/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/030422.mbx                C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R
                Tuesday, April 22, 2003, Vol. 5, No. 78


ABLE ENERGY: NJ Firm Accused Of Breaking Propane Transfer Rules Again
ALASKA: Ice Processor Executive Testifies in Bristol Bay Salmon Lawsuit
APARTHEID REPARATIONS: South Africa Head To Grant Victims Compensation
BACOU USA: Judge Approves Settlement of Shareholders Suit Over Buyout
COLORADO: Trial Over Pollution May Be Delayed By New Evidence Hearing

COLORADO: Judge Remains On Illinois Lawsuit Over Alleged Toxic Dumping
COMMUNITY BANCSHARES: Consumers File Suit Over "Churning Phantom Loans"
CORAM HEALTHCARE: Court Won't Hear Petition on Stock Lawsuit Dismissal
CREDIT CARD LITIGATION: Federal Judge Imposes "Streamlining" Measures
DUPONT: Judge Orders Medical Tests For WV Residents Near Company Plant

FIRST VIRTUAL: Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal of Securities Fraud Suit
FORD MOTOR: Men Without College Degrees Sue Over Blocked Promotions
GRIFFIN INDUSTRIES: Judge To Decide Whether To Lift Permit's Suspension
H&R BLOCK: Judge Rejects Settlement For Refund-Anticipation Loans Suit
HCA: Reaches Agreement With Shareholders To Settle Stock Fraud Lawsuit

ILLINOIS: Suit Alleges Chicago's Swearing Ban Violates First Amendment
INDIAN FUNDS: US Government Trying To Divert Royalties Suit To Congress
LEASECOMM CORPORATION: Settles TX Consumer Lawsuit Over Finance Leases
LEASECOMM CORPORATION: CA Court Approves Consumer Fraud Suit Settlement
LEASECOMM CORPORATION: Court Dismisses Unfair Business Practices Suit

LEASECOMM CORPORATION: AL Court Refuses To Dismiss Consumer Fraud Suit
LEASECOMM CORPORATION: Faces Consumer Lawsuit Over Violation of MA Law
MICHIGAN: Prison Attorneys Lose Struggle To Remain On Prison Property
NTL EUROPE: Officers Face Consolidated Securities Fraud Suit in S.D. NY
OREGON: Judge Dismisses 9 Of 10 Claims V. University in Drug Test Suit

SEAVIEW VIDEO: Settles Consolidated Securities Fraud Lawsuit in M.D. FL
SOUTH KOREA: Grand National Party Will Accept Govt Suit Reforms Plan
SWITZERLAND: Closes Public Access To Archives On Links to Apartheid-Era
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Philip Morris Makes Tobacco Settlement Payments
TOBACCO LITIGATION: Illinois Judge Vacates Punitive-Damages Payment Ban

UTAH: Child Welfare System's Overhaul Far From Complete - Court Monitor
WASHINGTON, DC: Lawsuit Challenges State's Traffic Camera Enforcement
WASHINGTON DC: Judge Asked To Recuse Himself From Racial Bias Lawsuit
WESTWOOD GROUP: Denies Allegations in Stockholder Lawsuit in DE Court

                     New Securities Fraud Cases

NORTHWESTERN CORPORATION: Robert Susser Lodges Securities Lawsuit in SD
NORTHWESTERN CORPORATION: Glancy & Binkow Lodges Securities Suit in SD
SUPERGEN INC.: Cauley Geller Launches Securities Fraud Suit in N.D. CA
VITALWORKS INC.: Shepherd Finkelman Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in CT


ABLE ENERGY: NJ Firm Accused Of Breaking Propane Transfer Rules Again
Less than a month after an illegal truck-to-truck propane transfer at
the Able Energy company in Newton, New Jersey, caused an explosion, the
energy company was caught again making a similar propane transfer in
another Sussex County town, state authorities said recently, according
to a report by The Star Ledger (Newark, NJ).

The first illegal propane transfer injured people and homes, closed
down businesses and caused evacuation of about 1,000 residents.  A
class action has been filed against Able Energy.  Karen Hicks, a
plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit seeking damages, said she would
have expected the company officials to take extra precautions to steer
clear of trouble after the huge explosion and extensive damages on
March 14.

The discovery caused the state Department of Community affairs to seek
an injunction to block the company from continuing to transfer propane
from one vehicle to another, said DCA spokesman EJ Miranda.  The
Andover Township police recently discovered Able Energy employees
filling a propane tanker from another cargo tanker in the rear of a
truck shop, H/T Sales and Service, on route 206, authorities said.

This most recent operation was the same kind of prohibited propane
transfer between vehicles that preceded the massive explosion last
month at Able Energy's fuel depot on Diller Avenue in Newton, Mr.
Miranda said.  That blast injured about 19 people and damaged many
nearby homes.  The explosion also caused a five-day tanker fire that
forced the extended evacuation of 1,000 residents and closed schools
and businesses.

The March 14 explosion was caused when a worker moved a small propane
tanker truck being filled by a larger one without first disconnecting a
supply hose.  The hose dislodged and ruptured valves on the larger
tanker, causing an undetermined amount of propane to spill and its
vapors to ignite in a huge blast.

New Jersey's Administrative Code governing propane transfer and storage
states that "Cargo tanks shall not be filled from another cargo tank."  
DCA has fined Able Energy with a $414,000 fine for the March 14
explosion for using its Newton property as an illegal truck-to-truck
transfer station starting August 1, 2000, through March 14, 2003.

The DCA has obtained an injunction from the Superior Court in Mercer
County, ordering that Able Energy cease and desist from the prohibited
tank-to-tank transfers.

Some Newton residents and business owners were dumbfounded when they
heard about the second illegal transfer so soon after the explosion.
"They should just close them down and get them out of town," said
William Hums, owner of the Around the Corner Video, located near the
blast site.

ALASKA: Ice Processor Executive Testifies in Bristol Bay Salmon Lawsuit
Another top executive of a processing company testified in the class
action brought by Bristol Bay, Alaska, sockeye salmon fishermen in
Superior Court in Anchorage, Associated Press Newswires reports.  The
fishermen are charging that the Seattle processors and the Japanese
importers conspired to keep the prices low, in violation of federal
antitrust laws.  The jury trial, which began February 3, is expected to
continue through May.

"If we are not where we should be on price, our fishermen let us know,
loud and clear," said Donald Giles, president of Icicle Seafoods.  When
Icicle did not match the competition for the 1993 season, the company
felt the financial consequences for several years, Mr. Giles said.  Mr.
Giles said his company knew nothing about any conspiracy by processors
and Japanese importers to fix the prices paid to fishermen for Bristol
Bay salmon from 1989 to 1995.

Mr. Giles' testimony in Superior Court came in a class action brought
by 4,500 fishing permit holders in Bristol Bay.  The sockeye salmon
fishermen are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for
alleged price fixing between the processors and the Japanese importers.

Processors are testifying, on the other hand, that there was no
conspiracy to reduce prices.  Instead, they blame a glut of farmed fish
and a slowdown in the world economy for the lowered prices.  Several
processor executives have testified that fishermen would simply deliver
their fish to another company if that firm offered higher prices.

In 1993, Icicle was the only major processor in Bristol Bay that did
not match the competition's final price, Mr. Giles said.  "We lost a
number of fishermen over the next three or four years.  They kept
referring back to our lack of being competitive in 1993," he said.

Company records presented as evidence show Icicle ended in the red for
three of the seven seasons covered by the lawsuit.  Mr. Giles said that
growing concern over competition from farmed fish prompted him to go to
Chile in 1992, to visit fish farms.  He said he was impressed with the
quality of the fish.  He also learned that it was as cheap, if not
cheaper, to ship fish from Chile to Japan as it was from Alaska to
Japan.  Therefore, as a service to Icicle customers in Japan who
preferred one-stop shopping, his company began importing Chilean cohos.

APARTHEID REPARATIONS: South Africa Head To Grant Victims Compensation
South African President Thabo Mbeki said recently that his government
would make one-time payments to thousands of apartheid victims, but he
rejected calls to impose a wealth tax on big business, The Globe and
Mail reports.

President Mbeki also distanced his government from the apartheid class
actions which have been filed in United States courts, seeking billions
of dollars in damages from local and foreign companies accused of
benefiting from nearly 50 years of apartheid-era rule by a white
minority in South Africa.

"In this regard, we wish to reiterate that the South African government
is not and will not be a party to such litigation," Mr. Mbeki told
Parliament in Cape Town.

Mr. Mbeki said his government would pay 30,000 rand each - about $5,700
(Canadian) - to more than 19,000 victims of apartheid identified by the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), set up nearly seven years
ago to probe South Africa's apartheid past.  The payment total of 571.5
million rand is far below the three-billion rand recommended by the

Mr. Mbeki also rejected the TRC's recommendation to levy a wealth tax
on South African business in order to help pay for the reparations.  
South African business had lobbied against a wealth tax, proposed last
month by Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, when the final report
of the commission he headed was handed to Mr. Mbeki.

South Africa's Chamber of Mines, which represents the country's biggest
mining companies, said Mr. Mbeki's speech would help restore investor
confidence in the country.  However, analysts say the class actions
filed in US courts against local and foreign companies in the past year
would remain a concern for investors.

Frustration over delays in the payment of reparations to South African
apartheid victims, which were promised to them by former South African
president Nelson Mandela in 1995, promised reparations for killings,
torture and other human rights crimes committed during the apartheid
era.  Frustration over the non-payment created fertile ground for the
class actions filed against some of the biggest corporate names
in the world, analyst say.

South African lawyer John Ngcebetsha is part of the legal team suing
mining giant Anglo American PLC for up to US$6.1 billion in
compensation; he said the government reparations are not enough.  Mr.
Ngcebetsha is working with US lawyer Ed Fagan, who made his name with a
successful $1.25 billion claim against Swiss banks that held on to
deposits of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Asset managers representing at least 20 firms holding 700 billion rand
worth of investments met recently with Mr. Ngcebetsha in Cape Town, to
assess the chances of an out-of-court settlement.  He said he is not
opposed to settlement, but he warned:  "If business thinks they can get
away with a pittance, they can forget it."

BACOU USA: Judge Approves Settlement of Shareholders Suit Over Buyout
Judge Stephen Lamb, in Delaware Chancery Court, has approved a
settlement between Bacou USA, the Smithfield-based maker of safety
glasses and earplugs among other things, and shareholders of Bacou's
US unit, who challenged a $201.7 million buyout by Christian Dalloz,
SA, a French plastics maker, according to a report by The Providence

Dalloz acquired the Paris-based Bacou SA and its U.S. unit in a cash-
and-stock transaction in September 2001, paying US investors $28.50 per
share for about 29 percent of the company that the parent did not
already own.  Shareholders of Bacou's US unit alleged in their class
action that the company's officials did not seek the best price for the
firm that also makes respirators, cut-resistant gloves and other gear.

The investors became amenable to settlement of the lawsuits, however,
after receiving more details about the auction process leading to the
buyout transaction.  Judge Lamb approved the settlement and awarded
$150,000 in fees and expenses, to be paid by the company.

Bacou-Dalloz, the combined company, said at the time of the transaction
that it held almost seven percent of the $12.4 billion global market
for personal safety equipment.  Bacou-Dalloz is today the world's
biggest maker of safety clothing equipment to protect people in
hazardous work environments, such as firefighters.

COLORADO: Trial Over Pollution May Be Delayed By New Evidence Hearing
A trial over ground contamination from a rifle scope factory may be
delayed by last-minute revelations that chemical waste allegedly was
dumped intentionally onto the ground at the factory site, the Rocky
Mountain News reports.

The class action, with jury selected, was ready to begin the hearing of
evidence, when Denver District Court Judge Herbert Stern said he,
instead, will hold a hearing on the newly discovered evidence that has
surfaced from former employees of defendants Brown Retail Group and
Redfield Rifle Scopes Inc.

The lawsuit, filed in 2000, against the above-named defendants,
contends that 1,000 property owners and residents should be compensated
for damages from the toxic vapors that seep from the ground into their
homes in the Cook Park neighborhood in southeast Denver.

As the case has moved through its various stages prior to trial, Brown
has denied that any dumping took place at the factory site.  However,
last week, new information was revealed by former employees who said
they told Brown attorneys four years ago that dumping was a common
practice and may have gone on for years in the 1970s and 1980s.

One former supervisor, Lloyd Walker, told investigators in March that
he was told to "mind his own business" when he objected to dumping
barrels of solvents on the ground.  Two other employees, interviewed in
1998 and 1999, said that 55-gallon drums of solvents that Redfield used
to clean scope parts were regularly dumped on the ground at the site.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs and Redfield want the trial postponed;
they want Brown punished for not turning over the information earlier,
in the course of the case's progress through the court's procedures.  
The jury has been told to return Monday to determine whether the trial
will be further delayed, or whether a new jury will be selected at a
later date.

Previously, witnesses for Brown and Redfield have repeatedly denied
under oath that dumping, spills or leaks of hazardous waste took place
at Redfield's factory site.  Brown's attorneys say that statements by
the employees who claim to have carried out or witnessed dumping were
not turned over to the plaintiffs earlier, because they are not

Plaintiffs' attorney Kevin Harmon said that no soil sampling was done
for the area cited by the former employees in the newly revealed
information.  Mr. Harmon wants a soil chemistry done from a soil
sampling taken from the area now under scrutiny.

Lloyd Walker, the former supervisor who came forward with new
information, worked at the Redfield plant for nearly 20 years, starting
in 1973.  He told investigators that he saw employees from the
degreasing department dump solvents on the ground about every two or
three weeks during the spring and summer months.  When Mr. Walker told
Lou Collaiannia, who ran the degreasing department, that it was "wrong"
to dump the solvents, Mr. Walker said Mr. Collaiannia, who is now
deceased, told him to "mind his own business, which he did," according
to court records.

Brown sold the scope business in the early 1980s, but owns the factory

COLORADO: Judge Remains On Illinois Lawsuit Over Alleged Toxic Dumping
Colorado federal court judge Herbert Stern refused to remove himself
from a case about the alleged dumping of toxic chemicals at the site of
a former rifle scope factory.  Judge Stern said he had a duty to
ascertain about some disturbing and "possibly perjurious" statements
provided by one of the parties to the lawsuit; namely, Brown Retail
Group, who had alleged during the course of the case that no dumping
had ever taken place at the site, the Associated Press Newswires

The trial of the lawsuit is against Brown over chemicals that
plaintiffs allege were dumped at the rifle scope factory site over the
years, resulting in allegations by about 1,000 area residents that a
plume of toxic pollution is migrating underground, and fumes from which
invade their homes.

The trial, now on hold, was scheduled to have started last Thursday,
with a jury selected and ready to take their places, when Judge Stern
announced that there had become available certain confidential witness
statements by former plant employees who said dumping of solvents had
been going on for years.  Until that point, the case had included no
allegations of dumping at the plant.  Judge Stern said the statements
had to be given to lawyers for the plaintiffs and lawyers for the co-
defendants, Redfield Rifle Scopes Inc.

During the revelations of the existence of these statements by the
former employees, Judge Stern he was especially concerned that "some
attorneys knew in 1998, that there was alleged dumping, but this
information was not disclosed until . the eve of trial."

Brown next filed a motion requesting that Judge Stern remove himself
because his comments were showing a bias.  Judge Stern declined to
remove himself, as indicated in the introductory paragraph of this

"When I read these documents, it was immediately clear that the trial
date was about to be blown up; the expert witness reports were about to
blow up; and that the punitive damage claim had blown up," Judge Stern

Judge Stern cited statements by lawyer Kevin Hannon, who represents the
plaintiffs, and Karen Wheeler, who represents co-defendant Redfield
Rifle Scopes Inc., that during two years of interviews of high-ranking
Brown Retail Group officials and consultants, the officials denied
dumping took place.

"My real concern is the misleading, if not fraudulent and, who knows,
possibly perjurious statements made by company officials who were
interviewed," Judge Stern said.

The plaintiffs said they should have been given access to the
statements of the former employees in which they alleged knowing about
dumping of toxins into the ground of the factory site, and should have
been given access to the statement, as well, by a former employee who
actually participated in dumping when ordered to do so.  Brown answered
that it had no duty to turn over the witness statements.

COMMUNITY BANCSHARES: Consumers File Suit Over "Churning Phantom Loans"
Community Bancshares, Inc. faces a class action filed against it in
Alabama State Court, alleging that Community Bank and others conspired
or used extortionate methods to effect a lending scheme of "churning
phantom loans."  The suit also names as defendants:

     (1) Community Bank,

     (2) Holsombeck Motors, Inc.,  

     (3) Lee Brown d/b/a Alabama Bond & Investigation a/k/a ABI

     (4) Chris Holmes d/b/a Alabama Bond & Investigation a/k/a ABI

     (5) Regina Holsombeck,

     (6) Kennon "Ken" Patterson, Sr.,

     (7) Hodge Patterson,  

     (8) James Timothy "Tim" Hodge,

     (9) Ernie Stephens, and

    (10) the State of Alabama Department of Revenue

The plaintiffs in this suit additionally assert that profits from the
scheme were used to secure an interest in and/or to invest in an
enterprise that affects interstate commerce.  The allegations state
that Community Bank used various methods to get uneducated customers
with fair to poor credit to sign numerous "phantom loans" when the
customers only intended to sign for one loan.  Claims include:

     (i) racketeering activity within the meaning of the Racketeer  
         Influenced and Corrupt Organization act of 1970 (RICO),  

    (ii) conspiracy,

   (iii) spoliation,

    (iv) conversion,

     (v) negligence,

    (vi) wantonness,

   (vii) outrage and

  (viii) civil conspiracy

The Company and Community Bank intend to defend the action vigorously
and currently are conducting discovery to ascertain what substance, if
any, there is to the claims.  Although management currently believes
that this action will not have a material adverse effect on the
Company's financial condition or results of operations, regardless of
the outcome, the action could be costly, time consuming, and a
diversion of management's attention.

CORAM HEALTHCARE: Court Won't Hear Petition on Stock Lawsuit Dismissal
The United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals refused the petition
for rehearing of the dismissal of a consolidated stock fraud class
action filed against Coram Healthcare, Inc. and certain of its officers
and directors.

The suit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of
New Jersey, alleges that the defendants and the company's principal
lenders, Cerberus Partners, L.P., Foothill Capital Corporation and
Goldman, Sachs & Co., implemented a scheme to perpetrate a fraud upon
the stock market regarding the Company's common stock.

The suit alleges that the defendants artificially depressed the trading
price of the company's publicly traded shares and created the false
impression that stockholders' equity was decreasing in value and was
ultimately worthless.  The plaintiffs further allege that members of
the class sustained total investment losses of $50 million or more.  
The suit was later amended to eliminate references to the corporate
assets of the company.

All defendants moved to dismiss the suit for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted and, in connection therewith, on May
6, 2002 the presiding judge granted the defendants' motion to dismiss,
with prejudice and also denied plaintiffs' request for leave to re-
plead.  The plaintiffs filed a timely appeal to the United States Court
of Appeals for the Third Circuit and filed their brief in support of
their appeal with that court on July 24, 2002.  

On December 18, 2002, the Third Circuit affirmed the lower court's
order dismissing the case with prejudice.  On December 30, 2002,
the plaintiffs filed a petition for rehearing with the Third Circuit,
however, such petition was denied on January 14, 2003.

Management intends to vigorously defend the company and its
subsidiaries in the matters described above.  Nevertheless, due to the
uncertainties inherent in litigation, including possible
indemnification of other parties, the ultimate disposition of such
matters cannot presently be determined.  Adverse outcomes in some or
all of the proceedings could have a material adverse effect on the
financial position, results of operations and liquidity of the company.

CREDIT CARD LITIGATION: Federal Judge Imposes "Streamlining" Measures
US District Judge John Gleeson is trying to streamline and simplify the
trial process of a complex antitrust case in which Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
and other retailers are suing Visa USA and MasterCard in a dispute over
the use of debit cards, Dow Jones International News reports.

Jury selection is scheduled to start on Monday, April 21, and Judge
Gleeson has laid down the rules for the "conduct of the upcoming
trial."  Some of these are:

     (1) time restraints were set for the parties:  150 hours total,
         for the plaintiffs; 170 hours, for the defense.  An official
         timekeeper would be present in the courtroom.  The time limits
         were aimed at keeping the trial from lasting longer than three
         months.  "The parties will be informed at the end of each
         trial week of the total time used by each side," wrote Judge

     (2) Judge Gleeson announced he would give a precharge at the
         trial's outset to "help the jury better understand the
         evidence as it comes in."  Judges normally make such remarks
         only after all the evidence is in and jurors are about to

     (3) Lawyers would be permitted to make "transition statements"
         before a witness takes the stand to "identify the essential
         fact or legal elements the testimony will help establish."

     (4) Lunch will be 45 minutes in length, and will be taken at
         approximately 12:45 p.m.

Wal-Mart, Sears Roebuck and Co., and other merchants across the
nation, are seeking billions of dollars in damages in a class action
brought in 1996.  The retailers allege that defendants, Visa and
MasterCard, secretly schemed to extend their dominance to debit cards
by mandating an "honor all cards" policy, meaning any merchant who
accepts the defendants' credit cards must accept their look-alike debit
cards as well.

The plaintiffs claim excessive transaction fees have cost them more
than $15 billion in the past decade, costs ultimately passed on to the
consumer.  The credit card companies respond by saying that the "honor
all cards rule" is necessary to protect consumer choice.

DUPONT: Judge Orders Medical Tests For WV Residents Near Company Plant
Wood County Circuit Court Judge George W. Hill Jr. told DuPont to
provide a key medical test for thousands of area residents exposed to
pollution from the company's Washington Works plant, the Charleston
Gazette reports.  The test would be used to determine the amount of the
chemical C8 in their bodies.

"This stuff is still being spewed out into the water and air, whether
hazardous or not," Judge Hill said.  "I assume that if DuPont did not
think it was hazardous, they would not have put a limit on how much of
it would be released."

In a class action, plant neighbors and downstream residents allege that
C8 in the water they drink and the air they breathe has put them at
increased risk of cancer and other illnesses.

Judge Hill said he would temporarily suspend his ruling to allow DuPont
time to appeal to the state Supreme Court.  DuPont has not yet decided
whether or not to appeal, said company spokeswoman Dawn Jackson.

The company said in a prepared statement, "DuPont continues to be
confident that its use and handling of C8 over more than 50 years has
been safe and protective of human health and the environment."

The blood tests, if conducted, could provide much new information about
the potential risks residents face from years of C8 exposure.  Data
from a DuPont model already has suggested that area residents have more
than 1,000 times the C8 in their blood that federal regulators consider
a potential health risk.  DuPont has disavowed the model, saying it is
not accurate.

The blood tests could cost DuPont millions of dollars.  By one estimate
they could cost DuPont $650 to $1,000 per person.   Under Judge Hill's
ruling, all members of the class of plaintiffs suing DuPont would be
eligible for the tests.  Last year, Judge Hill defined the class to
include "all persons whose drinking water is or has been contaminated
with C8 attributable to releases" from the Washington Works plant.  
Judge Hill said he was less likely to be overturned if he instead
ordered only the blood tests, and he did so in the form of injunctive
relief; that is a short-cut that would get to the testing.

FIRST VIRTUAL: Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal of Securities Fraud Suit
The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to recall the
dismissal of several securities class actions pending against First
Virtual Communications, Inc. and certain of its officers and directors
in connection with the company's reporting of its financial results for
the period ended December 31,1998.  

The suits uniformly allege violations of the federal securities laws,
and are pending in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of California.

The court dismissed these actions without leave to amend on and the
plaintiffs appealed the dismissal to the appeals court.  The appeal was
taken under submission by the appeals court following the filing of
briefs by the parties and the presentation of oral argument.  

On March 15, 2002, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's
judgment.  On March 28, 2002 the plaintiffs filed a Petition for
Rehearing in the appeals court, but the court denied the plaintiff's
Petition for a Rehearing.  On December 12, 2002, the plaintiffs filed
in a motion to recall the mandate.

FORD MOTOR: Men Without College Degrees Sue Over Blocked Promotions
Two men have filed a lawsuit, seeking class action status, in Wayne
County Circuit Court, against Ford Motor Co. and Visteon Corporation,
claiming that they have been blocked from promotions because they do
not have college degrees, the Associate Press Newswires reports.

The two men, longtime plant supervisors at Visteon - part of Ford until
2000 - claim that both Ford and Visteon define employees without
college degrees as "un-promotable," The Detroit News reported in a

Michael Pitt, the Royal Oak attorney who filed the lawsuit, said the
practice of creating an un-promotable category is unfair to older
workers, particularly those in the manufacturing field, who often began
their careers when college degrees were not required.

"This (process of discrimination) is part of a corporate culture of
discrimination against older workers," said Mr. Pitt.

Company spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes said, "Every employee is looked at
individually, based on their accomplishments, their leadership ability
and their ability to work as part of a team."  Ford even offers to pay
tuition for employees who want to go to school to help advance their
career, she said.

The two named plaintiffs, Ivory Jackson, 58, and Dennis Spaulding, 50,
are supervisors at Visteon's Monroe stamping plant.  Both men earn more
than $100,000 a year in addition to fringe benefits.  They both began
their careers in 1970, as hourly line workers  and subsequently were
promoted into management.  Their advancement stopped in the late 1990s,
when they claim Ford and Visteon began blocking promotions for salaried
employees without college degrees.

Mr. Jackson, for example, is an operations manager who said he has
repeatedly sought and been denied promotion to area manager, a position
one step below plant manager.  "They have told me I am unpromotable
because I don't have a college degree," Mr. Jackson said.  "But when
the plant is in trouble, they turn to me because I can do the job."

Mr. Pitt, the plaintiffs' attorney, said the case could come down to a
statistical analysis.  The attorney plans to seek data from Ford and
Visteon, that he believes will show older employees without college
degrees have been overlooked regularly for promotions.

GRIFFIN INDUSTRIES: Judge To Decide Whether To Lift Permit's Suspension
Judge Joseph Baird said recently, at the end of a two-day hearing, that
he will decide "as quickly as humanly possible" whether the suspension
of Griffin Industries' waste-water permit should be lifted, the Macon
Telegraph (GA) reports.  Judge Baird added there was another option:  
making modifications to the suspension.  The future of the East Dublin
rendering plant probably rests on Judge Baird's decision.

The company's legal problems include a criminal investigation and a
class action filed by the East Dublin citizens, but the wastewater
permit suspension is its most immediate concern.  A decision will not
come until at least Wednesday, the deadline Judge Baird set for both
sides to present written arguments and proposed orders.  The judge also
asked the parties to submit proposed orders for a modified permit.

"I guarantee you I will take this case very seriously and want to do
the right thing," said Judge Baird.

The Environment Protection Division (EPD) wants the suspension to stay
in place because officials say they cannot be sure that drinking water
is safe.  An EPD test on a monitoring well at the plant showed a
nitrate level to be almost nine times the safe level.  Hamilton Fox
called witnesses during the hearing before Judge Baird to refute the
agency's claims.  An environmental consultant, Robert Kendall, who
specializes in spray-field operations testified that he saw no reason
to believe there is imminent danger to the drinking water of the East
Dublin citizens.  However, under questioning by John Hennelly, the
assistant state attorney general representing EPD, Mr. Kendall at one
point called his conclusions "speculation" based on his experience.

Before Mr. Fox called his first witness, he asked the judge to rule in
the company's favor, because the state had failed to prove that it had
a basis for suspending the permit.  "There has to be an imminent threat
to human health," said Mr. Fox.  "The best testimony the state can
offer is there may be a threat, there may not be a threat."

Mr. Fox added, however, that the company recognizes it has a problem
with the spray field operation and is committed to fixing it.

Judge Baird declined the motion to dismiss the state's case, saying he
wanted to hear the company's witnesses.

H&R BLOCK:  Judge Rejects Settlement For Refund-Anticipation Loans Suit
US District Court Judge Elaine E. Bucklo, in Chicago, Illinois refused
to approve a settlement agreement involving H&R Block in a widely
watched class action affecting millions of consumers, The Wall Street
Journal reports.  The suit was filed against Block and Beneficial
National Bank, which was acquired by Household International Inc. in
1998, on behalf of some 17 million Block customers.

Judge Bucklo's disapproval of the settlement put forward by the parties
raises the prospect of a potentially larger settlement.  Judge Bucklo
also stripped the current plaintiffs' attorneys of their standing in
the case, stating in her ruling that they had inadequately represented
the class.

The Chicago case, now five years old, involves "refund-anticipation
loans," which are high-interest loans received by Block customers in
advance of their income-tax refund checks.  The class action alleged
that consumers were misled about finance charges, among other things.

Block and Beneficial initially agreed to settle the plaintiffs' claims
for a total of $25 million, or an average of $1.47 a customer.  
However, last year, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
overturned the settlement and sent it back to the district court for
further review.  Among other things, the Appeals Court questioned the
efforts of the plaintiffs' attorneys in the case to win a better deal.

Consequently, in accordance with the Circuit Court's decision, Judge
Bucklo has ruled they will not be permitted to continue to represent
the class.  The judge said she will pick their replacements later.

HCA: Reaches Agreement With Shareholders To Settle Stock Fraud Lawsuit
Shareholders who brought a class action against HCA, the nation's
largest for-profit hospital company, have reached a settlement with the
company, which goes for final approval before a federal judge in
Nashville, on June 3, the Associated Press Newswires reports.

The lawsuit was filed against current and former executives of HCA.  
Shareholders alleged they were defrauded by company management, whose
fraudulent practices resulted in federal agents raiding the offices and
hospitals of the company in the course of a wide-ranging fraud
investigation.  The consequences of such public exposure brought stock
prices plunging.

Since the "shareholders have actually sued the board members and senior
officers of the company on behalf of the company itself," in what is
called a derivative suit, $14 million would be paid by the insurers of
those defendants to HCA.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the $14 million which is
payable to HCA by the insurers, would "completely resolve all
derivative claims that HCA shareholders brought or could have brought
arising out of or relating to the subject matter of the action."

The settlement agreement also requires HCA to establish an enhanced
corporate governance plan.  Such corporate governance plan would
require HCA to tighten its definition of an independent director and
ensure that at least two-thirds of its proposed slate of directors are
independent.  HCA would also be required to establish a number of
committees, including an audit committee and an ethics and compliance
committee.  HCA agreed in December to pay the US Justice Department
$631 million to settle allegations of health care fraud.

HCA owns and operates approximately 200 hospitals and other health care
facilities in 24 states, England and Switzerland.

ILLINOIS: Suit Alleges Chicago's Swearing Ban Violates First Amendment
The proposed federal class action filed in the United States District
Court in Chicago, Illinois, alleged that the city's more than 100-year-
old ordinance that bans "indecent acts and words" violates the First
Amendment which protects freedom of speech, the Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Police Department, less than a month after the lawsuit's
filing, has instructed its officers to stop enforcing the ordinance
whose constitutionality was being challenged.  In court papers,
recently made public, city lawyers disclosed that on March 27, the
Police Department ordered enforcement of the ordinance to stop.

"Apparently it (the lawsuit) forced them (the Chicago Police
Department) to acknowledge that they should not arrest or ticket people
under the ordinance," said Thomas Morrissey, one of the lawyers who
file the lawsuit.  "They are trying to stem the bleeding."

A spokeswoman for the city's Law Department, Jennifer Hoyle, said the
change in policy resulted from the enactment of a new ordinance last
summer.  Ms. Hoyle said the vast bulk of police citations under the
"indecent acts and words" ordinance in recent years, had been for
public urination.  An ordinance specifically outlawing public urination
was passed last summer, she said.

Ms. Hoyle also said an ordinance was introduced last week to repeal the
"indecent acts and words" ordinance, believed to date to sometime
before 1900.

The decision to repeal does not affect the lawsuit filed on behalf of
Salvador Garcia of Chicago, who was arrested last October when he
allegedly flashed gang signs and shouted disparaging remarks about a
rival gang in violation of the ordinance.  Mr. Garcia denied the

INDIAN FUNDS: US Government Trying To Divert Royalties Suit To Congress
Lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell, a banker and former Blackfeet tribal
treasurer said the US government is losing the class action over the
missing trust funds, derived from royalties from Indian lands, and is
trying to divert the case from the court system into Congress, the
Associated Press Newswires reports.  A trial is scheduled to start May
1, on the next phase of the lawsuit.

Ms. Cobell has said that the lawsuit's success depends on keeping it
before Federal Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who has held three US
Secretaries of the Interior, including Interior Secretary Gale Norton,
in contempt of court for misleading statements and concealing

"The Bush administration knows they are losing," Ms. Cobell said, "so,
strategically, they are trying a back door through Congress."

Ms. Cobell also said that the plaintiffs received a letter last week
from Senators Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., and Daniel Inouye, D-
Hawaii, telling the Indian plaintiffs to begin mediation with the
Interior Department before they are ordered by Congress.

The lawsuit represents some 300,000 Indians and alleges that as much as
$147 billion in oil and gas royalties, grazing, logging and other land
use fees have been lost, over almost a century, partly because of
sloppy record keeping, partly because of possible theft, as well as
non-collection of royalties and fees, among other causes.

LEASECOMM CORPORATION: Settles TX Consumer Lawsuit Over Finance Leases
The Travis County District Court in Texas granted final approval to the
settlement proposed by Leasecomm Corporation relating to a class action
filed by Rae Lynn Copitka, seeking to rescind her finance lease with
the Company and to recover economic damages arising from prior payments
under the lease.

Ms. Copitka alleges that her proposed class includes all persons in
Texas who have executed Leasecomm finance leases for "virtual terminal"
type credit card software during the years 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001.  
On November 25, 2002 Leasecomm and E-Commerce Exchange agreed to settle
the case with Ms. Copitka and a class of residents of Texas who leased
Quickcommerce or QuickcommercePro software licenses from Leasecomm.

The court entered its order approving the class settlement and entered
its final judgement in the case on January 24, 2003.  The Company has
satisfied its obligations under the Settlement, and the time to appeal
has expired.

LEASECOMM CORPORATION: CA Court Approves Consumer Fraud Suit Settlement
The Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Mateo
granted final approval to the settlement of a class action filed
against Leasecomm Corporation and Microfinancial, Inc. as well as a
number of other defendants with whom the two companies are alleged to
have done business, directly or indirectly.

The complaint seeks certification of a subclass of those class members
who entered into any lease agreement contracts with the Company for the
purposes of financing the goods or services allegedly purchased from
other defendant entities.  The class action complaint alleges multiple
causes of action, including:

     (1) fraud and deceit,

     (2) negligent misrepresentation,

     (3) unfair competition,

     (4) false advertising,

     (5) unjust enrichment,

     (6) fraud in the inducement and the inception of contract,

     (7) lack of consideration for contact and

     (8) breach of the contractual covenant of good faith and fair

The Company has satisfied its obligations under the settlement, and the
time to appeal has expired.  The court retains jurisdiction to oversee
any issues that may arise regarding administration of the settlement.

LEASECOMM CORPORATION: Court Dismisses Unfair Business Practices Suit
The San Francisco County Superior Court in California dismissed the
class action filed against Leasecomm Corporation, alleging a violation
of California Business & Professions Code Section 17200.  The complaint
was filed on behalf of the general public, alleging that the Company's
practice of filing suits against lessees in Massachusetts courts
constitutes an unfair business practice under California law.

The suit was dismissed on March 12, 2003.

LEASECOMM CORPORATION: AL Court Refuses To Dismiss Consumer Fraud Suit
The Alabama state court in Bullock County refused to dismiss a class
action filed against Leasecomm Corporation, MicroFinancial, Inc. and
another Entity known as Galaxy Mall, Inc. on behalf of a class of
person and entities similarly situated in the State of Alabama.  The
suit alleges:

     (1) breach of contract,

     (2) fraud, suppression and deceit,

     (3) unjust enrichment,

     (4) conspiracy,

     (5) conversion,

     (6) theft by deception and

     (7) violation of Alabama Usury Laws

More specifically, the plaintiff purports to represent a class of
persons and small business in the State of Alabama who allegedly were
induced to purchase services and/or goods from any of the defendants
named in the suit.

The court order is currently being reviewed and in all likelihood will
be appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court. The appeal must be
filed within 45 days of the entry of the Order.  Should the appeal not
be filed or should the Company otherwise be unsuccessful with its
appeal the discovery in this case would commence with the first efforts
being directed toward the class certification issues.  

The Company continues to deny any wrongdoing.  Because of the
uncertainties inherent in litigation, the company cannot predict
whether the outcome will have a material adverse affect.

LEASECOMM CORPORATION: Faces Consumer Lawsuit Over Violation of MA Law
Leasecommm Corporation faces a class action filed the Superior Court in
Massachusetts.  The suit, which also names one of its dealers as
defendant, sought to be certified is a nationwide class (excluding
certain residents of the State of Texas) who signed identical or
substantially similar lease agreements with the Company covering the
same product.  The complaint asserts claims for:

     (1) declaratory relief,

     (2) rescission,

     (3) civil conspiracy,

     (4) usury,

     (5) breach of fiduciary duty, and

     (6) violation of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93A, Section

The claims concern the validity, enforceability, and alleged
unconscionability of agreements provided through the dealer, including
a Company lease, to acquire on line credit card processing services.
The complaint seeks rescission of the lease agreements with Leasecomm,
restitution, multiple damages and attorneys fees under Chapter 93A, and
injunctive relief.

Because of the uncertainties inherent in litigation the Company cannot
predict whether the outcome will have a material adverse effect.  The
Company intends to continue its vigorous defense against the suit.

MICHIGAN: Prison Attorneys Lose Struggle To Remain On Prison Property
Attorneys with the Prison Legal Services of Michigan lost their legal
battle to keep their offices on prison property, as the US Supreme
Court turned down their emergency request to let them remain and keep
their inmate employees, the Associate Press Newswires reports.  Justice
John Paul Stevens rejected the request by Legal Prison Services without
comment, as is the standard practice for the Supreme Court when
refusing the action sued for.

The lawyers with Prison Legal Services have occupied trailers inside
the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson County's
Blackman Township, Michigan, for the past five years. They are arguing
a 15-year-old prisoner rights class action.  The lawyers employed eight
prisoners as paralegals.

The Department of Corrections officials have been pressuring the Prison
Legal Services because the department officials want the lawyers to
remove the trailers, stating as their reasons that they need the space
for storage and that the trailers obstructed the guards' views of the
prison.  State officials also argued that no other prison system in the
nation gives rent-free office space to lawyers who are suing the state.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in February 2002, that Prison Legal
Services had to leave the Egeler facility once the discovery process in
the class action ended.  The appeals court ruled in the departments
favor again on December 27, 2002, saying the government's power to run
Egeler as it sees fit outweighs the inmates' demand for onsite legal
services.  In March 2003, the Michigan Supreme Court told Prison Legal
Services to leave by April 16.

Attorney Sandra Girard, head of Prison Legal Services, said that she
never would have accepted the class action without the promise that she
could work on prison property and have prisoners as paralegals.  
Otherwise, she said the case is too complicated for her small staff.  
While disappointed by the ruling, Ms. Girard said she would concentrate
on the larger class action.

"We are not dead yet," said Ms. Girard, who no longer has inmate
employees and recently moved to an office off prison property.

NTL EUROPE: Officers Face Consolidated Securities Fraud Suit in S.D. NY
NTL Europe, Inc. and certain of its officers, including its President
and Chief Executive Officer face a consolidated securities class action
filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
New York.

The suit generally alleges the defendants failed to accurately disclose
NTL Europe's financial condition, finances and future prospects in
press releases and other communications with investors prior to filing
its Chapter 11 case in federal court.  NTL Europe was later released
from liability, only the individual defendants remain.

The Company does not know of any facts that would support these
allegations.  The Company is involved in certain other disputes and
litigation arising in the ordinary course of its business.  None of
these matters are expected to have a material adverse effect on its
financial position, results of operations or cash flow.

OREGON: Judge Dismisses 9 Of 10 Claims V. University in Drug Test Suit
A federal judge recently threw out nine of 10 claims in a lawsuit
against Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) for alleged
improprieties in a study of high school drug testing, the Portland
Oregonian reports.

The class action was filed last June by a Dallas High School student,
Beth Wade, on behalf of students who said they were coerced into taking
part in the study.   Ms. Wade's suit named OHSU and 52 other
defendants, including four researchers and administrators of 14 school
districts.  The class action accuses the defendants of fraud,
conspiracy, negligence and failure to obtain informed consent of the
research participants.

In a 33-page opinion, US District Judge Garr M. King dismissed all but
one claim against two defendants, OHSU and the Dallas School District.  
The remaining claim alleges that because there was no known drug
problem at Dallas High School, required drug testing was an
unconstitutional search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

OHSU officials said they were pleased with the judge's ruling and would
continue to defend the study, known as the Student Athlete Testing
Using Random Notification, or SATURN.  The three-year, $3.6 million
study is designed to determine whether mandatory drug testing deters
drug use in high schools.  Research was suspended in October, however,
by federal regulators after an investigation separate from the class

Federal authorities suspended the study in October after an
investigation found lapses in compliance with regulations designed to
protect volunteers in scientific research.   Federal authorities
concluded that OHSU failed to obtain informed consent from the parents
of some participants, and that money and other incentives offered by
researchers may have contributed to a coercive environment.

Two US Supreme Court rulings and one Oregon Court of Appeals decision
have upheld the authority of schools to require drug testing for
participation in sports and other activities.

SEAVIEW VIDEO: Settles Consolidated Securities Fraud Lawsuit in M.D. FL
Seaview Video Technology Group, Inc. settled a consolidated class
action pending in the United States District Court for the Middle
District of Florida against it and Richard McBride, its former chief
executive officer.

Commencing in May 2001, five nearly identical lawsuits were filed
against the Company and Mr. McBride, and, on July 24, 2001, those
lawsuits were consolidated.  In the five initial complaints, the
plaintiffs thereto claimed violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder.  In the five initial complaints, the plaintiffs to those
actions alleged, among other things, that from March 30, 2000 to March
19, 2001, the Company and Mr. McBride:

     (1) misstated sales and revenue figures;

     (2) improperly recognized revenues;

     (3) misrepresented the nature and extent of the Company's dealer

     (4) falsely touted purported sales contracts and agreements with
         large retailers;

     (5) misrepresented the Company's ability to manufacture, or to  
         have manufactured, its products; and

     (6) misrepresented the Company's likelihood of achieving certain
         publicly announced sales targets.

As amended, the consolidated complaint seeks compensatory and other
damages, and costs and expenses associated with the litigation and now
also seeks relief against James Cox on the same grounds as the claims
against the Company and Mr. McBride.

In February 2002, the Company filed its motion to dismiss. The
plaintiffs responded to the motion to dismiss in early April 2002.  On
May 17, 2002, the Company reached an agreement in principle, in the
form of a Memorandum of Understanding, to settle the suit.

In the settlement, the Company agreed to issue 6,000,000 shares of its
common stock to the class participants.  Upon satisfaction of the
requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, the shares may be resold
without regard to Rules 144 or 145(c) of the Securities Act if the
holders are not affiliates of any party to the settlement or the
registrant and will not be affiliates of the registrant after the
settlement shares are distributed.  If the holders are affiliates of
any party to the settlement prior to the settlement or are affiliates
of the registrant prior to or subsequent to the settlement, then the
resale of the securities distributed in the settlement may only be
accomplished in the manner provided by Rule 145 of the Securities Act.  
In addition, the Company will pay, up to a maximum of $125,000, for
costs incurred by the plaintiffs in the litigation, plus the costs of
settlement notice and administration.

During the 2nd and 3rd quarter of 2002, the Company and the plaintiffs'
counsel agreed to prepare and execute a definitive Stipulation of
Settlement and jointly seek preliminary and final court approval.  The
Settlement would be conditional upon receiving final judicial approval
of the Stipulation, among other things.

At the end of the Company's 2nd fiscal quarter of 2002, management had
determined that the impending settlement was highly probable.  On
December 17, 2002, the joint motion for preliminary approval of
settlement and the amended stipulation of settlement was filed with the
United States District Court of Florida, and approved by the residing

SOUTH KOREA: Grand National Party Will Accept Govt Suit Reforms Plan
The opposition Grand National Party (GNP) recently said it will accept
a government proposal to introduce a securities-related class action,
which will help iron out "reckless" lawsuits.  The GNP, a majority
party in the National Assembly, earlier had opposed turning the
proposal into law, arguing that it will shrink corporate activities,
The Korean Herald reports.

"It's fine to implement class-action lawsuits on such cases as stock
price manipulation and false stock-market disclosures, but when it
comes to 'window dressing,' we are considering having a one or two-year
grace period," said Rep. Yim Tae-hee, chairman of the GNP's Second
Policy Coordination Committee.

The GNP made the decision in a joint meeting of lawmakers belonging to
the Assembly's Finance and Economy Committee and the Legislation and
Judiciary Committee, Mr. Yim said.  The GNP will push for allowing
firms to claim damages against those who raise "reckless" lawsuits,
he said.  Mr. Yim said the proposal should be applied to all listed
firms.  He disapproved only of applying the new measures to companies
with over 2 trillion won in assets.

The introduction of a class-action lawsuit is one President Roh Moo-
hyun's key campaign promises to reform chaebol, or family-owned
conglomerates, which he made during last year's presidential race.  
Under a class action, all investors are entitled to equal compensation,
even if one of them wins a legal battle with a firm over its financial
wrongdoings that resulted in financial loss.

SWITZERLAND: Closes Public Access To Archives On Links to Apartheid-Era
Switzerland will end public access to archives documenting its
connections with apartheid-era South Africa.  The action has been taken
to eliminate the possibility that this kind of material might provide a
basis for class actions in the United States, according to a government
source, the Associated Press Newswires reports.

The archives were opened in May 2000, as part of a national research
program to investigate Swiss relations with the South African
government during the era of racial segregation.  The Swiss finance
ministry said that no other country offered comparable access.  The
ministry said it feared this kind of access would put Swiss firms at a
disadvantage compared with firms from other nations in pending class

Last November, the United States lawyers filed suit in a New York court
against 20 banks and some major multinational companies on behalf of
victims of apartheid.  Among those named are the two Swiss banking
firms UBS and Credit Suisse that are accused of hiding behind Swiss
neutrality and undermining a United Nations embargo between 1985 and
1993, by helping the white-dominated regime with loans and other
business deals worth billions of dollars as foreign capital fled the

The apartheid lawsuit is endeavoring to follow a precedent established
in litigation on behalf of Holocaust victims, who won a $1.25 billion
settlement from Swiss banks and corporations.

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Philip Morris Makes Tobacco Settlement Payments
When the smoke cleared from the scene of the battle, the states were
still standing, their checks in hand.  Philip Morris USA has met the
deadline for making payment to the 46 states that are parties to the
1998 tobacco settlement with the major tobacco companies, the
Associated Press Newswires reports.

The April 15 deadline arrived and the payout of $2.6 billion was made,
one day after Judge Nicholas Byron reduced the amount of the appeal
bond to one-half its original size of $12 billion, ordered in the
"light" cigarettes lawsuit, which Philip Morris lost in Illinois.

The reduced appeal bond will consist of a $6 billion dollar note to be
placed in an escrow account.   Additionally, the company will make
certain interest payments in cash on the $6 billion note for so long as
the appeal continues - interest to be paid in two installments each
year in an amount totaling $420,000,000 per annum.  Additionally, the
company will make a cash payment of  $800,000,000, represented by four
equal deposits of $200,000,000, to be made in cash on September 30,
2003, December 31, 2003, March 31, 2004 and June 30, 2004.

Philip Morris officials said paying the $12 billion appeal bond would
drive the company into bankruptcy and force it to default on its share
of the $206 billion promised to the states over a 25-year period under
the terms of the 1998 tobacco settlement.  Philip Morris's share of
each annual installment payment constitutes more than one-half the
total of that payment.  Washington State Attorney General Christine
Gregoire negotiated the 1998 agreement, officially called the Master
Settlement Agreement (MSA), which settled the states' claims over
smoking-related health care costs.

The uncertainty over the national settlement payments disrupted budget
calculations in many of the states, to the point of chaos, in some
instances.  New York, Virginia and California, for example, postponed
plans to sell bonds backed by money from the tobacco settlement that
had been expected to arrive on April 15, before talk of bankruptcy hit
the airwaves.

Dozens of other programs -- some smaller, some larger -- across the
country feared the impact of the loss of Philip Morris's share of the
tobacco settlement payment.  Washington uses its tobacco settlement
money to pay for children's health insurance, public health needs such
as immunizations and anti-smoking programs.

Kentucky uses settlement money to diversify its tobacco-based
agricultural economy.  Kansas puts the money into an education trust
fund.  Michigan uses the money to help pay for college scholarships and
prescription drugs for senior residents.  These are but a few examples
of uses made of settlement monies throughout the nation.

At least this year, the tobacco monies, so essential to the states'
budgets, arrived.  What do all the headlines and articles declaring the
states "hooked" on tobacco money portend for the future, especially as
copy-cat cases head to the courts?

In another development, Philip Morris agreed to remove the words
"lowered tar and nicotine" from packages of its Marlboro Light
cigarettes, according to lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the $10.1
billion settlement.

"Philip Morris's decision . validates the landmark consumer fraud
judgment against the company," said Stephen Tillery.  "Philip Morris
was found guilty of defrauding millions of customers by claiming that
their so-called 'light' cigarettes are lower in tar and nicotine, when
the evidence at trial demonstrates that this is not true.  I think
Philip Morris's decision to remove the words 'lowered tar and nicotine'
from Marlboro Light packages acknowledges this fact."

Philip Morris did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

TOBACCO LITIGATION: Illinois Judge Vacates Punitive-Damages Payment Ban
A Cook County Circuit Court judge said recently that he will vacate the
restraining order temporarily blocking the state of Illinois from
collecting $3 billion in punitive damages awarded the state in a
Madison County tobacco litigation on March 21, the Chicago Tribune

Circuit Court Judge Nicholas Brody found, during his Bench Hearing of
the class action brought by 1.1 million "light" cigarette smokers in
Illinois, that Philip Morris USA had violated Illinois' Consumer Fraud
Law by misleading and deceiving these smokers into believing that
"lights" are safer than regular cigarettes.  Judge Brody ordered Philip
Morris to pay the smokers $7.1 billion in compensatory damages and to
pay the state of Illinois $3 billion in punitive damages.

Philip Morris still plans to ask Judge James Henry to issue a permanent
injunction against the state, arguing that Illinois relinquished claims
to future awards from the cigarette-makers when it entered into the
1998 legal settlement with the tobacco industry, known as the Master
Settlement Agreement.

Judge Brody has reduced Philip Morris's appeal bond requirement of $12
billion to the following:  a $6 billion promissory note to be held in
an escrow account, upon which $420 million in interest will be paid
annually in two cash installments, as long as the appeal continues; as
well as the one-time payment of $800 million, payable in four cash
installments of $200 million each.

UTAH: Child Welfare System's Overhaul Far From Complete - Court Monitor
Progress has been made in meeting the terms of the latest settlement
agreement between Utah's Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS)
and the National Center for Youth Law, said court monitor Paul Vincent
in his annual written assessment to US District Court Judge Tena
Campbell.  The federal-court monitoring of the DCFS arises out of the
David C. Leavitt class action, filed in 1993, by the National Center
for Youth Law on behalf of physically and sexually abused children in
the state's foster care system, the Deseret News reports.

The original settlement produced a 112-step Milestone Plan, a blueprint
drafted by both DCFS and the plaintiffs, the National Center for Youth
Law, with the goal of fixing the system.  Mr. Vincent was appointed by
the federal court to monitor the agency's efforts to fix the system in
accordance with the Milestone Plan and report back to the court under
whose jurisdiction DCFS was operating.

From time to time, adjustments would be made in the Milestone Plan, new
terms drafted, as progress was made and difficulties to progress were
identified.  Mr. Vincent said 76 percent of the plan was completed by
DCFS a year ago.  Mr. Vincent said adequate training of child
protection caseworkers and foster parents, as well as training to use
of funds and resources to better meet unique family problems, are the
major areas that were behind schedule last year and still are not

The pace of progress in those areas should pick up, said Mr. Vincent,
because the Legislature this past session approved $2 million to add 51
new caseworkers and trainers to the staff by July 1.  Adding not just
staff but properly trained staff is one of the most important elements
of implementing the Milestone Plan, said Daryl Hamm, case lead attorney
for the National Center for Youth Law.

The state has argued it has not complied fully because it did not have
enough workers, particularly caseworker trainers.  The state also has
said in court that some of the steps are impractical and too rigorous.  
In response to these complaints by the agency, the plan has been
substantially revised and simplified.   Over time, the number of
actions taken into account in the review of how well cases are handled
has been reduced to 52 from 180.  Still, however, according to Mr.
Vincent's report, how well cases are processed by the agency remains

Utah's agency DCFS is under federal court oversight until a court-
appointed monitor is satisfied that Utah's child welfare system has
been fixed.

WASHINGTON, DC: Lawsuit Challenges State's Traffic Camera Enforcement
A class action has been filed recently against Washington, D.C. Mayor
Anthony A. Williams, on behalf of owners of vehicles that were caught
by red light and photo radar traffic cameras, but who were not driving
the vehicles at the time, the Associated Press Newswires reports.  The
cameras register vehicles that run red lights or were speeding.

The plaintiffs are a Howard University student, who owed more than
$1,500 in speeding tickets, and a District of Columbia cab leasing
company, Auto Ward Inc., whose owner Muhammad Seleem estimated he owed
$18,000 in fines.  Plaintiffs' attorneys, Thomas Ruffin Jr. and Horace
L. Bradshaw Jr., estimated the suit can represent more than 100,000
vehicle owners.

"The more people who come forward, the more the city realizes that
people are not going to lay down and go to sleep on this," Mr. Bradshaw

The lawsuit charges that the city's automatic traffic enforcement
system violates the defendants' rights to due process because it
ultimately holds the vehicle owner responsible, rather than the driver.

"If you own the car, you had better come in with an affidavit early and
prove who actually was driving the car, or you are liable and that's
it.  Case closed," Mr. Bradshaw said.

Tickets are sent to the vehicle's registered owner, after the vehicle
is caught by the automated traffic enforcement system.  However, if the
owner was not driving, the police want the owner to give the name and
address of the driver.

Mr. Seleem of Auto Ward identified many of the taxi drivers who were
caught on camera but had not paid the tickets.  The government went
back to Auto Ward and imposed liability, refused to renew the tags on
its vehicles and threatened further punishment, said Mr. Ruffin.  Mr.
Seleem said some of estimated 70 leased vehicles were towed and
auctioned off by the city.  The Howard University student let friends
and relatives use his car while he was in Houston and was not able to
track down the responsible driver and respond within the 30-day
deadline, Mr. Ruffin said.

The District uses 39 cameras to catch red-light runners.  Since August
1999, it has sent out more than 361,000 tickets and netted more than
$20.9 million.  The speeding camera program has generated more than
510,000 tickets and $26.5 million in fines since it began in 2001.

WASHINGTON DC: Judge Asked To Recuse Himself From Racial Bias Lawsuit
US District Court Judge Alan McDonald of Yakima, Washington, has been
reprimanded for passing disparaging notes in court that a judicial
council said created the appearance of racial bias, the Associated
Press Newswires reports.  Consequently, Judge McDonald has been asked
to voluntarily remove himself from a case brought by a group of
Hispanic activists.

Judge McDonald was reprimanded by the Ninth US Circuit Judicial Council
in 2000, for a series of notes exchanged with a clerk in court.  One
note, written by Judge McDonald's clerk, referred to Hispanics as

However, the judicial council found that Judge McDonald was not biased
against any ethnic, racial or religious groups, it did find that the
note-exchange violated conduct rules for judges, undermined the
public's confidence in an impartial judiciary and could be interpreted
as reflecting bias.  

After the reprimand, Judge McDonald issued a statement through his
lawyer, Walter Meyer of Yakima, saying, "The judge recognizes and
regrets that a different impression may have been created by these
events.  He accepts the reprimand for the creation of an 'appearance,'
which was never intended."

Matthew Metz, a Seattle lawyer, said Judge McDonald should not hear a
case involving Hispanics.  Chief Judge Fred Van Sickle in Spokane, said
he only learned of Mr. Metz's recusal request on Thursday, and he would
decide next week how to handle it.  Mr. Metz said he was reluctant to
file the recusal motion against Judge McDonald, but felt he had no
choice after he read the council's reprimand.

Other lawyers who represent Hispanic defendants say they are
considering filing similar requests.  That could pose a problem for US
District Court administrators, because the federal court dockets in
Yakima include many Hispanics.

The case for which Mr. Metz sought recusal of Judge McDonald, is one in
which Julio Romero, a Mexican immigrant and the lead plaintiff in a
proposed class action, could include about 300 Yakima-area residents,
who are mostly recent immigrants.

Last month, Mr. Metz, on behalf of the immigrants, sued Northwest Area
Foundation of Minneapolis, founded by the heirs of railroad magnate
James J. Hill.  Two years ago, the foundation said it would consider
investing $15 million to reduce poverty in Yakima Valley.  The project
was part of a plan to spend $150 million in 16 communities in eight
states, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

The foundation asked local Hispanics, including Romero, to work on an
anti-poverty plan for Yakima.  However, in August, it rescinded the
offer, saying residents had not developed the plan quickly enough.  Mr.
Romero said he recently read the judicial council report on McDonald
and "became deeply concerned about my ability to get a fair trial in
this case."

The lawsuit seeks the $1.25 million he and others say the foundation
promised to complete the anti-poverty plan.  The foundation says it did
not promise any money to the Yakima group and will fight the lawsuit,
because it is a financial threat to the foundation's anti-poverty work
in other communities, spokeswomen Sylvia Burgos said.

WESTWOOD GROUP: Denies Allegations in Stockholder Lawsuit in DE Court
The Westwood Group, Inc. faces a class action filed in the Court of
Chancery in the State of Delaware, seeking to enjoin the Company's
planned reverse stock split on the basis that it is not fair to
stockholders, and that the proxy statement omits material information.  
Stockholder Joseph I. Messina filed the suit, which also names as
defendants the Company's Board of Directors.

The Company disputes all of the allegations set out in the complaint
and will take appropriate action to address this suit.

                     New Securities Fraud Cases

NORTHWESTERN CORPORATION: Robert Susser Lodges Securities Lawsuit in SD
Robert C. Susser, PC initiated a securities class action in the United
States District Court for the District of South Dakota, Southern
Division, on behalf of all persons who purchased securities of
NorthWestern Corporation (NYSE:NOR) between August 2, 2000 and December
13, 2002, inclusive.

The complaint alleges that the Company and certain of its executive
officers violated the federal securities laws.  Among other things,
plaintiff claims that defendants' material omissions and materially
false and misleading statements concerning NorthWestern's business
operations and financial performance artificially inflated the price of
NorthWestern's securities.  When the truth was revealed, investors
suffered damages.

The complaint alleges that during the class period, defendants
misrepresented NorthWestern's revenue and earnings by maintaining
insufficient reserves for accounts receivables at NorthWestern's
communications subsidiary Expanets, and by failing to make full
disclosures regarding the serious problems with the implementation of a
new "information technology system infrastructure."  NorthWestern's
problems were revealed on December 13, 2002, when the Company issued a
press release disclosing that NorthWestern would dramatically miss its
earnings estimates for 2002.  

The press release blamed the earnings shortfall on, among other things,
"the need to significantly increase reserves for accounts receivable"
and "billing adjustments" at Expanets.  Moreover, NorthWestern's press
release revealed that defendants estimated that NorthWestern would need
to increase its reserves "by at least $50 million" and that financial
results for 2002 could not be reported until a year-end audit was

On the same day as these disclosures, NorthWestern's stock plummeted
37% from the previous day's close, on higher than normal trading

For more details, contact Robert C. Susser by Mail: 6 East 43rd Street,
New York, NY 10017, by Phone: (212) 808-0298 or by E-mail:

NORTHWESTERN CORPORATION: Glancy & Binkow Lodges Securities Suit in SD
Glancy & Binkow LLP initiated a securities class action in the United
States District Court for the District of South Dakota, Southern
Division, on behalf of all persons who purchased securities of
NorthWestern Corporation (NYSE: NOR) between August 2, 2000 and
December 13, 2002, inclusive.

The complaint charges NorthWestern 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
NorthWestern's business operations and financial performance caused
NorthWestern's stock price to become artificially inflated, inflicting
damages on investors.

NorthWestern provides value-added energy and communications services,
including air conditioning, heating, ventilation, plumbing and related
services to residential and business customers nationwide.  The
complaint alleges that during the class period defendants
misrepresented the Company's revenue and earnings by maintaining
insufficient reserves for accounts receivables at the Company's
communications subsidiary Expanets, and by failing to make full
disclosures of problems with the implementation of a new "information
technology system infrastructure."

NorthWestern's problems were revealed on December 13, 2002, when the
Company issued a press release disclosing that NorthWestern would
dramatically miss its earnings estimates for 2002.  The press release
blamed the earnings shortfall on "the need to significantly increase
reserves for accounts receivable" and "billing adjustments" at the
Company's communications subsidiary, Expanets.

Moreover, the Company press release revealed that defendants estimated
the NorthWestern would need to increase its reserves "by at least $50
million" and that financial results for 2002 could not be reported
until a year-end audit was completed. On the same day as these
disclosures, NorthWestern's stock plummeted 37% from the previous day's
close, on higher than normal trading volume.

For more details, contact Michael Goldberg 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.  

SUPERGEN INC.: Cauley Geller Launches Securities Fraud Suit in N.D. CA
Cauley Geller Bowman Coates & Rudman, LLP initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of
California on behalf of purchasers of SuperGen Inc. (Nasdaq: SUPG)
common stock during the period between April 18, 2000 and March 13,
2003, inclusive.

The complaint charges defendants with violations of the Securities and
Exchange Act of 1934.  More specifically, the complaint alleges that
defendants issued materially false and misleading statements and failed
to disclose that:

     (1) the efficacy of MitoExtraT was exaggerated;
     (2) the drug had significant risks associated with its use;

     (3) that its "Extra" technology platform did not create "improved
         generics or supergenerics;"

     (4) that the Company submitted no data to support its claim that
         MitoExtraT is superior to existing cancer drugs; and

     (5) that the name "MitoExtraT" was rejected by the U.S. Food and
         Drug Administration (FDA).

Such materially false and misleading statements caused the Company's
stock to trade at artificially inflated prices during the Class Period
and caused damages to the Class Members.

On March 14, 2003, the FDA announced a warning to the public concerning
SuperGen's cancer drug, Mitozytrex.  At the heart of the FDA's warning
was that SuperGen marketed Mitozytrex to the public with exaggerations
about the efficacy of Mitozytrex and without advising the public of the
significant risks associated with the use of the drug.  The FDA also
took issue with SuperGen's characterization that its "Extra" technology
platform did not create "improved generics or supergenerics," as
previously claimed by the Company.

Market reaction to these revelations was swift.  Immediately following
the announcement, shares of the Company fell from $3.09 to a Class
Period low of $2.55 with an unusually high trading volume of 1,712,400

For more details, contact Samuel H. Rudman, David A. Rosenfeld, Jackie
Addison, Heather Gann or Sue Null by Mail: P.O. Box 25438, Little Rock,
AR 72221-5438 by Phone: 1-888-551-9944 by Fax: 1-501-312-8505 or by E-
mail: info@cauleygeller.com

VITALWORKS INC.: Shepherd Finkelman Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in CT
Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLC initiated a securities class
action in the United States District Court for the District of
Connecticut on behalf of all persons who purchased the publicly traded
securities of VitalWorks, Inc. (Nasdaq: VWKS) from April 24, 2002
through October 23, 2002, inclusive.

The complaint alleges that VitalWorks, a provider of information
management technology and services targeted to healthcare practices and
organizations, as well as certain of its officers and directors, issued
materially false and misleading statements concerning the Company's
increasing revenues and future prospects.  

Specifically, the complaint alleges that defendants failed to disclose
that VitalWorks was experiencing a marked increase in customer
attrition, and that demand for VitalWorks' products and services had
materially declined.  These misrepresentations and omissions caused the
price of VitalWorks stock to be artificially inflated throughout the
class period, and enabled officers and directors of VitalWorks to sell
approximately $6.8 million worth of VitalWorks stock at artificially
inflated prices.  

On October 23, 2002, VitalWorks announced that it had failed to achieve
pre-announced third quarter 2002 revenues and was lowering revenue
guidance for the remainder of fiscal year 2002. Additionally,
VitalWorks reported that it had lowered fiscal year 2003 revenue
guidance by over 10%.

On October 24, 2002, the first day of trading after VitalWorks'
announcements, the price of VitalWorks common stock dropped over 56% in
value to close at $3.13 per share. The complaint seeks to recover
damages on behalf of all Class Members.

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


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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Antonio and Lyndsey Resnick, Editors.

Copyright 2003.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

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