/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/050211.mbx              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

              Friday, February 11, 2005, Vol. 7, No. 30


ALLIANT PHARMACEUTICALS: Recalls Tablets Due To Poor Ingredients
APPLERA CORPORATION: Faces Product Antitrust Lawsuit in DC Court
BARGAIN MAIL: KY A.G. Stumbo Launches Consumer Fraud Complaint
CALIFORNIA: Court Limits Power To Hear Summary Judgment Motion
DAIMLERCHRYSLER AG: NHTSA Probing Minivans, SUVS Over Safety

DETROIT DIESEL: Truck Dealers Commence Antitrust Lawsuit in PA
DIAL CORPORATION: WI Judge Rules Strength Test Discriminatory
DOW CORNING: Settlement Checks in $2.35B Implant Fund Delayed
FAX.COM: KY Court Metes Out $50T Judgment Over Unsolicited Faxes
FORD MOTOR: Lisle Police Opt Out Of IL Crown Victoria Lawsuit

LOUISIANA: LA Joins 50 States in Nationwide SUV Safety Campaign
MATAV-CABLE: Suit Over Misleading Publication Filed in Tel-Aviv
MINNESOTA CORN: Executives Reach $5.75M Settlement With Farmers
PENNSYLVANIA: Judge Orders City To Pay $1.8M To Retirement Fund
PENNSYLVANIA: Court Dismisses Suit Against Treasury Department

PETMED EXPRESS: Plaintiffs Voluntarily Dismiss Securities Suits
PHARMERICA INC.: Reaches Settlement For HI Consumer Fraud Suit
QUALITY DINING: Court Grants Motion To Dismiss Stockholder Suit
QUICKEN LOANS: Loan Consultants File Overtime Wage Lawsuit in MI
SIGNATURE FLIGHT: Employees Lodge $10M Discrimination Suit in CA

TEXAS: Attorney General Sues Two Firms Over Immigration Fraud
UNITED STATES: FTC Launches 7th Annual Consumer Protection Week
UNITED STATES: NAATS Lodges Age Discrimination Lawsuit V. FAA
UNITED STATES: Federal Judges, Atty. Generals Oppose Reform Bill
UNITED STATES: Senate Thwarts Attempts At Amending Reform Bill

UNITED STATES: CPSC Advises Against Ban on All-Terrain Vehicles
WELLS FARGO: Former Employee Lodges Overtime Wage Lawsuit in CA
WESTERN KENTUCKY: KY A.G. Stumbo Files Complaint Over Rates

                         Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Claims Against Owens Illinois Reach 35,000
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Halliburton Agrees to $30M Local Settlement
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: SC Orders Separate Trials in Jones County
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: ACE Ltd 4Q Earnings Drop on Asbestos Charge
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: DEP Probes Craffey and Co. for Violations

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Firefighters Praised for Immediate Action
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Charity to Launch Respite Center in Ireland
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Chubb Corp 4Q Profit Increases Sharply
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: AU Mine Survivors Fear Death Due to Cancer
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Victims of Minor Asbestos Exposure Rising

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: W.R. Grace Charged in Montana Asbestos Case
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Zurich Pays US$547Mil To Cut Asbestos Risk
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: American Standard Settlements Reach $51Mil
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: USG Profits Increase Despite Growing Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: St Paul Travelers Cites $922M Reserve Boost

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Columbus McKinnon Shows Liability Estimates
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Crown Holdings Records 4Q Charge of $35Mil
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Single Case Remains Pending Against Altria
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Party Slams Cyprus Govt Over Cleanup Delay
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Federal-Mogul Outlines FAIR Act Flaws

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Aussie Foundation Seeks ADI Site Guarantee
ASBESTOS ALERT: Alarm Sounded for Ex-Ministry of Defense Workers
ASBESTOS ALERT: Widow Seeks Insurers of Two Closed UK Companies
ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Dumped Near UK Housing Causes Worry
ASBESTOS ALERT: Contractor, Owner of OR Bldg Face US$15,600 Fine

ASBESTOS ALERT: Mining Accountant Files Claim from Relief Trust
ASBESTOS ALERT: NY Court Reverses Ruling V. Eastern Refractories
ASBESTOS ALERT: HSE Orders Closure of Pavilion Due to High Risks
ASBESTOS ALERT: UK Environment Agency Probes Field for Asbestos
ASBESTOS ALERT: NY Mishap Leads To Contractor-District Dispute

                  New Securities Fraud Cases

EPIX PHARMACEUTICAL: Spector Roseman Lodges MA Securities Suit
HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Brian M. Felgoise Files AZ Securities Suit
HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Brodsky & Smith Lodges AZ Securities Suit
HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Charles J. Piven Lodges AZ Securities Suit
HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Goldman Scarlato Lodges AZ Securities Suit

HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Smith & Smith Lodges Securities Suit in AZ
ROYAL GROUP: Murray Frank Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
TASER INTERNATIONAL: Kaplan Fox Lodges AZ Securities Fraud Suit
TOWER AUTOMOTIVE: Brian M. Felgoise Lodges Securities Suit in NY
TOWER AUTOMOTIVE: Brodsky & Smith Lodges Securities Suit in NY


ALLIANT PHARMACEUTICALS: Recalls Tablets Due To Poor Ingredients
Alliant Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is expanding its voluntary recall
of Methylinr (Methylphenidate HCl) Chewable Tablets to include
all lots of the product. The nationwide recall now includes all
2.5 mg, 5 mg and 10 mg dosage strengths because some tablets may
contain too much or too little active ingredient.

The Company initially elected to recall one lot of 5 mg product,
lot #AMT50402A, from the market on January 14, 2005, because it
was determined that some tablets may contain up to three times
the required amount of active ingredient. After further
investigation, the manufacturer, Mallinckrodt, Inc., of St.
Louis, MO, determined that there was potential for other lots to
contain superpotent and subpotent tablets. Upon Mallinckrodt's
further investigation they found that the potential problem was
the result of a manufacturing mixing issue and not due to the
medication's active ingredient.

Methylinr (Methylphenidate HCl) Chewable Tablets are a therapy
for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Narcolepsy. The
drug is sold in 100-tablet bottles and dispensed to patients in
amounts prescribed by a physician.

The Company notified the FDA of its findings, and is notifying
wholesalers and pharmacists of the recall by letter. They are
asking pharmacists to attempt to notify patients who were
dispensed prescriptions from their pharmacy. Distributors and
pharmacies should promptly quarantine any product with the
following lot numbers:

     (1) 2.5 mg (NDC 68188-132-01)
         Lot numbers: AMT20401A, AMT20402A, AMT20403A, AMT20404A

     (2) 5 mg (NDC 68188-135-01)
         Lot numbers: AMT50401A, AMT50402A (previously
         recalled), AMT50403A, AMT50404A

     (3) 10 mg (NDC 68188-137-01)
         Lot numbers: AMT100401A, AMT100402A, AMT100403A,

Alliant's liquid form of the product -- Methylinr Oral Solution
(5mg / 5mL and 10mg / 5mL strengths) -- is not affected by the
recall and is still widely available. In addition,
Mallinckrodt's Methylinr ER or Methylinr immediate release
products are not affected by this recall.

Patients should call their pharmacists or physicians if they
have questions about the recall. Health care providers or
patients who have questions can contact Alliant Pharmaceuticals,
at 770-817-4500 or visit http://www.alliantpharma.com.

APPLERA CORPORATION: Faces Product Antitrust Lawsuit in DC Court
Applera Corporation and Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. faces a class
action filed in the United States District Court for the
District of Columbia.  Molecular Diagnostics Laboratories filed
the suit, which alleges anticompetitive conduct in connection
with the sale of Taq DNA polymerase and PCR-related products.

The anticompetitive conduct is alleged to arise from the
prosecution and enforcement of U.S. Patent No 4,889,818.  This
patent is assigned to Hoffmann-La Roche, with whom the Company
has a commercial relationship covering, among other things, this
patent and the sale of Taq DNA polymerase.   The complaint seeks
monetary damages, costs, expenses, injunctive relief, and other
relief as the court deems proper.

This case is largely based on the same set of contentions
underlying a claim filed against the Company by Promega
Corporation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District
of Virginia.  The Promega claim was dismissed in August 2004
for, among other reasons, failure to state a claim upon which
relief could be granted.

HOFFMANN-LA ROCHE, INC. et al, case no. 1:04-cv-01649-HHK,"
filed in the United States District Court for the District of
Columbia, under Judge Henry H. Kennedy.

Lawyers for the defendants are;

     (1) Joanne M. Guerrera, David J. Lender, John E. Scribner,
         David Nelson Southard, WEIL, GOTSHAL & MANGES, L.L.P.,
         1501 K Street, NW Washington, DC 20005, Phone: (202)
         682-7153 Fax: 202-857-0939 E-mail:

     (2) Heather Holden Brooks, Cathy Hoffman, Hadrian R. Katz,
         Amy Elizabeth Ralph-Mudge, Joseph M. Ruggiero, Asim
         Varma, ARNOLD & PORTER, LLP, 555 12th Street, NW
         Washington, DC 20004-1206, Phone: (202) 942-6309, Fax:
         (202) 942-5999, E-mail: holden_brooks@aporter.com,
         cathy_hoffman@aporter.com, katzha@aporter.com,
         amy_mudge@aporter.com and asim_varma@aporter.com

Lawyer for the plaintiffs are:

     (i) Paul Thomas Gallagher, Michael Hausfeld, Brian A.
         Ratner, COHEN, MILSTEIN, HAUSFELD & TOLL, P.L.L.C, 1100
         New York Avenue, NW West Tower, Suite 500, Washington,
         DC 20005-3934, Phone: (202) 408-4600, Fax: (202) 408-
         4699, E-mail: pgallagher@cmht.com, mhausfeld@cmht.com
         or bratner@cmht.com

    (ii) Scott E. Gant, William A. Isaacson, BOIES, SCHILLER &
         FLEXNER, 5301 Wisconsin Avenue, NW Suite 800,
         Washington, DC 20015, Phone: (202) 237-2727, E-mail:
         sgant@bsfllp.com or wisaacson@bsfllp.com

BARGAIN MAIL: KY A.G. Stumbo Launches Consumer Fraud Complaint
Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo filed a consumer
protection lawsuit against William Davis in connection with an
online retail goods Company he operated. Mr. Davis, doing
business as Bargain Mail Order (BMO), sold motor scooters and
other merchandise.

The Complaint alleges that the Company failed to deliver
merchandise to some customers, advertised a 30 day warranty
which the Company refused to honor and failed to repair
merchandise or refund money when appropriate. Each of the counts
alleged in the suit are asserted to be violations of Kentucky's
Consumer Protection Act. The Attorney General seeks restitution
on behalf of consumers, civil penalties of $2,000 per violation
and injunctive relief to prohibit the pattern and practice of
activities the Attorney General has alleged to be in violation
of the Act.

"The defendants operate an online website that primarily sells
motor scooters," Stumbo said. "The website advertises a 30 day
guarantee on products sold, stating that the Company `will stand
behind its products 100%.' In truth, the defendants refuse to
honor the warranty and have misled and deceived consumers as a

Consumers from several states have also filed complaints against
BMO seeking the repair of purchased merchandise and refunds. The
defendants have refused to satisfy the complaints of these
consumers. Consequently, given the deceptive practices employed
by this Company in trade and commerce, the Attorney General felt
compelled to act in the public interest. "When more than 100
consumer complaints go unresolved by a business, there is a
strong implication that the problems go beyond a mere lack of
customer service, but may be sign of unfair business practices
that violate the law," Stumbo added.

Bargain Mail Order is operated from a location at 3266
Ruckriegel Parkway in Louisville, Kentucky.

For more information, please contact the Office of the Attorney
General, State Capitol, Suite 118, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601 by
Phone: (502) 696-5300

CALIFORNIA: Court Limits Power To Hear Summary Judgment Motion
A trial court's inherent power to revisit its own rulings does
not permit it to entertain a renewed summary judgment motion in
the absence of new facts or a change in the law, according to a
California appeals court, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Reversing a summary judgment favoring a stock brokerage in a
dispute with a former employee over the structure of the
Company's stock purchase plan, Div. Seven concluded the trial
judge violated Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 437c(f)(2).
According to that statute a party moving for summary judgment a
second time is required to establish "newly discovered facts or
circumstances or a change of law supporting the issues

The suit was brought as a putative class action by David B.
Schachter against Salomon Smith Barney, Inc. and its parent
Company, which is now known as Citigroup, Inc.  Mr. Schachter, a
former financial consultant at Smith Barney, challenged a
feature of the Capital Accumulation Plan, which allowed
employees to apply a portion of their deferred compensation to
the purchase of discounted Company stock.

The shares were restricted and did not vest before the employee
had been with the Company two years. If the employee quit or was
fired for cause before the two years was up, however, he would
lose both the stock and the deferred compensation used to
purchase the shares.

Mr. Schachter is claiming that this aspect constituted a
deprivation of earned wages, in violation of the Labor Code, as
well as common-law conversion and a violation of the Unfair
Business Practices Act, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz denied the
defendants' first motion for summary judgment in 2000, reasoning
that unlike a bonus plan, in which the bonus is not earned until
the employee has worked for the Company the requisite period of
time, the CAP required an employee to give back money that the
employee had already been paid. The judge thus ruled, "This
amounts to a rebate to the employer in violation of Labor Code
[Sec.] 224 since the employee is getting nothing back in

Two years later, the defendants renewed the motion, citing a
ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl
upholding the legality of a similar plan offered by another
stock brokerage. Still Judge Victoria Chaney, to whom the
Schachter case had been reassigned, questioned whether she could
overturn Judge Munoz's ruling. She told the News-Enterprise,
"Judge Kuhl's opinion, although interesting, is not precedent,
it's not binding on me, and it has no effect in this case. And
it doesn't really matter whether I agree or disagree with Judge
Munoz, the reality is, he made a ruling and we're all going to
be living with it."

A month later, however, following a case management conference,
Judge Chaney granted summary judgment for the defendants under
the court's inherent power to reconsider its own rulings sua

However, Justice Laurie Zelon, writing for the Court of Appeal,
said Sec. 437c(f)(2) limits the court's discretion to reconsider
its denial of a summary judgment. Justice Zelon distinguished
cases involving Sec. 1008, the general reconsideration statute.
According to him, those cases have held that Sec. 1008 either
does not apply to the court's reconsideration of an interim
ruling on its own motion, or is unconstitutional to the extent
that it purports to preclude a court from granting

Therefore, Justice Zelon concluded that "as a general matter," a
trial court has inherent constitutional authority to correct its
own rulings, either sua sponte or on a party's motion, and that
this authority extends to a sua sponte reconsideration of a
denial of summary judgment, the News-Enterprise reports.
Furthermore, the justice wrote, "However, the Legislature
enacted a specific limitation on the parties out of a concern
for abuse of the summary adjudication process, and the burden
such motions can impose on a party's resources. Absent a request
by the court, the renewal of the motion, absent compliance with
Sec. 437c(f)(2), violates the legislative intent, even if the
moving parties "used their motion to request the court to act
`sua sponte.'"

Attorneys on appeal were Ashley D. Posner and Barbara Brudno of
the Law Offices of Ashley D. Posner for the plaintiff and Raoul
D. Kennedy, David Pattiz, Douglas B. Adler and Seth M. Schwartz
of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for the defendants. The
case is entitled Schachter v. Citigroup, Inc., 05 S.O.S. 732.

DAIMLERCHRYSLER AG: NHTSA Probing Minivans, SUVS Over Safety
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is
investigating Mercedes-Benz ML320 sport utility vehicles, model
2003, after getting three complaints that the driver's side seat
warmers can overheat, the Associated Press reports.

In one case, a driver allegedly sustained second-degree burns.
NHTSA said the seat covers also may burn.  A Mercedes spokesman
did not immediately return a call for comment Monday, according
to AP.

Additionally, the NHTSA is also investigating several minivans
from the Company after consumers complained that the headlights
may flicker and go off while the minivans are moving.  The
investigation involves Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan, Plymouth
Voyager and Chrysler Town and Country minivans from the 2001 and
2002 model years.

Chrysler spokesman Max Gates said there are around 744,000
minivans from those model years on the road. He said the Company
is working with the NHTSA, AP reports.

DETROIT DIESEL: Truck Dealers Commence Antitrust Lawsuit in PA
Ten truck dealers have initiated a lawsuit against Michigan-
based and by DaimlerChrysler AG-owned Detroit Diesel Corporation
claiming that the Company violated federal antitrust laws by
organizing an illegal boycott and price-fixing scheme, the
Associated Press reports.

Filed in Philadelphia, the lawsuit was brought on behalf of
dealers for Volvo Trucks Inc. and International Truck and Engine
Corp. The suit specifically alleges that Detroit Diesel and its
distributors boycotted International and Volvo dealers who
weren't affiliated with DaimlerChrysler. It further alleges that
Detroit Diesel refused to allow those dealers to perform major
warranty repairs on Detroit Diesel engines, even if the dealers
had sold the trucks originally. Lastly, the suit also alleges
that Detroit Diesel and its distributors agreed to increase
prices for parts sold to the affected dealers.

Duane Morris LLP now is representing the 10 dealers, but that
number could increase to several hundred if the lawsuit is
certified as a class action. Attorneys for the plaintiffs say
Detroit Diesel was trying to force International and Volvo into
long-term contracts to install Detroit Diesel engines in their
new trucks.

DIAL CORPORATION: WI Judge Rules Strength Test Discriminatory
Judge Ronald Longstaff of the United States District Court for
the District of Wisconsin has ruled that an applicant-screening
test used at Dial Corporation's Lee County plant is illegal, The
Burlington Hawk Eye reports.

Brian Tyndall, senior trial attorney for the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission's Milwaukee regional office,
told the Hawk Eye Judge Longstaff had ruled for plaintiffs'
claims that a strength test was prejudicial against female
applicants.  Mr. Tyndall, who is one of three attorneys who
tried the class action case for the EEOC also said, "Our lawsuit
alleged that the test was unfair to women ... that the test
eliminated women at a much higher rate than was necessary."

Paula Liles, who had applied for a position at Dial in February
2000, initially filed the claim of discrimination. Then in 2002,
the EEOC filed suit, claiming that the strength tests eliminated
too many women from consideration, a condition in legal terms
that is known as "disparate impact."

Furthermore, Mr. Tyndall said the size of the class, which now
may be eligible for compensation, is believed to be about 50,
but that his office is in the process of determining how many
women were eliminated by the strength test.

According to the EEOC suit, the seven-minute test required
applicants to repeatedly lift and move a 35-pound metal rod to
heights up to 65 inches, a test designed to mirror the arduous
tasks on the floor of the food packaging plant, which makes
canned Armour food products. However, after the test was
implemented in January 2000, fewer than 40 percent of the female
applicants passed the test, while 97 percent of their male
counterparts passed it, suit states. Prior to the test, nearly
half of the people hired for entry-level jobs were women, an
EEOC release said.

In his ruling Judge Longstaff states, "Dial has failed to
fulfill its burden to how it had a 'compelling need' for
implementation of the (work tolerance test)," the Hawk Eye

Mr. Tyndall said the fact that so many women were eliminated by
the test caused concern for the EEOC, which is the federal
agency that enforces employment discrimination spelled out in
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He pointed out, "There's no law
against having an entry test, but the law does say that if a
test is shown to be disadvantageous to a protected group in
practice and not justified by business necessity, then it can be

In August, a federal jury agreed with the EEOC's arguments,
describing Dial's use of the test as "intentionally
discriminatory." Thus the jury awarded $5,000 in damages to each
of the six women involved in that case.

Judge Longstaff also upheld that jury's decision. A status
conference with the judge is scheduled for February 23 to
discuss the next phase of the dispute, which will likely focus
on who makes up the class and how its members should be

The Henkel Group, which completed its purchase of the Company
for $2.9 billion nearly a year ago, owns Dial, which employs
about 2,900 people in its U.S. facilities, about 500 of them in
Lee County. The Fort Madison plant, located south of Fort
Madison off U.S. 61, produces products such as Vienna sausages,
Lunch Bucket microwave meals, chili, hash and dried beef.

DOW CORNING: Settlement Checks in $2.35B Implant Fund Delayed
Participants in a $2.35 billion silicone breast implants
settlement with Dow Corning Corporation are not getting their
settlements fast enough, their lawyers and the Company said,
according to the Associated Press.

On June 1,2004, the Company emerged from bankruptcy proceedings,
allowing the distribution of settlement checks to proceed.  So
far, only about 10% of the claimants have received money.
Through the end of 2004, 14,807 checks totaling $111.7 million
had gone out. About 145,000 people have filed claims.  This has
cause lawyers for some of the claimants to file motions
complaining of delays to U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood in
Detroit, who oversees the settlement facility.

Mary Lou Benecke, a spokeswoman for Dow Corning, said Wednesday
that the Company agrees that the process is taking longer than
it should.  Benecke told AP an independent review was launched
earlier this year to determine the cause of the problem and
whether more staff is needed or the process should be modified.
A report is expected at the end of the month.

E. Wendy Trachte-Huber, head of the Houston-based settlement
facility, told the Detroit Free Press that she expects to hire
20 additional people in the next month. The office currently has
192 employees.  She also said the speed of processing had been
improving lately.

Dow Corning, a joint venture of Midland-based Dow Chemical and
Corning, N.Y.-based Corning Inc., was forced into bankruptcy in
1995 after thousands of women filed claims that implants made by
the Company damaged their health, AP reports.

FAX.COM: KY Court Metes Out $50T Judgment Over Unsolicited Faxes
Attorney General Greg Stumbo's office has obtained a $50,000
judgment against a Company that sent thousands of junk faxes to
residential fax machines in Kentucky.

In addition to the $50,000 judgment, Fax.com was permanently
forbidden, by Judge Martin McDonald of Jefferson Circuit Court,
from making telephone solicitations to Kentucky residents, and
from sending faxes to residential phone lines in Kentucky. The
order also permanently enjoins any Company working with or for
Fax.com. from soliciting via telephone in Kentucky.

Fax.com, a California Company, was a "fax blaster," sending
millions of unsolicited junk faxes, including unwanted faxes to
Kentucky residents selling products including discount vacation
packages, diet plans, stock buying tips and mortgage loans. The
Attorney General of Kentucky brought a lawsuit against the
Company in July of 2003 under the Kentucky No-Call law after
having received 71 complaints.

"It is important that people be protected in their own homes
from harassment by telemarketers who use the telephone or fax
machines," said Attorney General Stumbo. "We will continue to
take action against companies which violate our No Call law."

Under the Kentucky No Call law, it is unlawful to send fax
advertisements to the residential phone numbers listed on the
Attorney General's No Call list. It is also a violation of
federal law to fax advertisements to residential or business
phone lines without the prior permission of the phone

Kentuckians can sign up for the Kentucky No Call list by Phone:
1-866-877-7867 or by visiting the Website:
http://www.nocall.ky.gov. For more information, please contact
the Office of the Attorney General, State Capitol, Suite 118,
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601 Phone: (502) 696-5300.

FORD MOTOR: Lisle Police Opt Out Of IL Crown Victoria Lawsuit
Village attorney Robert Bush told trustees that Lisle, Illinois
has opted out of a class action filed on behalf of all
municipalities that had purchased Crown Victoria Police
Interceptors from the Ford Motor Company, the Chicago Daily
Herald reports.

The class action alleges the car used by many police departments
nationwide has a design flaw that could cause its fuel tank to
explode if the vehicle is struck in the rear. It has been in
trial since September 2004 in a downstate court.

In 2003, lawyers for St. Clair County and Centreville sought to
certify all departments statewide as part of the Crown Victoria
class-action lawsuit.  However, Mr. Bush said Lisle decided to
drop out of the lawsuit because the police department
"anticipated having problems" ordering new Crown Victoria Police
Interceptor cars as long as it was part of legal action against

Spokesman Sgt. Ron Wilke told the Daily Herald that the
department switched from buying the Crown Victoria to the
Chevrolet Impala in 2001. According to him, "Essentially, it
(the Impala) was a new product. We wanted to try it out and see
if we liked it." But in 2004, Lisle police purchased four new
Crown Victorias.

Buying the Fords went against a 2003 recommendation from the
Illinois Sheriffs Association encouraging departments statewide
to consider a moratorium on purchasing the Crown Victoria. That
moratorium resolution had made reference to Dallas, one of the
municipalities that has sued Ford after "fuel-fed fires"
allegedly related to the placement of the car's fuel tank led to
officer deaths.

LOUISIANA: LA Joins 50 States in Nationwide SUV Safety Campaign
Louisiana's Attorney General Charles C. Foti, Jr.'s office,
along with the Attorneys General in 50 states and three
jurisdictions, joined forces to launch the ESUVEE Safety
Campaign.  This $27 million, yearlong national education program
consists of events and initiatives designed to reduce SUV
rollovers, particularly among young male drivers who have the
highest incidence of such accidents.

This safety campaign highlights critical tips for driving SUV's:
check your tire pressure monthly, don't overload your SUV,
always wear your seatbelt, try to avoid abrupt maneuvers, and
don't speed.

The SUV campaign will use a mascot, ESUVEE, to engage the target
audience of younger drivers. The 16-foot long, 11-foot wide and
10-foot tall ESUVEE will serve as the campaign's focal point,
appearing at events nationwide throughout this year. This mascot
is prominently featured on the campaign's website,
www.ESUVEE.com, a source of tips and information about safe
operation and maintenance of SUV's.

"I hope consumers, especially our young people, will visit the
safety campaign website to learn more about SUV safety," General
Foti said.

The concept of this safety campaign was conceived in December
2002, when the 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the
Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of
Columbia reached a settlement with the Ford Motor Company. The
agreement settled state lawsuits alleging that Ford's marketing
practices misled consumers on how to drive, load and maintain
Ford Explorers. As part of the settlement, Ford agreed to fund a
$27 million consumer education campaign on SUV safety.

The Campaign aims to inform the public about the following
critical safety elements that can help save lives:

     (1) Handling: SUVs have a higher center of gravity than
         passenger cars, which contributes to the higher risk of
         rollover. The chances of an SUV rollover are further
         increased by speeding, abrupt maneuvers,
         inattentiveness, tailgating, recklessness,
         aggressiveness or impaired driving.

     (2) Loading: According to the new consumer survey, nearly
         50 percent of Americans do not know that overloading an
         SUV increases the risk of rollovers. The number of
         occupants, as well as the weight and distribution of
         cargo raises a SUV's center of gravity, increasing the
         risk of rollover.

     (3) Tires: Tire size, pressure and maintenance are keys to
         SUV safety. Drivers should monitor each of these, and
         take them into account when loading an SUV.

     (4) Seat belts: Perhaps the most preventable cause of death
         in an SUV rollover is ejection from the vehicle. Eighty
         percent of those killed in SUV rollovers are unbelted.

"I am concerned about our state's younger drivers. Statistics
show that about one quarter of SUV crashes involve drivers
between the ages of 16 and 24. This is a tragedy that can be
avoided with better education and awareness campaigns like this
one," added Attorney General Foti.

MATAV-CABLE: Suit Over Misleading Publication Filed in Tel-Aviv
Matav-Cable Systems Media Ltd. has received notice of a motion
that was filed by an Israeli resident in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa
District Court requesting the Court's approval of a class action
against the Company, the Wireless IQ reports.

According to the motion, Matav has misled consumers within the
framework of a certain sales promotion campaign in 2001, thereby
violating the Israeli Consumers Protection Law. Furthermore, the
motion claims that the damages owed to the plaintiff are in the
amount of NIS 1,574 (equates to approximately $357) and the
aggregate damages to the class are indeterminable at this stage,
since the plaintiff does not know the number of other potential

In response to the filing, Matav told Wireles IQ that it is
still studying the details of the motion. They also noted that
the motion relates to the same subject matter of an indictment
that was filed in March 2003 in the Netanya Magistrate Court
against Matav and certain of its officers for violation of the
Israeli Consumers Protection Law. The officers were dropped from
that indictment and in November 2003, the court approved a plea
bargain, pursuant to which Matav admitted the facts in an
amended indictment and paid an insignificant fine.

MINNESOTA CORN: Executives Reach $5.75M Settlement With Farmers
Six former executives of Minnesota Corn Processors agreed to pay
a $5.75 million settlement to farmer-shareholders who had lodge
a class action lawsuit over the $615 million sale of their
ethanol and corn-syrup business to Archer Daniels Midland of
Decatur, Illinois, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

The farmer-shareholders had accused the executives of breaching
their fiduciary duties, self-dealing and of cheating
shareholders by inaccurately portraying the market outlook for
ethanol and high-fructose corn syrup.  The agreement states, the
defendants, including former CEO L. Daniel Thompson,
"strenuously deny any fault, wrongdoing or liability," they
specifically denied breaching any fiduciary duties and said the
sale was in the shareholders' best interest.

Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg signed the
preliminary settlement papers in New Ulm, potentially ending a
protracted legal fight that ripped through the southwestern
Minnesota city of Marshall, where Minnesota Corn Processors was

Robert Moilanen, who represented the farmers, the farmers'
battle brought to light complex questions of corporate
governance in farm country rather than on Wall Street, told the
Star Tribune raising cutting-edge issues important to investors
throughout the nation.  He added that in the next 10 days, more
than 4,500 farmers represented in the class-action suit would be
mailed requests for comment on the settlement, which Judge
Rodenberg is scheduled to decide whether to grant final approval
in a hearing set for April 12.

MCP was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1997, when ADM invested
$120 million for a 30 percent, nonvoting interest in the
Company. After that, MCP enjoyed considerable success with its
corn-processing operations in Minnesota and Nebraska, but later
on September 2002 ADM acquired the Company.

Disgruntled shareholders sought $13.45 million, the amount the
executives were accused of obtaining unjustly. If approved, the
$5.75 million settlement, less legal costs yet to be determined,
will be divided among farmers based on the number of shares each
held when ADM acquired MCP.

The settlement stipulates that neither the farmers nor their
attorneys, Mr. Moilanen and Carolyn Anderson of the Zimmerman
Reed law firm in Minneapolis, will initiate contact with
government agencies or regulators who may investigate the case.
But if contacted by investigators, farmers are obligated to
respond, the agreement says. Legal costs and fees for the
defense will not be included in the $5.75 million award.

PENNSYLVANIA: Judge Orders City To Pay $1.8M To Retirement Fund
Common Pleas Judge Stephen E. Levin has ordered the city of
Philadelphia to pay more than $1.8 million to an employee
retirement fund to compensate for alleged negligent oversight
during the 1980s and 1990s that employees said resulted in
millions of dollars in losses, the Associated Press reports.

The class-action lawsuit had involved two contracts the city
awarded to private companies to manage the Philadelphia
Employees' Deferred Compensation Plan during the administrations
of Mayors W. Wilson Goode and Ed Rendell, it affected about
12,000 employees.

The employees' attorney, Steven E. Angstreich, told AP the city
negligently allowed the management companies to receive generous
fees from the pension plan while losing millions of dollars on

However, Judge Levin had granted far less than the $11.6 million
attorneys for the employees had sought, thus lawyers for both
sides have filed "exceptions" asking him to reverse various
parts of the ruling.  Judge Levin ruled that the city allowed
Public Employees Benefit Services Corp., of Columbus, Ohio, to
sell high-cost life insurance to city employees through the
pension plan from 1987 to 1992, an investment he said shouldn't
have been offered. He ruled that the city agreed to pay a
"patently unreasonable" contract-termination fee to PEBSCO. The
judge also said the city improperly transferred $27 million in
1992 from an investment paying more than 6 percent to one paying
a lower rate.

Meanwhile, Michael F. Eichert, chief deputy city solicitor,
denied any negligence by the city, told AP that Judge Levin's
January 27 ruling largely upheld the city's conduct in
overseeing pension management contracts.

PENNSYLVANIA: Court Dismisses Suit Against Treasury Department
Ronald J. Smolow, a lawyer who sued the Pennsylvania's Treasury
Department in order to recoup interest on unclaimed property
lost in a recently issued Commonwealth Court decision, the
Associated Press reports.

Mr. Smolow had claimed the state owed him $30 in interest after
he recovered $586 worth of stock in a drilling Company.  He had
sought certification of the case as a class action, but a three-
judge panel ruled that people might pursue unclaimed property
only on their own behalf. That same panel also ruled that Mr.
Smolow's losses resulted from him abandoning his property and
were not due to the treasurer's actions, thus the lawsuit was

Writing on behalf of the panel, Judge Bernard L. McGinley points
out, "Where an owner's interest in property is transferred to
another pursuant to the unclaimed property law and due to the
original owner's abandonment, the delivery of the property to
the treasurer does not constitute a taking."

Mr. Smolow said he had not read the decision and so was unable
to comment. Meanwhile, a phone message left for the Treasury
Department's spokeswoman was not immediately returned, AP

PETMED EXPRESS: Plaintiffs Voluntarily Dismiss Securities Suits
Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed without prejudice the six
securities class actions filed against PetMed Express, Inc. and
certain of its officers and directors in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

From August 17, 2004 until October 12, 2004 six shareholder
class action lawsuits were filed, alleging violations of the
federal securities laws.  These complaints alleged violations of
the anti-fraud provision contained in Section 10(b) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, thereunder and
asserted violations of Section 20(a) of that act against the
individual defendants as controlling persons.

The actions purported to be brought on behalf of purchasers of
the Company's common stock between June 18, 2003 and July 26,
2004, and the complaints generally alleged that the defendants
made false or misleading statements concerning the Company's
business, prospects, and operations and failed to disclose,
among other things:

     (1) that the Company's business allegedly depends on
         veterinarians, who are the Company's competitors, to
         authorize prescriptions,

     (2) that the Company's business model, which, in part,
         requires veterinarians to authorize prescriptions,
         caused veterinarians to incur certain costs and
         burdens, which were supposedly shifted from
         the Company to the veterinarians,

     (3) the existence of a supposed increase in veterinarian
         refusals to comply with Company requests for
         prescription authorization,

     (4) the Company's alleged inability to guarantee the
         quality of, and maintain control over, pet medications
         and the negative impact this was having on veterinarian
         willingness to authorize prescriptions, and

     (5) that the foregoing allegations were adversely impacting
         the Company.

The complaints also alleged that the individual defendants were
motivated to engage in the alleged violations so that they could
affect sales of their shares of the Company's common stock at
artificially inflated prices.  The plaintiffs sought unspecified
monetary damages.

The six securities class actions were styled:

     (1) Ricker v. PetMed Express, Inc., case no. 2004cv61113

     (2) Debuisson v. Rosenbloom, et al., case no. 2004cv61255

     (3) Malonek v. Rosenbloom et al., case no. 2004cv80784

     (4) Anderson V. Rosenbloom et al., case no. 2004cv80787

     (5) Scott v. Rosenbloom et al., case no. 2004cv80943

     (6) Jonco Investors LLC v. Rosenbloom et al., case no.

PHARMERICA INC.: Reaches Settlement For HI Consumer Fraud Suit
PharMerica, Inc. reached a tentative settlement for the consumer
class action filed against it in Hawaii state court on behalf of
consumers who allegedly received recycled medications prior to
February 2000 from a PharMerica institutional pharmacy in
Honolulu, Hawaii.

The plaintiffs alleged that it was a deceptive trade practice
under Hawaii law to sell recycled medications (i.e., medications
that had previously been dispensed and then returned to the
pharmacy) without disclosing that the medications were recycled.
There were no allegations of physical harm to any patient and
the law in Hawaii has subsequently changed to permit the use of
recycled medications under certain conditions.

In December 2004, PharMerica reached a tentative settlement of
this matter. The settlement will not become final until the
Hawaii Circuit Court approves the agreed-upon terms.

QUALITY DINING: Court Grants Motion To Dismiss Stockholder Suit
Quality Dining, Inc. (Nasdaq: QDIN) reports that St. Joseph
County Superior Court has granted the Company's motion to
dismiss the purported stockholder class action lawsuit
previously filed against Quality Dining, Inc., its directors and
two of its officers entitled Bruce Alan Crown Grantors Trust vs.
Quality Dining, Inc., et al, Cause No. 71 D04 0406 PL 299.

Commenting on the court's ruling, John C. Firth, Executive Vice
President and General Counsel said, "Quality Dining is pleased
with the court's ruling which dismissed all counts of the
plaintiff's complaint. As the court noted, the proposed
transaction is subject to the approval of a majority of our
shareholders and we have always believed that this matter should
properly be decided by our shareholders."

QUICKEN LOANS: Loan Consultants File Overtime Wage Lawsuit in MI
More than 70 former Quicken Loans Inc. consultants have
initiated a lawsuit against the Livonia-based mortgage lender
claiming they weren't paid overtime for working beyond a 40-hour
workweek, DetNews.com reports.

The lawsuit also names Quicken's founder and Chairman Daniel B.
Gilbert, Chief Executive Officer William Emerson and President
and Chief Operating Officer Patrick McInnis. The consultants
claim that they should have received overtime pay under the Fair
Labor Standards Act, an act that requires most U.S. employees to
receive overtime at 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for all
hours worked over 40 in a work week.

Quicken and its officers though have denied the lawsuit's claims
and say they don't know of any violations of the Fair Labor act
during the past three years. Mr. Emerson, Quicken's CEO, told
DetNews.com "Loan consultants know they are exempt from
overtime, and that is outlined for them in their written
compensation plan. We're clear based on how we look at the
overtime law that they are exempt employees, just like stock

Former Quicken employees such as Elizabeth Skomra, a plaintiff
in the lawsuit, say they feel the suit's claims are valid. Ms.
Skomra, a 32-year-old Canton resident, who had worked at Quicken
from April 2004 through August 2004, told DetNews.com that 60-
hour workweeks were typical, and managers berated those who
tried to leave after an eight-hour workday. Referring to Quicken
Loan ads she said, "When they say, 'Call now, someone's always
in the office,' it's true."

Filed in May, the lawsuit has been moving slowly through the
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with
the two sides now in the midst of taking testimony from the
former loan consultants who have signed up for the suit.

Quicken, also known by its local brand Rock Financial, is the
nation's largest online mortgage lender with offices in Livonia,
Auburn Hills and Farmington. About 1,000 of its 2,400 employees
are loan consultants, Mr. Emerson said. The Company is also
known as one of Metro Detroit's best employers, ranking No. 12
on Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For 2005"

Paul Lucas, an attorney with Nichols Kaster & Anderson PLLP in
Minneapolis representing the loan consultants, told DetNews.com
his firm hopes the case will become a class action lawsuit
involving as many as 500 former loan consultants. According to
Mr. Lucas, companies like Quicken have a sweatshop mentality
when it comes to mortgage sales. Traditionally, loan officers
sit down with their clients, but Quicken and others have reduced
the entire exchange to a telephone conversation or online query.

Mr. Lucas describes his clients situation by saying, "These
people are order-takers, basically. You've got these people at
call centers wearing headsets following on the Company's leads
or making cold calls. All they do is fill a computer screen with
the information, and the corporation kicks back what kind of
loan to offer," DetNews.com reports.

SIGNATURE FLIGHT: Employees Lodge $10M Discrimination Suit in CA
Four black employees of Signature Flight Support Corporation,
the world's largest service Company for private planes and jets
have filed a $10 million discrimination lawsuit against the San
Francisco branch, alleging unfair treatment, the Associated
Press reports.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court, one
plaintiff in the proposed class-action suit against the Company,
is claiming that he was told by the general manager at a 2003
meeting that he had two drawbacks as a supervisor: "You're
black, and you have a stammering problem."

Donald Hamilton claims the remark showed both race and
disability discrimination.  Another plaintiff is also claiming
sexual discrimination, saying she was subjected to lewd comments
and unwanted sexual advances. Two of the four plaintiffs are
also claiming that they had been fired for fictional reasons
after they complained.

Signature, a U.S. subsidiary of the British Company BBA Group,
has 1,700 employees at more than 40 U.S. airports, according to
the lawsuit.  The suit claims that Mr. Hamilton, the lead
plaintiff had worked for nearly seven years at the Company
without a promotion despite recommendations by his supervisors.
According to the suit, the very same general manager, who had
made the comments about his race and stammering, eventually
promoted him to supervisor in 2003.  Another plaintiff, Bobby
Jones, claims that after he complained to a Company official
about racial slurs and disparities in pay, he was assaulted by a
supervisor and later fired.

TEXAS: Attorney General Sues Two Firms Over Immigration Fraud
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed lawsuits against two El
Paso-based immigration-consulting operations that allegedly
defrauded hundreds of consumers by providing unauthorized legal
advice, document preparation and other services.

One lawsuit alleges Jesus Sandoval gave the impression in
advertisements that his Immigration Legal Clinic could help
clients navigate a "new immigration reform policy" between the
United States and Mexico, when in fact there was no such policy.
Sandoval also represented himself as a licensed attorney, but
failed to reveal that the New Mexico Supreme Court had suspended
his license in 1999 after he stole $82,000 in clients? funds.
The other lawsuit accuses brothers Roberto and Francisco Ramirez
of providing unauthorized legal advice to hundreds of clients
for at least five years, despite the fact that neither man was
licensed to practice law in Texas.

"I continue to be shocked at the brazenness of scam artists who
exploit those simply wanting to call Texas home," said Attorney
General Abbott.  "I am committed to stamping out immigration-
consulting fraud across this state. Texas law is quite clear
about who is authorized to provide immigration consulting
services, and those who disregard that law will be brought to

Both lawsuits allege violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade
Practices Act. In Texas, only licensed attorneys and nonprofit
groups specifically accredited by the U.S. Department of
Justice's Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) can charge fees to
advise and represent clients in immigration matters.

The Ramirez lawsuit also alleges the brothers, both notaries
public, violated the Texas notary public statute by advertising
they were "notarios p'os."  In Texas a notary public is an
official witness during the signing of certain documents, but in
Mexico the term "notario p'o" is used to designate certain
highly experienced attorneys.  Scam artists in Texas have long
exploited this mistranslation to give Spanish-speaking clients
the impression they are dealing with an attorney.

Former or current clients of Sandoval or the Ramirezes who want
to obtain their files can contact the Office of the Attorney
General at 1-800-252-8011. Complaints can also be filed at that
number against any other suspected unauthorized operation. Help
is available in Spanish and English.

UNITED STATES: FTC Launches 7th Annual Consumer Protection Week
The Federal Trade Commission launched the seventh annual
National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), February 6-12, 2005,
in cooperation with federal, state and local agencies, and
national advocacy organizations committed to consumer protection
and education.

This year's theme, "Identity Theft: When Fact Becomes Fiction,"
focuses on minimizing the risk of identity theft and taking fast
action if an identity thief strikes. Identity theft affects
approximately 10 million Americans each year. During the week,
agencies participating in NCPW will work together to help
consumers and businesses prevent identity theft and help victims
restore their good names.

The NCPW Web site, www.consumer.gov/ncpw, contains helpful
information for consumers and businesses on a variety of topics,
including "phishing" scams, telecommunications fraud, Internet
fraud, and the theft of printed documents with personal
information, as well as protecting employees from identity theft
in the workplace. The site also contains valuable consumer
information on the steps to take if you become a victim.

"We're committed to working with our partners to give consumers
the information they need to fight identity theft and other
consumer fraud," said Lydia Parnes, Acting Director of the FTC's
Bureau of Consumer Protection. "National Consumer Protection
Week is a great opportunity for organizations across the country
to teach consumers about their rights."

Organizations interested in promoting NCPW can click on the
"Outreach Toolkit," which contains downloadable materials - a
poster, flyer, sample press materials, public service
announcements, Web-ready logos, banner ads, and buttons.

Identity thieves open new accounts in other peoples' names and
rack up debts on existing accounts, using consumers' Social
Security numbers, bank account information, addresses, or phone
numbers. Identity theft victims may spend years - and large sums
of money - restoring their credit histories and their good
names. Some consumers have been denied jobs or insurance or been
arrested for crimes they did not commit. A recent survey
indicates that the dollar volume of the crime was $52.6 billion
in 2004 - much of that cost is accrued by businesses.

NCPW is sponsored by the FTC, the Federal Citizen Information
Center, the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation, the Department of Justice's Office for
Victims of Crime, the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Postal
Inspection Service, the National Association of Consumer Agency
Administrators, the National Consumers League, AARP, the Better
Business Bureau, Call for Action, the Consumer Federation of
America, the National Association of Attorneys General, National
Association of Consumer Affairs Administrators, the California
Office of Privacy Protection, the Ohio Attorney General's
Office, the Identity Theft Resource Center, and the Privacy
Rights Clearinghouse.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive,
and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide
information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To
file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150
consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-
4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov.The FTC
enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-
related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online
database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

For more details, contact Jen Schwartzman, Office of Public
Affairs by Phone: 202-326-2674 or Carol Kando-Pineda, Office of
Consumer and Business Education by Phone: 202-326-3152

UNITED STATES: NAATS Lodges Age Discrimination Lawsuit V. FAA
The National Association of Air Traffic Specialists (NAATS) has
filed a class action complaint against the FAA for age

The complaint identifies 1,935 Controllers adversely affected by
the FAA's recent decision to contract out flight service to
Lockheed Martin. NAATS has protested the entire outsourcing
process and has been committed to protecting employee's rights
and benefits. The complaint is on file with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for the next 30 days, and then
will be filed in U. S. District Court.

The agency even admitted that a main reason for its decision to
outsource flight service was the "retirement eligible
workforce". "It has been a long and laborious fight for us,"
stated Kate Breen, NAATS President. "We have been forced into a
legal battle over our Federal jobs and retirement benefits that
our members have worked for and earned and are now being

Flight Service Controllers are crucial to the safe and secure
function of the nation's airspace and national security. During
every national crisis Flight Service has stepped up and provided
professional, safe and exemplary service. During the barrage of
hurricanes across the southeast last year, the FAA closed air
traffic facilities in the region with the exception of Flight
Service. Many of these Controllers were directly affected by the
damage of the hurricanes, yet they remained on duty and
performed their jobs.

The government federalized employees who check passengers and
baggage at airports. Why then does the government allow an
experienced and dedicated workforce to be abandoned? The FAA's
vision to save money at the expense of its employees' livelihood
is despicable and cannot be allowed. These employees will lose
thousands of dollars invested in a pension that the FAA now
refuses to honor. This has been done before in Corporate
America; it was called "Enron".

Attorney Joseph D. Gebhardt of Gebhardt & Associates is
representing NAATS in this case.

For more details, contact Kate Breen of the National Association
of Air Traffic Specialists by Mail: 11303 Amherst Avenue, Suite
4, Wheaton, MD 20902 by Phone: 301 933-6228 or by Fax:

UNITED STATES: Federal Judges, Atty. Generals Oppose Reform Bill
Federal judges criticized the Class Action Fairness Act moving
through Congress, which seeks to move class actions from state
courts to federal courts and would cover all types of suits,
including securities litigations, the Associated Press reports.

The federal judges said that shifting cases from state courts to
federal courts would be a big burden for them.  In a 2003
letter, the Judicial Conference of the United States, the
federal court system's policy-making board led by Supreme Court
Chief Justice William Rehnquist, said the bill could hurt the
courts as well.

"That opposition was based on concerns that the provisions would
add substantially to the workload of the federal courts,"
Leonidas Ralph Meacham, director of the conference's
administrative office, said in the March 26, 2003 letter,
according to AP.

In January, President Bush pushed for reform, specifically
revisions in medical liability law that according to him, are
needed to eliminate frivolous lawsuits that are driving up the
cost of health care, an earlier Class Action Reporter story
(January 4,2005) states.

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

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

In fiscal year 2003, 2,148 new class action cases were filed in
federal courts, court officials said.  That was a decrease from
the two previous years, with 2,818 filed in 2002 and 3,082 in
2001.  No one tallies the number of class action suits filed in
state courts, but the bill's supporters guess that thousands of
class action lawsuits are filed there as well, AP reports.

A November news release from the courts said budget cuts
required the federal courts to reduce their work force by 1,350
jobs in 2003, furlough more than 500 workers, and reduce the
public hours in the clerks' office and freeze or dramatically
reduce non-case related travel, training and new contracts, AP

Fifteen state attorneys general also told the Senate this week
they oppose the legislation, saying it "would result in far more
harm than good."  In a letter signed by attorneys general from
California, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia, the attorney
generals complained that the bill could also reduce state
attorneys general's power to sue.  The legislation, if enacted,
would interfere "with one means of protecting our citizens from
unlawful actions," the letter said, according to AP.

Under an agreement between the GOP-controlled House and Senate,
if senators don't change the legislation, the House will pass it
quickly and send it to President Bush to be signed.  The Senate
rejected, 60-39, an amendment by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., that
would have made state attorneys general's exempt from the
legislation's restrictions.

The bill "does not impede any authority of any attorney
general," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas and the state's former
attorney general told AP.

UNITED STATES: Senate Thwarts Attempts At Amending Reform Bill
The GOP-dominated Senate thwarted attempts to change legislation
that would send most class action lawsuits to federal court,
thus increasing the bill's chances of being passed in Congress
and eventually being signed by President Bush, the Associated
Press reports.  Under a compromise between the two houses, if
senators don't change the legislation, the House will pass it
quickly and send it to the White House.

Speaking in the Commerce Department building just blocks from
Capitol Hill, President Bush pressured senators to pass the bill
without any changes saying, "They're trying to amend the bill.
That's code word for they're trying to weaken the bill. They're
trying to make the bill not effective," The AP reports.

The President and other supporters say the bill, which would
send most multi-state class action lawsuits to federal court
instead of allowing them to be heard in state courts, is needed
because lawyers try to file their lawsuits in states where they
can get large payouts. Senators who back the bill also said that
greedy lawyers make more money from such cases than do the
actual victims, and that lawyers sometimes threaten companies
with class action suits just to get quick financial settlements.

Opponents of the bill though, contend that it is aimed at
helping businesses escape multimillion-dollar judgments for
their wrongdoing and would hurt lawyers trying to litigate those

Meanwhile, the Senate rejected, 60-39, an amendment by Sen. Mark
Pryor, D-Ark., that would have made state attorneys general
exempt from the legislation's restrictions. He along with 46
state attorneys general argued the bill could reduce their power
to sue, because attorneys general sometimes act as the class
representative for consumers in their state.

Initially, in a letter signed by attorneys general from 15
states, they argued that the legislation, if enacted, would
interfere "with one means of protecting our citizens from
unlawful actions." Forty-six attorneys general signed a later
letter, which was submitted as Sen. Pryor was arguing for his
amendment on the Senate floor. According to an aide of the
senator, the only four states whose attorney general did not
sign were: Alabama, Illinois, New Mexico and Texas.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas and that state's former attorney
general, told AP in reaction to the letter that the bill "does
not impede any authority of any attorney general."

Still, the bill's opponents contend that federal judges
routinely dismiss class action suits that deal with multi-state
law, saying that applying more than one state's law to a case
makes it too unwieldy. They said that if this legislation
passes, those cases would have nowhere to be heard, since state
courts will be banned from hearing them.

However, the Senate, on a 61-38 vote, barred an amendment that
would have barred federal judges from dismissing cases simply
because the laws of another state would apply. Furthermore, the
Senate also rejected an amendment that would have exempted civil
rights and labor class action lawsuits on a 59-40 vote.

UNITED STATES: CPSC Advises Against Ban on All-Terrain Vehicles
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advised against a
ban on the sale of new, full-size all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to
buyers who plan to let children ride them in a report, saying
that halting such sales would not necessarily stop kids from
riding larger ATVs, the Associated Press reports.

Several consumer and physician groups petitioned the CPSC to
issue a rule forbidding sales if the ATVs are meant for children
under 16, citing a high rate of injuries.  The CPSC's staff
investigated and, while acknowledging the injuries, the report
stated that "While the commission can affect to some degree how
ATVs are sold, it cannot control the behavior of consumers or
prevent adults from allowing children to ride adult-size ATVs."

ATVs, capable of reaching highway speeds, are increasingly
popular with off-road enthusiasts.  The CPSC estimates 6.2
million four-wheel ATVs were in use in 2003, twice as many as
five years earlier.  Three-wheel ATVs were outlawed in 1988
because of their propensity to flip, though some remain in use,
AP reports.

The government reported last month that more people than ever
are being killed and injured on ATVs. Of the nearly 6,000 ATV
deaths reported to the commission since 1982, children under 16
accounted for a third. Of fatalities where engine size and the
driver's age are known, 86 percent involved children driving
adult-size ATVs.

Rachel Weintraub, assistant general counsel for the Consumer
Federation of America, one of the petitioners, told AP the
staff's recommendation "does not serve the public interest, nor
will it protect consumers."

Under a voluntary agreement between the industry and the CPSC,
major ATV distributors require that dealers not sell adult-size
ATVs to people they suspect will allow children to ride them.
Ms. Weintraub told AP few dealers abide by that rule.  While
acknowledging a ban would be difficult to enforce, she said at a
minimum it would make clear to consumers that children should
not be allowed to ride full-size ATVs.

The CPSC report said states and localities have a "critical role
to play" in protecting children but offered no guidance about
steps they could take.  The CPSC has not scheduled a vote on the
petition and has no obligation to follow the recommendation.
However, Chairman Hal Stratton previously said a sales
prohibition would do little to lessen ATV accidents, AP reports.

WELLS FARGO: Former Employee Lodges Overtime Wage Lawsuit in CA
The law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Lewis,
Feinberg, Renaker & Jackson, PC, and Rudy, Exelrod & Zieff, LLP,
reported the filing of a federal class action lawsuit charging
that Wells Fargo & Co. has a common practice of refusing to pay
overtime compensation to its business systems employees. Wells
Fargo employs several thousand-business systems employees
nationwide. The lawsuit, entitled Gerlach v. Wells Fargo & Co.,
No. 05-0585 BZ, was filed in United States District Court in San
Francisco, California.

"Wells Fargo touts its employees as its 'competitive advantage'
and states that everyone on its team is important and deserves
respect. However, when it comes to providing for its employees,
Wells Fargo uses practices outlawed decades ago," stated Lieff
Cabraser partner James M. Finberg.

Wells Fargo's business systems employees, who have the job
titles of "business systems analysts" and "business systems
consultants," are responsible for producing automated versions
of paper forms, updating automated forms, and providing routine
production support for Wells Fargo, such as updating user
profiles. Using templates, the business systems employees also
compile information that is provided by other Wells Fargo
employees, regarding the technical specifications for improving
Wells Fargo's business systems processes.

The lawsuit alleges that Wells Fargo unlawfully characterizes
its business systems employees as "exempt" in order to deprive
them of overtime pay. Lewis, Feinberg, Renaker & Jackson
principal Todd F. Jackson stated, "Workers are entitled to
overtime pay unless they fall under one of the specified legal
exemptions to paying overtime. Wells Fargo business systems
employees are not managers and they do not qualify for any
exemption under wage and hour laws."

"It is a well-established principle of overtime law that you
cannot avoid overtime pay requirements by providing a fancy
sounding title to workers who are entitled to overtime pay under
the law," stated Steven G. Zieff, a partner with Rudy, Exelrod &
Zieff. "The lawsuit seeks to require Wells Fargo to affirm the
principle that all business systems employees are entitled to
protection under federal and state overtime pay laws."

For more details, contact Monica Barsetti of Lieff Cabraser by
Phone: 415-956-1000 or by E-mail: mbarsetti@lchb.com.

WESTERN KENTUCKY: KY A.G. Stumbo Files Complaint Over Rates
Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo filed a complaint at the
Public Service Commission, requesting the Commission open a case
on Western Kentucky Gas, also known as Atmos.  The complaint
states that Western Kentucky Gas is over-earning and should be
required to lower its rates by as much as $7.4 million per year.
The Company provides natural gas to 38 counties in Western
Kentucky and serves more than 180,000 customers.

Western Kentucky Gas has already settled a case with similar
claims in Colorado. Meanwhile, Tennessee is also looking into
possible over-earning by Atmos.

In filing the action, Attorney General Stumbo expressed his
frustrations with utility companies in general. "Many of these
companies are quick to run to the Commission begging for more of
our citizens' money when they claim they are not making enough
profits. Yet, the extent of the companies' requests is not
usually justified," A.G. Stumbo said.

"Of course, when the companies are making more money than they
should, they remain silent. How is that good corporate

The complaint will be reviewed by the Commission which will then
decide if it will open the complaint and allow the Attorney
General to demonstrate the millions of dollars that Atmos is
over-earning every year. "It is my hope that the Commission will
afford my office the opportunity for a hearing and allow us to
request a reduction for the companies ratepayers," The Attorney
General added. "This is especially critical in this age when
many people are already struggling to pay their utility bills."

For more information, please contact the Office of the Attorney
General, State Capitol, Suite 118, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601 by
Phone: (502) 696-5300

                         Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Claims Against Owens Illinois Reach 35,000
Owens Illinois Inc. (NYSE: OI), maker of glass containers,
disclosed in its latest filing to the Securities and Exchange
Commission that as of Dec. 31, 2004, the number of asbestos-
related lawsuits and claims pending against the Company was
about 35,000, up from about 30,000 pending claims in Dec. 31,
2003. This is said to be due to a lower rate of claim
dispositions for non-serious cases than in the comparable
earlier period.

The Toledo, OH-based Company also stated that a significant
number of those pending cases have exposure dates after the
Company's 1958 exit from the business, for which it takes the
position that it has no liability or are subject to dismissal
because they were filed in improper forums.

The Company anticipates that cash flows from operations and
other sources will be sufficient to meet its asbestos-related
obligations on a short-term and long-term basis.

The Company has conducted its annual comprehensive review of its
asbestos-related liabilities and costs in connection with
finalizing and reporting its results for the full year, and has
concluded that an increase in its reserve for future asbestos-
related costs in the amount of US$152.6 million is required. In
2003, the Company increased its reserve for future asbestos-
related costs in the amount of US$450.0 million.

Asbestos-related cash payments in the fourth quarter of 2004
were US$39.8 million compared with US$41.8 million for the
fourth quarter of 2003, a reduction of US$2.0 million or 5.0%.
For the full year 2004, asbestos-related payments of US$190.1
million compare with US$199.0 million for the full year 2003, a
reduction of US$8.9 million or 4.5%.

New claim filings in the fourth quarter increased by about 900.
However, about 95% of these increased filings were non-malignant
or non-impaired cases. New claim filings for the full year 2004
declined by about 42% from the year ago period.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Halliburton Agrees to $30M Local Settlement
The Halliburton Company (NYSE: HAL) agreed to pay out a US$30
million legal claims settlement for 120 families of asbestos
victims in the Pacific Northwest. Along with this, the Houston,
TX-based Company will also create a fund for future victims of
asbestos-related diseases.

The local settlement was part of a US$4.3 billion national
settlement involving about 250,000 plaintiffs who had sued the
Company in connection with exposure to asbestos products
distributed by Halliburton subsidiaries.

A Halliburton subsidiary, Dresser Industries, knew since the
1930s of the harmful effects of asbestos yet no warnings were
issued and it even continued to distribute them through the mid-
1970s, said Matthew Bergman, attorney for the local families and
one of seven lawyers involved in negotiating the settlement.

Locally, asbestos products were widely used in shipyards, pulp
mills and power plants.

Mr. Bergman said that many of his clients worked at the Puget
Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, composed mostly of civilian
workers and some sailors, who remember sleeping in bunks beneath
pipes insulated with asbestos.

Charisse Dahlke's husband Dale spent 25 years as an electrician
in the Naval Yard before being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a
type of cancer caused by asbestos. He died seven months later,
in May 2003. She recalls her husband saying, "It was
everywhere." She says he even remembered some of the guys using
it for snowball fights.

"The bad thing for me is they knew and they didn't tell people,"
Mrs. Dahlke added.

Mary LaPointe's husband Dan was the son of a construction worker
who often came home from work in clothes dusted with a fluffy
white powder. Mr. LaPointe worked construction jobs, mostly
handling insulation material. More than 25 years after first
being exposed, he was diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer,
and died in 2000.

The lawsuits had hurt Halliburton investors financially.
According to the New York Times, in one day in 2001, shares fell
by more than 40 percent, to US$12 a share, because of concern
over asbestos liability. When the settlement was finalized, the
Company called it "good news" because it removed uncertainty
about the Company's future.

Although, asbestos is no longer used at the Naval yard, it is
still used elsewhere in the United States. Sen. Patty Murray has
been working on legislation to ban asbestos, but has been

Halliburton admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: SC Orders Separate Trials in Jones County
Citing that there was no event that linked the plaintiffs, the
Mississippi Supreme Court ordered separate trials for dozens of
plaintiffs in an asbestos case in Jones County.

A year ago, the Supreme Court ordered separate trials for
multiple defendants in asbestos lawsuits. The justices have said
it was improper to group plaintiffs together when their claims
did not arise from the same incident.

According to court documents, nine plaintiffs filed suit against
258 named defendants as well as 200 "John Doe" defendants for
alleged exposure to asbestos and products containing asbestos.
The number of defendants was cut down to about 40.

The nine plaintiffs claimed exposure to asbestos and products
containing asbestos while employed with Ingalls Shipyard in

Chief Justice Jim Smith, writing for the court, said even though
the plaintiffs worked at the same shipyard they were employed at
different dates, in different jobs and their alleged exposure to
asbestos was in different lengths of time.

"There are too many differences between the plaintiffs, and
there is not a distinct litigable event linking the parties,
except that they all at one time in their life worked at Ingalls
Shipyard," Judge Smith wrote.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: ACE Ltd 4Q Earnings Drop on Asbestos Charge
ACE Ltd. (NYSE: ACE) reported lower fourth-quarter earnings as
the insurance holding Company booked a charge of US$302 million,
or US$1.06 a share, to strengthen its asbestos, environmental
and other reserves.

The Bermuda-based Company reported earnings of US$282 million,
or 94 cents a share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, after
payment of preferred dividends, compared with earnings of US$444
million, or US$1.53 a share, in the year-earlier period.

Income excluding net realized gains for the latest quarter was
US$166 million, or 54 cents a share, compared with US$328
million, or US$1.12 a share, in the year-ago period.

Combined ratio for the quarter was 104 percent. Excluding the
charge, the combined ratio was 87.7 percent. Net premiums
written increased to US$2.66 billion in the latest period.

The fourth-quarter charge is about US$180 million less than the
specific reserve range suggested by an outside consultant,
Company executives said in a conference call earlier this month.

The Company said it expected 2005 operating cash flow to fall to
US$4 billion while the Company expects a 2005 combined ratio of
89 percent to 91 percent. ACE also sees its financial services
operating income down 25 percent to 30 percent this year while
it expects property and casualty net premium growth of 9 percent
to 11 percent.

The charge comprises US$279 million relating to the Brandywine
operation and US$19 million relating to the ACE Westchester
Specialty unit.

ACE's asbestos exposure is principally related to liabilities in
the property-casualty business acquired from Cigna Corp. in 1999
and Westchester Specialty, acquired from Talegen in 1998. The
liabilities now reside in its Brandywine Holdings unit.

ACE was among several insurance companies named but not charged
in a suit brought by New York State Attorney General Eliot
Spitzer against New York brokerage Marsh & McLennan Companies
Inc. for bid rigging and price-fixing.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: DEP Probes Craffey and Co. for Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
discovered an asbestos violation during a routine inspection of
a renovation site worked on by Craffey and Co. Agency spokesman
Joe Ferson said part of a dismantled heating system in the
Buttner building had exposed the hazardous substance.

Mr. Ferson said Kevin Craffey, the Company's CEO, explained last
fall that the violation occurred when crews were working on a
part of the building's lower level where plans showed,
incorrectly, that no asbestos was present. Mr. Craffey signed a
consent order on Dec. 13 promising to complete the asbestos
cleanup according to department regulations.

The Company has paid a US$32,430 penalty because of the
violation, he said.

Mr. Craffey said that the building was free of contamination
based on tests conducted by the state's industrial hygienist.

Plymouth Center Steering Committee member Susan Melchin had
urged her panel last month to ask Mr. Craffey whether the
Department of Environmental Protection certified the building as

"A year ago [Craffey] made a grand presentation" to local
merchants, Ms. Melchin said. "Two weeks later, he went to jail.
How is he going to regain his credibility with us?"

Mr. Craffey was sentenced to two months in jail earlier this
year by the state of New Hampshire because of asbestos
violations during the reconstruction of the Mountain View Grand
resort and spa, a tourist attraction in northern New Hampshire.
New Hampshire authorities said workers removed and buried
asbestos on the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa property in
Whitefield illegally.

Mr. Craffey said he had accepted responsibility as the head of
the Company for mistakes made by his workers in disposing of
asbestos found in the 19th-century building. It was "the best
decision I could have made for the 550 employees that work with
me," he said.

The steering committee agreed to question Mr. Craffey on the
asbestos issue in a letter, if town officials decided that the
query was consistent with the panel's role. The committee did
not send the letter after it was told the matter was beyond its
role as an advisory body, said Bobbi Clark, the committee's

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Firefighters Praised for Immediate Action
UK firefighters fearing that dangerous asbestos spores may have
been released into the air when a school went up in flames last
week immediately established measures to ensure safety within
the site.

Firefighters exposed to smoke and debris from South Yorkshire's
burning science block at Willowgarth High School, Grimethorpe,
Barnsley, had to be decontaminated. Their firefighting clothes
were then sealed and sent away to a specialist firm for deep

The blaze is estimated to have caused around GBP1 million in
damage to 10 classrooms used for science, media studies and
English. A computer suite was destroyed and two science
preparation rooms, toilets and staff rooms were all affected.

The fire service learned there was asbestos in wall panels in
the blazing block shortly after arriving. They doused the
building with water to prevent any asbestos debris from becoming

Police asked drivers to keep away and warned residents to keep
windows closed because they were unsure what chemicals and other
pollutants were burning. The police helicopter was used to relay
public safety messages over a loud speaker.

The school's premises manager Steve Clough said that they came
across asbestos in a cupboard and had scheduled to have it
removed. The school promptly prepared a report on it since they
believed there was a strong likelihood of it being in other
parts of the school.

"Obviously when the fire started it was a concern to us that
there was asbestos in the building, so the fire service was
informed immediately and all precautions were taken to prevent
people being affected by it," said Mr. Clough.

Assistant divisional officer Paul Slater said everything was
done to minimize any danger to firefighters and the general
public. The firefighters were informed of the presence of
asbestos as soon as they arrived thus, enabling them to put
procedures in place to protect themselves as well as the local

Teachers evacuated 750 children within minutes of the fire alarm
set off by an assistant who spotted flames in a science lab
preparation room.

Police are not treating the incident as suspicious and believe
that it may have been started by an electrical fault.

South Yorkshire's assistant chief fire officer John Hoey praised
staff at the school for evacuating the children safely. He said
he would be using the blaze to highlight why it is vital for all
schools to be fitted with a water sprinkler system.

A Barnsley Council spokesman said, "We will reopen the school as
soon as possible, but until the fire service have completed
their work we are unsure when this will be. The council has
mobilized its emergency team who are on site. They will stand by
until the site is declared safe by the emergency services."

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Charity to Launch Respite Center in Ireland
A Northern Ireland charity which supports the victims of
asbestos has been handed almost GBP10,000 to help launch a
respite center in Belfast.

TSB Bank gave GPB4,500 and the Lottery Fund offered GBP5,000 to
the Justice for Asbestos Victims to start an information office
offering help to sufferers and their families.

Chairman of Justice for Asbestos Victims, June Brown, said, "The
money will go some way towards opening an office to offer advice
to victims of the disease and their families. But my vision is
to open a respite center to help those affected

June's husband Robbie Brown started the charity in 2002 before
he died from asbestos-related lung cancer in 2003. Since then
the voluntary charity has guided its 300 members on everything
from medical information to the law.

Asbestos has been widely used in the shipbuilding industry,
resulting in a legacy of serious health problems.

Ms. Brown said the companies should be held accountable. She
said, "They knew they had asbestos but they didn't make people
aware. It's scandalous what happened."

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Chubb Corp 4Q Profit Increases Sharply
Chubb Corp. (NYSE: CB), an underwriter of property and casualty
insurance, said that fourth-quarter profit surged as premiums
grew 5 percent.

Net income rose to US$467.6 million, or US$2.39 per share, from
US$72.3 million, or 38 cents per share, a year ago. Operating
income, which excludes investment gains and losses, was US$421
million, or US$2.15 per share, above estimates of US$1.97 per
share from a Thomson First Call survey of analysts.

Net premiums written increased 5 percent to US$3.08 billion from
US$2.93 billion. The Warren, New Jersey-based Company said U.S.
premiums grew 5 percent and non-U.S. premiums grew 7 percent, or
2 percent in local currencies.

The Company said catastrophe losses reduced earnings by 4 cents
per share and an increase in asbestos loss reserves depleted
income by 25 cents per share.

The Company's combined loss ratio, which measures the percentage
of revenue spent on losses, expenses and commissions, was 90.6
percent, an improvement from 104 percent a year ago.

For the year, Chubb earned US$1.55 billion, or US$8.01 per
share, up from US$808.8 million in 2004. Operating income was
US$1.4 billion, or US$7.26 per share. Analysts were looking for
operating earnings of US$7.08 per share. Net premiums written
rose to US$12.05 billion from US$11.07 billion.

For 2005, Chubb predicted operating income of US$7.60 to US$8
per share, a forecast that and assumes catastrophe losses will
add 3 points to the combined ratio, and excludes the results of
Chubb Financial Services. The Company predicted net premiums
will grow 1 percent to 4 percent.

Chubb's fourth-quarter results also included increases in net
asbestos loss reserves of US$75 million, or 25 cents a share,
after taxes in 2004 and US$250 million pre-tax, or 86 centers a
share, in 2003.

"An excellent fourth quarter capped off an outstanding year for
Chubb, with significant profit improvement achieved through
superior underwriting, better expense control and higher
investment income," said John D. Finnegan, Chairman, President
and Chief Executive Officer.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: AU Mine Survivors Fear Death Due to Cancer
Stories of an asbestos shoveling competition in 1962 at
Wittenoom have surfaced, providing a tragic outlook at the
outcome of CSR workers' exposure to asbestos. Death has claimed
four of these men, including several of their children, while
leaving three of them fighting asbestos-related diseases.

One of the survivors, former mineworker Arthur Maddalena won a
landmark case for psychiatric injury caused by asbestos exposure
last October. Mr. Maddalena continues to remain haunted by the
fear of death after watching his brother Walter die painfully
from the cancer mesothelioma.

As previously reported in the Oct. 15, 2004 edition of the Class
Action Reporter, the Supreme Court in Perth has ruled that
Arthur Della Maddalena, a worker at the asbestos mine in Western
Australia, is entitled to compensation from CSR, which owns
Mildalco, formerly known as Australian Blue Asbestos. In a
unanimous decision, the Court ruled that Mr. Maddalena had
suffered psychiatric injury caused by exposure to asbestos,
despite the fact that he does not suffer from mesothelioma.

A photograph from this competition in the mining town in Pilbara
portrayed the participants who were thought to have all died
except for Mr. Maddalena. However, former Wittenoom workers Tony
Uchanski and Stan Kruchewski recognized themselves in the line-

Mr. Uchanski, aged 80, has asbestosis and doesn't know why he
has survived. "I am the lucky one-in-a-million. Almost all my
Polish friends are gone from those days," he said.

A former underground miner, Mr. Kruchewski has 25 percent of his
lung shadowed by a black spot. His wife Irene, aged 75,
underwent an operation for lung cancer last year. She believes
she got it while washing her husband's clothes. She claims to
never having set foot in the mine.

Also in the photograph was Mr. Kruchewski's friend, Gienek
Jaworski, who served only as a bus driver. He died just before
Christmas 2003.

Locomotive driver Joe Piwowarczyk died of mesothelioma in 2003.
He outlived his sons Joseph and Edward, who were raised at
Wittenoom and died of asbestos-related disease in 1997 and 1993

They believe another man, Brian Bolitho, died in 1978 of
mesothelioma. His brother and father, who were also at
Wittenoom, died of the same disease.

Widow Janina Pas identified her husband Peter, a former
locomotive driver and mill worker, in the photograph. His case
was one of the earliest documented cases of asbestosis. Mr. Pas
died at age 40, five years after the photo was taken.

Bill Musk, pulmonary physician at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital,
says the incidence of disease among Wittenoom sufferers is now
hitting its peak.

"Twenty years ago there were 25 cases of mesothelioma in Western
Australia," Dr. Musk said. "Now it's over 100 cases a year."

Second and third waves of victims, including occupational users
of asbestos building products from James Hardie Industries, will
not peak for another 10 to 20 years. "And then it will decline,
not stop," he said.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Victims of Minor Asbestos Exposure Rising
While the number of deaths from Western Australia's Wittenoom
mine is said to have reached its peak, the number of victims of
incidental or intermittent exposure is on the rise at around 10%
a year, says society spokesman Robert Vojakovich.

The society was said to be seeing numerous new cases of
asbestos-related illnesses from people who claim to have had
minor contact with asbestos. That asbestos exposure can take 40
years to develop into a disease only makes it more difficult for
some victims to determine the source of the illness.

Ken Fowlie, Slater and Gordon's coordinator of asbestos
litigation, confirmed that a new category of non-occupational
asbestos disease cases was emerging.

One of these include farmer Max Waters, aged 60, who was
diagnosed last August with mesothelioma, an asbestos-caused lung
cancer. When they first found out, he and his wife Angela were
baffled as to where the exposure had occurred.

Sorting through family albums, they found a 25-year-old picture
of him demolishing a farmhouse made from asbestos sheeting.
Another showed Mr. Waters in front of a garden fence he had
erected from recycled asbestos sheets.

"There was all the evidence in front of us," recalled Mrs.
Waters, "jagged bits and piles of rubble. And that was the last
real contact he'd had."

A few days before he died last December, Mr. Waters settled a
confidential claim against asbestos manufacturer James Hardie.
His case is typical of the new wave of asbestos victims emerging
across Australia.

Max Waters' death has shocked his hometown of Kalannie in
Western Australia's wheatbelt, where old buildings and crumbling
fences are still common.

"All the houses were made of asbestos, and everyone has knocked
a fence down or added an extra room. The message is: don't do it
yourself, call in the experts if you do want to take a fence
down," said Mrs. Waters, who also lost her brother-in-law to
mesothelioma last April.

Mr. Waters' lawyer, Tim Hammond, said other documented cases of
exposure suggested even low levels of contact could lead to

According to the Asbestos Diseases Society, one in three houses
built after World War II was made of asbestos cement fibro

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: W.R. Grace Charged in Montana Asbestos Case
W.R. Grace & Co. and seven current or former executives were
charged with conspiring to endanger residents in Libby, Montana,
and then concealing the health risks from asbestos-contaminated
vermiculite, the US Justice Department said.

Returned by a federal grand jury in Missoula, MT, the 10-count
indictment charged the defendants with conspiracy, clean-air act
violations, wire fraud and obstruction of justice involving
asbestos-related diseases linked to its former vermiculite
mining and processing operations.

The federal indictment says the corporation conspired "to
conceal and misrepresent the hazardous nature" of the tainted
ore. The indictment also accuses the officials of conspiring "to
increase profits and avoid liability by misleading the
government" as it investigated reports of a possible health

The indictment also charges W.R. Grace or other named defendants
in two counts of "knowing endangerment" under the Clean Air Act,
three counts of wire fraud, and four counts of obstruction of

Grace, a specialty chemicals Company currently in bankruptcy
proceedings, operated the vermiculite mine from 1963 to 1990,
and it continued processing operations until 1992. The
vermiculite, with uses that included insulation, was
contaminated with a form of asbestos known as tremolite.

The indictment says for many years, Company officials knew, and
tried to hide, the dangers to the community of 8,000 residents
from its hazardous mining operation. Prosecutors say 1,200
residents of Libby have suffered lung diseases and related
pleural abnormalities from exposure to tremolite asbestos. The
document says more than 20 town residents suffered "an extremely
rare and fatal form of cancer in humans known as mesothelioma."

The contamination came to light in 1999 after news reports
linked the mine to the deaths of nearly 200 people and illness
in hundreds more. Vermiculite was used in household products,
including home insulation.

Under the law, a Company can be fined for up to twice the gain
for activities associated with its criminal conduct, the
official said. The indictment said Grace reaped more than US$140
million in profits from asbestos-contaminated vermiculite.

According to the indictment, the conspiracy began in 1976 and
continued until 2002.

In a statement, the Company "categorically denied" any criminal
wrongdoing, "As a Company and as individuals, we believe that
one serious illness or lost life is one too many." The Company
also said the government distributed the indictment to the media
without providing it with a copy.

Convictions could bring criminal fines for the corporation up to
US$280 million dollars, twice the value of the profits from its
Montana mine. Individual defendants, if convicted, could face
sentences from five years to 70 years in prison.

Government officials said three of the seven defendants indicted
in the case are still employed by W.R. Grace. They are Alan
Stringer, a manager at the Libby Mine, Robert Bettacchi,
president of the CPD unit, and Mario Favorito, legal counsel to
W.R. Grace's ICG unit

Also named in the indictment were Henry Eschenbach, a health and
safety expert at W.R. Grace's Industrial Chemicals Group (ICG);
and Jack Wolter a vice-president of W.R. Grace's Construction
Products Division (CPD), William McCaig a maintenance
superintendent and operations manager at the mine; and Robert
Walsh, with positions that included executive vice president of
Grace Specialty Chemicals.

The Environmental Protection Agency has since declared the area
a Superfund site and has spent more than US$55 million on
cleanup so far.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Zurich Pays US$547Mil To Cut Asbestos Risk
Switzerland's Zurich Financial Services Group announced that
Centre Group, a subsidiary of Zurich, and Equitas have reached
an agreement to commute policies purchased from Centre by
Lloyd's syndicates reinsured by Equitas.

Zurich Financial said it will pay US$547 million to Equitas
Holding Ltd. to reduce reinsurance exposure at its troubled U.S.
unit Centre Group. Equitas is the Lloyd's vehicle set up in 1996
to runoff asbestos and environmental claims, accrued before

Analysts interpreted the transaction as part of Zurich
Financial's efforts to rid itself of asbestos reinsurance risks.
Zurich declined to say whether the move will specifically reduce
asbestos risks.

The deal effectively eliminates Centre's exposure to syndicates
reinsured by Equitas, Zurich Financial said.

"This is a positive transaction and shows that the Zurich
management is pushing ahead with its effort to rid itself of its
problems at Centre," said Kepler Equities analyst Rene Locher,
who rates the stock a buy.

Mr. Locher also welcomed the fact that the deal won't hurt
Zurich Financial's profit and loss statement but will alleviate
pressure on the insurer's balance sheet.

Zurich Financial's Centre unit, which provided highly complex
insurance contracts, was one of the Company's notorious problem

Zurich repeatedly had to increase the reserves for the unit
before it decided to put it into run-off, meaning Centre won't
underwrite new policies in the future. The Company said that the
commutation represents a significant progress in the overall
run-off of Centre's liabilities.

Several analysts said that Centre's exposure to risky policies
was still considerable and that the Company will need to put
increased effort to eliminate most of these risks that are still
on its books.

Analysts estimate that the reserves on Zurich Financial's
balance sheet linked to Centre are still worth several billion
U.S. dollars.

Zurich Financial said, "The commutation effectively eliminates
the Centre Group's exposure to syndicates reinsured by Equitas.
Centre previously recognized these liabilities on its balance
sheet in the regular course of business in accordance with the
applicable accounting policies. This commutation represents
significant progress in the overall run-off of Centre's

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: American Standard Settlements Reach $51Mil
Since receiving its first asbestos claim more than twenty years
ago to Dec. 31, 2004, American Standard Companies Inc. (NYSE:
ASD) has resolved 25,389 claims, and settlements of about US$51
million have been made, for an average payment per claim of

Over the years, the Piscataway, NJ-based Company has been named
as a defendant in numerous lawsuits alleging various asbestos-
related personal injury claims arising primarily from sales of
boilers and railroad brake shoes.

In these asbestos-related lawsuits, the Company is usually named
as one of a large group of defendants, often in excess of one
hundred companies. Many of these lawsuits involve multiple
claimants, do not specifically identify the injury or disease
for which damages are sought and do not allege a connection
between any Company product and a claimed injury or disease. As
a result, numerous lawsuits have been placed and may remain on
inactive or deferred dockets, which some jurisdictions have

Because claims are frequently filed and settled in large groups,
the amount and timing of settlements, as well as the number of
open claims, can fluctuate significantly from period to period.
This is demonstrated by the fact that about 40% of all claims
filed against the Company were filed in a 20-plus year period
prior to 2002, 40% were filed in the 16-month period from
January 2002 through April 2003, and the remaining 20% were
spread relatively evenly over the next 20 months through
December 2004.

The Company believes that the dramatic increase in filings in
the 16-month period from January 2002 through April 2003 was
influenced by the bankruptcy filings of numerous asbestos
defendants in asbestos-related litigation and the prospect of
various forms of state and federal judicial and legislative

In the fourth quarter American Standard recorded a non-cash
after-tax charge of US$188 million to reflect an additional
estimated liability, net of expected insurance recoveries, for
estimated payments to pending and future claimants over the next
50 years.

Previously, the Company lacked sufficient history to estimate
unasserted future asbestos-related claims and payments, and, as
a result, recorded liabilities for asbestos-related claims only
when they were filed. The Company has determined that it can now
reasonably estimate a total liability, including unasserted
future claims. The Company used an external consultant to assist
in estimating the number and future value of claims that may be
filed against the Company as well as in determining the length
of time until all potential asbestos claims are resolved.

In the fourth quarter of 2004, the Company retained Dr. Francine
F. Rabinovitz of Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Alschuler, Inc. to
assist it in calculating an estimate of the Company's total
liability for pending and unasserted potential future asbestos-
related claims.

Based on these factors, HR&A calculated a total estimated
liability for the Company to resolve all pending and unasserted
potential future claims through 2055, which is a reasonable best
estimate of the time it will take to resolve asbestos-related
claims, of US$699 million. This amount is on a pre-tax basis,
not discounted for the time value of money, and excludes legal
fees. Based on the firm's analysis, the Company increased its
recorded liability for asbestos claims by US$616 million, from
US$83 million to US$699 million.

As of Dec. 31, 2004, the Company recorded an increase in the
receivable for probable asbestos-related insurance recoveries of
US$309 million. This represents amounts for previously settled
and paid claims and the probable reimbursements relating to its
estimated liability for pending and future claims.

"There is no fundamental change in our asbestos position," said
CEO Frederic Poses.

"Now that we can reasonably estimate our asbestos liability for
potential future claims, this is the appropriate time to account
for them. We've projected our liability for the full period in
which we expect claims to be asserted and resolved, and we
believe that asbestos-related claim payments will not have a
material impact on our liquidity or financial condition," Mr.
Poses added.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: USG Profits Increase Despite Growing Claims
USG Corporation (NYSE: USG), the world's largest maker of
wallboard, reported its end-of-year profit shot up 85 percent on
a strong home-building market and higher gypsum wallboard
prices. The Company's earnings for the year more than doubled,
and sales hit a record.

Net income in the last three months of 2004 hit US$85 million,
or US$1.97 per share, an increase of US$39 million from the same
quarter in 2003. Earnings per share were US$1.07 in the fourth
quarter of 2003. Sales in the fourth quarter increased to
US$1.17 billion from US$927 million in the year-ago period.

For the year, USG's earnings more than doubled, to US$312
million, or US$7.26 per share, from US$122 million, or US$2.82 a
share, in 2003. The 2003 figures were US$138 million, or US$3.19
a share, before USG made an accounting change.

This development came about despite the growing claims of people
who allege they were exposed to asbestos in products made by
USG's U.S. Gypsum unit.

Judge Joy Flowers Conti, a district court judge who was recently
assigned to USG's chapter 11 cases, entered an order in December
stating that she will hear matters relating to estimation of
USG's liability for asbestos personal injury claims. At this
time it has not been determined how the estimation process will
proceed and what issues will be considered. An initial hearing
to hear arguments regarding the method that the court should use
to estimate asbestos personal injury liability has been
scheduled for March 31, 2005.

USG and its principal domestic subsidiaries filed voluntary
petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United
States Bankruptcy Code on June 25, 2001. This action was taken
to resolve asbestos claims in a fair and equitable manner,
protect the long-term value of the businesses, and maintain
market leadership positions.

USG Corporation is a Fortune 500 Company with subsidiaries that
are market leaders in their key product groups: gypsum
wallboard, joint compound and related gypsum products; cement
board; gypsum fiber panels; ceiling panels and grid; and
building products distribution.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: St Paul Travelers Cites $922M Reserve Boost
St. Paul Travelers Companies Inc. (NYSE: STA), the second
largest business insurer in the U.S., reported pre-tax reserve
increases of US$922 million for asbestos and US$84 million for
environmental related claims, both of which resulted in an
after-tax charge of US$673 million.

According to the filing submitted to the Securities and Exchange
Commission, the asbestos reserve increase of US$922 million in
the current quarter included an analysis of exposure and claim
payment patterns by policyholder category, as well as recent
settlements, policyholder bankruptcies, state judicial rulings
and legislative actions.

The increase resulted primarily from changes in the asbestos
landscape over the last two years and was largely driven by an
increase in litigation costs and activity surrounding peripheral
defendants. The Company has settled or has had favorable rulings
on large case exposures and has not seen any significant
exposures arising from policyholders submitting asbestos claims
for the first time. While the Company continues to support
efforts for asbestos reform, the reserving actions do not
contemplate any significant future legislative developments.

For the fourth quarter of 2004, the Commercial segment reported
an operating loss of US$192 million. These results included
after-tax charges of US$673 million (US$1.006 billion pre-tax)
for asbestos and environmental reserve strengthening and US$49
million (US$74 million pre-tax) due to adverse development on
the third quarter hurricane losses.

The current quarter was also impacted by an after-tax benefit of
US$39 million (US$60 million pre-tax) due to favorable claim
activity that resulted in a re-estimation of the current year
loss ratio for the first three quarters.

Jay Fishman, President and Chief Executive Officer of St. Paul
Travelers, said, "We are particularly pleased with the
performance in our Personal segment, which generated record
operating income and net written premium growth of 13% over the
prior year quarter.

"In our commercial businesses, profitability before the asbestos
and environmental charge was solid, net written premium levels
improved modestly over the third quarter and renewal retentions
remain strong with modest price increases across the book.

"As we approach the first anniversary of our merger, our
underwriting orientation and appetite have become increasingly
clear to the marketplace and our agents remain very supportive."

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Columbus McKinnon Shows Liability Estimates
Columbus McKinnon Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCO), a manufacturer of
handling, lifting, and positioning equipment, reported to the
Securities and Exchange Commission that based on actuarial
information, it has estimated its asbestos-related aggregate
liability through March 31, 2030 and March 31, 2081 to range
between US$4,200 and US$16,700.

As of Jan. 2, 2005, the Company's estimation of its asbestos-
related aggregate liability that is probable and estimable is
through March 31, 2030 and ranges from US$4,200 to US$5,500.

Like many industrial manufacturers, the Amherst, NY-based
Company is involved in asbestos-related litigation.  In
continually evaluating its estimated asbestos-related liability,
the Company reviews, among other things, the incidence of past
and recent claims, the historical case dismissal rate, the mix
of the claimed illnesses and occupations of the plaintiffs, its
recent and historical resolution of the cases, the number of
cases pending against it, the status and results of broad-based
settlement discussions, and the number of years such activity
might continue.

Based on this review, the Company has estimated its share of
liability to defend and resolve probable asbestos-related
personal injury claims. This estimate is highly uncertain due to
the limitations of the available data and the difficulty of
forecasting with any certainty the numerous variables that can
affect the range of the liability.  The Company will continue to
study the variables in light of additional information in order
to identify trends that may become evident and to assess their
impact on the range of liability that is probable and estimable.

The range of probable and estimable liability reflects
uncertainty in the number of future claims that will be filed
and the cost to resolve those claims, which may be influenced by
a number of factors, including the outcome of the ongoing broad-
based settlement negotiations, defensive strategies, and the
cost to resolve claims outside the broad-based settlement

Based on the underlying actuarial information, the Company has
reflected US$4,800 as a liability in the consolidated financial
statements in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting
principles. The increase in the recorded liability from the
amount of US$3,300 disclosed in the fiscal 2005 second quarter
10Q is due to a change in actuarial parameters used to calculate
required asbestos liability reserve levels.

The recorded liability does not consider the impact of any
potential favorable federal legislation such as the "FAIR Act."
Of this amount, management expects to incur asbestos liability
payments of about US$220 over the next 12 months.

Because payment of the liability is likely to extend over many
years, management believes that the potential additional costs
for claims will not have a material after-tax effect on the
financial condition of the Company or its liquidity, although
the net after-tax effect of any future liabilities recorded
could be material to earnings in a future period.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Crown Holdings Records 4Q Charge of $35Mil
Crown Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CCK), a manufacturer of plastic and
metal containers, has recorded a charge in the fourth quarter of
US$35 million, or US$0.21 per diluted share, to increase its
asbestos litigation reserve.

The Philadelphia, PA-based Company estimates that its asbestos
liability for pending and future asbestos claims will range
between US$233 million and US$351 million. The reported range at
December 31, 2003, was US$239 million to US$406 million.

After the US$35 million charge, the Company's reserve at
December 31, 2004, was US$233 million compared to US$239 million
at December 31, 2003. Asbestos-related payments totaled US$41
million in 2004, including US$22 million under existing
settlement agreements, compared to 2003 payments of US$68
million, which included US$41 million under existing settlement

During the fourth quarter, the Company recorded a charge of US$6
million (US$4 million, net of tax, or US$0.02 per diluted share)
for restructuring activities in European operations. For the
year, restructuring charges totaled US$7 million (US$5 million,
net of tax, or US$0.03 per diluted share). The Company also
recorded a non-cash charge of US$47 million (US$41 million, net
of tax, or US$0.25 per diluted share) in the fourth quarter
primarily to recognize cumulative translation amounts relating
to the Company's exit from certain minor markets.

In sum, for the fourth quarter, the Company reported a net loss
of US$27 million, or US$0.16 per diluted share, after net
charges of US$0.49 per diluted share for the loss on early
extinguishments of debt and provisions for asset impairments,
asbestos and restructuring, partially offset by a net gain of
US$0.37 per diluted share for the remeasurement of foreign
currency exposures in Europe.

Net income for 2004 grew to US$51 million, or US$0.30 per
diluted share, after net charges totaling US$0.68 per diluted
share for the loss on early extinguishments of debt and
provisions for asset impairments, asbestos and restructuring,
partially offset by a net gain of US$0.40 per diluted share for
the remeasurement of foreign currency exposures in Europe.

This compares to a net loss of US$32 million, or US$0.19 per
diluted share, for 2003, which included a net gain of US$0.86
per diluted share related to foreign currency exposures in
Europe and a net loss of US$0.99 per diluted share related to
provisions for asset impairments, asbestos and restructuring,
the writedown of an equity investment and losses on early
extinguishments of debt.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Single Case Remains Pending Against Altria
The Altria Group (NYSE: MO), the world's largest tobacco firm,
stated that currently, one asbestos-related case against it
remains pending.

According to a filing it submitted to the Securities and
Exchange Commission, these cases, typically brought on behalf of
former asbestos manufacturers and affiliated entities against
Philip Morris USA and other cigarette manufacturers, seek
contribution or reimbursement for amounts expended in connection
with the defense and payment of asbestos claims that were
allegedly caused in whole or in part by cigarette smoking.

The New York-based Company further states that plaintiffs'
allegations of liability in smoking and health cases are based
on various theories of recovery, including negligence, gross
negligence, strict liability, fraud, misrepresentation, design
defect, failure to warn, breach of express and implied
warranties, breach of special duty, conspiracy, concert of
action, violations of deceptive trade practice laws and consumer
protection statutes, and claims under the federal and state
anti-racketeering statutes.

In certain of these cases, plaintiffs claim that cigarette
smoking exacerbated the injuries caused by their exposure to
asbestos. Plaintiffs in the smoking and health actions seek
various forms of relief, including compensatory and punitive
damages, treble/multiple damages and other statutory damages and
penalties, creation of medical monitoring and smoking cessation
funds, disgorgement of profits, and injunctive and equitable

Defenses raised in these cases include lack of proximate cause,
assumption of the risk, comparative fault and/or contributory
negligence, statutes of limitations and preemption by the
Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Party Slams Cyprus Govt Over Cleanup Delay
A political party has accused the Cyprus government of failing
to live up to its three-year-old proposal to address the serious
asbestos problem affecting the country.

The Green party issued this statement: "On December 4, 2002,
after some strenuous pressure by the Cyprus Green party, the
Ministry of Education finally submitted a proposal in which it
stated that all asbestos in public schools would be extracted.

"This was aimed at 32 schools that include nurseries, public
schools, public Gymnasiums and other schools. The Council of
Ministers approved the proposal and after two years, the Green
Party requested to see an evaluation report on what had been
done so far."

The Greens has repeatedly demanded for information on the
government's actions with regards to the proposal but they were
rewarded with no response from the Ministry of Education. Their
own investigation into 32 schools revealed little had been done
to fix the problem of asbestos in the buildings.

Green Party deputy George Perdikis said the government was not
doing enough to tackle the problem. He said, "It is blatantly
obvious that the government is not doing enough, not just to
face and fix the problem of asbestos in schools but also to
follow their own agenda which they themselves drew up. We expect
them to at least follow the proposal made and agreed three years

The Greens are urging the government to act immediately in
resolving the issue. They emphasized that aside from the demands
for asbestos disposal, the government should moreover undertake
safety measures. They are also pushing for the inclusion of
other public buildings in the cleanup process.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Federal-Mogul Outlines FAIR Act Flaws
In a statement delivered to all US Senators, Federal-Mogul
Corporation, global supplier of automotive parts, and the
Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Federal-Mogul have
reiterated opposition to the discussion draft of the Fairness in
Asbestos Injury Resolution (FAIR) Act of 2005.

The statement described the inherently flawed and unfair nature
of the legislation's payment allocations for Tier I -- companies
presently in bankruptcy -- and other infirmities.  While more
than two-thirds of present and future true asbestos claims are
from individuals exposed to asbestos by defendants in the
building and construction trades -- an industry sector that
includes, among others, the top eight Tier I defendants -- Tier
I participants in the national fund would provide a mere six
percent of payments.

This bailout places the solvency of the national asbestos fund
at risk. The statement explained an alternative analyzed by the
financial advisor to the Creditors Committee that could provide
about US$12 billion in additional funding for the national trust
if Tier I companies were permitted to complete their bankruptcy
reorganization and have their liability addressed in a
bankruptcy plan. This bankruptcy process would correctly
transfer up to US$12 billion from shareholders and other
stakeholders of certain Tier I entities to the national trust
and, thereby, to victims of asbestos exposure.

While Southfield, MI-based Federal-Mogul and the Creditors
Committee support efforts to reform the asbestos litigation
crisis, they cannot support trust fund legislation that would
require Federal-Mogul to pay more than its fair share while
providing a bailout to companies with the greatest liability.

The statement outlined a number of additional shortcomings in
current draft, including the likelihood that the FAIR Act's
payment structure would drive additional companies into
bankruptcy; the unfair, and potentially unconstitutional,
stripping away of insurance assets that will cause protracted
litigation and cause additional uncertainty for victims; joint
and several liability provisions that create escalating and
uncertain payments for business participants; sunset and
reversion language that leaves companies exposed to the tort
system without any safeguards restricting venue or providing
standard medical criteria; and the disproportionately high
payment level imposed on Federal-Mogul through reliance on a
formula that is improperly based on revenue rather than

Federal-Mogul and the Creditors Committee, as they have done in
the past, again urged the U.S. Senate to consider alternative
legislation establishing standardized medical criteria as a more
equitable solution to the asbestos litigation crisis.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Aussie Foundation Seeks ADI Site Guarantee
The Asbestos Diseases Foundation says it wants assurances that
land to be sold on the former Australian Defense Industries site
in western Sydney is free from asbestos fibers. The foundation
is concerned that the cleanup of the site has been inadequate.

Amid protests from local residents, Developer Lend Lease bought
the site in St. Mary's last year and it now plans to build a
5,000 residential estate on the former defense land. Although a
regional park is planned on the old site, it will be broken into
small parcels of land interspersed with houses.

The community is concerned that toxins stored on the site
(radioactive waste, lead, mercury, arsenic, asbestos and TNT)
have not been effectively cleaned off. People who used to work
at ADI have argued that there may still be toxins buried there.

Foundation president Barry Robson says he wants every block of
land to be screened for asbestos contamination. "It's not hard
to get people out there, experts, independent experts, to
examine and test to see if there is any residual asbestos," he

A spokesman for Lend Lease, Arthur Ilias, says he is confident
all asbestos has been removed. "All the remediation work has
been reviewed by independent auditors and has met all the
government requirements and safety standards," he said.

He says Mr. Robson has been invited to inspect the site.

ASBESTOS ALERT: Alarm Sounded for Ex-Ministry of Defense Workers
Dozens of former Ministry of Defense workers who were exposed to
asbestos dust while working onboard Royal Navy vessels at
various dockyards around the UK now face potentially lethal

Lawyers believe many afflicted ex-employees of the Ministry of
Defence, who later worked at the Foxhill base, are entitled to

Bristol-based lawyer, Helen Grady, wants former MoD workers to
come forward. She has already dealt with three claims from ex-
workers of the Foxhill base who are still living in Bath and
believes there are many more.

Mrs. Grady said, "It is important people should act as soon they
have symptoms, which they suspect may be related to their
previous work, to avoid legal arguments later about delay. Many
individuals are concerned not only for their own health, but for
the financial welfare of their families."

Asbestos-related diseases were unknown before the 1950s.
Although asbestos was discovered to be harmful in the 1930s, it
was not until 1969 that specific regulations governing its use
were introduced.

Now, there are predicted to be about 250,000 mesothelioma-
related deaths in Britain and Western Europe over the next three

Many ex-employees worked at Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth and
Rosyth Dockyard. Following promotions to draughtsmen they ended
up working at the MoD Foxhill.

While at the dockyard many employees were involved in refitting
ships and they were often working alongside men who were lagging
asbestos pipes or sawing asbestos sheeting. High levels of
asbestos dust would contaminate the atmosphere before being
inhaled by employees.

Cases can be brought against employers on a breach of statutory
duty and negligence. Before the claims are settled it has to be
established that the condition has been caused by exposure, and
that the MoD was responsible for that exposure.

A spokesman for the MoD said, "Any individual who feels they are
suffering ill health as a result of their work for the Ministry
of Defence, as a civilian or in the armed forces, should contact
the MOD, and where we have a legal liability we will pay

ASBESTOS ALERT: Widow Seeks Insurers of Two Closed UK Companies
In a bid for compensation, the widow of a man who died of an
asbestos-related illness is in desperate search of the insurers
of the firms he worked for in the 1960s and 1970s. Both firms
where he worked have now closed.

Roger Thornton, of Countesthorpe, died last July at the age of
58, after being diagnosed six months earlier with asbestos
related cancer mesothelioma.

Mr. Thornton worked at heating engineers David Bentley, in
Western Road, Leicester, in the late 60s and early 70s. There he
mixed tanks full of powdered asbestos to lag pipes around huge
boilers in the city's schools and hospitals. The firm closed in

Mr. Thornton also worked at FH Rowlett in Knighton Fields Road,
Leicester, which closed in April 1994.

His wife, Lynda Thornton, aged 55, has been told she will not
get a widow's pension. She said she needs to find any surviving
director who can tell her who the firm's insurers were.

Her solicitor, Carol Gill, of Barnsley law firm Raley's, said,
"If we can't find any insurer, there will be nobody to claim

Mrs. Thornton said, "We never in a million years thought it
would be asbestos. I nursed him and kept him at home to the end.
It was awful, he wasted away to nothing. I feel very strongly
about this, it's a time bomb, there must be millions of people
who have got it and there's no cure."

There are around 2,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the UK
each year, the majority linked to asbestos, a mineral commonly
used in the construction industry until the late 1970s. The
disease can take up to 40 years to develop after exposure to
asbestos and the number of cases is set to rise sharply in the
next decade.

A center providing information about the disease and promoting
the care of patients is being set up at Glenfield Hospital.
Mesothelioma UK is being created with money from Macmillan
Cancer Research.

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of the directors of the two
firms can contact solicitor Carol Gill on 01226 603 096.

ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Dumped Near UK Housing Causes Worry
The discovery of a pile of hazardous asbestos in a busy
residential area in Farnborough, UK has caused worry in the
neighborhood occupants, of which the most vocal is one of its
councilors. He discovered the stack of asbestos sheeting dumped
on the ground at Pinewood Park outside a garage block last

Councilor Charlie Fraser-Fleming had already contacted Rushmoor
council's environmental services to remove it immediately. He
said that one of his main concerns was the high number of houses
nearby and the fact that many children used the garage block as
a play area.

"I'm expecting this material to be removed within the day and
placed in a safe location. I'm hoping the officers at Rushmoor
will be able to answer these questions and reassure local people
that no major long-term problems will arise," he said.

He said that demolition works on the renovation of the garages
had been responsible for leaving the waste at the site, as it
was used for roofing. He added that since it appeared that the
material has been in that state for some time, he wondered why
no action was taken when the demolition work took place.

Construction fiber asbestos is widely used in the building
industry, usually for insulation, fire protection, roofing and
guttering. It does not generally pose a risk to health as long
as it remains undisturbed and in a good condition. If damaged,
asbestos fibers are released into the air, and if inhaled these
can have a serious effect on health, including lung disease and

A spokesman for the environmental services team at Rushmoor
council said an officer has been to the site and would promptly
arrange for its removal.

ASBESTOS ALERT: Contractor, Owner of OR Bldg Face US$15,600 Fine
The remodeling contractor and the owner of a condominium
property in Portland are facing fines totaling US$15,600 for
mishandling asbestos during the makeover of the historic
apartment building last March.

Acting on a tip from an apartment resident, Department of
Environmental Quality inspectors on March 10, 2004 entered the
building at 2336 S.W. Osage St. and found cracked vinyl flooring
in waste barrels. Tests revealed that the flooring contained 5-
40% chrysotile asbestos.

State environmental officials warn that asbestos fibers have no
minimum safety level and inhaling even small amounts can cause
lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and other respiratory

DEQ fined JRJ Restorations LLC, of Portland, US$8,400 for
conducting an asbestos abatement project without being licensed
by DEQ for such work. DEQ also penalized The Envoy Condominiums
LLC, Portland, US$7,200 for allowing an unlicensed contractor to
perform an asbestos abatement project on property it owns and

The department said the property owner did not conduct an
asbestos survey before hiring JRJ to remove the flooring and
added that JRJ was not licensed to perform asbestos removal.
Also, DEQ learned that JRJ only tested one of three layers of
flooring for the presence of asbestos before performing the
floor removal work.

JRJ employees reportedly used sledgehammers to remove the vinyl
flooring, rending the asbestos "friable" or in shattered
condition. In such a state, asbestos fibers can easily become
airborne, potentially coming in contact with the public.

Envoy Condominiums failed to respond by its Jan. 28 deadline to
appeal the penalty, and the full penalty amount is now past due.
JRJ Restorations appealed its penalty on Jan. 28.

ASBESTOS ALERT: Mining Accountant Files Claim from Relief Trust
An accountant for South African asbestos mining companies who
was recently diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer is intending
to claim compensation from the Asbestos Relief Trust.

The trust was set up after investment holding Company Gencor,
Griqualand Exploration & Finance, and Msauli Asbestos, agreed
out-of-court to pay ZAR420 million as full and final settlement
for any damages arising from asbestos-related diseases.

For six years, 67-year-old Dave Bienz spent two days a month in
Kuruman, in the Northern Cape, doing the books of the asbestos
mining companies. He was an accountant at the Johannesburg head
office of Cooper Brothers, which did auditing work for several
asbestos mining companies, including Kuruman Cape Blue Asbestos,
and was responsible for the monthly consolidation of the books
of the asbestos companies in Kuruman.

From about 1962 he traveled to Kuruman monthly. During his
visits, he said, he saw workers packing bags of asbestos fibers
by hand as dust flew about.

Days before his 67th birthday, Mr. Bienz was diagnosed as
suffering from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs
caused by exposure to blue asbestos dust and fibers. He will
soon start a course of chemotherapy and radiology.

His wife Maddy said, "The days have just flashed by since then.
We can't think further than the next doctor's appointment. At
times like this you realize how close and valuable your friends
are, how they've rallied around."

Mr. Bienz said, "I am told once you've got [mesothelioma] you've
got it. You can, however, improve the quality of the time you
have left. When this happens you don't care about the money,
even if there's some way of compensation from the big mining
companies, which all got away with so much."

ASBESTOS ALERT: NY Court Reverses Ruling V. Eastern Refractories
The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court on Dec. 30,
2004 reversed a ruling that had dismissed a complaint against
Eastern Refractories Co. Inc. in a case brought up by a former
worker for allegedly sustaining fatal injuries as a result of
asbestos exposure.

Paul E. Root, who acted as the executor of the estate of Edward
Root, sought for the appeal after Judge James W. McCarthy of the
Supreme Court of Onondaga County entered a summary judgment
decision in favor of the Company on Oct. 17, 2003.

Timothy D. Gallagher, of McMahon, Martine & Gallagher, LLP, from
New York represented the defendant-respondent.

Alani Golanski, of Brooklyn, and Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C., also
from New York, represented the plaintiff-appellant.

The case was brought before Presiding Justice Eugene F. Pigott
Jr., and Justices Robert G. Hurlbutt, Jerome C. Gorski, and
Salvatore R. Martoche.

Plaintiff claims that Edward Root was exposed to asbestos for
over 40 years during his employment as a journeyman insulator
for the Asbestos Workers Union from 1950-1993. Mr. Root was
diagnosed with asbestosis in 1995 and subsequently in 2002 with

Eastern Refractories was a contractor support company that had
allegedly supplied mats containing asbestos used by the workers.
Mr. Root was exposed to a product known as an ERCO-Mat that
contained asbestos during two separate periods of employment
with a contractor at Syracuse University, the first between 1962
and 1964, and the second between 1967 and 1968. Eastern
Refractories was a known distributor of ERCO-Mats.

Eastern Refractories moved for summary judgment to dismiss the
complaint against it on the ground that it did not supply any
product containing asbestos to Syracuse University in the
relevant time period.

In support of that motion, Eastern Refractories submitted a
deposition transcript and an affidavit from David Feinzig, who
had worked for the Company since 1948. He testified that the
Company did not supply or distribute any asbestos-containing
materials at any job sites at Syracuse University during the
1960s, that ERCO-Mats were not manufactured by Eastern
Refractories, and that, in any event, they did not contain
asbestos filler, but were made of fiberglass.

In opposition to the motion, plaintiff submitted Mr. Feinzig's
deposition testimony from a different case, as well as Mr.
Root's deposition testimony, which stated explicitly that he
used ERCO-Mat blankets and that they contained asbestos.

Mr. Feinzig testified that in the 1960s there was a transition
period when, instead of using asbestos cloth, the Company used
glass cloth because the filler in the blankets was made of
glass, and he admitted that Eastern sold ERCO-Mat blankets to
Mr. Root's employer at Syracuse University.

The Appellate Court ruled that Onandoga Supreme Court erred in
granting the motion for summary judgment dismissing the
complaint against Eastern Refractories. The Company met its
initial burden on the motion by establishing that it supplied no
asbestos-containing products in the 1960s to job sites at
Syracuse University.

Mr. Root, however, met his burden of showing facts sufficient to
require a trial. He testified that he was exposed to asbestos
while working at Syracuse University using ERCO-Mat blankets.
The Court ruled that testimony is sufficient to raise a triable
issue of fact.

The Appellate Division reversed the ruling, denied the Company's
motion, and reinstated the complaint against Eastern

ASBESTOS ALERT: HSE Orders Closure of Pavilion Due to High Risks
A botched attempt to avoid the high price of asbestos removal
might just prove to be a burden instead to Cheddar residents.
The Health and Safety Executive has ordered that the former
rugby club pavilion on Sharpham Road be sealed after a freelance
contractor caused the release of asbestos fibers around the

The contractor, who refuses to divulge who hired him, was
interrupted in mid-demolition when Cheddar Parish Council clerk
Anna Andrews found him at the site in November. He was found
smashing the sheets of asbestos, spreading the lethal dust in
the site.

Since the derelict pavilion is rented from the parish council by
the rugby club, and as no rent has been paid for some time, the
land and building reverts back to parish council control. The
cost of hiring specialist demolition contractors now becomes
their responsibility.

The council has become worried at the rugby club's lack of
action. The bill for the demolition job could now fall on
council taxpayers. However, more pressing are the fears that
brown asbestos dust could be blown onto the playing fields.

Brown asbestos, which can cause fatal asbestosis in people who
inhale its dust, used to be a common building material. It is
often used as roofing material in corrugated sheets and is safe
as long as it stays in intact sheets.

Health and Safety inspector Jonathan Bohm gave the order to shut
down the site while they prepare a strong prosecution.

Parish council chairman Jeff Savage said, "Work was stopped by
the HSE in November and the building is still there. I was
assuming that they were still investigating and intent on
prosecuting but have not had any luck in trying to track anyone
down who is responsible.

"The parish council has done as much as we can all the way
along. Unfortunately no matter what we do we get the rugby club
jamming the works up."

Trustees of the rugby club are due to meet before the end of
February to discuss the pavilion's demolition.

The last chairman of the Rugby Club, Ceri Davies, said that he
had no contact with the club any more.

ASBESTOS ALERT: UK Environment Agency Probes Field for Asbestos
Suspicions of asbestos contamination prompted the closure of a
field in Scarisbrick. It is believed that more than 9,000 tons
of construction and demolition waste were illegally dumped at
the 12-acre site in Jacksmere Lane.

The Environmental Agency will be carrying out a number of tests
on the land to check for contamination levels of hazardous
substances, including asbestos.

Previously, a team of special environmental investigation agents
arrived at the site armed with specialized digging equipment.
They marked off parts of the land with evidence flags to
pinpoint locations where soil samples will be carefully
extracted to test for contamination levels.

A spokeswoman for the Environmental Agency said, "There has been
a problem at the site with regards to the illegal tipping of
construction and demolition waste."

She said that planning permission for the land declares it as a
nature reserve that required landscaping. The agency suspects
contaminated construction and demolition waste instead was
brought in.

At the moment, their agents are digging trial pits to establish
the amount of waste dumped and how much was contaminated.

"If you are looking at construction and demolition waste then
there is always a possibility asbestos is one of the things that
has been tipped illegally," she said.

ASBESTOS ALERT: NY Mishap Leads To Contractor-District Dispute
A heating contractor is accusing the Yorktown school district of
withholding nearly US$50,000 in payment for an asbestos cleanup
for which the Company was not responsible.

District officials hired Diggins Mechanical Corp. to do heating
renovations in four elementary schools during the summer of
2003. A worker ended up drilling through asbestos-containing
vinyl floor tile in Crompond Elementary School, causing asbestos
contamination that was subsequently cleaned up.

The state Department of Labor issued a violation and a US$1,000
fine because the Company was not licensed to handle asbestos.
Patrick Diggins, the Company's owner and president, insists that
his worker was not harmed by the asbestos. He stated that
district officials did not inform his Company, as required by
the Environmental Protection Agency, that the classrooms
contained the carcinogenic substance.

Dennis Verboys, Yorktown's director of facilities and
maintenance, acknowledged the drawings they provided to the
Company did not indicate the presence of asbestos. However he
believes that it was clear from the size and material of the
tiles that they likely contained asbestos. The contract provided
that the Company must be able to point out potentially dangerous

Mr. Diggins said the agreement was that his Company's
representatives would give two weeks' notice for their projects,
and district officials would tell them whether asbestos had been
abated from those areas or what areas to avoid. He said his
Company gave a month's notice that they were going to install
unit ventilators in those rooms, but got no warning.

"Anybody in this industry knows that when they see a 9-by-9
floor tile, it's asbestos," said Rich Greenberg, a senior
project manager for Christa Construction in Albany, which
oversaw the work.

Mr. Diggins is demanding that the district pay the withheld
US$49,720, the citation fine and about US$10,000 in legal fees.

Mr. Verboys said the district has no intention of paying. He
said, "We feel from our professionals -- the architects, the
construction manager and our attorneys -- that the district is
in a good spot here. It was clear in the contract language, as
much as Mr. Diggins likes to say that it wasn't shown on the
contract drawing, that there are other superceding documents
that he's being remiss about."

Mr. Diggins said the district failed to keep track of its
asbestos. He said there's still a lot of asbestos in Crompond
and Mohansic elementary schools, despite the extensive abatement
that was done that same summer.

Mr. Verboys gave assurances that the asbestos in the rooms where
the floor tile was drilled was cleaned up according to federal
guidelines and that neither children nor staff was present when
this activity was ongoing.

Company Profile:

Diggins Mechanical Corp.
578 Commerce Street
Thornwood, NY 10594
Phone: 914-769-4545
Fax: 914-769-4793
E-mail Ad: patdiggins@aol.com

                  New Securities Fraud Cases

EPIX PHARMACEUTICAL: Spector Roseman Lodges MA Securities Suit
The law firm of Spector, Roseman & Kodroff, P.C. initiated a
securities class action lawsuit in the United States District
Court for the District Court of Massachusetts, on behalf of
purchasers of the common stock of EPIX Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
(f/k/a EPIX Medical, Inc.) (collectively referred to as "EPIX"
or the "Company") (Nasdaq: EPIX) between July 10, 2003 through
January 14, 2005, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The Complaint alleges that defendants violated the federal
securities laws by issuing materially false and misleading
statements contained in press releases and filings with the
Securities and Exchange Commission during the Class Period.
Specifically, the Complaint alleges that the Company failed to
disclose and misrepresented the following material adverse facts
which were known to defendants or recklessly disregarded by

     (1) that non-contrast MRA comparator scans used in the
         Phase III trials varied significantly which caused the
         efficacy of MS-325 to be compromised;

     (2) that the Company's Phase III trials generated a large
         number of uninterpretable images, which too caused the
         efficacy of MS-325 to be compromised;

     (3) that problems described above resulted in varying and
         questionable statical treatments of the images seen
         during the Phase III trial; and

     (4) that as result of the above, the likelihood of MS-325's
         NDA being approved was highly unlikely.

On January 14, 2005, EPIX announced that the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration ("FDA") had completed its review of the new drug
application for MS-325 (gadofosveset trisodium), and found it to
be approvable. However, in the approvable letter, the FDA
requested additional clinical studies to demonstrate efficacy
prior to approval. As a result of this announcement, shares of
EPIX fell $3.98 per share or 27.17 percent, to close at $10.67
per share, on unusually high trading volume.

For more details, contact Robert M. Roseman by Phone:
888-844-5862 or by E-mail: classaction@srk-law.com.

HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Brian M. Felgoise Files AZ Securities Suit
The Law Offices of Brian M. Felgoise, P.C. initiated a
securities class action on behalf of shareholders who acquired
Hypercom Corporation (NYSE: HYC) securities between April 30,
2004 and February 3, 2005, inclusive (the Class Period).

The case is pending in the United States District Court for the
District of Arizona, against the Company and certain key
officers and directors.

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

For more details, contact Brian M. Felgoise, Esq. by Mail: 261
Old York Road, Suite 423, Jenkintown, PA 19046 by Phone:
(215) 886-1900 or by E-mail: securitiesfraud@comcast.net.

HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Brodsky & Smith Lodges AZ Securities Suit
The Law offices of Brodsky & Smith, LLC initiated a securities
class action lawsuit on behalf of shareholders who purchased the
common stock and other securities of Hypercom Corporation
("Hypercom" or the "Company") (NYSE:HYC), between April 30, 2004
and February 3, 2005 inclusive (the "Class Period"). The class
action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for
the District of Arizona.

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

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

HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Charles J. Piven Lodges AZ Securities Suit
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a securities
class action on behalf of shareholders who purchased, converted,
exchanged or otherwise acquired the common stock of Hypercom
Corporation (NYSE:HYC) between April 30, 2004 and February 3,
2005, inclusive (the "Class Period").

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

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

HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Goldman Scarlato Lodges AZ Securities Suit
The law firm of Goldman Scarlato & Karon, P.C., initiated a
lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of
Arizona, on behalf of persons who purchased or otherwise
acquired publicly traded securities of Hypercom Corporation
("Hypercom" or the "Company") (NYSE: HYC) between April 30, 2004
and February 3, 2005, inclusive, (the "Class Period"). The
lawsuit was filed against Hypercom and certain officers and
directors ("Defendants").

The complaint alleges that Defendants violated Sections 10(b)
and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder. Specifically, the complaint alleges that
the Company failed to disclose or misrepresented that the
Company's leases originated by its UK subsidiary, Hypercom EMEA,
Inc. were improperly accounted for as sales leases rather than
operating leases, that as a result the Company materially
overstated its net revenue for the first three quarters of 2004
by at least $4 million, and that the Company's financial results
were not prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted
Accounting principles.

On February 4, 2005, before the market opened, Hypercom
announced a restatement of previously reported 2004 quarterly
financial results. More specifically, the Company stated that it
had incorrectly accounted for approximately 3,200 leases as
sales leases rather than operating leases. The restatement will
decrease net revenues for the nine months ended September 30,
2004 by up to $4 million. News of the restatement stunned the
market. Shares of Hypercom fell $1.00 per share, or 18.3%, to
close at $4.46 per share on very high trading volume.

For more details, contact Goldman Scarlato & Karon, P.C. by
Phone: (800) 495-1868 or by E-mail: goldman@gsk-law.com.

HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Smith & Smith Lodges Securities Suit in AZ
The law firm of Smith & Smith LLP initiated a securities class
action lawsuit on behalf of shareholders who purchased
securities of Hypercom Corporation ("Hypercom" or the
"Company")(NYSE:HYC), between April 30, 2004 and February 3,
2005, inclusive (the "Class Period"). The class action lawsuit
was filed in the United States District Court for the District
of Arizona.

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

For more details, contact Howard Smith, Esq. of Smith & Smith,
LLP by Mail: 3070 Bristol Pike, Suite 112, Bensalem, PA 19020 by
Phone: (866) 759-2275 or by E-mail: howardsmithlaw@hotmail.com.

ROYAL GROUP: Murray Frank Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
The law firm of Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York on behalf of shareholders who
purchased or otherwise acquired the securities of Royal Group
Technologies ("Royal Group" or the "Company") (NYSE:RYG) between
February 11, 1999 and October 13, 2004, inclusive (the "Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

On October 15, 2004, Royal Group disclosed the first Royal
Canadian Mounted Police production order for three Royal Group
current or former executives who faced allegations of defrauding
shareholders and creditors. The court documents named Company
founder, controlling shareholder and non-executive chairman Vic
De Zen, former CFO Gary Brown and then current President and CEO
Douglas Dunsmuir. The investigation relates to allegations that
De Zen, Brown and Dunsmuir violated sections of the Criminal
Code for fraud and conspiracy by circulating or publishing a
prospectus or statement or account which they knew was false,
for a period between January 1996 and July 2004. The news
shocked the market. Shares of Royal Group fell $1.12 per share,
or 12.49 percent, on October 18, 2004, to close at $7.85 per

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

TASER INTERNATIONAL: Kaplan Fox Lodges AZ Securities Fraud Suit
The law firm of Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP initiated a class
action suit 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 officers and
directors, on behalf of all persons or entities who purchased
the publicly traded common stock of Taser between October 19,
2004, and January 6, 2005, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants
violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities and Exchange
Act of 1934 by failing to disclose material adverse information
about the Company and its products. Specifically, the complaint
alleges that throughout the class period, Defendants failed to
disclose and/or concealed safety concerns relating to Taser
devices and/or that defendants lacked any reasonable basis for
the statements they were making concerning the Company's
profitability, resulting in the price of Taser's common stock
trading at artificially inflated levels. It has also been
alleged that while in possession of material, non-public adverse
information about the Company, certain of the Company's
executives sold hundreds of thousands of shares of their stock
in the Company for proceeds of tens of millions of dollars. Just
before midnight on January 6, 2005, Taser announced in a news
release that it was the subject of an informal inquiry by the
United States Securities and Exchange Commission relating to its
public statements about the safety of its products. On January
7, 2005, the Company's stock price plummeted 17.74% to close at
$22.72 on massive trading volume.

For more details, contact Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP by Mail:
805 Third Avenue, NY, NY 10022 by Phone: (800) 290-1952 or
(212) 687-1980.

TOWER AUTOMOTIVE: Brian M. Felgoise Lodges Securities Suit in NY
The Law Offices of Brian M. Felgoise, P.C. initiated a
securities class action on behalf of shareholders who acquired
Tower Automotive, Inc. (NYSE: TWR) securities between February
14, 2003 and January 21, 2005, inclusive (the Class Period).

The case is pending in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York, against the Company and certain
key officers and directors.

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

For more details, contact Brian M. Felgoise, Esq. by Mail: 261
Old York Road, Suite 423, Jenkintown, PA 19046 by Phone:
(215) 886-1900 or by E-mail: securitiesfraud@comcast.net.

TOWER AUTOMOTIVE: Brodsky & Smith Lodges Securities Suit in NY
The Law offices of Brodsky & Smith, LLC initiated a securities
class action lawsuit on behalf of shareholders who purchased the
common stock and other securities of Tower Automotive, Inc.
("Tower Automotive" or the "Company") (NYSE:TWR), between
February 14, 2003 and January 21, 2005 inclusive (the "Class
Period"). The class action lawsuit was filed in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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