CAR_Public/041021.mbx              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

             Thursday, October 21, 2004, Vol. 6, No. 209

                            Headlines

APOLLO GROUP: Dyer & Shuman Retained As Counsel in AZ Stock Suit
AUTOMOBILE FIRMS: SEC Probes GM, Ford Pension Plan Accounting
AVANTI PRODUCTS: Recalls 124T Water Dispensers For Injury Hazard
CABLEVISION SYSTEMS: Former Officer Sues Over Non-Reimbursement
CBI CO.: Ohio Attorney General Launches Consumer Fraud Lawsuit

CONSUMER BENEFITS: OK A.G. Edmondson Begins Consumer Fraud Suit
CYCO.NET: Texas A.G. Abbot Wins Tobacco Sale Injunction
DELTA AIRLINES: Employees Launch Suits Over Stock's Performance
DISABLED FIREFIGHTERS: Ohio AG Files Lawsuit Over False Appeals
FANNIE MAE: Ohio A.G. Petra Starts Probe of Accounting Practices

FUNSCAPES LLC: Reaches Settlement of PA Consumer Fraud Charges
GOLD'S GYM: Texas A.G. Sues Five Affiliates Over Abrupt Closure
HOLLINGER INTERNATIONAL: To Re-File Fraud Lawsuit V. CEO, Others
INDIANA: Apartment Owners Launch Lawsuit V. Conservancy District
INSURANCE FIRMS: NY A.G. Spitzer Widens Brokerage Probe

ISRAEL: Residents Commence Consumer Fraud Lawsuit V. IEC, Bezeq
LEISURE INTERNATIONAL: WI AG Wins $334T Consumer Fraud Judgment
LOUISIANA: Supreme Court Dismisses $1.3B Oyster Lease Judgment
MICHIGAN: MI A.G. Cox Warns Against Flu Vaccine Price-Gouging
MORENA TOURS: Ohio A.G. Petro Launches Consumer Fraud Lawsuit

OHIO RESOURCES: OH Attorney General Launches Consumer Fraud Suit
OKLAHOMA: AG Sues 12 Tobacco Firms For Tobacco Law Violations
PARMALAT: Investors Launch NY Suit, Seeks Consolidation of Cases
ROUSE COMPANY: Shareholder Files Amended Complaint V. GGP Merger
SCHERING-PLOUGH: Settles UT A.G. Shurtleff's Overcharging Suit

SECOND CHANCE: Inks Bulletproof Vest Settlement With UT A.G.
SHELTERGUARD INC.: OH A.G. Petro Starts Settlement Distribution
SLIM DOWN: FL Court Bars Weight Loss Firms From Making Claims
SMARTFORCE PLC: NH Court Approves $30.5M Securities Settlement
SPRINT CORPORATION: Court Remands $142M Fiber-Optic Suit

TEXAS: Attorney General Warns Against Flu Vaccine Price-Gouging
TEXAS: 14 Texas Auto Dealers To Give Refunds For Consumer Fraud
THERMAL SEAL: Faces Ohio Attorney General Consumer Fraud Lawsuit
THOMSON FINANCIAL: SEC Starts Probe of Capital Markets Business
TOBACCO LITIGATION: NY Court Nixes Insurers' Suit V. Big Tobacco

UNITED CONSUMER: Settles WV A.G. McGraw's Consumer Credit Suit

                  New Securities Fraud Cases

ACE LIMITED: Lerach Coughlin Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in PA
AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL: Abraham Fruchter Lodges Stock Suit in NY
APOLLO GROUP: Robbins Umeda Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in AZ
CHIRON CORPORATION: Wolf Popper Lodges Securities Lawsuit in CA
CONCORD CAMERA: Bernstein Liebhard Lodges Securities Suit in FL

MARSH & MCLENNAN: Abraham Fruchter Lodges Securities Suit in NY
NEW YORK: Milberg Weiss Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in E.D. NY
STAAR SURGICAL: Cohen Milstein Files Securities Fraud Suit in CA
UNITED RENTALS: Charles J. Piven Lodges Securities Lawsuit in CT


                            *********


APOLLO GROUP: Dyer & Shuman Retained As Counsel in AZ Stock Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Dyer & Shuman, LLP has been retained by a member
of the purported class in a class action lawsuit, that has been
commenced in the United States District Court for the District
of Arizona on behalf of purchasers of Apollo Group, Inc.
("Apollo") (NASDAQ: APOL) publicly traded securities during the
period between February 27, 2004 and September 14, 2004 (the
"Class Period").

The complaint charges Apollo and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934. During the Class Period, the complaint alleges that
defendants withheld material information or disseminated
materially false information to the investing public. The
defendants claimed that there was no merit to allegations in a
qui tam action concerning the company's illegal compensation
structure, however, the company did illegally compensate new
student recruiters. In addition, the company was fined by and
settled claims with the Department of Education for possibly
generating revenues through illegal means, the company reported
strong growth attributable to the above illegal compensation
activities, and the defendants enrolled "unqualified" students
that inflated the Company's student enrollment.

Plaintiff seeks to recover damages on behalf of all persons
similarly situated or all persons who bought Apollo common stock
during the Class Period (the "Class").

For more details, contact Kip B. Shuman or Jeffrey A. Berens of
Dyer & Shuman by Phone: 800-711-6483 or by E-mail:
kshuman@dyershuman.com or jberens@dyershuman.com


AUTOMOBILE FIRMS: SEC Probes GM, Ford Pension Plan Accounting
-------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission asked General Motors
Corporation and Ford Motor Co. to provide information on their
pension and retiree health care plans as part of an inquiry into
how companies prepare estimates used to calculate pension costs,
the two firms announced, according to the Associated Press
reports.

The SEC is examining company pension plans, which are identified
as part of the several areas being probed by the SEC's new
"risk-based inquiries" designed to anticipate problems that
could lead to fraud and investor losses.  The SEC is
investigating whether changes in the pension plans can create
"cookie jar" reserves that could be used to increase revenues in
less profitable times.

In past years, some critics have suggested that some companies
manipulated high estimates for future rates of return on pension
assets and use them to lower their pension costs and raise their
earnings.  The SEC has stated that such a practice gives
investors an inaccurate picture of a company's financial
performance.  The regulators also are looking at the discount
rate, based on corporate bonds, used to calculate future pension
liabilities.  A change of one-half percentage point can affect
large pension plans by hundreds of millions of dollars, AP
reports.

On October 18, automotive supplier Delphi Corporation revealed
in a regulatory filing that the SEC has requested them to
provide documents on its accounting related to pensions and
retiree health benefits, which can affect the bottom line.

Confirming a report in BusinessWeek magazine, the SEC said its
inquiry started with six companies it did not name.  The SEC has
no evidence of violations, but the companies were not selected
randomly, said Lawrence West, an associate director of
enforcement at the agency, according to AP.

GM spokeswoman Toni Simonetti said Tuesday the automaker
received a confidential request from the SEC last Thursday to
provide information about its pension and post-retirement health
care plans, AP reports.  Ms. Simonetti said the company was
complying with the request.  "We're confident GM's financial
reporting in this complex area has been accurate and complete,"
she said.

Ford chief financial officer Don Leclair acknowledged receipt of
the SEC request Tuesday during a conference call with analysts
and automotive journalists to discuss Ford's third-quarter
earnings, AP states.  "Given the size of our pension and retiree
health care obligations, I don't think it's surprising that a
general SEC inquiry on these matters would include Ford," Mr.
Leclair said.  "We adhere to the highest accounting standards
and will cooperate with the agency in this review."


AVANTI PRODUCTS: Recalls 124T Water Dispensers For Injury Hazard
----------------------------------------------------------------
Avanti Products Inc., of Miami, Florida is cooperating with the
United States Consumer Product Safety Commission by voluntarily
recalling about 124,000 Avanti Water Dispensers.

The hot water faucet on these units has a child-resistant safety
feature to prevent young children from accessing the hot water.
The device can malfunction so that the faucet will not turn off,
causing burn injuries to children. Avanti has received 10
reports of the hot water not shutting off, nine of which
resulted in burn injuries to children, including a 10-month-old
baby who suffered burns on his arm and chest.

There are six models of water dispensers with hot water faucets
included in the recall. The water dispensers have "Avanti"
written on the front of the base. They have model number WD32,
WD 50, WD 50.1, WDT51, WDR 52 or WHC 59. The model number is
written on a silver sticker on the back of the unit. Model
number WDR 52 is a combination refrigerator and water dispenser.
All six models have removable drip trays and can hold either 3-
or 5-gallon bottles of water.

Manufactured in China, the dispensers were sold at all Office
Depot, Staples, and other appliance and electronic stores
nationwide from July 2000 through August 2004 for between $120
and $250.

Consumers with small children should immediately disable the hot
water by turning the red switch on the back of the dispenser to
off and contact Avanti to get a free repair.

Consumer Contact: Avanti at (800) 366-0339 between 8 a.m. and 5
p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit their Web site at
http://www.regcen.com/waterdispenser


CABLEVISION SYSTEMS: Former Officer Sues Over Non-Reimbursement
---------------------------------------------------------------
Kate McEnroe, the former president of AMC Networks who was fired
by Cablevision Systems Corporation due to accounting fiasco,
initiated a lawsuit demanding the Company cover her legal
expenses in a class action suit brought by the Teachers'
Retirement System of Louisiana in August 2003, Newsday reports.

In her suit, the former executive alleges that Cablevision has
not reimbursed any of her expenses for lawyers and experts she
hired in responding to the class action suit and that it has
also "failed to furnish any explanation of its refusal."  Along
with the company and 20 other current and former Cablevision
executives, Ms. McEnroe was named as defendant in the class-
action suit by Louisiana group.

That suit, which is pending in state Supreme Court, claims that
the price of stock for Rainbow Media, the part of Cablevision
that includes AMC Networks was artificially deflated as a result
of improper accounting at the unit, which resulted in overstated
expenses as well as allow the company to buy back the stock at a
cheap price.

The accounting scandal, which is still being investigated by the
Securities and Exchange Commission, served as Cablevision's
basis for the firing of Ms. McEnroe along with 14 other Raindow
Media executives.


CBI CO.: Ohio Attorney General Launches Consumer Fraud Lawsuit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro filed a suit against CBI Co.
(doing business as Active Solutions) for misrepresenting sales,
not honoring warranties, and not informing consumers about their
right to cancel contracts.

Active Solutions sells mobility products, such as powered
wheelchairs and scooters, to elderly or disabled consumers.
Active Solutions advertises via television and its Website.
Consumers then call the Company to inquire about purchases.  No
documentation of the sale is provided to consumers until the
devices are delivered to their homes.  The Company is a provider
under the Medicaid and Medicare systems, and also accepts
payments from consumers and their insurance companies.

"This company is taking advantage of elderly and disabled
consumers, often leaving them with inadequate or unordered
products that they may not be able to replace because of
Medicare, Medicaid or insurance restrictions," said AG Petro in
a statement.  "This pattern of unfair and deceptive conduct
deprives these victims of mobility and their quality of life."

Consumer complaints filed with the Consumer Protection Section
allege Active Solutions did not deliver the scooters the
consumers ordered, typically replacing them with more expensive
and less mobile wheelchairs.  The Company then refused to accept
the return of the item unless a substantial restocking fee was
paid.  Other complaints alleged products were delivered that did
not operate properly and that warranties for service were not
honored.  Consumers also were not provided with a three-day
right to cancel.

These practices violate several Ohio and federal laws, the
Consumer Sales Practices Act, the Home Solicitation Sales Act,
and the Federal Trade Commission's Trade Regulation Rules. The
lawsuit was filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court and asks
the court to order Active Solutions to stop any further business
practices that violate Ohio laws, pay consumer restitution,
civil penalties and costs.

Active Solutions does the majority of its business in Ohio. Its
main office is located at 667 Lakeview Plaza Blvd., Worthington.
It also has a branch office located in Boardman at 755 Boardman
Canfield Road, Units J4 & K3.

For more information, contact Attorney General's Consumer
Protection Section by Phone: 1-800-282-0515 or visit the
Website: http://www.ag.state.oh.us. Consumers can also contact
Michelle Gatchell, Attorney General's Office, by Phone:
(614) 466-3840


CONSUMER BENEFITS: OK A.G. Edmondson Begins Consumer Fraud Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson launched a lawsuit
against an Arizona telemarketing company after the Company
allegedly offered Oklahoma consumers a bogus identity theft
protection service.

The lawsuit, filed in Oklahoma County District Court, accuses
Consumer Benefits Group, Inc. (CBG) of violating the Oklahoma
Consumer Protection Act, the Commercial Telephone Solicitation
Act and the Oklahoma Telemarketer Restriction Act.

"Under Oklahoma law, all telemarketers must register with the
attorney general's office before doing business in Oklahoma," AG
Edmondson said in a statement.  "Consumer Benefits Group was not
registered, and they were also placing calls to Oklahomans who
are registered on the state's Don't Call list."

The Attorney General's office filed the suit after receiving
complaints from two consumers, AG Edmondson said.
"Telemarketers for CBG were referring to themselves as `head
agent' and `inspector,'" he continued.  "The caller then
informed the consumer that they had been placed on a list of
consumers targeted for identity theft or that the consumer's
credit card information had been given to a third party without
the consumer's permission."

According to the state's complaint, the telemarketer then offers
to provide the consumer with identity theft prevention services
for a $299 fee.  "Identity theft is an increasing concern among
consumers," AG Edmondson said.  "We allege that CBG took
advantage of the public's concern about this crime and employed
scare tactics to turn a quick buck."

In addition to civil penalties and court costs, the attorney
general's office is asking the court to issue a permanent
injunction that would bar CBG from conducting future business in
Oklahoma. The state is also asking the court to issue a
temporary injunction against CBG to prevent the company from
doing business while legal action is pending. Each alleged
violation potentially carries a $10,000 civil penalty.
The attorney general also issued a reminder for consumers.

The lawsuit was filed after an investigation by the Attorney
General's Consumer Protection Unit.  Edmondson's Consumer
Protection Unit has statewide jurisdiction to investigate and
prosecute violations of the state's Consumer Protection Act.
For more details, contact the attorney general's consumer
protection hotline: (405) 521-2029.


CYCO.NET: Texas A.G. Abbot Wins Tobacco Sale Injunction
----------------------------------------------------------
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott won a court-ordered
injunction to settle a dispute with a now-defunct New Mexico-
based online merchant to ensure that no one under 18 may
purchase its tobacco products over the Internet.

Cyco.Net Inc. was sued by the Attorney General in May 2003 as
part of a coordinated crackdown against Internet scams.  The
injunction prohibits the company from selling or delivering
tobacco products in Texas unless it can establish a system to
verify that its purchasers are at least 18 years old, as
required by state laws for online sellers.

"Brick and mortar tobacco retail merchants in Texas all must
comply with this law or face serious penalties," said Attorney
General Abbott in a statement.  "The same standard must apply to
online retail merchants who target customers for the sale of
their products. I am committed to protecting the health of Texas
children because that's the law and we will enforce it
vigorously."

Cyco.Net, which no longer does business via its former Web site,
offered "premium cigarettes at low prices."  Consumers could
place orders and pay for tobacco products online.  The Company
gave consumers an incentive of 20 cents per carton for every new
customer they referred to the site, noting that the use of the
service was not restricted by age of customer.

Cyco.Net's site represented that it did "not sell cigarettes to
minors. All purchasers of cigarettes from us will be required to
certify that they are of the age of majority."  However, the
Company did not inquire of the prospective customer's age or
date of birth, nor did it require proof of identification.  The
Company affixed a green stamp to the shipped packages noting
"adult signature required," but the U.S. Postal Service does not
validate age of persons upon delivery.

Texas law regards tobacco addiction as a "pediatric disease"
because more that 80 percent of smokers begin smoking by the age
of 18, and more than 50 percent by age 15, according to studies.
Thus, people who begin smoking at a young age are more likely to
continue smoking and suffer tobacco-related health problems.
Because of this addiction and young people's underestimation of
tobacco's effects on their bodies, Texas law forbids the sale of
these products to anyone under 27 years of age unless the person
can prove he or she is at least 18.


DELTA AIRLINES: Employees Launch Suits Over Stock's Performance
---------------------------------------------------------------
Delta Air Lines faces three lawsuits seeking class action status
that was filed by former employees, who were displeased by the
performance of company stock in their retirement plans,
according to a recent government filing, the Cincinnati Post
reports.

The airline revealed in it filing that the former employees are
seeking unspecified damages for losses connected to retirement
plans that relied heavily on Delta stock that has plunged from
$49.75 to $3.89 between Nov. 14, 2000 and Aug. 9 of this year
and is losing 92 percent of its value.

The lawsuits contend Delta offered its stock as an investment
alternative for employees despite the company's increasingly
dire financial position. Board members managed the stock funds
until the company recently revealed that it had hired a
financial firm to avoid conflicts of interest.

The litigation emerged shortly after the investment firm of U.S.
Trust, a New York financial advisory firm that ran two Delta
employee retirement accounts announced in August that it would
freeze workers' purchase of company stock through the Delta
Stock Fund option in the company's 401(k) plan, citing the
carrier's precarious financial condition. It also stated that it
is considering whether to sell the stock holdings.


DISABLED FIREFIGHTERS: Ohio AG Files Lawsuit Over False Appeals
---------------------------------------------------------------
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro filed a suit against the
Association of Disabled Firefighters for falsely claiming in its
charitable appeals to provide financial assistance to disabled
firefighters, their families, and burn victims.

"Organizations who solicit Ohioans must abide by Ohio's
fundraising laws and do as they promise or they will be
penalized," said AG Petro in a statement.  He is asking that the
Court order the Association of Disabled Firefighters to stop
soliciting funds in Ohio, pay back Ohioans who donated money
under false pretenses, and pay civil penalties of $10,000 for
each violation.

The Association came to the Attorney General's attention during
the investigation of "The Campaign Center, Inc.," which is a
professional solicitor (i.e. paid fundraiser) the Association
used to raise funds in Ohio.  Investigators requested the
association to submit documentation showing that it provided
financial assistance to disabled firefighters, their families,
and burn victims as claimed.  The Association failed to provide
that documentation despite numerous requests.

The suit alleges the Association violated Ohio's charitable
fundraising laws because it did not actually provide financial
assistance to the target groups as claimed when raising
charitable dollars.  The Association's solicitations made
through literature and telemarketing calls promised financial
assistance to families of disabled firefighters including
mortgage payments and medical bills, and pledged to support
children's burn camps and burn trauma centers throughout the
United States.


FANNIE MAE: Ohio A.G. Petra Starts Probe of Accounting Practices
----------------------------------------------------------------
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petra launched an investigation of
mortgage company Fannie Mae, on behalf of Ohio's public pension
funds, on whether the Company's practices caused losses to the
funds.

"Our goal is to determine if there were losses of funds invested
on behalf of members of the public pension systems in Ohio,"
said Attorney General Jim Petro in a statement.

The time frame being examined is October 1999 through September
2004. To be determined in the investigation is the extent to
which the funds have been damaged.  Fannie Mae has been under
investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for
allegations of accounting irregularities.  The U.S. Department
of Justice has opened a criminal investigation.

Ohio's public pension funds are Ohio Public Employees Retirement
Systems (OPERS), State Teachers Retirement System (STRS), Ohio
Police and Fire, Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System and
School Employees Retirement System.

For more information, contact Bob Beasley, Attorney General's
Office, by Phone: (614) 466-3840


FUNSCAPES LLC: Reaches Settlement of PA Consumer Fraud Charges
--------------------------------------------------------------
Funscapes LLC entered an "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance"
agreement with Pennsylvannia Attorney General Jerry Pappert for
the action filed against the Florida-based travel business,
alleging it deceptively promoted "free" trips to induce
consumers to purchase travel memberships.

The Company is also accused of illegally contacting consumers
whose names and telephone numbers were registered on
Pennsylvania's "Do Not Call" list.  The investigation involved
complaints from consumers located in Allegheny, Armstrong,
Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland
counties in Pennsylvania.

Attorney General Pappert said the business will refund or
charge-back more than $49,000 to consumers who filed formal
complaints with his office.  Those who believe they are entitled
to a refund have until November 10, 2004 to submit a complaint
form.

Charles Lynch, Company president, forged the agreement with the
Attorney General.  The Company's principal place of business is
515 Carswell Ave., Holly Hill, Florida.  Funscapes also
maintained a Pennsylvania office at 2403 Sidney St., Pittsburgh.
The investigation involved claims that the company violated
Pennsylvania's Consumer Protection Law and Telemarketer
Registration Act.

According to agents, Funscapes during 2003 and 2004 conducted
telemarketing campaigns to encourage consumers to attend sales
presentations for the purpose of purchasing travel memberships
in the Funscapes Vacation Club.

More than 50 consumers reported receiving the calls despite
placing their names and telephone numbers on the state's "Do Not
Call" list.  Consumers said they were unable to identify the
party contacting them because the telemarketer's name and
telephone number was intentionally blocked, in violation of
Pennsylvania's Telemarketer Registration Act.

The callers allegedly told consumers that they had entered a
contest and won a "free" trip.  Investigators said the "free"
trip offer was an enticement to lure consumers to the sales
presentations.  In reality, consumers never entered a contest
and the "free" trip required the payment of taxes and a
mandatory refundable deposit.  The travel memberships ranged
between $1,995 and $4,745.  Many consumers said the memberships
failed to offer the discounts and accommodations as promised.
In some instances, the certificates for the "free" trips were
not honored. Additionally, the business allegedly failed to
honor its three-day cancellation policy.

"This investigation resulted in returning thousands of dollars
to consumers who ended up paying a significant amount of money
for travel memberships that failed to meet the promised
expectations," AG Pappert said in a statement.  "Our legal
agreement also permanently bars the company and its owner from
selling travel services or conducting business in the travel
industry in the Commonwealth ever again."

Under the terms of the Assurance, the Company and Lynch deny
wrongdoing and are required to:

     (1) provide $37,507 in refunds or charge-backs to consumers
         who purchased travel memberships;

     (2) waive $10,848 in contract balances for travel
         memberships;

     (3) pay a total of $1,140 to the 57 consumers who filed "Do
         Not Call" complaints;

     (4) pay restitution to consumers who come forward by
         November 10, 2004 with documentation that they were
         similarly harmed;

     (5) permanently cease advertising, offering for sale or
         selling any goods or services related to the travel
         industry in the Commonwealth;

     (6) cease violating Pennsylvania's Consumer Protection Law
         and Telemarketer Registration Act in the future;

     (7) pay $1,000 for the Commonwealth's investigation costs;

AG Pappert said consumers can contact his office to file a
complaint by Phone: 1-800-441-2555 or by visiting the Website:
http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.

The Assurance was filed in Commonwealth Court, the case was
handled by Senior Deputy Attorney General Marcia Telek DePaula
of Pappert's Bureau of Consumer Protection in Pittsburgh.


GOLD'S GYM: Texas A.G. Sues Five Affiliates Over Abrupt Closure
---------------------------------------------------------------
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit against five
Gold's Gym affiliated locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area
and the owner for abruptly closing the fitness centers without
notice to dues-paying members and for failing to secure the
required $20,000 security to protect consumers in the event of
closure.  At the same time, the Attorney General reached
settlements with businesses that now operate new gyms at the
former Gold's Gym locations in the area.

"Our investigators made every effort to relocate club members to
other facilities in the area despite the owner's unwillingness
to do so prior to closing," said Attorney General Abbott in a
statement.  "We intend to see that the court recognizes the loss
to these paid members and orders the company to refund money
that is due them."

The Attorney General sued owner Scott R. Theeringer, who
allegedly fled Texas at the time of the closures, and the Gold's
Gym locations that are registered under these corporate names:

     (1) Club Systems Inc., Garland, Dallas and Carrollton;

     (2) Fitness Forever, Inc., Arlington;

     (3) Fitness Forever IV, Inc., Fort Worth

Attorney General Abbott also made arrangements for former club
members to use alternative gyms in each of the five cities where
Theeringer controlled his Gold's Gym franchises.  Each location
is either pre-existing (Fitness Evolution) or now owned and
operated by new management independent of Theeringer and his
entities. They are:

     (i) Fit for Life (Fort Worth)

    (ii) Newly franchised Gold's Gym (Arlington)

   (iii) Newly franchised Gold's Gym (Garland)

    (iv) Fitness Evolution (Carrollton)

     (v) Downtown Dallas membership to be absorbed by the YMCA

By law, fitness centers, health spas and related services must
file a $20,000 security with the Secretary of State's Office in
order to do business in Texas. The owner and managers of the
five centers being sued allegedly represented on contract forms
to club members that the businesses had filed this required
security, when none existed.

The Attorney General seeks civil penalties for several
violations of the Texas Health Spa Act and the Texas Deceptive
Trade Practices Act, including failure to file a security or
bond and causing confusion among members as to the certification
and licensing of the businesses.  Attorney General Abbott also
requests a permanent injunction that prohibits these defendants
from operating unless all requirements of the law are satisfied.


HOLLINGER INTERNATIONAL: To Re-File Fraud Lawsuit V. CEO, Others
----------------------------------------------------------------
Hollinger International, Inc. intends to re-file its dismissed
lawsuit against ousted chief executive officer Conrad Black and
his associates, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars, for the
enormous damages the defendants inflicted on the Company, the
Associated Press reports.

Last week, United States District Judge Blanche Manning
dismissed the suit, which sought $1.25 billion in damages,
triple its claimed damages of more than $380 million plus
interest.  Judge Manning ruled that the racketeering laws did
not apply.

The newspaper publisher told the judge it intends to re-file the
suit on October 25, with a few revisions.  Hollinger
International attorney Jonathan Rosenberg said the amended
complaint will be similar to the one thrown out by Judge Manning
last week.  Mr. Rosenberg told AP that several small publishing
firms affiliated with or controlled by Mr. Black and former
Hollinger chief operating officer David Radler - Bradford
Publishing Co., Horizon Publishing Inc. and related Horizon
entities will be removed from the list of the defendants.

The Company also intends to add several claims, based on details
cited in the August 31 report by a special committee of
Hollinger International's board of directors.  The report
alleged that Mr. Black and his business partners conspired to
rob the company of more than $400 million, almost all of its
profits from 1997 through 2003.  Accusing them of "corporate
kleptocracy," the report detailed how Black, Radler and others
pocketed millions of dollars in non-competition fees and other
payments when they allegedly sold newspapers for less than their
market value.

"In the interest of the Company and its shareholders, the
special committee is vigorously pursuing its breach of fiduciary
duty claims against the defendants," said interim Chairman and
CEO Gordon Paris, AP reports.  "The special committee will
continue to seek full redress for the enormous damage the
defendants caused to the company."


INDIANA: Apartment Owners Launch Lawsuit V. Conservancy District
----------------------------------------------------------------
GPI LLP, which owns Settler's Run in Washington Township, a
large apartment complex served by the West Central Conservancy
District, filed a class action that will challenge the utility's
flat rate fee, the Indianapolis Star reports.

In addition, the owners are accusing the Avon-based sewer
utility of charging customers "excessive and illegal" delinquent
fee penalties. They are seeking the action in Hendricks Circuit
Court so the suit would represent all the conservancy district's
customers.

The dispute stems from the conservancy district's decision in
February 2001 to adopt a flat-rate fee of $45 for residential
customers, which is higher than what commercial consumers pay
for in metered flow rate. West Central charges Settler's Run $45
for each apartment in the complex.

According to court documents, GPI argues that although Settler's
Run is an apartment complex it is a commercial customer of the
conservancy district and thus eligible for the lower sewer rate
based on metered water flow. However, in August 2002, six months
after the new rate schedule went into effect, the utility began
billing the apartment complex as a residential user, which up to
that point had been billed as a commercial customer. As a
result, GPI says its monthly sewer bill jumped from $2,369.81 to
$10,170 as of September 2002.

GPI's attorney, Mark J. Need stated that GPI wanted to install a
meter to monitor water flow at its own expense, which is allowed
under the utility's rate structure, but the district's Board of
Directors denied that request.


INSURANCE FIRMS: NY A.G. Spitzer Widens Brokerage Probe
-------------------------------------------------------
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has widened his
investigation of insurance brokerage fees to include life and
health insurance company practices, the Associated Press
reports.

The attorney general has subpoenaed health insurers Coign
Corporation, based in Philadelphia and Etna, Inc., based in
Hartford, Connecticut, seeking more information about the
Company's compensation of insurance brokers.  New York-based
MetLife, Inc. and disability insurer UnumProvident Corporation
also announced that they had received additional subpoenas from
AG Spitzer's office.

The investigation focuses on whether brokers are improperly
steering business to those who pay the highest fees - paid on
top of commissions - rather than seeking the best deals for
their customers.

In April, AG Spitzer probed several property casualty insurance
companies practices of paying incentive fees to brokers who
serve large corporate and government clients.  Just last week,
AG Spitzer filed a civil suit against Marsh & McLennan Companies
and other property and casualty insurers, including American
International Group Inc., ACE Ltd. and The Hartford Financial
Services Group Inc.  Two AIG employees and one ACE employee
pleaded guilty last week to related criminal charges.

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, an earlier Class Action Reporter story (October 18,
2004) states.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that California's
Insurance Commissioner, John Garamendi, planned to file suits
within the next two weeks looking at companies that sell
personal insurance, including employee benefits as well as life,
auto and homeowner policies.  He declined to identify which
insurance companies he was planning to take action against.
Calls to his office on Tuesday were not returned, according to
AP.

Cigna spokesman Wendell Potter said the subpoenas seek
"communications with and payments to brokers."  Mr. Potter said
the company was cooperating with Spitzer's office, AP reports.
There was no immediate comment from Aetna.

UnumProvident said it will continue to cooperate fully with the
inquiry and plans to review its broker compensation structure.
"In addition to promoting full disclosure, we will further
review our compensation policies and procedures to be sure that
we appropriately compensate our brokers but do not create any
actual or perceived conflict between the broker and the
customer," president and chief executive Thomas R. Watjen said
in a statement, according to AP.  "As this review is under way,
UnumProvident will not enter into any new compensation
agreements until this review is completed."

MetLife Inc. said it was not surprised it received subpoenas
from Spitzer in the case because of its size, AP reports.
MetLife wrote some $9 billion in premiums in 2003.  It said
MetLife "pays both base commissions and other contingent
payments" and valued the incentive fees at about $25 million in
2003. MetLife said it was conducting an internal review and that
it "was not aware of any instance in which MetLife or any other
company had provided a 'fictitious' quote.


ISRAEL: Residents Commence Consumer Fraud Lawsuit V. IEC, Bezeq
---------------------------------------------------------------
Israeli residents, Mordechai and Shifra Frankel, initiated a
lawsuit seeking class action status in Tel Aviv District Court
against the Israel Electric Corporation and Bezeq for charging
interest that is beyond the legal limit, Haaretz reports.

The suit contends that the two corporate giants charge interest
on VAT, even though the law states that companies may levy
interest only on pre-VAT charges. Furthermore, the suit alleges
that this system ultimately hurts the lower economic strata,
which has more difficulty paying bills on time.

The plaintiffs in the suit are asking the court to recognize
their lawsuit as a class action, which would represents about
two million IEC and Bezeq customers. They are estimating damages
at NIS 209 million ($46.9 M) for IEC and NIS 87 million ($19.5
M) for Bezeq.


LEISURE INTERNATIONAL: WI AG Wins $334T Consumer Fraud Judgment
---------------------------------------------------------------
Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager's office has
obtained a $334,974.17 judgment in Marathon County against
Leisure International, a Rock Hill, South Carolina company, for
violations of the Wisconsin consumer protection laws.

Leisure International also uses the names RP Associates,
American Direct, American Incentive, Merchandise Headquarters,
INC Player Service, AIME, Asset Recovery, Lottowin, Money
Management Advisors, IPC and DSI.

"The judgment completes a lawsuit brought in April of this year
by the Wisconsin Department of Justice," AG Lautenschlager said
in a statement.  "The lawsuit charged Leisure International with
requesting and accepting payment from Wisconsin residents
without disclosing in writing the information required by the
Wisconsin prize notice statute, such as a statement of the odds
the individual has of winning the prize and the verifiable
retail value of the prize."

"Leisure International sent prize notices to Wisconsin residents
informing them that they had won large cash prizes.  The notices
informed the recipients that, in order to claim their prize,
they had to first mail Leisure International a processing fee of
typically between $10 and $20, but sometimes ranging up to
$1,000.  The recipients never received the prizes," she
continued.

Marathon County Circuit Judge Vincent K. Howard found that
Leisure International violated the Wisconsin prize notice
statute and enjoined the company from future violations.  The
court also ordered Leisure International to pay $327,800 in
penalties and forfeitures for 88 violations of the prize notice
statute, $5,137.80 to reimburse the state for its costs of
investigation and prosecution, and $1,760.87 as restitution to
Wisconsin residents who had sent Leisure International money.

The judgment was obtained by Lautenschlager's Office of Consumer
Protection with investigative assistance from the Department of
Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.  Assistant Attorneys
General Jim Jeffries and Meredith Earley represented the state.
For more information, contact Brian Rieselman by Phone:
608/266-1220.


LOUISIANA: Supreme Court Dismisses $1.3B Oyster Lease Judgment
--------------------------------------------------------------
Louisiana Supreme Court dismissed in a unanimous decision a $1.3
billion judgment for south Louisiana oystermen, who claimed that
a coastal restoration project ruined their business, the
Associated Press reports.

The high court ruled that all but 12 of the 204 leases renounced
any legal claim to damage from such projects, and that the
holders of those 12 waited too late to sue.

Andrew Wilson, a private attorney representing the state in
these cases, points out that the ruling will affect four similar
lawsuits that are still in court, which includes one in
Plaquemines Parish, two in St. Bernard Parish and one in Baton
Rouge.  The case had centered on a decision that the state
should pay oystermen because of a 1991 project that channeled
some fresh water and sediment from the Mississippi River into
salty Breton Sound. The oystermen, who leased water bottoms from
the state for $2 an acre a year, said beds they had cultivated
for decades were destroyed.

A major part of Supreme Court's ruling was the issue of whether
"hold harmless" clauses in the leases, protecting the state from
suing for damages from the freshwater diversion, were valid.
The high court ruled that the state only has to renew leases if
oysters can grow in the water, and could have simply refused to
renew them on grounds that the diversion project would make that
impossible.

A Plaquemines Parish jury valued the leases at $21,345 an acre,
which totaled about $1.3 billion for the 130 oyster farmers in
the class-action suit.  According to Mr. Wilson, it is uncertain
whether the other cases will be dismissed due to the fact that
of them make different arguments, some claim damage from other
projects, and all were filed at different times. He however
reiterated that they would still contend that the Supreme
Court's reasoning would apply to all of the suits and that how
the courts rule on them remains to be seen.

Legal experts explain that if the suits remained alive, they
probably will include arguments over the legality of a state
constitutional amendment passed a year ago, which is retroactive
and sets liability at "fair market value" in coastal restoration
projects that damage private property.


MICHIGAN: MI A.G. Cox Warns Against Flu Vaccine Price-Gouging
-------------------------------------------------------------
In light of new information that the Federal Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) are receiving complaints and
inquiries about flu vaccine price-gouging, Michigan Attorney
General Mike Cox has assembled a response team to swiftly and
aggressively respond to any Michigan complaints of flu vaccine
price gouging.

The Michigan Department of Attorney General will work with the
CDC and other State Agencies to investigate and report any
complaints that may be received by AG Cox's Consumer Protection
Division in the coming months.

"It is troubling that price-gougers would take advantage of
public health concerns to benefit themselves.  My office will
bring the full weight of the law to bear against any person or
company engaging in such behavior in Michigan," AG Cox warned in
a statement.

On Thursday, AG Cox received word from U.S. Health and Human
Services Secretary Tommy Thompson that the CDC will assist his
office in collecting data on price-gouging.  The data will be
shared with other agencies around the nation to ensure full
cooperation at state and federal government levels for
prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

Although no complaints have been received yet, Attorney General
Cox encourages any individual or health care provider concerned
about possible vaccine price-gouging to contact his Consumer
Protection Bureau by Phone: 1-877-SOLVE-88 (1-877-765-8388).
Complaints may also be filed 24 hours a day at the website:
http://www.michigan.gov/ag. Individuals who file a complaint
online should call to ensure that the complaint is immediately
referred to the quick response team.


MORENA TOURS: Ohio A.G. Petro Launches Consumer Fraud Lawsuit
-------------------------------------------------------------
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro filed a suit against Morena
Tours Inc. and its principal owner Meibe C. S. Villumsen,
individually, for failing to deliver purchased tickets to
consumers in violation of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act.

"Many of the consumers who paid for tickets, which they did not
receive, could not afford to buy others and had to cancel their
trips because of these unfair and deceptive business practices,"
said AG Petro in a statement.  Additional Consumer Sales
Practices Act violations alleged in the lawsuit include:

     (1) charging consumers' credit cards without authorization,

     (2) making false or misleading statements to consumers, and

     (3) failing to disclose their restrictive refund policies

The lawsuit also named Victoria Travel Inc., which is currently
out of business, and its principal owner Jens Villumsen,
individually, for similar alleged unfair and deceptive acts and
practices.  In the complaint, AG Petro asked the court to
prohibit the travel agencies and their individual owners from
engaging in practices that violate Ohio's Consumer Sales
Practices Act, and to order them to reimburse consumers for
damages sustained by their unfair and deceptive acts.  The
complaint also requests that the agencies pay a civil penalty of
$25,000 for each violation of the Consumer Sales Practices Act
and allow the Attorney General's Office to inspect any business
records for the next five years.

The suit was filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
Morena Tours Inc. is located at 2655 Northland Plaza Drive,
Columbus, Ohio.  For more details, contact Michelle Gatchell,
Attorney General's Office, by Phone: (614) 466-3840


OHIO RESOURCES: OH Attorney General Launches Consumer Fraud Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro filed a suit against Ohio
Builder Resources, doing business as Ohio Resources.
Allegations include:

     (1) false and misleading telemarketing calls,

     (2) bait advertising,

     (3) misrepresenting the company's Better Business Bureau
         (BBB) record,

     (4) false and misleading sales presentations,

     (5) failure to honor warranties, and

     (6) violations of Ohio's Home Solicitation Sales Act

"I'm asking for restitution for consumers victimized by this
company's practices and that the company pay a civil penalty of
$25,000 per violation," said AG Petro in a statement.  "I'm also
asking the judge to stop the offensive business practices,
especially the misrepresentations about the BBB and our office."

More than 20 consumer complaints filed against the central Ohio-
based home improvement company are the basis for the most recent
12-count complaint filed against Ohio Resources.  The suit also
names company officer Sally Mealey and salesperson Steven
Ziegenbusch.  The Attorney General's Office will continue to
accept complaints about possible violations by this company.

This is not the first time the office has taken action against a
company operated by Mealey.  Mealey was the owner of Ohio
Resources in February 2003 when Petro's office sued the Company
for falsely representing to consumers that it was affiliated
with FHA/HUD and could obtain government grants to pay for
consumer's home improvement projects.  That case was settled.

In the past year, complaints against Ohio Resources allege that
the Company was representing that it can get government grant
money for the consumers, misrepresenting its status with the BBB
(playing a false or edited recording purporting to be a
favorable BBB report), deceptive telemarketing, utilizing
contracts that contain illegal attorney's fee provisions and
misrepresentations of the consumer's cancellation rights,
misleading consumers about the use of subcontractors, performing
shoddy work, and failing to honor warranties.  In addition,
Mealy wrote a letter to the BBB falsely stating that the Ohio
Attorney General had reviewed and approved Ohio Resources'
telemarketing script.

Attorney General Petro is asking the court to prevent Ohio
Resources and anyone associated with it from further violating
the Consumer Sales Practices Act, or the Home Solicitation Sales
Act.

For more details, contact the Attorney General's Consumer
Protection Section by Phone: 1-800-282-0515 or visit the firm's
website: http://www.ag.state.oh.us. Consumers can also contact
Michelle Gatchell, Attorney General's Office, by Phone:
(614) 466-3840


OKLAHOMA: AG Sues 12 Tobacco Firms For Tobacco Law Violations
-------------------------------------------------------------
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson filed lawsuits against
12 tobacco manufacturers last month for violating an Oklahoma
law stemming from the 1998 tobacco settlement.

Oklahoma enacted a "non-participating manufacturer" law in 1999
requiring tobacco companies who chose not to join the 1998
Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) to pay into an escrow fund.
The payment is roughly equal to what the company would have paid
had it joined the MSA and is used to fund any future legal
claims the state may have against those companies.

Each manufacturer named in the lawsuits has at one time had its
tobacco products sold in Oklahoma and is subject to the Oklahoma
statute.  The manufacturers are accused of failing to establish
an escrow account or failing to properly fund the account.  The
companies are:

     (1) Blend Comercial Exportadora, Brazil;

     (2) CigTec Tobacco, LLC, Virginia;

     (3) Eurolider, S.A., Uruguay;

     (4) GTC Industries, Inc., India;

     (5) Intercontinental Pacific Manufacturing Company/Mighty
         Corporation/Universal Hamilton, Philippines;

     (6) Keblon, S.A., Uruguay;

     (7) Poro International Business Corporation, Hong Kong;

     (8) Ridgeway Brands Manufacturing, LLC, North Carolina;

     (9) Sekap, S.A., Greece;

    (10) Tabacalera Boqueron, S.A., Paraguay

The lawsuits are an attempt to force the defendants to comply
with Oklahoma law by establishing and fully funding the escrow
account. Oklahoma law requires the non-participating
manufacturers to make a yearly payment to the escrow account
based on the previous year's product sales.


PARMALAT: Investors Launch NY Suit, Seeks Consolidation of Cases
----------------------------------------------------------------
Investors affected by the collapse of Italian food group
Parmalat initiated a class action lawsuit in a US court seeking
over US$8 billion in damages from its former management, banks
and auditors, Reuters reports.

The suit, which was deposited in New York is the latest in a
long list of demands for damages after the multinational company
slumped into insolvency under 14 billion euros ($25.95 billion)
of debt last December.

According to Umberto Mosetti, a partner with consulting firm
Deminor, the lead plaintiffs in the suit, which includes British
fund management firm Hermes, is gunning for Parmalat's former
directors and officers plus the Bank of America, Citigroup,
Credit Suisse First Boston and auditors Deloitte & Touche and
Grant Thornton. On the other hand, three banks Morgan Stanley,
UBS and Deutsche Bank, were listed on the suit as non-defendant
third parties.

Mr. Mosetti also pointed out that the Bank of America, Citigroup
and the auditing firms were recently hit with separate 10
billion euros ($14.77 billion) damage suits filed in US courts
by Parmalat's administrators, who are also taking legal action
to recover more than 550 million euros in fees and other money
paid by food group to Deutsche Bank, CSFB and UBS in the run-up
to its crisis. Parmalat's administrators stated that the banks
and auditors either played a part in or failed to prevent what
the US Securities and Exchange Commission has called "one of the
largest and most brazen corporate financial frauds in history".

Though based on similar arguments as in the Parmalat claims, Mr.
Mosetti was quick to point out that the class action also sought
to raise money directly for investors, including former
shareholders in the bankrupt company.

Robert Roseman, a US-based attorney representing bondholders
included in the class action, cited that the filing did not
mention a specific value for the damages sought. He however
estimates that it would probably be "in excess of US$8 billion"
based on US$7 billion worth of outstanding Parmalat bonds plus
US$1 billion in the company's common stock.

After a judge recognizes it as the lead class action case, the
recently filed suit will be joined by other class action
lawsuits that were filed by Parmalat investors earlier this
year.


ROUSE COMPANY: Shareholder Files Amended Complaint V. GGP Merger
----------------------------------------------------------------
As described in the Rouse Company's (NYSE:RSE) definitive proxy
statement in connection with the merger between the firm and a
subsidiary of General Growth Properties, Inc. (GGP), in August
2004, a person who asserted that he was a Rouse shareholder
filed a purported class action lawsuit in the Circuit Court of
Howard County, Maryland, against Rouse, GGP and the directors of
Rouse.

The plaintiff in aforementioned action, Jasinover vs. The Rouse
Company, General Growth Properties, Inc. et al., recently filed
a first amended and restated complaint. The complaint restates
the allegations of the original complaint and further alleges
that Rouse's definitive proxy statement filed with the
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) omits various allegedly
material disclosures relating to the bid process conducted by
Rouse leading up to the execution of the merger agreement with
GGP. In addition, the plaintiff has filed a motion for a
temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction seeking to
enjoin Rouse from holding the special shareholders' meeting
scheduled for November 9, 2004, together with a motion seeking
expedited discovery and proceedings.

Rouse and GGP believe that the claims asserted in the first
amended and restated complaint are without merit. Rouse and GGP
do not expect the motions filed by the plaintiffs to affect the
timing of consummation of the merger.


SCHERING-PLOUGH: Settles UT A.G. Shurtleff's Overcharging Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff reached a settlement with
Schering Plough Corporation, the manufacturer of Claritan
antihistamine, for overcharging the state's Medicaid program.
The Company agreed to pay Utah $1.8 million and also agreed to
pay $282.3 million in civil fines and penalties and $52.5
million in criminal fines to settle claims with the federal
government and state Medicaid programs.

Drug manufacturers are required by law to sell prescription
drugs to Medicaid programs at the lowest available price.  From
1998 to 2002, Schering Plough lowered the price for Claritan for
the CIGNA and PacificCare health care plans but did not report
the price change to the government.

"This settlement demonstrates that we will aggressively pursue
drug manufacturers and any other companies that try to take
advantage of taxpayers and consumers," says Attorney General
Mark Shurtleff in a statement.

According to court papers, Schering Plough broke the law by:

     (1) disguising discounts by labeling annual $2.5 million
         cash payments as "data processing fees;"

     (2) giving health care plans pre-paid rebates, interest-
         free loans and deep discounts on other drugs and
         services;

     (3) directing physicians to prescribe Claritan Reditabs
         instead of the regular Claritan tablets in exchange for
         a $3 million discount

"With the rising cost of health care, particularly the rise in
drug prices, it is important to protect taxpayers by making sure
the state gets the best price. It is unfortunate that some drug
companies are getting so greedy at the same time they are
already legitimately making record profits," Wade Farraway,
director of the Medicaid Fraud Unit at the Attorney General's
Office, said in a statement.

The Utah Attorney General's Office oversees the Medicaid Fraud
Control Unit to protect the integrity of Utah's Medicaid
program.  The public can learn more about Medicaid fraud or
report abuse at the website:
http://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/medicaidfraud.htmor by Phone:
(800) 244-4636.


SECOND CHANCE: Inks Bulletproof Vest Settlement With UT A.G.
------------------------------------------------------------
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff reached a settlement
September 24, 2004 with the manufacturer of defective
bulletproof vests worn by more than 950 Utah law enforcement
officers.

Second Chance Body Armor of Central Lake, Michigan agreed to
replace the vests because they fail to stop bullets and
deteriorate excessively from heat, humidity or light.  Second
Chance will also pay $210,143 to compensate state and local
agencies for the difference in the purchase price of the vests.

"It is unthinkable to have officers protecting our lives while
they are worrying whether their vests will protect their own
lives," AG Shurtleff said in a statement.  "This settlement will
help keep our officers safe and it keeps taxpayers from picking
up the bill."

The Ultima and Ultimax vests are made of Zylon-a thin,
lightweight and flexible fiber that is supposed to offer full
protection from bullets.  However, the National Institute of
Justice found that the vests failed to stop a .44 caliber bullet
from penetration.  The manufacturer of Zylon also determined in
1998 that the strength of the fiber decreased under elevated
temperature, humidity, sunlight or flourescent light.

"With more than 150 law enforcement officers in the field from
the Department of Natural Resources, we are pleased that a
settlement was reached offering them greater protection," Bob
Morgan, Executive Director; Utah Department of Natural Resources
said.

On June 23, 2003, a Forest Hills, Pennsylvania police officer
was seriously injured by a .40 caliber bullet while wearing an
Ultima Vest.  "Our officers are confronting armed suspects
everyday. It is imperative that they have the highest level of
protection available to them. We appreciate Attorney General
Shurtleff for his leadership in facilitating a settlement to
this important issue," Rudy Musclow, Chief of Law Enforcement,
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said in a statement.

Second Chance offered free ballistic pads for the vests last
year but the "free upgrade" still failed testing standards.
Three months later the manufacturer said it would replace the
vests sold in Utah with a Monarch Summit Full Wrap vest.
However, the Monarch isn't as comfortable and sells for $200-400
less than the vests being replaced. Assistant Attorney General
Joel Ferre and Division of Purchasing Director Douglas Richins
continued to work with the company until it agreed to replace
the vests and refund the additional costs.

"I feel good about it," Mr. Richins said. "The settlement is
fair and taxpayers are made whole."


SHELTERGUARD INC.: OH A.G. Petro Starts Settlement Distribution
---------------------------------------------------------------
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro has started distributing checks
to consumers based on a settlement with Shelterguard, Inc., for
violating the federal "Do Not Call" laws.  The settlement, the
first in Ohio under the federal "Do Not Call" laws, requires
Shelterguard to make a payment of $65,000, which includes funds
to provide for consumer restitution and penalties.

Consumers who filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) or the Attorney General prior to the December 9, 2003,
lawsuit filing date will receive checks in the amount of $400.
Individuals who filed complaints after the lawsuit was initiated
will receive checks in the amount of $200.  The total amount of
consumer damages is approximately $25,000.  The checks should
arrive within the next week.

Shelterguard, Inc., violated federal "Do Not Call" laws by
repeatedly calling consumers to solicit business after those
consumers already placed their names on the national registry.
A second violation stems from the Company's placing
telemarketing calls to people who had previously asked the
company not to call them.

Shelterguard received a civil penalty of $50,000, $25,000 of
which is suspended on the condition the company does not violate
the settlement agreement, and were asked to reimburse the
Attorney General for attorney fees and investigative costs of
$15,000.

For more details, contact Michelle Gatchell, Attorney General's
Office, by Phone: (614) 466-3840


SLIM DOWN: FL Court Bars Weight Loss Firms From Making Claims
-------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Southern District of
Florida has permanently barred a group of marketers of bogus
weight-loss products from making false claims about the
effectiveness of their products.

In January 2003, the Federal Trade Commission charged Slim Down
Solution, LLC, Maderia Management, Inc., and several related
companies and individuals with misrepresenting that their
product, "Slim Down Solution" and its main ingredient, D-
glucosamine, could block dietary fat absorption and cause
consumers to lose weight without changing their diet, in
violation of federal law.

The Commission's complaint named as defendants Slim Down
Solution, LLC, Slim Down Solution, Inc., S.S.T. Management,
Inc., The KARA Group, LLC, and their principals, Ronald and
Kathleen Alarcon (collectively, the SDS defendants); and Maderia
Management, Inc., Polyglucosamine, Ltd., and their principal,
Steven Pierce (collectively, the Maderia defendants).

The SDS defendants, based in West Palm Beach, Florida,
advertised and sold Slim Down Solution through nationally
disseminated infomercials that aired on cable television
channels such as Bravo, Comedy Central, and PAX Cable, and on
the Internet at www.slimdownsolution.com. In addition, the SDS
defendants sold their product through a continuity program,
automatically shipping consumers Slim Down Solution and charging
consumers' credit cards or debiting their bank accounts monthly.

The Maderia defendants, based in Conroe, Texas, have
manufactured and sold D-glucosamine products directly to
consumers and other resellers through their Internet sites,
including www.polyglucosamine.com. Resellers, in turn, promoted
the products to consumers under private labels such as "Fight
the Fat," "Everslim," "Mini Max," and "Slim Down Solution."

In May 2004, the court granted summary judgment against the two
sets of defendants and entered an Order and Judgment for
Permanent Injunction and Other Equitable Relief against each of
them.  On October 6, 2004, the court entered a stipulated
modification settling one remaining complaint count and the
monetary judgment against Slim Down Solution, LLC, and its
related entities and owners.

The court found that the defendants deceptively advertised Slim
Down Solution and D-glucosamine (both chitosan derivatives) as
"fat trapper" weight-loss products that could prevent consumers
from absorbing up to 20 grams of dietary fat per dose. The court
also found that the SDS defendants falsely claimed that Slim
Down Solution causes weight loss even if consumers eat
substantial amounts of foods high in fat, such as cheeseburgers,
french fries, and cheesecake.

The Permanent Injunction Orders entered by the court bar the
defendants from making these and other false claims, such as
that Slim Down Solution or D-glucosamine cause substantial
weight loss without calorie reduction or exercise. The orders
also prohibit the defendants from claiming, without competent
and reliable scientific proof, that Slim Down Solution or D-
glucosamine cause any weight loss at all. The defendants further
are barred, in connection with the sale of any product, from
making false or unsubstantiated efficacy or safety claims, or
misrepresenting the results of any scientific test or study.

The court orders hold the defendants jointly and severally
liable for more than $30 million in consumer redress. To satisfy
the $30 million judgment partially, the court ordered the
defendants and third parties holding the defendants' assets to
turn over to the FTC all assets traceable to Slim Down Solution
or D-glucosamine sales. Further, the orders bar the defendants
from selling their customer lists. The orders also impose on the
defendants compliance reporting and record-keeping requirements.

On December 16, 2003, individual defendants Ronald Alarcon and
Kathleen Alarcon filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 of the
Bankruptcy Code. On May 14, 2004, the court in the FTC action
found that the Commission's action against the Alarcons was not
stayed because of the bankruptcy proceeding and granted the
Commission's motion for summary judgment against them.

As part of the stipulated modification to the final order
entered by the Court on October 6, 2004, the SDS defendants will
dismiss their bankruptcy case and pay $725,000 in consumer
redress. The Alarcons have put up their Florida home as
collateral for payment of this judgment. If the SDS defendants
have lied about their financial situation, or if they do not pay
the required amount by December 28, 2004, they will be liable
for the entire original judgment of $30,135,784. The modified
order has an added provision prohibiting the SDS defendants from
enrolling consumers in a continuity program or billing consumers
without their express consent. The Maderia defendants remain
liable for the original judgment.

The Commission vote to approve the modified order was 5-0. The
modified order was entered by the U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of Florida on October 6, 2004.

For more details, contact the Company by Mail: FTC's Consumer
Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20580 or visit the Website: http://www.ftc.gov
or contact Brenda Mack, Office of Public Affairs by Phone:
202-326-2182 or Heather Hippsley or Karen Muoio, Bureau of
Consumer Protection by Phone: 202-326-3285 or 202-326-2491


SMARTFORCE PLC: NH Court Approves $30.5M Securities Settlement
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP, and
its client the Louisiana Sheriffs' Pension and Relief Fund,
together with the Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana, (the
two funds are "Lead Plaintiffs"), revealed that the United
States District Court for the District of New Hampshire has
granted final approval of the partial settlement reached in the
securities class action litigation, In re SmartForce PLC
Securities Litigation, pending against electronic-learning
software developer SkillSoft PLC (the "Company" or "SkillSoft"),
and certain of its current and former officers and directors
(together, with SkillSoft, referred to as the "Settling
Defendants").

The action continues against SmartForce/SkillSoft auditors Ernst
& Young Chartered Accountants ("EYCA") and Ernst & Young LLP.

The settlement consists of:

     (1) the payment of $30,500,000 in cash;

     (2) SkillSoft's adoption of specified corporate governance
         improvements;

     (3) the Settling Defendants' cooperation with Lead
         Plaintiffs' prosecution of claims asserted against
         EYCA; and

     (4) SkillSoft's assignment to the Class of all rights or
         benefits the Company may have against EYCA arising out
         of the facts and circumstances alleged in this Action
         and EYCA's audits and quarterly reviews of the
         financial statements SmartForce issued for fiscal years
         1999, 2000, 2001 and the first two quarters of fiscal
         year 2002.

The significant corporate governance improvements Lead
Plaintiffs negotiated (the "Corporate Governance Reforms") are
designed to assure the independence of the Board of Directors
and several of its principal committees, and to require the
Board to take specific monitoring actions designed to prevent
the recurrence of securities law violations such as those
alleged in this action. The Company's Board of Directors has
already adopted the Corporate Governance Reforms.

For more details, contact Max W. Berger by Phone: (212) 554-1403
or by E-mail: max@blbglaw.com OR Jeffrey N. Leibell by Phone:
(212) 554-1464 by E-mail: jeffl@blbglaw.com OR Joseph A. Fonti
by Phone: (212) 554-1425 or by E-mail: joseph@blbglaw.com or
visit the settlement Web site:
http://www.blbglaw.com/settlements/smartforce_securities.html


SPRINT CORPORATION: Court Remands $142M Fiber-Optic Suit
--------------------------------------------------------
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals scuttled a proposed
settlement in which Sprint and three other phone companies would
have paid an estimated $142 million to owners of land where they
have placed fiber-optic cables, the Associated Press reports.

Landowners in Tennessee and Kansas opposed the settlement due to
a clause that would prevent them from taking class action claims
to trial in their states.  According to the three-judge panel of
the federal appeals court, the interests of the dissenting
landowners were not adequately represented under the agreement
with Sprint Communications Co., QWest Communications Corp.,
Level 3 Communications LLC, Wiltel Communications LLC and Union
Pacific Railroad Co., thus it returned the suit to a lower court
for further action.

The phone companies had paid railroads to allow placement of
fiber-optic cables along their tracks, only to find that the
railroads did not own the land.

The settlement, which would have given $2 per linear foot for
those who could prove ownership, had an estimated total payout
of about $142 million.

During the hearing, the dissenting landowners successfully
argued that they were in a much stronger position to win their
suits than the landlords who agreed to the settlement, thus the
appeals court majority agreed to scuttle the proposed
settlement.


TEXAS: Attorney General Warns Against Flu Vaccine Price-Gouging
---------------------------------------------------------------
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent a strong warning to all
suppliers of the scarce flu vaccine that he will sue anyone
found to be charging "unconscionable" prices for the vaccine.

"We all know that flu vaccine is in short supply, and access for
people who are vulnerable, like the chronically ill, children,
the elderly and even health caregivers is critical to avoid
serious illness or even death," said Attorney General Abbott in
a statement.  "Incredibly, we now have reports that some
suppliers are taking advantage of this health emergency to make
a quick dollar. That is intolerable."

In one instance, a 10-dose vial went from about $80 to $950 in a
matter of days. The national average vaccination cost to
consumers is $15.

"I urge the companies who make and distribute the vaccine and
those who administer it to patients to be very cognizant of the
consequences of these unlawful practices," AG Abbott continued
in a statement."

Unexpected problems in the manufacturing process in England led
to the critical shortage now faced in the United States.
Attorney General Abbott emphasized that sudden and significant
price hikes in the expected cost of administering the
vaccination will be considered possible violations of the
Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

"When demand is high, and supply is short, prices will normally
rise. However, a sudden, dramatic spike in prices for a consumer
necessity like the vaccine as flu season approaches, is
unconscionable," said Attorney General Abbott.

Those who engage in unethical pricing schemes to make short-term
profits from a potential health emergency may face civil
penalties of up to $20,000 per occurrence. Charging exorbitant
prices that exceed the range of affordability for the elderly
could also subject suppliers to an additional $250,000 penalty
under the law.

Any person who believes he or she has been charged excessively
for a flu vaccination recently should contact the Attorney
General's office by Phone: (toll-free) 800/252-8011, or file a
complaint online: http://www.oag.state.tx.us


TEXAS: 14 Texas Auto Dealers To Give Refunds For Consumer Fraud
---------------------------------------------------------------
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott won refunds for customers of
14 large Houston-area auto dealerships as the remedy for a
scheme that forced customers to purchase what should have been
optional, add-on coupon packages.  The misleading plan designed
by the dealers resulted in consumers spending an extra $200 to
$450 for discount maintenance coupons on each new, used or
leased vehicle purchased over several years.

Attorney General Abbott made the announcement today accompanied
by several consumers affected by the coupon-purchase scheme.
"Most consumers spent hours negotiating sale prices with dealer
representatives, only to be told upon final sale that they would
be required to fork over another several hundred dollars to
cover the value of these coupons," said Attorney General Abbott
in a statement. "This is a deceptive practice that harmed
consumers."

The 14 automobile dealers are:

     (1) Demontrond Buick Co. (14101 North Freeway)

     (2) Demontrond Auto Country (888 I-45 South, Conroe)

     (3) Demontrond Chevrolet-Oldsmobile (2800 I-45 North, Texas
         City)

     (4) Mazda-Kia of Kingwood (22565 U.S. 59 North, Kingwood)

     (5) Mac Haik Ford (10333 Katy Freeway)

     (6) Mac Haik Chevrolet (11711 Katy Freeway)

     (7) Bill Heard Chevrolet (13115 S.W. Freeway, Sugarland)

     (8) Planet Ford (20403 I-45, Spring)

     (9) Randall Reed Ford (19000 Eastex Freeway, Humble)

    (10) Toyota of Baytown (4701 I-10 East Freeway, Baytown)

    (11) Joe Myers Ford (16634 Northwest Freeway, U.S. 290)

    (12) Joe Myers Mitsubishi (16484 Northwest Freeway)

    (13) Joe Myers Mazda-Kia (16500 Northwest Freeway)

    (14) Joe Myers Toyota (19010 Northwest Freeway)

All 14 cooperated with the Attorney General's investigation and
have ceased these practices. The dealers agreed to a 180-day
restitution period in which consumers who were forced to
purchase coupon booklets may receive a full refund, regardless
of when the purchase took place.

Consumers may request refund claim forms by going online to the
Attorney General's homepage: http://www.oag.state.tx.usand
clicking on the link referring to this settlement and the
consumer refunds.  The deadline for filing a claim is March
22,2005.  Consumers without Internet access may call the
Attorney General's Consumer Hotline toll-free by Phone: 800/252-
8011.  Consumers will be asked to return their claim form with
documentation to show they purchased the coupon plans
represented by the dealers as mandatory.

According to the Attorney General's investigation, the dealers
routinely ran print and broadcast advertising without mentioning
that the purchase of the coupon booklets would be a condition of
any sale. Most consumers were not aware of this requirement
unless they discovered it on their own or questioned the charge
on the sales paperwork.

Salespeople then informed them that the purchase of the coupons
was a mandatory fee on top of the final sales price. With some
dealers, the preprinted fee appeared on purchase orders, which
led consumers to believe the fee was required by law, like a
documentation fee.

"The law requires dealers to sell vehicles at prices advertised.
It does not allow for dealers to inflate that price by tacking
on fees for coupons and passing this off as mandatory," said
Abbott. "Customers who were deceived are entitled to have all of
that money refunded to them, and that's what this agreement
does."

The dealerships violated numerous provisions of the Texas
Deceptive Trade Practices Act in carrying out these schemes over
time, although most ceased these practices after being contacted
by the Attorney General.


THERMAL SEAL: Faces Ohio Attorney General Consumer Fraud Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro filed a suit against Thermal
Seal Inc. (Thermal Seal), which also does business under the
name Gutter Helmet, and owner Ronald M. Heath, Jr., for
violations of Ohio's consumer protection laws.  Violations
include:

     (1) failure to deliver home-improvement services after
         taking payments for them,

     (2) failure to deliver cash-back vouchers,

     (3) failure to honor warranties,

     (4) shoddy workmanship, and

     (5) deceptive practices of entering into contracts with
         consumers knowing that the business is in financial
         trouble and the work may never be completed

The business offers home-improvement services selling windows,
siding, gutter systems and sunrooms.  Sales pitches are made in
the homes, where products, prices and financing are agreed to.

"My office has gone above and beyond to work with this business
to bring it into compliance," said AG Petro in a statement.
"The state created the consumer protection laws to stop
businesses from taking advantage of consumers and I will enforce
them."

Many consumers were enticed into a sale because of Thermal
Seal's "Cash Back Voucher Program" offer.  Consumers were told
that by signing up for the program, they would receive all or
part of the purchase price as a refund.  When consumers
attempted to claim the refund, however, they were told the
business did not sign them up for it and they were not entitled
to a refund.

Attorney General Petro is asking the court to prevent Thermal
Seal and Ronald M. Heath Jr., from continuing business until any
judgments resulting from the suit are fulfilled.  The suit also
asks that customers be reimbursed for losses incurred by Thermal
Seal's violations of the Consumer Sales Practices Act and that
the business pay a civil penalty of $25,000 for each violation.

In 2001, the Attorney General's Office filed a complaint against
Thermal Seal Inc. for not honoring warranties, shoddy
workmanship, and changes in terms.  The suit was settled in 2001
with a $15,000 civil penalty and an additional $33,000 in home-
improvement goods going to Habitat for Humanity, restitution to
violated consumers, and promises to work with the Attorney
General's Office to mediate any further complaints filed against
it.  In spring 2004, a noticeable increase in the number of
complaints about the business was noted.  After numerous
attempts to mediate them without response, an investigation was
opened in August 2004, resulting in the suit.

Thermal Seal Inc. and Gutter Helmet, a Thermal Seal Inc.
company, are located at 4777 Westerville Road, Columbus. The
suit also includes Ronald M. Heath, Jr., who controls and
directs both businesses.

For more information, contact Attorney General's Office by
Phone: 1-800-282-0515 or by visiting the Website:
http://www.ag.state.oh.us. Consumers can also contact Michelle
Gatchell, Attorney General's Office, by Phone: (614) 466-3840


THOMSON FINANCIAL: SEC Starts Probe of Capital Markets Business
---------------------------------------------------------------
Thomson Financial faces an investigation by the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC), relating to the operations of its
Capital Markets Intelligence, the Associated Press reports.

The Capital Markets Intelligence business collects stock
ownership information for publicly traded companies who want to
know the identity of their institutional shareholders. In 2003,
about $33 million of Thomson Financial's markets intelligence
revenues came from identifiying institutional investors.

The SEC sent a subpoena to the Company seeking documents on
Capital Markets Intelligence.  "Thomson Financial is co-
operating fully with the SEC and has been informed that the
inquiry should not be construed as an indication by the
commission or its staff that any violation of law has occurred,"
the company said in a statement, according to AP.

Thomson Financial generates revenues of $1.5 billion a year by
providing information and technology to the global financial
community.  The company is part of Thomson Corp., which had
revenues of $7.44 billion last year and sells specialized
information to lawyers, accountants, the financial, education
and other sectors.


TOBACCO LITIGATION: NY Court Nixes Insurers' Suit V. Big Tobacco
----------------------------------------------------------------
The New York Court of Appeals refused to allow insurers to
legally sue tobacco companies for deceptive practices and
recover damages for the smoking-related health costs of the
people they cover, the Associated Press reports.

Insurers Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield filed the suit
against several cigarette manufacturers, seeking $800 million in
damages.  In June 2001, a federal court jury awarded the
insurers $17.8 million, with Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds
facing the largest payments under the verdicts with more than $6
million each.

Lawyers for the cigarette manufacturers then filed an appeal
with the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals, saying
the case was baseless in New York.  The appeals court then asked
the state court of appeals to decide whether New York law
permits a "third-party payor" to recover money it paid in health
care claims related to smoking.

The New York Court of Appeals agreed 7-0 that state law does
not.  A 1984 law that Empire Blue Cross said does permit such
suits does not apply to such cases, the court said.  "What is
required is that the party actually injured be the one to bring
suit," the court said in a decision written by Judge Carmen
Beauchamp Ciparick, AP reports.  "Empire was not directly
injured in this sense."

The judges said that there is still a way for Empire Blue Cross
to file a suit against the tobacco firm but it would require
that deceptive practices be established for the individual
claims of each subscriber.  The court conceded such cases may be
"difficult" to make.  The ruling also imperils a $37.8 million
award for attorneys' fees Empire Blue Cross subsequently won in
federal court, AP reports.


UNITED CONSUMER: Settles WV A.G. McGraw's Consumer Credit Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office entered
into a settlement agreement with United Consumer Financial
Services Company (UCFS) of Westlake, Ohio, that resulted in the
deletion of all negative information it had reported to the
three major credit bureaus about 1,157 West Virginia consumers
who allegedly defaulted on loans for purchases of Kirby vacuum
cleaners.

UCFS, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Scott Fetzer Company,
exclusively finances the high-priced Kirbys that are marketed
through a nationwide dealer network that targets consumers who
often have bad credit with high-pressure, in-home sales
presentations.  The settlement also relieved the affected West
Virginia consumers from all further obligations to pay the
charged-off accounts to UCFS, an amount estimated to exceed $1
million.

Attorney General McGraw's Consumer Protection Division began
investigating UCFS in 2002 after learning that the Company had
hired at least two unlicensed collection agencies to collect
alleged delinquent accounts in West Virginia.  Attorney General
McGraw's office also found that UCFS failed to furnish consumers
with proper notice of the right to cure default prior to
reporting alleged defaulted accounts to credit bureaus, an
action that harmed consumers' credit ratings.

The settlement alleges that UCFS mailed unsigned computer-
generated letters to consumers who allegedly defaulted on their
accounts during the 1990s and up until May, 2002.  This practice
ended after the Attorney General initiated his investigation.
The Attorney General asserts that the required letter, which
advises consumers of their important right to cure default, must
be signed by a company official and must also include a
notarized certificate confirming under oath that the letter was
placed in the mail on the date indicated.  Actual proof of the
date of mailing is important because the law requires that
consumers be given 10 days from the date of the letter to cure
the alleged default.  Although UCFS denied that its notices were
defective, the company agreed to reform its future notices in
the manner requested by the Attorney General.

The settlement also alleges that UCFS entered into contracts
with Harris & Harris, now known as Business Credit Services,
Inc., of Chicago, Illinois, and Receivable Recovery Management
Corporation of Great Falls, Virginia, in 1993 and 1994,
respectively, to collect alleged delinquent accounts in West
Virginia. The companies were not licensed and bonded to collect
debts in West Virginia as required by the State Tax Department.
Although UCFS denied that it was responsible for the companies'
unlawful collection practices, it agreed to verify that all
companies it hired to collect delinquent accounts in the future
would be properly licensed and bonded.

Attorney General McGraw stated, "A notice of right to cure
default is a valuable protection that consumers have under West
Virginia law. If consumers fail to cure a default after proper
notice is given, a creditor may attempt to repossess valuable
property such as an automobile or mobile home. Defaulted
accounts are customarily reported to credit bureaus. Negative
references on credit reports can prevent consumers from
obtaining new credit for many years in the future. I commend
UCFS for taking the necessary steps to delete its derogatory
references from West Virginia consumers' credit records in order
to resolve the concerns of our office, even though it denies
that it acted improperly."

For more information, contact the Attorney General's Consumer
Protection Hot Line: 1-800-368-8808, or visit the website:
http://www.wvs.state.wv.us.


                  New Securities Fraud Cases

ACE LIMITED: Lerach Coughlin Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in PA
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins
LLP ("Lerach Coughlin") initiated a class action in the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
on behalf of purchasers of ACE Limited ("ACE") (NYSE:ACE)
publicly traded securities during the period between October 28,
2003 and October 13, 2004 (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges ACE and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934. ACE is a holding company that, through its subsidiaries,
provides a range of insurance and reinsurance products to
insureds worldwide through operations in the United States and
almost 50 other countries.

The complaint alleges that ACE and its top officers violated the
federal securities laws by disseminating false and misleading
statements concerning the Company's results and operations
during the Class Period. The true facts, which were known by
each of the defendants but concealed from the investing public
during the Class Period, were as follows:

     (1) that the Company was paying illegal and concealed
         "contingent commissions" pursuant to illegal
         "contingent commission agreements;"

     (2) that by concealing these "contingent commissions" and
         such "contingent commission agreements," the defendants
         violated applicable principles of fiduciary law,
         subjecting the Company to enormous fines and penalties
         totaling potentially tens -- if not hundreds -- of
         millions of dollars; and

     (3) that as a result, the Company's prior reported revenue
         and income was grossly overstated.

On October 14, 2004, Eliot Spitzer announced he had charged
several of the nation's largest insurance companies and the
largest broker with bid rigging and pay-offs that he claimed
violated fraud and competition laws. On this news, the Company's
shares plummeted 9%.

For more details, contact William Lerach or Darren Robbins of
Lerach Coughlin by Phone: 800-449-4900 by E-mail:
wsl@lerachlaw.com or visit their Web site:
http://www.lerachlaw.com/cases/acelimited/


AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL: Abraham Fruchter Lodges Stock Suit in NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Abraham Fruchter & Twersky LLP initiated a class
action in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York on behalf of purchasers of American
International Group, Inc. ("AIG") (NYSE: AIG) publicly traded
securities during the period between October 28, 1999 and
October 13, 2004 (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges AIG and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934. AIG is a holding company that, through its subsidiaries,
is engaged in a range of insurance and insurance-related
activities in the United States and abroad.

The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants
disseminated false and misleading financial statements to the
investing public. The true facts, which were known by each of
the defendants but concealed from the investing public during
the Class Period, were as follows:

     (1) that the Company was paying illegal and concealed
         "contingent commissions" pursuant to illegal
         "contingent commission agreements;"

     (2) that by concealing these "contingent commissions" and
         such "contingent commission agreements" the defendants
         violated applicable principles of fiduciary law,
         subjecting the Company to enormous fines and penalties
         totaling potentially tens, if not hundreds, of millions
         of dollars;

     (3) that defendants had concealed the fact that AIG had
         engaged in illegal transactions using PNC-style
         structures with at least five additional insurers (in
         addition to PNC), contrary to defendants' claims on
         January 30, 2002; and

     (4) that as a result, the Company's prior reported revenue
         and income was grossly overstated.

On October 14, 2004, Elliot Spitzer announced he had charged
several of the nation's largest insurance companies and the
largest broker with bid rigging and pay-offs he claimed violated
fraud and competition laws. On this news, AIG shares fell $6.80
to $60.19 on unusually heavy trading volume of approximately 50
million shares.

For more details, contact Jack G. Fruchter, Esq. or Ximena
Skorvon, Esq. of Abraham, Fruchter & Twersky, LLP by Mail: One
Penn Plaza, Suite 2805, New York, NY 10119 by Phone: (212) 279-
5050 or (800) 440-8986 by Fax: (212) 279-3655 or by E-mail:
Jfruchter@aftlaw.com or Xskorvon@aftlaw.com


APOLLO GROUP: Robbins Umeda Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in AZ
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Firm of Robbins Umeda & Fink, LLP initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
District of Arizona on behalf of purchasers of the securities of
Apollo Group, Inc. ("Apollo" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:APOL)
between February 27, 2004 and September 14, 2004, inclusive (the
"Class Period").

The complaint charges Apollo and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934. Apollo provides higher education to working adults. The
Company operates through its subsidiaries The University of
Phoenix, Inc., University of Phoenix Online ("UOP"), Institute
for Professional Development ("IPP"), The College for Financial
Planning Institutes Corporation and Western International
University, Inc.

The Complaint alleges that during the Class Period defendants
disseminated materially false and misleading financial
statements. The true facts, which were known by each of the
defendants but concealed from the investing public during the
Class Period, were as follows:

     (1) that contrary to the implication that there was no
         merit to the allegations in a qui tam action concerning
         the Company's illegal compensation structure, the
         Company in fact did illegally compensate certain of its
         employees who were involved with the recruitment of new
         students;

     (2) that the Company was generating revenues through
         illegal means which ultimately resulted in a fine by
         the Department of Education ("DOE"), the largest fine
         ever paid to date;

     (3) that the "strong growth" in enrollment in Q2 2004 was
         attributable to illegal compensation activities; and

     (4) that defendants inflated the Company's student
         enrollment by signing up "unqualified" students.

On September 7, 2004, it was disclosed that Apollo had reached
an agreement with the DOE to pay $4.4 million to settle a five-
year-old audit in possible compensation-related rule violations
at IPP and $9.8 million to settle a separate review of similar
regulatory issues at its UOP unit. Then, on September 15, 2004,
The Wall Street Journal published an article regarding the DOE
report, which criticized the Company for having a "culture of
duplicity" in which recruiters' compensation was tied to
enrollment numbers. The Company's stock price dropped sharply on
these disclosures.

For more details, contact Amanda Aguirre, Shareholder Relations
of Robbins Umeda & Fink, LLP by Mail: 1010 Second Ave., Suite
2360, San Diego, CA 92101 by Phone: (800) 350-6003 or by E-mail:
aguirre@ruflaw.com


CHIRON CORPORATION: Wolf Popper Lodges Securities Lawsuit in CA
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Wolf Popper LLP initiated a securities fraud
lawsuit against Chiron Corporation ("Chiron") (NASDAQ:CHIR) and
certain of its officers and directors, on behalf of all persons
who purchased Chiron securities on the open market from July 23,
2003 through October 5, 2004. The action was filed in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of California.

The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, and in spite
of early warning signs of problems at the Company's Liverpool
manufacturing facility, defendants caused Chiron to issue
numerous press releases and file documents with the SEC, touting
the Company's financial performance and its ability to provide
the U.S. market with Fluvirin for the 2004-2005 flu season.
However, unbeknownst to the market, serious and widespread
problems at the Company's Liverpool facility threatened Chiron's
ability to provide the vaccine, thereby materially misleading
the market as to the true financial condition of the Company.

The complaint further alleges that defendants failed to
disclose:

     (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 defects, bacterial contamination 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 U.S. and British health and safety
         regulations; and

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

Defendants' misrepresentations were revealed on October 5, 2004
when Chiron shocked the financial market with its announcement
that it would not be supplying Fluvirin for the 2004-2005
influenza season due UK regulatory authorities suspending its
manufacturing license because of problems in its Liverpool
facility.

As a result of the news, shares of Chiron plummeted 16.38%,
closing at $37.98 on October 5 on heavy trading volume, as
compared to a closing price of $45.42 just the preceding day.

On October 11, 2004, it was disclosed for the first time that a
June 2003 FDA inspection of the Company's Liverpool plant
documented "deviations" from good manufacturing standards
leading inspectors to conclude that Chiron would not necessarily
be able to discover the problems or take steps to prevent them
from reoccurring due to "systemic quality-control issues." On
October 12, 2004, the Company revealed that it had received a
subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern
District of New York requesting information about Fluvirin and
the recent suspension of the Company's manufacturing license for
its Liverpool facility. On October 13, 2004, Chiron confirmed
that the SEC had opened an investigation surrounding the
Company's handling of regulators' halt on its flu vaccine
operation.

As a result of the foregoing disclosures, the Company's stock
continued its downward slide, for a total decrease of 29.83%
from the October 5 disclosure.

For more details, contact Renee L. Karalian, Esq. of Wolf Popper
LLP by Mail: 845 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022 by Phone:
212-451-9621 or 877-370-7703 by Fax: 212-486-2093 or 877-370-
7704 or visit their Web site: http://www.wolfpopper.com


CONCORD CAMERA: Bernstein Liebhard Lodges Securities Suit in FL
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP initiated a
securities class action lawsuit in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of Florida, on behalf of all
persons who purchased or acquired Concord Camera Corp. (NASDAQ:
LENS) ("Concord" or the "Company") securities (the "Class")
between August 14, 2003 and May 10, 2004, inclusive (the "Class
Period").

Plaintiff alleges violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Defendants concealed the fact
that the Company had a total of $12 million in obsolete
inventory that should have been written off as impaired. To
avoid this one-time large write off, defendants instead
fraudulently wrote off only portions of the impaired inventory
over the first three fiscal quarters of 2004, allowing them to
capitalize on this delay when they sold their Concord stock
before the marketplace learned of the full extent of the needed
write downs. The Company's stock dropped from $10.30 at the
beginning of the Class Period to under $2 where it currently
trades. CFO Richard Finkbeiner resigned on July 27, 2004, and
his replacement as CFO resigned one month later, on August 27,
2004.

For more details, contact Shareholder Relations Department of
Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP by Mail: 10 East 40th Street,
New York, NY 10016 by Phone: (800) 217-1522 or (212) 779-1414 or
by E-mail: LENS@bernlieb.com


MARSH & MCLENNAN: Abraham Fruchter Lodges Securities Suit in NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Abraham Fruchter & Twersky LLP ("Abraham
Fruchter & Twersky") initiated a class action in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of New York on
behalf of purchasers of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. ("MMC")
(NYSE: MMC) publicly issued securities during the period between
October 18, 1999 and October 14, 2004 (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges MMC, its wholly owned subsidiary Marsh,
Inc. ("Marsh") and certain of its officers and directors with
violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The complaint
alleges that Marsh's representations that, in connection with
its insurance operations, it always acted with its clients' best
interests in mind and that it represented the interests of its
clients, not the interests of insurance companies, were false.
Marsh employed a business plan that required insurance companies
to funnel more than a billion dollars in kickbacks to Marsh in
the form of "contingent commissions." In return for these
payments, Marsh rigged the bidding process, shielded complicit
insurance companies from competition and deceived its customers
into purchasing overpriced policies by procuring fictitious
quotes from insurance companies. Defendants' practices, while
profitable, misled investors and fraudulently inflated the
trading price of MMC's securities. Approximately $800 million of
MMC's reported $1.5 billion in net income in 2003 were
attributable to the kickback payments. MMC's financial results
throughout the Class Period were misleading because defendants
failed to disclose that those results were only achievable by
engaging in unethical and illegal business practices.

On October 14, 2004, when the extent and nature of Marsh's
unethical practices were revealed, MMC's stock price dropped
25%, from $46.01 to $34.85 per share. By the end of October 15,
2004 MMC's fell to $29.20.

For more details, contact Jack G. Fruchter, Esq. or Ximena
Skorvon, Esq. of Abraham, Fruchter & Twersky, LLP by Mail: One
Penn Plaza, Suite 2805, New York, NY 10119 by Phone:
(212) 279-5050 or (800) 440-8986 by Fax: (212) 279-3655 or by E-
mail: Jfruchter@aftlaw.com or Xskorvon@aftlaw.com


NEW YORK: Milberg Weiss Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in E.D. NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman LLP initiated a
class action lawsuit on behalf of all persons who purchased or
otherwise acquired the securities of New York Community Bancorp,
Inc. ("NYCB") (NYSE: NYB), including holders of Roslyn Bancorp,
Inc. ("Roslyn") common stock who acquired shares of NYCB common
stock in or traceable to an offering (the "Offering") in
connection with the merger of Roslyn and NYCB, between June 27,
2003 and July 1, 2004, inclusive (the "Class Period"), seeking
to pursue remedies under the Securities Act of 1933 (the
"Securities Act") and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the
"Exchange Act").

The action is pending before the Honorable Denis Hurley, Case
No. 04-CV-4490, in the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of New York, against defendants NYCB, Joseph R.
Ficalora (CEO, President and Director), Joseph L. Mancino
(Director), Michael Manzulli (Co-Chairman), Michael Puorro
(CFO), and Robert Wann (Chief Operating Officer). According to
the complaint, defendants violated sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15
of the Securities Act, and sections 10(b), 14(a) and (e), and
20(a) of the Exchange Act, and Rule 10b-5, by issuing a series
of material misrepresentations to the market during the Class
Period.

The complaint alleges that on the first day of the Class Period,
NYCB announced that it had signed a definitive merger agreement
with Roslyn, valued at $1.579 billion, whereby Roslyn would
merge into NYCB, and Roslyn shareholders would receive 0.75
share of NYCB common stock in exchange for each share of Roslyn
stock. Defendants claimed that the combined company would
"significantly enhance shareholder value" and would have "higher
quality assets and far less exposure to extension and interest
rate risk." Moreover, defendants stated that it "expects to
implement a strategic balance sheet restructuring plan,
including a $3.5 billion reduction in the securities portfolio."
In connection with the merger, defendants filed with the SEC a
Registration Statement, incorporating a Joint Proxy Statement
and Prospectus, to register 64 million shares of NYCB common
stock for the exchange of Roslyn stock. In the Registration
Statement, signed by defendants Ficalora, Manzulli, and Wann,
defendants stated that the Boards of Directors of both NYCB and
Roslyn had approved the merger, and urged shareholders of both
companies to do the same, citing the purported benefits of the
combined company. The merger was completed on October 31, 2003,
after shareholder approval and the issuance of 57 million NYCB
shares in exchange for Roslyn shares. On January 26, 2004, NYCB
announced that it had completed a follow-on offering of
approximately 10 million shares of common stock, reaping net
proceeds of approximately $400 million which defendants claimed
would be used for "general corporate purposes." Unbeknownst to
investors, NYCB's purported success was a result of, in material
part, defendants' failure to disclose that the Company had
become highly leveraged and was extraordinarily vulnerable to
rising interest rates.

On April 21, 2004, the truth about the Company's financial
condition began to emerge. On that day, the Company reported
that it had leveraged the proceeds from the follow-on offering
into mortgage-backed securities, increasing its securities
holdings by nearly $2 billion to $12.1 billion at the end of the
first quarter 2004. On Sunday, May 9, 2004, NYCB announced that
its Board of Directors had engaged three investment-banking
firms to review "strategic alternatives" for the Company,
including whether the Company should remain independent. In
reaction to this news, the price of NYCB common stock declined,
falling $1.32, or 5.5 %, from its closing price on May 7, 2004
to close at $22.50 on May 10, 2004, on unusually high volume.
Finally, on July 1, 2004, the Company announced that pursuant to
the review of "strategic alternatives," the Company would be
forced to restructure by "extend(ing) its liabilities to improve
interest rate risk profile." To that end, the Company sold $5.0
billion of securities in its portfolio, resulting in a $95
million charge. In reaction to this news, the price of NYCB
stock fell as much as $1.36, or 7.1%, from its closing price of
$18.98 on July 1, 2004, to as low as $17.62 on July 2, 2004.

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 or by E-mail:
sfeerick@milbergweiss.com or visit their Web site:
http://www.milbergweiss.com


STAAR SURGICAL: Cohen Milstein Files Securities Fraud Suit in CA
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, PLLC initiated
a lawsuit on behalf of its client and on behalf of other
similarly situated purchasers of the securities of STAAR
Surgical Company ("STAAR" or the "Company") (NASDAQ:STAA)
between April 3, 2003 and September 28, 2004 inclusive, (the
"Class Period"), in the United States District Court for the
Central District of California. The complaint charges defendants
STAAR and its Chief Executive Officer, David Bailey, with
violations of federal securities laws.

STAAR is a manufacturer of minimally invasive eye treatments. On
April 3, 2003 the Company announced the commencement of its
"dominant revenue generator," an implantable lens ("ICL"). The
Complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period, defendants
knew or recklessly disregarded that their public statements
concerning the Company's ICLs were materially false and
misleading because they failed to disclose significant problems
with the manufacture of these lenses. The Complaint further
alleges that defendants hid material problems from the Federal
Food & Drug Administration ("FDA"), including malfunctions and
injuries related to the ICLs and that these problems not only
threatened the Company's chances of obtaining FDA approval for
the ICLs, but were not disclosed to investors.

On January 6, 2004, the FDA posted a warning letter detailing
serious violations of manufacturing standards and the failure of
the Company to adequately report to the FDA the existence of
adverse events associated with STAAR ICLs. Following this news
the price of STAAR shares plummeted almost 18% below the
previous day. Nevertheless, the Complaint alleges, defendants
continued to represent that the Company was adequately
addressing all the FDA's concerns.

Then on September 28, 2004, the Company revealed that the FDA
had issued a form "FDA 483" report, detailing numerous ongoing
quality control issues. In the wake of this news, the stock
price fell dramatically, dropping more than 40%.

For more details, contact Steven J. Toll, Esq. or Kari Fiore of
Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, PLLC by Mail: 1100 New York
Avenue, N.W. West Tower - Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20005 by
Phone: (888) 240-0775 or (202) 408-4600 by E-mail:
stoll@cmht.com or kfiore@cmht.com


UNITED RENTALS: Charles J. Piven Lodges Securities Lawsuit in CT
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law offices of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a securities
class action on behalf of shareholders who purchased, converted,
exchanged or otherwise acquired the common stock of United
Rentals, Inc. (NYSE:URI) between October 23, 2003 and August 30,
2004, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The case is pending in the United States District Court for the
District of Connecticut. The action charges that defendants
violated federal securities laws by issuing a series of
materially false and misleading statements to the market
throughout the Class Period, which statements had the effect of
artificially inflating the market price of the Company's
securities. No class has yet been certified in the above action.

For more details, contact the Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven,
P.A. by Mail: The World Trade Center-Baltimore, 401 East Pratt
Street, Suite 2525, Baltimore, MD 21202 by Phone: 410/986-0036
or by E-mail: hoffman@pivenlaw.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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Copyright 2004.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

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