CAR_Public/050106.mbx              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

             Thursday, January 6, 2005, Vol. 7, No. 4

                           Headlines

ACCELERON CORPORATION: Settles CA AG's Consumer Fraud Lawsuit
ACCUBUILT INC.: Recalls Wheelchair Retractors For Injury Hazard
CALIFORNIA: Groups Receive $12.98M From Vitamin Antitrust Pact
CHOLINE CHLORIDE: Suit Settlement Hearing Set February 11, 2005
COLORADO: AG Salazar Files Securities Fraud Suit V. Trader

DAIMLERCHRYSLER CORPORATION: Conducts Safety Campaign on SUVs
DURA PHARMACEUTICALS: CA Supreme Court To Hear Securities Case
ECHO BAY MINES: Employees Commence Lawsuit Over Sudden Shutdown
EL PASO: Reaches Settlement For AZ AG Goddard's Natural Gas Suit
ESTEE LAUDER: CA Woman Launches False Advertising Lawsuit

FORD MOTOR: Recalls 262,113 SUVS Due To Rear Liftgate Defect
FORD MOTOR: Recalls 283 GT Cars, Model 2005 Due To Crash Hazard
FRANKLIN TEMPLETON: CA AG Lockyer Reaches Fraud Settlement
FRIEDMAN'S INC.: FL AG Crist Launches Consumer Fraud Suit
GENERAL MOTORS: Recalls 717,302 Minivans Due To Injury Hazard

GENERAL STEEL: Guilty of Consumer Act Violations, CO Court Rules
GREEN LANE: Lawsuit Alleges Babies' Organs Kept Without Consent
HARLEY-DAVIDSON: Recalls 364 Motorcycles, Parts For Crash Hazard
HARLEY-DAVIDSON: Recalls 9,501 Motorcycles Due To Crash Hazard
ILLINOIS: Lakin Law Firm Lodge Six New Suits Before Year's End

INTERPLASTIC CORPORATION: KY Residents To Split $3.2M Settlement
J. MCDANIEL: Faces IL AG Madigan's Water Pollution Complaint
KEYSPAN CORPORATION: Suit Settlement Hearing Set March 2, 2005
KOREA: KSE To Require Companies To Disclose Pending Stock Suits
LEMON TREE: Reaches Settlement For FL AG's Price-Gouging Suit
MAZDA MOTOR: Recalls 49,800 Tribute SUVs Due to Liftgate Defect

MEDITERRANEAN PROPERTIES: Group To Help Fund Stockholder Lawsuit
MICHELIN NORTH: Recalls 4,000 Truck Tires Due To Crash Hazard
MICHIGAN: City of Warren Settles Cable TV Franchise Fee Lawsuit
PENNSYLVANIA: Suit Claims County Park Allows Unfair Competition
PRECISION TOYOTA: AZ AG Goddard Settles Consumer Fraud Suit

ROYAL APPLIANCE: Recalls 20T Vacuum Cleaners Due To Injury Risk
SENTRY INSURANCE: Chiropractor Lodges Suit Over Medpay Cutbacks
SUNBEAM PRODUCTS: Consumers Lodges Lawsuit Over Faulty Products
THE STEP 2 CO.: Recalls 9.3T Toddler Swings Due To Injury Hazard
TV AZTECA: SEC Files WA Fraud Suit V. Firm, Chairman, Directors

UNITED STATES: President Bush To Visit Madison County, Illinois
UNITED STATES: Republicans To Push Anew For Curbs on Lawsuits
UNITED STATES: Study Says Securities Suits Jumped 17% in 2004
WINNEBAGO INDUSTRIES: Recalls 3,403 Motorhomes For Fire Hazard

                New Securities Fraud Cases

ROYAL GROUP: Marc S. Henzel Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
ROYAL TECHNOLOGIES: Lerach Coughlin Revises Class Of NY Suit
UTSTARCOM INC.: Murray Frank Commences Securities Lawsuit in CA

                         *********


ACCELERON CORPORATION: Settles CA AG's Consumer Fraud Lawsuit
-------------------------------------------------------------
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer reached a settlement in
November 2004 for a consumer protection lawsuit filed against
Acceleron Corporation, alleging that the Bay Area franchisee of
Payless car rental levied surprise surcharges on customers who
traveled outside California and failed to notify renters their
vehicles were equipped with global positioning systems (GPS) to
track their movements.

"Acceleron laid a trap for its customers," said AG Lockyer.
"Vacationers counted on the advertised unlimited mileage. But if
they took a side trip outside California to Las Vegas or the
Grand Canyon, Acceleron hit them with an unpleasant surprise
when they returned their car: a bill with surcharges that
sometimes reached $3,000. Those customers will get back their
money under this settlement."

AG Lockyer and San Mateo County District Attorney James P. Fox
filed the settlement, which was approved by San Mateo County
Superior Court Judge George A. Miram.  The defendants include
the Company and:

     (1) Andrew Wong, president and treasurer of Acceleron; and

     (2) Betty Y. Wong, the firm's vice-president and secretary

The settlement requires the defendants to reimburse hundreds of
former customers slapped with surcharges for supposedly
violating Acceleron's poorly-disclosed restriction on traveling
outside California and certain parts of Nevada. Additionally,
former customers will receive restitution for other improper
charges. Customers eligible for restitution include all renters
surcharged between January 1, 2003 and today for allegedly
violating Acceleron's out-of-state driving restrictions.

Eligible customers also include renters who between January 1,
2003 and today submitted to the following agencies a valid
complaint about other unlawful charges levied by Acceleron's
Payless offices at the San Francisco or Oakland airports: the
Better Business Bureaus in San Mateo or Alameda counties; the
Payless corporate office in Florida; the California Attorney
General's Office; or the San Mateo County District Attorney's
Office. In addition, any consumer who submits a complaint about
Acceleron's Payless offices at the San Francisco or Oakland
airports within 90 days after today is eligible to be considered
for restitution.

The settlement also requires the defendants to pay $175,000 in
civil penalties and a combined $75,000 in cost reimbursement to
the Attorney General's Office and San Mateo County District
Attorney's Office.

The complaint alleged Acceleron's Payless offices at the two Bay
Area airports repeatedly violated the state's Unfair Competition
Law by penalizing renters who drove outside California and
certain parts of Nevada. Customers who violated this restriction
were charged $1 for every mile driven - including miles driven
within California - rather than being afforded the advertised
unlimited mileage.

Acceleron failed to reveal to customers the amount of the
penalty, and inadequately disclosed the geographic restrictions.
In fact, according to the complaint, Acceleron's employees gave
some renters directions to Oregon. Additionally, the company did
almost nothing to let consumers know their rental cars were
equipped with GPS devices to track their movements.

Acceleron committed other unfair business practices, the
complaint alleged, including: violating the Civil Code by
forcing customers to purchase liability insurance as a condition
of rental; providing customers with unsafe vehicles, and
refusing to reimburse customers who paid to fix brakes or tires;
forcing renters to pay more for an "upgrade" when the type of
car they had reserved was not available, in violation of the
Civil Code; failing to let renters from Northern California know
in advance they would not be eligible for the advertised
"unlimited mileage"; and charging renters for "damage" to
vehicles months after the vehicles had been returned with no
damages cited.

The settlement permanently prohibits the defendants from using
electronic tracking devices to collect information about a
consumer's use of a rental vehicle, and from using information
collected through such devices to impose surcharges, fines or
penalties. The settlement also bars Acceleron from coercing
customers into buying liability insurance or paying for unwanted
upgrades, and requires the firm to ensure all of its rental
vehicles meet California safety requirements.

AG Lockyer noted the use of GPS and other electronic tracking
devices in rental cars will be restricted under a new law, AB
2840, which takes effect January 1, 2005. Supported by AG
Lockyer, AB 2840 (Corbett) permits the devices to be used only
for specific purposes, such as tracking down lost or stolen
vehicles. The statute bars use of the devices to track renters'
movements or to assess penalties arising from the renter's use
of the vehicle.

Consumers who want to file a complaint against Acceleron's
Payless offices at the San Francisco or Oakland airports should
contact the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office,
attention Deputy District Attorney Chuck Finney by Mail: 400
County Center, Third Floor, Redwood City, CA 94063, or by Phone:
(650) 363-4651.  Complaints also can be submitted to the
Attorney General's Office at
http://www.ag.ca.gov/consumers/mailform.htmor by writing to the
Public Inquiry Unit of the Attorney General's Office at P.O. Box
944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550.


ACCUBUILT INC.: Recalls Wheelchair Retractors For Injury Hazard
---------------------------------------------------------------
Accubuilt, Inc. is cooperating with the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration by voluntarily recalling 501 wheelchair
securement retractors found on vans built on Ford E250/E350
chassis.

On certain vans built on Ford E250/E350 chassis and equipped
with Sure-Lok Wheelchair securement systems, the sprocket teeth
of the retractor assembly is out of alignment.  In the event of
a vehicle crash, the wheelchair may not be adequately secured
possibly resulting in injuries to a wheelchair occupant.

Dealers will inspect and replace the wheelchair securement
retractors as necessary.  Sure-Lok is conducting the owner
notification and remedy for this campaign.  For more details,
contact Sure-Lok by Phone: 1-908-231-1804, the Company by Phone:
419-222-1501 or the NHTSA auto safety hotline: 1-888-DASH-2-DOT
(1-888-327-4236).


CALIFORNIA: Groups Receive $12.98M From Vitamin Antitrust Pact
--------------------------------------------------------------
As part of an $80 million settlement with major drug companies
to resolve a vitamin price-fixing case, $12.98 million was
distributed to 28 California nonprofit groups to provide
nutrition services and public health advocacy in November 2004,
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced in a
statement.

"Californians in great need of nutritional help, including the
poor, seniors, HIV/AIDS victims and Alzheimer's victims, will
receive food because of this settlement," he said.  "The
organizations that provide these services work tirelessly and
selflessly to assist the most vulnerable among us. These funds
will help them perform a role that is vital to our community's
well-being."

AG Lockyer presented checks to four recipient organizations.
They include:

     (1) The Glide Foundation, which will receive $200,000 to
         distribute free meals in San Francisco's Tenderloin
         District;

     (2) On Lok Day Services, which will receive $145,000 to
         feed seniors at its San Francisco facility and provide
         home-delivered meals to seniors;

     (3) Project Open Hand, which will receive $100,000 to
         provide home-delivered meals to individuals with
         HIV/AIDS and other critical illnesses in San Francisco
         and Alameda counties; and

     (4) the Institute on Aging, which will receive $68,016 to
         provide nutritional services to San Francisco seniors
         with Alzheimer's disease.

The checks AG Lockyer distributed covered the first installment
on the total payment to be received by each of the groups. The
check amounts were $90,000 for the Glide Foundation, $65,250 for
On Lok Day Services, $45,000 for Project Open Hand and $30,607
for the Institute on Aging.

The $12.98 million for the nutrition and public health advocacy
programs is part of $14.47 million that will be provided in the
first-phase distribution of some $38 million from the vitamin
settlement, originally reached in October 2000. Other major
recipients of Phase I settlement funds include the California
Food Bank System ($7.2 million), California Food Policy
Advocates ($1 million) and the California Center for Public
Health Advocacy ($801,130).  The balance of the $14.47 million
in Phase I funds goes to AG Lockyer's office to help finance
antitrust enforcement ($1 million), and to the American
Antitrust Institute ($496,800).

The settlement of the vitamin antitrust case resolved claims by
the State of California, represented by Lockyer, and private
class-action lawsuits filed by consumers and businesses.
Attorneys from the law firms of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann &
Bernstein in San Francisco, and Saveri & Saveri in San
Francisco, served as co-liaison counsel for a team of firms that
represented the class-action plaintiffs. The co-liaison counsel
played key roles with Lockyer in negotiating the settlement and
supervising the distribution of settlement funds.

Groups that receive funds from the settlement must go through a
rigorous review and approval process administered by Harry
Snyder, former head of the West Coast Regional Office of
Consumers Union. Snyder reviews the grant applications and makes
funding recommendations to Lockyer and the class-action counsel.
Lockyer and the private lawyers consider Snyder's
recommendations, then submit a list of recipients to the San
Francisco County Superior Court for approval.

Judge John E. Munter on September 8, 2004 approved the Phase I
distribution plan. He has scheduled a hearing on November 24,
2004 to consider a motion to approve Phase II. Funds distributed
in Phase II will be allocated to programs focused on nutritional
and health outreach, professional education and food quality.

The settled antitrust litigation targeted three Japanese and
three European drug companies which together controlled about 80
percent of the world vitamin market. The companies allegedly
conspired to fix prices for such vitamins as A, C, E, H, several
B vitamins and carotenoids. The companies included Aventis
Animal Nutrition, BASF Corp., Daiichi Pharmaceutical, Eisai
Company, Hoffman-LaRoche and Takeda Chemical.


CHOLINE CHLORIDE: Suit Settlement Hearing Set February 11, 2005
---------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota
will hold a fairness hearing for the proposed settlement of the
matter, In re: Choline Chloride Antitrust Litigation on behalf
of all persons who directly purchased choline chloride from the
Chinook Group, Ltd. during the period from January 1, 1988
through September 30, 1998 for delivery in the United States and
who have not opted-out of the class.

The court has scheduled a hearing before the Honorable David S.
Doty, United States District Judge, in Courtroom No. 14W, United
States Courthouse, 300 South Fourth Street, Minneapolis, MN
55402, on February 11, 2005 at 9:30 a.m. CST.

For more details, contact the Claims Administrator, Choline
Chloride Antitrust Litigation by Mail: P.O. Box 58520,
Philadelphia, PA 19102-5852 or visit their Web site:
http://www.cmht.com.


COLORADO: AG Salazar Files Securities Fraud Suit V. Trader
----------------------------------------------------------
Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar and Securities
Commissioner Fred Joseph lodged criminal charges against an
Englewood man connection with an alleged scam selling stock in
non-existent companies.

Commissioner Joseph's office received a complaint against Gerald
Milner, age 32, earlier this year. Upon investigation, the
Division of Securities referred the matter to the Attorney
General's office for possible legal action. AG Salazar's office
obtained a statewide grand jury indictment on November 12, 2004
against Milner, charging him with six counts of securities fraud
(class 3 felonies), two counts of theft from an at-risk adult
(class 3 felonies), one count of computer crime (class 4
felony).  Four alleged victims from Arapahoe and Denver Counties
with losses of approximately $87,000 have been identified so
far.  The suit is styled "People v. Gerald Milner, Case. No.
04CR2940, Arapahoe County District Court."

Mr. Milner is accused of soliciting investors to invest in
several different fraudulent or non-existent business ventures,
all allegedly involved in computer technology. He solicited
investors by approaching individuals that he met through his
work as a computer troubleshooter. Among the so-called
businesses were Milhouse Systems, Inc.; Advanced Digital
Security Systems, Inc.; Mobile Electronic Encryption Devices,
Inc; and Gerald Milner LLC. Milner represented that these and
other companies he promoted as investment opportunities were
incorporated in Colorado. The Colorado Secretary of State's
office has no records of any such businesses ever having been
incorporated in Colorado.

Mr. Milner promised investors shares of stock in these various
ventures or provided investors with a note, receipt, agreement
or contract to evidence their investment. To date, no investor
has received any stock certificates, all promissory notes are
past due and unpaid, and none of the investors have received any
monies, principal or interest, from the defendant. Milner is
also accused of making numerous untrue statements of material
facts to induce investors to invest with him, and failing to
disclose material information to the investors.

The defendant was arrested in Arapahoe County on November 15.
Bond is set at $50,000. No trial date has yet been set.  For
more details, contact the Colorado Division of Securities by
Phone: 303-894-2810.


DAIMLERCHRYSLER CORPORATION: Conducts Safety Campaign on SUVs
-------------------------------------------------------------
DaimlerChrysler Corporation is cooperating with the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration by conducting a safety
improvement campaign on 592,707 Dodge Dakota and Dodge Durango
sport utility vehicles, model 2000-2003.

On certain sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks equipped
with four-wheel drive (4x4), if moisture leaks into the front
suspension upper ball joint, evacuation of the lubricant and
corrosion of the joint may cause the joint to wear over an
extended period of time. This could cause a clunking noise in
the front suspension, which may not always be heard by the
vehicle occupants.  Excessive wear in the upper ball joint may
allow it to separate which could result in loss of control of
the vehicle.

Dealers will replace the front suspension upper ball joints.
This safety improvement campaign began on December 21,2004.  For
more details, contact the Company by Phone: 1-800-853-1403. This
action is deemed a safety improvement campaign and is not being
conducted under the safety act.


DURA PHARMACEUTICALS: CA Supreme Court To Hear Securities Case
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Dura Pharmaceuticals Inc.
vs. Broudo, a landmark case that could change the landscape for
future securities litigation lawsuits, on January 12th, 2004.
Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP's (Paul Hastings), William
Sullivan, a partner in the San Diego office, will represent Dura
before the Supreme Court. The Solicitor General and the SEC have
filed briefs in support of Dura's position.

The Dura case raises important legal questions and will be
examining the issue of loss causation: can a securities fraud
plaintiff sue a company by pleading the purchase of stock at an
inflated price due to a misrepresentation affecting the stock's
value without also pleading a corresponding decline in price
attributable to a subsequent corrective disclosure in the
market.

William Sullivan said, "This is the most important securities
litigation case before the Supreme Court in almost a decade. The
outcome of this case will set a standard for every securities
class action case involving loss causation in future years."

Specifically, the Dura case will examine what a plaintiff needs
to plead and prove in order to make a claim of securities fraud.
Dura shareholders have filed class action suits to claim damages
for a loss in stock value that preceded an announcement
regarding an asthma drug delivery system that failed to win FDA
approval. The suit was dismissed on two previous occasions in
California federal district court, with the court holding that
plaintiffs had not pled a share price decline (loss) associated
with the asthma device's failure to win approval. The Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeal reversed, setting the stage for the
Supreme Court arguments.

Almost a decade ago, Congress passed the Private Securities
Litigation Reform Act designed specifically to limit the number
of meritless shareholder suits against corporations whose stocks
dropped for legitimate reasons. The loss causation requirement
was part of the Reform Act's statutory scheme, thus laying the
groundwork for its application in the Dura case.

Dura Pharmaceuticals was a San Diego based specialty
pharmaceutical company that markets and sells prescription
products that treat infectious diseases, respiratory conditions
and dermatological conditions. In 2001, Dura merged with and
into Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

For more details, contact Eileen King of the law firm of Paul,
Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP by Phone: 212-318-6455 or by E-
mail: eileenking@paulhastings.com.


ECHO BAY MINES: Employees Commence Lawsuit Over Sudden Shutdown
---------------------------------------------------------------
Seventy-six former employees of the Lupin gold mine have
initiated a class action lawsuit against Echo Bay Mines, the
company that ran the mine, the CBC North reports.

Located 400 kilometers northeast of Yellowknife in Nunavut, the
mine has been operational since 1982. In January 1998, the
company suspended operations for two years blaming the closure
and the 400 jobs lost on low gold prices.

Michael Armitage of New Brunswick was one of the workers thrown
out by the shutdown, and is one of the plaintiffs in the class
action lawsuit filed against Echo Bay. He told CBC North, "I was
at home here in New Brunswick and I just got a phone call to
cancel my return ticket and that we're shutting down."

At the time, Mr. Armitage was one of the highest paid employees,
making about a $100,000 a year in salary and bonuses. He says
all workers, no matter how long they were with the mine,
received about two weeks' severance pay. Mr. Armitage told CBC
North the dismissal came during an economic downturn in the
Canadian mining industry, and it took him six months to find
another job.

Plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit argued that the dismissal was
without just cause or reasonable notice and alleged that it was
a breach of their contract. They are seeking damages for
wrongful dismissal, interest and costs.

Mr. Armitage further said, "I hope we get our due compensation
for length of service with the company because as it stands
right now, I got nothing. I gave them 10 years of my life and
they gave me the same as a guy that was working there three
months." The Kinross Gold Corporation based in Toronto bought
the company two years ago.


EL PASO: Reaches Settlement For AZ AG Goddard's Natural Gas Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard reached an agreement with
El Paso Corporation and its subsidiaries in December 2004,
settling a lawsuit filed by his office alleging that the Company
manipulated the supply of natural gas, resulting in price
increases to Arizona consumers.

The March 2003 lawsuit alleged that the defendants conspired to
reduce the transmission capacity in the El Paso Pipeline in an
attempt to elevate natural gas prices in Arizona and increase
profits.

"Arizona residents are the winners in this settlement," AG
Goddard said in a statement.  "The enhancements and improvements
El Paso will make to the pipeline that supplies Arizona
consumers are worth more than $70 million and will help secure a
safe supply of natural gas for the future growth of Arizona."

Pursuant to the settlement agreement, El Paso will:

     (1) Pay $3 million to the Low Income Energy Assistance
         Program;

     (2) Spend approximately $40 million to enhance its Phoenix-
         area pipeline. These enhancements will include
         increased storage capacity in the East Valley where
         massive growth is projected. Prior to this settlement,
         El Paso had no obligation to make these enhancements.

     (3) Accelerate $30 million in capital improvements for its
         Arizona Pipeline Integrity program by several years.

     (4) Pay up to $125,000 to commission an independent study
         to determine how to diversify Arizona's supply of
         natural gas.

     (5) Provide $250,000 for emergency preparedness/response
         training, including simulations and exercises for state
         officials.

     (6) Spend approximately $3 million to upgrade its Tucson
         station. The upgrade will save up to 60,000 gallons of
         water per year and greatly reduce noise pollution in
         the area.

     (7) Pay $2 million in attorneys' fees and costs.

The settlement agreement and stipulated dismissal were approved
by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Janet Barton. The State
was represented Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally of
Tucson.


ESTEE LAUDER: CA Woman Launches False Advertising Lawsuit
---------------------------------------------------------
Debra Scheufler, a San Diego resident initiated a lawsuit
against Estee Lauder, Nordstrom's and Neiman Marcus, after
spending thousands of dollars on department store skin creams,
10News reports.

At more than $100 an ounce, Creme de la Mer, a product of Estee
Lauder, promises miracles to the point that its own brochure
claims, "It will truly change the way you see yourself."
However, Mr. Scheufler alleges that Creme de la Mer "defies the
laws of nature."  She further stated that the only thing that
changed for her was her bank account.  She told 10News, "Women
like me go out and spend hundreds and thousands (of dollars) on
these products, believing the advertising and hope that we'll
look younger. When I look in the mirror, I'm not looking any
younger."

Ms. Scheufler hopes to make some big wrinkles through a class
action against Estee Lauder, a multi-billion dollar company.
Aside from Estee Lauder, the suit also names high-end department
stores Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom's, claiming that the
promotion of many skin care products violates state laws against
false advertising.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Chaffoo, who specializes in skin
care and said there is no such thing as a miracle without
surgery or a major procedure, told 10News, "I think when you buy
something from a cosmetic house or a department store, you have
to realize you're buying a product that's marketed that hasn't
really been through an FDA program (or) an FDA study."

Dr. Chaffoo pointed out that the only skin care with proven
results are ones that doctors prescribe like Retin-A, Renova or
concentrated forms of Vitamin C.

Ms. Scheufler knows that now, but she wants the skin care
industry to be accountable for how it sells its products. "I
think that women like myself are targeted by these companies
because we all want to look younger. Society tells us we're
supposed to look young and beautiful forever," Ms. Schaefer
said.


FORD MOTOR: Recalls 262,113 SUVS Due To Rear Liftgate Defect
------------------------------------------------------------
Ford Motor Company is cooperating with the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by voluntarily recalling
262,113 Ford Escape SUVs, model 2001-2005.

Certain 2004-2005 sport utility vehicles and certain 2001-2003
sport utility vehicles having rear liftgate components serviced
with 2004 equivalent components fail to comply with the
requirement of federal motor vehicle safety standard no. 206
"door locks and door retention components."  The rear liftgate
latching system does not meet the inertia load requirement in
one direction.  If the liftgate is left unlocked, there is the
potential that it may open during a crash.

Dealers will replace the rear liftgate latch release rod, the
release rod attachment clip and the door handle return spring.
The recall is expected to begin on January 24,2005.  For more
details, contact the Company by Phone: 1-800-392-3673 or the
NHTSA auto safety hotline: 1-888-327-4236.


FORD MOTOR: Recalls 283 GT Cars, Model 2005 Due To Crash Hazard
---------------------------------------------------------------
Ford Motor Company is cooperating with the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration by voluntarily recalling 283 Ford
GT passenger cars, model 2005.

On certain passenger vehicles, the upper and lower control arms
may have casting imperfections at the end of each arm that may
result in the arm fracturing.  Under certain circumstances, the
fracture may affect vehicle handling characteristics, which
could result in a crash.

Dealers will replace the front and rear upper and lower control
arms and fasteners.  Beginning December 15,2004, the Company
contacted customers by phone to advise them of this condition
and request that they not operate their vehicles until this
service action has been performed.  The recall owner
notification mailing is expected to begin on January 15,2005.
For more details, contact the Company by Phone: 1-800-392-3673
or contact the NHTSA's auto safety hotline: 1-888-DASH-2-DOT
(1-888-327-4236).


FRANKLIN TEMPLETON: CA AG Lockyer Reaches Fraud Settlement
------------------------------------------------------------
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer reached an $18 million
settlement in November 2004 with the distributor of Franklin
Templeton Investments (FTI) to resolve a lawsuit alleging the
distributor violated state securities laws by not adequately
informing investors about agreements to pay broker-dealers to
recommend and sell FTI mutual funds.

"Most mutual fund investors are families with modest incomes,"
said AG Lockyer. "They work hard for their money, and when they
invest it they deserve to be told the whole truth so they can
make informed decisions. That is what our laws against
securities fraud require. Franklin Templeton violated those laws
and the trust of small investors."

Along with the complaint itself, AG Lockyer today filed the
settlement with Franklin/Templeton Distributors, Inc. (FTDI) in
Sacramento County Superior Court. The court approved the
settlement, which takes effect immediately.  FTDI is the front-
line distributor of FTI Funds, which include the Franklin,
Templeton and Mutual Series mutual funds. FTDI is a wholly-owned
subsidiary of Franklin Resources, Inc. (FRI), the parent company
of San Mateo-based FTI. In 2003, FTI managed more than $300
billion in assets worldwide.

The settlement requires FTDI to pay $18 million. Of that total,
$14 million will be disgorged back to the FTI Funds. An
independent consultant, agreed to by Lockyer, will develop and
implement a plan to allocate the $14 million to the various FTI
funds. FTDI also will pay the state $2 million in civil
penalties for violating the state Corporate Securities Law
(CSL), and another $2 million to cover costs.

Aside from monetary terms, the state's settlement memorializes
FTDI's agreement to implement voluntary reforms in response to
Lockyer's investigation. FTDI will more fully inform investors
about the "shelf space" arrangements it enters with broker-
dealers to secure either sales of FTI funds or spots on lists of
recommended buys. These procedures will require FTDI to disclose
both shelf space payments and the services those payments buy
from broker-dealers. Additionally, FTDI will take steps to enter
written shelf space agreements that detail the terms.

Pursuant to a ban approved in August 2004 by the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission, FTDI has ended its practice of
directing commission payments for its portfolio transactions to
broker-dealers in return for sales of FTI funds. The practice is
known as directed brokerage.

Directed brokerage is one of two forms of shelf space
compensation provided broker-dealers by mutual funds. The other
is cash payment. Regulators and law enforcement officials view
directed brokerage as more harmful to investors because, unlike
cash payments, commissions come out of mutual funds' assets.

From January 2000 through the present, according to the
complaint, FTDI paid broker-dealers a combined $147 million
under "shelf space" arrangements. Of the total, about $63
million, or 43 percent, constituted directed brokerage, the
complaint alleged.

During the four-year period covered by the lawsuit, FTDI made
close to $20 million in shelf space payments to one broker-
dealer, according to the complaint. In 2002, the complaint
alleged, this broker-dealer notified FTI and other mutual funds
of the broker-dealer's plans to slash the number of its shelf
space partners from 22 to as few as six. The broker-dealer said
those that remained in the program would capture 80 percent of
the broker-dealer's non-proprietary mutual fund sales, according
to the complaint.

"In other words, this shelf space broker-dealer agreed to
preferentially market the mutual funds of as few as six mutual
fund complexes out of over 500 mutual fund complexes
commercially available and, by limiting the number of shelf-
space partners, forecasted an immediate gain in (FTI) funds'
market share without regard to the quality or propriety of (FTI)
funds," the complaint alleged.

The CSL prohibits fraud in the sale of securities, including
mutual funds. Under the CSL, fraud includes failure to disclose
material facts that a consumer would consider important to know
in deciding whether to make a particular investment. Shelf space
arrangements qualify as such material facts, Lockyer's complaint
alleged, and the failure to disclose them to investors violated
the CSL.

The complaint noted shelf space payments can increase mutual
funds' costs by increasing portfolio turnover rates, and can
deplete its assets through directed brokerage. Additionally, the
complaint alleged the arrangements create a conflict of interest
between broker-dealers and investors because they "create an
incentive for a broker-dealer to highlight, feature or recommend
funds that best compensate the broker-dealer or to meet other
promises rather than to recommend investments that meet the
customer's personal investment needs."

FTDI did not inform investors about its shelf space deals,
according to the complaint, or about the quid pro quo services
the payments bought from broker-dealers. "Defendants' failures
to disclose to investors and prospective investors the
existence, details and significance of defendants' shelf space
agreements constitute violations of the CSL ...," the complaint
alleged.

The FTDI lawsuit is the second enforcement action against a
mutual fund firm taken by Lockyer under a law he sponsored which
took effect January 1, 2004. Lockyer on September 15, 2004
settled another shelf space complaint against the distributor of
PIMCO mutual funds, PA Distributors. Investigations remain
ongoing of California-based American Funds, as well as several
broker-dealers.

Employees of mutual funds or broker-dealers who have knowledge
of securities law violations by their companies should contact
the Attorney General's Whistleblower Hotline at 800-952-5225
(for California residents) or 916-322-3360 (for out-of-state
residents).


FRIEDMAN'S INC.: FL AG Crist Launches Consumer Fraud Suit
-----------------------------------------------------------
Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist filed a lawsuit against
leading national retail jewelry chain Friedman's, Inc. in
December, alleging that the Company sold millions of dollars
worth of insurance on jewelry items but failed to adequately
disclose the costs to consumers.

The Company, which has 56 stores in Florida among its 650 stores
nationwide, allegedly sold $46.7 million worth of the insurance
in 19 states.  The insurance was designed for customers who
finance the purchase of jewelry.  According to the complaint,
between 1998 and 2002 the Company added charges to retail
contracts for life, credit disability and property insurance.
The Company allegedly collected approximately $46,709,000 from
the 19 states combined. In Florida alone, it is estimated that
the Company collected more than $2,265,000.

The Company allegedly did not provide full disclosure about the
purpose and price of the insurance charges to these consumers.
Instead, it is accused of adding this amount to the total price
of retail installment contracts without obtaining consumers'
signatures to authorize the transactions.  These contracts
included an application for insurance that includes a designated
spot for the consumer's signature, but the majority of
applications for insurance were not signed by consumers.

"This wrongful conduct ranged from duping consumers into
purchasing products they did not ask for to charging them for
something that may have had no value," said AG Crist. "During
this time of year we like to think of sharing gifts and good
will, but this week we join with other states to take action on
behalf of consumers who were treated poorly."

Based on investigative work conducted by the Attorney General's
Office, it is estimated that Floridians purchased insurance on
80 percent of the contracts they signed for Friedman's jewelry
merchandise. At a sampling of six Friedman's stores in Florida,
investigators found that between 10 percent and 40 percent of
the contracts offered to consumers did not have signatures on
the appropriate insurance paperwork.

Florida, Tennessee and Texas all filed lawsuits this week, the
first among a total of 19 states expected to join the
litigation. The 19 states requested information about Friedman's
activities in their states in 2002. It was found that in some
instances, the company's cash registers automatically added the
insurance charges without signatures, and some Florida consumers
paid for policies that never went into effect and were thus of
no value to them.

Friedman's is charged with violating Florida's Deceptive and
Unfair Trade Practices Act, Chapter 501 of the Florida statutes.
The lawsuit seeks full restitution to consumers and penalties
from Friedman's Jewelers, amounting to between $250,000 and $1
million in Florida, as well as an injunction prohibiting the
company from engaging in deceptive and unfair business
practices.

The Attorney General's Office also seeks to enjoin Friedman's
from charging and collecting money from Florida consumers for
credit life, credit disability and property insurance without a
consumer's written authorization. The company has 20 days to
respond to the complaint.

A copy of the complaint can be viewed at:
http://www.myfloridalegal.com/FriedmansComplaint.pdf.


GENERAL MOTORS: Recalls 717,302 Minivans Due To Injury Hazard
-------------------------------------------------------------
General Motors Corporation is cooperating with the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by voluntarily
recalling 717,302 minivans, namely:

     (1) CHEVROLET / VENTURE, model 1997-2005

     (2) OLDSMOBILE / SILHOUETTE, model 1997-2004

     (3) PONTIAC / MONTANA, model 1997-2005

     (4) PONTIAC / TRANS SPORT, model 1999

     (5) PONTIAC / TRANSPORT, model 1997-1998

On certain minivans equipped with second-row bucket seats or
captain's chairs and a power sliding door on the passenger side
of the vehicle, a passenger using the interior handle to open
the power sliding door could be injured.  If a passenger uses
the interior handle to open the power sliding door and holds
onto the handle while it is being opened by the motor, the
passenger's arm may be pushed into the seat back or arm rest and
a wrist or lower arm injury may result.

Dealers will replace the power sliding door interior handle on
the passenger-side.  If the vehicle is equipped with a power or
manual sliding door on the driver-side, the interior handle will
also be replaced for appearance.  Before the vehicle is
serviced, the company advises owners not to use the interior
door handle to open the door.  The driver can open and close the
door from switches at the driver's position or by using the
remote key fob.  The driver should tell passengers to use the
switch located in front of the door to open or close it.  The
driver should use the override switch to prevent operation of
the power door by children or by others who are not familiar
with its use.  The recall is expected to begin in March 2005.
For more details, contact Chevrolet by Phone: 1-800-630-2438;
Pontiac by Phone: 1-800-620-7668; or Oldsmobile by Phone: 1-800-
630-6537, or contact the NHTSA auto safety hotline: 1-888-DASH-
2-DOT (1-888-327-4236).


GENERAL STEEL: Guilty of Consumer Act Violations, CO Court Rules
----------------------------------------------------------------
Jefferson County Chief District Court Judge Brooke Jackson found
that General Steel, a Lakewood, Colorado-based seller of
fabricated steel builders, its president Jeffrey Knight, and key
employees Bruce Graham, Jordan Blum, and Jeffrey Donelson,
violated the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, Colorado Attorney
General Ken Salazar announced in a statement.

AG Salazar's Consumer Protection filed the consumer fraud suit,
alleging that the Company carried out a deceptive marketing and
sales program designed to create the false impression that it
was a manufacturer of steel buildings that had an inventory of
buildings available to consumers at factory-direct sale or
"clearance" prices.  The State also alleged that consumers,
responding to national radio, television and other advertising,
were falsely led to believe that only a limited number of such
clearance buildings were available and that they had to act
quickly to submit a substantial deposit to claim a building.

"The Court's clear and decisive ruling in this case sends a
strong message about the consequences of deceptive sales
practices in Colorado," said Attorney General Salazar. "These
defendants disregarded good business ethics and notions of fair
and truthful advertising to line their pockets at the expense of
consumers throughout the country. These practices will not be
tolerated."

In his ruling, Chief Judge Jackson found that the Company
engaged in numerous false and deceptive sales practices,
including:

     (1) Misrepresentations that General Steel was a
         manufacturer;

     (2) Misrepresentations that General Steel was selling
         existing buildings, when in fact it merely ordered
         buildings from suppliers only after consumers placed an
         order;

     (3) Misleading use of the term "clearance buildings;"

     (4) Falsely implying that its buildings were available at
         50 percent off the normal price;

     (5) Failing to disclose that the building being sold were
         simply "shells" and did not include doors, windows, or
         even opening for the placement of doors and windows;

     (6) Misrepresentations regarding the non-refundable nature
         of the deposits; and

     (7) Misrepresentations in the process of selling windows,
         doors and other components.

In its ruling, the Court imposed the maximum allowable fine of
$200,000 against General Steel's president Jeffrey Knight. Four
additional company employees were also fined by the Court
$20,000 each. General Steel was also ordered to pay restitution
to consumer victims who testified at trial in amounts ranging
from $3,000 to $10,000 per victim. The Court also ordered
General Steel to pay the State's costs and attorney fees for its
investigation and prosecution of this case.

The Court entered a permanent injunction against all of the
defendants prohibiting a continuation of the deceptive
practices. General Steel also will remain subject to third-party
monitoring of its sales practices. Finally, the Court directed
the parties to establish a proposal for resolving the state's
restitution claims for other General Steel consumers injured by
the company's deceptive practices.


GREEN LANE: Lawsuit Alleges Babies' Organs Kept Without Consent
---------------------------------------------------------------
New Zealand parents filed a joint claim against Green Lane
Hospital, after the hospital allegedly kept the organs of their
dead babies, without their knowledge or consent, stuff.co.nz
reports.

The Auckland hospital kept around 1300 hearts and other organs
from babies and children who had died over the previous 50 years
for its research library.  The hospital has admitted that it
took the organs without parental knowledge or consent, bringing
more grief for dozens of families nationwide.

50 parents filed the suit against the hospital, the Attorney
General and the Residual Health Management Unit (then
responsible for the Auckland Area Health Board), seeking a total
of $4.6 million damages.  The Crown has 30 days to respond to
the claim if it wants to fight the case.

Coromandel resident Doug Gifkin's daughter died in 1971 at the
age of three months and two days.  In 2002, he learned that the
hospital kept his daughter's organs, but up to now, the hospital
has offered no explanation for keeping her organs without his
consent.

Mr. Gifkins told stuff.co.nz that he is not interested in the
monetary aspect of the claim, he just wants some answers.  "My
problem is no one has actually admitted what happened and why it
happened," he said.  "I want someone to accept responsibility.
Up to this point, no one has said, `yes, this was my decision
and I was wrong'."

Wellington lawyer John Miller, a specialist in ACC cases, is
acting for the claimants.  He was approached by three women in
the Green Lane case who were desperate to for some progress.  To
bury a child was bad enough, but to find body parts had been
taken without consent was shocking, he told stuff.co.nz.  "Many
of the parents had been told that nothing could be done legally.
They felt so powerless. Another 10 families have contacted me
since we filed," he added.

Mr. Miller said that he believes the laws breached was the Bill
of Rights, and before that, the UN International Convention for
Civil and Political Rights, signed in 1978, which meant people
could not be subjected to medical or scientific experiment.

"The human body is inviolate. Anything to do with it requires
full and informed consent, and that's been the law for
centuries," he added.

A spokeswoman for Green Lane Hospital told stuff.co.nz they were
aware that papers had been served but were unable to comment
further.


HARLEY-DAVIDSON: Recalls 364 Motorcycles, Parts For Crash Hazard
----------------------------------------------------------------
Harley-Davidson Motor Company is cooperating with the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by voluntarily
recalling 364 motorcycles and motorcycle parts, namely:

     (1) HARLEY DAVIDSON / DYNA, model 2005

     (2) HARLEY DAVIDSON / SOFTAIL, model 2005

     (3) HARLEY DAVIDSON / SPORTSTER, model 2005

     (4) HARLEY DAVIDSON / TOURING, model 2005

     (5) HARLEY-DAVIDSON / 61338-02

     (6) HARLEY-DAVIDSON / 61338-94-D

     (7) HARLEY-DAVIDSON / 62169-02A

     (8) HARLEY-DAVIDSON / 62169-95C

Certain fuel shut-off valves used as replacement equipment,
P/Nos. 61338-02, 62169-02A, 61338-94D and 62169-95C for use on
certain 2005 carbureted sportsters, dyna, softail and touring
model motorcycles may have been produced with the functionality
of the "on" position and the "reserve" position of the valve
reversed.  If the bike were operating with the valve in the `on'
position, the bike could run out of fuel, the expected fuel
reserve will not be available.  This could lead to the driver
running out of gas without warning, increasing the risk of a
crash.

Dealers will inspect the fuel valve and replace it, if
necessary.  The recall is expected to begin on January 2005.
For more details, contact the Company by Phone: 1-414-342-4080.
If you have had or installed a replacement fuel shut-off valve
in your motorcycle, please take your vehicle to your dealer to
have the valve inspected for proper operation as soon as
possible.  Also, contact the NHTSA auto safety hotline:
1-888-327-4236.


HARLEY-DAVIDSON: Recalls 9,501 Motorcycles Due To Crash Hazard
--------------------------------------------------------------
Harley-Davidson Motor Company is cooperating with the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by voluntarily
recalling 9,501 motorcycles, namely:

     (1) HARLEY DAVIDSON / DYNA, model 2005

     (2) HARLEY DAVIDSON / SOFTAIL, model 2005

     (3) HARLEY DAVIDSON / SPORTSTER, model 2005

     (4) HARLEY DAVIDSON / TOURING, model 2005

Certain motorcycles may have been produced with defective fuel
shut-off valves.  The functionality of the "on" position and the
"reserve" position of the valve may have been reversed.  If the
bike were operating with the valve in the "on" position, the
bike could run out of fuel, the expected fuel reserve will not
be available.  This could lead to the driver running out of gas
without warning, increasing the risk of a crash.

Dealers will inspect the fuel valve and replace it, if
necessary.  The recall is expected to begin during January 2005.
For more details, contact the Company by Phone: 1-414-342-4080
or the NHTSA's auto safety hotline: 1-888-327-4236.


ILLINOIS: Lakin Law Firm Lodge Six New Suits Before Year's End
--------------------------------------------------------------
In the waning hours of 2004, the Lakin Law Firm of Wood River
filed six class action lawsuits in Madison County Circuit Court,
thus bringing the total number of lawsuits filed in the county
for the year 2004 to 82, the Madison County Record reports.

Of the six new class action suits filed by the high-volume
Metro-East plaintiff's firm, five cases are against mortgage
companies--Creve Coeur Mortgage of Creve Coeur, Missouri, Fifth
Third Mortgage of Cincinnati, Ohio, US Bank of Minneapolis,
Minnesota, Countrywide Home Loans of Calabasas, California and
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage of Des Moines, Iowa.

Daniel Jones, D.C. also filed a class action against Sentry
Insurance Company, a foreign corporation doing business in
Madison County, according to his complaint.

In the suits against mortgagors, four cases challenge the
defendants' practice of charging loan discount fees on home
mortgage loans without actually reducing the interest rate on
the borrowers' loans. While in the case against Fifth Third
Mortgage, Michael and Helen Stevens allege that Fifth Third
charged them a $175 "loan discount fee," but failed to lower the
interest rate in exchange for that fee.

Other cases involve the following identical allegations:

     (1) Jamie Kissell, an Illinois resident, claims that Creve
         Coeur Mortgage charged her a $640 loan discount fee;
         and plaintiff Rex Buckingham of Granite City claims
         Creve Coeur charged him a $404 fee. Both allege their
         interest rates were not lowered in exchange for that
         fee.

     (2) Todd Morgan, a Madison County resident, also alleges
         that Countrywide Home Loans charged him $686.25 for a
         loan discount fee without lowering his interest rate
         for that fee.

     (3) Katherine Lee Henderson of Alton alleges Wells Fargo
         charged her a $1,101.50 loan discount fee, but failed
         to lower her interest rate in exchange for the fee.

All of the plaintiffs alleged that the mortgage companies should
not be permitted to keep the loan discount fees they collected
since they did not lower interest rates for those fees.

According to the complaints against the mortgagors, "The
plaintiffs', on behalf of themselves and all others similarly
situated assert claims against defendants' for breach of
contract, violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive
Business Practices Act, and the substantially similar consumer
protection statutes of other states, and for unjust enrichment."

Furthermore the suit states, while the plaintiffs do not
challenge the dollar amounts of defendants' discount fees, they
do challenge the practice of failing to reduce interest rates in
exchange for payment of those fees.

Ms. Kissell, Mr. Buckingham, Ms. Henderson, Mr. Morgan and the
Stevens allege that by using the term "loan discount fee" the
mortgage companies intended to create the impression that it had
reduced the interest rate in exchange for the fee. And, the
defendants engaged in deceptive practices by concealing the fact
that it did not reduce interest rates in exchange for the fees
they charged. The plaintiffs' claim that if they had known they
would not have had reduced rates in exchange for the fee, and it
was just simply another source of profit; they would have
refused to pay the fee or would have sought alternative
financing.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages not to exceed $75,000 to any
individual class member, excluding attorney fees and court
costs.

Meanwhile, the fifth class action against a mortgage company,
filed by Robert E. Shaw of Alton, alleges US Bank charged him in
excess of $5 for fax fees when mortgagors pay off their home
loans. In breach of the mortgage contract, Mr. Shaw alleges US
Bank commits fraud by misrepresenting that it will not release
the mortgage unless the mortgagor pays the fee.


INTERPLASTIC CORPORATION: KY Residents To Split $3.2M Settlement
----------------------------------------------------------------
About 1,000 current and former residents of Latonia are in line
to share more than $3 million from a class-action lawsuit over
the former Filon-Silmar factory, but about 800 of them could
lose their share if they don't act quickly, according to
attorneys who negotiated the settlement, the Kentucky Post
reports.

The lawyers stated that the claim forms, which will determine
how the settlement funds are distributed, must be mailed back by
January 17 in order to avail of the settlement. Covington
attorney Rob Sanders, whose firm was the lead attorneys for the
case, told the Kentucky Post, "That deadline is solid, set by
the judge." He further told the newspaper that about 200 of the
estimated 1,000 people who are eligible for membership in the
class have sent their forms in. The class is defined in the
lawsuit as individuals who either owned or lived within a 2,000-
foot radius of the Interplastic resin plant between July 30,
1993, and July 29, 1998. He even adds, "We are a little bit
surprised by the low number of class forms that have been
returned. If people want to share in the proceeds of the
lawsuit, they have to get those class forms in."

The attorneys had mailed the forms to all known class members on
November 17, 2004, with a 60-day deadline for their return.

A group of Latonia residents had filed the suit against
Interplastic Corporation, contending that emissions from the
company's factory in Fort Wright formerly known as Filon-Silmar,
was slowly poisoning residents in their community. A trial on
the matter began in August, and ended a week later with a $4.75
million settlement between the residents and the current and
former owners of the factory.

Before the trial started, BP Chemicals, which had owned the
plant until October 1993, agreed to pay a $1 million settlement.
Interplastic, which bought it from BP, agreed to pay $3.75
million. In addition, Interplastic promised to significantly
reduce future pollution from the plant.

The residents will split about two-thirds of that amount, or
$3.2 million, with the remainder going to attorneys' fees and
expenses.

Mr. Sanders stated that exactly how much money each class member
receives is determined by several factors, including how long a
person lived in the area, whether they ever had to be evacuated,
and whether they had any medical problems or treatment tied to
the factory's emissions. He estimates that most checks will be
in the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

The factory has long been a source of concern for the
neighborhood around it, with residents reporting an array of
health problems including shortness of breath, other breathing
problems, skin irritations, headaches and nausea caused by
releases.

On the day after Christmas in 1996, the city ordered the
evacuation of 400 people in Latonia because of irritating fumes
emanating from a tank holding about 50,000 pounds of resin. Five
people were treated at a hospital for dizziness, breathing or
eye problems. Residents were allowed to return to their homes
about five hours later.


J. MCDANIEL: Faces IL AG Madigan's Water Pollution Complaint
--------------------------------------------------------------
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office filed a
complaint against an Illinois company whose truck drivers, in
two separate accidents in 2001, spilled thousands of gallons of
gasoline that caused water pollution and other alleged
environmental damage including killing more than 60,000 fish as
a result of gasoline-contaminated waters.

AG Madigan's complaint, filed December 14 with the Illinois
Pollution Control Board (IPCB), alleges that J. McDaniel, Inc.,
of Newton, has not submitted a final clean-up plan acceptable to
the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and failed
to adequately complete the clean-up of the areas near the two
accidents.

"The threat to public health and the environment from these
accidents cannot be ignored," AG Madigan said. "The sites must
be cleaned up in a manner that is acceptable to the IEPA."

An April 2001 accident on U. S. Route 136 in McLean County
fatally injured the McDaniel truck driver who lost control of
his vehicle after pulling into oncoming traffic. According to
the IEPA, more than 8,000 gallons of gasoline being hauled by
the gasoline tanker spilled and entered a culvert under the
highway and emptied into a nearby ditch. Water and foam applied
by firefighters to minimize the risk of an explosion or fire
also ended up in the ditch. All of the contaminants flowed into
a farm field and discharged through field tiles into Sugar
Creek. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
estimated that 55,374 fish were killed along a four-mile section
of Sugar Creek.

The IEPA, which referred the case to the Attorney General's
office, collected soil and water samples that indicated
heightened levels of benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene and xylene.
According to the IEPA, benzene can increase the risk of cancer
in humans and xylene is highly flammable. Additionally, the
company and IEPA have been unable to reach an agreement on how
to deal with possible residual contamination at the sites.

The second accident involving a McDaniel tanker occurred in
November 2001 when a driver struck a metal post at a Danville
service station. The impact sheared off a valve from underneath
the vehicle and damaged an emergency shut-off valve, resulting
in the release of 2,900 gallons of gasoline. The spill entered a
nearby storm sewer and discharged into Stony Creek.

Due to strong gasoline odors in the area and potential for an
explosion within the sewer, Danville firefighters flushed the
sewer at a rate of 100 to 200 gallons per minute for more than
five hours. Approximately 4,500 gallons of water and 1,000
gallons of gasoline were later collected during the emergency
response. IDNR reported that approximately 6,552 fish were
killed within a 2.5 mile area of the creek.

According to AG Madigan's complaint, McDaniel and the IEPA have
been unsuccessful in reaching agreement on how to clean up the
soil and water contaminated by the two accidents. However,
meetings between AG Madigan's office, IEPA and the Company are
continuing.

The complaint seeks a hearing before the IPCB on water pollution
counts against McDaniel in both cases and a civil penalty. AG
Madigan complaint seeks penalties of $50,000 for each violation
and additional penalties of $10,000 for each day the violation
continues. Assistant Attorney General Javonna Homan is handling
the case for Madigan's Environmental Bureau.


KEYSPAN CORPORATION: Suit Settlement Hearing Set March 2, 2005
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New
York will hold a fairness hearing for the proposed settlement of
the matter, In re: KeySpan Corporation Securities Litigation on
behalf of all persons who purchased the common stock of the
company from March 24, 2000 through July 17, 2001.

The court has scheduled a hearing before the Honorable Allyne R.
Ross on March 2, 2005, at 10:00 a.m., United States District
Court for the Eastern District of New York, 255 Cadman Plaza
East, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

For more details, contact S. Gene Cauley or J. Allen Carney of
Cauley Bowman Carney & Wiliams, PLLC by Phone: (501) 312-8500 OR
Mark D. Smilow or Joseph H. Weiss of Weiss & Lorie by Phone:
(212) 682-3025 or visit http://www.berdonllp.com/claims.


KOREA: KSE To Require Companies To Disclose Pending Stock Suits
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Korea Stock Exchange (KSE) will require listed companies
subject to class actions from this year to make filings to the
main exchange concerning the developments in the lawsuit, the
Korea Times reports.

The announcement was made under Korea's newly-implemented class
action lawsuit system, under which listed companies will be
responsible for questionable market activities such as unfair
disclosure, stock price manipulation, insider trading and
accounting irregularities.  Additionally, a group of at least 50
shareholders holding a combined 0.01 percent of the company's
outstanding shares are eligible to file lawsuits but the court's
ruling will be applied to all shareholders alike.  Companies
with at least 2 trillion won in assets will be subject to the
law from next year and the law will be applied to those with
less that 2 trillion won from 2007.

The KSE told that the companies are required to disclose whether
it was facing a lawsuit, whether the suit was accepted by court
and what the court's rulings were.  The KSE also added that they
will temporarily suspend trading of shares of companies that are
sued in the class action lawsuit or that are found to have
engaged in accounting irregularities.

Additionally, the exchange will also make public disclosures
directly on the same information after being notified by the
court to protect investors in case the companies do not make the
proper filings.  The exchange will suspend trading of a company
in a class action lawsuit for 30 minutes if important
developments of the lawsuit occur during the market's normal
trading hours.  It will also halt trading of companies that are
involved in accounting irregularities and demote the shares to
the supervised issue category, the Korea Times reports.

The main exchange said it revised the disclosure system so that
investors can be better informed with the latest developments of
a company that is subject to the class action lawsuit.
"Investors should be aware of companies which are caught up in
lawsuits and found to have committed accounting irregularities.
We strengthened the disclosure system so that we can provide the
important information promptly to investors," an official form
the KSE told the Korea Times.


LEMON TREE: Reaches Settlement For FL AG's Price-Gouging Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
Attorney General Charlie Crist's office reached a settlement
with a Naples hotel that had been the subject of a price gouging
investigation for inflating room rates in the immediate
aftermath of Hurricane Charley last month.

Under the settlement agreement, the Lemon Tree Inn, located at
250 Ninth Street South in Naples, has agreed to reimburse guests
for the amounts they were overcharged in the weeks following the
storm. During the week after Hurricane Charley made landfall,
the Inn raised its rates approximately 32.6 percent over its
previous average base room rate of $59. Over the next few weeks,
the average room rate gradually descended to normal.

"The goal of any price gouging investigation is to reimburse
consumers who were wronged and make sure the business never
again tries to make an illegal profit. This settlement assures
that both of those outcomes will happen," said AG Crist. "Thanks
to the cooperation of the Lemon Tree's owners throughout our
investigation, this unfortunate episode has been brought to a
successful conclusion."

Under the settlement agreement, the Lemon Tree Inn will issue
refunds of 32.6 percent to consumers who stayed at the Inn
between August 13 and August 20. Guests who stayed at the Inn
between August 21 and August 27 will receive refunds of 21.3
percent, while those who stayed there between August 28 and
September 3 will be issued refunds of 6.1 percent. If any of the
guests cannot be located, their share of the refunds will be
paid to the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund. In addition, the
Lemon Tree Inn agreed to pay $10,000 in costs and fees to
reimburse the state for the costs of the investigation.

Florida's price gouging statute requires that the cost of
necessities like lodging, food, water and petroleum must remain
at the price that was average during the 30 days immediately
before the Governor declares a state of emergency. Violations of
the price gouging statute are subject to civil penalties of
$1,000 per violation up to a total of $25,000 for multiple
violations committed in a single 24-hour period. Florida's
Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act provides for civil
penalties of $10,000 per violation or $15,000 for violations
that victimize a senior citizen or handicapped person.

To view a copy of the settlement agreement, go to:
http://www.myfloridalegal.com/LemonTreeSettlement.pdf


MAZDA MOTOR: Recalls 49,800 Tribut SUVs due to Liftgate Defect
--------------------------------------------------------------
Mazda Motor Corporation is cooperating with the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration by voluntarily recalling 49,800
Mazda Tribute sport utility vehicles, model 2001-2005

Certain 2004-2005 sport utility vehicles and certain 2001-2003
sport utility vehicle having rear liftgate components serviced
with 2004 equivalent components fail to comply with the
requirements of federal motor vehicle safety standard No. 206
"Door Locks and Door Retention Components."  The rear liftgate
latching system does not meet the inertia load requirement in
one direction.  If the liftgate is left unlocked, there is the
potential that it may open during a crash.

Dealers will replace the rear liftgate latch release rod, the
release rod attachment clip and the door handle return spring.
The recall is expected to begin during January 2005.  For more
details, contact the Company by Phone: 1-800-222-5500, or
contact the NHTSA's auto safety hotline: 1-888-327-4236.


MEDITERRANEAN PROPERTIES: Group To Help Fund Stockholder Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Israel Securities Authority (ISA) intends to take part in
funding an NIS5 million class action filed against Mediterranean
Properties & Investments (MPI), alleging that the Company
defrauded its stockholders, Haaretz.com reports.

Former MPI shareholder Rami Ackerman filed the suit against the
Company and owner Mishor Hahof Building and Properties, which is
controlled by Eyal Yona and Amnon Barzilai.  The suit alleges
that Mr. Yona and Mr. Barzilai forced through a buyout of
publicly held shares at the artificially low price of NIS 1.38
per share, six months after Mishor had bought out shares held by
Shamrock Holdings for NIS 2.27 at a company valuation of $125
million.  The suit also charged that the value of the shares
based on independent capital at the time of the buyout was NIS
2.14 per share.

The defendants responded that the offer price was at the very
least a fair price, and that claims to the contrary that the
offer was low are based solely on speculative assumptions,
Haaretz.com reports.

The Israel Securities Authority joins such suits occasionally
when it believes that it is in the public interest, and that the
courts will award the suit class action status. In 2003, it
funded $150,000 in class action suits.


MICHELIN NORTH: Recalls 4,000 Truck Tires Due To Crash Hazard
-------------------------------------------------------------
Michelin North America, Inc. is cooperating with the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration by voluntarily recalling
4,000 Michelin XDE commercial truck tires, size 10R22.5 LRG and
LRF manufactured between May 23 and October 24,2004.

These tires can experience rapid air loss due to an irregularity
of the inner liner.  Rapid air loss can result in loss of
vehicle control and a vehicle crash can occur.

The Company will notify its customers and replace the tires free
of charge.  The recall began on December 2004.  Owners who do
not receive the free remedy within a reasonable time can contact
the Company by Phone: 888-622-2306 or the NHTSA's auto safety
hotline: 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236).


MICHIGAN: City of Warren Settles Cable TV Franchise Fee Lawsuit
---------------------------------------------------------------
A Macomb County circuit judge is set to give final approval on
January 10 to a settlement of a class-action lawsuit over
franchise fees paid by Warren cable TV subscribers, the Detroit
News reports.

Under contracts the city has with its two cable providers,
Comcast and WOW Internet and Cable, subscribers pay a 5 percent
fee on top of their cable charges. That fee goes to the city,
which uses it to operate its cable TV programs and other
communication services, such as city newsletters. In the past
years, some of the money also went to general city services,
like the public library.

In a lawsuit filed a year ago, Warren residents Cynthia Pfaelert
and Dowell and Dora Taylor argued that the city used those non-
franchise fees improperly for non-cable related services without
voter approval, which they argue violates the Headlee tax
limitation amendment to the state Constitution.

However, courts in other cities and counties have ruled such
franchise fees are not taxes though some of those judgments are
now being appealed.

According to Joe Munem, who runs the city's cable TV and
communications department, Warren chose to settle its suit
rather than risk an appeal, the Detroit News reports.  Under the
terms of the preliminary settlement agreement, Warren will use
all future franchise fee revenue for cable TV. That last phrase,
"communication services," is the key, City Council President
James Fouts told Detroit News. He pointed out that what it means
is the city can continue using that 5 percent fee for non-cable
services such as the city's Web site, newsletters mailed to
residents, calendars and similar printed materials.

However, it also means that the city will no longer be able to
subsidize other city services. The city's public library two
years ago received a $140,000 subsidy from the franchise fees,
Mr. Munem said.  Mr. Fouts said he would like to see that 5
percent franchise fee reduced to a lower percentage, perhaps 2
percent or 3 percent. That would lower subscribers' cable bills.

Marilyn Donlin, a longtime Warren resident and an unpaid member
of its communication commission, agreed. "We have an excess all
the time (in franchise-fee revenues)," Ms. Donlin told Detroit
News. "We could lower it to, say, 3 percent, and still make
out."


PENNSYLVANIA: Suit Claims County Park Allows Unfair Competition
---------------------------------------------------------------
A third lawsuit has been filed by Ray Beichner against Venango
Park and Natural Resources Authority, which owns and operates
the Two Mile Run County Park, and Parks Unlimited, the firm
owned by Marty and Ann Rudegeair that has managed the park since
1998, the Oil City Derrick reports.

Following closely on the heels of a class-action suit filed on
December 22 against the park authority, Parks Unlimited and
Venango County by Donald M. Plumer Jr. and Joyce S. Plumer of
Oil City and Richard A. and Annette K. Burgert of Myerstown on
behalf of the roughly 40 landowners from whom land was acquired
in the late 1960s for the park, the suit charges that the park's
tree house project now under way and cabin rentals pose unfair
competition to existing businesses such as Beichner's Turtle Bay
Lodge.

Furthermore, the class-action suit charges that the transfer of
the park from the county to the park authority in late 2003
violates the state Project 70 Land Acquisition and Borrowing Act
of 1964, under which the land for the park was acquired. It also
argues that several aspects of park operations including the
management agreement with Parks Unlimited, mineral and timber
activities at the park and the gate and access fees are
inconsistent with Project 70 requirements that the land be used
for "recreation, conservation and historical purposes."

The most recent lawsuit points to three cabin rentals available
at the park - The Farmhouse and The Pritchard House, which each
sleep 10 and are rented for $115 per night or $518 per week and
The Cottage, which sleeps five and costs $90 per night or $405
per week. The suit also details the park's plans for a tree
house village of 30 units that will sleep two, four or eight and
will rent for $100 to $170 per night.

The suit argues that the park's provision of overnight
accommodations "duplicates or competes with existing enterprises
serving substantially the same purposes" in violation of the
Municipal Authorities Act, which limits the powers of the park
authority and prohibits such competition. The suit points out
that the cabin rentals and tree house units (when finished) will
compete with six hotels and three bed and breakfast enterprises
that are listed in the local telephone directory. Thus the suit
is seeking a permanent injunction against future rentals of the
cabins and against the tree house village project.

The concerns about the park authority and uses of the park
raised in both of the recent lawsuit were initially part of a
lawsuit filed in September against the county, the park
authority and Parks Unlimited by Tim Spuck and the Oil Region
Astronomical Society. That suit seeks to resolve a long-standing
dispute over the terms of the group's lease agreement with the
park and the larger issues about acceptable uses of the park
have since been withdrawn from the initial lawsuit and
reasserted in the subsequent suits.

A group known as Two Mile Run Rescue Fund ad hoc group has been
formed to raise money to cover legal fees for court actions
against the operators of the park. The group includes Mr.
Beichner, Mr. Plumer, Mr. Spuck, Rod Bedow, Norris Carter, Vicky
Garfield, Clint Hepler, Dave Martin, and Glenn Weaver.

Attorney Michael Hadley is representing the plaintiffs in all
three suits. The defendants on the other hand are represented by
James Greenfield (the authority), Hank Gent III (Parks
Unlimited) and George Thompson and William Cisek (the county).


PRECISION TOYOTA: AZ AG Goddard Settles Consumer Fraud Suit
-------------------------------------------------------------
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard reached a settlement for
the consumer fraud action against a Tucson auto dealer for
$152,000, one of the highest recoveries in state history for
deceptive advertising claims.  AG Goddard announced the
settlement during a press conference where he outlined consumer
protection priorities for 2005.

The consent agreement settles the lawsuit filed by the Arizona
Attorney General's Office against Precision Toyota of Tucson.
The suit alleged the dealer falsely advertised new cars for sale
at 50 percent off the manufacturer's suggested retail price. The
consent agreement requires Precision Toyota to clean up its
advertising act. Future Precision Toyota ads must be clear,
truthful and nonmisleading.

" Precision Toyota tried a bait-and-switch tactic, and it
backfired," AG Goddard said in a statement.  "Arizona consumers
have the right to expect a fair and truthful marketplace. This
settlement sends a clear message to Arizona businesses that
false advertising to bring customers into their showrooms,
stores or companies will not be tolerated."

Precision Toyota must pay the Arizona Attorney General's Office
$152,000. The money will be used to pay for consumer education,
attorneys' fees and investigation costs.  In its lawsuit, the
Attorney General alleged that Precision Toyota violated the
state's Consumer Fraud Act by engaging in false advertising from
about August 20 through 30, 2004, in its television, radio and
newspaper ads for a "50% off MSRP" sale on all new Toyota
vehicles. The "50% off MSRP" sale required consumers to sign up
for a 36-month lease on a new vehicle, which also required a
down payment. At the end of the lease period, Precision Toyota
would give the consumer an option to purchase the vehicle for 50
percent off the vehicle's residual value.

"The Precision Toyota case is a prime example of misleading
tactics some businesses use to sell their products," AG Goddard
said. "I'm committed to ensuring consumers have a level playing
field in Arizona's marketplace."


ROYAL APPLIANCE: Recalls 20T Vacuum Cleaners Due To Injury Risk
---------------------------------------------------------------
Royal Appliance, of Glenwillow, Ohio is cooperating with the
United States Consumer Product Safety Commission by voluntarily
recalling about 20,000 Dirt Devilr Sweeper VacT.

The vacuum's rotor can lock and overheat during use causing a
smoke and fire hazard.

The Dirt Devilr Sweeper VacT is a battery operated upright
vacuum cleaner with "Dirt Devilr" and "Sweeper VacT" printed on
the front. The recall involves vacuum cleaners with the Model
Number M083000 with the Plant Code J. The Model Number and Plant
Code are printed on a silver plate located on the back of the
product. Only vacuum cleaners manufactured in Plant Code J are
included in this recall.

Manufactured in China, the cleaners were sold by all retailers
nationwide from November 2003 through November 2004 for between
$30 and $40.

Consumers should immediately stop using the product and contact
Dirt Devilr to receive a free replacement.

Consumer Contact: Call Dirt Devilr toll-free at (800) 805-9536
anytime or visit Dirt Devil's Web site at
http://www.dirtdevil.com.


SENTRY INSURANCE: Chiropractor Lodges Suit Over Medpay Cutbacks
---------------------------------------------------------------
Daniel Jones D.C., owner of Bunker Hill Chiropractic Clinic
recently filed one of the last lawsuits for the year 2004 in
Madison County Circuit Court, a class action suit against Sentry
Insurance Company, alleging that it improperly reduces payouts
under medical payment (medpay) coverage, the Madison County
Record reports.

According to Mr. Jones' suit, which is the is the second by a
Madison County chiropractor against Sentry, the company uses
biased third party audit software programs to unfairly adjust
medical expense claims. Mark Eavenson, D.C., was the first one
to have filed a class action lawsuit against Sentry on October
14, 2003.

In the latest suit against Sentry, Mr. Jones claims that the
insurance company does not do what its policies require, but
instead, Sentry systematically reduces its payments by "re-
pricing" the submitted bills arbitrarily using biased computer
software. Furthermore the suit states, "Sentry's computer
software manipulates computer codes to arbitrarily reduce
payouts by incorporating secret treatment guidelines into the
system that deny treatment as purportedly not necessary when
these guidelines are violated. Sentry also manipulates computer
codes to reduce prices through practices known as bundling and
downcoding."

Mr. Jones is further claiming that by failing to pay reasonable
expenses for necessary medical treatment, Sentry allegedly
breached its duties under its insurance contracts. He is also
claiming that Sentry violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act
(and other states) since its computer generated payment
limitations are not disclosed in the policies.

The suit further goes on to state that despite Sentry's promises
to pay all reasonable medical expenses for necessary medical
services, Sentry partially denied treatment as unnecessary. "To
implement its Medpay claims reduction scheme, Sentry
disseminated uniform instructional and training literature to
its employees, which instructed them on how to reduce Medpay
claims payouts through the adversarial use of computer reports,"
the complaint further states.

Represented by The Lakin Law Firm of Wood River and Freed &
Weiss of Chicago, Mr. Jones is seeking an amount not to exceed
$75,000 per plaintiff, plus all costs and reasonable attorney
fees. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge George Moran
Jr.


SUNBEAM PRODUCTS: Consumers Lodges Lawsuit Over Faulty Products
---------------------------------------------------------------
Sunbeam Products, Inc. and its parent company, American
Household, Inc. faces class action filed in Miller County
Circuit Court over faulty heating blankets and pads, the
Texarkana Gazette reports.

According to court documents, Circuit Judge Jim Hudson will have
to consider the arguments of local law firms Patton, Roberts,
McWilliams and Capshaw and Keil & Goodson to see if the lawsuit
can proceed as a class action. He must determine if there is a
common or similar complaint among the customers who bought the
electric blankets or heating pads.

Attorneys are arguing that Sunbeam has created defective heating
blankets and pads since 1988. The suit states that even
plaintiffs are saying that the products would either fail or
ignite fires and that there were as many as 30 million products
sold with the design defects.

Court documents revealed that the average cost to replace the
products is $30-$50 and that the plaintiffs are accusing the
company of fraud and neglecting to warn customers of the
defects.

The attorneys involved in the lawsuit pointed out that to join
the lawsuit, customers must have possessed the products without
notice of the alleged defects prior to December 18, 2002. But,
anyone who suffered an injury or property damage related to the
use of the electric blankets or heating pads cannot be a part of
the lawsuit.  The lawsuit states that it could involve "hundreds
of thousands" of customers across the U.S. and "tens of
thousands" across Arkansas.


THE STEP 2 CO.: Recalls 9.3T Toddler Swings Due To Injury Hazard
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Step 2 Co., of Streetsboro, Ohio is cooperating with the
United States Consumer Product Safety Commission by voluntarily
recalling about 9,300 Toddler Swings.

The straps on these swings could break, causing a child riding
in the swing to fall to the ground and suffer injuries.

The recall includes toddler swings with model numbers 7336KR and
733604. The model numbers are located on a label on the back of
the swings. The swings are made from green plastic and the red
Step 2 logo is located on the front of the swing. The straps on
the recalled swings are grey and blue colored.

Manufactured in the United States, the swings were sold at all
toy and discount department stores nationwide from May 2003
through December 2004 for between $17 and $20.

Consumers should stop using these swings and contact the firm to
determine if their swing is involved in the recall. If it is,
the firm will provide a free repair.

Consumer Contact: Contact Step 2 at (800) 347-8372 between 8
a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or log on to
http://www.step2.com.


TV AZTECA: SEC Files WA Fraud Suit V. Firm, Chairman, Directors
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission recently filed civil
fraud charges against Mexican media company, TV Azteca, accusing
it, its chairman and two directors of conspiring to conceal $109
million in profits from a controversial debt transaction, the
Associated Press reports.

TV Azteca SA de CV, Mexico's second biggest television
broadcaster, previously disclosed that several executives
including its chairman and controlling shareholder, Ricardo B.
Salinas Pliego had been notified in August by the SEC that the
agency was planning to file civil charges and seek injunctions
against them.

The SEC is seeking civil injunctions, unspecified civil fines,
and restitution of allegedly ill-gotten gains by Salinas Pliego
and Pedro Padilla Longoria, a director of TV Azteca who was the
company's chief executive from October 2001 through July 2004.
The federal regulator is also seeking to have Salinas Pliego and
Padilla Longoria banned from serving as officers or directors of
any public company whose shares are traded in the United States.

Filed in federal court in Washington, the SEC's suit also named
Luis Echarte Fernandez, a director of TV Azteca who is president
and CEO of Azteca American, a subsidiary based in New York as
defendants. Salinas Pliego, 49, and Padilla Longoria, 38, are
both Mexican citizens.

Echarte Fernandez, 59, who holds U.S. citizenship, recently
agreed in a settlement with the SEC to pay a $200,000 civil
fine. Echarte Fernandez neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing
but did agree to refrain from future violations of U.S.
securities laws.

According to the SEC complaint, the three men intentionally
withheld information from and lied to the company directors
about Salinas Pliego's connection to the transactions at issue
and his $109 million profit. The complaint further alleges that
Salinas Pliego and Padilla Longoria "compounded their fraud" by
certifying false company financial statements.

About a year ago, the SEC began investigating transactions
between Unefon SA, a subsidiary of Azteca Holdings; Canadian
equipment supplier Nortel Networks Corp.; and private concern
Codisco Investments LLC.

In 2003, Codisco bought $325 million in debt that Unefon owed
Nortel for $107 million, then made a $218 million profit when
Unefon paid the debt in full. At the time, Unefon, which was
46.5 percent owned by TV Azteca, didn't identify Codisco or
disclose that it was controlled by Salinas Pliego and Unefon
Chairman Moises Saba. Salinas Pliego has scoffed at the
investigation, calling it a "case of discrimination" against
Mexicans.

However, minority shareholders of TV Azteca have filed three
class-action suits against the company, saying that the media
company should have booked part of the profit and that the
information was crucial to assessing a value for Unefon, which
they voted to spin off from TV Azteca in late 2003.


UNITED STATES: President Bush To Visit Madison County, Illinois
---------------------------------------------------------------
In his crusade for tort reform, President George W. Bush is set
to visit Madison County, which is located just across the
Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri to discuss his legal
reform agenda for the year 2005, the Associated Press reports.

Lisa Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal
Reform, told AP "Madison County really does symbolize all that
is wrong from a tort reform perspective and what needs to be
changed."

Dubbed by the American Tort Reform Association as the nation's
top "judicial hellhole" in 2004 for the second year in a row,
the little county has been blasted for its reputation of handing
out big awards and allowing lawsuits that would be thrown out in
other districts. Though handing the crown to Madison County, the
association stated that the county's problems "have
metastasized" into neighboring St. Clair County, which for the
first time appears on the group's list.

President Bush's spokesman Jim Morrell told AP that during his
visit to the town of Collinsville, Illinois, the president will
address more than 1,000 doctors, business leaders and Republican
officials on reining in lawsuits that he says have driven up the
cost of health care.

Supporters of the president are hoping that the visit will build
momentum for federal and state responses to the calls for
change. Doctors in Illinois and throughout the nation say costly
lawsuits are pushing up their malpractice insurance rates and
forcing them out of business.

President Bush, who made lawsuit reform a key part of his re-
election campaign, and his supporters expect the visit to be the
catalyst that will force reticent leaders in Springfield and
Washington to reconsider their opposition.

"I think the benefit is it will keep this in the public eye,"
U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, a Collinsville Republican who helped
organize the president's visit, told AP.  "Hopefully,
legislators will continue to realize that this issue will not go
away. He's using the bully pulpit as he should."

Though seen as sign of progress for legal reform, some lawyers
have argued that officials should look more closely at insurance
companies who are charging exorbitant rates and that critics of
the legal system exaggerate the Madison County situation, where
filings of class action lawsuits are on the decline.

"He's trying to demonize one county as kind of an example of
what the entire country looks like," Kevin Conway, president of
the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, told AP. They argue that
the President and others who advocate change should not ignore
the concerns of those who understand the legal system and those
who turn to it for help.

"If there is some type of resolution," Ronald Motil, president
of the Madison County Bar Association, told AP "I think it would
have been profitable for members of the bar and victims groups
to have some say-so."


UNITED STATES: Republicans To Push Anew For Curbs on Lawsuits
-------------------------------------------------------------
United States Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist intends to act
on a bill seeking to curb class actions as part of President
George W. Bush's legal reform agenda, Reuters reports.

Other Republican leaders also said they intend to move quickly
to advance key items on the Bush administration's agenda with
bills that seek to limit "frivolous lawsuits and asbestos
liability."  Incoming Judiciary Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter told
Reuters he planned to hold a hearing on asbestos issue next
week.

President Bush is expected to push for tort reform in an
appearance today in Collinsville in Madison County, specifically
revisions in medical liability law that according to him, are
needed to eliminate frivolous lawsuits that are driving up the
cost of health care, an earlier Class Action Reporter story
(January 4,2005) states.

Sen. Frist is advocating the bill called Class Action Fairness
Act of 2004 (S. 2062), which seeks to move class actions from
state courts to federal courts and would cover all types of
suits, including securities litigations.  The move into federal
courts will also help stop plaintiffs' lawyers from forum-
shopping for friendly state judges.  In state courts, juries
often find for the plaintiffs in large award amounts as compared
to federal courts where awards typically are smaller, an earlier
Class Action Reporter story (June 16,2004) story states.

Business groups in favor of the bill argue that bill would cut
back on frivolous suits and that it would prevent trail lawyers
from benefiting more than plaintiffs in many cases.  Consumer
and civil rights groups opposing the measure say the bill does
not do enough to protect consumers.

This measure was stalled last year, after the United States
Senate blocked the vote last year.  Sen. Frist tried to bring
the legislation to the Senate floor, but failed by one vote to
gather the 60 votes needed to overcome a procedural objection to
debating it.  Later in the year, disagreements on which
amendments to bill should be allowed effectively halted all
action on the legislation.  However, despite a Republican Senate
majority of 55 members - four more than last year - it's far
from clear such proposals can win the 60 votes needed to
overcome procedural hurdles.

"We need to eliminate frivolous lawsuits by reforming asbestos
liability, medical liability and our class action system," Sen.
Frist, a Tennessee Republican, said on the Senate floor, Reuters
reports.  "Frivolous lawsuits cost our economy more than $250
billion per year . To keep our economy growing and competitive,
we need to act now. I'll bring class action reform to the floor
early next month. I'm confident we will pass this bill and take
a big first step toward restoring sanity and fairness to our
legal system."

A spokeswoman for Sen. Frist told Reuters he would bring to the
floor a compromise version of the class action bill that had
some Democratic support.  Senators refused to debate that
version last July after Sen. Frist tried to limit amendments.

Meanwhile, Sen. Specter wants to hold a hearing next week on a
draft bill he is preparing to establish a national fund for
compensating asbestos victims.  He told Reuters the Judiciary
Committee's ranking Democrat, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, agreed
to a hearing on January 11.  He hoped to get the bill to the
Senate floor by February.

In November, Pennsylvania Republican Specter revived talks aimed
at creating an asbestos trust fund, inviting business, labor,
insurance and trial lawyers to his office.  All these groups
would have a stake in the proposal to take asbestos claims out
of court and compensate victims from a trust funded by asbestos
defendant companies and insurers.  Negotiations last year
embraced a figure of $140 billion for the asbestos fund but
stalled over details such as whether pending cases could stay in
court.

Specter told Reuters on Tuesday he had adopted an approach of
reverting to the right to sue if the trust system does not work,
a demand of asbestos claimants that is anathema to some
corporate interests who want "finality" from a fund.

Asbestos legislation should not "completely take away victims'
rights to a (court) hearing," Doug Larkin of the Asbestos
Disease Awareness Organization, a victims' group, told Reuters.


UNITED STATES: Study Says Securities Suits Jumped 17% in 2004
-------------------------------------------------------------
While the number of federal securities fraud class actions filed
in 2004 increased only moderately from 2003 levels, rising to
212 companies sued from 181, the decline in stock market
capitalization corresponding to these actions increased
dramatically, according to a report released today by the
Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse in
cooperation with Cornerstone Research.

The total decline in the market capitalization of the defendant
firms from the trading day just before the end of the class
period to the trading day immediately after the end of the class
period, or the "Disclosure Dollar Loss (DDL)," nearly tripled
from $58 billion in 2003 to $169 billion for cases filed in
2004.

This 192 percent increase in the DDL index is attributable
entirely to eight filings, in which each defendant firm
experienced disclosure dollar losses in excess of $5 billion. In
sharp contrast, there was only one filing with losses that large
in all of 2003.

"It is remarkable that we have consistently seen around 200
filings a year for the past eight years," said Dr. John Gould,
vice president of Cornerstone Research and contributor to the
study. "In addition, it is surprising that the Dollar Disclosure
Loss for this period tripled to approach the levels seen after
the dramatic market decline in 2000."

The number of lawsuits alleging violations of Generally Accepted
Accounting Principles (GAAP) remained relatively constant in
2004, declining to 102 (48%) in 2004 from 107 (59%) in 2003.
Further, several of the large dollar losses observed this year
arose as a consequence of product market developments that had
material adverse stock market price effects.

"Typically, a class action securities fraud lawsuit arises from
allegations that the issuer lied about its financial
performance," explained Professor Joseph Grundfest of Stanford
Law School, a former Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange
Commission. "This year, however, allegations relating to
insurance industry sales practices at companies such as American
International Group and Marsh & McLennan, and concerns about the
safety of COX-2 inhibitors marketed by Merck and by Pfizer
triggered some of the year's largest lawsuits. These lawsuits do
not allege the traditional form of misrepresentation yet they
account for approximately 35 percent of 2004's Dollar Disclosure
Losses."

As in previous years, the median 2004 maximum dollar loss and
disclosure dollar loss for NYSE and Amex firms were
significantly higher than the medians for NASDAQ firms. This
finding is not surprising since the firms listed on the NYSE are
typically larger than the firms listed on the NASDAQ.

The top three industry sectors in 2004 in terms of number of
issuers sued were Consumer Non-Cyclical, Technology, and
Communications. The number of issuers sued in the technology
sector nearly doubled over 2003 (19 versus 37 in 2004, a 95
percent increase). Energy sector filings almost tripled,
increasing from three to eight. Of note, while the
Communications sector was one of the three most-frequently sued
in 2004, maximum dollar losses in the industry dropped nearly 80
percent from $240 million in 2003 to $51 million in 2004
reflecting a lower market capitalization decrease for the
average communication company sued in 2004.

The report also found that the most active federal circuits as
measured by the number of issuers sued in 2004 were: the Ninth
Circuit (including California) with 64 filings, an 83 percent
increase over 2003; the Second Circuit (including New York) with
45 filings; and the Eleventh Circuit (Alabama, Florida, and
Georgia) with 20 filings.

The Securities Class Action Clearinghouse is an authoritative
source of data and analysis regarding the financial and economic
characteristics of federal securities fraud class action
litigation. The full text of the new report can be found on the
Clearinghouse site, http://securities.stanford.edu.

Cornerstone Research provides financial and economic analysis in
civil litigation and regulatory proceedings, and concentrates in
securities, antitrust, intellectual property, energy, and
financial institutions litigation. Cornerstone Research helps
sponsor Stanford Law School's Securities Class Action
Clearinghouse, the leading source of data and analytical
information regarding the financial and economic characteristics
of securities class action litigation.

For more details, contact John Gould of Cornerstone Research by
Phone: 617-927-1500 OR John Hellerman by Phone: 202-274-4762
Or by E-mail: jhellerman@hellermanbaretz.com OR Joseph Grundfest
of Stanford University by Phone: 650-723-0458.


WINNEBAGO INDUSTRIES: Recalls 3,403 Motorhomes For Fire Hazard
--------------------------------------------------------------
Winnebago Industries, Inc. is cooperating with the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by voluntarily
recalling 3,403 motorhomes, namely:

     (1) ITASCA / SUNCRUISER, model 2003-2005

     (2) ITASCA / SUNFLYER, model 2004-2005

     (3) ITASCA / SUNOVA, model 2003-2005

     (4) ITASCA / SUNRISE, model 2003-2005

     (5) WINNEBAGO / ADVENTURER, model 2003-2005

     (6) WINNEBAGO / BRAVE, model 2003-2005

     (7) WINNEBAGO / CHIEFTAIN, model 2004-2005

     (8) WINNEBAGO / SIGHTSEER, model 2003-2005

     (9) WINNEBAGO / VOYAGE, model 2005

On certain motor homes built on a 20,700 GVWR or greater
workhorse chassis, there may not be sufficient clearance in the
area where the fuel line crosses the frame cross member.
Without clearance, a condition could develop where the cross
member may wear into the fuel line and a fuel leak may develop.
Fuel leakage in the presence of an ignition source could result
in a fire.

Dealers will repair these motor homes by providing clearance
between the fuel line and frame cross member.  The fuel line
will be inspected and if necessary, replaced.  The recall is
expected to begin on January 7,2005.  For more details, contact
the Company by Phone: 1-800-537-1885 or contact the NHTSA's auto
safety hotline: 1-888-327-4236.


                New Securities Fraud Cases

ROYAL GROUP: Marc S. Henzel Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law offices of Marc S. Henzel initiated a class action
lawsuit against the Royal Group Technologies Limited (NYSE: RYG)
in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
New York on behalf of purchasers of Royal Group Technologies
Limited (NYSE: RYG) common stock during the period between
February 11, 1999 and October 13, 2004 (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Royal Group and certain of its officers
and directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934. Royal Group is a vertically integrated manufacturer of
polymer-based home improvement, consumer and construction
products. Royal Group's operations are located primarily in
Canada and the United States, with international locations in
Mexico, South America, Europe and Asia.

The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants
caused Royal Group's shares to trade at artificially inflated
levels through the issuance of false and misleading financial
statements. The statements were materially false and misleading
because defendants knew, but failed to disclose that:

     (1) defendants were enjoined in a scheme to packet ill-
         gotten monies in violation of applicable law, including
         laws governing "fraud" and "conspiracy";

     (2) defendants used a resort partially owned by them as a
         vehicle to steal money from the Company;

     (3) the Company's inventory was overstated as defendants
         delayed the writedown of these assets to prevent
         further earnings erosion;

     (4) the Company's U.S. window business was not poised for
         growth but faltering, contrary to defendants'
         portrayal;

     (5) the defendants' margins were being eroded by the
         increase of higher raw material costs; and

     (6) as a result of (i)-(vi) above, defendants' projections
         for FY 2003-2004 were grossly overstated.

On October 15, 2004, Royal Group disclosed the first Royal
Canadian Mounted Police ("RCMP") production order for three
Royal Group current or former executives who face allegations of
defrauding shareholders and creditors. The court documents named
company founder, controlling shareholder and non-executive
chairman Vic De Zen, former CFO Gary Brown and then current
President and CEO Douglas Dunsmuir. The investigation relates to
allegations that De Zen, Brown and Dunsmuir violated sections of
the Criminal Code for fraud and conspiracy by circulating or
publishing a prospectus or statement or account which they knew
was false, for a period between January 1996 and July 2004. Upon
this news, shares of Royal Group fell $1.12 per share, or almost
15%, to close at $7.85 per share on the next trading day on
unusually heavy trading volume. On October 28, 2004, these
allegations widened to include current CFO Ronald Goegan and
large shareholders Domenic D'Amico and Fortunato Bordin, as well
the production order widens the time period to between January
1996 to present.

For more details, contact the Law Offices of Marc S. Henzel by
Phone: 273 Montgomery Ave., Suite 202, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 by
Phone: 610-660-8000 or 888-643-6735 by Fax: 610-660-8080 or by
E-mail: mhenzel182@aol.com.


ROYAL TECHNOLOGIES: Lerach Coughlin Revises Class Of NY Suit
------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins
LLP ("Lerach Coughlin") is revising the Class Period for the
class action lawsuit against Royal Group Technologies Limited
("Royal Group") (NYSE:RYG) that was filed in n the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York. The firm's
revision will now cover purchasers of Royal Group common stock
between February 9, 2000 and October 13, 2004 (the "Class
Period").

The complaint charges Royal Group and certain of its officers
and directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934. Royal Group is a vertically integrated manufacturer of
polymer-based home improvement, consumer and construction
products. Royal Group's operations are located primarily in
Canada and the United States, with international locations in
Mexico, South America, Europe and Asia.

The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants
caused Royal Group's shares to trade at artificially inflated
levels through the issuance of false and misleading financial
statements. The statements were materially false and misleading
because defendants knew, but failed to disclose that:

     (1) defendants were enjoined in a scheme to packet ill-
         gotten monies in violation of applicable law, including
         laws governing "fraud" and "conspiracy";

     (2) defendants used a resort partially owned by them as a
         vehicle to steal money from the Company;

     (3) the Company's inventory was overstated as defendants
         delayed the writedown of these assets to prevent
         further earnings erosion;

     (4) the Company's U.S. window business was not poised for
         growth but faltering, contrary to defendants'
         portrayal;

     (5) the defendants' margins were being eroded by the
         increase of higher raw material costs; and

     (6) as a result of (i)-(vi) above, defendants' projections
         for FY 2003-2004 were grossly overstated.

On October 15, 2004, Royal Group disclosed the first Royal
Canadian Mounted Police ("RCMP") production order for three
Royal Group current or former executives who face allegations of
defrauding shareholders and creditors. The court documents named
company founder, controlling shareholder and non-executive
chairman Vic De Zen, former CFO Gary Brown and then current
President and CEO Douglas Dunsmuir. The investigation relates to
allegations that De Zen, Brown and Dunsmuir violated sections of
the Criminal Code for fraud and conspiracy by circulating or
publishing a prospectus or statement or account which they knew
was false, for a period between January 1996 and July 2004. Upon
this news, shares of Royal Group fell $1.12 per share, or almost
15%, to close at $7.85 per share on the next trading day on
unusually heavy trading volume. On October 28, 2004, these
allegations widened to include current CFO Ronald Goegan and
large shareholders Domenic D'Amico and Fortunato Bordin, as well
the production order widens the time period to between January
1996 to present.

For more details, contact Samuel H. Rudman or David A. Rosenfeld
of Lerach Coughlin by Phone: 800/449-4900 or 619/231-1058 or by
E-mail: wsl@lerachlaw.com or visit their Web site:
http://www.lerachlaw.com/cases/royalgroup/


UTSTARCOM INC.: Murray Frank Commences Securities Lawsuit in CA
---------------------------------------------------------------
Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP initiated a securities class action
filed on behalf of purchasers of the securities of UTStarcom,
Inc. (UTSI) between April 16, 2003 and September 20, 2004,
inclusive in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of California.

The Complaint alleges that defendants misrepresented material
adverse facts during the Class Period, including, but not
limited to:

     (1) significant problems with the Company's internal
         controls;

     (2) problems related to the Company's revenue recognition
         polices and procedures; and

     (3) supply chain problems that delayed recognition of
         certain revenues.

On September 16, 2004, UTStarcom filed its second-quarter 2004
financial results with the Securities and Exchange Commission
stating, among other things, that a Company-initiated review of
a $290 million contract with Japan Telecom Co., Ltd. "led
management to conclude that certain significant control
deficiencies exist related to the review and evaluation of
criteria related to revenue recognition. ..."

Four days later, on September 20, 2004, UTStarcom announced that
the Company was revising its financial guidance downward for
third-quarter and full-year 2004 and, moreover, would defer
recognition of the entire $290-million Japan Telecom contract,
rather than recognize revenue of $220 million in the second half
of 2004.

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


                            *********


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

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

                            *********


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

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

Copyright 2005.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

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