRST SECURITY: Acquisition Papers Must Be Turned Over To Shareholders
A New York judge has ruled that a law firm's documents related to Wells
Fargo Co.'s acquisition two years ago of Salt Lake City-based First
Security Corporation must be turned over to shareholders who are suing
First Security's officers and directors, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Leland Stenovich of Elko, Nevada, and other First Security shareholders
filed a class action in Utah just weeks before Wells Fargo completed
its acquisition of First Security.  The shareholder alleged that First
Security board Chairman Spencer Eccles and other directors breached
their fiduciary duty to shareholders by failing to get the best deal
possible for their company's stock.

The New York City-based law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
advised First Security on the acquisition and resisted disclosing
documents related to the deal, arguing they were subject to the
attorney-client privilege.  However, Justice Charles J. Tejada of the
Manhattan Supreme Court ruled that the law firm must disclose the
documents under a fiduciary exception to the attorney-client privilege.

"When a fiduciary retains an attorney to advise him or her in the
exercise of his or her fiduciary responsibilities, his or her
communications with that attorney are not absolutely protected from
inquiry by the beneficiaries for whom the fiduciary performs," Judge
Tejada said.

Judge Tejada ruled the exception applied to documents dated before
April 9, 2000, when First Security's board voted to approve its
acquisition by Wells Fargo.  Although the class action is pending in
Utah's 3rd District Court, Thomas Karrenberg, Salt Lake attorney for
First Security shareholders, said an additional legal action will have
to be brought in the New York courts to get the law firm to turn over
the documents.

The shareholders' lawsuit argues that Chairman Eccles' decision to sell
First Security to Wells Fargo was a rash decision, not grounded in the
well-being of First Security.  The shareholders say the decision was
motivated in part by a desire to spurn Zions Bancorporation, after
Zions' shareholders earlier had rejected their company's proposed
acquisition of  First Security.  Zions was considering making another
offer, but this was derailed by First Security's agreement with Wells

FLORIDA: County Passes Controversial Zoning Change For Historic Beach
Nassau County, Florida approved a controversial zoning change that
makes it easier to build on historic American Beach in Florida, after
nearly eight years of debate, Nassau Neighbors newspaper reports.  
Residents who want to preserve the historical character of the area and
property owners who want to develop their land are divided over the

Nassau County commissioners unanimously passed the ordinance that
loosens zoning restrictions in the area to make development easier.  It
changes land-use designations including minimum lot widths, lot areas,
lot coverages and permitted uses.  While, at the present time, some
portions of American Beach are zoned for commercial use, most of the
area is zoned only for residential use.

The commissioners' decision came after almost two hours of discussion
and public comment during their regular meeting.  After the ordinance
was passed, the reaction from the crowd was subdued.  Some of the
residents, however, like Gary Hunter, an American Beach resident and
property owner, did say they were preparing to bring a civil rights
class-action lawsuit against the county.  Residents, like Mr. Hunter,
who ardently fought against the zoning change, want to keep American
Beach as it is, in order to preserve its historic character.

Chiropractor David Fashingbauer, who has owned two vacant oceanfront
lots for three years, said the zoning change allows him to build a
"reasonable-sized" home without going to the county for a variance.  
"This zoning change is somewhat of a victory for people who want
American Beach to progress into the 21st century," Mr. Fashingbauer

American Beach, which is listed on the National Register of Historic
Places, was a resort area created for blacks in the 1930s when beaches
were segregated.  Today, it is a middle-class neighborhood of permanent
and summer homes surrounded by two resorts, the Amelia Island
Plantation and the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island.

FLORIDA: Reparation For Canker Program Damages Sought In Supreme Court
The Florida Supreme Court has become the battleground in the state's
effort to get rid of citrus canker, as homeowners try to convince the
justices that they deserve fair compensation when the state chops down
their healthy citrus trees, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

The case, Patchen vs. Department of Agriculture, is not related to the
injunction that stalled the citrus canker eradication program last May.  
However, it could have a defining impact on Florida class actions
involving more than 100,000 homeowners.

"They will be considering whether residential property owners are
entitled to seek redress in courts to recover compensation for the
destruction of their healthy trees," said Robert Gilbert, an attorney
representing the Patchens and thousands of homeowners in Broward and
Miami-Dade counties.  "Their decision will dictate the outcome of the
Patchen case and of class-action litigation throughout the state."

Citrus canker is a bacterial disease spread by wind and rain.  It
causes lesions and premature citrus fruit drop.  The state has
attempted to stop the spread of the disease by cutting down all citrus
trees within 1,900 feet of any infected tree.

Over the past several years, the policy has sparked outrage among tree
owners unwilling to give up their healthy trees.  Officially, the state
has argued that trees within 1,900 feet of an infection are exposed to
canker and are economically worthless.  "No compensation is required
when the department abates a nuisance," said Jack R. Reiter, the
attorney who represents the state on this issue.

Brian and Barbara Patchen, who live in Miami Beach, started the case
after their six trees were cut down on October 31, 2000.  They lost
their argument in the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami.  In papers
filed in the Supreme Court, the state argues that "the Patchens have no
greater right to compensation than any other tree owner whose exposed
and infected trees have been destroyed by the department."   The state
does give vouchers to tree owners whose property is seized, but owners
argue that the vouchers do not cover the full value of the lost trees.

The state pays $100 for the first tree and $55 for each additional
tree.  The Patchens want a jury to set the amount of compensation for
each tree.  Mr. Gilbert said, "If you have a healthy citrus tree in
your back yard and it is not infected with canker, it has a lot of
value."  However, the state has argued that the Supreme Court already
ruled in 1990, that exposed trees are as worthless as infected trees.

Broward Circuit Judge J. Leonard Fleeet ruled in May that the science
underlying the eradication program is flawed, and that the program
itself is unconstitutional.  That ruling, a temporary injunction a
separate case, is now being reviewed by the 4th District Court of
Appeal in West Palm Beach.

HOMELAND SECURITY: Non-Liability For Vaccine Makers Removed From Bill
Key Senators announced an agreement to remove from last year's Homeland
Security legislation several controversial items, including a provision
that would eliminate vaccine makers' liability for companies such as
Eli Lilly and Co., Dow Jones Business News reports.  The provision
would have greatly curtailed the opportunities for members of class
actions to pursue their claims of liability against vaccine makers,
particularly Eli Lilly, which currently is subject to many of these

"We have reached agreement," said Senate Majority Leader William Frist
(R-Tenn.).  The pact will be included in a catch-all spending bill
Congress is expected to pass later in the month, Senator Frist added.

The bill creating a new Department of Homeland Security, which Congress
approved in November of last year, contained three highly contentious
measures that drew protests from lawmakers.  When the bill passed
despite objections from a bipartisan group of House and Senate
lawmakers, Congressional leaders promised the group they would have the
opportunity to strip out and revise the items as soon as possible in
the new Congress, which recently returned to session.

Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lincoln
Chafee (R-R.I.) were particularly pleased to eliminate the most
egregious of the three measures, the provision that would limit the
liability of vaccine manufacturers.  The agreement also calls on the
Senate to pass a comprehensive reform to the Vaccine Injury
Compensation program in the next six months.

The Homeland Security bill would have expanded liability protections to
include additives, even mercury-based thimerosal, intended to protect
multi-dose bottles of vaccines from contaminants.  Producers of
thimerosal, including Eli Lilly, are currently subject to dozens of
individual and class actions.  The legislation would have subjected
those cases to the three-year statute of eliminations on vaccine-
related suits, and require litigants to first seek redress through the
Vaccine Injury Compensation program.

LOCKFORMER: Ordered To Clean Up Pollution, Lisle Okays Shed For Cleanup
As part of its cleanup of a potentially dangerous chemical that
contaminated nearby residents' drinking water, Lisle-based Lockformer
Co. is constructing a shed, to store equipment needed for the cleanup,
the Chicago Tribune reports.

The Lisle Village Board recently granted Lockformer a foundation permit
that will allow work to begin on the permanent addition to its current
factory.  Lisle officials are working with Lockformer to allow the
Company the needed permits related to the remediation, said Village
Manager Jerry Sprecher said.

The equipment housed in the structure will be used in the cleanup of
potentially toxic trichloroethylene, or TCE, that seeped into wells
near Lockformer's property over a period of several decades.

The Company agreed in May to pay $10 million to homeowners whose wells
were contaminated.  The payment settled a federal class action that the
homeowners brought against the company in November 2000.  Other suits
against the Company are pending.

LOUISIANA: Tainted-Water Pact Hits Snag, Parish Hopes To Avoid Trial
The St. Bernard Parish Council hoped to entertain a settlement offer
that would release it from a class action about a refinery discharge
that allegedly tainted drinking water, but attorney must still work out
some kinks, The Times-Picayune reports.

Attorneys for both sides said they still expect to see the parish and
its insurer removed as defendants, which would leave Chalmette Refining
LLC as the only defendant in the lawsuit, which is set to go to trial
May 12.  After a December 19 hearing, an agreement seemed to be reached
between the parties, but that seemed to have dissolved by the next day.  
Plaintiffs, said J. Wayne Mumphrey, attorney for the parish, have
additional factors that need to be addressed.  Sidney Torres,
plaintiffs' attorney, when reached by phone, said he still thinks the
settlement will go forward as discussed.

Although Mr. Mumphrey could not disclose the amount of the proposed
settlement apparently still on the table, he said the parish is self-
insured, which means it must pay the first $250,000 of any liability
claims.  It does, however, have an umbrella policy covering the next $1
million in claims.  At this point, it is unclear how much the
plaintiffs' attorney will receive from the settlement and how much
their clients will receive.

State District Judge Walter Kollin ruled in April 2000, that St.
Bernard Parish and Chalmette could face a class action because more
than 8,000 people said they became ill after chemicals discharged by
the refinery during a heavy rainstorm seeped into the parish water

Judge Kollin said the class certification does not assign blame to the
parish or the refinery, now co-owned by Exxon Mobil Corporation and
Chalmette Refining.  That will be decided at the trial.  The current
number of claimants stands at about 8,500.  However, the certification
does mean that anyone who used locally treated water after the
discharge and who suffered "physical, mental and/or emotional injuries,
fright, inconvenience, personal and medical expenses, economic damages,
and interruptions or intrusion" as a result is considered part of the
lawsuit and can file for damages.

MICROSOFT: Reaches $1.1B Accord With Consumers For Antitrust Violations
Microsoft Corporation reached a $1.1 billion settlement with consumers
in California who accused the software company of violating the state's
antitrust and unfair competition laws, an agreement called a "sellout"
by the state.

Under the terms of the recently announced agreement, proceeds of the
settlement will be distributed in the form of vouchers redeemable for
computers and software products.  The settlement stems from a class
action filed in 1999, on behalf of California consumers and businesses
and covers those who bought Microsoft's operating system, productivity
suite, spreadsheet or word processing software between February 1995
and December 2001.

Lawyers for both sides said the deal, which must be approved by a
judge, could benefit more than 13 million consumers and three million
children in 4,700 schools.  Details about how consumers could take
advantage of the voucher offers would only be spelled out after a judge
approves the agreement, said Microsoft lawyers.

Similar antitrust class actions have been filed in 16 other states.  
"California represented by far the largest number of remaining lawsuits
and by far the largest number of consumers affected," Microsoft general
counsel Brad Smith said.

Microsoft would not say whether it was negotiating agreements similar
to the California settlement with the other states.  These private
antitrust lawsuits are separate from a case Microsoft settled last year
with the Justice Department and several states.  The antitrust lawsuit
filed in California by a private San Francisco law firm was scheduled
to go to trial next month.  The final cost of the settlement will
depend on the number of California consumers submitting claims.

The settlement requires Microsoft to provide $1.1 billion in vouchers,
equivalent to 28.4 percent of all the money that California consumers
and businesses paid for Microsoft products from February 1995 to
December 2001.

Critics immediately blasted the deal, saying California sold out to
Microsoft in part because of a $34.6 billion budget deficit and the
continuing economic downturn.  Referring to the fact that justice was
purchased in the settlement at a very low price, John Perry Barlow,
co-founder and vice chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
said, "If there ever has been a company that abused antitrust law to
the detriment of consumers and the economy, it is Microsoft."

NEW JERSEY: Sues Gemstar, Tenet Healthcare Over State's Pension Losses
New Jersey has sued Gemstar-TV Guide International and Tenet Healthcare
Corp., accusing the companies of inflating revenue to boost stock
prices, causing $46 million in losses to state pension funds, the Tulsa
World reports.

The state's lawsuit alleges it lost $35 million on Gemstar and $10.8
million on Tenet because of inflated revenue, according to court papers
filed in California courts.  New Jersey petitioned a California court
to be lead plaintiff in the class action filed in November against
Tenet, a hospital owner.  That suit alleges Tenet inflated revenue, in
part by pushing patients into unnecessary heart surgery.  The stock
plunged when accounting irregularities were discovered.

Attorney General David Samson is trying to recover money for state
retirement funds, which lost $18 billion from August 2000 to the end of
October 2002.  State pension investments are now valued at $60 billion.
New Jersey filed suit last year against Tyco International Ltd.,
ElectronicData Systems Corp., Sears & Roebuck Co. and Qwest
Communications International to recover $150 million in pension losses.

Governor James McGreevey wants more oversight over the fund.  The
Governor named former Dime Bancorp chairman Anthony Terraccianot to the
investment board after the fund registered $6 billion in third-quarter

NEW JERSEY: Lawsuit Filed As Foster Care Loses Track Of 110 Abuse Cases
New Jersey's child welfare officials have lost track of 110 children in
suspected child abuse cases it is revealed, as caseworkers check their
files in the wake of the brutal child abuse death of Raheem Williams,
7, whose decomposed body was found in a plastic garbage bin.  Case
workers never investigated another 280 cases of alleged child abuse,
the Contra Costa Times reports.

"It is a very, very bad child welfare system," said Marcia Robinson
Lowry, one of the nation's leading child welfare attorneys, whose
organization, Children's Rights Inc. has brought a class action against
the state's foster care system.

In this particular case, Sherry Murphy, 41, a go-go dancer, was
entrusted with the care of Raheem and two brothers while their mother
was in jail.  Two of the children were discovered by Ms. Murphy's
boyfriend, emaciated and living in feces and vomit in her basement.  
Upon further search of the house they occupied, the decomposed body of
Faheem's twin was discovered in a plastic garbage bin.

There have been a string of abuse and neglect allegations against the
family, dating back to 1996.  A report in October 2001, that the boys
were burned and beaten by their family was not investigated.  Governor
James McGreevey, during a press conference, promised changes,
from buying new computers to hiring more experienced supervisors and
providing increased training.  "Today, I will not defend the status quo
because it is indefensible," he said.

However, state officials and legislators, along with well-known
children's advocates have known about problems at the state's
dysfunctional Division of Youth and Family Services, and at other parts
of the children's care system.  The caseworker and supervisor in this
case have been suspended with pay.  Ms. Murphy was arrested and charged
with child endangerment.

NEW MEXICO: Judge Says Retirement Home Excessively Charged Residents
An Albuquerque, New Mexico retirement home charged residents more than
$360,000 in exorbitant fees for over six years, a judge has ruled,
Associated Press Newswires reports.

Residents of Manzano del Sol, between 1993 and 1999, should recover
compensatory damages plus attorneys' fees and costs, because of the
overcharges, District Judge Wendy York ruled recently, according to
court documents.  The total could come to more than $750,000.  Judge
York has not yet entered a final judgment in the case.

Judge York's findings are based on a trial against the 152-bed senior
independent living facility.  Manzano del Sol is one of 200 senior
living-nursing homes nationwide, run by the nonprofit Evangelical
Lutheran Good Samaritan Society in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Good
Samaritan has disputed Judge York's findings and is considering an

"We believe rates were never increased more than the rate of expenses.
Our rates were at or below market rates," said Thomas Kapusta, Good
Samaritan's corporate vice president for legal affairs.

Judge York wrote in her ruling that Good Samaritan's auditor calculated
the return on equity to be as high as 26 percent in 1996, and during
that period Manzano del Sol accumulated "substantial reserves . with
over $9,715,529 in equity."  The facility breached its contract with
residents,  Judge York found, by not conducting an analysis required by
state law before imposing the fee increases.  Judge York rejected five
other claims made in the lawsuit, including unjust enrichment, breach
of covenant of good faith, breach of fiduciary duty or violation of the
Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Albuquerque attorney Eric Jeffries, who represented the residents,
estimated about 260 people fall under the class action and stand to
receive between $2,000 and $4,000 each.

The lawsuit was litigated under the state's Continuing Care Act, which
regulates economic aspects of continuing care facilities.  It lets
facilities raise fees periodically if there is adequate notice to
residents and if increases are based on economic necessity, cost of
care, operating costs and a reasonable return on investment.

NIKE INC.: Supreme Court To Consider Scope Of Corporate Free Speech
Sneaker maker Nike Inc. cleared the first hurdle in a Supreme Court
battle over the scope of corporate free-speech protection, Associated
Press Newswires reports.

The court said last Friday that it will consider when company
executives can be sued for how they respond to accusations about such
matters as running sweatshops or making dangerous products.  The case
involves what Nike says are unfounded allegations that workers who make
Nike products in overseas plants were mistreated, and that the company
lied about it.

In commercial speech cases, there is no First Amendment protection if
it can be proven that the information was false or misleading.  In
other types of free-speech cases, people who file lawsuits must prove
either negligence or actual malice.  Nike and companies that support it
contend they have full free-speech protection when responding to such
allegations.  Critics argue that companies that mislead the public
while trying to sell products should not be shielded.

For more than two decades the Supreme Court has struggled to define
commercial speech, which gets less protection than other types of
speech like political expression.  A coalition of companies, public
relations executives, newspapers and television stations had urged the
court to clarify the standard.

Some 30 news organizations, including ABC, CBS, NBC and top newspaper
chains, sided with Nike and argued in court filings that reporters will
not be able to get company executives to talk freely about the safety
of products, racial discrimination or environmental concerns about
their industry, because of the fear of lawsuits.

The result will be "inhibiting to the media's ability to compare both
viewpoints in order to ferret out the truth," the groups said in court
filings.  New York First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams said a lower
court watered down the free-speech protection businesses have in the
Nike case, and if the decision is not overturned by the Supreme Court
"corporations will speak less because they will be warned by their
lawyers and other business people to shut up, lest they be sued."

The cases arises from a campaign by Nike to defend wages, treatment of
workers and the health and safety conditions at Asian plants run by
subcontractors, where workers make tennis shoes and athletic wear with
the distinctive Nike swoosh logo.  The company was sued by San
Francisco activist Marc Kasky, who contends the company lied about how
much the employees earned and how they were treated.

Alan M. Caplan, one of the lawyers for Kasky, said companies need to be
held accountable for what they say when trying to sell products.  If
they aren't so held, they could falsely claim their products were made
in the United States or that workers were treated well.

Mr. Caplan said Nike put false statements about its labor practices in
a pamphlet distributed to reporters, in press releases, on the
Internet, in letters to organizations and in a letter to the editor --
all efforts to sell products.

A sharply split California Supreme Court ruled Nike could be sued under
a consumer protection law and that the defense campaign was commercial
speech.  The case has not gone to trial.  The high court will decide
before July if it will, and if others like it can follow.

Oregon-based Nike has hired a high-powered team of lawyers in its
Supreme Court appeal, including Harvard professor Laurence H. Tribe and
former US Solicitor General Walter Dellinger.  Mr. Tribe said that
under the California decision, companies cannot respond to critics.

"There is a draconian scheme in which one side is virtually unfettered
in what it can say that is critical of the business, and the other side
is shackled," Mr. Tribe said.  "The ultimate loser is the public."

NORTH CAROLINA: Residents File Lawsuit V. Out-Of-State Mortgage Lender
Borrowers across North Carolina were charged excessive and unnecessary
fees on mortgage loans by an out-of-state lender, according to a
lawsuit filed in Wake County Superior Court in Raleigh, The News &
Observer (Raleigh, NC) reports.

Community Bank of Northern Virginia, which is based in Sterling,
Virginia, charged excessively high fees for mortgage loan services that
never were provided, according to the lawsuit.  Jerome Hartzell, a
Raleigh lawyer representing the borrowers, estimates that the lawsuit
eventually could include at least 800 households in the state.  The
plaintiffs are demanding that the bank return the fees, which total
$1.2 million to $2.4 million.

Over the past six years, Community Bank has sent mortgage offers to
hundreds of people throughout the state.  Using court records and
reports from credit agencies, the bank targeted individuals who had
large amounts of credit-card debt and might be looking for additional
credit through a second home mortgage, said attorney Mallam J. Maynard,
director of the Financial Protection Law Center in Wilmington, who also
is representing the borrowers.

The proffered mortgages contained fees exceeding those allowed under
state law; however this fact was not disclosed in the mail
solicitations, Mr. Maynard said.  In one case, Community Bank charged
$5,650 in fees on a $35,000 loan, which means that fees ate up 16
percent of the loan value.  Under North Carolina law, fees on second
mortgages in excess of $25,000 are limited to one percent of the loan

In addition, some of the fees were unnecessary, the lawsuit says.  For
instance, in exchange for paying "loan discount" fees of $1,200 or
more, borrowers were supposed to receive discounts on the interest
rates charged on the loans, Mr. Maynard said.  However, there is no
evidence that the bank attempted to lower the rates.  Some borrowers
were charged annual interest rates in excess of 16 percent, the lawsuit

In some cases, the lender charged numerous fees, including origination,
application, underwriting, processing and closing fees, all for the
same function, the lawsuit said.  The bank also originated the loans
without lawyers.  Currently, North Carolina requires various mortgage
closing services, such as title searches and deed preparation, be
performed by a lawyer.  In addition, the North Carolina State Bar
requires that lawyers be present at mortgage closings.

RECORDING INDUSTRY: Attorneys General Settle Consumer Antitrust Suit
The attorneys general of 43 states have settled a class action with the
five biggest labels of the recording industry, The Baltimore Sun
reports.  The attorneys general had charged that the industry's five
largest labels engaged in a five-year campaign to fix CD prices.  

Under the terms of the settlement, the record labels and three retail
music chains will distribute $67.3 million to customers who register as
claimants by March 3.  The consumer does not have to prove that he or
she bought a CD or tape while the scheme was in force, his word will be
good enough.  In addition, the record companies will provide $75.7
million worth of CDs to libraries, schools, nonprofit organizations and
other public institutions once the settlement is approved by a federal
judge in May.

The defendants are the Who's Who of the recording industry:  

     (1) Bertelsman Music Group,

     (2) EMI Music Distribution,

     (3) Warner-Elektra-Atlantic,

     (4) Sony Music Entertainment,

     (5) Universal Music Group,

     (6) MTS-/Tower Records,

     (7) Trans World Entertainment and

     (8) Musicland Stores

The five big labels and their affiliated distributors control the
current hits and back titles of almost every big-name recording artist.  
According to filings by the attorneys general, the scheme began in the
mid-1990s, when traditional record retailers, such as Tower and
Musicland) began feeling the competition from "big box" stores such as
Circuit City, Target, Wal-Mart, who were selling CDs at steep
discounts.  During that period of competition, the price of the average
CD declined from $15 to as low as $10.

When the traditional record stores complained, the Big Five established
remarkably similar, restrictive minimum advertised pricing policies.  
Essentially, they threatened to withhold millions of dollars in
promotional advertising assistance from any store or chain that
advertised CDs below the record label's minimum price.  The threat
backed by tough enforcement was enough to bring the big boxes back into
line.  The retail prices of the CDs shot up, even though the cost of
producing them was declining.  Absent competition at retail, the record
labels were able to increase wholesale prices too.

This kind of scheme is known as price fixing, and it is against the
law.  However, the law does not operate until somebody notices, figures
out what is going on and decides to do something about it.  A group of
attorneys general did just that in May 2000.  In September, the record
companies agreed to settle.  As is usual in these suits, the defendants
denied any illegal conduct, but they agreed to change their marketing
practices and to pay out for settlement $143 million "for their lack of
wrongdoing," wrote The Baltimore Sun.

SOTHEBY'S: Attempts To Improve Financials In Effort To Sell Company
Sotheby's, one of the world's leading auction houses, has taken steps
to improve its financial position as efforts intensify to sell the
company, the Financial Times reports.

Some of the moves taken are long-range in their effects.  For example,
Sotheby's has been working with the family of Alfred Taubman, the
former chairman, to sell his controlling stake in the company following
his conviction last year on price fixing charges.  A person familiar
with the talks said the two parties hope to make a deal by the end of
the first quarter.

Meanwhile, with help from Mr. Taubman, Sotheby's has paid more than
$300 million to settle class actions and settle charges filed by
regulators.  The auction house has racked up $48 million in losses
through the first nine months of 2002.

Some moves of short-range effect on the firm's financial position also
have been taken.  Effective immediately, Sotheby's will raise the
commission it charges buyers from 19.5 percent to 20 percent on good
sold for less than $100,000.  The rate will increase from 10 percent to
12 percent on art works fetching more than $100,000.  The firm also
will cut more jobs.

SUPREME COURT: Plans To Conduct Review On Arbitration Rules
The Supreme Court recently said it will review whether some similar
claims settled by arbitration can be bundled together as a class action
case, in a manner similar to $27 million in claims grouped against a
mobile home financing firm, the Associated Press Newswires reports.

Arbitration clauses are increasingly common in a variety of consumer
and financial settings, including credit card and loan agreements.  The
instant case arose from successful claims filed by 3,700 South Carolina
residents who agreed to settle any disputes by arbitration, not
lawsuit, when they took out loans for home improvements or to buy
mobile homes.

Conseco Finance, then known as Green Tree Financial Corp., fought the
arbitration awards on the grounds that the borrowers' agreements did
not explicitly provide for treatment as a class action.  The case is
Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Bazzle, 02-634.

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Flight Attendant Wins New Trial v. Tobacco Firms
A state judge has ordered a new trial for a former American Airlines
flight attendant who lost her claim against the tobacco industry
alleging that secondhand cigarette smoke caused her sinus disease, the
Associated Press Newswires reports.

Circuit Judge Leslie Rothenberg agreed with plaintiff Suzette Janoff's
attorneys that testimony by an expert witness for cigarette makers was
unfairly prejudicial and did not follow state rules.  The judge also
had harsh words for tobacco lawyers during the recent ruling, saying
they had argued a position they should have known was wrong.

The jury in Ms. Janoff's case agreed last September that she suffered
from sinusitis, rhinitis, allergies and other ear, nose and throat
problems, but concluded her on-the-job exposure was not the cause.  The
tobacco expert rejected secondhand smoke as a cause of sinusitis
despite evidence presented by Ms. Janoff that it does cause sinusitis.

The trial grew out of a 1997 class action settlement between four
leading cigarette makers and nonsmoking flight attendants.  The
settlement set up a $300 million foundation to study smoke-related
illnesses and paved the way for a series of as many as 3,000
compensatory damage trials for individual attendants. Punitive damages
are not allowed.  Three earlier trials on attendants' claims ended with
a $5.5 million verdict, a decision favoring tobacco and a mistrial,

TEXAS: Uni's Medical Branch Fights Release of Willed Body Program Info
Facing six lawsuits over the disarray of its willed body program, the
University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) is fighting disclosure of
information requested by the news media and attorneys representing the
families of deceased people whose bodies were lost or mishandled by the
facility, Associated Press Newswires reports.

The UTMB contends the claims against it are vague and fail to indicate
what the plaintiffs will try to prove in court.  As a result,
plaintiffs' attorneys are rewriting their lawsuits, two of which seek
class action status for the families of donors.

The Medical Branch filed a lawsuit last month against the attorney
general's office, challenging its ruling that the university could not
withhold information sought under the Texas Public Information act by
plaintiffs' attorneys, The Galveston County Daily News, the Houston
Chronicle and other news media.

University officials this week said the court filings were intended to
consolidate the lawsuits against UTMB, conserve resources and avoid
having to file redundant motions.  UTMB in early July, began informing
nearly 80 families that poor record-keeping made it impossible to
verify that the ashes of donors had not been commingled.  The
university fired Allen Tyler Jr., a longtime supervisor of anatomical
services whom UTMB blamed for the mess.  He also is named in the
lawsuits as a defendant along with UTMB.  Attorneys for UTMB filed
motions to quash Mr. Tyler's deposition.

UNITED STATES: INS Sets Special Registration Deadline For Muslim Men
Friday of last week was the next deadline for thousands more men from
selected Middle Eastern, African and Asian countries, almost all of
them Muslim, to undergo "special registration" by the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS), The Bradenton Herald reports.  An Arab-
American group has filed a class action to stop the registration.

The fingerprinting, photographing and questioning, which started in
September at border crossings nationwide, is provoking outrage as it
expands to people already admitted into the country.  Immigration
advocates are urging men to comply, but also are fanning out to monitor
the process at INS offices.  Meanwhile, an Arab-American group has
filed a class-action lawsuit to stop the registration.  Other Arab and
Muslim groups and at least three members of Congress are demanding a
halt.  A protest network has called for actions at INS offices

The Justice Department has defended its system, saying it started with
males from certain countries known to harbor activists.  Initially,
there were few complaints from immigration advocates, civil
libertarians and Arab-Muslim advocates.  However, the three-week-old
process now is angrily criticized, largely for being unfair in its
implementation.  While accepting the need for better record keeping
regarding foreigners, the critics complain that some men run the risk
of being detained and face deportation after voluntarily walking in to

Some critics assert that the list is politically and diplomatically
motivated, not security motivated, pointing out that Saudi Arabia and
Pakistan, home to most of the September 11 hijackers, only recently
were added to the list.  Egypt, home to some al Qaida leaders, still is
not listed.

UNITED STATES: Motion To Dismiss Air Force Discrimination Suit Denied
A federal judge denied a Justice Department motion to dismiss a
discrimination suit filed against the Air Force by five white, male
Robins Air Force Base employees, the Macon Telegraph reports.

US District Judge Hugh Lawson's ruling came in a lawsuit that alleges
female and minority civilian employees at Robins were given
preferential treatment in annual employee performance appraisals.  Four
of the five plaintiffs also claim age discrimination.

The Air Force has not responded to the allegations except to ask the
judge to dismiss the lawsuit.  The workers are asking for an end to
"age-and gender-based quotas," along with back pay, lost benefits and
unspecified compensatory damages.  The Justice Department asked the
court to throw out the case because the employees had not exhausted
administrative remedies nor proved "tangible adverse employment

The suit is based in part on supervisory e-mails intercepted by a
Robins employee in the Avionics Management Directorate's software
division.  The five plaintiffs believe the e-mails show minorities were
favored for top appraisals at their expense.  In one e-mail, dated
April 19, 2001, a division supervisor instructed a subordinate to "add
two minority males to the excellent category" and drop the five white
males to "fully successful."  Ratings are important because they lead
to promotions, bonuses and greater job security.

The court did not rule on Atlanta attorney Lee Parks' request to expand
the case to class action status.  The plaintiffs believe their action
should apply to all "Caucasian employees employed at Robins AFB and
possibly at other (military) installations."  Mr. Parks said, "It
appears that this policy was a Department of Defense policy and had far
greater application than just at Robins."

Mr. Parks heads the law firm of Parks, Chesin, Walber and Miller.  He
is best known for his successful 2001 challenge of the University
System of Georgia's use of nonacademic factors, including race, in
selecting students for admission.

UNITED STATES: Peanut Growers Await Word On Two Lawsuits Against USDA
When Jerome Paulk was unable to farm because of back problems, he
rented his right to grow peanuts and sell them at a premium price to
another farmer, the Associated Press Newswires.

That was how it worked under the old farm bill, and Mr. Paulk received
a good return on his rental to that other farmer.  Under the new farm
bill, approved last May, Mr. Paulk and his wife say they stand to lose
about $22,000, a year because they did not actually plant the seeds and
grow the nuts.

The Paulks and a group representing Georgia growers are seeking class
action status for a lawsuit filed in November against the US Department
of Agriculture.  They claim the 2002 Farm Bill deprives them of a
valuable asset, the right to grow peanuts with the maximum government
price guarantee.  An administrative hearing on the suit is set for
January 23 in the US Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., but
no immediate decision is expected.  "The 1996 Farm Bill plainly tells
you that by renting peanuts it would not affect future allotments, that
we would not be hurt," Fay Paulk said.

Theirs is one of two lawsuits filed on behalf of peanut growers,
subsequent to the new farm bill.  The second lawsuit involves North
Carolina and Virginia peanut farmers who also filed a federal lawsuit
in November, seeking to block a reduction in crop insurance
reimbursement from 31 cents to 17.75 cents per pound.  Daniel Boyce, a
Raleigh, North Carolina lawyer, filed the lawsuit on behalf of 450
growers in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, who
want an injunction prohibiting the government from paying the lower

Peanut growers had a March 31 deadline to sign crop-insurance
contracts.  Since the old farm bill applied at the time, they were
guaranteed 31 cents a pound, based on a price-support figure of $610
per ton.  However, when the new farm bill was signed, the payment
amount on crop-insurance policies was slashed by 13.25 cents per pound,
or $265 per ton, to reflect lower price guarantees.

Then, some Virginia and North Carolina farmers suffered substantial
losses because of drought, they claim the lower crop insurance rate is
not enough to offset their loss.

Mr. Boyce said he received inquiries from growers in many states,
Georgia, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, who want to join the class
action.  The 2002 Farm Bill, which became law in the middle of the
growing season, has created a climate of uncertainty amongst the

VIVENDI UNIVERSAL: Plaintiffs File Consolidated Securities Fraud Suit
Class action lawyers have filed a single consolidated complaint against
Vivendi Universal and Jean-Marie Messier, its ousted chairman, at the
Southern District Court of New York, the Financial Times reports.  The
recently filed, 115-page document calls for the court to open a trial
on behalf of shareholders seeking compensation for losses sustained
when Vivendi Universal shares plunged to 15-year lows last July.

The essence of the complaint is that Mr. Messier artificially inflated
Vivendi's share price by misrepresenting the company's financial
position.  It alleges that he disguised the risk of a liquidity crisis,
overstated earnings by failing to write down impaired goodwill,
improperly consolidated minority investments and incorrectly recognized

Formal investigations are underway on both sides of the Atlantic and
may have an impact on the progress of the class action.  French
prosecutors and the US Department of Justice have launched criminal
probes, and stock market watchdogs, such as the Securities and Exchange
Commision and the Commission des Operations de Bourse, have launched
their inquiries.  If the shareholders' class action is ruled admissible
in court, the Company's lawyers could recommend avoiding a jury trial
even if the US and French regulators' probes clear the company

The complaint blames the liquidity crisis on Mr. Messier's "undisclosed
and massive stock buybacks, which unknown to investors caused the
company to spend approximately EUR6.3B and other "undisclosed off-
balance liabilities," including the sale of puts, which exposed the
company to losses of more than EUR1.5B.

*Stanford Clearinghouse Says 2002 Saw Record Number of Securities Suits
A record number of shareholder fraud lawsuits were filed against
corporations in 2002, a year marked by accounting restatements and
drops in the stock prices of many companies, Stanford Law School
reported recently, the Los Angeles Times reports.

WorldCom Inc., Vivendi Universal, Tyco Communications Ltd., Martha
Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., Adelphia Communications Corp., Merrill
Lynch & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., were among the 260 companies
sued for securities fraud last year, the Stanford Law School Securities
Class Action Clearinghouse said.

"A large part of this is the fallout from Enron and the other corporate
megafrauds," said Joseph A. Grundfest, a securities law professor at
Stanford Law School.  Enron Corporation was sued in 2001 by
shareholders who claimed the energy company hid billions of dollars of
debt in off-the-books partnerships.

The number of lawsuits filed by shareholders representing groups of
stock owners was 54 percent higher than the 169 recorded in 2001, the
clearinghouse reported.  The record was reached despite restrictions of
the 1995 Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, which was designed
to discourage such group lawsuits known as class actions.  The law made
it easier for companies to get class actions dismissed before trial.
Lawyers who represent shareholders in the fraud lawsuits said the
number of suits might have been even higher without the law.

Securities fraud lawsuits are usually settled, almost never going to
trial, lawyers said.  In 2001, three in five settlements ranged from $1
million to $10 million, according to data maintained by the Stanford
clearinghouse.  The average settlement in 2002 was $16 million, with
some settlements greater than $75 million.

The increase in securities fraud lawsuits is matched by a rise in
financial restatements by public companies, an occurrence that
frequently triggers fraud lawsuits, lawyers said.  In the first half of
2002, 125 companies issued restatements of financial results, putting
the year on a pace to beat the 2001 record of 224 restatements,
according to a report by the General Accounting Office (GAO).  The
number of restatements has risen every year since 1997, the beginning
of the period analyzed in the GAO report.

                      New Securities Fraud Cases   

BIO-TECHNOLOGY GENERAL: Dekel-Sabo Law Office Files Fraud Lawsuit in NJ
Dekel-Sabo Law Office initiated a securities class action in the United
States District Court for the District of New Jersey on behalf of a
class consisting of all persons who purchased securities of Bio-
Technology General Corp. ("BTG") between April 19, 1999, and August 2,
2002, inclusive.

The suit charges BTG and certain of its executive officers with
violations of federal securities laws.  Among other things, plaintiff
claims that defendants' material omissions and the dissemination of
materially false and misleading statements concerning BTG's revenue and
earnings caused BTG's stock price to become artificially inflated,
inflicting damages on investors.  

The suit alleges that, in order to inflate the price of BTG's stock,
defendants caused the Company to falsely report its results during
1999, 2000 and 2001 through improper revenue recognition practices,
including recognizing revenue in shipments to distributors where
significant uncertainties existed concerning realization of the
invoiced amounts, which precludes revenue recognition under Generally
Accepted Accounting Principles.  The suit charges that on August 2,
2002, defendants announced that BTG's 1999-2001 results would be
restated to eliminate revenue that had been improperly recorded.  BTG
has now restated its results for each of the years ended December 31,
1999, 2000 and 2001.

For more details, contact Jacob Sabo by Mail: Dekel-Sabo Law Office,
Twin Towers 1 33 Jabotinsky Street, Ramat-Gan 52511, P.O. Box 21119,
Tel-Aviv, Israel, by Phone: 011 972 36 13 33 10 or contact Michael
Goldberg, Esquire, of Glancy & Binkow LLP by Mail: 1801 Avenue of the
Stars, Suite 311, Los Angeles, California 90067, by Phone:
(310) 201-9161 or (888) 773-9224 or by E-mail: info@glancylaw.com.  

FOOTSTAR INC.: Bernstein Liebhard Commences Securities Suit in S.D. NY
Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz LLP initiated a securities class action
on behalf of all persons who purchased the common stock of Footstar,
Inc. (NYSE: FTS) from May 15, 2000 through November 12, 2002,
inclusive, in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York.

The suit alleges that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder, by issuing a series of material misrepresentations to the
market between May 15, 2000 and November 12, 2002, thereby artificially
inflating the price of Footstar securities.  Throughout the class
period, defendants issued numerous statements and filed quarterly
reports and an annual report with the SEC, describing the Company's
increasing revenues and financial performance.  These statements were
materially false and misleading because they failed to disclose and/or
misrepresented the following adverse facts, among others:

     (1) that, since at least 2000, the Company had cumulatively
         understated its accounts payable by approximately $35

     (2) that the Company lacked adequate internal controls and was
         therefore unable to ascertain the true financial condition of
         the Company; and

     (3) that as a result, the value of the Company's balance sheet and
         financial results were materially overstated at all relevant

On November 13, 2002, Footstar shocked the market by announcing that it
had "discovered discrepancies in the reporting of its account payable
balances," following management's review of the account reconciliation
processes of its accounts payable balances.  Specifically, defendants
had cumulatively understated the Company's accounts payable balances in
its athletic segment by approximately $35 million.

As a result, the Company announced it will likely be restating its
financial statements for the first nine months of 2002 and prior
periods, with a significant portion of the discrepancies affecting
fiscal year 2001 and earlier.  Following this announcement, shares of
Footstar fell $1.25, or almost 20%, to close at $5.05, after hitting an
intra-day low of $3.30, on volume of 2,137,700 shares traded, or almost
six times Footstar's average daily trading volume.

For more details, contact Ms. Linda Flood, Director of Shareholder
Relations, by Mail: 10 East 40th Street, New York, New York 10016 by
Phone: (800) 217-1522 or 212-779-1414 by E-mail at FTS@bernlieb.com or
visit the firm's Website: http://www.bernlieb.com.

HOTELS.COM: Milberg Weiss Lodges Securities Fraud Lawsuit in N.D. TX
Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of
Texas on behalf of purchasers of Hotels.com (NASDAQ:ROOM) publicly
traded securities during the period between October 23, 2002 and
January 6, 2003.

The complaint charges Hotels.com and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  
Hotels.com is an online consolidator of hotel accommodations,
contracting with hotels in advance for volume purchases and guaranteed
availability of hotel rooms at wholesale prices which are then sold to

On October 10, 2002, USA Interactive announced that it was ending its
ongoing process to acquire all of the shares of Hotels.com that it did
not own.  Hotels.com then claimed that its prospects were "excellent"
and days later, on October 23, 2002, the Company projected phenomenal
growth for its Q4, including Q4 02 revenue of $283-$289 million and
cash earnings per share of $0.46 to $0.47.  These projections, on top
of the Company's October 10, 2002 announcement, sent the Company's
shares soaring to above $60 per share, eventually hitting a Class
Period high of $75 on December 2, 2002.  Then on January 6, 2003, with
more than $42 million of insider trading proceeds, the defendants
announced that the Company would fall materially short of hitting its
forecasted projections.  On this news, the Company's shares dropped to
$44 from $59, a market cap loss of more than $855 million.

For more details, contact William Lerach by Phone: 800/449-4900 or
visit the firm's Website: http://wsl@milberg.com

LEAP WIRELESS: Shepherd Finkelman Probes Possible Securities Violations
Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLC is investigating whether Leap
Wireless, Inc. ("LWIN") falsified certain financial and operational
data that it publicly reported at the close of the first, second and
third quarters of 2002 and, as a result, if the scope of the securities
class action against the Company, as well as certain of its senior
officers and directors, which was instituted by the firm on behalf of
one of its clients, should be expanded.

The firm specifically is investigating whether, during the first three
quarters of 2002, Leap artificially inflated its number of subscribers
(and lowered its churn percentage) by reactivating thousands of former
customers who had been disconnected for nonpayment of their accounts
without the knowledge or permission of these customers at a time when
the Company knew that these reactivated customers did not constitute
viable sources of future revenue.  In addition, the firm is
investigating whether the Company falsified their customer churn
numbers by classifying customers who did not pay their first bill as
"false gross gains" as opposed to "disconnects," thereby reducing
Leap's churn percentage by approximately 50% during the relevant

For more details, contact James E. Miller or James C. Shah by Phone: 1-
866- 540-5505 or 1-877-891-9880 by E-mail:
jmiller@classactioncounsel.com or jshah@classactioncounsel.com or visit
the firm's Website: http://www.classactioncounsel.com


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
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Copyright 2002.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

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