CAR_Public/040310.mbx              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

             Wednesday, March 10, 2004, Vol. 6, No. 49


                          Headlines

ACTIVISION INC: Denies Fraud Allegations In CA Securities Suit
ADVANCE IMPORTS: Recalls Hongding Candy For Undeclared Peanuts
AMERCO REAL ESTATE: SEC Files Subpoena Enforcement In NV Court
ATOFINA CHEMICALS INC: MCAA Settlement Hearing Set For June 3rd
CALIFORNIA: Disabled Voters File Suit Over Touch-Screen Voting

CALIFORNIA: Unions Mull Other Contract Deals As Work Resumes
CARDIOLOGY: Study Indicates Angioplasty Unneeded Before Stenting
DCI TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Court Approves Settlement Of Stock Suit
DQE INCORPORATED: Court Grants Certification Of Securities Suit
DUN & BRADSTREET: Faces Lawsuit Over Retirement Plan In CT Court

DYNEGY HOLDINGS: Court To Hear Motion On Stock Suit Dismissal
EPISCOPAL CHURCH: Gay Bishop Takes Over As Head of NH Diocese
EQUINIX INCORPORATED: Agrees To Settle Stock Suits in NY Court
GE LIFE & ANNUITY ASSURANCE CO: Settles Stock Suit In GA Court
HIGHTECH INC: NV Court Enters Final Judgment V. Director In Suit

HOLLYWOOD: Moviegoers Lured By Phony Critic To Settle Case OOC
LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS: 'Smith Settlement' on Appeal
LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS: Directors' Motion to Dismiss Denied
MARTHA STEWART: Jurors Sure They Made 'Right Decision' In Case
MARTHA STEWART: 'Martha Steward Living' Cut From CBS, UPN Roster

MARTHA STEWART: Meets Probation Officer; Stock Continues Slide
MARYLAND: Authorities Mull Possible Causes In Water Taxi Mishap
MEDICAL STAFFING: Faces Securities Fraud Suits in S.D. Florida
MEDI-HUT COMPANY: Settlement Hearing In Stock Suit Set May 3rd
MEDTRONIC INC.: Unit Settles Investors' Suit for Undisclosed Sum

METLIFE INC.: 'Sales Practice Claims' Continue to Pile up
MICROSOFT CORPORATION: Opening Statements To Begin In MN Lawsuit
OBESITY LEGISLATION: House Moves Ahead With "Cheeseburger Bill"
OVERSEAS PARTNERS: SD N.Y. Court Sets Settlement Hearing May 21
PAYPAL: To Pay NY $150,000 Penalty Over Product Repayment Scheme

PENTAIR INC.: Ordered to Pay $8.6 Million in Essef Case
PENTAIR INC.: Settles Lawsuit Filed Against Subsidiary
R.J. REYNOLDS: Nevada Court Denies Certification on 25 Cases
RURAL METRO: Settles Securities Suits Without Admitting Fault
RURAL METRO: Arizona Superior Court Junks Securities Suit

SAME-SEX MARRIAGES: Seattle Mayor Set To Recognize Gay Marriages
TRIUMPH CAPITAL GROUP: SEC Files Admin. Proceedings V. Chairman
TYCO: Defense Delivers Closing Arguments In Ex-CFO's Fraud Trial
TYSON FOODS: Jury Awards Cattlemen $1.28B In IBP Contracts Suit
UCLA: Relatives File Suit V. Illegal Sale Of Deceased Body Parts

WASHINGTON: SC Seeks Government Review Of Stock Suit Standards

                Meetings, Conferences & Seminars


* Scheduled Events for Class Action Professionals
* Online Teleconferences

                   New Securities Fraud Cases

AaiPHARMA: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in E.D. NC
EL PASO CORPORATION: Wolf Popper Lodges Securities Suit in TX
PIMCO FUNDS: Stull Stull Commences Securities Suit in S.D. NY
ROYAL DUTCH/SHELL: Berger & Montague Files Securities Suit in NJ
SONUS NETWORKS: Ragsdale & Frese Launches Securities Suit in MA


                          *********


ACTIVISION INC: Denies Fraud Allegations In CA Securities Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Activision, Inc. strongly denied the allegations contained in a
lawsuit filed against the company and certain of its current and
former officers and directors on March 5, PRNewswire reports.

The complaint, which alleges that Activision's revenues and
assets were overstated during the period between February 1,
2001 and December 17, 2002, was filed in the United States
District Court, Central District of California by the
Construction Industry and Carpenters Joint Pension Trust for
Southern Nevada purporting to represent a class of purchasers of
Activision stock and seeks unspecified damages.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision, Inc. is a
leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of
interactive entertainment and leisure products. Founded in 1979,
Activision posted net revenues of $864 million for the fiscal
year ended March 31, 2003.


ADVANCE IMPORTS: Recalls Hongding Candy For Undeclared Peanuts
--------------------------------------------------------------
Advance Import Inc., of 290 N. Henry St., Brooklyn, NY 11222, in
cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is
recalling "Hongding Peanut Candy" & "Hongding Sesame Candy"
because they contain undeclared peanuts. People who have
allergies to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening
allergic reactions if they consume this product. No illnesses
have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The recalled, "Hongding Peanut Candy" is packaged in 5 oz. clear
plastic bags with UPC #926281 610131 "Hongding Sesame Candy" is
packaged in 5 oz. clear plastic bags with UPC #926281 610414.
Both products were sold in the New York City area.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered through routine
sampling by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
food inspectors that the peanut-containing product was
distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of
peanuts.

Consumers who have purchased "Hongding Peanut Candy" & "Hongding
Sesame Candy" are urged to return them to the place of purchase.
Consumers with questions may contact Advance Import, Inc., Mr.
Roger Yip, manager at 718-389-2800.


AMERCO REAL ESTATE: SEC Files Subpoena Enforcement In NV Court
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an
application with the U.S. District Court for the District of
Nevada, Northern Division, for an order to enforce investigative
subpoenas served on Amerco Real Estate, the parent company of U-
Haul, Inc.

The Commission's application and supporting papers allege that
on Nov.4, 2002, the Commission issued a formal order of private
investigation entitled In the Matter of AMERCO.  On Jan. 7,
2003, Jan. 23, 2003, and Feb.21, 2003, the Commission issued
administrative subpoenas to  AMERCO in  the course of that
formal investigation into possible violations of the  federal
securities laws.  The subpoenas required AMERCO to produce
documents,  including e-mails, relevant to the investigation.
The Commission further alleges that, as of the date  of  the
Commission's application, over a year has elapsed since service
of the  last  of  the subpoenas,  and AMERCO has failed to
produce all, or even  substantially all,  of  the  e-mails
subpoenaed, and AMERCO has no valid justification for  its
failure to comply.  The Commission's application and supporting
papers  also allege that, as recently as March 3, 2004, AMERCO
declined to  provide  the staff of the Commission with a date by
which  it  will complete production of the responsive e-mails
and that a court order  is necessary to prevent further delay in
response to the subpoenas.

The Commission further alleges that, several times, AMERCO has
promised to complete production of the e-mails only to have the
promised date come and go without completion of the production.
Moreover, as recently as March 3, 2004, AMERCO declined to
provide the staff of the Commission with a date by which it will
complete production of the responsive e-mails. It is therefore
apparent that an order by the Court compelling compliance is
necessary to prevent further delay in  response to the
subpoenas.


ATOFINA CHEMICALS INC: MCAA Settlement Hearing Set For June 3rd
---------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia
announced that a settlement of $4 Million has been reached in
the lawsuit brought against Atofina Chemicals, Inc. et al., on
behalf of direct purchasers of Monochloroacetic Acid or Sodium
Monochloroacetate, from September 1, 1995 through August 31,
1999, inclusive.

Pursuant to an Order by the Court, a hearing will be held on
June 3, 2004 at 10:00 p.m., before the Honorable Colleen Kollar-
Kotelly, United States District Judge, in Courtroom No. 11,
United States Courthouse, located at 333 Constitution Avenue,
N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.

To obtain a printed Notice of Class Action Settlement And Final
Approval Hearing, write to MCAA Antitrust Litigation, P.O. Box
480, Philadelphia, PA 19105-0480.


CALIFORNIA: Disabled Voters File Suit Over Touch-Screen Voting
--------------------------------------------------------------
Eleven disabled voters filed a lawsuit in federal Court Monday,
accusing California's secretary of state and four counties
Monday of violating federal and state laws by failing to provide
adequate touch-screen services for them, the Associated Press
reports.

The lawsuit demands that disabled voters have full access to
voting services in the November election, saying they needed
help casting ballots in the March 2 primary. They also
complained that touch-screen machines they used did not produce
a paper confirmation of their vote, unlike touch-screen machines
used by other voters. The disabled voters said they were upset
they weren't allowed to vote in private and had to rely on
relatives or friends.

"We really enjoyed the ability to vote independently and
privately for the first time in our lives. Now that's been taken
away from us," Dan Kysor, who is blind and the governmental
affairs director for the California Council of the Blind, which
was among three advocacy groups joining the suit, told the
Associated Press.

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley's office hadn't seen the suit
but maintained that it has worked closely with the disabled
community. "Shelley is committed to the goal of implementing
fully accessible voting systems in every polling place in
California, and has moved the state steadily toward that goal,"
said Shelley's spokesman, Doug Stone, in a statement.

The lawsuit names Shelley and Los Angeles, San Francisco,
Sacramento and Santa Barbara counties, where the largest
disabled population lives, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said.


CALIFORNIA: Unions Mull Other Contract Deals As Work Resumes
------------------------------------------------------------
Union leaders are already discussing how to tackle negotiations
for more than a dozen other contracts expiring over the next
several months as Southern California grocery workers return to
work after their long strike, the Associated Press reports.

Many of the contracts, covering roughly 187,000 grocery clerks,
involve one or all of the same companies who were targeted in
the Southern California strike: Albertsons Inc., Kroger Co. and
Safeway Inc. But regardless of any mutual understanding that
might have developed by the time the 4 1/2-month-long Southern
California strike was settled, union officials warn it's not
going to make much difference in future negotiations and say
they are gearing their members up for other strikes, if needed.

Two separate contracts covering nearly 43,000 workers in
northern and central California expire in July and September.
Contracts in Phoenix, Indianapolis and Chicago, which have
already expired, were temporarily extended. The contract
covering the largest single group of employees - 29,000 workers
in Baltimore and Washington - ends March 27.

In a message posted on a Web site for San Francisco-area grocery
employees, the union advises its members that the Southern
California strike was "just the first battle in a much larger
war," and that their contract will soon become the next front.
The UFCW will be able to back up threats of a strike in upcoming
negotiations by pointing to how it kept Southern California
members out of the stores until a compromise was reached. But
labor experts say the financial hit absorbed by the workers
might make employees elsewhere think twice about supporting a
walkout.

The supermarket chains will also have to consider whether they
can endure the losses of another large strike. By some analyst
estimates, the companies lost between $1.5 billion and $2.5
billion in sales and now face additional costs as they try to
woo shoppers away from their competitors and back to their
stores.

Union leaders ordered the strike against Safeway's Vons and
Pavilions chains on Oct. 11. Albertsons and Ralphs, a unit of
Kroger, then locked out their employees. In all, about 59,000
workers were idled at 859 stores. The final contract, which
covers 70,000 workers and was overwhelmingly approved by union
members on Feb. 29, split employees into separate wage and
benefit classes, with new hires slated to receive less pay and
fewer benefits than veteran employees.

The supermarket operators, under pressure to remain competitive
against big-box retailers like Wal-Mart, are expected to push
for similar concessions from the union in upcoming negotiations.
Union officials won't give specifics, but concede they learned
hard lessons during the strike and plan to do some things
differently next time, starting with winning the battle for the
hearts and mind of the public. During the dispute, the
supermarket chains ran full-page advertisements in newspapers
and tried to define the workers as overpaid beneficiaries of
free health insurance who unreasonably refused to share even a
small part of the costs.

Calls to Albertsons and Kroger were not returned. Safeway
spokesman David Bowlby declined to discuss pending bargaining
issues, but gave a general statement on the upcoming contract
talks. "Every labor contract is unique and the competitive
elements differ by market," Bowlby said. "As with all our
contracts, though, we will continue to bargain in good faith."


CARDIOLOGY: Study Indicates Angioplasty Unneeded Before Stenting
----------------------------------------------------------------
According to results of a clinical trial released on Sunday, the
procedure of using an inflated balloon to clear clogged arteries
before drug-coated stents are inserted to keep them open may not
be necessary in most patients, Reuters News reports.

The balloon procedure, called angioplasty, is typically used
before doctors insert stents, tiny mesh tubes that are threaded
through a groin artery until they reach the heart. Last year,
Johnson & Johnson introduced Cypher, the first stent which comes
coated with a drug that prevents the section of coronary artery
from later reclogging with scar tissue. Boston Scientific Corp.
is launching a rival drug-coated stent, called Taxus, this week.

The U.S. study involved 225 Cypher patients who received "direct
stenting," meaning without angioplasty. It showed the subsequent
buildup of scar tissue in their stents was virtually the same as
that seen in Cypher's during an earlier trial of patients who
had first undergone the balloon procedure. Only 3 percent of
patients without angioplasty had subsequent scar-tissue buildup
on the edges of their stents, compared with 7 percent of
patients in the earlier so-called Sirius study that was also
sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. Patients in the latest trial
apparently also benefitted because their Cyphers covered longer
stretches of affected coronary arteries than those used in the
earlier trial.

"The main message of the study is that we were able to further
reduce later scar-tissue buildup (re-stenosis) through minor
changes in the way we place drug-coated stents," said Dr.
Jeffrey Moses, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York
who helped lead the trial. Moses, who described his findings at
the annual scientific meeting of the American College of
Cardiology in New Orleans, said many doctors have been concerned
the drug coating on stents might be scraped away by hardened
plaque unless the artery was first cleared by angioplasty.

"But this trial suggests patients with direct stenting have
similar or better outcomes" than those who first received
angioplasty, said Moses, who estimated only one-third of drug-
coated stents are currently placed without the balloon
procedure. He predicted that percentage could "easily double" in
the next year, as results of his trial become more widely known.


DCI TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Court Approves Settlement Of Stock Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it
has settled its litigation against defendants DCI
Telecommunications, Joseph J. Murphy, Russell B. Hintz, and
relief defendant Grace P. Murphy. The settlements were approved
by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New
York.

Without admitting or denying the allegations in the Commission's
amended complaint, defendant DCI consented to be permanently
enjoined from violating Sections 5(a), 5(c), 17(a)(2) and
17(a)(3) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Sections 13(a),
13(b)(2)(A) and 13(b)(2)(B) of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934 and Exchange Act Rules 12b-20, 13a-1 and 13a-13.  DCI
further consented to have the registration of its common stock
revoked pursuant to Exchange Act Section 12(j).

Defendant Murphy consented to be permanently enjoined from
violating Securities Act Sections 5(a), 5(c), 17(a)(2) and
17(a)(3) and from aiding and abetting violations of Exchange Act
Sections 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A) and 13(b)(2)(B) and Exchange Act
Rules 12b-20, 13a-1 and 13a-13.  Murphy also consented to pay a
civil money penalty of  $75,000. Defendant Hintz consented to be
permanently enjoined from violating Securities Act Sections
17(a)(2) and 17(a)(3), and from aiding and abetting violations
of Exchange Act Sections 13(a), 13(b)(2)(A) and 13(b)(2)(B) and
Exchange Act Rules 12b-20, 13a-1 and 13a-13.

The Commission dismissed its claim against the relief defendant,
Grace Murphy. The Commission's amended complaint alleges, among
other things, that the defendants improperly accounted for seven
acquisitions and overvalued a purported  $15 million contract
and $5 million promissory note, causing financial statements
that DCI filed with the Commission to be inaccurate. The amended
complaint also alleges that Murphy and DCI violated Securities
Act Section 5 by distributing securities that were not
registered with the Commission and not exempt from registration.


DQE INCORPORATED: Court Grants Certification Of Securities Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Western District of
Pennsylvania granted certification of a lawsuit brought against
DQE, Inc., on behalf of all persons who purchased the Company's
common stock of during the period from December 6, 2000 through
April 30, 2001, inclusive.

For more information, contact Plaintiff's Co-Lead Counsel:
Richard H. Weiss or Susan M. Greenwood, by Mail: One
Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, New York, 10119; Curtis L. Bowman
or J. Allen Carney, 1311 Arcade Drive, Suite 200, Little Rock,
Arkansas 72212; or Joseph H. Weiss or James E. Tullman, by Mail:
551 5th Avenue, New York, New York 10176.


DUN & BRADSTREET: Faces Lawsuit Over Retirement Plan In CT Court
----------------------------------------------------------------
In March 2003, a lawsuit seeking class action status was filed
against the Company in federal court in Connecticut, on behalf
of 46 specified former employees.

The complaint, as amended in July 2003 seeks to represent the
putative class of current employees who are participants in
The Dun Bradstreet Corporation Retirement Account and were
previously participants in its predecessor plan, The Dun
Bradstreet Master Retirement Plan.


DYNEGY HOLDINGS: Court To Hear Motion On Stock Suit Dismissal
-------------------------------------------------------------
Briefing will occur from March to June 2004 on a motion to
dismiss an amended class suit brought against the Dynegy
Holdings, Inc., on behalf of purchasers of its publicly traded
securities from January 2000 to July 2002 seeking unspecified
compensatory damages and other relief.

The lawsuit principally asserts that Dynegy and certain of its
current and former officers and directors violated the federal
securities laws in connection with its disclosures, including
accounting disclosures, regarding Project Alpha, round-trip
trading, the submission of false trade reports to publications
that calculate natural gas index prices, the alleged
manipulation of the California power market, and the restatement
of financial statements for periods since 1999.

The Regents of the University of California have been appointed
as lead plaintiff and Milberg Weiss is class counsel.


EPISCOPAL CHURCH: Gay Bishop Takes Over As Head of NH Diocese
-------------------------------------------------------------
Seven months after his confirmation rocked the Episcopal
community, V. Gene Robinson officially became the ninth Bishop
of New Hampshire and the first openly gay bishop in church
history, the Associated Press reports.

In his sermon Sunday during the investiture ceremony, Robinson
said one definition of leadership is to find a parade and get in
front of it. Robinson said he is just trying to stay in front of
the parade and not get run over. "Journeys of faith, you know,
are a risky business," he said. "God is always calling us out of
our comfort zones."

The investiture ceremony does not carry the same weight as
Robinson's consecration last year, but it gave a capacity crowd
of more than 700 the chance to welcome the new leader of the
Diocese of New Hampshire with whoops, cheers and a standing
ovation. Bells rang out from the church tower. Bishop Douglas
Theuner, who officially retired Sunday, handed Robinson the
ceremonial staff that transferred the diocese into his hands.
They had shared power since Robinson was made a bishop.

Robinson is the first openly gay man to be elected as a bishop
in the national Episcopal church, as well as the worldwide
Anglican Communion of which it is a part. His consecration drew
protesters and triggered angry responses from many corners of
the world. Several Anglican bishops abroad have said they will
no longer associate with the Episcopal Church USA because it
approved Robinson's election. In the United States, a dozen
conservative bishops are organizing an alternative network of
dioceses and parishes that object to Robinson's lifestyle. They
argue that homosexuality violates biblical laws.

Robinson has lived with his partner, Mark Andrew, a state
administrator, for 15 years and has two daughters from a
previous marriage. Andrew took part in the ceremony. "Let's be
clear," Robinson told parishioners in Manchester in October.
"We've always had gay bishops. All I'm doing is being honest
about it."

Most of the state's Episcopalians support Robinson, but a
conservative minority continues to oppose his consecration. Two
churches, Church of the Redeemer in Rochester and St. Mark's in
Ashland have voted to affiliate with the new network of
conservative churches. Robinson said he hopes to work with the
two churches, even though their members have said they do not
want Robinson to serve as their bishop. He asked his supporters
to show "infinite respect" to those who oppose him. "Here in the
diocese we are continuing to reach out in every way possible to
individuals for whom this is still a troubling thing," Robinson
said.


EQUINIX INCORPORATED: Agrees To Settle Stock Suits in NY Court
--------------------------------------------------------------
In July 2003, a Special Litigation Committee of the Equinix
Board of Directors agreed to participate in a settlement with
the plaintiffs in putative shareholder class action lawsuits
filed in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York, against the Company and certain of its
officers and directors, and several investment banks that were
underwriters of the Equinix's initial public offering (IPO), on
behalf of investors who purchased Company stock between August
10, 2000 and December 6, 2000.

The suits allege that the underwriter defendants agreed to
allocate stock in our initial public offering to certain
investors in exchange for excessive and undisclosed commissions
and agreements by those investors to make additional purchases
in the aftermarket at pre-determined prices. The plaintiffs
allege that the prospectus for our initial public offering was
false and misleading and in violation of the securities laws
because it did not disclose these arrangements.

This settlement agreement is subject to court approval and
sufficient participation by all defendants in similar actions.
Such settlement includes without limitation a guarantee of
payments to the plaintiffs in the lawsuits, assignment of
certain claims against the underwriters in our IPO to the
plaintiffs, and a dismissal of all claims against Equinix and
related individuals. Other than legal fees incurred to date,
Equinix expects that all expenses of settlement, if any, will be
paid by our insurance carriers. Until such settlement is
finalized, we and our officers and directors intend to continue
to defend the actions vigorously.


GE LIFE & ANNUITY ASSURANCE CO: Settles Stock Suit In GA Court
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Company has agreed to settle a lawsuit (styled: McBride v.
Life Insurance Co. of Virginia dba GE Life and Annuity Assurance
Co.) originally filed in November 2000 as a class action, on
behalf of all persons who purchased certain of the Company's
universal life insurance policies and alleges improper practices
in connection with the sale and administration of universal life
policies, seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The settlement documents have not been finalized, nor has any
proposed settlement been submitted to the proposed class or for
court approval, and a final settlement is not certain.

In December 2000, the Company removed the case to the U.S.
District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. No class has
been certified.


HIGHTECH INC: NV Court Enters Final Judgment V. Director In Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that on
March 4 the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada
entered a final judgment against Larry A. Stockett, based upon
its grant of summary judgment in favor of the Commission. The
judgment permanently enjoins Stockett from violating Sections
5(a), 5(c) and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 (Securities
Act) and Sections 10(b), 13(a), 13(d) and 16(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rules 10b-5,
12b-20, 12b-25, 13a-1, 13a-11, 13a-13, 16a-2 and 16a-3
thereunder.  The judgment further orders Stockett to disgorge
illegal profits and prejudgment interest totaling $1,836,181.56,
and to pay a  third  tier  civil  penalty  of $120,000.

The Commission's complaint alleged that, between August 1999 and
April 2003, Stockett orchestrated a fraudulent scheme regarding
Hightec,  Inc. and The S.I.N.C.L.A.R.E. Group, Inc., two
publicly held  but legally defunct corporate entities of which
Stockett  was  the sole  officer and director.  The complaint
further alleged that Stockett issued numerous false statements
concerning, among other things, his disciplinary history and the
legal status, current operations and prospective revenues of
Hightec and Sinclare.  The complaint alleged that, while
disseminating these false and misleading statements,
Stockett sold restricted Hightec stock in unregistered
transactions for total profits of approximately $583,687.

The complaint further alleged that, during the same period,
Stockett failed to file mandatory periodic and current reports
with  the Commission on  behalf  of  Hightec  and Sinclare.


HOLLYWOOD: Moviegoers Lured By Phony Critic To Settle Case OOC
--------------------------------------------------------------
A group of disgruntled moviegoers will settle their suit out of
court against a nonexistent film critic, whose glowing reviews
of mediocre films prompted a class-action suit alleging
filmgoers had been "tricked" into theaters, Court TV reports.

"Pending court approval, we are in the process of drawing up a
settlement," said Norman Blumenthal, a lawyer for the plaintiffs
against Sony Pictures Entertainment, whose subsidiary, Columbia
Pictures, distributed the films and the advertisements.
Plaintiffs Omar Rezec and Ann Belknap filed the initial suit in
Los Angeles County Superior Court in the summer of 2001, after
Newsweek reporter John Horn revealed that the man who proclaimed
actor Heath Ledger "this year's hottest new star" was in fact no
man at all.

News of a settlement comes on the heels of a California Court of
Appeals decision last Thursday that quashed a motion Sony filed
to block the suit. The justices' 2-1 ruling upheld a lower court
decision that rejected Sony's claim that its use of fictitious
critic, David Manning, was protected by free speech rights
guaranteed by the First Amendment. The justices agreed that
Sony's advertisements did not enjoy First Amendment protection
because they constituted commercial speech.

Filed on the behalf of "all consumers nationwide who paid to see
any movie" on Manning's recommendation, the class action suit
sought injunctive relief, restitution, and "complete
disgorgement of [Sony's] ill-gotten gains" - for Sony to make
restitution to everyone who bought a ticket to the falsely
advertised movies. In January 2002, the plaintiffs offered to
settle the suit under terms that the company set up a $4.5
million fund to reimburse filmgoers who, like Rezec and Belknap,
believed they were misled by Manning's reviews into seeing the
films. Sony rejected that offer. A lawyer for Sony Pictures,
Marvin Putnam, confirmed that no terms of settlement yet have
been agreed upon.

Fake critic David Manning first surfaced in 2000 as the creation
of Sony marketing executive Matthew Cramer of Ridgefield, Conn.,
who named the phony pundit after an old friend and son of former
Ridgefield mayor, Susan Manning. Cramer attributed the writer's
enthusiastic rants for such forgettable fare as Vertical Limit
and The Animal to his hometown paper, the Ridgefield Press.
Manning's laudatory remarks for other films such as Hollow Man -
"one hell of a scary ride" - and The Animal - "the producing
team of 'Big Daddy' has delivered another winner" - appeared in
newspapers throughout the nation until Newsweek uncovered the
flap.

Claiming it was unaware of the marketing ploy, Sony immediately
pulled the ads and suspended Manning's creator and his
supervisor, Josh Goldstine. In 2003, Sony also paid the state of
Connecticut $325,000 in fines following Connecticut Attorney
General Richard Blumenthal's investigation into Sony's alleged
fraudulent marketing practices. The hoopla also inspired a
number of copycat Web sites claiming to be the "real" platform
for David Manning, while others still are devoted to ridiculing
the preposterous nature of the scandal.

The plaintiffs' decision to stay out of court likely comes as a
relief to dissenting Justice Reuben Ortega, who ridiculed the
suit the suit in his written opinion, calling it the "most
frivolous case with which I have ever had to deal."


LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS: 'Smith Settlement' on Appeal
----------------------------------------------------
A subsidiary of Level 3 Communications, Inc. was named in May
2001 as a defendant in Bauer, et. al. v. Level 3 Communications,
LLC, et al., a purported multi-state class action, filed in the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

In July 2001, Level 3 Communications was also named a defendant
in Koyle, et. al. v. Level 3 Communications, Inc., et. al., a
purported multi-state class action filed in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Idaho.

In September 2002, Level 3 Communications, LLC was named as a
defendant in Smith et al v. Sprint Communications Company, L.P.,
et al., a purported nationwide class action filed in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

These actions involve the Company's right to install its fiber
optic cable network in easements and right-of-ways crossing the
plaintiffs' land.  In general, the Company obtained the rights
to construct its network from railroads, utilities, and others,
and is installing its network along the rights-of-way so
granted.  Plaintiffs in the purported class actions assert that
they are the owners of lands over which the Company's fiber
optic cable network passes, and that the railroads, utilities,
and others who granted the Company the right to construct and
maintain its network did not have the legal ability to do so.

The plaintiffs' efforts to seek class action status for this
action have been denied.  The complaint seeks damages on
theories of trespass, unjust enrichment and slander of title and
property, as well as punitive damages.  The Company has also
received, and may in the future receive, claims and demands
related to rights-of-way issues similar to the issues in these
cases that may be based on similar or different legal theories.

"To date, all attempts to have class action status granted on
complaints filed against the Company or any of its subsidiaries
involving claims and demands related to rights-of-way issues
have been denied," the company said in its latest SEC
disclosure.

"On July 25, 2003, the  Smith Court entered an Order
preliminarily approving a settlement agreement which will
resolve all claims against the Company arising out of the
Company's location of fiber optic cable and related
telecommunications facilities that the Company owns within
railroad rights-of-way throughout the United States. In
connection with the Court's Order preliminarily approving the
settlement, the Court entered an Order enjoining the parties in
all pending federal and state railroad rights-of-way class
action litigation involving the Company from further pursuing
those pending actions at this time.

"Under the terms of the settlement agreement, landowners who own
property adjacent to the railroad rights-of-way in which the
Company placed its fiber optic cable and related facilities may
submit claims and receive specified compensation. The Company is
unable to quantify the ultimate amount of payments to be made
pursuant to the settlement until if and when (1) the settlement
receives final approval and all appeals have been exhausted; and
(2) the claims process has been completed," the company said.

"In September 2003, a petition for appeal was granted which
seeks a reversal of the Smith Court's decision to preliminarily
approve the settlement and certify a nationwide class for
settlement purposes. It is too early for the Company to reach a
conclusion as to the ultimate outcome of these actions. However,
management believes that the Company and its subsidiaries have
substantial defenses to the claims asserted in all of these
actions (and any similar claims which may be named in the
future), and intends to defend them vigorously if the settlement
is not approved," it added.

For more information, contact Level 3 Communications Inc. by
Mail: 1025 Eldorado Boulevard, Bldg 2000, Broomfield CO 80021 or
by Phone: (720) 888-1000


LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS: Directors' Motion to Dismiss Denied
-----------------------------------------------------------
Gary Haegle commenced on November 19, 2002 a shareholder's
derivative suit on behalf of Level 3 Communications Inc. in the
District Court of Colorado for the City and County of Broomfield
entitled Haegle v. Scott, et al., (Index No.02-CV-0196).  The
action is brought against the Company as a nominal defendant and
against the directors of the Company, a former director of the
Company and Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc.

The Complaint alleges that the director defendants, aided and
abetted by PKS, breached their fiduciary duties to the Company
in connection with several transactions between the Company and
PKS including contracts under which PKS constructed the
Company's fiber optic cable network and manages the Company's
mine properties. The Complaint also alleges that in building the
fiber optic cable network, the defendants caused the Company to
violate the property rights of landowners, thereby subjecting
the Company to substantial potential liability. In addition, the
Complaint alleges that Company assets were transferred to its
officers and directors in the form of personal loans, excessive
salaries and the payment of personal expenses.

The action seeks both equitable and legal relief, including
restitution, compensatory and punitive damages of an unspecified
amount, imposition of a constructive trust, disgorgement and
injunctive relief.  The defendants filed a motion to dismiss,
which was denied by the court in early October.

"Although it is too early for the Company to reach a conclusion
as to the ultimate outcome of these actions, management believes
that there are substantial defenses to the claims asserted in
this action, and intends to defend them vigorously," Level 3
said in its latest SEC filing.

For more information, contact Level 3 Communications Inc. by
Mail: 1025 Eldorado Boulevard, Bldg 2000, Broomfield CO 80021 or
by Phone: (720) 888-1000


MARTHA STEWART: Jurors Sure They Made 'Right Decision' In Case
--------------------------------------------------------------
Jurors in the Martha Stewart trial said they felt pity for the
fallen celebrity homemaker as her verdict was read, but that
ultimately they were sure they had made the right decision, the
Associated Press reports.

"I choked up and I felt my eyes tearing and I was very relieved
that the judge read the verdict, because I wasn't sure if I
would have to do that," jury forewoman Rosemary McMahon said
Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America." Foreman said she looked
at Stewart briefly after the verdict was read, and "that's when
I just realized I was very upset about it and I turned back and
looked at the judge." Despite their sympathy for Stewart, the
jury's decision to convict her of lying about a stock sale was
made "after careful consideration of everything that we had,"
McMahon said. "We did what we had to do."

Other jurors said Stewart's assistant Ann Armstrong, who
reluctantly testified that Stewart tried to alter a phone record
of a message from her stockbroker, was the key witness leading
them to the domestic diva's conviction. Armstrong testified that
Stewart sat down at Armstrong's desk to change a message from
her broker, Peter Bacanovic, that informed her that he thought
the ImClone stock price would start falling. "She ultimately
gave the testimony that was going to bring Martha down. That was
a very important piece," said juror Chappell Hartridge, one of
six jurors who spoke to "Dateline NBC" in interviews that aired
Sunday night. "We all believed her 100 percent," juror Adam
Sachs said of Armstrong.

The jurors also said they believed other key prosecution
witnesses in the case against Stewart, including Bacanovic
Assistant Douglas Faneuil, and were puzzled that the defense
spent less than an hour presenting its case after weeks of
prosecution testimony. Jurors said they also relied on the
testimony of longtime Stewart friend Mariana Pasternak, who said
that Stewart had told her she knew ImClone CEO Sam Waksal was
selling his stock. Pasternak testified she remembered Stewart
saying, "Isn't it nice to have brokers who tell you those
things?" "We were like, `Wow,'" juror Dana D'Allessandro said.
"That blew me away." Pasternak later acknowledged on cross-
examination that the remark may have been something she herself
thought, not something Stewart said.

The eight women and four men deliberated 12 hours over three
days before convicting Stewart Friday on all four counts against
her - conspiracy, obstruction and two counts of making false
statements. Both she and Bacanovic, who was convicted of
obstruction, making false statements, conspiracy and perjury,
have vowed to appeal. Stewart was convicted of lying to cover up
the reason she sold 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems stock on
Dec. 27, 2001 - avoiding a hefty loss when the company announced
bad news the next day.

Prosecutors had offered Stewart a chance last April to plead
guilty to just one of the four charges against her - making a
false statement - in exchange for a probation sentence, Newsweek
reported Sunday, citing unidentified sources close to the case.
But a defense source told the magazine that prosecutors could
not guarantee that Stewart would avoid jail time completely and
Stewart refused the offer, Newsweek reported.


MARTHA STEWART: 'Martha Steward Living' Cut From CBS, UPN Roster
----------------------------------------------------------------
Following Friday's guilty verdict on all four counts against
her, Martha Stewart's syndicated television show, "Martha
Stewart Living," was taken off the air Monday on Viacom-owned
CBS and UPN stations, the Associated Press reports.

There was no immediate word about the show's future from King
World, the show's syndicator, but the Viacom-owned stations in
major media markets were considered its most important
customers, said Bill Carroll, an expert on syndication for Katz
Television. While "Martha Stewart Living" was considered a
dependable performer in some markets, it was shunted off to
undesirable time slots elsewhere - airing at 2:05 a.m. in New
York City, for example.

A spokesman for King World, Arthur Sandow, did not immediately
return a call for comment on Monday. The Viacom cancellation was
confirmed by CBS spokesman Dana McClintock. Even before
Stewart's conviction Friday in her stock trading case, her TV
show's future was in question. King World was not actively
trying to renew contracts in markets where the show aired,
Carroll said. Carroll doubts it will continue now. "If she'd
been acquitted, I think everyone would have taken a step back
and made an evaluation on what the potential was for the show,"
he told the AP. "I think it was almost an automatic decision
once the verdict came in."

Who's positioned to claim Stewart's crown? Carroll said there's
been industry speculation that Oprah Winfrey's production
company is considering a spinoff makeover show, much like it
launched the popular "Dr. Phil" talk show. Winfrey has been
doing a handful of makeover segments on her show each month
where it seems like she's auditioning concepts and
personalities, he said. "That would be the next generation
Martha Stewart," he said.


MARTHA STEWART: Meets Probation Officer; Stock Continues Slide
--------------------------------------------------------------
Martha Stewart arrived at a courthouse to meet with a probation
officer Monday, as the stock in her namesake empire continued to
slide and the board of her company was gathering to discuss life
without the domestic diva, the Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, the board of directors of Stewart's company, Martha
Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., was to meet Monday to discuss her
fate, according to a source close to the company who spoke on
condition of anonymity. Stewart stepped down from her role as
chief executive and chairman of the board in June after being
indicted but remains as chief creative officer and a member of
the board.

With her conviction, the government will likely press to have
Stewart removed from the board, but the big question is how
involved in the company she will be. Stewart's name, now tainted
by a conviction, is stamped on a wide variety of products, from
TV shows to magazines and merchandise. Also, investors continued
to drive the shares in the company down; after dropping 23
percent Friday they were down more than 7 percent, or 78 cents
per share, to $10.08 in morning trading on the New York Stock
Exchange. The stock had traded at about $19 a share before
Stewart's name surfaced in the ImClone investigation. Stewart
owns about 30 million shares of the company, an approximate 61
percent stake, meaning she has lost millions as the stock has
fallen.

Stewart was convicted Friday, along with stockbroker Peter
Bacanovic, of lying about why she sold 3,298 shares of ImClone
Systems stock on Dec. 27, 2001, just before it plunged on a
negative report from government regulators. Both are expected to
get 10 to 16 months in prison when they are sentenced on June
17. Bacanovic arrived at the courthouse earlier Monday for his
meeting with a probation officer. He left after a half-hour
without speaking to reporters.

Stewart was convicted of conspiracy, making false statements and
obstruction of justice. Bacanovic was convicted of conspiracy,
false statements, obstruction and perjury - but cleared of
falsifying a document. Both Stewart and Bacanovic have said they
will appeal, but legal experts have predicted they will have a
difficult time convincing the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
to overturn their convictions.

At the probation meeting, newly convicted defendants give
profile information to an officer and answer basic questions.
Probation officials later write a report for the judge handling
the sentence.


MARYLAND: Authorities Mull Possible Causes In Water Taxi Mishap
---------------------------------------------------------------
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is looking at
poor weather as one explanation for why a water taxi capsized
over the weekend, leaving one woman dead and three people
missing, the Associated Press reports.

The NTSB is also investigating the boat's condition as well as
its captain and first mate, said Ellen Engleman-Conners, the
agency's chairman. Both crewmembers survived. Strong winds
accompanying a sudden storm apparently overturned the pontoon
Saturday afternoon near Fort McHenry. Of the 23 passengers, 19
were rescued. Six of the survivors remain hospitalized. An 8-
year-old girl and a 30-year-old woman were in critical condition
late Sunday.

Recovery crews with divers and dogs trained to find submerged
bodies returned to the scene Sunday morning but stopped working
about 6 p.m. because of darkness and choppy waters. They were
expected to regroup at daybreak Monday. Navy reservists rushed
to the scene after seeing the boat in trouble. The sailors
described the horrific scene: survivors clinging to the
overturned vessel in frigid water pounded by rain, telling them
more were trapped below. The rescuers used a ramp on their troop
landing ship to lift the water taxi partly out of the water,
Petty Officer Jeffrey King said told the AP.

The 36-foot pontoon boat had just set off across the harbor from
historic Fort McHenry on the way to the city's Fells Point when
it was caught by wind gusting to 50 mph. The boat, which was at
full capacity, was equipped with life preservers but passengers
are not required to wear them. Authorities had not released the
victims' names by Sunday evening.

The dead woman was identified as Joanne Pierce, 60, of
Cumberland County, N.J., according to The Daily Journal of
Vineland in its Monday editions. The newspaper said she was on
the ferry with her daughter, whose name was not released, and
her husband, Thomas Pierce. The 6-year-old missing boy was
identified as Daniel Bentrem by Thomas Tran, a college student
living with the boy's parents, George and Elizabeth Bentrem of
Rockingham County, Va. Tran told The Daily News Record of
Harrisonburg that Daniel's 8-year-old sister, Sarah, was
admitted to the University of Maryland Medical Center and has
been released from the trauma unit. George and Elizabeth Bentrem
and another daughter, 7-year-old Katie Bentrem, were pulled
uninjured from the water, Tran said.

Engleman-Conners, the NTSB chairman, said officials were
interviewing survivors and witnesses, and were awaiting
voluntary toxicology tests conducted Sunday on the crewmembers.
Engleman-Conners said the boat would be removed from the water
so investigators could do complete hull and steering system
inspections. She said an initial inspection found that the
steering system appeared to be intact. She said officials also
inspected five other boats operated by the Living Classrooms
Foundation, which operates the 11 Seaport Taxis.

A spokeswoman for the nonprofit group said the boat's captain,
Frank Deppner, has talked to investigators. The foundation's
President, James Bond, said the boat "was ready for an
inspection on Monday and in shape the way she should be."


MEDICAL STAFFING: Faces Securities Fraud Suits in S.D. Florida
--------------------------------------------------------------
Joseph and Patricia Marrari filed on February 20, 2004 a class
action lawsuit against Medical Staffing Network Holdings Inc. in
the United States District Court of the Southern District of
Florida, on behalf of themselves and purchasers of the company's
common stock pursuant to or traceable to its initial public
offering in April 2002.  The lawsuit also named as defendants
certain of the company's directors and executive officers.

The complaint alleges that certain disclosures in the
Registration Statement/Prospectus filed in connection with the
initial public offering on April 17, 2002 were materially false
and misleading in violation of Sections 11 and 15 of the
Securities Act of 1933. The complaint seeks compensatory damages
as well as costs and attorney fees.

On March 3, 2004, another class action complaint was filed by
Jerome Gould against Medical Staffing Network and certain of its
directors and executive officers in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of Florida, individually and on
behalf of a class of Medical Staffing Network's stockholders who
purchased stock during the period from April 18, 2002 through
June 16, 2003.  The complaint alleges that certain of the public
disclosures during the class period were materially false and
misleading in violation of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder.  The complaint also seeks compensatory damages,
costs and attorney fees.

"We believe that these two class action lawsuits are without
merit and intend to vigorously defend this litigation," the
company said in a recent SEC disclosure.

For more information, contact Medical Staffing Network Holdings
Inc. by Mail: 901 Yamato Road, Suite 110, Boca Raton FL 33431


MEDI-HUT COMPANY: Settlement Hearing In Stock Suit Set May 3rd
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
announced a proposed settlement of $400,000 cash plus 861,990
shares of Medi-Hut stock, has been reached in a lawsuit, on
behalf of all persons who purchased common stock of Medi-Hut
during the period October 7, 1999 through August 19, 2003,
inclusive, against the Company, and:

     (1) Joseph A. Sanpietro,

     (2) Laurence M. Simon,

     (3) Robert Russo, and

     (4) Vincent J. Sanpietro

A hearing will be held before the Honorable Stanley R. Chesler
in the United States Courthouse, 402 East State Street, Trenton
NJ, 08608 at 1 p.m., on May 3, 2004, in Courtroom 5050 to
determine whether the Proposed Settlement should be approved
Court.

For more information, contact Plaintiff Lead Counsel: Sherrie R.
Savett, Robin Switzenbaum, or Darin R. Morgan, by Mail: 1622
Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19103, or by Phone: (215) 875-3000.


MEDTRONIC INC.: Unit Settles Investors' Suit for Undisclosed Sum
----------------------------------------------------------------
Medtronic MiniMed Inc. and its directors were named in a
putative class action lawsuit filed on June 6, 2001 in the
Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los
Angeles.

The plaintiffs purport to represent a class of stockholders of
MiniMed asserting claims in connection with its acquisition of
MiniMed, alleging violation of fiduciary duties owed by MiniMed
and its directors to the MiniMed stockholders. Among other
things, the complaint sought preliminary and permanent
injunctive relief to prevent completion of the acquisition.

In August 2001, the Court denied the plaintiffs' request for
injunctive relief to prevent completion of the acquisition.
Plaintiffs have amended their complaint and the court has
granted plaintiffs' motion seeking certification of a class
action.

The class is defined as holders of record of MiniMed common
stock on July 16, 2001, excluding any such shareholders who were
also shareholders of a related company, MRG, on that date. The
parties have agreed upon settlement in principle, subject to the
Court's approval, which is pending. The settlement will be
covered by insurance.

For more information, contact Medtronic Inc. by Mail: 710
Medtronic Pkwy, MS LC300, Minneapolis MN 55432 or by Phone:
(763) 514-4000


METLIFE INC.: 'Sales Practice Claims' Continue to Pile up
---------------------------------------------------------
Over the past several years, Metropolitan Life, New England
Mutual Life Insurance Company (New England Mutual) and General
American Life Insurance Company (General American) have faced
numerous claims, including class action lawsuits, alleging
improper marketing and sales of individual life insurance
policies or annuities.  These lawsuits are generally referred
to as "sales practices claims."

In December 1999, a federal court approved a settlement
resolving sales practices claims on behalf of a class of owners
of permanent life insurance policies and annuity contracts or
certificates issued pursuant to individual sales in the United
States by Metropolitan Life, Metropolitan Insurance and Annuity
Company or Metropolitan Tower Life Insurance Company between
January 1, 1982 and December 31, 1997.  The class includes
owners of approximately six million in-force or terminated
insurance policies and approximately one million in-force or
terminated annuity contracts or certificates.

Similar sales practices class actions against New England
Mutual, with which Metropolitan Life merged in 1996, and General
American, which was acquired in 2000, have been settled. In
October 2000, a federal court approved a settlement resolving
sales practices claims on behalf of a class of owners of
permanent life insurance policies issued by New England Mutual
between January 1, 1983 through August 31,1996. The class
includes owners of approximately 600,000 in-force or terminated
policies.  A federal court has approved a settlement resolving
sales practices claims on behalf of a class of owners of
permanent life insurance policies issued by General American
between January 1, 1982 and December 31, 1996.  An appellate
court has affirmed the order approving the settlement.  The
class includes owners of approximately 250,000 in-force or
terminated policies.

Certain  class members have opted out of the class action
settlements noted above and have brought or continued non-class
action sales practices lawsuits.

In  addition, other sales practices lawsuits have been brought.
As of December 31, 2003, there are approximately 366 sales
practices lawsuits pending against Metropolitan Life,
approximately 40 sales practices lawsuits pending against New
England Mutual and approximately 25 sales practices lawsuits
pending against General American.

"Metropolitan Life, New England Mutual and General American
continue to defend themselves vigorously against these
lawsuits," the MetLife Inc. said in a recent SEC filing.
"Some individual sales practices claims have been resolved
through settlement, won by dispositive motions, or, in a few
instances, have gone to trial.  Most of the current cases
seek substantial damages, including in some cases punitive and
treble damages and attorneys' fees.  Additional litigation
relating to the Company's marketing and sales of individual life
insurance may be commenced in the future."

The Metropolitan Life class action settlement did not resolve
two putative class actions involving sales practices claims
filed against Metropolitan Life in Canada, and these actions
remain pending.

"The Company believes adequate provision has been made in its
consolidated financial statements for all probable and
reasonably estimable losses for sales practices claims against
Metropolitan Life, New England Mutual and General American.

"Regulatory  authorities in a small number of states have had
investigations or inquiries relating to Metropolitan Life's, New
England Mutual's or General American's sales of individual life
insurance policies or annuities. Over the past several years,
these and a number of investigations by other regulatory
authorities were resolved for monetary payments and certain
other relief. The Company may continue to resolve investigations
in a similar manner."

For more information, contact MetLife Inc. by Mail: One Madison
Avenue, New York NY 10010-3690 or by Phone: (212) 578-2211


MICROSOFT CORPORATION: Opening Statements To Begin In MN Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
In what would be the first such case to reach trial, opening
statements were scheduled this week in a class action lawsuit
that accuses Microsoft Corp. of overcharging Minnesotans for
software, the Associated Press reports.

Jury selection began last week, which could affect nearly 1
million individuals and businesses. Plaintiffs are seeking
damages between $283 million and $425 million for overcharges on
about 9.7 million Microsoft software licenses issued in
Minnesota from 1994 to 2001. Microsoft says it didn't overcharge
anyone.

Barring a last-minute settlement, the Minnesota case would be
the first state lawsuit about software pricing against the
Redmond, Washington-based software giant to reach trial.
Microsoft has reached settlements in nine states and Washington,
D.C., totaling $1.5 billion, including $1.1 billion in
California. Cases were dismissed in 16 other states. The action
includes two classes, one for the operating system and one for
the software. The plaintiffs are five individuals and two
companies.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Executive Steve Ballmer
are expected to testify, a Microsoft spokeswoman said. Microsoft
contends it sells Windows--a product it spent hundreds of
millions of dollars developing-- for a modest fee, usually about
$50 when pre-installed on computers, said David Tulchin, the
company's lead lawyer.

The only other Microsoft case that went to trial was a federal
antitrust lawsuit, filed by the U.S. Justice Department, which
the company lost in 1999. In that case, Microsoft was found to
have illegally monopolized the operating system market using
Windows. The trial judge ordered a breakup of Microsoft, but a
federal circuit court overruled the decision. It did, however,
uphold the judgment that Microsoft held a monopoly with Windows.


OBESITY LEGISLATION: House Moves Ahead With "Cheeseburger Bill"
---------------------------------------------------------------
The so-called "cheeseburger bill," which seeks to limit
frivolous lawsuits by obese people who blame their condition on
junk food, cleared a crucial hurdle in the House of
Representatives the week of March 1 and appears to have broad
support there, Bestwire reports.

The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act, H.R. 339,
filed by Rep. Ric Keller, R-Fla., has 119 cosponsors and was
moved from a House subcommittee to the Judiciary Committee by
unanimous consent late March 4. That committee was to prepare a
report on the bill by midnight March 5, possibly in preparation
for a vote soon after. The bill, which seeks to protect food and
drink manufacturers, distributors and sellers from civil
liability "related to consumption of such products" as long as
the product was in compliance with all the applicable rules and
laws, has the attention of big products-liability insurers such
as Zurich and CNA.  Alcohol is exempted from the bill's
language. In plain English: People who buy food or drinks that
aren't illegal can't then sue the companies that made them, the
stores that sold them or the restaurants that served them if
they get fat.

A handful of trial lawyers in recent years have made headlines
by filing suits that sought to hold fast-food restaurants and
snack-food makers accountable for the size of their customers'
waistlines. In filing the suits, those lawyers have sought
publicly to link the food industry with Big Tobacco, essentially
making obesity an issue of corporate conduct rather than
personal responsibility.

Keller, who was an attorney before winning his Florida seat in
2000, has said he was prompted to file the bill after watching a
segment about the law and obesity on a television news program.
His bill comes at a time of increasing obesity among Americans
and uncertainty about the suits' validity, which is shared among
the legal profession, the food industry, and the insurers that
cover them. The most famous obesity case, in which McDonald's
was sued in federal court by a group of overweight teens, was
dismissed in January 2003--yet it was re-filed with amendments
suggested by the judge.

The Senate also took action the week of March 1 to curb costs of
class-action lawsuits. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., filed a bill
that would requiring the losing party in such a suit to pay the
other party's costs, a long-standing practice in England and a
measure seen as a major deterrent toward groundless suits.
Proponents of the bill say that nuisance suits--in which a
plaintiff files a weak case in the hopes of being paid a
settlement to go away--would be eliminated virtually overnight.


OVERSEAS PARTNERS: SD N.Y. Court Sets Settlement Hearing May 21
---------------------------------------------------------------
On November 19, 1999 and January 27, 2000 Overseas Partners Ltd.
was named as a defendant in two class action lawsuits, filed on
behalf of customers of UPS, in Montgomery County, Ohio Court and
Butler County, Ohio Court, respectively.

The lawsuits allege, amongst other things, that UPS told its
customers that they were purchasing insurance for coverage of
loss or damage to goods shipped by UPS. The lawsuits further
allege that UPS wrongfully enriched itself with the monies paid
by its customers to purchase the insurance.

The November 19, 1999 and January 27, 2000 actions were removed
to federal court and thereafter transferred to the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York (the Court)
and consolidated in a multidistrict litigation for pretrial
discovery purposes with other actions asserting claims against
UPS. Plaintiffs subsequently amended those claims against all
defendants to join a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations (RICO) claim as well.

On August 7, 2000, the Company and its wholly owned subsidiary,
OPCC, were added as defendants in a third class action lawsuit,
also consolidated in the multi-district litigation, which
alleges violations of United States antitrust laws, and state
unfair trade practice and consumer protection laws. The
allegations in the lawsuits are drawn from an opinion by the
United States Tax Court that found that the insurance program,
as offered through UPS, by domestic insurance companies, and
ultimately reinsured by Overseas Partners Ltd, should not be
recognized for federal income tax purposes.

In June 2001, the Tax Court opinion was reversed by the United
States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  The Company
filed or joined in motions to dismiss all of the consolidated
actions on a number of grounds, including that the antitrust
claim fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,
and that the remaining claims are preempted by federal law. In
orders dated July 30, 2002, the Court granted in part and denied
in part the motions to dismiss. Pursuant to the Court's orders,
the claims remaining against the Company are RICO, antitrust,
and common law interference with contract claims.

On November 8, 2002, the parties presented to the Court a
stipulation and proposed order certifying a nationwide class
with respect to certain of the claims brought by the plaintiffs,
including the RICO and interference with contract claims against
the Company.  The Court signed the stipulation and proposed
order. The stipulation does not certify the antitrust claims
brought against the Company. Discovery has commenced.

During October 2003 the parties reached a tentative settlement
with respect to all claims brought by the various plaintiffs.
The settlement agreement was executed on December 31, 2003 and
on January 16, 2004 the Court preliminarily approved the
settlement.  A settlement hearing will be held on May 21, 2004
at which time the Court will determine as a final matter whether
the settlement should be approved.

"Assuming that the Court gives final approval, the Company
expects that it would incur additional costs of approximately
$10 million in connection with the settlement, and this amount
has been accrued in the financial statements for the year ended
December 31, 2003," Overseas Partners said in a latest SEC
disclosure.

"However, there can be no assurance that the Court will approve
the settlement.  The Company believes that it has meritorious
defenses to all claims asserted against it and in the event that
the Court does not approve the settlement, the Company intends
to defend all claims vigorously," the company said.

"There can be no assurance, however, that an adverse
determination of the lawsuits would not have a material effect
on the Company.  Certain of OPL's subsidiaries are party to
legal proceedings in the investigation and defense of claims
arising out of their reinsurance business and/or their former
ownership of real estate. We do not believe that the eventual
outcome of any such proceedings will have a material effect on
their condition or business," it added.

For more information, contact Overseas Partners Ltd. by Mail:
8 Par-La-Ville Road, Mintflower Place, P.O. Box 1581 Hamilton
5 Bermuda D0 or by Phone: (441) 295-0788


PAYPAL: To Pay NY $150,000 Penalty Over Product Repayment Scheme
----------------------------------------------------------------
New York's state attorney general said Monday that the nation's
largest online payment service, PayPal, is paying New York
$150,000 in penalties after misrepresenting to consumers its
policy on repayment when merchandise doesn't arrive, the
Associated Press reports.

PayPal, which has 40 million customers worldwide, had
specifically stated that it provided the same rights and
protections of a traditional credit card transaction, Attorney
General Eliot Spitzer told the AP. But consumers were often
denied those rights, he said. PayPal creates accounts for buyers
and sellers using the Internet, including PayPal's parent, eBay,
the Internet auction site. PayPal lets buyers and sellers
exchange money through e-mail. Buyers make payments online
through credit cards and bank accounts, and PayPal relays the
funds to sellers' accounts. Basic usage is free, but sellers who
use added features must pay fees based on the amount
transferred. About 60 percent of PayPal's business comes from
eBay users.

Besides the penalties, PayPal will pay New York state the
investigation costs. The online payment service also will
clearly describe consumer rights including conditions or
limitations on their rights and refund policies. Without the
agreement, consumers using their credit cards through "e-
payment" systems like PayPal would lose their protections under
the federal Fair Credit Billing Act and similar state laws.

Spitzer spokeswoman Christine Pritchard said consumers
complained they were being bounced between PayPal and their
credit card companies and there was no prompt action.

EBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion in late 2002 and has
continued the service's rapid growth. PayPal opened 17 million
more accounts last year, giving the service about 40 million
customers as of Dec. 31. PayPal handled transactions totaling
$12.2 billion last year, processing an average of 629,000
payments each day, according to eBay.

Although its service is widely popular, PayPal also has
irritated many customers by freezing accounts flagged for
suspicious activity. PayPal says it needs to be able to freeze
accounts to combat fraud, but the practice has triggered several
class-action lawsuits alleging violations of various consumer
protection laws. Persistent customer complaints also have
triggered inquiries about PayPal's account restrictions from the
Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general from "a
number of states," according to eBay's annual report filed
Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


PENTAIR INC.: Ordered to Pay $8.6 Million in Essef Case
-------------------------------------------------------
Twenty-eight separate lawsuits involving 29 primary plaintiffs,
a class action, and claims for indemnity by Celebrity Cruise
Lines, Inc. (Celebrity) were brought against Essef Corporation
(Essef) and certain of its subsidiaries prior to the acquisition
of Essef by Pentair Inc. in August 1999.

These lawsuits alleged exposure to Legionnaires bacteria by
passengers aboard the cruise ship M/V Horizon, a ship operated
by Celebrity.  The lawsuits included a class action brought on
behalf of all passengers aboard the ship during the relevant
time period, individual "opt-out" passenger suits, and a suit by
Celebrity.

Celebrity alleged in its suit that it had sustained economic
damages due to loss of use of the M/V Horizon while it was dry-
docked.  The claims against Essef and its involved subsidiaries
were based upon the allegation that Essef designed,
manufactured, and marketed two sand swimming pool filters that
were installed as a part of the spa system on the Horizon, and
allegations that the spa and filters contained bacteria that
infected certain passengers on cruises from December 1993
through July 1994.

Prior to the acquisition of Essef, a settlement was reached in
the class action. With regard to the individual "opt out";
passenger suits, the claims of one plaintiff were tried under a
stipulation among all remaining parties provided that the
liability findings would be applicable to all plaintiffs and
defendants. The trial resulted in a jury verdict on June 13,
2000 finding liability on the part of the Essef defendants (70%)
and Celebrity and its sister company, Fantasia (together 30%).
Compensatory damages in the total amount of $2.7 million
were awarded, with each defendant being accountable for its
proportionate share of liability. The Essef defendant's
proportionate share was covered by insurance. Punitive damages
were separately awarded against the Essef defendants in the
total amount of $7.0 million, with 60% awarded to all remaining
plaintiffs and 40% to Celebrity.

"After exhaustion of post-trial appeals, we paid all outstanding
punitive damage awards of $7.0 million in the Horizon cases,
plus interest of approximately $1.6 million in January 2004,"
Pentair Inc. said in a recent SEC disclosure.

"We had reserved for the amount of punitive damages awarded at
the time of the Essef acquisition.  A reserve for the $1.6
million interest cost was recorded in 2003," the SEC document
partly reads.

For more information, contact Pentair Inc. by Mail: 5500 Wayzata
Blvd., Suite 800 Golden Valley MN 55416 or by Phone: (763) 545-
1730


PENTAIR INC.: Settles Lawsuit Filed Against Subsidiary
------------------------------------------------------
A national class action, styled Ellerbrake et al v. DeVilbiss
Air Power Company, was brought against DeVilbiss Air Power
Company (DAPC) and four other manufacturers of retail air
compressors in August 2001 on behalf of consumers that had
purchased certain air compressors.

Plaintiffs alleged that the manufacturers mislabeled horsepower
ratings on compressors they manufacture.  Plaintiffs sought to
represent a class of all persons who had purchased since August
1996 an air compressor for which the horsepower ratings were
allegedly mislabeled.

Without admitting any liability, DAPC settled with plaintiffs
and the settlement was preliminarily approved by the Court in
January 2004.  Terms of the settlement include changes in
labeling, an education program for consumers, attorney's fees
and tools or accessories for qualifying claimants.

"While certain elements of the settlement have specific dollars
assigned to them, the ultimate cost of some elements is still
unknown at this time.  We believe reserves recorded in 2003 are
sufficient to cover the cost of this settlement based on the
information available to us at this time," Pentair Inc., the
parent of DAPC, said in a recent SEC filing.

For more information, contact Pentair Inc. by Mail: 5500 Wayzata
Blvd., Suite 800 Golden Valley MN 55416 or by Phone:
(763) 545-1730


R.J. REYNOLDS: Nevada Court Denies Certification on 25 Cases
------------------------------------------------------------
As of January 23, 2004, 18 class action cases were pending in
the United States against RJR Tobacco Co. (RJR Tobacco) and in
some cases, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc (RJR).

In May 1996, in Castano American Tobacco Co., the Fifth Circuit
Court of Appeals overturned the certification of a nationwide
class of persons whose claims related to alleged addiction to
tobacco products. Since this ruling by the Fifth Circuit, most
class-action suits have sought certification of statewide,
rather than nationwide, classes.

Class action suits based on claims similar to those asserted in
Castano are pending against RJR Tobacco, and in some cases RJR,
in state or federal courts in Alabama, California, Florida,
Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma,
Oregon, Utah and West Virginia.  Twenty-five virtually identical
class-action complaints were filed by one attorney in Nevada
since July 2002.  This same attorney also filed class action
complaints in Kentucky, Massachusetts and Utah.

A federal district court judge recently denied class
certification in all 25 of the Nevada cases; a state court judge
denied class certification in the Kentucky case; the
Massachusetts case was voluntarily dismissed; and the Utah case
remains pending.

For more information, contact R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings
Inc. by Mail: 401 North Main Street, Winston-Salem NC 27102 or
by Phone: (336) 741-5500


RURAL METRO: Settles Securities Suits Without Admitting Fault
-------------------------------------------------------------
Rural Metro Corporation, Warren S. Rustand, the former Chairman
of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Company; James
H. Bolin, the former Vice Chairman of the Board; and Robert E.
Ramsey, Jr., its former Executive Vice President and former
Director, were named as defendants in two purported class action
lawsuits:

     (i) HASKELL V. RURAL/METRO CORPORATION, ET AL., Civil
         Action No. C-328448 filed on August 25, 1998 in Pima
         County, Arizona Superior Court; and

    (ii) RUBLE V. RURAL/METRO CORPORATION, ET AL., CIV 98-413-
         TUC-JMR filed on September 2, 1998 in United States
         District Court for the District of Arizona.

The two lawsuits, which contained virtually identical
allegations, were brought on behalf of a class of persons who
purchased the Company's publicly traded securities including its
common stock between April 24, 1997 and June 11, 1998.  Haskell
v. Rural/Metro sought unspecified damages under the Arizona
Securities Act, the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, and under
Arizona common law fraud, and also sought punitive damages, a
constructive trust, and other injunctive relief. Ruble v.
Rural/Metro sought unspecified damages under Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.

The complaints in both actions alleged that between April 24,
1997 and June 11, 1998 the defendants issued certain false and
misleading statements regarding certain aspects of the Company's
financial status and that these statements allegedly caused the
Company's common stock to be traded at artificially inflated
prices. The complaints also alleged that Mr. Bolin and Mr.
Ramsey sold stock during this period, allegedly taking advantage
of inside information that the stock prices were artificially
inflated.

On April 17, 2003, Rural/Metro and the individual defendants
agreed to settle the Ruble v. Rural/Metro and Haskell v.
Rural/Metro cases with plaintiffs, subject to notice to the
class and final court approval. Rural/Metro's primary and excess
carriers funded the settlement on June 5, 2003 by depositing the
funds in a designated escrow account and waived any claims for
reimbursement of the funds subject to final court approval of
the class action settlement.

On August 20, 2003, the plaintiffs submitted an application for
preliminary approval of the class action settlement. On
September 3, 2003, the court signed an order granting
preliminary approval of the stipulated settlement and set forth
a schedule for the events required for final settlement
approval, including notice to the class, requests for exclusion,
written objections and responses.  The hearing for consideration
of the final settlement agreement is scheduled for December 9,
2003.

"In the settlement agreement, the Company and the individual
defendants expressly denied all charges of liability or
wrongdoing and continued to assert that at all relevant times
they acted in good faith and in a manner they reasonably
believed to be in the best interests of the Company and its
stockholders," Rural Metro Corporation said in its latest SEC
disclosure.

For more information, contact Rural Metro Corporation by Mail:
8401 East Indian School Rd, Scottsdale AZ 85251 or by Phone:
(480) 994-3886


RURAL METRO: Arizona Superior Court Junks Securities Suit
---------------------------------------------------------
Rural Metro Corporation, Arthur Andersen LLP, Cor Clement and
Jane Doe Clement, Randall L. Harmsen and Jane Doe Harmsen,
Warren S. Rustand and Jane Doe Rustand, James H. Bolin and Jane
Doe Bolin, Jack E. Brucker and Jane Doe Brucker, Robert B.
Hillier and Jane Doe Hillier, John S. Banas III and Jane Doe
Banas, Louis G. Jekel and Karen Whitmer, Mary Anne Carpenter and
John Doe Carpenter, William C. Turner and Jane Doe Turner, Henry
G. Walker and Jane Doe Walker, Louis A. Witzeman and Jane Doe
Witzeman, John Furman and Jane Doe Furman, and Mark Liebner and
Jane Doe Liebner were named as defendants in a purported class
action lawsuit: STEVEN A. SPRINGBORN V. RURAL/METRO
CORPORATION, ET AL., Civil Action No. CV 2002-019020 filed on
September 30, 2002 in Maricopa County, Arizona Superior Court.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of employee firefighters in
Maricopa County who participated in the Company's Employee Stock
Ownership Plan (ESOP), Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP)
and/or Retirement Savings Value Plan (401(k) Plan) 401(k) plan.
(collectively, the Plans).  The action purports to cover a class
period of July 1, 1996 through June 30, 2001.  The plaintiffs
amended the Complaint on October 17, 2002 adding Barry Landon
and Jane Doe Landon as defendants and making certain additional
allegations and claims.

The primary allegations of the complaint included violations of
various state and federal securities laws, breach of contract,
common law fraud, and mismanagement of the Plans.  The
plaintiffs sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

On October 30, 2002, defendant Arthur Andersen LLP removed the
action to the United States District Court, District of Arizona,
CIV-02-2183-PHX-JWS. The Company and the individual defendants
consented to this removal. On February 21, 2003, the Company and
its current directors and officers moved to dismiss the amended
complaint, and its former directors and officers subsequently
joined in this motion.

On July 29, 2003, the court granted the motion to dismiss, which
disposed of all claims against the Company and its current and
former officers and directors. On August 28, 2003, plaintiffs
filed a notice of appeal from the court's July 29, 2003 order to
the Ninth Circuit.  The court has yet to consider and rule upon
defendant Arthur Andersen's motion to dismiss.

For more information, contact Rural Metro Corporation by Mail:
8401 East Indian School Rd, Scottsdale AZ 85251 or by Phone:
(480) 994-3886


SAME-SEX MARRIAGES: Seattle Mayor Set To Recognize Gay Marriages
----------------------------------------------------------------
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said Sunday the city will begin
recognizing the marriages of gay employees who tie the knot
elsewhere, although it will not conduct its own same-sex
weddings, the Associated Press reports.

Mayor Nickels was to sign an executive order Monday giving same-
sex spouses of city employees all the benefits of heterosexual
spouses, including health insurance. He also planned to send a
proposal to the City Council that would extend that recognition
to employees of city contractors and protect the rights of all
same-sex married couples in Seattle.

"The basic message is one of fairness, and that is that people
who are willing to make a commitment to one another, who love
one another, and who are willing to take on the responsibilities
of marriage ought to be able to, regardless of their gender,"
Nickels told the Associated Press.

Rick Forcier, head of the state Christian Coalition, called
Nickels' plan "anarchy." "We have to have uniform laws," Forcier
said. "People cannot be recognized as married in one
jurisdiction and not in another. ... He's pretending to
recognize counterfeit licenses that will have no value."

Seattle has offered domestic partnership benefits to its
employees since 1989, but the process requires workers to fill
out extensive paperwork. Under the new order, married same-sex
couples will be able to skip that process, officials said.
Nickels said he cannot follow the lead of mayors in San
Francisco and New Paltz, N.Y., by allowing same-sex weddings
because counties, not cities, have the authority to issue
marriage licenses in Washington.

More than 3,600 same-sex marriages were performed in San
Francisco over the last three weeks, and hundreds of gay couples
were granted wedding licenses last week in Portland, Ore. The
marriages are being challenged in court.

The ordinance Nickels was to send to the City Council on Monday
defines "spouse" as a husband or wife in a same-sex or opposite-
sex marriage. If approved, the ordinance would protect gay
married couples from discrimination in employment, housing,
parks and other city facilities. It also would require
contractors doing business with the city to recognize gay
marriages among their own employees.


TRIUMPH CAPITAL GROUP: SEC Files Admin. Proceedings V. Chairman
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued an Order
Instituting Administrative Proceedings Pursuant to Section 15(b)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Section 203(f) of the
Investment Advisers Act of 1940, Making Findings, and Imposing
Remedial Sanctions (Order) against Frederick W. McCarthy, of
Boston, Massachusetts and Palm Beach, Florida, who served as a
principal and the chairman of Triumph Capital Group, Inc., a
Boston investment firm, since its founding in 1990.

The Order found that on Oct. 28, 2003, a Connecticut federal
court entered final judgment by consent against McCarthy,
permanently enjoining him from future violations of Section
17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and
Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of
1940 in the civil action entitled Securities and Exchange
Commission v. Paul J. Silvester, et al., Civil Action Number
3:00-CV-1941.

The Commission's complaint, filed Oct.  10, 2000, alleged, among
other things, that Triumph and McCarthy provided $2 million in
consulting contracts to associates of the Connecticut State
Treasurer  (Treasurer) in order to secure the Treasurer's
decision to invest $200 million in state pension funds in a
Triumph investment fund. The Commission's complaint further
alleged that McCarthy violated his fiduciary duty to the state
pension fund by failing to disclose the quid pro quo arrangement
to the state pension fund. The Order also found that on Sept. 4,
2003, McCarthy pleaded guilty to one count of theft or bribery
concerning programs receiving federal funds, in violation of 18
U.S.C. 666, in the U.S. Court for the District of Connecticut.
The count of the indictment to which McCarthy pleaded guilty
alleged, among other things, that McCarthy, beginning on or
about November 1998, rewarded the Treasurer by providing
consulting contracts valued at approximately  $2  million  to
the  Treasurer's associates,  at least in part, for the
Treasurer's decision to  increase the investment of state
pension assets in a Triumph investment fund.

Based  upon  the above, the Commission issued an Order barring
McCarthy from associating with a broker, dealer, or investment
adviser.  McCarthy consented  to the issuance of the
administrative Order without admitting or  denying the findings
in the Order.


TYCO: Defense Delivers Closing Arguments In Ex-CFO's Fraud Trial
----------------------------------------------------------------
In his final address to jurors on Monday, Mark Swartz's lawyer
said that the five-month case against Tyco's former finance
chief relied on guesswork and failed to show a "thimbleful" of
evidence that he robbed the company of millions of dollars, the
Associated Press reports.

Attorney Charles Stillman, reading from prepared notes during
his six hour closing argument, told the jury that his client
"never believed for a nanosecond that he was doing anything
wrong" and advised them to take the prosecution's fraud case
"and throw it out the window." The trial of Swartz and his one-
time boss, former Tyco International Ltd Chairman Dennis
Kozlowski, marks one of the largest corporate corruption cases
in U.S. history and has brought new attention to the scandals
that roiled the business world and drained pension funds in
recent years.

Stillman conceded early in his summation that bonuses paid to
Swartz were often "extremely large" and even "staggering," but
said that the case was not about his client's lifestyle, how
much money he made or where he lived. "It's not about whether
Tyco's system of corporate governance is good, bad or somewhere
in the middle," he continued. "At its core, this case is about
whether Mark Swartz stole significant amounts of money from the
company."

Swartz and Kozlowski -- once acclaimed for building Tyco into a
top diversified manufacturer -- could each face up to 30 years
in state prison if convicted of looting the company of $600
million. But Stillman sought to convince jurors who sat through
700 prosecution exhibits and 48 witnesses that his client never
tried to hide, lie about or cover up any of the bonuses he was
paid or loans he received.

Swartz, who chatted with his children and parents during breaks,
appeared relaxed throughout closing arguments as his lawyer told
jurors that the board simply failed to make a record of its
approval of the loans and bonuses. The board held 37 meetings in
which no minutes were recorded, even at one session where it
discussed an improper $20 million payment to then-director Frank
Walsh and a plan to split Tyco into four companies, Stillman
said.

The trial began in September in New York but was overshadowed by
that of Martha Stewart until last Friday, when a jury found the
lifestyle trendsetter guilty of lying to investigators about a
suspicious stock sale. But crowds returned on Monday to the Tyco
trial for the first of three closing arguments scheduled this
week. Next up is Kozlowski's attorney, who will be followed by
closing arguments from prosecutors on Wednesday.

Prosecution lawyers will argue that Tyco's board never approved
tens of millions of dollars in bonuses and forgiven loans that
Kozlowski and Swartz used to fund purchases of mansions, yachts
and jewelry.

Stillman repeatedly emphasized that Swartz, 43, never tried to
conceal anything, nor did he ask anyone to hide anything. He
downplayed Swartz's failure to report a $12.5 million bonus he
received in 1999 on his tax returns for that year. Swartz
testified he didn't realize until 2002 that the bonus was not
reported on his 1999 income disclosure. He said the bonus
"slipped through cracks" when an assistant sent his salary
information to his accountant. But Stillman said his client was
careful when it came to Tyco's accounting. "Mark Swartz saw to
it that every dime of every bonus was properly recorded in the
books and records of Tyco," Stillman said.


TYSON FOODS: Jury Awards Cattlemen $1.28B In IBP Contracts Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
A federal jury recently awarded $1.28 billion to a group of
30,000 cattlemen who had sued IBP (which was acquired by Tyson
in 2001) in a 1996 class action, Farm Industry News reports.

The suit claimed that IBP used contracts with a select few beef
producers to create a supply of cattle that the company could
tap into when beef prices were high. An Auburn University
economist testified that the contracts had driven down cattle
prices 5.1%, or about $2.1 billion during an eight-year period.

Tyson Foods, which plans to appeal the verdict, maintains that
the court's findings exaggerated the actual loss to cattlemen.


UCLA: Relatives File Suit V. Illegal Sale Of Deceased Body Parts
----------------------------------------------------------------
In a lawsuit filed Monday seeking class action status, relatives
of deceased who donated their corpses for medical research,
claim that the University of California, Los Angeles, illegally
sold the body parts for profit, the Associated Press reports.

The lawsuit claims that the director of the university's Willed
Body Program, Henry Reid, had been illegally selling body parts
for years with the knowledge of other UCLA officials. UCLA has
denied knowing about the sales. Lawyers representing the family
members said they received documents from UCLA promising that
the body parts would never be sold. The lawyers noted that such
sales would violate state law.

According to a statement Monday by the lawyers, Reid was
involved in "turning donations into illicit profit."  "UCLA and
the Regents have known for many years that the Willed Body
Program was spinning out of control," the statement said.

Reid, 54, was arrested Saturday for investigation of grand theft
for allegedly selling corpses and body parts for profit. He was
released from jail after posting bail and has declined to
comment. Ernest Nelson, 46, was arrested for investigation of
receiving stolen property. A UCLA statement said Nelson, who
also posted bail and was released, was not a university
employee. Nelson claimed he acted as a middleman for six years,
retrieving body parts from the UCLA Medical School's freezer and
selling them to research companies. He said Reid and other UCLA
employees knew about his work. He added that he collected the
body parts by simply walking into the UCLA Medical Center twice
a week with a saw and taking them. Over the past six years, he
said, he cut up approximately 800 cadavers and took knees,
hands, torsos, heads and other parts, which he sold to as many
as 100 clients.

UCLA lawyer Louis Marlin denied that the university knew that
the donated bodies intended for its medical students and
research programs were being cut up and sold to others. He said
Nelson paid for the parts he took with cashier's checks made out
to Reid. One other UCLA employee who is also believed to have
accepted money for body parts has been placed on leave. That
person has not been identified or arrested. Marlin said Nelson
himself brought the situation to light when he filed a claim
against the university for $241,000 US for body parts he said he
paid for and was then ordered to return. That prompted the
investigation.


WASHINGTON: SC Seeks Government Review Of Stock Suit Standards
--------------------------------------------------------------
The federal government was asked by the U.S. Supreme Court
Monday whether it should review the standards for private
securities lawsuits brought against a company alleging its stock
price was inflated because of misleading corporate disclosures,
the Dow Jones Business News reports.

The high court requested a brief from the U.S. Solicitor
General's office in an appeal brought by Elan Corp., Dublin,
Ireland. The case deals with 1998 disclosures made by Dura
Pharmaceuticals Inc., which was acquired by Elan in 2001, and
raises legal issues that have been appealed to the Supreme Court
but rejected in the past.

In February 1998, Dura Pharmaceuticals announced expected
revenue shortfalls due to slower pharmaceutical sales, increased
competition and a lack of sales force. The company's common
shares fell 47% at the time. In November 1998, the Food and Drug
Administration announced it wouldn't approve an asthma
medication, Albuterol Spiros, developed by the company. The
November disclosure prompted another decline in the company's
common shares. Shareholders represented by Milberg Weiss Bershad
Hynes & Lerach LLP, a San Diego law firm known for securities
litigation against corporations, then sued alleging securities-
law violations over the company's disclosures.

The class action lawsuit sought the recovery of stock losses
after the revenue-shortfall announcement and alleged the company
had committed fraud on the market by overstating the prospects
for FDA approval of the asthma drug. The lawsuit was thrown out
by a federal trial judge, but the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in San Francisco allowed the class action lawsuit to go
forward.

The appeal asked the Supreme Court to intervene and resolve
conflicts over Ninth Circuit standards for allowing lawsuits
over allegations of inflated stock prices due to misleading
disclosures. The standards for private securities lawsuits were
changed in the 1990s by Congress, and the federal appeals
circuits have reached various conclusions on this fraud-on-the-
market issue. The case is Dura Pharmaceuticals v. Broudo, 03-
932. The U.S. Solicitor General will file a brief in the case
later this year advising the court on whether the appeal should
be granted.


                Meetings, Conferences & Seminars


* Scheduled Events for Class Action Professionals
-------------------------------------------------

March 11-12, 2004
CONSUMER FINANCIAL SERVICES LITIGATION 2004
Practicing Law Institute
New York
Contact: 800-260-4pli; info@pli.edu.

March 11-12, 2004
WELDING ROD LITIGATION CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

March 18-19, 2004
SECURITIES, DRUGS & ENVIRONMENTAL LITIGATION
MassTortsMadePerfect.Com
The Fairmont, San Francisco, California
Contact: 1-800-320-2227; register@masstortsmadeperfect.com.

March 22-23, 2004
INNOVATIVE DEFENCE STRATEGIES IN DRUG & MEDICAL DEVICE
LITIGATION
Mealey Publications
The Westin Kierland, Scottsdale, AZ
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

March 22-23, 2004
EMERGING DRUGS AND DIVICES CONFERENCE FOR PLAINTIFF ATTORNEYS
Mealey Publications
The Westin Kierland, Scottsdale, AZ
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

March 25-26, 2004
INSURANCE 101 CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Westin Hotel, Philadelphia
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

March 29-30, 2004
LITIGATING BAD FAITH AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES
American Conferences
San Francisco
Contact: http://www.americanconference.com.

April 7-8, 2004
INSURANCE LAW 2004: UNDERSTANDING THE ABC'S
Practicing Law Institute
New York
Contact: 800-260-4pli; info@pli.edu.

April 14-17, 2004
INSURANCE INSOLVENCY AND REINSURANCE ROUNDTABLE
Mealey Publications
The Scottsdale Princess, Scottsdale, AZ
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

April 15-16, 2004
OPINION AND EXPERT TESTIMONY IN FEDERAL AND STATE COURTS
ALI-ABA
New Orleans
Contact: 215-243-1614; 800-CLE-NEWS x1614

April 15-16, 2004
HANDLING CONSTRUCTION RISKS 2004: ALLOCATE NOW OR LITIGATE LATER
Practicing Law Institute
New York
Contact: 800-260-4pli; info@pli.edu.

April 19-20, 2004
SILICA MEDICINE CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa, Pasadena, CA
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

April 19-20, 2004
LEXISNEXIS PRESENTS WALL STREET FORUM: ASBESTOS
Mealey Publications
New York Marriott Financial Center
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

April 22-24, 2004
LITIGATING MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMS
ALI-ABA
New Orleans
Contact: 215-243-1614; 800-CLE-NEWS x1614

April 26-27, 2004
MOLD 101 CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Fairmont Hotel, New Orleans
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

May 6-7, 2004
FEN-PHEN LITIGATION CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Westin Hotel, Philadelphia
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

May 6-7, 2004
CONSUMER FINANCIAL SERVICES LITIGATION 2004
Practicing Law Institute
San Francisco
Contact: 800-260-4pli; info@pli.edu.

May 6-7, 2004
CONFERENCE ON LIFE AND HEALTH INSURANCE LITIGATION
ALI-ABA
Washington, D.C. Tuition $995
Contact: 215-243-1614; 800-CLE-NEWS x1614

May 11, 2004
EPHEDRA LITIGATION CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The San Diego Marina Marriott, San Diego
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

May 20-21, 2004
ACCOUNTANTS' LIABILITY
ALI-ABA
Chicago
Contact: 215-243-1614; 800-CLE-NEWS x1614

May 24-25, 2004
ADDITIONAL INSURED CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Boston Common, Boston
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.


May 25, 2004
D&O INSURANCE CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Boston Common, Boston
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

June 7-8, 2004
ASBESTOS BANKRUPTCY CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Four Seasons Hotel, Chicago
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

June 10-11, 2004
SECURITIES, DRUGS & ENVIRONMENTAL LITIGATION
MassTortsMadePerfect.Com
Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas
Contact: 1-800-320-2227; register@masstortsmadeperfect.com.

June 10-11, 2004
LITIGATING DISABILITY INSURANCE CLAIMS
American Conferences
Boston
Contact: http://www.americanconference.com.

June 16, 2004
BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Pentagon City
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

June 17, 2004
E-DISCOVERY CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Pentagon City
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

June 22-23, 2004
NATIONAL MOLD LITIGATION CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Resort, Orlando, FL
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

July 16, 2004
PRODUCTS LIABILITY
ALI-ABA
Chicago
Contact: 215-243-1614; 800-CLE-NEWS x1614

September 20-21, 2004
REINSURANCE SUMMIT
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Boston Common, Boston
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

September 20-21, 2004
NATIONAL ASBESTOS LITIGATION CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Westin Hotel, Philadelphia
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

September 21, 2004
E-DISCOVERY CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Westin Hotel, Philadelphia
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

September 27-28, 2004
BAD FAITH CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Philadelphia
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

October 4-5, 2004
INSURANCE COVERAGE DISPUTES CONCERNING CONSTRUCTION DEFECTS
CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Westin Chicago River North, Chicago
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

October 25-26, 2004
SILICA LITIGATION CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, New Orleans
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

October 26, 2004
PVC LITIGATION CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, New Orleans
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

November 8-9, 2004
CALIFORNIA SECTION 17200 CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Huntington Hotel & Spa, Pasadena, CA
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

November 9, 2004
ANTI-SLAPP CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Huntington Hotel & Spa, Pasadena, CA
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

November 11-12, 2004
ASBESTOS LITIGATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY
ALI-ABA
New Orleans
Contact: 215-243-1614; 800-CLE-NEWS x1614

December 9-10, 2004
ASBESTOS PREMISES LIABILITY CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Huntington Hotel & Spa, Pasadena, CA
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

December 9-10, 2004
CONSTRUCTION DEFECT & MOLD LITIGATION CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
The Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas, Las Vegas
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

TBA
FAIR LABOR STANDARDS CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

TBA
AIRLINE BANKRUPTCY LITIGATION CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.

TBA
FASTFOOD INDUSTRY LIABILITY CONFERENCE
Mealey Publications
Contact: 1-800-MEALEYS; 610-768-7800;
mealeyseminars@lexisnexis.com.


* Online Teleconferences
------------------------

March 05-30, 2004
DAMAGES IN TEXAS INSURANCE LITIGATION:
EVALUATING, PLEADING, AND PROVING
CLEOnline.Com
Contact: 512-778-5665; info@cleonline.com.

March 05-30, 2004
NBI PRESENTS "EMERGING ISSUES IN CALIFORNIA
INDOOR AIR QUALITY AND TOXIC MOLD LITIGATION
CLEOnline.Com
Contact: 512-778-5665; info@cleonline.com.

March 05-30, 2004
NBI PRESENTS "LITIGATING THE CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT IN FLORIDA
CLEOnline.Com
Contact: 512-778-5665; info@cleonline.com.

May 6-7, 2004
CONSUMER FINANCIAL SERVICES LITIGATION 2004
Practicing Law Institute
Contact: 800-260-4pli; info@pli.edu.

ADVERSARIAL PROCEEDINGS IN ASBESTOS BANKRUPTCIES
LawCommerce.Com/Mealey's
Online Streaming Video
Contact: customerservice@lawcommerce.com.

ASBESTOS BANKRUPTCY - PANEL OF CREDITORS COMMITTEE MEMBERS
LawCommerce.Com/Mealey's
Online Streaming Video
Contact: customerservice@lawcommerce.com.

EXPERT WITNESS ADMISSIBILITY IN MOLD CASES
LawCommerce.Com/Mealey's
Online Streaming Video
Contact: customerservice@lawcommerce.com.

INTRODUCTION TO CLASS ACTIONS AND LARGE RECOVERIES
Big Class Action
Contact: seminars@bigclassaction.com.

NON-TRADITIONAL DEFENDANTS IN ASBESTOS LITIGATION
Online Streaming Video
LawCommerce.Com/Mealey's
Contact: customerservice@lawcommerce.com.

PAXIL LITIGATION
Online Streaming Video
LawCommerce.Com/Mealey's
Contact: customerservice@lawcommerce.com.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS INVOLVING BAYCOL
Online Streaming Video
LawCommerce.Com/Mealey's
Contact: customerservice@lawcommerce.com.

RECOVERIES
Big Class Action
Contact: seminars@bigclassaction.com.

SELECTION OF MOLD LITIGATION EXPERTS: WHO YOU NEED ON YOUR TEAM
Online Streaming Video
LawCommerce.Com/Mealey's
Contact: customerservice@lawcommerce.com.

SHOULD I FILE A CLASS ACTION?
LawCommerce.Com / Law Education Institute
Contact: customerservice@lawcommerce.com.

THE EFFECTS OF ASBESTOS ON THE PULMONARY SYSTEM
Online Streaming Video
LawCommerce.Com/Mealey's
Contact: customerservice@lawcommerce.com.

THE STATE OF ASBESTOS LITIGATION: JUDICIAL PANEL DISCUSSION
Online Streaming Video
LawCommerce.Com/Mealey's
Contact: customerservice@lawcommerce.com.

TRYING AN ASBESTOS CASE
LawCommerce.Com
Contact: customerservice@lawcommerce.com.

THE IMPACT OF LORILLAR ON STATE AND LOCAL REGULATION OF TOBACCO
SALES
AND ADVERSTISING
American Bar Association
Contact: 800-285-2221; abacle@abanet.org.

                   New Securities Fraud Cases

AaiPHARMA: Bernstein Liebhard Files Securities Suit in E.D. NC
--------------------------------------------------------------
Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP initiated a securities class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of North Carolina, Southern Division, on behalf
of all persons who acquired securities of aaiPharma Inc. between
April 24, 2002 and February 4, 2004, inclusive, against
defendants aaiPharma, and:

     (1) Philip S. Tabbiner, and

     (2) William L. Ginna, Jr.

The Complaint charges that aaiPharma and certain officers and
directors 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
during the Class Period, thereby artificially inflating the
price of aaiPharma's securities. Specifically, defendants failed
to disclose and/or misrepresented the following adverse facts,
among others:

     (i) that the Company's core business plan was
         deteriorating;

    (ii) that the Company was unloading inventory onto
         wholesalers in order to make sales;

   (iii) that the aforementioned practice was necessary because
         the Company needed to keep its stock price up in order
         to fend off a third party suitor; and

    (iv) that the Company was improperly recognizing revenue, in
         violation of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
         from sales that were not complete.

As a result, the Company's financial results were materially
inflated at all relevant times.

The truth was revealed on February 5, 2004, when aaiPharma
announced that the Company expected net revenues to be between
$340 million and $355 million for 2004. Additionally, the
Company announced that it was setting aside money to pay for
refunds on older medicines after an unusually high return rate
in the fourth quarter. On news of this, shares of aaiPharma fell
23 percent, or $6.36 per share to close at $21.24 per share on
extremely heavy volume.

Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP has been retained as one of
the law firms to represent the class. The attorneys at Bernstein
Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP have extensive experience in securities
class action cases, and have played lead roles in major cases
resulting in the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars to
investors. For more information about Bernstein Liebhard &
Lifshitz, LLP, please visit our website at
http://www.bernlieb.com.

If you would like to discuss this action or if you have any
questions concerning this Notice or your rights as a potential
class member or lead plaintiff, you may contact the Shareholder
Relations Department at Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP, 10
East 40th Street, New York, New York 10016, (800) 217-1522 or
(212) 779-1414 or by e-mail at AAII@bernlieb.com.


EL PASO CORPORATION: Wolf Popper Lodges Securities Suit in TX
--------------------------------------------------------------
Wolf Popper LLP initiated a securities fraud lawsuit in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
against El Paso Corporation and certain of its officers and
directors, on behalf of all persons who purchased El Paso
securities on the open market from March 31, 2003 through
February 17, 2004.

The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants
materially misrepresented El Paso's financial condition and
performance in SEC filings and public statements by improperly
accounting for El Paso's oil and gas reserves, thereby
misleading investors as to the productive capability of El Paso
and as to the projected future cash flows from El Paso's natural
gas and oil properties.

On December 15, 2003, El Paso revealed that it was in the
process of reviewing its gas and oil reserve estimates and
warned that there might be negative revisions to its previously
reported proved reserve estimates. El Paso made similar
statements on December 23, 2003 and February 2, 2004, but did
not disclose the anticipated magnitude of such revisions.

After the market closed on February 17, 2004, El Paso announced
that although it had previously reported proved reserves of 5.2
trillion cubic feet at the end of fiscal year 2002, it in fact
had proved reserves of only 2.6 trillion feet, a difference of
41%. As a result, El Paso would be forced to take a fourth
quarter pre-tax charge of approximately $1 billion. In reaction
to El Paso's disclosure, on February 18, 2004, after trading at
a volume of 57 million shares, El Paso stock closed at $7.26 per
share, down $1.55, or 18%, from its closing price before the
announcement on February 17, 2004.

For more information, contact Caroline S. Curtiss, by Mail: 845
Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022, by Phone: 212-451-9627 or
877-370-7703, Fax: 212-486-2093, by E-mail, or visit the firm's
Website: http://www.wolfpopper.com.


PIMCO FUNDS: Stull Stull Commences Securities Suit in S.D. NY
-------------------------------------------------------------
Stull Stull & Brody, LLP initiated a class action lawsuit in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York, on behalf of all purchasers, redeemers and holders of
shares of the PIMCO family of mutual funds, listed below,
managed by Allianz Dresdner Asset Management of America L.P.,
PIMCO Advisors Distributors LLC, Pacific Investment Management
Company LLC, and PEA Capital LLC f/k/a PIMCO Equity Advisors LLC
between February 23, 1999 and February 17, 2004, inclusive.

The PIMCO Funds, and the symbols for the respective funds named
below, are as follows:

     (1) PIMCO StocksPLUS Fund   (Nasdaq: PSPAX, PSPBX, PSPCX,
         PSPDX, PSTKX, PPLAX, PSPRX)

     (2) PIMCO StocksPLUS Total Return Fund   (Nasdaq: PTOAX,
         PTOBX, PSOCX, PSTDX, PSPTX)

     (3) PIMCO Short-Term Fund   (Nasdaq: PSHAX, PTSBX, PFTCX,
         PSHDX, PTSHX, PSFAX, PTSRX)

     (4) PIMCO Low Duration Fund   (Nasdaq: PTLAX, PTLBX, PTLCX,
         PLDDX, PTLDX, PLDAX, PLDRX)

     (5) PIMCO Short Duration Municipal Income Fund   (Nasdaq:
         PSDAX, PSDCX, PSDDX, PSDIX, PSDMX)

     (6) PIMCO Money Market Fund   (Nasdaq: PYAXX, PYCXX, PKCXX,
         PMIXX, PMAXX) PIMCO Total Return Fund   (Nasdaq: PTTAX,
         PTTBX, PTTCX, PTTDX, PTTRX, PTRAX, PTRRX)

     (7) PIMCO Long-Term U.S. Government Fund   (Nasdaq: PFGAX,
         PFGBX, PFGCX, PGOVX, PLGBX)

     (8) PIMCO GNMA Fund   (Nasdaq: PAGNX, PBGNX, PGCNX, PGDNX,
         PDMIX) PIMCO Total Return Mortgage Fund   (Nasdaq:
         PMRAX, PMRBX, PMRCX, PTMDX, PTRIX)

     (9) PIMCO Diversified Income Fund   (Nasdaq: PDVAX, PDVBX,
         PDICX, PDVDX, PDIIX)

    (10) PIMCO High Yield Fund   (Nasdaq: PHDAX, PHDBX, PHDCX,
         PHYDX, PHIYX, PHYAX, PHYRX)


    (11) PIMCO Global Bond II Fund   (Nasdaq: PAIIX, PBIIX,
         PCIIX, PGBIX) PIMCO Foreign Bond Fund   (Nasdaq: PFOAX,
         PFOBX, PFOCX, PFODX, PFORX, PFRAX, PFRRX)

    (12) PIMCO Emerging Markets Bond Fund   (Nasdaq: PAEMX,
         PBEMX, PEBCX, PEMDX, PEBIX,PEBAX)

    (13) PIMCO Municipal Bond Fund   (Nasdaq: PMLAX, PPMLBX,
         PMLCX, PMBDX, PFMIX, PMNAX)

    (14) PIMCO California Intermediate Municipal Bond Fund
         (Nasdaq: PCMBX, PCIDX, PCIMX)

    (15) PIMCO California Municipal Bond Fund   (Nasdaq: PCAAX,
         PCMDX, PICMX) PIMCO New York Municipal Bond Fund
         (Nasdaq: PNYAX, PNYDX)

    (16) PIMCO Real Return Fund   (Nasdaq: PRTNX, PRRBX, PRTCX,
         PRRDX, PRRIX, PARRX, PRRRX)

    (17) PIMCO Commodity Real Return Strategy Fund   (Nasdaq:
         PCRAX, PCRBX, PCRCX, PCRDX, PCRIX)

    (18) PIMCO All Asset Fund   (Nasdaq: PASAX, PASBX, PASCX,
         PASDX, PAAIX, PAALX)

    (19) PIMCO International StocksPLUS TR Strategy   (Nasdaq:
         PIPAX, PIPBX, PIPCX, PIPDX)

    (20) PIMCO Real Estate Real Return Strategy Fund   (Nasdaq:
         PETAX, PETBX, PETCX, PETDX)

    (21) PIMCO PEA Value Fund   (Nasdaq: PDLAX, PDLBX, PDLCX,
         PVLDX, PDLIX, PVLAX, PPVRX)

    (22) PIMCO PEA Growth and Income Fund (Nasdaq:
         PGRAX,PGRBX,PGNCX,PGIDX, PMEIX,PGOIX,PGRIX)

    (23) PIMCO PEA Renaissance Fund
        (Nasdaq:PQNAX,PQNBX,PQNCX,PREDX,PRNIX,PRAAX,PRNRX)

    (24) PIMCO PEA Growth Fund   (Nasdaq: PGWAX, PGFBX, PGWCX,
         PGRDX, PGFIX, PGFAX, PPGRX)

    (25) PIMCO PEA Target Fund   (Nasdaq: PTAAX, PTABX, PTACX,
         PTRDX, PFTIX, PTADX)

    (26) PIMCO PEA Opportunity Fund   (Nasdaq: POPAX, POOBX,
         POPCX, POFIX, POADX)

    (27) PIMCO PEA Innovation Fund   (Nasdaq: PIVAX, PIVBX,
         PIVCX, PIVZX, PIFIX, PIADX)

    (28) PIMCO NFJ Large-Cap Value Fund   (Nasdaq: PNBAX, PNBBX,
         PNBCX, PNBDX)

    (29) PIMCO NFJ Dividend Value Fund   (Nasdaq: PNEAX, PNEBX,
         PNECX, PEIDX, NFJEX, PNERX)

    (30) PIMCO NFJ Small-Cap Value Fund (Nasdaq:
         PCVAX,PCVBX,PCVCX,PNVDX,PSVIX, PVADX,PNVRX)

    (31) PIMCO CCM Capital Appreciation Fund (Nasdaq:
         PCFAX,PFCBX,PFCCX,PCADX,PAPIX,PICAS,PCARX)

    (32) PIMCO CCM Mid-Cap Fund   (Nasdaq:
         PFMAX,PFMBX,PFMCX,PMCDX,PMGIX,PMCGX,PMCRX)

    (33) PIMCO RCM Large-Cap Growth Fund (Nasdaq:
         RALGX,RBLGX,RCLGX,DLCNX, DRLCX,DLGAX,PLCRX)

    (34) PIMCO RCM Tax-Managed Growth Fund   (Nasdaq: PMWAX,
         PMWBX, PMWCX, DRTNX, DRTIX)

    (35) PIMCO RCM Mid-Cap Fund   (Nasdaq: RMDAX, RMDBX, RMDCX,
         DMCNX, DRMCX, PRMRX)

    (36) PIMCO RCM Global Small-Cap Fund   (Nasdaq: RGSAX,
         RGSBX, RGSCX, DGSNX, DGSCX)

    (37) PIMCO RCM International Growth Equity Fund   (Nasdaq:
         RIAGX, RBIGX, RCIGX, DIENX, DRIEX)

    (38) PIMCO RCM Global Healthcare Fund   (Nasdaq: RAGHX,
         RBGHX, RCGHX, DGHCX)

    (39) PIMCO RCM Biotechnology Fund   (Nasdaq: RABTX, RBBTX,
         RCBTX, DRBNX)

    (40) PIMCO RCM Global Technology Fund   (Nasdaq: RAGTX,
         RBGTX, RCGTX, DGTNX, DRGTX)

    (41) PIMCO Asset Allocation Fund   (Nasdaq: PALAX, PALBX,
         PALCX)

    (42) PIMCO NACM Value Fund   (Nasdaq: PVUAX, PVUBX, PVUCX,
         PVUDX)

    (43) PIMCO NACM Flex-Cap Fund   (Nasdaq: PNFAX, PNFBX,
         PNFCX, PNFDX)

    (44) PIMCO NACM Growth Fund   (Nasdaq: NGWAX, NGWBX, NGWCX,
         NGWDX)

    (45) PIMCO NACM International Fund   (Nasdaq: PILAX, PILBX,
         PILCX, PILDX, PILRX)

    (46) PIMCO NACM Pacific Rim Fund   (Nasdaq:  PPRAX, PPRBX,
         PPRCS, PPRDX, NAPRX)

The complaint charges defendants Allianz Dresdner Asset
Management of America L.P., PIMCO Advisors Distributors LLC,
Pacific Investment Management Company LLC, PEA Capital LLC,
Pacific Company LLC, Edward J. Stern, Canary Capital Partners,
LLC, Canary Investment Management, LLC, Canary Capital Partners,
Ltd., and the John Doe Defendants with violations of the
Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and
the Investment Company Act of 1940, and for common law breach of
fiduciary duties.

The Complaint alleges that during the Class Period the
defendants engaged in illegal and improper trading practices, in
concert with certain institutional traders, which caused
financial injury to the shareholders of the PIMCO Funds.
According to the Complaint, the Defendants surreptitiously
permitted certain favored investors, including Canary and the
John Doe Defendants, to illegally engage in "timing" of the
PIMCO Funds whereby these favored investors were permitted to
conduct short-term, "in and out" trading of mutual fund shares,
despite explicit restrictions on such activity in the PIMCO
Funds' prospectuses.

For more information, contact Tzivia Brody, by Mail: 6 East 45th
Street, New York, NY 10017, by Phone: 1-800-337-4983
(toll free), or by E-mail: SSBNY@aol.com.


ROYAL DUTCH/SHELL: Berger & Montague Files Securities Suit in NJ
----------------------------------------------------------------
Berger & Montague, P.C. initiated a securities fraud class
action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of
New Jersey, against Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and The Shell
Transport Company, on behalf of investors who purchased publicly
traded securities, including ordinary shares traded in overseas
markets and American Depository Receipts trading on the New York
Stock Exchange, of Royal Dutch and/or Shell during the period
from December 3, 1999 through January 9, 2004.

The complaint alleges that defendants' deliberately or
recklessly violated accounting rules and guidelines set by the
Securities and Exchange Commission and the oil and gas industry
which resulted in an enormous and shocking overstatement of oil
and gas reserves. During the Class Period, Royal Dutch and
Shell's financial statements and other public documents reported
certain reserves as "proved reserves," an industry term used to
define the estimated quantities of oil and gas which geological
and engineering data demonstrate with reasonable certainty to be
recoverable in future years from known reservoirs under existing
economic and operating conditions. In fact, despite this claim
of "reasonable certainty," and unbeknownst to investors, a full
20 percent of the reserves classified as "proved" by Royal Dutch
and Shell did not meet SEC and industry requirements necessary
to be classified as "proved." In this way, the defendants were
able to materially and artificially inflate a key measure of the
companies' financial position and competitive standing. As a
result of these material misrepresentations, Royal Dutch and
Shell's true value in the marketplace was severely overstated.

On January 9, 2004, Royal Dutch announced that it was going to
write-down its proved oil and gas reserves by 20%, or 3.9
billion barrels, from 19.5 billion barrels to 15.6 billion
barrels. The write-down prompted a former SEC chief accountant
to state: "(T)he revision, looked like more than a mistake. A
20% restatement of proven reserves is a humongous error(.) . . .
For a company like Shell to have missed its proven reserves by
that much is not an oversight. It's an intentional
misapplication of the SEC's rules." Following the announcement,
Royal Dutch ADRs fell 7.87% from $52.76 to $48.61 on the NYSE
and Royal Dutch ordinary shares fell by 7.10% from the U.S.
equivalent of $52.91 to $49.15 on the Amsterdam exchange. Shell
ADRs dropped 6.96% from $44.81 to $41.69 on the NYSE and Shell
ordinary shares dropped 6.84% on the London exchange from the
U.S. equivalent of $7.36 to $6.86. The Chairman of the Royal
Dutch and Shell has since resigned.

For more information, contact Sherrie R. Savett or Glen L.
Abramson, by Mail: 1622 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103,
by Phone: 888-891-2289 or 215-875-3000, Fax: 215-875-5715, or by
E-mail: InvestorProtect@bm.net.


SONUS NETWORKS: Ragsdale & Frese Launches Securities Suit in MA
---------------------------------------------------------------
Ragsdale & Frese, LLC initiated a class action lawsuit in the
United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
against Sonus Networks, Inc. and certain of its officers and
directors, on behalf of all persons who purchased the securities
of Sonus Networks, Inc. from July 11, 2003 through February 11,
2004, inclusive.

The Complaint alleges that Sonus, a provider of voice
infrastructure solutions, and certain of its officers and
directors, issued materially false statements concerning Sonus
financial results and performance. Specifically, defendants
failed to disclose that they had recognized revenue improperly
and in an untimely manner on certain of the Company's
transactions in contravention of generally accepted accounting
principles and the Company's revenue recognition policy.

On February 11, 2004, Sonus announced that it had discovered
certain issues, practices and actions of certain employees
relating to both the timing of revenue recognized from certain
customer transactions and to certain other financial statement
accounts, which may affect the Company's 2003 financial
statements and possibly financial statements for prior periods.
Sonus was unable to provide an anticipated date for the
completion of its review, year- end audit, or the rescheduling
of the release of its fourth quarter and fiscal year result for
the year ended December 31, 2003. On this news, Sonus' shares
fell as low as $5.02 per share on February 12, 2004, a decline
of 24.9% or $1.67 per share from the previous day's closing
price.

For more information, contact Clay Ragsdale, by Mail: 1929 Third
Ave. North, Suite 550, The Farley Building, Birmingham, Alabama
35203, or by Phone: (205) 251-4775 or (877) 704-1487 (toll free)


                            *********


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

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by
Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Fairless Hills,
Pennsylvania, USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Frederick, Maryland
USA.  Enid Sterling, Roberto Amor, Aurora Fatima Antonio and
Lyndsey Resnick, Editors.

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

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

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

The CAR subscription rate is $575 for six months delivered via
e-mail.  Additional e-mail subscriptions for members of the same
firm for the term of the initial subscription or balance thereof
are $25 each.  For subscription information, contact Christopher
Beard at 240/629-3300.

                  * * *  End of Transmission  * * *