CAR_Public/050114.mbx              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

              Friday, January 14, 2005, Vol. 7, No. 10

                            Headlines

AMERICAN PHYSICIANS: MI Judge Dismisses Shareholder Fraud Suit
BLUE CROSS: Reaches $17.5M Settlement For RI Subscribers' Suit
CALIFORNIA: Mother Files Suit V. State Over Inadequate Education
CIGNA CORPORATION: AMA, AMGA, MGMA Urges Members To File Claims
CINTAS CORPORATION: Faces Employees Overtime Lawsuit in N.D. CA

CINTAS CORPORATION: Employees Launch CA Race Discrimination Suit
COLLEGE ADVANTAGE: Agrees To Settle FTC Consumer Fraud Complaint
DOVER ACQUISITION: Final Judgment Entered in Stockholder Lawsuit
DRYVIT SYSTEMS: 331 Claims Paid in TN Homeowners' EIFS Lawsuit
DURA PHARMACEUTICALS: Court Considers Securities Fraud Standards

EQUICREDIT: IL Resident Commences Lawsuit Over Loan Discount Fee
LIBERATE TECHNOLOGIES: Final Fairness Hearing Set February 2005
MCKESSON CORPORATION: To Pay $960M To Settle Shareholders' Suit
MICROSOFT CORPORATION: CA Residents Given More Time On Claims
MICROSOFT CORPORATION: SRC Thwarts Effort To Limit Recoveries

MINNESOTA CORN: MN Judge Denies Summary Judgment For Stock Suit
NEW YORK: Holocaust Settlement Administrators Reveal Depositors
OHIO: Three Cases Detailed in Lawsuit V. Hamilton County Morgue
PFIZER INC.: FDA Seeks To Stop Celebrex Advertising Campaign
PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS LLP: OH Judge Recommends Default Judgment

RED HAT: Plaintiffs File Consolidated Securities Lawsuit in NC
RED HAT: Asks NY Court To Approve Securities Lawsuit Settlement
TYSON FOODS: GA Appeals Court To Hear $1.28B Price Fixing Ruling
WEST COAST: Agrees To Settle FTC Fraudulent Solicitation Charges

                          Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: NY Court Upholds Ruling in Favor of Worker
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Lloyd's Equitas Reaches US$200MM Settlement
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Federal-Mogul, Creditors Oppose Trust Fund
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: ASIC Hands Out Subpoenas for Hardie Scandal
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: FL District Agrees to US$565,000 Settlement

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Irish MDs Anticipate Jump in Cancer Cases
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Pres. Bush Urges Passage of Asbestos Fund
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: ACE Takes $298M Charge to Increase Reserves
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: New Treatment Helps Prevent Cancer Growth
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: RPM Makes Record Q2 Before Asbestos Charge

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: UK Poll Reveals Low Awareness of New Rules
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: CA Court Affirms Ruling V. Owens-Illinois
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Avoidance Urged in Rebuilding
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Owner Fires Workers with Asbestos Diseases
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Insurers Committed to Real Asbestos Reform

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Lewisham Plans Asbestos Surveys for Housing
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Victims Group Backs Alternative to Reform
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Disease Awareness Group Opposes FAIR Act
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Canada MP Warns Public of Insulation Risks
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Find Prompts Warning From Council

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: AU Govt Releases $1.2M for Housing Injuries
ASBESTOS ALERT: OR Woman Fined For Illegal Burning At Demolition
ASBESTOS ALERT: Mom Wins GBP10T Damages for Shipbuilder's Death
ASBESTOS ALERT: OR's DEQ Issues Fines for Mishandling Asbestos
ASBESTOS ALERT: UK Estate Residents Fear Exposure Amid Disputes

ASBESTOS ALERT: NY Firefighters Face Fine After Demolition Drill
ASBESTOS ALERT: EPA Cites PA City, 2 Contractors for Violations
ASBESTOS ALERT: Louisiana Appeals Court Remands Case V. Avondale
ASBESTOS ALERT: OR Appeals Court Reverses Ruling V. Albina Fuel
ASBESTOS ALERT: PA Court Reverses Claim Grant to Armco Ex-worker

ASBESTOS ALERT: API Files Ch 11 Bankruptcy Over Asbestos Claims
ASBESTOS ALERT: Madison County's First Case Names 113 Defendants
ASBESTOS ALERT: CT Contractor Pleads Guilty to Removal Violation

                  New Securities Fraud Cases

ATHEROGENICS INC.: Marc S. Henzel Lodges Securities Suit in NY
ATHEROGENICS INC.: Wolf Popper Files Securities Fraud Suit in GA
INPUT/OUTPUT, INC.: Schiffrin & Barroway Lodges Stock Suit in TX
PFIZER INC.: Alfred G. Yates Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
TASER INTERNATIONAL: Federman & Sherwood Lodges Stock Suit in AZ

TASER INTERNATIONAL: Murray Frank Lodges Stock Fraud Suit in AZ
TASER INTERNATIONAL: Pomerantz Haudek Lodges Stock Suit in AZ


                            *********


AMERICAN PHYSICIANS: MI Judge Dismisses Shareholder Fraud Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Western District of
Michigan dismissed a shareholder class action filed against
American Physicians Capital, Inc. and two of its officers
alleging securities fraud violations, National Underwriter
reports.

The suit also names as defendants officers William B. Cheeseman
and Frank H. Freund.  Mr. Cheeseman, currently a director,
stepped down as CEO on December 31, 2003 after investors called
for his resignation in the wake of the Company's report of a
$77.1 million third-quarter loss. Meanwhile, Mr. Freund is the
Company's chief financial officer, executive vice president and
treasurer.  The suit alleges that the defendants violated
federal securities laws by issuing false and misleading
statements to the market, which artificially inflated the
Company's stock price.

U.S. District Court Judge Gordon Quist dismissed the suit with
prejudice.  Upon the dismissal, R. Kevin Clinton, APCapital's
president and chief executive officer told the National
Underwriter, "I am very pleased with the ruling handed down
yesterday and glad we can put this distraction behind us so we
can devote 100 percent of our efforts to running our business."

American Physicians Capital Inc. is a regional provider of
medical professional liability insurance focused primarily in
the Midwest markets through American Physicians Assurance
Corporation and its other subsidiaries.


BLUE CROSS: Reaches $17.5M Settlement For RI Subscribers' Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, the state's leading
health insurer for 66 years, settled two class-action suits for
$17.5 million in connection with claims processing practices
that allegedly reduced subscribers' benefits and increased their
out-of-pocket expenses for several years, the Providence
Business News reports.

According to a Company news release, under the settlement, Blue
Cross does not admit fault, but does accept a permanent ban on
those practices, which "are no longer in place." Blue Cross also
explained in the news release that its settlement is a way to
"avoid the cost and uncertainties of trial and possible
appeals," and to expedite payments to the affected people.
Additionally, Blue Cross stated that it does not expect this to
affect its reserves or increase rates or premiums.

The bulk of the payout, to be administered by plaintiffs' lawyer
Peter N. Wasylyk (the Providence legislator), will go to an
estimated 115,000 former and current subscribers, who will get
$10 to $2,500, or an average of about $95 each.  Court hearings
have been scheduled to finalize the settlement.  Mr. Wasylyk's
office will begin the process of locating and contacting all the
people eligible for payment.  Each will get a letter, and there
will also be ads in the local press, a Web site and a toll-free
number.

"Hopefully by summertime, the disbursements will occur, but
what's great about this settlement is that the class members
will receive the payment without a cumbersome claims process" -
they'll just get the checks automatically, said Mr. Wasylyk.

The lawsuits were filed in 1996 in U.S. District Court,
Providence, and state Superior Court. They were consolidated in
July 2003.


CALIFORNIA: Mother Files Suit V. State Over Inadequate Education
----------------------------------------------------------------
Attorneys are meeting for an initial court hearing about a suit
filed by the mother of a 14-year-old UCLA student against the
state of California for not providing adequate educational
instruction for her son, the UCLA Daily Bruin reports.

Filed in California Superior Court in Sacramento, the suit
alleges that the state violated the constitutional rights of
Levi Clancy, a student described in the legal complaint as
"highly gifted," because he did not receive "a free, equal and
suitable education."

According to the complaint, the young Mr. Clancy is currently in
his second year at UCLA. The complaint further states that he
began taking classes at Santa Monica College when he was 7 years
old, passed the California High School Proficiency exam when he
was 9, and enrolled at UCLA in January 2004.

The complaint further states that Levi Clancy's single mother,
Leila Levi, cannot continue to afford the education necessary
for her son and thus the suit is also seeking financial
compensation for his education. Richard Ackerman, Leila Levi's
attorney states, "The bottom line is, that the Constitution
guarantees a free and equal education according to the
individual needs of each student, and this particular student
needs a college level education in order to function as a child.
If you assume that he's required to attend school until he's 16,
and we know that the public school system is not going to meet
his needs ... then it becomes pretty obvious that the state does
have a duty to make sure he's educated up until he's 16. If he
doesn't, he's a truant."

Jack O'Connell, superintendent of education for the state of
California, is also named as a defendant in the suit. A
spokesperson from Mr. O'Connell's office, Hilary McLean, said
state public schools offer numerous programs for gifted
students, including Advanced Placement programs, partnerships
with local community colleges, and the Gifted and Talented
Education program.

"It would make sense for students who are looking for more
academic opportunities to look for those within the school and
school district," Mr. McLean told the Bruin.

However, Mr. Ackerman, who has taken the case pro bono, said the
state's programs are not adequate for students as advanced and
gifted as Levi Clancy.

On his Web site, http://www.levilevi.com,Levi Clancy talked
about how excited he was just a few days after beginning school
at UCLA last year. He states, "Well, I dare say that my life
(is) almost perfect right now. I am going to UCLA, completely
and delightfully. ... As you can see, everything is perfect! So
much has happened in 10 days! I've been at UCLA for five days
and am already a totally different person: the work and
concentration and extreme emotional, time, mental and financial
investment has just made me a better person."

In February of last year, a posting on Levi Clancy's Web site
spoke of frustration following midterms, a common reaction for
university students, "Well, my chemistry midterm was a killer.
My math midterm was, too, but it was for everyone else so I
think the Saint Curve will save me. Oh, did I mention my
chemistry midterm was a killer?"

Attorneys are meeting for an initial court hearing about the
suit this in Sacramento, and according to Mr. Ackerman he will
likely seek class action status saying, "This case is probably
the first in the nation to deal with this. That's (why) I'm
hoping that this case will make it's way to the California
Supreme Court, that might actually set an example for the rest
of the nation."


CIGNA CORPORATION: AMA, AMGA, MGMA Urges Members To File Claims
---------------------------------------------------------------
The American Medical Association (AMA), American Medical Group
Association (AMGA) and Medical Group Management Association
(MGMA), sent letters to their respective memberships urging
physicians and physician groups to complete and submit claims
for funds they may be owed in the CIGNA Corp. managed care
litigation settlement before the Feb. 18, 2005, deadline.

The three organizations sent the communications to more than
147,000 physicians and medical group practice administrators to
raise awareness of the available compensation and provide
instructions on how to file a claim if appropriate. Many
physician groups are entitled to compensation for past claims
submissions that the insurer may have partially or completely
denied.

The compensation will come from an unlimited CIGNA settlement
fund resulting from the physician class-action suit filed
against some of the nation's largest health insurers in a
cooperative effort involving physicians and several state and
county medical associations. The plaintiffs alleged, among other
things, that the companies conspired to program their computers
to systematically underpay physicians for their services. In
addition to the recovery of claims, the CIGNA settlement
initiates meaningful and necessary improvements that represent a
positive change in how America's fourth-largest insurer does
business with physicians. An agreement of this scope represents
a progressive development in the push to end the unfair managed
care policies that have plagued physicians and their patients
for years.

"We continue to work to get the word out because we are
concerned that a large percentage of practices have not yet
filed claims for the compensation owed to them," said William F.
Jessee, M.D., FACMPE, MGMA president and CEO. "We want
physicians and medical groups to know that CIGNA may owe them
money." "This settlement is an emphatic statement as to the need
to rectify a process that systematically under-reimbursed
providers," said Donald W. Fisher, Ph.D., CEO, AMGA. "These
physicians were rendering services for reimbursement schedules
pursuant to a contract and experienced institutionalized
violations of their agreements. AMGA applauds the tenacity of
the plaintiffs and urges physicians to promptly submit their
claims under this settlement."

"The AMA, AMGA and MGMA commend the leadership and perseverance
of the individual physicians and state and county medical
associations involved in this settlement agreement," said
Michael D. Maves, M.D., M.B.A., AMA executive vice president and
CEO. "The settlement with CIGNA is proof that when physicians
work together, we can make a positive impact on how a health
insurer does business." To read the letter, please visit:
http://www.mgma.com/cignajointletter.cfm.


CINTAS CORPORATION: Faces Employees Overtime Lawsuit in N.D. CA
---------------------------------------------------------------
Cintas Corporation faces a class action filed in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of California,
Oakland Division, styled "Paul Veliz, et al., v. Cintas
Corporation."

The suit alleges that the Company violated certain federal and
state wage and hour laws applicable to its service sales
representatives, whom Cintas considers exempt employees, and
asserting additional related Employee Related Income Security
Act claims.  The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified monetary
damages, injunctive relief, or both.

The Company denies these claims and is defending the plaintiffs'
allegations.  The court ordered arbitration for all potential
plaintiffs except for those that fall into one of four narrowly
defined exceptions.  As a result, Cintas believes that a
majority of the potential plaintiffs will be required to
arbitrate their claims.  No determination has been made by the
court or an arbitrator regarding class certification.


CINTAS CORPORATION: Employees Launch CA Race Discrimination Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Cintas Corporation faces a class action filed in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of California,
San Francisco Division, styled "Robert Ramirez, et al., v.
Cintas Corporation."

The case was brought on behalf of all past and present female,
African-American and Hispanic employees of Cintas and its
subsidiaries.  The complaint alleges that Cintas has engaged in
a pattern and practice of discriminating against women and
minorities in recruitment, hiring, promotions, transfers, job
assignments and pay.  The complaint seeks injunctive relief,
compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney's fees,
among other things.


COLLEGE ADVANTAGE: Agrees To Settle FTC Consumer Fraud Complaint
----------------------------------------------------------------
Four defendants operating a college financial aid scam have
agreed to a multimillion-dollar judgment with the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC).  The Commission filed its action as part of
the Southwest Netforce Sweep announced in May 2003, alleging
that the defendants misrepre-sented several claims made to
consumers regarding their ability to obtain 100 percent of all
funds necessary for college.

The complaint was filed against The College Advantage. Inc.,
doing business as College Funding Center and:

     (1) Alan E. Baron and relief defendant Donna S. Baron (the
         Baron defendants);

     (2) C Funding Group, LLC, d/b/a College Funding Group; and

     (3) Edward F. Jacob and relief defendant Claudia L. Jacobs
         (the Jacobs defendants).

Under the terms of separate settlements, the defendants must pay
consumer redress totaling $1,433,000. Further, the individual
defendants must post a $1 million bond before engaging in the
advertising, promotion, or sale of college financial aid
assistance programs.

The FTC alleged that, using seminars and sophisticated Web
sites, the defendants promoted and marketed a college financial
aid assistance program promising that, for $1,000-$2,000, they
would get 100 percent of the funding necessary for students to
attend college. The complaint alleged that the defendants
violated the FTC Act by misrepresenting that they would:

     (i) secure 100 percent of the funding necessary to attend
         college;

    (ii) reduce the out-of-pocket expenses to attend college;
         and

   (iii) fully refund consumers' money if they failed to secure
         100 percent of the funding necessary to attend college.

The settlement with the Jacobs defendants requires them to pay
$1,400,000 in consumer redress.  The settlement with the Baron
defendants requires them to pay $33,000 in redress.  In
addition, the defendants to post a $1 million performance bond
prior to any future involvement in the promotion and marketing
of college financial aid assistance programs.  Both final
judgments contain a suspended judgment of $15,509,564 and an
avalanche clause that would reinstate the entire judgment if it
is found that the defendants made material misrepresentations in
their financial statements.  Finally, the settlements contain
various recordkeeping requirements to assist the FTC in
monitoring the defendants' compliance.

The Commission vote authorizing staff to file the two stipulated
final judgments and orders was 5-0. They were filed in the U.S.
District Court, Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division, on
January 7, 2005, and require the court's approval.

Consumers who were customers of College Funding Center can leave
their name, address and phone number by E-mail:
Collegefunding@ftc.gov.  For more details, contact the FTC's
Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue,
N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580, or visit the Website:
http://www.ftc.gov. Also, contact Brenda Mack, Office of Public
Affairs by Phone: 202-326-2182 or Gary Kennedy, FTC Southwest
Region - Dallas, by Phone: 214-979-9350


DOVER ACQUISITION: Final Judgment Entered in Stockholder Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Dover Acquisition Corp. (the "Purchaser"), an affiliate of The
Lawrence Weissberg Revocable Living Trust (the "Trust"),
revealed that the Purchaser has extended the expiration date for
its tender offer for shares of Dover Investments Corporation
("Dover") (OTCBB:DOVRA)(OTCBB:DOVRB) to 5 p.m., New York City
time, on Wednesday, January 26, 2005, and also the entry of a
final judgment dismissing certain stockholder litigation
relating to the tender offer.

The final judgment relates to a lawsuit (Chiarenza v. Dover
Investments Corporation) brought by a stockholder of Dover,
individually and as a class action on behalf of all
stockholders, against Dover, the Trust, the Purchaser and each
member of Dover's Board of Directors in response to the Trust's
January 2004 proposal to take Dover private and in response to
the Purchaser's tender offer. Completion of the tender offer and
the proposed transaction were conditioned on court approval of
the settlement and on a final judgment dismissing the case.

The offer will now expire at 5 p.m., New York City time, on
Wednesday, January 26, 2005, unless extended. As of January 11,
2005, approximately 410,895 shares of Dover Class A Common Stock
had been tendered to the Purchaser at the price of $31.30 per
share, consisting of 410,685 shares tendered and 210 shares in
respect of which the Purchaser has received notices of
guaranteed delivery. As of January 11, 2005, approximately
43,573 shares of Dover Class B Common Stock had been tendered to
the Purchaser at the price of $31.30 per share, consisting of
43,573 shares tendered and zero shares in respect of which the
Purchaser has received notices of guaranteed delivery.

As a result of the extension, the Trust and the Purchaser will
promptly file with the Securities and Exchange Commission
amendments to its tender offer documents as well as a copy of
the final judgment. The amendments and the final judgment may be
obtained on the Securities and Exchange Commission's web site at
www.sec.gov.

Stockholders who have not yet tendered are urged to tender their
shares so that the Purchaser may complete the pending
transaction. Stockholders who tender will receive $31.30 per
share in cash following consummation of the tender offer.

Stockholders of record can tender their shares by completing and
mailing the Letter(s) of Transmittal, along with any other
required documents, to the depositary, Mellon Investor Services
LLC. Where shares are held in street name, the stockholder must
contact the appropriate broker in order to tender the shares.
Stockholders can call Mellon at 1-800-392-5792 to request the
tender documents or with questions about the tender process.
Stockholders who have already tendered their shares need not
take any additional action.

Stockholders should read the Tender Offer Statement on Schedule
TO, as amended, which is on file with the Securities and
Exchange Commission, as it contains important information about
the tender offer. Investors can obtain such Tender Offer
Statement on Schedule TO and other filed documents free of
charge at the Securities and Exchange Commission's website at
www.sec.gov.


DRYVIT SYSTEMS: 331 Claims Paid in TN Homeowners' EIFS Lawsuit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Dryvit Systems, Inc. has paid a total of 331 claims in the
settlement of the state class action filed against it in
Jefferson County Court in Tennessee as of November 30,2004.  The
suit is styled "Bobby R. Posey, et al. v. Dryvit Systems, Inc.
(formerly styled William J. Humphrey, et al. v. Dryvit Systems,
Inc.) (Case No. 17,715-IV) ("Posey")."

A preliminary approval order was entered on April 8, 2002 in the
Posey case for a proposed nationwide class action settlement
covering all Persons who, as of June 5, 2002, own a one- or two-
family residential dwelling or townhouse in any State other than
North Carolina clad, in whole or in part, with Dryvit EIFS
installed after January 1, 1989, except persons who:

     (1) prior to June 5, 2002, have settled with Dryvit,
         providing a release of claims relating to Dryvit
         exterior insulation and finish system; or

     (2) have not obtained a judgment against Settling Defendant
         for a Dryvit EIFS claim, or had a judgment entered
         against them on such a claim in Settling Defendants'
         favor; and

     (3) any employees of Dryvit

Nationwide notice to all eligible class members began on or
about June 13, 2002.  Any person who wished to be excluded from
the Posey settlement was provided an opportunity to individually
"opt out" and thus not be bound by the final Posey order.  A
fairness hearing was held to determine whether the proposed
settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate and an order and
judgment granting final approval of the settlement was entered
on January 14, 2003.  Notices of appeal were filed by persons
seeking to challenge certain provisions of the proposed
settlement including challenging the trial court's denial of
certain builders and one homeowner's right to appear at the
fairness hearing and intervene in the underlying action.

On March 22, 2004, the Tennessee Court of Appeals dismissed the
homeowner's appeal but ruled that the builders should be allowed
to intervene to determine their rights and obligations, if any,
under the proposed national settlement.  During the pendency of
the foregoing issues, the court allowed claims to be processed
under the proposed Posey settlement.  In mid-September 2004, the
court entered a stay order, effectively suspending any further
processing of claims pending the outcome of the next court
hearing.  As of November 30, 2004, 7,167 total claims have been
filed as of the claim filing deadline.  Of these 7,167 claims,
3,384 claims have been rejected or closed for various reasons
under the terms of the settlement.  An additional 1,132 claims
are under review for potential filing deficiencies.  The
approximately 2,651 remaining claims are at various stages of
review and processing under the terms of the proposed
settlement.  As of November 30, 2004, approximately 331 claims
have been paid a total of approximately $3.23 million.


DURA PHARMACEUTICALS: Court Considers Securities Fraud Standards
----------------------------------------------------------------
The United States Supreme Court is considering the proper
standard to prove securities fraud as it hears arguments in the
case of Dura Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

In February 1998, Dura Pharmaceuticals announced expected
revenue shortfalls due to slower pharmaceutical sales, increased
competition and a lack of sales force. The Company's common
shares fell 47% at the time. In November 1998, the Food and Drug
Administrtion did not approve the Company's asthma medication,
Albuterol Spiros.  The November disclosure prompted another
decline in the Company's common shares.

Shareholders filed Shareholders represented by Milberg Weiss
Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP, a San Diego law firm known for
securities litigation against corporations, then sued alleging
securities-law violations over the Company's disclosures.  The
class-action lawsuit sought the recovery of stock losses after
the revenue-shortfall announcement and alleged the Company had
committed fraud on the market by overstating the prospects for
FDA approval of the asthma drug. The lawsuit was thrown out by a
federal trial judge, but the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
in San Francisco allowed the class-action lawsuit to go forward,
an earlier Class Action Reporter story (March 10,2004) states.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed investors to
proceed with their lawsuit under the corporate fraud theory of
"loss causation."  The 9th Circuit reasoned that investors need
not show the disclosure of fraud caused a stock drop, so long as
they can point to share prices that were artificially high at
the time of purchase because of misleading statements.

The appeal asked the Supreme Court to intervene and resolve
conflicts over Ninth Circuit standards for allowing lawsuits
over allegations of inflated stock prices due to misleading
disclosures. The standards for private securities lawsuits were
changed in the 1990s by Congress, and the federal appeals
circuits have reached various conclusions on this fraud-on-the-
market issue.

Investors argue that since Dura knowingly made false statements
about the device's prospects, they should qualify for losses
from a steep fall in stock price before that disclosure.
However, the justices seemed cautious about allowing a lawsuit
that doesn't show a clear link between the alleged fraud and the
stock drop.

"How could you possibly hook up your loss to the news that comes
out later?" asked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to AP.
"There is no loss until somehow the bad news comes out."

During oral arguments, Patrick Coughlin, lawyer for the
plaintiffs told justices that losses should be counted before
the Company's November disclosure because the stock price had
been steadily dropping on market suspicions that something was
wrong with the asthma device.  "In Enron and WorldCom, the
disclosures didn't happen until long after bankruptcy," Coughlin
said, in arguing that a strict causation rule would unfairly
limit recovery for investors, AP reports.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wasn't so sure, saying investors had
not clearly articulated how the fraudulent statements led to the
market drops.  "The reason why loss-causation is used is because
a 'loss' experienced by the plaintiff is 'caused' by the
misrepresentation," she said, according to AP.  "You have to put
pleadings that are clear, which you didn't do."

The Bush administration, as well as the Chamber or Commerce and
the Securities Industry Association have expressed support for
Dura, saying they fear a wave of meritless fraud claims from
investors who simply bought shares "too high."

However, public pension funds, AARP, the National Association of
Shareholder Consumer Attorneys and the University of California
- the lead plaintiff in a class-action suit against Enron -
counter that the 9th Circuit's standard is needed to deter a
repeat of recent corporate scandals.  "Class actions (like this
case) are socially beneficial, both for compensating victims of
securities fraud and for deterring future wrongdoing by
corporate actors, thereby promoting confidence in the nation's
securities markets," the groups wrote in a joint filing,
according to AP.

A ruling is expected in late June.  The suit is styled "Broudo,
et al v. Dura Pharmaceuticals, et al, case no. 99-CV-151," filed
in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
California, under Judge M. James Lorenz, and referred to
Magistrate Judge William McCurine, Jr.

Lead plaintiff Michael Broudo is represented by:

     (1) William S. Lerach of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller,
         Rudman and Robbins, 401 B Street, Suite 1700, San
         Diego, CA 92101, Phone: (619)231-1058

     (2) Michael D. Donovan of Donovan Searles, 1845 Walnut
         Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19103 by Phone:
         (215)-732-6067

Representing the Company is William F Sullivan of Paul Hastings
Janofsky and Walker, 3579 Valley Centre Drive, San Diego, CA
92130, Phone: (858)720-2500


EQUICREDIT: IL Resident Commences Lawsuit Over Loan Discount Fee
----------------------------------------------------------------
Nationscredit Financial Services, doing business as Equicredit
of North Carolina faces a class action filed by Madison County
resident Gary Treadway, who is seeking justice for his deceased
mother, the Madison County Record reports.

Mr. Treadway filed the suit in Madison County Court in Illinois
on behalf of Juanita Treadway's estate, alleging that Equicredit
charged his mother a $150 "loan discount fee" but failed to
lower his mother's interest rate in exchange for that fee.  Gary
Peel of the Lakin Law Firm of Wood River represents Mr. Treadway
in this action.

According to the complaint, "The interchangeable terms 'loan
discount fee' and 'discount fee' are subject to only one
reasonable interpretation, a fee paid to reduce the interest
rate on the loan. In the context of home mortgage loans, these
terms cannot be reasonably be construed as anything other than a
fee paid to reduce a loan's interest rate."

Mr. Treadway is claiming that Equicredit should not be permitted
to keep the loan discount fee it collected from his mother,
without lowering the rate in exchange for that fee. Juanita
Treadway, who died in November 2001, originally obtained the
loan for her home in Hartford in September 1999.  Mr. Treadway
further claimed that if his mother had known she would not have
had reduced rates in exchange for the fee and it was just simply
another source of profit she would have refused to pay the fee
or would have sought alternative financing.

The suit seeks an amount not to exceed $75,000 for alleged
violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, unjust
enrichment, and breach of contract. The case though has yet to
be assigned by Chief Judge Edward Ferguson.


LIBERATE TECHNOLOGIES: Final Fairness Hearing Set February 2005
---------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Northern District of
California will hold on February 15,2005 final fairness hearing
for the settlement of the securities class action filed against
Liberate Technologies, Inc.

The suit is based on the Company's announcements in October and
November 2002 that it would restate its financial results for
fiscal 2002 and that it was investigating other periods.  The
suit generally alleges, among other things, that members of the
purported class were damaged when they acquired the Company's
securities because, as a result of accounting irregularities,
its previously issued financial statements were materially false
and misleading, and caused the price of our securities to be
inflated artificially.  The suit further alleges that, as a
result of this conduct, the defendants violated Section 10(b)
and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and SEC Rule
10b-5, promulgated thereunder.  The Class Action seeks
unspecified monetary damages and other relief from all Class
Action Defendants, according to an earlier Class Action Reporter
story (August 26,2004).

On October 20, 2004, a Stipulation and Agreement of Settlement
was filed with the suit, which was styled "In re Liberate
Technologies Securities Litigation."   The parties to the
Settlement are the lead plaintiff in the Class Action, on behalf
of himself and each of the class members; and defendants the
Company, Mitchell E. Kertzman, Nancy J. Hilker and Coleman
Sisson.

Under the terms of the Settlement, Liberate agreed to pay or
cause to be paid $13.8 million in settlement of the claims
specified in the Class Action, and the lead plaintiff and each
class member agreed to release Liberate and the other defendants
from those claims.  The Settlement shall in no way be construed
or deemed to be evidence of or an admission or concession on the
part of Liberate or the other specified defendants with respect
to any claim or any fault or liability or wrongdoing or damage
whatsoever, or any infirmity in the defenses that the defendants
have asserted.

For more details, contact Gregory Castaldo or Kay Sickles of
Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP by Mail: Three Bala Plaza East, Suite
400, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 by Phone: 610-667-7706 or by Fax:
610-667-7056 OR In Re Liberate Technologies Inc. Securities
Litigation c/o The Garden City Group, Inc. - Claims
Administrator by Phone: P.O. Box 9000 #6258, Merrick, NY 11566-
9000 by Phone: 1-800-292-1878 or visit their Web site:
http://www.gardencitygroup.com.


MCKESSON CORPORATION: To Pay $960M To Settle Shareholders' Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
McKesson Corporation agreed to settle for $960 million the
shareholder class action stemming from an accounting scandal
that resulted in criminal convictions of several former
executives, the Associated Press reports.

The settlement, which covers 54 class-action lawsuits
consolidated on behalf of McKesson's shareholders burned by the
financial shenanigans tied to the Company's $12 billion
acquisition of software maker HBO & Co. in 1999, was announced
on the 6-year anniversary of a deal that quickly unraveled into
a boondoggle for one of the nation's largest companies.

Leonard Barrack, a Philadelphia attorney representing the
McKesson shareholders, told AP McKesson's cash payment
represents the third largest settlement of a class-action
securities case, ranking behind multibillion-dollar payments
made by Cendant Corp. and WorldCom.  He further adds, "This
sends an enormously loud message to corporate management that
corporate malfeasance will not be tolerated."

McKesson also is setting aside another $240 million to cover its
potential liability for the shareholder claims in 16 other
unresolved lawsuits. This reserve for future payments along with
the settlement will saddle McKesson with a net charge of $810
million, or $2.70 per share, in its quarter just completed in
December.

During a conference call McKesson Chairman John Hammergren told
analysts, "This was a significant challenge for the Company and
we are glad to put it behind us." Mr. Hammergren heads up a
management team hired several years ago to help the Company
recover from a debacle that foreshadowed even more devastating
accounting ruses at other major corporations during 2001 and
2002, AP reports.

Although McKesson's earnings have improved during the past six
years, the Company still hasn't been able to woo back alienated
investors. Before the settlement, McKesson's shares added a
penny Wednesday to close at $31.24 on the New York Stock
Exchange. The current price is 52 percent below McKesson's
market value before the Company jolted investors by disclosing
its HBOC acquisition had been based on fabricated revenue.

After detecting the fraud, McKesson restated its financial
results for 1998 and the first three months of 1999. The revised
accounting revealed gross exaggerations - in late 1998, for
instance, HBOC reported a profit that was seven times higher
than the true result. Correcting the misstated results wiped out
$9 billion in shareholder wealth. Although the settlement
represents only a fraction of those losses, Mr. Barrack said
shareholders had to balance their desire to be repaid against
their wishes to leave McKesson strong enough to remain in
business.

McKesson had about $1 billion in cash as of Sept. 30. Management
indicated Wednesday that the Company probably would finance part
of the $960 million settlement.   "This settlement is an
extraordinary result for investors," New York State Comptroller
Alan Hevesi, the sole trustee for a New York pension fund that
spearheaded the class-action case against McKesson, told AP.

Six former HBOC executives have been charged in the accounting
scandal, all accused of illegally making the combination with
McKesson look more attractive to shareholders. Four of those
executives have pleaded guilty; developments that Mr. Barrack
said gave shareholders more negotiating leverage. McKesson's
former chief financial officer, Richard Hawkins, also faces
allegations of inflating revenue during the first quarter after
the completion of the HBOC merger. The trial in Mr. Hawkins'
criminal case is expected to begin soon.


MICROSOFT CORPORATION: CA Residents Given More Time On Claims
-------------------------------------------------------------
Residents of the California received an extension on filing
claim forms for their piece of the $1.1 billion settlement the
state won in a 2003 class-action suit against Microsoft,
according to the software giant's website where the forms are
available, the CNET News.com reports.

The website stated that claimants now have until January 22 to
submit their paperwork. It explained that the previous January 8
deadline was extended because some people encountered problems
downloading the claim form. But those parties will now be able
to have the claim form e-mailed, faxed or mailed to them by
clicking on links on the Microsoft site.

The settlement, which stems from a lawsuit settled in 2003 that
had alleged Microsoft overcharged for its products, applies to
individuals and businesses that purchased Microsoft Windows,
Excel or Word between February 18, 1995, and December 15, 2001,
for use in California.

As part of the settlement, consumers and businesses can receive
vouchers ranging from $5 to $29 per copy of Microsoft software,
depending on the product they purchased. The vouchers can be
applied toward the purchase of any Microsoft products, whether
sold through another vendor or Microsoft.

The claims site is operated by a third-party administrator, said
Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake. She also states that
approximately 650,000 claims have been filed for the settlement,
out of a claims pool of roughly 14 million and that "We feel the
claims rate is consistent with class-action settlements."


MICROSOFT CORPORATION: SRC Thwarts Effort To Limit Recoveries
-------------------------------------------------------------
San Francisco Superior Court Justice Paul Alvarado signed an
order January 4, finding that claims filed by Settlement
Recovery Center ("SRC") on behalf of individuals wishing to
donate their recoveries to non-profit organizations meet the
terms of the Microsoft class action settlement agreement in
California.

SRC had asked the Court to stop Microsoft from interfering with
non-profit organizations that want to participate in the $1.1
billion settlement agreement. Microsoft was attempting to block
Donate Direct, a program operated by SRC that lets claimants
donate their recoveries to qualified non-profit organizations.

"Non-profit organizations will receive more than $4.5 million of
settlement money through Donate Direct, representing over 80,000
individual gifts," says Howard Yellen, founder and CEO of SRC.
"We're seeing a tremendous outpouring of charitable support from
this program."

At the December 16 hearing, SRC was represented by Howard
Yellen, its CEO who is a lawyer, and attorney Mitchell Green.
Richard Grossman, a partner at Townsend and Townsend and Crew,
who represents the plaintiffs in the class action, weighed in on
behalf of the SRC motion. Robert Rosenfeld, a partner at Heller
Ehrman White & McAuliffe, represented Microsoft.

The deadline for filing a claim in the California settlement was
January 8, 2005. However, individuals who attempted but were
unable to download a claim form from the official website
http://www.microsoftcalsettlement.comprior to the deadline may
request that a claim form be provided. These individuals have
until January 22, 2005 to mail in their claims.

For more details, contact Craig Wolfson of the Settlement
Recovery Center by Phone: 415-221-1950.


MINNESOTA CORN: MN Judge Denies Summary Judgment For Stock Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
Judge John Rodenberg of Minnesota's Fifth Judicial District
issued a 61-page Order and Memorandum denying Motions for
Summary Judgment in a class action on behalf of former MCP
shareholders, setting the stage for trial to begin on February
1, 2005. The case involves allegations of improper conduct by
certain former officers and a former director of Minnesota Corn
Processors (MCP) in connection with the Company's merger with
Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) in September 2002.

The case, filed in April 2003, alleges that eight former MCP
officers and its Chairman of the Board engaged in or aided and
abetted in breaches of fiduciary duties owed to MCP shareholders
in connection with the ADM merger. In an earlier ruling, the
Court certified the class action, consisting of approximately
5000 former MCP shareholders, residing throughout the upper
Midwest.

Each of the nine defendants had moved for Summary Judgment,
arguing the Court should dismiss the claims against them. In the
January 11th ruling, Judge Rodenberg denied the Summary Judgment
Motions of six Defendants as to all counts alleged in the
Complaint which include: conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty,
breach of duty of loyalty, aiding and abetting and unjust
enrichment. The case asserts that the shareholders were
subjected to an unfair merger process and received an unfair
merger price in the 2002 merger with ADM. According to the Court
Order, the focus of the trial will be on alleged improper
negotiations early in the merger process, including private
communications from MCP's former CEO, Dan Thompson, to ADM's
Martin Andreas, suggesting that only Mr. Thompson could get the
MCP Board members to accept less than $3.00 per share.

In his deposition, responding to the CEO's private
communications, Allen Andreas testified that he had never seen a
communication from a CEO that stated that the communication was
"an informal communication" from the CEO as an individual.

The jury trial is scheduled to begin in St. Peter, Minnesota on
February 1, 2005. Minneapolis law firm, Zimmerman Reed,
represents the former MCP shareholders. On the other hand, the
Briggs and Morgan law firm based in St. Paul, Minnesota
represented the defendants.

For more details, contact Zimmerman Reed or Carolyn Anderson by
Phone: 800-755-0098 or visit their Web site:
http://www.zimmreed.com.


NEW YORK: Holocaust Settlement Administrators Reveal Depositors
---------------------------------------------------------------
Overseers of the $1.25 billion settlement of a class-action suit
over the conduct of Swiss banks during the Holocaust are to set
to publicize a list of 3,100 newly released names of Nazi-era
depositors, the New York Times reports.

The say that the list is likely to produce new leads connecting
people worldwide with bank accounts lost in the chaos of the
Nazi era. It is the latest and possibly one of the last steps in
efforts to accomplish the central goals of the settlement that
was approved by a federal judge in Brooklyn in 2000.

Burt Neuborne, the chief lawyer for the Holocaust victims and
their survivors, told the Times "This is an important step
toward completing the claims process. We believe many of the
3,100 accounts were owned by Holocaust victims."

In a lawsuit that drew international attention, the plaintiffs'
lawyers stated that the Swiss banks used bank-secrecy laws for
decades to fend off questions about their Nazi-era accounts,
many of which were opened by people seeking security in an era
of disruption.

The soon to be published list is a result of months of
negotiations between the banks, Swiss officials and Mr.
Neuborne, who is a law professor at New York University. The new
list was culled from records of millions of Swiss bank accounts
opened between 1933 and 1945.

Under the settlement, the banks paid $1.25 billion to settle all
claims of people who suffered because of what the plaintiffs
said was the Swiss institutions' cooperation with Nazi
authorities. Of the total, $800 million is earmarked for bank
depositors or their heirs, while the balance is to go to others
making claims, including people who claim that their personal
property was looted during the Holocaust. People who identify
family members on the list will be permitted to make claims for
a six-month period ending on July 13. The list is to be
published on two Web sites, http://www.crt-ii.org,and
http://www.swissbankclaims.com.

Because of a series of hurdles, including the passage of time
and the deaths of many depositors in concentration camps, the
process of identifying people with legitimate claims has been
extraordinarily difficult.

In a 2003 report to the judge in the case, Edward R. Korman, a
special master, Judah Gribetz, predicted that many survivors and
heirs might never receive compensation. Judge Korman promptly
issued a harshly worded opinion placing much of the blame for
the problems on the Swiss banks.

So far, officials say, about 2,800 people have received $217
million for bank-account claims. Including other categories of
claimants, about $700 million has been paid out of the total
$1.25 billion.

In 2001, settlement officials published a previous list of
21,000 names of account holders who might have been Holocaust
victims. In interviews, people have described the process of
looking for the names of lost family members on that list as a
bittersweet journey into a different time.

In the recent interview, Mr. Neuborne told the Times that
several hundred approvable applications were expected because of
the new list. He said most of the 2,800 applications that have
so far been approved came about because people recognized names
on the list published in 2001.

Mr. Neuborne said that the publication of the names was part of
an agreement that also permitted settlement officials to compare
the names of applicants to a listing of 4.1 million Holocaust-
era Swiss accounts. Because of Swiss bank-secrecy laws, that
full list is not to be published.

However, some critics say the payment process has been hampered
by decisions by Judge Korman and settlement officials citing
that it was unrealistic to hope that people with valid claims
could be found for anywhere near the full $800 million set aside
for the bank claims.

Robert A. Swift, one of the lawyers who negotiated the original
settlement on behalf of the plaintiffs, said that decisions like
those behind the publication of the list were flawed. He told
the Times court officials continue to seek bank depositors while
other Holocaust survivors who could benefit from the money grow
old living in poverty.

Commenting of the publication of the new list, Mr. Swift told
the Times: "Unfortunately, it delays the distribution of the
entire fund, and holds out false hope that there will be many
claimants eligible" to recover lost bank accounts.

However, Mr. Neuborne said there would have been no $1.25
billion settlement in the first place if it were not for the
strength of the legal claims made on behalf of Swiss bank
depositors. "We simply can't distribute the money," he said,
"until we've done all we can to return the bank accounts to
their original owners."


OHIO: Three Cases Detailed in Lawsuit V. Hamilton County Morgue
---------------------------------------------------------------
Both sides in a recent federal court proceeding agree that
photographer Thomas Condon was ghoulish in placing a miniature
ladder on the open skull of man, who was killed in a truck
wreck, and taking a picture of it, the Cincinnati Post reports.

However, the key question during the proceedings was how Mr.
Condon managed to take the picture during the autopsy at the
Hamilton County morgue. That picture shows coroner's employees
cooperated with Mr. Condon as he manipulated bodies at the
morgue, placed props on them, then photographed them, an
attorney representing the families of those whose bodies were
abused said as a summary jury trial opened in the case.

That is the key contention of the attorneys who filed a class-
action suit on behalf of the families of those whose corpses Mr.
Condon was convicted of abusing. They also represent the
families of the 559 people whose bodies were at the morgue when
Condon had access from August 16, 2000, until January 2001.

According to attorney Alphonse Gerhardstein, "The (victims) in
this case are survivors. They are the ones left behind."

However, attorneys for Hamilton County and former Coroner Carl
L. Parrott Jr. countered that Mr. Condon and deputy coroner
Jonathan Tobias are the only ones to blame for the photos. Lou
Gilligan, an attorney representing the county said, "The actions
of this despicable man - Condon, a con man and a fraud -- were -
atrocious."

The proceeding isn't a real trial because the decision the eight
jurors reach won't be binding. However, the trial will help
attorneys on both sides gauge the strength of their cases and
perhaps aid them in negotiating a settlement in the case before
U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel.

The families' suit accused county officials of not doing enough
to prevent Mr. Condon's pictures and causing them emotional
distress when they learned the bodies of their loved ones had
been photographed.

During the court proceedings, Mr. Gerhardstein also highlighted
three cases to jurors. In addition to that of the man,
Gerhardstein asked jurors why, if Mr. Condon's photography was
not known to coroner employees, a coroner's hands are in the
photo Condon took of the autopsy of a 2-year-old child.

As the jurors viewed the photos of that autopsy, the spectators
and hundreds of family members of the deceased grew quiet. That
changed when Mr. Gerhardstein showed them the photos Mr. Condon
took of the body of a 19-year-old mother.

After opening her body bag while a coroner conducted another
autopsy feet away, Mr. Condon took photos of the mother and
placed on her body sheet music, the book "Alice in Wonderland,"
a photo of a male body builder and "a snail near her genitals,"
Mr. Gerhardstein told jurors. "Oh God," one family member
gasped, as others stirred, wiped tears from their eyes or
sniffled.

Mr. Gerhardstein also said an audiotape recording revealed that
two coroner's employees, Terry Daly and Dr. Gary Utz, laughed
when they saw Mr. Condon's picture of the man's opened skull
supporting a miniature ladder. He also accused Hamilton County's
attorneys of forcing a witness to change the wording of his
report in the case to strengthen their case and contended the
Prosecutor Mike Allen and Mr. Parrott conspired to lay all of
the blame on Mr. Condon and Mr. Tobias to shift responsibility
and financial liability away from the county. Mr. Gerhardstein
charged, "The County, acting through Prosecutor Mike Allen and
Dr. Parrott, so far has been able to block the truth."

However, the truth, according to Mr. Gilligan, who countered
Mr. Gerhardstein, is that there was no conspiracy because only
Mr. Condon and Mr. Tobias were to blame. He told jurors, "There
was in fact no cover-up. It's a lawyer-made, after-the-fact
[allegation]. When no one was around, Mr. Condon the con man
took props out and took photographs of the body. No one saw him
from the coroner's office. No one helped him prop the bodies. No
one assisted him in any way."

After opening statements, jurors visited the morgue and went
home. The case continues with each side having four hours to
present its case, using transcripts of interviews. Closing
arguments and jury deliberations will follow that.

Mr. Condon was convicted of gross abuse of corpses and has
completed his prison term. On the other hand, Mr. Tobias'
conviction of the same offense was reversed on appeal.


PFIZER INC.: FDA Seeks To Stop Celebrex Advertising Campaign
------------------------------------------------------------
The United States Food and Drug Administration declared that
advertisements for the arthritis drug Celebrex were misleading
and unsubstantiated in a letter sent Monday and released
Wednesday this week, the Associated Press reports.

The FDA asked for an immediate halt to all ads for Pfizer,
Inc.'s Celebrex.  The Company did this last month in
anticipation of the letter, which states the ad campaign
overstated the pain reliever's benefits and understated the
risks, the government said Wednesday

Vioxx, a drug in the same class as Celebrex, has been found to
be associated with higher rates of heart problems and stroke.
Its manufacturer, Merck & Co., pulled the pain killer off the
market last fall.  The FDA has said it is considering warning
labels for Celebrex or ordering its withdrawal from the U.S.
market altogether.

Before the recent studies detailing their side effects, anti-
inflammatory drugs such as Celebrex and Vioxx were heavily
promoted by the pharmaceutical industry as being more effective
and less irritating to the stomach than some other pain
relievers.  In December, a study found high doses of Celebrex
were associated with an increased risk of heart attack.

The Food and Drug Administration asked for an immediate halt to
all ads for Celebrex, which Pfizer Inc. did last month in
advance of the agency's letter. A study in December found high
doses of Celebrex were associated with an increased risk of
heart attack.

The letter, sent Monday and released Wednesday, details the
misleading and unsubstantiated claims in ads for Celebrex and a
related drug, Bextra, that appeared on television, in print, on
TV infomercials and in direct-mail brochures. The government
said the claims represent serious violations of federal law.

New York-based Pfizer spent more than $70 million advertising
best-selling Celebrex to U.S. consumers in the first nine months
of last year.  It has run minimal consumer ads promoting Bextra.
When Pfizer voluntarily pulled its ads in December, the Company
said it planned to keep Celebrex on the market and would
continue marketing the drug to doctors, AP reports.

However, five ads for Celebrex and/or Bextra reviewed by the FDA
were found to be misleading and in violation of federal law, the
agency said, according to AP.  They omitted facts, including
information about risks, wrongly claimed superiority and made
unsubstantiated claims about the drugs' effectiveness, the FDA
said.  The FDA asked the Company to detail any ads that make
similar misleading claims and keep them off the air as well.

Among those cited in the letter:

     (1) "Guitar" TV ad: This is a "reminder ad," which is
         supposed to call attention to the name of a drug
         without giving any details - including what it is meant
         to treat or what the risks are. In this case, the ad
         showed a woman playing guitar, focusing on her hands
         and fingers while a voice says, "With Celebrex, I play
         the long version."  The FDA said this suggested the
         woman had better movement and flexibility and was
         therefore able to play the longer version of the song
         where she previously could not - making a claim about
         Celebrex's benefits without explaining any side
         effects.

     (2) "Arthritis tips" TV ad: The ad opens with, "Celebrex
         presents, arthritis tips," and goes on to give facts
         about the disease. Celebrex is mentioned again at the
         end of the ad, which clearly suggests that the drug is
         the arthritis treatment, the FDA said. It said the ad
         suggests that Celebrex is effective in treating
         problems such as "crippling disability" when it will
         simply relieve the signs and symptoms, not modify the
         disease itself. Overall, the agency said, the ad
         "greatly overstates the proven benefits of Celebrex."

     (3) An infomercial called "On the Road to Joint Pain
         Relief": The 27-minute show includes testimonials and
         statements from health care providers promising
         dramatic effects and complete pain-free relief. It
         repeatedly mentions Pfizer and points consumers to the
         Company for more information, yet the ad omits
         information about the drug's safety and risks.

Pfizer spokeswoman Mariann Caprino said the Company had received
the letter but had no other comment, AP reports.


PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS LLP: OH Judge Recommends Default Judgment
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Zwerling, Schachter & Zwerling, LLP ("ZS&Z"),
Class Counsel, and Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, PLL ("KJ&K"),
Liaison Counsel, revealed that on July 2, 2004, Magistrate Judge
Patricia A. Hemann, of the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Ohio, issued a Report and Recommendation
that the court grant default judgment on liability in favor of
Class Plaintiffs against PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP ("PwC") in a
securities fraud class action entitled Hayman, et ano. v.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (the "Hayman action"), and in
favor of plaintiff in a related action, Telxon Corporation v.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Magistrate Judge Hemann issued an amended Report and
Recommendation on July 16, 2004. At PwC's request, the Report
and Recommendation was placed temporarily under seal.  Judge
Kathleen M. O'Malley, of the United States District Court for
the Northern District of Ohio, restored the Report and
Recommendation to the public docket by Order dated
January 11, 2005.

In May 2004, Class Plaintiffs and Telxon Corporation ("Telxon")
filed motions for discovery sanctions against PwC, alleging that
PwC engaged in various discovery violations throughout the
course of the litigation. Magistrate Judge Hemann's Report and
Recommendation advises the district court to grant Class
Plaintiffs' motion and award default judgment on liability on
behalf of the Class.  The Report and Recommendation can be found
on the Court's website (http://www.ohnd.uscourts.gov)or on
ZS&Z's website, http://www.zsz.com. PwC has objected to the
findings of the Report and Recommendation.  Judge O'Malley heard
oral argument on PwC's objections during December 2004 and
January 2005.  Judge O'Malley will decide whether to adopt,
modify or reject the Report and Recommendation.

The Hayman action, alleging that PwC violated the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934, was filed in May 2001.  Class Plaintiffs
allege that PwC's audits of Telxon Corporation were not in
accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards, and that
PwC issued misleading audit opinions on Telxon's financial
statements.  On August 26, 2002, the Court certified Class
Plaintiffs' claims against PwC on behalf of a class of
purchasers of Telxon common stock for the period of June 29,
1998 through February 23, 1999. ZS&Z concentrates in prosecuting
class actions nationwide on behalf of investors. The firm
currently plays a leading role in numerous major securities and
complex commercial litigations pending in federal and state
courts and has offices in New York City, Uniondale, New York,
Seattle, Washington, and Boca Raton, Florida.  The firm has been
recognized by courts throughout the country as highly
experienced and skilled in complex litigation, particularly with
respect to federal securities class action litigation.

KJ&K is a Cleveland-based law firm representing individuals and
companies throughout the United States.  Founded in 1969, KJ&K
is dedicated to providing clients with the resources and
knowledge needed to solve their legal issues, including the most
sophisticated business transactions and complex litigation.

For more details, contact Zwerling, Schachter & Zwerling, LLP by
visiting their Web Site: http://www.zsz.com.


RED HAT: Plaintiffs File Consolidated Securities Lawsuit in NC
--------------------------------------------------------------
Plaintiffs filed a consolidated securities class action against
Red Hat, Inc. and several of its present and former officers in
the United States District Court for the Eastern District of
North Carolina.

As of November 30, 2004, 14 class action lawsuits had been filed
against the Company and several of its present and former
officers on behalf of investors who purchased the Company's
securities during various periods from June 19, 2001 through
July 13, 2004.  In each of the actions, plaintiffs seek to
represent a class of purchasers of the Company's common stock
during some or all of the period from June 19, 2001 through July
13, 2004.

All of the claims arose in connection with the Company's
announcement on July 13, 2004 that it would restate certain of
its financial statements.  One or more of the plaintiffs assert
that certain present and former officers and the Company
variously violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder by issuing the
financial statements that the Company subsequently restated.

One or more of the plaintiffs seek unspecified damages,
interest, costs, attorneys' and experts' fees, an accounting of
certain profits obtained by the Individual Defendants from
trading in Red Hat common stock; disgorgement by the Company's
Chief Executive and former Chief Financial Officer of certain
compensation and profits from trading in the Company's common
stock, pursuant to Section 304 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of
2002, and other relief.

As of September 8, 2004, all of these class action lawsuits have
been consolidated into a single action referenced as "Civil
Action No. 5:04-CV-473BR" and titled "In re Red Hat, Inc.
Securities Litigation."  Plaintiffs' counsel are now seeking
designation as lead counsel.

The suit is styled "In re Red Hat, Inc. Securities Litigation
(Borsellino v. Red Hat, Inc., et al.)," case no. 04-CV-473,
filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of North Carolina, under Judge W. Earl Britt.

Counsel for the plaintiff are William Webb and Rufus Edmisten of
The Edmisten & Webb Law Firm, P.O. Box 1509, Raleigh NC 27602,
Phone: 919-831-8700 by E-mail: woodywebb@wwedmisten.com and
rufus@rufusedmisten.com.  Representing the Company are: Pressly
M. Millen and Christopher Jones of Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge &
Rice, PO Box 831 Raleigh NC 27602 Phone: 919-755-2135 or E-mail:
pmillen@wcsr.com, cjones@wcsr.com.


RED HAT: Asks NY Court To Approve Securities Lawsuit Settlement
---------------------------------------------------------------
Red Hat, Inc. asked the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York to grant preliminary approval for
the settlement of the consolidated securities class action filed
against it, certain of its officers and directors and the
underwriters of the Company's initial public offering.

Several purported class action suits were initially filed,
arising out of the Company's initial public offering and
secondary offering.  On August 8, 2001, Chief Judge Michael
Mukasey of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of
New York issued an order that transferred all of the so-called
IPO allocation actions, including the complaints involving the
Company, to one judge for coordinated pre-trial proceedings. The
court has consolidated the actions into a single action.

The plaintiffs contend that the defendants violated federal
securities laws by issuing registration statements and
prospectuses that contained materially false and misleading
information and failed to disclose material information.
Plaintiffs also challenge certain IPO allocation practices by
underwriters and the lack of disclosure thereof in initial
public offering documents.

On April 19, 2002, plaintiffs filed amended complaints in each
of the 300 consolidated actions, including the Red Hat action.
The relief sought consists of unspecified damages. No discovery
has occurred to date.  The Company, among other issuers, the
plaintiffs, and the insurers have agreed, in concept, to a
proposed settlement whereby the Company would be released from
this litigation without further payment from the Company. That
proposed settlement has been submitted to the court for its
consideration; however, there is no certainty that the court
will approve the settlement.

The suit is styled "In Re Red Hat, Inc. Initial Public Offering,
Case No. 01 Civ. 2712 (Sas)," related to "In re IPO Allocation
Securities Litigation, 21-MC-92," pending in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York, under
Judge Shira A. Scheindlin.  The plaintiff firms in this
litigation are:

     (1) Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz LLP (New York, NY), 10 E.
         40th Street, 22nd Floor, New York, NY, 10016, Phone:
         800.217.1522, E-mail: info@bernlieb.com

     (2) Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, LLP (New York,
         NY), One Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY, 10119-1065,
         Phone: 212.594.5300,

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

     (4) Sirota & Sirota, LLP, 110 Wall Street 21st Floor, New
         York, NY, 10005, Phone: 888.759.2990, Fax:
         212.425.9093, E-mail: Info@SirotaLaw.com

     (5) Stull, Stull & Brody (New York), 6 East 45th Street,
         New York, NY, 10017, Phone: 310.209.2468, Fax:
         310.209.2087, E-mail: SSBNY@aol.com

     (6) Wolf, Haldenstein, Adler, Freeman & Herz LLP, 270
         Madison Avenue, New York, NY, 10016, Phone:
         212.545.4600, Fax: 212.686.0114, E-mail:
         newyork@whafh.com


TYSON FOODS: GA Appeals Court To Hear $1.28B Price Fixing Ruling
----------------------------------------------------------------
A class-action lawsuit against Tyson Foods Inc. is to be heard
soon in a federal appeals court in Atlanta, WXIA-TV, GA reports.

As previously reported in the April 17, 2004 edition of the
Class Action Reporter, the United States District Court in
Montgomery, Alabama overturned a jury's $1.28 billion verdict
against the Company, in a class action filed on behalf of 30,000
cattle growers that accuses Tyson of contracting with a select
few ranchers to drive down the price of beef.

Judge Lyle Strom threw out the verdict, saying that the Company
did not illegally manipulate cattle prices.  The cattlemen
failed to produce evidence to support the verdict.

On February 17,2003, a jury convicted the Company of using its
contracts to create a reserve supply of cattle that it used as
leverage to drive down the price of cattle on the open, or cash,
market.  The jury found Tyson's actions depressed the cash
market by $1.28 billion from 1994 to 2002.  The Company has
denied the charges and asked Judge Strom to throw out the
verdict or grant a new trial.


WEST COAST: Agrees To Settle FTC Fraudulent Solicitation Charges
----------------------------------------------------------------
West Coast Advertising & Marketing agreed to settle Federal
Trade Commission charges of non-profit fraud, by agreeing to pay
$90,000 and verifying the accuracy of claims they make on behalf
of nonprofits for whom they solicit funds.  As part of that
obligation, the defendants must determine that the nonprofits
they represent spend more than an incidental amount of the
contributions they receive on the programs or services described
in defendants' solicitations and materials.

The FTC filed its lawsuit against the Company, Mark
Christiansen, and Mike Thomas in May 2003, as part of "Operation
Phoney Philanthropy," a law enforcement and public education
campaign by the FTC and state charity regulators to stop
deceptive fundraising.  The complaint alleged that the
defendants, based in San Diego, California, deceptively
solicited donations for two nonprofit organizations, Junior
Police Academy (JPA) and American Veteran's Network (AVN).  The
complaint alleged that the defendants' telemarketers falsely
claimed that JPA was officially connected with a local law
enforcement agency that sent police officers into the donor's
state and local schools to conduct programs that benefit
children, and that donations to AVN supported particular
programs that benefited needy veterans.

To settle the FTC charges, the order prohibits the defendants
from misrepresenting:

     (1) that any nonprofit for which they are fundraising has
         any connection to, or any affiliation with, a law
         enforcement agency or other public agency;

     (2) that the donors' contributions will directly benefit
         individuals or groups in the donors' state or local
         area; or

     (3) that the donors' contributions, or any portion of the
         contributions, will be used for general or specific
         charitable purposes.

The order further requires the defendants to disclose the
Company's name and status as a commercial fundraiser prior to
any solicitation over the phone and on written materials sent to
donors. If asked by any donor, the defendants must disclose the
percentage or regularly distributed amount of donations that is
paid or will be paid to any nonprofit on whose behalf the
defendants are seeking contributions. The defendants must also
clearly and conspicuously disclose on each receipt or invoice
sent to consumers that the solicitation was made by a paid
fundraiser and that the donor's contribution is not tax
deductible, if that is the case. The defendants are required
under the order to document that more than an incidental amount
of the contributions received are spent on the programs or
services described in the solicitation scripts.

The order also requires the defendants to pay $90,000 in redress
and contains a $800,863 suspended judgment, which will become
due immediately if the defendants default on the redress
payment.  Finally, the settlement contains various recordkeeping
requirements to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants'
compliance.

The Commission vote authorizing staff to file the stipulated
permanent injunction and final order was 5-0. The stipulated
permanent injunction and final order was approved by the U.S.
District Court for the Southern District of California on
January 3, 2005.

For more details, contact the FTC's Consumer Response Center,
Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580
or visit the Website: http://www.ftc.gov. Also contact Brenda
Mack, Office of Public Affairs by Phone: 202-326-2182 or Eleanor
Durham, FTC's Northwest Region - Seattle by Phone: 206-220-4476


                          Asbestos Alert


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: NY Court Upholds Ruling in Favor of Worker
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York on Dec.
2, 2004, affirmed a ruling in favor of a worker claiming to have
been afflicted by asbestos-related mesothelioma due to
occupational exposure, according to court documents.

The defendants, AC&S Inc. and John Crane Inc., appealed the
verdict handed down on Aug. 12, 2003 by Judge Marcy S. Friedman
in favor of Natalie Lustenring. She was awarded the total amount
of US$4,395,058.

The Appellate Division held that there was sufficient evidence
to support the finding that the mesothelioma was caused by the
defendant companies' working conditions. Evidence had revealed
that workers toiled all day for long periods in clouds of dust
raised by the manipulation and crushing of asbestos-containing
packing and gaskets. Valid expert testimony also indicated that
these asbestos products contained enough asbestos to cause
mesothelioma.

The evidence supported the verdict that defendants were not able
to sustain its burden of showing that negligence by nonparty
defendants was a significant cause of plaintiffs' injuries. The
defendants also raised remaining arguments but the Court decided
the defendants had been given a fair trial and that reasonable
compensation was merited under the circumstances.

Michael Pollard of Baker & McKenzie, from Chicago, IL, argued
for the appellants. For the respondents, Lizabeth Burrell of
Levy Phillips & Konigsberg, from New York, represented.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Lloyd's Equitas Reaches US$200MM Settlement
----------------------------------------------------------------
Equitas, the reinsurer that assumed asbestos and environmental
liabilities that once threatened to overwhelm Lloyd's of London,
says it has settled more than US$200 million or GBP105 million
of claims with four major policyholders.

Equitas announced the deal last week, saying comprehensive
agreements had been reached including one with Dana, a U.S.
auto-parts supplier that was one of Equitas's three biggest
direct liabilities.

The deals settle all claims against underwriters at Lloyd's of
London, the world's oldest insurance market, under policies
taken out by Dana and the other claimants to cover asbestos and
other liabilities.

The latest settlements were part of its continued efforts to
resolve policyholders' claims "at the right price and at the
earliest possible time," it said. Equitas has announced more
than US$1.2 billion of settlements since the start of last year
and has negotiated other undisclosed deals. The reinsurer is
working to settle Lloyd's asbestos liabilities, which were
estimated at US$7.4 billion in March.

"With these four additional deals, there can be no doubt about
our readiness to reach reasonable settlements with our
policyholders," said Simon Wright, Equitas's head of asbestos
pollution and health hazard claims, in the statement.

It has now settled five of the top ten claims that it had four
years ago and has paid out GBP15 billion since 1996. At March
last year, it had remaining assets of GBP6.3 billion. Equitas's
most recent estimate of its asbestos liabilities puts them at
GBP4 billion.

Claims settled last year included a US$118 million agreement
with EnPro Industries and a US$245 million deal with Travelers
Property Casualty.

The Dana deal will be a further source of relief to the Lloyd's
market and its former capital providers, known as Names, who are
still potentially liable for more money in the event that
Equitas runs out of cash.

Equitas was set up in 1996 to deal with massive exposure to
asbestos and other claims that brought Lloyd's to the brink of
extinction. It effectively assumed all the market's pre-1993
liabilities so that Lloyd's could keep underwriting.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Federal-Mogul, Creditors Oppose Trust Fund
---------------------------------------------------------------
Federal-Mogul Corporation (OTC Bulletin Board: FDMLQ) and the
Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Federal-Mogul this
week submitted a joint letter to the U.S. Senate strongly
opposing the creation of a national asbestos trust fund. They
cited the extremely inequitable and adverse impact such a
proposal would have on Federal-Mogul and its future viability.

While Federal-Mogul and the Creditors Committee support efforts
to reform the asbestos litigation crisis through passage of a
medical criteria bill and also support enactment of meaningful
tort reform measures, the Company and Creditors cannot support a
national trust that imposes a grossly disproportionate payment
obligation on Federal-Mogul while providing a bailout to a small
number of companies that are responsible for the lion's share of
the most serious asbestos claims in the tort system.

In a process strikingly reminiscent of the "taxation without
representation" that the American Revolution was fought over,
the trust fund would compel mandatory annual payments for a
period of nearly 30 years from companies, a number of whom have
joined a new coalition of defendant companies opposing the
legislation.  These payments threaten the viability of countless
companies, bear no relevance to their asbestos exposure or
costs, and have been developed in the absence of consultation
with or input from the companies.

Compounding the devastating effect of the payments, the trust
fund would strip companies of their insurance coverage for
asbestos claims -- coverage on which premiums have been paid and
that would be forfeited, perhaps unconstitutionally.

Through this manifestly unfair and undemocratic process, the
legislation would make Federal-Mogul the largest proposed
contributor to the national asbestos trust, requiring the
Company to pay a far greater amount to the trust fund than it
would under its reorganization plan, while simultaneously
eliminating the Company's ability to access its insurance assets
to compensate foreign asbestos claimants.

In their letter, the Company and Creditors Committee again
outlined the dire business consequences that passage of
legislation creating a national asbestos trust would have on the
Company, and urged Senators to consider alternative legislation
establishing medical criteria as a more equitable solution to
the asbestos litigation crisis.

This joint Company and Creditors Committee letter follows a Jan.
3, 2005, business coalition letter to Senate Judiciary Committee
Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) signed by Exxon Mobil, DuPont,
Federal-Mogul and the Creditors Committee, and other U.S.
businesses opposing the national trust.  As in the case of the
other companies signing the coalition letter, Federal-Mogul can
demonstrate that it fares far worse under the legislation than
under the existing tort system or if allowed to confirm its
reorganization plan.

Federal-Mogul is a leading global supplier of automotive
components and sub-systems serving the world's original
equipment manufacturers and the aftermarket.  Headquartered in
Southfield, Michigan, Federal-Mogul was founded in 1899, and
today employs nearly 20,000 people in the United States and more
than 44,000 worldwide.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: ASIC Hands Out Subpoenas for Hardie Scandal
----------------------------------------------------------------
In a move that comes immediately after the approval of special
legislation compelling James Hardie to meet the shortfall in
compensation, the Australian Securities and Investments
Commission (ASIC) has fired off subpoenas to entities and
individuals connected to the James Hardie asbestos scandal. The
regulator has advised numerous parties it intends to subpoena
documents and other evidence.

ASIC is investigating potential breaches of corporations law,
exposed last year during the Special Commission of Inquiry into
the Medical Research and Compensation Foundation. The inquiry
was ordered after MRCF directors advised the Carr Government in
2002 that the AUD293 million fund James Hardie had set up to pay
asbestos disease compensation claims were inadequate to fully
pay present and future claims. The shortfall was later found to
be in excess of AUD1.5 billion.

Last month, James Hardie entered into a non-binding agreement
with unions and asbestos victims groups, paving the way for
AUD4.5 billion in compensation payments over the next 40 years.
Hardie said it was possible but unlikely that its historic
asbestos compensation settlement could still come unstuck. This
is said to be the largest voluntary settlement in Australian
legal history

Prior to any agreement, the parties will have to absorb the
findings of a State Government review of the legal costs
associated with asbestos disease compensation claims. James
Hardie's shareholders will have the final say. It is expected
they will be asked to vote on a funding package around the
middle of the year.

Among the matters ASIC is investigating is whether James Hardie
misled the NSW Supreme Court when applying to move offshore to
the Netherlands.

Also under scrutiny is former James Hardie chief executive Peter
Macdonald, who may have breached the Corporations Act when he
told the Australian Stock Exchange in 2001 that the MRCF was
"fully funded."


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: FL District Agrees to US$565,000 Settlement
----------------------------------------------------------------
A legal battle between the Lee County School District and its
former safety director has finally ended after both sides agreed
to a final settlement of about US$565,000, including US$232,000
for attorneys' fees.

Last Nov. 26, the Class Action Reporter disclosed that the jury
gave a US$400,000 award to Ernie Scott, Lee county school
district's former safety director, to make up for loss wages and
mental anguish he suffered after being terminated by the
district. As program administrator for safety, security and
inspections, he oversaw fire safety and building code
inspections, asbestos abatement, indoor air quality, facility
plan reviews and campus security.

Mr. Scott lost his job after blowing the whistle on hazards the
district allegedly ignored to the federal authorities. He openly
discussed safety concerns in news reports and on radio shows. He
later filed a written report with the Environmental Protection
Agency citing the school administration for failing to hold
contractors accountable for inferior work.

Mr. Scott sued the district after he lost his US$83,000-a-year
job in 2003, when incoming Superintendent James Browder
reorganized the management. He sued for violations of his First
Amendment rights to free speech, his right to due process and
for a violation of the state's whistleblower's act.

The district immediately filed motions seeking a new trial, to
overturn the verdict and to reduce the back pay, district
counsel Keith Martin said. A judge denied two of the motions and
granted a reduction of back pay to US$109,000, but issues of
attorney's compensation and future losses still remained.

The school district planned to fight the losses until its
insurance Company stepped in and recommended a settlement,
saying it would not pay any more money over the settlement
amount if the district were to lose an appeal, Mr. Martin said.

"I believe there was a very strong chance we'd be successful on
appeal," he said. "But we believe this to be a financially
prudent decision to protect the taxpayer's dollars. The
agreement to settle is not an admission there was any
inappropriate acts by the school district or any of its staff."

Board member Elinor Scricca agreed, saying the decision to back
down was in large part to protect Lee County taxpayers. "It's
just one of those matters where you don't want to have to gamble
the taxpayers' money," she said. "The school district did the
right thing and there is no guilt ... it just wasn't worth
dragging out and we did not want to incur further debt."

About his trial, Mr. Scott said it was very clear Mr. Browder
and other district officials had conflicting stories and he's
confident he would have won an appeal as well.

Today, he said he feels vindicated. "It's over, it's finished -
it's a major relief, so I can get on with the rest of my life,"
said Mr. Scott, aged 53, now a nursing student working at Naples
Community Hospital.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Irish MDs Anticipate Jump in Cancer Cases
--------------------------------------------------------------
Leading Irish doctors have warned of a "cancer time bomb" for
workers who were exposed to asbestos. The warnings have prompted
concern among businesses that an increase in insurance bills
will hit them in the coming years. Already, businesses are
bracing themselves for the hike.

The total cost to European insurers could reach EUR50 billion,
observers believe. Irish and British firms are likely to be
among the hardest hit by this huge financial burden. More than
8,000 people are expected to die each year in Europe from 2015
onwards, according to recent research in Britain.

Mesothelioma, a cancerous tumor found in the lining of the lung
that is caused by asbestos exposure. The warning comes as
hundreds of Irish people are to seek compensation for asbestos-
related deaths and illness.

"The immediate problem is that insurance companies will start to
shore up in the years coming up to 2015," said Mark Fielding,
chief executive of Isme, the small and medium-sized business
group.

Ken O'Byrne, consultant oncologist at St. James Hospital and
chairman of the British Thoracic Oncology Group, said, "It is
important to point out that there is an incubation period of
over 20 years from first exposure to the first symptoms of the
disease."

Dr. O'Byrne adds that in Ireland, up to 300 new cases of
mesothelioma a year from 2015 onwards are expected to erupt. Of
these, a large proportion will come from the construction
industry. Companies in power generation, shipping and
manufacturing that worked in asbestos-lagged premises will be
most affected.

The discovery of mesothelioma could also prove lucrative for
established pharmaceutical and biotech companies looking to find
treatments for this and other cancers, says Dr. O'Byrne.
Presently, a laboratory in St. James' Hospital is involved in
research aimed at developing a "silver bullet" targeted
treatment for mesothelioma.

At the end of January, Dr. O'Byrne is hosting a four-day
international conference on lung cancer and mesothelioma in the
Burlington Hotel in Dublin. More than 400 delegates, including
opinion leaders from around the world, are expected to attend.

"What we need to specialize in is early diagnosis, prevention
and treatment, because we will be seeing many more mesotheliomas
in the next 20 years," he said.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Pres. Bush Urges Passage of Asbestos Fund
--------------------------------------------------------------
President Bush called on Congress last week to pass legislation
that would end litigation by asbestos victims that has
bankrupted 70 U.S. companies aside from denying some victims
swift compensation. Hundreds of thousands of people have sued
companies that produced the insulating and fireproofing
material.

"It's not fair to those who are getting sued, and it's not fair
for those who justly deserve compensation," said Pres. Bush,
appearing at a performing arts center just north of Detroit.
"These asbestos suits have bankrupted a lot of companies, and
that affects the workers here in Michigan and around the
country."

Inhalation of the tiny asbestos fibers can cause lung diseases
such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Lester
Brickman, a Yeshiva University law professor selected by Bush to
discuss the asbestos cases at the appearance, told the audience
that more than 100,000 workers have died as a result of exposure
to asbestos.

The American Trial Lawyers Association puts the figure at
300,000 and projects that a similar number will die over the
next four decades. The group's president said President Bush is
"attacking the legal rights of millions of Americans."

Democrats in Congress argue that GOP legislation to create a
trust fund for victims has not included enough money for victims
and that Republicans are only trying to help their friends in
the business and insurance communities by immunizing them from
lawsuits.

The President said the cost of having courts process those
claims could amount to US$200 billion over time. He asked
Congress to send him legislation that would represent a
"national solution," but he offered only the broad outlines of
what he seeks, and he embraced no specific legislation.

"Most of the money isn't going to those people who have been
truly sick, it's going to people who think they might be sick -
people who have no major medical impairment," Pres. Bush said.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that some workers exposed to
asbestos on the job can collect monetary damages even if they do
not yet have cancer and may never develop the disease. The fear
of developing cancer is grounds enough to collect for workers
who already have asbestosis, the high court ruled.

It can take years for symptoms of lung illnesses stemming from
asbestos to occur. Pres. Bush did not define what he meant by
"truly sick" or "major medical impairment." Later, a senior
administration official said Pres. Bush believes victims should
be eligible for help "as soon as they become sick."

The trial lawyers association said the president's focus was
misplaced. Trial lawyers president Todd Smith said, "We hope he
takes the time to meet with some of the hundreds of thousands of
Americans who are sick and dying because the companies they
worked for knowingly poisoned them with asbestos. They could
educate him with the truths about this deadly substance and the
companies that lied and covered up about it."

Some outside groups disputed Pres. Bush's assertion that
asbestos litigation is ruining businesses. Many of the companies
that filed for bankruptcy were reorganized, not liquidated, said
the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based
environmental research group that opposes Bush's proposed
changes.

Pres. Bush wants Congress to create a US$140 billion trust fund,
financed by companies and their insurers, to compensate victims
of asbestos exposure.

Exxon Mobil Corp., DuPont Co. and Federal-Mogul Corp. also
oppose the legislation, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee
in a letter this week the measure is unfair because they would
have to pay substantially more than they face in lawsuits.

Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., said he favored a national trust fund,
but efforts over the years "have not included any contribution
from the administration, which has never offered any specific
legislation or provided any detailed guidance on its views of
this important matter. I am hopeful that the president's event
today signals a change."

Companies opposing the trust fund urged Congress to consider
alternatives, including measures that would require plaintiffs
filing asbestos lawsuits to prove they met specific medical
criteria before proceeding with their cases.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: ACE Takes $298M Charge to Increase Reserves
----------------------------------------------------------------
A day after announcing the resignation of the chairman and chief
executive of its US division, Bermuda-based insurer Ace Ltd has
reported that it would take a US$298 million after-tax charge in
its fiscal fourth quarter to increase its reserves against
asbestos and environmental claims.

The charge comprises US$279 million relating to its Brandywine
operation and US$19 million relating to the ACE Westchester
Specialty unit. It includes a bad debt provision of US$95
million and a tax benefit of US$161 million.

ACE said the move reflected its ongoing practice of periodically
reviewing its accident and emergency reserves. It has been one
of many insurance companies to examine alternative ways of
dealing with growing asbestos liabilities.

ACE also announced plans to sell three reinsurance units in the
first half of the year. The disposal of ACE American Reinsurance
Company, Brandywine Reinsurance Co (UK) Ltd and Brandywine
Reinsurance Company is expected to close in the first half of
2005. The units are so-called run-off companies to manage
asbestos and other reserves, some of which ACE took on with its
1999 acquisition of Cigna Corp.'s property and casualty
insurance business. The sale requires the approval of
Pennsylvania state insurance regulators, who oversaw the Cigna
sale.

"This sale is an important step in our strategy to resolve our
asbestos exposures responsibly and to achieve the certainty
intended by the 1996 reorganization," said Evan Greenberg,
president and CEO of ACE Limited.

In addition, Mr. Greenberg said in a memo to employees that ACE
expects its internal investigation stemming from New York
Attorney General Elliot Spitzer's investigation to be completed
by the end of February.

In the management reshuffle, ACE said that Susan Rivera had
resigned from her posts as chairman and chief executive at ACE
USA after three years with the Company. Greenberg, in a
conference call with analysts, refused to say whether it was in
connection with Spitzer's probe.

ACE was among several insurance companies named but not charged
in a suit brought by Spitzer against New York brokerage Marsh &
McLennan Companies Inc. for bid rigging and price-fixing. ACE
earlier announced that two of its employees were fired and three
suspended in connection with the investigation.

ACE said Brian E. Dowd, who previously headed ACE's Westchester
Specialty division, would replace Ms. Rivera. "In his new role,
Mr. Dowd will be responsible for all of ACE's retail and
wholesale property and casualty insurance business in the United
States and Canada -- an operation that has generated over US$3
billion in net earned premiums for the first nine months of last
year and has more than 4,000 employees," the Company said.

ACE said that the increase in its reserves would result in a
fourth-quarter charge of US$298 million, or US$1.05 a share.
"This reserve strengthening continues our practice of
periodically reviewing our asbestos and environmental reserves
from the ground up," Mr. Greenberg said in the release.

In its 2004 projections, the Company said it expects property
and casualty net premium to grow 24 percent, at the high end of
its earlier projection of 22 percent, and that investment income
will total US$990 million. Operating cash flow is projected at
US$4.7 billion.

For 2005, ACE projects premium growth of 9 percent to 11
percent, US$1.14 billion to US$1.16 billion in investment income
and US$4 billion in operating cash flow.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: New Treatment Helps Prevent Cancer Growth
--------------------------------------------------------------
A sufferer of mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer linked to
asbestos exposure, is taking part in a clinical trial for a
brand new type of cancer treatment. The trial is in the
preliminary stages. And, so far, the results are promising.

Billie Speicher, who considers himself a research pioneer, said
that the cancer cells in his body have not spread since taking
the new drug Veglin. This promising drug, developed by
researchers at the University of Southern California, is said to
stop cancer cells from producing veg-F, a chemical they depend
on to grow.

"If a car, for example, was able to manufacture its own gasoline
it would go forever, and that's what these cancer cells are
doing. They're making their own gasoline, if you will, and that
gasoline is veg-F," said Dr. Alexandra Levine.

Cancer cells need blood to stay alive. When the supply runs out,
veg-F forces new blood vessels to grow.

"Not only does it make new blood vessels, it also allows
increased growth of the tumor cell," said Dr. Levine.

Overall, tumor growth slowed down in 56 percent of study
participants with advanced, hard-to-treat cancers.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: RPM Makes Record Q2 Before Asbestos Charge
---------------------------------------------------------------
RPM International Inc. (NYSE: RPM) last Monday reported record
sales and continued growth in operating results for its fiscal
2005 second quarter (ended November 30, 2004) and six-month
performance.

A US$47 million pre-tax charge taken this quarter to increase
the Company's reserves for known asbestos claims reduced
earnings, which otherwise grew to record levels.

"The benefits of RPM's balanced product portfolio were once
again evident in the most recent completed quarter," said Frank
C. Sullivan, president and CEO. "The strength of sales and
earnings leverage from continued momentum in our industrial
segment enabled RPM to again realize solid growth in its
operating earnings, before the asbestos charge, despite moderate
consumer segment sales growth this quarter and ongoing raw
material cost pressures."

Headquartered in Medina, Ohio, RPM reported consolidated net
sales of US$623.5 million for its fiscal 2005 second quarter, a
7.2% increase over last year's second quarter sales of US$581.5
million.

Including the asbestos charge, consolidated earnings before
interest and taxes (EBIT) were US$21.7 million compared with
last year's US$61.3 million. Excluding the asbestos charge,
adjusted EBIT increased 12% to US$68.7 million, and RPM's
adjusted EBIT margin during the 2005 second quarter improved 40
basis points to 11% from 10.6% a year ago. The Company continues
to implement price increases in an effort to recover these
higher costs which have negatively affected gross margins in
particular, especially in the consumer segment.

Reported net income of US$9.1 million and diluted earnings per
share of US$0.08 compared with net income of US$35.2 million and
diluted earnings per share of US$0.30 in the fiscal 2004 second
quarter. Excluding the asbestos charge, adjusted 2005 second-
quarter net income of US$38.5 million increased 9.3% over last
year's second quarter, while adjusted diluted earnings per share
of US$0.33 registered a 10% increase versus the fiscal 2004
second quarter diluted earnings. It is important to note that
during the first quarter of the current fiscal year, the Company
elected early adoption of FAS 123 effective June 1, 2004.

RPM reported consolidated net sales of US$1.285 billion for the
first half of fiscal 2005, a 10.5% increase over last year's
six-month sales of US$1.163 billion.

Reported net income of US$63.6 million and diluted earnings per
share of US$0.54 compared with net income of US$82.9 million and
diluted earnings per share of US$0.71 a year ago. Excluding the
asbestos charge, adjusted net income of US$93.0 million this
year increased 12.2% over last year's first six months, while
adjusted diluted earnings per share of US$0.79 registered an
11.3% increase versus the fiscal 2004 first-half diluted
earnings.

Six-month cash flow from operations was US$99.6 million, a 33%
increase over fiscal 2004 six-month cash flow of US$74.8
million. After-tax asbestos-related payments during the first
six months of fiscal 2005 amounted to US$21.5 million versus
last year's US$16.5 million; however, last year had the benefit
of the remaining third-party insurance supplement, amounting to
US$9.4 million on a pre-tax basis.

Therefore, before taxes and before insurance, total asbestos-
related payments through six months this year of US$34.4 million
compare favorably with US$35.8 million last year and likewise,
for the second quarter, pre-tax asbestos-related payments of
US$15.4 million this year compare favorably with US$18.6 million
last year. Through six months this year, capital expenditures of
US$21.8 million compare with depreciation of US$24.7 million.
Total debt has increased by US$125.6 million, including the net
refinancing proceeds, less subsequent debt paydowns of about
US$84 million, from the US$200 million 4.45% Senior Notes due
2009 sold in September.

Addressing asbestos liability reserves, the Company indicated
that, dating back to July 2003, it has regularly evaluated the
adequacy of these reserves, and has discussed its intention to
adjust these reserves when appropriate. As the Company has
reviewed not only its pending and known claims, but also
considered recent significantly increased defense costs, which
are expected to continue based on a more aggressive defense
strategy, and the manner in which it intends to address new
claims, RPM concluded that it was appropriate to take a US$47
million pre-tax asbestos charge this quarter, which includes an
increase of US$32 million related to future defense costs
associated with existing claims.

This charge brings RPM balance sheet reserves for asbestos
liability to US$103 million, a level that sufficiently supports
a conservatively estimated value summation of existing claims in
light of this more aggressive defense strategy and associated
higher expected costs.

"We are pleased with the continued growth in our industrial
segment and the improvement in our earnings that largely came
from that growth. While we were disappointed by the slower
growth in our consumer segment this quarter, we believe that the
factors causing this are temporary and that we will see
increasing revenue growth in our spring selling season," Mr.
Sullivan said.

"We continue to pursue our strategy of complementing our organic
growth with attractive acquisitions both here in North America
and in Europe, and we continue to anticipate high single-digit
growth in revenues and 10 to 12 percent growth in earnings for
the full 2005 fiscal year, after adjusting for asbestos reserve
charges."

RPM International Inc., a holding Company, owns subsidiaries
that are world leaders in specialty coatings serving both
industrial and consumer markets. RPM has 87,000 shareholders,
7,900 employees and hundreds of independent sales and technical
representatives. The Company's products are sold in more than
130 countries and are manufactured at 68 plant locations in 17
countries.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: UK Poll Reveals Low Awareness of New Rules
---------------------------------------------------------------
A poll by insurance giant Zurich Risk Services concluded that
only 40 percent of firms in the south were aware of changes to
asbestos regulations. The survey also revealed that 84 percent
of these firms have no plans to deal with the risks linked to
the deadly substance.

These findings come in the wake of the Control of Asbestos at
Work Regulations, which came into effect in May 2004. The new
rules require workplace managers to find out if their building
contains asbestos and whether it poses a risk. The regulations
have been designed to protect maintenance workers in older
commercial properties by giving them clear records of any
asbestos that is present if work is carried out.

These tough new rules mean that businesses must be able to prove
they have a scheme for coping with any danger of the substance
in their buildings.

Roger Cottell, managing director of Zurich Risk Services, said,
"We are urging businesses in the south to put plans in place to
deal with the risks associated with asbestos in the workplace."

That is the warning from business experts in Portsmouth who
believe new regulations aimed at protecting construction workers
will have far-reaching consequences.

But checks, which can be required as often as twice a year, to
see if asbestos is present in commercial properties could leave
businesses footing huge survey bills. This has concerned smaller
businesses, which, under the new regulations, are liable to pay
for an initial inspection and regular "check-ups," even if they
only lease their property.

Khan Rashid, chairman of the southeast Hampshire branch of the
Federation of Small Businesses, said, "Businesses are going to
be put off renting older properties because of the added costs
of surveys. If the government wants these surveys to be carried
out every year then they should be subsidized."

Construction Minister Brian Wilson said, "Until now, contractors
may have been unaware of the dangers they might face when
carrying out refurbishment work in commercial properties. This
legislation gives construction workers the right to know."


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: CA Court Affirms Ruling V. Owens-Illinois
--------------------------------------------------------------
The California Court of Appeal, First District, last Nov. 30,
affirmed a ruling in favor of Owens-Illinois, Inc. in the case
against Anthony Cadlo et al.

Alan R. Brayton, Gilbert L. Purcell, Lloyd F. Leroy, David
Polin, of the law firm Brayton & Purcell, are representing the
plaintiffs and appellants. Jean L. Bertrand, Shawn D. Parrish,
Alex P. Catalona, of Morgenstein & Jubelirer LLP, are standing
in behalf of the defendant and respondent.

Anthony Cadlo claimed to have allegedly sustained personal
injuries due to asbestos exposure from Kaylo, an insulation
product containing asbestos once made by Owens-Illinois. The
plaintiffs contend the trial court erred in sustaining Owens-
Illinois's demurrer to their causes of action for fraud, deceit,
and concert of action. They also contend there are triable
issues of fact regarding design defects in Kaylo.

Anthony Cadlo was diagnosed with mesothelioma in July 2002, and
stopped working in August 2002 because of his disease.

Owens-Illinois began developing Kaylo in the 1930s and placed it
on the market in 1943. In 1958, the Company sold its Kaylo
division to Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corporation (OCF). With the
sale Owens-Illinois ceased all manufacture, sale, and
distribution of Kaylo.

Anthony Cadlo, born in December 1944, served as a machinists
mate in the United States Navy aboard the USS Black from January
1965 to June 1968. While working on the USS Black he was exposed
to asbestos insulation, some of which may have been Kaylo. It is
undisputed that any Kaylo to which he was exposed was
manufactured only by OCF, not by Owens-Illinois.

The original complaint, filed in September 2002 against Owens-
Illinois, alleged negligence, strict liability, multiple
intentional torts, and loss of consortium. The plaintiffs argued
that Owens-Illinois knew of and intentionally concealed the
hazardous nature of Kaylo throughout the period it manufactured
Kaylo, and approved and assisted Kaylo's purchaser, OCF, in
continuing to conceal Kaylo's hazards.

The Court admitted that the concealment and misrepresentation of
Kaylo's hazards and the failure to warn about its hazards
resulted in the sale of Kaylo products, and the perpetuation of
unsafe installation, handling and use of Kaylo, all of which
caused Anthony Cadlo to be exposed to and injured from his
exposure to Kaylo dust.

However, it remains that Anthony Cadlo could not have come into
contact with Owens-Illinois's product, Kaylo, because his first
exposure to it was in 1965, seven years after Owens-Illinois had
ceased all affiliation with Kaylo.

The Appeal Court therefore affirms the trial court's conclusion
that there were no disputed issues of material fact and Owens-
Illinois was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Avoidance Urged in Rebuilding
-----------------------------------------------------------
Environmentalists are urging groups involved in the
rehabilitation work to spare the tsunami victims of further
health hazard by avoiding the use of asbestos for rebuilding
their houses. Already devastated and weakened by the disaster,
these victims should not be exposed to the cancer-causing agent
that had been used extensively in the past in other natural
disasters in India, said Gopal Krishna from environmental group
Toxic Link.

Mr. Krishna added, "But our experience of natural disasters like
Orissa supercyclone, Gujarat earthquake have shown that asbestos
is widely used during rehabilitation and house construction for
the affected families. This leads to long-term exposure of
affected population to the cancer-causing agent. So it should
not be used for the rehabilitation work in the four Tsunami
affected states."

Asbestos is a proven carcinogen and about 40 countries have
already banned its use from this year. The environmentalist
group cited alternative eco-friendly materials like Cellulose
fiber, PVA fiber, clay, stone tiles and steel which could be
substituted for asbestos for constructing houses for
rehabilitating the victims of natural and man-made disaster.

Mr. Krishna is appealing to citizens to boycott all asbestos-
containing products in the context of a global asbestos
epidemic.

The Ban Asbestos Network of India, which is a group of
environmental bodies, has demanded a complete ban on the use of
white asbestos. BANI bases this demand on views coming from
medical experts, the World Trade Organization, Europe and
countries like Japan and Australia who have discovered that the
material causes asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. It has
been totally banned in all 25-member countries of the European
Union (EU) from January 1, 2005 after the end of a five-year
phase-out period.

The group has also been openly critical of the Tamil Nadu
Government's order after the Kumbakonam fire tragedy to use
asbestos as fireproof building material.

However, Indian Government has adopted a confusing stand on
white asbestos or chrysotile with the Health Ministry admitting
in Parliament that asbestos is a carcinogen while environment
ministry negating it and the Commerce Ministry in fact promoting
it by giving a tax reduction of 15 percent in the recent budget,
lamented the BANI functionary.

Environment and Forest Minister Namo Narain Meena "misinformed"
the Lok Sabha on December 20 saying that the Government has
received representations from few NGOs for a total ban on white
asbestos in the country. However, as no scientific study
establishing the use of white asbestos causing lung cancer is
available, it is not considered desirable to ban the use of
white asbestos, he said and added that this was despite the fact
that the Health Ministry had informed parliament that exposure
to any type of asbestos can lead to the development of
asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Owner Fires Workers with Asbestos Diseases
----------------------------------------------------------------
After a heated dispute that culminated in a sit-in protest at
the Company's premises last Nov. 20, the employer of the
Egyptian-Spanish Company for Asbestos Products moved to
terminate the 52 protesting workers. The workers, who are
claiming to be suffering from asbestos-related diseases due to
exposure at the factory, have been demanding for fair
compensation for their alleged occupational diseases and for
wages not paid to them for the last 4 months.

The Trade Union Local Committee's members have been among these
workers.

The Company fired the workers on Dec. 25, 2004 after more than
20 years of working without protection from asbestos dust. They
have been carrying, opening, mixing asbestos with cement without
masks, gloves, or working clothes, to make water pipes.
Beginning in 1997, the workers have been suffering from various
kinds of occupational diseases. Eight workers out of the 90
workers of the Company have died as a complication of exposure
to asbestos between 1997 and 2002. Many workers were dismissed
without receiving any compensation.

The protesting workers are all claiming to need medical
treatment for their illnesses that they say they will not be
able to afford with their current wages. Their wages have been
reduced once their sickness prevented them from continuing the
level of work they were doing before.

Since September 2004, the owner, Ahmed Abdel Azim Lokma, who
also owns other factories and the GROPPI stores, has cut their
wages. He refuses to spend for any of his workers' medical
expenses. Instead, it is believed that he paid doctors to issue
reports to the Company's insurers saying that the diseases were
not work-related.

In turn, the workers had organized a media, legal and protest
campaign which succeeded in forwarding their demands to the
parliamentary health committee. The committee recommended the
closure of all asbestos companies and demanded that the
government ban the import of that substance. Pressures all over
the world have succeeded to issue a decree by the seven
industrial states in 1979 to stop the use of any product that
involves asbestos.

Workers of the Company headquartered in the Ramadan City of
Egypt had been successful in enforcing a decree two months ago
involving the closure of the Company until all industrial safety
measures have been installed while disbursing the wages of the
workers, since the administration of the Company had insisted in
using asbestos.

In 1988 the Egyptian Minister of Provisions, Ahmed Geweli,
issued a decree that banned the import of asbestos. But two and
a half months later he permitted the import of asbestos for
several projects asking only that these companies "adjust their
conditions" without specifying which conditions they should
adjust or the time frame during which they should complete those
adjustments.

The claims have already been filed in court but while waiting
for the judgment, an "international financial solidarity
campaign" is ongoing to cover the workers' personal and medical
expenses.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Insurers Committed to Real Asbestos Reform
---------------------------------------------------------------
At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing held earlier this
week, insurers raised several fundamental concerns about the
current status of the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act
or what is better known as the FAIR Act. Insurers are said to be
wary of proposed solutions that essentially are "designed to
fail."

However, insurers remain deeply committed to enactment of
meaningful national asbestos litigation reform legislation that
provides fairness and certainty to all stakeholders, said Craig
Berrington, general counsel of the American Insurance
Association, in his testimony before the committee.

Among the insurers' concerns is that the national asbestos
victim compensation fund would not become a true exclusive
remedy for all asbestos claims; rather, substantial leakage of
claims back into the tort system could occur as the direct
result of several provisions dealing with the fund's start-up
and either full or partial sunset.

Mr. Berrington said, "AIA could only support a trust fund
construct if that fund became the exclusive remedy for all
asbestos claims. Without including all claims, there is no
finality, and the way some of the medical criteria and awards
structure are constructed, insurers are concerned that a fund is
'made to fail.'"

The current asbestos litigation system has caused chaos in the
courts, massive economic dislocation to major sectors of the
economy, great pressure on the insurance industry and is an
extraordinarily expensive system of financial relief with a
great majority of its capricious awards going to people who are
not sick from asbestos.

"The United States Supreme Court has decried the asbestos
litigation system, and has on several occasions called on
Congress to resolve the asbestos litigation crisis," Mr.
Berrington stated. "The AIA and our members urge Congress to
heed President Bush's recent call for a nationwide solution this
year that meets the three key principles he articulated:
asbestos compensation funds should go to the truly sick; there
should be a swift process for delivering justice to deserving
victims, and there needs to be certainty in the system."

Insurers have worked with members of Congress on both sides of
the political aisle and other stakeholder groups over the past
few years to create a workable solution to the asbestos
litigation crisis. Mr. Berrington concluded his testimony by
reiterating insurers' desire to see well-crafted legislation
enacted this year.

"The AIA supports any asbestos litigation reform construct that
would provide a truly effective, long-range solution," Mr.
Berrington noted. "It is imperative that Congress act now."


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Lewisham Plans Asbestos Surveys for Housing
----------------------------------------------------------------
Lewisham Council of the south London area has drawn up a
shortlist of companies to carry out the asbestos surveys for
their residential blocks, community centers, neighborhood
offices and supported housing. The aim is to detect the
existence, location, condition, type and quantity of asbestos in
the non-domestic areas of properties managed by the authority.

Lewisham's Mayor and cabinet or contracts committee is the
approving party for the final list of licensed companies to
undertake the asbestos surveys.

The report for that meeting says the survey and remedial action
will minimize legal claims on the council regarding asbestos-
related ill health. It says, "The undertaking of these surveys
will assist Lewisham Housing in controlling the risk of exposure
within its properties and actively and responsibly manage it."

The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 provides that
local authority landlords must have an asbestos management plan.
In line with these regulations, Lewisham Housing has developed
an asbestos management strategy and the surveys will feed into
that.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Victims Group Backs Alternative to Reform
--------------------------------------------------------------
A mesothelioma victims group expressed concern last Tuesday that
it would be impossible to design and implement a national
asbestos trust fund in a way that provides the needed protection
for persons exposed to asbestos.

The Committee to Protect Mesothelioma Victims now believes that
the better option for victims is a medical criteria/registry
approach. While individual program details differ, medical
criteria/registry approaches require those seeking to sue for
asbestos injury to first be screened under medical criteria
determined by a third party. In this case, Congress has already
agreed to a set of criteria. Those not meeting the qualifying
threshold established by the criteria do not lose their legal
right, but instead their right is preserved should their
condition advance to a higher criteria level.

Although the medical criteria/registry bill requires individuals
to meet qualifying standards to get into court, the Committee
favors the idea because it preserves individuals rights to have
their day in court. However, it is a policy generally favored by
the business community because it has the ability to heavily
reduce the volume of litigation. Experts have estimated that the
medical criteria/registry approach can reduce asbestos court
cases by 90 percent.

The medical criteria/registry approach has become the most
popular solution to the asbestos problem on the state level
having been adopted in a number of states including Ohio, West
Virginia and New York.

Mesothelioma is one of the more deadly asbestos-related cancers,
attacking the lining of the lungs and typically resulting in
death within a year of diagnosis.

Committee spokesperson Sue Vento, the widow of U.S. Rep. Bruce
Vento who died of mesothelioma in 2000 after 24 years in
Congress, said the medical criteria/registry approach offers
more protection for both current and future victims of asbestos
than the trust fund.

Ms. Vento said she favors the system over the trust fund because
it protects victims' rights while addressing the central concern
of the business community: the high volume of asbestos cases.

"If Congress is going to act at all," said Ms. Vento, "We prefer
the medical criteria/registry approach over the trust fund
because we don't trust a new huge federal bureaucracy to help
the very sick, we don't trust that it will protect victims
rights, and we certainly can't trust that the fund will have
enough money ... because asbestos is not banned in this country,
and who knows how much liability will eventually exist?"


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Disease Awareness Group Opposes FAIR Act
-------------------------------------------------------------
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), an
organization dedicated to serving as the voice of asbestos
victims, earlier this week announced its opposition to "The
Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act" sponsored by Senator
Arlen Specter (R-PA).

In a written statement submitted to the Senate Judiciary
Committee, which held hearings to discuss the bill, ADAO
Executive Director Linda Reinstein stated, "As President Bush
mentioned, 'The volume of asbestos lawsuits is beyond the
capacity of our courts to handle, and it is growing. More than
100,000 new asbestos claims were filed last year alone.' But we
need a solution that takes into account the voice of the victims
and puts their rights first."

The ADAO also stated several significant points. The group
asserted that asbestos is a public-health crisis not a
bankruptcy crisis. The U.S. alone loses 30 lives every single
day, and the numbers are estimated to be five times higher if
victims were diagnosed correctly. Asbestos exposure is said to
be responsible for one in every 125 deaths of men over the age
of 50.

Although asbestos is the largest single cause of occupational
cancer in the United States, it has not been banned in the
country.

ADAO is opposed to the bill for the following reasons:

(1) Its Medical Advisory Board strongly objects to the outdated
and incorrect medical criteria in this bill describing the
symptoms, diagnosis and severity of asbestos related diseases;

(2) Inordinate compensation delays and ineligibility for the
victims; and

(3) Inadequate funding for not only research, but education,
prevention and outreach.

Mrs. Reinstein also criticized the proposed trust fund in the
legislation, explaining that, "Asbestos diseases can take twice
as long to appear as the fund is designed to last. That leaves
millions of Americans exposed to asbestos with a fund that is
destined to become insolvent.

"Once again, sick and dying victims will be at the mercy of
bureaucracy and receive more aggravation than compensation. Give
the victims the right to choose the fund or a trial. Citizens
need to make certain before they give up their right to a trial,
that a national trust fund has sufficient funding for the
future."

She added that ADAO is not principally opposed to a trust fund
but it makes good business sense to design a fair and balanced
fund that provides speedy compensation and adequate funding for
research, education and outreach.

Mrs. Reinstein, whose husband is undergoing treatment for
mesothelioma, concluded by saying, "For many of us, it's too
late, but it's not too late for Congress to write fair and just
legislation for the victims of today and the future."


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Canada MP Warns Public of Insulation Risks
---------------------------------------------------------------
Canada's NDP Member of Parliament for Churchill is warning her
constituents to take caution in entering their attics for fear
of exposure to asbestos, a cancer-causing material that was
extensively used as insulation in the 1970s.

Homes built during that period in the Churchill area have attics
that contain vermiculite insulation, sold in Canada as Zonolite
Attic Insulation.

During the holidays, NDP MP Bev Desjarlais sent out information
advising her constituents to stay out of their attics until
their insulation is tested. "I really was not wanting to have a
process where people were being panicked and scared, but at this
point, I want people to know that it's out there," she says.

"I want them to be conscious of the fact that if they have
something that looks like this, that it needs to be tested, and
hopefully we can avoid situations where people, not knowing what
it is, go up there and work with it."

The federal government has already issued a warning to
homeowners not to disturb vermiculite insulation, but Ms.
Desjarlais says she has already received one call from a family
that, unaware of the health risk, cleaned out their attic.

Ms. Desjarlais says the government should be doing more to
assist people whose homes are insulated with vermiculite. She
says her campaign to convince federal officials to test and
remove the insulation is just beginning.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Find Prompts Warning From Council
---------------------------------------------------------------
Derry City Council this week issued a warning after details of
an unlawful dumping of 144 kilograms of asbestos at a roadside
in the city last December came to light.

A local resident who had come upon the three bags of broken
asbestos roofing on the Groarty Road had promptly alerted the
authorities.

Town clerk and chief executive Tony McGurk said, "Following the
report an inspection was carried out by council officers who
confirmed that the material was indeed asbestos."

An alternative destination had to be found for the material
since the council's landfill at Culmore had ceased to accept
asbestos disposal as of July 2004, under the requirements of the
Landfill Directive.

The bags of asbestos were collected, bagged and transported to a
licensed storage facility in Belfast at a cost to the council of
over GBP400.

The Department instructed that as the asbestos material was
dumped in this area, Derry City Council had responsibility to
arrange for and bear the costs of the collection, proper storage
and disposal of the materials by a fully licensed contractor.

Mr. McGurk said, "It should be pointed out that although this is
a relatively small cost to council, large amounts of
indiscriminately disposed asbestos has the potential to cost up
to GBP2,000 per ton to dispose of properly, in addition to the
expense incurred for officers to investigate such offenses."


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: AU Govt Releases $1.2M for Housing Injuries
----------------------------------------------------------------
Victoria's taxpayers over the past three years have given away
about $1.2 million to public housing tenants for various
injuries, classified state documents show. These papers also
reveal 70 payouts made in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Payouts reached $750,000 for slips and trips. Another $450,000
was paid to a tenant who contracted mesothelioma, caused by
exposure to asbestos during renovations at a reservoir house.

Most out-of-court claims were for personal injuries as a result
of wet stairs, uneven footpaths, protruding drains and tree
roots. Victims included a number of elderly, disabled, blind and
pregnant tenants and children.

One of the largest personal injury payout was for US$105,000
received for continuing head, chest and leg injuries, after a
tenant slipped on the edge of a concrete floor and carport.
Another substantial amount was the US$69,000 paid when a young
boy stood on the open door of a stove, causing boiling water to
spill onto him and his brother.

Office of Housing spokesman Brendan Ryan said the number of
claims was very low given there were 72,000 public housing
properties. "We've already arranged a number of commitments to
improve and maintain public housing stocks. We're bound by the
Residential Tenancy Act to provide safe living conditions and to
make urgent repairs as promptly as possible."

Mr. Ryan said there would be asbestos in other public
properties, but it would not threaten tenants' health unless it
was disturbed.

Opposition community services spokeswoman Helen Shardey raised
the serious issue of asbestos exposure when she asked whether
people's lives were still at risk. She added that she hoped
people were not injured as a result of poor maintenance.

"The Auditor-General was highly critical in terms of maintenance
issues, like the department not knowing whether work was done or
not, even if it was paid for," Ms. Shardey said.


ASBESTOS ALERT: OR Woman Fined For Illegal Burning At Demolition
----------------------------------------------------------------
A Stayton woman who directed the demolition of the historic
Paris Woolen Mill in late 2003 and early 2004 has been fined,
placed on probation and ordered to clean up the mill property
for illegal burning, which can cause serious public-health
problems.

Asbestos fibers, identified in the mill's burned roofing
material, can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other lung
diseases. Asbestos is considered a hazardous air contaminant
with no known safe exposure level.

Susan Horvat, a representative of Wampler Family LLC, which
owned the mill property, pleaded no contest to second-degree
unlawful air pollution for illegally burning garbage, commercial
waste and demolition waste within the Stayton city limits that
occurred in May 2004.

Before the State Police conducted its investigation of the
burning, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality had
issued a Notice of Noncompliance for open burning violations
that occurred in June 2003. After receiving the notice, Ms.
Horvat stated to DEQ that she understood the notice's
prohibition of open burning and said no more open burning would
occur at the property.

But in January 2004, DEQ observed Ms. Horvat burning prohibited
material at the site. That material, from the mill's demolition,
included machinery parts, plastic-coated electrical conduit,
asbestos-containing roofing materials and Styrofoam. That action
was listed among the violations in a US$17,800 penalty DEQ
issued the Wampler Family LLC in June 2004 for environmental
violations at the site.

In the spring of 2004, DEQ referred the case to the Oregon State
Police to investigate reports of additional illegal open burning
at the site.

Judge Steve Summers of the Stayton Justice Court sentenced Ms.
Horvat to 48 months probation and a US$10,000 fine, but US$9,000
has been suspended. She must also clean up the Paris Woolen Mill
property, following all state regulations and statutes regarding
environmental and public health laws.

Wampler Family LLC settled its penalty in December, agreeing to
pay a US$14,600 fine for asbestos-handling violations, illegal
open burning and the failure to hire a licensed asbestos-
abatement contractor to demolish the mill structure.

DEQ air quality officials noted that the burning of the mill's
prohibited materials was especially serious as the burning took
place in a residential area of Stayton and near a community
garden.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Mom Wins GBP10T Damages for Shipbuilder's Death
----------------------------------------------------------------
An 80-year-old pensioner won GBP10,000 in damages last Tuesday
over the asbestos-related death of her shipbuilder son. The
ruling was welcomed as breaking new ground in the fight to win
just compensation for the relatives of victims of asbestos.

Ian Cruickshank, aged 52, started at Fairfields when he was 17,
then worked for Upper Clyde Shipbuilders for 10 years, then at
Govan Shipyards for another six years. In 2000, he started
becoming breathless and had difficulty walking quickly. That
summer, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related
cancer of the lung lining, and was given 6 months to live.

Widow Annie Little was with her former Clyde shipyard worker son
when he died in the hospital in 2001.

Mrs. Little was among relatives to sue Fairfield and others in
an action. She sought a bereavement award. Her action was the
first of its kind to go to a court hearing since changes to
damages legislation in Scotland.

Mrs. Little's solicitor-advocate Frank Maguire had argued for an
award of GBP20,000, but lawyers for the shipyard said GBP3000 to
GBP4000 would be appropriate. Judge Lord Brodie said GBP10,000
was "a just figure." The sum was awarded at the Court of
Session, Edinburgh.

She said afterwards, "Ian was my only son. No amount of money
can ever compensate for the death of my son. But I felt it was
only right to pursue this case as a matter of principle, so it
might benefit other mothers who face a similar situation in the
future."

Judge Lord Brodie said Annie was "an entirely credible and
reliable witness." He added, "During the remainder of her life,
Mrs. Little would have had the society and emotional support of
the deceased had it not been for his premature death."


ASBESTOS ALERT: OR's DEQ Issues Fines for Mishandling Asbestos
--------------------------------------------------------------
Oregon environmental inspectors last month named four Klamath
companies and individuals, two of them on complaints of
mishandling asbestos. The department insists, however, that the
cluster of complaints was not part of a crackdown.

Cindy Foster of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's
Klamath Falls office, said, "Sometimes there will be a whole
swath of them at once; sometimes it's fairly quiet."

Three of those cited have contested the charges and will get a
hearing, the DEQ said.

As one of those cited noted, that could mean the proposed fines
will be reduced. "I'm sure it is going to be a lot different,"
said Jack Charlton, owner of Bud's Repair Service, which the DEQ
proposed should be fined US$3,949.

After an inspection in late July, a DEQ inspector said Bud's
failed to determine if solid wastes generated at the property
were hazardous, discharged wastes into a disposal system without
a water quality permit and openly burned wastes within three
miles of Klamath Falls.

Mr. Charlton said he has an informal hearing scheduled later
this month. He said he is guilty of the open burning and not
punching a hole in the bottom of old oil filters, but he is
challenging the other charges and the amount of his fine.

A possible fine of US$20,928 is facing K&S Pedersen Automotive,
situated at 1901 S. Sixth St. and owned by Susan Pedersen. In
late March, inspectors did a survey at Lee's Radiator Service
shop. They discovered that the Company failed to determine
whether wastes generated at the facility were hazardous;
generated hazardous waste without DEQ approval; failed to clean
up spills; illegally treated hazardous waste without a permit;
failed to properly mark hazardous waste markers; and violated
land disposal restrictions.

Another Company, Bob's Excavating located at 5800 Airway Drive
and represented by Randall Hirschbock as its registered agent,
is facing a possible fine of US$11,400. The DEQ found that the
business did an asbestos abatement project in late April at Day
School Road in Chiloquin without being licensed by the DEQ. The
Company burned metal roofing, appliances, metal cans, barrels,
remnants of cast iron pipes, a chimney, bedsprings and a sink in
a slash pile, violating DEQ regulations.

In early June, Laurence Oliver Phillips of 2021 Eberlein Ave,
conducted an asbestos abatement project without a DEQ license at
2121 White Street. He removed asbestos-containing siding and did
package it properly. The DEQ found out about it and he is now
considering a fine of US$3,600.

Bud's Repair Service, Bob's Excavating and K&S Pedersen
Automotive have all contested their complaints and will have
hearings with the DEQ, said Phil Hodgen, a spokesmen with DEQ
out of Pendleton.


ASBESTOS ALERT: UK Estate Residents Fear Exposure Amid Disputes
---------------------------------------------------------------
Residents on a Crouch Hill estate fear their lives are being put
at risk by asbestos after rain damage has exposed fibers of the
potentially lethal substance used in old building materials.

Audrey Doherty, aged 37, from Ilex House tenants and residents
association (TRA), said, "It is ridiculous. I am sitting here in
my flat with this gaping hole and God knows what is going into
my lungs."

She adds that she also fears for the health of her daughter and
other relatives who visit her. She believes the ceiling, which
had been damaged since February, should be replaced but at this
point, she is still waiting for a response from the council.

"The council sent some builders out to remove the asbestos but
they said they were just going to patch it up with filler so I
told them that is not good enough. And I haven't heard back from
them for the last two months," said Ms. Doherty.

But Homes for Islington (HFI), which manages the council's
housing stock, has refused to accept liability.

Justine Gordon-Smith, also from the TRA, said, "It has put a
statement out saying under the 1998 housing act it is in no way
liable for asbestos in the flats as long as it's not disturbed."

A combination of people tramping up and down the roof of Ilex
House, which is used by two mobile phone companies as a site for
satellite equipment, and flooding caused by rainwater has
exposed asbestos according to residents.

The TRA had an independent survey of Ilex House carried out in
November.

Homes for Islington Director John Phillips said, "Asbestos-
containing materials, which are in good condition, and sealed in
paint, do not pose a health risk."

He explained that all council tenants and residents are made
aware of the presence and risk level of asbestos in their homes.
He advised that if the residents suspect that asbestos
containing materials have been damaged, then the local area
housing office should be contacted.

"Ms. Doherty's home in Ilex House has a very low level of
asbestos and HFI offered to repair her ceiling by filling in the
hole, removing loose materials and sealing the patch. However,
she has refused to allow the recommended work to be carried
out," added Mr. Phillips.

Asbestos was used commonly in construction before its health
dangers were discovered. If it is disturbed, long-term exposure
can cause chest and stomach cancers and lung diseases.


ASBESTOS ALERT: NY Firefighters Face Fine After Demolition Drill
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Tully Fire District will be fined by New York state for
failing to inspect a donated home for the presence of asbestos
before burning it in a live fire drill. A fine of US$500 for a
first violation to a maximum of US$5,000 can be pushed. The fine
will be assessed within the next 30 days.

The department burned down the house on Route 11, north of Route
80, during the summer. State health and safety inspectors,
acting on a tip, checked the property Aug. 11 and issued a
citation Aug. 23.

Asbestos was found in the debris, said Jean Genovese, a
spokeswoman for the state Labor Department, which enforces
workplace laws. The debris was safely removed and disposed of in
an approved way, she said.

The law requires that an inspection be made before demolishing a
building to see if there is asbestos present. That asbestos must
be removed before the building can be torn down. The fire
department's training exercise is considered a demolition, Ms.
Genovese said.

Frank Speziale, who served as chief of the department at the
time of the exercise, said the department followed the
procedures for live fire drills as outlined by the National Fire
Protection Association, which sets firefighter safety standards.
Those rules do not mention doing such an inspection, he said.

Mr. Speziale retired as chief last year after serving five
years, the maximum allowed by department bylaws.

The release of asbestos, a hazardous substance, is a violation
of state law, said Capt. Woody Erickson, who heads the state
Department of Environmental Conservation's Region 7 law
enforcement detail. The problem with asbestos is when it becomes
"friable," Capt. Erickson said.

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency,
breathing the fibers can damage the lungs and cause cancer.

State environmental law does take into account the release of
pollutants by accident. The owner of a home that burned down
accidentally would not be prosecuted for violating environmental
laws, Capt. Erickson said. A survey also wouldn't be required in
cases where a building is about to collapse, Ms. Genovese said.
But that wasn't the case in the Tully training exercise, she
said.

Art Reinhardt, chairman of the five-member board of fire
commissioners that oversees the fire department, said the board
first learned of the problem at its December meeting. Reinhardt
said the board has turned the matter over to the fire district's
lawyer, Mike Shafer.

The DEC was not called to investigate because the alleged
violations are covered by labor regulations, Ms. Genovese said.
The fire district is negotiating a settlement with the Labor
Department, she said.

"They just made a mistake," she said. "They didn't do that
inspection."


ASBESTOS ALERT: EPA Cites PA City, 2 Contractors for Violations
---------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pushed a US$36,850 fine
for Wilkes-Barre City and two contractors hired to demolish the
former steam heat plant for improper asbestos removal. However
the EPA complaint did not include public health impact.

According to EPA spokeswoman Bonnie Smith, the city, A.R. Popple
Inc. and Wyoming S&P Inc. failed to properly wet down the
hazardous air pollutant while removing it from the North
Washington Street plant. They were also cited for failing to
expedite disposal of asbestos debris, not properly notifying
appropriate agencies of the demolition and not having a trained
supervisor on hand when the US$407,000 emergency demolition
project began June 20, 2002.

Wilkes-Barre officials and representatives of the companies have
30 days to challenge the findings by requesting a hearing before
a federal administrative judge. Unless the citations are
challenged, the EPA holds all three parties equally liable, said
Ms. Smith.

The complaint will be forwarded to solicitors Tim Henry and Bill
Vinsko to determine the city's involvement, Mayor Tom Leighton
said. If the city has to pay a fine, it will come from the
general fund.

"There was no health risk and that was my main concern," Mayor
Leighton said. "I'm hopeful the city will be vindicated of this
charge. We hired two contractors to do the job, and we're
looking to see what responsibility if any the city has in this."

A.R. Popple already has challenged the EPA's findings claiming
it was not involved in asbestos removal, the Company's president
said.

"We were the demolition contractor," Tony Popple said. "We were
just dismantling the building and hauling it away. Obviously,
we're going to defend against it and let the chips fall as they
may."

Wyoming S&P Inc. also plans to challenge the EPA's findings,
owner Bruce Postupak said. He called the citation "ridiculous,"
saying his Company only monitored removal of debris.

"DEP (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) was
there everyday," Mr. Postupak said. "The whole building was
shipped as contaminated asbestos. We supplied them with a
supervisor; we didn't remove anything."

DEP's air quality inspectors were at the site regularly during
demolition and issued a notice of violation at the time,
spokesman Mark Carmon said. "Our involvement there was to make
sure the material was continuously wet so it did not become
airborne. We worked with EPA on the case, and they used a lot of
our documentation to craft their enforcement action."

As for the demolition, city officials needed US$407,000 in
Community Development Block Grant funds, commonly used for
street paving, to pay the contractors when a portion of the roof
collapsed. The city, however, failed to place a lien against
businessman Thom Greco for the demolition expenses in the
required time period.

Mr. Greco acquired the remaining three-story office building,
smokestacks and miles of underground steam pipes in October
2002. At one time, the plant was the largest provider of heat in
the downtown. The now defunct Wilkes-Barre Steam Heat Authority
operated the plant until a dwindling customer base forced
closure in 1991.


Company Profile:

AR Popple, Inc.
190 Mundy Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702


ASBESTOS ALERT: Louisiana Appeals Court Remands Case V. Avondale
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Fourth Circuit of the Court of Appeal of Louisiana reversed
the dismissal of Case No. 2004-CA-0131, remanding the case of a
former Royal Navy man who initially filed a claim for the
asbestosis in 1992 but was later diagnosed with mesothelioma, an
asbestos-related cancer in 1999.

Court was composed of Judge Charles R. Jones, Judge James F.
McKay III, and Judge Roland L. Belsome.

Stephen B. Murray, Jr. and Julie A. Ardoin, of the Murray Law
Firm from New Orleans, Louisiana, represented the plaintiff-
appellant.

Brian C. Bossier, Edwin A. Ellinghausen, III, and Erin H. Boyd
of Blue Williams, L.L.P. from Metairie, Louisiana, represented
the defendant-appellee, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Inc.,
f/k/a Avondale Industries, Inc.

Sam Cichirillo filed the appeal against Avondale Industries,
Inc., Hopeman Brothers, Inc., individually as alleged successor
in interest to its former wholly-owned subsidiary, Wayne
Manufacturing Company, Inc., Uniroyal, Inc., Charles Johnson,
Eagle, Inc., and Reilly-Benton Company, Inc., et al.

During the period of time from 1942 to 1984, Mr. Cichirillo was
exposed to asbestos and asbestos-containing products. From 1942
to 1961, he served in the United States Navy, while from 1961 to
1984, he was employed as an electrician by Avondale Industries,
Inc.

In March of 1992, Mr. Cichirillo and other plaintiffs filed a
lawsuit against numerous defendants in the Circuit Court of
Jackson County, Mississippi for asbestos-related injuries. In
their complaint, the plaintiffs generally alleged that they had
received injuries from one or more of the following conditions:
asbestosis, pulmonary or bronchogenic carcinoma, mesothelioma,
impaired pulmonary capacity, reduced lung volume, pleural
plaques, interstitial lung fibrosis, cardiac and circulatory
disease, increased susceptibility to one of the foregoing
diseases and other illnesses, physical and mental anguish
associated with one or more of the preceding conditions, and
death.

It came much later in May of 1999 that Mr. Cichirillo was
diagnosed with mesothelioma. On December 11, 2002, he filed a
suit for damages against Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Inc.,
f/k/a Avondale Industries, Inc., the Flintkote Company, Peter
Territo, Owens-Illinois, Inc. and Uniroyal, Inc., and Hopeman
Brothers, Inc., individually and as successor in interest to its
formerly wholly-owned subsidiary, Wayne Manufacturing, Inc., and
Charles Johnson alleging that he contracted mesothelioma as a
result of his occupational exposure to asbestos.

All of the defendants filed exceptions of prescription based on
the fact that this lawsuit was filed some nineteen months after
Mr. Cichirillo was diagnosed with mesothelioma. On September 5,
2003, the trial court ruled that the plaintiff's claim was
prescribed by law. Mr. Cichirillo now went on to appeal the
dismissal of his case.

Mr. Cichirillo timely filed a cause of action in Mississippi, in
a court of both competent jurisdiction and venue. In the
Mississippi complaint, he reserved his right to bring an action
for damages as a result of asbestos-related injuries, including
mesothelioma.

Although he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in May of 1999 and
did not file his Louisiana lawsuit until December 11, 2002, his
Mississippi lawsuit was still pending.

Although asbestosis and mesothelioma are two separate and
distinct diseases, the situation in the instant case is somewhat
perplexing. When Mr. Cichirillo filed his lawsuit in
Mississippi, he was suffering only from asbestosis. However, in
that same lawsuit mesothelioma was one of the conditions that
the plaintiffs generally listed that either they or their
decedents had received injuries from. The question was whether
this was enough to interrupt prescription in the instant case.

Even though his mesothelioma had not manifested itself at the
time the Mississippi lawsuit was filed, the mesothelioma
occurred as a result of the same exposure which caused the
injuries he was suffering from at the time.

In the instant case, none of the defendants named in Mr.
Cichirillo's petition for damages, with the exception of
Flintkote, disputes that they are joint and solidary obligors
with the defendants named in his complaint filed in Mississippi.
Accordingly, fair notice was provided to the defendants because
Mr. Cichirillo's suit filed in 1992 specifically reserved his
right to seek relief for mesothelioma, the disease which gives
rise to the Louisiana litigation. Therefore, prescription
against these defendants was interrupted when he filed his
Mississippi lawsuit, which was still pending at the time the
instant suit was filed.

For those reasons, the appeal court reversed the order of the
trial court and ruled the case remanded for further proceedings.


Company Profile:

Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations
5100 River Rd.
Avondale, LA 70094
Phone: 504-436-2121
Fax: 504-436-5200
http://www.ss.northropgrumman.com/

Description:
Avondale Industries, Inc. is one of the largest shipbuilders in
the United States, specializing in the design, construction,
conversion, repair and modernization of various types of ocean-
going vessels for the military and commercial markets. A
majority of Avondale's contracts in recent years has been for
the construction of US Navy surface ships. Northrop Grumman
acquired Avondale when it purchased Litton Industries in 2001.


ASBESTOS ALERT: OR Appeals Court Reverses Ruling V. Albina Fuel
---------------------------------------------------------------
On Nov. 24, 2004, the Court of Appeals of Oregon granted a
former employee's appeal to reverse the summary judgment ruled
in favor of the defendant companies, which manufactured or
supplied asbestos-containing products.

The Appeals Court was composed of Presiding Judge Haselton,
Judge Linder, and Judge Ortega. Lloyd Leroy argued the cause for
appellants. On the briefs were Elaine J. Brown, Robyn L. Stein,
Jon M. Egan, Gil Purcell, and Brayton Purcell. Thomas C. Patton
argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were
Bruce M. White, Portland, and Mitchell, Lang & Smith.

Richard Austin appealed the dismissal of his personal injury
action handed down by Circuit Court Judge John Wittmayer in
favor of Albina Fuel Company on claims arising out of Mr.
Austin's alleged exposure while handling flex connectors, which
are asbestos-containing products that Albina distributed.

Mr. Austin worked as a sheet metal mechanic for Somerset
Plumbing and Heating from 1968 to 1969, and again from 1971 to
1973. As part of his work at Somerset, Mr. Austin not only
installed flex connectors at various job sites but also, on
several occasions, cut flex connectors in Somerset's shop.
Gordon Sherman, who founded Somerset, personally handled all
products ordering from 1966 through 1979.

According to Mr. Sherman, "throughout the time" that he was at
Somerset, he ordered supplies and materials from Albina,
including "asbestos tape, asbestos paper, flex connectors and
metalbestos pipe." Some of the flex connectors that Albina
supplied were made by Duro Dyne Corporation and "were made of
asbestos cloth with metal strips approximately three inches wide
on each side." During the time that Mr. Austin worked at
Somerset, Mr. Sherman also ordered Duro Dyne flex connectors
from another supplier, I.M. Distributing Corporation.

Mr. Sherman's affidavit, which plaintiffs submitted in opposing
summary judgment, describes I.M. Distributing Corporation as
Somerset's "biggest supplier" of supplies and materials
generally.  However, neither the affidavit nor any other
evidence in the record describes the relative number of flex
connectors that Somerset purchased from Albina and I.M.
Distributing Corporation, respectively. Although Austin could
identify some of those flex connectors as Duro Dyne connectors,
he did not know whether they had come from Albina or some other
supplier.

Mr. Austin brought this action against Albina and the other
companies in May 2001, alleging that he developed asbestos-
related injuries due to exposure to the product. Albina moved
for and was granted summary judgment, arguing that plaintiffs
could not provide evidence that would permit a jury to infer,
without speculation, that Austin had been injuriously exposed to
any product that Albina had supplied.

On appeal, the plaintiffs established that Albina supplied flex
connectors to Somerset during his period of employment and that
the cutting of flex connectors would release asbestos fibers
into the air. The Appeals Court deemed it probable that
regardless of whether Austin himself actually cut flex
connectors supplied by Albina as opposed to those sold by I.M.
Distributing Corporation, flex connectors supplied by Albina
were probably cut at Somerset's shop in Austin's presence.

The Court concluded that those facts are sufficient to establish
liability and that the trial court erred in granting summary
judgment. The ruling was therefore reversed and remanded.


Company Profile:

Albina Fuel Company
3246 NE Broadway
Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 800-888-5048/503-281-1161
Fax: 503-280-9612

Description:
The Albina Family of Companies is based in Portland, Oregon,
USA. The family includes the Albina Fuel Company, Albina Asphalt
and Albina Automated Fueling. The Albina Fuel Company, the core
of the family, provides fuels and lubricants for every need.


ASBESTOS ALERT: PA Court Reverses Claim Grant to Armco Ex-worker
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on Nov. 22, 2004, reversed an
order made by the Commonwealth Court granting the claim petition
of the widow of a former employee of Armco Stainless & Alloy
Products.

The Company filed the appeal contesting the claim made by Kathy
Gibson, whose husband Patric allegedly died due to lung cancer
caused by workplace exposure to asbestos. Mrs. Gibson herself
had sought a review of the decision handed down by the Workers'
Compensation Appeal Board that had denied her petition.

Patric Gibson, who worked as a laborer for Appellant in the
maintenance department of its Pittsburgh and Bridgeville steel
plants, smoked one and one-half to two packs of cigarettes per
day. He died on October 14, 1994, from complications of
bronchogenic lung cancer.

On October 2, 1997, Mrs. Gibson filed a fatal claim petition
alleging that her husband died as a result of continuous
exposure to deleterious fumes, gases, dust, and particles,
including asbestos, while working for Armco. The death
certificate listed hemoptysis due to lung cancer as the primary
cause of death, with laryngeal nerve paralysis and adrenal
metastases as secondary causes. There was no mention of
asbestosis, mesothelioma, or any asbestos-related disease.

At the hearing before the Workers' Compensation Judge on Feb.
25, 1998, the claimant presented the deposition testimony of
Gregory L. Grier, Sr., a co-employee of Mr. Gibson at Armco. Mr.
Grier had worked at both the Pittsburgh and Bridgeville
facilities during some of the same periods as Mr. Gibson over an
interval of twelve to fourteen years. He testified that, when he
worked at both facilities, he had seen dark gray, heavy, cotton-
type material that he believed was asbestos falling off the
water piping, off the walls, and laying on the ground.

He further stated that he did not have training or education
concerning asbestos, that he would not be able to identify
asbestos from other similar materials, and that he could not
state with certainty that what he saw at the Pittsburgh and
Bridgeville facilities was asbestos.

Claimant also offered the deposition testimony of David Laman,
M.D., who testified that, based upon his review of Decedent's
medical records, including three chest x-rays and chest CT scan,
he found the presence of interstitial fibrosis that he
considered consistent with asbestos exposure. Dr. Laman opined
that Mr. Gibson's lung cancer was due to asbestos exposure to a
substantial degree as well as to his long history of cigarette
smoking. But upon cross-examination, he testified that there was
nothing in the medical records that indicated any asbestos
exposure and that an individual could have interstitial fibrosis
from causes other than asbestos exposure.

In opposition, Armco presented the testimony of Peter Kaplan,
M.D., who also is board-certified in internal medicine,
pulmonary diseases, critical care medicine, and is a B-reader,
considered as one qualified to quantify and qualify the presence
of asbestos-related disease precursors on chest x-rays. Dr.
Kaplan testified that he reviewed the medical records and
concluded that Mr. Gibson had well-documented lung carcinoma and
died as a result of the disease. He testified that the heavy
cigarette smoking would relate to a significant and definite
risk of lung cancer. Dr. Kaplan opined that there was no support
for the assertion that work exposure to asbestos played any role
in claimant's death, and his records showed no evidence of any
asbestos-related diseases.

Justice Newman of the Supreme Court held that the widow's
petition was not supported by substantial evidence and that lay
opinion by employee's co-worker about the presence in the
workplace of a substance he believed to be asbestos
inadmissible.

The Supreme Court agrees with the Board that the case is devoid
of substantial evidence to support a finding of long-term
asbestos exposure in the workplace. Accordingly, it is reversing
the order of the Commonwealth Court. Justices Nigro, Cappy, and
Saylor all concurred on this opinion.


Company Profile:

Armco Inc.
One Oxford Centre, 301 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, Pa 15219-1415
Phone: +1 412 2559800
http://www.armco.com/

Description:
Armco Inc. is the largest producer of stainless flat-rolled
steel and electrical steel in the United States. The Company's
Sawhill Tubular division is a manufacturer of steel pipe and
tubing products for use in the construction, industrial and
plumbing fields.


ASBESTOS ALERT: API Files Ch 11 Bankruptcy Over Asbestos Claims
---------------------------------------------------------------
API Inc., a Roseville-based industrial insulation contractor,
filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Minneapolis last week, citing
asbestos liabilities.

The business will continue to operate and there will be no
layoffs, a Company executive said. API has 300 employees
nationwide, including about 40 in Roseville.

It's one of 22 subsidiaries of APi Group, a private holding
Company in Roseville. At least 700 personal injury asbestos
cases against the firm are pending. Federal law allows companies
facing asbestos liabilities to reorganize in Chapter 11 and
create a special bankruptcy trust to handle future asbestos
claims.

APi Group Treasurer Loren Rachey said the Company has created
the trust and that it will "fairly and efficiently" pay current
and future claimants.


Company Profile:

APi Group plc
Second Avenue, Poynton Industrial Estate
Poynton
Cheshire SK12 1ND, United Kingdom
Phone: +44-1625-858-700
Fax: +44-1625-858-701
http://www.apigroup.co.uk/

Fiscal Year-End     September
2003 Sales (mil.)  : GBP176.1
1-Year Sales Growth  : 4.1%
2003 Net Income (mil.)  : (GBP7.3)
2003 Employees   : 1,600
1-Year Employee Growth  : (4.8%)

Description:
API is an international holding Company with businesses located
in the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, USA and Asia-Pacific.
The Group manufactures specialized packaging and security
products, which are used throughout the tobacco, drinks, food,
luxury and consumer goods sectors.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Madison County's First Case Names 113 Defendants
----------------------------------------------------------------
Marked as Madison County Circuit Court's first asbestos case of
2005, Illinois resident Daisy Gardner filed a case last Jan. 3
claiming she was diagnosed with mesothelioma on Aug. 10, 2004,
after being exposed to asbestos products dating back to 1949.

Represented by Jack Daugherty and Eric Jackstadt of
SimmonsCooper of East Alton, Mrs. Gardner named 113 defendants,
including AW Chesterton, AutoZone, DaimlerChrysler, General
Motors, John Crane and The Mead Corporation. The case has been
assigned to Circuit Court Judge Daniel Stack.

Mrs. Gardner stated that she was employed from 1949 to 1950 as
an office clerk while her husband, Richard, who worked as a
railroad engineer and carpenter, would often work with and
around asbestos-containing products. Both of them worked in
various locations throughout Illinois.

Mrs. Gardner alleges that asbestos dust permeated her husband's
clothing, which would be brought inside their home where fibers
became airborne. She also claims to have been exposed during
non-occupational work projects, such as home and car repairs,
along with home remodeling work. Through this practice, she was
exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed asbestos
fibers emanating from certain products she and her husband were
working with or around, according to the suit.

The complaint states, "The plaintiff's exposure to and
inhalation, ingestion or absorption of the asbestos fibers was
completely foreseeable and could or should have been anticipated
by the defendants.

"The defendants knew or should have known that the asbestos
fibers contained in their products has a toxic, poisonous and
highly deleterious effect upon the health of persons inhaling,
ingesting or otherwise absorbing them."

Mrs. Gardner states that the defendants failed to exercise
ordinary care and caution for her safety by including asbestos
in their products, even though it was completely foreseeable and
anticipated that people working around asbestos would ingest,
inhale or absorb it.

She also alleges that the defendants included asbestos in their
products when adequate substitutes for the asbestos in their
product was available, and failed to provide any or adequate
instructions concerning the safe methods of working with and
around asbestos. She continues to claim that the defendants
failed to require and advise their employees of hygiene
practices designed to reduce or prevent carrying asbestos fibers
home.

It was mentioned that Mrs. Gardner suffers "great physical pain
and mental anguish, and also will be hindered and prevented from
pursuing her normal course of employment, thereby losing large
sums of money," according to the complaint.

As a result of the alleged negligence, Mrs. Gardner claims she
was exposed to fibers containing asbestos, and developed a
disease caused only by asbestos which has disabled and
disfigured her. She seeks damages to help pay for the cost of
her treatment.

She is seeking at least US$50,000 in damages for negligence,
willful and wanton acts, conspiracy, and negligent spoliation of
evidence among other charges.

"In addition to compensatory damages, an award of punitive
damages is appropriate and necessary in order to punish the
defendants for their willful, wanton, intentional and reckless
misconduct and to deter them and others from engaging in like
misconduct in the future," the complaint states.


ASBESTOS ALERT: CT Contractor Pleads Guilty to Removal Violation
----------------------------------------------------------------
A Milford contractor pleaded guilty to the improper removal and
disposal of asbestos from the Pequot Motor Inn in Southport
after a two-year investigation.

Michael J. Robichaud, aged 39, of Cheryl Ann Drive, Milford,
waived his right to a federal grand jury indictment and pleaded
guilty to the illegal removal charge. He faces a possible
US$250,000 fine and five years in prison when U.S. District
Judge Stefan R. Underhill sentences him on April 8. However,
according to a plea agreement, Mr. Robichaud will likely be
sentenced to six to 12 months in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Spears said Mr. Robichaud's
Company, MJR, initially submitted a bid that was considered high
by the project's general contractor but he later reduced it. In
order to cut corners, Mr. Robichaud proceeded to direct his
workers to illegally remove and dispose of 160 square feet of
asbestos.

Unsafe removal can lead to the release of asbestos fibers into
the air. If breathed in, asbestos has been documented to cause
respiratory illnesses including lung cancer.

The illegal work caught the attention of the state Department of
Public Health and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
On Jan. 31, 2003, the agencies determined that Robichaud's
workers failed to adequately wet asbestos once it was removed.
They also said the workers failed to store the asbestos in leak-
proof containers or wrapping and did not label the asbestos.

At the time, the Pequot Motor Inn, located at 3471 Post Road,
Fairfield, was being demolished to make way for luxury
condominiums. In early February 2003, the two agencies shut down
the demolition work until changes were made. So far, Mr.
Robichaud is the only person charged and convicted in this case.

"This case illustrates our commitment to protecting the health
of our citizens and our environment," said Michael E. Hubbard,
the special agent in charge of the EPA's Criminal Investigation
division.

Company Profile:

MJR Contracting
21 Cheryl Ann Dr
Milford, CT 06460
Phone: (203) 876-2180


                  New Securities Fraud Cases


ATHEROGENICS INC.: Marc S. Henzel Lodges Securities Suit in NY
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices of Marc S. Henzel initiated class action lawsuit
in the United States District Court for the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf
of all securities purchasers of the Atherogenics, Inc. (Nasdaq:
AGIX) from 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 Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder. More specifically, the Complaint alleges that the
Company failed to disclose and misrepresented the following
material adverse facts 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 the Law Offices of Marc S. Henzel by
Mail: 273 Montgomery Ave., Suite 202, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 by
Phone: 610-660-8000 or 888-643-6735 by Fax: 610-660-8080 or by
E-Mail: mhenzel182@aol.com.


ATHEROGENICS INC.: Wolf Popper Files Securities Fraud Suit in GA
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The law firm of Wolf Popper LLP initiated a securities fraud
class action complaint in the United States District Court for
the Northern District of Georgia against AtheroGenics, Inc.
("AtheroGenics" or the "Company"), Russell M. Medford, Robert
A.D. Scott, and Mark P. Colonnese on behalf of all persons who
purchased or otherwise acquired AtheroGenics (Nasdaq: AGIX)
common stock on the open market during the period beginning in
after hours trading on September 27, 2004, through December 31,
2004, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The Complaint alleges that defendants violated Section 10(b) of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder. The class period begins after the Company announced
on September 27, 2004, positive interim results for the CART 2
study of its AGI-1067 drug, an anti- inflammatory agent designed
to target atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty plaque
deposits clog the arteries leading to the heart, thereby
increasing the risk of heart disease and heart attack. The
Company reported that the interim results of the CART 2 Phase
IIb study demonstrated that AGI- 1067 had effectively reduced
plaque deposits by a statistically significant average of 6.4
cubic millimeters, or 3.8%, per patient.

The Complaint alleges that the Company's statements regarding
the CART 2 Phase IIb study of AGI-1067 were false and misleading
because, among other things: the "interim" results consisted of
an arbitrary post-hoc subgroup analysis, which served to
eliminate patients from the study who were not likely to have
responded well to the drug; and defendants improperly
represented that the reported "interim" results of the AGI-1067
clinical program were a reliable indicator of AGI-1067's
ultimate effectiveness.

In response to defendants' false and misleading statements about
the Phase IIb study, AtheroGenics's stock, which had closed at
$23.16 on September 27, 2004, almost doubled in overnight
trading and hit $43.99 on the morning of September 28, 2004,
ultimately gaining 64.1 percent, or $14.84, to close at $38.00
on September 28 on a trading volume of over 28 million shares.

On November 22, 2004, however, defendants revealed that final
results of the Phase IIb trial indicated that the percentage of
regression of plaque in patients using AGI-1067 was only
slightly more than half as much as had been reported in the
interim results defendants had announced two months earlier,
despite the fact that twice as many patients were included in
the determination of the final results. The market was stunned,
and the stock price began to plummet. Then, on January 3, 2005,
the Company announced that it had decided to increase the number
of patients in the Phase III study for the drug from 4000 to
6000 patients, that the study would be longer in duration, and
that the Company needed to raise more cash to fund the study. On
this news, the Company's stock fell again, this time 20% to
close at $18.72 on unusually heaving trading. On January 5,
2005, the Company disclosed in a SEC filing that the SEC and
NASD had commenced informal inquiries into the Company's
September 27, 2004 announcement of interim results of the study.

For more details, contact Michael A. Schwartz, Esq. or Caroline
S. Curtiss, Esq. of Wolf Popper LLP by Mail: 845 Third Avenue,
New York, NY 10022 by Phone: 212-451-9627 or 877-370-7703 by
Fax: 212-486-2093 or 877-370-7704 or by E-mail:
irrep@wolfpopper.com.


INPUT/OUTPUT, INC.: Schiffrin & Barroway Lodges Stock Suit in TX
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Texas on behalf of all securities
purchasers of Input/Output, Inc. (NYSE: IO) ("I/O" or the
"Company") between May 10, 2004 and January 4, 2005, inclusive
(the "Class Period").

The complaint charges I/O, Robert P. Reebler, J. Michael
Kirksey, and Michael K. Lambert with violations of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934. More specifically, the
Complaint alleges that the Company failed to disclose and
misrepresented the following material adverse facts known to
defendants or recklessly disregarded by them:

     (1) that the integration of GXT and I/O was a significant
         failure;

     (2) that in contrast to I/O representations, GXT project
         pipeline lacked in volume;

     (3) that, in addition to the Company as a whole, I/O's
         business development group, within the ISG group, was
         suffering from poor management execution;

     (4) that Company's internal growth, due to poor management
         execution, remained stagnant irregardless of
         management's assertions otherwise; and

     (5) that as a result of the above, the defendants'
         statements about the Company were lacking in any
         reasonable basis when made.

On January 4, 2005, I/O issued a press release wherein it
announced that fourth quarter results would be significantly
below the low end of the Company's guidance of $0.08 per share
primarily because two high margin GXT data library sales were
not completed as expected. News of this shocked the market.
Shares of I/O fell $1.41 per share, or about 17 percent, to
close at $6.90 per share on usually high trading volume.

For more details, contact Marc A. Topaz, Esq. or Darren J.
Check, Esq. of Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP by Mail: Three Bala
Plaza East, Suite 400, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 by Phone:
1-888-299-7706 or 1-610-667-7706 Or by E-mail:
info@sbclasslaw.com.


PFIZER INC.: Alfred G. Yates Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Office of Alfred G. Yates Jr., PC initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York on behalf of all purchasers of the
common stock of Pfizer, Inc. ("Pfizer" or the "Company")
(NYSE:PFE) between November 1, 2000 and December 16, 2004,
inclusive, (the "Class Period").

The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants'
issued false and misleading statements and omissions concerning
the safety and marketability of Pfizer's Celebrex and Bextra
products. At all times during the Class Period, defendants were
aware that Celebrex and Bextra, drugs known as "Cox-2
inhibitors", posed serious undisclosed health risks to
consumers. Defendants knew or recklessly disregarded that the
undisclosed health risks posed by these drugs would limit their
marketability, and that potential financial liability Pfizer
faced from the harms these drugs caused posed a serious threat
to the Company's financial condition. Nonetheless, defendants
concealed these facts from the investing public, causing
Pfizer's stock to trade at artificially inflated levels
including a class period high of $48.06 per share, thereby
damaging Plaintiff and the Class.

On December 17, 2004, Pfizer announced it had "received new
information ... about the cardiovascular safety of its COX-2
inhibitor Celebrex (celecoxib) based on an analysis of two long-
term cancer trials." On this news, Pfizer shares fell to as low
as $22 per share.

For more details, contact Alfred G. Yates, Jr. by Phone:
1-800-391-5164 or by E-mail: yateslaw@aol.com.


TASER INTERNATIONAL: Federman & Sherwood Lodges Stock Suit in AZ
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Federman & Sherwood initiated a securities class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court of Arizona
against TASER International, Inc. (Nasdaq: TASR).

The complaint alleges violations of federal securities laws,
Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
and Rule 10b-5, including allegations of issuing a series of
material misrepresentations to the market which had the effect
of artificially inflating the market price. The class period is
from October 19, 2004 through January 10, 2005.

For more details, contact William B. Federman of FEDERMAN &
SHERWOOD by Mail: 120 N. Robinson, Suite 2720, Oklahoma City, OK
73102 by Phone: (405) 235-1560 by Fax: (405) 239-2112 by E-mail:
wfederman@aol.com or visit their Web site:
http://www.federmanlaw.com.


TASER INTERNATIONAL: Murray Frank Lodges Stock Fraud Suit in AZ
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP initiated a class action
lawsuit in the United States District Court of Arizona on behalf
of purchasers of the securities of TASER International, Inc.
("TASER" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:TASR) between May 29, 2003
and January 10, 2005, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges TASER, Phillips Smith, Patrick Smith, and
Thomas Smith with violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated
thereunder. More specifically, the complaint alleges that the
Company failed to disclose and misrepresented the following
material adverse facts known to defendants or recklessly
disregarded by them:

     (1) that the Company actively and continually obscured the
         truth about the safety of its TASERs;

     (2) that even after it was revealed that more than 70
         people had died in North America in TASER-related
         incidents, the Company vehemently asserted that its
         weapons were safe, in order to maintain profitability;

     (3) that the Defendants accelerated the Davidson's deal in
         the fourth quarter of 2004, in order to book the
         revenue, so TASER did not have to report its first
         quarter-to-quarter revenue decline in nearly two years;
         and

     (4) as a result, the Company lacked any reasonable basis
         for any statements it made regarding profitability and
         safety.

On January 6, 2005, just before midnight, TASER announced that
it was cooperating with an informal inquiry letter from the SEC
regarding the safety of TASER(r) products and a recent order
received from Davidson's, Inc. This news shocked the market.
Shares of TASER fell $4.90 per share, or 17.74 percent, on
January 7, 2005, to close at 22.72 per share. Then on Monday,
January 10, 2005, TASER shares tumbled another $2.67 per share
or 11.75 percent, to close at $20.05 per share. On January 11,
2005, TASER released a letter to its shareholders and customers
regarding the SEC investigation and the general state of the
Company. Following the announcement, shares of TASER were down
another $5.95 per share or 29.68 percent on January 11, 2005,
and last traded at $14.10 per share.

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 by E-mail:
info@murrayfrank.com.


TASER INTERNATIONAL: Pomerantz Haudek Lodges Stock Suit in AZ
-------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Pomerantz Haudek Block Grossman & Gross LLP
initiated a class action lawsuit in the United States District
Court, District of Arizona, against TASER International, Inc.
("TASER" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:TASR) and certain of its
officers and directors, on behalf of purchasers of the common
stock of TASER during the period from August 10, 2004 to January
7, 2005, inclusive (the "Class Period").

TASER purports to develop, manufacture and market "non-lethal
weapons" for use in the law enforcement, military, private
security, and personal defense markets. The complaint alleges
that during the Class Period, defendants knowingly or recklessly
misrepresented the Company's prospects, financial results, and
operations, causing the Company's stock price to trade at
artificially inflated prices in violation of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934. Among other things, defendants made
materially false and misleading statements regarding the safety
of TASER's products, and reported inflated revenues.

The true facts, which were known to each of the defendants but
concealed from the investing public, were that:

     (1) "independent" studies touted by defendants as
         confirming the safety of TASER's products in fact
         raised reservations; and

     (2) the $1.5 million order of TASER devices from a
         distributor that was announced in the last days of the
         fourth quarter was orchestrated to help the Company
         meet analysts' estimates and create the illusion that
         the Company's stellar growth was continuing.

In the dead of night on January 6, 2005, defendants disclosed
that the SEC had launched an inquiry into the safety of TASER's
products and the $1.5 million order. The market reacted swiftly
-- TASER's share price fell almost 20% from a Class Period high
of $32.59 (adjusted for a two-for-one stock split) on December
30, 2004 to a closing price of $22.72 on January 7, 2005. On
January 11, 2005, TASER revealed that some orders in the first
half of 2005 may be delayed as customers test and evaluate
competitors' products. The stock fell even further on this news.
While plaintiff and other class members sustained massive
losses, a number of the individual defendants profited from
their misconduct. During the Class Period, insiders, including
defendants, sold over $96 million worth of TASER common stock.

For more details, contact Carolyn S. Moskowitz of Pomerantz
Haudek Block Grossman & Gross LLP by Phone: (888) 476-6529 or by
E-mail: csmoskowitz@pomlaw.com.


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asbestos defendants that, according to independent researches,
collectively face billions of dollars in asbestos-related
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                            *********


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Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by
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