/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/050121.mbx              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

              Friday, January 21, 2005, Vol. 7, No. 15


ALYON TECHNOLOGIES: Iowa Joins Improper Billing Settlement
AMERICAN EXPRESS: Pays $75M To Settle Fee Disclosure Lawsuit
ARTHUR ANDERSEN: NY Judge Denies Motion For Summary Judgment
AUSTRALIA: AAGM Says Tabcorp Found in Breach of Fair Trading Act
BERINGER CORPORATION: FTC Nets Favorable Judgment in Fraud Suit

CONSOLIDATED FREIGHTWAYS: EEOC Settles Race Discrimination Suit
DUPONT DOW: To Pay $84M To Settle Justice Dept Antitrust Probe
FANNIE MAE: MI Fund Lodges Suit Over Ex-Executives Severance Pay
FIRSTWORLD COMMUNICATIONS: Judge Approves $25.9 Suit Settlement
HAMILTON BANK: Reaches $8.5M Shareholders' Suit Settlement in FL

ILLINOIS: Court Committee Planning Certification Rules Hearing
ILLINOIS: AG Launches Consumer Fraud, False Advertising Lawsuits
IMCLONE SYSTEMS: CEO Waksal Settles SEC Insider Trading Charges
KIDS STATION: Recalls 10.5T Musical Sets Due To Choking Hazard
MUTUAL FUNDS: Investors Sue Over Failure To Claim Settlements

NATIONAL RESEARCH: Iowa Joins Settlement of Student Privacy Suit
NORTEL NETWORKS: Parties Make Concessions For Suit To Move Ahead
NUTRAQUEST INC.: Creditors File Lawsuit V. President, Insiders
SAFEWAY INC.: Reaches Settlement On Sale Of Tobacco To Minors
SIDLEY AUSTIN: EEOC Commences Age Discrimination Lawsuit in IL

SOUTH KOREA: Government, Uri Party Push For Securities Exemption
TAMPA ELECTRIC: Judge Schedules Trial Date For Power Pole Suit
UNITED STATES: Class Action Fairness Act Expected in Senate
UNITED STATES: Insurers Call On Senate To Pass Tort Reform Bill
WAFFLE HOUSE: Patrons Lodge Race-Bias Suit Against Restaurants

WAL-MART STORES: Hourly Workers Lodge Overtime Wage Suit in CA
WORLDCOM INC.: Ex-Officer Ebbers To Face Criminal Trial in NY

                        Asbestos Alerts

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: 9/11 Fund Head Urges Asbestos Legal Reform
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Union Electric Files US$8M Suit V. Insurers
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Ohio Takes Lead on Impeding Asbestos Suits
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: DE Landfill Cited for Accepting Asbestos
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: St. Louis City, Lambert Airport Facing Suit

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: UK School Council Refuses to Show Findings
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: W. R. Grace Files Amended Bankruptcy Plan
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: EPA Sets Up Emission Standards for Taconite
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: UK Inquest Reveals Joiner Died of Exposure
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Public Urged to Test for Indoor Asbestos

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Owens Corning Liability Hearing Under Way
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: UK Agency Asks Help in Snagging Fly-tippers
ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Find Closes Melbourne Childcare Center
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: RPM Willing to Put in $400M for Trust Fund
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Tort Costs Are Edging Up, Tillinghast Study

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: AU Campsite Reopens Amid Persisting Threats
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Protesters Seek Proof of Site Contamination
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Derbyshire District Council Accepts Tip Bid
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: All But 10 Suits V Longview Fibre Dismissed
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Georgia-Pacific Sees 4Q Marred by Charges

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Residents to Hold Meeting Over GA Landfill
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: HSE Urges Full Compliance with Regulations
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Jones County Judge Demands Proof of MS Ties
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Fears Arise Over Planned Razing of NY Bank
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: MI County Implements Building Inspections

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Specter Moves Ahead on Asbestos Fund Bill
ASBESTOS ALERT: AU Local Sounds Alarm on Improper Removal Acts
ASBESTOS ALERT: District Court Dismisses Case V. NY Prison Heads
ASBESTOS ALERT: Canadian University Troubled by Asbestos Hazards
ASBESTOS ALERT: Homeless Man Tears Down WA Shop, Bares Asbestos

ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Find Closes Melbourne Childcare Center
ASBESTOS ALERT: Pittsburgh Laborer Files Suit V. 80 Defendants
ASBESTOS ALERT: Salons Alerted to Old-Style Hairdryer Danger
ASBESTOS ALERT: City Officials Halt New York Demolition Project
ASBESTOS ALERT: MA Officials Probe M.J. Murphy for Violations

                  New Securities Fraud Cases

TASER INTERNATIONAL: Berger & Montague Lodges Stock Suit in AZ
TASER INTERNATIONAL: Mager White Lodges Securities Lawsuit in AZ
TASER INTERNATIONAL: Milberg Weiss Lodges Securities Suit in AZ


ALYON TECHNOLOGIES: Iowa Joins Improper Billing Settlement
Iowa is among 23 states resolving consumer fraud allegations
that two companies billed consumers $4.99 per minute for access
to adult Web sites that some consumers say they did not access
or agree to access.  Consumers will be eligible for various
refunds and credits.

Attorney General Tom Miller said his office received 78
complaints about the practices of Alyon Technologies, Inc., with
headquarters in Secaucus, NJ, and Telcollect, Inc., with
headquarters in Norcross, GA.  The Consumer Protection Division
of Miller's office said consumers complained about being billed
by the companies for accessing adult-content Web sites, even
though some did not own a computer, some were not home or were
not using their computers when the supposed access occurred, and
some had minor children who accessed the adult Web content.

"Iowans complained about collection notices and bills ranging
from about $15 to over $800," Miller said. "Many deny accessing
the adult Web content or agreeing to purchase it."
Background and details:

The States alleged the defendants would start billing consumers
after unsuspecting adults or minors without permission opened
pop-up windows or spam that automatically downloaded modem
dialer software onto their computers. That software could then
be used to dial up the Alyon billing gateway to access adult
material.  The states alleged Alyon captured the phone number,
matched it with a name and address and then billed the consumers
$4.99 per minute, allegedly without the consumers' knowledge or
consent. Alyon allegedly told consumers they owed the charges
even when consumers denied having accessed or agreed to purchase
the adult materials.

The service also allegedly was set up to allow children to
easily access the adult sites. No credit card number was
required, and 900-number blocks were ineffective because people
were unknowingly connected to a number with a New Jersey area

In most circumstances, contracts with minors are not
enforceable. States alleged the defendants had no basis to
demand parents pay charges when parents did not agree beforehand
to pay them. This case underscores the need for adult
supervision when kids are on computers.

Iowa filed both a lawsuit and a consent judgment yesterday.
Iowa's suit was filed in Polk County District Court, and
District Court Judge Richard G. Blane II entered the "Final
Agreed Judgment and Consent Decree." The defendants denied all
allegations of wrongdoing.

Provisions of the multi-state settlement include:

     (1) Alyon has improved its process for ensuring that adults
         authorized to incur charges are "on the other end" of
         the modem before connecting them to the adult material
         or starting per-minute charges.

     (2) Alyon will provide consumers with a free utility
         program they can download to remove all modem dialer
         software deposited by their clients, the adult Web site

     (3) Alyon will require the adult Web site operators to
         refrain from using potentially deceptive methods to
         download modem dialer software onto consumers'
         computers. Prohibited methods include impairing a
         computer user's ability to read the terms and
         conditions of the software download; disabling a
         computer user's ability to close out a pop-up box;
         depositing spyware on consumers' computers; and
         impairing the add/remove controls within computers'
         operating systems, which would make it difficult for
         consumers to detect and remove the modem dialer

     (4) The defendants automatically will credit certain
         eligible consumers' bills and provide cash refunds
         available to a group of eligible consumers who
         previously had paid disputed charges.

     (5) Consumers billed for charges allegedly incurred before
         June 15, 2003, but who do not qualify for an automatic
         bill credit or cash refund will have an opportunity to
         request a credit of disputed charges. However, they
         must follow a procedure for making such a request,
         which includes completing and returning an affidavit to
         the defendants within 45 days of the defendants'
         collection attempt.

Many consumers who complained will receive automatic refunds or
credits. For more information, consumers may call 515-281-5926
or 888-777-4590 (toll-free), or write to the Attorney General's
Consumer Protection Division, Hoover Building, Des Moines, Iowa
50319, E-mail: consumer@ag.state.ia.us or visit the Web site:

AMERICAN EXPRESS: Pays $75M To Settle Fee Disclosure Lawsuit
American Express agreed to pay up to $75 million to U.S.
cardholders who made purchases in a foreign currency from March
28, 1997 to October 15, 2004, according to a preliminary class
action settlement, which covers both charges made abroad and
online in a foreign currency, the Newsday.com reports.  The
lawsuit had alleged that Amex did not adequately disclose its 2
percent fee levied on foreign currency conversions.

As part of the settlement, the credit card company agreed to
include information about the fees on its monthly statements and
other mailings to cardholders.  According to plaintiffs'
attorneys, Amex's settlement follows a California court ruling
last April that Visa and MasterCard also hid their currency
conversion fees. The refunds in that case, which is being
appealed, could total $800 million.

Amex spokeswoman Judy Tenzer told Newsday.com, the Company
decided to settle "to avoid the cost and risk of prolonged
litigation," adding that Amex believes its existing practices
are appropriate.

Consumers advocate Ken McEldowney, executive director of
Consumer Action, a San Francisco advocacy group, told Newsday
Amex as well as other credit card companies did not properly
inform cardholders about these fees. He adds, "Disclosure
shouldn't be buried in customer agreements or folded into

As for the refund, cardholders shouldn't expect a windfall,
experts said, since Amex has about 29 million U.S. cardholders.
David Robertson, publisher of The Nilson Report, an industry
newsletter even said, the issue isn't likely to tarnish Amex's
reputation and he doubts anyone will stop using the card because
of the issue.

The company is now sending cardholders information about the
settlement, which received preliminary approval from the U.S.
District Court in Miami in October with a final settlement
hearing set to take place on March 14. To receive the refund,
cardholders must file a claim form by April 13.

ARTHUR ANDERSEN: NY Judge Denies Motion For Summary Judgment
United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York Judge Denise Cote denied Arthur Andersen's motion for
summary judgment in the litigation filed over WorldCom, Inc.'s
July 2002 bankruptcy, the Associated Press reports.

The recent ruling sets the stage for a trial next month of
WorldCom's former auditors and about a dozen underwriters.  In
December, the court also refused the underwriters' summary
judgment motion.

WorldCom fell into bankruptcy in 2002 amidst an $11 billion
accounting fraud and emerged last April under its former name,
MCI. Arthur Andersen was implicated in the ensuing litigation
against the company for allegedly resorting to questionable
accounting strategies in the late 1990s to boost WorldCom's

Citigroup, one of the largest defendants in the securities class
action settled with plaintiffs last year, paying $2.5 billion,
while ten former WorldCom directors recently agreed to pay some
of the claims from their own assets. Judge Cote though has yet
to approve the settlement.

Meanwhile, questionnaires are expected to be distributed to
potential jurors in the trial of former WorldCom CEO Bernard
Ebbers, who is accused of orchestrating an $11 billion
accounting fraud. Southern District Judge Barbara Jones had
ruled that his lawyers would be allowed to question the star
prosecution witness about marital infidelity. The decision was a
boost for the defense, which will try to raise questions about
the credibility of the witness, former CFO Scott Sullivan.

AUSTRALIA: AAGM Says Tabcorp Found in Breach of Fair Trading Act
The Compliance and Enforcement Branch of CAV issued a strong
warning to Tabcorp Holdings, over its poker machine practices.
Consumer advocate Action Against Gaming Machines (AAGM) earlier
alleged that Tabcorp Holdings' poker machine practices have been
found to be in breach of the Fair Trading Act by Consumer
Affairs Victoria (CAV).

Tabcorp breach the act by not providing receipts to consumers
for purchases of gaming machine credits. The CAV decision
emphasises the fact that gaming machine operators in every state
of Australia are operating illegally by not providing receipts
to consumers, and are now open to prosecution.

CAV clearly worded statement said ".while it may be logistically
difficult for Tabcorp (along with analogous service providers
like public telephones and confectionary vending machines) to
provide receipts on request, it's the law and we expect them to

Lana O'Shanassy, leader of the Action Against Gaming Machines
(AAGM) class action said "We now have the consumer protection
authority in one state of Australia who agree that gaming
machine operators are bound by Consumer Protection Laws. These
same laws apply right throughout Australia, not just in
Victoria, and this is a clear breach of our rights as a

"This issue also highlights the fact that Australians who
receive government benefits along with the average tax payer do
not (and have been unable to) declare their actual level of
spending on gaming machines and their cash profits as a form of
income which would have major implications to government revenue
and benefit entitlements."

"Gaming machine operators spend millions marketing their
products to the consumer, now they are finally being forced to
abide by Consumer Protection Laws like any other provider of a
consumer product in this country."

"I urge consumer protection authorities in all other states of
Australia to follow the action taken by Consumer Affairs
Victoria and to prosecute gaming machine operators who take
advantage of Australian consumers without regard to the harmful
effects this breach and all of their other breaches of our Laws
of Australia have had on our communities."

"I anticipate that these breaches will be fully investigated by
our courts in due course, however Consumer Protection Laws are
in place for a reason and it is the duty of our government to
investigate those who are known to have acted illegally as and
when allegations are made. It is in their best interest to do so
at this time."

The CAV found that TABCORP breached section 161a of the Fair
Trading Act.

Section 161a of the Fair Trading Act, Victoria states that all
consumers of a product or service must receive a receipt for
spending over $50.00. Consumers who spend less than $50.00 must
be provided with a written receipt for purchase if the consumer
asks for this receipt.

When commenting on whether the class action group believe that
action will be taken by other consumer protection authorities,
Lana O'Shanassy said "we believe the government will attempt to
make this Consumer Protection Law exempt to gaming machine
operators through a change in legislation, even though systems
are currently available and have been for many years that enable
operators to abide by these laws."

"The anticipated reaction by our government is evidenced by the
fact that they are attempting to change gaming machine
legislation to make manufacturers, operators, clubs, hotels,
casinos and the Crown themselves exempt from providing a minimum
dollar return to players - as legislation is currently written
and was intended."

A discussion paper issued by the NSW Department of Gaming and
Racing in November 2004 proposes that legislation be changed so
that machines must be programmed to return a theoretical
percentage of money to players, instead of what is actually
returned to players, the practical return.

Lana O'Shanassy comments "the change is proposed because again,
the gaming machine industry are in breach of Consumer and Fair
Trading Laws, they are operating illegally as gaming machines
have never achieved the required minimum return to players."

"We are confident that regardless of whether or not legislation
is changed, we have a cause of action and strong legal arguments
to make the gaming machine industry responsible for their
actions over the many devastating years to the consumer since
the introduction of gaming machines."

BERINGER CORPORATION: FTC Nets Favorable Judgment in Fraud Suit
A U.S. District Court Judge has found that the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) has "demonstrated a likelihood of success on
the merits" against two of the defendants named in the FTC's
action against two companies and two individuals selling an
investment business opportunity.

The FTC alleged in its complaint that defendants John Stefanchik
and the Beringer Corporation deceptively marketed and sold a
business opportunity for buying and selling privately-held
mortgage notes, commonly referred to as mortgage "paper,"
through defendant Atlas Marketing, Inc., a telemarketing
company, and its principal, defendant Scott B. Christensen.

On January 3, 2005, United States District Judge Ricardo S.
Martinez, of the Western District of Washington in Seattle,
issued a preliminary injunction against John Stefanchik and the
Beringer Corporation that prohibits them from making false and
unsubstantiated earnings claims about their program and from
making false claims that their program coaches have substantial
experience in the paper business and are readily available to
assist consumers. The preliminary injunction - which prohibits
the challenged claims and requires reporting of the defendants'
financial transactions - will remain in effect pending the
outcome of a trial on the FTC's allegations.

In August 2004, the FTC filed charges against Stefanchik and the
Beringer Corporation, based in Seattle, Washington, and
Christensen and Atlas Marketing, Inc., based in Salt Lake City,
Utah. According to the FTC's complaint, the defendants charged
consumers as much as $5,000 to $8,000 for a program that
purports to teach consumers how to make large amounts of money
quickly by buying and selling mortgage paper. The defendants
advertised and sold the program - which includes course
materials, in-person seminars, videos, audio tapes, and other
educational products and services - through direct mail,
telemarketing, and the Internet. The complaint charged that the
defendants made false and unsubstantiated earnings claims and
that they would provide consumers with the services of a
personal coach experienced in mortgage paper transactions who
would be readily available to assist them.

At the time it filed its complaint, the FTC sought preliminary
and permanent injunctive relief and consumer redress. The
January 3 preliminary injunction applies to John Stefanchik and
the Beringer Corporation. Scott Christensen and Atlas Marketing
earlier agreed to a preliminary injunction.

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 Nadine
Samter, FTC's Northwest Region - Seattle by Phone: 206-220-6350.

CONSOLIDATED FREIGHTWAYS: EEOC Settles Race Discrimination Suit
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reached
a settlement for an employment discrimination lawsuit under
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act filed against
Consolidated Freightways Corporation of Delaware for $2,750,000
on behalf of 12 African American dockworkers who were subjected
to a racially hostile work environment at the Kansas City,
Missouri, facility.

The Commission alleged in the lawsuit that co-workers subjected
the African American employees to racial intimidation which
included hanging nooses in the workplace, assaults, threats of
physical harm, displaying racially offensive graffiti, damaging
property and other harassment. Consolidated, which filed a
petition for relief under the Bankruptcy Code on September 3,
2002, and is now in the process of liquidation, was one of the
largest freight transportation companies in North America.

In EEOC's suit, filed on May 31, 2002, in the United States
District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Western
Division (No. 4:02-CV-00519-DW), the Commission alleged that
Consolidated knew about but did nothing to stop the racial
harassment, and that it disciplined one of the employees for
complaining about the harassment. The litigation was filed by
EEOC after the agency investigated charges of discrimination,
found merit, and exhausted its conciliation efforts to reach a
voluntary pre-litigation settlement.

The settlement, in the form of a Consent Decree, provides
monetary relief to former dockworkers at Consolidated's Kansas
City, Mo.-based facility. It calls for Consolidated to pay
$2,750,000 to the former employees and their private attorneys.
The amount of the actual recovery will be determined by the
Bankruptcy Court based on the company's remaining assets.

Lynn Bruner, Director of the EEOC's St. Louis District Office,
said, "No employee should be subjected to graphic racial
symbols, racial graffiti or threats of physical violence, and no
company should tolerate such behavior in their workplace. By
continuing to pursue this case even after the company filed for
bankruptcy, EEOC hopes to alert employers everywhere that it
considers this issue to be extremely serious and will act

Consolidated denies the EEOC's allegations of race
discrimination and asserts that it is entering into the Consent
Decree because it believes that it is in the best interests of
its bankruptcy estate and its creditors.

Robert Johnson, the EEOC's Regional Attorney in St. Louis, said,
"The company's bankruptcy keeps us from obtaining full relief
for these victims of gross racial harassment, but we expect that
they will soon receive substantial compensation from the
bankruptcy proceedings."

DUPONT DOW: To Pay $84M To Settle Justice Dept Antitrust Probe
DuPont Dow Elastomers LLC agreed to pay an $84 million criminal
fine to settle the United States Department of Justice's (DoJ)
investigation over its alleged conspiracy to fix prices in the
synthetic rubber market, Dow Jones Newswires reports.

The Company, a joint venture between DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical
Co. (DOW), was charged with a price-fixing scheme involving the
rubber polychoroprene, which is used in products such as tires,
adhesives, furniture and shoes.

The settlement brings total fines resulting from the DOJ's
rubber price-fixing investigation to more than $200 million, the
agency said.  "Today's plea agreement represents the
Department's ongoing efforts to protect consumers from
international price-fixing cartels," R. Hewitt Pate, DOJ's
assistant attorney general for antitrust told Dow Jones.  "These
types of cartels harm millions of American consumers, and
companies that participate in them face great risks of being
caught and punished."

DuPont has agreed to fund 100% of antitrust liabilities for
DuPont Dow Elastomers up to $150 million and 75% of any costs
above that amount, DuPont said in a statement Wednesday.  Dupont
Dow Elastomers has also agreed to settle a federal class action
antitrust suit involving another synthetic rubber, EPDM, for
$25.4 million.

"These are significant steps in resolving these matters and
moving forward to serve customers with a commitment to the
highest standards of ethical and legal compliance," Cathleen
Branciaroli, communications director at DuPont Dow Elastomers,
told Dow Jones Newswires, adding that the company "has
cooperated fully with governmental authorities throughout the

The plea agreement and $84 million fine "resolves all criminal
charges" against DuPont Dow Elastomers, DuPont said.
Representatives for Dow Chemical weren't immediately available
for comment, according to Dow Jones.

FANNIE MAE: MI Fund Lodges Suit Over Ex-Executives Severance Pay
A Michigan pension fund initiated a lawsuit against Fannie Mae
asking that the courts stop the Company's former executives from
receiving millions of dollars in severance payments, FT.com

The suit adds to class action lawsuits pending against the
company alleging it manipulated earnings and deceived investors
after its regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise
Oversight (OFHEO), found it had misapplied accounting rules.

Wayne County, a shareholder of Fannie, filed a request for a
temporary restraining order stopping Mr. Raines's and Mr.
Howard's severance payments. The fund alleges that Fannie Mae's
board made an "unconscionable decision" to accept the
executives' resignations rather than firing them, and that the
company's financial position is suffering as a result of the
executives' generous severance payments.

The lawsuit asserts that payment of the benefits will exacerbate
Fannie Mae's financial difficulties as it looks for ways to
raise additional cash to meet new capital requirements.  The
lawsuit also alleges that Fannie Mae's Congressional critics,
potentially undermining the Company's special status as a
government-sponsored enterprise, will seize on the payments.

Richard Baker, chairman of the House subcommittee on capital
markets, released a letter from the OFHEO dated January 14
concerning the payment of bonuses and compensation to Fannie's
executives.  The regulator told Mr. Baker it would take
"appropriate enforcement actions" if the Securities and Exchange
Commission found that Fannie Mae's executives should forfeit
compensation under the terms of section 304 of the Sarbanes-
Oxley Act, which was passed in 2002. The Act prevents executives
at companies that restate their financial results from receiving
bonuses if they are found to have knowingly misled investors
about the financial health of the company. The SEC directed
Fannie to restate its earnings late last year after concurring
with OFHEO that it had broken accounting rules related to the
treatment of derivatives.

It remains unclear whether Mr. Raines and Mr. Howard are
personally culpable for the accounting mistakes. Investigations
into the Company's accounting practices by the Securities and
Exchange Commission and OFHEO are ongoing.

FIRSTWORLD COMMUNICATIONS: Judge Approves $25.9 Suit Settlement
U.S. District Court Judge John Kane approved a $25.9 million
settlement between FirstWorld Communications, a defunct data-
center operator later known as Verado Holdings, and investors
who bought shares when the Denver-based company went public in
2000, the Denver Post reports.

Ending a nearly five-year class-action battle that almost went
to trial before a tentative agreement was reached in November,
the settlement is set to allot about $14.9 million of the
proceeds to shareholders, with the remainder going to attorneys
who handled the class action against FirstWorld.

The federal judge approved the settlement and called the
attorney compensation composed of $8.6 million in fees and $2.4
million in expenses "fair and reasonable."

Plaintiffs' attorneys include San Diego-based Lerach Coughlin
Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, Denver-based Dyer & Shuman
Philadelphia-based Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, and Finklestein &
Krinsk of San Diego.

FirstWorld went public March 8, 2000, raising $181.8 million.
Its shares soared to as high as $38.75 within weeks but then
tumbled as the technology sector collapsed. In July of that
year, the company's chief executive, Sheldon Ohringer, resigned
as the company announced that earnings would fall below
estimates. Shares fell 57 percent.

Shareholder suits soon followed, claiming the company misled
investors in documents filed with its initial public offering.

FirstWorld, which was backed by Denver businessman Donald Sturm,
changed its name to Verado in 2001 and filed for bankruptcy in
2002 it has since been liquidated.  Insurers will pay $22.1
million of the settlement costs, and the investment banks that
underwrote the public offering will pay $3.8 million.

HAMILTON BANK: Reaches $8.5M Shareholders' Suit Settlement in FL
Hamilton Bank reached an $8.5 million settlement for the class
action suit filed against it, its auditors and two Wall Street
underwriters, alleging they misled investors about future
profits, the Miami Herald reports.

Under the terms of the settlement, shareholders of common stock
and preferred shares would be awarded about 37 cents per share,
with legal fees and costs taking up to 14 cents of the total,
for an average payout of 23 cents per share. Just weeks before
the January 2002 seizure of the bank shares had traded for
almost $3 apiece.

Though still seeking approval from the federal court, the
settlement is considered to be the latest sequel to the closure
of the local trade finance bank by federal regulators. Already,
the bank seizure has led to a federal indictment of three former
top executives and a London-based banker, as well as a series of
settlements with U.S. banking and securities regulators.

The shareholders had sued before the bank was closed, alleging
that top officers, the auditors and underwriters made public
announcements and filed misleading financial statements that
overstated profits. After months of discovery and without going
to trial, both sides agreed to settle, under that agreement, the
defendants do not admit to any wrongdoing.

The settlement fund of $8,477,500 was established by Twin City
Fire Insurance, which insured five former bank executives and
officers, Deloitte & Touche, the bank's auditors and the
underwriters for common stock and preferred shares, Raymond
James & Associates and CIBC World Markets, which formerly went
by the name of CIBC Oppenheimer Corp.

According to Kenneth J. Vianale of Vianale & Vianale in Boca
Raton, holders of common stock, purchased between April 21,
1998, and January 11, 2002, or of preferred stock have until May
26 to make a claim or can object to the settlement in federal
court.  He told the Herald, "In total dollars, I would say that
it is a medium-sized settlement. In terms of this case, it is a
good settlement since the only asset they had was an insurance

Mr. Vianale also said Twin City Fire Insurance had insisted that
the company was not liable for the collapse of share prices
because the bankers had committed fraud, which was "very, very
hotly contested" by the shareholders who filed suit.

The former Hamilton Bank officers included: former Chairman
Eduardo A. Masferrer, former President Juan Carlos Bernac‚,
former Chief Financial Officer John Jacobs, another former chief
financial officer, Lucious Harris and Maria Ferrer-Diaz, former
senior vice president of finance.

ILLINOIS: Court Committee Planning Certification Rules Hearing
An Illinois Supreme Court committee is planning a public hearing
on a proposal to tighten rules governing class-action lawsuits,
the Associated Press reports.

The code that covers certification of class-action lawsuits
hasn't been revised in more than 25 years. And several business
interests want to change it to require that a class-action be
found "superior" to other methods of settling the dispute before
certification is granted.

The change is getting support from several businesses and groups
including the Illinois Manufacturers' Association and the
Illinois State Chamber of Commerce. The public hearing will be
held Monday in Chicago at ten 1-m at 160 N LaSalle.

ILLINOIS: AG Launches Consumer Fraud, False Advertising Lawsuits
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed lawsuits against
two Florida-based corporations and their owners for deceptive
advertising campaigns.  The Companies allegedly preyed on
Illinois Latinos who have had a difficult time obtaining
traditional credit cards or sending money to relatives in Mexico

AG Madigan's lawsuits, filed on January 12, charge the two
companies with multiple violations of the Illinois Consumer
Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Credit
Services Organization Act. The first lawsuit identifies seven
consumers from Chicago, Cicero and Waukegan that were allegedly
defrauded by Latin Card. The second lawsuit names an additional
seven victims from Blue Island, Chicago, Des Plaines, Hoffman
Estates, Joliet, Peoria and Wheeling that reported fraudulent
activity by Pro Line.

AG Madigan's lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, names
as defendants Latin Card Plus, LLC, a Florida corporation not
registered to do business in Illinois, and its manager Carlos
Felipe Mendez, of Doral, Florida.  The second lawsuit, also
filed in Cook County Circuit Court, names Pro Line Card, LLC, a
separate Florida corporation also not registered to do business
in Illinois, and its manager Julio Cesar Sandoval, of Miami,

In recent months, the two companies have bought time on Illinois
Latino television and radio stations to air advertisements
trumpeting that the providers of Latin Card and Pro Line Card
are ". here to help out our fellow Hispanics."  Additionally,
among other claims, the advertisements say that to obtain a
card, "You do not need to have a Social Security number or the
need to have a good credit history. All that is in the past..."

However, what the upbeat advertisements don't reveal is that
consumers must pay advance fees of up to $399 for credit cards
that only can be used to purchase products from the Companies'
own catalogs. Despite the Companies' verbal claims that the
cards are like traditional credit cards, they cannot be used to
make retail purchases outside of the catalogs, be used at an ATM
or be used to send money to Mexico.

"These two credit card companies have preyed upon Illinois'
Latino populations by taking advantage of people's desire for
credit and fraudulently turning it into profit for themselves,"
AG Madigan said. "This is pure exploitation of people working to
establish credit histories, turn their credit around or help
relatives back home."

The two Florida Companies allegedly operated similar schemes in
which they advertised credit cards with high limits for
consumers who have poor or no credit history. According to AG
Madigan's lawsuits, Pro Line has been advertising credit cards
in Cook County since at least April 2004 and Latin Card since at
least August 2004.

Consumers called toll-free numbers provided in the
advertisements to learn more about the credit card offers. Phone
salespersons allegedly represented to the consumers that the
credit cards could be used for retail purchases, at ATM machines
and to send money to family and friends in Mexico. The Companies
charged consumers up to $399 for credit cards with limits
ranging from $2,000 to $7,500. However, AG Madigan's lawsuit
alleges that only after the credit cards arrived did the
consumers realize the cards could only be used to purchase
products from the Companies' own catalogs and Web sites.

Additionally, AG Madigan's lawsuits allege that when consumers
attempted to contact the defendants for refunds, the consumers
were either refused a refund, were instructed to return all
materials for a refund which never arrived, found telephone
numbers disconnected or operators hung up on the consumers when
they managed to get through.

In addition, the defendants failed to register as Credit
Services Organizations with the Secretary of State's office,
failed to obtain the $100,000 surety bonds legally required if
credit services companies are paid a fee in advance of full
performance or services, and failed to provide consumers with
written disclosure statements or contracts.

AG Madigan's two lawsuits ask the court to prohibit the
defendants from offering for sale and selling credit cards or
credit card services in Illinois. In addition, the lawsuits ask
the court to assess civil penalties of $50,000 and additional
penalties of $50,000 per violation found to be committed with
the intent to defraud. Finally, AG Madigan's lawsuits ask the
court to order the defendants to pay restitution to the
consumers as well as the costs of the investigations and

To obtain more information about fraudulent credit card schemes,
or to file a complaint, consumers may visit AG Madigan's Web
site at www.IllinoisAttorneyGeneral.gov/consumers or call the
Attorney General's Consumer Fraud Hotline in Chicago at 1-800-
386-5438 and 1-800-964-3013 (TTY). AG Madigan's office also
provides a Spanish telephone hotline at 1-866-310-8398.

Assistant Attorney General Sarah Alipourian is handling the
cases for Attorney General Madigan's Consumer Fraud Division.

IMCLONE SYSTEMS: CEO Waksal Settles SEC Insider Trading Charges
Samuel D. Waksal and Jack Waksal have consented to a final
resolution of the Commission's insider trading case against
them. Pursuant to this settlement, which is subject to the
Court's approval, Sam Waksal and Jack Waksal will be held
jointly and severally liable for disgorgement of over $2 million
in illegal loss avoidance, including prejudgment interest, and
Sam Waksal will be liable for a civil penalty of over $3
million. In March 2003, Sam Waksal consented to a partial
resolution of this case in which he disgorged over $800,000 in
illegal insider trading loss avoidance and profits, including
prejudgment interest on those amounts and to be permanently
barred from acting as an officer or director of any public

The Commission originally filed insider trading charges against
Sam Waksal on June 12, 2002 in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York and added Jack Waksal as a
defendant on October 10, 2003. In its complaint, the Commission
charged that in late December 2001, Sam Waksal received
disappointing news about ImClone, that the United States Food
and Drug Administration was expected to soon issue a decision
rejecting for review ImClone's pending application to market its
cancer treatment, Erbitux. Before this news became public:

     (1) Sam Waksal tried to sell a substantial amount of his
         own ImClone stock;

     (2) Sam Waksal caused his daughter Aliza Waksal to sell all
         of her ImClone stock;

     (3) Sam Waksal purchased ImClone put option contracts; and

     (4) Sam Waksal told this negative information to Jack
         Waksal, who in turn sold ImClone stock in his own
         brokerage accounts and in the brokerage account of his
         daughter, Patti Waksal.

The Commission's complaint alleged that based on this conduct,
both Sam Waksal and Jack Waksal violated Section 17(a) of the
Securities Act of 1933 (Securities Act) and Section 10(b) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rule 10b-5
thereunder, and Sam Waksal also violated Section 16(a) of the
Exchange Act and Rule 16a-3 thereunder.

Sam Waksal and Jack Waksal have agreed to a final resolution,
subject to the Court's approval, of all of the charges in the
complaint. Without admitting or denying the allegations, Sam
Waksal has consented to the entry of a final judgment against
him, holding him jointly and severally liable with Jack Waksal
for disgorgement of over $2 million and ordering him to pay a
civil penalty of $3,017,464 million. Sam Waksal previously
paid  over $800,000 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest for
illegal insider trading loss avoidance and profits in connection
with the  March 2003 partial settlement. Also in connection with
the partial settlement, Sam Waksal consented to be: (a)
permanently barred from acting as an officer or director of any
public company; and (b) permanently enjoined from future
violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act, Sections
10(b) and 16(a) of the Exchange Act and Rules 10b-5 and 16a-3
thereunder. Jack Waksal has consented to the entry of a final
judgment in the Commission's action for his sales of ImClone
stock on December 27 and 28, 2001 while in possession of the
material non-public information that the FDA would soon issue a
Refusal to File Letter on ImClone's Erbitux application. Jack
Waksal has consented to: (a) disgorge $2,019,030 representing
the losses he avoided by his sales of ImClone stock in his
brokerage accounts and in the brokerage account of his daughter,
Patti Waksal, plus prejudgment interest; and (b) a permanent
injunction from future violations of Section 17(a) of the
Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule
10b-5 thereunder.

The Commission acknowledges the assistance of the United States
Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the
Federal Bureau of Investigation in this matter. The action is
titled, SEC v. Samuel D. Waksal and Jack Waksal, Defendants, and
Patti Waksal, Relief Defendant, 02 Civ. 4407 (RJH) SDNY.

KIDS STATION: Recalls 10.5T Musical Sets Due To Choking Hazard
Kids Station Inc., of Miami, Florida, for Toys "R" Us, of Wayne,
New Jersey is cooperating with the United States Consumer
Product Safety Commission by voluntarily recalling about 10,500
Fun Years Music Big Drum Musical Sets.

Small parts can break off during use, posing a choking hazard to
young children.

The recalled music set includes a yellow and green drum with a
clear plastic lid and a red one-piece carrying strap that
doubles as a storage and carrying case for additional
instruments. The drum measures 12 inches in diameter and about
7.5 inches in height. The instruments stored in the drum
include: purple drumsticks, yellow and red dumb-bell-shaped
maracas, purple wrist bells, an orange recorder, a yellow
harmonica, a red-rimmed tambourine and a yellow whistle. Only
this musical set is part of this recall. A similar drum set sold
at Toys "R" Us with a two piece strap and different musical toys
is manufactured by a different company and is not being

Manufactured in China, the sets were sold at all Toys "R" Us
stores nationwide exclusively from August 2004 through December
9, 2004 for about $20.

Return the recalled Big Drum Musical Set to your nearest Toys
"R" Us store for a refund.

Consumer Contact: Call Kids Station at (800) 227-4772 anytime or
visit the Web site at http://www2.toysrus.com

MUTUAL FUNDS: Investors Sue Over Failure To Claim Settlements
In a series of lawsuits recently filed nationwide, a group of
investors says the nation's top mutual fund companies failed to
collect or even make a claim on behalf of their funds'
shareholders on billions of dollars in securities class-action

The lawsuits, filed by Dallas-based Baron & Budd, PC, and Little
Rock, AR-based Cauley Bowman Carney & Williams, LLP, say the
mutual funds breached their fiduciary duty to investor clients
by not collecting the settlement money.

"These mutual funds owned stock in hundreds of companies that
reached settlements in securities class-action lawsuits," says
Randall K. Pulliam, lead counsel for the investor plaintiffs and
attorney at Baron & Budd. "As stockholders, the mutual funds
became class members themselves, but they were also the only
ones who could claim this money on behalf of their investor
customers. Although the process for collecting this money was
simple, the mutual funds simply didn't follow through."

More than 90 million Americans entrust their savings to mutual
fund directors and advisors. A majority of mutual funds invest
in publicly traded companies. In the mid to late 90s, the number
of investor securities class- action lawsuits against publicly
traded companies skyrocketed, and many of those claims were
resolved through class-action settlements intended for

According to plaintiffs, 1,517 federal class actions were
brought between 1996 and 2003 under the Securities Acts of 1933
and 1934.

"The mutual fund industry has faced many scandals in recent
years, but possibly nothing of this magnitude," says plaintiff
co-counsel J. Allen Carney, a name partner in the Cauley Bowman
firm. "By failing to claim their fair share of these
settlements, these mutual fund companies have violated the trust
given to them by millions of investors."

Investor plaintiffs have filed lawsuits in 11 states, including
New York, Illinois and Texas. Named among the 44 defendants are
several giants of the mutual fund industry, including Merrill
Lynch, American Funds and Van Kampen.

For more details, contact Randall Pulliam by Phone: 214-521-3605
OR Bruce Vincent by Phone: 800-559-4534 by Cellular:
214-728-6747 or by E-mail: bruce@legalpr.com.

NATIONAL RESEARCH: Iowa Joins Settlement of Student Privacy Suit
The state of Iowa is joining 41 other states in a a consumer
protection settlement with National Research Center for College
and University Admissions, Inc. (NRCCUA) concerning the
company's past collection of personal information through high
school student surveys, Attorney General Tom Miller announced in
a statement.

The states alleged that NRCCUA represented or implied that the
information it collected from high school students was shared
only with colleges, universities and other entities for
recruitment and other education-related services when, in fact,
NRCCUA also shared the information with commercial entities that
used the information to solicit the students for the sale of
educational and non-educational commercial products or services.

NRCCUA did not admit any violations in settling the matter but
agreed to change its practices as required by the AVC. In the
AVC, NRCCUA stated that it had ceased permitting use of the
student data for non-educational-related marketing purposes in

National Research Center for College and University Admissions,
Inc., a Missouri not-for-profit corporation headquartered in
Lee's Summit, Missouri, surveys and collects information from
millions of high school students each year. In 2001, it
collected personal information from more than 2 million high
school students who completed its surveys. In the settlement
with the states, NRCCUA says its "annual Surveys enable more
than 5 million high students to indicate their unique college
and career preferences to over 1200 colleges and universities."

NRCCUA and similar organizations provide surveys to U.S. high
school teachers and guidance counselors and request that they be
given to students to complete. Students may also complete the
survey on-line via the Internet.

The NRCCUA surveys ask students for personal information, such
as their name, address, gender, grade point average, date of
birth, academic and occupational interests, racial or ethnic
background, and, in the event the student is interested in
attending a college with a religious affiliation, the
denomination of their choice. Some of the entities, but not
NRCCUA, also provide surveys to be given to junior high school

The settlement, through an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance
("AVC") requires NRCCUA:

     (1) Not to misrepresent how personally-identifiable
         information will be collected, used or disclosed, or
         how the collection of the information is funded.

     (2) To disclose clearly and conspicuously why it collects
         personal information of students and the types of
         entities to which information is disclosed.

     (3) To make such disclosures in all of its privacy
         statements and in all questionnaires, survey
         instruments, and other documents.

To cease all use of survey data collected from a student if a
parent or an adult high school student requests that the student
be opted-out of completing the survey, or asks NRCCUA not to use
previously-collected information.

If NRCCUA changes its current practice and, once again, chooses
to use or permits others to use its survey data for non-
educational-related marketing purposes, then NRCCUA must supply
schools with a notice form to be given to parents at least 30
days in advance, telling them the survey may be administered and
how to "opt-out" their student-children from completing the

The Iowa Attorney General's Office led the group of states that
negotiated the agreement.  Attorney General Tom Miller said:
"This agreement is all about requiring a company to respect the
privacy interests of students and parents. It clarifies the
company's obligation to disclose how information will be used,
and to give students and parents a clear right to keep student
information private."

Miller said that parents of high school and junior high school
students should be aware that their children may be asked to
complete surveys like those of NRCCUA and others. "Federal law
allows parents to tell schools not to give certain surveys to
their children," he said. He said the same right to opt out of
completing the surveys is given to high school students aged 18
and older.

As part of the settlement, NRCCUA will make a payment of
$300,000 to the states to be used for attorneys' fees and
investigative costs, consumer education, litigation, or for
public protection or local consumer aid funds.

NORTEL NETWORKS: Parties Make Concessions For Suit To Move Ahead
Both parties in a class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. against
Nortel Networks Corporation have made concessions to allow the
case to move forward, the Ottawa Business Journal reports.

The plaintiffs co-led by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan,
have agreed to drop from its list of defendants Nortel directors
who sat on the audit committee during the period in question,
the company itself as well as former CFO and CEO Frank Dunn and
former controller Michael Gollogly.

Mr. Dunn, Mr. Gollogly and former CFO Doug Beatty were fired for
cause last spring for their alleged role in the company's
accounting problems. Though regulatory and criminal
investigations continue on both sides of the border, no formal
charges have been laid. Mr. Beatty is also named as a defendant
in the suit, but there was no word on his status as a defendant
in the case.

The claims against Mr. Dunn, Mr. Gollogly, the audit committee
members and Nortel were dropped after those individuals and the
company agreed to withdraw a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The
withdrawals allowed for a scheduled hearing in New York to be
cancelled and will now permit the case to proceed to the fact
finding stage.

Nortel spokeswoman Tina Warren told the Business Journal the
company continues to defend itself from any charges of
wrongdoing. For their part, the defendants believe the way is
now clear to determine who warrants the blame for the problems
on Nortel's books. Teachers' spokeswoman Lee Fullerton said,
"That will allow the case to proceed with a full investigation.
When we find out all the facts, then we'll find where the blame
lies and we can then assert a claim against the audit committee
if we find it necessary."

NUTRAQUEST INC.: Creditors File Lawsuit V. President, Insiders
Creditors of bankrupt Nutraquest, Inc. (formerly Cytodyne
Technologies, Inc.) are filing a lawsuit against founder,
President and sole owner Robert Chinery, Jr. for allegedly
devising a fraud scheme to shield the Company's assets from
judgments and for bilking the Company for their personal gain,
TheDeal.com reports.

From 1997 to 2002, the Company reached sales of $442 million and
profits of $175 million for its Xenadrine RFA-1 diet pill, which
had the controversial ingredient ephedra as its main ingredient.
Ephedra has been banned from the market, after supplements
containing it were connected to injury and death.

The Company was named in several personal injury and wrongful
death cases in the U.S. and Canada by the end of 2001, filings
show.  One of the wrongful death suits was filed on behalf of
the family of former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler
after his February 2003 death from heatstroke was allegedly tied
to Xenadrine RFA-1.

Management changed the name of Cytodyne Technologies to
Nutraquest, which then filed for Chapter 11 protection on March
3, 2004, with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New
Jersey in Trenton.

Creditors within the bankruptcy petition filed the lawsuit on
January 12.  Judge Raymond Lyons, Jr. is presiding over the
case.  The suit alleges Mr. Chinery defrauded the Company by
transferring assets to other firms that they owned and then
sought to conceal the transfers from creditors.

"The Chinery defendants created and executed a fraudulent scheme
to remove and relocate substantially all the cash and other
assets of the debtor," the suit said, TheDeal.com reports.
"They took those valuable assets, in particular [diet pill] EFX,
from Nutraquest to the prejudice of creditors who would assert
claims and/or judgments against Nutraquest."

Debtor counsel Simon Kimmelman in Trenton, N.J., at Sterns &
Weinroth PC, didn't return calls, according to TheDeal.com.
John Gough, creditors counsel in Cherry Hill, N.J., declined
comment on the suit but did say that the bankruptcy petition is
proceeding along two tracks.

"Everything is calm within the bankruptcy filing while the real
activity is taking place in federal district court where at
least 50 personal injury or wrongful death suits have been filed
against the debtor," Gough said, according to TheDeal.com

SAFEWAY INC.: Reaches Settlement On Sale Of Tobacco To Minors
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer reached a settlement
with Safeway, Inc. (Safeway) which requires California's second-
largest grocery chain to implement policies to reduce tobacco-
product sales to minors at its 538 Safeway, Vons, Pavilions and
Pak N' Save stores in the state.

"This settlement is a victory for California's children," said
AG Lockyer.  "Every day in this country, hundreds of our kids
start down a road to addiction and death. I'm pleased Safeway
has agreed to take the path of corporate responsibility and help
address this serious public health problem."

AG Lockyer filed the settlement in Los Angeles County Superior
Court, and Judge John P. Shook approved it.  The settlement
takes effect immediately and resolves a lawsuit filed jointly on
June 16, 2004 by AG Lockyer and Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky

The lawsuit alleged Safeway violated state law by selling
tobacco products to minors (under 18) and failing to take proper
steps to prevent such sales. Additionally, Safeway violated a
city ordinance by failing to prominently display tobacco retail
permits, according to the complaint.

Under the settlement Safeway will implement the following
policies to prevent tobacco-product sales to minors at its
Safeway, Vons, Pavilions and Pak N' Save stores in California:

     (1) Check the ID of any person purchasing tobacco products
         when the person appears to be under the age of 27, and
         accept only valid government-issued photo ID as proof
         of age.

     (2) Use cash registers programmed to prompt ID checks on
         all tobacco sales.

     (3) Prohibit self-service displays of tobacco products, the
         use of vending machines to sell tobacco products and
         distribution of free samples.

     (4) Prohibit the sale of smoking paraphernalia to minors.

     (5) Prohibit the sale of candy, chewing gum or similar
         items designed to look like cigarettes.

     (6) Restrict tobacco product advertising to the area where
         tobacco products are displayed.

     (7) Hire an independent entity to conduct random,
         unannounced compliance checks at 90 stores every year.

     (8) Train employees on state and local laws and company
         policies regarding tobacco sales to minors, including
         explaining the health-related reasons for laws that
         restrict youth access to tobacco.

Additionally, the settlement requires Safeway to pay $145,000 in
civil penalties, to be divided equally between the state and
city. Safeway also will pay the state and city $50,000 each to
cover their costs. AG Lockyer's office will allocate its $50,000
to enforcement of tobacco control and consumer protection laws.

Californians who suspect violations of state tobacco laws or the
MSA can file complaints by calling 916-565-6486 at any time, or
by writing to the Tobacco Litigation and Enforcement Section at
P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550. Additional
information is available on the Attorney General's web site at

SIDLEY AUSTIN: EEOC Commences Age Discrimination Lawsuit in IL
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a
lawsuit in the United States District Court in Chicago,
Illinois, alleging that Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, the giant
Chicago-based international law firm, violated the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) when it selected
"partners" for expulsion from the firm on account of their age
or forced them to retire.  Sidley Austin Brown & Wood is the law
firm which resulted from the merger of Sidley & Austin and New
York- based Brown & Wood in May 2001.

The EEOC case is a "class" age discrimination case brought,
first, with respect to 31 former Sidley & Austin partners who
were involuntarily downgraded and expelled from the partnership
in October of 1999 on account of their age, and, second, with
respect to other partners who were involuntarily retired from
Sidley & Austin since 1978 on account of their age pursuant to a
mandatory retirement policy. The ADEA prohibits employers with
20 or more employees from making employment decisions, including
decisions regarding the termination of employment, on the basis
of age (over 40). The ADEA also prohibits such employers from
utilizing policies or rules which require employees to retire
when they reach a particular age (over 40).

Eric Dreiband, General Counsel of the EEOC, said, "The Age
Discrimination in Employment Act makes it unlawful for employers
to discriminate against any individual with respect to
employment because of such individual's age. The United States
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that Sidley,
Austin, Brown & Wood violated the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act, and the Commission looks forward to proving its
case to a jury."

Today's lawsuit grew out of an EEOC administrative investigation
managed by John P. Rowe, Director of EEOC's Chicago District
Office. Sidley & Austin was given notice of the investigation in
July 2000. Although there was media coverage of the October 1999
changes at Sidley & Austin, the EEOC matter did not come into
public view until Sidley & Austin refused to honor an EEOC
subpoena, and the agency took the firm to court to enforce the

EEOC's position was upheld by the District Court in Chicago in
February 2002. (Case citation: EEOC v. Sidley & Austin, N.D.
Illinois No. 01 C 9635 (2/11/2002; District Judge Joan Humphrey
Lefkow), 2002 WL 206485, 88 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 64.)
Thereafter, Sidley & Austin elected to appeal, but the District
Court decision was upheld in respects material to the EEOC. In
an October 24, 2002, opinion written by U.S. Seventh Circuit
Court of Appeals Judge Richard A. Posner, Sidley was ordered to
comply in significant part with the EEOC subpoena. (Case
citation: EEOC v. Sidley & Austin, 315 F.3d 696 (7th Cir.

In July 2004, Chicago District Director Rowe made an
administrative determination that there was reasonable cause to
believe that Sidley & Austin has violated the ADEA in connection
with the October 1999 expulsions and downgrades and in
implementing its mandatory retirement policy since 1978.
Thereafter, the EEOC and Sidley engaged months of discussions in
an attempt to resolve the case through conciliation without
litigation. However, those negotiations proved futile.

EEOC's Regional Attorney in Chicago, John C. Hendrickson, said
that in resisting the EEOC investigation and in forcing the EEOC
to obtain judicial enforcement of its subpoena, "Sidley's
unwavering position has been that the matters involving how the
law firm dealt with those it referred to as 'partners' and
whether it engaged in discrimination were simply way beyond the
reach of the ADEA and EEOC." However, according to Hendrickson,
the EEOC administrative investigation revealed that, "except for
a very few controlling partners at the very top, Sidley's
lawyers appeared to be ordinary employees not unlike their
colleagues at parallel levels in the business community and,
therefore, covered by the ADEA."

Hendrickson said, "Whatever titles Sidley had decided to give
these lawyers partner, counsel, or otherwise our investigation
indicated that they had no voice or control in governance of the
firm and that they could be and were fired just like any other
employees without notice and without the vote or consent of
their fellow attorneys. A small self-perpetuating group of
managers at the top ran everything, and that was it end of

"Of course," added EEOC Trial Attorney Deborah Hamilton, "having
the power to fire an employee does not mean that a law firm or
any other covered employer can do so because of the employee's
age, if the employee is over 40. That is a violation of the ADEA
and that the making of unlawful age-based selections for
termination is precisely what EEOC is targeting in this

The lawsuit filed was filed today in the U.S. District Court for
the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, located in
Chicago. It is captioned EEOC v. Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, and
is Civil Action No. 05 C 0208. The case has been initially
assigned to U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel.

On its Internet web site (www.sidley.com), Sidley & Austin
describes itself as "a significant legal power in the
international arena," with "about 1500 lawyers practicing on
three continents." The firm has offices in Chicago, Dallas, Los
Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Beijing,
Brussels, Geneva, Hong Kong, London, Shanghai, Singapore and

For more information visit the EEOC's website:

SOUTH KOREA: Government, Uri Party Push For Securities Exemption
Under the condition that past fraudulent cases are clearly
distinguished from the current ones, the government and the
ruling Uri Party decided to push forward a plan to exempt
companies involved in past window dressing settlement from a
securities class-action suit for the next two years, Donga.com

In accordance with the proposed exemption, the government and
the ruling party are poised to revise a supplementary
supervision of the law on securities-related class action suits
to pardon past false accountings in the extraordinary national
assembly's special session this February.

According to Choi Jae-cheon of the Uri party and the executive
secretary at the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, "The party
is reviewing a plan to clear the concepts of both past and
current window-dressing settlements in supplementary provision,
and to pardon companies that cooked the books before January 30,
2004 when the bill was promulgated." Furthermore, he added, "The
existing law is ambiguous in describing its subjects. The law
holds new official announcements responsible while pardoning
`past false accountings,' which is a broad and ambiguous
concept. I expect that the bill will be passed this coming
February as relative institutions including the Financial
Supervisory Commission (FSC) are positive that the law's
subjects can be more specifically stated."

The FSC is planning to draw a clear line between the concept of
past false accountings and current ones in the detailed law of
securities-related class action suits.

For their part, the senior government and party officials,
decided to give priority to the bill in an extraordinary
national assembly in February. The ruling party lawmakers of the
Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly had originally
opposed the idea last December, arguing that drawing a clear
line between past irregularities and current ones was not

TAMPA ELECTRIC: Judge Schedules Trial Date For Power Pole Suit
After nearly two years of meetings, hearings and legal
maneuvering, about 200 Egypt Lake residents are scheduled to
have their day in court over giant power poles installed in
their neighborhood, the Tampa Bay Online reports.

At a hearing, Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Claudia Isom set
a trial date of September 12 to 23 at the request of attorneys
representing the residents in their legal battle against Tampa
Electric Co.

Paul Antinori, a lawyer for one of the two homeowners groups,
told Tampa Bay Judge Isom's decision was a major victory because
the homeowners finally can have a jury decide the case.

TECO attorney Mark Buell has argued that the case should be
delayed and also wanted the judge to rule against class-action
status for the case, since there were about 200 homeowners
affected in different ways, according to Mr. Buell, each one
should bring their own case against TECO. However, Judge Isom
rejected both requests, Tampa Bay reports.  Mr. Buell, after the
hearing, said he expects TECO will prevail in court. "We don't
think the poles constitute a nuisance," he said.

John Dill, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, told Tampa Bay they
would first seek injunctive relief, forcing TECO to move the
poles to a business corridor such as Waters Avenue or Busch
Boulevard. If Judge Isom decides against an injunction, they
will hold a second trial to determine financial compensation for
the plaintiffs.

In July 2003, TECO installed the power poles, which measure as
much as 125 feet tall and 3 feet wide, along residential streets
in north Tampa's Egypt Lake community without any public notice.
Due to the public outcry, the Tampa City Council and the
Hillsborough County Commission passed ordinances requiring
utilities to hold public meetings before beginning such

For more than a year, attorneys for two groups of homeowners
wrangled with TECO in court. Early last year, the two lawsuits
were consolidated into one.

UNITED STATES: Class Action Fairness Act Expected in Senate
A spokeswoman for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, confirmed that
a new version of the Class Action Fairness Act could be brought
before the Senate as early as next week, the BI Daily News

A previous version of the bill, which had the support of 62
senators in the last Congress failed to move to the floor
because of differences between Senate Majority Leader Bill
Frist, R-Tenn., and Democratic backers of the measure over the
number and nature of amendments that could be added to the bill.
According to Sen. Grassley's spokeswoman, the new bill would
follow the previous bill closely.

Among other things, the Class Action Fairness Act that
languished in the last Senate would have allowed the removal of
certain suits with defendants and plaintiffs from multiple
states from state court to federal court. The measure also would
have required that judges subject proposed class action
settlements to greater oversight.

UNITED STATES: Insurers Call On Senate To Pass Tort Reform Bill
In a short letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Bill
Frist, R-Tennessee by the Financial Services Roundtable, a
consortium of companies and trade associations representing the
spectrum of financial industries, insurance and other financial
services industry leaders have called on the senator to pass
class action reform legislation early next month, the NU Online
News Service reports.

According to industry leaders, "Class action reforms will end
abuses of the class action system, increase the rights of class
members and lower the cost of doing business in America and will
lead to new job creation."

Among those signing the letter were AEGON USA President and CEO
Patrick Baird, Chubb Corp. Chairman and CEO John Finnegan,
Frederick Geissinger, Chairman and CEO of AIG's American General
Financial Services, MassMutual Chairman and CEO Robert O'Connell
and Edward Rust, chairman and CEO of State Farm Insurance

The class action reform bill was crafted to ensure what
supporters claim will be a greater degree of fairness in the
civil litigation system. Under such legislation, the majority of
class actions would be moved to the federal court system to
prevent attorneys from picking jurisdictions to file their
claims in that have a reputation as plaintiff friendly. In
addition, the letter noted, class members would also be given
new rights, such as the right to receive case information in
plain English rather than legal language.

In the letter, the industry leaders further stated, "We urge you
to act in February to bring up and pass class action reforms and
end abuse of large, multi-state class action lawsuits, increase
the rights of class members, and help strengthen the job

The Republican-controlled House has already approved the bill,
but the measure has failed several times to win passage in the
more evenly divided Senate. On one occasion, Republican
supporters were forced to shelve the bill after coming up one
vote short of the 60 needed to obtain Senate cloture, which
would have limited debate on the bill and effectively removed
the threat of a filibuster.

Afterwards, several Democrats, including Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-
La., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., came forward with offers to
become the 60th vote if some of their concerns could be
addressed. Discussions continued after that, with several
changes being made to the bill. Those revisions and the
reelection of President Bush, a strong advocate of litigation
reform, have increased expectations that the bill will receive
Senate approval.

WAFFLE HOUSE: Patrons Lodge Race-Bias Suit Against Restaurants
A dozen black patrons have filed a class action suit against
three Waffle House restaurants in North Alabama, including
Cullman, Athens and one near I-565 in Madison, the WAFF, AL

Reverend R.L. Shanklin heads up the Huntsville chapter of the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP) along with other national leaders filed the class action
lawsuit, claiming that they were refused service, given
unsanitary food and ignored. Reverend Shanklin says similar
cases were also filed in Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina.

In August 2003, a Valley woman claims a white worker at this
Waffle House off Interstate 565 began talking about monkeys
after she walked in. According to Monical Thrasher, "companies,
especially places where you eat, I think they should have
employees to go through some diversity training. It's black and
white, everywhere it's black and white. It's a black and white
community, nobody should be discriminated against."

Waffle House denied the allegations, saying that the Company has
no tolerance for discrimination in their restaurants. They also
point to two previous discrimination lawsuits in which juries
ruled in favor of the Waffle House.

WAL-MART STORES: Hourly Workers Lodge Overtime Wage Suit in CA
Three Wal-Mart Stores hourly workers in California initiated a
lawsuit against the Company for failing to pay them for all the
time they worked, the Stuff.co.nz reports.

Filed last in Alameda County Superior Court, the lawsuit seeks
class action status and damages, penalties, and restitution for
Wal-Mart hourly employees in California after January 1, 1997.
It estimates there are more than 200,000 potential class

The suit alleges that the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company
"deleted thousands of hours of time worked from employees'
payroll records" by erasing overtime hours and by penalizing
employees who forgot to punch in after their meal breaks by
denying them pay for the remainder of those days, according to
court documents.

The suit further alleges that the plaintiffs Jerrilyn Newland,
Charlotte Johnson, and James Davis, became aware of such
practices, known as "time shaving," after a New York Times
newspaper report last April said companies including Wal-Mart
had engaged in them. In that report, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said
Company policy was to pay hourly workers for all their time, but
that there were "inevitably instances of managers doing the
wrong thing."

Sought for comment regarding the latest legal action, a Wal-Mart
spokeswoman said the company had not yet seen the suit, which is
the latest in a string of legal actions against the world's
largest retailer, stuff.co.nz reports.

WORLDCOM INC.: Ex-Officer Ebbers To Face Criminal Trial in NY
Former Worldcom boss Bernard Ebbers is set to face criminal
charges in New York court, over the $11 billion accounting
scandal that rocked the corporate world in July 2002, The
Register reports.

In July 2002, MCI (MCIP: news, chart, profile) then known as
WorldCom, filed the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.  The
Company was left facing $41 billion in debt and an $11 billion
accounting scandal.  The bankruptcy spurred dozens of
shareholder lawsuits against the Company and its officers, filed
by investors who took losses after the stock price of the
Company took a dive.

When details of the accounting scandal first emerged in the
summer of 2002, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC)
described the WorldCom disclosures as "improprieties of
unprecedented magnitude," according to the Register.

U.S. President George W. Bush said at the time: "We will fully
investigate and hold people accountable for misleading not only
shareholders but employees as well."  Where "egregious
practices, such as the one today" are uncovered, said Bush,
"we'll go after them."

Now, Mr. Ebbers will face the court for charges of fraud and
conspiracy over the collapse of the telecommunications giant.
His trial was set to begin last November, but was delayed to
give his defense team more time to prepare its case.  According
to The Guardian, Mr. Ebbers is expected to blame former WorldCom
chief financial officer Scott Sullivan for the accounting black
hole.  In March 2004 ex-CFO Scott Sullivan pleaded guilty to
similar charges and is co-operating with investigators. His
evidence is expected to form part of the prosecution against Mr.

Earlier this month, ten former outside directors agreed in
principle to pay $54 million, including $18 million personally,
according to an earlier Class Action Reporter story (January
8,2005), to settle a class action lawsuit following the collapse
of the telecom Company.

                         Asbestos Alerts

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: 9/11 Fund Head Urges Asbestos Legal Reform
The official who handled a major September 11 compensation fund
said last week a similar effort should be made to limit asbestos
liability lawsuits. The support for the move to consider this a
legislative priority from a personality who is considered a
national leader on such issues came at a forum hosted by the
conservative Manhattan Institute think tank.

Kenneth Feinberg, widely praised for the US$7 billion government
compensation program for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks,
scolded Congress for not taking action on the large number of
asbestos claims working through the court system. He commented,
"It's a scandal that they haven't passed an asbestos statute
yet," he said.

Among the many complaints about lawsuits sapping business
strength, Mr. Feinberg said asbestos cases are unique because
there are so many claims and the companies facing the lawsuits
simply don't have enough money to pay them all.

He had faced strong criticism at the outset of the Sept. 11
compensation fund process over the program's rules, but he
generally was praised by the time it shut down last summer. He
has done similar work on more conventional mass litigation

Advocates for limiting liability lawsuits against businesses
said they believe that the response to the worst terror attack
in the nation's history may be one of the best ways of resolving
massive class action lawsuits over products like asbestos or
prescription drugs.

Daniel Troy, the former chief counsel for the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, said the tort system is "sufficiently broken" to
require curbs on liability lawsuits. "I think the 9/11
compensation fund may be a model for tort reform," he said.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., is pushing
legislation to ban asbestos liability lawsuits in exchange for a
multibillion-dollar compensation fund.

In urging congressional action on the asbestos issue, Mr.
Feinberg also warned lawyers and lawmakers there would be many
pitfalls in any compensation fund. The biggest challenge may be
deciding whether every victim receives the same amount, and what
that amount would be, he said. Giving varying amounts to
different types of victims would create a great deal of
frustration and division among them.

Mr. Feinberg also recommended that any fund be optional, as the
Sept. 11 program was, allowing people to choose between the
fund's guidelines and filing their own lawsuits.

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 paid out an
average award of US$2.1 million to the families of those killed,
though the 2,880 individual payouts ranged from US$250,000 to
US$7.1 million.

The fund also paid an average of US$400,000 for the 2,680
accepted claims of injuries stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks.
The smallest injury award was US$500, the largest US$8.6

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Union Electric Files US$8M Suit V. Insurers
Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, Union Electric is suing four of
its insurance companies for more than US$2 million each claiming
the insurers breached contractual duties by only reimbursing
small percentages of asbestos-related claims.

Defendants include American Automobile Insurance Co., Pacific
Insurance Co., Royal Globe Insurance Co. and Royal Indemnity Co.

Karen Baudendistel of Armstrong Teasdale in St. Louis and Jill
Berkeley of Schiff Hardin of Chicago are representing UE. The
case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.

Union Electric, which operates as AmerenUE, claims it has
received more than 120 separate claims by plaintiffs seeking
damages for asbestos exposure in UE's power plants in Missouri
and Illinois, most of which were filed in Madison County.

The majority of plaintiffs are current and former employees of
contractors who allege that they developed asbestos-related
diseases from exposure to asbestos fibers at places they were
sent to work, including locations in Madison County. Exposure
dates to asbestos range from 1946 to present in the various
lawsuits, which allege negligence and failure to provide a safe

From Sept. 30, 1947, through Sep. 30, 1975, UE claims it
procured Owners Contractors Protective coverage from the
defendants, to protect against lawsuits by independent

In the complaint, UE illustrates the extent of the problem by
revealing various correspondences.

In a letter dated Mar. 12, 2002, UE provides notice of 12 of the
120 lawsuits brought against UE within the time frame AAIC
provided insurance coverage for them, from Sept. 30, 1947,
through Sept. 30, 1952.

A letter from AAIC dated May 9, 2002, agrees to participate in
the defense of UE, subject to a reservation of rights, for all
asbestos lawsuits brought against UE within the coverage period.

After requesting a clarification AAIC's terms, UE claims AAIC
replied, "by participate, we mean American Automobile Insurance
Co. will defend UE in the cases alleging exposure between Sept.
30, 1947, and Sept. 30, 1952, along with other insurance

On Jan. 15, 2003, UE forwarded its post-tender defense and
investigation cost invoices to AAIC with a detailed explanation
of the invoices, requesting payment within 30 days. UE claims it
has not been fully reimbursed.

Allegations against Royal and Pacific are similar according to
the complaint filed.

The suit also seeks statutory damages and attorneys' fees for
the companies, alleging vexatious and unreasonable failure to
pay UE's defense and investigation costs in asbestos litigation.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Ohio Takes Lead on Impeding Asbestos Suits
Ohio's passing of two proposals last year has put the state
ahead in trying to slow down the growing number of lawsuits
filed against companies that had manufactured asbestos in the

Potentially ending more than half of the 40,000 asbestos cases
pending in courts, Ohio first set medical standards intending to
exclude people who haven't developed cancer or lost a
considerable amount of lung function.

And last month, the legislature approved a provision in a bill
limiting personal injury lawsuits that will protect at least two
companies from additional asbestos-related litigation.

"States are beginning to improvise their own solutions," said
Rep. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican who pushed for the

According to some estimates, asbestos lawsuits could eventually
cost American companies US$200 billion in payouts to people
exposed to asbestos, a carcinogenic substance widely used in
building material during the 1950s and 1960s.

The lawsuits have pushed at least 76 companies nationwide into
bankruptcy, including five in Ohio - most notably Toledo-based
Owens Corning, a building supplies maker.

Owens Illinois, a glass container maker, which stopped making
insulation with asbestos in 1958, saw the number of lawsuits
against it in 2003 grow to 29,000 pending cases compared to
24,000 cases a year earlier. Companies such as Owens-Illinois
have looked to lawmakers for help in states such as Ohio,
Mississippi and Alabama where there have been a large number of
lawsuits filed, said Dan Steen, a lobbyist for Owens-Illinois

There's no organized plan on the part of companies to persuade
the states to pass asbestos-related laws, he said.

Supporters of the law setting medical standards for asbestos
lawsuits said there were so many claims that those who were
truly sick had to wait longer to get compensated.

"Our objective is to make sure that those who are truly injured
can get their cases heard and be compensated," Rep. Seitz said.

On the other hand, lawyers representing asbestos victims have
vowed to overturn Ohio's medical standards law in court. They
say the new standards would shut out people who are deserving of
compensation, including those diagnosed with an asbestos-related
lung disease.

One of the companies those laws sought to protect was Crown Cork
& Seal Co., a Philadelphia-based packaging maker. It never
operated the company it bought that made asbestos. But Crown
Cork & Seal now has paid out US$500 million in asbestos claims,
said Rep. Seitz.

The other company protected by the bill is RPM International
Inc., a Medina-based holding company whose businesses make
specialty coatings and sealants. RPM recently made the news when
it posted a 74 percent decline in net income for its second
quarter ended Nov. 30, hurt by a US$47 million charge to boost
reserves for covering settlements from asbestos litigation. But
a company official said the charge against its earnings is tied
to a strategy to more aggressively defend itself in asbestos

The company's asbestos liability is relatively light compared
with other businesses, said P. Kelly Tompkins, a senior vice
president at RPM. Still, he said the changes in state law should
help RPM and the victims by ensuring that those who are sick
will receive compensation.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: DE Landfill Cited for Accepting Asbestos
State regulators handed down a notice of violation to the
Delaware Solid Waste Authority's facility at Jones Crossroads
for having improperly accepted asbestos-containing material.

But Pat Canzano, the chief operating officer of Delaware Solid
Waste Authority said the landfill is still trying to find out if
the facility actually accepted the dangerous substance.

He said, "The material, as it was presented to us, was
construction and demolition waste. We do inspections on the
material that comes in, but we can't possibly inspect every
single load of material that comes in. It's a random screening

However, Robert Hartman, an environmental engineer with the
Solid and Hazardous Waste Division of Delaware Department of
Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), said if the
asbestos is in the landfill, it poses no health risk.

"The landfill is constructed adequately to contain a load of
asbestos. The more you disturb it, the more chance it can get
into the air," said Mr. Hartman. For now, DNREC recommends that
the landfill leave the asbestos alone.

A notice of violation is similar to a warning; it carries no
fine or penalty. The facility is given 30 days to inform the
regulators of their actions for compliance.

Mr. Hartman said that an asbestos contractor located in Milford
counts every load of asbestos transported in the state.

"The contractor didn't receive a manifest back saying the load
was properly disposed of. The contractor then called the hauler
and found out the load had been taken to the southern landfill,"
said Mr. Hartman.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: St. Louis City, Lambert Airport Facing Suit
The city of St. Louis and Lambert airport officials have been
notified that they are being sued for hundreds of violations of
federal environmental laws by using an illegal asbestos removal
technique to demolish homes and businesses in the path of a new

If the city and airport are found to have violated the Clean Air
Act and federal hazardous waste laws, they could be fined more
than US$8 million. Any fines would be turned over to the federal
treasury or placed in a special EPA fund.

The Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, a public interest law firm
based in Washington, last week announced plans to sue on behalf
of the Families for Asbestos Compliance, Testing and Safety,
which largely includes 50 to 60 members living or working near
the demolished buildings. The residents say they are concerned
about health danger from exposure to asbestos fibers released by
the demolitions.

At issue is the asbestos removal technique known as the "wet
method," which involves spraying a building with water as it is
leveled to prevent the asbestos fibers from being released into
air or soil. Contractors on the airport expansion project have
used the wet method in demolishing roughly 300 homes and
businesses since 1999.

However, the technique is permitted only on buildings that are
too dangerous for workers to enter. Few of the homes being
leveled, if any, met that description.

Airport officials have said they used the wet method to save
time and money. The airport has repeatedly said that that there
was no risk to the public and that testing by its contractors
confirmed that. But the EPA's asbestos experts have denounced
the technique, saying that once the asbestos dries, the wind can
carry fibers long distances, exposing people near and far from
the removal site.

The legal group said the "imminent" lawsuit would seek testing
to pinpoint the extent of any soil contamination by asbestos,
and how much asbestos may be released into the air again when
ground around the airport is disturbed.

"The city and the airport authority conducted an illegal and
immoral human experiment on our community without our knowledge
or consent," said Sean Donnelly, a Bridgeton resident who heads
the grassroots group.

Jim Hecker, the legal group's environmental enforcement
director, said it remained unclear when a lawsuit might come, as
he awaits a response from the city and airport to the written
notice to sue.

Lambert's deputy director, Gerard Slay, called the claims
without merit, adding that the airport last month submitted to
the Environmental Protection Agency test results showing "non-
detectable and negligible asbestos levels" in air, soil and
water runoff near the runway project.

Given the dangers, asbestos handling is rigidly controlled by
the EPA. The federal Clean Air Act requires carefully removing
asbestos by hand and disposing of it in hazardous waste sites.
Lambert officials have said the airport was committed to
ensuring public health and safety, and that its practices
reflected that.

In issuing an order last August barring the wet method, the EPA
concluded that while the technique was "generally effective in
controlling the release of large fibers and dust," the agency
lacked data to say with certainty that it was completely safe in
keeping individual asbestos fibers from becoming airborne.

As a result, the EPA rescinded an administrative order allowing
the wet method. Use of the method at the project was halted in
June, pending the EPA study.

Trial Lawyers for Public Justice and its 3,000 member lawyers
have filed scores of suits against government and industry on
behalf of citizens groups. They have successfully brought
actions under the Clean Air Act in Texas, Ohio, New Jersey,
Kentucky and New York.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: UK School Council Refuses to Show Findings
Despite growing pressure, only the nine city councilors will be
allowed to view a report into the circumstances surrounding the
asbestos contamination of Silverhill Primary School.

A previous edition of the Class Action Reporter that came out
last Jan. 7 stated that the National Association of
Schoolmasters: Union of Women Teachers demanded the Derby City
Council to make the results of the internal investigation
public. The union said the new Freedom of Information Act, which
came into force on New Year's Day, means the local authority has
to grant that request.

Derby City Council carried out an investigation into the
contamination last spring that exposed 400 pupils and staff to
harmful asbestos at the Mickleover School during the summer. The
school was shut for eight weeks after asbestos was discovered
during routine work.

So far, the report has not been made public, because of fears
that the release could prejudice any disciplinary hearing
against suspended head teacher Phil Robinson.

However, Councilor Chris Wynn, opposition Labor group spokesman
for education, revealed the council had agreed to his motion
that the document should be released to be read confidentially
by three councilors from each of the Labor, Liberal Democrat and
Conservative groups.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: W. R. Grace Files Amended Bankruptcy Plan
Bankrupt specialty chemicals company W. R. Grace and Co. (NYSE:
GRA) has filed an amended bankruptcy reorganization plan,
according to last week's filing with the Securities and Exchange

The Columbia, MD-based Company said two groups of creditors, the
unsecured creditors committee and the official committee of
shareholders, have agreed to support a contested reorganization
plan but asbestos claimants still do not. According to the
filing, its amended plan addresses many of the objections raised
by creditors and other interested parties to an earlier plan it
filed Nov. 13.

The two committees have agreed to be joint proponents of an
amended plan, which the company filed Jan. 13 in Delaware
Bankruptcy Court.

W. R. Grace filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2001 to
resolve the vast number of asbestos lawsuits. At the time of its
Chapter 11 filing, W. R. Grace faced more than 325,000 asbestos
personal injury claims and had paid out US$1.9 billion to
resolve and manage the litigation.

A hearing to consider approval of the amended disclosure
statement is scheduled for Jan. 21 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court
in Wilmington, Del. The filing had been delayed from October to
permit Grace, representatives of three creditors committees and
equity holders, and the representative of future asbestos
claimants, to continue negotiations.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: EPA Sets Up Emission Standards for Taconite
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to develop
proposed regulations for mercury and asbestos emissions from
taconite plants.

The EPA made the decision after the National Wildlife Federation
filed a federal lawsuit in December 2003 against the agency in
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for
failing to set emissions standards for the pollutants.

In the lawsuit complaint, four plaintiffs -- the National
Wildlife Federation, Minnesota Conservation Federation, Lake
Superior Alliance and Save Lake Superior Association --
contended there's a lack of standards for the two substances in
new air pollution regulations.

"Under the Clean Air Act, there are no exemptions when it comes
to protecting the health of people and the environment," said
Jane Reyer, senior counsel for the National Wildlife
Federation's Lake Superior Project.

"The standards of the Clean Air Act have been clear, yet they
have been ignored. We hope the EPA will now act quickly to
fulfill its obligations under the law," said Ms. Reyer.

The taconite industry is Lake Superior Basin's largest source of
mercury, a neurotoxin that can cause severe neurological and
developmental damage, the groups argued. Airborne asbestos
fibers can lead to serious respiratory ailments.

EPA asked that it be allowed to voluntarily draft the
regulations on mercury emissions. A federal judge granted that
request last Thursday. The court issued a similar order Nov. 3
concerning asbestos.

The agency previously set standards for other taconite plant
emissions. In October 2003, it released standards to regulate
manganese, arsenic and lead from Minnesota's six taconite plants
and two in Michigan. EPA said the standards will reduce toxic
air emissions by about 225 tons or 42 percent annually. But the
standards didn't set limits for mercury and asbestos.

The taconite industry has until late 2006 to comply with the

In its lawsuit response, the EPA said that it now has
suggestions on control options and information on current
research that were not available when the other rules were

Minnesota's Iron Range is home to six taconite plants, while
Michigan's Upper Peninsula is home to two of the plants.
Taconite is a variety of processed iron ore containing magnetite
and hematite that has been concentrated into higher-grade iron

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: UK Inquest Reveals Joiner Died of Exposure
A joiner from Ossett died from asbestos-related cancer following
exposure to the material when he worked for the building firm,
Harlow and Miner Ltd., in the mid-1960s and 1970s.

Ian Lunn became ill in January 2003 when he developed an
"annoying and unproductive cough." A biopsy revealed he had
cancer and he later had to have his right lug removed.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy failed to have any effect. His
condition deteriorated, the cancer spreading to his heart, liver
and lymph nodes.

He eventually succumbed to the disease and died at his home on
Wilman Post on Aug. 7 last year. A post-mortem examination
showed unusually high levels of asbestos fibers in his lungs.

Wakefield coroner David Hinchliffe heard how Mr. Lunn had begun
work as a teenage apprentice at the age of 15 at the Milner
Street Company, originally based in Wakefield. He was often
exposed to asbestos dust when cutting and handling sheets of
material to be fitted underneath the guttering of houses.

After leaving Milner and Harlow in 1971, Mr. Lunn was employed
as a technical officer for Wakefield Council and worked for a
care and repair company doing alterations for the elderly and
the disabled after taking early retirement in 1998.

Mr. Hinchcliffe said Mr. Lunn received compensation from the
company in the form of an out-of-court settlement.

The inquest revealed Mr. Lunn died as a result of disseminate
malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis and recorded a verdict of
death by industrial disease.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr. Lunn's wife Josephine said, "We
were happily married for 40 years. He was a loving husband and a
great father. We miss him very much -- we still can't believe
he's gone."

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Public Urged to Test for Indoor Asbestos
Asbestos Analysis Laboratories is advising homeowners and
business owners alike to undergo testing for interior sources of
asbestos as weather or renovation-related disturbances may
release dangerous asbestos fibers within the home.

The potential for serious indoor air quality problems is created
due to water damage that comes with heavy rainfall. The Company
is asking the owners to particularly watch out for sprayed
acoustic material or "popcorn" ceiling, which is commonly found
on the ceilings of most homes and apartments. These ceilings
often contain asbestos and may potentially release minute fibers
of asbestos as it deteriorates or if it is disturbed.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, interior
sources of asbestos include deteriorating, damaged, or disturbed
acoustical ceiling materials, insulation, fireproofing,
acoustical materials, and floor tiles. Prolonged exposure to
asbestos released by these materials often causes no immediate
symptoms, but carries long-term risk of chest and abdominal
cancers and lung diseases. Smokers are said to have a higher
risk of developing asbestos-induced lung cancer.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Owens Corning Liability Hearing Under Way
One of the largest asbestos-related cases of all time has come
to court in the US with claimants demanding US$16 billion or
GBP8.7 billion in settlement from building products firm Owens
Corning (OTC: OWENQ) as it struggles to emerge from bankruptcy

The highly anticipated hearing last week to determine how much
the Company and its Fibreboard subsidiary owe asbestos victims
took place in a packed federal courtroom in the US District
Court in Philadelphia. The Toledo, OH-based building products
manufacturer listened as lawyers and witnesses described the
circumstances surrounding the injuries of installers and
construction workers exposed to an asbestos-containing
insulation named Kaylo.

Judge John Fullam, a veteran jurist who began practicing law in
1948, will be deciding how much is owed to the asbestos victims.
Competing estimates range from US$2 billion to US$16 billion.
However, it is unclear when the judge will issue a ruling.

The hearing has garnered interest because it is taking place
against the backdrop of a national debate over whether to stop
asbestos lawsuits and establish a national claims payment fund
financed by former producers of asbestos products.

The case is also being closely watched in London, where
asbestos-related insurance claims came close to sinking the
Lloyd's insurance market a decade ago and led to the
establishment of Equitas to handle pre-1993 claims. Although
part of Owens' payout could yet come back to the London market,
contrary to earlier reports Equitas settled its direct exposure
with Owens Corning in 1999 for an undisclosed sum.

The firm's banks and other lenders stand to recover less of
their failed investment if a large percentage of Owens Corning's
assets are reserved to pay claims.

Referring to recent comments from President Bush calling for
asbestos-liability reform, the judge, in a light tone, told a
lawyer who defended the current system, "You weren't listening
to President Bush's speech... I assumed you were going to call
him as a witness."

"I would question his expertise," replied New York lawyer Elihu
Inselbuch, who represents the asbestos claimants committee.

That committee supports OC's bankruptcy-exit proposal, known as
a plan of reorganization. But Mr. Inselbuch rejected suggestions
that OC is bearing too big a burden in what has become a
national problem.

Company lawyers testified that the first health warning -- a
vague warning rubber-stamped on cartons but not on the product
itself -- weren't made until 1966, years after evidence emerged
of the dangers of asbestos.

Kaylo was used to insulate steam pipes in shipyards, steel
mills, refineries, and even the World Trade Center, witnesses
said. OC sold the product from 1953 to 1972.

Even casual exposure to asbestos fibers can cause a fatal lung
cancer known as mesothelioma. Yet construction workers routinely
shaped and sawed Kaylo without knowing the dangers. "It showered
asbestos fibers all over the place," Mr. Inselbuch said.

By the late 1980s, OC became the primary target of asbestos
lawsuits, witnesses testified.

Clyde Leff, OC's manager of asbestos litigation from 1996 to
1998, testified that the firm faced 200,000 claims when he came
on board and that an average of 40,000 new cases were arriving

With settlements and litigation costs of US$300 million
annually, OC in the mid-1990s was close to violating agreements
with its lenders, which could have triggered an involuntary
bankruptcy. Lost cases and large jury awards put increasing
demand on the firm's cash flow, he said.

"We were facing an increasing number of trial settings," he
explained. "OC was quite typically the target defendant...It was
an environment of increasing risk to the company."

Making the argument for a claims valuation on the lower end of
the estimate range are the firm's banks and dissident
bondholders. If the banks can persuade Judge Fullam to accept a
lower figure, they stand to recoup substantially more than the
38.5 percent of the US$1.5 billion owed them that is allotted
under the current bankruptcy-exit plan.

In arguing for a lower figure, bank lawyer Richard Rothman
argued that higher estimates are based on the size of
settlements made by OC before bankruptcy. But, he noted,
punitive damages, which influenced those settlements, won't be
permitted by the independent trust fund OC plans to set up to
pay claims after it emerges from bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, the idea of a national fund has won support from both
Republicans and Democrats, but the proposal has been hung up
over details, especially over how much money would be available
to victims.

If the legislation passes before Owens Corning emerges from
bankruptcy, it would supersede any ruling in the court case, and
render moot the discussions of the Company's liability.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: UK Agency Asks Help in Snagging Fly-tippers
Amid an alarming rise in the incidence of illegal fly-tipping,
the Environment Agency is asking for the public's help in
targeting the rogue traders dumping the potentially lethal

Asbestos is classified as a hazardous waste and anyone
transporting it or accepting it for disposal must have a license
from the Environment Agency.

At least ten fly-tips of the material have been found in the
Colchester area since the start of December 2004. The guilty
parties may be penalized fines of up to GBP20,000 including jail

Environment Officer John Parish called for people with
information about the fly-tipping to contact them. He said, "We
greatly appreciate the help of the public in trying to catch the
people doing this and hope that this fly-tipping will soon be

Colchester MP Bob Russell said he was appalled by the situation.
He said, "We need a prosecution and an exemplary punishment
handed down because these people are putting lives at risk. We
have seen court cases where the people removing the asbestos
from a building have been negligent but whether they did it
deliberately is debatable, but this is just blatant."

The fly-tips found contained various types and quantities of
asbestos that are likely to have originated from a refurbishment

Anyone with information about the fly-tipping, which has so far
cost GBP4,000 to clear, should contact the agency on 08708

ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Find Closes Melbourne Childcare Center
Children enrolled in a Melbourne kindergarten will be relocated
after asbestos, arsenic, copper and lead were found in the
center's grounds.

Parents are demanding answers after soil tests, which were
conducted in October, found the playground and garden beds of
Victoria's Armadale Early Learning Center kindergarten contained
dangerous fragments forcing it to close indefinitely.

The childcare center is owned by the city of Stonnington, which
discovered the potentially lethal contaminants during routine
testing. The Council sent a letter to parents last week advising
them the kindergarten would be closed at least until Easter
while further tests were conducted.

A parent of a child at the community managed and council-owned
kindergarten said he was outraged the council had not provided
enough information. He demanded access to the report and more
information about the health risks associated with the
contaminated soil.

Nicola Smith said she was angry that parents whose children were
previously enrolled at the kindergarten had not been alerted to
the test results. Ms. Smith, whose three sons attended the
kindergarten from 1998 to 2003, said she found out about the
soil test results via the bush telegraph. She added, "I'm not an
alarmist but exposure is an issue and I am concerned."

But Stonnington City Mayor Sarah Davies said the risk levels to
children were extremely low.

Cr Davies said the kindergarten had been closed as a precaution
and the council's decision to notify parents was timely.

"Council has arranged for an occupation hygiene and
environmental consultancy firm to undertake further testing to
better understand the extent of the issues, what materials are
in the soil and what rehabilitation works may be required," said
the Stonnington Council in a statement.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: RPM Willing to Put in $400M for Trust Fund
Commenting on the proposal of a national trust fund to
compensate asbestos victims, RPM International Inc. (NYSE: RPM)
stated that it is backing up its creation and that it would
willingly pay US$15 million a year into the fund for the next 27
years, amounting to US$400 million, to meet thousands of claims.

RPM local business executive Frank Sullivan says this fund could
fix the "broken asbestos litigation system."

So far, manufacturers such as RPM and their insurance firms have
paid out US$70 billion to settle asbestos cases, but much of the
money has gone not to victims but for lawyer fees and other
legal costs, Mr. Sullivan says. Some experts predict asbestos
costs could total another US$200 billion in the next 30 years.

He adds that many of the 8,400 asbestos defendants are small or
medium-sized manufacturers with only slight historic business
links to asbestos. Most of the original asbestos producers are
now out of business or have gone through bankruptcy.

RPM, of Brunswick Hills Township, encountered its first asbestos
lawsuit in 1985, and in the next 15 years paid out about US$2
million in settlements and legal costs. That translates to
roughly US$130,000 a year. But its costs have soared to more
than US$200 million in the last four years, exhausting the
firm's insurance coverage. Last year, RPM on its own paid US$63
million, and it recently took a US$47 million pretax charge
against earnings to bolster its asbestos defense fund.

Ironically, all these originated from a small business that RPM
bought for US$2 million in 1966 -- a maker of patch and repair
products sold in hardware stores and whose sales never exceeded
US$500,000 a year. The company stopped making the product in

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Sullivan related RPM's story to
President Bush while in a forum on asbestos litigation reform in

Another speaker, Lester Brickman, who is a law professor at the
Benjamin N. Cardoza School of Law at Yeshiva University, said
105,000 new claimants came into the asbestos litigation system
in 2003. Of this total, about 10,000 are seriously ill due to
asbestos exposure, he said.

"But more than 90,000 of these claimants have no illness related
to asbestos exposure as recognized by medical science," Mr.
Brickman said.

In place of current litigation, Mr. Sullivan and others favor a
trust fund that would pay compensation based on medical
criteria, sort of like a workers' compensation system, in
exchange for removing all asbestos lawsuits from state courts.

While business groups such as the National Association of
Manufacturers favor the creation of a trust fund, some companies
oppose it. However, supporters of the trust concept warn that
the situation is so volatile that even companies who currently
have insurance coverage could face big risks down the road.

These companies "are somewhere on the curve that we are on --
US$200,000 a year for 15 years and then up from that," Mr.
Sullivan said. "Firms that truly appreciate how broken the
system is realize that their US$10 million-a-year problem could
turn into a US$50-million-a-year problem overnight."

With its asbestos cost under control, RPM could better plan for
the future and focus on investing in its business. Mr. Sullivan
said, "Our Company can absorb US$15 million a year. Our
investors can assess the impact of that, and that allows us to
get back to growing our business."

Elliott Schlang, managing director of the LJR Great Lakes Review
in Shaker Heights, said RPM still has a lot of positives,
including many years of dividends to shareholders, a good
position in its various markets and able management.

Saul Ludwig, an analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets in
Cleveland, who has a buy recommendation on RPM, says the company
is still able to generate strong earnings, make acquisitions and
increase dividends. "But the ultimate solution is a national
trust fund that can compensate legitimate victims who are indeed
ill," he said.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Tort Costs Are Edging Up, Tillinghast Study
The annual growth in U.S. tort costs saw a "dramatic reduction"
in 2003 but tort expenses could still approach US$1,000 per U.S.
citizen by 2006, according to a new study made by one of the
leading management consulting firms in the world.

The report from Stamford, Conn.-based Towers Perrin's
Tillinghast consulting unit credits this development in part to
a slowing trend in commercial lines and asbestos costs.

It also found that U.S. tort costs grew by 5.4 percent in 2003
to US$245.7 billion. On a per-U.S. citizen basis, that
translates into US$845 per person.

In its study, Tillinghast defines U.S. tort costs as
incorporating three components: benefits paid or expected to be
paid to third parties, defense costs and administrative

Indicating a slowing trend, the 5.4 percent increase in tort
costs in 2003 is significantly lower than in 2002 when costs
were US$233.2 billion, a 13.5 percent rise from the previous
year. In 2001, tort expenses were US$205.5 billion, up 14.7
percent from the year before.

The reduction in 2003, according to the Tillinghast report, is
reflective of more moderate tort cost trends in commercial lines
of insurance, where asbestos-related costs accounted for large
increases in tort costs during 2001 and 2002.

Insured asbestos losses made up US$8.6 billion of the overall
2003 tort costs, showing a slowing trend from 2002, when
asbestos losses were US$10.2 billion. But despite this slowing
down, Tillinghast noted that recent asbestos losses are still
far higher than those in 2000 (US$2.2 billion) and 2001 (US$5.5

The study also noted that medical malpractice tort costs
continue to outpace increases in overall U.S. tort costs. In
2003, medical malpractice tort costs were US$26.5 billion, up
from US$24.4 billion in 2002. This escalation in medical
malpractice costs has contributed to the increase in U.S. health
care expenses, the report said.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: AU Campsite Reopens Amid Persisting Threats
An asbestos-contaminated campsite near Jurien Bay has been
reopened while a hazardous waste clean-up in the area continues.
Volunteers wearing masks and gloves have been picking up pieces
of the building material since the Sandy Cape camping ground
reopened on Christmas Eve.

The area was closed in early December after it was revealed that
schoolchildren had been playing and helping shire workers with
landscaping amid the potentially lethal substance. Families had
been seen camping at the site, where pieces of the banned
building material were lying in the sand.

After a series of tests, asbestos was found around one of two
unmarked shire tips where it was buried in sandhills on a park
reserve. The material was also detected on several tracks in the
area, about 250 kms. north of Perth.

The asbestos fragments were reported to be remnants of shacks
built by holidaying farmers and others from the 1920s onwards.
Dandaragan Shire ordered these shacks demolished in 2001. The
Departments of Environment and Health have confirmed that during
the demolition, asbestos had been dumped in the tips without
their approval.

The Health Department, which ordered the clean-up, said in a
report to the shire before the campsite reopened that the
asbestos presented a small but immediate risk. "Fragments pose
an ongoing hazard to campsite users and the local community
because of the potential for release of airborne asbestos
fibers," the report said.

It also said the amount of asbestos in the area could not be
calculated and buried material was likely to be uncovered and
scattered around in the future. Although vegetation would limit
potential erosion of the material, movement by vehicles,
vandalism and coastal winds were also likely to help release
airborne fibers.

Health Department environmental health toxicologist Mark
Feldwick said much of the asbestos was bound in cement, which
would have to be damaged to release airborne fibers. He said the
shire was told the campsite and beaches could be reopened as
long as people were informed about the risks and there was an
ongoing management plan.

Meanwhile, shire officers have erected warning signs at the
campsite and tips, and fenced off the tips.

But Asbestos Diseases Society president Robert Vojakovic said
many properly supervised workers wearing protective clothing and
respirators would be needed to safely pick up all asbestos at
Sandy Cape.

Jurien Bay pensioner Barry Mainwaring, who blew the whistle on
the asbestos scare, and Mr. Vojakovic said the shire should be
prosecuted for the way the asbestos was handled and disposed.

To this recommendation, the shire responded by saying shack
owners and contractors tore down the shacks and disposed of the
asbestos, and it had been buried properly.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Protesters Seek Proof of Site Contamination
Doubting environmental reports of the soil's asbestos content,
protesters fighting the development of the old Turner's site are
compiling their own records on the contamination.

Save Spodden Valley is collecting information from former
workers, who claim to know where asbestos was dumped at the
Rooley Moor Road complex. The action group will then pass on the
data to a councilors' working party, set up specifically to
listen to concerns over the bid to build 650 homes and an
enterprise park.

MMC Developments, Rathbone Jersey Ltd and Countryside Properties
Ltd, have reported that small traces of asbestos were found in
the soil.

At a packed protest meeting, council leader, Councilor Paul
Rowen reassured 300 residents that Rochdale Council would carry
out independent soil tests.

Save Spodden Valley spokesman Jason Addy praised Councilor Rowen
for his support and said he was delighted with the high turnout
at the meeting.

Mr. Addy said, "There were a lot of personal accounts about what
the site used to be like -- This is a life and death issue for
us. So we are putting all these accounts together and will
present it as our own environmental statement."

Ian Kelley, managing director of Countryside Properties, said
the firm has an excellent track record in transforming
industrial land into sustainable communities. He said the firms
would work with specialist remediation consultants Encia, the
council and the Environment Agency to satisfy the statutory

"In partnership with MMC Estates we are committed to the
regeneration of the site, creating a safe and notably improved
environment for existing residents," added Mr. Kelley.

Councilor Rowen says it is crucial to call independent experts
to deal with the issue of contamination before any development
begins. He concluded, "I am sure once these tests have been done
people will be much more satisfied about any development."

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Derbyshire District Council Accepts Tip Bid
A plan to dump 30,000 tons of asbestos at a former power station
has been accepted by South Derbyshire councilors.

Protesters of the proposal, which has been raised by civil
engineering firm Roger Bullivant, last week said they were "very
disappointed" with the move to bury asbestos waste in a huge
landfill tip at Drakelow Power Station in Walton Road.

The District Council voted not to oppose the application after a
debate at a meeting of the district council. The district
council is a consultee only in the process, with the final
decision whether to grant planning permission to be made by the
county council in a few weeks' time.

Drakelow resident John Dolman is leading the objections with a
petition signed by all 85 homeowners. Protests have also been
made from residents across the border in East Staffordshire, who
also overlook the site.

Mr. Dolman, who has already begun planning an appeal if the
proposal is approved, said, "We have forwarded the petition and
a three-page report outlining our objections to the county

"There has been no consultation whatsoever with us, the members
of the public, and I would say that should have been essential
to properly represent the people they are supposed to speak for.
The fight is continuing."

Councilors said they weighed two options: to bury the asbestos
on site or risk it being transported to the nearest landfill
site, which is 160 miles away in Tyneside. If the waste remains
at Drakelow, the 30,000 tons -- 5,000 tons of which is the
fibrous type more likely to give off the deadly dust, which can
cause cancer -- will be stored permanently in an airtight vault.
If not, it will be carried along public highways to Tyneside.

Councilor Bob Southern said, "The report met all the criteria so
there was not a lot we could do about it. We have no grounds to
refuse it."

Councilor Heather Wheeler said, "South Derbyshire residents need
to know that the professionals who will be regulating this
application and the consequences for the future are on top of
the huge risk that this process could bring. The matter must be
dealt with in public to give every confidence for the future."

The Environment Agency is acting as a consultee for the county
council on the issue, but has yet to decide whether to give the
proposal its support.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: All But 10 Suits V Longview Fibre Dismissed
Longview Fibre Co. (NYSE: LFB), major manufacturer of forest and
paper products, reported in its latest filing to the Securities
and Exchange Commission that as of Dec. 31, 2004, the Madison
County and St. Louis plaintiffs have agreed to dismiss the
Company from all but ten of the lawsuits in those jurisdictions.

In each instance, the case against the Company was dismissed
without any payment or liability to the plaintiffs. However,
each of the dismissals was without prejudice, meaning that the
plaintiffs could re-institute those cases.

The Company also stated that previous SEC filings have been
submitted relating its involvement since 2002 with numerous
asbestos-related cases in Madison County, Illinois and St.
Louis, Missouri, along with numerous other defendants.

In each of the ten remaining lawsuits, the plaintiff alleges
asbestos-related injuries from exposure to the defendants'
products, as well as exposure to asbestos while working at
certain of the defendants' premises.

One lawsuit, Weber v. A.W. Chesterton, Inc. et al., alleges that
the plaintiff worked at the premises in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for
unidentified contractors at unidentified times from 1967 to
1984. In all other respects the claims are not specific as to
what, if any, contacts the plaintiffs had with the Company or
any of its manufacturing plants or products. None of the claims
specifies damages sought from the Company individually, but each
plaintiff alleges a general jurisdictional amount against all
defendants. In the past, Longview has been routinely dismissed
from these types of actions.

The Company believes that the process by which the plaintiffs in
these actions file claims may lead to additional similar
lawsuits, but that these will likely again be dismissed as a
defendant, without prejudice.

In January 2003, Longview was served with a complaint filed in
King County, Washington Superior Court and entitled Gerald
Shellenbarger. v. Longview Fibre Company, et al. In the
complaint, plaintiffs alleged that one of Longview's former
employees was exposed to asbestos when he worked at the Longview
paper mill from 1959 to 1964 and from 1976 to 1996.

Plaintiffs further alleged that Longview is subject to civil
tort liability because it had actual knowledge of certain
injuries arising out of asbestos exposure and willfully
disregarded that knowledge. In October 2003, the motion for
summary judgment was granted on the basis that the Company was
immune from a civil lawsuit under Washington's worker's
compensation law.

Shortly thereafter, plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal of the
order of dismissal. In November 2004, the Washington Court of
Appeals (Division I) affirmed the dismissal. The plaintiffs are
seeking discretionary review of the Court of Appeals decision
with the Washington Supreme Court.

In April 2004, Longview was served with a complaint filed in
King County, Washington Superior Court and entitled Crawford v.
Longview Fibre Company, et al. In the complaint, plaintiffs
alleged that one of its former employees was exposed to asbestos
when he worked at the Longview mill from 1946 to 1987. The
plaintiffs' claims in this case are substantially the same as
those claimed in the Shellenbarger case.

In February 2004, the Company was named as one of eight
defendants in a case filed in Cowlitz County, Washington
Superior Court and entitled Brent v. Weyerhaeuser Corp., et al.
According to the complaint, plaintiff alleges that he suffered
from lung disease as a result of exposure to asbestos during his
work at the Longview mill as a carpenter's apprentice for a
third-party contractor between 1957 and 1963. He also alleges
exposure to asbestos at facilities owned by others during his
work as a carpenter apprentice and as a longshoreman. The
plaintiff alleges that the Company deviated from the standard of
care expected of owners or occupiers of premises and seeks
damages in an unspecified amount.

The Company operates one of the largest pulp-paper mills in the
world at Longview, WA. It owns 17 converting plants in 12
states, a lumber plant, and over 584,000 acres of timberlands
managed for Sustainable Forestry in the Pacific Northwest.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Georgia-Pacific Sees 4Q Marred by Charges
Georgia-Pacific Corp., paper and building materials producer,
said last Tuesday that it expects to report fourth-quarter
results between a loss of 1 cent to profit of 4 cents per share,
due to asbestos-related and other charges of 46 cents per share.

In the same period a year ago, the Company earned 12 cents a
share including charges and gains and 52 cents a share excluding

The Atlanta-based Company forecasts fourth-quarter earnings,
excluding items, of 45 cents to 50 cents per share -- below
Thomson First Call's average of analyst projections at 57 cents
a share. Georgia-Pacific shares fell US$2.64, or 7.4 percent, to
US$32.90 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Georgia-Pacific said it will record pretax asbestos-related
charges of US$159 million, or 38 cents a share, during the
quarter, consisting of an increase of US$48 million for the
tenth year of the company's asbestos reserves, a US$109 million
increase in reserves for its asbestos defense spending through
2014 and a US$2 million drop in asbestos insurance receivables.

It also will incur a pretax charge of US$32 million, or 8 cents
a share, for a combination of other unusual items. In addition,
Georgia-Pacific expects the fourth quarter to include a pretax
charge of US$27 million, or 6 cents a share, in net stock-based
compensation expense.

Georgia-Pacific said that during 2004, new asbestos claims fell
32 percent from 2003, with about 9,700 claims pending at year-
end. Total payments to resolve claims in 2004 were US$200
million, up slightly from US$189 million in the prior year.

The Company added that National Economic Research Associates
Inc. has concluded that no changes to its forecast of Georgia-
Pacific's asbestos indemnity payments are necessary for the nine
years remaining through 2013.

The Company expects its North American and international
consumer products businesses, and the paper business, to report
strong quarterly results at or above expectations. However,
Georgia-Pacific's packaging and building products segments
expect to report performance below prior forecasts, due to
maintenance downtime and a larger than usual drop off in
seasonal demand.

The building products segment results were hurt by maintenance
downtime, which was postponed to the fourth quarter due to
strong demand in the first three quarters, as well as limited
wood supply due to seasonal weather conditions.

Georgia-Pacific will release fourth-quarter and year-end 2004
earnings reports on Feb. 1.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Residents to Hold Meeting Over GA Landfill
Although plans for a Riverdale landfill are only months from
completion, the community will be holding discussions to clarify
the safety of such a landfill considering that asbestos could be
dumped there.

Dexter Matthews, the president of the Clayton County Branch of
the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,
scheduled a town hall meeting to talk about the planned landfill
that will use the hole left from the blasting done for the
construction of the fifth runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta
International Airport. The landfill is located north of Flat
Shoals Road and west of Ga. Highway 85.

"I think the county is washing its hands of it, but we haven't
given up yet," Mr. Matthews said.

The "construction and demolition" landfill would be limited to
waste from any construction, demolition or renovation, said
Timothy Earl, a program manager with the Georgia Environmental
Protection Division. Since it is privately owned, the landfill
can accept waste from any source. Legally, waste cannot be
prevented from crossing city or county lines.

Although the landfill wouldn't include anything classified as
"hazardous," the possibility of asbestos is enough of a concern
to warrant a consultation with professionals about the

John Stephens, the president of MDS, the company that owns the
landfill, said Mr. Matthews has not contacted him. He has not
heard comments from the public either in favor or against the
project. He said the Company would be initiating some public
meetings soon.

So far, MDS has moved smoothly through the channels of Georgia's
EPD. The project has already gotten the "stamp" of approval from
a professional geologist and received a site suitability report.

Clayton College & State University professor Jacqueline Jordan,
who holds a doctorate in toxicology, said any asbestos stored in
the landfill "shouldn't have much affect" on people unless it
becomes airborne. An unlikely situation would be if asbestos
leaks into the water supply.

Asbestos consists of small fibers that can be inhaled and cause
lung cancer and mesothelioma, which may not appear for 30 years,
Ms. Jordan said. Problems occur with exposure over time,
particularly with older people, who are "more susceptible"
because of weaker immune systems.

Clayton County Long Range Planner Theresa Crow said the Clayton
County Board of Commissioners approved the landfill in January
2001 and approved an expansion of the landfill in April 2003.
The landfill will be required to have a 200-foot buffer from the
landfill itself to the property line and a 500-foot buffer from
residences and residential drinking wells.

Aside from using the 160-acre site as a blasting site, other
suggestions had included transforming it into a parking area or
a green space.

Mr. Matthews said, "We think the best thing to do is to not have
any landfill."

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: HSE Urges Full Compliance with Regulations
Aiming primarily to protect workers and others from asbestos,
the Health and Safety Executive reiterates its commitment to
enforce the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002
rigorously. Failure to comply with the duty could lead to fines
of up to GBP20,000 in the magistrates court and unlimited fines
if the matter is dealt with in a crown court.

Asbestos-related diseases are the biggest occupational killers
in the UK. According to government figures, there are some 3,000
deaths per year from asbestosis and mesothelioma, an asbestos-
related lung cancer. This is expected to rise to 10,000 by 2010.
Both diseases can occur anytime from 15 to 60 years after

Since 1987, work that involved the handling of asbestos such as
refurbishing has been highly regulated. However, those
regulations did not contain any express duty to undertake
asbestos surveys of buildings, so property owners and occupiers
often did not actually know whether or not asbestos was present
and where. This led to many cases of workers who unknowingly
took on tasks considered highly risky since there is no safe
level for asbestos exposure.

The Asbestos Regulations introduced in 2004 tightened the
general safety requirements for anyone doing maintenance work.
These imposed a new duty to manage asbestos on those considered
to be "duty holders."

A duty holder is anyone responsible for maintaining and
repairing all or part of a property, or having control of a
building. Generally, a duty holder is the owner or occupier of a
building, but could even be a managing agent.

All non-domestic buildings are affected by the regulations,
although they also cover the common areas of residential rented
properties including halls, stairwells, lift shafts and roof
spaces. Anyone having control or information about a building
must cooperate with a duty holder. Landlords must pass on
relevant information to new tenants, and leaseholders must allow
access for inspection by managing agents.

The regulations impose an express duty to have an up-to-date
asbestos survey and management plan for all non-domestic
buildings. Certain asbestos products were used until 1999 and so
there are few buildings in existence for which the presence of
asbestos can be ruled out purely on the grounds of age.

A plan must be put in place to manage the risk and to ensure
that any materials containing asbestos are kept in a good state
of repair or, if necessary, removed. Such materials do not
always have to be removed because asbestos is only dangerous if
it is disturbed.

Also, to avoid potentially harmful exposure, information on the
location and condition of any asbestos-containing materials must
be given to those who could be at risk, such as the emergency
services and building contractors.

If these regulations are to be effective, the HSE is urging
those responsible to concentrate on the practical steps of
managing asbestos.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Jones County Judge Demands Proof of MS Ties
Jones County Circuit Judge Billy Joe Landrum has given nearly
16,000 asbestos plaintiffs 30 days to show that they live in the
county or were exposed to the harmful fiber there, court
documents reveal.

Marcy Croft, an attorney with Foreman, Perry, Watkins, Krutz and
Tardy, said that if the case is found to have arisen from other
counties within the state, the suit will be transferred to the
appropriate venue. However, the case will be dismissed without
prejudice if the plaintiff is not able to prove residence in
Mississippi or that the exposure occurred within the state.

Ms. Croft, whose firm represents at least 75 defendants in the
asbestos case, said, "It's a great victory for all
Mississippi's. The application of recent Supreme Court rulings
will allow the [court] dockets to be cleared."

Ms. Croft estimated that half of the plaintiffs are from other

Mike Cunningham, an attorney for the law offices of Alwyn
Luckey, said the ruling was the same as "closing the door on the
plaintiffs" who are suffering from asbestos-related illnesses.
He would not admit to the number of clients he represents in
Jones County Circuit Court but he did say the number is
"substantial." He said about 20 percent of his clients are from
other states.

When asked why there are 16,000 asbestos lawsuits filed in Jones
County, which has a population of about 65,000 people, Mr.
Cunningham said lawyers have a duty to take cases "to a
jurisdiction where you can present your cases in a better

Judges for Jefferson, Holmes, Humphreys, Yazoo and Hinds
counties have made similar rulings in class-action cases since
the Mississippi Supreme Court took up the issue in August.

The justices ruled that plaintiffs have to provide defendants
with information on who the plaintiff is suing and why.
Plaintiffs are also told to include when and where the exposure
occurred. The Supreme Court said cases should be dismissed if
the information is not provided.

Defendant companies have asked Mississippi judges to dismiss the
asbestos lawsuits, citing recent court cases that have thrown
out "shotgun" complaints. A shotgun complaint often involves
hundreds of plaintiffs and is so vague in describing
circumstances and injuries that defendants find the allegations
difficult or impossible to respond to.

Asbestos is a white, flaky substance routinely used a half
century ago for insulation and in shipbuilding. It has been
known to cause lung cancer and a lung-scarring disease called

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Fears Arise Over Planned Razing of NY Bank
Fueling fears of toxic chemical exposure, redevelopment
officials are planning to demolish the Deutsche Bank building,
which had its side severely damaged by the collapse of the twin

The Sept. 11 incident filled the building with dust and debris
that included asbestos, lead, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls
and other hazards. More recent tests have now also detected the
presence of mold in the building.

"A combination of contaminants known to be hazardous to human
health, in quantities and concentrations unparalleled in any
other building designed for office uses, permeates the entire
structure at levels which exceed by up to thousands of times the
levels considered appropriate," said a report prepared for
Deutsche Bank during a legal battle over the building.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which bought the
building from Deutsche Bank on August 31, is preparing for
demolition of the tower to make room for redevelopment at ground

The LMDC now has the challenging task of taking apart one of the
world's most contaminated buildings in a densely populated
neighborhood. And the demolition, which includes two nearby
buildings, will take place over a busy subway station with
grates that open to the street.

Frank Goldsmith, director of occupational health for Local 100
Transport Workers Union, complained that there is no plan yet to
ensure the safety of subway workers.

David Newman, an industrial hygienist for the New York Committee
for Occupational Safety and Health, called the demolition plan
"deficient." For example, he said it relies on methods to
contain asbestos, which may not work for other contaminants.

Amy Peterson, LMDC's senior vice president in charge of the
demolition, said she was confident that the plan, which will be
modified as environmental agencies and others review it, will

She said the LMDC plans to seal off the building with two layers
of plastic and use vacuums to contain contaminants. Workers will
then dismantle the building piece by piece. The contaminants and
crowded neighborhood ruled out implosion.

The LMDC said the deconstruction will start this year, last a
year and cost US$45 million, with the money coming from a
federal grant and other sources.

Skepticism has hounded officials since several environmental
controversies erupted after the 9/11 tragedy. A few days after
the attacks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared
the air in downtown Manhattan safe, a decision since criticized
by the Agency's own inspector general as rash. Some Lower
Manhattan residents also called the EPA's cleaning of apartments
near ground zero inadequate. Several government agencies are
reviewing the LMDC plan with the EPA.

Joel Kupferman, a lawyer who was among the first to question the
EPA's Sept. 11 air quality statements, said, "With the track
record since 9/11, we don't trust them."

The Sept. 24, 2004 edition of the Class Action Reporter revealed
that trace amounts of asbestos were found in the dust that
settled on a variety of surfaces in the building after the
attack. Though the dust was less than 1% asbestos, smaller
amounts can still create elevated levels of asbestos in the air
when disturbed. The dust also contained detectable levels of
dioxins, lead, PCBs and heavy metals.

The Louis Berger Group, the engineering and environmental
consulting firm hired by LMDC to conduct the test, had
recommended that the LMDC maintain health and safety and air
monitoring programs, create an emergency plan for the building,
and conduct additional testing.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: MI County Implements Building Inspections
Houghton County officials have ordered that all their county-
owned buildings be inspected for asbestos.

This directive comes after a worker discovered some asbestos in
the Family Independence building back in September.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration then
told county commissioners they had to make a precise record of
all the asbestos in the their buildings. Those include the
county jail, the courthouse, the marina, and the Houghton County
Arena. The airport has already been checked.

Houghton County Commissioner Eric Forsberg says there has been
no reported danger to employees in any of the five buildings.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Specter Moves Ahead on Asbestos Fund Bill
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said he would
push ahead next week with legislation that would set up a US$140
billion trust fund to compensate people afflicted with asbestos-
related illnesses. The bill would give companies permanent
protection against injury lawsuits.

A similar proposal collapsed last year when lawmakers,
businesses and advocates could not agree on a final figure. The
committee's former chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, had
initially set the fund at US$108 billion during negotiations in

Sen. Specter said he believes the bill is now structured to
accomplish the objectives of all the parties. He went with
US$140 billion because that was where former Senate Democratic
leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota ended his negotiations last
year with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. He told a
business meeting of his committee he thought US$140 billion was
"within the parameters of what is realistic to ask the
manufacturers and the insurers to pay."

Business groups, including the National Association of
Manufacturers, said last week that US$140 billion was
appropriate. Victims groups have said they want a higher total.

Another point of contention is the issue of a "safety valve"
that allows claimants to go for a jury trial if the funds become

Julie Rochman, a spokeswoman for the American Insurers
Association, said the group would have to see the fine print on
the "safety valve" and other parts of the legislation before
commenting. The group is concerned companies would be forced to
pay damages twice -- first to the fund and then later in court.

The proposed trust would have US$40 billion in "startup" money,
Sen. Specter added, referring to funding needed in the first few
years when the crush of claims is expected to be greatest. But
it would also have another US$20 billion in borrowing authority
to raise more startup money if needed.

Asbestos, a fibrous mineral that was commonly used until the
mid-1970s in insulation and fireproofing material, has been
proven to cause cancer and other respiratory ailments.
Increasing asbestos liability claims have driven companies to
bankruptcy leaving victims with little or no money for medical

Sen. Specter and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Judiciary
Committee's top Democrat, both favor ending asbestos liability
and paying victims through a trust fund.

Stocks in companies with asbestos liabilities were mostly up
after Sen. Specter's comments. Shares of bankrupt auto parts
maker Federal-Mogul were up 10.8 percent, while packaging maker
Owens-Illinois saw its stock rise 2.8 percent.

ASBESTOS ALERT: AU Local Sounds Alarm on Improper Removal Acts
Concerned resident John Malcolm, from Moora, a town in Western
Australia, has taken it upon himself to stop improper asbestos
removal practices that he says contractors employ in Homeswest
houses when these come up for sale.

He claimed that in the past 12 months, he has observed two
houses stripped of asbestos, where none of the asbestos was
wrapped in plastic or wet down as laid down in the guidelines.
Sheets were simply thrown into an open skip bin. No fencing or
scaffolding was put up to keep people away from the site.

"On one site there were a number of workmen all wearing full
face masks and suits while children wandered around on the
street just meters from where they were working." said Mr.

Conveniently, both jobs were carried out over the weekend and on
both occasions the Moora Shire Health Inspector was out of town
at the time. "It may just be coincidence, but it would certainly
be a good time to do the work if you weren't going to do it the
right way."

One time, after being told by a person on the site that it was
fibro they were handling and not asbestos, he took some samples
and got them tested. The results came back positive for

Mr. Malcom said that despite calls to the Shire and Ministry of
Housing, nothing had been done to ensure that correct practices
were being used to dispose of asbestos in public housing

Moora Shire Health Inspector, Peter Haas, is on leave and was
unavailable for comment on the matter.

ASBESTOS ALERT: District Court Dismisses Case V. NY Prison Heads
In Case No. 99 CIV. 4604(VM), New York District Judge Victor
Marrero on Sept. 27, 2004 granted a summary judgment ruling in
favor of the employees of the Green Haven Correctional Facility
of the New York State Department of Correctional Services in the
case brought up by Charles Pack, one of its former prisoners.

Mr. Pack alleged that DOCS officials subjected him to dangerous
levels of asbestos exposure during his seven-year stay at the
facility. He claimed that this action constituted violations of
the First and Eighth Amendments of the United States

The DOCS officials named were Christopher Artuz, Green Haven
superintendent, Gayle Haponick, deputy superintendent of
administration, Jeff Richards, plant superintendent, and Dan
Gastin, asbestos control supervisor.

Mr. Pack alleged that the exposure occurred during his
incarceration at the Green Haven facility from Aug. 8, 1991 to
Nov. 24, 1998. He specified four areas: the prison mosque known
as Sankore at Taubah-Masjid, the J-School Counseling Unit, the
Law Library, and Blocks A, E, F, and H of the inmate housing

He claimed that due to the exposure, he suffered pulmonary
problems, consisting of sharp pains in his chest, shortness of
breath, wheezing, reduced lung capacity and gastroenteritis. He
stated that all four defendants had knowledge of the exposure
but had failed to exercise regard for his safety and health.

Mr. Pack sought US$3 million in compensatory damages and an
equal amount in punitive damages.

Defendants did not deny the presence of asbestos in the
challenged areas of Green Haven but they contended that Mr. Pack
was not exposed to unreasonably high levels of friable asbestos
for any significant period while incarcerated there.

During the trial, the Judge noted that while some of Mr. Pack's
reported physical complaints are not inconsistent with asbestos-
related diseases, his medical records failed to prove that his
symptoms were related to any asbestos-related illness.

Magistrate Judge Michael H. Dolinger, to whom this Court
referred the matter, issued a report dated Sept. 2, 2004,
recommending that DOCS' motion be granted and Mr. Pack's claim
be dismissed entirely.

It was ruled that the evidence that Mr. Pack offered to support
his first and eighth amendment claims do not lean in his favor
with respect to either the subjective or objective components.
The judge found that the circumstances mentioned could not have
interfered in his ability to pursue his religion.

The Court found the report's findings and principles compelling
enough to support the report and has dismissed the claim

ASBESTOS ALERT: Canadian University Troubled by Asbestos Hazards
Professors and students at the Brock University in Canada are
expressing apprehensions over a potential health hazard stemming
from ongoing construction at its Mackenzie Chown complex.

At the Dec. 14, 2004 faculty meeting, Brock University Faculty
Association president David Hughes confirmed that asbestos was
being churned up by construction.

Mr. Hughes said that various committees have brought up the
issue with President Atkinson, however the University has not
prepared a plan to deal with it. The University stated that it
would "develop some kind of asbestos management plan." But BUFA
did not say when the policy might be developed or when it could
be implemented.

John Sorenson, a professor of sociology at the university, calls
the approach taken by the administration and the BUFA as
"alarming." He said, "It is outrageous for Brock to only start
talking about developing a policy on how to deal with asbestos
after construction has started."

Asbestos, an insulation material that was widely used in the
construction of Canadian buildings up until the mid-1970s, is
banned in more than 30 countries because of its carcinogenic
properties. So far, two professors from the University of
Manitoba have died of mesothelioma, which is a rare form of lung
cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

In November 2004, the Canadian Association of University
Teachers organized a campaign publicizing the dangers asbestos
posed to students and staff at universities across Canada. The
campaign intended to put a long-overdue permanent ban on
asbestos in the country.

James Turk, the executive director of the group said, "The
situation with asbestos on our campuses is potentially serious
because asbestos breaks down over time and can become airborne
as a result of construction and renovations."

Meanwhile, the University's environmental manager confirmed that
ceilings in Mackenzie Chown are covered with chrysotile or white
asbestos, characterized by the school's occupational safety web
site as a "mild" form of asbestos. Since the asbestos is
encapsulated, the University argues that there is no measurable
risk to the occupants of the building.

A previous edition of the Class Action Reporter on Sept. 24,
2004 disclosed that during the Prior Informed Consent treaty in
Geneva, a controversy arose when Canada and Russia blocked the
chrysotile form of asbestos from being added to the list.

Canada is known to be one of the world's top producers of
chrysotile asbestos, or "white asbestos" and exports nearly all
of its production. Canada continues to "defend the principle of
controlled use."

According to Richard Leman, retired assistant surgeon general of
the United States, chrysotile is just as dangerous as any other
form of asbestos, it can cause mesothelioma and according to
him, there is no such thing as a "mild" form of asbestos.

Murray Smith, chair and professor of sociology the University,
said, "A few individuals have approached me to support their
efforts to minimize the amount of time that they spend [in
Mackenzie Chown]." Mr. Sorenson actually took it upon himself to
move all of his seminars out of Mackenzie Chown. He said that
other faculty members have followed suit.

Despite repeated requests for a meeting, Mr. Hughes still has
not given in to the faculty's demands. Mr. Sorenson continues to
call for support in forcing the BUFA and the administration to
take a more responsible approach to the problem and establish an
active program to deal with the problem.

ASBESTOS ALERT: Homeless Man Tears Down WA Shop, Bares Asbestos
Seattle police have arrested a 42-year-old homeless man who they
say took over giant construction machinery and demolished a
former barbershop in downtown Woodinville. The man's crude
demolition also broke a waterline, left asbestos exposed and
cost the city an extra US$3,500 to clear away hazardous

The New Year's Day demolition reduced the abandoned building to
a pile of broken wood. The former barbershop was scheduled to be
demolished by a professional contractor to make way for a civic
center, with sports fields and parkland.

Police said the man hot-wired a trackhoe in the early morning
and that he stopped the demolition only after he realized he had
ruptured a gas line. The man then ran to a gas station to tell a
clerk about the gas leak.

The man was arrested last week on suspicion of reckless
endangerment and malicious mischief after King County sheriff's
deputies spotted him near the Woodinville Park & Ride, said
sheriff's spokesman John Urquhart. But deputies still don't know
why he tore down the building.

The man has been living in the Woodinville area, police said.
Court documents reveal that he has a local criminal record
dating to at least 1990, including convictions for drunken
driving and disorderly conduct.

The suspect was held in the King County Jail. Charges had not
yet been filed.

ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Find Closes Melbourne Childcare Center
Children enrolled in a Melbourne kindergarten will be relocated
after asbestos, arsenic, copper and lead were found in the
center's grounds.

Parents are demanding answers after soil tests, which were
conducted in October, found the playground and garden beds of
Victoria's Armadale Early Learning Center kindergarten contained
dangerous fragments forcing it to close indefinitely.

The childcare center is owned by the city of Stonnington, which
discovered the potentially lethal contaminants during routine
testing. The Council sent a letter to parents last week advising
them the kindergarten would be closed at least until Easter
while further tests were conducted.

A parent of a child at the community managed and council-owned
kindergarten said he was outraged the council had not provided
enough information. He demanded access to the report and more
information about the health risks associated with the
contaminated soil.

Nicola Smith said she was angry that parents whose children were
previously enrolled at the kindergarten had not been alerted to
the test results. Ms. Smith, whose three sons attended the
kindergarten from 1998 to 2003, said she found out about the
soil test results via the bush telegraph. She added, "I'm not an
alarmist but exposure is an issue and I am concerned."

But Stonnington City Mayor Sarah Davies said the risk levels to
children were extremely low.

Cr Davies said the kindergarten had been closed as a precaution
and the council's decision to notify parents was timely.

"Council has arranged for an occupation hygiene and
environmental consultancy firm to undertake further testing to
better understand the extent of the issues, what materials are
in the soil and what rehabilitation works may be required," said
the Stonnington Council in a statement.

ASBESTOS ALERT: Pittsburgh Laborer Files Suit V. 80 Defendants
Michael Hudac, a laborer employed at Pittsburgh Purifying Metals
in 1973, filed a lawsuit on Jan. 11 seeking more than US$100,000
in compensatory and punitive damages from 80 defendants. His
wife Sarah is also seeking US$50,000 for loss of consortium
since she says mesothelioma, the disease afflicting her husband,
caused her to be deprived of his companionship.

Mr. Hudac said that during his employment at PPM, he was exposed
to and inhaled, ingested, or otherwise absorbed large amounts of
asbestos fibers emanating from certain products he was working
with and around which were manufactured, sold, distributed or
installed by the defendants. He claims that he was diagnosed on
Sept. 2, 2004 with the life-limiting disease primarily due to
exposure to asbestos at his workplace.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Daniel Stack, who
handles all asbestos litigation in Madison County. Mr. Hudac is
represented by Randy Gori of Goldenberg, Miller, Heller &
Antognoli of Edwardsville.

Mr. Hudac alleges that the defendants failed to exercise
ordinary care and caution for his safety by including asbestos
in their products, even though it was completely foreseeable and
should have been anticipated that people working with or around
them would inhale, ingest, or otherwise absorb elevated amounts
of asbestos.

Defendants included asbestos in their products even though
adequate substitutes for asbestos were available, and they
failed to provide warnings of the dangers of working around
asbestos, according to the suit.

Mr. Hudac claims that the defendants engaged in the following
deliberate, intentional and wanton omissions or commissions:

(1) Furnished asbestos-containing products for use in his duties
at the facility;

(2) Failed to inform about the known dangers of asbestos
exposure at the facility;

(3) Failed to inform of the potentially hazardous workplace as a
result of asbestos exposure;

(4) Failed to replace asbestos products even while substitutes
were available by 1930; and

(5) Made Mr. Hudac work in dangerous areas of the facility
knowing that it posed a significant health hazard to people
because of the friable and deteriorating condition of asbestos

ASBESTOS ALERT: Salons Alerted to Old-Style Hairdryer Danger
Hair salons are being warned about the potential danger of
asbestos in old-style hairdryers after the cause of death of a
Keighley woman was revealed in an inquest.

Bradford environmental health authorities are spreading words of
caution to hairdressers after former hairdresser, Janet Watson,
aged 59, died of mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, after
years of inhaling the dust from old-fashioned hairdryers.

Janet Watson's fianc‚ Neil Holdsworth said she was exposed to
the deadly dust from the lining of hood hairdryers for more than
12 hours a day for almost 10 years. These hairdryers were used
to warm up the salon where she worked.

Mr. Holdsworth said, "Janet started work as an apprentice in a
hairdresser's in 1960 when she was just 15. It's upsetting to
know that for nine years she was operating in a time bomb

Mr. Holdsworth said Mrs. Watson, a hairdresser for 30 years,
left the salon in 1969 to set up her own business. Although she
continued to use similar old-style hairdryers for some years
after, it is believed her constant exposure to asbestos from
1960 to 1969 was the main cause of her death.

The inquest last week heard that asbestos fibers found in her
lungs were over and above the normal levels, and that she had
died of mesothelioma. A verdict of industrial disease was
returned. The inquest also heard that the asbestos lining in the
hoods had disintegrated over time, resulting in the release of
asbestos fibers into the air.

Salon owners are now being warned not use equipment they have
doubts about and to get it checked by an expert. Environmental
health manager Geoff Twentyman said, "We will be writing to all
hairdressing businesses. We would, of course, dissuade
hairdressers from using these old-style drying hoods now."

Ray Seymour, general secretary of the National Hairdressers'
Federation, said asbestos had not been used in hood dryers for
many years. He said, "There should not be such equipment in use
-- it should have been replaced by now. I'm shocked to hear of
this case. I've never known of another."

Nelson-based REM is the UK's only manufacturer of hood dryers.
Sales director Bill Eccles said asbestos was not used. He was
aware of hoods being used to warm salons and to dry towels, but
not in recent years. He said the hoods were commonplace 25 years
ago, but not so much now.

However, the general secretary of the National Hairdressers
Federation said hairdressers and customers should not panic. He
said that asbestos is not used in modern hairdryers and has not
been used in any European models since the end of the Second
World War. Any hairdryers after that point containing asbestos
will have been imported from the Far East, although the British
Government disallowed the import of these since the 1960s.

He said, "I do not want hairdressers or any customers to be
alarmed by this as any normal risk would be very minimal."

Asbestos is banned as an insulator. Under the Control of
Asbestos Regulations all business proprietors have a duty to
check their premises for asbestos and take measures to have it
removed or make it safe.

ASBESTOS ALERT: City Officials Halt New York Demolition Project
City officials ordered Ikea to halt the demolition of a Civil
War-era building after failing to protect workers and residents
from airborne asbestos and finding more asbestos in the Red Hook
site than had been disclosed.

The demolition company, Red Hook-based Breeze Demolition, failed
to take basic steps the project warranted, including proper
worker decontamination, waste removal, sealing off the site,
monitoring air quality and placing warning signs, said
Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Charles

DEP officials ordered the Swedish housewares retailer to halt
the demolition last week after inspectors found asbestos in roof
shingles at the Beard St. structure that was being dismantled by

Breeze Demolition may face violations that carry heavy penalties
for filing the report as a non-asbestos project. He added, "Our
tests came back positive for asbestos materials outside of what
they originally filed for. We're still looking at the extent of
what they knew and what they need to do."

It is unclear whether workers from the company were aware of the
presence of asbestos.

United States Dredging Corp., which owns the 22-acre site was
slapped with 10 violations, Mr. Sturken said. Ikea will own the
Beard St. site as of next month and is paying for the
demolition, company officials confirmed.

The DEP acted after it was revealed two weeks ago that Ikea
officials knew there was a significant amount of asbestos in the
building even while filing a permit with DEP identifying the
demolition job as "not an asbestos project."

The Beard St. building, along with four other historic
structures, will be razed to make way for a parking lot for the
Swedish housewares megastore, which is slated to open in 2007.

A report dating to November 2002 commissioned by Ikea found
there was asbestos in the roof, wrapping electrical wires and
scattered in debris in the building. However, the permit filed
with the DEP on Nov. 18, 2004, said there was asbestos only in
the window caulking.

Preservationists charged Ikea was trying to skirt laws to speed
up the demolition work.

"They had to be aware that [asbestos] was there, because they
hired the people that found it in the first place," said Amanda
Hiller, lawyer for the Municipal Art Society, a preservationist
group that opposes the demolition.

Mr. Sturken said Ikea now has hired a licensed asbestos
specialist, Pal Environmental Safety Corp., to remove asbestos
at the site.

Company Profile:

United States Dredging Corp.
One Beard Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Company Profile:

Breeze Demolition Inc
2620 W 13th St
Brooklyn, NY 11223

ASBESTOS ALERT: MA Officials Probe M.J. Murphy for Violations
State and local environmental officials continue to investigate
the old town landfill owned by M.J. Murphy, Inc. of Westerly,
Rhode Island that had been discovered to violate several
environmental laws. The officials are currently negotiating what
penalties should be handed down to either the landowner or the
site operator.

The landfill located on Rte. 140, right beside the Milford
Wastewater Treatment Plant, was home to the town's landfill
until 1978.

Last September, police and Hopedale Health Agent Leonard Izzo
found the site littered with dozens of abandoned vehicles --
some of them stolen -- and three dumpsters containing household
trash, discarded appliances and piping with asbestos.

Although the Hopedale Board of Health is satisfied with the
cleanup efforts of Mendon resident Randy Beck, who runs an auto
repair business on the property, Mr. Izzo said state
investigators are still on the case.

According to state Department of Environmental Protection
spokesman Ed Coletta, state investigators have inspected the
landfill several times since fall and have found no current
hazardous condition on the property. He said DEP officials were
in Hopedale to negotiate an appropriate punishment for the

"There is an ongoing investigation relative to violations of
solid waste and asbestos regulations. At this point there is a
possible enforcement action pending," Mr. Coletta said. "It
could eventually lead, not only to remedy the site, but also
maybe some financial penalty."

According to Mr. Izzo, M.J. Murphy has not complied with the
order in 1989 to cap the 11-acre landfill. He added, "It has to
be capped. Dig down a few inches and you can find rubbish from

Mr. Izzo also said the town is seeking to take the property from
M.J. Murphy in Massachusetts Land Court to collect on back

Company Profile:

M.J. Murphy, Inc.
71 Buttonwoods Rd
Wyoming, RI
Phone: (401) 539-7372

M.J. Murphy, Inc. is a Rhode Island corporation organized and
existing under the laws of the State of Rhode Island. Maurice J.
Murphy is the sole officer of that corporation and shareholder
of that corporate entity.

                 New Securities Fraud Cases

TASER INTERNATIONAL: Berger & Montague Lodges Stock Suit in AZ
The law firm of Berger & Montague, P.C. initiated a securities
fraud class action complaint in the United States District Court
for the District of Arizona against TASER International, Inc.
("TASER" or the "Company") (NASDAQ: TASR) and certain of its
senior officers and directors on behalf of purchasers of TASER's
securities during the period between November 4, 2004 and
January 6, 2005 inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges TASER and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934. TASER purports to provide advanced non-lethal devices for
use in the law enforcement, military, private security and
personal defense markets.

More specifically, the complaint alleges, that throughout the
Class Period, defendants issued numerous statements concerning
the increasing demand for the Company's TASER devices and the
positive results of studies that were conducted regarding the
safety of the Company's products. As alleged in the complaint,
these statements were materially false and misleading because
they failed to disclose:

     (1) that, contrary to defendants' representations, the
         studies conducted on the Company's TASER devices were
         inconclusive as to the safety of the devices;

     (2) that the Company's revenues and earnings would be
         negatively impacted once the truth of these studies
         became known;

     (3) that the end of year order of TASER devices the Company
         had received from one of its distributors was done to
         help the Company meet its sales goals for the quarter
         and was not indicative of the true demand for the
         Company's products; and

     (4) based on the foregoing, defendants had no reasonable
         basis for their positive statements regarding the
         safety of, and demand for, the Company's products.

During the Class Period, while defendants allegedly made false
statements to the market, they engaged in insider sales of their
personal holdings in TASER stock, whereby they collectively
reaped about $50 million in proceeds.

On January 6, 2005, after the close of the market, defendants
disclosed that they were in receipt of an informal inquiry
letter from the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding the
Company's statements about the safety of its products and a
recent order received from one of its distributors. Market
reaction to this announcement was swift and severe. On January
7, 2005, shares of TASER common stock closed at $22.72 per
share, a decline of $4.90 per share, or 18%, from the previous
day's close.

For more details, contact Berger & Montague, P.C. by E-mail:

TASER INTERNATIONAL: Mager White Lodges Securities Lawsuit in AZ
The law firm of Mager White & Goldstein, LLP initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
District of Arizona on behalf of all persons who purchased
securities of Taser International, Inc.("TASER" or the
"Company") (Nasdaq:TASR) between November 4, 2004 and January 6,
2005 (the "Class Period").

The Complaint charges that TASER and certain of its officers and
directors issued false and misleading statements regarding the
safety of the Company's Taser guns and the increasing demand for
the products. The Complaint further alleges that defendants
failed to disclose that:

     (1) the research conducted on the safety of the Tasers was
         inconclusive and that if this information was revealed,
         the Company's earnings would be negatively affected;

     (2) a last-minute order for Tasers that was received from
         one of its distributors was done to help the Company
         meet its quarterly sales goals and therefore did not
         reflect the true demand for the Tasers.

On January 6, 2005, at market close, TASER announced that they
had received an informal inquiry letter from the Securities and
Exchange Commission concerning the safety of its products and a
recent $1.5 million order received from one of its distributors.
The market reacted quickly to the announcement, and on January
7, 2005, shares of TASER common stock fell $4.90 per share, to
close at $22.72, down 18% from the previous day's close.

For more details, contact Jayne Arnold Goldstein by Mail: 2825
University Drive, Suite 350, Coral Springs, FL 33065 by Phone:
954-341-0844 or 866-274-8258 or by E-mail:

TASER INTERNATIONAL: Milberg Weiss Lodges Securities Suit in AZ
The law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman LLP initiated a
class action lawsuit, on behalf of purchasers of the securities
of TASER International, Inc. ("TASER" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:
TASR) between October 18, 2004 and January 6, 2005, inclusive
(the "Class Period") seeking to pursue remedies under the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act").

The action is pending in the United States District Court for
the District of Arizona against defendants TASER, Patrick W.
Smith (CEO), Thomas P. Smith (President), Philip W. Smith

The Complaint alleges that, throughout the Class Period, TASER
has aggressively fostered the perception that its products are
non-lethal, generally safe and, therefore, ideal for temporarily
incapacitating suspects without killing them or causing
permanent injuries. This perception was crucial to the
marketability of TASER products and the success of the Company.
When this perception was challenged, as it repeatedly was during
the Class Period, the Company aggressively defended it. On
October 18, 2004, defendants issued a press release announcing
that a U.S. Department of Defense study by the Human Effects
Center of Excellence ("HECOE") "conclude(ed) that TASER
technology is generally effective without significant risk of
unintended results." In the press release, defendant Patrick
Smith touted the study as the "latest chapter in a series of
comprehensive medical and scientific studies which conclude that
TASER technology is safe and effective." During the week
following defendants' announcement affirming the safety of the
Company's products, TASER insiders, including the Individual
Defendants, sold a total of $67 million worth of TASER stock.
During the Class Period, TASER insiders, including the
individual defendants, sold a total of 3,317,212 shares of TASER
common stock for gross proceeds of $96,261,155. The Company's
characterization of the HECOE study, and other Class Period
statements particularized in the Complaint, was materially false
and misleading because, in marked contrast to the Company's
unequivocally positive characterization of the study's
conclusions, the study in fact found that TASER technology could
be dangerous and that more information was needed to evaluate
its risks.

On January 6, 2004, after the close of ordinary trading, TASER
issued a press release announcing that the SEC had commenced an
inquiry into the Company's statements concerning the safety of
its products. In addition, the SEC sought information concerning
a suspicious, large end-of-quarter (4Q) sale to one of the
Company's distributors. In reaction to this announcement, the
price of TASER common stock plummeted, falling from $27.62 per
share on January 6, 2005, to $21.29 per share on January 7,
2005, a one-day drop of 23% on unusually heavy trading volume of
over 35 million shares.

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


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


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