CAR_Public/050110.mbx              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

              Monday, January 10, 2005, Vol. 7, No. 6


                            Headlines

3M CORPORATION: Antitrust Lawsuits Challenges Firm's Dominance
ACE HOFFMAN: PA Attorney General Launches Consumer Fraud Lawsuit
AHOLD NV: Dutch Court Orders Formal Management Investigation
AMERICAN STOCK: Shareholders Launch Securities Suits in S.D. NY
APPLE COMPUTER: Antitrust Suit Initiated in CA Over iPod, iTunes

APPLE COMPUTER: Antitrust Suit Initiated in CA Over iPod, iTunes
A.R. ACCESSORIES: Inks Settlement For Employee Back Wages Claim
AT&T CORPORATION: To Pay $50T To Improperly Billed MO Residents
BANK OF AMERICA: To Enter Mediation, Move Closer To Settlement
CALIFORNIA: Suit Targets MLS Price-Fixing Settlement Attorneys

CAPITAL CANDY: Enters Consent Decree For Contraband Cigarettes
CNL RESTAURANTS: Firms Lodge Breach of Fiduciary Duty Suit in TX
ENT & IMLER: Shareholders Launch Securities Fraud Lawsuit in IN
EQUIFAX INFORMATION: Reaches Pact For VT Consumer Fraud Charges
FEDERATED DEPARTMENT: NY Jury Indicts Former Exec For Perjury

FINANCIAL NETWORK: Inks Settlement With NY AG Over Ponzi Scheme
FLORIDA: Orange Tree Resident Lodges Lawsuit Over Water Quality
FRANCE: Considers Installation of System Allowing Class Actions
FRIEDMAN'S INC.: Faces TX Attorney General's Consumer Fraud Suit
FRONT PAGE: Reaches Settlement For NY AG Wage Violations Probe

GEOPHARMA INC.: Shareholders Launch Securities Suits in NY, FL
HEARTLAND FARM: MO AG Nixon Files Suit Over Consumer Fraud
ITF ENTERPRISES: NY AG Spitzer Gets TRO Against Pyramid Scheme
MARYLAND: Judge Rules HUD Blundered On Baltimore Public Housing
MEDCO HEALTH: Inks Deceptive Trade Practices Settlement With SD

MISSOURI: MO AG Nixon Obtains TRO V. Fraudulent EBay Retailer
ORBELLE TRADE: Recalls 7,700 Amber Cribs Due To Injury Hazard
PRAECIS PHARMACEUTICALS: Shareholders File MA Securities Suits
ROCHE DIAGNOSTICS: PA AG Warns V. Glucose Blood Testing Strips
RAMSEY AUTO: Reaches Pact With NY AG Over Fraudulent Advertising

ROYAL GROUP: Shareholders File Securities Fraud Suits in S.D. NY
SCHERING-PLOUGH: PA AG Gets $6.175M Share in Drug Pricing Pact
SUPPORTSOFT INC.: Shareholders Lodge Securities Suits in S.D. CA
UNITED STATES: Group Says Tort Reform Kills Consumer Protection
UNITED STATES: President Bush Renews Efforts To Curb Lawsuits

VIMPEL-COMMUNICATIONS: Shareholder Lodge Stock Suits in S.D. NY
WAL-MART STORES: MA Judge Grants Approval To Employees Wage Suit
WORLDCOM INC.: Former Alltel Executive Part Of $18M Settlement
YODER FORD: Reaches Settlement for TX AG's Consumer Fraud Suit


                     New Securities Fraud Cases

ANCHOR GLASS: Lerach Coughlin Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in FL
ATHEROGENICS INC.: Brodsky & Smith Lodges Securities Suit in NY
ATHEROGENICS INC.: Charles J. Piven Lodges Securities Suit in NY
ATHEROGENICS INC.: Murray Frank Lodges Securities Suit in NY
ATHEROGENICS INC.: Schatz & Nobel Lodges Securities Suit in NY

CONEXANT SYSTEMS: Braun Law Group Lodges Securities Suit in CA
CHINA AVIATION: Murray Frank Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
KRISPY KREME: Keller Rohrback Initiates ERISA Investigation
SUPPORTSOFT INC.: Milberg Weiss Lodges Securities Suit in CA


                            *********


3M CORPORATION: Antitrust Lawsuits Challenges Firm's Dominance
--------------------------------------------------------------
3M Corporation, the company that invented Scotch tape 75 years
ago and today makes about 90 percent of all transparent and
invisible tape sold in the United States is currently facing a
growing list of antitrust lawsuits, the Associated Press
reports.

Particularly, retailers around the country are suing the
company, claiming that a rebate program it ran during the late
1990s further stifled what little competition existed in the
household tape business.

One of this retailers is Meijer Inc., a family-owned Michigan
company that operates 160 huge general merchandise and grocery
stores in the Midwest, recently filed a class action lawsuit in
mid-December against the 3M Corporation on behalf of large
retailers who bought Scotch tape and other generic "private
label" tapes made by 3M in the late 1990s. If approved by a
judge, the class could include other big retailers, like Staples
and Kmart.

Another retailer who is declaring war on 3M is Lakeland,
Florida-based Publix Super Markets Inc., one of the biggest
supermarket companies, which had filed a similar lawsuit in
September, saying 3M's dominance of the transparent tape market
had hurt its hundreds of stores in the Southeast.

In August, a federal judge gave a St. Louis, Missouri-based
school supplies company the approval it needed to pursue a
class-action lawsuit on behalf of smaller retailers who bought
Scotch tape (but not the private-label brands) after 1998. Other
suits have also been filed in California, Florida, Tennessee,
Wisconsin and Kansas.

The wave of suits have been prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court's
decision in June not to overturn a $68 million judgment against
St. Paul, Minnesota-based 3M in a case brought by one of its few
competitors, the tape maker LePage's Inc. Attorneys for
Pittsburgh-based LePage's had argued that the rebate plan, which
tied the price of tape to how much 3M product a store sold, had
made it difficult for stores to sell any other brand. A federal
jury in Philadelphia agreed and sided with LePage's in a 1999
verdict.

Since that ruling, retailers are now lining up to say that they,
too, have been hurt by the lack of competition. The Meijer and
Publix Super Markets cases, and the case of the school supplies
company, the Bradburn Parent/Teacher Store Inc., were all filed
in federal court in Philadelphia. The lawsuits though are
expected to take many months, if not years, to be resolved.


ACE HOFFMAN: PA Attorney General Launches Consumer Fraud Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Pennsylvania Attorney General Jerry Pappert filed a lawsuit
against Luzerne County photographers and their businesses
accused of accepting thousands of dollars from consumers for
wedding, graduation, baptism and school photos that they failed
to take, deliver or in some cases correct after consumers
complained that they were of poor quality.  The lawsuit is the
result of an investigation into complaints from consumers
located in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, plus New York and
Maryland.

AG Pappert said the suit was filed against both John Kasenchak
and his wife Maureen, individually, and doing business as Ace
Hoffman Paramount Studios and AEJ Enterprises, Inc. The
Kasenchak's and AEJ Enterprises are located at 575 Westmoreland
Ave., Kingston, Luzerne County. Ace Hoffman Paramount Studios
which is no longer in operation was located at 222 West Main
St., Plymouth, Luzerne County.

According to investigators with Pappert's Bureau of Consumer
Protection, the defendants through 2003 entered into contracts
with consumers and accepted more than $4,000 in deposits to
photograph private weddings, graduations or other special
occasions.

During that time, eight consumers filed official complaints with
the Bureau after they paid the defendants a deposit or the
entire amount and never received their pictures. In some cases,
the defendants delivered partial orders or pictures that were
not the quality that was agreed to in their contracts. Others
said they paid the defendants for photography services that were
never performed because the business closed prior to the
scheduled events. In all cases, consumers said they were
unsuccessful in their repeated attempts to either obtain their
photographs or refunds.

AG Pappert said a newly married Luzerne County couple told his
office that they spent a full year trying to contact the
defendants to obtain their finished wedding photographs. To
date, they never received the pictures and only have the proofs
of their special day after paying the defendants more than
$1,200 for a complete wedding photo package. Others said they
paid the defendants for photography services and have no
pictures of their private graduation, baptism or confirmation
ceremonies.

The Commonwealth is asking the court to require the defendants
to:

     (1) Pay more than $4,100 in restitution to consumers
         identified in the lawsuit, plus additional restitution
         to those who come forward with documentation that they
         were similarly harmed.

     (2) Pay civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and $3,000
         for each violation involving a consumer age 60 or
         older.

     (3) Permanently forfeit their right to work in the
         photography business in Pennsylvania until restitution
         and fines are paid.

     (4) Pay the Commonwealth's investigation costs.

AG Pappert urged consumers who suspect that they were victimized
in this case to obtain a complaint form by calling 1-800-441-
2555 or visiting www.attorneygeneral.gov to file a complaint
electronically. The lawsuit was filed in Luzerne County Court.
The case is being handled by Senior Deputy Attorney General J.P.
McGowan of Pappert's Bureau of Consumer Protection in Scranton.


AHOLD NV: Dutch Court Orders Formal Management Investigation
------------------------------------------------------------
The Amsterdam Commercial Court ordered a formal investigation of
Dutch retailer Ahold NV's management from January 1998 to
December 2003, ruling in favor of several shareholders who
demanded the probe on behalf of investors who lost billions of
euros after the profit overstatement scandal in 2003, Reuters
reports.

In February 2003, former chief executive Cees van der Hoeven and
former chief financial officer Michael Meurs resigned after news
broke out that the Company inflated its earnings by more than $1
billion in 2000-2002, by exaggerating sales at its US
Foodservice subsidiary.  Soon after, American and Dutch
regulators started a probe into the Company's accounting
practices, causing the Company's shares to drop by two-thirds of
their value.  When Ahold posted correct, audited books for 2002
seven months late, it reported a loss of 4.33 billion euros for
2002 under U.S. accounting rules, an earlier Class Action
Reporter story (October 2,2004) states.  The restatement spurred
several shareholder fraud class actions filed in several United
States federal courts and a probe by the United States
Department of Justice.

In September, the Company reached an 8 million euro ($10.6
million) settlement with the Dutch public prosecutor over
charges of publishing false accounts.  Last October, Ahold and
three former top executives settled U.S. securities fraud
charges without admitting guilt.  The Securities and Exchange
Commission did not fine Ahold.

The Company is working to restore its operational and financial
position, but Amsterdam Court President Huub Willems' ruling
dealt a blow to its attempts to shake off the effects of the
accounting scandal.  Judge Willems said three investigators
would focus on Ahold's improper consolidation of certain
subsidiaries, accounting irregularities at its U.S. Foodservice
unit and the supervision of subsidiaries, in particular their
internal controls and accounting systems.  "These matters have
led to much commotion in society and further investigation can
shed light on issues that still need clarification," Judge
Willems said, Reuters reports.

The request for the probe was brought by Dutch shareholder
representative group, VEB. The Public Retirement Association of
Colorado (COPERA), lead plaintiff in a class action suit before
the U.S. Federal District Court of Maryland, was also party to
the case.

The court said there was a possibility that Ahold management
could have uncovered and stopped accounting irregularities at
U.S. Foodservice, which Ahold acquired in 2000 for $3.6 billion.
"There are founded reasons to doubt that Ahold would not have
been able to detect or prevent the frauds," Willems said.

The judge said Ahold's due diligence checks prior to the buy had
been below standard and the group's checks on U.S. Foodservice
internal control system had been insufficient, according to
Reuters.  He also said that Ahold's management may not have
acted responsibly by consolidating the accounts of several
subsidiaries it did not wholly own.

The court said there were no grounds to question management's
decisions after the scandal broke in February 2003, including
remuneration for new chief executive Anders Moberg or the
group's information and disclosure policy.

Ahold board member and chief legal counsel Peter Wakkie told
Reuters that the Company would prefer a settlement with
shareholders over a new, and perhaps prolonged, investigation.
He said that the ".probe must be wrapped up soon because we have
to get on with retailing. We would prefer a rapid settlement
with shareholders to another investigation."  He added that the
Company would fully cooperate with the investigation and try to
ensure it is concluded as quickly as possible.

Andrew Entwistle, an attorney at law acting for COPERA in the
class action, said he expected the U.S. court case to last at
least another year. "We are always open to a settlement
proposal," he told Reuters.


AMERICAN STOCK: Shareholders Launch Securities Suits in S.D. NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
The American Stock Exchange, AMEX Specialist Firms and
Ameritrade: Options listed at the American Stock Exchange face a
securities class action filed in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York.

The suit alleges that defendants, in clear violation of and
contrary to the Firm Quote Rule, materially misrepresented both
real time electronically displayed "bid" Equals and "ask" Equals
quotes on listed equity options and that customer orders would
be executed instantaneously when plaintiff (and other "Direct
Access" Equals customers) accepted the bid or offer that was
electronically displayed by the particular options specialist.

Instead, defendants knowingly and intentionally, systematically
refused to execute stock option transactions when Plaintiff, and
others, submitted a limit order that specifically accepted the
displayed quote or was specifically within the electronically
displayed bid and ask -- which, under the appropriate
circumstances, should have been executed instantaneously.
Plaintiff claims that the wrongful conduct described above
violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act
of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 and gives rise to state law claims such
as breach of contract.

This lawsuit was filed on behalf of investors who sought to
execute direct access limit orders to buy or sell options listed
at the American Stock Exchange by certain specialist firms and
who were wrongfully refused executions and suffered damages
between April 2, 2001 and December 3, 2004 inclusive.

The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

     (1) Lovell Stewart Halebian LLP, 500 Fifth Avenue, New
         York, NY, 10110, Phone: 212.608.1900, Fax:
         212.719.4677, E-mail: info@lshllp.com

     (2) Squitieri & Fearon, LLP, 420 5th Avenue, 18th Floor,
         New York, NY, 10018, Phone: 212.575.2092, Fax:
         212.575.2184, E-mail: lee@sfclasslaw.com


APPLE COMPUTER: Antitrust Suit Initiated in CA Over iPod, iTunes
----------------------------------------------------------------
Attorneys have filed a 10-count lawsuit against Apple Computer,
Inc. claiming that the ties between the company's iTunes music
download service and its iPod violate state and federal
antitrust law, the InternetNews.com reports.

Titled, Slattery v. Apple, the suit was filed in the U.S.
District Court for Northern District of California in San Jose
and is a plea to allow the case to become a class action lawsuit
on behalf of anyone who has used the iTunes service or bought an
iPod from Apple since April 28, 2003, the day iTunes first
opened shop.

Though declining to comment further on the suit, according to
Eric Belfi of New York-based Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP, one of
the lawyers representing Thomas Slattery, a California resident,
the suit is also seeking compensation for the affected users and
to "disgorge its ill-gotten gains, and awarding the proceeds of
this disgorgement to" the plaintiff and class action members.

The suit is claiming that Apple broke the law when it altered
the industry standard Advanced Audio Codec (AAC) file format and
used it to restrict the music's usage outside the iPod. Songs
sold to the public on iTunes, which is one of the most popular
legal online music download sites, use the AAC with Fairplay
Digital Rights Management (DRM), called AAC Protected.
Furthermore, the suit claims that with the altered AAC files,
users can't play the music on any other portable digital music
player than iPod and they can't convert the music files to MP3
files. It is also claiming that Apple has rigged the hardware
and software on its iPod so that files downloaded from other
online music stores can't be directly played on the device.

The suit further contends, "At the same time, by engaging in
this unlawful conduct, Apple has managed to unlawfully maintain
its monopoly market power in the market for online music sales
because owners of the monopolized iPod product who wish to
purchase music tracks online have no choice, given Apple's
conduct, but to purchase these tracks only from Apple's iTunes
store."

Apple has been more than willing to cut deals with the iPod's
popularity, but has come down hard on anyone trying to
circumvent its technology. A year ago, HP arranged a tit-for-tat
arrangement that let the company sell HP-branded digital music
players based on the iPod in exchange for pre-installing the
iTunes software on certain of its desktop and notebook lines.

Rival online music providers have had a harder time, though.
RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser reportedly sent an e-mail to Mr.
Jobs in April requesting Apple's Fairplay DRM license so his
Rhapsody subscribers could listen to music on iPods. The deal
didn't go through, and three months later Mr. Glaser came out
with Harmony Technology, which reverse-engineered Apple's
technology. Apple officials responded by calling Real hackers
and mulling a lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed recently, states Apple's defense of
its Fairplay DRM is to protect copyrights owned by the artists
or music labels. But, according to the suit, "That defense,
however, is both irrelevant and unavailing. In fact, other than
Apple's iTunes, no other online music vendor has such a
restriction in place; yet these other online vendors still
manage to provide copyright protection mechanisms to artists and
record labels -- often the same artists and labels whose same
songs are sold online through iTunes."


APPLE COMPUTER: Antitrust Suit Initiated in CA Over iPod, iTunes
----------------------------------------------------------------
Attorneys have filed a 10-count lawsuit against Apple Computer,
Inc. claiming that the ties between the company's iTunes music
download service and its iPod violate state and federal
antitrust law, the InternetNews.com reports.

Titled, Slattery v. Apple, the suit was filed in the U.S.
District Court for Northern District of California in San Jose
and is a plea to allow the case to become a class action lawsuit
on behalf of anyone who has used the iTunes service or bought an
iPod from Apple since April 28, 2003, the day iTunes first
opened shop.

Though declining to comment further on the suit, according to
Eric Belfi of New York-based Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP, one of
the lawyers representing Thomas Slattery, a California resident,
the suit is also seeking compensation for the affected users and
to "disgorge its ill-gotten gains, and awarding the proceeds of
this disgorgement to" the plaintiff and class action members.

The suit is claiming that Apple broke the law when it altered
the industry standard Advanced Audio Codec (AAC) file format and
used it to restrict the music's usage outside the iPod. Songs
sold to the public on iTunes, which is one of the most popular
legal online music download sites, use the AAC with Fairplay
Digital Rights Management (DRM), called AAC Protected.
Furthermore, the suit claims that with the altered AAC files,
users can't play the music on any other portable digital music
player than iPod and they can't convert the music files to MP3
files. It is also claiming that Apple has rigged the hardware
and software on its iPod so that files downloaded from other
online music stores can't be directly played on the device.

The suit further contends, "At the same time, by engaging in
this unlawful conduct, Apple has managed to unlawfully maintain
its monopoly market power in the market for online music sales
because owners of the monopolized iPod product who wish to
purchase music tracks online have no choice, given Apple's
conduct, but to purchase these tracks only from Apple's iTunes
store."

Apple has been more than willing to cut deals with the iPod's
popularity, but has come down hard on anyone trying to
circumvent its technology. A year ago, HP arranged a tit-for-tat
arrangement that let the company sell HP-branded digital music
players based on the iPod in exchange for pre-installing the
iTunes software on certain of its desktop and notebook lines.

Rival online music providers have had a harder time, though.
RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser reportedly sent an e-mail to Mr.
Jobs in April requesting Apple's Fairplay DRM license so his
Rhapsody subscribers could listen to music on iPods. The deal
didn't go through, and three months later Mr. Glaser came out
with Harmony Technology, which reverse-engineered Apple's
technology. Apple officials responded by calling Real hackers
and mulling a lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed recently, states Apple's defense of
its Fairplay DRM is to protect copyrights owned by the artists
or music labels. But, according to the suit, "That defense,
however, is both irrelevant and unavailing. In fact, other than
Apple's iTunes, no other online music vendor has such a
restriction in place; yet these other online vendors still
manage to provide copyright protection mechanisms to artists and
record labels -- often the same artists and labels whose same
songs are sold online through iTunes."


A.R. ACCESSORIES: Inks Settlement For Employee Back Wages Claim
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has settled a claim
for back wages owed to approximately 620 former employees of
A.R. Accessories, formerly of West Bend, for $2 million,
Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager announced in a statement.
The settlement amount will be paid by the company's three pre-
bankruptcy petition lenders (Bank One, Firstar and Harris Bank &
Trust-Chicago).

The DOJ began prosecution of the claim in 1998, after the
company filed bankruptcy.  The case worked its way through four
different courts, all the way to the United States Supreme
Court.

"This settlement demonstrates that Wisconsin will continue to
fight for the rights of working families by putting their
interests first and foremost when there are unpaid wages owed,"
AG Lautenschlager said.  She continued that workers covered by
the settlement would be contacted directly by the Wisconsin
Department of Workforce Development (DWD), which investigated
the workers' complaints for unpaid wages and referred the case
to DOJ.  DWD will provide employees with information about how
they can participate in the settlement.

AG Lautenschlager said this is not the end of the case.  There
are still administrative appeals filed by some of the former
employees to DWD's Initial Determination of the wages owed to be
dealt with.  Also, DOJ is continuing to prosecute a claim
against funds held by the company's Bankruptcy Liquidating
Trust, perhaps another $200,000, on behalf of the workers.  It
could still be several months before distributions are made to
workers, but the settlement with the lenders was the critical
event necessary to bring this matter to closure.

According to AG Lautenschlager, the key issue resolved by the
lengthy court battle involved the validity of the state's wage
lien, and the state's right to perfect the lien after a
bankruptcy case is filed.  The version of the wage lien in
effect at the time the bankruptcy case was filed gave workers an
absolute priority to secure unpaid wages.

One of the ramifications of the state's prosecuting this case is
that the wage lien statute has been amended, on three different
occasions, since the fight began.  "I don't think anyone would
disagree with the observation that all three amendments have not
favored Wisconsin employees," Lautenschlager said.  "Under these
provisions the workers would not be sharing the two million
dollar judgment, but would instead be entitled to nothing.
While today's settlement is a victory for Wisconsin workers, it
also highlights the obstacles they face under the current law
and the considerable work still to be done to ensure that
workers are dealt with fairly in being able to collect wages
they have earned and depend upon."


AT&T CORPORATION: To Pay $50T To Improperly Billed MO Residents
---------------------------------------------------------------
AT&T Corporation will pay $50,000 to the state of Missouri for
improperly billing more than 29,000 consumers, state Attorney
General Jay Nixon announced in a statement.  Those Missourians
who paid the improper charge will receive or already have
received refunds or credits under an agreement obtained by
Nixon.

Beginning in January 2004, AT&T instituted a "monthly recurring
charge" or a base charge of $3.95 per month for low-usage
customers.  AT&T mistakenly sent bills to former customers and
some high-usage customers who would have been exempt from the
charge.  Approximately 1 million people nationwide were
mistakenly billed, including 29,165 in Missouri.  The improper
billings in Missouri amounted to $285,147 although not everyone
improperly billed paid the charges.  The company attributed the
billing mistakes primarily to computer coding and system errors.

"No matter how these billings occurred, they amounted to several
millions of dollars to consumers across the country," AG Nixon
said. "AT&T needs to be held accountable to ensure that nothing
like this happens again and that any consumers who paid charges
they shouldn't have are made whole."

The agreement, which will be filed in Cole County Circuit Court,
requires AT&T to:

     (1) Establish and maintain a process for Missouri customers
         who paid improper charges to receive refunds or
         credits, if the customers have not already received
         those refunds or credits.

     (2) Immediately cease any collection efforts to collect the
         monthly recurring charge from customers who were
         improperly billed who did not pay those charges.

     (3) Implement and maintain measures to adequately respond
         to consumer inquiries and billing complaints.

     (4) Pay $50,000 to the Missouri Merchandising Revolving
         Fund, which is used to fund consumer protection and
         education efforts.

For more details, contact Press Secretary Jim Gardner by Phone:
573-751-8844 by Fax: 573-751-5818 or by e-mail:
communications@ago.mo.gov.


BANK OF AMERICA: To Enter Mediation, Move Closer To Settlement
--------------------------------------------------------------
Bank of America and Wells Fargo, both facing highly publicized
class action lawsuits for charging paycheck-cashing fees, were
ordered into mediation during a recent initial status conference
with the court. The mediations are currently scheduled for
February 8. However, according to the plaintiff's lawyer, it was
disclosed in court that Bank of America and the plaintiff are
close to resolving the case.

"We are very optimistic about reaching a resolution with Bank of
America," says Nick Roxborough, a partner of Los Angeles based
Roxborough, Pomerance & Nye LLP (RPN), who filed the lawsuits.
"Although ordered into mediation, Wells Fargo so far has not
been so inclined to resolve this issue and has filed a motion
for summary judgment, raising once again the proverbial
preemption doctrine as the major lynch pin of its defense."

The motion contends that any action brought against a national
bank is completely preempted by federal law, explains
Roxborough. To address issues Wells Fargo raised in court and to
expand the scope and nature of the case, RPN filed a third
amended complaint on behalf of Chaffee Enterprises Inc. -- the
lead plaintiff in the Wells Fargo case -- adding causes of
action for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of
good faith and fair dealing, fraud, and negligence to its
complaint. In addition, a series of documents and discovery
concerning Well Fargo's $5 check cashing fee has been requested.

Both class action lawsuits were originally filed last April on
behalf of California employers who believe the banks' fees have
placed them in violation of Section 212 of the California Labor
Code, which requires that paychecks `be negotiable and payable
in cash, on demand, without discount.' The suits seek
injunctions to stop the banks from charging a $5 per paycheck
cashing fee to employees of business payroll account holders as
well as a refund of all such fees already paid by thousands of
employees in California -- mostly lower-paid workers who don't
hold personal checking accounts and rely on their employers'
banks to cash their checks.

For more details, contact Nick Roxborough of Roxborough,
Pomerance & Nye LLP by Phone: 818-992-9999 OR Linda O'Hanlon of
Straightline Communications by Phone: 818-386-1916


CALIFORNIA: Suit Targets MLS Price-Fixing Settlement Attorneys
--------------------------------------------------------------
Arleen Freeman and James Alexander, real estate professionals
who were members of Sandicor, a regional MLS formed by San
Diego-area Realtor associations recently initiated a lawsuit in
California Superior Court alleges that two San Diego-area
lawyers "sold out" members of a multiple listing service price-
fixing lawsuit, the Inman Real Estate News reports.

The plaintiff are being represented by Barry & Associates, a San
Francisco law firm known for real estate-related antitrust
litigation against Realtor associations and MLSs. The lawsuit,
which seeks $60 million in damages, alleges attorneys Daniel J.
Mogin and Alexander M. Schack "secretly filed a class-action
suit" in July 2004 entitled, Hemphill v. San Diego Association
of Realtors that was adverse to a price-fixing litigation
initiated by Ms. Freeman and Mr. Alexander, and in September
2004 "secretly settled" the case.

Although Mr. Mogin could not be reached for comment, Mr. Schack
told the Inman News that the allegations in the lawsuit "are
untrue" and that there was "nothing secret" about the settlement
process that he engaged in. He further stated, "Sometimes in
class-actions, when you get to the settlement stage, people have
a divergence of views about settlements." There will be a
hearing on January 28 in federal court in San Diego County to
consider the fairness of the settlement, he adds.

According Mr. Schack, the settlement package that he put
together with Mr. Mogin has a total value of about $6 million
and that has worked on antitrust cases for over 15 years and
class-action cases for over a decade. Barry, he also said,
"attempted to get a class certified four separate times and was
denied each time. "That speaks for itself," he said.

Ms. Freeman, who was represented by David Barry, in 1997, filed
a class-action lawsuit in California Supreme Court in San Diego
County against Sandicor and five Realtor associations. In March
2003, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that there was
illegal price-fixing for MLS services in San Diego County.

According to the lawsuit filed this week, Mr. Mogin and Mr.
Schack associated themselves with the Barry & Associates' legal
team in mid-2003 to assist with the ongoing legal work relating
to the Freeman case. The lawsuit alleges that both settled their
lawsuit for about $168 per user of the MLS service, which is
about 3 percent of the amount originally sought in the Freeman
vs. San Diego Association of Realtors lawsuit.

The lawsuit further states that both attorneys allegedly
recruited Alan Hemphill to act as a class representative after
the court in December 2003 found that Ms. Freeman and Mr.
Alexander were not eligible as representatives for the class.
Later, in May 2004, Mr. Mogin and Mr. Schack revealed a
settlement plan "that was wholly adverse to the settlement plan"
that was favored by Freeman and Alexander, the lawsuit also
charges. "The likely judgment for each member of the class
(sought in the Freeman case) was $5,884, amounting to over $65
million for the class," the lawsuit alleges.

The suit further alleges that that the two lawyers "abandoned
plaintiffs, accepted the adverse representation of Mr. Hemphill,
and sold out the victim class so that they could receive an
attorney's fee of $1.125 million as part of the Mr. Hemphill
settlement," and the lawsuit seeks a declaration that the
lawyers "committed perjury," "obstruction of justice," and
"violated duties of fidelity and confidentiality" relating to
their representation of Mr. Hemphill. Because of "procedural
maneuvers" conducted by both attorneys, the plaintiffs concluded
that it was "futile to oppose the Hemphill settlement," the
lawsuit charges.

A federal court in January 2004, issued an injunction against
price-fixing by Sandicor and the five Realtor associations that
own the MLS - the San Diego Association of Realtors, North
County Association of Realtors, Pacific Southwest Association of
Realtors, East San Diego Association of Realtors and the
Coronado Association of Realtors. The injunction was filed
January 21, 2004, in the federal district court for the Southern
District of California in San Diego.

In this case, the associations had argued that their MLS pricing
structure was designed to avoid the possible closure of the
smaller less-efficient associations at the time the regional MLS
was established. The court rejected that argument as a defense
against the price-fixing allegations.


CAPITAL CANDY: Enters Consent Decree For Contraband Cigarettes
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Chittenden Superior Court in Vermont entered a Consent
Decree against Capital Candy Company, Inc. for selling
contraband cigarettes, state Attorney General William Sorrell
said in a statement.

As part of the settlement, Capital Candy, a Barre-based
distributor of cigarettes and other tobacco products, admitted
that it illegally sold multiple cartons of Double Diamond brand
cigarettes to Vermont retailers in October and November of 2003.
Double Diamond cigarettes are manufactured by GTC Industries,
Ltd. ("GTC") of Mumbai, India. The cigarettes were banned from
sale in Vermont when the manufacturer failed to make certain
payments required by Vermont law.

Under legislation enacted in 2003 to enhance enforcement of
Vermont's tobacco reporting and escrow laws, the Attorney
General's Office publishes a directory of all tobacco product
manufacturers whose products are approved for sale in Vermont.
The law prohibits anyone from stamping or selling any tobacco
products manufactured by companies not listed on the Directory.
Because of past violations of Vermont law, GTC's products have
not been approved for sale in Vermont since the Directory was
published October 1, 2003.

Capital Candy sold the banned cigarettes to retailers in
Fairfield, Cambridge and Hancock, Vermont. The cigarettes were
identified in a retail outlet and seized by the Department of
Liquor Control. Further investigation by the Attorney General
established that Capital Candy had illegally sold and
distributed the product on seven separate occasions since the
fall of 2003.

"This lawsuit reflects our commitment to enforce this law
strictly and aggressively," said Sorrell. "Capital Candy has not
only admitted its violation of the law but has also adopted a
new, computer-based inventory system to prevent this from
happening again."

The company has also been assessed a civil penalty of $5,000 and
ordered to reimburse the Attorney General's Office for $4,500 in
costs associated with the investigation and suit. In addition,
Capital Candy has agreed that it will be subject to an automatic
penalty for any future infractions of the law. Click Directory
of Tobacco Products Approved for Sale in Vermont for a full
listing.

For more details, contact the Attorney General's office by Mail:
109 State Street, Montpelier VT 05609-1001 by Phone:
(802) 828-3171 or by Fax: (802) 828-5341


CNL RESTAURANTS: Firms Lodge Breach of Fiduciary Duty Suit in TX
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Chimicles & Tikellis, LLP of Haverford, PA, the
New York City-based firms of Goodkind Labaton Rudoff & Sucharow
LLP and Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, and Dallas,
TX counsel Craddock Reneker & Davis LLP initiated a class action
lawsuit in the District Court of Dallas County, Texas, against
CNL Restaurant Properties, Inc. ("CNLRP"), CNL Restaurant
Investments, Inc., Restaurant Capital Corp., U.S. Restaurant
Properties, Inc. (NYSE: USV) ("USRP") and CNL Income Fund, Ltd.
I - XVIII, (collectively, the "CNL Income Funds"), and James M.
Seneff, Jr., Robert A. Bourne and CNL Realty Corporation
(collectively, the "General Partners"), on behalf of a class of
all the Limited Partners of the CNL Income Funds ("Limited
Partners" or "Class"). USRP and CNLRP are publicly owned real
estate investment trusts and the 18 CNL Income Funds are
publicly owned limited partnerships all of which are involved in
the ownership and operation of restaurant properties located
around the country. USRP is publicly traded; CNLRP stock is not
traded on any exchange.

The Complaint, brought by Sutter Acquisition Fund, Inc., which
may be the largest single holder of units of the 18 CNL Income
Funds, and Robert Lewis, an individual, charges the General
Partners with breaches of both the fiduciary duties they owe to
the Limited Partners and the Partnership Agreements. In
addition, the Complaint alleges that Defendants CNLRP and USRP
have aided and abetted the General Partners' breaches of
fiduciary duties owed to the proposed Class. The action also
seeks an accounting from the CNL Income Funds.

Specifically, the Complaint alleges, among other things, that:

     (1) The CNL Income Funds are contributing 42% of the equity
         to the Surviving Corporation, but the CNL Income Funds'
         Limited Partners will receive only 33% of the Merger
         Consideration. The 9% spread (valued at more than $140
         Million) between what the CNL Income Funds are
         contributing and what consideration they will be
         receiving is to be allocated wrongfully to the other
         merger participants, CNLRP and USRP. This is
         particularly egregious since the assets being
         contributed to the proposed Merger by the CNL Income
         Funds are of a higher overall quality than CNLRP, whose
         assets are substantially leveraged and include an
         appreciable number of assets that are tied up with
         tenants involved in bankruptcy proceedings.

     (2) The proposed Merger is a vehicle to bail out CNLRP from
         financial difficulties. Since General Partners Seneff
         and Bourne are also heavy investors in CNLRP, and own
         virtually no interest in the CNL Income Funds, the
         General Partners are in an irreconcilable conflict of
         interest that disables them from fulfilling their
         responsibilities as the General Partners of the 18 CNL
         Income Funds.

     (3) The General Partners and CNLRP have historically
         utilized their control and influence over the CNL
         Income Funds to bolster the financial consideration of
         CNLRP and to perpetuate the illusion that CNLRP was
         financially robust and could meet its distribution
         commitments. This was accomplished by causing certain
         CNL Income Funds to sell properties, sometimes at a
         loss, in order to raise cash to purchase properties
         from an affiliate of CNLRP and the General Partners,
         self-dealing transactions prohibited by the CNL Income
         Funds' Partnership Agreements and causing the CNL
         Income Funds to sell core properties in order to raise
         $30 Million in cash to be retained by the CNL Income
         Funds, rather than distributing it to the Limited
         Partners as is mandated by the Partnership Agreements,
         so that it can be used to fund the Merger.

     (4) The General Partners have also breached their fiduciary
         duties to the Limited Partners by, among other things:
         failing to explore and pursue alternative transactions
         to the proposed Merger that would maximize the Limited
         Partners' return on their investments; negotiating and
         participating in a Merger Agreement which constitutes
         wrongful self-dealing and is adverse to the interests
         of the Limited Partners, but is beneficial only to the
         other parties to the Merger including the General
         Partners; permitting and encouraging the conveyance,
         transfer and allocation of Merger Consideration
         rightfully belonging to the Limited Partners; causing
         the CNL Income Funds to participate in real estate
         purchases in violation of the Partnership Agreements;
         impermissibly retaining cash in order to effectuate the
         Merger that should have been distributed to the Limited
         Partners; and announcing that the General Partners will
         close the solicitation period of the Income Funds "in
         their sole discretion," which has the potential to
         seriously disadvantage the Limited Partners in the
         proxy solicitation process.

     (5) CNLRP and USRP are charged with having aided and
         abetted the General Partners in their breach of
         fiduciary duties owed to the Limited Partners by:
         arranging to receive Merger Consideration that is
         rightfully due the CNL Income Funds and allocating to
         the CNL Income Funds an amount that is substantially
         less than is mandated by the equity being contributed
         by the CNL Income Funds; sitting silent while the
         General Partner Defendants breached their fiduciary
         duties to the Limited Partners; retaining, instructing
         and encouraging the preparers of the so-called fairness
         opinions to distort and undervalue the CNL Income
         Funds; and using the CNL Income Funds as the
         instrumentalities and means to effect the Merger
         Agreement for the benefit of themselves and the other
         Defendants and to the detriment of the Limited
         Partners.

The overarching objective of this action is to make certain that
the Limited Partners of the CNL Income Funds receive their fair
share of consideration from the proposed Merger or any other
transaction that may materialize. This suit also seeks the
removal and replacement of the General Partner Defendants from
their positions with the CNL Income Funds.

For more details, contact Nicholas E. Chimicles, Kimberly M.
Donaldson or Kimberly M. Litman of CHIMICLES & TIKELLIS LLP by
Mail: 361 West Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA 19041 by Phone:
610-642-8500 or 888-805-7848 by Fax: 610-649-3633 by E-mail:
mail@chimicles.com or visit their Web site:
http://www.chimicles.comOR Lawrence A. Sucharow or Beth Hoffman
of GOODKIND LABATON RUDOFF & SUCHAROW LLP by Mail: 100 Park
Avenue, New York, New York 10017 by Phone: 212-907-0700 by Fax:
212-818-0477 by E-Mail: info@glrslaw.com or visit their Web
site: http://www.glrslaw.comOR Lawrence P. Kolker or Aya
Bouchedid of WOLF HALDENSTEIN ADLER FREEMAN & HERZ LLP by Mail:
270 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016 by Phone: 212-545-
4600 by Fax: 212-686-0114 by E-Mail: newyork@whafh.com or visit
their Web site: http://www.whafh.comOR D. Ronald Reneker of
CRADDOCK RENEKER & DAVIS LLP by Mail: 3100 Monticello Avenue,
Suite 550, Dallas, TX 75205 by Phone: 214-750-3550 by Fax: 214-
750-3551 by E-Mail: rreneker@dcrlawfirm.com or by visit their
Web site: http://www.crdlawfirm.com.


ENT & IMLER: Shareholders Launch Securities Fraud Lawsuit in IN
---------------------------------------------------------------
Ent & Imler CPA Group, PC faces a securities class action filed
in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Indiana, alleging that the Company, which acted as the Church
Extension of the Church of God, Inc.'s (CEG) independent
auditors from December 1997 to September 2002, violated the
federal securities laws by certifying CEG's consolidated
financial statements which were made a part of certain Offering
Circulars, with Ent & Imler's approval, and otherwise helping to
prepare the Offering Circulars.

The complaint alleges that the Offering Circulars, including the
consolidated financial statements, contained fraudulent
misrepresentations and omissions that misled Noteholders and
concealed CEG's true financial condition, including
misrepresenting that the proceeds from the sale of Investment
Notes would be used primarily to fund church loans and that CEG
maintained a reserve of liquid assets equal to a percentage of
CEG's outstanding note obligations, and omitting information
that CEG was engaging in a series of high-risk "bargain sale"
transactions using inflated appraisals and other means to
exaggerate the value of the properties or businesses acquired by
CEG.

This securities fraud class action has been commenced on behalf
of all persons (Noteholders) who purchased between April 30,
1998 and April 30, 2002 Investment Notes offered by Church
Extension of the Church of God, Inc. through a series of
Offering Circulars (dated April 30, 1998; April 30, 1999; May 1,
2000; and November 1, 2001) and who suffered losses as a result
of their investment.

The suit is styled "Central Community Church of God, et al. v.
Ent & Imler CPA Group, PC, et al., case no. 03-CV-0667."  The
class period starts April 30,1998 and ends April 30,2002.
Representing the plaintiffs is Sommer Barnard Attorneys, P.C.,
One Indiana Square, Suite 3500, Indianapolis, IN, 46204, Phone:
317.713.3500.


EQUIFAX INFORMATION: Reaches Pact For VT Consumer Fraud Charges
---------------------------------------------------------------
Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell forged a settlement
with Equifax Information Services, Inc., one of the nation's
largest credit bureaus, that requires the Company to send $100
to 161 Vermont consumers, in December 2004.

Vermont law requires credit grantors - banks, mortgage and
credit card companies, landlords, utility and telecommunication
companies - to get the permission of a Vermont consumer before
reviewing his or her credit report.  Vermont law also requires
credit bureaus to ensure that credit grantors comply with the
law.

In 2000, Equifax entered into a comprehensive Assurance of
Discontinuance with Attorney General Sorrell requiring the
credit bureau to take substantial steps to ensure that credit
grantors comply with Vermont law and not review a Vermonter's
credit report unless the company has the permission of the
consumer. Equifax has largely been in compliance with the 2000
agreement. However, in 2002, it allowed Verizon to access credit
reports of 161 Vermont consumers without their permission. The
settlement, filed today in Washington Superior Court, requires
Equifax to pay $100 to each of the consumers whose credit report
was accessed without their permission. Vermont law provides for
$100 "damage" payments to consumers when permission is not
obtained. The settlement also requires Equifax to pay $25,200 to
the State of Vermont.

"Protecting the privacy of our financial information is
important to all of us. This settlement sends a strong message
to credit bureaus to pay close attention to Vermont's stringent
credit reporting law," said Attorney General Sorrell. Consumers
who have questions about whether they will receive the $100 can
call the Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424, or in
Chittenden County and out of state at 802-656-3183.

For more details, contact the Attorney General's office by Mail:
109 State Street, Montpelier VT 05609-1001 by Phone:
(802) 828-3171 or by Fax: (802) 828-5341.


FEDERATED DEPARTMENT: NY Jury Indicts Former Exec For Perjury
-------------------------------------------------------------
A New York County grand jury has indicted the former Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer of Federated Department Stores James
Zimmerman for perjury and lying under oath to conceal evidence
of possible antitrust violations, New York Attorney General
Eliot Spitzer said in a statement.

The charge stems from an investigation that began in 2002 of
whether two leading department store chains and two prominent
manufacturers of tableware had conspired to limit distribution
of products sold to consumers. The upscale department store
chains were accused of engineering a scheme to keep another
national retailer - Bed, Bath & Beyond - from expanding into
their lucrative tableware market. The companies involved -
Federated, May Department Stores, Lenox, Inc., and Waterford
Wedgwood, U.S.A.- settled that case in August 2004 and paid $2.9
million in civil penalties.

Zimmerman was arraigned on January 4,2005 before Justice James
Yates of the New York County Supreme Court, and charged with
Perjury in the First Degree, a class D felony.  The maximum
sentence for a conviction of this crime is 2 1/3 - 7 years in
state prison.

According to the indictment, Zimmerman intentionally offered
false testimony in a sworn statement on April 9, 2004.
Specifically, Zimmerman was asked whether he had called Sir
Anthony O'Reilly, the Chairman of the Board of Waterford,
Wedgewood, PLC, to dissuade him from selling Waterford products
through Bed Bath & Beyond or to otherwise encourage him to pull
out of the negotiations to do so.

Zimmerman repeatedly told the assistant attorney general taking
the deposition that he had never discussed Bed Bath & Beyond in
any way with anyone at Waterford, including O'Reilly. According
to the indictment, Zimmerman knew that these denials were
untrue.  Zimmerman retired in 2004 as the top executive of
Federated, which operates 450 department stores nationwide,
including the flagship Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores in New
York City.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General
Kristen Marcelle under the direction of Deputy Chief Kevin
Suttlehan and Bureau Chief Janet Cohn of the Criminal
Prosecutions Bureau. The case was investigated by Investigator
Karon Richardson under the supervision of Deputy Chief
Investigator Hank Lemons.  The charges are merely accusations
and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven
guilty.


FINANCIAL NETWORK: Inks Settlement With NY AG Over Ponzi Scheme
---------------------------------------------------------------
Financial Network Investment Corporation (FNIC) reached a
settlement with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer that
will provide $1.65 million for dozens of Western New Yorkers who
were victimized in a scheme involving investments in pay phones.

AG Spitzer filed a lawsuit against the Company in June 2002,
alleging the Company bilked senior citizens by a scheme that
involved Goldome Capital Management (GCM) of Depew, which
targeted senior citizens with the sale of pay phones for $7,000
each.  ETS Payphones, a Georgia company that manufactured the
phones and orchestrated the scheme, paid GCM and its salespeople
a commission to sell the phones. These same salespeople were
also registered to sell securities for FNIC, a Torrance,
California-based financial services company.

Victims were told that they could buy the phones, lease them
back to ETS to operate, and receive a "guaranteed" 14 percent
return on their investment. Furthermore, the investors were told
that they could sell the phones back to the ETS for the original
purchase price at any time after six months. Typically,
investors were persuaded by the brokers to liquidate
conservative investments, such as retirement annuities, to fund
their purchases.

A federal investigation revealed the scheme to be a ponzi scheme
in which investors' monthly checks from ETS were coming out of
new investors' principal payments and not ETS' profits. The scam
began in November 1998 and came to an end when ETS declared
bankruptcy in September 2000.

"The cooperation of this financial services firm will provide
much needed relief for dozens of senior citizens - many of whom
had liquidated their retirement savings," AG Spitzer said. "This
case demonstrates the need for investors to be wary of
`guaranteed' returns on investments that sound too good to be
true, even if the sales pitch is made by an established
company."

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph G. Makowski of Erie County
approved a consent order whereby FNIC will pay $1.65 million to
80 investors. The settlement represents an average recovery of
over $20,000 per victim.

Spitzer acknowledged that FNIC's efforts will greatly benefit
the victimized investors, most of whom are senior citizens, and
noted that the company itself received no monies from its
brokers' unauthorized sales of the ETS phones.

FNIC had no relationship with GCM or ETS, and the payphones were
not FNIC products. Moreover, FNIC had told its brokers not to
sell the ETS contracts, yet Spitzer alleged in legal papers that
FNIC could have halted the scam if it had adequately supervised
its brokers.

In December 2001, Spitzer obtained over $5 million for over 300
other ETS victims from National Planning Corp., FNIC's successor
as the company through which the brokers who sold the phones
were registered. Spitzer also noted that a number of defendants
have settled the charges against them by agreeing to be barred
them from the securities industry and by either paying cash
towards restitution or agreeing to money judgments. The lawsuit
is still going forward against the remaining defendants who sold
ETS phones.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Dennis
Rosen and Senior Investigator Peter Eiss of the Buffalo Regional
Office.

For More Information, contact the Attorney General's office by
Phone: (518) 473-5525.


FLORIDA: Orange Tree Resident Lodges Lawsuit Over Water Quality
---------------------------------------------------------------
Fort Myers attorney Kelly Huang on behalf of Orange Tree
resident Eugenia Pickard has lodged a class-action lawsuit
against the Orange Tree Utility Co., which has more than 1,000
customers in Collier County, the Naples Daily News reports.

The lawsuit alleges that the utility ignored persistent
complaints from its customers about the quality of their water,
failed to properly monitor the water and failed to adequately
warn customers about the quality of the water. It is seeking
payments of unspecified amounts to utility customers for their
medical bills, property damage and extra water filtration
devices. The suit also wants the utility to be required to set
up a court-supervised program to monitor customers' health.

Orange Tree Utility Co. President Roberto Bollt could not be
reached for comment, but Jerry Buhr, the utility's attorney said
the company is doing what is required of it. He also adds, "I
don't believe they (customers) are going to have a claim as to
the water not being of the quality they prefer it to be."

Orange Tree's customers include residents of Twin Eagles, Orange
Tree, Waterways, Valencia Lakes, Citrus Greens and homes on 33rd
Avenue. The utility also serves Corkscrew Elementary School,
Corkscrew Middle School and Palmetto Ridge High School.

Water samples the utility collected July 28 had levels of
trihalomethanes, or THMs, and haloacetic acids, or HAAs, at
between four and seven times the legal limit. A new state law
had required the utility to test the water for those chemicals
for the first time in 2004.

Some people who drink water with too many THMs over many years
might experience problems with their livers, kidneys or central
nervous systems and might have an increased risk of cancer,
according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA
also adds that some people who drink water with HAAs over the
allowable limit over many years may have an increased risk of
cancer.


FRANCE: Considers Installation of System Allowing Class Actions
---------------------------------------------------------------
Just as President George W. Bush is launching efforts to curb
class action lawsuit in the United States, France is now
considering changing its legal code to allow such controversial
collective actions in the country, the Financial Times reports.

President Jacques Chirac has asked his government to examine how
"groups of consumers and their associations could bring
collective actions against abusive practices that have been
observed in certain markets".

France is the latest European country to consider ways of
facilitating collective legal action against companies, after a
string of financial and health scandals that have left
confidence in the corporate sector in tatters. UK law was
recently changed to allow groups of cases to be managed
collectively, while German lawmakers are considering similar
moves.

The comments by France's president immediately sparked
widespread unease in the French business and legal community,
which has watched as class-action lawsuits have multiplied in
the United States, forcing the collapse of some companies. The
rash of class-action lawsuits in the U.S. has prompted President
Bush to push for reform of the laws governing liability.

According to Medef, the French employers' federation, a system
that allowed class-action lawsuits did not serve justice. Jo‰lle
Simon, legal director of Medef told the Financial Times, "It is
useless for consumers and harmful to business."

However, shareholder activists welcomed President Chirac's
initiative. According to Colette Neuville, president of Adam, an
association for the defense of minority shareholders, the
president's move was "a very, very good surprise. We have been
asking for this for a long time."

Few shareholders or consumers were prepared to take action
against corporate abuses in France as the legal system was too
costly and time-consuming and the risks were not clearly
defined, she said. But, Ms. Neuville warned against merely
copying the US system, whereby legal firms could reap
significant rewards though plaintiffs were left with little. She
told the Financial Times, "We have to invent a new system. We
should not import the faults of the United States."

French lawyers say that the key to preventing a U.S.-style
bonanza of frivolous lawsuits was to avoid the introduction of
contingency fees, a practice that allows firms to take a
percentage of any settlement or award in lieu of fees. As a
result of such practices, plaintiffs can pursue actions in the
knowledge they will not be liable for costs should they lose.

President Chirac's request, which was made during a New Year
speech to business and trade union leaders, recently, is part of
a government drive to strengthen consumer rights. Following the
departure of Nicolas Sarkozy, a consumer champion, from the
finance ministry last year to prepare for a presidential
challenge in 2007, President Chirac is determined to demonstrate
his government's popular credentials.

Herv‚ Gaymard, finance minister, Dominique Perben, justice
minister, and Christian Jacob, commerce minister, have been
given the task of drawing up proposals for a new law.


FRIEDMAN'S INC.: Faces TX Attorney General's Consumer Fraud Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a suit against
Friedman's Inc. of Savannah, Georgia, the nation's third-largest
jewelry chain, alleging the company misled its customers about
the level of "required" insurance coverage when applying for
installment credit on purchases.

"The company represents itself as a long-term, reliable friend
of the customer, yet it went to great lengths to lure unwitting
customers into misleading insurance contracts as part of jewelry
purchases on credit," said Attorney General Abbott. "The company
should have been clear that these `side' agreements are
completely optional with such purchases."

The Attorney General's investigation alleges the company ran
afoul of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act by pressuring
lower-income customers into signing a "statement of insurance"
while getting approved for purchases on credit. Such optional
"credit" insurance protects the loan if the consumer misses
payments or defaults. Company employees neglected to disclose
the full nature, extent and expense of the coverage, and some
customers were billed for the full credit insurance.

Friedman's, which is incorporated in Delaware, touts itself as a
"trusted neighborhood jeweler" since 1920, has operated 650
retail jewelry outlets in 22 southeastern and midwestern states,
including 65 stores in Texas. The company offers multiple forms
of credit on jewelry purchases, including the store's own
"Advantage Credit" program - a card that triggers the company's
retail installment credit contract with the customer.

It is within this line of credit that the company engaged
consumers in the scheme to buy credit insurance, which, often
unbeknownst to buyers, can include property, life and disability
insurance. This coverage should have been represented as
optional to the customer, not mandatory, according to the
lawsuit.

For more details, contact the Attorney General by Phone:
800/252-8011, or visit the agency's Consumer Protection Web
site: http://www.oag.state.tx.us.

The Attorney General requests the court to order civil penalties
of up to $20,000 per violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices
Act, restitution to harmed consumers and attorneys' fees.


FRONT PAGE: Reaches Settlement For NY AG Wage Violations Probe
--------------------------------------------------------------
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer reached a settlement in
December 2004 with a Staten Island restaurant that provides over
$75,000 to workers who were not paid the minimum wage and
overtime wages, which were violations of state law.  The
settlement ends the investigation into the labor practices of
the Front Page Restaurant, located at 75 Page Avenue in Staten
Island.

The Attorney General's investigation found that between August
of 1999, and August of 2004, the Front Page Restaurant paid
wages as low as $2.25 per hour to its wait staff, far below
required minimum wages for tipped employees.  The investigation
also found that the restaurant paid no overtime to its cooks,
busboys, dishwashers, and delivery workers, despite schedules
that required up to 60 hours of work per week.

"My office has found that restaurant workers are frequent
targets of exploitation. That exploitation not only hurts those
workers, it drags down labor standards for all New Yorkers,"
Attorney General Spitzer said. "My office will continue to
enforce labor laws and ensure that workers are paid the minimum
wages, as required by law."

Under the terms of the settlement, the Front Page Restaurant
will pay to eligible workers up to $76,398.56 in restitution and
statutory damages. In addition, the restaurant will be subject
to monitoring to assure that it complies with minimum wage and
overtime requirements in the future.

For more details, contact the New York State Attorney General's
labor help line by Phone: (212) 416-8700 or visit the Website:
http://www.oag.state.ny.us.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Michael
Higgins and James Versocki under the supervision of Labor Bureau
Chief M. Patricia Smith.


GEOPHARMA INC.: Shareholders Launch Securities Suits in NY, FL
--------------------------------------------------------------
GeoPharma, Inc. and certain of its present and former executive
officers face several securities class action lawsuits filed in
two United States federal courts of New York and Florida for
violation of federal securities laws. The New York and Florida
filings have substantially similar allegations.

According to a press release dated December 2, 2004, the first
complaint filed in the United States District Court for South
District of New York alleges that GeoPharma and individual
defendants issued false or misleading public statements in
violation of the law. More specifically, the complaint alleges
that GeoPharma claimed that it was developing a "patent-pending"
drug for the treatment of oral inflammation suffered by cancer
patients known as mucositis. The product was dubbed Mucotrol
(TM). On December 1, 2004, GeoPharma issued a statement
announcing that Mucotrol had been approved by the FDA.

On this news, GeoPharma shares shot up on heavy volume, reaching
$11.25 per share. Shortly thereafter, however, investigative
journalists uncovered that the FDA had not approved any such
drug. It was then conceded by the Company that Mucotrol was a
"device", not a drug. This is a material difference. Nor was it
the case that Mucotrol contained any medicinal ingredients at
all. GeoPharm's sales projections were also called into
question. On these revelations, GeoPharma shares sharply
declined, last trading at $6.81 per share before trading was
halted at 1:29 p.m. The first lawsuit was filed on behalf of all
who purchased GeoPharma's securities on December 1, 2004.

On December 20, 2004 the law firm of Vianale & Vianale filed a
separate securities class action lawsuit in the United States
District Court for the Middle District of Florida declaring an
extended Class Period.

The Florida action was filed on behalf of purchasers of the
securities of GeoPharma's securities from July 13, 2004 to
December 2, 2004, inclusive. The complaint alleges that
defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934. On July 13, 2004, before the market opened
for trading, GeoPharma and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Belcher
Pharmaceuticals, Inc., issued a press release reporting that
GeoPharma had met with success in a clinical study of its drug,
MF5232, later named "Mucotrol," in treating patients with
mucositis. Mucositis is an inflammation of the mucosa of the
mouth that develops in cancer patients receiving radiation
therapy and some patients with HIV/AIDS. In the press release,
GeoPharma's President, Dr. Kotha Sekharam, described Mucotrol
(which he invented), as a "drug." The stock rose 13% on the news
and closed on July 13, 2004 at $5.44.

The later complaint also alleges that on December 1, 2004
GeoPharma announced in a press release that its subsidiary,
Belcher Pharmaceuticals, Inc., had received FDA approval for its
"prescripition drug," Mucotrol. GeoPharma estimated that sales
to the U.S. oncology market for Mucotrol could reach $75 million
to $300 million per year. GeoPharma stock rose to $11.25, or
153%, on the news. On December 2, 2004, however, financial
reporters learned after questioning the Company that Mucotrol
was not a "drug" at all, but a device, making it far less
attractive to market than a new drug. GeoPharma's claim that it
had obtained FDA approval of Mucotrol was also untrue, as well
as GeoPharma's announcement of potential annual U.S. sales of
$75 million to $300 million. GeoPharma recanted its claim that
Mucotrol was a drug in a December 2, 2004 press release.
GeoPharma's stock price dropped from $11.25 to $6.81, on
inordinate volume of 42 million shares traded.

The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

     (1) Paskowitz & Associates, Phone: 800.705.9529, E-mail:
         classattorney@aol.com

     (2) Pomerantz, Haudek, Block, Grossman & Gross, Mail: 100
         Park Avenue, 26th Floor, New York, NY, 10017-5516,
         Phone: 212.661.1100,

     (3) Roy Jacobs & Associates, Mail: 350 Fifth Avenue Suite
         3000, New York, NY, 10118, E-mail:
         classattorney@pipeline.com

     (4) Schatz & Nobel, P.C., 330 Main Street, Hartford, CT,
         06106, Phone: 800.797.5499, Fax: 860.493.6290, E-mail:
         sn06106@AOL.com

     (5) Vianale & Vianale LLP, Mail: The Plaza - Suite 801,
         5355 Town Center Road., Boca Raton, FL, 33486, Phone:
         561.391.4900, Fax: 561.368.9274, E-mail:
         info@vianalelaw.com


HEARTLAND FARM: MO AG Nixon Files Suit Over Consumer Fraud
----------------------------------------------------------
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon filed a suit against a Cole
Camp couple and their farm-supply business after consumers
complained about not receiving propane or fertilizers from the
business as contracted.  Because Heartland Farm Services Inc.
didn't deliver the products as promised, some rural consumers
who signed contracts for propane at lower summer rates were
forced to pay winter heating season rates for the fuel, AG Nixon
said in a statement.

He is seeking a temporary restraining order from the Benton
County Circuit Court against Heartland Farm Services and owners
Raelene Bain and Robert Bain. Most of the complaints came from
consumers in central and southern Missouri.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants charged consumers a
non-refundable fee of up to $3,500 to set up a "trade and
business account" with Heartland. Consumers with such accounts
were guaranteed a minimum 10 percent savings over retail prices.
Heartland agreed in contracts to supply propane in installment
deliveries; the buyer paid a deposit up front, and then was to
pay the balance for each installment as it was delivered.

"Consumers complained to us that Heartland reneged on its
contracts by making only one or two deliveries, then refusing to
deliver any more unless the customer paid in full for all future
installments as well," Nixon said in a statement.  "This puts
the consumers in a bad situation, because they paid the
nonrefundable fee so they could get lower propane prices during
the winter. Heartland's reversal means they had to either pay
the entire amount up front before delivery to obtain the cheaper
rate, or pay the much higher winter rates on the open market."

He added another consumer complained to the Attorney General's
Office after paying the defendants more than $879,000 for
various fertilizers. Heartland delivered a portion of the order,
but the defendants have failed or refused to deliver
approximately $337,500 worth of goods still owed to the
consumer.

The lawsuit asks the court to issue preliminary and permanent
injunctions against the Bains and Heartland to stop further
violations of Missouri consumer protection laws. Nixon also
wants the court to order the defendants to pay appropriate
penalties to the state and restitution to consumers harmed by
their actions.

For more details, contact Press Secretary Jim Gardner by Phone:
573-751-8844 by Fax: 573-751-5818 or by e-mail:
communications@ago.mo.gov.


ITF ENTERPRISES: NY AG Spitzer Gets TRO Against Pyramid Scheme
--------------------------------------------------------------
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office obtained a
court order freezing the assets of a Company and its principals
who cheated hundreds of investors out of hundreds of thousands
of dollars by luring them into a pyramid fraud investment
scheme.

The actions filed by AG Spitzer charge ITF Enterprises and its
principals Ivory T. Fields Jr., Keisha Fields, Christian
Polanco, Lesgar Grant, Terrance Blackett, Jessica Hinds, Jose
Tavarez, and Tuck Smith with fraudulent, deceptive, and illegal
practices.  The temporary restraining orders, signed by
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice William P. McCooe, prohibit the
transfer of any assets pending future hearings.

"These defendants deliberately target vulnerable consumers. New
Yorkers looking to invest their hard earned money should not
have to fall prey to scammers," said Attorney General Spitzer.
"My office will work to stop individuals from luring investors
with false promises and from bilking consumers."

ITF Enterprises (67 Wall Street and 410 Park Avenue) and its
principals operated an unlawful pyramid scheme raising about $3
million from more than 100 investors.  They targeted primarily
vulnerable consumers of limited means from African-American and
Dominican communities in NYC.  Among the victims are nurses
aides, livery cab drivers, and public servants.  Their
investments ranged from $2,000 to $20,000.  One woman invested
close to $160,000 after taking out a second mortgage on her
house.

A pyramid scheme is a fraudulent system of making money based on
recruiting an ever-increasing number of "investors." The initial
promoters recruit these investors, who in turn recruit more
investors. The scheme is called a "pyramid" because at each
level, the number of investors increases. The small group of
initial promoters at the top require an increasingly large base
of later investors to support the scheme by providing profits to
the earlier investors.  Pyramid schemes are illegal in New York
State, as well as in many other states.

Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat said: "Once again Attorney General
Spitzer steps up to the plate for consumers. We thank him for
his commitment and steadfast support for issues faced by working
immigrant families."

Respondents gave their business a veneer of credibility by using
mail-drops at prestigious addresses. They also gave themselves
corporate titles such as CEO and President (in the case of Ivory
Fields), despite the fact that the entity is not a corporation.

Out of the $3 million raised, Respondents used $1.5 million for
their own benefit. Among the most egregious uses of the money
were $73,000 in bank debit card personal expenses for
electronics, luxury items, and entertainment. These included an
$11,000 purchase at an Italian clothing shop. There were also
$130,000 in ATM cash withdrawals. Fields also used over $460,000
for expenditures such as rent, restaurants, travel, bank
charges, and hotels.

The case seeks a permanent injunction barring these business
practices and restitution for consumers and civil penalties.

For more details, contact the New York State Attorney General's
Consumer Helpline: 1-800-771-7755 or visit the OAG's Website:
http://www.oag.state.ny.us.

The cases are being handled by Assistant Attorney Generals
Elizabeth Block and Michael E. Jones of the Investor Protection
Bureau under supervision of Bureau Chief David Brown IV with
help from legal intern Bruce Alderman.


MARYLAND: Judge Rules HUD Blundered On Baltimore Public Housing
---------------------------------------------------------------
In a protracted civil rights lawsuit, Judge Marvin J. Garbis of
Federal District Court recently concluded that black public
housing tenants have been systematically consigned to segregated
and poor neighborhoods of Baltimore City as a result of the
policies of the United States Department of Housing and Urban
Development, the New York Times reports.

By not placing more public housing residents in suburban
counties, HUD has failed to meet its obligations under the Fair
Housing Act, the federal judge ruled. Judge Garbis's decision is
the latest turn in nationwide efforts intended to reverse public
housing policy that has historically sent public housing tenants
to poor neighborhoods consisting of minority residents.

In the 322-page decision, Judge Garbis wrote that HUD must adopt
a "regional approach" to public housing that would disperse
poor, black residents instead of concentrating them in city
neighborhoods.

The decision came in a class-action lawsuit brought by the
American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 14,000 Baltimore
public housing tenants, who had claimed local and federal
government policies had created "black ghettos," against HUD,
the Baltimore Housing Authority and elected city officials.

Judge Garbis ruled that the plaintiffs did not prove their claim
that the City of Baltimore had failed to take adequate steps to
try to reverse the effects of previous race discrimination in
public housing. However, the judge rebuked HUD for not ensuring
public housing "free from discrimination." Speaking before a
packed courtroom in downtown Baltimore, Judge Garbis said HUD
has been "effectively wearing blinders" through its failure to
provide more public housing beyond the city's boundaries. He
further said, "It is high time that HUD live up to its statutory
mandate" and consider "regional approaches to promoting fair
housing opportunities for African-American public housing
residents in the Baltimore region."

In his decision, the judge wrote, "Baltimore City should not be
viewed as an island reservation for use as a container for all
of the poor of a contiguous region" that includes surrounding
counties. In Baltimore, the decision noted, 97 percent of public
housing for families went to black families, mostly in poverty-
stricken neighborhoods. In 2000, the judge said, the city was 64
percent black, while the Baltimore region, comprising the city
and five suburban counties, was about 15 percent black.

As a result of a consent decree issued earlier in the A.C.L.U.
case, Baltimore demolished numerous high-rise projects and
replaced them with new housing in the 1990's. While praising
those improvements, Judge Garbis said, "There have not been
significant opportunities for African-American residents of
Baltimore City public housing to reside in racially mixed,
rather than predominantly African-American, areas."

The case, the judge said, will now move to the "remedial phase,"
in which the court will hear evidence and take action intended
to ensure HUD officials adequately consider a regional approach
to the desegregation of public housing in the Baltimore region.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, along with national housing and
civil rights advocates, hailed the decision and said it
underscores the importance of spreading public housing beyond
the city.

"The core of the case has been a failure of political will to
locate public housing anywhere other than the poorest, blackest
neighborhoods," said Andrew D. Freeman, a lawyer representing
the A.C.L.U. HUD, Mr. Freeman said, is largely responsible for
concentrating public housing in poor areas of the city and has
an obligation to break the pattern by dispersing public housing.

William F. Ryan Jr., a lawyer representing Baltimore City, said
the decision heartened him. "Our position from the beginning was
that the city has done everything it could over the last 50
years to provide good housing for its citizens," Mr. Ryan said.
"And the city needs all the help it can get from the federal
government and other sectors."


MEDCO HEALTH: Inks Deceptive Trade Practices Settlement With SD
---------------------------------------------------------------
South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long reached an agreement
with Medco Health Solutions resolving claims of deceptive trade
practices in December 2004.  The State alleged that Medco
encouraged prescribers to switch patients to different
prescription drugs, but sometimes failed to pass the savings to
patients or their health care plans.

"We hope this settlement will result in a more honest and open
approach to the pharmacy benefits industry," said AG Long. "This
settlement is also essential in the continuing battle for
affordable prescription drugs for the residents of South
Dakota." 20 state attorneys general alleged that the drug
switches actually resulted in increased costs to health plans
and patients, primarily in follow-up doctor visits and tests.
For example, Medco switched patients from certain cholesterol-
lowering medications (statins) to Zocor, a drug that required
patients to receive follow-up blood tests at additional costs.

Under the multistate settlement, Medco is ordered to pay $2.5
million to patients who incurred expenses related to switches
between cholesterol-controlling drugs from 1999 to the present.
Affected consumers will receive a notice and claim form from the
company in the mail within the next few months.

This settlement was a result of a multistate action that was
taken in April of 2004. The Attorney General's Office worked
directly with the Bureau of Personnel in negotiating this
agreement with Medco. Medco will pay the State of South Dakota
$234,700 which will be returned to the general fund. Medco
agreed to pay this amount to settle a claim they had failed to
pass rebates on to the state while serving as the pharmaceutical
benefits manager for state employees from 1995 to 2002.

For more details, contact Sara Rabern by Phone: (605)773-3215.


MISSOURI: MO AG Nixon Obtains TRO V. Fraudulent EBay Retailer
-------------------------------------------------------------
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon obtained a temporary
restraining order in Jackson County Circuit Court against a
Raytown woman who offered dozens of items on Internet auction
sites and didn't deliver the merchandise.

AG Nixon asked the court to bar Hope Madewell from Internet
sales and auctions.  He also filed a civil lawsuit against Ms.
Madewell asking for full restitution for all customers who never
received a refund or merchandise; a civil penalty of $1,000 for
each violation; a monetary penalty equal to 10 percent of
restitution, payable to the state Merchandising Practices
Revolving Fund; and full restitution to the state for the cost
of investigating and prosecuting the case.

"Consumers have found a wealth of convenience and merchandise
via the Internet, but unfortunately, so have unscrupulous
merchants," AG Nixon said. "If we are to take advantage of
online technology and all its benefits, we must be ever vigilant
in policing the actions of those who would otherwise defraud
consumers."

The suit alleges that since August 2003, Ms. Madewell - using
her own name and a half dozen aliases - offered jewelry,
watches, iPods and other items for sale on eBay and other
Internet auction sites. When offering the items for sale she
would advertise that payments could be made through PayPal, a
payment service company.  However, when a consumer won the
auction, she would insist that payment be made via check or
money order.

At least 24 consumers nationwide are known to have paid for
items offered by Ms. Madewell, but never received the
merchandise or a refund. Ebay subsequently suspended her
privilege to offer merchandise due to numerous complaints. A
hearing on Nixon's request for an injunction against Madewell is
scheduled for January 12.

For more details, contact Press Secretary Jim Gardner by Phone:
573-751-8844 by Fax: 573-751-5818 or by e-mail:
communications@ago.mo.gov.


ORBELLE TRADE: Recalls 7,700 Amber Cribs Due To Injury Hazard
-------------------------------------------------------------
Orbelle Trade Inc., of Brooklyn, New York is cooperating with
the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission by
voluntarily recalling about 7,700 Cribs.

The Amber model crib included in this recall does not comply
with crib safety standards due to a gap between the side rail
and the crib mattress support, posing an entrapment hazard to
infants. All other model cribs included in this recall do not
have proper assembly instructions and diagrams required for
cribs. They are also missing cautionary and warning labels as
required by federal law. If the cribs are not assembled properly
they could pose an entrapment hazard to infants.

The cribs included in this recall are the Daniella, Leeat, Noa,
Naomi, Gabriella, Amber and Series 300 model cribs. The cribs
are wood and come in a variety of painted and stained finishes
including natural, cherry, blonde, or white wood. Some of the
cribs have built-in storage drawers on the side of the crib or
underneath the crib. The crib model name may be printed on the
lower part of the headboard of each crib and the manufacturer
name is printed on each set of crib warnings when provided.

Manufactured in Romania, the cribs were sold at all juvenile
furniture stores in New York and New Jersey from January 2003
through August 2004 for between $135 and $335.

If you own the Amber model crib, contact the firm to schedule an
in-home repair or request a replacement crib. For all other
model cribs, contact the firm to receive new assembly
instructions and warning labels.

Consumer Contact: Orbelle Trade Inc. at (800) 605-8018 between 9
a.m. and 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.


PRAECIS PHARMACEUTICALS: Shareholders File MA Securities Suits
--------------------------------------------------------------
Praecis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and certain of its officers face
several securities class actions filed in the United States
District Court for the District of Massachusetts, on behalf of
purchasers of the Company's securities from November 25,2003 to
December 6,2004.  The suits also name as defendants:

     (1) Malcolm Gefter,

     (2) Kevin McLaughlin,

     (3) Edward English and

     (4) William K. Heiden

The suits allege violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder. The complaints allege that the company, its officer
and directors violated securities laws by issuing false and
misleading statements that caused the stock to inflate.

More specifically, the Complaints allege that the Company failed
to disclose and misrepresented the following material adverse
facts which were known to defendants or recklessly disregarded
by them:

     (i) that the distribution of the Company's flagship drug,
         Plenaxis, had been severely restricted by the FDA,
         which significantly reduced the potential market for
         the therapy;

    (ii) that the Company failed to establish effective
         messaging to educate physicians about the product's
         indication and the appropriate patient population;

   (iii) that the Company, despite impressive enrollment numbers
         in the PLUS program, had difficulties convincing
         physicians to prescribe the product due to uncertainty
         over use and concerns over reimbursement;

    (iv) that the Company lacked adequate internal control; and

     (v) that as a result of the above, the defendants' fiscal
         2004 projections were lacking in any reasonable basis
         when made.

The complaints further allege that on December 6, 2004, Praecis
provided an update on the Company's commercialization of
Plenaxis in the United States.  In the update, the Company
stated that its had decided to remove its previous short- and
long- term sales and earnings guidance, and that it did not
anticipate providing further guidance until a consistent trend
for Plenaxis sales emerges. The company said it has had trouble
educating doctors and convincing them to prescribe the therapy
due to concerns over insurance reimbursement. News of this
shocked the market. Shares of Praecis fell $.56 per share, or
25.8 percent on December 6, 2004, to close at $1.61 per share.

The first identified complaint is styled "Susan Katz, et al. v.
Praecis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., et al., case no. 04-CV-12581."
The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

     (a) Charles J. Piven, World Trade Center-Baltimore,401 East
         Pratt Suite 2525, Baltimore, MD, 21202, Phone:
         410.332.0030, E-mail: pivenlaw@erols.com

     (b) Dyer & Shuman, LLP, 801 East 17th Avenue, Denver, CO,
         80218-1417, Phone: 303.861.3003, Fax: 800.711.6483, E-
         mail: info@dyershuman.com

     (c) Schatz & Nobel, P.C., 330 Main Street, Hartford, CT,
         06106, Phone: 800.797.5499, Fax: 860.493.6290, E-mail:
         sn06106@AOL.com

     (d) Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP, 3 Bala Plaza E, Bala Cynwyd,
         PA, 19004, Phone: 610.667.7706, Fax: 610.667.7056, E-
         mail: info@sbclasslaw.com

     (e) Shapiro, Haber & Urmy LLP, 75 State Street, Boston, MA,
         02109, Phone: 617.439.3939, Fax: 617.439.0134, E-mail:
         info@shulaw.com


ROCHE DIAGNOSTICS: PA AG Warns V. Glucose Blood Testing Strips
--------------------------------------------------------------
Pennsylvania Attorney General Jerry Pappert warned consumers not
to rely on the results of certain glucose blood testing strips
that may have been purchased or obtained in Pennsylvania,
despite markings on the packages that state the products are not
intended for use or sale in the United States.  The strips
produced by Roche Diagnostics may cause serious health problems,
particularly to diabetics, by providing inaccurate blood sugar
level readings.

AG Pappert urged consumers to immediately stop using all glucose
blood testing strips from Accu-Chek Sensor Comfort and Accu-Chek
Advantage II that contain any of the following markings on the
box: "Made in USA for Export Only" "For Sale Outside of the USA
and Canada" "For Export Only"

In addition, all Accu-Chek test strips with six digit lot
numbers beginning with lot #44 are for exportation only and are
not to be used in the United States. Consumers should also
discontinue using any other blood test strip product that
contains similar "export only" language and consult their
doctor.

The warning follows concerns by the product manufacturer that
the strips may have been repackaged and reimported into the
United States. According to the manufacturer, the alleged
counterfeit products are NOT approved or cleared for use in the
U.S. by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

AG 4Pappert said consumers who use these products should check
both the outside packaging for the "export only" label, and the
lot number on the strip holder inside the box. The lot number
should appear on the outside of the box and also on the plastic
strip holders and computer chip inside the box. Failure to
inspect these products could be dangerous and result in a false
blood sugar reading that may significantly affect the proper
treatment for diabetes or other illnesses.

Glucose strips sold outside of the U.S. are programmed to test
whole blood and not blood plasma as required in this country. As
a result, these strips are calibrated differently than test
strips sold in the United States and will provide a
significantly different reading. According to the manufacturer,
the glucose readings could deviate by as much as 12 percent.
These inaccurate readings pose potential harm to those required
to regularly monitor their blood sugar levels.

AG Pappert said consumers who may have purchased the diabetic
blood testing strips not intended for sale in the United States,
should contact his Health Care Section toll-free by Phone:
1-877-888-4877.


RAMSEY AUTO: Reaches Pact With NY AG Over Fraudulent Advertising
----------------------------------------------------------------
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer reached a settlement in
December 2004 with nine New Jersey auto dealerships that
advertise heavily in New York State and which use false,
deceptive and misleading claims in their advertisements.

State Supreme Court Justice Louis Barone of Westchester County
signed a court order permanently barring Ramsey Auto Group -
which operates nine dealerships in Mahwah, Saddle River and
Ramsey, New Jersey - from violating New York laws that prohibit
false advertising.  The consent order also prohibits the
dealerships from violating New York's advertising guidelines for
auto dealers.

"My office will continue to ensure that New York consumers are
protected against false and misleading auto advertising, even if
the offending dealership is located out-of-state," AG Spitzer
said. "These efforts level the playing field so that out-of-
state auto dealers cannot use false and deceptive advertising to
gain a competitive advantage over New York auto dealers."

AG Spitzer's office cited examples of misleading and deceptive
advertisements placed by nine New Jersey dealerships in New York
newspapers, including ads that:

     (1) Boldly promoted auto leases for "$0 Down" even though
         certain payments, mentioned only in a tiny footnote,
         actually would be due at lease signing;

     (2) Promoted low prices without disclosing that the prices
         were only for a small group of people who qualified for
         a specialized rebate such as a "college grad rebate" or
         a "military rebate";

     (3) Promoted financing at low interest rates but failed to
         adequately disclose that those rates were restricted to
         a small percentage of customers with extremely high
         credit scores;

     (4) Promoted financing at low interest rates but failed to
         disclose that consumers who accepted these rates would
         be waiving substantial price rebates;

     (5) Failed to disclose that advertised prices did not
         include registration, title fees, and taxes;

     (6) Included misleading price comparisons; and

     (7) Included fine print footnotes that contradicted or
         materially altered the principal message of the
         advertisements.

In addition to prohibiting false advertising, the court order
requires the dealerships to pay $47,000 in civil penalties and
costs. Spitzer's office sought a court order after the
dealerships violated two prior out-of-court agreements to stop
running deceptive ads.

The Ramsey auto dealerships do business as:

     (i) Ramsey Volvo;

    (ii) Ramsey Infiniti, Inc.;

   (iii) Ramsey Nissan, Inc.;

    (iv) Belle Scarpe, Inc. doing business as Ramsey Saab;

     (v) RamSub Inc. doing business as Ramsey Subaru;

    (vi) Auto Imports Inc. doing business as Ramsey Mitsubishi;

   (vii) Ramsey Auto Imports of 17, Inc. doing business as
         Ramsey Chrysler Jeep;

  (viii) RamMaz, Inc. doing business as Ramsey Mazda; and

    (ix) Ramsey Pontiac-GMC, Inc.

This case is the latest in an ongoing effort by Spitzer's office
to monitor auto advertising and sales practices throughout the
state. Since 1999, Spitzer's office has commenced approximately
200 enforcement actions against auto dealers and their
advertising associations across the state.

For more details, contact the Attorney General's consumer help
line: 800-771-7755 or visit the Website:
http://www.oag.state.ny.us.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Yasmin
Rahman Kutty, under the supervision of Gary S. Brown, Assistant
Attorney General in Charge of the Westchester Regional Office.


ROYAL GROUP: Shareholders File Securities Fraud Suits in S.D. NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
Royal Group Technologies, Inc. faces several securities class
actions filed in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York, alleging that the Company
violated United States securities laws by issuing false or
misleading public statements.  The complaint charges Royal Group
and certain of its officers and directors with violations of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

The complaints allege 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 the following:

     (1) that defendants engaged in a fraudulent scheme and/or
         conspiracy whereby defendants used false invoices to
         steal money from the Company and defraud shareholders;

     (2) that the defendant's use of false invoices caused the
         Company to overstate inventory and allowed defendants
         to delay writedowns on these assets in order to
         maintain purportedly strong earnings results;

     (3) that defendants falsely portrayed that the Company's
         U.S. window business was strong;

     (4) that the Company materially overstated its financial
         results during the Class Period; and

     (5) that as consequence of the above, the defendants'
         projection for fiscal year 2003-2004 were materially
         overstated and were lacking an any reasonable basis
         when made.

More specifically, the Complaints allege that Royal Group and
certain of its top executive officers were engaged in a
conspiracy to defraud shareholders as disclosed on October 15,
2004 when Royal Group announced that it had received a Royal
Canadian Mounted Police production order relating to alleged
violations of the Criminal Code for fraud and conspiracy between
January 1996 and January 2004. When this was revealed, shares of
Royal Group fell $1.12 per share, or 12.49 percent, on October
18, 2004, to close at $7.85 per share.

The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

     (i) Charles J. Piven, World Trade Center-Baltimore,401 East
         Pratt Suite 2525, Baltimore, MD, 21202, Phone:
         410.332.0030, E-mail: pivenlaw@erols.com

    (ii) Dyer & Shuman, LLP, 801 East 17th Avenue, Denver, CO,
         80218-1417, Phone: 303.861.3003, Fax; 800.711.6483, E-
         mail: info@dyershuman.com

   (iii) Schatz & Nobel, P.C., 330 Main Street, Hartford, CT,
         06106, Phone: 800.797.5499, Fax: 860.493.6290, E-mail:
         sn06106@AOL.com

    (iv) Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP, 3 Bala Plaza E, Bala Cynwyd,
         PA, 19004, Phone: 610.667.7706, Fax: 610.667.7056, E-
         mail: info@sbclasslaw.com


SCHERING-PLOUGH: PA AG Gets $6.175M Share in Drug Pricing Pact
--------------------------------------------------------------
As part of his continuing effort to enforce the Medicaid laws
and crack down on prescription drug pricing fraud, Attorney
General Jerry Pappert's Medicaid Fraud Control Section has
secured $6,175,000 for the Pennsylvania Medicaid Program as its
share of a national settlement with Schering-Plough Corporation
in December 2004.

Pappert said the Pennsylvania settlement is part of a national
$290 million settlement following a guilty plea by Schering
Sales Corporation, a subsidiary of Schering-Plough, to criminal
charges that it fraudulently marketed and priced its blockbuster
allergy drug, Claritin.

"Prescription drug pricing fraud hurts all of us by driving up
the costs of health care and medication," Pappert said. "We must
remain vigilant in ensuring that drug companies follow our
Medicaid laws and stop companies that defraud consumers and
state programs."

Pappert said his office today has remitted a check for
$2,843,619.55 to the state Department of Public Welfare
representing the Commonwealth's share of the Schering-Plough
settlement. In addition, Pappert said, the federal government
has been remitted approximately $3,332,000 for its share of the
Pennsylvania settlement. Pappert explained that the state
Medicaid programs are jointly funded by the state and federal
governments.

"These funds will be used by the state Medicaid programs to
provide health care services to the most needy and vulnerable
citizens," Pappert said. "We must continue to find ways,
including battling fraud, to reduce the high costs of
prescription drugs."

Pappert explained that Schering's marketing of Claritin violated
the federal Medicaid Drug Rebate Statute, which requires drug
manufacturers to report accurate "best price" information to the
government. Officials use the information to calculate the
rebates drug manufacturers pay to the states to ensure the state
Medicaid programs purchase the drug at the manufacturers' lowest
price for the product. Pappert said the "best price" is the
lowest price that a manufacturer offers its products for sale to
commercial purchasers.

In the Schering case, Pappert said, two large health maintenance
organizations (HMOs) threatened to drop Claritin from their
formularies due to its high price. Pappert explained that in the
late 1990s Claritin was Schering's best selling drug, though it
was substantially more expensive than its closest competitor,
Allegra. Pappert said when the HMOs threatened to drop Claritin,
Schering devised various incentives to indirectly lower the
price of Claritin. However, Schering failed to report the
discounts to the Medicaid programs.

"Schering devised an illegal kickback scheme to keep its high-
priced drug, Claritin, on the list of drugs offered by these
HMOs while continuing to charge the state Medicaid programs the
same high costs," Pappert said. "This forced poor people, those
on Medicaid, to pay more for this drug than people with private
insurance."

As a result of this scheme, Pappert said, the Medicaid programs
and certain public health systems paid much more for Claritin
from 1998-2002 than customers of the two HMOs. To resolve the
claims, Schering-Plough agreed to pay the states the $290
million settlement.

For the scheme, Pappert said, Schering Sales pleaded guilty to
criminal charges brought by U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan of
Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In addition, the company
agreed to pay a $52.5 million fine for violating the Anti-
Kickback Act.

In addition to the criminal conviction, fine and settlement,
Pappert noted that Schering-Plough has agreed to enter into a
corporate integrity agreement with the federal Department of
Health and Human Services that addresses Schering's sales,
marketing and pricing of its drugs to government programs. This
integrity agreement includes five years of independent audits to
ensure that Schering complies with all federally funded health
care programs.

Pappert said the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control
Units represented the states in negotiating the settlement. The
negotiating team included Chief Deputy Attorney General
Christopher Abruzzo of Pappert's Medicaid Fraud Control Section.

The $6.2 million Schering Medicaid settlement was the fourth
major settlement this year announced by Pappert. Earlier this
year, Pappert's Medicaid Fraud Control Section secured $8.4
million from Bayer, $2.6 million from GlaxoSmithKline and $1.3
million from Abbott Laboratories for the Pennsylvania Medicaid
Program. So far, Pappert has announced that his office has
secured $18.5 million in Medicaid settlements for the
Pennsylvania Medicaid Program.


SUPPORTSOFT INC.: Shareholders Lodge Securities Suits in S.D. CA
----------------------------------------------------------------
SupportSoft, Inc. faces several securities class actions filed
in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
California, alleging that it violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that Defendants issued a
series of false and misleading statements to the market during
the Class Period. These statements were false and misleading
because the Company failed to disclose that its business model
was in fact not materially differentiated from other enterprise
software companies, that its customers were implementing
additional hurdles to contract approvals and that it was
experiencing execution difficulties.

The complaint further alleges that on October 4, 2004, the
Company announced its preliminary financial results for the
third quarter 2004, ended September 30, 2004. The Company
announced that it expected total revenues for the third quarter
2004 to be in the range of $11.9 million to $12.3 million as
compared to $13.5 million for the same period the prior year.
The Company claimed that "tightness in IT spending" and "more
complex approval processes" was the reason for the significant
miss. On this news, the Company's share price dropped from $9.62
per share to $6.21 per share, representing a drop of 35.4% on
extremely heavy trading volume.

The first identified suit in the litigation is styled "Autumn
Partners, LLC., et al. v. Supportsoft, Inc., et al., Case No.
04-CV-5222," filed under Judge Hon. William P Dimitrouleas.  The
class period starts January 20,2004 and ends October 1,2004.
The plaintiff firms in the litigation are:

     (1) Charles J. Piven, World Trade Center-Baltimore, 401
         East Pratt Suite 2525, Baltimore, MD, 21202, Phone:
         410.332.0030, E-mail: pivenlaw@erols.com

     (2) Goodkind Labaton Rudoff & Sucharow LLP, 100 Park
         Avenue, New York, NY, 10017, Phone: 212.907.0700, Fax:
         212.818.0477, E-mail: info@glrslaw.com

     (3) Roy Jacobs & Associates, 350 Fifth Avenue Suite 3000,
         New York, NY, 10118, E-mail: classattorney@pipeline.com

     (4) Schatz & Nobel, P.C., 330 Main Street, Hartford, CT,
         06106, Phone: 800.797.5499, Fax: 860.493.6290, E-mail:
         sn06106@AOL.com

     (5) Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP, 3 Bala Plaza E, Bala
         Cynwyd, PA, 19004, Phone: 610.667.7706, Fax:
         610.667.7056, E-mail: info@sbclasslaw.com


UNITED STATES: Group Says Tort Reform Kills Consumer Protection
---------------------------------------------------------------
In a media conference call, members of the Coalition to Preserve
Access to Justice, including Consumers Union, Public Citizen, US
PIRG and the Alliance for Justice, accused the White House of
assaulting consumer access to the courts and limiting consumer
protection in response to President Bush's tort "deform" blitz
this week. The President, promoting limits on consumer lawsuits
but not business lawsuits, essentially blames consumers for
hindering the nation's economic growth. According to White House
spokespersons, consumer lawsuits against corporations are a
major drain on the economy, and President Bush met with
Congressional leaders at the White House to talk about limiting
consumer class actions.

"The Bush Administration's class action bill takes rights away
from ordinary Americans and shifts it to powerful industries,"
said Sandy Brantley of the Alliance for Justice, a member of the
Coalition to Preserve Access to Justice. "Industries know that
our courtrooms are the one place where judges and juries hold
them accountable when they rip off consumers, make defective and
dangerous drugs, discriminate against employees, or pollute the
environment. So powerful industries have turned to smoke-filled
back rooms where they can railroad anti-consumer bills through
Congress to help them escape the reach of our courts."

"The class action bill is a giveaway to the drug companies,
polluters, banks and other big campaign donors that want to
avoid responsibility for their wrongdoing, but it is unfair to
victims. The Senate should hold hearings and have a full debate
on the President's class action limitation proposal," said Ed
Mierzwinski of US PIRG, and a member of the Coalition.

A recent study by Public Citizen found that businesses are much
more likely to sue than are individuals. Businesses file four
times as many lawsuits as individuals do, according to the
study. Moreover, businesses and their attorneys were 69 percent
more likely than individual tort plaintiffs and their attorneys
to be sanctioned by federal judges for filing frivolous claims
or defenses. (The study is available at
http://www.citizen.org/Congress/civjus/index.cfm)

"Corporations think America is too litigious only when they are
on the receiving end of a lawsuit," said Frank Clemente,
director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch and a member of the
Coalition.

Public Citizen's study of the number of lawsuits examined two
states and two counties with comparable data and included two
jurisdictions frequently cited as "judicial hellholes" -- the
state of Mississippi and Philadelphia County, Pa.

In addition, there are many jurisdictions in which consumer
class action lawsuits cannot even get heard. Specifically, six
circuit courts and 26 district courts have consistently refused
to hear multi-state consumer cases.

"It's ridiculous to say consumer lawsuits are to blame for the
economic mess when there's evidence that so many worthy cases
can't even get to trial," said Sally Greenberg of Consumers
Union, also a member of the Coalition. "The president keeps
talking about lawsuit abuse, but consumers and workers are the
ones being abused."

The assault on consumer lawsuits is part of President Bush's
program to decrease the costs of litigation for corporations.
Yet it comes at a time when even more evidence of corporate
wrongdoing -- most recently in the pharmaceutical industry's
continued marketing of Vioxx and Celebrex when those drugs were
obviously harmful to consumers. A number of bills are before
Congress intended to restrict consumers' ability to bring suit
for corporate wrongs, among them the so-called Class Action
"Fairness" Act in the Senate, which would restrict class action
suits in multiple ways, making it difficult for consumers to
hold corporations accountable.

The Coalition to Preserve Access to Justice is a group of 80
consumer, civil rights and environmental organizations formed to
fight attempts to limit class action lawsuits used by victims of
discrimination, consumer fraud, and toxic pollution.


UNITED STATES: President Bush Renews Efforts To Curb Lawsuits
-------------------------------------------------------------
In an attempt to breath new life to federal limits on class
action lawsuits, which is an important issue for many
conservatives who say frivolous litigation hurts businesses,
President George W. Bush said after meeting with lawmakers of
both parties mostly Republicans in the Cabinet Room, "Class-
action lawsuits have become a problem in the United States. The
judicial system is not fair, it is unbalanced, and it's tilted.
It is a problem we intend to fix," the Associated Press reports.

Though none of the lawmakers spoke up while reporters were
present, the president declared: "Members around this table are
willing to set aside their political party to do what is right
for workers and business owners alike."

Curbing class-action lawsuits is one of the goals in the
president's second-term agenda for sweeping tort overhaul. Just
recently in Illinois, he renewed his effort to impose nationwide
ceilings on medical malpractice awards for pain and suffering.
The president after his Illinois visit is set to go to Michigan
to push Congress to set limits on jury awards in asbestos
lawsuits.

"Our tort system has become a needless disadvantage for American
manufacturers and entrepreneurs" because they are higher in the
United States than in any other major industrialized nation,
President Bush said in Illinois.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee has said that
class-action legislation will be the first bill introduced in
the Senate this session.

A GOP bill that that was shot down last year would have moved
more class-action lawsuits in which one person or a small group
represents the interests of an entire class of people in court
out of state courts and into federal courts where awards
typically are smaller.

Many consumer groups and Democrats say that the legislation only
helps businesses escape judgments for wrongdoing, according to
them huge damage awards and class-action lawsuits are necessary
tools to ensure corporations play by the rules.

The consumer watchdog group Public Citizen found that businesses
"are the real cause of the 'litigation explosion.'" Businesses
file four times as many lawsuits as consumers do, according to a
study by the Coalition to Preserve Access to Justice, a group of
consumer, civil rights and environmental organizations trying to
fight attempts to limit class-action lawsuits. The group also
found that businesses and their attorneys are more than three
times as likely to be sanctioned by federal judges for filing
frivolous claims or defenses.

According to Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen,
"Consumers have no other remedy unless they can join together
and bring a class-action case."


VIMPEL-COMMUNICATIONS: Shareholder Lodge Stock Suits in S.D. NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
Vimpel-Communications (a/k/a Vympel Communicatii), Alexander V.
Izosimov and Elena A. Shmatova face several securities class
actions filed in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York.

The suits allege violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934. More specifically, the Complaints allege that the Company
failed to disclose and misrepresented the following material
adverse facts which were known to defendants or recklessly
disregarded by them:

     (1) that VimpelCom was passing fifty percent (50%) of its
         revenues from its Moscow operations to its wholly owned
         subsidiary KB Impuls, thereby improperly deducting
         fifty percent (50%) of Moscow revenues as expenses to
         VimpelCom;

     (2) as such, VimpelCom was only paying taxes on fifty
         percent (50%) of the Moscow revenues rather than on all
         revenues from its Moscow operations, including revenues
         passed onto KB Impuls;

     (3) that this improper deduction caused VimpelCom to
         artificially inflate its financial results by at least
         US$534 million for fiscal years 2001-2003;

     (4) that as a result of this, the Company's financial
         results were in violation of generally accepted
         accounting principles ("GAAP");

     (5) that the Company lacked adequate internal controls; and

     (6) that as a result of the above, the Company's financial
         results were materially inflated at all relevant times.

The complaints further allege that on December 8, 2004,
VimpelCom announced that it had received an act with preliminary
conclusions of the review of VimpelCom's 2001 tax filing by its
tax inspectorate, stating that the Company owed an additional
2.5 billion rubles which is approximately US$90 million in tax
(plus 1.9 billion rubles or approximately US$67 million in fines
and penalties). A large portion of this amount related to the
deductibility of expenses incurred by VimpelCom in connection
with the agency relationship between VimpelCom and its wholly
owned subsidiary, KB Impuls, which held the GSM license for the
city of Moscow and the Moscow region. News of this shocked the
market. Shares of VimpelCom fell $8.38 per share, or 21.78
percent, to close at $30.10 per share on unusually high trading
volume.

The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

     (i) Charles J. Piven, World Trade Center-Baltimore,401 East
         Pratt Suite 2525, Baltimore, MD, 21202, Phone:
         410.332.0030, Fax: pivenlaw@erols.com

    (ii) Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman LLP (New York), One
         Pennsylvania Plaza, 49th Floor, New York, NY, 10119,
         Phone: 212.594.5300, Fax: 212.868.1229, E-mail:
         info@milbergweiss.com

   (iii) Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP, 275 Madison Ave 34th Flr,
         New York, NY, 10016, Phone: 212.682.1818, Fax:
         212.682.1892, E-mail: email@rabinlaw.com

    (iv) Schatz & Nobel, P.C., 330 Main Street, Hartford, CT,
         06106, Phone: 800.797.5499, Fax: 860.493.6290, E-mail:
         sn06106@AOL.com

     (v) Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP, 3 Bala Plaza E, Bala Cynwyd,
         PA, 19004, Phone: 610.667.7706, Fax: 610.667.7056, E-
         mail: info@sbclasslaw.com


WAL-MART STORES: MA Judge Grants Approval To Employees Wage Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
A Middlesex court judge has approved a suit representing some
55,000 current and former Wal-Mart workers, which is alleging
that retail giant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. failed to pay employees
for time worked and neglected to give them meal and rest breaks,
the Boston Herald reports.

In the eight-page ruling by Superior Court Judge Ernest B.
Murphy cites an affidavit by a computer expert hired by the
plaintiffs. The expert had allegedly found 7,000 instances
during a one-year period when Wal-Mart managers deleted large
blocks of time from their employee payroll records.

According to Medford consumer lawyer Robert Bonsignore, an
attorney representing lead plaintiffs, former employees Crystal
Salvas and Elaine Polion, "This is huge. What this means is we
have a reasonable probability of success, based on a very tiny
sample that showed they knowingly took time away from
employees."

However, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Christi Gallagher denied those
charges saying that, "This court's ruling does not address the
merits of the case. There's been no determination that Wal-Mart
engaged in any of these unlawful activities." Wal-Mart had
withdrawn one motion to dismiss the suit last month, and the
court denied a second motion New Year's Eve.

Filed in August 2001, the suit represents one of at least 35
lawsuits nationwide involving pay and other workplace issues
raised against Wal-Mart. If the employees prove that Wal-Mart
failed to pay them for all the time they worked, they could be
awarded three times the amount owed.

Wal-Mart has reportedly shelled out $50 million to settle a
similar suit brought by its Colorado employees. A settlement in
the Bay State could cost twice that.


WORLDCOM INC.: Former Alltel Executive Part Of $18M Settlement
--------------------------------------------------------------
Several news organization have reported that Max Bobbitt Jr., a
former executive at rural telecommunications company Alltel
Corporation of Little Rock, is among 10 WorldCom, Inc.
executives, who have agreed to pay $18 million to settle a class
action lawsuit against them, the Arkansas Business Online
reports.

The lawsuit was filed by WorldCom investors who lost millions
when the Clinton, Mississippi-based telecommunications firm
collapsed in July 2002. WorldCom's $107 billion bankruptcy was
the largest in U.S. history.

The settlement is unusual in that Mr. Bobbitt and the other nine
WorldCom executives will collectively pay $18 million out of
their own pockets, which will be part of a $54 million
settlement with the New York State Common Retirement Fund.

According to attorneys for the plaintiffs, the executives'
personal payments were a key part of the negotiations from the
start because the plaintiffs wanted to make an example of the
executives. It is unclear, however, how much of the $18 million
Mr. Bobbitt will pay.

Mr. Bobbitt is a former president and chief financial officer at
Alltel, who was with the company until 1995, when he retired
with a five-year non-compete clause and a retirement package
worth about a half a million dollars a year. According to
several accounts, Mr. Bobbitt disagreed with then-CEO Joe Ford
on the direction the company was headed, which led to Mr.
Bobbitt's departure. Mr. Bobbitt was among several who left the
company during that time.

Since then, Mr. Bobbitt served as president and CEO of two
telecommunications companies, Asian American Telecommunications
Corporation and Metromedia China Corporation. In 1998, he became
a telecom consultant and was on the board of directors of
Metromedia and Verso Technologies Inc.

At WorldCom, Mr. Bobbitt served on the company's audit,
executive compensation and stock option committees.


YODER FORD: Reaches Settlement for TX AG's Consumer Fraud Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott reached an agreement with
Yoder Ford (also known as Hacienda Ford) of Edinburg in December
2004 that will yield refunds for about 130 new vehicle buyers
who were tricked into paying for vehicle alarm systems that
added about $800 to the advertised vehicle price.

"Although a Yoder Ford representative wrongfully engaged in this
scheme, the company uncovered the conduct and cooperated with my
office in resolving this matter with its customers," said
Attorney General Abbott. "The business wisely chose to settle to
our satisfaction with consumers who deserve refunds for
overpayment."

From April through July 2001, Yoder Ford advertised sales prices
for certain vehicles in newspaper ads to lure prospective
customers to the showroom floor to inquire about the sale.
However, the dealer never intended to sell the vehicles at the
advertised sale prices. In the "bait" scheme at the close of the
sale, the dealer added the $800 price of the alarm system to the
advertised price, in many instances without the consent or
knowledge of the buyer and without disclosing that the purchase
was optional.

While the newspaper ads inconspicuously noted that a charge for
the alarm would be added to the advertised price, only tax,
title and license fees may be lawfully excluded from this price.
The scheme violates the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act by
advertising the sale of vehicles with the intent not to sell
them as advertised.

In June 2002 the Attorney General also sued two other car
dealerships, Knapp Chevrolet of Harlingen and Burns Motors of
McAllen, for engaging in an identical bait advertising scheme.
These cases are pending in court.

Consumers who purchased a new vehicle from Yoder Ford from April
through July 2001 may be eligible for refunds. These persons
will receive notice from the Attorney General by mail at the
address they gave the dealership when they purchased a vehicle.
Consumers who may have moved since then should call the Attorney
General's McAllen office at 956/682-4547 (ext. 106) to leave a
forwarding address.


                     New Securities Fraud Cases

ANCHOR GLASS: Lerach Coughlin Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in FL
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins
LLP ("Lerach Coughlin") initiated a class action lawsuit in the
United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida
on behalf of investors who purchased Anchor Glass Container
Corporation ("Anchor Glass" or the "Company") (NASDAQ: AGCC)
common stock pursuant and/or traceable to the Company's initial
public offering of its common stock on or about September 25,
2003 through November 4, 2004 (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Anchor Glass and certain of its officers
and directors with violations of the Securities Act of 1933 and
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Anchor Glass purports to be
the third largest manufacturer of glass containers in the United
States, with a primary focus on the beverage and food
industries.

The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants
issued numerous statements concerning the Company's financial
performance. As alleged in the complaint, these statements were
materially false and misleading because they failed to disclose
that:

     (1) that a portion of the Company's inventory had become
         impaired and should have been written-off;

     (2) that despite decreased demand for its products, the
         Company was continuing to produce the same level of
         output;

     (3) that defendants were experiencing difficulties in
         executing the Company's strategy, resulting in the
         forced closure of at least one of the Company's
         facilities; and

     (4) that as a result of the foregoing, the Company's assets
         and net income were materially overstated at all
         relevant times.

Then, on November 5, 2004, before the market opened for trading,
the Company announced lower earnings for the third quarter of
2004; the closing of its Connellsville facility; its plan to
curtail production in the fourth quarter; a restructuring charge
of $47-$57 million, which includes a charge for asset
impairment; the retirement of the Company's Chief Executive
Officer, defendant Richard Deneau; and the suspension of the
Company's dividend. In response to these disclosures, shares of
Anchor Glass stock fell $2.14 per share, or 27%, to close at
$5.80 per share.

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


ATHEROGENICS INC.: Brodsky & Smith Lodges Securities Suit in NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law offices of Brodsky & Smith, LLC initiated a securities
class action lawsuit on behalf of shareholders who purchased the
common stock and other securities of Atherogenics, Inc.
("Atherogenics" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:AGIX), between
September 28, 2004 and December 31, 2004 inclusive (the "Class
Period"). The class action lawsuit was filed in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The Complaint alleges that defendants violated federal
securities laws by issuing a series of material
misrepresentations to the market during the Class Period,
thereby artificially inflating the price of Atherogenics
securities. No class has yet been certified in the above action.

For more details, contact Marc L. Ackerman, Esq. or Evan J.
Smith, Esq. at Brodsky & Smith, LLC by Mail: Two Bala Plaza,
Suite 602, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004, by Phone: 877-LEGAL-90 or by
E-mail: clients@brodsky-smith.com.


ATHEROGENICS INC.: Charles J. Piven Lodges Securities Suit in NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law offices of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a securities
class action on behalf of shareholders who purchased, converted,
exchanged or otherwise acquired the common stock of
Atherogenics, Inc. (Nasdaq:AGIX) between September 28, 2004 and
December 31, 2004, inclusive (the "Class Period").

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

For more details, contact the Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven,
P.A. by Mail: The World Trade Center-Baltimore, 401 East Pratt
Street, Suite 2525, Baltimore, Maryland 21202 by Phone:
410/986-0036 by E-mail: hoffman@pivenlaw.com.


ATHEROGENICS INC.: Murray Frank Lodges Securities Suit in NY
------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York, civil action number 05-cv-61, on
behalf of shareholders who purchased or otherwise acquired the
securities of Atherogenics, Inc. ("AGIX" or the "Company")
(Nasdaq:AGIX) between September 28, 2004 and December 31, 2004,
inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges AGIX, Russell Medford, Mark Colonnese, and
Robert Scott with violations of United States securities laws.
More specifically, the Complaint alleges that the Company failed
to disclose and misrepresented the following material adverse
facts which were known to defendants or recklessly disregarded
by them:

     (1) that the Company hyped the results of an inconclusive
         and limited study of AGI-1067;

     (2) that the statistically impressive levels of plaque
         reduction, described by AGIX in the initial
         announcement, varied significantly from the results
         achieved by the Cleveland Clinic;

     (3) that the Company was burning cash at a high rate; and

     (4) that the Company manipulated the study's results in
         order to enter into a strategic partnership with a
         major pharmaceutical company to complete the
         development and commercialization of AGI-1067.

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


ATHEROGENICS INC.: Schatz & Nobel Lodges Securities Suit in NY
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Schatz & Nobel, P.C., initiated a lawsuit
seeking class action status in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York on behalf of all persons,
who purchased the publicly traded securities of Atherogenics,
Inc. (NasdaqNM: AGIX) ("Atherogenics") between September 28,
2004 and December 31, 2004 (the "Class Period").

The Complaint alleges that Atherogenics violated federal
securities laws by issuing false or misleading public
statements. Specifically the Complaint alleges that Atherogenics
misrepresented the results of an inconclusive and limited study
of its experimental drug AGI-1067. Moreover, the Complaint
alleges that Atherogenics manipulated that study's results in
order to enter into a strategic partnership with a major
pharmaceutical company so as to complete the development and
commercialization of AGI-1067. When the truth was revealed the
price of Atherogenics stock fell from a close of $23.56 per
share on December 31, 2004, to close at $18.72 on January 3,
2005, the next trading day.

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


CONEXANT SYSTEMS: Braun Law Group Lodges Securities Suit in CA
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Braun Law Group, P.C. initiated a class action lawsuit was
filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of
California on behalf of all persons who purchased the publicly
traded securities of Conexant Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:CNXT)
("Conexant") between March 1, 2004 and November 4, 2004 (the
"Class Period"), including all former holders of
GlobespanVirata, Inc. ("Globespan") who acquired Conexant shares
in the merger completed March 1, 2004.

Defendants include Conexant, Dwight W. Decker, and Armando
Geday. The Complaint charges that defendants violated Sections
10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule
10-b(5).

Conexant specializes in semiconductor solutions for broadband
communications, enterprise networks and the digital home. The
Complaint alleges that Conexant and certain of its officers and
directors made a series of material misrepresentations
concerning Conexant's earnings and integration with Globespan.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that Conexant repeatedly
stated that the integration was successful when in fact there
were significant problems with respect to the combined
companies' parallel DSL and wireless technology offerings, as
well as their sales and administration functions. The complaint
alleges that Conexant issued false and misleading statements
when it claimed that its wireless LAN ("WLAN") business was
experiencing reduced growth due to competition from Taiwan-based
chip suppliers when, in fact, the problem was actually caused by
the combined companies' WLAN business not being properly
integrated in the merger.

Plaintiff seeks to recover damages on behalf of the Class and is
represented by the Braun Law Group, P.C. whose attorneys have
significant experience and expertise in prosecuting class
actions and have played lead roles in major cases resulting in
the recovery of millions of dollars to investors.

For more details, contact Michael D. Braun, Esq. or Marc L.
Godino, Esq. of the Braun Law Group, P.C. by Phone:
(310) 442-7755 or (888) 658-7100 by E-mail:
info@braunlawgroup.com.


CHINA AVIATION: Murray Frank Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP has filed a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York, civil action number 05-cv-60, on
behalf of shareholders who purchased or otherwise acquired the
securities of China Aviation Oil Singapore Corporation ("China
Aviation" or the "Company") (Singapore:CNAO.SI) between February
5, 2004 and November 30, 2004, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The Complaint alleges that, during the Class Period, defendants
issued false and misleading statements regarding the Company's
business and prospects. As a result of the defendants' false
statements, China Aviation shares traded at inflated levels
during the Class Period, whereby the Company's top officers and
directors assisted the Company's parent company/controlling
shareholder in the sale of $120 million worth of its own shares.

More specifically, the complaint alleges the following facts,
which were known by each of the defendants but concealed from
the investing public during the Class Period:

     (1) that contrary to the Company's prospectus, the Company
         did not have the necessary risk management controls in
         place for hedging and trading;

     (2) that contrary to the private placement offering
         documents, the funds raised were not to fund an
         acquisition of the controlling shareholders but rather
         to meet margin calls for the massive derivative losses
         in the Company; and

     (3) that the Company's financial statements were grossly
         overstated or the Company was hiding liabilities
         totaling in excess of $550 million in derivative
         trading losses.

On November 30, 2004, Bloomberg published an article entitled
"China Aviation Seeks Court Protection After $550 Million Oil
Loss," which stated in part:

China Aviation Oil (Singapore) Corp., supplier of a third of
China's jet fuel, will ask Singapore's High Court for protection
from creditors after losing about $550 million from bad bets on
oil prices.

Also on November 30, 2004, Bloomberg published an article
entitled "Singapore Shareholder Group 'Shocked' by China
Aviation Loss," which stated in part:

The Securities Investors Association Singapore, a group
representing retail investors in the city-state, said it's
"shocked" by China Aviation Oil (Singapore) Corp.'s $550 million
loss from bad debts on the price of oil.

"To the shareholders, it's a corporate earthquake. . . ." David
Gerald, president of the group, said in an interview. "Is this
another Barings? They're asking."

China Aviation is not currently trading on any securities
exchange.

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


KRISPY KREME: Keller Rohrback Initiates ERISA Investigation
-----------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Keller Rohrback L.L.P. recently revealed it is
investigating Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. ("Krispy Kreme" or
the "Company") (NYSE:KKD) for violations of the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"). The
investigation focuses on investments in Company stock by the
Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corp. Retirement Savings Plan and the
Krispy Kreme Profit Sharing Stock Ownership Plan (the "Plans")
between August 21, 2003 and the present (the "Class Period").

Keller Rohrback's investigation focuses on concerns that Krispy
Kreme and other fiduciaries for the Plans may have breached
their ERISA-mandated fiduciary duties of loyalty and prudence by

     (1) failing to prudently and loyally manage the Plans'
         assets by imprudently investing a significant amount of
         the Plans' assets in Krispy Kreme stock;

     (2) failing to monitor and provide fiduciary appointees
         with information that the appointing fiduciaries knew
         or should have known that the monitored fiduciaries
         must have in order to prudently manage the Plans'
         assets;

     (3) failing to provide complete and accurate information to
         participants and beneficiaries; and

     (4) breaching their duty to avoid conflicts of interest.

The Company recently announced that it would restate its
earnings for fiscal 2004. Yesterday the stock closed at $9.70
per share. At the start of the class period, August 21, 2003,
the stock traded as high as $47.50 per share.

For more details, contact Jennifer Tuato'o, Paralegal of Keller
Rohrback L.L.P. by Phone: (800) 776-6044 by E-mail:
investor@kellerrohrback.com or visit their Web sites:
http://www.erisafraud.comor http://www.seattleclassaction.com.


SUPPORTSOFT INC.: Milberg Weiss Lodges Securities Suit in CA
------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman LLP initiated a
class action lawsuit on behalf of purchasers of the securities
of SupportSoft, Inc. ("SupportSoft" or the "Company")
(NASDAQ:SPRT) between January 20, 2004 and October 1, 2004,
inclusive (the "Class Period") seeking to pursue remedies under
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act").

The action is pending in the United States District Court for
the Northern District of California against defendants
SupportSoft, Radha R.Basu (Chairman and CEO) and Brian M.
Beattie (CFO).

The complaint alleges that SupportSoft was a provider of support
and service management software (referred to as real-time
service management software) designed to accelerate and automate
enterprise technical support, customer service and end-point
management. The complaint further alleges that, throughout the
Class Period, defendants claimed that SupportSoft was among an
elite group of companies able to deliver in difficult economic
times, touted the Company's "crisp execution," and, each
quarter, increased 2004 revenue and earnings guidance, such that
by the third quarter the Company was guiding analysts and
investors to believe that revenues and earnings per share would
be in the range of $65 million to $69 million and $0.34 to
$0.37, respectively.

These statements were materially false and misleading because,
among other things, the Company was not executing "crisply" but
rather was unable to meet customer specifications, and there was
no reasonable basis for defendant's revenue and earnings
projections when made. The truth emerged before the open of
trading on October 4, 2004. On that date, defendants reported
preliminary financial results for the third quarter ended
September 30, 2004, announced a third-quarter loss of $0.01 to
$0.04 per share, and announced that revenue had declined to as
low as $11.9 million from $13.5 million. It was the largest drop
since the Company went public in 2000. On this news, the price
of SupportSoft shares fell 38.8%, from a closing price of $9.62
on October 1, 2004, the last day before the earnings
announcement, to a low of $5.89 on October 4, 2004. The Company
subsequently lowered its 2004 revenue and earnings per share
guidance to $59 million to $59.7 million and $0.20 to $0.22,
respectively. During the Class Period, when SupportSoft shares
were trading at artificially inflated prices, the defendants
sold 350,000 of their personally held shares for proceeds of
$3,568,000.

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


                            *********


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
Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Fairless Hills,
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.

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

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

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

                  * * *  End of Transmission  * * *