CAR_Public/041018.mbx              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

             Monday, October 18, 2004, Vol. 6, No. 206

                          Headlines

AMERICAN BUSINESS: Faces Consolidated Securities Suit in E.D. PA
ARKANSAS: NTSB: Tour Bus Had Defects Before Departing on Trip
ASSICURAZIONI GENERALI: Judge Sacks 20 Holocaust Victims' Suit
BAYER AG: To Set Aside Provisions for Settlement of PPA Lawsuits
BLOOMING IMPORT: Recalls Jujuba Mill Due To Undeclared Sulfites

CHEVRONTEXACO CORPORATION: Asks For New Hearing in Sunburst Suit
DAIMLERCHRYSLER CORPORATION: Recalls Minivans For Product Defect
FORT DODGE: OK Resident Lodges Suit V. ProHeart 6 Side-Effects
G&G CAPITAL: Final Judgment Entered Against Firm, Gino Carlucci
GLOBAL CROSSING: Settles 401(K) Labor Department Investigations

HAEMALKN SIKPOOM: Recalls Custard Pie Due To Undeclared Eggs
HOLOCAUST LITIGATION: Parties Work on Jewish Valuables Suit Pact
INOVA HEALTH: Suit Dismissed Voluntarily For "Tactical" Reasons
KENTUCKY: High Court Mulls Constitutionality of Tax Ordinance
MARSH & MCLENNAN: Faces AG Spitzer's Suit Over Insurance Fraud

MATTRESS RETAILERS: Reaches Settlement of NY AG Consumer Lawsuit
MERCK & CO.: Halifax Resident Joins Ontario Vioxx Injury Lawsuit
MERCK & CO.: IN Residents Initiate Suit Over VIOXX Side Effects
NATIONAL HEALTHCARE: Settles 28 Suits Over September 2003 Fire
NEW MEXICO: A.G. Madrid Warns Against Flu Vaccine Price-Gouging

NEW MEXICO: Grand Jury Indicts Two Pyramid Scheme Organizers
NEW YORK: A.G. Spitzer Files Suit V. Contractor For Fraud
NEW YORK: A.G. Spitzer's Restroom Probe Reveals Violations
NEWMONT MINING: Peru Residents Lodge CO Suit Over Mercury Spill
NIAGARA FITNESS: A.G. Spitzer Launches Consumer Fraud Suit

PHILIP MORRIS: $10.1B Suit Engenders Windfall For Madison County
REGAL ENTERTAINMENT: NJ A.G. Harvey Files Closed-Captioning Suit
ROUTE 23: Settles NJ A.G. Harvey's Race Bias Charges
TIBCO SOFTWARE: Inks Settlement For NY Shareholder Fraud Lawsuit
UNITED STATES: CA Court Certifies Immigrants' Green Cards Suit

UNITED STATES: Lawyers Present Pros, Cons of Class Action Suits
UNITED STATES: SEC Hires Administrator in NYSE Specialist Cases
VIP COMPANION-CARE: NY AG Settles Suit Over Background Checks
WEST VIRGINIA: County Judge Grants Class Status To Asbestos Suit

                New Securities Fraud Cases

CHIRON CORPORATION: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in CA
CHIRON CORPORATION: Murray Frank Lodges CA Securities Fraud Suit
CHIRON CORPORATION: Schatz & Nobel Lodges Securities Suit in CA
CHIRON CORPORATION: Schiffrin & Barrowy Files PA Securities Suit
NEW YORK: Weiss & Yourman Lodges Securities Fraud Lawsuit in NY

TECO ENERGY: Weiss & Yourman Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in FL


                           *********


AMERICAN BUSINESS: Faces Consolidated Securities Suit in E.D. PA
----------------------------------------------------------------
American Business Financial Services, Inc. and certain of its
officers and directors face a consolidated securities class
action filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.

The consolidated complaint alleges that, during the applicable
class period, the Company's forbearance and deferment practices
enabled it to, among other things, lower its delinquency rates
to facilitate the securitization of its loans which purportedly
allowed the Company to collect interest income from its
securitized loans and inflate its financial results and market
price of our common stock.  The consolidated amended class
action complaint seeks unspecified compensatory damages, costs
and expenses related to bringing the action, and other
unspecified relief.

On March 15, 2004, a shareholder derivative action was filed
against the Company, as a nominal defendant, and its director
and Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Santilli, its Chief
Financial Officer, Albert Mandia, its directors, Messrs. Becker,
DeLuca and Sussman, and its former director Mr. Kaufman, as
defendants, in the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.  The suit alleges that the named
directors and officers breached their fiduciary duties to the
Company, engaged in the abuse of control, gross mismanagement
and other violations of law.  The lawsuit seeks unspecified
compensatory damages, equitable or injunctive relief and costs
and expenses related to bringing the action, and other
unspecified relief.  The parties have agreed to stay this case
pending disposition of any motion to dismiss the consolidated
amended complaint filed in the putative consolidated securities
class action.


ARKANSAS: NTSB: Tour Bus Had Defects Before Departing on Trip
-------------------------------------------------------------
The National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the tour
bus, which crashed after veering off an Arkansas highway, would
not have been allowed on the road if it had been inspected
before the accident, the Associated Press reports.

The Mississippi bound charter bus from Chicago flipped over
early Saturday on Interstate 55, 25 miles north of Memphis,
Tennessee.  The bus was carrying thirty people on a semi-annual
trip to a casino in Tunica, Mississippi.  Sixteen were injured,
while fourteen were killed in the accident, an earlier Class
Action Reporter story (October 15,2004) states.  Roosevelt
Walters owned the bus and his brother Herbert Walters was
driving.  Herbert Walters was also among those who were killed.

The NTSB said the bus had pre-existing cracks on frame rails
that held up its motor in the rear of the bus.  However, the
agency did not link the cracks to the crash, saying the cause
remained under investigation.

Investigators are also looking at whether the driver, Herbert
Walters, fell asleep at the wheel.  Officials said they planned
to subpoena Mr. Walters' Chicago medical records, as well.  Gary
Van Etten, an investigator for the National Transportation
Safety Board, earlier told AP regulations prohibit drivers from
driving more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period.  Mr. Walters'
family said the bus left Chicago at 8:30 p.m. Friday and the
accident occurred at 5 a.m. Saturday - a period of 8 1/2 hours,
AP reports. The bus was less than an hour from its destination
when it crashed.

The bus company already faces one lawsuit related to the crash.
McKinley Jacobs, 71, sued the bus company and the driver's
estate, claiming that negligence, brake problems and excessive
speed caused the crash that killed his wife, 67-year-old Fannie
Jacobs, AP reports.


ASSICURAZIONI GENERALI: Judge Sacks 20 Holocaust Victims' Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Federal Judge Michael Mukasey dismissed 20 class action lawsuits
that accuse Italian insurance company, Assicurazioni Generali of
failing to pay benefits to victims of the Holocaust, the
Associated Press reports.  In his ruling the federal judge wrote
that the lawsuits are pre-empted by the U.S. government's policy
of trying to resolve such claims through a special commission.

The suits, filed in New York, Wisconsin, Florida and California
by Holocaust survivors and their heirs, claimed that
Assicurazioni Generali refused to honor policies held by victims
of the World War II-era genocide.

Upon hearing the decision, attorney Kenneth Bialkin expressed
elation with the ruling and further stated that it "stands by
its moral commitment and its responsibilities to continue to pay
all proper claims."  In reaction to the decision, plaintiffs'
attorney Lawrence Kill stated that he had not read the ruling
and that no decision about an appeal had been made.

The judge said his findings were guided in part by the Supreme
Court ruling last year that struck down a California law enacted
to help Holocaust survivors or their heirs collect on dormant
insurance policies.

In 2000, Generali agreed to pay up to $100 million to settle
thousands of Holocaust-era claims through the International
Commission for Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, which includes
Jewish organizations, U.S. and European regulators, Israel and
five European insurance companies that operated during the Nazi
era and now have subsidiaries in the United States.


BAYER AG: To Set Aside Provisions for Settlement of PPA Lawsuits
----------------------------------------------------------------
German healthcare giant Bayer AG admitted that it may need to
set aside extra provisions for the settlement of lawsuits over
cold remedies containing its chemical phenylpropanolamine (PPA),
The Times Online reports.

In 2000, cold and cough medicines and anti-obesity pills
containing PPA were recalled, after regulators decided it could
cause strokes in younger people.  Consumers filed lawsuits soon
after.

For several years, the pharmaceutical companies, including
GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis have successfully defended claims
related to PPA.  However, this week, an El Paso, Texas court
ordered Bayer to pay $400,000 in damages to a man who suffered a
stroke after taking a cough remedy containing PPA.  The case
marks the first time that a US judge has upheld a claim for
damages against Bayer in relation to PPA.

A spokesman for the company told The Times that Bayer might have
to compensate as many as 1,200 Americans who suffered severe
strokes after taking phenylpropanolamine (PPA).  The spokesman
said that Bayer may have to make provisions which could "have a
negative impact on the results of our operations, our financial
position and cash flows."

The Company also said in a statement that it would consider
settling outstanding lawsuits relating to PPA on a "case by
case" basis and "without conceding liability."  The Company
further emphasized yesterday that PPA was a "safe and effective
ingredient" when used in accordance with the directions on the
label.  The company added that it would continue vigorously to
defend those cases that end up in court.

Analysts last night said that the Texas court ruling marked
another worrying development for "big pharma" at a time when the
industry is struggling to bring new drugs to market.  One
analyst, who declined to be named, said that Bayer's exposure to
PPA could make it an "easy target" for class action lawyers, The
Times Online reports.


BLOOMING IMPORT: Recalls Jujuba Mill Due To Undeclared Sulfites
---------------------------------------------------------------
Blooming Import, Inc., 45 Bowne Street, Brooklyn, New York 11231
is recalling Golden Lion Brand Dried Ziziphus Jujuba Mill
because it contains undeclared sulfites. People who have severe
sensitivity to sulfites run the risk of serious or life-
threatening allergic reactions if they consume this product.

The recalled Golden Lion Brand Dried Ziziphus Jujuba Mill,
packaged in uncoded 12 ounce heat sealed plastic bags were sold
nationwide.

The recall was initiated after routine sampling by New York
State Department of Agriculture and Markets Food Inspectors and
subsequent analysis by Department Food Lab personnel revealed
the presence of undeclared sulfites in Golden Lion Brand Dried
Ziziphus Jujuba Mill in packages which did not declare sulfites
on the label. The consumption of 10 milligrams of sulfites per
serving has been reported to elicit severe reactions in some
asthmatics. Anaphylactic shock could occur in certain sulfite
sensitive individuals upon ingesting 10 milligrams or more of
sulfites.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this
problem.

Consumers who have purchased Golden Lion Brand Dried Ziziphus
Jujuba Mill should return it to the place of purchase. Consumers
with questions may contact the company at 1-800-680-3838.


CHEVRONTEXACO CORPORATION: Asks For New Hearing in Sunburst Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
ChevronTexaco Corporation (NYSE: CVX) recently argued for a new
trial and lesser damages in the Sunburst underground pollution
lawsuit, even as one of its representatives acknowledges the
inevitability of appealing the case to the state Supreme Court,
the Great Falls Tribune.

In mid-August, a Cascade County jury ruled in favor of about 75
residents of the Sunburst, a small farming community in the
state of Montana community, ordering the oil giant to pay them
more than $41 million.  Broken down, the $41 million payment
will be divided into $15.1 million for compensatory damages, to
be used for cleanup, and $25 million for punitive damages, to be
distributed to plaintiffs.

During the hearing, Texaco attorneys argued that a new trial and
lesser damages is necessary since District Judge Thomas
McKittrick's refusal to allow Texaco to make any mention of its
cooperation with the Montana Department of Environmental
Quality, whose regulations dictated much of Texaco's recent
clean-up work cast the company and its consultants in such a
harsh light as to make a fair jury verdict impossible.

Before the trial began, Judge McKittrick ruled that Texaco,
which has performed millions of dollars of cleanup at the now-
defunct refinery site, could not present evidence that the
company was following DEQ regulations or that the agency
supports natural attenuation, a passive method in which nature
continues to filter away toxins, rather than any active cleanup
measures such as vapor extraction and pump and treat, in which
pumps are used to bring groundwater to the surface, where it can
be cleaned more easily that were sought by the plaintiffs.

The judge stated that to permit any mention of the DEQ would
amount to an "empty chair defense," which would have allowed
Texaco to point the finger of blame away from itself and at the
DEQ, which was a defendant.

However, Texaco attorney Daniel Blakey argued this point by
saying that had the jury been aware of (the DEQ's) almost daily
involvement, they (the jury) would have seen things differently.

The lawsuit was initiated by the Sunburst School District and
residents who are unhappy with Texaco's adopted passive cleanup
method called monitored natural attenuation, which could take
anywhere from 20 to 100 years or more to work. The plaintiffs
preferred that the company should use more active remediation
techniques, including vapor extraction and pump and treat, in
which pumps are used to bring groundwater to the surface, where
it can be cleaned more easily.

An environmental cleanup expert hired by the Sunburst plaintiffs
estimated that such remediation could be done for $8.6 million
to $15 million, however Texaco rejected such techniques and
argued that the cost could go as high as $35 million.

In an indication of which way the wind is blowing, though,
Texaco attorney Ronald Waterman agreed to put some of the issues
on hold, pending what he said seemed to be a certain Supreme
Court appeal.


DAIMLERCHRYSLER CORPORATION: Recalls Minivans For Product Defect
----------------------------------------------------------------
DaimlerChrysler Corporation is cooperating with the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by voluntarily
recalling 955,344 minivans, namely

     (1) CHRYSLER / TOWN AND COUNTRY, model 1998-2000

     (2) DODGE / CARAVAN, model 1998-2000

     (3) DODGE / GRAND CARAVAN, model 1998-2000

     (4) PLYMOUTH / GRAND VOYAGER, model 1998-2000

     (5) PLYMOUTH / VOYAGER, model 1998-2000

On certain minivans, the air bag warning lamp may illuminate due
to increased clockspring terminal resistance, or from a
backwound condition most likely introduced during vehicle
service.  This condition will manifest itself through
illumination of the air bag warning lamp, and could eventually
result in a driver's air bag open circuit, if the part is not
replaced in a reasonable amount of time.

Dealers will replace the clockspring assembly on all vehicles
within 70,000 miles or less.  An extended lifetime warranty will
also be placed on this component for all affected vehicles,
regardless of mileage.  DaimlerChrysler will also reimburse
owners who have paid to have the clockspring replaced on their
vehicles.  The recall began on October 12,2004.

For more details, contact the Company by Phone: 1-800-853-1403
or contact the NHTSA's auto safety hotline: 1-888-DASH-2-DOT
(1-888-327-4236).


FORT DODGE: OK Resident Lodges Suit V. ProHeart 6 Side-Effects
--------------------------------------------------------------
June Dill, a Tulsa County resident initiated a lawsuit seeking
class action status against the manufacturers of a heartworm
preventative treatment that caused the death of her dog after
receiving the medication, the Science Letter via NewsRx.com &
NewsRx.net reports.

The plaintiff alleges in her suit that Baby, her 8-year-old
Yorkshire Terrier, was given ProHeart 6 during a checkup was
allowed to take medication after being told it was safe.
However, a few weeks later, Baby died as a result of
complications caused by ProHeart. ProHeart 6 was the first, and
only, product approved by the FDA to be administered once every
6 months to treat heartworm disease in dogs. Its active
ingredient, moxidectin, has been administered without incident
to horses and cattle.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Tulsa County District Court on
September 22 and later announced by the Companion Animal
Protection Society, or CAPS on September 27, 2004 accuses Fort
Dodge Animal Health, Wyeth Corp. and American Home Products of
recklessly introducing ProHeart 6, an injectable heartworm
preventative medication, to the market without giving consumers
proper warning that their product could cause serious health
risks or even death to canines.  Mrs. Dill is seeking in excess
of $10,000 in compensatory damages, punitive damages and court
costs.

Officials with Fort Dodge Animal Health, a division of Wyeth
based in Overland Park, Kansas, had not seen the lawsuit and
declined comment, according to a statement.

To further reinforce Mrs. Dill's claims, Deborah Howard,
president of CAPS, stated that her organization has received 90
complaints from people around the country whose dogs suffered
adverse reactions after getting the ProHeart 6 injection.

Attorneys for the plaintiff, Chris Harper and Dennis Dill, who
is the plaintiff's son, are from the Edmond-based law firm of
Chris Harper Inc. More than 5,000 complaints have been filed
throughout the country with the FDA Center for Veterinary Care.


G&G CAPITAL: Final Judgment Entered Against Firm, Gino Carlucci
---------------------------------------------------------------
Final Judgment was entered against Gino Carlucci (Carlucci) and
G&G Capital, LLC (G&G), a limited liability company controlled
by Carlucci. Carlucci and G&G were permanently enjoined from
future violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal
securities laws and ordered to pay disgorgement of $1,012,453.00
plus prejudgment interest thereon together with a civil penalty
of $1,076,486.31. Carlucci was also enjoined from future
violations of the issuer reporting and officer certification
provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and placed
under officer-director and penny stock bars. Finally, Carlucci
and G&G were ordered to dismiss an adversary proceeding they had
filed against the Commission in the United States Bankruptcy
Court for the District of Arizona.

In October 2003, the Commission filed a complaint, in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Utah, against twenty-one
individuals and entities involved in a scheme to sell securities
in five United States-based microcap issuers to hundreds of
investors located primarily in the United Kingdom, Australia and
New Zealand through a boiler room located in Vientiane, Laos.
In that action, the Commission obtained an order, which, among
other things, froze the assets of a number of defendants,
including Carlucci. On March 17, 2004, the Court found Carlucci
and G&G in contempt of the order freezing Carlucci's assets.

The Final Judgment, to which the defendants consented without
admitting to or denying the allegations of the Commission's
complaint, specifically enjoins Carlucci and G&G from future
violations of Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder, and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act
of 1933 and orders Carlucci and G&G to pay disgorgement of
$1,012,453.00, together with prejudgment interest thereon in the
amount of $64,033.31, and a civil penalty of $1,076,486.31.

The Final Judgment also enjoins Carlucci from future violations
of Rule 13a-14 under the Exchange Act and from aiding and
abetting violations of Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act and
Rules 12b-20, 13a-11, and 13a-13 thereunder. The judgment also
bars Carlucci from acting as an officer or director of any
issuer that has a class of securities registered pursuant to
Section 12 of the Exchange Act or that is required to file
reports pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act as well as
barring Carlucci from participating in any offering of penny
stock. The action is titled, SEC v. David M. Wolfson, et al.,
Docket No. 2:03 CV-00914 DAK, USDC, D. Utah.


GLOBAL CROSSING: Settles 401(K) Labor Department Investigations
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Labor Department reached a settlement with former directors
and officers of Global Crossing Ltd. stemming from the
department's investigation into the defendants' involvement with
the company's 401(k) plan, the Managing 401(k) Plans reports.

According to the department, if the proposed settlement is
approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of
New York, the total recovery to be paid to plan participants
could total as much as $79 million.

The Labor Department settlement was entered in connection with
the proposed settlement of a separate private class action (In
re Global Crossing ERISA & Securities Litigation, S.D.N.Y., No.
1:01w-md-01472-GEL). A $325 million settlement of the private
class action was tentatively approved in March.

The settlement is a result of the Labor Department's
investigation of Global Crossing's 401(k) plan, which lost tens
of millions of dollars as a result of its extensive investment
in Global Crossing stock. The settlement covers Gary Winnick,
the former chairman of Global Crossing's board of directors, and
Thomas Casey, the company's former chief executive officer. In
addition, the settlement covers three former members of the
401(k) plan's administrative committee: Dan J. Cohrs, Joseph
Perrone, and John Comparin, the department said in a statement.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the former
directors and officers are prohibited from acting as fiduciaries
for Employee Retirement Income Security Act-governed plans for
five years unless they first obtain approval from the
department.

"I am pleased that the Global Crossing workers, retirees and
their families will receive a significant financial recovery,"
Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said in the statement.
"Fiduciaries have a serious and significant responsibility to
protect the long-term pension security of their workers. I hope
this lesson gets through to others."


HAEMALKN SIKPOOM: Recalls Custard Pie Due To Undeclared Eggs
------------------------------------------------------------
HAEMALKN SIKPOOM, INC., 230 & 250 FOREST DRIVE, EAST HILLS, NY
11548 is recalling LOTTE brand CUSTARD PIE because it may
contain undeclared eggs. Consumers who are allergic to eggs may
run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions
if they consume this product.

The recalled LOTTE brand CUSTARD PIE, 5.1 OZ. were sold in
Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York.  The recall was initiated
after routine sampling and subsequent analysis by New York State
Department of Agriculture and Markets Food Inspectors revealed
the presence of undeclared eggs in LOTTE brand CUSTARD PIE in
packages which did not declare eggs as an ingredient on the
label.  No illnesses have been reported to date in connection
with this problem.

Consumers who are allergic to eggs and purchased LOTTE brand
CUSTARD PIE are urged to return them to the place of purchase.
Consumers with questions may contact the company at
(516) 484-0494.


HOLOCAUST LITIGATION: Parties Work on Jewish Valuables Suit Pact
----------------------------------------------------------------
Attorneys for the federal government and Hungarian survivors of
the Holocaust have made "substantial progress" towards settling
a lawsuit filed over the US Army's alleged plunder of Jewish
valuables at the end of WWII, both parties announced, the
Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

The suit alleges that U.S. troops looted the Hungarian Gold
Train of valuables the Nazis seized from 800,000 Hungarian Jews
in 1945.  The 29 boxcars laden with Jewish valuables were headed
from Hungary to Austria ahead of advancing Soviet troops after
Germany surrendered.  U.S. troops took control of the train,
promising to protect the cargo.  However, the suit contends that
some treasures wound up decorating officers' clubs and villas,
some were sold at auction and some disappeared.

The suit further alleged that the government covered up the
scandal for years.  In 1999, the Presidential Advisory
Commission of Holocaust Assets exposed the scandal in a
published report that provided the backbone of the federal
lawsuit.  The suit, filed in 2001, seeks up to $10,000 each for
thousands of Hungarian Holocaust survivors, including an
estimated 2,000 Florida residents.  It has not yet achieved
class action status.

Both sides asked hearings in the case, scheduled October 15,2004
before U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz, to be delayed.  The
hearing was supposed to deal with the U.S. Justice Department's
third request to dismiss the lawsuit on technical grounds.

According to court papers filed in Miami, both parties stated,
"The parties have been engaged in ongoing mediation and over the
past several days have made substantial progress towards a
possible resolution of this matter. The parties submit that
postponing the hearing will allow these discussions to continue
going forward," the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Washington lawyer Fred Fielding, who was a member of the 9-11
commission, is in Miami mediating the talks.  Attorneys declined
to discuss the negotiations, citing a gag order, according to
the Sun-Sentinel.

The government has been under mounting political pressure to
settle the suit.  Last week, plaintiffs David Mermelstein of
Miami, Baruch Epstein of Hollywood and Alex Moskovic wrote
President Bush, asking him to intervene personally, according to
the Sun-Sentinel.  "The Hungarian Holocaust survivors are no
longer young," says the letter, dated Sunday. "Many of us are
ill. Many have little money. Our lives would have been far
easier had we been given our property when the United States had
it -- and hid it."


INOVA HEALTH: Suit Dismissed Voluntarily For "Tactical" Reasons
---------------------------------------------------------------
Paul Shipman who initiated a class action lawsuit against Inova
Health System, claiming he was charged in excess of $29,000 for
a 21-hour stay at Inova Fairfax Hospital for a heart
catheterization voluntarily dismissed his suit against the
health system, the Mount Vernon Gazette reports.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, alleging
unfair billing practices against patients without insurance, has
been withdrawn by the plaintiff's attorneys.  However, they said
they plan to re-file the suit.

Mr. Shipman's attorneys maintained that the catheterization
procedure should have cost far less and the reason his bill was
so large was that he did not have any insurance coverage, either
private or governmental.  The attorneys are also claiming that
IHS, a non-profit charitable organization, had violated their
Internal Revenue Code status as a 501(c)(3) organization.

The code states that by accepting the non-profit status, IHS has
agreed to: "Explicitly and/or implicitly ... to provide mutually
affordable medical care to all its patients; to charge all its
uninsured patients only a reasonable cost for medical care; not
to charge uninsured patients inflated rates; and not to pursue
outstanding medical debt from its uninsured patients through
humiliating collection efforts."

On September 24, IHS, IHS Foundation, and the American Hospital
Association, all defendants in the local suit, filed in U.S.
District Court for dismissal and to be removed from the
nationwide class action suit. Thomas F. Cullen, Jr., arguing for
Inova and AHA, before Judge Gerald B. Lee, said "Each count of
the complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a claim."

However, before Judge Lee could render a decision, Mr. Shipman's
attorneys voluntarily requested that the case be dismissed and
simultaneously stated that this had been done for "tactical
reasons," since they have planned to refile the case.

Furthermore, Mr. Shipamn's attorneys in a statement issued after
their request for dismissal stated that "despite its obligations
to operate as a non-profit tax-exempt hospital, Inova has
imposed inflated rates upon its uninsured patients. These rates
significantly exceed Inova's costs and significantly exceed the
rates offered to every other category of patients. It is wrong
and misleading for Inova to suggest that this case is over. The
case will be refiled and the Plaintiff will continue to
challenge Inova's discriminatory pricing practice imposed only
upon uninsured patients. Inova has refused to address their
discriminatory pricing practice which is the central issue in
this case and which will continue to be challenged in the
national litigation."

The IHS case is one of 50 filed in 23 states against non-profit
hospital groups on behalf of the uninsured, who are resented by
a legal team that is helmed by attorney Richard F. Scruggs of
Oxford, Mississippi.


KENTUCKY: High Court Mulls Constitutionality of Tax Ordinance
-------------------------------------------------------------
The Kentucky Supreme Court heard oral arguments about the
constitutionality of a tax levied by the city of Bromley to help
fund its ambulance service, the Kentucky Post reports.

The arguments presented by the attorneys concerns the refund of
a "life-squad" fee first levied by the city council in 1999. An
ordinance passed by the council imposed a fee of $60 for the
provision of life squad and other emergency services that are
not fire-related for each home, lot and business within the
city's corporate limits.

The city of Bromley argues that the tax is justified since it is
needed for maintaining the emergency services. The city further
contends that the flat rate is constitutional due to the fact
that it spreads out the cost equally among citizens of the
fifth-class city.

However, Gail Smith, a resident and former city council member,
who had voted against the measure during its passage claimed
that the flat tax is unconstitutional and should be based on
property value instead.

Bromley's attorney, Robert Watson of Landrum & Shouse in
Louisville, wrote in his brief to the court that: "Public policy
alone thus dictates that such services be done on a flat fee
basis to ensure that all citizens equally share the cost of such
services."

Ms. Smith's attorney, Frank Wichmann of Wichmann & Schaffer in
Erlanger countered writing in his own brief "that public policy
is contrary to the public policy proposed by the city that,
according to the city, dictates a flat-fee basis for the life
squad taxes to insure (sic) that all citizens equally share the
cost thereof."

Aside from making his arguments, Bromley's attorney also asked
the court to rule against Ms. Smith's request for class-action
certification for declaratory relief, which would have the
effect of allowing Ms. Smith and the other Bromley residents to
seek their refund for life squad taxes paid to the city.

Ms. Smith's attorney argued in favor of class-action
certification, which the Kenton County Circuit Court had
previously denied. The Kenton court also declared the life-squad
tax to be illegal in 2001.  The case then went on before the
Court of Appeals in 2002, which disagreed with the lower court's
class-action ruling and later said that Ms. Smith had the
authority to challenge the life-squad taxes.


MARSH & MCLENNAN: Faces AG Spitzer's Suit Over Insurance Fraud
--------------------------------------------------------------
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued Marsh & McLennan
Companies, the nation's leading insurance brokerage firm,
alleging that it steered unsuspecting clients to insurers with
whom it had lucrative payoff agreements, and that the firm
solicited rigged bids for insurance contracts.  Simultaneously,
Spitzer announced that two insurance company executives have
pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with the
scheme.

The actions against the brokerage firm, Marsh & McLennan
Companies, and the two executives stem from a widening
investigation of fraud and anti-competitive practices in the
insurance industry.  Evidence revealed in today's lawsuit also
implicates other major insurance carriers.

"The insurance industry needs to take a long, hard look at
itself," AG Spitzer said in a statement.  "If the practices
identified in our suit are as widespread as they appear to be,
then the industry's fundamental business model needs major
corrective action and reform . There is simply no responsible
argument for a system that rigs bids, stifles competition and
cheats customers."

AG Spitzer was joined at news conference announcing the actions
by New York State Insurance Superintendent Gregory V. Serio, who
said:  "This has gone from an inquiry into failure to disclose
compensation to an active investigation of bid rigging and
improper steering. This certainly proves the adage that where
there is smoke, there is fire."

The civil complaint filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan
alleges that for years Marsh received special payments from
insurance companies that were above and beyond normal sales
commissions. These payments -- known as "contingent commissions"
-- were characterized as compensation for "market services" but
were, in fact, rewards for the business that Marsh and its
independent brokers steered and allocated to the insurance
companies.

Industry representatives defend this long-standing practice as
acceptable and even beneficial to clients, but the Attorney
General's office has uncovered extensive evidence showing that
it distorts and corrupts the insurance marketplace and cheats
insurance customers.

In addition to steering business to its insurance company
partners, Marsh, at times, solicited fake bids, which deceived
its customers into thinking that true competition had taken
place. Marsh did this even as it claimed in public statements
that its "guiding principle" was to always consider its client's
best interests.

AG Spitzer's complaint against the company cites internal
communications in which executives openly discuss actions that
were aimed at maximizing Marsh's revenue and insurance
companies' revenues - without regard to clients' interests.  For
example, one senior Marsh executive sent a message to colleagues
saying: "We need to place our business in 2004 with those
(insurance companies) that have superior financials, broad
coverage and pay us the most."  Another executive noted that the
size of contingent commissions will determine "who (we) are
steering business to and who we are steering business from."

Major insurance companies -- ACE, AIG, The Hartford and Munich
American Risk Partners -- are named in the complaint as
participants in steering and bid rigging.  Other insurance
companies are still under investigation.  The two executives
pleaded guilty to participating in the illegal conduct and are
expected to testify in future cases.

According to the complaint, Marsh collected approximately $800
million in contingent commissions in 2003. Spitzer's civil
complaint seeks an end to the steering and bid rigging,
disgorgement of improper payments, restitution and punitive
damages.

The immediate victims of the illegal practices were Marsh's
customers -- mainly large corporations seeking property and
casualty coverage, but also small and mid-size businesses,
municipal governments, school districts and some individuals.

AG Spitzer thanked the State Insurance Department for its
cooperation in the joint investigation, which is continuing.
The investigation underlying the civil action case was led by
Assistant Attorneys General Matthew Gaul, Mel Goldberg, Michael
Berlin, Maria Filipakis and Peter Bernstein, under the direction
of David D. Brown IV, Chief of the Investment Protection Bureau,
Jay Himes, Chief of the Antitrust Bureau and Terryl Brown
Clemons, Acting Deputy Attorney General in Charge of the Public
Advocacy Division.  Audrey Samers, Deputy Superintendent and
General Counsel of the New York State Insurance Department, has
coordinated that agency's activities with the Attorney General's
office.

The criminal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys
General Whitman Knapp, Michael Roe and Nina Sass under the
direction of Deputy Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau
Kevin Suttlehan and Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau
Janet Cohn, and the Deputy Attorney General in Charge of the
Criminal Division, Peter B. Pope.

To view the complaint in its entirety, please see:
http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/nys/nymarsh101404cmp.pdf




MATTRESS RETAILERS: Reaches Settlement of NY AG Consumer Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer reached a settlement
with the operator of two online mattress retailers to reform
their business practices after dozens of consumers complained
about extended delays in shipping and failure to honor return
policies.

An investigation by AG Spitzer's office revealed that two
mattress companies, Affordable Mattress Direct and Quality Sleep
Systems - both operated by Frank Grillo of Highland in Ulster
County - engaged in deceptive business practices and false
advertising and violated the state's mail-order statute.  "It is
important to hold online retailers to the policies and offers
they tout on their web sites," AG Spitzer said in a statement.

At least 52 consumers filed complaints with Spitzer's office and
with the Better Business Bureau in the past year about extended
delays for deliveries of merchandise, failure to refund a
customer's purchase price on returned mattresses, and failure to
deliver promised merchandise.

Specifically, Affordable Mattress Direct and Quality Sleep
Systems:

     (1) Routinely violated a state law that requires 30-day
         delivery or a full refund for mail- and telephone-order
         merchandise. Some consumers, in fact, waited more than
         two months for their mattresses;

     (2) Failed to deliver promised promotional items such as
         free pillows to consumers who made purchases through
         their web sites;

     (3) Failed to honor their advertised 90-night sleep trial
         which included a 30 day policy for refunds. Making
         matters worse, the return policy failed to disclose to
         customers that they would bear the cost of returning
         their mattress, a significant expense.

AG Spitzer's office also raised concerns that Affordable
Mattress Direct made false claims on its website in order to
increase consumer confidence in the company. The company's
website, www.affordablemattress.com stated: "PUBLIC NOTICE:
America's Best has voted this site #1 out of the top 10 mattress
sites on line today." In fact, Americasbest.com is a vanity web
site that lists sites based on fees and never voted Affordable
Mattress Direct the number one mattress website.

Grillo's companies have advertised exclusively over the internet
under the addresses affordablemattress.com, quality-sleep.com,
qsleep.com, sleepyz.com and supremecomfort.com. These companies
specialize in non-traditional mattresses such as adjustable air
beds, elastic foam beds, latex beds, softside or hardside
waterbed mattresses, and adjustable beds.

Between Spitzer's office and the Better Business Bureau more
than $30,000 in relief was secured for consumers, including
chargebacks to credit card accounts. Specifically required by
the settlement are refunds for thirteen individuals totaling
over $14,000. Affordable Mattress Direct and Quality Sleep
System also agreed to fulfill their obligation to deliver
complimentary pillows to ten consumers who never received them.
In resolving the investigation, Grillo, the operator of both
online mattress retailers, will pay $2,500 in civil penalties.

Individuals with complaints against Affordable Mattress Direct
and Quality Sleep Systems are encouraged to contact the Attorney
General's consumer help line: (800) 771-7755. Consumers have
until April 1, 2005 to file a bona fide complaint with Spitzer's
office to be eligible for restitution through this settlement.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General
Nicholas Garin of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office assisted by
Senior Consumer Frauds Representative Mark Hoops.


MERCK & CO.: Halifax Resident Joins Ontario Vioxx Injury Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
A local woman from Halifax who took Vioxx for pain related
symptoms filed a claim in Toronto in an effort to join a class
action lawsuit commenced in Ontario.

The Halifax law firm Gavras McClure in conjunction with
Stevenson & Associates in Toronto is representing persons who
have taken the drug Vioxx for a period of 18 months and who have
experienced certain specified side effects. Jason Gavras of
Gavras McClure represents Bertha McKay who began experiencing
problems with high blood pressure about the same time that she
began taking Vioxx. Ms. McKay has been on medication for high
blood pressure ever since and recently stopped taking Vioxx when
she became aware of reports in the news that it was being
removed from pharmacy shelves. Since Nova Scotia is one of the
provinces that does not have class action legislation, by
joining the Ontario action Ms. McKay can act as a representative
claimant for all other persons in Nova Scotia effected by Vioxx
and who join the action.

For more details, contact Jason Gavras by E-mail:
jgavras@eastlink.ca


MERCK & CO.: IN Residents Initiate Suit Over VIOXX Side Effects
---------------------------------------------------------------
Five residents of Indiana initiated a federal lawsuit against
Merck & Co., the maker of the now-infamous pain medicine Vioxx,
alleging that it led to heart problems and in some cases death,
the Indianapolis Star reports.

Vioxx, a pain medicine was introduced by Merck in the United
States back in 1999 and was marketed as a safer alternative to
ibuprofen and naproxen.  The suit was filed in Indiana federal
court two weeks after the New Jersey-based drug maker pulled the
drug out of the market due to revelations of a company-sponsored
study, which indicated that long term users were at risk of
heart attack and stroke.  The suit further alleges that the
Merck, the world's third-largest drug company continued to sell
Vioxx and market it heavily although it was aware of its dangers
as early as 2000.

Merck officials have vehemently denied the allegations and
reiterated that they only knew of the heightened risk of heart
attacks and strokes when the drug was taken daily for more than
18 months just recently.

Two of the plaintiffs, Darai Briner, of Lake County, and Ruben
Portillo, of Orange County, say their mothers died from heart
problems after taking Vioxx for several years, while the other
plaintiffs allege they have suffered congestive heart failure, a
stroke and other ill effects from the drug.

Henry Price, the plaintiff's Indianapolis-based attorney also
adds that his clients had no idea that Vioxx caused their heart
problems until it was taken off the market and that the company
knew about the risks but did nothing about it.

The Indiana residents are seeking class-action status for their
lawsuit that could include more than 17,000 people, who are
suffering health problems related to taking Vioxx.

Kimberly Van Jelgerhuis, Kevin Henderson and Janice Baum, as
well as Mr. Briner and Mr. Portillo, are listed as plaintiffs in
the suit. They are seeking compensation for medical bills, other
costs associated with their illnesses and pain and suffering.


NATIONAL HEALTHCARE: Settles 28 Suits Over September 2003 Fire
--------------------------------------------------------------
National HealthCare Corporation settled 28 of the 32 lawsuits
filed against them by families of victims of a fire at the
Company-owned NHC HealthCare Center on September 25,2003, the
Associated Press reports.

The fire killed eight people instantly and another seven
residents died in the months following the tragedy.  The cause
of the fire has never been officially determined, and
investigators closed their probe in June.

The victims' families filed suits, alleging the Company was
negligent.  David Randolph Smith, lead counsel for the families
of 17 fire victims, and mediator Lew Conner told Judge Barbara
Haynes that 14 death cases and all 14 injury cases were
resolved.

"NHC was willing to explore an alternative resolution procedure
that saved the parties, witnesses and experts tremendous time
and expenses," Mr. Smith said in a statement, AP reports.  Three
of the unsettled lawsuits are still in mediation, and the other
has not yet entered mediation, the statement said.  Settlement
details were not immediately released. A late-morning news
conference was scheduled.

The nursing home did not have a sprinkler system, and none was
required at the time. After that fire and another in January at
a retirement home, Tennessee passed laws ordering such equipment
in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.


NEW MEXICO: A.G. Madrid Warns Against Flu Vaccine Price-Gouging
---------------------------------------------------------------
New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid advised consumers to
be on the alert, and immediately report, suspected price-gouging
by either distributors or providers of the flu vaccine.

"Although we are not aware of such activity currently taking
place in New Mexico," said Attorney General Madrid in a
statement, "I want to warn consumers and health care providers,
especially those who look after our elderly, to be on the look-
out for instances of price gouging. My office is prepared to
investigate and prosecute this unconscionable conduct."

"It is my belief that this wrongful conduct may occur between
suppliers and pharmacists as well," she continued.  "Therefore,
I will be notifying pharmacists statewide to report to my
Consumer Protection Division any instance in which distributors
or suppliers are offering to sell the flu vaccine at highly
inflated prices."

Attorney General Madrid also alerted The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention to contact her office with any complaints
and inquiries about vaccine price gouging in New Mexico.  The
CDC is neither equipped nor empowered to take action against
these alleged law violations.

Rapid price increases in light of shortages are not unusual.
However, mark-ups involving this year's flu vaccine are
especially severe given that half of the country's expected
supply is unavailable due to a contamination problem at Chiron
Corp's British facility, making Aventis the sole supplier.
Nearly two-thirds of Aventis' vaccine has already been
distributed leaving the supply chain especially vulnerable to
price-gouging.

This week, Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline filed suit
against Fort Lauderdale-based Meds-Stat, alleging that Meds-Stat
proposed to deliver and sell a vial of five doses of flu vaccine
to a Kansas City, Kansas pharmacy for $900 with knowledge that
the vaccine was to be used in a "nursing home."  On October 1,
the price for the same vial was listed as $85.

New Mexicans who suspect price-gouging activity are encouraged
to contact the Office of the Attorney General's Consumer
Protection Division by Phone: 1-800-678-1508.


NEW MEXICO: Grand Jury Indicts Two Pyramid Scheme Organizers
------------------------------------------------------------
A New Mexico grand jury indicted two pyramid scheme organizers
from Rio Arriba County, Attorney General Patricia Madrid
announced in a statement.  Arlene Suazo-Maestas was charged with
six counts, and Sally Martinez was charged with seven counts of
violating the Pyramid Promotional Schemes Act.

Both defendants' actions took place on December 6, 2000 in the
Espanola area when they accepted a total amount of $14,584 in
cash payments from six participants to start a pyramid scheme
that both had organized.  Each participant was invited by the
defendants to contribute a maximum of $5,000 for a promised
return of $40,000.

Attorney General Patricia Madrid said, "Let this serve as
another warning to anyone who is considering a similar plan that
I will aggressively prosecute pyramid scheme organizers. I also
want to reiterate that the chance for anyone to receive a high
return on the investment that these pyramid schemers promise is
almost mathematically impossible. Not only that, but pyramid
schemes are illegal in New Mexico, so no matter how profitable
they may sound, you will be breaking the law if you participate
in them."

Ms. Suazo-Maestas faces a maximum sentence of 9 years in prison,
while Ms. Martinez could face a maximum sentence of 10 years.


NEW YORK: A.G. Spitzer Files Suit V. Contractor For Fraud
---------------------------------------------------------
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today filed a lawsuit
against a Columbia County home improvement contractor for
repeatedly and persistently defrauding consumers.

The Attorney General's lawsuit alleges that Vincent Van Pinto,
doing business as Hudson Valley Modulars, V.P. Building Corp.
and Millennium Modulars, accepted payments from consumers and
never performed work or performed poor quality work.  "Home
contractors who fail to deal fairly and responsibly with
consumers will be held accountable," AG Spitzer said in a
statement.

In filing the lawsuit, Spitzer's office seeks a court order
permanently barring Pinto from the home improvement industry
unless and until he posts a $200,000 performance bond.  In
addition, Spitzer's office seeks full monetary restitution and
damages for all injured consumers, civil penalties for Pinto's
violations of law and the costs of the investigation and
lawsuit.

AG Spitzer filed the lawsuit after his investigation revealed
that several consumers paid significant advance deposits for
work that was never done.  Some jobs were not even started and
others were abandoned after delays and pressure by Mr. Pinto for
additional advance payments.  In instances where some work was
done, the work was shoddy, requiring consumers to hire
contractors to both fix the problems created by Pinto as well as
to complete the job.

Successfully, Pinto failed to respond to consumer's repeated
attempts to contact him to reschedule appointments or obtain
refunds. Over the years, Pinto has been sued by many consumers,
subcontractors and suppliers. However, they never collected any
of their judgments.

Pinto failed to comply with state consumer protection laws that
require home improvement contracts to provide consumers with
notice of important rights, including a three-day right to
cancel and the contractor's obligation to place consumers'
deposits in separate escrow accounts unless the post a
performance bond.

For more details, contact the Attorney General's consumer help
line: (800) 771-7755 or visit the Website:
http://www.oag.state.ny.us. This case was handled by Assistant
Attorney General G. Nicholas Garin of the Poughkeepsie Regional
Office, (845) 485-3900.


NEW YORK: A.G. Spitzer's Restroom Probe Reveals Violations
----------------------------------------------------------
An investigation by the office of New York Attorney General
Eliot Spitzer of the working conditions of bathroom attendants
in exclusive New York City restaurants revealed that the workers
were not receiving any wages - in clear violation of state labor
law.

The investigation found that the attendants - who often have
limited skills and language ability - worked for tips only and
were forced to pay a fee to a private staffing service for the
opportunity to work in restaurant bathrooms.

As a result of the investigation, several restaurants have
agreed to hire 36 people who had been serving as bathroom
attendants and, in some cases, compensate the attendants for
past unpaid wages.  Simultaneously, the attorney general
announced a lawsuit against the main placement service for
bathroom attendants.  The lawsuit seeks recovery of money that
was taken from these individuals.

The Attorney General is also asking 30 restaurants using the
placement service to voluntarily bring their establishments into
compliance with the minimum wage law and other relevant labor
laws and to help eradicate this illegal practice.

"The idea of people working without wages and having to pay a
fee to stand in a bathroom and wait for tips is unconscionable,"
Ag Spitzer said in a statement. "The arrangement violated state
labor law, and deprived people of the dignity of the minimum
wage."

In a settlement signed earlier this month, Leroy Adventures,
Inc. d/b/a Tavern on the Green, agreed to hire 14 workers on a
full time basis and to ensure they receive the minimum wage as
well as all tips. Tavern on the Green will also pay up to
$175,000 to compensate the attendants for minimum wage under-
payments for the past five years.

A similar agreement was reached with BR Guest, which operates
numerous restaurants including Ruby Foo's Times Square, Ruby
Foo's Uptown, Atlantic Grill, Blue Water Grill, Dos Caminos,
Ocean Grill and Isabella's. BR Guest has agreed to hire 21
bathroom attendants to staff bathrooms at the five locations.

AG Spitzer thanked the restaurants for working with his office
to address the matter.  The Attorney General has also filed a
suit in State Supreme Court in Manhattan against Royal Flush,
the main placement service for bathroom attendants.

The complaint alleges that the company required workers to pay a
"lease fee" proportional to the tips collected during each shift
- a practice that is illegal under state labor law.  Further
investigation revealed that after the appropriation of the lease
fee, workers' often took home only $5 per hour, and sometimes
less than $2 per hour.

The lawsuit against Royal Flush and its principals, LeRoy
Porter, and Donna Williams, seeks $1.1 million in damages and
$2.9 million in restitution for unpaid wages and unlawfully
appropriated tips. It also seeks an injunction preventing Royal
Flush from appropriating tips and failing to pay any wages to
its workers.

AG Spitzer's office began its investigation after receiving
complaints from bathroom attendants associated with Royal Flush.
The case is one of a series to enforce fundamental provisions of
the state labor law.  In earlier actions, the Attorney General's
office obtained settlements that provide back wages and other
benefits to supermarket deliverymen and green grocer employees.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James
Versocki of the Labor Bureau, with the assistance of Assistant
Attorney General Donya Fernandez, under the supervision of
Bureau Chief M. Patricia Smith.


NEWMONT MINING: Peru Residents Lodge CO Suit Over Mercury Spill
---------------------------------------------------------------
Residents of a farming village in the northern Cajamarca
department of Peru initiated a class-action lawsuit in a Denver,
Colorado court against Newmont Mining Company, owner of Minera
Yanacocha, Latin America's largest gold producer over a mercury
spill, the Latinamerica Press reports.

In June 2000, 151 kilos (332 pounds) of mercury, a byproduct of
gold extraction spilled from a truck subcontracted by Newmont as
it passed through Choropampa, 27 km (16 miles) from the mine.
Without being briefed of the danger of handling the substance
and thinking that the mercury was valuable, residents picked it
up and took it home, leading to poisoning.

A year later, the victims presented a lawsuit in the US but the
company rejected the accusation, arguing that US courts did not
have jurisdiction in the case. Although a US court accepted
Newmont's argument, the residents appealed. In late September,
Newmont abandoned the effort to keep the lawsuit out of US
courts and a judge approved a company motion to allow the case
to proceed in Denver rather than in Peru.

Representing the Choropampa residents is the Los Angeles law
firm of Engstrom Lipscom & Lack, the same firm that together
with Erin Brockovich forced Pacific Gas & Electric in the mid-
1990s to pay a compensation of US$333 million to a town in
California that suffered from chromium poisoning.


NIAGARA FITNESS: A.G. Spitzer Launches Consumer Fraud Suit
----------------------------------------------------------
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer filed a lawsuit against
a defunct Erie County health club to obtain refunds for
consumers who paid in advance for memberships.  The suit was
filed against Niagara Fitness Lancaster, Inc. and its operators
Walter Mikowski, David Willard, Laura Willard and Christopher
Buchnowski, alleging they engaged in deceptive business
practices and fraud, and failed to comply with the state's
Health Club Services Act.  The suit seeks consumer restitution,
civil penalties and costs.

"My office will continue to take aggressive action against
operators of health clubs that do not protect their members'
advance payments when they fail to post the legally-required
performance bond," Spitzer said.

After opening in the autumn of 2000, Niagara Fitness Lancaster
abruptly closed in January 2004 following a dispute among its
operators.  After receiving numerous complaints from members who
had prepaid annual membership dues, AG Spitzer's office
commenced an investigation.  This probe revealed that the
operators of Niagara Fitness Lancaster falsely represented to
consumers that it was properly bonded as required by law.

In fact, the operators of Niagara Fitness Lancaster had posted a
separate performance bond for a similarly named, but legally
independent fitness center operated on Military Road in Niagara
Falls. It was this performance bond that they falsely
represented as covering membership dues paid by consumers for
their health club in Lancaster.

When it closed without notice Niagara Fitness Lancaster left as
many as 1,400 members without health club services, without
refunds and without a performance bond from which they could
obtain monetary relief.

New York State law requires that most health clubs post a
performance bond to protect their members against breaches of
contract. Specifically, the law requires bonds in the following
denominations: $50,000 for health clubs that sell contracts for
no more than 12 months; $75,000 for health clubs that sell
contracts of one to two years; and $150,000 for health clubs
that sell contracts of two to three years. Health clubs with
multiple locations are required to post additional amounts up to
$200,000.

Since 1999, the Attorney General's office has intervened in
twelve instances when a health club failed to post a bond and
then abruptly closed or a facility accepted advance deposits
prior to opening to the public and then failed to open. Through
enforcement actions, the office has obtained nearly $255,000 for
more than 3,000 consumers who otherwise would have been left
empty-handed due to their health club's failure to protect their
customers' advance payments.

Individuals wishing to file a complaint against Niagara Fitness
Lancaster can contact the Atty. General's office by Phone: 800-
771-7755 or visit the firm's Website:
http://www.oag.state.ny.us. This case is being handled by
Assistant Attorney General James Morrissey of the Buffalo
Regional Office.


PHILIP MORRIS: $10.1B Suit Engenders Windfall For Madison County
----------------------------------------------------------------
Though clearly no one has yet to claim victory in the appeal of
a $10.1 billion lawsuit against cigarette maker Philip Morris
USA, Madison County, where the case was filed is definitely a
winner no matter what results from it, the Associated Press
reports.

According to court documents, the county, which is situated near
St. Louis, Illinois, is set to keep part of the interest on a
$12 billion bond Philip Morris was ordered to post last year
before appealing the class-action lawsuit over light cigarettes.

According to County Administrator James Monday, the county has
so far collected more than $1 million and expects a $700,000
payment soon.  County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan said the funds
are a nice surprise and have helped next year's budget, which
takes effect on December 1. Furthermore, the board chairman also
stated that about $300,000 was shelled out to pay off a building
the county intends to convert into a new criminal courthouse.

Judge Nicholas Byron had sided with plaintiffs who claimed
Philip Morris misled customers into believing its Marlboro
Lights and Cambridge Lights brands were less harmful than
regular brands.

Philip Morris argued the term "Lights" is meant to signal milder
taste, not describe the cigarettes' contents.  The judge then
ordered Philip Morris to pay $12 billion to cover the judgment
and court costs before appealing the loss to the Illinois
Supreme Court, which is expected to take up the appeal next
year.  Madison County officials though stated that even if the
high court reverses the judgment, the county still gets to keep
the interest on the bond.


REGAL ENTERTAINMENT: NJ A.G. Harvey Files Closed-Captioning Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and Division on
Civil Rights Director J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo filed a
discrimination complaint against Regal Entertainment Group, one
of the largest multiplex theater companies in the United States,
for failing to install closed captioning equipment that would
make the movies it runs accessible to the deaf and hard of
hearing.

At the same time, Attorney General Harvey and Director Vespa-
Papaleo announced that four other major multiplex theater chains
operating in New Jersey have committed -- as part of voluntary
settlement agreements reached with the State -- to installing
captioning technology that will make their films accessible to
the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Under terms of separate settlement agreements, American Multi-
Cinema (AMC), Loews Cineplex Theaters, Clearview Cinemas and
National Amusements will either equip their theaters with
closed-caption technology or, in multiplexes where the
technology is already installed, will expand the number of
screens offering closed captioning. Rear Window Captioning (RWC)
is one type of closed captioning technology currently in limited
use by two of the four theater companies who have entered into
settlement agreements.

Attorney General Harvey noted that the settlement agreements
with AMC, Loews, Clearview and National Amusements establish New
Jersey as the first state in the nation to obtain formal
commitments from theater chains to accommodate deaf and hard-of-
hearing movie-goers. He said the settlement agreements - as well
as the discrimination complaint filed against Regal -- "should
serve as notice that the State is ready to work with private
companies who demonstrate a willingness to comply with the New
Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), and we're equally ready
to take action against those who refuse to do so."

"Every adult and child -- regardless of his or her ability or
disability -- should be able to fully enjoy going to the theater
and experiencing a movie," said Harvey. "For too long, this area
of our popular culture has been virtually closed to the deaf and
the hard of hearing, but we are changing that. The agreements we
are announcing today are an excellent example of what the public
and private sectors can achieve by working cooperatively.
Together, we are setting an example for the rest of the nation
by expanding equal access and, in the process, enhancing the
quality of life for hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans."

According to Director Vespa-Papaleo, only three movie screens in
New Jersey currently offer closed captioning - in each case, the
technology in use is Rear Window Captioning -- for their deaf
and hard of hearing viewers. By the end of 2004, the number of
captioning-equipped screens is expected to increase to 39, under
terms of the Voluntary Consent Orders which memorialize
settlement agreements with AMC, Loews, Clearview and National
Amusements. The four chains control nearly one-third of all
movie theaters operating in the State.

Vespa-Papaleo credited the multiplex owners who have committed
to accommodating the deaf and hard of hearing for their vision
and sensitivity to the deaf community. He said the State
attempted to reach an accord with Regal as well, but ultimately
had to take action.

"We made every effort to address this matter amicably with
Regal," said Vespa-Papaleo. "But despite the fact that most of
the movies shown in its New Jersey theaters are in formats
compatible with such technologies as Rear Window Captioning and
Open Caption Projection, and despite the fact that installation
of the systems are neither cost-prohibitive nor would result in
a fundamental alteration to the theaters, Regal is unwilling to
address this glaring disservice to its deaf and hard of hearing
customers."

The Division's complaint against Regal alleges that Regal is in
violation of the public accommodations provision of the Law
Against Discrimination for refusing to make its first run movies
accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community, despite
requests in writing and in person by Attorney General Harvey and
Director Vespa-Papaleo. Regal owns and operates 152 screens at
12 locations throughout New Jersey.

"In this instance," said Vespa-Papaleo, "the State has an
obligation to protect the interests of the community in the face
of what we consider to be blatant and irrefutable
discrimination."

Attorney General Harvey and Director Vespa-Papaleo initiated
discussions with New Jersey multiplex theater owners on the
issue of accessibility after several people expressed their
concerns to the Attorney General at State-sponsored disability
law conferences held in Camden and Essex counties earlier this
year. The conferences were co-sponsored by the Division on Civil
Rights and the Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, located
within the Department of Human Services, and took place in March
2004.

The conferences focused on educating and raising awareness among
New Jersey's deaf and hard of hearing population with regard to
state and federal laws that protect their rights against
discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

In addition, Vespa-Papaleo noted, the Division has received
numerous inquiries from deaf and hard of hearing constituents
and advocates about making places of public accommodation,
including theaters, more accessible to these communities.

Of New Jersey's eight million residents, more than 720,000 -- or
nearly nine percent -- have some level of hearing loss. Division
of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Director Brian Shomo said the
Division's outreach efforts to the deaf and hard of hearing
communities have helped focus resources on areas where they will
have the greatest impact addressing cases of systemic
discrimination.

"The Division on Civil Rights has been working closely with our
office, with advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing, and
with the multiplexes to find a solution to this issue," said
Shomo, whose office promotes communication access to private,
public and governmental services. "We can debate what emerging
technologies and services to make media accessible work best for
people with disabilities. What is not subject to debate is the
very real need for entertainment providers to understand how
access to their businesses can improve the quality of life for
all citizens."

The Voluntary Consent Orders with AMC, Loews, Clearview and
National Amusement go into effect immediately. Three of the four
agreements contemplate installation of Rear Window Captioning
systems within 90 days. The agreement with Loews Cineplex
Theaters, due to its large number of RWC systems, will require a
longer installation period.

In addition to requiring the multiplexes to make their theaters
more accessible to moviegoers with hearing difficulties, the
consent orders further stipulate that the multiplexes take the
following action:

     (1) Provide newspaper, telephone, Web site and other means
         of advertising scheduled movies for which RWC and DVS
         are available;

     (2) Maintain an adequate number (typically 10) of seat
         reflector screens for RWC systems;

     (3) Visibly post written notice in its box office and
         lobbies informing its patrons that RWC and DVS are
         available for specific movies;

     (4) Provide the Office of the Attorney General with
         opportunities to run public service announcements prior
         to the showing of movies;

     (5) Train all appropriate employees, such as cashiers,
         ushers and customer service representatives on the use
         of RWC and DVS systems.

Arlene Romoff, a trustee and spokesperson for the New Jersey
State Association of Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH-
NJ), called the settlement agreements "a triumphant first step
in ensuring that people with all degrees of hearing loss are no
longer excluded from attending the movies."

"We at SHHH-NJ encourage all people with hearing loss to make
full use of these new captioned movie facilities when they
become available, and we look forward to the day when all movie
theaters will provide captions at all showings," said Romoff.

Director Vespa-Papaleo explained that, in addition to agreeing
to install captioning technology for the deaf, some of the
theater chains who have entered into settlement agreements have
also indicated a readiness to install infrared listening systems
- known as "DVS" systems -- on a total of 20 movie screens. The
DVS system enables blind and visually impaired moviegoers to
hear film dialogue and narrated descriptions of key visual
elements of movies, such as action settings and scene changes.

The Division on Civil Rights is responsible for enforcement of
the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the Family Leave
Act. The Division currently has six offices located in Newark,
Trenton, Atlantic City, Paterson, Camden and Jersey City. For
more information please contact the Division by Phone: 609-292-
4605 or TTY: 609-292-1785 or visit the Division Web site:
http://www.NJCivilRights.org.


ROUTE 23: Settles NJ A.G. Harvey's Race Bias Charges
----------------------------------------------------
New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and Division on
Civil Rights Director J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo entered into a
settlement agreement that resolves allegations of workplace
discrimination against a Morris County car dealership by
requiring that the company pay a former employee $60,000, and
have management staff undergo anti-discrimination training.

Under terms of the settlement agreement, Route 23 Honda, of
Pompton Plains, has agreed to pay former Service Manager Andres
Valencia $60,000 to compensate him for "humiliation, pain and
suffering." In addition, the Division on Civil Rights will
receive payment of $2,000 to cover administrative costs related
to civilly prosecuting the case. As part of the settlement,
there is no admission of wrongdoing by either the dealership or
its General Manager, Edward Whiteman III, who was named as an
individual Respondent.

"This agreement is important because it provides an
acknowledgment by the dealership of its obligation to treat all
employees equally, with dignity, and respect," said Attorney
General Harvey in a statement.  "At the same time, the agreement
calls for training that should ensure fairness by educating
employees on New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination (LAD).
Employers everywhere must recognize that, whether we are talking
about opportunities for employment or conditions on the job,
there is no room for discriminatory conduct in the workplace."

Mr. Valencia, who is Columbian, filed a formal complaint with
the Division on Civil Rights earlier this year. In his
complaint, Valencia alleged that he was a regular target for
derogatory remarks about Hispanics made by Whiteman, his
supervisor.  He also accused the dealership of demoting him once
he complained about Whiteman's conduct, and of forcing him to
resign through its failure to eliminate a hostile work
environment.

The Division on Civil Rights subsequently investigated and, in
June of this year, issued a Finding of Probable Cause. In the
Finding of Probable Cause document, Division Director J. Frank
Vespa-Papaleo noted that Valencia's accusations pertained to a
period spanning from January 2001 to June 19, 2003, and focused
on insulting and abusive remarks about Hispanics allegedly
directed at Valencia by Whiteman. Some of the alleged remarks
included `dumb Columbian' and `drug smuggler,' " said Vespa-
Papaleo.

Valencia told Division investigators he originally sought help
by reporting the alleged verbal harassment to other management
personnel at Route 23 Honda. Despite this, Vespa-Papaleo
explained, the alleged comments by Whiteman continued, and
Valencia was ultimately reassigned from his Service Manager
position to the position of Internet Manager, which Valencia
alleged was a demotion.

In the Finding of Probable Cause document, Vespa-Papaleo noted
that Route 23 Honda denied subjecting Valencia to a hostile work
environment, and contended that the reassignment of Valencia was
a lateral move. However, the Director also noted that State
investigators interviewed a number of former Route 23 Honda
employees, each of whom provided information corroborating the
various allegations made by Valencia.

"Although it is important that Mr. Valencia is being
compensated, an equally significant outcome of this agreement is
the training that management staff at Route 23 Honda will
undergo, and the heightened awareness and sensitivity that
should result," said Vespa-Papaleo. "In addition to
investigating and, where appropriate, civilly prosecuting
discrimination, a key element of our mission at the Division on
Civil Rights is prevention. Prevention starts with education."

In addition to agreeing to pay its former employee compensation
and have management staff undergo discrimination-related
training, Route 23 Honda has agreed to not engage in any
retaliatory conduct against Valencia. Relative to the training
aspect of the settlement, Director Vespa-Papaleo noted that
training will be provided by the Division on Civil Rights, and
will begin within six-months.

The Division on Civil Rights in the Attorney General's Office is
responsible for enforcing the New Jersey Law Against
Discrimination, and the Family Leave Act. Specifically, the
Division investigates allegations of discrimination in
employment, housing, places of public accommodation and credit.
Its offices are located in Atlantic City, Camden, Jersey City,
Newark, Paterson, and Trenton. Further information about the
Division is available on its web site www.NJCivilrights.org.


TIBCO SOFTWARE: Inks Settlement For NY Shareholder Fraud Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
TIBCO Software, Inc. is finalizing the settlement of the
consolidated securities class action filed against it, certain
of its directors and officers and certain investment bank
underwriters in the U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of New York, captioned "In re TIBCO Software Inc.
Initial Public Offering Securities Litigation."

This is one of a number of cases challenging underwriting
practices in the initial public offerings (IPOs) of more than
300 companies, which have been coordinated for pretrial
proceedings as "In re Initial Public Offering Securities
Litigation."

Plaintiffs generally allege that the underwriters engaged in
undisclosed and improper underwriting activities, namely the
receipt of excessive brokerage commissions and customer
agreements regarding post-offering purchases of stock in
exchange for allocations of IPO shares.  Plaintiffs also allege
that various investment bank securities analysts issued false
and misleading analyst reports.

The complaint against the Company claims that the purported
improper underwriting activities were not disclosed in the
registration statements for its IPO and secondary public
offering and seeks unspecified damages on behalf of a purported
class of persons who purchased the Company's securities or sold
put options during the time period from July 13, 1999 to
December 6, 2000.

A lawsuit with similar allegations of undisclosed improper
underwriting practices, and part of the same coordinated
proceedings, is pending against Talarian Corporation, which we
acquired in 2002. That action is captioned "In re Talarian Corp.
Initial Public Offering Securities Litigation."

The complaint against Talarian, certain of its underwriters, and
certain of its former directors and officers claims that the
purported improper underwriting activities were not disclosed in
the registration statement for Talarian's IPO and seeks
unspecified damages on behalf of a purported class of persons
who purchased Talarian securities during the time period from
July 20, 2000 to December 6, 2000.

A stipulation of settlement for the claims against the issuer
defendants, including the Company and Talarian, has been
submitted to the Court for preliminary approval.  Under the
settlement, the plaintiffs will dismiss and release all claims
against participating defendants in exchange for a contingent
payment guaranty by the insurance companies collectively
responsible for insuring the issuers in the action, and the
assignment or surrender to the plaintiffs of certain claims the
issuer defendants may have against the underwriters.


UNITED STATES: CA Court Certifies Immigrants' Green Cards Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
In a lawsuit seeking to protect the rights of thousands of
immigrants nationwide, Cooley Godward LLP and the Lawyers'
Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law of Texas (Texas
Lawyers' Committee) won a significant victory against the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Federal Judge Marilyn
Hall Patel granted nationwide class certification to the suit,
recognizing that all of the plaintiffs had been granted the
status of lawful permanent resident by Immigration Judges or by
the Board of Immigration Appeals. Class certification allows the
case to proceed on a nationwide basis, on behalf of thousands of
lawful permanent residents (LPRs) denied proof of their lawful
status, or "green cards."

John C. Dwyer, a partner at Cooley Godward, which is handling
the suit on a pro bono basis, applauded the ruling. "The court's
ruling today is an important first step toward forcing DHS to
honor the rights granted to lawful permanent residents," said
Mr. Dwyer. "As a class action, any court order that restores the
rights of the named plaintiffs will restore the rights of lawful
permanent residents nationwide."

The lawsuit, Santillan et al. v. Ashcroft et al., was filed in
the United States District Court in San Francisco in July 2004.
The class action suit charges that DHS offices nationwide are
consistently rejecting and delaying lawful permanent residents'
requests for documentation of their LPR status. Green card
delays, which have lasted for months and greater than a year in
some cases, have created serious hardships for immigrants and
their families. Plaintiffs in the case have lost jobs, have not
been able to secure jobs, have not been able to enroll in
school, and have been prohibited from visiting sick and dying
relatives abroad.

"The goal of this lawsuit is for lawful permanent residents to
be allowed to support their families, get an education, and
enjoy the freedoms that our Constitution guarantees," said
Javier N. Maldonado, Executive Director of the Texas Lawyers'
Committee. "These immigrants have complied with all the
requirements for obtaining legal residency, including background
checks and the review of a federal immigration judge."

In the next stages of the lawsuit, the federal court must decide
whether DHS' policies and practices are unlawful and if so,
order the agency to issue temporary documentation to the
plaintiffs and class members. The lawsuit seeks relief for all
persons who were or will be granted LPR status in U.S.
immigration courts.

The public interest partnership of Cooley Godward's Pro Bono
practice and the non-profit Texas Lawyers' Committee has been
facilitated by the Litigation Assistance Partnership Project
(LAPP) of the American Bar Association (ABA).

For more details, visit the following Web sites:
http://www.cooley.com/LPRor http://www.txlawyerscommittee.org
or http://www.abanet.org/litigation/lapp/home.html


UNITED STATES: Lawyers Present Pros, Cons of Class Action Suits
---------------------------------------------------------------
At the recently concluded American Council of Life Insurers
Annual Conference in Chicago the nation's plaintiff and defense
attorneys presented cases for and against class action suits,
BestWire Services reports.

Bill Press, host for six years of Crossfire, CNN's dynamic
political debate program, moderated the lively session entitled:
"A Clash of Perspectives: Two Views on Class Action Litigation".

Mr. Press, questioned the panel of attorneys on topics ranging
from punitive-damages award, to so-called "plaintiff-friendly"
jurisdictions, to legislative efforts aimed at curbing class-
action lawsuit abuses.

Representing the view of plaintiffs at the October 12 event was
Brad N. Friedman, a partner with the law firm of Milberg Weiss
Bershad & Schulman LLP and a prominent plaintiffs' attorney. On
the defendants' side was James R. Carroll, a partner with the
law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, a noted
defense attorney.

During the one-hour session, Mr. Friedman and Mr. Carroll
battled it out -- before the court of life insurance industry
opinion -- on the pros and cons of class action litigation.

Mr. Carroll made no blanket condemnation of class actions, but
he criticized how they are used, particularly against life
insurers. "The way these cases have been litigated over the last
decade, they are no more than an extortionist's tool," he said,
dismissing as "nonsense" the argument that a case has merit
simply because a judge clears it for trial. "The case gets by a
threshold pleading, by a judge assuming that in the face of a
motion to dismiss, that all the facts alleged in the complaint
are true. That's a pretty low threshold."

Mr. Press noted a recent report issued by the Justice Department
-- under Attorney General John Ashcroft's watch -- that found
juries voted against plaintiffs in 75% of all medical-
malpractice cases in 2001, while the median punitive-damage
award in 2001 was $50,000. "So, we hear only part of the story,"
Press said. "Aren't you...in fact making it up, talking about a
(class action) crisis that doesn't really exist?"

But Mr. Carroll said the statistics on jury verdicts don't
relate to class actions. "Medical malpractice cases typically go
forward on an individualized basis. That is not the kind of
problem that we are talking about," he said. As for the $50,000
median award, Carroll, said, "If you compared that to the kind
of class-action settlements that you have in the insurance area,
what you'd see is very shocking. And it's shocking because the
class-action device is being used to force companies, for
reasons unrelated to the merits of the case, to enter into
settlements that they would never have to enter into, if not for
these external factors.

"That has nothing to do with the merits," Mr. Carroll said.
"This shows you that the system is broken. The class-action
device is not meant to be used to force a settlement award that
is disproportionate to what would be achieved if someone
actually had to litigate their case on its own merits. The
device is out of whack when used in this context."

Mr. Friedman, however, argued, "defendants embrace the class-
action device all the time...to clean up liability." He said
that the tendency to settle cases before trial isn't confined to
class actions, noting that "95% of all cases don't go to trial.
It is not unique for class actions to not go to trial. If our
cases don't go to trial, it's because the defendants want to
settle the cases for business reasons, or because they know --
and usually because they know -- they have liability."

Both Mr. Friedman and Mr. Carroll later spoke with BestWire on
the Class Action Fairness Act, a proposal in Congress that would
have placed most large class actions in federal court and taken
them away from the jurisdiction of state courts, where tort
reform advocates say abuses are rampant.

"I think the Class Action Fairness Act is an Orwellian name for
something that seeks to take a perfectly legitimate device and
eviscerate it and make it almost worthless," Mr. Friedman said.

Mr. Carroll, however, called the proposal "a good start. The
reforms anticipated by the Class Action Fairness Act would be a
good start with respect to reforming the current situation,
particularly in making the cases be brought in federal court."

Mr. Friedman said the future of class actions against insurers
would depend on the industry's conduct. "To the extent that the
insurance industry continues to abuse policyholders, we are
going to be there to continue to attack those practices and seek
recompense for our clients," he said. Specifically, he mentioned
"market timing" abuses in the trading of mutual funds; companies
manipulating their expense ratios; and modal premium cases.

Mr. Carrol painted a bleak picture for insurers. "I think that
the phenomenon of class-action lawsuits being brought against
insurance companies is here to stay: that the plaintiffs' bar
has figured out how insurance companies work and they are very
busy attempting to create new causes of action," Carroll said.

Looking to the presidential election, Mr. Friedman said, "If
Kerry and Edwards are elected, I think that to the extent that
there is reform, it will be more balanced reform."

Mr. Carroll said he would hope that a Kerry victory would "draw
increasing attention to the class-action problem, " which he
summed up as "the misuse of the class-action device to have
nationwide class actions in state courts."


UNITED STATES: SEC Hires Administrator in NYSE Specialist Cases
---------------------------------------------------------------
On October 13, the Commission issued orders (Orders) appointing
a fund administrator to administer funds paid, pursuant to prior
Commission orders, by the seven New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
specialist firms: Bear Wagner Specialists LLC; Fleet Specialist,
Inc.; LaBranche & Co. LLC; Spear, Leeds & Kellogg Specialists
LLC; Van der Moolen Specialists USA, LLC; Performance Specialist
Group LLC; and SIG Specialists, Inc. Pursuant to the
Commission's March 30, 2004, and July 26, 2004, orders, the
seven specialist firms were ordered to pay a total of
$247,028,778 in disgorgement and civil penalties.

The Orders create Fair Funds and appoint Heffler, Radetich &
Saitta L.L.P (Heffler Radetich), a public accounting firm that
specializes in class action and other fund administrations, as
Administrator of the funds. The Orders further provide that
Heffler Radetich shall draw up a plan, for approval by the
Commission, to identify the customers who were injured as a
result of the specialist firms' trading violations as previously
determined by the Commission staff and the NYSE. Finally, the
Orders provide that the funds paid by the specialist firms shall
be transferred to an escrow account to be invested in short-term
U.S. Treasury securities pending their ultimate distribution to
injured customers.


VIP COMPANION-CARE: NY AG Settles Suit Over Background Checks
-------------------------------------------------------------
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer reached a settlement of
a lawsuit against VIP Companion-Care, a Central New York company
that failed to conduct mandatory criminal background checks on
employees who provided companion care in the homes of aged and
infirm clients.

In at least two cases the company hired workers with criminal
histories, one of whom later stole the credit card of an elderly
woman placed in her care. The same worker is also alleged to
have stolen an expensive ring belonging to another client in her
care.

"Seniors are among our most vulnerable citizens and it is
imperative that they are treated honestly and cared for with
respect and dignity," said Attorney General Spitzer in a
statement.  "This agreement ensures that this company will now
follow the law aimed at protecting seniors from criminal
activity that may endanger their health, safety and finances."

The settlement, which follows a two year investigation by the
Attorney General's Syracuse Regional Office, requires VIP
Companion-Care to:

     (1) Immediately conduct criminal background checks of its
         employees;

     (2) modify its advertising practices and reform its billing
         procedures;

     (3) pay for an independent audit of its billing practices
         for the year 2001 to resolve a finding by the Attorney
         General's Office that the company over-billed its
         clients and to repay any overcharges confirmed by the
         audit; and

     (4) make an immediate payment of nearly $18,000 in
         restitution, fines and penalties.

VIP operates from offices at 753 James St. in Syracuse and 14
Fennell St. in Skaneateles. At any one time the company has 30-
45 companion care employees.

A 1991 Onondaga County law requires providers of companion care
services to obtain the results of criminal background checks and
identification cards for prospective employees from the County
Sheriff's Department.  It also requires employees to submit to
fingerprinting by the Sheriff's Department.

The Attorney General's investigation revealed not only that VIP
failed to comply with the law, but that at least one of its
employees, a convicted felon, was arrested for stealing the
credit card of an elderly woman under her care and is alleged to
have stolen the ring of another VIP client.  The agreement
provides $1,700 in restitution for the ring.

Under the terms of the settlement, VIP has agreed that it will
not engage in other deceptive practices, including billing
irregularities, objectionable contract language and false
advertising. The settlement also requires that VIP comply with
New York's Door to Door Sales Protection Act, which requires
that consumers be provided with notice of their right to cancel
a contract within three business days.

Companion care services offered by VIP include "live-in
companions" and adult sitters who provide companionship
services, respite care for care givers, transportation and
errands, medical reminders, meal preparation and light
housekeeping.

Individuals with questions about this case are encouraged to
contact the Attorney General's consumer help line: (800) 771-
7755.  The case has been handled by Assistant Attorney General
Judith Malkin and Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge Winthrop
Thurlow of the Attorney General's Syracuse Regional Office.


WEST VIRGINIA: County Judge Grants Class Status To Asbestos Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
In a bid to define who could be a party to it, a Kanawha County
Circuit Court judge bestowed class certification for a lawsuit
against West Virginia University requesting medical monitoring,
the U-Wire reports.

Judge Tod Kaufman ordered that anyone who had been working full
time at WVU's Morgantown campus from 1986 to present for a total
of at least five years could be a party in the suit, which
according to an official statement released by WVU is a total of
5,200 faculty and staff members.

According to court order documents, the action alleges that
these employees were wrongfully exposed to asbestos due to
negligence of WVU, and they may have an increased risk of
asbestos-related disease.

WVU stated in its response to Judge Kaufman's order that this
order should not be mistaken for merit in the suit. The
university also point out that the court has not ruled on the
merits of the class-action complaint, thus they stated that it
should not be interpreted as an expression by the court as to
the merits of the claims asserted.

WVU's statement also made detailed explanations about the case,
which stated that it stems from the Sturms v. WVU case in 2000,
wherein six different WVU employees were seeking medical
monitoring provided by WVU.


                New Securities Fraud Cases

CHIRON CORPORATION: Milberg Weiss Files Securities Lawsuit in CA
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman LLP initiated a
class action lawsuit on behalf of purchasers of the securities
of Chiron Corporation ("Chiron" or the "Company") (NASDAQ: CHIR)
between July 23, 2003 through October 5, 2004, inclusive (the
"Class Period"), seeking to pursue remedies under the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act").

The action is pending in the United States District Court for
the Northern District of California against defendants Chiron,
Howard H. Pien (CEO, President) and David D. Smith (CFO).

The complaint alleges that since August 2003, Chiron has
supplied approximately half of the flu vaccines administered in
the United States. Chiron manufactures its flu vaccine
("Fluvirin") in Liverpool, England, in a plant it acquired in
July, 2003. In 2003, Fluvirin sales accounted for approximately
12% of the Company's overall revenues. During the Class Period,
defendants reported impressive revenue growth, driven in
material part by sales of Fluvirin during the 2003-2004 flu
season. Chiron was under contract to provide its flu vaccine to
the United States for the 2004-2005 flu season and represented
that it would provide the U.S. market with more Fluvirin in 2004
than in 2003, as it increased production at the Liverpool plant.
Unbeknownst to investors, however, serious problems at the
Liverpool plant threatened Chiron's ability to provide the
vaccine for the 2004-2005 flu season. Problems with the plant
had been documented since 2000 by the Food and Drug
Administration ("FDA"). In June 2003, the FDA documented
"systemic quality-control issues" at the Liverpool plant and
found high levels of bacteria in unfinished vaccines. These, and
other problems, which were known to or recklessly disregarded by
defendants, signaled to defendants that the plant suffered from
serious issues that could lead to unsafe vaccines and/or a
serious disruption in the Company's ability to produce the
vaccine for the U.S. market. The complaint details additional
reasons why the Company's Class Period statements were
materially false and misleading.

On October 5, 2004, Chiron announced that "the UK regulatory
body, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
has today temporarily suspended the company's license to
manufacture Fluvirinr influenza virus vaccine in its Liverpool
facility, preventing the company from releasing any of the
product during the 2004-2005 influenza season." In reaction to
this disclosure, the price of Chiron common stock plummeted from
a closing price of $45.42 per share on October 4, 2004, to a
closing price of $37.98 per share on October 5, 2004, a one day
drop of 16.3% on unusually heavy trading volume of over 25
million shares.

The Company's last-minute announcement that it would be unable
to deliver Fluvirin sparked widespread concern of a U.S. flu
pandemic. Numerous articles on the matter reported that
significant problems at the Liverpool plant were documented by
the FDA in 2000 and June 2003, while the plant was owned by
another pharmaceutical company. On October 12, 2004, Chiron
received a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's office
for the Southern District of New York, seeking documents and
materials relating to the growing scandal. On October 13, 2004,
the Wall Street Journal reported that the SEC has initiated an
informal investigation of Chiron, "to determine if the company
failed to adequately disclose the extent of problems at the
Liverpool, England, facility that made its influenza vaccines."

For more details, contact Steven G. Schulman, Peter E. Seidman
or Andrei V. Rado by Mail: One Pennsylvania Plaza, 49th fl., New
York, NY 10119-0165 by Phone: (800) 320-5081 by E-mail:
sfeerick@milbergweiss.com or visit their Web site:
http://www.milbergweiss.com


CHIRON CORORATION: Murray Frank Lodges CA Securities Fraud Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California on behalf of all purchasers of
Chiron Corporation securities ("Chiron") (Nasdaq:CHIR) during
the period between January 12, 2004 through October 13, 2004
(the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Chiron, Howard Pien, John Lambert, and
David Smith with violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated there
under. Chiron is a global pharmaceutical company focused on
developing products for cancer and infectious diseases. It
commercializes its products through three business units: blood
testing, vaccines and biopharmaceuticals. Chiron Vaccines offers
more than 30 vaccines including flu, meningococcal, travel and
pediatric vaccines. According to the complaint, the Company
failed to disclose and misrepresented the following material
adverse facts, which were known to defendants or recklessly
disregarded by them:

     (1) that equipment and staff training at the Company's
         Liverpool plant were inadequate;

     (2) that the Company's vaccine manufacturing process was
         wrought with microbial and sterility issues;

     (3) that the Company's Liverpool plant had systemic
         quality-control issues which the Company failed to
         address in a timely manner;

     (4) that the Company's Liverpool plant was not in
         compliance with British health and safety regulations;
         and

     (5) that as a result of the above, the defendants'
         statements about being able to supply 50 million
         vaccines to the United States was lacking in a
         reasonable basis when made.

On August 26, 2004, Chiron announced the following bombshell:
that, in conducting final internal release procedures for its
Fluvirin(r) influenza virus vaccine, the company's quality
systems have identified a small number of lots that do not meet
product sterility specifications. Following this announcement,
defendant Pien reiterated Chiron's expectation that Chiron would
supply between 46 million and 48 million Fluvirin(r) influenza
virus vaccine doses to the U.S. market for the 2004-2005
influenza season, beginning in early October. Then on October 5,
2004, Chiron shocked the market when it announced "that the UK
regulatory body, the Medicines and Healthcare Products
Regulatory Agency ("MHRA"), has today temporarily suspended the
company's license to manufacture Fluvirin(r) influenza virus
vaccine in its Liverpool facility, preventing the company from
releasing any of the product during the 2004-2005 influenza
season. Chiron has not released any Fluvirin into any territory,
and therefore there is no requirement to recall or withdraw any
vaccine."

Following this revelation, shares of Chiron fell $7.44 per
share, or 16,38 percent, to close at $37.98 per share on
unusually high trading volume.

Thereafter, on October 11, 2004, The Wall Street Journal
reported U.S. regulators found "deviations" from good
manufacturing standards at Chiron's U.K.-based flu-vaccine plant
in June 2003. According to the article, the Food and Drug
Administration officials documented "deviations" from best
practices at Chiron's Liverpool plant in the middle of last
year, John Taylor, the FDA's associate commissioner for
regulatory affairs, told the Journal. The regulator said that
"systemic quality-control issues" led inspectors to conclude
that Chiron wouldn't necessarily be able to discover problems,
identify the root cause and take steps to prevent similar issues
from arising again.

Then on October 12, 2004, Chiron stated it had received a grand
jury subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York,
seeking documents related to the U.K. authorities' decision to
shut down the manufacturing of its flu vaccine Fluvirin.

The final blow to the Company occurred on October 13, 2004. At
about 12:00 noon, The Wall Street Journal reported that the SEC
was launching an informal probe into whether Chiron failed to
properly alert investors to on- going problems with British
regulators. The Company later confirmed that this was in fact
true.

News of this sent the stock further down. Shares of Chiron fell
$1.87 per share, or 5.54 percent, on unusually heavy trading
volume on October 13, 2004 to close at $31.87 per share.

For more details, contact Eric J. Belfi or Aaron D. Patton of
Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP by Phone: (800) 497-8076 or
(212) 682-1818 by Fax: (212) 682-1892 or by E-mail:
info@murrayfrank.com


CHIRON CORPORATION: Schatz & Nobel Lodges Securities Suit in CA
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Schatz & Nobel, P.C. initiated a lawsuit seeking
class action status in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California on behalf of all persons who
purchased the securities of Chiron Corporation (Nasdaq: CHIR)
("Chiron") between July 23, 2003 and October 5, 2004 (the "Class
Period").

During the Class Period, Chiron reported revenue growth driven
in material part by sales of its flu vaccine during the 2003-
2004 flu season; Chiron represented that it would provide the
U.S. market with even more flu vaccine in 2004 than in 2003.
However, on October 5, 2004, Chiron announced that "the UK
regulatory body, the Medicines and Healthcare Products
Regulatory Agency has today temporarily suspended the company's
license to manufacture Fluvirin(R) influenza virus vaccine in
its Liverpool facility, preventing the company from releasing
any of the product during the 2004-2005 influenza season." In
response to this disclosure, the price of Chiron common stock
fell from a closing price of $45.42 per share on October 4,
2004, to a closing price of $37.98 per share on October 5, 2004,
a one day drop of 16.3%.

For more details, contact Wayne T. Boulton or Nancy Kulesa by
Phone: (800) 797-5499 by E-mail: sn06106@aol.com or visit their
Web site: http://www.snlaw.net


CHIRON CORPORATION: Schiffrin & Barrowy Files PA Securities Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of all securities
purchasers of Chiron Corporation (Nasdaq: CHIR) ("Chiron" or the
"Company") from January 12, 2004 through October 13, 2004,
inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Chiron, Howard Pien, John Lambert, and
David Smith with violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated there
under. Chiron is a global pharmaceutical company focused on
developing products for cancer and infectious diseases. It
commercializes its products through three business units: blood
testing, vaccines and biopharmaceuticals. Chiron Vaccines offers
more than 30 vaccines including flu, meningococcal, travel and
pediatric vaccines. According to the complaint, the Company
failed to disclose and misrepresented the following material
adverse facts known to defendants or recklessly disregarded by
them:

     (1) that equipment and staff training at the Company's
         Liverpool plant were inadequate;

     (2) that the Company's vaccine manufacturing process was
         wrought with microbial and sterility issues;

     (3) that the Company's Liverpool plant had systemic
         quality-control issues which the Company failed to
         address in a timely manner;

     (4) that the Company's Liverpool plant was not in
         compliance with British health and safety regulations;
         and

     (5) that as a result of the above, the defendants'
         statements about being able to supply 50 million
         vaccines to the United States was lacking in a
         reasonable basis when made.

On August 26, 2004, Chiron announced the following bombshell:
that, in conducting final internal release procedures for its
Fluvirin(R) influenza virus vaccine, the company's quality
systems have identified a small number of lots that do not meet
product sterility specifications. Following this announcement,
defendant Pien reiterated Chiron's expectation that Chiron would
supply between 46 million and 48 million Fluvirin(R) influenza
virus vaccine doses to the U.S. market for the 2004-2005
influenza season, beginning in early October. Then on October 5,
2004, Chiron shocked the market when it announced "that the UK
regulatory body, the Medicines and Healthcare Products
Regulatory Agency ("MHRA"), has today temporarily suspended the
company's license to manufacture Fluvirin(R) influenza virus
vaccine in its Liverpool facility, preventing the company from
releasing any of the product during the 2004-2005 influenza
season. Chiron has not released any Fluvirin into any territory,
and therefore there is no requirement to recall or withdraw any
vaccine."

Following this revelation, shares of Chiron fell $7.44 per
share, or 16,38 percent, to close at $37.98 per share on
unusually high trading volume.

Thereafter, on October 11, 2004, The Wall Street Journal
reported U.S. regulators found "deviations" from good
manufacturing standards at Chiron's U.K.-based flu-vaccine plant
in June 2003. According the article, the Food and Drug
Administration officials documented "deviations" from best
practices at Chiron's Liverpool plant in the middle of last
year, John Taylor, the FDA's associate commissioner for
regulatory affairs, told the Journal. The regulator said that
"systemic quality-control issues" led inspectors to conclude
that Chiron wouldn't necessarily be able to discover problems,
identify the root cause and take steps to prevent similar issues
from arising again.

Then on October 12, 2004, Chiron stated it had received a grand
jury subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York,
seeking documents related to the U.K. authorities' decision to
shut down the manufacturing of its flu vaccine Fluvirin.

The final blow to the Company occurred on October 13, 2004. At
about 12:00 noon, The Wall Street Journal reported that the SEC
was launching an informal probe into whether Chiron failed to
properly alert investors to on- going problems with British
regulators. The Company later confirmed that this was in fact
true.

News of this sent the stock further down. Shares of Chiron fell
$1.87 per share, or 5.54 percent, on unusually heavy trading
volume on October 13, 2004 to close at $31.87 per share.

For more details, contact Marc A. Topaz, Esq. or Darren J.
Check, Esq. of Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP by Phone:
1-888-299-7706 or 1-610-667-7706 or by E-mail:
info@sbclasslaw.com


NEW YORK: Weiss & Yourman Lodges Securities Fraud Lawsuit in NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Weiss & Yourman initiated a class action lawsuit
against New York Community Bancorp, Inc. ("NYB" or the
"Company") (NYSE:NYB) and its officers in the United States
District Court, Eastern District of New York, on behalf of
purchasers of NYB securities between June 27, 2003 and May 9,
2004.

The complaint charges the defendants with violations of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, alleging that defendants issued
false and misleading statements which artificially inflated
stock.

For more details, contact David C. Katz, Mark D. Smilow or James
E. Tullman by Mail: The French Building, 551 Fifth Avenue, Suite
1600, New York, New York 10176 by Phone: (888) 593-4771 or
(212) 682-3025 by E-mail: info@wynyc.com


TECO ENERGY: Weiss & Yourman Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in FL
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law offices of Weiss & Yourman initiated a class action
lawsuit against TECO Energy, Inc. ("TECO" or the "Company")
(NYSE:TE) and its officers in the United States District Court,
Middle District of Florida, on behalf of purchasers of TECO
securities between October 30, 2001 and February 4, 2003.

The complaint charges the defendants with violations of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, alleging that defendants issued
false and misleading statements which artificially inflated
stock.

For more details, contact David C. Katz, Mark D. Smilow or James
E. Tullman by Mail: The French Building, 551 Fifth Avenue, Suite
1600, New York, New York 10176 by Phone: (888) 593-4771 or
(212) 682-3025 by E-mail: info@wynyc.com


                            *********


A list of Meetings, Conferences and Seminars appears in each
Wednesday's edition of the Class Action Reporter. Submissions
via e-mail to carconf@beard.com are encouraged.

Each Friday's edition of the CAR includes a section featuring
news on asbestos-related litigation and profiles of target
asbestos defendants that, according to independent researches,
collectively face billions of dollars in asbestos-related
liabilities.

                            *********


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

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by
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Pennsylvania, USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Frederick, Maryland
USA.   Glenn Ruel Seorin, Aurora Fatima Antonio and Lyndsey
Resnick, Editors.

Copyright 2004.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
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Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed
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