CAR_Public/050218.mbx              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

             Friday, February 18, 2005, Vol. 7, No. 35

                          Headlines

ABLE ENERGY: NJ Court Asked To Certify March 2003 Fire Suit
ANCHOR GLASS: Former Employees Lodge Suit Over Illegal Dismissal
BEAR STEARNS: Settlement Reached in McKesson CA Shareholder Suit
BEAR STEARNS: NY Court Allows Shareholder Fraud Suit To Proceed
BEAR STEARNS: Continues To Face Securities Fraud Suit in S.D. NY

BEAR STEARNS: Working To Settle Consolidated NY Securities Suit
BIG DOG: Recalls 1,586 Model 2005 Motorcycles For Crash Hazard
BLUE BIRD: Recalls 22 Wanderlodge Motor Homes For Crash Hazard
CALIFORNIA: High Court Agrees To Review Tobacco Marketing Case
CALIFORNIA: Inmates Launch Suit Over Misappropriation Of Funds

CHESTERFIELD HEALTH: Four Workers Lodge Overtime Wage Suit in WA
CONNECTICUT: Legislators Approve Mental Retardation Settlement
FEDERAL-MOGUL: Recalls 11,174 Brake Kits Due To Product Defect
FORD MOTOR: CA Court Certifies Suit Over SUV's Rollover Defect
GENCORP INC.: Shareholders Launch Fiduciary Duty Lawsuit in CA

GENCORP INC.: Trial in Retirees Benefits Suit Set Mid-2005 in OH
GEOPHARMA INC.: Shareholders Launch Securities Suits in S.D. NY
GEORGIA: ALEC Commends Governor Sonny Perdue For Signing SB3
HAGENS BERMAN: Unveils New Firm Name in Recognition Of Partners
HOTWIRE INC.: Customer Launches Fraud Lawsuit Over Hotel Ratings

HPL TECHNOLOGIES: Fairness Hearing Set February 24,2005 in CA
ILLINOIS: School District U46 Vehemently Denies Lawsuit Claims
ILLINOIS: Six More Class Action Lawsuits Filed in Madison County
INTEGRATED ELECTRICAL: TX Orders Securities Suits Consolidated
INTERMIX MEDIA: Inks Settlement For Securities Suit in C.D. CA

LANTRONIX INC.: Trial in CA Securities Suit Set September 2006
MCDONALD'S CORPORATION: Enforcement Of U.S. Settlement Upheld
MERCK & CO.: Federal Judges Tranfers Vioxx Lawsuits To E.D. LA
NEW YORK: Federal Judge Approves Internet Bubble IPO Settlement
PENNSYLVANIA: Suit V. Mutual Funds Dismissed Without Prejudice

PIP/USA INC.: Ruling on IL Suit Dismissal Expected By Mid-April
SALEEN INC.: Recalls Cars For Wrong Side Marker Light Placement
TELEMARKETING FIRMS: Two Firms Pay $500T To Settle FTC Charges
TEXAS: Doctors Ordered To Testify Over Silicosis Misdiagnosis
WEBMETHODS INC.: Asks NY Court To Approve Securities Settlement

WYETH PHARMACEUTICAL: Fen-Phen Attorneys Reject Settlement Offer

                        Asbestos Alerts

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: TBA Developers Confirm Protesters' Fears
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Cancer Deaths to Peak in Next Decade, Study
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: DOT Admits Posting Warning Signs on Homes
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: MP Accuses Canadian Agency of Unfair Acts
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Tyco Int'l, Subsidiaries Fight 15,000 Cases

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Sensus Metering Systems Named in MS Suits
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Todd Shipyards Named in 578 Injury Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Zurn Industries Receives 2,200 New Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Cabot Corp's Subsidiary Faces 91,000 Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Fairchild, Subsidiary Named in Complaint

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Deaths in TX Provoke Law Change
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: United Technologies Named in 1,700 Lawsuits
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Canada to Hold Health Tests for GE Workers
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Pleural Plaques Victims Win UK Test Case
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Experts Seek Subsidy for Asbestos Surveys

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Senators to Forge Bipartisan Asbestos Bill
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: NZ Claims Could Cost ACC at Least $150Mil
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: US Hardie Victim Wins AUD250T Compensation
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: James Hardie Asbestos Costs Drop Profits
ASBESTOS ALERT: NY Court Junks Inmates' Case V. Prison Facility

ASBESTOS ALERT: AU Charity Fined US$5T Over Volunteers' Exposure
ASBESTOS ALERT: Workmen Unearth Asbestos Beside UK Hospital Unit
ASBESTOS ALERT: Custodians File Suit Against UNLV Over Exposure
ASBESTOS ALERT: EPA Fines NV Building Owner $23T Over Violations
ASBESTOS ALERT: Texas Health Dept. Cites Demolition Violations

ASBESTOS ALERT: AU's Defense Dept Probes Exposure of Army Cadets
ASBESTOS ALERT: Doctor Insists MT Courthouse Risk Was Minimal
ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Find Pushes Irish Council to Shut Pools
ASBESTOS ALERT: MP Seeks to Ban Asbestos in Tsunami Rebuilding
ASBESTOS ALERT: Ex-nurse of AU Hospital Awarded US$370T

ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Find Forces MA Preschool to Shut Down
ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Illnesses Place Burden on NHS Trust
ASBESTOS ALERT: CA Court of Appeal Rules in Favor of Policeman
ASBESTOS ALERT: Two PA Men Charged with Misdemeanor for Dumping
ASBESTOS ALERT: NY Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Duch Builders

ASBESTOS ALERT: Two British Widows Sue for GBP150T Compensation
ASBESTOS ALERT: CA Court Awards US$1.25Mil to Retired Pipefitter

                   New Securities Fraud Cases

AXONYX INC.: Brodsky & Smith Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
AXONYX INC.: Charles J. Piven Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
AXONYX INC.: Schatz & Nobel Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
AXONYX INC.: Wechsler Harwood Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
GANDER MOUNTAIN: Goldman Scarlato Lodges Securities Suit in MN

GANDER MOUNTAIN: Murray Frank Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in MN
HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Kaplan Fox Lodges Securities Suit in AZ
OFFICEMAX INC.: Much Shelist Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in IL
OFFICEMAX INC.: Stull Stull Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in IL
SILICON STORAGE: Wechsler Harwood Lodges Securities Suit in CA

SINA CORPORATION: Brodsky & Smith Lodges Securities Suit in NY
SINA CORPORATION: Charles J. Piven Lodges Securities Suit in NY
SIPEX CORPORATION: Cohen Milstein Lodges Securities Suit in CA
TOWER AUTOMOTIVE: Wolf Haldenstein Lodges Securities Suit in NY


                           *********


ABLE ENERGY: NJ Court Asked To Certify March 2003 Fire Suit
-----------------------------------------------------------
Plaintiffs asked the New Jersey State Court to grant class
certification to a lawsuit filed against Able Energy, Inc.,
styled "Hicks v. Able Energy, Inc."

The suit was commenced after the Company's Newton, New Jersey
facility experienced an explosion and fire on March 14, 2003,
resulting in the destruction of an office building and damage to
18 company vehicles and neighboring properties, as previously
related in an October 4, 2003 Class Action Reporter.

Due to the immediate response by employees at the site, a quick
evacuation of all personnel occurred prior to the explosion,
preventing any serious injuries.  The preliminary results of the
company's investigation indicate that the explosion was an
accident that occurred as a result of a combination of human
error, mechanical malfunction, as well as the failure to follow
prescribed state standards for propane delivery truck loading.

On April 3, 2003, Able Energy received a Notice of Violation
from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.  The dollar
amount of the assessed penalty totaled $414,000.  Able Energy
has contested the Notice of Violation as well as the assessed
penalties with the State of New Jersey and is waiting for a
hearing date.

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of property owners who allegedly
suffered property damages as a result of the March 14, 2003
explosion and fire.  The Company's insurance carrier is
defending as related to compensatory damages.

A hearing was held on March 11, 2004 on an application on
certain matters by the Plaintiffs, which were denied.  The Court
presently has before it a motion by Plaintiffs for Class Action
Certification.  Per legal counsel, whether this matter is
certified a Class Action will greatly influence the Company's
potential exposure.


ANCHOR GLASS: Former Employees Lodge Suit Over Illegal Dismissal
----------------------------------------------------------------
Anchor Glass Container Corporation of Tampa, the Florida company
that suddenly shut down its South Connellsville glass plant last
November is now facing a class-action lawsuit that claims it
violated a federal law when it didn't give approximately 320
workers a 60-day notice, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

The lawsuit was filed by two former employees namely, Deborah A.
Shipley, of South Connellsville, and Steven D. Petrone, of
Connellsville in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh by. It seeks
damages amounting to 60 days' pay and fringe benefits for all
workers affected by the failure of Anchor Glass to give a two-
month advance warning that the Baldridge Street plant would
close on November 4.

The suit, filed by the Uniontown law firm of Kunkel & Fink, asks
that the back pay extend to all former Anchor workers who did
not receive 60 days' notice of the plant closing. The suit
points out that any severance pay that Anchor paid the laid-off
workers does not reduce its liability to give the employees
their 60 days of pay.

In addition, the lawsuit points out that Anchor Glass had to
abide by the provisions of the federal Worker Adjustment and
Retraining Notification Act, which prohibits certain employers
from closing a plant or ordering a mass layoff without first
providing affected workers a 60-day notice.

Company officials had informed the union presidents on November
4 that effective immediately, the bottle-making plant was
closing permanently for economic reasons saying that it was
losing business to producers of plastic and aluminum containers.
Both Mr. Petrone and Ms. Shipley were members of the Glass,
Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers International Union.


BEAR STEARNS: Settlement Reached in McKesson CA Shareholder Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
McKesson HBOC, Inc. reached a settlement for the class action
filed against Bear Stearns Companies, Inc. in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of California, styled
"In re McKesson HBOC, Inc. Securities Litigation."

Beginning on June 29, 1999, 53 purported class actions were
commenced.  On November 2, 1999, these actions were
consolidated, and on February 25, 2000, the plaintiffs filed an
amended consolidated complaint.  On November 14, 2000, the
plaintiffs filed a second amended consolidated complaint and on
February 15, 2002, plaintiffs filed a third amended consolidated
complaint.

As amended, the complaint alleges that the Company violated
Sections 10(b) and 14(a) of the Exchange Act in connection with
allegedly false and misleading disclosures contained in a joint
proxy statement/prospectus that was issued with respect to the
McKesson/HBOC merger.  Plaintiffs purport to represent a class
consisting of all persons who either acquired publicly traded
securities of HBOC between January 20, 1997 and January 12,
1999, or acquired publicly traded securities of McKesson or
McKesson HBOC between October 18, 1998 and April 27, 1999, and
who held McKesson securities on November 27, 1998 and January
22, 1999.  Named defendants include McKesson HBOC, certain
present and former directors and/or officers of McKesson HBOC,
McKesson and/or HBOC, Bear Stearns and Arthur Andersen LLP.
Compensatory damages in an unspecified amount are sought.

On January 6, 2003, the court granted the Company's motion to
dismiss the Section 10(b) claim asserted in the third amended
complaint, and denied its motion to dismiss the Section 14(a)
claim.  On March 7, 2003, Bear Stearns filed an answer to the
third amended complaint denying all allegations of wrongdoing
and asserting affirmative defenses to the claims in the
complaint.

On January 12, 2005, McKesson HBOC announced that it had reached
a settlement with the plaintiff class.  The settlement awaits
court approval.  Bear Stearns' engagement letter with McKesson
in connection with the merger of McKesson and HBOC provides that
McKesson cannot settle any litigation without Bear Stearns'
written consent unless McKesson obtains an unconditional written
release for Bear Stearns and, under certain circumstances, is
required to provide indemnification to Bear Stearns.


BEAR STEARNS: NY Court Allows Shareholder Fraud Suit To Proceed
---------------------------------------------------------------
Bear Stearns Companies, Inc., Bear Stearns Securities Co. (BSSC)
and a former BSSC officer continues to face a class action filed
in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of
New York, styled "Rogers v. Sterling Foster & Co., Inc."

The action is brought on behalf of a purported class consisting
of all persons who purchased or otherwise acquired certain
securities that were underwritten by Sterling Foster.  Named as
defendants, in addition to the Bear Stearns defendants set forth
above, are Sterling Foster, seven individuals alleged to have
had an employment relationship with, or exercised control over,
Sterling Foster, six companies that issued securities
underwritten by Sterling Foster, seven individuals who were
directors, officers and/or employees of these issuers, one
individual who controlled a corporate investor in and selling
shareholder in the issuers's IPOs, and Bernstein & Wasserman LLP
and two of its partners.

The second amended complaint alleged, among other things, that
the Bear Stearns defendants violated Section 10(b) of the
Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder and Section
349 of the New York General Business Law and committed common
law fraud in connection with providing clearing services to
Sterling Foster.  Compensatory damages in an unspecified amount
were sought.

On June 27, 2002, the court granted defendants' motion to
dismiss and dismissed the claims against Bear Stearns, BSSC, and
the former officer of BSSC in their entirety.  On September 29,
2004, the court granted plaintiffs' motion to vacate the June
27, 2002 dismissal and granted plaintiffs' request to amend
their complaint against Bear Stearns and BSSC with respect to
two securities underwritten by Sterling Foster.


BEAR STEARNS: Continues To Face Securities Fraud Suit in S.D. NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
Bear Stearns continues to face a class action filed in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York, styled "Levitt, et al. v. Bear Stearns, et al."

On February 16, 1999, the purported class action was filed on
behalf of all persons who purchased ML Direct, Inc. common stock
or warrants through Sterling Foster & Co., Inc. between
September 4, 1996 and December 31, 1996.  The suit also named as
defendant Bear Stearns Securities Company (BSSC).

The complaint alleges, among other things, that the defendants
violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule
10b-5 promulgated thereunder and committed common law fraud in
connection with providing clearing services to Sterling Foster
with respect to certain transactions by customers of Sterling
Foster in ML Direct common stock and warrants.  Compensatory
damages of $50 million and punitive damages of approximately
$100 million are sought.

On April 6, 1999, this action was transferred by the Judicial
Panel on Multi-District Litigation to the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of New York.  On June 27, 2002,
the court granted defendants' motion and dismissed this action
in its entirety.

On July 25, 2002, plaintiff filed a notice of appeal from the
district court order dismissing the complaint in this action.
On August 13, 2003, the United States Court of Appeals for the
Second Circuit vacated the district court order granting
defendants' motion to dismiss and remanded the action to the
district court.


BEAR STEARNS: Working To Settle Consolidated NY Securities Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
Bear Stearns is attempting to settle the consolidated securities
class action filed against it, and many other financial services
firms, in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York, involving the allocation of securities in
certain initial public offerings (IPOs).  The suit is styled "In
RE IPO Securities Litigation," and is pending under Judge Shira
A. Scheindlin.

Several complaints were initially filed, generally alleging,
among other things, that between 1998 and 2000:

     (1) the underwriters of certain "hot" IPOs of technology
         and internet-related companies obtained excessive
         compensation by allocating shares in these IPOs to
         preferred customers who, in return, purportedly agreed
         to pay additional compensation to  the underwriters,
         and the underwriters failed to disclose this additional
         compensation and/or

     (2) the underwriters' customers, in return for a favorable
         allocation of these securities, agreed to purchase
         additional shares in the aftermarket at pre-arranged
         prices or to pay additional compensation in connection
         with other transactions.

Beginning on April 19, 2002, the plaintiffs in these litigations
filed amended complaints by virtue of which the public offerings
of each of the 309 issuers are now the subjects of separate
complaints.  Bear Stearns is a defendant in 95 of these amended
complaints.

As amended, the complaints allege, among other things, that the
underwriters, including Bear Stearns, violated Section 11 of the
Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule
10b-5 promulgated thereunder, based on the wrongdoing alleged in
the original complaints and by causing their securities analysts
to issue unwarranted positive reports regarding the issuers.
Compensatory damages in unspecified amounts are sought.

In June 2004, plaintiffs and a substantial number of the non-
bankrupt issuer defendants and their officers and directors
jointly moved for preliminary approval of a proposed settlement
among the parties.  The terms of the proposed settlement are
complex but generally provide that:

     (i) the insurers of these issuers will guarantee an
         ultimate recovery by plaintiffs, in this and related
         litigations, of $1 billion;

    (ii) these issuers will assign to plaintiffs so-called
         "excess compensation" claims against the underwriter
         defendants, including Bear Stearns, that these issuers
         allegedly possess; and

   (iii) plaintiffs will, upon final approval of the settlement,
         dismiss all claims against these issuers and the
         individual director and officer defendants.

To date, the court has not yet ruled on the parties' motion
seeking preliminary approval. By order dated October 13, 2004,
the court granted in part and denied in part class certification
for each of the six cases selected to be the focus cases for
these proceedings.


BIG DOG: Recalls 1,586 Model 2005 Motorcycles For Crash Hazard
--------------------------------------------------------------
Big Dog Motorcycles, LLC is cooperating with the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by voluntarily
recalling 1,586 Big Dog motorcycles, model 2005.

On certain motorcycles, an electronic component failure could
occur in the electric harness control (EHC) module.  This could
result in a total shut down of the motorcycle's electrical power
increasing the risk of a crash.

Dealers will add a resistor harness to eliminate the
susceptibility of the component in the electric harness control
module to fail.  The recall is expected to begin March 15,2005.
For more details, contact the Company by Phone: 316-267-9121 or
the NHTSA's auto safety hotline: 1-888-327-4236.


BLUE BIRD: Recalls 22 Wanderlodge Motor Homes For Crash Hazard
--------------------------------------------------------------
Blue Bird Body Company is cooperating with the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration by voluntarily recalling 22 Blue
Bird WANDERLODGE M450 LXI motor homes, models 2005-2006

On certain motor homes, a circuit design resulted in a 12.1 AMP
circuit draw in the brake light circuit when it is protected by
a 10 AMP circuit breaker.  The current draw may cause the
circuit breaker to fail resulting in a loss of brake lights with
no warning to the driver before or after the fuse blows.  A
following driver may not know when the brakes have been applied
and a rear-end crash could occur without prior warning.

Dealers will modify the circuit to incorporate relays to reduce
the current draw in the fused circuit to less than 10 AMP.  The
recall is expected to begin on February 23,2005.  For more
details, contact the Company by Phone: 478-825-2021 or contact
the NHTSA's auto safety hotline: 1-888-327-4236.


CALIFORNIA: High Court Agrees To Review Tobacco Marketing Case
--------------------------------------------------------------
A unanimous California Supreme Court waded into a protracted
tobacco marketing litigation known as In Re Tobacco Cases II,
JCCP 4042, agreeing to review a state appeals court ruling which
dismissed a class-action lawsuit accusing cigarette makers of
illegally targeting minors in their ads, the Associated Press
reports.

Though the seven justices did not indicate when it would hear
the case, their decision did set aside a San Diego-based 4th
District Court of Appeal ruling that had said federal law pre-
empted California unfair business practices claims when it comes
to cigarette marketing allegedly targeting those not old enough
to smoke.

The original 1998 lawsuit against corporate tobacco companies
sought to have them forfeit between $700 million and $2 billion
allegedly earned from sales to an estimated 1.5 million teen
smokers in California between 1994 and 1999.

In October, the San Diego appeals court ruled that federal
cigarette labeling laws and the First Amendment pre-empted
allegations brought under California unfair business practices
laws.


CALIFORNIA: Inmates Launch Suit Over Misappropriation Of Funds
--------------------------------------------------------------
Inmates initiated a class-action lawsuit against Santa Clara
County, California jailers alleging that they illegally used
millions of dollars intended for services and gutted inmate
education and rehabilitation programs, the Associated Press
reports.

Attorneys with the Public Interest Law Firm of San Jose and
Fenwick & West filed the suit in Santa Clara County Superior
Court on behalf of four inmates and all others incarcerated in
the county's jails. It names the Department of Correction and
county Board of Supervisors, which approves jail spending, as
defendants.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the county's Department
of Correction, which runs the sixth-largest jail system in
California, has misappropriated more than $6.2 million from an
"inmate welfare fund" while cutting more than $1.1 million in
programs. Furthermore the suit alleges, "The DOC is improperly
using IWF funds designated and needed for the inmates' welfare
to pay for two services already mandated by state law: feeding
inmates and providing security."

Chief of Correction Edward Flores told AP that he had not seen
the lawsuit but maintains that the department has done nothing
wrong. He adds, "We believe all the expenditures out of the
inmate welfare fund for programs and staffing are appropriate."

Deputy County Counsel Linda Deacon told AP, "If the staff are
supporting a program that benefits the inmates, we believe it
can be paid for out of the inmate welfare fund."


CHESTERFIELD HEALTH: Four Workers Lodge Overtime Wage Suit in WA
----------------------------------------------------------------
One of the state's largest home-care companies has been sued by
four of it workers claiming the for-profit firm doesn't pay
overtime as required by state law, the Seattle Times reports.

"I know I've done good for disabled people," Stella Ogiale, who
owns Seattle-based Chesterfield Health Services and contends
that the lawsuit is part of a campaign to unionize her work
force, told the Times. "I have no apology for making money by
doing good. I haven't ripped off the state, and I haven't ripped
off the workers," she adds.

Chesterfield Health Services last year was listed as 13th among
the nation's 100 fastest-growing inner-city businesses by Inc.
magazine. The publication also called Ms. Ogiale "one of
America's 25 most fascinating entrepreneurs."

The suit, filed in King County Superior Court, seeks damages for
lost wages, as well as attorneys' fees.  The suit states that
Chesterfield refuses to pay its employees the state-required
time-and-a-half for work in excess of 40 hours a week. Also, it
alleges that the company doesn't compensate its workers for all
or part of their time spent driving between clients' homes, for
time spent on administrative tasks and for "unscheduled time."

The plaintiffs also ask to have the suit certified as a class
action, which would effectively require a judge to rule whether
the four plaintiffs properly represent a class of workers.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is
funding the lawsuit, has been trying to unionize Chesterfield
for the past few months. "We're helping these workers get their
rights upheld and get paid what they deserve," Adam Glickman, an
SEIU spokesman told the Times.

Several city and state politicians also have called Ms. Ogiale,
suggesting that, at minimum, she meet with the union about its
organizing efforts, her attorney, Judd Lees told the Times.
Most of Ms. Ogiale's clients are disabled and older Medicaid
recipients, thus, "There's a clear dispute as to whether state
overtime law applies in this case," Mr. Lees said. She adds, "As
far as I know, under federal and state law there's been no
violation."

Ms. Lees speculated that the lawsuit is part of the continued
pressure on his client to keep her from providing employees with
what he called a "balanced viewpoint" on the union issue.

Ms. Ogiale contends that the union is harassing her workers and
clients, the Times states.  She says, "I feel very victimized.
If I leave this business, the clients will be shortchanged. I've
done my best to save human lives."


CONNECTICUT: Legislators Approve Mental Retardation Settlement
--------------------------------------------------------------
After a 15-year lobbying effort and a federal lawsuit, an
advocacy group for the mentally retarded is on the verge of
getting the legislature to substantially reduce a list of
hundreds of people waiting for housing and services, the
Stamford Advocate reports.

Recently, the legislature's Public Health Committee unanimously
approved a bill that that would ratify a legal settlement
reached last summer between Arc/Connecticut and the state
departments of Mental Retardation and Social Services. It's now
up to the full General Assembly to approve the five-year, $41
million plan and send it to a federal judge for consideration.

"About damn time," Sen. Cathy Cook, R-Mystic, who has lobbied
her colleagues for years to eliminate DMR's waiting list for
placement in group homes and apartments, or for in-home
assistance, told the Advocate.  Sen. Cook, who has an adult son
with Down Syndrome adds, "I, along with a lot of families, have
waited a long time for this day. I'm sorry that it took a court
case, but I'm glad that it happened."

As stipulated in the settlement, relief will be provided to at
least 1,250 families over five years who are determined by DMR
to be most in need. At least 150 individuals each year will be
able to move out of their families' homes and an additional 100
families per year will receive some form of assistance, such as
in-home help.

Margaret Dignoti, executive director of Arc/Connecticut, told
the Advocate filing the lawsuit in 2001 was a last resort for
the organization.  After years of telling sad stories about
elderly parents waiting 10 or 15 years to have their adult
children placed in a group home or other setting, they took the
matter to the courts and filed a class action suit. She also
states, "Their biggest fear is that they will die before
appropriate arrangements have been made to ensure continuing
care for their beloved children."

The legal settlement targets those families with the most
immediate need for services. Between 2005 and 2009, an average
of $50,000 will be spent per person for at least 150 people each
year, which should remove at least 750 people from the list. In
addition, an average of $5,000 per person will be spent for 100
individuals with lower priority, which can be spent on in-home
support, such as part-time staff to help with an individual's
personal care. The settlement will also require the DMR to
provide services to the 26 plaintiffs named in the case.

Commending the plaintiffs' willingness to compromise, Deputy
Attorney General Carolyn Querijero told The Advocate it became
clear the state would ultimately lose the case in court after
losing on three previous rulings. Arc/Connecticut had claimed
the state was violating the laws and regulations governing a
specific federal Medicaid program by not providing the services
to those in need. Furthermore, the plaintiffs claimed the state
was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Last year, the legislature budgeted $4.6 million to help reduce
the waiting list in anticipation of the settlement. Gov. M. Jodi
Rell's budget proposal continues that additional funding for two
years. She hopes to eliminate the list by 2010.


FEDERAL-MOGUL: Recalls 11,174 Brake Kits Due To Product Defect
--------------------------------------------------------------
Federal-Mogul Corporation is cooperating with the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration by voluntarily recalling
11,174 spare parts, namely:

     (1) USA / JUA2588

     (2) USA / JUA2589

     (3) USA / JXX2588

     (4) USA / JXX2589

     (5) WAGNER / MWGF79800

     (6) WAGNER / MWGF9799

     (7) WAGNER / MWGF98416

     (8) WAGNER / MWGF98417

     (9) WAGNER / MWGH1534

    (10) WAGNER / MWGH1535

    (11) WAGNER / MWGH2588

    (12) WAGNER / MWGH2589

Certain aftermarket Federal-Mogul Wagner and USA Brand brake
hardware kits for use on passenger cars and produced between
November 18,2004 and January 19,2005.  The subject kits were
produced with missing parts, which prevent the kit from being
used as intended.  If this product is misused it could result in
improper brake adjustment.

Federal-Mogul will notify its customers and replace the kits
free of charge.  The recall is expected to begin on February
2005.  For more details, contact the Company by Phone:
1-773-866-5100 or contact the NHTSA's auto safety hotline:
1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236).


FORD MOTOR: CA Court Certifies Suit Over SUV's Rollover Defect
--------------------------------------------------------------
The California Superior Court in Sacramento certified a class-
action lawsuit pending against Ford Motor Company, charging that
it knew of a rollover defect in its Explorer sport-utility
vehicle (SUV) that it concealed from consumers.

The class certified by the court generally includes persons who
purchased or leased Ford Explorers in California during the
period from 1990 through August 2000. According to evidence
presented to the court, Ford sold over 440,000 Explorers in
California during that time period. It was in August 2000 that
Firestone initiated a recall of tires used on the Ford Explorer
because of the large number of fatalities that occurred when
Explorers rolled over after the tread separated from their
tires. The plaintiffs allege that further investigation revealed
that Ford had suggested underinflating the tires to conceal the
Explorer's rollover problems.

In deciding to certify the class, the court found that it is
extremely important to avoid inconsistent decisions where a
course of conduct by one defendant affecting hundreds of
thousands of plaintiffs is at issue. Accordingly, the court
ruled that determining all of the claims in one forum will
result in a uniform decision applicable to members of the class
and that substantial benefits will accrue to both the litigants
and the court from this process. The court directed the parties
to propose a form of notice that would be sent to potential
class members notifying them of the court's decision.

Ford's internal documents indicate that Ford ignored its
engineers' advice that the Explorer SUV needed design revisions
to prevent rollover accidents and fatal injuries, according to a
Bloomberg news article of February 2, 2005. In 2004, Ford lost 2
Explorer rollover cases at trial, including a verdict in San
Diego of $150 million, after reduction by the trial judge, and a
$5.3 million verdict in Fort Myers, Florida. In addition to the
California class action case, there are about two dozen trials
claiming defects in Explorers that are set to take place this
year.

For more details, contact Robert Green or Jenelle Welling of
Green Welling LLP by Phone: (415) 477-6700 or visit their Web
site: http://www.classcounsel.com.


GENCORP INC.: Shareholders Launch Fiduciary Duty Lawsuit in CA
--------------------------------------------------------------
GenCorp, Inc. faces a class action filed in the Superior Court
of the State of California, County of Sacramento, styled "Tolwin
et al. v. GenCorp Inc. et al., Case No. 04AS04580."  The suit
also names as defendants:

     (1) J. Robert Anderson,

     (2) J. Gary Cooper,

     (3) James J. Didion

     (4) Terry L. Hall

     (5) William K. Hall

     (6) James M. Osterhoff

     (7) Steven G. Rothmeier

     (8) Sheila E. Widnall

     (9) Robert A. Wolfe

Plaintiff, an alleged shareholder of GenCorp, alleges that the
directors of Company and one executive officer of the Company
breached their fiduciary duties by failing to give adequate
consideration to reasonable acquisition offers. Plaintiff seeks
class action status and on behalf of herself and other similarly
situated individuals and plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive
relief.

The suit is styled Jean Werbowsky v. GenCorp, Inc., et al., case
no. 04AS04580.  Attorney for the defendants is John W. Edwards,
while attorneys for the plaintiffs are Nadeem Faruqi, Darren J.
Robbins and Marc M. Umeda.


GENCORP INC.: Trial in Retirees Benefits Suit Set Mid-2005 in OH
----------------------------------------------------------------
Trial in the class action filed against GenCorp, Inc. and OMNOVA
Solutions, Inc. is expected to begin middle of 2005 in the
United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

In October 2000, a group of hourly retirees filed a federal
lawsuit against GenCorp Inc. (GenCorp) and OMNOVA Solutions Inc.
(OMNOVA) disputing certain retiree medical benefits, styled
"Wotus, et al. v. GenCorp Inc., et al., U.S.D.C., N.D. OH
(Cleveland, OH), Case No. 5:00-CV-2604."  The retirees seek
rescission of the then current Hourly Retiree Medical Plan
established in the spring of 1994, and the reinstatement of the
prior plan terms.  The crux of the dispute relates to union and
GenCorp negotiated modifications to retiree benefits that, in
exchange for other consideration, now require retirees to make
benefit contributions as a result of caps on company-paid
retiree medical costs implemented in late 1993.  A retiree's
failure to pay contributions results in a termination of
benefits.

The Company prevailed in similar litigation filed in 1995
involving salaried employees arising at the Company's
Wabash, Indiana location, styled "Divine, et al. v. GenCorp
Inc., U.S.D.C., N.D. IN (South Bend, IN), Case No. 96-CV-0394-
AS."

The initial WOTUS plaintiffs consisted of four hourly retirees
from the Jeannette, Pennsylvania facility of OMNOVA, the Company
spun-off from GenCorp on October 1, 1999, two hourly retirees
from OMNOVA's former Newcomerstown, Ohio facility, and three
hourly retirees from the Company's former tire plants in Akron,
Ohio; Mayfield, Kentucky; and Waco, Texas.  The plaintiffs
sought class certification seeking to represent all eligible
hourly retirees formerly represented by the unions URW
or USWA. The unions are not party to the suit and have agreed
not to support such litigation pursuant to an agreement
negotiated with the Company.

In December 2003, the trial court denied plaintiffs' motion for
class action certification.  The plaintiffs filed a motion
seeking reconsideration, and that motion was denied.  Plaintiffs
petitioned the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Court of Appeals)
for the right to seek an interlocutory appeal of the trial
court's denial of class certification.  The Court of Appeals
denied that petition in August 2004.

Following the Court of Appeals ruling on the interlocutory
appeal, the trial court lifted the stay on the Wotus case and
denied a pending motion filed on behalf of 241 individuals who
sought to intervene in the Wotus case.  The result of these
rulings is that that the Wotus case will move forward with the
nine remaining individual plaintiffs or their estates.
Extensive discovery has already occurred in this case.  The
Company has given notice to its insurance carriers and is
receiving reimbursement for portions of its defense fees and
costs.  A trial in the Ohio federal court is not expected until
sometime after the summer of 2005.

The suit is styled "Wotus et al v. Gencorp, Inc., et al, case
no. 5:00-cv-02604-DAP," filed in the United States District
Court for the Northern District of Ohio, under Judge Dan Aaron
Polster.  The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

     (1) Edward J. Feinstein, Jere H. Krakoff, John E. Stember
         Stember Feinstein Krakoff, 1705 Allegheny Bldg, 429
         Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, Phone: 412-338-
         1445, Fax: 412-232-3730, E-mail: efeinstein@sfklaw.net,
         jkrakoff@sfklaw.net or jstember@sfklaw.net

     (2) Ira J. Mirkin, Green Haines Sgambati, 400 National City
         Bank Bldg., 16 Wick Avenue, Youngstown, OH 44503,
         Phone: 330-743-5101, Fax: 330-743-3451, E-mail:
         imirkin@green-haines.com

     (3) William T. Payne, 1007 Mt. Royal Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA
         15223, Phone: 412-492-8797, Fax: 412-492-8978, E-mail:
         wpayne@stargate.net


GEOPHARMA INC.: Shareholders Launch Securities Suits in S.D. NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
GeoPharma, Inc. faces five securities class actions filed in the
United States District Court, Southern District of New York.
The suit, which also names as defendants certain of the
Company's officers, alleges violations of federal securities
laws in connection with certain press releases issued by the
Company relating to Belcher Pharmaceuticals' planned
introduction of Mucotrol.

The suits are styled:

     (1) Mat eVentures v. Kotha Sekharam and GeoPharma, Inc.
         (SDNY 04 Civ. 9463);

     (2) Moshayedi v. GeoPharma, Inc., Jugal Taneja, Mihir
         Taneja, and Kotha Sekharam (SDNY 04 Civ. 9736);

     (3) Sarno v. Mihir Taneja, Kotha Sekharam, and GeoPharma,
         Inc. (SDNY 04 Civ. 9975);

     (4) Farwell v. Kotha Sekharam and GeoPharma, Inc. (SDNY 05
         Civ. 188); and

     (5) Taylor v. Kotha Sekharam and GeoPharma, Inc. (SDNY 05
         Civ. 258).

Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly
situated, seek unspecified damages allegedly suffered in
connection with their respective purchases and sales of the
Company's securities during the Class period.  Six potential
lead plaintiffs have filed motions to have the actions
consolidated, to be appointed lead plaintiff, and to have their
counsel appointed lead counsel. Those motions are pending.

The suits are filed in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York, under Judge Schira A. Scheindlin.
The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

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

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

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

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

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


GEORGIA: ALEC Commends Governor Sonny Perdue For Signing SB3
------------------------------------------------------------
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) hailed Georgia
Governor Sonny Perdue for signing SB3 into law.

SB3 is a comprehensive civil justice reform package that will
become effective immediately upon receiving the governor's
signature, and is a big step forward in promoting economic
growth and access to health care for the citizens of Georgia.

"Today, by signing this bill into law, Governor Perdue has shown
his commitment to providing the citizens of Georgia a fair and
equitable justice system," said ALEC's Executive Director, Duane
Parde. "The House and Senate legislators should be proud of
passing such meaningful medical and legal reform legislation."

Major Provisions of SB3 include:

     (1) Venue Reform

     (2) Offer of Settlement provision to provide a deterrent to
         the rejection of good faith settlement offers

     (3) Prohibits the use of statements of apology and
         benevolence as an admission of guilt

     (4) Strengthening of expert witness and evidence standards


     (5) Limitation of Liability for Emergency Services
         Providers

     (6) Joint and Several Liability Reform

     (7) Limitations on Noneconomic Damages: $350,000 limit per
         entity with a $1,050,000 maximum.

ALEC's Civil Justice Task Force Director, Kristin Armshaw,
notes, "Georgia now joins Ohio, Texas and Mississippi in turning
back the tide of the litigation craze that has flooded the
United States and threatened access to healthcare and stifled
entrepreneurship across the states.

"The legislators should be commended for their tireless work to
create a fair and comprehensive civil justice reform bill that
would work to ensure that no Georgian is denied emergency care,
or medical services for their children, because of profit
seeking trial lawyers."

Other ALEC model legislation under consideration by the Georgia
General Assembly at this time are Asbestos and Silica Claims
Priorities Act, Jury Patriotism Act & Class Action Improvements
Act.


HAGENS BERMAN: Unveils New Firm Name in Recognition Of Partners
---------------------------------------------------------------
Hagens Berman LLP, a Seattle-based law firm representing
plaintiffs in class action and multi-party large-scale
litigation, unveiled its new firm name -- Hagens Berman Sobol
Shapiro LLP. The new name includes the names of two of the
firm's senior partners, Thomas Sobol and Anthony Shapiro.

The firm's managing partner, Steve Berman, says the name change
is due recognition of Sobol and Shapiro's notable contributions
to Hagens Berman over the past several years, as well as their
prominent roles in high-profile litigation.

"Tom Sobol and Tony Shapiro have brought tenacity, talent and
expertise that have been integral to the growth and success of
our firm," said Berman. "In particular their contributions have
had a very significant impact in the growth of our firm as a
national presence."

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro was founded in 1993 in Seattle, and
now has offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix and Cambridge.

Thomas Sobol is located at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro's
Cambridge office where he currently leads drug pricing
litigation efforts against several pharmaceutical companies.
Recently, Mr. Sobol spearheaded the litigation against
GlaxoSmithKline and TAP Pharmaceuticals, which brought the
companies' fraudulent schemes to light and resulted in
respective $75 million and $150 million settlements for
consumers.

Sobol's accomplishments also include his role in the
groundbreaking tobacco litigations, in which he represented
Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. His work led to
significant injunctive relief and monetary recovery of more than
$10 billion to those states.

Tony Shapiro is a partner in the firm's Seattle office, where
his practice focuses on the prosecution of antitrust and
catastrophic personal injury cases. Shapiro has handled hundreds
of personal injury cases including numerous wrongful death
lawsuits, many resulting in multi-million dollar verdicts and
settlements. In the antitrust field, Shapiro has played a
prominent role in Brand Name Prescription Drug litigation, the
Linerboard antitrust litigation, the DRAM antitrust litigation
and the firm's groundbreaking Visa/MasterCard case. His
prosecution of claims against the Alyeska Pipeline Service
Company after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill ultimately
resulted in a $98 million settlement for plaintiffs.

"Tom and Tony's track record embodies the excellence and
innovation that defines Hagens Berman's approach to litigation,"
said Steve Berman. "As we champion the cause of investors,
consumers, workers, and the environment, we look forward to the
knowledge and leadership they will continue to bring to the
team."

In addition, the firm is changing its Web site URL to
http://www.hbsslaw.com.


HOTWIRE INC.: Customer Launches Fraud Lawsuit Over Hotel Ratings
----------------------------------------------------------------
A proposed class action has been initiated in Los Angeles
Superior Court against online travel company Hotwire Inc., which
is wholly owned by IAC/InteractiveCorp (Research), for
purportedly charging customers premium rates for hotels that
weren't as highly rated as the Web site advertised, Reuters
reports.

The lead plaintiff, Jeffery Cowan, had booked what Hotwire
advertised as a five-star hotel for his 2004 honeymoon in Hawaii
and paid Hotwire's "5-star" rate of $207 per night.  The lawsuit
alleges that Mr. Cowan later learned that the hotel had been
accorded only a 4.5-star rating, and believed he should have
paid $185 per night, the rate Hotwire advertised for 4.5 star
hotels.  The suit accuses Hotwire of deceptive acts, false
advertising, unfair competition and breach of contract and seeks
compensatory and punitive damages and legal fees for "hundreds
or even thousands of other individuals also misled" by the
ratings system.


HPL TECHNOLOGIES: Fairness Hearing Set February 24,2005 in CA
-------------------------------------------------------------
Final fairness hearing for the settlement of the consolidated
securities class action filed against HPL Technologies, Inc.,
certain of its current and former officers and directors of the
Company, and the Company's independent auditors is set for
February 24, 2005 in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California.

The suit alleges that the defendants violated Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder, and Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15 of the
Securities Act of 1933 by making a series of material
misrepresentations as to the financial condition of the Company
during the class period of July 31, 2001 to July 19, 2002.  The
plaintiffs are generally seeking to recover compensatory
damages, costs and expenses incurred, interest and such other
relief as the court may deem appropriate.

The Company has entered into a Stipulation of Settlement with
the lead plaintiffs that will resolve the Securities Class
Action. Under the Stipulation, the Company would issue shares of
common stock to the class.  Final settlement is contingent on
several conditions, including court approval.  The motion for
preliminary approval of the settlement was heard on November 4,
2004, and granted in an order issued on November 5, 2004.


The suit, styled "Marie Casden, et al. v. HPL Technologies Inc.,
et al., case no. C-02-3510," is pending in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of California, under
Judge Vaughn Walker.  Lead plaintiff is Fuller & Thaler Asset
Management, Inc. and counsel for the plaintiffs are Steven O.
Sidener, Joseph M. Barton and Gwendolyn R. Giblin of GOLD
BENNETT CERA & SIDENER LLP, 595 Market Street, Suite 2300, San
Francisco, California 94105-2835, Phone: (415) 777-2230 Fax:
(415) 777-5189.


ILLINOIS: School District U46 Vehemently Denies Lawsuit Claims
--------------------------------------------------------------
In their first public comments since the recent filing of class
action lawsuit alleging that Latino students and those with
limited English skills receive an inferior education in the
school district, Elgin School District U46 officials have called
the claims absolutely false, the Elgin Courier News reports.

The lawsuit, which district officials have not yet officially
answered in federal court, is largely influenced by last year's
decision to redesign school attendance zones to emphasize the
concept of "neighborhood schools."  About 700 fewer U46 students
now use school buses to attend schools, a move that not only
helps the district financially, but also aids parents who want
to become more involved in their children's education.  Critics
though argued that in the process of implementing it, a "de
facto segregation" has been created by lumping larger groups of
poor and minority children into schools on Elgin's east side.

In a recent newspaper column, U46 Superintendent Connie Neale
stated, "The rezoning decision was not made lightly, but was
based on more than two years of study, as well as years of
review and recommendation by our Citizens' Advisory council."
She also states that the new attendance zone plan has been
enhanced more recently through equity-related policies such as
an expansion of a school choice program and two separate
analyses of the district's bilingual programs, the Courier News
reports.

The idea that by creating neighborhood schools and effectively
increasing the populations of Latino students in some schools -
some of them are being set up for failure, is wrong, Ms. Neale
said. "I don't think there's anything automatic about it," she
said. "Just because a child is Latino and speaks another
language doesn't mean they're an at-risk child."

Still, the district has recognized the extra need for at-risk
schools and has promptly lowered Class sizes, for example in the
most needy schools.  However, as U46 spends more money and
professional expertise in its schools, some of them are
wondering how much the district's current legal troubles will
cut into its bottom line.

For this fiscal year, which ends in June, U46 pumped an extra
$1.5 million into its tort fund in anticipation of potential
legal battles related to the attendance zone plan, as well as a
brewing movement by some U46 communities to secede from the
district.


ILLINOIS: Six More Class Action Lawsuits Filed in Madison County
----------------------------------------------------------------
As the U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on the Class
Action Fairness Act of 2005, which in essence would move most
class action filings to federal court, six more class action
complaints were filed in Madison County Circuit Court thus
bringing the total number of like cases brought in Madison
County to 19 for the week, the Madison County Record reports.

Stephen Tillery, whose firm Korein Tillery was the top class
action filer in Madison County last year, filed on behalf of
Paula Beals and others similarly situated against Variable
Annuity Life Insurance.

Another well known attroney, Bradley Lakin of the Lakin Law Firm
in Wood River, who championings the causes of plaintiffs in 13
other class actions also filed in Madison County, this one on
behalf of Diane Turner against ITI Bank, Bancorp Bank and
Moonlight Marketing.

In the meantime, Richard Burke also of the Lakin Law Firm, filed
four class action cases on behalf of local chiropractors and
rehab facilities. These suits targeted One Beacon Insurance,
Chesapeake Life Insurance, Cincinnati Insurance Company and Auto
Owners Casualty.

As of press time, there have been 22 class action cases filed in
Madison County this year, the Madison County Record reports.


INTEGRATED ELECTRICAL: TX Orders Securities Suits Consolidated
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Southern District of
Texas ordered consolidated the securities class actions filed
against Integrated Electrical Services, Inc. and certain of its
officers and directors.

On August 20, 2004, August 23, 2004, September 10, 2004,
September 15, 2004, and October 4, 2004, Corinne Orem, Elaine
English, Park Partners, L.P., Jack Zimny, and James Elmore,
respectively, each filed a putative class action complaint,
alleging that the defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and seeking a class
determination for purchasers of IES stock between November 10,
2003 and August 13, 2004.  The complaints seek unspecified
amounts of compensatory damages, interest and costs, including
legal fees.

On November 19, 2004, these cases were consolidated.  A motion
to appoint a lead plaintiff is pending before the Court, and
once an appointment is made, the plaintiff will have sixty days
to file a consolidated amended complaint.  Defendants will have
sixty days from the filing of this consolidated amended
complaint to respond.

The suit styled Smith v. Integrated Electric, et al, case no.
4:02-cv-03254" is pending in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York under Judge Melinda
Harmon.   The three other suits are pending in the same court
under Judge David Hittner, and are styled;

     (1) Park Partners LLP v. Integrated Electrical Services Inc
         et al, case no. 4:04-cv-03558

     (2) Zimny v. Integrated Electrical Services Inc et al, case
         no. 4:04-cv-03602

     (3) Elmore v. Integrated Electrical Services Inc et al,
         case no. 4:04-cv-03842

Representing the Company is Fraser A. McAlpine, Akin Gump et al,
1111 Louisiana St, 44th Floor Houston, TX 77002, Phone:
713-250-8129, Fax: 713-236-0822 E-mail: fmcalpine@akingump.com.
The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

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

     (2) Brian Felgoise, 230 South Broad Street, Suite 404 ,
         Philadelphia, PA, 19102, Phone: 215.735.6810, Fax:
         215/735.5185,

     (3) Brodsky & Smith, LLC, 11 Bala Avenue, Suite 39, Bala
         Cynwyd, PA, 19004, Phone: 610.668.7987, Fax:
         610.660.0450, E-mail: esmith@Brodsky-Smith.com

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

     (5) Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. (Washington,
         DC), 1100 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 500, West Tower,
         Washington, DC, 20005, Phone: 202.408.4600, Fax:
         202.408.4699, E-mail: lawinfo@cmht.com

     (6) Federman & Sherwood, 120 North Robinson, Suite 2720,
         Oklahoma City, OK, 73102, Phone: 405-235-1560, E-mail:
         wfederman@aol.com

     (7) Hoeffner & Bilek, LLP, 440 Louisiana - Suite 720,
         Houston, TX, 77002, Phone: 713.227.7720,

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

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

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


INTERMIX MEDIA: Inks Settlement For Securities Suit in C.D. CA
--------------------------------------------------------------
Intermix Media, Inc. reached a preliminary settlement for the
consolidated securities class action filed against it, several
of its current and former officers and/or employees, and the
Company's former auditor in the United States District Court for
the Central District of California.

The suit arose out of the Company's restatement of quarterly
financial results for fiscal year 2003 and includes allegations
of, among other things, intentionally false and misleading
statements regarding the Company's business prospects, financial
condition and performance.

On June 9, 2004, the Court granted the Company's and other
defendants' motions to dismiss the lawsuit and plaintiffs were
permitted to file an amended complaint.  On July 15, 2004, the
Securities Litigation was stayed in order to allow the parties
to pursue a mediated settlement of the claims asserted in the
matter.  As a result of the mediation, in November of 2004 lead
plaintiff and the Company reached an agreement in principle to
settle the lawsuit for $5.5 million in cash, which the Company's
insurance carriers have agreed to fund.  One of the Company's
insurance carriers, from whom the Company expects that
approximately $1.5 million of the settlement will be paid, has
reserved the right to seek reimbursement from the Company should
the carrier dispute that it was obligated to provide coverage
for the lawsuit.

On January 11, 2005, the parties to the Securities Litigation
entered into a Stipulation of Settlement setting forth the
additional terms and conditions of settlement to be proposed to
the Court for approval.  The parties are awaiting preliminary
Court approval of the settlement after which time notice of the
settlement is to be mailed to class members and a hearing set
for final Court approval.


LANTRONIX INC.: Trial in CA Securities Suit Set September 2006
--------------------------------------------------------------
Trial in the consolidated securities class action filed against
Lantronix, Inc. and certain of its current and former directors
and former officers is set for September 2006 in the United
States District Court for the Central District of California.

The suit alleges violations of the federal securities laws and
is styled "In re Lantronix, Inc. Securities Litigation, Case No.
CV 02-3899 GPS (JTLx)." After the Court appointed a lead
plaintiff, amended complaints were filed by the plaintiff, and
the defendants filed various motions to dismiss directed at
particular allegations.  Through that process, certain of the
allegations were dismissed by the Court.

On October 18, 2004, the plaintiff filed the third amended
complaint, which is now the operative complaint in the action.
The Complaint alleges violations of Sections 11 and 15 of the
Securities Act of 1933 and violations of Sections 10(b) and
20(a) and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
The 1933 Act claims are brought on behalf of all persons who
purchased common stock of Lantronix pursuant or traceable to the
Company's August 4, 2000 initial public offering ("IPO").

The 1934 Act claims are based on alleged misstatements related
to the Company's financial results that were contained in the
Registration Statement and Prospectus for the IPO. The claims
brought under the 1934 Act are brought on behalf of all persons
and entities that purchased or acquired Lantronix securities
from November 1, 2000 through May 30, 2002.  The Complaint
alleges that defendants issued false and misleading statements
concerning the business and financial condition in order to
allegedly inflate the value of the Company's securities during
the Class Period.  The complaint alleges that during the Class
Period, Lantronix overstated financial results through improper
revenue recognition and failure to comply with GAAP.

Defendants have filed an answer to the complaint and the case is
now in discovery.  The Court has set a trial date in September
2006. While the complaint does not specify the damages plaintiff
may seek on behalf of the purported classes of shareholders, a
recovery by the plaintiff and the plaintiff classes could have a
material adverse impact on the Company.

The suit, styled "In re Lantronix, Inc. Securities Litigation,
Case No. CV 02-3899 GPS (JTLx)," is pending in the United States
District Court for the Central District of California under
Judge George P. Schiavelli.  Lead counsel for the plaintiffs is
Weiss & Yourman (Los Angeles, CA), 10940 Wilshire Blvd - 24th
Floor, Los Angeles, CA, 90024, Phone: 310.208.2800, Fax;
310.209.2348, E-mail: info@wyca.com


MCDONALD'S CORPORATION: Enforcement Of U.S. Settlement Upheld
-------------------------------------------------------------
In clearing the way for customers in Canada to seek additional
damages for a promotional fraud, the Court of Appeal for Ontario
has upheld a ruling that invalidates the Canadian part of a
settlement in a suit against McDonald's Corporation, the
Bloomberg.com reports.

Ontario court specifically upheld the 2004 judgment of Superior
Court Judge Maurice Cullity, who had ruled that Canadians
weren't properly notified of a class-action settlement approved
in Chicago on January 3, 2003. Cook County Circuit Court Judge
Stephen Schiller ordered the terms of the settlement to be
published in Maclean's magazine, a Canadian newsweekly.

Writing on behalf of the three-member panel, Appeals Court Judge
Robert Sharpe points out, McDonald's "opted to publish the
notice in a publication that is not ordinarily used in English
Canada for such purposes, and there was evidence that this
notice reached only a small proportion of the members of the
plaintiff class. Such notice was inadequate," Bloomberg reports.

McDonald's, the world's largest restaurant company, agreed in
2002 to give away $15 million in prizes to settle a class-action
lawsuit stemming from a fraud that involve the theft of winning
game pieces by insiders who managed the contest. Canadians who
sued said McDonald's distributed too few of the prizes in
Canada.

According to Judge Sharpe, Canadians already benefited from the
settlement and that a trial judge will have to consider that
when deciding on any new lawsuit to prevent over-compensation.

McDonald's customers had sued the hamburger chain in 2001 after
the arrest of employees of the company's marketing firm, Simon
Worldwide Inc. A federal jury in Florida convicted four men of
conspiring to defraud McDonald's. Jerome Jacobson, former
director of security for Simon, had pleaded guilty to stealing
winning game pieces and testified at the conspiracy trial.

The case is Greg Currie v. McDonald's Restaurants of Canada
Ltd., McDonald's Corp. and Simon Marketing Inc. C41264 Court of
Appeal for Ontario, Toronto.


MERCK & CO.: Federal Judges Tranfers Vioxx Lawsuits To E.D. LA
--------------------------------------------------------------
A panel of federal judges assigned all pending Vioxx federal
product liability lawsuits against the Whitehouse Station, N.J.-
based manufacturer Merck & Co. Inc. and its recalled blockbuster
arthritis drug Vioxx to Judge Eldon E. Fallon of the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New
Orleans, who has a lot of experience in major pharmaceutical
litigation for coordinating discovery and other pretrial
proceedings, the Associated Press reports.

Attorney Andy Birchfield, whose Montgomery, Alabama, firm has
already filed more than 100 Vioxx product liability suits and is
evaluating about 20,000 others involving former Vioxx users who
suffered strokes or heart attacks said, "We're pleased with the
case being transferred to New Orleans and to Judge Fallon." He
told AP, "The court clearly has the resources to move this
litigation forward in an efficient manner, and that's what we're
looking for. I would consider it a neutral court."

The judicial panel on multi-district litigation in Fort Myers,
Florida, had heard arguments from Merck and plaintiffs'
attorneys on possible locations to handle pretrial steps in the
massive litigation. Those steps include overseeing depositions
of witnesses, document collection and ruling on pretrial
motions.

Merck has said it faces at least 575 individual product
liability and personal injury lawsuits over Vioxx, plus another
70 seeking class-action status. The litigation being transferred
to Judge Fallon so far includes 148 cases pending in 41
different federal courts.

Judge Fallon has been handling pretrial proceedings since 2000
in thousands of lawsuits involving the former severe heartburn
drug Propulsid, withdrawn from the market by Janssen
Pharmaceutica Inc., part of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) of New
Brunswick, N.J.

As previously reported in the October 7, 2004 edition of the
Class Action Reporter, Merck & Co. withdrew its Vioxx arthritis
pain medicine due to new data from a three-year clinical trial,
which revealed that patients taking Vioxx for more than 18
months have double the risk of heart attack and stroke, compared
to those taking a placebo. Until that recall, the company had
constantly defended Vioxx, its $2.5 billion-a year medicine for
arthritis and acute pain, even after several earlier studies
raised safety questions. Merck also said that the data showing
the increased risk of cardiovascular complications began 18
months after patients began taking Vioxx at a 25-milligram dose
once daily.

Peter S. Kim, president of Merck research labs, said at a recent
press conference that 7.5 patients out of 1,000 taking the
placebo had a heart attack or stroke after 18 months, while 15
patients out of 1,000 taking Vioxx had a heart attack or stroke
during the same 18 months.

The company also revealed that 84 million patients have used
Vioxx worldwide since it was introduced. Kenneth Frazier,
Merck's general counsel, said that "numerous lawsuits alleging
personal injury" have been filed against the company by Vioxx
users, including two proposed class-action lawsuits that are
pending.

In reaction to the transferring of the case, the company in a
prepared reiterates, "Merck intends to vigorously defend itself.
Merck acted responsibly every step of the way from researching
the drug prior to approval to monitoring the drug while it was
on the market."


NEW YORK: Federal Judge Approves Internet Bubble IPO Settlement
---------------------------------------------------------------
Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin has given preliminary approval to
a settlement of more than 800 class action lawsuits that were
filed after the bursting of the 1990s tech/Internet bubble, the
New York Law Journal reports.

The settlement was initially reached in June 2003 between
issuers that includes some 55 investment banks and 300 companies
named in the suits, and investors who alleged that the companies
fraudulently inflated their equity values when they went public,
according to the Law Journal.

The newspaper reports, the plaintiffs had alleged that the
entire going-public process was corrupted by analyst conflicts
and improper tie-in agreements, such as requiring preferred
customers who received shares of "hot" IPOs to agree to buy
blocks of stock in those companies. In addition, reported the
paper, issuing companies as well as more than 1,000 directors
and officers were also accused of personally benefiting by using
the artificially inflated stock prices to sell their personal
shares at higher prices.

The settlement reportedly sets a $1 billion ceiling for the
amount of money the investors are able to recover from the
companies, minus any sum that they win from the investments
banks.

Judge Scheindlin reportedly stated in her 52-page opinion,
"Despite the apparent magnitude of the billion-dollar guarantee,
this settlement is not solely - or even primarily - about
monetary recovery." According to the legal publication though
the "real" value of the settlement is the assignment of claims
and the promise by the issuers to help investors pursue those
claims, the New York Law Journal reports.

In fact, the newspaper further reports, Judge Scheindlin noted,
"there is a substantial likelihood that there will be no
monetary value to this settlement, given the sheer number of
class actions governed by this proposed settlement and the
magnitude of damages alleged in each."

Among the companies involved, according to a report last fall in
The Wall Street Journal, are Corvus Corp., now known as
Broadwing Corp.; Sycamore Networks Inc.; VA Software Corp.,
formerly known as VA Linux Systems Inc.; Engage Technologies
Inc.; Firepond Inc., now a wholly owned subsidiary of Jaguar
Technology Holdings LLC; and iXL Enterprises Inc., which merged
with Scient Corp. before being acquired by SBI & Co.


PENNSYLVANIA: Suit V. Mutual Funds Dismissed Without Prejudice
--------------------------------------------------------------
A lawsuit that was brought against several large U.S. mutual
funds for allegedly failing to collect or claim more than $2
billion awarded in class-action settlements has been dismissed,
according to the Vanguard Group, Reuters reports.

According to the notice of dismissal, the plaintiffs in the case
"dismissed the action, which has not been certified as a class
action, without prejudice." Based on the court notice, which was
provided by Vanguard, the case was dismissed in U.S. District
Court in Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Two law firms, Baron & Budd PC of Dallas and Cauley Bowman
Carney & Williams LLP of Little Rock, Ark., filed a barrage of
complaints in federal courts across the country in January
charging that the funds breached their fiduciary duty to
investors by not collecting settlement money.

The complaints were lodged against Vanguard and some of its
directors, as well as managers of American Funds, GMO Funds and
other funds.


PIP/USA INC.: Ruling on IL Suit Dismissal Expected By Mid-April
---------------------------------------------------------------
A ruling on PIP/USA, Inc.'s motion seeking dismissal of the
consolidated class action filed against it in the Circuit Court
of Cook County, Illinois is expected by mid-April 2005.

Five suits were initially filed on July 2003, namely:

     (1) Peggy Williams v. PIP/USA, Inc., Case No. 03 CH 9654,

     (2) Jessica Fischer Schnebel, et al. v. PIP/USA, Inc., Case
         No. 03CH07239,

     (3) Dawn Marie Cooper, et al. v. PIP/USA, Inc., Case No.
         03CH11316,

     (4) Miriam Furman, et al. v. PIP/USA, Inc., Case No.
         03CH10832 and

     (5) Karen S. Witt, et al. v. PIP/USA, Inc., Case No.
         03CH12928

Counsel for Jessica Fischer Schnebel, et al. v. PIP/USA, Inc.,
Case No. 03CH07239 amended her class action complaint to include
plaintiffs from the other four cases, and each of the others has
been voluntarily dismissed.

The consolidated amended complaint contains counts alleging
product liability, breach of the implied warranties of
merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, violation
of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and third-party beneficiary
status.  Unspecified monetary damages, exemplary damages and
attorneys fees and costs are sought.

The Company filed a motion seeking to dismiss all counts but the
third-party beneficiary claim.  Plaintiffs requested and
received a two-month extension to tender written discovery to
the witnesses before filing a response to the motion to dismiss.
Depositions of Medicor personnel will be taken in late January,
plaintiffs will respond to the motion to dismiss by roughly
March 1, 2005, and a ruling on the motion should come by mid-
April of 2005.


SALEEN INC.: Recalls Cars For Wrong Side Marker Light Placement
---------------------------------------------------------------
Saleen, Inc. is cooperating with the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration by voluntarily recalling 24 SALEEN / S7
coupes, model 2003-2004.

The coupes fail to comply with the requirements of federal motor
vehicle safety standard no. 108, "lamps, reflective devices and
associated equipment."  The front side marker light that is
behind the front wheel needs to be as far forward on the vehicle
as practical.  Inappropriate, non-standard side marker lights
could reduce visibility of vehicles and increase the potential
for a crash.

Dealers will change the design to have the front side marker
light in front of the wheel and on the side of the bumper.  The
recall is expected to begin April 2005.  For more details,
contact the Company by Phone: 949-597-3837 or contact the
NHTSA's auto safety hotline: 1-888-327-4236.


TELEMARKETING FIRMS: Two Firms Pay $500T To Settle FTC Charges
--------------------------------------------------------------
Two timeshare sellers and their telemarketer will pay more than
$500,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they
violated the Do Not Call Rule by calling thousands of consumers
who placed their phone numbers on the FTC's Do Not Call
Registry.  The Registry currently contains more than 85 million
numbers.

Under the settlement, the timeshare sellers are barred from
violating the Do Not Call Registry in the future. Two
individuals who own the telemarketing company that made calls
for the timeshare sellers are banned from owning or controlling
any telemarketing operation in the future.

"You cannot hire subcontractors to break the law for you and
then walk away free of consequences," said FTC Chairman Deborah
Platt Majoras. "Millions of Americans have indicated that they
do not want telemarketers calling them, and we intend to enforce
the law that gives them the right to make that choice."

In August 2004, the FTC charged that Braglia Marketing Group
(BMG) and its owners, Frank and Kate Braglia, unlawfully called
hundreds of thousands of consumers who had placed their numbers
on the Registry, and that they had not paid the Registry access
fee for some of the area codes they called. The FTC also alleged
that the defendants unlawfully abandoned calls to consumers.

Under the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), a call is
"abandoned" if the seller or telemarketer fails to connect the
consumer with a live sales agent within two seconds after the
consumer answers the phone, resulting in "dead air." According
to the FTC's complaint, BMG made calls on behalf of the two
timeshare and vacation properties in Atlantic City, New Jersey -
Flagship Resort and Atlantic Palace. The FTC sought civil
penalties and a permanent order prohibiting BMG and the Braglias
from violating the law.

After further investigation, the FTC filed a second lawsuit
charging Flagship Resort and Atlantic Palace with hiring BMG to
telemarket their timeshares, and that while calling on their
behalf, BMG violated federal law by calling registered numbers.
The complaint further charges that Flagship Resort itself called
consumers who were protected by the Registry. The FTC's
complaint also charges that the defendants abandoned calls to
consumers and failed to pay required fees to access the
Registry.

The settlement with BMG and the Braglias permanently bans the
defendants from owning more than five percent of a telemarketing
operation; directing a telemarketing operation; and assuming
responsibility for TSR (and Do Not Call) compliance for a
telemarketing operation. It also requires them to pay more than
$526,000 in civil penalties, but that amount is reduced to
$3,500 based upon their demonstrated inability to pay. If it is
found that any defendant misrepresented his or her financial
situation, the FTC can return to court to seek additional
penalties.

The settlement with Flagship Resort and Atlantic Palace requires
those defendants to pay a $500,000 civil penalty.  The
settlements in both cases additionally prohibit the defendants
from:

     (1) calling a consumer whose number appears on the Registry
         without the consumer's express approval or an
         established business relationship with the consumer;

     (2) abandoning any call to a consumer without employing
         technology that ensures that no more than three percent
         of answered calls per day fail to be connected to a
         live representative and that, for those calls, a
         recorded message is promptly played; and

     (3) placing any call to a number within a given area code
         without first purchasing the appropriate segment of the
         Registry.

Both settlements also contain standard recordkeeping provisions
to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants' compliance.

Consumers who have placed their telephone numbers on the
Registry may file a Do Not Call complaint with the FTC by
calling 1-888-382-1222 or visiting www.donotcall.gov. They must
provide the date of the call and the phone number or name of the
company that called. Consumers may call that same number or
visit that same Web site to add a telephone number to the
Registry.

The Commission vote authorizing staff to refer the stipulated
judgments and orders for permanent injunctions to the Department
of Justice for filing was 5-0. The stipulated orders were filed
on February 15 (Braglia) and 16 (Flagship). They are subject to
court approval.

For more details, contact FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room
130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580 by
Phone: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or visit the Website:
http://www.ftc.gov. Also contact Jen Schwartzman, Office of
Public Affairs, by Phone: 202-326-2674 or Michael Davis, Bureau
of Consumer Protection by Phone: 202-326-2458.


TEXAS: Doctors Ordered To Testify Over Silicosis Misdiagnosis
-------------------------------------------------------------
U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack has ordered several
doctors responsible for diagnosing nearly 10,000 patients, who
have been sickened by exposure to silica dust to appear in court
for depositions after industry lawyers, raised concerns that
those diagnoses were fraudulent, the Aggregate Research
Industries reports.

Judge Jack will hear testimony from those doctors during the
next three days to determine whether the workers' claims should
go to trial or be thrown out of court.  At issue during the next
three days will be the validity of nearly 10,000 evaluations
made by doctors of patients recruited by silicosis screening
companies. One of those companies, N&M Inc., of Pascagoula,
Miss., is accused in court documents of inserting false language
into the reports of one doctor, who reviewed about 3,500 patient
X-rays.

Kathryn Snapka, a member of the steering committee that
represents the plaintiff workers, told Aggregate Research all of
the doctors were government certified and qualified to diagnose
silicosis. She also said that the industry lawyers are trying to
undermine the role of the screening company and the doctors in
an attempt to deny the workers justice.

Daniel Mulholland, an industry lawyer, told Aggregate Research
that if Judge Jack accepts the defense premise that the
diagnoses were fraudulent, her ruling could set a nationwide
standard in other class action cases, especially those involving
asbestos claims. Due to the possible sweeping effect, Mr.
Mulholland said national attention would be focused on what
happens in Judge Jack's Corpus Christi courtroom this week.

Silicosis, according to medical experts is a lung inflammation
caused by exposure to silica dust. The disease typically is
diagnosed through the use of lung X-rays, a physical examination
and a review of a patient's work history. Experts explain that
crystalline silica, which is more commonly called quartz, is
used in sandblasting, concrete demolition and the production of
paint and fiberglass.

Thousands of workers are claiming that inhaling the dust injured
them and that the companies knew about the dangers of the dust,
but still allowed them to work without proper protection.

Numerous of industry groups are defending themselves in the
litigation, including 3M Company, Lockheed Martin, Vulcan
Materials and U.S. Silica. To start of with their defense,
industry attorneys began raising questions about the validity of
the workers' claims after an October 2004 deposition in which
Dr. George Martindale, a Mobile, Alabama radiologist, withdrew
his diagnoses of some 3,500 patients.

In that deposition Dr. Martindale said he thought he was
providing only a second opinion on X-rays that had been
confirmed by other doctors to show signs of silicosis. In court
documents, the doctor said, "If another physician hadn't
established a diagnosis of silicosis I would withdraw that. I
would say that I am personally not making a diagnosis of
asbestosis or silicosis." He also said in his disposition that
N&M paid him $35 for each X-ray he read.

After that deposition, industry lawyers raised questions about
all of the diagnoses and asked that some of the claims be
dismissed. In legal papers, the lawyers argued that Dr.
Martindale's readings were improperly disguised as full
diagnoses when N&M inserted fraudulent language into the
doctor's report.

According to a motion made by the defendants, "Dr. Martindale's
testimony is a rare expose of the scheme by which screening
companies such as N&M Inc., complicit physicians and others
manufactured thousands of silicosis claims for litigation."

However, Ms. Snapka pointed out that the defense strategy is "an
attempt to deny the plaintiffs' efforts to obtain justice."  So
for now, Judge Jack has ordered all of the doctors involved in
the case to give depositions before she makes a ruling on
whether those claims should proceed to trial.


WEBMETHODS INC.: Asks NY Court To Approve Securities Settlement
---------------------------------------------------------------
webMethods, Inc. asked the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York to grant preliminary approval for
the settlement of the consolidated securities class action filed
against the Company, several of its executive officers at the
time of the Company's initial public offering (IPO) and the
managing underwriters of the Company's initial public offering
as defendants.

The amended complaint alleges, among other things, that
underwriters of webMethods' IPO solicited and received excessive
commissions and demanded tie-in arrangements from the
underwriters' customers in connection with their allocation of
shares in webMethods' IPO, and that those activities allegedly
undertaken by the underwriters of webMethods' IPO were not
disclosed in the registration statement and final prospectus for
webMethods' IPO or disclosed to the public after the IPO.

The amended complaint also alleges that false analysts' reports
were issued by the underwriters.  The amended complaint seeks
unspecified damages on behalf of a purported class of purchasers
of webMethods, Inc. common stock between February 10, 2000 and
December 6, 2000.  This case has been consolidated as part of
"In Re Initial Public Offering Securities Litigation (SDNY)."

Claims against webMethods' executive officer defendants have
been dismissed without prejudice.  webMethods has considered and
conditionally agreed to enter into a proposed settlement with
representatives of the plaintiffs in the consolidated
proceeding.  Under the proposed settlement, the plaintiffs would
dismiss and release their claims against webMethods in exchange
for a contingent payment guaranty by the insurance companies
collectively responsible for insuring the issuers in the
consolidated action and assignment or surrender to the
plaintiffs by the settling issuers of certain claims that may be
held against the underwriter defendants.

The Suit is styled "In RE webMethods, Inc. Securities
Litigation, case no. 1:01-cv-10830-SAS," related to "In Re IPO
Securities Litigation 21-MC-92," filed in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York, under
Judge Shira A. Scheindlin.

Representing the Company is John Luke Cuddihy of Williams &
Connelly L.L.P., 725 Twelfth Street N.W., Washington, DC 20005,
by Phone: (202) 434-5000.  Representing the plaintiffs are:

     (1) Stanley D. Bernstein, Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz,
         LLP, 10 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016, Phone:
         (212) 779-1414 Fax: (212) 779-3218, E-mail:
         bernstein@bernlieb.com

     (2) Melvyn I. Weiss and Peter G.A. Safirstein, Milberg,
         Weiss, Bershad, Hynes & Lerach, LLP, One Pennsylvania
         Plaza, New York, NY 10119-0165 by Phone: (212) 594-5300


WYETH PHARMACEUTICAL: Fen-Phen Attorneys Reject Settlement Offer
----------------------------------------------------------------
Attorneys representing thousands of people who contend that they
were harmed by the diet drug combination fen-phen publicly
acknowledged that they would reject a comprehensive settlement
offer from Madison, New Jersey-based Wyeth, the New York Times
reports.

A spokesman, Douglas Petkus, told the Times Wyeth did not yet
know how many of the 63,000 plaintiffs who had received the
settlement offer would sign on, but he reiterated the company's
view that its $21.1 billion litigation reserve would fully
finance the remaining cases.

Wyeth had offered settlements of $5,000 to $200,000 to the
plaintiffs, with those most seriously hurt able to negotiate
higher payments. The plaintiffs were those who decided to opt
out of a class-action lawsuit.

Though the company's deadline for the deal expired Tuesday, Mr.
Petkus was to quick to point out that talks with some plaintiffs
were continuing.  Though a plaintiffs' lawyer supporting the
deal said that nearly 100 law firms had agreed to the
settlement, several firms representing thousands of claimants
yesterday expressed their decision not sign on.

Bryan Frederick Aylstock, a lawyer from Pensacola, Fla., who
said he represents 3,000 fen-phen clients, told the Times "It
was a take-it-or-leave-it deal. I didn't think it was
sufficient." Another lawyer, John M. O'Quinn of Houston, also
said that he had rejected the deal because it would not
adequately compensate his 3,000 clients, some of whom say they
underwent heart valve surgery as a result of taking fen-phen.
Also, George M. Fleming, a Houston lawyer with 8,000 fen-phen
cases, said he opposed the settlement in part because it
discouraged individual negotiations for some clients who has
been seriously affected.

The company's products, Redux and Pondimin, made up half the
combination fen-phen. The two drugs were withdrawn in 1997 after
disclosures that they caused serious heart valve and lung damage
in some patients. An estimated six million people took the
drugs.

Mr. Fleming predicted that as a result of opposition to the
settlement deal, courtroom action in the remaining cases would
accelerate. Three cases were scheduled to go to trial this week
in Philadelphia. Next week, cases are scheduled in New Orleans
and Atlanta.

In the meantime, the company has announced that it is appealing
a $1 billion fen-phen award in Beaumont, Tex., last May in a
case brought by Mr. O'Quinn's firm on behalf of a patient with
lung damage.


                        Asbestos Alerts


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: TBA Developers Confirm Protesters' Fears
-------------------------------------------------------------
Confronted with a barrage of calls for a comprehensive
investigation, developers of the proposed development at the
former Turner Brothers Asbestos site in Rochdale finally
admitted to the presence of asbestos at the location.

Residents have relentlessly opposed the project over concerns
that any building activity may expose them to dangerous
chemicals, including asbestos. The Save Spodden Valley Group has
been claiming that asbestos-like fibers could be seen hanging
from the roots of trees blown over in recent gales.

A spokesman for Countryside Properties, joint developers of the
site with landowners MMC Developments, has said, "We have become
aware of a small area where asbestos has been exposed. This will
be treated by specialist contractors following Health and Safety
Executive approval."

He acknowledged the numerous inquiries the company has received
regarding the proposal but he added that at the moment, he said
"a further statement in due course in will address this."

Jason Addy, from the Save Spodden Valley Group, said, "This news
has put the fear of God into us. All our worst fears have been
confirmed.

"We've had meetings with the developers, but we want an
independent expert to examine every part of the site to find out
what else is there. In particular, we want them to look at tree
roots, builders' rubble left on site and earth that has been
exposed when trees were uprooted near Woodlands Road."

Countryside Properties recently said it was unable to ascertain
whether there was any asbestos residue on trees blown over in
recent high winds. It did say, however, that small traces of
asbestos dust had been found in soil samples.

Andrew Watson, Rochdale Council chief environmental health
officer, said that the site owners have informed him that
efforts to remove the asbestos will be carried out soon.

A council spokesman divulged that they are currently working
alongside the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment
Agency and Rochdale Primary Care Trust on appointing an
independent inspector to examine the site.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Cancer Deaths to Peak in Next Decade, Study
----------------------------------------------------------------
Deaths from asbestos exposure will peak in the next decade,
according to new research published in the British Journal of
Cancer last Jan. 25.

Annual deaths from mesothelioma among men in Britain will rise
to between 1,950 and 2,450 a year between 2011 and 2015,
compared with 153 deaths in 1968. Researchers predict the total
number of deaths since 1968 will rise to 90,000 by 2050, with
65,000 of those deaths after 2002.

In the study, researchers from the Health and Safety Executive,
the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the
Institute of Cancer Research, used Poisson regression analysis
to model male mesothelioma deaths from 1968 to 2001 and to
predict numbers of male deaths in 2002-2050.

Data from the British mesothelioma register, which carries a
record of all deaths from 1968 to 2001, were used to predict the
future burden of mortality.

The report states that 85% of the cases affect men and is
highest in occupations with substantial exposure to asbestos. It
has a long latent period between first exposure and diagnosis,
which is seldom less than 15 years and often exceeds 60. But the
disease is rapidly fatal as most die within a year of diagnosis.

The annual number of mesothelioma deaths in Britain has risen
increasingly rapidly, with deaths in 2001 being 12 times higher
than in 1968, says the report.

The report says that after this peak, the number of deaths is
expected to decline rapidly. The eventual death rate will depend
on the background level and any residual asbestos exposure.

The report cites other studies that have made similar mortality
projections for other countries. In the United States, a peak at
around 2000 to 2004 of about 2,000 cases has been estimated. In
Australia, the incidence of mesothelioma is expected to peak at
about 700 cases a year in 2010, and in the Netherlands it has
been predicted that pleural mesothelioma will peak at about
2028, with up to 900 cases a year. In France, the number of
deaths is predicted to reach a peak at 2,200 cases a year some
time after 2020.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: DOT Admits Posting Warning Signs on Homes
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Department of Transportation owned up to the posting of
warning signs on several homes along Wasilla-Fishhook Road,
which had residents alarmed for their safety.

John Pavitt, an inspector with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency in Anchorage, became baffled after receiving calls from
residents near the homes where the signs were situated. The EPA
rarely dealt with individual homes. Similar calls came to
Wasilla Republican Rep. Vic Kohring's office, an aide said. The
state Department of Environmental Conservation also fielded some
calls.

Turns out the transportation agency posted the signs condemning
the homes as part of a future road-straightening project for the
narrow, twisting two-lanes that are getting more and more
traffic.

Signs like this one hung on the walls: "CAUTION ASBESTOS --
HAZARDOUS -- DO NOT DISTURB WITHOUT PROPER TRAINING AND
EQUIPMENT."

The signs are standard operating procedure, said Dave Heier,
property management supervisor with DOT in Anchorage. He said,
"When we acquire any property, we post them for asbestos, no
trespassing and we usually board them up and secure them."

Transportation officials called the signs precautionary
measures, meant to ward off intruders in case the homes contain
asbestos, a fibrous, fire-resistant mineral once commonly used
as insulation. It was generally banned after the discovery that
the microscopic fibers, if released into the air and inhaled,
can cause serious health problems.

The state doesn't know if any of the homes contain asbestos
because it hasn't tested any of them, Mr. Heier said, but crews
will in the next few months. Then the homes will either be
demolished, or sold and moved.

The state bought for US$250,000 the home of Pat Carney, a former
state legislator. He said his former home holds no asbestos, as
far as he knows. "I think they're just doing that as a sort of
deterrent to people breaking in and fooling around," he said.

"That's simply not the case," Mr. Heier responded. There have
been break-ins at the homes, despite the signs. He said that the
state only intended to make people aware of the potential hazard
in that area.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: MP Accuses Canadian Agency of Unfair Acts
--------------------------------------------------------------
A Winnipeg MP is accusing the Department of Indian and Northern
Affairs of being unfair in its treatment of an aboriginal
activist who has an asbestos-related illness.

Raven Thundersky testified that two of her sisters have died
from a rare form of cancer related to asbestos. She claimed the
exposure stemmed from their childhood home on the Popular River
First Nation, which contained vermiculite insulation containing
asbestos. This type of insulation was sold under the name
Zonolite.

Ms. Thundersky, who was diagnosed with asbestosis, related the
details of her case last week before the federal committee on
aboriginal affairs.

Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin said he has seen internal documents
that prove federal officials didn't take Ms. Thundersky's
concerns about the insulation seriously.

No one from the Department of Indian Affairs has been available
to comment on the documents.

But the minister responsible for the department has said the
government will pay to clean up First Nations houses that
contain Zonolite insulation.

In contrast, the Department of National Defense has already
announced its plans to spend $2.1 million to test military homes
and buildings for asbestos in 26 cities throughout the country.
As previously reported in the Jan. 28, 2005 edition of the Class
Action Reporter, Canadian Forces will be conducting extensive
tests for asbestos due to concerns about contamination.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Tyco Int'l, Subsidiaries Fight 15,000 Cases
----------------------------------------------------------------
Tyco International Ltd. (NYSE: TYC), a diversified manufacturing
and service company, reported that as of Dec. 31, 2004, the
total asbestos liability cases brought against the Company and
its subsidiaries reached 15,000.

Most of the cases involve product liability claims, based
principally on allegations of past distribution of heat-
resistant industrial products incorporating asbestos or the past
distribution of industrial valves that incorporated asbestos-
containing gaskets or packing. Each case typically names between
dozens to hundreds of corporate defendants.

The majority of these cases were filed against subsidiaries in
Healthcare and Engineered Products and Services. A limited
number of the cases allege premises liability, based on claims
that individuals were exposed to asbestos while on a
subsidiary's property.

Tyco's involvement in asbestos cases has been limited because
its subsidiaries did not mine or produce asbestos. In its
experience, a large percentage of these claims were never
substantiated and have been dismissed by the courts. It asserted
further that it has not suffered an adverse verdict in a trial
court proceeding related to asbestos claims. When appropriate,
the Company stated that it settles claims. It reports that the
total amount paid to date to settle and defend all asbestos
claims has been immaterial.

Like many other companies, Tyco and some of its subsidiaries are
named as defendants in personal injury lawsuits based on alleged
exposure to asbestos-containing materials. Consistent with the
national trend of increased asbestos-related litigation, the
Company has observed an increase in the number of these lawsuits
in the past several years.

The Company believes that it and its subsidiaries have
substantial indemnification protection and insurance coverage,
subject to applicable deductibles, with respect to asbestos
claims. These indemnitors and the relevant carriers typically
have been honoring their duty to defend and indemnify. The
Company believes that it has valid defenses to these claims and
intends to continue to fight them.

Additionally, based on the Company's historical experience in
asbestos litigation and an analysis of the Company's current
cases, it believes that it has adequate amounts recorded for
potential settlements and adverse judgments in asbestos-related
litigation.

The manufacturing conglomerate, whose Fire and Security unit is
the world leader in security and fire-protection systems, has
been reorganized into five main business segments: Fire and
Security; Electronics; Healthcare; Engineered Products and
Services; and Plastics & Adhesives. Tyco is domiciled in Bermuda
but run primarily from Princeton, New Jersey.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Sensus Metering Systems Named in MS Suits
--------------------------------------------------------------
Sensus Metering Systems-North America Inc., a subsidiary of
Sensus Metering Systems, along with more than 200 other
companies, is a defendant in several lawsuits filed in various
state courts in Mississippi. Several groups of plaintiffs
claiming to suffer from asbestos-related illnesses are seeking
unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Sensus Metering Systems Inc. companies are leading providers of
high-value metering and Automatic Meter Reading solutions for
water, gas, electric, and heat utilities.

Headquartered in Raleigh, NC, the Company said that since the
cases are in initial stages, it is uncertain whether any
plaintiffs have dealt with any of the subsidiary's products,
were exposed to an asbestos-containing component part of a
product of the subsidiary or whether such part could have been a
contributing factor to the alleged illness.

Four such proceedings have been dismissed to date. There have
been no other settlements, verdicts, judgments, or dismissals of
these claims.

Although the Company is entitled to indemnification for legal
and indemnity costs for asbestos claims related to these
products from certain subsidiaries of Invensys pursuant to the
stock purchase agreement for the acquisition of Invensys
Metering Systems, such indemnities, when aggregated with all
other indemnity claims, are limited to the purchase price paid
by the Company in connection with the acquisition.

The Company is unable to estimate the amount of its exposure, if
any, related to these claims at this time. The Company does not
believe the ultimate resolution of these issues will have a
material adverse effect on the Company's net earnings or
financial position.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Todd Shipyards Named in 578 Injury Claims
--------------------------------------------------------------
Todd Shipyards Corporation (NYSE: TOD) has been named as a
defendant in civil actions by parties alleging damages from past
exposure to toxic substances, generally asbestos, at closed
former Company facilities.

The cases generally include as defendants, in addition to the
Company, other ship builders and repairers, ship owners,
asbestos manufacturers, distributors and installers, and
equipment manufacturers and arise from injuries or illnesses
allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos or other toxic
substances.

The Seattle, WA-based Company assesses claims as they are filed
and as the cases develop, analyzing them in two different
categories based on severity of illness. Based on current fact
patterns, certain diseases including mesothelioma, lung cancer
and fully developed asbestosis are categorized by the Company as
"malignant" claims. All others of a less medically serious
nature are categorized as "non-malignant."

The Company is currently defending about 24 "malignant" claims
and about 554 "non-malignant" claims. The Company and its
insurers are vigorously defending these actions.

As of Jan. 2, 2005, the Company has recorded a bodily injury
liability reserve of US$7.9 million and a bodily injury
insurance receivable of US$5.8 million. This compares to a
previously recorded bodily injury reserve and insurance
receivable of US$8.1 million and US$5.8 million, respectively,
at March 28, 2004. These bodily injury liabilities and
receivables are classified within the Company's Consolidated
Balance Sheets as environmental and other reserves, and
insurance receivables, respectively.

During the first quarter of fiscal year 2004, the Company
recorded a reserve of US$2.5 million related to the
unanticipated bankruptcy of one of its former workers
compensation insurance carriers. The reserve, which reflects the
Company's best estimate of the known liabilities associated with
unpaid workers compensation claims arising from the two-year
coverage period that commenced Oct. 1, 1998, is subject to
change as additional facts are uncovered.

These claims have reverted to the Company due the liquidation of
the insurance carrier. Although the Company expects to recover
at least a portion of these costs from the liquidation and other
sources, the amount and the timing of any such recovery cannot
be estimated currently and therefore no estimate of amounts
recoverable is included in the current financial results.

Since establishing the reserve during the first quarter of
fiscal year 2004, the Company has paid about US$0.4 million in
claims, which have been charged against the reserve.

The Company, through subsidiary Todd Pacific Shipyards, repairs,
overhauls, and builds commercial and military marine vessels.
Services range from minor repairs to major overhauls in dry
dock.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Zurn Industries Receives 2,200 New Claims
--------------------------------------------------------------
The leading global manufacturer and distributor of branded bath
and plumbing products, Jacuzzi Brands, Inc. (NYSE: JJZ) reports
that one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries, Zurn Industries, Inc.
along with many other unrelated companies, is a co-defendant in
numerous asbestos related lawsuits pending in the U.S.

Plaintiffs' claims primarily allege personal injuries caused by
exposure to asbestos used in industrial boilers formerly
manufactured by a segment of Zurn that has been accounted for as
a discontinued operation. Zurn did not manufacture asbestos or
asbestos components. Instead, Zurn purchased it from suppliers.

According to the filing submitted to the Securities and Exchange
Commission, during the first quarter of 2005, about 2,200 new
asbestos claims were filed against Zurn versus 8,400 in the
first quarter of 2004. As of Dec. 31, 2004, the number of
asbestos claims pending against Zurn was about 76,400 compared
to 75,500 as of Sept. 30, 2004. The increase in pending claims
is a result of new claims exceeding the number of claims newly
resolved during the period. The claims are handled pursuant to a
defense strategy funded by Zurn's insurers.

The pending claims against Zurn as of Dec. 31, 2004 were
included in about 6,200 lawsuits, in which Zurn and an average
of 113 other companies are named as defendants, and which
cumulatively allege damages of about US$9.8 billion against all
defendants. Defense costs currently do not erode the coverage
amounts in the insurance policies, although a few policies that
will be accessed in the future may count defense costs toward
aggregate limits.

During the first quarter of 2005 and as of the end of such
period, about 15,328 claims were paid or pending payment and
about 1,105 claims were dismissed or pending dismissal. During
the first quarter of 2004 and as of the end of such period,
about 21,800 claims were paid or pending payment and about 800
claims were dismissed or pending dismissal.

Since Zurn received its first asbestos claim in the 1980s, Zurn
has paid or dismissed or agreed to settle or dismiss about
101,500 asbestos claims including dismissals or agreements to
dismiss of about 11,300 of such claims through Dec. 31, 2004.

Zurn used an independent economic consulting firm with
substantial experience in asbestos liability valuations to
assist in the estimation of Zurn's potential asbestos liability.
At Sept. 30, 2004, that firm estimated that Zurn's potential
liability for asbestos claims pending against it and for claims
estimated to be filed through 2014 is about US$171 million.

That firm estimated Zurn will pay about US$127.6 million through
2014 on such claims, with the balance of the estimated liability
being paid in subsequent years. Zurn expects all such payments
to be paid by its carriers.

The estimated liability of US$171 million is comprised of about:

(1) US$12 million in claims that had been settled but unpaid as
of the end of fiscal 2004;

(2) US$26 million in proposed settlements of certain pending and
future claims; and

(3) US$133 million for other pending and future claims.

These asbestos liability estimates were based on the current and
anticipated number of future asbestos claims, the timing and
amounts of asbestos payments, the status of ongoing litigation
and the potential impact of defense strategies and settlement
initiatives.

Zurn estimates that its available insurance to cover its
potential asbestos liability as of Dec. 31, 2004 is about US$300
million. Zurn believes, based on its experience in defending and
dismissing such claims and the coverage available, that it has
sufficient insurance to cover the pending and reasonably
estimable future claims.

In June 1998, Palm Beach, FL-based Jacuzzi Brands, Inc. acquired
Zurn Industries, Inc. At the time of the acquisition, Zurn had
itself owned various subsidiaries.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Cabot Corp's Subsidiary Faces 91,000 Claims
----------------------------------------------------------------
Cabot Corp. (NYSE: CBT) disclosed in a recent filing with the
Securities and Exchange Commission that it has legal proceedings
in connection with a safety respiratory products business that a
subsidiary acquired from American Optical Corporation in an
April 1990 asset transaction.

The Boston, MA-based Company's respirator liabilities involve
claims for personal injury, including asbestosis and silicosis,
allegedly resulting from the use of American Optical's
respirators, which are reported to have been negligently
designed or labeled.

As of Dec. 31, 2004, there were about 91,000 claimants in
pending cases asserting claims against American Optical in
connection with respiratory products.

In the fall of 2004, at the Company's request, Hamilton,
Rabinovitz & Alschuler, Inc., a leading consulting firm
initially retained in 2003 to assist Cabot in quantifying its
estimated share of liability for pending and future respirator
liability claims, updated its computation of the Company's
estimated liability for respirator matters.

Based on the firm's revised estimates, Cabot reduced its reserve
for these matters from US$20 million to US$18 million on a net
present value basis during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2004.

It is important to note that in estimating Cabot's share of
liability for these matters, the Company has excluded settlement
data from the 2002 settlement of a large number of claims in
Mississippi in estimating future claims values, and that had
this settlement data been included in the estimation of future
claim values the Company's estimated liability for pending and
future respirator claim payments would have been US$29 million
on a net present value basis or US$49 million on an undiscounted
basis.

The book value of the reserve is being accreted up to the
undiscounted liability through interest expense over the
expected cash flow period, and at Dec. 31, 2004, is about US$18
million.

Cabot Corp. is the world's #1 producer of carbon black, a
reinforcing and pigmenting agent used in tires, inks, cables,
and coatings. The Company also makes fumed metal oxides such as
fumed silica and fumed alumina, which are used as anti-caking,
thickening, and reinforcing agents in adhesives and coatings.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Fairchild, Subsidiary Named in Complaint
-------------------------------------------------------------
On January 21, 2003, distributor of aircraft parts Fairchild
Corporation (NYSE: FA) and one of its subsidiaries were served
with a third-party complaint in an action brought in New York by
a non-employee worker and his spouse alleging personal injury as
a result of exposure to asbestos-containing products.

The defendant, which is one of many defendants in the action,
had purchased a pump business from Fairchild, and asserts the
right to be indemnified by Fairchild under its purchase
agreement. This case was discontinued as to all defendants,
extinguishing the indemnity claim against the Company in the
instant case.

The purchaser has also notified Fairchild of its intention to
claim its right to indemnify from the Company for the other
asbestos-related claims filed against it.

During the last fifteen months, the Dulles, VA-based Company has
been served directly by plaintiffs' counsel in eleven cases
related to the same pump business. Two of the eleven cases were
dismissed as to all defendants, based upon forum objections. The
Company, in coordination with its insurance carriers, intends to
aggressively defend itself against these claims.

During the same period, the Company reports that it has resolved
nine similar (non-pump business) asbestos-related lawsuits that
were previously served upon the Company. In seven cases,
Fairchild was voluntarily dismissed, without payment of
consideration to plaintiffs. The remaining two cases were
settled for nominal amounts.

The Company further states that its insurance carriers have
participated fully in the defense of both its pump and non-pump
related asbestos claims. It believes that its insurance coverage
levels are adequate, and that asbestos claims will not have a
material adverse effect on its financial condition, future
results of operation, or net cash flow.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Asbestos Deaths in TX Provoke Law Change
-------------------------------------------------------------
Almost 3,000 Texans died from asbestos-related diseases from
1979 to 2002, according to a report released by the
Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based non-profit
research organization.

The most recent data from the National Centers for Health
Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control showed Houston was
first with 44 deaths and Beaumont/Port Arthur had 34. Dallas
followed with 25. Texas ranks fifth nationwide for reported
asbestos deaths from asbestosis and mesothelioma, the two most
commonly recognized forms of asbestos disease, the study said.

"On the national level, roughly 60 percent of the 10,000 people
who die each year from asbestos exposure die from cancer or
causes not reflected in mesothelioma or asbestosis mortality
statistics," the study stated.

The study estimated the same trend holds true for Texas. It
projects peak asbestos mortality rates in the state of about
1,000 people per year between 2015 and 2020.

"If lawmakers feel moved to address this issue, it needs to be
addressed first and foremost as a public health issue," said
Richard Wiles, vice president of the Environmental Working
Group.

Gov. Rick Perry, in his State of the State Address, called for
legislation to reduce asbestos lawsuits in Texas. More than
600,000 cases have been filed in recent decades and dozens of
companies have filed for bankruptcy.

Ken Hoagland, a spokesman for Texans for Lawsuit Reform, said
the legal system as well as industry is in dire need of relief
from the "tens of thousands" of lawsuits now flooding the courts
from "plaintiffs showing no discernible illness."

Asbestos-related injury claims are not tracked in Texas, but
some put the number of pending cases at about 100,000.

Lawmakers have said the current system is in a state of crisis.
Proposed legislation would require more stringent testing of
those claiming an asbestos-related illness and only allow those
who pass the medical criteria are deemed sick to file suit.

Mr. Wiles said the asbestos issue is one of preserving public
health, not of providing economic relief to companies that used
the carcinogen. "Precious little attention is paid to really
helping innocent victims of asbestos exposure," he said.

Supporters of change in the legal system say it would provide
higher compensation for those who are truly sick.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: United Technologies Named in 1,700 Lawsuits
----------------------------------------------------------------
Like many other companies in recent years, United Technologies
Corp. (NYSE: UTX), a manufacturer of building systems and
aerospace products, or its subsidiaries have been named as a
defendant in lawsuits alleging personal injury as a result of
exposure to asbestos integrated into certain of the Company's
products or premises.

At present, the Hartford, CT-based Company is named in about
1,700 lawsuits involving about 25,000 individual claimants.
About 18,000 of these claimants are joined in lawsuits in
Mississippi state courts. Typically, these Mississippi lawsuits
name from 200 to more than 400 other companies as defendants
along with the Company or its subsidiaries.

The complaints do not identify any products or specify the
amount of damages claimed. In addition, the complaints do not
allege which claimants, if any, were exposed to asbestos
attributable to the Company's products or premises, nor the
extent, if any, to which such claimants have been harmed.
Discovery has begun in some of the cases, but to date there has
been only minimal product identification.

While the Company has never manufactured asbestos and no longer
incorporates it in any currently manufactured products, certain
of its historical products, like those of many other
manufacturers, have contained components incorporating asbestos.
The Company has made no payment in a substantial majority of the
cases closed to date. The remainder of the resolved cases has
settled for amounts that are not material to the Company
supported in part by insurance.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Canada to Hold Health Tests for GE Workers
---------------------------------------------------------------
The local public health unit in Peterborough is expected to set
up a mass screening clinic for potentially thousands of current
and retired General Electric workers who may have been exposed
to asbestos and other hazardous substances.

The GE plant in Peterborough processed asbestos from the mid-50s
to the 1970s and employed up to 5,500 people at a time.

Upon the request of local medical officer of health Dr. Gerry
Humphreys, occupational health physician Dr. Noel Kerin
presented the report on asbestos-exposed GE workers at the board
of a health meeting last week.

Dr. Kerin confirmed that five of the nearly 700 current and
former GE employees questioned at intake clinics last summer had
asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs that can lead to breathing
problems and heart failure.

His team of four doctors recently visited 123 people for further
assessment. Results showed that some employees were suffering
from lung, throat, stomach and bowel cancers.

"The assessment is still in the preliminary stages," stresses
Dr. Kerin, who is a doctor for the Occupational Health Clinics
for Ontario Workers, a team of health professionals funded by
the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

"It's a large, complex, multi-faceted manufacturing company
that's been around since the 1940s," says Dr. Keris, adding
exposure to asbestos were commonplace in many other
manufacturing factories until the late 1970s.

"At those times, there were little or no safeguards against
asbestos dust or chemical exposures. The risks weren't well
known. Some of these people have already died."

Dr. Humphreys will be presenting a report back to the health
board with recommendations for the health unit to set up an
ongoing surveillance program, according to Dr. Kerin.

Madeline Pearson, board chairperson, confirms that, "Dr.
Humphreys did agree the health unit can perhaps assist in that."

Early detection of asbestosis can result in a 60 to 80 percent
chance of survival, adds Dr. Kerin, noting former, long-term
employees working with pipe insulations or electrical wires may
have experienced high exposure to asbestos.

Former GE employee from 1964 to 2004, Ivan Mills first worked in
the armature section of the plant, one of the departments
highlighted as an area of high chemical exposure. The former
vice-president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 524 says he likes
something to be done sooner than later.

"I worked with guys that have died from cancer," Mr. Mills says.

Former city councilor Glenn Pagett, who has worked with
electrical wires almost daily during his employment with GE from
1952 to 1996, intends to get checked as soon as the screening
clinic is made available.

"I'm going to feel better if I do that. A lot of the guys I
worked with are in the same ballpark as well," said Mr. Pagett.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Pleural Plaques Victims Win UK Test Case
-------------------------------------------------------------
Workers afflicted with the lung scarring condition pleural
plaques from exposure to asbestos are claiming victory after the
High Court ruled they are entitled to compensation. The pleural
plaques test litigation was brought against British Shipbuilders
and several insurers.

Insurers challenged the rights of pleural plaques sufferers to
receive compensation, claiming the condition was not severe
enough, despite three High Court rulings in the mid-1980s which
found payment should be made.

This ruling by Mr. Justice Holland in favor of 10 claimants in
the test case paves the way for more claims worth millions of
pounds. The judgment would ensure that thousands of workers who
have been exposed to asbestos over the past 50 years will
continue to be eligible for compensation.

Sitting in Newcastle Crown Court, Mr. Justice Holland found that
pleural plaques should be compensated for, because the risk of
developing a full-blown asbestos-related disease was increased
and therefore the plaques lead to anxiety.

However he reduced to half the level of damages from what the
claimants had originally demanded, awarding from between
GBP5,000 and GBP7,000 to between GBP3,500 and GBP4,000.
Provisional damages are paid to people who want to retain the
right to return to court if they develop a more serious illness.

Sufferers who accepted final damages, giving up their right to
further legal action, should get between GBP5,000 and GBP7,000
rather than the GBP12,500 and GBP20,000 received previously.

One claimant, John Grieves, also received an additional
GBP16,580 for "special damages" because of the severity of his
case.

The judge also made it more difficult for pleural plaques
victims to win claims for compensation, saying that they must
now demonstrate that they have been exposed to asbestos and that
they suffer significant, continuing anxiety.

People who develop pleural plaques know they have been exposed
to asbestos and therefore realize they are at greater risk of
developing asbestosis, lung cancer, pleural thickening or
mesothelioma for which there is no cure.

The claimants were represented by John Pickering & Partners,
Thompsons, Walker Smith Way, Marrons, Harkin Lloyd, Robinson &
Murphy, Whittles, and Field Fisher Waterhouse, instructing
Manchester set Byrom Street Chambers' David Allan QC and 12
King's Bench Walk's Frank Burton QC and Allan Gore QC.

British Shipbuilders were represented by Eversheds, instructing
5 Paper Buildings' Antonio Bueno QC. Halliwells acted for
insurers including Norwich Union and Zurich, instructing Michael
Kent QC of Crown Office Row Chambers, and Cartwright Black
instructed Liverpool set Castle Street Chambers' Charles Feeny
for another insurer.

Insurers are now left exposed to up to GBP1 billion in damages
claims after losing this key battle. Norwich Union and Zurich
said that they would decide within weeks whether to go to the
Court of Appeal.

Compensation for this condition that reportedly affects more
than 100,000 Britons is expected to cost insurers between GBP200
million and GBP1.4 billion in the next 35 years.

The insurers, however, argued that they had won a partial
victory because the court cut the provisional damages that
pleural plaques victims can claim.

A spokesman for Amicus, Britain's biggest private sector union
which supported the High Court action brought against the
insurers by ten former blue-collar workers, said, "The insurers
were attempting to deliver a knock-out blow and they failed.
There is some disappointment in the reduction of awards but
workers still have the right to compensation and they can go
back to court if they develop a more serious disease."

Amicus will not go to the Court of Appeal to try to increase the
level of damages, the spokesman said.

Amicus General Secretary, Derek Simpson, said, "This judgment is
good law and good news for thousands of workers. Asbestos is not
yesterday's problem. Amicus and its lawyers will continue to
ensure that workers suffering from asbestos related injuries due
to the failure of employers to protect them have the right to
compensation."


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Experts Seek Subsidy for Asbestos Surveys
--------------------------------------------------------------
New asbestos laws requiring workplace managers to determine the
presence of asbestos and to assess the risk of exposure may cost
millions of pounds.

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

The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations came into effect in
May 2004. The regulations have been designed to protect
maintenance workers in older commercial properties by giving
them clear records of any asbestos that is present if work is
carried out.

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

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

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


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Senators to Forge Bipartisan Asbestos Bill
---------------------------------------------------------------
With hopes to resume stalled efforts on asbestos legislation,
senators are forging a bipartisan plan from proposals by
Republican Sen. Arlen Specter and Democrat Sen. Dianne
Feinstein, lawmakers said earlier this week.

The effort aims to attract the support of Democrats while
engaging with a group of Republicans who have criticized parts
of the proposal to create a US$140 billion fund that would take
the compensation of asbestos victims out of the courts.

"We'll try to work things out, between the two bills," said Sen.
Feinstein from California.

Mr. Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had
hoped to introduce a bill early this year for a fund supported
by companies and insurers facing asbestos litigation, but
neither Republicans nor Democrats have warmed to his draft.

Republicans say there cannot be "leakage" of claims from the
fund back to the court system, while Democrats worry that
claimants will have nowhere to go if the fund runs dry.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Judiciary
Committee, said he was working with Sen. Feinstein but if
Democratic support did not materialize, then Republicans would
have to proceed with their own asbestos bill.

"So far, notwithstanding his valiant efforts, Sen. Specter
hasn't been able to get a Democrat on the bill," Sen. Cornyn
said.

Republicans have the majority on the Judiciary Committee and in
the Senate, but have insufficient votes to overcome procedural
hurdles Democrats could erect on the Senate floor.

Asbestos was used for fireproofing and insulation until the
1970s. Scientists say its inhaled fibers are linked to cancer
and other diseases. Hundreds of thousands of injury claims have
been filed in U.S. courts, bankrupting dozens of companies.

Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO labor group has warned U.S. lawmakers
against reopening parts of a plan to create an asbestos
compensation fund, saying it strongly supported some provisions
and did not want them changed.

"We are ... deeply disturbed by the statements of some senators
and some business and insurance groups calling for reopening
agreements reached in the last Congress," the letter from the
AFL-CIO's legislative director William Samuel to all 100 U.S.
senators said.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: NZ Claims Could Cost ACC at Least $150Mil
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Accident Compensation Corporation may have to pay asbestos-
related claims of at least $150 million in lump sum payments
over the next 10 years if a court appeal likely to be heard this
year is unsuccessful.

Figures released under the Official Information Act show ACC
could face costs ranging between $75 million and $415 million
depending on the number of claims. But medical experts say the
final figure is likely to be higher than the "middle costing" of
$150 million as the number of people with asbestos-related
disease has been underestimated.

In August last year, District Court judge David Ongley ordered
ACC to pay compensation of $100,000 to the late Ross Lehman's
estate. The 79-year-old retired fitter and welder died in
November 2003, a year after he was diagnosed with asbestos-
related lung cancer. The exposure had occurred 40 years earlier.

The ACC is appealing the decision in the High Court, taking the
view the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act
provides for the payout of lump sums only for injuries sustained
after April 1, 2002.

The ACC papers said the $150 million estimate assumed three lung
cancer claims for every case of mesothelioma, a cancer of the
lung lining. If the figure were as high as 10 cases of other
cancer for each case of mesothelioma, as some medical literature
suggested, then the cost over the next 10 years would be closer
to $415 million.

ACC spokesman Gerard McGreevy said $150 million was a "large sum
of money in anyone's terms" and the costs would ultimately be
passed on to employers and industry.

In 2003, 99 new claims, including 48 for mesothelioma, were
accepted by ACC. That number was expected to increase,
particularly among people with lung cancer who were exposed to
asbestos at work and were heavy smokers. They are expecting 270
cases to be reported next year if lump sums were available. The
maximum sum payable is $104,109.06.

Senior researcher Dr. Pam Smartt said except for mesothelioma,
asbestos-related lung disease was "incredibly difficult" to
prove.

"What people need to fight for is a more lenient and positive
approach to who is entitled to claim. They [ACC] need to lower
the threshold so more people are given the benefit of the doubt.
These are diseases that have latencies of 10, 20, 30 or 40 years
and putting time limits on it like this is just silly," she
said.

Dr. Smartt co-authored research published in the New Zealand
Medical Journal last year which found hundreds more New
Zealanders died from asbestos-related disease than was recorded
on death certificates.

But Hazel Armstrong, the lawyer for Mr. Lehmann's widow, Dawn,
believed the $150 million figure was too high and might make the
Government more reluctant to assist other claimants. She wanted
more accurate figures from ACC on its liability.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: US Hardie Victim Wins AUD250T Compensation
---------------------------------------------------------------
In what is believed to be the first successful claim brought
against the Hardie group outside Australia and New Zealand, an
American asbestos victim has won a AUD250,000 payout from a
former subsidiary of building firm James Hardie Industries.

The confidential settlement is set to allow potentially massive
lawsuits against the company in the US.

The US plaintiff has received compensation for exposure to
Australian asbestos exports that were supplied to his company.

The trust Hardie set up to cover its asbestos disease claims,
the Medical Research and Compensation Foundation, secretly
settled the US case in the past few weeks. MRCF managing
director Dennis Cooper confirmed a US case had been settled, but
would provide no details.

A legal source said the case could be an action by John Berry in
the San Francisco Superior Court.

A confidential letter from Hardie's former litigation lawyer,
Wayne Attrill, to David Minty of actuaries Trowbridge, said of
five actions against Hardie in the US, Mr. Berry's case was
dangerous.

Mr. Attrill wrote in the letter, "It is possible that James
Hardie and Co could be liable ... JHC exported quantities of
asbestos cement color board to the US during the period 1969 to
1980, and some of this product appears to have been supplied to
Mr. Berry's company, Industrial Buildings Materials, Inc."

Asbestos illnesses including the lung-scarring disease
asbestosis and the cancer mesothelioma usually take 20 to 30
years to develop, but can take up to 50 years. Hardie is now in
the prime risk period where victims of its US products could
exhibit symptoms of the diseases and seek compensation.

Asbestos litigation in the US poses the biggest threat for
Hardie. It has US-registered subsidiaries and its biggest
manufacturing operations in the US, where lawyers have been
scrupulously pursuing former asbestos manufacturers.

The average asbestos compensation payout in Australia is
AUD250,000, but in the US court awards are often in the
millions.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: James Hardie Asbestos Costs Drop Profits
-------------------------------------------------------------
Asbestos-related problems have continued to hurt James Hardie
Industries, as it revealed a slump in earnings due to the cost
of a government inquiry that led to a AUD1.5 billion or US$1.2
billion settlement for victims of asbestos diseases. The Company
also cited boycotts and more than US$30 million in legal fees
associated with its compensation issues last year.

The building products firm's latest financial results show its
net profit dropped 17 percent to US$80.6 million or AUD102.75
million in the first nine months of its financial year, from the
start of April to the end of December.

That coincides with the period when James Hardie felt the most
intense public pressure in Australia to meet its asbestos
responsibilities, as it was revealed that compensation set aside
for the company's asbestos victims was about US$1.5 billion
short.

After a six-month NSW Special Commission of Inquiry and then
nearly three months of negotiations with unions, the company
signed Australia's largest ever personal injury settlement just
before Christmas. James Hardie agreed, in principle, to dedicate
part of its cash flow to asbestos compensation over the next
four decades.

The company said its legal costs over the nine months totaled
US$24.4 million, including severance payments to former
executives.

The costs for the nine months to December 31 include paying
US$8.9 million to executives Peter Macdonald and Peter Shafron,
US$6.3 million to Australian lawyers dealing with the NSW
inquiry into Hardie's asbestos liabilities, and US$4.5 million
to consultants who helped strike a AUD1.5 billion deal with the
ACTU to fund future asbestos victims' claims.

James Hardie's new chief executive Louis Gries said that from an
operational perspective, sales in the company's key market, the
United States, were up strongly.

"Things are looking pretty good from our stand point.
Unfortunately, the SCI and related costs are chewing into our
profits. We're optimistic that we can put them behind us in the
near to medium-term," Mr. Gries said.

James Hardie's Australia and New Zealand sales were down four
percent with earnings down 15 percent.

"We will work out of the bans and boycotts, hopefully over the
next six to eight months, and get back to business as usual with
our customer base," Mr. Gries said.

He also said he hoped to restore James Hardie's reputation in
Australia. "We are planning an initiative in that area," he
said.


ASBESTOS ALERT: NY Court Junks Inmates' Case V. Prison Facility
---------------------------------------------------------------
The District Court of New York on Feb. 1, 2005 dismissed the
case filed by former inmates against officers at the Wende
Correctional Facility in Alden, New York.

Magistrate Judge Scott granted the request for summary judgment
submitted by the defendants, dismissing the case in its
entirety. The defendants named were E. Donnelly, Captain Kerney,
Ekpe D. Ekpe, and Michael Cleesattel.

The plaintiffs, Ernest Vann, Joseph Owen, and Patrick Wilson,
were inmates at the Wende Correctional Facility at Alden, New
York. They claimed to have been exposed to hazardous work
conditions in connection with their inmate work program at the
facility.

More specifically, plaintiffs contended that they were exposed
to asbestos dust in the removal of two ovens from the old WCF
bakery in the fall of 2000. They also contend that they were
exposed to cement dust containing crystalline silica when
construction of two cement picnic tables went on while they were
incarcerated.

On Oct. 8, 2004, Larry Ryan, a vocational instructor, was in
charge of a team of inmates who removed two ovens in the old
bakery in the fall of 2000. He testified that he supervised the
removal of the ovens along with the inmates assigned to his
team. However, he asserted that the plaintiffs were not involved
in such activity. He stated that no inmate or employee was
involved in the removal of asbestos.

Instead, the inmate-work program, known as Corcraft, conducted
the testing and removal of asbestos with employees and inmates
who were specially trained in asbestos removal. Prior to the
ovens actually being removed, they were tested to determine if
asbestos was present.

The first tests were completed in 1987 as part of a
comprehensive review of asbestos at the facility. At that time,
the testing of the samples revealed that no asbestos was
present.

The ovens were again tested in May of 1998. At that time, eight
samples of the ovens were taken and analyzed for asbestos. One
sample came back positive for asbestos. The asbestos was
contained in a fibrous gasket on the front oven.

Based on the positive finding for asbestos, Don Pietrantone, who
is certified in the removal and testing of asbestos, traveled to
the facility on Feb.10, 1999 and removed the asbestos gasket. He
stated that because the gasket had not been disturbed prior to
its removal, there was no contamination to the surrounding area
nor any airborne release of asbestos when it was removed.

The demolition of the front oven was completed without any
incident or any finding or suspected finding of asbestos. Early
on in the process of removing the second oven, two additional
gaskets were discovered that were suspected to contain asbestos
and work was immediately halted. The area was then secured
behind a locked wire fence so that no one could enter the
demolition area or disturb the materials there, including the
suspected asbestos.

Due to the positive findings of asbestos in two fittings and two
gaskets, Mr. Pietrantone was sent to the facility on Oct. 13,
2000. Between the time the asbestos was discovered in May of
2000 and its removal in October of that year, signs were posted
warning people that asbestos removal was taking place and the
area was isolated by closing the bakery so that it was not
accessible to inmates. The defendants asserted that at no time
did asbestos from either oven contaminate the bakery area. Mr.
Pietrantone stated that there was no release of asbestos in the
area.

None of the plaintiffs claimed that they worked on the removal
of the bakery ovens. None of the plaintiffs asserted that they
have as of yet suffered any medical symptom, illness or injury,
which can be connected to the exposure of asbestos during the
removal of the ovens at the facility.

Other than the Mr. Wilson's testimony, the plaintiffs asserted
only that the defendants failed to comply with certain state and
federal regulations regarding the removal of asbestos.

Mr. Vann and Mr. Owen asserted that they were exposed to
crystalline silica in the cement dust that resulted form the
construction of two cement picnic tables on the grounds. They do
not claim however, that they suffer symptoms of illness or
injury as a result of that exposure. None of the plaintiffs have
worked on the construction project.

In light of the testimonies and the presented evidence, the
Court ruled in favor of the defendants. As a result, the trial
scheduled to commence on Feb. 14, 2005 was canceled.


ASBESTOS ALERT: AU Charity Fined US$5T Over Volunteers' Exposure
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Uniting Church's charity arm in Sale, in southeast Victoria,
has been convicted and fined $5,000 for breaching health and
safety laws thus exposing staff and their families to asbestos.

Sale Magistrates Court has heard these 28 volunteers were
exposed to asbestos while ripping up floor tiles during a
working bee for Kilmany Family Care. They were helping renovate
a welfare agency operated by the Uniting Church.

The court found auditors had told Kilmany Family Care of the
asbestos risk seven months earlier.

The charity pleaded guilty in the Sale Magistrates Court to
charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing
to provide a safe workplace and not properly protecting people
in its care. It was ordered to pay WorkSafe's costs of $2,960.

WorkSafe Victoria's Michael Birt says the days of being
unconcerned about asbestos are over.

"I think the lesson for this overall is that organizations, that
business or community groups should use experts and the
extensive guidance material available to minimize the risk of
exposing employees contractors and others to asbestos," Mr. Birt
said.

So far, the church has provided counseling and medical aid to
those who removed asbestos-impregnated tiles.

Magistrate Lou Hill was told an audit in March 2003 on the
Kilmany property confirmed asbestos was in some floor tiles,
flues and sink splashbacks. Kilmany Chief Executive John
Lawrence said the tiles in question had not been identified.

WorkSafe told the court that no registered asbestos removal
contractor and no protective equipment were provided during the
renovations in October 2003.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Workmen Unearth Asbestos Beside UK Hospital Unit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Asbestos has been found buried yards from Alder Hey children's
hospital, uncovered by workmen digging foundations for new
buildings next to the oncology unit.

Members of a 40-strong team of construction workers employed by
contractors Costains discovered the asbestos while digging
foundations for a neuroscience unit.

The affected area has been fenced off and a health and safety
team will remove the white and blue asbestos. A playground
recently built by singer Kerry McFadden and her school friends
for a TV show has also been cordoned off.

A hospital spokesman said the asbestos was not considered
dangerous because it was soaked with water and cannot be
inhaled. Health experts said an air test found no risk of
exposure.

A source close to the building project, said, "There was quite a
lot of panic when bits of it were first found buried underground
last week. But we have been told the asbestos is not as bad as
it sounds and there is nothing wrong with it because it is so
wet."

Hospital officials are unsure as to where it came from and said
it could have been lying underground for decades.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Custodians File Suit Against UNLV Over Exposure
----------------------------------------------------------------
The list of custodians suing the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
over possible asbestos exposure is increasing.

Last November, about 25 current and past UNLV custodians alleged
the institution knowingly allowed workers to clean asbestos
fibers for years without proper safety equipment or training.
Since then, according to the custodians' attorney, the number of
plaintiffs has grown to about 40.

The custodians filed the lawsuit in Clark County District Court.

When John T. Giordano and Gerald Babcock began working on UNLV's
Paradise campus about two years ago, the veteran janitors
noticed hundreds of cuts in the carpet, the remnants of
bookshelves once bolted to the ground. The cuts went down past
the carpet and into the floor, leaving a powder behind. They
didn't realize then that it was asbestos.

Using vacuums that blew exhaust in their faces, they said, they
cleaned carpets and helped prepare the buildings for the UNLV
police officers who work there now. Two weeks later, they said,
the rooms they had cleaned were taped off.

Mr. Giordano, who is retired, is also one of 13 custodians whom
doctors have diagnosed with asbestosis, a scarring of the lung
tissue that occurs when airborne asbestos fibers get inhaled.

Attorneys for custodial workers and the university's insurance
company are discussing worker's compensation claims of those who
are sick. If the custodians receive medical coverage, they could
lose their right to pursue litigation against the university,
said Scott Rasmussen, who represents the custodians.

University officials declined to comment about specifics, citing
ongoing litigation.

"We've been served with that complaint; we're hopeful the matter
will be settled because we feel the claims in that [civil]
complaint are completely unjustified," said Richard Linstrom,
UNLV's chief attorney. University employees associated with the
lawsuit have been instructed not to speak about the case.

Asbestos is presumed to exist in 30 facilities at UNLV,
according to a 2004 list issued by facilities management. Much
of it is embedded in floor tiles of the older structures. Mr.
Rasmussen emphasized the mineral is only a threat when the
fibers become airborne, which can occur through sanding, sawing,
drilling or heavy traffic.

"These guys came into contact with it because they were never
informed," Mr. Rasmussen said. "We know that asbestos has been
there 30 or 40 years and UNLV has taken an aggressive abatement
strategy, but also tried to keep that very much under wraps.
It's not something that's out in the public."

Mr. Giordano's supervisor, Mike Mooneyham, has also been
diagnosed with asbestosis. He said custodial workers blame
communication between management and staff for the number of
workers contracting the illness.

The custodians note in the lawsuit their frequent use of high-
speed buffers, which removed the finish from the asbestos laden
tiles and sent fibers into the air. They also said fibers were
likely released when they cleaned broken tiles and rubbish left
behind from renovation projects on campus.

When Mr. Giordano began at the university in 1998, management
told him there was no asbestos on campus, he said. After he and
other workers saw abatement at the Paradise campus, they began
filing complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration.

OSHA cited UNLV for several violations in 2003, in which
inspectors found disturbed asbestos in various hallways, and
classrooms and janitorial storage rooms in the Flora Dungan
Humanities building.

The university was cited for not maintaining surfaces and
informing employees where asbestos materials were located. As a
result the university has begun to include an asbestos awareness
class at employee orientations, according to OSHA records.

Mr. Giordano said university officials in January 2003 informed
custodial workers where the asbestos was located on campus.
"That was the first time UNLV told them [custodians] there was
asbestos," Giordano said.

University Medical Center's Dr. Naresh Singh, along with another
doctor, provided the diagnosis for the plaintiffs. He said he
followed standards used by the federal government, which require
a history of exposure, a physical exam, breathing test and chest
X-ray.


ASBESTOS ALERT: EPA Fines NV Building Owner $23T Over Violations
----------------------------------------------------------------
Citing improper removal of asbestos, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency imposed a US$23,000 fine on a brothel owner
who bought the Mustang Ranch building, one of Nevada's most
notorious bordello.

Lance Gilman said he would pay the fine but denied the
allegations. He said, "I didn't do anything wrong. I think it's
very unfair. I went in and got all the permits and did all the
things I was supposed to do."

However, EPA spokeswoman Laura Gentile insisted that a violation
of the Clean Air Act was committed when the owner allowed the
asbestos to be disturbed without wetting it first. This would
allow asbestos fibers to become airborne and become lodged in
human lungs, possibly causing severe or deadly respiratory
illnesses. Ms. Gentile said a citizen complained of asbestos
fibers floating in the air, but no health cases have been
reported.

The demolition of the building occurred last year. Mr. Gilman
also moved several sections close to his Wild Horse Adult Resort
& Spa off Interstate 80 about nine miles east of Reno.

Mr. Gilman maintained his contractor wet the asbestos, and he
only decided to pay the fine to avoid costly litigation. "Do you
know how much it would cost to fight the federal government?
Maybe US$100,000," he said. "What are my alternatives? Pay the
fine and take my federal spanking."

Mr. Gilman acknowledged he did not give the EPA a 10-day notice
before the move in September. But he said he secured all
necessary county and state permits.

The Division of Environmental Protection also was called to
investigate asbestos complaints involving the Mustang Ranch
building. NDEP spokeswoman Cindy Petterson told the Nevada
Appeal that a team found no environmental or health impacts
resulting from the building's move.

Mr. Gilman acquired the Mustang Ranch for US$145,100 at an
auction from the federal government in 2003. The Mustang Ranch
closed in 1999 after guilty verdicts against its parent
companies and manager in a federal fraud and racketeering trial.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Texas Health Dept. Cites Demolition Violations
--------------------------------------------------------------
Tensions increased further as state inspectors confirmed the
existence of asbestos in the apartment complex presently
undergoing demolition. Some independent asbestos contractors
called the conditions unsafe for the workers and the nearby
residents.

Private developers bought the Eastgate Village apartment complex
at the intersection of Northwest Highway and Plaza Drive near
Interstate 635 from the city of Garland. They ordered the 878-
unit complex torn down to make room for new development despite
the presence of asbestos within the walls and ceilings of the
structure.

The Texas State Health Department confirmed the existence of
asbestos in the complex. Proper remediation requires a strict
method implemented by specially trained crew of workers wearing
protective suits.

At Eastgate, however, crews are demolishing the buildings while
spraying water on the debris.

"There's no way that they can wet this material enough to keep
the fibers down from this whole community getting fiber," Jim
McKee, an asbestos contractor, said.

Diana Cross, another asbestos contractor said, "This should be
abated before the demolition. That's the law."

Neighbors, too, voiced concerns about the work.

"I'm worried about it," nearby business operator Nick Mujanovic
said. "I'm worried for my health, for my customers' health. I'm
right across the parking lot from them."

The lawyer for the property owner said the work was approved by
the state but said that it would be suspended pending a thorough
investigation after state inspectors cited a variety of
violations at the site.

Officials with the demolition company performing the work
declined to comment.


ASBESTOS ALERT: AU's Defense Dept Probes Exposure of Army Cadets
----------------------------------------------------------------
Australia's Defense Department is investigating whether a group
of army officer cadets were exposed to asbestos in an army base
at the southern state of Victoria earlier this month.

The cadets, from the Royal Military College Duntroon, had been
participating in a training exercise when damaged panels were
found in three buildings during a routine inspection.

About 20 cadets were then immediately evacuated and the
buildings sealed.

A Defense Department spokesman says the other buildings at the
Puckapunyal Army Base have been declared safe.

The Assistant Defense Minister, De-Anne Kelly, said the
department has provided all possible support and information to
the cadets, and while they have been offered counseling, all
have declined. However, they will be given a detailed brief on
asbestos exposure and the incident will be placed on their
records.

She said the Department hopes and trusts that the cadets have
not been put at significant risk.

The department said the investigation into the nature of
possible asbestos exposure is ongoing. So far, it had been
determined that the ceiling of one building had sagged after a
storm.

Labor's defense spokesman Robert McClelland said it is important
not to panic about the situation while awaiting a full report on
the investigation.

"I can well understand that the families would be anxious about
this and they would want some fairly straight up and down
answers to the questions that they have, and we are endeavoring
now at great speed to supply those," Ms. Kelly remarked.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Doctor Insists MT Courthouse Risk Was Minimal
-------------------------------------------------------------
The risk of serious health consequences to employees exposed to
high levels of asbestos at the Billings federal courthouse two
weeks ago is minimal, according to a physician from the Federal
Occupational Health office.

"But there was a true exposure and we are concerned," Dr. Kate
Flanigan, from the Denver agency office, said.

Representatives of the Occupational Health Office held an
informational meeting with local employees of the Bureau of
Reclamation to explain the scientific and medical facts about
asbestos exposure.

BuRec staff members were among the 400 employees who work in the
James F. Battin Courthouse. The building was closed from Feb. 2
to 7 after air samples taken Jan. 31 showed asbestos
contamination in the basement and first and fifth floors of the
five-story building.

Employees were working in the courthouse between the time air
samples were taken and the evening of Feb. 1, when results were
reported from an out-of-state lab. Office workers have said
repeatedly that a primary concern is the lag time between when
samples are taken and when test results are available.

"There are no known acute - that means short-term - health
effects from short-term exposure," Ms. Flanigan said.

Any exposure to Billings federal employees and their visitors
probably would have been in passing through the lobby, she said.
Although chances are slight, employees could have brought
asbestos fibers into their homes on their clothing or shoes.
However, she rules out serious health consequences, including
chronic lung diseases and cancers, which are associated with
long-term, heavy exposure to asbestos.

The highest asbestos readings were three times the level that
triggers alarms in standards set by the U.S. Occupational Safety
and Health Administration, she said. But OSHA doesn't start
seeking medical surveillance in a building until levels exceed
the standard for eight-hour periods on 30 days during a year.
High readings in Billings were found on only one or two days and
employees entering and leaving the lobby were not exposed for
eight hours, she said.

Ms. Flanigan advised BuRec workers to have regular checkups to
be able to recognize changes in long-term physical condition.
One of the recommendations included quitting smoking as it
increases the risks of asbestos exposure five-fold.

The health officials suspect that an asbestos abatement project
in the basement of the courthouse is the source of the
contamination. Two months ago, high levels were recorded on the
first floor and the lobby while abatement was ongoing.

The project has since been halted ever since air samples came
back revealing high levels of asbestos fibers. All work on
abatement and removal will now be done when the building is
unoccupied, and the air will be tested before employees return
each Monday.

Another option previously was a four-day workweek to speed
completion of the asbestos project. But this would require the
agreement of all the agencies in the building. So far, the U.S.
District Court has said that it will not consent to a shortened
week. Other agencies with offices in the building are the Bureau
of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Clerk of Court and the Department of
Interior's Field Solicitor's Office.

Ms. Flanigan admits contamination sometimes occurs while
asbestos abatement is in progress. But because no work will be
done in the future while employees are in the building, she does
not expect them to encounter further exposure.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Find Pushes Irish Council to Shut Pools
----------------------------------------------------------------
Strabane District Council will be forced to temporarily close
the swimming pools at Riverside Leisure Center after asbestos-
containing material was detected in the electrical switch room
and in the plant room workshop.

However the Council members are giving assurances that the
material found was in low risk band and was contained in an area
to which the public does not have access. A spokesperson said
that they have decided to appoint a specialist contractor to
remove the material and replace it with non-asbestos material as
an extra precaution. The whole plant room area will also be
environmentally cleaned.

While the cleanup is ongoing, the equipment would have to be
switched off, necessitating the closure of the swimming pools at
the center for about four days. The remaining portions of the
center will operate as usual.

Earlier, staff members from the center said that they were
"deeply concerned" about the health risks the detection of
asbestos posed for the employees. They believed they had not
been given full details about the extent of the problem and the
dangers it posed to their working environment.

Strabane District Council said they are in close consultation
with the Health and Safety Executive of Northern Ireland. The
Employment Medical Advisory Service has agreed to send their
doctor to meet with staff and answer any questions they may
have.

The date when the swimming pools will be closed has not yet been
disclosed to the public.


ASBESTOS ALERT: MP Seeks to Ban Asbestos in Tsunami Rebuilding
--------------------------------------------------------------
A New South Wales politician has appealed for Federal Government
intervention to try and stop the use of asbestos products in Sri
Lanka's tsunami rebuilding program.

Greens MP Ian Cohen was on vacation on the coast of Sri Lanka
when the tsunami struck on Boxing Day. He narrowly escaped with
minor injuries after clinging to a palm tree. He stayed for
several weeks to aid victims and help with the relief effort and
cleanup.

Mr. Cohen said it was during this time that he started becoming
alarmed about the amount of asbestos among the debris all over
the coastal areas.

Mr. Cohen said that he spoke with Sri Lankan developers who were
involved in the cleanup and who were quite open about using
asbestos products in their development operations. He believes a
similar situation can be observed in Thailand.

Upon arriving in Australia, Mr. Cohen wrote to Foreign Affairs
Minister Alexander Downer to express concerns about the possible
use of asbestos in emergency housing, which is being constructed
with Australian aid. He also claims there is an aggressive push
by the asbestos industry to convince Southeast Asian countries
that its products are safe.

He said, "I just couldn't get the message across that this is a
very dangerous material. We're going to see a proliferation of
asbestos in all these newly constructed emergency houses and
that to me is a huge worry."

Mr. Cohen wants a ban on the use of asbestos in any projects
funded by Australian aid sources. He has urged Mr. Downer to
intervene and tie any aid to a ban on the use of such products.
He believes that alternative materials, such as zinc alum, can
be used for many of the projects and that aid funding should be
tied to using non-asbestos materials.

He has targeted foreign companies working on the reconstruction,
such as Australia's Bluescope Steel, to pressure governments to
support their use of non-asbestos material.

"There's no doubt in my mind, now that I've come back to
Australia and investigated the issue further, that all that
asbestos that's being used in Sri Lanka is going to be very
dangerous in the future," Mr. Cohen said.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Ex-nurse of AU Hospital Awarded US$370T
-------------------------------------------------------
The Queensland government awarded $370,000 in compensation to a
Tasmanian woman, afflicted by the fatal lung condition
mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure in a Brisbane hospital
30 years ago.

Vicki Benson, aged 49, was exposed to the asbestos-laden
product, Monokote, during her time working as a nurse in the
Royal Brisbane Hospital before moving to Tasmania in 1986.

Mrs. Benson began her traineeship at RBH in 1973 and left in
1980. She and her Tasmanian husband Peter then ran the Marrawah
Hotel for many years and she continued being a nurse before
developing the disease.

The decision by WorkCover to pay Mrs. Benson the maximum amount
means the State Government-owned entity accepts her injury was
caused by Queensland's leading hospital.

Mrs. Benson's case, which was filed in December, relied on
numerous internal documents showing how the asbestos-laden
product Monokote was extensively sprayed in the 1970s on the
hospital's Block 7.

"My family is being very optimistic but there's no use," said
Mrs. Benson, who is bedridden and undergoing pain management in
the North West Regional Hospital. Her doctors have told her the
disease is expected to end her life by Christmas.

"I would rather have my life than the money. It's not going to
help me but I know my family will be all right. My children can
finish university. It would be interesting to see how many
others are affected. I feel very sorry for them. I can't be the
only one. I was only a nurse there."

Her Brisbane law firm Slater & Gordon, which is investigating
cases of other Queenslanders with diseases linked to asbestos
exposure at the RBH, hailed the WorkCover finding as "extremely
significant."

"The decision has very large ramifications for other people who
worked at the RBH, particularly during the 1970s," the firm's
Brisbane solicitor James Higgins said. He explained that it
means others will now be able to access compensation relying on
the information collected about the extensive use of this
asbestos spray across the RBH.

Mr. Higgins foreshadowed further legal action and said that
informants and medical professionals had revealed "substantive
problems associated with the containment of the asbestos problem
at RBH right through the 1980s and 1990s."


ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Find Forces MA Preschool to Shut Down
--------------------------------------------------------------
Administrators of a preschool in Hopedale, Massachusetts were
forced to close the school building after detecting unsafe
levels of airborne asbestos.

The Bright Beginnings Center, a tuition-based preschool run by
the Hopedale Public Schools, was shut down last Feb. 3 and will
remain closed at least until next week while industrial
hygienists ensure that the school is cleared entirely of the
harmful substance. Officials claim the asbestos posed a minimal
health risk to the 100-plus students and teachers.

"We are on very solid ground in terms of managing the situation
and preventing any future problem," said School Superintendent
Patricia Ruane.

The school's 27 preschool students with special education needs
are now attending classes at Memorial Elementary School, and the
Kamp K school program has been moved to the Bancroft Public
Library, said Bright Beginnings Director Sue Mulready.

Parents of the 100 other preschool students have been asked to
seek alternate child-care options while the asbestos is removed,
Ms. Mulready said.

In a meeting attended by more than 75 parents and teachers, Ms.
Ruane said the school's facilities director initially found the
asbestos on Jan. 27 while exploring an area in the school's old
ventilation system likely not visited in decades.

Ms. Ruane, Health Agent Leonard Izzo, and state officials,
evaluated the area and consultants were brought in to test for
contamination. Air test results revealed potentially unsafe
levels of asbestos in one classroom. A swipe test of surfaces in
the classroom came back clean, however, showing that no asbestos
had settled, making it unlikely children or teachers were
exposed to asbestos over a prolonged period of time.

According to School Committee Chairwoman Liz Lerner, the cleanup
will cost US$90,200, not including lost preschool tuition and
the replacement materials.

The entire school will be cleaned and all porous materials,
including papers, ceiling tiles and stuffed animals, will be
disposed of.

According to project manager Vincent Giambrocco, president of
International Engineering Group LLC, the cleaning will last for
five days and the school will not be reopened until air samples
come within acceptable levels.

Mr. Giambrocco said he believes the asbestos entered the
classroom after investigators likely agitated the insulation,
kicking fibers up into the air.

While parents questioned the school officials about the health
risks posed to their children, after the meeting some seemed
most concerned with replacing the soon-to-be discarded school
supplies.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Illnesses Place Burden on NHS Trust
------------------------------------------------------------
Experts warned that the rise in asbestos-related illnesses in
Norwich could place a huge burden on the National Health
Service. In the same way, compensation claims have also
increased, with one personal injury firm in the city saying that
claims against former employers were already 40 percent up on
last year.

Among those seeking compensation is a widow who is suing
Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Health Authority after her
husband, who worked for the NHS trust, died of an asbestos-
related cancer.

In the meantime, a consultant at Norfolk's flagship hospital
said he was preparing himself for the flood of patients with
asbestos-related diseases, which NHS would have to cope with.

Dr. Orion Twentyman a consultant physician in the respiratory
department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said,
"The expectation is that there will be a large increase in
cases, certainly through to 2025 and the 2030s. That reflects
the time lag. Heavy exposure in the 1980s is not going to be
manifested in serious disease and death until the 2030s -- what
will happen beyond that is not clear."

Since asbestos was widely used in the building industry, Dr.
Twentyman said everybody could potentially be at risk of
asbestos-related diseases.

Dr. Ian Gibson, MP for Norwich North, predicted the rise in the
numbers of asbestos-related diseases over the next 40 years
would prove to be a heavy financial burden for the NHS. He said,
"It's bound to run into millions in terms of diagnosis,
treatment and care of patients."

He added that since there is a greater awareness of the disease,
more people would be demanding diagnosis. He cited "a lack of
research and poor political judgments in the 1960s and 1970s" as
contributing factors.

Personal injury firms in Norwich have only now seen a dramatic
rise in the number of claims because the disease takes decades
to develop.

Godfrey Morgan, of personal injury firm Godfrey Morgan
Solicitors in Norwich, said, "Since the start of the year we
have had about two claims a week. This week has been
exceptional, in that we have had four. Last year we saw between
20 and 30 new claims compared to only two or three five years
ago."

Julia Parker, of the Street, Ashwellthorpe, has just taken the
first steps in a battle for compensation of up to GBP100,000.
Her husband died from malignant mesothelioma, an asbestos-
related cancer, and she is suing Norfolk, Suffolk and
Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority.

Mrs. Parker is claiming damages for loss and personal injury
arising from the death of her husband, James Parker, who passed
away on Sept. 11, 1995 after working for the NHS Trust between
1969 and 1990.


ASBESTOS ALERT: CA Court of Appeal Rules in Favor of Policeman
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Court of Appeal of the Second District of California on Jan.
31, 2005 affirmed the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board's
order to deny reconsideration for the decision awarding benefits
to a police officer who contracted kidney cancer during his
employment.

Robert E. Shannon, City Attorney, and Barbara de Jong, Principal
Deputy, represented the petitioner, the City of Long Beach.

Cantrell, Green, Pekich, Cruz & McCort and Wayne McCort, stood
for the respondent Dave A. Garcia.

This lawsuit identified as Case No. B173437 was brought before
Justice Richard Aldrich.

Dave A. Garcia, a police officer employed by the City of Long
Beach, contracted kidney cancer during his employment. A hearing
was conducted before a Workers' Compensation Judge on July 24,
2003. The judge found the cancer arose out of and in the course
of Garcia's employment, and awarded him compensation benefits.

The City filed a request for consideration that was promptly
denied by the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board. The City then
sought a writ of review and annulment of the order from this
Court.

Mr. Garcia became employed as a police officer for the City on
Feb. 12, 1991. On Jan. 20, 2002, while still employed by the
City as a police officer, 35-year-old Garcia was diagnosed with
kidney cancer. He filed a claim for compensation benefits, which
the City denied.

Mr. Garcia had been assigned to patrol duty during his entire
tenure with the City. He claimed various industrial exposures to
carcinogens, including exposure to asbestos while working in an
old police station, as well as exposures to vehicle exhaust,
vehicle and other fires, spills, and drug laboratories.
Additionally, he pumped gasoline into his patrol vehicle "almost
daily." He had no history of any risk factors for carcinoma
outside the workplace.

Dr. Villalobos primarily considered whether Mr. Garcia's claimed
exposure to asbestos was linked to kidney cancer. Because he did
not have asbestosis, Dr. Villalobos stated it was medically
highly unlikely that asbestos exposure was the cause of his
cancer.

Dr. Edward J. O'Neill, the Agreed Medical Examiner, concluded,
"The cause of his renal cell cancer is medically non-
occupationally related." The AME explained that there is no
clear relationship between any particular exposure and
development of kidney cancer and the exposures claimed are not
clearly identified as having a specific relationship with kidney
cancer.

However, Dr. O'Neill admitted that he couldn't say with medical
certainty that the kidney cancer was not caused by occupational
exposure. He stressed, "I can't tell you it cannot happen or
doesn't happen or never happens."

The compensation judge found Mr. Garcia had sustained injury
arising out of and occurring in the course of his employment.
The WCJ's written opinion stated the following: "Garcia had
demonstrated his exposure to a known carcinogen, benzene, and
there was no dispute the cancer arose during his term of
service. Therefore, the section 3212.1 presumption applied."

Labor Code section 3212.1, as amended in 1999, provides that
"when certain peace officers and firefighters demonstrate they
were exposed to known carcinogens during the course of their
employment, it is presumed that any cancer they contract during,
or within a specified period after, their employment arose out
of and in the course of the employment."

The City's primary contention was that the Appeals Board erred
by requiring it to "prove the absence of any possible link
between the alleged exposure" and kidney cancer. In the City's
view, an employer should be considered to have rebutted the
statutory presumption if it proves the cancer was not
proximately caused by the industrial exposure to carcinogens.
The City further argued there was insufficient evidence to prove
a link between the exposure and kidney cancer, and to prove he
was exposed while on the job.

From the reasons enumerated, the Court of Appeal of California
affirmed the Board's order denying reconsideration.

Presiding Justice Walter Croskey and Justice Patti Kitching
concurred with the decision.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Two PA Men Charged with Misdemeanor for Dumping
---------------------------------------------------------------
State authorities in Harrisburg have cited two Lewistown men for
their involvement with illegal dumping at two sites in Granville
Township, Pennsylvania.

Daniel D. Royer, aged 68, of 4991 state Route 103 North, and
Earl D. Tabb, aged 36, of 150 Mountain Side Lane, each face
multiple charges in connection with the illegal dumping of solid
demolition waste at two properties located along Tower Hill Road
and Hawstone Road in Granville Township.

Court documents reveal that the illegal dumping took place
between mid-2002 and June 21, 2004.

Representatives from state Attorney General Tom Corbett's office
filed the charges via a summons last week, through the office of
Magisterial District Judge Rick Williams in Lewistown.

Nils Fredericksen, a spokesman for Mr. Corbett's office said
that neither man was in custody at the time the charges were
filed. They will receive a summons to appear for an arraignment
on the charges, after which preliminary hearings would be
scheduled through the district court.

Mr. Royer faces five misdemeanor counts of unlawful conduct, for
allegedly dumping illegal solid demolition waste on properties
at both sites. Mr. Tabb faces three misdemeanor counts of
unlawful conduct for allegedly dumping at the same locations.
Supposedly, these are demolition jobs that Mr. Royer contracted
him to accomplish.

Supervisory special agent Paul Zimmerer, of the state Attorney
General's office, conducted an investigation of the dumpsites.
He said residents near the Hawstone Road property had filed
complaints with the Granville Township Codes Enforcement
officer, Mary Pursel. Those complaints claimed Mr. Royer had
demolished a mobile home on the site and then buried the debris
inside the home's foundation.

Further investigation disclosed evidence of a large illegal
dumpsite at the Tower Hill Road property owned by Jason D.
Schmidt, who said he had given Mr. Royer permission to use his
land to dump clean fill. This includes materials such as wood,
concrete and bricks from demolition jobs.

A search of Schmidt's property was conducted along with other
agents, along with personnel from the Department of
Environmental Protection and environmental contractors. That
search unearthed a variety of demolition waste, including
asbestos-containing materials interspersed with wiring, carpet,
roofing material, tires and vinyl siding.

The investigation also failed to find any record of permits
issued to either the contractors or the property owners. This
comprises a clear violation under the Solid Waste Management
Act.

"It's a situation where guidelines have been established in
Pennsylvania, in terms of what materials can be disposed of, how
and where. Those guidelines were created to protect the
environment, the quality of water, the quality of land and the
citizens of the Commonwealth," said Mr. Fredericksen.

However, Mr. Fredericksen noted that no charges were pending
against Mr. Schmidt in the case.


ASBESTOS ALERT: NY Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Duch Builders
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York on Feb.
5, 2005 upheld the decision denying Duch Builders Supply, the
defendant company, its motion to dismiss the complaint filed
against it.

Patricia D. Refermat, as executrix of the estate of Richard M.
Refermat, sought to recover damages for the injuries and
wrongful death of her husband allegedly resulting from his
exposure to asbestos contained in products sold by Henry R.
Duch, its predecessor.

Leslie E. Swift, of Wolford & Le Clair LLP, from Rochester,
represented the defendant.

Stephen J. Riegel, of Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C., of New York,
represented the plaintiff.

Duch Builders Supply filed an appeal for the ruling handed down
by the Supreme Court of Erie County on March 18, 2004. The order
had denied the motion of defendant Duch Builders Supply, Inc.
for summary judgment dismissing the second amended complaint
against it.

Duch Builders Supply failed to establish as a matter of law that
it is not liable for the torts of Henry R. Duch. It also failed
to establish that the products sold by Henry R. Duch could not
have contributed to Mr. Refermat's injuries and death.

Company Profile:
Duch Builders Supply
1247 Broadway
Buffalo, New York 14240
Phone:  716-892-3414


ASBESTOS ALERT: Two British Widows Sue for GBP150T Compensation
----------------------------------------------------------------
Issuing separate writs, two widows whose husbands died from
asbestos-related cancer have embarked on the first steps in High
Court battles for compensation of up to GBP150,000.

Susan Sigston and Marjorie Gould, both from Kent, are claiming
that their husbands' illness stemmed from asbestos exposure at
their respective workplaces.

Allan Sigston, who worked at Chatham Dockyard, died in February
2003 at the age of 68. The writ issued at the High Court in
London says Mr. Sigston was exposed to asbestos between 1949 and
1956 on board HMS Superb. He had worked dismantling pipes lagged
with asbestos and on land removing asbestos lagging.

Mrs. Sigston, aged 55, of Northbourne Road, Gillingham, is
filing the case against the Ministry of Defense.

Christopher Gould had worked at Northfleet Power Station.

Mrs. Gould, of Freeman Road, Gravesend, is suing Swindon-based
RWE npower. The writ says Mr. Gould worked for the company or
its predecessors between 1973 and 1987 at Northfleet.

The incurable and terminal disease is related to contact with
asbestos and can take 30 to 40 years to exhibit symptoms. The
writ indicates that lawyers assess the value of the claim, if
successful, at up to GBP150,000.

Company Profile:
RWE npower PLC
Windmill Hill Business Park
Whitehill Way
Swindon, Wiltshire SN5 6PB
Phone: +44-1793-877-777
Fax: +44-1793-893-861
http://www.rwenpower.com/

Fiscal Year-End    : December
2003 Sales (mil.)   : GBP3,918.6
1-Year Sales Growth   : 86.6%
2003 Employees    : 9,357
1-Year Employee Growth   : (1.1%)

Description:
RWE npower is a leading integrated UK energy company. It
operates and manages a portfolio of flexible, low cost coal, oil
and gas fired power stations. It also has a leading energy
retail business -- npower, with more than 6 million customer
accounts. Other businesses include engineering services and
renewable energy projects.


ASBESTOS ALERT: CA Court Awards US$1.25Mil to Retired Pipefitter
----------------------------------------------------------------
A San Francisco jury unanimously awarded damages of US$1.25
million to a retired pipefitter who developed asbestosis and
asbestos pleural disease due to contact with asbestos at the
workplace.

The lawsuit tagged as Quarles v. Advocate Mines Ltd. with Case
No. 409170 was brought before the San Francisco Superior Court.

James Nevin and Christopher Andreas of Brayton Purcell in
Novato, California, represented the plaintiff, Geronia Quarles.

John Graniez of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, Los
Angeles, California, represented Defendant Advocate Mines, Ltd.
at trial.

Advocate Mines Ltd., the defendant, supplied asbestos fiber for
Transite asbestos-cement pipe, in partnership with the Johns-
Manville Corporation. It owned and operated an asbestos mine in
Baie Verte, Newfoundland starting in the 1950s.

It did not provide any warning to consumers about the asbestos
fiber and continued to sell the product even though its miners
had asbestos-related health problems. The jury concluded that
the company acted with "malice" or "oppression."

The trial began on Jan. 4, 2005, before San Francisco Superior
Court Judge Ellen Chaitin. A jury was impaneled to hear the case
and heard testimony. Closing arguments were presented on Jan.
19, 2005. The jury deliberated for one day before reaching its
verdict.

During the trial, in addition to evidence concerning Advocate
Mines, Ltd.'s involvement with asbestos, testimony concerning
the historical use of asbestos, medical diagnosis, historical
medical articles concerning asbestos and disease, pulmonary
medicine, radiology, and industrial hygiene was presented.

Geronia Quarles, aged 69, was born in Palestine, Texas and
relocated to Fresno, California as a child. As a pipefitter in
the 1970s installing underground pipelines for new housing
developments, Mr. Quarles handled, cut, and beveled Johns-
Manville Transite pipe containing asbestos fiber, which
generated respirable asbestos.

Mr. Quarles was diagnosed with asbestosis and pleural disease in
October of 2003. Medical testimony established that his
asbestosis and pleural disease was caused by his occupational
exposure to asbestos.

Asbestosis and asbestos pleural disease are serious,
debilitating illnesses caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestosis
scars the lungs; asbestos pleural disease damages the membrane
lining the lungs and chest cavity. Both diseases reduce lung
capacity, restrict breathing, and reduce the victim's ability to
transfer oxygen from the air into the blood.

Company Profile:
Advocate Mines Ltd.
Ontario, Canada

Description:
The now bankrupt Advocate Mines Ltd., owned by John Mansville,
was in operation mining asbestos in 1963. It was an open-pit
mine which employed 500 people. There was a week-long shutdown
in 1981 and another for three months the following year. Other
mining companies took over but all had since closed down.


                  New Securities Fraud Cases


AXONYX INC.: Brodsky & Smith Lodges Securities Fraud 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 Axonyx, Inc. ("Axonyx" or
the "Company") (Nasdaq:AXYX), between June 26, 2003 and February
4, 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 Axonyx 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 Phone: 877-LEGAL-90 or by
E-mail: clients@brodsky-smith.com.


AXONYX INC.: Charles J. Piven Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a securities
class action on behalf of shareholders who purchased, converted,
exchanged or otherwise acquired the common stock of Axonyx, Inc.
(Nasdaq:AXYX) between June 26, 2003 and February 4, 2005,
inclusive (the "Class Period").

The case is pending in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York against defendants Axonyx, Marvin
Hausman and Gosse Bruinsma. 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 Charles J. Piven by Phone:
(410) 986-0036 or by E-mail: hoffman@pivenlaw.com.


AXONYX INC.: Schatz & Nobel Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Schatz & Nobel, P.C. initiated a lawsuit seeking
class action status has been filed in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of all
persons who purchased the publicly traded securities of Axonyx
Inc. (Nasdaq: AXYX) ("Axonyx") between June 26, 2003 and
February 4, 2005 (the "Class Period").

The Complaint alleges that Axonyx violated federal securities
laws by issuing false or misleading public statements.
Specifically, the Complaint alleges that Axonyx misrepresented
or failed to disclose shortcomings with its experimental drug
Phenserine, a acetylcholinesterase ("AChE") inhibitor intended
to curb symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. On February 7, 2005,
Axonyx announced that Phenserine did not achieve significant
efficacy in Phase III Alzheimer's Disease trial. On this news,
Axonyx stock fell from a previous close of $4.85 per share, to
close at $1.81 per share.

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


AXONYX INC.: Wechsler Harwood Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Wechsler Harwood LLP initiated a Federal
Securities fraud class action suit on behalf of all purchasers
of the common stock of Axonyx, Inc. ("Axonyx" or the "Company")
(Nasdaq:AXYX) from June 26, 2003 to February 4, 2005, both dates
inclusive (the "Class Period").

The action, entitled Taylor v. Axonyx, Inc., et al., Case No.
(not yet assigned), is pending in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York, and names as
defendants, the Company, its Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer, Marvin Hausman, and its Chief Operating Officer and
President, Gosse Bruinsma.

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

     (1) that the Company's only viable drug candidate,
         Phenserine, a acetylcholinesterase ("AChE") inhibitor,
         failed to curb symptoms of Alzheimer's disease;

     (2) that the Company knew or recklessly disregarded the
         fact that Phenserine failed to partially block the
         effects of AChE, an enzyme that breaks down a
         neurotransmitter in the brain important for memory and
         cognition;

     (3) that as a consequence of the foregoing, the Company
         would not be able to commercialize Phenserine,
         currently its only potential source of revenue; and

     (4) that as a result the Company's positive statements
         about the development and potential approval of
         Phenserine were lacking in all reasonable basis when
         made.

On February 7, 2005, Axonyx announced that Phenserine did not
achieve significant efficacy in Phase III Alzheimer's Disease
trial. The news shocked the market. Shares of Axonyx fell $3.04
per share, or 62.68 percent, on February 7, 2005, to close at
$1.81 per share.

For more details, contact Craig Lowther of Wechsler Harwood LLP
by Phone: (877) 935-7400 or by E-mail: clowther@whesq.com.


GANDER MOUNTAIN: Goldman Scarlato Lodges Securities Suit in MN
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Goldman Scarlato & Karon, P.C., initiated a
class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
District of Minnesota, on behalf of persons who purchased or
otherwise acquired publicly traded securities of Gander Mountain
Company ("Gander Mountain" or the "Company") (Nasdaq: GMTN)
between April 20, 2004 and January 13, 2005, inclusive, (the
"Class Period"). The lawsuit was filed against Gander Mountain,
Mark R. Baker, Dennis M. Lindahl, Gerald A. Erickson, Donovan A.
Erickson, Neal D. Erickson, Richard A. Erickson, Majorie J. Pihl
and Ronald A. Erickson ("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 in addition to violating Sections 11 and
15 of the Securities Act of 1933. Specifically, the complaint
alleges that the Company failed to disclose or misrepresented
that the Company's co-branded credit card promotions were
ineffective, that the Company's inventory was overstated, that
the Company was borrowing above its credit line to fund its
expansion, and that as a result Defendants lacked a reasonable
basis for their projections.

On November 9, 2004, the Company lowered its outlook for pretax
income for fiscal 2004 to a range of $8 million to $13 million,
compared with prior guidance of $16 million to $21 million.
Shares of Gander Mountain fell in response to the news, dropping
$4.64 per share, or 25%, on November 9, 2004 to close at $13.91
per share. On January 14, 2005, before the market opened, Gander
Mountain again lowered its outlook for pretax income for fiscal
2004 to a range of $2 million to $4 million. The shares dropped
an additional $1.86 per share, or 16.5% on January 14, 2005 to
close at $9.43 per share.

For more details, contact Mark S. Goldman, Esq. by Phone:
(800) 495-1868.


GANDER MOUNTAIN: Murray Frank Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in MN
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
District of Minnesota on behalf of shareholders who purchased or
otherwise acquired the securities of Gander Mountain, Inc.
("Gander Mountain" or the "Company") (NASDAQ:GMTN) between April
20, 2004 and January 13, 2005, inclusive (the "Class Period").

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 Gander Mountain securities.
More specifically, defendants failed to disclose that:

     (1) defendants' materially misrepresented projections of
         positive sales growth and pretax income;

     (2) the Company had overstated the value of its inventory,
         affecting the Company's future profit margins;

     (3) the Company's debt capacity was at risk, inconsistent
         with the Company's growth plans;

     (4) the Company had only average sales trends; and

     (5) the Company's credit card program was faltering.

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


HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Kaplan Fox Lodges Securities Suit in AZ
-------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP initiated a class
action suit in the United States District Court for the District
of Arizona against Hypercom Corporation ("Hypercom" or the
"Company") (NYSE: HYC) and certain of its officers and
directors, on behalf of all persons or entities who purchased
the publicly traded common stock of Hypercom between April 30,
2004, through February 3, 2005, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint alleges that during the proposed Class Period, in
violation of the federal securities laws, the defendants,
Hypercom and certain of its officers and directors, issued a
series of false and misleading statements regarding the
Company's financial condition. On February 4, 2005, before the
opening of the market, Hypercom announced that it would restate
its financial statements for each of the first three quarters of
2004 following its determination that certain leases originated
during that period were incorrectly accounted for as sales-type
leases, rather than operating leases. According to the Company,
the wrongful accounting relates to approximately 3,200 leases.
The Company has stated that it estimates that adjustments to
previously issued financial statements will decrease net revenue
for the nine months ended September 30, 2004 by up to $4 million
and that operating profit for the same period will decrease by
approximately 65 to 75% of the amount of the net revenue
reduction.

On February 4, 2005, the price of the Company's common stock
declined $1.00 per share, or 18.3% on heavier than normal volume
of 2.8 million shares, to close at $4.46 per share.

For more details, contact Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP by E-mail:
mail@kaplanfox.com or visit their Web site:
http://www.kaplanfox.com.


The law firm of Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP initiated a class
action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for
the Middle District of North Carolina on behalf of all
purchasers of the common stock of Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
("Inspire" or the "Company") (Nasdaq: ISPH) between June 2, 2004
and February 8, 2005, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Inspire, Christy L. Shaffer and Thomas R.
Staab II with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Inspire is a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery,
development and commercialization of prescription products in
disease areas with significant commercial markets and unmet
medical needs. Diquafosol tetrasodium is a P2Y2 receptor agonist
that activates receptors on the ocular surface and inner lining
of the eyelid to stimulate the release of water, salt, mucin and
lipids - the key components of natural tears. According to the
Complaint, defendants failed to disclose and misrepresented the
following material adverse facts known to defendants or
recklessly disregarded by them:

     (1) that the primary end point of the Stage III trial
         (Study 109) was corneal clearance rather than corneal
         staining as stated by the defendants;

     (2) that defendants knew or recklessly disregarded the fact
         that diquafosol failed to improve corneal clearing; and

     (3) that as result of the above, the Company's statements
         concerning diquafosol were lacking in any reasonable
         basis when made.

On February 9, 2005, before the market opened, Inspire announced
that diquafosol failed to demonstrate statistically significant
improvement as compared to placebo for the primary endpoint of
the incidence of corneal clearing. News of this shocked the
market. Shares of Inspire fell $7.12 per share, or 44.5 percent,
to close at $8.88 per share on unusually heavy trading volume.

For more details, contact Marc A. Topaz, Esq. or Darren J.
Check, Esq. of Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP by Mail: 280 King of
Prussia Road, Radnor, PA 19087 by Phone: 1-888-299-7706 or
1-610-667-7706 or by E-mail: info@sbclasslaw.com.


OFFICEMAX INC.: Much Shelist Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in IL
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Much Shelist Freed Denenberg Ament & Rubenstein,
P.C. initiated a shareholder lawsuit against OfficeMax, Inc.,
and certain of its officers and directors, in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The class action suit is on behalf of all persons or entities
who purchased or otherwise acquired the securities of OfficeMax,
Inc. (NYSE:OMX), formerly known as Boise Cascade Corporation,
("OfficeMax" or the "Company"), between January 22, 2004 and
January 11, 2005, inclusive ("Class Period").

The Complaint alleges that OfficeMax, along with George Harad,
Christopher Milliken and Theodore Crumley ("Individual
Defendants"), violated the federal securities laws by issuing a
series of materially false and misleading statements to the
market. These misstatements have had the effect of artificially
inflating the market price of OfficeMax's securities. On January
12, 2005, OfficeMax announced that Brian Anderson, executive
vice president and chief financial officer, had resigned.

Specifically, the Complaint alleges that the Company failed to
disclose and misrepresented the following material adverse facts
known to defendants or recklessly disregarded by them:

     (1) that certain employees of the Company fabricated
         supporting documentation for approximately $3.3 million
         in claims billed to a vendor of OfficeMax during 2003
         and 2004;

     (2) that the Company improperly timed the recognition of
         recorded rebates and other such payments from vendors;

     (3) that the Company's financial results were in violation
         of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ("GAAP");

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

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

On February 14, 2005, OfficeMax announced the resignation of
CEO, Christopher Milliken, and that it expects to restate its
earnings for the first three quarters of 2004. Three high level
executives have left the Company so far this year and six
employees have been fired in the aftermath of these disclosures.

For more details, contact Carol V. Gilden, Esq. of Much Shelist
Freed Denenberg Ament & Rubenstein, P.C. by Phone:
(800) 470-6824 or by E-mail: investorhelp@muchshelist.com.


OFFICEMAX INC.: Stull Stull Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in IL
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Stull, Stull & Brody initiated a class action
lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois on behalf of all persons who purchased the
publicly traded securities of OfficeMax, Inc. ("OfficeMax")
(NYSE:OMX) and/or Boise Cascade Corp. ("Boise") between December
1, 2003 and January 11, 2005, (the "Class Period").

The Complaint charges OfficeMax and certain of its current and
former officers and directors with violations of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934. OfficeMax, known as Boise Cascade until
October 2004, is a multinational contract and retail distributor
of office supplies and paper, technology products and office
furniture. The Complaint alleges that during the Class Period
defendants made false and misleading statements regarding the
Company's earnings. The facts, known by each of the defendants
but concealed from the investing public during the Class Period,
were as follows:

     (1) that for a period of at least two years, millions of
         dollars worth of the Company's sales were fraudulently
         booked as legitimate sales;

     (2) that the Company was using (and manipulating its use
         of) "vendor allowances" (monies paid by suppliers for
         promotions, prime shelf space, discounts and rebates)
         in order to manipulate the Company's earnings and
         timing of revenue recognition;

     (3) that the Company's Q4 2004 results and those beyond
         were being eroded by the Company's internal
         investigation costs and the halting of the Company's
         abusive vendor allowance scheme;

     (4) that the Company lacked the necessary internal controls
         to insure all revenue reported complied with generally
         accepted accounting principles; and

     (5) that the Company had entered into a long-term paper
         supply contract with Boise Cascade, LLC, which,
         unbeknownst to investors, was not commensurate with the
         market rate.

As a result of defendants' false statements, OfficeMax shares
traded at inflated levels during the Class Period, permitting
the Company's top officers and directors to obtain shareholder
approval of the OfficeMax acquisition, to obtain tens of
millions of dollars in severance and golden parachute payments,
to cash out millions of dollars worth of stock options and
restricted stock, to sell stock at inflated prices, and to
arrange to sell nearly $1.5 billion worth of the Company's
notes. On January 12, 2005, OfficeMax announced that its chief
financial officer had resigned and that it would postpone the
release of its earnings for the fourth quarter and full year
2004, pending the conclusion of an internal investigation into
issues relating to its accounting for vendor income.

For more details, contact Tzivia Brody, Esq. of Stull, Stull &
Brody by Mail: 6 East 45th Street, New York, NY 10017 or by
Phone: 1-800-337-4983 by Fax: 212/490-2022 by E-mail:
SSBNY@aol.com or visit their Web site: http://www.ssbny.com.


SILICON STORAGE: Wechsler Harwood Lodges Securities Suit in CA
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Wechsler Harwood LLP initiated a Federal
Securities fraud class action suit on behalf of all purchasers
of the common stock of Silicon Storage Technology, Inc.
("Silicon Storage" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:SSTI) from March
22, 2004 to December 20, 2004, both dates inclusive (the "Class
Period").

The action, entitled DiCinto v. Silicon Storage Technology,
Inc., et al., Case No. (not yet assigned), is pending in the
United States District Court for the Northern District of
California, and names as defendants, the Company, its Chairman,
President and Chief Executive Officer, Bing Yeh, its Chief
Operating Officer, Yaw Wen Hu, and its Company's Chief Financial
Officer, Jack K. Lai.

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

     (1) that the demand for the Company's products was
         materially declining;

     (2) that the Company's margins were being significantly
         eroded due to excess inventory that were in the
         channels;

     (3) that the Company was experiencing greater competition
         across all segments of business, which led to
         significant decreases in the prices of Silicon
         Storage's products and also caused a significant
         erosion of the Company's margins;

     (4) that as a result of the above, the Company's revenue
         and earnings were materially decreasing; and

     (5) that the defendants' positive statements concerning the
         Company were lacking in any reasonable basis when made.

On December 20, 2004, after the market closed, Silicon Storage
announced today that its revenue in the fourth quarter was
expected to be between $102 and $108 million versus previous
guidance of $120 to $130 million. News of this shocked the
market. The following day, shares of Silicon Storage fell $1.02
per share, or 14.55 percent, to close at $5.99 per share (down
from $7.01 per share on December 20, 2004) on unusually heavy
trading volume.

For more details, contact Craig Lowther of Wechsler Harwood LLP
by Phone: (877) 935-7400 or by E-mail: clowther@whesq.com.


SINA CORPORATION: 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 SINA Corporation ("SINA" or
the "Company") (Nasdaq:SINA), between October 26, 2004 and
February 7, 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 SINA 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 Phone: 877-LEGAL-90 or by
E-mail: clients@brodsky-smith.com.


SINA CORPORATION: Charles J. Piven Lodges Securities Suit in NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a securities
class action on behalf of shareholders who purchased, converted,
exchanged or otherwise acquired the common stock of SINA
Corporation (Nasdaq:SINA) between October 26, 2004 and February
7, 2005, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The case is pending in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York against defendants SINA, Wang Yan
and Charles Chao. 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 Charles J. Piven by Phone:
(410) 986-0036 or by E-mail: hoffman@pivenlaw.com.


SIPEX CORPORATION: Cohen Milstein Lodges Securities Suit in CA
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C.
initiated a lawsuit on behalf of its client and on behalf of
other similarly situated purchasers of the securities of Sipex
Corporation ("Sipex" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:SIPX) between
April 11, 2003 and January 20, 2005, inclusive (the "Class
Period"), in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of California.

The complaint names as defendants Sipex, Walid Maghribi (former
President and Chief Executive Officer), Phil Kagel (former Chief
Financial Officer), and Ray Wallin (current Chief Financial
Officer). According to the Complaint, defendants violated
sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Exchange Act, and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder, by issuing a series of material
misrepresentations to the market during the Class Period.

Sipex designs, manufactures and markets high-performance
semiconductors that are used by original equipment manufacturers
operating in the computing, consumer electronics, communications
and networking infrastructure markets. Throughout the Class
Period, Sipex reported positive results in SEC filings and
publicly disseminated press releases. Defendants attributed
these results to increased semiconductor sales and cost savings
resulting from a restructuring of its operations. The Complaint
alleges however, that unbeknownst to the Class, the Company's
seeming success was the result of improper accounting that
artificially inflated Sipex's reported results.

The Complaint further alleges that the truth began to emerge on
January 20, 2005 when, after the market closed, Sipex issued a
press release announcing that it might need to restate its
reported financial statements for fiscal 2003, and for the first
three quarters of fiscal 2004. The Company stated that it had
discovered "improper recognition of revenue during these periods
on sales for which price protection, stock rotation and/or
return rights may have been granted," and that the Company's
audit committee and board of directors had commenced an internal
investigation of the matter. As a result of the investigation,
Sipex stated that it would not be able to file its 2004 annual
report with the SEC on time. In reaction to this news, the price
of Sipex common stock dropped on unusually high volume, falling
from $0.90 per share, or 23%, from its previous trading day's
closing price of $3.84, to close at $2.94 on January 21, 2005.

For more details, contact Steven J. Toll, Esq. or Audrey Braccio
of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. by Mail: 1100 New
York Avenue, N.W. West Tower B Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20005
by Phone: 888-240-0775 or 202-408-4600 or by E-mail:
stoll@cmht.com or abraccio@cmht.com.


TOWER AUTOMOTIVE: Wolf Haldenstein Lodges Securities Suit in NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP
initiated a class action lawsuit in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of all
persons who purchased the common stock of Tower Automotive, Inc.
("Tower Automotive" or the "Company") (OTC: TWRAQ) between
February 14, 2003 and February 1, 2005, inclusive, (the "Class
Period") against defendants Dugald K. Campbell, Ernie Thomas,
Kathleen Ligocki and James A. Mallak, officers of the Company
during the Class Period.

The case name and civil action number is Poplin v. Campbell, et
al, 05-cv- 2188.

The complaint alleges that defendants violated the federal
securities laws by issuing materially false and misleading
statements throughout the Class Period that had the effect of
artificially inflating the market price of the Company's
securities.

In connection with the allegations set forth in the complaint,
Wolf Haldenstein is also considering additional claims
specifically on behalf of employees of Tower Automotive. This
investigation centers on possible violations of the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 in connection with the
holdings of Tower Automotive common stock in the retirement
plans. The investigation is examining whether the Company, and
fiduciaries of the retirement plans, breached their fiduciary
duties to the Plan, and the employees who participated in the
Plan, by allowing the Plan to continue to offer Tower Automotive
common stock as an investment option and utilize it as a
matching contribution when the Company and fiduciaries knew, or
should have known, that it was an inappropriate investment
because of the financial condition of the Company. Members of
any Tower Automotive sponsored 401(k) Plans, including current
or former employees, who purchased or acquired Tower Automotive
stock through one of the plans may contact Wolf Haldenstein
concerning their rights in this matter. The affected retirement
plans include the Tower Automotive Retirement Plan, Tower
Automotive Union 401(K) Plan, Tower Automotive Products Savings
Investment Plan, and the Tower Automotive Products Employee
401(K) Savings Plan.

The complaint alleges that the statements made by defendants
during the Class Period were each materially false and
misleading when made because defendants failed to disclose
and/or misrepresented these adverse facts, known to defendants,
or recklessly disregarded by them, at all relevant times:

     (1) that the Company was facing intense pricing pressures
         to remain competitive;

     (2) that the costs of steel and other raw materials were
         continuing to significantly increase expenses and, when
         combined with the squeeze being placed on the Company
         by automakers, was dramatically decreasing the
         Company's earnings ability;

     (3) that early pay programs instituted by automakers were
         going to be terminated, thereby depriving the Company
         of a primary source of its liquidity;

     (4) based on the foregoing, contrary to Defendants'
         representations, the Company's financial condition was
         declining precipitously such that the Company's debt
         problems had become an impossible burden that would
         force the Company to file for bankruptcy; and

     (5) based on the foregoing, defendants had no reasonable
         basis for their positive statements regarding the
         Company's ability to control its liquidity issues.

For more details, contact Fred Taylor Isquith, Esq., Christopher
S. Hinton, Esq., or Derek Behnke of Wolf Haldenstein Adler
Freeman & Herz LLP by Mail: 270 Madison Avenue, New York, New
York 10016 by Phone: (800) 575-0735 by E-mail:
classmember@whafh.com or visit their Web site:
http://www.whafh.com.


                            *********


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

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

                            *********


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

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by
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Copyright 2005.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

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