CAR_Public/050318.mbx             C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

              Friday, March 18, 2005, Vol. 7, No. 55

                          Headlines

ALASKA: Lawmakers Rethink Fishing Permit Fees, Changes Planned
ALASKA COMMUNICATIONS: AK Court Okays Consumer Suit Settlement
ANDRX CORPORATION: Working To Settle Cardizem CD Antitrust Suits
ANDRX CORPORATION: Faces MI PPA Products Personal Injury Lawsuit
CABLEVISION SYSTEMS: New York Jets Launches Antitrust Complaint

COLUMBIA NATURAL: Discovery Proceeds For NY Suit Certification
COMPUCREDIT CORPORATION: Consumers File NC Suit V. Payday Loans
CONAGRA FOODS: Securities Settlement Hearing Set May 24, 2005
CONSECO INC.: Proposes $10Mil Settlement With Former Employees
EMACHINES INC.: Trial in CA Suit V. Empire Merger Set Sept. 2005

EMCOR GROUP: Asks CT Court To Dismiss Securities Fraud Lawsuit
IDACORP INC.: Asks ID Court To Dismiss Securities Fraud Lawsuit
ILLINOIS: CHA Settles Protracted Suit Over Relocating Families
ILLINOIS: Collins Law Firm Launches Suit Over Dirty Well Water
ISRAEL: U.S. Attorneys Compete For Class Action Suits V. Pharmos

JPMORGAN CHASE: Reaches $2B Settlement For WorldCom Complaint
KMART CORPORATION: Parties in Securities Suit Discuss Settlement
KMART HOLDINGS: Asks NY Court To Dismiss Lawsuit V. Sears Merger
KMART HOLDINGS: IL Court Stays Suits V. Sears Roebuck Merger
LITTLE BROTHERS: Recalls Cinnamon Rolls Due To Undeclared Dairy

MUELLER INDUSTRIES: Faces Several Copper Tube Antitrust Lawsuits
NISOURCE INC.: Trial in Gas Royalty Lawsuit Expected In 3Q 2005
POZEN INC.: Asks NC Court To Dismiss Securities Fraud Lawsuit
PRIMUS AUTOMOTIVE: TN Judge Says Ford Unit Overcharged Blacks
PRUDENTIAL FINANCIAL: Plaintiffs Seek Multi-State Class in Suit

PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE: Discovery Proceeds in NJ Insurance Lawsuit
PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE: Trial in FL HMO Fraud Suit Set Sept. 2005
PRUDENTIAL SECURITIES: OH Court Mulls Appeal of $269 Mil Award
SOULFOOD CONCEPTS: Firm, CEO Settles SEC Fraud Charges in DC
SPECTRALINK CORPORATION: CO Court Approves Stock Suit Settlement

SUNTERRA CORPORATION: Suit Settlement Hearing Set April 26, 2005
UNITED STATES: Chamber Applauds FL Governor's Legal Reform Plans
UNITED STATES: Companies, Inc. Head Talks About "Lawsuit Crisis"
UNITED STATES: Lawyers Say New Overtime Laws Bring Mores Suits
VIRGINIA: Appeals Court Reinstates Suits V. Cell Phone Industry

VITAMINS ANTITRUST: Suit Settlement Hearing Set April 27, 2005
VORNADO OPERATING: DE Court Postpones Lawsuit Settlement Hearing

                         Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: National Waterworks Unfazed by Liabilities
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Converium Holding Retains $49.2Mil Reserves
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Reynolds American Holds One Pending Lawsuit
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Coca-Cola Disputes Aqua-Chem Inc.'s Demands
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Dana Corp Deals with 116,000 Pending Claims

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Bairnco Obtains Resolutions of 3 Lawsuits
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: PartnerRe Ltd.'s Reserves Drop to US$92.4M
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Tyler Technologies Cites Exposure to Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Harsco Corp. Battles 33,862 Injury Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Ford Motor's Defense Costs Remain Stable

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Halliburton Co. Says Trust to Sell Shares
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Allegheny Energy Burdened with 1,504 Cases
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Sen. Leahy Seeks $140B Asbestos Victim Fund
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: W.R. Grace Trial Scheduled for May 15, 2006
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: BG&E Deals with Direct, Third Party Claims

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: AFG, Subsidiaries Continue to Face Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: PepsiAmericas Liable for Pneumo Abex Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Crown Cork & Seal Accrues $233M for Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: ITT, Goulds Pumps Resolve Over 4,200 Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Congoleum Records Modest Profit in 2004

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Longview Fibre Co. Faces Claims in 2 States
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Ampco-Pittsburgh Involved in 24,700 Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Residents Await Test Results of "Lung Bus"
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Georgia-Pacific Hit With US$9.3Mil Verdict
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Case V. Brush Engineered Materials Junked

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: MSA Named in About 240 Liability Lawsuits
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Cincinnati Financial Reviews Risk Exposure
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: MeadWestvaco Corp Faces 700 Injury Lawsuits
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: WR Berkeley Posts Net Reserves at US$38.2M
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Indiana County Couple Settles Out of Court

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Insurers, Claimant Appeal Plaques Case
ASBESTOS ALERT: Consultant Warns of Risks at Canada's West Block
ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Find at Paris Skyscraper Alarms Experts
ASBESTOS ALERT: MO DNR Fines The View LLC US$20T for Violations
ASBESTOS ALERT: French Group Sues to Stop Carrier Transport

ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos on Canada's Submarines Raises Concerns
ASBESTOS ALERT: Demolition Manager Admits to Removal Violations
ASBESTOS ALERT: FMC Corp Named as Defendant in Exposure Lawsuits

                  New Securities Fraud Cases

ASTRAZENECA PLC: Pomerantz Haudek Lodges Securities Suit in NY
FOREST LABORATORIES: Murray Frank Lodges Securities Suit in NY
FOREST LABORATORIES: Schiffrin & Barroway Files Stock Suit in NY
FOREST LABORATORIES: Stull Stull Lodges NY Securities Fraud Suit
HYPERCOM CORPORATION: Goodkind Labaton Lodges AZ Securities Suit

VEECO INSTRUMENTS: Murray Frank Lodges Stock Fraud Suit in NY
VIISAGE TECHNOLOGY: Klafter & Olsen Lodges Securities Suit in MA

                         *********


ALASKA: Lawmakers Rethink Fishing Permit Fees, Changes Planned
--------------------------------------------------------------
A recent court decision in a class-action lawsuit by out-of-
state commercial fishermen has made Alaska lawmakers rethink the
state's fishing permit fees, the Associated Press reports.

Senate Bill 93, a bill now being considered would reduce the
fees paid by nonresident fishermen to $115 per person instead of
$115 per permit. Numerous nonresidential fishermen hold more
than one permit to fish the state's different fisheries, and the
change would mean a loss of about $67,000 a year to Alaska.  The
measure will put Alaska in compliance with the 20-year-old
Carlson v. state of Alaska lawsuit.  However, attached to the
measure are increases to license and permit fees that would
boost the revenue coming in to the state Commercial Fisheries
Entry Commission by an estimated $2.3 million a year.  The bill
was the brainchild of Senate President Ben Stevens, R-Anchorage.
Commissioner Frank Homan told AP, "Because we had to correct
Carlson, we attached this fee bill because we are in a declining
revenue position."

People living outside the state who were charged three times
what state residents paid to fish Alaska waters had filed the
lawsuit in 1984. Two year ago, Alaska reduced the nonresidential
fees to $115, but continued to charge the differential for each
permit held by an out-of-state fisherman. Last year's court
ruling though ordered that an out-of-state fisherman pay the
differential just once, no matter how many permits he or she
holds.

An appeal is pending before the Alaska Supreme Court that
challenges the Anchorage Superior Court order that the state pay
between $30 million and $50 million to the plaintiffs, who
number about 11,000.


ALASKA COMMUNICATIONS: AK Court Okays Consumer Suit Settlement
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Superior Court for the State of Alaska in Anchorage granted
final approval to the settlement of a class action filed against
Alaska Communications Group Holdings, Inc., alleging various
contract and statutory claims concerning its decision to
terminate the Infinite Minutes long distance plan.

In September 2004, the Company entered into a settlement
agreement with plaintiffs' counsel. As a class action, the court
granted preliminary approval of the settlement and provided an
opportunity for members of the class to review the proposed
settlement and file objections. On February 18, 2005, the court
granted final approval of the settlement agreement and dismissed
the case.


ANDRX CORPORATION: Working To Settle Cardizem CD Antitrust Suits
----------------------------------------------------------------
Andrx Corporation is working to resolve and settle several class
actions filed against it and Aventis (formerly Hoechst Marion
Roussell, Inc.) in connection with a patent infringement suit
brought by Aventis with regard to its product Cardizem CD.

The actions pending in federal court have been consolidated for
multi-district litigation purposes in the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, with one of the
cases filed by a group of direct purchasers having since been
remanded back to the U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of Florida. The complaint in each action alleges that
Aventis and the Company, by way of the 1997 stipulation, have
engaged in alleged state antitrust and other statutory and
common law violations that allegedly have given Aventis and the
Company a near monopoly in the U.S. market for Cardizem CD and a
generic version of that pharmaceutical product.  Each complaint
seeks compensatory damages on behalf of each class member in an
unspecified amount and, in some cases, treble damages, as well
as costs and counsel fees, disgorgement, injunctive relief and
other remedies.

In June 2000, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District
of Michigan granted summary judgment to plaintiffs finding that
the 1997 stipulation was a per se violation of antitrust laws.
On June 13, 2003, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth
Circuit affirmed the district court's decision.  On October 12,
2004, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review this case.

Essentially reiterating the claims asserted against us in the
aforementioned Cardizem CD antitrust class action litigation and
seeking the same relief sought in that litigation are:

     (1) the May 14, 2001 complaint filed by the attorneys
         general for the states of New York and Michigan, joined
         by 13 additional states and the District of Columbia,
         on behalf of their government entities and consumers
         resident in their jurisdictions, which was subsequently
         amended to add 12 additional states and Puerto Rico to
         the action;

     (2) the July 26, 2001 complaint filed by Blue Cross Blue
         Shield of Michigan, joined by three other Blue Cross
         Blue Shield plans;

     (3) two actions pending in state courts in Florida, and

     (4) two actions pending in state courts in Kansas

On November 26, 2002, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern
District of Michigan approved a settlement between the direct
purchasers and Aventis and the Company.  In October 2003, the
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
approved a settlement between the indirect purchasers and
Aventis and the Company.  In November 2004, the United States
Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied an appeal of the
District Court's approval of that settlement.  The plaintiffs
have additional time to determine whether they want to request
the U.S. Supreme Court review of this matter.

In April 2004, the Company settled its litigation with the four
Blue Cross Blue Shield plaintiffs who opted-out of the
settlement with the indirect purchasers.  The Company also
agreed with all remaining plaintiffs, consisting of the direct
purchaser groups that opted out of the settlement with the
direct purchaser class, upon a methodology for disposing of the
claims asserted by that group after receiving such guidance as
the U.S. Supreme Court may give on the issues raised.  As a
result of that methodology, and the U.S. Supreme Court's
determination that it will not review the decision of the Court
of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the parties have settled this
matter and have dismissed or are in the process of dismissing
all related cases.


ANDRX CORPORATION: Faces MI PPA Products Personal Injury Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Andrx Corporation faces a class action filed in the Michigan
Circuit Court for the County of Ingham, arising out of the use
of phenylpropanolamine (PPA).

Beginning in October 2001, 12 product liability lawsuits were
filed against the Company and others.  The actions have been
consolidated and transferred to the U.S. District Court for the
Western District of Washington.  The Company was named in the
suits because we acquired the Entex product from Elan.  While
PPA was at one time contained in Elan's Entex product, the
Company reformulated Entex upon acquiring it from Elan and
eliminated PPA as an active ingredient thereof. All of these
cases were dismissed, either voluntarily or pursuant to court
order.  Notwithstanding a court order dated September 15, 2004,
which dismissed the case and enjoined the re-filing of that case
in state court, in December 2004, the plaintiff in one of those
actions, Laura M. Bonucchi, filed an amended complaint in the
Michigan court, to again name the Company as a defendant in
connection with this matter.  Elan has agreed to indemnify the
Company with respect to this claim.


CABLEVISION SYSTEMS: New York Jets Launches Antitrust Complaint
---------------------------------------------------------------
The New York Jets organization initiated suit in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of New York
against Cablevision Systems Corporation, the owner of Madison
Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, for engaging in
unlawful and anticompetitive actions in violation of the Sherman
Antitrust Act.

Specifically, the suit alleges that Cablevision has illegally
maintained its monopolies in the markets for enclosed large-
scale spectator events and the rental of private spectator
suites in Manhattan to control prices and exclude competition,
thereby providing New Yorkers with fewer choices and higher
prices. The lawsuit further alleges that Cablevision has engaged
in an unprecedented anticompetitive campaign to deprive New
Yorkers of the benefits of fair market competition.

The allegations in the lawsuit detail how Cablevision has:

     (1) spent millions of dollars on a false and misleading
         disinformation campaign;

     (2) abused its monopoly in the market for cable services in
         the Bronx, Brooklyn and other areas of New York to
         silence the Jets' attempts to set the record straight;

     (3) filed or enabled others to file sham litigation to
         impede the development of the New York Sports and
         Convention Center; and

     (4) submitted a sham 11th hour bid to acquire the site -
         all for the sole purpose of preventing a competitor
         from entering into the markets for enclosed large-scale
         spectator events and private spectator suites.

Jets President Jay Cross said, "While we regret that it has
become necessary to resort to litigation, Cablevision's
egregious actions -- which have intensified over the past
several weeks -- have forced us to take this step to enforce our
rights and to protect our ability to communicate with all New
Yorkers about the benefits of the Sports and Convention Center.
Cablevision has made clear it will stop at nothing, including
suppressing New Yorkers' fundamental right to information, to
defend its stranglehold on Manhattan's sports and entertainment
facilities -- a monopoly which has allowed it to charge the
public inflated prices and to limit the quality and quantity of
events offered to the public."

Mr. Cross continued, "This lawsuit is not about the RFP for the
West Side Rail Yard. We understand that others must be allowed
to compete fairly for the site in the RFP process, just as we
will, with a very competitive bid that we believe will be
superior to any others and ultimately be in the best interests
of the MTA, the City, and the State. In the coming weeks, we
plan to show New Yorkers how committed we are to building a
facility that will introduce price competition into the market,
while bringing thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions of
dollars of tax revenues, and hundreds of millions of dollars of
economic activity and development to New York City. And we are
confident that when all of the facts get out and New Yorkers get
the opportunity to hear what the Sports and Convention Center
stands for and what it means to this City and to this State,
they will overwhelmingly support it."

Commenting on the lawsuit, Marc Kasowitz, co-counsel for the
Jets, stated, "As the Jets have alleged, with ownership of the
two leading sports and entertainment spaces in Manhattan --
Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall - Cablevision
has for years been able to reap excessive profits from the
monopoly power it wields at the expense of Manhattan consumers
and businesses. To protect its monopolies, Cablevision has waged
an illegal campaign based on distortions and outright lies -- a
campaign that has been characterized in the media as 'worthy of
prosecution.' At the same time, Cablevision used its control
over local cable systems to block the Jets' efforts to correct
the record -- and even abused its market power to coerce other
local broadcast media to refuse Jets' advertisements as well.
This must stop."

David Boies, co-counsel for the Jets, commented, "In addition to
wielding its monopoly power, Cablevision lobbed in a sham bid at
the 11th hour to purchase the West Side site for a mixed-use
residential real estate development. At a time when
Cablevision's own business is in disarray, it is clear that its
intentions are solely to prevent the Jets from developing an
arena that could compete with Cablevision's monopolies and in
doing so placed in jeopardy Jet fans' rights to have a home
field, hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenue for New
York City and thousands of jobs for New Yorkers."

The Jets are seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well
as an injunction preventing Cablevision from continuing to
engage in anti-competitive practices.

For more information about the lawsuit and the New York Sports &
Convention Center (NYSCC), visit http://www.JetsFightBack.com.


COLUMBIA NATURAL: Discovery Proceeds For NY Suit Certification
--------------------------------------------------------------
Discovery is proceeding for class certification issues in the
lawsuit filed against Columbia Natural Resources, Inc. in
Chautauqua County Court, New York, styled "Vivian K. Kershaw et
al. v. Columbia Natural Resources, Inc., et al."  The suit also
names as defendants Columbia Transmission, Columbia Energy Group
and Columbia Energy Resources, Inc.

The complaint alleges that plaintiffs own an interest in oil and
gas leases in New York and that the defendants have underpaid
royalties on those leases by, among other things, failing to
base royalties on the price at which natural gas is sold to the
end-user and by improperly deducting post-production costs.
Plaintiffs seek the alleged royalty underpayment and punitive
damages. The complaint also seeks class action status on behalf
of all royalty owners in oil and gas leases owned by the
defendants.


COMPUCREDIT CORPORATION: Consumers File NC Suit V. Payday Loans
---------------------------------------------------------------
CompuCredit Corporation and five of its subsidiaries face a
class action filed in the Superior Court of New Hanover County,
North Carolina, styled "Knox, et al. vs. First Southern Cash
Advance, et al, No. 5-CV-0445."

The plaintiffs allege that in conducting a so-called "payday
lending" business, certain of the Company's Retail Micro-Lending
and Servicing segment subsidiaries violated various laws
governing consumer finance, lending, check cashing, trade
practices and loan brokering.  The plaintiffs further allege
that the Company is the alter ego of its subsidiaries and is
liable for their actions.  The plaintiffs are seeking damages of
up to $75,000 per class member.

CONAGRA FOODS: Securities Settlement Hearing Set May 24, 2005
-------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the District of Nebraska
will hold a fairness hearing for the proposed $14 million
settlement in the matter: ConAgra Foods, Inc. Securities
Litigation on behalf of all persons and entities, who purchased
or otherwise acquired shares or stock of the Company on the open
market between August 28, 1998 to May 23, 2001.

According to the Court, the fairness hearing will be held before
the Honorable Richard G. Kopf in the United States Courthouse,
592 Federal Building, 100 Centennial Mall North, Lincoln,
Nebraska 68508, at 12:00 noon, on May 24, 2005.

For more details, contact ConAgra Foods, Inc. Securities
Litigation c/o Rust Consulting, Inc., Claims Administrator by
Mail: P.O. Box 1744, Faribault, MN 55021-1744 or (877) 874-7558
or visit their Web site:
http://www.conagrasecuritiessettlement.com.


CONSECO INC.: Proposes $10Mil Settlement With Former Employees
--------------------------------------------------------------
Conseco Inc., which entered bankruptcy reorganization in
December 2002 and emerged in September 2003, has reached a
proposed $10 million settlement with group of former employees
initiated a class action lawsuit against the Company more than
two years ago, the Indianapolis Star reports.

That suit had claimed that Conseco and some of its top officers
failed to disclose key facts regarding the ConsecoSave Plan and
unjustly allowed employees to keep investing in Conseco stock as
the Company moved closer to bankruptcy. The class period for the
suit began in April 1999. Among the former Conseco officials
sued were Stephen Hilbert, Gary Wendt, William Shea, Rollin
Dick, Charles Chokel.

Conseco disclosed the proposed settlement in its annual report
that was recently filed with the Securities & Exchange
Commission. The settlement though is subject to final settlement
agreement and the approval of U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of Indiana, Conseco's filing stated.  In
addition, Conseco said in its filing that it expects the $10
million to be covered by its re-insurer, RLI Insurance Co.
However in February 2004, RLI filed a suit in the federal court
in Indianapolis, asking it to find no liability under its
insurance policy for the claims of the class-action suit. In its
filing Conseco said it would defend itself against RLI's claim,
and expects to recover a substantial portion of the $10 million.


EMACHINES INC.: Trial in CA Suit V. Empire Merger Set Sept. 2005
----------------------------------------------------------------
Trial in the shareholder class action filed against eMachines,
Inc. is set for September 19,2005 in the Calfornia State
Superior Court, County of Orange.

The suit, styled "Dvorchak v. eMachines, Inc., et al.," relates
to a 2001 transaction in which the Company, which was then a
public Company, was taken private.  The action originally sought
to enjoin the Company's merger with Empire Acquisition
Corporation, to effectuate taking the Company private. The court
denied the requested injunction on December 27, 2001, allowing
the consummation of the Merger.  After the Merger, plaintiffs
filed amended complaints seeking unspecified monetary damages
and/or recision relating to the negotiations for and terms of
the Merger through allegations of breaches of fiduciary duties
by eMachines, its board members prior to the Merger, and certain
of its officers.

The court granted class certification on August 25, 2003.  A
dispositive motion filed by the defendants was heard and denied
by the Court in August 2004.  It is anticipated that further
dispositive motions on behalf of the defendants will be heard
and ruled upon by the Court prior to trial.


EMCOR GROUP: Asks CT Court To Dismiss Securities Fraud Lawsuit
--------------------------------------------------------------
EMCOR Group, Inc. asked the United States District Court for the
District of Connecticut to dismiss the class action filed
against it, styled "In re EMCOR Group Securities Litigation."
The suit also names as defendants three of the Company's
officers:

     (1) Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
         Frank T. MacInnis,

     (2) Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
         Leicle E. Chesser, and

     (3) Senior Vice President-Chief Accounting Officer and
         Treasurer Mark A. Pompa

Plaintiff purports to represent a class composed of all persons
who purchased or otherwise acquired Company common stock and/or
other securities between April 9, 2003 and October 2, 2003,
inclusive.  The complaint alleges violations of Section 10(b) of
the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder and of
Section 20(A) of the Securities Exchange Act, relating to
alleged misstatements and omissions in certain of the Company's
filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, press
releases and other public statements between April 9 and October
2, 2003, and seeks damages on behalf of the purported class in
unspecified amounts.  A motion to dismiss the Complaint filed by
EMCOR and the individual defendants is currently under
submission.

The suit is styled "In re: EMCOR GROUP, INC. SECURITIES
LITIGATION, case no. 3:04-cv-00531-JCH," filed in the United
States District Court in Connecticut, under Judge Janet C. Hall.
Representing the plaintiffs are:

     (1) Gregory Castaldo, Benjamin J. Sweet, Schiffrin &
         Barroway, 280 King of Prussia Rd., Radnor, PA 19087,
         Phone: 610-667-7706, Fax: 610-667-7056, E-mail:
         bsweet@sbclasslaw.com or gcastaldo@sbclasslaw.com;

     (2) James E. Miller, Sheperd Finkelman Miller & Shah-
         Chester, 65 Main St., Chester, CT 06412, Phone: 860-
         526-1100, Fax: 860-526-1120, E-mail:
         jmiller@sfmslaw.com

     (3) Nancy A. Kulesa, Jeffrey S. Nobel, Andrew M. Schatz,
         Schatz & Nobel-Htfd, One Corporate Center, 20 Church
         St., Suite 1700 Hartford, CT 06103, Phone: 860-493-
         6292, Fax: 860-493-6290, E-mail: nancy@snlaw.net,
         jnobel@snlaw.net, aschatz@snlaw.net

Representing the Company are David A. Becker, Erica B.
McFarquhar, Latham & Watkins - DC, 555 11th St., NW Suite 1000,
Washington, DC 20004, Phone: 202-627-2200, Fax: 202-637-2201, E-
mail: david.becker@lw.com or Erica.McFarquhar@lw.com; Michele E.
Rose, Laurie B. Smilan Latham & Watkins, LLP - VA, Two Freedom
Sq. 11955 Freedom Dr., Suite 500, Reston, VA 20190, Phone: 703-
456-1000, Fax: 703-456-1001, E-mail: Michele.Rose@lw.com; and
Jeffrey J. Vita and Heidi H. Zapp, Saxe, Doernberger & Vita, PC
1952 Whitney Ave., Hamden, CT 06517, Phone: 203-287-8890, E-
mail: jjv@sdvlaw.com, hhz@sdvlaw.com


IDACORP INC.: Asks ID Court To Dismiss Securities Fraud Lawsuit
---------------------------------------------------------------
IDACORP, Inc. asked the United States District Court for the
District of Idaho to dismiss a consolidated securities class
action filed against it and certain of its directors and
officers, styled "Powell, et al. v. IDACORP, Inc., et al."

On May 26, 2004 and June 22, 2004, respectively, two shareholder
lawsuits were filed against the Company and certain of its
directors and officers.  The lawsuits, captioned "Powell, et al.
v. IDACORP, Inc., et al." and "Shorthouse, et al. v. IDACORP,
Inc., et al.," raise largely similar allegations.  The lawsuits
are putative class actions brought on behalf of purchasers of
IDACORP stock between February 1, 2002 and June 4, 2002.  The
named defendants in each suit, in addition to the Company, are:

     (1) Jon H. Miller,

     (2) Jan B. Packwood,

     (3) J. LaMont Keen and

     (4) Darrel T. Anderson

The complaints alleged that, during the purported class period,
IDACORP and/or certain of its officers and/or directors made
materially false and misleading statements or omissions about
the Company's financial outlook in violation of Sections 10(b)
and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended,
and Rule 10b-5, thereby causing investors to purchase the
Company's common stock at artificially inflated prices.  More
specifically, the complaints alleged that IDACORP failed to
disclose and misrepresented the following material adverse facts
which were known to defendants or recklessly disregarded by
them:

     (i) IDACORP failed to appreciate the negative impact that
         lower volatility and reduced pricing spreads in the
         western wholesale energy market would have on its
         marketing subsidiary, IE;

    (ii) IDACORP would be forced to limit its origination
         activities to shorter-term transactions due to
         increasing regulatory uncertainty and continued
         deterioration of creditworthy counterparties;

   (iii) IDACORP failed to discount for the fact that IPC may
         not recover from the lingering effects of the prior
         year's regional drought and

    (iv) as a result of the foregoing, defendants lacked a
         reasonable basis for their positive statements about
         IDACORP and their earnings projections.

The Powell complaint also alleged that the defendants' conduct
artificially inflated the price of the Company's common stock.
The actions sought an unspecified amount of damages, as well as
other forms of relief.  By order dated August 31, 2004, the
court consolidated the Powell and Shorthouse cases for pretrial
purposes, and ordered the plaintiffs to file a consolidated
complaint within 60 days.  On November 1, 2004, IDACORP and the
directors and officers named above were served with a purported
consolidated complaint.

The new complaint alleges that during the class period IDACORP
and/or certain of its officers and/or directors made materially
false and misleading statements or omissions about its business
operations, and specifically the IDACORP Energy financial
outlook, in violation of Rule 10b-5, thereby causing investors
to purchase IDACORP's common stock at artificially inflated
prices.  The new complaint alleges that IDACORP failed to
disclose and misrepresented the following material adverse
facts, known to it or recklessly disregarded by it:

     (a) IDACORP falsely inflated the value of energy contracts
         held by IDACORP Energy in order to report higher
         revenues and profits;

     (b) IDACORP permitted IPC to inappropriately grant native
         load priority for certain energy transactions to
         IDACORP Energy;

     (c) IDACORP failed to file 13 ancillary service agreements
         involving the sale of power for resale in interstate
         commerce that it was required to file under Section
         205 of the Federal Power Act;

     (d) IDACORP failed to file 1,182 contracts that IPC
         assigned to IDACORP Energy for the sale of power for
         resale in interstate commerce that IPC was required to
         file under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act;

     (e) IDACORP failed to ensure that IDACORP Energy provided
         appropriate compensation from IDACORP Energy to IPC for
         certain affiliated energy transactions; and

     (f) IDACORP permitted inappropriate sharing of certain
         energy pricing and transmission information between IPC
         and IDACORP Energy.

These activities allegedly allowed IDACORP Energy to maintain a
false perception of continued growth that inflated its earnings.
In addition, the new complaint alleges that those earnings press
releases, earnings release conference calls, analyst reports and
revised earnings guidance releases issued during the class
period were false and misleading.  The action seeks an
unspecified amount of damages, as well as other forms of relief.

The suit is styled "Powell v. Idacorp, Inc, et al, case no.
1:04-cv-00249-EJL-MHW," filed in the United States District
Court in Idaho, under Judge Edward J. Lodge.

Representing the Company are Rex Blackburn and Daniel Loras
Glynn, BLACKBURN & JONES, PO Box 7808, Boise, ID 83707, Phone:
(208) 489-8989, Fax: (208) 489-8988, E-mail:
rex@blackburnjoneslaw.com, daniel@blackburnjoneslaw.com; and
David G. Hetzel, Dennis F. Kerrigan, Jr., LEBOEUF LAMB GREENE &
MACRAE, 125 W 55th St New York, NY 10019, Phone: (212) 424-8000,
Fax: (212) 424-8000, E-mail: dghetzel@llgm.com,
dennis.kerrigan@llgm.com.

Representing the plaintiffs are John K. Grant, Eli Greenstein,
LERACH COUGHLIN STOIA & ROBBINS, 100 Pine St #2600, San
Francisco, CA 94111, Phone: (415) 288-4545; Richard H Greener,
John T. Simmons, Greener Banducci Shoemaker P.A., 815 W
Washington, Boise, ID 83702, Phone: (208) 319-2600, Fax:
(208) 319-2601, E-mail: rgreener@greenerlaw.com, or
jsimmons@greenerlaw.com; and David A. Rosenfeld, Samuel H.
Rudman, LERACH COUGHLIN STOIA & ROBBINS, 200 Broadhollow Rd #406
Melville, NY 11747, Phone: (631) 367-7100, Fax: (631) 367-7100,
E-mail: drosenfeld@lerachlaw.com or e_file_ny@lerachlaw.com


ILLINOIS: CHA Settles Protracted Suit Over Relocating Families
--------------------------------------------------------------
The CHA has reached a settlement in a two-year-old lawsuit that
accused it of steering families who were relocating from closed
public housing projects into apartments in high-poverty,
predominately black neighborhoods, the Chicago Sun-Times
reports.

Though CHA denies the allegations, it has started requiring
relocation counselors to show residents apartments in higher-
income, integrated neighborhoods, since the class action suit
was filed. It has also banned its counselors from recommending
units in six neighborhoods where families are concentrated.

Those improvements, along with an enhanced program that helps
families that already left public housing move to a higher-
income, integrated neighborhood, form the basis of the
settlement. Since 1995, about 4,600 families rented apartments
with vouchers after leaving the projects.


ILLINOIS: Collins Law Firm Launches Suit Over Dirty Well Water
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Collins Law Firm of Naperville has initiated a complaint in
federal court on behalf of two families who live near the former
Wauconda Sand and Gravel landfill at Bonner and Garland roads,
the Daily Herald reports.

The complaint alleges that 11 companies known as potentially
responsible parties for the site long knew groundwater was
contaminated by cancer-causing vinyl chloride but failed to warn
residents. Additionally, it alleges that the companies were
negligent by failing to prevent the release of contaminants and
to "promptly and effectively" address the situation after the
chemicals migrated off site.

According to the law firm, the complaint seeks class-action
status for more than 400 families in several unincorporated
subdivisions where vinyl chloride has been detected in some
private wells.  The suit states that a group including some of
the potentially responsible parties is negotiating a proposed
plan with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency but have
"threatened to cease all further work" if the lawsuit was filed.

The five-count action also alleges that besides contaminating
drinking water, chemicals are in the soil and chemical vapors
are believed to have created another possible method of
exposure. It also alleges that the companies knew of the
contamination and potential threats before vinyl chloride was
detected in a private well in the Hillcrest subdivision in
September 2003.

Plaintiffs' attorney Shawn Collins told the Daily Herald, "Since
the 1980s, it's been known by these companies there was a risk
contamination could move off the landfill. The contamination in
Hillcrest didn't have to happen - it was a known risk that was
ignored."

Residents are seeking an unspecified amount of damages,
including compensation for loss in property value Mr. Collins
said. He also adds that the residents should not have to pay
costs associated with a proposal to extend Wauconda's water
system to the unincorporated areas, including the Hillcrest,
Lakeview Villa, Spencer Highlands, Elmcrest, Wellsmere Heights,
North Shore and Garland Road areas.

Bill Plunkett, a spokesman for the Wauconda Task Group, which
includes most of the potentially responsible parties, reiterates
that the landfill has never been determined as the source of the
contaminants. He also told the Daily Herald that the task group
is making "good progress" in talks with the EPA and other
entities on a plan to bring a new water source to residents and
monitor groundwater to ensure the contamination isn't spreading.


ISRAEL: U.S. Attorneys Compete For Class Action Suits V. Pharmos
----------------------------------------------------------------
An estimated 10 class action suits have been filed against
Israeli drug development Company, Pharmos and its officers,
since the dismal results of clinical trials on it's flagship
dexanabinol and the subsequent 70 percent collapse in its share
value, the Ha'aretz reports.

Legal experts expect that at the end of March, a U.S. court is
expected to decide on the representative plaintiff and the U.S.
lawyers who will represent the class action suit. The principal
criteria will be which law firm represents investors with the
largest collective financial loss on the shares.

Until the last minute, U.S. attorneys and their Israeli
representatives will try to recruit as many investors who lost
money on the stock as possible. The payoff for the lawyers is
the huge fee they can charge, a percentage of the plaintiffs'
winnings from a favorable verdict. The process is part of U.S.
efforts to encourage class action lawsuits, considered a useful
tool in protecting investors.

Though not yet adopted by the Israeli judicial system, the
American approach, believes class action lawsuits, particularly
in the securities sector, maintain a fair and efficient
marketplace. For this reason alone, according to legal experts,
there is no court fee for filing class actions, and plaintiffs
cannot be ordered to pay court costs even if they lose.

U.S. class action expert and Israeli attorney Yacov Sabo told
Ha'aretz, "According to federal law, when a plaintiff files a
class action, he is required to publish the suit. Any other
plaintiff has 60 days to file a request for another class action
lawsuit or to be the representative plaintiff for the entire
class."

The court seeks the plaintiff who is the most representative of
the group of investors, ruling out any possible conflicts
between the plaintiff's personal interests and those of the
group, or investors who are planted by the Company in order to
reach unjustified compromises with the Company in lieu of a
judgment, as has happened in the past. The merits of the case
are examined during the actual trial process after the multiple
lawsuits are consolidated.

Mr. Sabo added that being the representative plaintiff allows
the disgruntled investor to influence the lawsuit, a right for
which investors fight, as lawyers fight for the opportunity to
sit in the pilot's seat during the case and collect the huge
fees. Such a battle is currently underway among Pharmos
investors and their lawyers, the first of which was filed in
early January, meaning the court will rule on the constitution
of the "class" and its representative plaintiff in late March,
Ha'aretz reports.

Attorney Jacob Greenwald of Ramat Gan law firm Schor, Greenwald
& Levy, representing a group of dozens of Pharmos investors in
the U.S. and Israel, along with American co-counsel Kirby,
McInerney & Squire, told Ha'aretz the court usually chooses the
investor or group of investors with the greatest financial loss.


JPMORGAN CHASE: Reaches $2B Settlement For WorldCom Complaint
-------------------------------------------------------------
The nation's second largest financial institution, JPMorgan
Chase & Co. has agreed to pay $2 billion to settle claims from
investors who lost money in the collapse of WorldCom Inc., the
Associated Press reports.

The settlement by JPMorgan Chase, which was the last major bank
to reach a settlement in the class action suit, though other
defendants remain, came a day after WorldCom's former chief
executive, Bernard Ebbers, was found guilty of fraud, conspiracy
and false regulatory filings in the $11 billion accounting fraud
at WorldCom. The Company had collapsed in 2002, but has since
emerged from bankruptcy to operate under the name MCI Inc.

According to New York Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who represents
thousands of WorldCom investors as the court-appointed lead
plaintiff, the more than a dozen banks and investment banks that
have reached settlements have agreed to pay more than $6
billion, a record in a securities class action case, AP reports.
Mr. Hevesi told reporters, "I'm delighted that we are coming to
closure. This is a huge securities case. I think we've made a
substantial recovery for the people that we represent."

In addition to JPMorgan Chase, two small investment banks based
in New York also announced settlements namely Blaylock &
Partners LP, which agreed to pay $573,000, and Utendahl Capital,
which agreed to pay $234,000.  The remaining defendants, in
addition to the 11 former directors of WorldCom, who were close
to reviving a deal in which they would pay millions of dollars
to settle their part in the investor suit, are auditing firm
Arthur Andersen and former WorldCom board member Bert Roberts.

Judge Denise Cote gave preliminary approval on to a number of
settlements reached earlier with banks, including Bank of
America Corp., which is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Credit
Suisse First Boston, a unit of the Zurich-based Credit Suisse
Group, and Citigroup Inc.  Judge Cote said, "Let me give the
court's congratulations to the settling parties. This case has
been very hard-fought."

Court documents reveal that the banks were involved in the
underwriting or sale of billions of dollars worth of bonds that
WorldCom issued in 2000 and 2001.  The settlement by JPMorgan
Chase was second in size only to the $2.58 billion that
Citigroup, the nation's largest financial institution, agreed to
pay last May to settle its share of the case. JPMorgan Chase
said it would take a charge of about $900 million before taxes
in the first quarter for the settlement.

In a press statement explaining the decision to settle, JPMorgan
Chase chairman and CEO William B. Harrison Jr. said, "Given
recent developments, we made a decision to settle rather than
risk the uncertainty of a trial."

Attorney Leonard Barrack, who was lead co-counsel for Mr. Hevesi
in the case, told the Associated Press that it was "trailblazing
litigation" in its effort to recover as much as possible as
quickly as possible for investors who lost millions of dollars.
"It should be the pattern for other large fraud cases," adds Mr.
Barrack, who practices with Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, which is
headquartered in Philadelphia.


KMART CORPORATION: Parties in Securities Suit Discuss Settlement
----------------------------------------------------------------
Parties have entered settlement discussions in a class action
filed against Kmart Corporation's current and former employees
and former directors in the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of participants or
beneficiaries of the Kmart Corporation Retirement Savings Plan.

The suit alleges breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) for excessive investment
in the Company's stock; failure to provide complete and accurate
information about the Company's common stock; and failure to
provide accurate information regarding the Company's financial
condition.  Subsequently, amended complaints were filed that
added additional current and former employees and directors of
the Company as defendants.

On July 29, 2002, the plaintiffs filed proofs of claim with the
Court in an aggregate amount equal to $180 million. On August
20, 2003, the defendants' motion to dismiss the purported class
action in the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Michigan was denied. That court certified the class
on April 16, 2004, but the class has yet to be defined.
Mediation was held on December 10, 2004, which did not settle
the case. However, telephonic settlement discussions are
continuing and further discovery activity has been suspended.
If settlement is not reached, discovery is expected to begin in
March, 2005.


KMART HOLDINGS: Asks NY Court To Dismiss Lawsuit V. Sears Merger
----------------------------------------------------------------
Kmart Holdings Corporation asked the Supreme Court of the State
of New York to dismiss the consolidated class action filed
against it, following the announcement of the proposed merger
with Sears, Roebuck & Co. on November 17, 2004.

Two cases, styled "Gershon Chanowitz, et al. v. Hall Adams, Jr.,
et al. (Index No. 04/603903)" and "Nathan Krantman v. William
Bax, et al. (index 04/603889)," were initially filed in the
Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County. On
February 15, 2005 the Court ordered that the two cases be
consolidated as a single action.  On February 16, 2005, the
plaintiff's filed a superceding consolidated Amended Class
Action Complaint.

The consolidated complaint asserts claims on behalf of a
purported class of Sears stockholders against Sears and certain
of its officers and directors for breach of fiduciary duty in
connection with the mergers on the grounds that the defendants
allegedly failed to take appropriate steps to maximize the value
of a merger transaction for Sears stockholders. Plaintiffs also
have named the Company, Edward S. Lampert, and ESL Investments,
Inc. as defendants on the ground that they aided and abetted
the alleged breaches of fiduciary duty.  Additionally, the
plaintiffs claim that the defendants have made insufficient and
misleading disclosures in connection with the mergers.  The
complaint seeks provisional and permanent injunctive relief, as
well as damages.

On February 16, 2005, the plaintiffs filed an order to show
cause seeking expedited discovery about the appraisal of Sears'
real estate.  A briefing schedule on the motion has not yet been
set.  On February 25, 2005, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss
the complaint.


KMART HOLDINGS: IL Court Stays Suits V. Sears Roebuck Merger
------------------------------------------------------------
The Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Chancery Division
agreed to stay three Illinois class actions filed against Kmart
Holdings Corporation, following the announcement of the proposed
merger with Sears, Roebuck & Co. on November 17, 2004.  The
suits are styled:

     (1) William Fischer v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., et al. (Case
         No. 04 CH 19137),

     (2) City of Dania Beach Police & Firefighters Retirement
         System v. Sears, Roebuck and Co. et al. (Case No. 04 CH
         19548) and

     (3) Central Laborers Pension Fund v. Sears, Roebuck and Co.
         et al. (Case No. 04 CH 19435), have been

These cases assert claims on behalf of a purported class of
Sears stockholders against Sears and certain of its officers and
directors, together with the Company, Edward S. Lampert, William
C. Crowley and other affiliated entities, related to an alleged
breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the mergers. The
plaintiffs allege that the merger favors interested defendants
by awarding them disproportionate benefits, and that the
defendants failed to take appropriate steps to maximize the
value of a merger transaction for Sears stockholders.  The
complaints seek provisional and permanent injunctive relief; the
Fischer complaint also seeks damages.

The cases have been reassigned to a single judge and the
plaintiffs have filed a consolidated and amended complaint. On
February 1, 2005, the court granted the defendants motion to
stay or dismiss these Illinois actions in favor of a similar New
York action.  Accordingly, these actions are stayed pending
resolution of the New York actions.  Plaintiffs have filed a
notice of appeal of the stay order to the Appellate Court of
Illinois - First District.


LITTLE BROTHERS: Recalls Cinnamon Rolls Due To Undeclared Dairy
---------------------------------------------------------------
Little Brothers Bakery, L.L.C. of Gardena, CA is recalling 539
12 oz. packages of Van de Kamp Cinnamon Rolls, because they may
contain undeclared dairy. People who have an allergy or severe
sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious allergic reaction if
they consume these products.

The products were distributed to Ralphs stores in Northern and
Southern California. All 12 ounce packages of Van de Kamp
Cinnamon Rolls with pull dates prior to March 17 are affected by
this recall. The recalled products are packaged in white window
boxes each containing a foil tray with 3 cinnamon rolls. The
pull date is printed on a sticker placed on the end panel of the
box.

One complaint of allergic reaction has been reported to date.
The recall was initiated after it was discovered that an
ingredient in the product was found to contain dairy allergen
material.

Consumers who are sensitive to milk and who bought this product
should return the package to Ralphs for a full refund. Customers
who have questions may contact Little Brothers Bakery at
(310) 225-3790 or contact Ralphs toll-free at (800) 632-6900.


MUELLER INDUSTRIES: Faces Several Copper Tube Antitrust Lawsuits
----------------------------------------------------------------
Mueller Industries, Inc. faces several purported class action
complaints brought by direct and indirect purchasers alleging
anticompetitive activities with respect to the sale of copper
plumbing tubes and arising out of conduct allegedly occurring in
Europe.

Two such purported class actions are pending in the United
States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee (the
Federal Actions), four are pending in the Superior Court of the
State of California, County of San Francisco (the California
Actions), and one is pending in the Circuit Court for Shelby
County, Tennessee (with the Federal Actions and the California
Actions, the Actions).  The Company's wholly owned subsidiaries,
WTC Holding Company, Inc., Deno Holding Company, Inc., and
Mueller Europe Ltd., are named in all of the Actions, and Deno
Acquisition Eurl is named in all but one of the Actions.  All of
the Actions, which are similar, seek declaratory and monetary
relief.

Plaintiffs' motions to consolidate and for appointment of lead
counsel in the Federal Actions and plaintiffs' motion to
consolidate the California Actions has been granted.  The
Company has not yet been required to respond to any of the
complaints in the Actions.


NISOURCE INC.: Trial in Gas Royalty Lawsuit Expected In 3Q 2005
---------------------------------------------------------------
Trial in the class action filed against NiSource, Inc. in the
West Virginia Circuit Court for Roane County, styled "Tawney, et
al. v. Columbia Natural Resources, Inc.," is expected to begin
in the third quarter of 2005.

The Plaintiffs, who are royalty owners, filed a lawsuit in early
2003 against Columbia Natural Resources, Inc., alleging that
Columbia Natural Resources underpaid royalties by improperly
deducting post-production costs and not paying a fair value for
the gas produced from their leases.  Plaintiffs seek the alleged
royalty underpayment and punitive damages claiming that Columbia
Natural Resources fraudulently concealed the deduction of post-
production charges.

The court has certified the case as a class action that includes
any person who, after July 31, 1990, received or is due
royalties from Columbia Natural Resources (and its predecessors
or successors) on lands lying within the boundary of the State
of West Virginia.  All individuals, corporations, agencies,
departments or instrumentalities of the United States of America
are excepted from the class.  Columbia Natural Resources
appealed the decision certifying the class and the Supreme Court
of West Virginia denied the appeal.  Although NiSource sold
Columbia Natural Resources in 2003, it remains obligated to
manage this litigation and also remains at least partly liable
for any damages awarded to the plaintiffs.  In December 2004,
the court granted plaintiffs' motion to add the Company and
Columbia Energy Group as defendants.


POZEN INC.: Asks NC Court To Dismiss Securities Fraud Lawsuit
-------------------------------------------------------------
Pozen, Inc. asked the United States District Court for the
Middle District of North Carolina to dismiss the consolidated
securities class action filed against it and certain of its
current and former officers.

Four purported class action lawsuits claiming violations of
securities laws were initially filed between June 4 and July 28,
2004 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North
Carolina by holders of the Company's securities against it and
certain of its current and former officers.  These actions have
been consolidated for pre-trial purposes.  A fifth case filed on
August 6, 2004 has been consolidated with those actions for pre-
trial purposes.

By order dated November 4, 2004, the court appointed a lead
plaintiff, who filed a consolidated amended complaint (amended
complaint) on December 20, 2004.  The defendants named in the
amended complaint are the Company and John R. Plachetka, its
chairman and chief executive officer. The amended complaint
alleges violations of federal securities laws, including
violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934, as amended, and Rule 10b-5, and violations of Section
20(a) of the Exchange Act against Dr. Plachetka.  The amended
complaint alleges that the Company made false and misleading
statements concerning its product candidates, MT 100 and MT 300,
during the class period.  The amended complaint requests
certification of a plaintiff class consisting of purchasers of
our stock between October 4, 2002 and May 28, 2004.

The suit is styled "In Re: POZEN, Inc. Securities Litigation,
Case 04-CV-505," filed in the United States District Court for
the Middle District of North Carolina, under Judge Frank W.
Bullock, Jr.  Lead counsel for the plaintiffs is Cohen,
Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. (New York, NY), 825 Third
Avenue - 30th Floor, New York, NY, 10022, Phone: 212.838.7797,
Fax: 212.838.7745, E-mail: lawinfo@cmht.com.  Representing the
defendants is Pressly McAuley Millen of Womble Carlyle Sandridge
& Rice, POB 831 Raleigh, NC 27601, USA, Phone: 919-755-2100


PRIMUS AUTOMOTIVE: TN Judge Says Ford Unit Overcharged Blacks
-------------------------------------------------------------
After a two-week trial, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger said
that the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit has proven to the
court that a lending affiliate of the Ford Motor Credit Company
(FMCC) discriminated against black customers by charging them
higher rates on car loans, the Associated Press reports.

According to the federal judge, she would rule against FMCC
unit, Primus Automotive Financial Services, but she first would
give the two sides 30 days to negotiate a settlement to end the
discrimination. The judge explains, "What I have decided is that
the plaintiffs have proved their case and that they will win in
my decision."

As previously reported in the March 2, 2005 edition of the Class
Action Reporter, a national class action lawsuit challenging the
auto lending practices of FMCC and its brand name Primus
Automotive Financial Services, Inc. (PRIMUS) began on March 1,
2005.  Primus, the named defendant in the case, is a division of
FMCC, it offers automobile financing services to consumers
throughout the nation using the brand names Mazda American
Credit, Land Rover Credit, and Jaguar Credit, pursuant to
contracts with Mazda, Land Rover, and Jaguar.

In the suit, plaintiffs contend that the credit pricing policies
developed and managed for Primus by FMCC and marketed using
either Ford Credit, Mazda American Credit, Land Rover Credit, or
Jaguar Credit discriminate by charging African Americans more
for credit, for reasons not related to creditworthiness.

The lawsuit alleges that Primus's lending policies permit and
encourage a practice known as "auto finance markup" that has a
discriminatory impact on African-American plaintiffs and results
in their paying more for credit than White consumers with
comparable credit ratings. The markup occurs when a consumer
requests a car dealer to arrange financing for a car purchase.
Typically the dealer submits the consumer's credit application
to a lender who determines an approved interest rate by
examination of the consumer's credit history. The lender then
communicates the approved interest rate to the dealer and
authorizes the dealer, without informing the consumer, to
subjectively add percentage points to the interest rate of their
loan without regards to their creditworthiness. The dealer and
the lender then split the markup, as additional profit. Markup
costs to a consumer over the life of the loan can range from
hundreds to thousands of dollars. Studies of industry data filed
in various court cases, including the case against Primus, have
asserted that African-American and Hispanic consumers are more
likely to receive the markup and that they on average pay higher
markup fess than White customers.

The proceedings were held before United States District Judge
Aleta A. Trauger, Middle District of Tennessee, in Courtroom
873, United States Courthouse, 801 Broadway, Nashville,
Tennessee. The case is entitled, Latonya Claybrooks, et al.
versus Primus Automotive Financial, a division of Ford Motor
Credit, Case No. 3-02-0382.

Even with the decision, Primus spokeswoman Meredith Libbey told
the Associated Press that the Company disagreed with the judge's
conclusions. "We uphold the highest standards of fair lending,"
Ms. Libbey said in a statement.  Lead plaintiff lawyer Clint
Watkins said he was pleased, and told AP "We look forward to
working with Ford Motor Credit on a solution."

Several lawsuits alleging discrimination against blacks have
been filed against financing companies for various automakers
nationwide since 1998, resulting in five out-of-court
settlements. The class-action suit against Primus was the first
to go to trial though.  The settlements in the other cases have
included Company agreements to place caps on the interest rate
markups that dealers can make on loans.


PRUDENTIAL FINANCIAL: Plaintiffs Seek Multi-State Class in Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
Plaintiffs asked the District Court of Valencia County, New
Mexico to certify a multi-state class in the lawsuit filed
against Prudential Financial, Inc., styled "Azar et al. v.
Prudential Insurance."

August 2000, plaintiffs filed a purported national class action,
based upon the alleged failure to disclose adequately the
increased costs associated with payment of life insurance
premiums on a "modal" basis, i.e., more frequently than once a
year. Similar actions have been filed in New Mexico against over
a dozen other insurance companies.  The complaint includes
allegations that the Company should have disclosed to each
policyholder who paid for coverage on a modal basis the dollar
cost difference between the modal premium and the annual premium
required for the policy, as well as the effective annual
percentage rate of interest of such difference.

Based on these allegations, plaintiffs assert statutory claims
including violation of the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act, and
common law claims for breach of the implied covenant of good
faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust
enrichment and fraudulent concealment.  The complaint seeks
injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, both in
unspecified amounts, restitution, treble damages, pre-judgment
interest, costs and attorneys' fees.

In March 2001, the court entered an order granting partial
summary judgment to plaintiffs as to liability. In January 2003,
the New Mexico Court of Appeals reversed the finding of summary
judgment in favor of plaintiffs and dismissed the counts in the
complaint for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair
dealing and breach of fiduciary duty. The case was remanded to
the trial court to determine if the alleged nondisclosures were
material to plaintiffs.  In November 2004, the trial court
issued an order holding that, as to the named plaintiffs, the
non-disclosure was material and reliance had been established.
Plaintiffs' motion for class certification of a multi-state
class is under consideration by the court.


PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE: Discovery Proceeds in NJ Insurance Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Discovery is proceeding in the class action filed against
Prudential Insurance, the Prudential Home Mortgage Company, Inc.
and several other subsidiaries in the Superior Court of New
Jersey, Essex County, styled "Capitol Life Insurance Company v.
Prudential Insurance, et al."

The suit was filed in connection with the sale of certain
subordinated mortgage securities sold by a subsidiary of
Prudential Home Mortgage. In May 2000, plaintiffs filed a second
amended complaint that alleges violations of the New Jersey
securities statute and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act, or RICO, fraud, conspiracy and negligent
misrepresentation, and seeks compensatory as well as treble and
punitive damages.

In October 2002, plaintiffs' motion for class certification was
denied. Since that time, the court has permitted nine additional
investors to intervene as plaintiffs.


PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE: Trial in FL HMO Fraud Suit Set Sept. 2005
---------------------------------------------------------------
Trial in the nationwide class action filed against Prudential
Insurance and other healthcare companies, styled "In Re Humana,
Inc. Managed Care Litigation," is set for September 2005 in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of
Florida.

The suit was brought on behalf of provider physicians and
physician groups and alleges that the Company and other health
care companies engaged in an industry-wide conspiracy to defraud
physicians by failing to pay under provider agreements and by
unlawfully coercing providers to enter into agreements with
unfair and unreasonable terms.

An amended complaint, naming additional plaintiffs, including
three state medical associations, and an additional defendant,
was filed in March 2001, and alleges claims of breach of
contract, quantum meruit, unjust enrichment, violations of the
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO),
conspiracy to violate RICO, aiding and abetting RICO violations,
and violations of state prompt pay statutes and the California
unfair business practices statute. The amended complaint seeks
compensatory and punitive damages in unspecified amounts, treble
damages pursuant to RICO, and attorneys' fees.

In September 2002, the District Court granted plaintiffs' motion
for class certification of a nationwide class of provider
physicians.  In September 2004, the United States Court of
Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed with respect only to
the federal RICO claims.

The suit is styled "In Re Humana Inc. Managed Care Litigation,
MDL 1334," filed in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, under Judge
Federico Moreno.  The suit names as defendants Humana, Inc.,
Aetna, Inc., Aetna-USHC, Inc., Cigna, Health Net, Inc., Human
Health Plan, Inc., Pacificare Health Systems, Inc., Prudential
Insurance Company of America, United Health Group, United Health
Care and Wellpoint Health Networks, Inc.  Cigna and Aetna have
entered settlements with the plaintiffs.  Lead Plaintiffs'
Attorneys are Barry Meadow of Podhurst, Orseck, et al., Harley
Tropin of Kozyak, Tropin & Throckmorton and Archie Lamb.


PRUDENTIAL SECURITIES: OH Court Mulls Appeal of $269 Mil Award
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Marion County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas has yet to rule on
Prudential Securities, Inc.'s appeal of the $269 million
judgment in favor of plaintiffs in the class action filed
against it, styled "Burns, et al. v. Prudential Securities,
Inc., et al."  The suit also names as defendant Jeffrey Pickett
(a former Prudential Securities Incorporated Financial Advisor).

The suit alleges that Mr. Pickett transferred, without
authorization, his clients' equity mutual funds into fixed
income mutual funds in October 1998.  The claims were based on
theories of conversion, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary
duty and negligent supervision.

In October 2002, the case was tried and the jury returned a
verdict against Prudential Securities and Mr. Pickett for $11.7
million in compensatory damages and against Prudential
Securities for $250 million in punitive damages.  In July 2003,
the court denied Prudential Securities' motion to set aside or
reduce the jury verdict and sustained the judgment in the amount
of $269 million, including interest and attorneys fees.


SOULFOOD CONCEPTS: Firm, CEO Settles SEC Fraud Charges in DC
------------------------------------------------------------
The Securities and Exchange Commission thru the Honorable James
Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of
Columbia has entered final judgments against Soulfood Concepts,
Inc. and its President and Chief Executive Officer, Markova
Campbell.

The judgments permanently enjoin Ms. Campbell from violating
Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rules 10b-5 and 13a-14
thereunder and from aiding and abetting violations of Section
13(a) of the Exchange Act and Rules 12b-20, 13a-1 and 13a-13
thereunder, and permanently enjoin Soulfood from violating
Sections 10(b) and 13(a) of the Exchange Act and Rules 10b-5,
12b-20, 13a-1 and 13a-13 thereunder. In addition, Campbell was
permanently barred from serving as an officer or director of any
public Company. Based on Ms. Campbell's sworn financial
statement, no civil penalty was imposed. Campbell and Soulfood
consented to the final judgments without admitting or denying
the allegations in the Commission's complaint.

In the complaint, filed October 12, 2004, the Commission alleged
that Soulfood filed with the Commission a materially false and
misleading annual report and amended annual report for the year
ended Dec 31, 2002, and materially false and misleading
quarterly reports for the quarters ended Sept. 30, 2002, and
March 31, 2003. The Commission also alleged that Campbell copied
the financial statements included in the reports from prior
Commission filings and altered the applicable dates to make the
statements appear to be current. Campbell also was alleged to
have included a fictitious independent auditor's report in the
annual report and amended annual report.

On November 22, 2004, the Commission revoked the registration of
Soulfood's securities pursuant to Section 12(j) of the Exchange
Act as a result of separate administrative proceedings. The
action is titled, In the Matter of Soulfood Concepts, Inc.,
Administrative Proceeding File No. 3-11703] (AP No. 50711). [SEC
v. Soulfood Concepts, Inc. and Markova Campbell, 04-CV-1731 (JR)
(D.D.C.)] (LR-19138; AAE Rel. 2213).


SPECTRALINK CORPORATION: CO Court Approves Stock Suit Settlement
----------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the District of Colorado
granted final approval to the settlement of the consolidated
securities class action filed against Spectralink Corporation
and certain of its officers and directors.

On January 14, 2002, the Company issued a press release
announcing preliminary financial results for the fourth quarter
of 2001 and revising downward its estimates for year 2002
results of operations.  Shortly after the press release, the
Company's stock price declined and the Company and certain of
its officers and directors were named as defendants in four
lawsuits filed between February 7, 2002 and March 6, 2002, three
of which were filed in the United States District Court for the
District of Colorado and one of which was filed in the Colorado
District Court for the City and County of Denver.

In each of the lawsuits, plaintiffs, who purport to be
purchasers or holders of the Company's common stock, initially
sought to assert claims either on behalf of a class of persons
who purchased securities in the Company between July 19, 2001
and January 11, 2002, or in the case of two of the lawsuits (one
filed in the United States District Court and one in the
Colorado District Court), derivatively on behalf of the Company.
Two of the lawsuits filed in the United States District
contained essentially identical claims alleging that the Company
and certain of its officers and directors violated Sections
10(b) and 20(a) and Rule 10b-5 under the Securities Exchange Act
of 1934, as a result of alleged public misstatements and
omissions, accompanied by insider stock sales made in the months
prior to the decline in the price of the Company's stock after
the January 14, 2002 press release.

In the cases brought as derivative actions, the plaintiffs
allege that the officers and directors of the Company violated
fiduciary duties owed to the Company and its stockholders under
state laws by allowing and/or facilitating the issuance of these
same alleged public misstatements and omissions,
misappropriating nonpublic information for their own benefit,
making insider stock sales, wasting corporate assets, abusing
their positions of control, and mismanaging the corporation.
The plaintiffs in these derivative cases allege that SpectraLink
has and will continue to suffer injury as a result of these
alleged violations of duty for which the officers and directors
should be liable.

The cases were designated as follows:

     (1) Wilmer Kerns, Individually And On Behalf of All Others
         Similarly Situated, Plaintiff, vs. SpectraLink
         Corporation, Bruce Holland and Nancy K. Hamilton,
         Defendants (United States District Court Civil Action
         Number 02-D-0263);

     (2) Danilo Martin Molieri, Individually and On Behalf of
         All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff, v.
         SpectraLink Corporation, Bruce Holland and Nancy K.
         Hamilton, Defendants (United States District Court
         Civil Action Number 02-D-0315);

     (3) Evie Elennis, derivatively on behalf of SpectraLink
         Corporation, Plaintiff(s), v. Bruce M. Holland, Anthony
         V. Carollo, Jr., Gary L. Bliss, Michael P. Cronin,
         Nancy K. Hamilton and John H. Elms, Defendants), and
         SpectraLink Corporation, Nominal Defendant (United
         States District Court Civil Action Number 02-D-0345);
         and

     (4) Roger Humphreys, Derivatively on Behalf of Nominal
         Defendant SpectraLink Corporation, Plaintiff, v. Carl
         D. Carman, Anthony V. Carollo, Jr., Bruce M. Holland,
         Burton J. McMurtry, Gary L. Bliss, Michael P. Cronin,
         John H. Elms, and Nancy K. Hamilton, Defendants
         (Colorado District Court Case. No. 02CV1687).

The Kerns and Molieri purported class actions were consolidated,
and the plaintiffs filed a Consolidated Amended Complaint in
these Consolidated Actions.  In January 2003, the Court denied a
motion to dismiss that amended pleading, and discovery
commenced.  The Court certified a class of all purchasers of
publicly traded common stock of SpectraLink from April 19, 2001
through January 11, 2002, inclusive.  On November 26, 2003, the
Lead Plaintiffs in these Consolidated Actions moved the court
for permission to file a second consolidated amended class
action, which would have deleted certain of the original claims,
would have extended the class period so that it would commence
on February 1, 2001 instead of April 19, 2001, and would have
added more detail on claims relating to alleged improper revenue
recognition.  The Company filed an opposition to that motion.
On March 5, 2004, the Magistrate Judge entered his Order denying
plaintiffs' motions, and plaintiffs appealed that decision to
the district court.

On April 16, 2004, the parties to these Consolidated Actions
held a mediation in San Francisco.  The parties entered into a
Memorandum of Understanding settling the case for $1.5 million,
subject to certain terms and conditions, including approval by
the Court. The Court granted a final hearing for approval of the
settlement on October 7, 2004 ending the litigation.  The
$1.5 million negotiated settlement was funded by the Company's
directors and officers insurance carrier.

The Kerns and Molieri suits were filed in the United States
District Court in Colorado under Judge Wiley Y. Daniel.
Representing the Company are

     (i) K. C. Groves, Ireland, Stapleton, Pryor & Pascoe, P.C.,
         United States District Court Box 08 1675 Broadway
         #2600, Denver, CO 80202, U.S.A, Phone: 303-623-2700,
         Fax: 303-623-2062;

    (ii) Danielle L. Kitson, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher-Colorado
         D.C. Box No. 18, 1801 California Street #4200, Denver,
         CO 80202-2641 U.S.A, Phone: 303-298-5788, Fax: 303-313-
         2833, E-mail: dkitson@gibsondunn.com

   (iii) Timothy Kevin Roake, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher-Palo Alto
         California, 1881 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304
         U.S.A, Phone: 650-849-5300, Fax: 650-849-5333

The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

     (a) Cauley Geller, Bowman Coates & Rudman, LLP (Boca Raton,
         FL), One Boca Place. 2255 Glades Road, Suite 421A, Boca
         Raton, FL, 33431, Phone: 561.750.3000, Fax:
         561.750.3364,

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

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

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


SUNTERRA CORPORATION: Suit Settlement Hearing Set April 26, 2005
----------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Middle District of
Florida - Orlando Division will hold a fairness hearing for the
proposed $14 million settlement in the matter: Sunterra
Corporation Securities Litigation on behalf of all persons who
purchased or acquired the common stock of the Company during the
period October 6, 1998 through and including January 19, 2000.

According to the Court, the hearing will be held on April 26,
2005 at 9:00 a.m. at the United States District Court for the
Middle District of Florida - Orlando Division, Courtroom 4,
George C. Young United States Courthouse & Federal Building, 80
North Hughey Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32801.

For more details, contact Sunterra Corporation Securities
Litigation, Claims Administrator, Strategic Claims Services by
Mail: 2710 Concord Road, Suite 5, Aston, PA 19014 or by Phone:
1-866-274-4004.


UNITED STATES: Chamber Applauds FL Governor's Legal Reform Plans
----------------------------------------------------------------
The United States Chamber of Commerce applauded Florida Gov. Jeb
Bush for his proposal of comprehensive legal reform legislation
that would bring fairness and common sense to the state's civil
justice system.

"Florida has become a magnet for lawsuit abuse, and that
reputation is hurting the state's ability to attract new jobs
and business investment," said Tom Donohue, president and CEO of
the U.S. Chamber. "Governor Bush's proposed reforms would help
to balance the scales of justice in Florida, and transform the
state into a magnet for new jobs and business investment."

The comprehensive legal reform package proposed by Governor Bush
includes: elimination of joint and several liability, reform of
the state's outdated venue rules, class action and asbestos
lawsuit reform and enhancement of witness standards.

The Governor's announcement comes a week after the U.S. Chamber
Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) released its Harris Interactive
2005 State Liability Systems Ranking Study, which showed Florida
ranked 42 in legal fairness, having dropped nine places in the
last three years.

"Governor Bush is acting in the best interests of Florida's
employers, consumers and working families by proposing these
much-needed reforms to the state's broken legal system,"
continued Mr. Donohue. "The Florida legislature should act
swiftly to pass these reforms that would make the state's legal
system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone."


UNITED STATES: Companies, Inc. Head Talks About "Lawsuit Crisis"
----------------------------------------------------------------
In a recently issued press release, the president and CEO of Los
Angeles-based Companies Incorporated, Kevin Wessell, who learned
the value of incorporating via one of life's hard lessons
himself said, "We are in the midst of a lawsuit crisis in the
United States."

The author of the best-selling book "How to Build Your Financial
Castle," said, " If you are a business person in today's
marketplace you cannot afford not to protect yourself from
lawsuits, which are on the rise in every state according to
media reports".

"Several years ago I hired a CON-tractor who turned out to be a
CON-artist. I got into a legal battle that lasted four years and
cost me $157,000 as well as many sleepless nights. That painful
experience gave me a passion to protect others from similar
fates."

"One recent lawsuit in particular that was reported in the media
recently clearly exemplified today's litigious environment,"
says Mr. Wessell. I learned about the model that recently was
awarded $15.6 million from well-known food manufacturer for
using his picture without his permission. At first I thought
nothing of it, but the more I thought about it in light of
President Bush's actions on tort reform - which makes it harder
for larger companies to be attached with class action lawsuits -
I became more interested," said Mr. Weasel. "Why did a
nationally-known, well-branded Company not get permission? On
what was the award based? Was it commensurate with the actions
of the defendant, the food manufacturer? How does this impact my
family? "

"Media reports say that in 1996, the model had gone to the
defendant for a photo shoot. He was paid $250 with possible
additional pay of $2000 if the photo was used for Canadian
promotion. The photo was not used at the time and sat in a file
until 1998 when a Company employee pulled it out and assuming
the Company owned the rights, used it in a large campaign. The
error was not discovered until 2002 when the model saw the photo
and hired a lawyer."

The jury decided that the model was owed 5 percent of the
Company's profits for the years the photo was used. If the error
had not been made he would have received $200,000 to $300,000.
The jury decided that $15.3 was fair punishment for a simple
employee mistake. "There was not evidence of this being a
pattern for the defendant", Mr. Wessell noted.

"So what?" you might ask. "The Company can afford it. But
companies do not pay these awards. You and I do. In this case,
it cost our family of four 20 cents. You might think this is not
big deal, but tort awards are now totaling more than $300
billion per year. By 2009, it is estimated these awards will
total more than $1,000 annually for every person in the nation.
For my family, that's more than $4,000 every year and growing.
In fact, tort costs are now 2.2 percent of our entire Gross
National Product - proportionately two and one half times the
rate in other developed countries."

"So, what can be done? Could it be that law firms are the top
contributors to federal and state campaigns? From 1990 to 2004,
trial lawyers contributed $470 million to federal campaigns. The
Bush Administration has decided it's time to act. An important
piece of legislation has been signed into law to address this
outrage," concluded Mr. Wessell. "Now, large class-action
lawsuits that are commonly filed against big companies must go
through the federal court system where large awards are far less
likely. More must be done. The small business owner without such
deep pockets needs protection too. That is why legal
professionals highly recommend that a small business operates
under a corporation."


UNITED STATES: Lawyers Say New Overtime Laws Bring Mores Suits
--------------------------------------------------------------
Many plaintiffs' lawyers say that the government's recent
attempt in the form of the 7-month-old federal overtime laws,
which aims to reduce overtime lawsuits has thrown the doors wide
open for still more litigation, The National Law Journal
reports.

According to plaintiffs' lawyers, the new overtime rules that
went into effect last August and which defined more narrowly who
is eligible for overtime heightened awareness among many
employees who did not know of their overtime rights before, and
are now either seeking legal advice or filing suit. More than
that, the attorneys assert that the new rules made the gray
areas of overtime law even grayer, further confusing employees
and employers alike and making the potential for litigation even
stronger.

On the flipside, lawyers representing companies say they've also
been flooded with calls from clients who are unsure about how
the new rules affect them.

Department of Labor estimates reveal that as much as 1.3 million
employees are now eligible for overtime who weren't before. But
at the same time, labor groups are arguing that as many as 6
million stand to lose their overtime rights.

Meanwhile, lawyers say, many employers are scrambling to get it
right and avoid getting sued. According to employment attorney
Joseph Baumgarten of New York's Proskauer Rose, which is
defending companies in more than a dozen overtime class actions,
"I think the regulations provided in some cases a wake-up call
to companies that may not have thought very much about examining
or re-examining their [job] classifications for many years." He
also said that his office has seen more overtime lawsuits since
the new rules took effect, but he doesn't know how many. On a
national scale, he pointed out, "My own subjective opinion is
that, in general, there is even more litigation over the last
six or eight months being filed." Like plaintiffs' attorneys,
Mr. Baumgarten believes an increase in publicity of the overtime
issue has increased awareness among workers and has,
consequently, triggered litigation.

The upsurge in litigation, according to some analyst is the
result of the Labor Department's changes to the Fair Labor
Standards Act, which marked the first major overhaul of the
federal overtime law in more than 50 years. The new regulations
were designed to modernize pay minimums for salaried personnel
and clarify standards that determined how employees are
classified exempt and nonexempt from overtime benefits.

The new rules made many changes, including:

     (1) The salary threshold for those eligible for overtime
         has increased almost threefold, from $8,060 to $23,660
         annually. That means anyone earning less than $23,660
         automatically qualifies for overtime pay.

     (2) Highly compensated employees who earn $100,000 per year
         or more are exempt from overtime pay. The new
         regulations stress that job titles no longer matter,
         but job duties do when determining if someone is exempt
         from overtime.

The U.S. assistant secretary of labor for employment standards,
Victoria A. Lipnick, an attorney who oversaw the regulatory
changes, called the new rules, "a catalyst for compliance."

"It's caused literally every Company in the country to look at
their work force and look at their job descriptions and make
sure they are properly paying their people ... that in and of
itself helps reduce litigation," said Ms. Lipnick. She though
believes that "it's a little premature" to determine if the new
rules have sparked more lawsuits.

Attorneys say that employees most affected by the new
regulations are white-collar workers who earn between $23,660
and $100,000. They're the ones stuck between the two groups who
automatically qualify and those who don't.

They also note that the new guidelines will also carry more
weight in states that do not have state statutes that regulate
overtime pay. Currently, 18 states, including Alaska,
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois and New Jersey, have
labor laws that supersede the federal overtime guidelines and
are more helpful to employees. New lawsuits are more likely in
those states, they say, because of the confusion between state
and federal mandates.

With regard to the federal rules, lawyers expect legal
challenges to a new "duties test," which aims to determine what
kind of work an employee performs every day to see if he or she
qualifies for overtime.

On the issue of increasing litigation, the Administrative Office
of the U.S. Courts reports that the number of overtime class
actions involving violations of federal overtime rules for
white-collar workers has grown over the last four years, from 73
in 2000 to 138 in 2004, a nearly 100 percent increase.


VIRGINIA: Appeals Court Reinstates Suits V. Cell Phone Industry
---------------------------------------------------------------
A divided federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia reinstated
five lawsuits claiming that the cell phone industry has failed
to protect consumers from unsafe levels of radiation, the
Associated Press reports.

The class-action lawsuits seek to force cell phone manufacturers
to provide headsets, which they say could reduce risks of brain
tumors. In addition, they also seek punitive damages.  The
lawsuits were originally filed in state courts in Maryland,
Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia and Louisiana and later
consolidated and transferred to federal court in Baltimore,
Maryland.  Last March, Judge Catherine Blake dismissed the
suits, ruling that federal standards regulating wireless phones
including uniform national limits on radiation emissions pre-
empt the state law claims.

However, a panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
reversed Judge Blake's ruling in a 2-1 decision, thus four of
the cases were returned to state courts while one was sent to
federal district court for further proceedings.

Though several studies have found no adverse health effects from
cell phones, plaintiffs' claims included allegations that the
industry's actions violated various state laws on consumer
protection, product liability, implied warranty, negligence,
fraud and civil conspiracy.

According to Judge M. Blane Michael, who wrote in the majority
opinion, which was also joined by Judge Michael Luttig, "We have
thoroughly examined the claims ... and one thing is clear: the
elements of each of the claims depend only on the resolution of
questions of state law."  Dissenting against the ruling was
Judge Jackson L. Kiser, who said that the claims require the
courts to explore the adequacy of the Federal Communications
Commission's radiation emission standards. Additionally, he
wrote in his opinion, "It is well-settled that a suit to
invalidate a federal regulation arises under federal law." "...
This thinly disguised attack on the validity of the FCC
standards raises a substantial federal question."

Neither Michael R. Allweiss, lawyer for the plaintiffs or cell
phone industry attorney Kenneth W. Starr immediately returned
phone calls seeking comment, AP reports.


VITAMINS ANTITRUST: Suit Settlement Hearing Set April 27, 2005
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia
will hold a fairness hearing for the proposed $53 million
settlement of the matter, In re: Vitamins Antitrust Litigation
(Misc. No. 99-197 (TFH) M.D.L. No. 1285) on behalf of all
persons who directly purchased choline chloride from the Chinook
Group, Ltd. or its alleged co-conspirators during the period
from January 1, 1988 through September 30, 1998 for delivery in
the United States and who have not opted-out of the class.

According to the court, the hearing will be held on April 27,
2005 at 10:30 a.m. before the Honorable Thomas F. Hogan, United
States District Judge, in Courtroom 8, United States Courthouse,
located at 333 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 2001.

For more details, contact the Claims Administrator, Choline
Chloride Antitrust Litigation by Mail: 1515 Market Street, Suite
1700, Philadelphia, PA 19102 or visit their Web site:
http://www.hrsclaimsadministration.com/cases/vit/.


VORNADO OPERATING: DE Court Postpones Lawsuit Settlement Hearing
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Delaware Court of Chancery postponed deciding upon the
settlement of the class action shareholder derivative suit filed
against Vornado Operating Company, its directors, and Vornado
Realty LP to March 2005.

The suit was filed in November 2004, seeking to enjoin the
dissolution of Vornado Operating, rescind the previously
completed sale of AmeriCold Logistics (owned 60% by Vornado
Operating) to Americold Realty Trust (owned 60% by the Company)
and damages.  In addition, the plaintiffs claimed that the
Vornado Operating directors breached their fiduciary duties.

On November 24, 2004, a stipulation of settlement was entered
into under which the Company agreed to settle the lawsuit with a
payment of approximately $4.5 million or about $1 per Vornado
Operating share or partnership unit before litigation expenses.
The proposed settlement payment would be in addition to the
liquidation distribution of $2 per Vornado Operating share or
unit that Vornado Operating made to its equity-holders when it
dissolved on December 29, 2004.  On January 20, 2005, the
Delaware Court of Chancery postponed deciding upon the proposed
settlement and requested further but limited information before
holding an additional hearing regarding the settlement, which
has been scheduled for March 2005.


                         Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: National Waterworks Unfazed by Liabilities
---------------------------------------------------------------
National Waterworks Inc., a distributor of water and wastewater
transmission products, said it did not assume any existing or
future asbestos-related liabilities relating to U.S. Filter or
its predecessors.

The Company acquired the business of U.S. Filter Distribution
Group, Inc. on Nov. 22, 2002.

The Waco, TX-based Company said however, that it may become
subject to asbestos liabilities because of this relationship.
According to the filing it submitted to the Securities and
Exchange Commission, in the event that U.S. Filter, United
States Filter Corporation and Veolia are unable to fulfill their
contractual obligations, it is possible that the Company's
financial condition and earnings would deteriorate if it would
be required to satisfy those asbestos liabilities.

Certain of U.S. Filter's predecessors distributed cement pipe
containing asbestos. Certain of these predecessors have been
defendants in lawsuits seeking to recover personal injury and
other damages for alleged exposure to asbestos in these pipes,
and at Dec. 31, 2004, 69 lawsuits remained outstanding.

Except for one predecessor, the cement pipe distributed was
primarily used in water and sewage application where the pipe
was typically buried underground. Management believes that the
nature of the asbestos-containing pipe distributed by the
predecessors and the uses of such pipe makes it unlikely that a
large number of plaintiffs would be exposed to friable asbestos
emanating from the pipe.

Total defense and settlement costs paid in these settled actions
through Dec. 31, 2004 by U.S. Filter have been about US$2.8
million, the majority of which has been paid by insurance
companies. The acquisition was structured as an asset purchase
and National Waterworks did not assume any existing or future
asbestos-related liabilities relating to U.S. Filter or its
predecessors. U.S. Filter and United States Filter Corporation
retained these liabilities and jointly and severally agreed to
indemnify and defend the Company from and against these
liabilities on an unlimited basis with no termination date.

United States Filter Corporation and U.S. Filter also agreed
that, until November 22, 2012, they would maintain U.S. Filter's
corporate existence and ensure that U.S. Filter has sufficient
funds to pay any and all of its debts and other obligations,
including liabilities and indemnification obligations.

In addition, Veolia Environnement (formerly Vivendi
Environnement S.A.) has guaranteed all obligations of United
States Filter Corporation and U.S. Filter under the asset
purchase agreement up to an aggregate of US$50.0 million through
Nov. 22, 2017. Historically, courts have not held the acquirer
of an entity's assets liable for liabilities that are not
assumed as part of the transaction unless the asset buyer is
found to be a "successor" to the asset seller.

USFDG and its predecessor companies have been named as
defendants in 1,172 asbestos related lawsuits, of which 960 have
been dismissed, 143 have been settled and 69 remain open at Dec.
31, 2004. USFDG is responsible for 42% of the aggregate costs
related to these lawsuits, with the remaining liability shared
by USFDG's insurers. As of Dec. 31, 2004 USFDG has made
aggregate settlement payments of US$0.1 million and paid
aggregate defense costs of US$0.5 million related to settled
claims.

National Waterworks, a wholly owned subsidiary of National
Waterworks Holding, Inc., was incorporated in September 2002 for
the purpose of acquiring substantially all of the assets and
assuming certain obligations of USFDG, a wholly owned subsidiary
of United States Filter Corporation, which is an indirect-wholly
owned subsidiary of Veolia Environnement.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Converium Holding Retains $49.2Mil Reserves
----------------------------------------------------------------
Switzerland-based Converium Holding AG (NYSE: CHR) had reserves
for environmental impairment liability and asbestos-related
claims of US$49.2 million as of Dec. 31, 2004. The same period
last year held reserves worth US$45.8 million. In addition, the
survival ratio for asbestos and environmental reserves was 13.6
years at Dec. 31, 2004 and 2003.

The Company stated that it believes its exposure to
environmental impairment liability and asbestos-related claims
is relatively small due to the diminutive amount of business
written prior to 1987 for Converium AG and Converium Reinsurance
North America Inc.

Additionally, CRNA is protected by a stop loss agreement with
Zurich Insurance Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Zurich
Financial Services, for business effected prior to June 1, 1993.

Converium provides treaty and facultative coverage for risks
including accident and health, credit and surety, e-commerce,
third party and professional liability, life, and special
casualty. The Company operates in more than 60 countries
throughout the world.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Reynolds American Holds One Pending Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Reynolds American Inc. (NYSE: RAI) disclosed that as of Feb. 11,
2005, one lawsuit was pending against RJR Tobacco and Brown &
Williamson in which asbestos companies and asbestos-related
trust funds allege that they "overpaid" claims brought against
them. These companies claim that tobacco use, not asbestos
exposure, was the cause of the alleged personal injuries for
which they paid compensation.

On May 24, 2001, a Mississippi state court judge dismissed all
such claims by Owens-Corning in Estate of Ezell Thomas v. RJR
Tobacco Co. Owens-Corning appealed the dismissal to the
Mississippi Supreme Court on August 15, 2001, which, on March
18, 2004, affirmed the trial court's dismissal. In Fibreboard
Corp. v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., a case pending in state
court in California, Owens-Corning and Fibreboard asserted the
same claims as those asserted in the Mississippi case. Motions
to dismiss those claims have been stayed.

Most recently, in June 2004, the contribution claims in three
separate cases were voluntarily dismissed, leaving the cases
pending as to the claims of the individual plaintiffs only.
These cases are Kaiser Aluminum, Chemical Corp. v. R.J.R.
Tobacco Holdings, Inc., TN, Ltd., R.J.Reynolds Tobacco Co. and
Gasket Holdings f/k/a Flexitallic Inc. v. RJR Nabisco, Inc.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings and Brown & Williamson merged in
2004 to create Reynolds American. Increasing competition and the
need to cut costs encouraged the #2 US tobacco Company to merge
with #3 Brown & Williamson.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Coca-Cola Disputes Aqua-Chem Inc.'s Demands
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is disputing Aqua-Chem Inc.'s
demands for reimbursement incurred from litigation expenses
related to asbestos-containing products Aqua-Chem manufactured
in the past. Aqua-Chem was first named as a defendant in
asbestos lawsuits in or around 1985 and, to date, has more than
100,000 claims pending against it.

During the period from 1970 to 1981, the Atlanta, GA-based soft-
drink Company owned Aqua-Chem. A division of Aqua-Chem
manufactured certain boilers that contained gaskets that Aqua-
Chem purchased from outside suppliers. Several years after the
Company sold this entity, Aqua-Chem received its first lawsuit
relating to asbestos, a component of some of the gaskets.

On March 26, 2004, five plaintiff insurance companies filed an
action (Century Indemnity Company, et al. v. Aqua-Chem, Inc.,
The Coca-Cola Company, et al., Case No.04CV002852) in the
Circuit Court, Civil Division of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
against Coca-Cola, Aqua-Chem and 16 insurance companies.

The complaint seeks a determination of the respective rights and
obligations under the insurance policies issued by the insurance
companies with regard to asbestos-related claims against Aqua-
Chem. The five plaintiffs issued insurance policies with
aggregate remaining limits of coverage of about US$145 million.
The action also seeks a monetary judgment reimbursing any
amounts paid by the plaintiffs in excess of their obligations.
Aqua-Chem and the Company have reached an agreement in principle
to settle with five of the insurers in the Wisconsin insurance
coverage litigation, and those insurers will pay funds into an
escrow account for payment of costs arising from the asbestos
claims against Aqua-Chem.

Aqua-Chem believes that Coca-Cola is obligated to them for
certain costs and expenses associated with the litigation. Aqua-
Chem has demanded that Coca-Cola reimburse it for about US$10
million for out-of-pocket litigation-related expenses incurred
over the last 18 years and indemnify Aqua-Chem against any
future liabilities and expenses for which there is no insurance.

Coca-Cola believes it has no obligation to Aqua-Chem for any of
its past, present or future liabilities, costs or expenses. It
also believes it has substantial legal and factual defenses to
Aqua-Chem's claims. The parties entered into litigation to
resolve this dispute and have now agreed to stay that litigation
pending resolution of insurance coverage issues.

Coca-Cola believes Aqua-Chem has substantial insurance coverage
to pay Aqua-Chem's asbestos claimants. In connection with such
insurance coverage, however, five plaintiff insurance companies
have filed an action against Coca-Cola, Aqua-Chem and sixteen
insurance companies. Several of the policies that are the
subject of this action were issued to the Company during the
period when Coca-Cola owned Aqua-Chem.

The complaint seeks a determination of the respective rights and
obligations under the insurance policies issued by the insurance
companies with regard to asbestos-related claims against Aqua-
Chem. The five plaintiffs issued insurance policies with
aggregate remaining limits of coverage of around US$145 million.

The action also seeks a monetary judgment reimbursing any
amounts paid by the plaintiffs in excess of their obligations.
Coca-Cola believes that there are substantial legal and factual
arguments supporting the position that the insurance policies at
issue provide coverage for the asbestos-related claims against
Aqua-Chem, and both Coca-Cola and Aqua-Chem have asserted these
arguments in response to the complaint.  An estimate of possible
losses, if any, related to the Aqua-Chem matters cannot be made
at this time.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Dana Corp Deals with 116,000 Pending Claims
----------------------------------------------------------------
Auto parts manufacturer Dana Corporation (NYSE: DCN) revealed
that at the end of 2004, the Company had about 116,000 active
pending asbestos-related product liability claims, including
10,000 that were settled and awaiting documentation and payment.
Its exposure to asbestos-related claims and litigation stemmed
from its production of asbestos-containing automotive products
in the past.

The Toledo, OH-based Company said however, that it cannot
estimate possible losses in excess of those for which it has
accrued because it cannot predict how many additional claims may
be brought against it in the future, the allegations in such
claims or their probable outcomes. A substantial increase in the
number of new claims or the costs to resolve them or changes in
the amount of available insurance could adversely impact the
Company, as could the enactment of currently proposed U.S.
federal legislation relating to asbestos personal injury claims.

At Dec. 31, 2004, Dana Corp. recorded US$118 million as an asset
for probable recovery from its insurers for asbestos-related
product liability claims, compared to US$113 million at Dec. 31,
2003. It has agreements with insurance carriers providing for
the payment of a significant majority of the defense and
indemnity costs for the pending claims, as well as claims which
may be filed against it in the future. In December 2004, it
signed a settlement agreement with certain of its insurers. The
agreement provides for the insurers to make cash payments to the
Company in exchange for its release of all rights under the
settled insurance policies.

The payment received in December under the agreement was applied
to reduce recoverable amounts, as reported as of September 30,
2004. This included a reduction of the US$54 million recoverable
for settled asbestos-related product liability claims and
related defense costs as well as a reduction of the estimated
US$30 million recoverable for claims relating to defaults by
some former members of the Center for Claims Resolution on the
payment of their shares of CCR-negotiated settlements in
connection with asbestos-related product liability claims. The
agreement also provided for cash to be escrowed and released to
Dana in 2005. There are conditions associated with the release;
however, the Company believes the conditions will be satisfied
and expect to apply the payments to reduce the US$118 million
recoverable recorded at Dec. 31, 2004.

Until 2001, most of its asbestos-related claims were
administered, defended and settled by the Center for Claims
Resolution, which settled claims for its member companies on a
shared settlement cost basis. In that year, the CCR was
reorganized and discontinued negotiating shared settlements.

Since then, it has independently controlled its legal strategy
and settlements, using Peterson Asbestos Consulting Enterprise,
a unit of Navigant Consulting, Inc., to administer claims, bill
insurance carriers and assist the Company in claims negotiation
and resolution. Some former CCR members defaulted on the payment
of their shares of some of the CCR-negotiated settlements and
some of the settling claimants have sought payment of the unpaid
shares from Dana and the other companies that were members of
the CCR at the time of the settlements. Dana Corp has been
working with the CCR, other former CCR members, the insurers,
and the claimants to resolve these issues.

At Dec. 31, 2004, due to favorable rulings in ADR proceedings
involving these issues, settlements with some of the former CCR
members and cash received under the settlement agreement, the
Company expects to pay a total of US$50 million, including US$47
million already paid, and recover a total of US$42 million,
including US$29 million already received, in connection with
these matters.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Bairnco Obtains Resolutions of 3 Lawsuits
--------------------------------------------------------------
In the third quarter of 2004, Bairnco Corporation (NYSE: BZ), a
diversified multinational Company that operates two distinct
businesses under the names Arlon (engineered materials and
components segment) and Kasco (replacement products and services
segment), obtained final resolutions of three long-pending
lawsuits.

In one of these lawsuits referred to as the Transactions
Lawsuit, trustees representing asbestos claimants brought claims
of over US$700 million against Bairnco, its subsidiaries, and
other defendants. The U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment
in favor of the defendants in May 2004 for the Second Circuit.
Plaintiffs' time to seek review by the United States Supreme
Court of the Court of Appeals' decision expired in August 2004.

In 2004, the Lake Mary, FL-based Company successfully concluded
over a decade of litigation that grew out of asbestos claims
against Bairnco's former subsidiary, Keene Corporation. On April
9, 2004 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
affirmed the U.S. District Court's judgment dismissing, in its
entirety, the Transactions Lawsuit against Bairnco and all the
other defendants. On May 18, 2004 the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the Second Circuit denied the plaintiffs' motion for rehearing,
and it again affirmed the dismissal of the Transactions Lawsuit.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: PartnerRe Ltd.'s Reserves Drop to US$92.4M
---------------------------------------------------------------
International reinsurance group PartnerRe Ltd. (NYSE: PRE)
disclosed in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission
that its reserve for unpaid losses and loss expenses as of Dec.
31, 2004 included US$92.4 million that represents an estimate of
its net ultimate liability for asbestos and environmental
claims. The majority of this loss and loss expense reserve
relates to U.S. casualty exposures arising from business written
by PartnerRe SA and PartnerRe U.S. This compares to US$111.0
million at Dec. 31, 2003.

The decrease in the net reserve for unpaid losses and loss
expenses in 2004 is attributable to settlement of claims and
commutations and was not the result of a change in the Company's
view of its ultimate liability for this business. The gross
liability for such claims at Dec. 31, 2004 and 2003, was
US$104.6 million and US$121.7 million, respectively, of which
US$94.7 million and US$111.1 million, respectively, relate to
U.S. casualty exposures arising from business written by
PartnerRe SA and PartnerRe U.S.

Most of the net amount relates to U.S. casualty exposures
arising from business written prior to January 1, 1992 by
certain companies, which were at the time part of the AGF Group
and are currently part of PartnerRe SA or PartnerRe U.S.

PartnerRe SA ceased writing industrial casualty business
covering risks in the United States in 1986. In view of the
changes in the legal and tort environment that affect the
development of such claims, the uncertainties inherent in
valuing asbestos and environmental claims are not likely to be
resolved in the near future. The Company actively evaluates
potential exposure to asbestos and environmental claims and
establishes additional reserves as appropriate. The Company
believes that it has made a reasonable provision for these
exposures and is unaware of any specific issues that would
materially affect its loss and loss expense estimates.

Although the Company did not operate prior to 1993, it assumed
certain asbestos and environmental exposures through its
acquisitions. The Company and certain of its subsidiaries have
received and continue to receive notices of potential
reinsurance claims from ceding insurance companies which have in
turn received claims asserting asbestos and environmental losses
under primary insurance policies.

PartnerRe Ltd. provides multi-line reinsurance to insurance
companies on a worldwide basis through its principal offices in
Bermuda, Greenwich, Paris and Zurich, its branch offices in Hong
Kong, Singapore and Toronto, and its representative offices in
Seoul, Tokyo and Santiago.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Tyler Technologies Cites Exposure to Claims
----------------------------------------------------------------
Tyler Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: TYL) divulged that one of its
non-operating subsidiaries, Swan Transportation Company, had
been involved in various claims raised by former employees of a
foundry that was owned by an affiliate of Swan and Tyler prior
to December 1995. These claims were for alleged work-related
injuries and physical conditions resulting from alleged exposure
to silica, asbestos, and related industrial dusts.

After a series of bankruptcy court filings involving Swan, on
Dec. 23, 2003, Tyler in accordance with the terms of the plan of
reorganization, transferred the stock of Swan to the Swan
Asbestos and Silica Trust, an unaffiliated entity that will
oversee the processing and payment of all present and future
claims related to the foundry. The Company paid US$1.48 million
to the Trust in full and final release from all liability for
claims associated with the once-owned foundry. As a result of
the release, any claimant is barred from asserting any such
claim, either now or in the future, against Tyler or its
affected affiliates.

During the year ended Dec. 31, 2003, the gain on disposal of
discontinued operations of US$424,000 primarily resulted because
the Company fully settled the Swan Matter at an amount less than
initially recorded and certain aspects of the settlement were
conducted in a beneficial tax manner. Accordingly, it recognized
for the first time certain tax benefits associated with payments
on behalf of the Swan Matter.

Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Tyler provides information
management software and services that help about 6,000 local
government offices improve efficiency and make their services
more accessible to the public.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Harsco Corp. Battles 33,862 Injury Claims
--------------------------------------------------------------
Harsco Corporation (NYSE: HSC), a global provider of high-value
industrial services and engineered products, disclosed that as
of Dec. 31, 2004, there were about 33,862 pending asbestos
personal injury claims filed against the Company.

About 26,510 of these cases were pending in the New York Supreme
Court for New York County in New York State and about 7,069 of
the cases were pending in state courts of various counties in
Mississippi. The other claims totaling about 283 are filed in
various counties in a number of state courts, and in U.S.
Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania,
and those complaints assert lesser amounts of damages than the
New York cases or do not state any amount claimed. The Company
has also obtained dismissal by stipulation, or summary judgment
prior to trial, in all cases that have proceeded to trial. To
date, the Company has been dismissed from 7,950 cases.

The Camp Hill, PA-based Company has been named as one of about
90 or more defendants in legal actions alleging personal injury
from exposure to airborne asbestos. In their suits, the
plaintiffs have named as defendants many manufacturers,
distributors and repairers of numerous types of equipment or
products that may involve asbestos. Most of these complaints
contain a standard claim for damages of US$20 million or more
against the named defendants.

The Company believes that the claims against it are without
merit. The Company has never been a producer, manufacturer or
processor of asbestos fibers. Any component within a Company
product, which may have contained asbestos, would have been
purchased from a supplier. Based on scientific and medical
evidence, the Company believes that any asbestos exposure
arising from normal use of any Company product never presented
any harmful airborne asbestos exposure, and moreover, the type
of asbestos contained in any component that was used in those
products is protectively encapsulated in other materials and is
not associated with the types of injuries alleged. Finally, in
most of the depositions taken of plaintiffs to date in the
litigation against the Company, plaintiffs have failed to
identify any Company products as the source of their asbestos
exposure.

The majority of the asbestos complaints have been filed in
either New York or Mississippi. Almost all of the New York
complaints contain a standard claim for damages of US$20 million
or US$25 million against the about 90 defendants, regardless of
the individual's alleged medical condition, and without
identifying any Company product as the source of plaintiff's
asbestos exposure. With respect to the Mississippi complaints,
most contain a standard claim for an unstated amount of damages
against the numerous defendants, without identifying any Company
product as the source of plaintiff's asbestos exposure.

The Company has not paid any amounts in settlement of these
cases, with the exception of two settlements totaling less than
US$10,000 paid in 1998 from insurance proceeds. The Company's
insurance carrier has paid all legal costs and expenses to date.
The Company has liability insurance coverage available under
various primary and excess policies that the Company believes
will be available if necessary to substantially cover any
liability that might ultimately be incurred on these claims.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Ford Motor's Defense Costs Remain Stable
-------------------------------------------------------------
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), along with other vehicle
manufacturers, has been a target of asbestos litigation, and as
a result, is a defendant in various actions for injuries claimed
to have resulted from alleged contact with certain Ford parts
and other products containing asbestos.

Headquartered in Dearborn, MI, the Company's annual payout and
related defense costs in asbestos cases had been increasing
between 1999 and 2003. In 2004, these costs were about the same
as in 2003; however, the Company doesn't discount these costs
becoming substantial in the future.

Asbestos was used in brakes, clutches and other automotive
components dating from the early 1900s. Plaintiffs in these
personal injury cases allege various health problems as a result
of asbestos exposure from:

     (1) Component parts found in older vehicles;

     (2) Insulation or other asbestos products in Company
         facilities; or

     (3) Asbestos aboard the Company's former maritime fleet.

The majority of these cases have been filed in the state courts.

Most of the asbestos litigation the Company faces involves
mechanics or other individuals who have worked on the brakes of
its vehicles over the years. Also, in most asbestos litigation
Ford Motor is not the sole defendant. The Company believes it is
being more aggressively targeted in asbestos suits because many
previously targeted companies have filed for bankruptcy. It is
prepared to defend these asbestos-related cases and, with
respect to the cases alleging exposure from its brakes, believe
that the scientific evidence confirms its long-standing position
that mechanics and others are not at an increased risk of
asbestos-related disease as a result of exposure to the type of
asbestos formerly used in the brakes on its vehicles.

The extent of its financial exposure to asbestos litigation
remains very difficult to estimate. The majority of its asbestos
cases do not specify a dollar amount for damages, and in many of
the other cases the dollar amount specified is the
jurisdictional minimum. The vast majority of these cases involve
multiple defendants, with the number in some cases exceeding one
hundred. Many of these cases involve multiple plaintiffs, which
makes it difficult to determine which plaintiffs are directing
their claims against the Company.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Halliburton Co. Says Trust to Sell Shares
--------------------------------------------------------------
Halliburton Company (NYSE: HAL) revealed a proposed underwritten
offering by the DII Industries, LLC Asbestos PI Trust of
54,500,000 shares of Halliburton's common stock. It is currently
anticipated that the Asbestos PI Trust will also grant the
underwriters in the proposed offering an option to purchase up
to an additional 5 million shares to cover over-allotments. The
59,500,000 shares represent all of the shares that were issued
to the trust as part of the asbestos settlement earlier this
year.

The Company has filed with the Securities and Exchange
Commission a preliminary prospectus supplement pursuant to its
existing shelf registration statement relating to the proposed
offering. The Company will not sell any shares in this proposed
offering, nor will it receive any proceeds from it.

JPMorgan, Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Citigroup will manage the
underwriting. If the 54,500,000 shares to be offered by the
Asbestos PI Trust and the 5 million shares to be subject to the
overallotment option are all sold, the Asbestos PI Trust will no
longer hold any shares of Halliburton common stock.

In connection with the proposed offering, Halliburton and the
Asbestos PI Trust will amend their agreement relating to the
59,500,000 shares to allow for this proposed offering and sale
by the Asbestos PI Trust. Following completion of the proposed
offering, any remaining shares of common stock held by the
Asbestos PI Trust will remain subject to the restrictions
contained in the agreement between the Asbestos PI Trust and the
Company.

The shelf registration statement relating to the foregoing has
previously been filed and declared effective by the Securities
and Exchange Commission. These securities may not be sold nor
may offers to buy be accepted prior to the time that the
prospectus supplement and related prospectus are delivered in
final form.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Allegheny Energy Burdened with 1,504 Cases
---------------------------------------------------------------
Allegheny Energy, Inc. (NYSE: AYE) had 1,504 open asbestos cases
remaining as of Dec. 31, 2004. The Company expressed its
intentions to vigorously defend against these actions, but
cannot predict their outcomes at the time when the filing was
submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Company's Allegheny Power unit provides electricity to more
than 1.5 million customers in five states and natural gas to
230,000 customers through regulated utilities Monongahela Power,
Potomac Edison, and West Penn Power. Subsidiary Allegheny Energy
Supply provides power to the Company's utilities and sells
electricity to wholesale and retail customers. Subsidiary
Allegheny Ventures controls Allegheny Communications Connect
(telecommunications) and Allegheny Energy Solutions (energy
consulting).

The distribution companies and other Allegheny Energy
subsidiaries are and may become subject to legal claims arising
from the presence of asbestos or other regulated substances at
some of their facilities.

According to the filing, the distribution companies have been
named as defendants, along with multiple other defendants, in
pending asbestos cases alleging bodily injury involving multiple
plaintiffs and multiple sites. These suits have been brought
mostly by seasonal contractors' employees and do not involve
allegations of either the manufacture, sale or distribution of
asbestos-containing products by Allegheny. These asbestos suits
arise out of historical operations and are related to the
installation and removal of asbestos-containing materials at
Allegheny's generation facilities.

In addition, asbestos and other regulated substances are, and
may continue to be, present at Allegheny-owned facilities where
suitable alternative materials are not available. Allegheny's
management believes that any remaining asbestos at its
facilities is contained. The continued presence of asbestos and
other regulated substances at Allegheny-owned facilities,
however, could result in additional actions being brought
against Allegheny.

Various foreign and domestic insurers, including Lloyd's of
London, insured Allegheny's historical operations. Asbestos-
related litigation expenses have to date been reimbursed in full
by recoveries from these historical insurers, and Allegheny
believes that it has sufficient insurance to respond fully to
the asbestos suits. Certain insurers, however, have contested
their obligations to pay for the future defense and settlement
costs relating to the asbestos suits.

Allegheny is currently involved in two asbestos insurance-
related actions, Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London et al.
v. Allegheny Energy, Inc. et al., Case No. 21-C-03-16733
(Washington County, Md.), and Monongahela Power Company et al.
v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London and London Market
Companies, et al., Civil Action No. 03-C-281 (Monongalia County,
W.Va.). The parties in these actions are seeking an allocation
of responsibility for historic and potential future asbestos
liability.

During the pendency of these actions, Allegheny will continue to
receive payments from one of its insurance companies in the
amount of US$625,000, payable on each of July 1, 2005 and 2006.
During 2004 and 2003, Allegheny received insurance proceeds of
about US$960,000 and US$1.8 million, respectively, in connection
with these cases.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Sen. Leahy Seeks $140B Asbestos Victim Fund
----------------------------------------------------------------
As homage to his grandfather, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy is
endeavoring to strike one of the most unlikely political deals
to establish the US$140 billion asbestos victim fund. The
senator's relative, also named Patrick James Leahy, died at age
35 after contracting a respiratory disease from working in the
nearby granite quarries.

"I know what they go through," said the ranking Democrat on the
Judiciary Committee. Both products have been mined in Vermont,
and both diseases are caused by airborne particles.

Sen. Leahy believes that a trust fund should be established
instead of allowing cases to continue in court. While taking on
powerful groups such as environmentalists and trial lawyers, he
stressed that compromises must be made.

Opposing views about the bill include opinions that the proposed
industry-financed fund is too small and doesn't reach out to all
victims. The Association of Trial Lawyers of America, meanwhile,
opposes the bill "in its current form," according to the group's
spokesman, Carlton Carl.

"This bill is an example of what happens if members of Congress
really wants to legislate. It is much easier to do symbolism
than to do substance. Symbolism usually gets on the evening
news, substance rarely does," said Sen. Leahy.

The bill would put a cap on potential damages to be paid by
companies associated with the production of asbestos or the
manufacture and distribution of asbestos-containing products.
Asbestos, which leads to various lung diseases and cancer, kills
as many as 10,000 Americans every year.

Congress approval of the fund would limit the ability of people
to sue for asbestos-related diseases in the future. Most of the
600,000 asbestos claims now in the courts would be transferred
into the national fund. A Rand Corp. study in 2002 said another
2.4 million claims could be filed. The study said asbestos suits
had cost industry US$54 billion through 2000 and could cost
another US$210 billion.

Jan Amundson, who chairs the Asbestos Alliance, which includes
many companies facing lawsuits, said the group supports the
legislation in hopes of bringing the uncertainty about court
action to an end. She said 71 companies have already filed
bankruptcy claims due to asbestos litigation. Backers of the
bill said it would also provide a new source of money for people
filing claims against bankrupt companies.

Sen. Leahy has raised questions about whether Halliburton used
the bankruptcy process to put a lid on damages. But a
Halliburton spokeswoman said the Company would get no benefit
from the asbestos legislation because it recently has entered
into a court agreement limiting its damages. Two months ago, two
Halliburton subsidiaries agreed to pay US$4.2 billion to settle
400,000 asbestos claims.

Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
said that he is anxious for Sen. Leahy's support to acquire the
60 votes needed. Republicans control 55 seats. Both senators
appear to be nearing a deal. They are currently discussing the
value for the maximum individual award and whether more money
should to go to people with mesothelioma and less to go to
cigarette smokers.

A more prominent issue is in determining what would happen if
the fund runs out of money; one suggestion is to let claims
revert to the courts if the fund goes broke. Sen. Specter is
also pushing for a "rigorous" screening program to try to
prevent fraudulent claims, a primary concern of asbestos-related
companies.

"I have talked to a lot of the victims. I see the same thing. I
see people who went to work, supporting their family, doing
everything right, salt of the earth, and then given a death
sentence," said Sen. Leahy.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: W.R. Grace Trial Scheduled for May 15, 2006
----------------------------------------------------------------
Judge Donald Molloy scheduled the date for the criminal trial of
W.R. Grace and Co. and seven of its executives in US District
Court on May 15, 2006, which was met with heated opposition from
the defense saying the scope of the trial was too broad to be
processed in such a time period.

W.R. Grace and the executives face 10 felony counts for
conspiracy, violating the federal Clean Air Act, wire fraud and
obstructing justice. They are accused of intentionally
withholding numerous studies stating the risks from the
operation of the vermiculite mine, thereby placing the employees
and residents in imminent danger of death or serious bodily
injury from exposure to tremolite asbestos.

If found guilty, W.R. Grace faces fines of two times its pre-tax
earnings and the executives face fines of US$250,000 and jail
time ranging from a few years to a few decades.

The Grace executives charged are senior vice president Robert
Bettacchi, former director of health Henry Eschenbach, assistant
secretary and chief group counsel Mario Favorito, former general
manager of operations William McCraig, former mine supervisor
Alan Stringer, former senior vice president Robert Walsh and
former vice president of mining and engineering Jack Wolter. All
have pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution will have close to 1,000 exhibits and more than
60 witnesses. The estimates of pages needing review average
somewhere between 2.5 million and 3.5 million. And defense
attorneys argued those documents included only those used by the
prosecution and would not include the millions of additional
pages to be reviewed by the defense. Judge Molloy ordered that
they must disclose the exhibits and the names of witnesses to
the defense counsel by May 27, 2005.

Judge Molloy stressed that a year and two months was enough time
and reminded everyone trial dates for federal court cases are
usually set within 70 days of arraignment. He said the May trial
date was a balance between the complexity of the case of the
mandate to ensure justice and a timely trial.

Prosecuting attorney Kris McLean had asked for a September 2005
trial date and argued an early trial date was necessary given
the life expectancy of some of the witnesses.

The Court set a Feb. 15, 2006 deadline for motions but said he
would not allow a change of venues motion any later than Sept.
2, 2005.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: BG&E Deals with Direct, Third Party Claims
---------------------------------------------------------------
Since 1993, Baltimore Gas & Electric Co, a subsidiary of the
Constellation Energy Group, Inc. (NYSE: CEG), has been involved
in several actions concerning asbestos. The actions are based
upon the theory of "premises liability," alleging that the
Company, which is a provider of electricity and natural gas
utility services in Baltimore and parts of central Maryland,
knew of and exposed individuals to an asbestos hazard. The
actions relate to two types of claims.

The first type is direct claims by individuals exposed to
asbestos. BG&E is involved in these claims with about 70 other
defendants. About 490 individuals that were never employees of
BG&E each claim US$6 million in damages (US$2 million
compensatory and US$4 million punitive). These claims are
currently pending in state courts in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
To date, 351 asbestos cases were dismissed or resolved for
amounts that were not significant. About 20 cases are scheduled
for trial through the end of 2006.

The second type is claims by one manufacturer, Pittsburgh
Corning Corp. against BG&E and about eight others, as third-
party defendants. On April 17, 2000, PCC declared bankruptcy.
These claims relate to about 1,500 individual plaintiffs and
were filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland in
the fall of 1993. To date, about 375 cases have been resolved,
all without any payment by BGE.

BG&E does not know some of the facts necessary to estimate its
potential liability for these claims. These specific facts
include:

(1) The identity of BGE facilities containing asbestos
manufactured by the manufacturer;

(2) The relationship of each of the individual plaintiffs to
BGE;

(3) The settlement amounts for any individual plaintiffs who are
shown to have had a relationship to BGE;

(4) The dates on which places at which the exposure allegedly
occurred; and

(5) The facts and circumstances relating to the alleged
exposure.

Until the relevant facts for both types of claims are
determined, the Constellation Energy Group asserted that it is
unable to estimate what it or BGE's liability might be. Although
insurance and hold harmless agreements from contractors who
employed the plaintiffs may cover a portion of any awards in the
actions, the potential effect on the financial results could be
material.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: AFG, Subsidiaries Continue to Face Claims
--------------------------------------------------------------
American Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE: AFG) disclosed in the
latest filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission that
its insurance subsidiaries continue to receive claims related to
environmental exposures, asbestos and other mass tort claims.

The liability for asbestos and environmental reserves at Dec.
31, 2004 and 2003, respectively, was US$401 million and US$515
million; related recoverables from reinsurers at those dates
were US$59 million and US$92 million, respectively. The 2003
amounts include the reserves worth US$70 million and the US$18
million value of reinsurance recoverables of Transport Insurance
Company, which AFG sold in 2004.

In the fourth quarter of 2004, AFG completed the sale of
Transport Insurance Company, an inactive property and casualty
subsidiary with only run-off liabilities, including old asbestos
and environmental claims for a pretax loss of US$2.3 million on
the sale.

AFG had recorded a US$55 million impairment charge at Dec. 31,
2003, to reduce its investment in Transport to estimated fair
value, based on negotiations with potential buyers. Transport's
asbestos and environmental reserves represented about one-eighth
of AFG's total net asbestos and environmental reserves at the
time of the sale.

AFG's property and casualty group, like many others in the
industry, has asbestos and environmental claims arising in most
cases from general liability policies written in years before
1987. The establishment of reserves for such asbestos and
environmental claims presents unique and difficult challenges
and is subject to uncertainties significantly greater than those
presented by other types of claims.

AFG's insurance Company subsidiaries and American Premier are
parties to litigation and receive claims asserting alleged
injuries and damages from asbestos, environmental and other
substances and workplace hazards and have established loss
accruals for such potential liabilities.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, American Financial Group, Inc.
is a holding Company, which through subsidiaries, is engaged
primarily in property and casualty insurance, focusing on
specialized commercial products for businesses, and in the sale
of retirement annuities, life, and supplemental health insurance
products.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: PepsiAmericas Liable for Pneumo Abex Claims
----------------------------------------------------------------
Bottling giant PepsiAmericas Inc. (NYSE: PAS) revealed in the
filing submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission that
it received yearend 2004 claim statistics from Pneumo Abex and
the other indemnitors. Based on those reports, the Minneapolis,
MN-based Company has potential indemnification obligations for
about 17 percent of all of Pneumo Abex active and open asbestos
claims at the end of fiscal year 2004.

PepsiAmericas Inc. has certain indemnification obligations
related to product liability and toxic tort claims, which come
out of a 1988 agreement with Pneumo Abex Corp. Other companies
not owned by or associated with PepsiAmericas also are
responsible to Pneumo Abex for the financial burden of all
asbestos product liability claims filed against Pneumo Abex
after a certain date in 1998, except for certain claims
indemnified by PepsiAmericas.

The active and open claims for which it has indemnification
obligations are about 9,600. Of those claims, about 8,000 are
asserted in three mass-filed lawsuits (one filed in each of
2001, 2002 and 2004) that purport to assert thousands of claims
against dozens of defendants. The Company believes that the vast
majority of those claims lack merit and are of marginal value,
if any. Excluding these mass-filed claims, the largest group of
remaining claims is less than 1,000 and the annual number of
individual claims within that group has been less than 100 per
year for each year during the period 2000 to 2004. Sales of the
asbestos-containing product at issue for that group ceased
before 1980 and, therefore, the Company expects a decreasing
rate of claims.

As of fiscal year end 2004, the number of underlying product
liability lawsuits including asbestos-related claims that are or
may be indemnifiable have been reduced by more than 85 percent
from its high point. Much of the reduction occurred in the years
2000 and 2001, as well as in 2003. Its employees and agents
manage or monitor the defense of the underlying claims that are
or may be indemnifiable.

By the end of fiscal year 2004, PepsiAmericas had accrued US$5.5
million related to product liability. These accruals primarily
relate to probable asbestos claim settlements and legal defense
costs. It also has additional amounts accrued for legal and
other costs associated with obtaining insurance recoveries for
previously resolved and current open claims and their related
costs. These amounts are included in the total liabilities of
US$106.8 million accrued at the end of fiscal year 2004.

In addition to the known and probable asbestos claims, the
Company may be subject to additional asbestos claims that are
possible for which no reserve has been established at the end of
fiscal year 2004. These additional reasonably possible claims
are primarily asbestos related and the aggregate exposure
related to these possible claims is estimated to be in the range
of US$6 million to US$17 million. These amounts are undiscounted
and do not reflect any insurance recoveries that it will pursue
from insurers for these claims.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Crown Cork & Seal Accrues $233M for Claims
---------------------------------------------------------------
Crown Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CCK) stated that its operating
subsidiary, still known as Crown Cork & Seal Company, a
worldwide producer of consumer packaging, is one of many
defendants in a substantial number of lawsuits filed throughout
the United States by persons alleging bodily injury as a result
of exposure to asbestos. These claims arose from the insulation
operations of a U.S. Company, the majority of whose stock Crown
Cork purchased in 1963. About ninety days after the stock
purchase, this U.S. Company sold its insulation assets and was
later merged into Crown Cork. At Dec. 31, 2004, the accrual for
pending and future asbestos claims that are probable and
estimable was US$233 million.

The Philadelphia, PA-based Company, said that it seeks to reduce
its asbestos-related costs through prudent case management.
Asbestos-related payments were US$114 million in 2002, US$68
million in 2003 and US$41 million in 2004, and the Company
expects to pay about US$40 million in 2005.  While the level of
payments has declined recently, the Company's asbestos-related
liabilities remain significant and the amount of future payments
and liabilities is inherently unpredictable.

During 2004, 2003 and 2002 the Company recorded charges of US$35
million, US$44 million and US$30 million, respectively, to
increase its accrual for asbestos-related costs. The Company
contributed US$171 million to its pension plans in 2004 and
expects to contribute about US$134 million in 2005.

Prior to 1998, the amounts paid to asbestos claimants were
covered by a fund made available to Crown Cork under a 1985
settlement with carriers insuring Crown Cork through 1976, when
Crown Cork became self-insured. The fund was depleted in 1998
and the Company has no remaining coverage for asbestos-related
costs.

In January 2005 and April 2004, the States of Ohio and
Mississippi, respectively, enacted legislation that limits the
asbestos-related liabilities under state law of companies such
as Crown Cork that allegedly incurred these liabilities because
they are successors by corporate merger to companies that had
been involved with asbestos. The new legislation, which applies
to pending and future claims, caps asbestos-related liabilities
at the fair market value of the predecessor's total gross assets
adjusted for inflation. Crown Cork has paid significantly more
for asbestos-related claims than the total adjusted value of its
predecessor's assets. Crown Cork has integrated the legislation
into its claims defense strategy.  The Company cautions,
however, that the legislation may be challenged and there can be
no assurance regarding the ultimate effect of the legislation on
Crown Cork.

During 2004, 2003 and 2002, respectively, Crown Cork:

(1) Received 13,000, 36,000 and 36,000 new claims;

(2) Settled or dismissed 14,000, 20,000 and 43,000 claims; and

(3) Had 74,000, 75,000 and 59,000 claims outstanding at the end
of the respective years.

The outstanding claims at Dec. 31, 2004 exclude 33,000 pending
claims involving plaintiffs who allege that they are, or were,
maritime workers subject to exposure to asbestos, but whose
claims the Company believes will not, in the aggregate, involve
any liability material to the consolidated financial statements.

The Company estimates that its probable and estimable asbestos
liability for pending and future asbestos claims will range
between US$233 million and US$351 million. The accrual balance
of US$233 million at the end of 2004 includes US$113 million for
unasserted claims and US$20 million for committed settlements
that will be paid in 2005.

Historically  (1977-2004), Crown Cork estimates that about one-
quarter of all asbestos-related claims made against it have been
asserted by claimants who claim first exposure to asbestos after
1964. However, because of Crown Cork's settlement experience to
date and the increased difficulty of establishing identification
of the subsidiary's insulation products as the cause of injury
by persons alleging first exposure to asbestos after 1964, the
Company has not included in its accrual and range of potential
liability any amounts for settlements by persons alleging first
exposure to asbestos after 1964.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: ITT, Goulds Pumps Resolve Over 4,200 Claims
----------------------------------------------------------------
Engineering and manufacturing firm ITT Industries, Inc. (NYSE:
ITT) and its subsidiary, Goulds Pumps, Inc., resolved over 4,200
asbestos claims through settlement or dismissal during 2004. The
Company stated that the average amount of settlement per
plaintiff has been nominal and substantially all defense and
settlement costs have been covered by insurance.

ITT and Goulds Pumps have been joined as defendants with
numerous other industrial companies in product liability
lawsuits alleging injury due to asbestos. These claims stem
primarily from products sold prior to 1985 that contained a part
manufactured by a third party, which allegedly contained
asbestos.

The asbestos was encapsulated in the gasket material and was
non-friable. In certain other cases, it is alleged that former
ITT companies were distributors for other manufacturers'
products that may have contained asbestos. Frequently, the
plaintiffs are unable to demonstrate any injury or do not
identify any ITT or Goulds product as a source of asbestos
exposure.

The Company is involved in two actions, Cannon Electric, Inc. et
al. v. Ace Property & Casualty Company et al. Superior Court,
County of Los Angeles, CA., Case No. BC 290354, and Pacific
Employers Insurance Company et al., v. ITT Industries, Inc., et
al., Supreme Court, County of New York, N.Y., Case No. 03600463.
The parties in both cases are seeking an appropriate allocation
of responsibility for the Company's historic asbestos liability
exposure among its insurers.

The California action is filed in the same venue where the
Company's environmental insurance recovery litigation has been
pending since 1991. The New York action has been stayed in favor
of the California suit. ITT and ACE have successfully resolved
the matter and the Company is working with other parties in the
suit to resolve the matter as to those insurers. In addition,
Utica National, Goulds' historic insurer, has requested that the
Company negotiate a coverage in place agreement to allocate the
Goulds' asbestos liabilities between insurance policies issued
by Utica and those issued by others. The Company is continuing
to receive the benefit of insurance payments during the pendency
of these proceedings.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Congoleum Records Modest Profit in 2004
------------------------------------------------------------
Flooring products maker Congoleum Corporation (AMEX: CGM)
conveyed that sales for the year ended Dec. 31, 2004 were
US$229.5 million, an increase of 4.0% compared to the US$220.7
million reported in 2003. Income from operations in 2004 was
US$8.7 million, compared to a loss from operations of US$3.1
million for 2003. Basic net income for 2004 was US$2.9 million,
compared with a loss of US$6.8 million in 2003. Net income per
share in 2004 was US$0.36, compared to a net loss per share of
US$0.82 in 2003.

Congoleum's reported results include charges of US$5.0 million
in 2004 and US$3.7 million in 2003 for resolution of asbestos
liabilities. Net income in 2004 also includes US$2.9 million of
anticipated tax carryback benefits related to spending in
connection with resolution of asbestos liabilities.

Roger S. Marcus, Chairman of the Board, noted that sales
improvement can be attributed to a combination of price
increases, higher residential sales of our Xclusive and
DuraCeramic product lines, and greater shipments to the
manufactured housing industry.

Mr. Marcus stated, "We lowered operating expenses by US$4
million last year as a result of cost reduction steps taken in
both 2003 and 2004, despite continued increases in medical and
benefit costs. This reduction helped us achieve an US$11.8
million improvement in income from operations, which swung from
a loss of US$3.1 million in 2003 to US$8.7 million in income in
2004.

"We also increased our cash position considerably during the
year, with unrestricted cash balances growing from US$2.2
million at the end of 2003 to US$29.7 million at the end of
2004. While the raw material situation will continue to be a
challenge in 2005, we are committed to taking steps to protect
our margins while continuing to build on the success of the new
products we develop. We also hope to complete our reorganization
process during the third quarter of 2005, putting the financial
and management burden of our asbestos liabilities behind us."

On Dec. 31, 2003, Congoleum Corporation filed a voluntary
petition with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the
District of New Jersey (Case No. 03-51524) seeking relief under
Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code as a means to
resolve claims asserted against it related to the use of
asbestos in its products decades ago. Congoleum has filed an
amended plan of reorganization and disclosure statement with the
court and is seeking confirmation of the plan at a hearing
scheduled to begin April 12, 2005.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Longview Fibre Co. Faces Claims in 2 States
----------------------------------------------------------------
Longview Fibre Company (NYSE: LFB) divulged that since 2002, it
has been named a defendant in a number of asbestos-related
lawsuits in Madison County, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri,
along with numerous other defendants. In each of the lawsuits,
the plaintiff alleges asbestos-related injuries from exposure to
the defendants' asbestos products, as well as exposure to
asbestos while working on certain of the defendants' premises.

At least one lawsuit alleges the plaintiff worked at its
premises for unidentified contractors. In all other respects the
claims are not specific as to what contacts the plaintiffs had
with the Company or its manufacturing plants or products. None
of the claims specifies damages sought from the Company
individually, but each plaintiff alleges a general
jurisdictional amount against all defendants.

Headquartered in Longview, WA, the Company owns and operates
tree farms, a pulp and paper mill, and 15 converting plants in a
dozen states. Its paper mill and converting plants produce a
broad range of paper products, including kraft paper,
containerboard, and converted products such as shipping
containers. In 2004 Longview Fibre sold its bag business to
Ampac Packaging.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Ampco-Pittsburgh Involved in 24,700 Claims
---------------------------------------------------------------
Ampco-Pittsburgh Corporation (NYSE: AP) and its subsidiaries are
involved in 24,700 pending claims as of Dec. 31, 2004, over
15,000 of which were made in six lawsuits filed in Mississippi
in 2002. Substantially all settlement and defense were paid by
insurers.

These claims are alleging personal injury from exposure to
asbestos-containing components historically used in some
products of certain of the Corporation's subsidiaries. Those
subsidiaries, and in some cases, the Corporation, are
defendants, along with 50 to a hundred or more co-defendants, in
cases filed in various state and federal courts.

On February 7, 2003, Utica Mutual Insurance Company filed a
lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of
Oneida against the Corporation and certain of the subsidiaries
named in the underlying asbestos actions and three other
insurance carriers that provided primary coverage to the
Corporation.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Residents Await Test Results of "Lung Bus"
---------------------------------------------------------------
The 122 people who were tested for asbestos-related illness in
the former mining town of Baryulgil in northern NSW would now
have to wait four to six weeks to know the results. The famed
"lung bus" from the Dust Diseases Board went to the old asbestos
mine to assess the health of the aborigines who worked there
beginning in the 1940s.

Chrysotile or white asbestos deposits were discovered at
Baryulgil during World War I. From the early 1940s to 1979,
aboriginal miners and their community were poisoned by asbestos,
which contaminated the air, food, water, ground and buildings,
as they produced profits for the industry's owners.

A lung specialist with the dust board, Dr. Anthony Johnson, said
the lung X-rays will be examined by a number of experts and then
referred back to him for final analysis. He said a letter will
notify these people and he will be offering initial support and
an explanation of the findings for those who may be affected.

Dr. Johnson noted there are also many in the wider community
that will want to know the results of the tests.

"After we've done all this we're going to compile a report
summarizing the group as a whole which will go to the Aboriginal
medical service and I think to some of the Aboriginal community
leaders who were actually involved in setting this up," he said.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Georgia-Pacific Hit With US$9.3Mil Verdict
---------------------------------------------------------------
After a three-week trial that concluded after four hours of
deliberations, a Texas jury on March 14, 2005 awarded US$9.3
million to the family of an East Texas man who died from lung
cancer caused by asbestos exposure 35 years earlier as a child.
The effects of asbestos exposure, including the onset of
diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis, can take years or
even decades to surface.

Dallas County Court Judge Sally Montgomery presided over the
proceedings.

Timothy Shawn Bostic was allegedly exposed to asbestos while
working with his father as a child and teenager in the 1960s and
1970s. Witnesses testified he frequently worked with a joint
compound that contained asbestos and was made by Atlanta-based
Georgia-Pacific Corp.

In 2003, Mr. Bostic was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form
of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. He died less than a year
later at the age of 41 on Sept. 5, 2003, leaving behind his
wife, Susan, and son, Kyle.

The jury found Georgia-Pacific negligent for failing to warn Mr.
Bostic about the dangers in its joint compound and awarded his
family US$3.1 million in compensatory damages and US$6.2 million
in punitive damages. Texas law requires a cap on punitive
damages. However, that cap is set specifically in each case.

Baron & Budd attorneys Chris Panatier and John Langdoc, along
with Dallas attorney Charla Aldous of Aldous & McDougal
represented the family of Timothy Shawn Bostic.

Court documents showed that Georgia-Pacific officials knew about
the health dangers of asbestos as early as 1967.  However, the
Company continued to sell products that contained asbestos as
late as 1977.

"This verdict showed the Bostic family that their loss could
have been prevented," says Mr. Panatier. "We are grateful that
the jury understood the responsibility Georgia-Pacific had in
causing the asbestos exposure that eventually took Mr. Bostic's
life."

Georgia-Pacific, represented by Mel D. Bailey of Dallas'
Bailey/Crowe & Kugler, will be appealing the verdict.

"We believe the evidence showed the Georgia-Pacific product did
not cause Mr. Bostic's illness and the trial court erred in
several significant rulings, which we will pursue on appeal,"
said Robin Keegan, Georgia-Pacific spokesperson.

Georgia-Pacific has been faced with asbestos litigation for
years. It recently reported to the US Securities and Exchange
Commission that the number of asbestos claims filed against it
continued to decline in 2004, even as the amount of money it
paid on claims hit the US$200 million mark. At the end of 2004,
there were 59,700 pending claims, down from 64,300 at the end of
2003. During 2004, 26,500 new claims were filed against the
Company, down from 39,000 new claims filed in 2003.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Case V. Brush Engineered Materials Junked
--------------------------------------------------------------
Cleveland, OH-based Brush Engineered Materials Inc., one of its
subsidiaries, Brush Wellman Inc., and the Brush Beryllium Co.,
were defendants in Robert Schultz v. Brush Engineered Materials
Inc., et al., filed in Circuit Court, Third Judicial Circuit,
Madison County, Illinois, case number 04-L-191 on May 14, 2004.
There were 73 other named defendants.

Plaintiff alleged that he contracted asbestos-related diseases
as a result of working with and around the products of the
defendants. On September 24, 2004, defendants Brush Engineered
Materials Inc., Brush Wellman Inc., and the Brush Beryllium Co.
were dismissed. The case remains pending as to the other
defendants.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: MSA Named in About 240 Liability Lawsuits
--------------------------------------------------------------
Mine Safety Appliances Company (NYSE: MSA) is named as a
defendant in about 2,400 lawsuits primarily involving
respiratory protection products allegedly manufactured and sold
by the Company. Collectively, these lawsuits represent a total
of about 32,000 plaintiffs. About 90% of these lawsuits involve
plaintiffs alleging they suffer from silicosis, with the
remainder alleging they suffer from other or combined injuries,
including asbestosis.

These lawsuits typically allege that these conditions resulted
in part from respirators that were negligently designed or
manufactured by the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Company, a
global manufacturer of safety equipment and systems. Consistent
with the experience of other companies involved in silica and
asbestos-related litigation, there has been an increase in the
number of asserted claims that could potentially involve it.

The Company cannot determine its potential liability for such
claims, in part because the defendants in these lawsuits are
often numerous, and the claims generally do not specify the
amount of damages sought.

With some limited exceptions, the Company maintains insurance
against product liability claims. It also maintains a reserve
for uninsured product liability based on expected settlement
charges for pending claims and an estimate of unreported claims
derived from experience, sales volumes and other relevant
information. MSA reevaluates its exposures on an ongoing basis
and make adjustments to reserves as appropriate.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Cincinnati Financial Reviews Risk Exposure
----------------------------------------------------------------
Cincinnati Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: CINF) management has
reviewed its exposure to asbestos and environmental risk, and
believes that reserves are adequate and that these coverage
areas are immaterial to the Company's financial position due to
the types of accounts the Company has insured in the past.

According to the filing submitted by the Fairfield, OH-based
company to the Securities and Exchange Commission, loss and loss
expenses incurred for all asbestos and environmental claims were
US$41 million, or 2.4 percent of total loss and loss expenses in
2004, compared with US$28 million, or 1.6 percent, in 2003, and
US$37 million, or 2.2 percent, in 2002. The increase in 2004 was
primarily due to mold claims.

Net reserves for all asbestos and environmental claims were
increased to US$135 million in 2004 compared with US$105 million
in 2003 and US$88 million in 2002. Net reserves for all asbestos
and environmental claims were 4.5 percent, 3.7 percent and 3.4
percent of total reserves, in 2004, 2003 and 2002, respectively.

The Company generally wrote commercial accounts after the
development of coverage forms that exclude asbestos cleanup
costs. The Company believes its exposure to risks associated
with past production and installation of asbestos materials is
minimal because the Company was primarily a personal lines
Company when most of the asbestos exposure occurred.

The commercial coverage the Company did offer was predominantly
related to local-market construction activity rather than
asbestos manufacturing. Further, over the past three years, to
limit its exposure to mold and other environmental risks going
forward, the Company has revised policy terms where permitted by
state regulation.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: MeadWestvaco Corp Faces 700 Injury Lawsuits
----------------------------------------------------------------
As with numerous other large industrial companies, MeadWestvaco
Corporation (NYSE: MWV) has been named a defendant in asbestos-
related personal injury litigation. Typically, these suits also
name many other corporate defendants.  All of the claims against
the Company resolved to date have been concluded before trial,
either through dismissal or through settlement with payments to
the plaintiff that are not material to the Company. To date, the
costs resulting from the litigation, including settlement costs,
have not been significant.

As of June 30, 2004, there were about 700 lawsuits. The
Stamford, CT-based packaging and papers products business
believes that the Company has substantial indemnification
protection and insurance coverage, subject to applicable
deductibles and policy limits, with respect to asbestos claims.
The Company has valid defenses to these claims and intends to
continue to defend them vigorously. Additionally, based on its
historical experience in asbestos cases and an analysis of the
current cases, the Company believes that it has adequate amounts
accrued for potential settlements and judgments in asbestos-
related litigation.

At June 30, 2004, the Company has litigation liabilities of
about US$27 million, a significant portion of which relates to
asbestos. After consulting with legal counsel and after
considering established liabilities, it is the Company's
judgment that the resolution of pending litigation and
proceedings is not expected to have a material adverse effect on
the Company's consolidated financial condition or liquidity.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: WR Berkeley Posts Net Reserves at US$38.2M
----------------------------------------------------------------
W. R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE: BER) asserted in its filing to
the Securities and Exchange Commission that to date, known
asbestos and environmental claims at its insurance Company
subsidiaries have not had a material impact on its operations.
Environmental claims have not materially impacted the holding
Company because these subsidiaries generally did not insure the
larger industrial companies, which are subject to significant
environmental exposures.

The Greenwich, CT-based Company's net reserves for losses and
loss adjustment expenses relating to asbestos and environmental
claims were US$38,258,000 and US$31,866,000 at Dec. 31, 2004 and
2003, respectively. The Company's gross reserves for losses and
loss adjustment expenses relating to asbestos and environmental
claims were US$54,971,000 and US$49,283,000 at Dec. 31, 2004 and
2003, respectively.

Net incurred losses and loss expenses for reported asbestos and
environmental claims were about US$9,194,000, US$4,749,000 and
US$6,652,000 in 2004, 2003 and 2002, respectively. Net paid
losses and loss expenses for reported asbestos and environmental
claims were about US$2,802,000, US$1,391,000 and US$2,938,000 in
2004, 2003 and 2002, respectively.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Indiana County Couple Settles Out of Court
---------------------------------------------------------------
An Indiana County couple who sued more than 100 companies over
asbestos exposure arrived at an out-of-court settlement the day
before the jury trial was to begin.

William L. Lowmaster worked as a union ironworker from 1953 to
1959 and a union sheet-metal worker from 1959 to 1995 at various
commercial and industrial job sites in the county, according to
court records.

Mr. Lowmaster and his wife, Greta, of Banks Township, had filed
the case in May 2003, claiming that he got afflicted with
mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung linings, from inhalation of
asbestos fibers released by products made and supplied by the
companies named in the suit.

The couple claimed damages in excess of US$25,000 against the
defendants. They also hoped to claim medical monitoring and
exemplary and punitive damages in the same amount against the
companies.

Since the lawsuit was filed, the complaint against most of the
companies has been dismissed. However, they were able to
establish that Mr. Lowmaster had been exposed to the products of
about 18 companies that had been named, said Jason Luckasevic,
one of the attorneys at the Pittsburgh firm representing the
couple.

Mr. Luckasevic said that in the time since the lawsuit was
filed, Mr. Lowmaster's health has deteriorated to the point that
he is bedridden.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The trial was
expected to take up to two weeks to complete.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Insurers, Claimant Appeal on Plaques Case
--------------------------------------------------------------
A landmark asbestos case looks likely to return to the law
courts after a claimant suffering from pleural plaques, a benign
scarring of the lung lining, appealed against the ruling and two
insurers said they would counter appeal. The test case had aimed
to give legal clarification to whether people diagnosed with the
asymptomatic illness should be entitled to compensation.

Aviva, Zurich Insurance and the Department for Trade and
Industry lost a case last month in which they argued for
scrapping payouts for pleural plaques. The high court rejected
their argument that it could not be categorized as an injury or
disease and ruled that anxiety caused by the possibility of
people with the scarring developing an asbestos-related disease
was a basis for damages.

Aviva, which trades as Norwich Union in Britain, said it would
appeal because it believed payouts for asbestos exposure were
still too high, despite the court significantly reducing
compensation levels and because one claimant from last month's
judgment is appealing for more damages.

The insurer's spokesman said, "It is apparent that this judgment
has not brought clarity to the issue and that it is not binding.
Given that we also have some concerns over the logic of the
previous judgment from a legal perspective and feel the level of
damages awarded remains too high, we will be appealing the
judgment."

A Zurich spokesman confirmed it would also be appealing against
the ruling.

The British government, which is liable for asbestos claims
involving the formerly state-run shipbuilding industry, said it
would not appeal against last month's ruling.

The high court slashed compensation levels to be awarded for
exposure to asbestos. It ruled that provisional damages should
be GBP3,500 to GBP4,000 rather than GBP5,000 to GBP7,000
previously, and that final damages should be GBP6,000 to
GBP7,000 compared with the previous range of GBP12,500 to
GBP20,000.

Ellis Hindson, one of the ten claimants in the case, is
appealing against the level of damages after being awarded a
final payout of GBP7,000. He had applied for damages of nearly
GBP43,000.

The use of asbestos, a cancer-causing mineral fiber that was
used in a wide variety of products such as gas masks for its
heat-resistant qualities, has declined sharply in Britain since
the 1970s. Analysts estimate the potential cost of pleural
plaque claims to the British insurance industry at between
GBP200 million and GBP1.4 billion over the next 35 years.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Consultant Warns of Risks at Canada's West Block
----------------------------------------------------------------
Despite a consultant firm's recommendation for the occupants to
evacuate to avoid asbestos exposure, members of Parliament
continue to use the West Block and refuse to disrupt the
activities of their offices.

Documents reveal that the Public Works department had hired an
engineering firm last year to assess the building, which was
built in stages between 1859 and 1909. Golder Associates Ltd.
found widespread asbestos contamination in the attics and on the
air ducts. It was in June that the department was first advised
to vacate by December because of the health risk 600
parliamentary employees and about 40 MPs faced from the
carcinogenic material. The danger of disturbing asbestos
particles in the ceilings is so great that Commons maintenance
employees must wear protective suits to change lights or move
ceiling tiles.

A draft report and final report from a three-month investigation
of the West Block, and related letters sent to the department,
also revealed engineers found six violations of the National
Fire Code and 12 violations of the National Building Code in the
heritage building. The violations included unsafe elevators with
no working telephones, locked fire-escape doors, blocked fire
routes and a remote-locking system that could trap tourists and
employees on an outdoor cafeteria patio in an emergency. The
public was also in danger outside because of falling mortar and
stone from the West Block's crumbling exterior.

The asbestos was sprayed onto West Block ironwork and attic
ceilings as a fire retardant during a renovation in the 1960s.
The asbestos used, amosite, has been banned since 1973 because
it disintegrates with age and transforms into carcinogenic dust.

The records obtained by the Citizen under the Access to
Information Act show Golder Associates warned Public Works
verbally in June to vacate the building, gave the same
recommendation in a letter in July, and later in a draft report
the same month.

But Public Works and the Commons hired their own consultants to
review the Golder report and challenge its findings. The
government insists the West Block asbestos is under control.

MPs don't want to disrupt their offices in case of a snap
election, said NDP MP Pat Martin, one of the politicians
unwilling to move until after an election.

A July 8, 2004 letter to Golder Associates from subcontractor,
J. L. Richards & Associates Ltd., revealed a dramatic
development only a few weeks before Golder was to present a
draft final report in late July to Public Works. "We have
reviewed the potential health risk attendant with the inspection
of asbestos-contaminated spaces in the West Block building and
cannot justify placing our employees in these areas..." the
letter says.

Following talks with Public Works over a July draft report,
Golder added this line to the final report, "Although this is
not an emergency situation, there is no means to predict when an
asbestos event will occur."

Conservative MP Diane Ablonczy and Liberal MP Lui Temelkovski
have relocated to other buildings because of concerns over
asbestos.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos Find at Paris Skyscraper Alarms Experts
----------------------------------------------------------------
Experts say one of Europe's tallest skyscrapers, located in
Paris, contains asbestos in 60 of its floors. This brings
representatives of the 689-foot Montparnasse Tower to react to
inquiries on whether the 600,000 tourists that visit the
building each year were exposed to the potentially deadly
material.

Reports that asbestos was hidden above false ceilings and in a
shaft housing cables and elevators recently dominated the city's
headlines. Tower managers have not decided how to treat the
problem but are considering two options: a full evacuation for
at least three years or a 10-year process that would allow the
building to stay open during the asbestos removal.

Alain Carrey, an engineer representing companies at the tower,
said the asbestos represents "really zero" risk to the tourists
who go up to enjoy the panoramic view of the city. The tower
houses offices and a shopping center and soars above a train
station frequented by millions of travelers.

Claude Bauchot, the president of tower manager, Cogetom, said
only the four floors with high levels of asbestos presented any
health danger. He said, "In the rest of the tower, we do not
have a situation that necessitates work. There's no risk in all
the areas that are usually used in the tower."

A law limiting building heights to 121 feet protects the French
capital's skyline. High-rises largely have been consigned to the
La Defense business district west of the city.

Serge Jullineau, head of the inspection Company Health Risks
Agency, which analyzed the tower's asbestos levels in the mid-
1990s, said four floors were rated "level three" risks for
asbestos the highest assessment. They house technical facilities
closed to the public but not to maintenance workers.

"At every maintenance operation or diverse work that requires
moving the drop ceilings, there is a potential risk for
occupants on some floors," said Mr. Jullineau.

The tower's problems remind the public of an incident that hit
the Jussieu university campus after asbestos was discovered in
numerous buildings. At least six people at the campus have died
of asbestos-related illnesses and more than 100 are ill,
according to Michel Ledoux, lawyer for the Association for the
Defense of Asbestos Victims. In January, the two universities
and an institute that share the campus were placed under
investigation a step short of being charged for "endangering
others."

Asbestos was systematically used in Paris buildings that, like
the Montparnasse Tower, date to the 1970s, and include
hospitals, Mr. Ledoux said. It was formally banned in January
1997.

"There is a whole generation of buildings that is putting the
health of its occupants in peril," he said, adding that the
asbestos is now degrading and becoming an even bigger health
risk.


ASBESTOS ALERT: MO DNR Fines The View LLC US$20T for Violations
---------------------------------------------------------------
Through a negotiated settlement agreement, a developer will pay
a US$20,000 fine for violating environmental laws regarding the
handling of asbestos.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources, along with the
Missouri Attorney General's Office, set the agreement, which
required The View, LLC located in Kansas City, to pay the fine
that will go to the Jackson County School Fund.

A complaint received by the Department of Natural Resources
prompted the investigation of the renovations taking place at
the Vista Del Rio building located at 600 Admiral Blvd, Kansas
City. The agency sent a complaint investigator to the site on
Dec. 15, 17 and 19, 2003.

The investigation determined that The View, LLC did not notify
proper authorities about the asbestos abatement project. The
department also found that untrained, uncertified workers were
improperly removing the asbestos containing ceiling materials
daily. The workers were spraying the material with a high-
powered pressure washer and not properly packaging and
containing the material for disposal.

The settlement contends that the Company violated the state's
Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants law and the
Missouri Air Conservation law.

Chad Turner, whose father, Richard Turner, is the managing
member of The View LLC, said the Company admitted to no
wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The city has inspected the
project and given it a clean bill of health, he said.

The Company agreed as part of the settlement to comply with all
applicable Missouri laws, said Jim Gardner, a spokesman for
Attorney General Jay Nixon.

There are major health risks associated with asbestos exposure.
A number of agencies have been authorized to regulate asbestos.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is the state agency
delegated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be
responsible for governing asbestos abatement projects. The
Kansas City Health Department's Air Quality Section can also
enforce these asbestos requirements within the city.


ASBESTOS ALERT: French Group Sues to Stop Carrier Transport
-----------------------------------------------------------
Aiming to stop the transport of an asbestos-riddled aircraft
carrier to India for decontamination, a French anti-asbestos
group last week filed a lawsuit to dissuade the authorities from
pushing through with the plan.

Jussieu Committee cited disastrous consequences for the workers
and violation of international conventions in its legal action.
It said 22 tons of the carcinogenic material remained on the
Clemenceau, after basic decontamination work had been done in
Toulon, southeastern France, according to a statement.

"To do the most difficult part of the asbestos decontamination
in India is both illegal and irresponsible," the Jussieu
Committee said.

The French Defense Ministry said Indian managers are being
trained to direct the decontamination project at Alang in the
Indian province of Gujarat.

The group stressed that the decontamination work in India does
not conform with the specifications of public tenders for the
dismantling of ships. French law requires that the work must be
undertaken in a country from the Council of Europe. The sale of
asbestos is also banned under any circumstances.

The Jussieu Committee said the decision to send out the carrier
also violates the Basel Convention on international movements of
toxic waste. Aside from this, the plan also goes against the
French environmental code, which bans the exportation of waste
when the receiving country does not have the expertise to safely
treat it.

Lastly, this French Defense Ministry decision breaks European
Union regulations, the committee said.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Asbestos on Canada's Submarines Raises Concerns
---------------------------------------------------------------
In the aftermath of a fire that gutted one of Canada's newly
leased submarines, the Navy is trying to deal with the
possibility that asbestos might have been released.

All four of Canada's newly-leased submarines are said to contain
varying amounts of asbestos insulation. A briefing note to the
chief of defense staff, written five days after the fire and
obtained under the Access to Information Act, said the navy was
worried about the "toxicity levels of cables [and the] extent of
asbestos onboard."

The electrical fire off the coast of Ireland that damaged the
warship last October 5 produced a dangerous mixture of smoke and
gases. It was reported that one crewmember, 32-year-old Lieut.
Chris Saunders, died of smoke inhalation, while eight others
were injured.

However, Maj. Tony White, a spokesman for the commander of the
navy, said it was too early to draw any conclusions, given that
a military board of inquiry has yet to complete its work. The
navy has stressed there was no indication the fire-resistant
material was disturbed by the fire, which broke out during the
sub's maiden voyage to Halifax.

He said, "To suggest that asbestos was one of the components
that burned in the Chicoutimi fire is pure speculation until the
board has presented its analysis."

Elizabeth Hodges, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, said
asbestos was installed on a variety of systems on the British-
built submarines as insulation. She said the cancer-causing
material was commonly used in ships and the submarines were
already under construction in Britain when the material was
deemed unsafe.

As part of its response to the fire incident, the navy drafted a
medical plan for the crew. A medical specialist was made
available to "address any lasting or new general medical
concerns following their ordeal," said the navy's plan, written
on Oct. 24, 2004.

Canada's entire submarine program ground to a halt as a navy
board conducts an investigation and the Commons defense
committee reviews the controversial purchase of the used
warships.

The asbestos was first discovered on a hazardous materials list
prepared by the British Ministry of Defense when the first of
the four mothballed submarines was reactivated. As improvements
were made to specific parts, the insulation was ripped out and
replaced with less harmful products, said Ms. Hodges.


ASBESTOS ALERT: Demolition Manager Admits to Removal Violations
---------------------------------------------------------------
The manager of the Fairwood Homes demolition project in
Portsmouth pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act by
failing to contain asbestos in the construction debris.
Demolition had begun in July 2003 and 80 to 90 homes had already
been torn down before officials stopped the project. He faces as
many as five years in prison and a US$250,000 fine for each
count and will be sentenced in September.

Bobby Newsome, former manager of Waco Inc. and ACS
Environmental, admitted to two violations of the Clean Air Act
and one count of making false statements. He also confessed that
he used workers who were not properly trained in hazardous waste
removal at Fairwood Homes and at demolition projects involving a
Coast Guard facility in Elizabeth City, N.C., and a school in
Hampton.

Although it has been known that the nearly 800 World War II-era
houses at Fairwood Homes contained asbestos shingles, this is
the first time officials have acknowledged publicly that the
homes also contained asbestos inside.

Mr. Newsome allowed asbestos debris to pile up outside the
houses and in trash bins. Court records show that Mr. Newsome
improperly removed the asbestos from the chimneys. He failed to
wet and contain the material before exposing it to the air.

Officials said those asbestos fibers became airborne, but it is
unclear whether there is any concern over the health of the
workers handling the material. Although the homes were vacant at
the time, there are neighborhoods and a golf course nearby.

Shortly after the project began, complaints were filed with the
state Department of Labor and Industry alleging the asbestos
contamination and that employees were not being supplied proper
protective clothing.

A state inspector showed up in August 2003, but Mr. Newsome
denied the inspector access to the site. At the time he argued
that the project did not fall under guidelines requiring
inspections for single-family homes.

The inspector, Jeffrey E. Davis, was forced to obtain a warrant
to search the property. By that time several weeks later, the
homes had been torn down. At the site, Mr. Davis found asbestos-
contaminated material inside 135 bags, some of which were
unsealed.

The State fined Waco US$17,200 for the violations. Waco
President Dan Walker said that Mr. Newsome was removed from the
Fairwood Homes project during the investigation and eventually
was terminated.

Mr. Newsome, who now lives in Bakerstown, Pa., was freed last
Tuesday after posting US$25,000 bail. His attorney, Stephen R.
Pickard of Arlington, is representing him.

As part of his plea, Mr. Newsome admitted that he paid more than
US$5,000 to F&M Environmental Technologies Inc. of Virginia
Beach for 51 certificates stating that his employees had
undergone proper training in asbestos and hazardous waste
removal and disposal.

F&M President, Frankland P. Babonis, who pleaded guilty to
related fraud charges in 2001, was sentenced to 15 months in
prison.


Company Profile:

Waco Inc.
P.O. Box 829
5450 Lewis Road
Sandston, Virginia 23150
Phone: (804) 222-8440
Fax: (804) 226-3241

Description:
Waco Inc. is a diversified employee-owned contracting firm. The
Company provides a full scope of mechanical construction and
maintenance services, as well as installation and maintenance of
insulation materials. It also offers asbestos control and
hazardous material remediation services.

Company Profile:
ACS Environmental Inc.
465 E Indian River Rd
Norfolk, VA
Phone: (757) 558-1114


ASBESTOS ALERT: FMC Corp Named as Defendant in Exposure Lawsuits
----------------------------------------------------------------
Diversified chemicals firm FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC) disclosed
that like hundreds of other industrial companies, it has been
named as one of many defendants in asbestos-related personal
injury litigation. These cases, which involve between 50 and 350
defendants, allege personal injury or death resulting from
exposure to asbestos in premises of FMC or to asbestos-
containing components installed in machinery or equipment
manufactured or sold by discontinued operations.

The machinery and equipment businesses the Company owned or
operated did not fabricate the asbestos-containing component
parts at issue in the litigation, and to this day, neither the
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration nor the EPA
has banned the use of these components.

Further, the Company asserted that asbestos-containing materials
were housed inside of machinery and equipment and accessible
only at the time of infrequent repair and maintenance. The
Company believes that overall, the claims against FMC are
without merit and consider itself to be a peripheral defendant
in these matters. The bulk of the claims against FMC to date
have been dismissed without payment.


Company Profile:

FMC Corporation
1735 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215-299-6000
Fax: 215-299-6618
http://www.fmc.com/

Fiscal Year-End    :  December
2004 Sales (mil.)   : GBP1,064.6
1-Year Sales Growth   :  6.8%
2004 Net Income (mil.)   :  GBP83.1
1-Year Net Income Growth  :  504.5%
2004 Employees    :  5,100
1-Year Employee Growth   :  (3.8%)


Description:
FMC Corporation has positions in the agricultural, industrial
and consumer markets. From its inception in 1883, FMC has been
providing solutions to companies using an array of advanced
technologies in research and development to improve the delivery
of medications; enhance foods and beverages; power batteries;
protect crop yields, structures and lawns, and advance the
manufacture of glass, ceramics, plastics, pulp and paper,
textiles and other products.


                 New Securities Fraud Cases

ASTRAZENECA PLC: Pomerantz Haudek Lodges Securities Suit in NY
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Pomerantz Haudek Block Grossman & Gross LLP
initiated a class action lawsuit in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York, against AstraZeneca
PLC ("AstraZeneca" or the "Company") (NYSE:AZN) and certain of
its executive officers and directors, for violations of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The class period in this case
is April 2, 2003 to October 8, 2004.

AstraZeneca is a pharmaceutical company that researches,
develops, manufactures and markets prescription pharmaceuticals
and the supply of healthcare services. The complaint alleges
that during the class period, the Company engaged in late-stage
clinical trials of an oral anticoagulant, Exanta(R), also
generically known as Ximelagatran, to study the prevention and
treatment of blood clots. During the Class Period, AstraZeneca
touted the purportedly positive results from the clinical trials
of Exanta, claiming that they were indicative of a safe and
effective new direct oral anticoagulant. In December 2003, after
completion of the clinical trials, AstraZeneca issued a press
release announcing its submission of a New Drug Application
("NDA") to the FDA for approval to market Exanta. Defendants
made numerous positive statements at investor and analyst
conferences about the status of the NDA, and repeatedly
commented that FDA approval of the application would positively
and materially impact the Company's financial results. The truth
began to emerge on September 9, 2004 when the FDA posted on its
website briefing documents in preparation for its Cardiovascular
and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee meeting on September 10, 2004
where the Company's NDA was scheduled to be reviewed. The
briefing documents revealed previously undisclosed adverse
events in the Exanta Studies. On September 10, 2004, at the FDA
Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee meeting, the
team leader in the FDA's Division of Gastrointestinal and
Coagulation Drug Products, presented the FDA's first
risk/benefit assessment of Exanta. The FDA assessment raised
numerous alarming safety and efficacy issues in the Exanta
trials. At the September 10, 2004 FDA Advisory Committee
Meeting, a Medical Officer of the FDA's Division of Drug Risk
Evaluation, presented the FDA's Risk Assessment/Risk Management
of EXATA(R) (ximelagatran) Livery Injury. The officer stated
that "the projected rate of liver failure, transplant, or liver-
associated death with Ximelagatran is 10 percent of 1 in 200 or
1 in 2,000 ... Ximelagatran can cause severe and even fatal
liver injury in some patients."

In reaction to this news, the price of AstraZeneca began to
decline falling from $44.40 on September 9,2004 to $38.68 on
October 8, 2004, the date the Company issued a press release
announcing that it received an Action letter from the FDA
rejecting the Exanta NDA.

For more details, contact Teresa L. Webb of Pomerantz Haudek
Block Grossman & Gross LLP by Phone: (888) 476.6529 or by E-
mail: tlwebb@pomlaw.com.


FOREST LABORATORIES: Murray Frank Lodges Securities Suit in NY
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP has filed a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York on behalf of shareholders who
purchased or otherwise acquired the securities of Forest
Laboratories, Inc. ("Forest Labs" or the "Company") (NYSE:FRX)
between August 15, 2002 and September 1, 2004, inclusive (the
"Class Period").

The complaint charges Forest Labs and certain of its officers
and directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934. Forest Labs develops, manufactures and sells prescription
drug products, as well as non-prescription pharmaceutical
products.

According to the complaint, during the Class Period, defendants
caused Forest Labs' stock price to be overstated by concealing
deficiencies with its Celexa/Lexapro drugs in treating
adolescent depression. When Forest Labs ultimately disclosed an
agreement with the New York State Attorney General to make
available summaries of previously undisclosed studies on the
drugs to the public, the price of Forest Labs stock dropped to
as low as $36 per share.

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.


FOREST LABORATORIES: Schiffrin & Barroway Files Stock Suit in NY
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York on behalf of all securities
purchasers of Forest Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: FRX) ("Forest" or
the "Company") between August 15, 2002 and August 31, 2004
inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Forest, Howard Solomon, and Kenneth
Goodman with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
More specifically, the Complaint alleges that the Company failed
to disclose and misrepresented the following material adverse
facts known to defendants or recklessly disregarded by them:

     (1) that the defendants failed to publish data showing that
         its SSRI's, Celexa and Lexapro, had mores side effects
         and raised the risk of suicide in children;

     (2) that the Company, despite the unpublished data,
         aggressively marketed the SSRIs; and

     (3) that the Company's Alzheimer's treatment was
         ineffective.

On August 31, 2004, Forest announced that in a preliminary
analysis, data from the first Phase III study of the
investigational Alzheimer's disease treatment, neramexane,
failed to achieve statistical significance. News of this shocked
the marked. Shares of Forest fell $3.87 per share, or $8.44
percent, on September 1, 2004, to close at $41.98 per share.

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.


FOREST LABORATORIES: Stull Stull Lodges NY Securities Fraud Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Stull, Stull & Brody initiated a class action
lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York, against Forest Laboratories, Inc. ("Forest
Labs" or the "Company") (NYSE:FRX) on behalf of purchasers of
Forest Labs securities between August 15, 2002 and September 1,
2004, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges that Forest Labs violated federal
securities laws by issuing false or misleading public
statements. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that Forest Labs
concealed deficiencies with its Celexa/Lexapro drugs in treating
adolescent depression and when Forest Labs ultimately disclosed
an agreement with the New York State Attorney General to make
available summaries of previously undisclosed studies on the
drugs, the price of Forest Labs stock dropped to as low as $36
per share.

For more details, contact Tzivia Brody, Esq. of Stull, Stull &
Brody by Phone: 1-800-337-4983 by Fax: 212/490-2022 by E-mail:
at SSBNY@aol.com or visit their Web site: http://www.ssbny.com.


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

The complaint alleges that Defendants violated Sections 10(b)
and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder. Specifically, the complaint alleges that
the Company failed to disclose or misrepresented that its leases
originated by its U.K. subsidiary, Hypercom EMEA, Inc., were
improperly accounted for as sales leases rather than operating
leases until February 4, 2005, when Hypercom announced that it
would restate its 2004 quarterly financials. This improper
recording of the leases had the impact of overstating its net
revenue in the first three quarters of 2004 by at least $4
million and as such the Company's results were not prepared in
accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

The impact of this restatement would be to decrease net revenue
by up to $4 million. Shares of Hypercom reacted negatively to
the news, falling $1.00 per share or 18.3% to close at $4.46 on
heavy volume.

For more details, contact Christopher Keller, Esq. of The Law
Firm of Goodkind Labaton Rudoff & Sucharow LLP by Phone:
(800) 321-0476 or visit their Web site:
http://www.glrslaw.com/get/?case=Hypercom.


VEECO INSTRUMENTS: Murray Frank Lodges Stock Fraud Suit in NY
-------------------------------------------------------------
The Law firm of Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP initiated a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York on behalf of shareholders who
purchased or otherwise acquired the securities of Veeco
Instruments Inc. ("Veeco" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:VECO)
between April 26, 2004 and February 10, 2005, inclusive (the
"Class Period").

The complaint charges Veeco, Edward Braun and John Rein, Jr.
with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. More
specifically, the Complaint alleges that the Company failed to
disclose and misrepresented the following material adverse facts
known to defendants or recklessly disregarded by them:

     (1) that improper accounting procedures were in place at
         the Company's TurboDisc division;

     (2) that these improper accounting procedures caused the
         Company to materially overstate its net revenue for the
         first three quarters of 2004 by at least $7.5 million;

     (3) that the Company's financial statements were not
         prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted
         Accounting Principles ("GAAP");

     (4) that the Company lacked adequate internal controls and
         was therefore unable to ascertain the true financial
         condition of the Company; and

     (5) that as a result, the value of the Company's net income
         and financial results were materially overstated at all
         relevant times.

On February 11, 2005, before the market opened, Veeco announced
that it would postpone the release of audited results for the
fourth quarter and full year 2004 pending completion of an
internal investigation of improper accounting transactions at
its TurboDisc division. News of this shocked the market. Shares
of Veeco fell $1.90 per share, or 10%, to close at $16.96 per
share on unusually high trading volume.

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.


VIISAGE TECHNOLOGY: Klafter & Olsen Lodges Securities Suit in MA
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Klafter & Olsen LLP has filed a securities fraud
class action complaint against Viisage Technology, Inc.
("Viisage") (Nasdaq: VISG). Filed in the U.S. District Court for
the District of Massachusetts, the complaint asserts claims on
behalf of investors who purchased the publicly traded securities
of Viisage during the period from July 22, 2004 through and
including March 2, 2005 (the "Class Period"). This lawsuit is
different than other lawsuits recently filed by plaintiffs which
allege a shorter class period beginning on October 25, 2004.

The complaint alleges that Viisage and its top officers and
directors engaged in a scheme to defraud Viisage investors in
violation of the federal securities laws. During the Class
Period, defendants embarked on a plan to falsely portray Viisage
as a turnaround story in order to complete a secondary public
offering to raise funds to pay off the millions of dollars in
debts owed to two of its directors and to further enrich
Viisage's insiders through their sales of Viisage stock from
their personal holdings. The reality was that:

     (1) Viisage had engaged in improper conduct with respect to
         a $20 million contract with the State of Georgia's
         Department of Motor Vehicle Safety;

     (2) Viisage had improperly inflated its reported revenues
         in the third and fourth quarters 2004; and

     (3) Viisage's internal accounting controls were so flawed
         that they qualified as having a "material weakness"
         under Public Company Accounting Oversight Board's
         Accounting Standard No. 2 and, as such, violated the
         provisions Sarbanes-Oxley relating to the Company's
         ability to file accurate financial statements.

For more details, contact Kurt B. Olsen of Klafter & Olsen LLP,
by Phone: +1-202-261-3553 or visit their Web site:
http://www.klafterolsen.com.


                            *********


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

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

                            *********


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

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by
Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Fairless Hills,
Pennsylvania, USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Frederick, Maryland
USA.   Glenn Ruel Senorin, Aurora Fatima Antonio and Lyndsey
Resnick, Editors.

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

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

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

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

                  * * *  End of Transmission  * * *