CAR_Public/051202.mbx             C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

            Friday, December 2, 2005, Vol. 7, No. 239

                           Headlines

ACLARA BIOSCIENCES: Final Fairness Hearing Set April 2006 in NY
ART TECHNOLOGY: MA Court Yet To Rule on Summary Judgment Motion
BLOCKBUSTER INC.: CA Court Affirms Dismissal of Antitrust Claims
BLOCKBUSTER INC.: DE Court Mulls Certification of Investor Suit
BLOCKBUSTER INC.: FL Court Denies Certification For FLSA Lawsuit

BLOCKBUSTER INC.: Cashiers, Clerks File FL FLSA Violations Suit
BLOCKBUSTER INC.: Continues To Face Suits V. Late Fees Program
BLOCKBUSTER INC.: CA Court Dismisses CA Overtime Wage Lawsuit
BLOCKBUSTER INC.: Continues To Face Suits V. Viewing Fee Policy
CALIFORNIA: Cedar Fire Victims Consider Appealing Dismissed Suit

CHINA: Melvyn Weiss to Meet With Chinese Regulators in June 2006
DE BEERS: Reaches $250M Settlement NJ Diamond Price-Fixing Case
DIGIMARC CORPORATION: Final Fairness Hearing Set April 26,2006
DIGIMARC CORPORATION: OR Court Mulls Securities Suit Dismissal
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Case Over Tax Assessments Heads to Court

EARTHLINK: CA Appeals Court Junks Agreement Arbitration Clause
FOUNDRY NETWORKS: NY Court Approves Securities Suit Settlement
GENERAL MOTORS: NY Mohawk Indians File Suit Over PCB Pollution
ILLINOIS: Fairview Heights's Hotel Suit Removed to Federal Court
INTERNET CAPITAL: Final NY Suit Settlement Hearing Set Jan. 2006

IPO SECURITIES LITIGATION: Settlement Hearing Set April 24, 2006
J2 GLOBAL: Faces Consumer Fraud, Breach of Contract Suit in CA
MARTHA STEWART: Continues To Face Securities, Derivative Suits
MBI DISTRIBUTING: Agrees To Halt Manufacture of Faulty Eye Drops
MERCK & CO.: First Federal Trial Over Vioxx Begins in TX Court

MISSOURI: Judge Grants Certification to Inmate's Abortion Suit
MONSANTO CO.: Moves To Transfer American Seed Lawsuit To E.D. MO
MONSANTO CO.: MO Court Mulls Filing of Amended Antitrust Lawsuit
ORTHO EVRA: FDA Approves Updated Labels For Contraceptive Patch
PROVIDENCE HEALTH: Fitch Ratings Unaffected by Settlement in OR

SONICWALL INC.: Final Fairness Hearing Set in NY Next April
SONUS NETWORKS: MA Court Dismisses Securities Fraud Litigation
SONUS NETWORKS: Asks MA Court To Dismiss Amended Securities Suit
SONY BMG: Security Researcher Joins Legal Team in NY XCP Suit
SUPPORTSOFT INC.: Asks CA Court To Dismiss Amended Stock Lawsuit

SUPPORTSOFT INC.: NY Settlement Fairness Hearing Set Jan. 2006
TOBACCO LITIGATION: FL High Court Junks Second-Hand Smoke Appeal
UNITED STATES: High Court Considers Limits to Abortion Protests
WEALTH SYSTEMS: FTC Orders Refund Due To Fraud, Deceptive Trade
WET SEAL: Faces Consolidated First Amended Complaint in C.D. CA

ZHONE TECHNOLOGIES: NJ Court Refuses To Review Lawsuit Dismissal

                       Asbestos Alert

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Chase Corp. Responds to Discovery Request
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Study Reveals More Deaths in Kubota Factory
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: UK Hotelier's Kin to Sue in Wrongful Death
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Aussie State Confronts New Wave of Victims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Concerns Raised Over S. Africa Asbestos Ban

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Aussie MP Urges Passing of Compensation Law
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Hardie Shares Rise on NSW Compensation Deal
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Hardie Reaches Delayed Deal With NSW Govt.
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Marconi Corp. Subject to Ex-Employee Claims
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: JPN Schools Still Exposed to Asbestos Risk

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Japan Affirms Asbestos Victims' Legislation
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Japan to Impose Payout Share to All Firms
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Hardie Funds May Not Flow Before March 2006
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Kaiser Settles US$67 Mil Third Party Claim
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Aussie Unions Could Face up to AUD33T Fines

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Federal-Mogul to Hand T&N Workers GBP36 Mil
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Release of Grace Sampling Documents Granted
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Phillips Suit v. Union Carbide Remanded
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: GA Court Rules on Hall Suit in Favor of CSX
ASBESTOS LITIGATION: CA Court Reverses Ruling on Suit V. Carbide

                   New Securities Fraud Cases

HELEN OF TROY LTD.: Dyer & Shuman Sets Lead Plaintiff Deadline
HELEN OF TROY LTD.: Federman & Sherwood Lodges Fraud Suit in TX
HYDROFLO INC.: Dyer & Shuman Schedules Lead Plaintiff Deadline
STONE ENERGY: Goldman Scarlato Lodges Securities Suit in W.D. LA
STONE ENERGY: Lerach Coughlin Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in LA

STONE ENERGY: Schatz & Nobel Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in LA
UNIVERSAL AMERICAN: Dyer & Shuman Sets Lead Plaintiff Deadline


                            *********


ACLARA BIOSCIENCES: Final Fairness Hearing Set April 2006 in NY
---------------------------------------------------------------
The final fairness hearing for the settlement of the
consolidated securities class action filed against ACLARA
Biosciences, Inc. and certain of its former officers and
directors, (referred to together as the "ACLARA defendants"),
styled "In re ACLARA BioSciences, Inc. Initial Public Offering
Securities Litigation," is set for April 26,2006 in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of New York.  
The suit also names several of the underwriters involved in the
Company's initial public offering, or IPO, as defendants.

This class action is brought on behalf of a purported class of
purchasers of ACLARA common stock from the time of ACLARA's
March 20, 2000 IPO through December 6, 2000.  The central
allegation in this action is that the underwriters in the ACLARA
IPO solicited and received undisclosed commissions from, and
entered into undisclosed arrangements with, certain investors
who purchased ACLARA stock in the IPO and the after-market. The
complaint also alleges that the ACLARA defendants violated the
federal securities laws by failing to disclose in the IPO
prospectus that the underwriters had engaged in these allegedly
undisclosed arrangements.

More than 300 issuers who went public between 1998 and 2000 have
been named in similar lawsuits. In July 2002, an omnibus motion
to dismiss all complaints against issuers and individual
defendants affiliated with issuers (including ACLARA defendants)
was filed by the entire group of issuer defendants in these
similar actions.  On February 19, 2003, the Court in this action
issued its decision on the defendants' omnibus motion to
dismiss.  This decision dismissed the Section 10(b) claim as to
ACLARA but denied the motion to dismiss Section 11 claim as to
ACLARA and virtually all of the other defendants.

On June 26, 2003, the plaintiffs in the consolidated class
action lawsuits announced a proposed settlement with ACLARA and
the other issuer defendants. The proposed settlement, which was
approved by ACLARA's board of directors, provides that the
insurers of all settling issuers will guarantee that the
plaintiffs recover $1 billion from non-settling defendants,
including the investment banks who acted as underwriters in
those offerings.  In the event that the plaintiffs do not
recover $1 billion, the insurers for the settling issuers will
make up the difference.  Under the proposed settlement, the
maximum amount that could be charged to ACLARA's insurance
policy in the event that the plaintiffs recovered nothing from
the investment banks would be approximately $3.9 million.  

On August 31, 2005, the Court granted unconditional preliminary
approval of the proposed settlement. The Court set the
settlement fairness hearing for April 24, 2006. At the fairness
hearing, the Court will decide whether the settlement is fair,
reasonable, and adequate for all class members, and whether to
grant final approval of the settlement. While the Federal
District Court has preliminarily approved the settlement it is
possible that the Court may not give its final approval to the
settlement in whole or part.

The suit is styled "In re ACLARA Biosciences, Inc. Initial
Public Offering Sec. Litigation," related to "In re Initial
Public Offering Securities Litigation, Master File No. 21 MC 92
(SAS)," filed in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York under Judge Shira A. Scheindlin.  
The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

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

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

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

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

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

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


ART TECHNOLOGY: MA Court Yet To Rule on Summary Judgment Motion
---------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the District of
Massachusetts has yet to rule on Art Technology Group, Inc.'s
motion to dismiss the remaining claims in the consolidated class
action filed against it and certain of its former officers.

Seven purported class action suits were initially filed,
alleging that the defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a)
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5
thereunder, which generally may subject issuers of securities
and persons controlling those issuers to civil liabilities for
fraudulent actions or defects in the public disclosure required
by securities laws.  Four of the cases were filed on various
dates in October 2001 in the U.S. District Court for the
District of Massachusetts.  Three of the cases were initially
filed in the Central District of California on various dates in
August and September 2001.  All of the actions were consolidated
and transferred to the District of Massachusetts on or about
November 27, 2001.

On December 13, 2001, the court issued an order of consolidation
in which it consolidated all actions filed against the Company
and appointed certain individuals as lead plaintiffs in the
consolidated action. It also appointed two law firms as co-lead
counsel, and a third law firm as liaison counsel. Counsel for
the plaintiffs filed a consolidated amended complaint applicable
to all of the consolidated actions.

On April 19, 2002, the Company filed a motion to dismiss the
case.  On September 4, 2003, the court issued a ruling
dismissing all but one of the plaintiffs' allegations.  The
remaining allegation is based on the veracity of a public
statement made by one of the Company's former officers and is
the subject of a motion to dismiss and summary judgment filed by
the Company on August 31, 2004 currently pending before the
court.

The suit is styled "In Re: ART TECHNOLOGY Securities Litigation,
case no. 1:01-cv-11731-NG," filed in the United States District
Court for the District of Massachusetts, under Judge Nancy
Gertner.  Representing the Company are Dyan Finguerra-DeCharme,
Mary Jo Johnson, William H. Pane, Jeffrey B. Rudman and Matthew
A. Stowe, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, 399 Park
Avenue, New York, NY 10022, Phone: 212-230-8800, Fax:
212-230-8888; and Nancy Margaret Gorton, Wilmer Cutler Pickering
Hale and Dorr LLP, 60 State Street, Boston, MA 02109, Phone:
617-742-9100, E-mail: maryjo.johnson@wilmerhale.com,
william.paine@wilmerhale.com, jeffrey.rudman@wilmerhale.com,
matthew.stowe@wilmerhale.com.   Representing the plaintiffs are:

     (1) Theodore M. Hess-Mahan and Thomas G. Shapiro, Shapiro
         Haber & Urmy LLP, 53 State Street, Boston, MA 02108,
         Phone: 617-439-3939, Fax: 617-439-0134, E-mail:
         ted@shulaw.com

     (2) David C. Katz, Weiss & Lurie, 551 Fifth Avenue, Suite
         1600, New York, NY 10176, Phone: 212-682-3025, Fax:
         212-682-3010, E-mail: dkatz@wllawny.com

     (3) Douglas M. Risen, Sherrie R. Savett, Berger & Montague,
         P.C., 1622 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103,
         Phone: 215-875-3000,
  
     (4) Patrick K. Slyne, Stull, Stull & Brody, 6 East 45th
         Street, New York, NY 10017, Phone: 212-687-7230, Fax:
         212-490-2022


BLOCKBUSTER INC.: CA Court Affirms Dismissal of Antitrust Claims
----------------------------------------------------------------
The California Appeals Court tentatively affirmed the dismissal
of the antitrust conspiracy claims filed against Blockbuster,
Inc., Viacom, major motion picture studios and their home video
subsidiaries.

The suit was initially filed in California state court, alleging
federal antitrust and California state law claims.  The suit was
dismissed with prejudice in February 2003.  The plaintiffs
appealed the dismissal, as well as a prior denial of class
certification.  In a tentative decision, the California
appellate court affirmed dismissal of the antitrust conspiracy
claims but reversed and remanded to the trial court for further
consideration the state law unfair practices and unfair
competition claims. The appellate court did not consider the
appeal of the decision denying class certification.


BLOCKBUSTER INC.: DE Court Mulls Certification of Investor Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
The New Castle County Chancery Court in Delaware has yet to rule
on certification of the class action filed against Blockbuster,
Inc. related to a proposed stock swap mechanism with Viacom,
Inc.

Howard Vogel filed the lawsuit against the Company, Viacom, John
Muething, Linda Griego, John Antioco, Jackie Clegg, and
Blockbuster's directors at that time who were also directors
and/or officers of Viacom as defendants.  The suit alleges that
a stock swap mechanism anticipated to be announced by Viacom
would be a breach of fiduciary duty to minority stockholders and
that the defendants engaged in unfair dealing and coercive
conduct.  The stockholder class action complaint asked the court
to certify a class and to enjoin the then-anticipated
transaction.  


BLOCKBUSTER INC.: FL Court Denies Certification For FLSA Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Southern District of
Florida denied plaintiffs' motion for conditional class
certification of a lawsuit filed against Blockbuster, Inc.,
alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Yajeshwarie Ramlakhan filed the suit on April 11, 2005, on
behalf of all Blockbuster cashiers and clerks. The plaintiff
claims that she, and other similarly situated employees, were
not paid overtime compensation. Plaintiff seeks recovery of
alleged unpaid overtime compensation with interest, liquidated
damages, attorney's fees and costs of suit.


BLOCKBUSTER INC.: Cashiers, Clerks File FL FLSA Violations Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
Blockbuster, Inc. faces a collective class action complaint
filed in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Florida, alleging violations of the Fair Labor
Standard Act on behalf of the Company's Blockbuster cashiers and
clerks.

Belinda Rodriguez filed the suit on August 9,2005, alleging that
she, and other similarly situated employees, were not paid
overtime compensation.  Plaintiff seeks recovery of alleged
unpaid overtime compensation with interest, liquidated damages,
attorney's fees and costs of suit.


BLOCKBUSTER INC.: Continues To Face Suits V. Late Fees Program
--------------------------------------------------------------
Blockbuster, Inc. continues to face several lawsuits arising out
of its "end of late fees" program.

On February 15, 2005, Anna Kane filed a putative class action
against the Company in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Ocean
County, alleging fraud, breach of contract, negligent
misrepresentation, an unfair trade practice and a violation of
the New Jersey consumer fraud laws regarding deceptive
advertising.  The suit seeks compensatory and injunctive relief.  
On October 27, 2005, the New Jersey Superior Court stayed the
trial court action and directed that the individual claim of Ms.
Kane be sent to arbitration.

On February 18, 2005, Peter C. Harvey, New Jersey attorney
general, filed a lawsuit against the Company in the Superior
Court of New Jersey asserting a violation of the New Jersey
consumer fraud statute and seeking statutory civil penalties,
injunctive relief and attorney's fees.

On February 22, 2005, Thomas Tallarino filed a putative class
action in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County,
alleging conversion and a violation of California consumer
protection statutes prohibiting untrue and misleading
advertising. The suit seeks equitable and injunctive relief. The
Company removed the case to the United States District Court,
Central District of California.

In February 2005, Gary Lustberg and Michael L. Galeno each filed
a putative class action against the Company in New York state
court, each of which the Company has removed to federal court in
New York. These two New York suits allege breach of contract,
unjust enrichment and a violation of New York's consumer
protection statutes prohibiting deceptive and misleading
business practices. The suits seek compensatory and punitive
damages and injunctive relief.

On March 1, 2005, Steve Galfano filed a putative class action in
the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, alleging
breach of express warranty, and a violation of California's
business and professions code as an unfair business practice and
misleading advertising claims. The suit seeks equitable,
injunctive and compensatory relief.

On March 4, 2005, Ronit Yeroushalmi filed a putative class
action in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County,
alleging fraud and a violation of California consumer protection
statutes prohibiting untrue and misleading advertising. The suit
also alleges unjust enrichment, and seeks compensatory and
punitive damages, injunctive relief and other equitable
remedies.  The Company removed the case to the United States
District Court, Central District of California.

Also on March 4, 2005, Beth Creighton filed a putative class
action in the Circuit Court of Multnomah County, Oregon alleging
a violation of Oregon's consumer protection statutes prohibiting
deceptive and misleading business practices. The suit alleges
fraud and unjust enrichment, and seeks equitable and injunctive
relief.  The Company removed the case to the United States
District Court of Oregon.

On March 22, 2005, Gustavo Sanchez filed a putative class action
in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County,
alleging a violation of California's business and professions
code as an unfair business practice and misleading advertising
claim, and a violation of the California rental-purchase act.
The suit seeks compensatory, statutory and injunctive relief.
The Company removed the case to the United States District
Court, Central District of California.

On April 11, 2005, Caleb Lucas-Hansen Marker filed an action in
the District Court of Ingham County, Michigan asserting a
violation of Michigan consumer protection act and the
advertising and pricing act. The suit sought actual or,
alternatively, statutory damages.  The Company moved to compel
arbitration, the court agreed, and on July 25, 2005 dismissed
the case with prejudice.  On April 13, 2005, Kenneth W. Edwards
filed a putative class action in the District Court of Pittsburg
County, Oklahoma, alleging fraud and a violation of Oklahoma's
consumer protection statute. The suit seeks actual damages and
civil penalties.  The Company removed the case to the United
States District Court, Eastern District of Oklahoma.  


BLOCKBUSTER INC.: CA Court Dismisses CA Overtime Wage Lawsuit
-------------------------------------------------------------
The Superior Court of California for Los Angeles County to
dismiss plaintiffs' claims in the overtime wage suit filed
against Blockbuster, Inc. without prejudice.

On July 9, 2004, Sheela Salazar and Alberto Vasquez filed a
putative class action complaint against the Company in Superior
Court of California, Los Angeles County, on behalf of all
hourly-paid California employees for a period starting July 9,
2000. The plaintiffs claim the Company fails to pay overtime to
its California hourly-paid employees in violation of California
law, asserting fraud and violations of the California Labor
Code, Section 17200 of the California Business and Professions
Code, and certain California Industrial Welfare Commission wage
orders. Plaintiffs sought recovery of alleged unpaid money,
wages, penalties, costs and attorney fees in an unstated dollar
amount.   


BLOCKBUSTER INC.: Continues To Face Suits V. Viewing Fee Policy
---------------------------------------------------------------
Blockbuster, Inc. continues to face several lawsuits, alleging
claims regarding the Company's "extended viewing fees policies."

In January 2002, a Texas court entered a final judgment
approving a national class settlement (the "Scott settlement").  
Under the approved settlement, the Company paid $9.25 million in
plaintiffs' attorney's fees during the first quarter of 2005 and
is currently making certificates available to class members for
rentals and discounts. One additional extended viewing fee case
in the United States is inactive and subject to dismissal
pursuant to the Scott settlement.

There is one case, filed in February 1999 in the Circuit Court
of Cook County, Illinois, Chancery Division, Cohen v.
Blockbuster, not completely resolved by the Scott settlement.
Marc Cohen, Uwe Stueckrad, Marc Perper and Denita Sanders assert
common law and statutory claims for fraud and deceptive
practices, unjust enrichment and unlawful penalties regarding
the Company's extended viewing fee policies against the Company,
individually and on behalf of all entities doing business as the
Company or Blockbuster Video. Plaintiffs seek relief on behalf
of themselves and other plaintiff class members including actual
damages, attorney's fees and injunctive relief.

By order dated April 27, 2004, the Cohen trial court certified
plaintiff classes for United States residents who incurred
extended viewing fees and/or purchased unreturned videos between
February 18, 1994 and December 31, 2004, and who were not part
of the Scott settlement or have a Blockbuster membership with an
arbitration clause.  In the same order, the trial court
certified a defendant class comprised of all entities that have
done business in the United States as Blockbuster or Blockbuster
Video since February18, 1994.

In March 2003, the Quebec Superior Court certified a class of
customers in Quebec who paid extended viewing fees during the
period of January 1, 1992 to the present. The case was tried in
March 2004, and in September 2004 the court ruled in the
Company's favor, dismissed the lawsuit and ordered plaintiffs to
reimburse the Company its costs. Plaintiffs have appealed.

The remaining two Canadian cases are putative class action
lawsuits. William Robert Hazell filed an action in the Supreme
Court of British Columbia on August24, 2001 against Viacom
Entertainment Canada Inc., Viacom, Blockbuster Canada Inc. and
Blockbuster. The case asserts claims for unconscionability,
violations of the trade practices act, breach of contract and
high-handed conduct. The relief sought includes actual damages,
disgorgement, and exemplary and punitive damages.

Douglas R. Hedley filed an action in the Court of Queen's Bench,
Judicial Centre of Regina, in Saskatchewan on July 19, 2002. The
case asserts claims of unconscionability, unjust enrichment,
misrepresentation and deception, and seeks recovery of actual
damages of $3 million, disgorgement, declaratory relief,
punitive and exemplary damages of $1 million and attorney's
fees.


CALIFORNIA: Cedar Fire Victims Consider Appealing Dismissed Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Two individuals involved in the a $100 million lawsuit against
the county and the state over the deadly Cedar fire said that
victims are likely to appeal a judge's decision to dismiss the
case, but they are still considering their options, The North
County Times reports.

Chicago-based attorney Mark Grotefeld, who represented the
residents who filed the lawsuit, told The North County Times in
a voice mail message that he and his clients will spend the next
week considering what to do, but that an appeal is likely.

In a separate voice mail message, Diane Knuepfer, a Julian
resident who lost her home in the 2003 blaze, told The North
County Times that the fire's victims are "looking forward to an
appeal." She further said, "This was the largest wildfire in
California history. To dismiss it without any attempt to look at
the government's response is unfair to the Cedar fire victims."

Deputy Attorney General Michael Cayaban, who represented the
state, told The North County Times that he was "very satisfied"
with the court's ruling. Chief Deputy County Counsel Nate
Northup, the county's attorney, also told The North County Times
that the ruling was a "relief."

Set as a signal fire by a lost hunter on October 25, 2003, and
fueled by dry vegetation and hot Santa Ana winds, the Cedar fire
left at least 14 people dead and destroyed more than 2,200
homes. The blaze, which began in the Cleveland National Forest,
burned a swath from Ramona to Interstate 8 and became the
largest wildfire in state history, an earlier Class Action
Reporter story (September 26, 2005) reports.

Fifteen people sued the county and the state in San Diego
Superior Court, and asked that court to certify the case as a
class action lawsuit on behalf of all Cedar fire victims. They
alleged that the county and state did not properly manage the
brush on the rural federal land where the fire began. In
addition they also alleged that both the county and state failed
to dispatch emergency workers to the fire quickly enough, and
that 911 operators gave false assurances that help was on the
way.

However, in a written ruling that was a big blow to fire
victims, Superior Court Judge Lillian Y. Lim said that neither
the county nor the state owned or controlled the federal forest
land, and that state law says no public agency or employee can
be held liable for injuries caused by "a natural condition of
any unimproved public property."

Judge Lim, whose ruling may bring to an end the lawsuit, since
she did not leave open any door for the plaintiffs to amend and
re-file it, also pointed out that state laws provide legal
immunities that protect the government from lawsuits alleging a
failure to dispatch help promptly even if a failure to provide
firefighting service is willful or reckless. Mr. Cayaban
maintains that there was no willful or reckless failure to
provide service in the Cedar fire. The judge further ruled that
the allegations in the Cedar fire lawsuit also failed to
overcome legal immunities protecting 911 emergency dispatchers.

Judge Lim's decision to toss the suit comes about a week and a
half after the hunter who set the Cedar fire to signal for help
was sentenced in federal court. Sergio Martinez, who pleaded
guilty to setting the fire, received a punishment of five years
probation, six-months confinement in a halfway house, a $9,000
restitution and 960 hours of community service, an earlier Class
Action Reporter story (November 30, 2005) reports.


CHINA: Melvyn Weiss to Meet With Chinese Regulators in June 2006
----------------------------------------------------------------
Prominent class action lawyer Melvyn Weiss, name partner of top
plaintiff firm Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, is to meet
officials from the Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission
(CSRC) in June 2006 to explore how U.S. securities law will
affect China, as litigators are predicting an upturn in foreign
claims involving Chinese companies, The Legal Week reports.

Mr. Weiss stressed that it was not a "marketing effort," but
part of a recent program exploring the wider U.S. legal system
between the Shanghai Jiaotong University of Law and his firm.
The initiative, which is being overseen by Milberg Weiss of
counsel Sol Schreiber, is focusing on class actions and
securities litigation at a time when Chinese companies are
actively hunting for foreign acquisitions.

The firm hopes to help establish U.S. legal studies courses at
Chinese law schools and send U.S. judges, law professors and
litigators to lecture at the schools. Mr. Weiss told The Legal
Week, "I have been invited to speak at upcoming programs in
2006. with Chinese law students, as well as representatives from
the CSRC, to discuss how securities litigation could affect the
country."

The trip is significant as Chinese companies are coming under
increasing scrutiny from plaintiff attorneys after a series of
U.S. listings, including local players such as China Petroleum &
Chemical, China Telecom and China Unicom. Milberg Weiss notably
in 2004 launched an action against China Life Insurance Company,
and this year Schiffrin & Barroway filed a case against China
Aviation Oil.

Mr. Weiss told The Legal Week, "A lot of Chinese companies are
controlled or partly-owned by the Government and, with more of
those companies listing in the U.S., the authorities have an
important interest in the securities litigation system."

However, some rivals claim the initiative will also place Mr.
Weiss as the most influential attorney in America's
controversial securities bar, in a strong position to pick up
future China-related work. One head of securities litigation
with a top 20 U.S. law firm commented: "If Mel is seen as being
active in the Chinese market, with his existing reputation in
the U.S., he could become the natural choice for both Chinese
investors in U.S. companies and actions against Chinese
companies."


DE BEERS: Reaches $250M Settlement NJ Diamond Price-Fixing Case
---------------------------------------------------------------
De Beers, the world's No. 1 diamond supplier, agreed to pay $250
million to settle class action lawsuits by U.S. consumers,
retailers and jewelry makers who alleged that the company fixed
prices from 1994 to 2005, Bloomberg reports.

The settlement, which affects anyone who bought diamonds in the
past 11 years, was given preliminary approval recently by U.S.
District Judge Stanley Chesler in Trenton, New Jersey. De Beers,
based in Johannesburg, South Africa agreed to obey U.S.
antitrust laws as well as U.S. court jurisdiction over the
agreement.

Company attorney Steven Sunshine told Bloomberg, "With this
settlement, De Beers is stepping forward, putting its past
behind it and truly becoming a responsible global citizen."

De Beers, which Ernest Oppenheimer turned into a global cartel
in the 1930s, pleaded guilty in July 2004 to fixing prices of
industrial diamonds and agreed to a $10 million fine, ending a
10-year fight with U.S. prosecutors.

Previously, the company indicated that it would plead guilty to
an American suit, charging it with fixing the prices of
industrial diamonds. The company failed to appear in court to
face that suit, filed in 1994 in Columbus, Ohio, alleging that
it conspired to violate antitrust laws, an earlier Class Action
Reporter story (July 13, 2004) reports.

The company faces other class action suits alleging price fixing
in the sale of polished and rough stones bought directly from
the company or from distributors known as sight holders. The
U.S. accounts for 55 percent of retail diamond sales and has
been closed to De Beers since the first antitrust complaint was
filed after World War II.

Judge Chesler's preliminary approval cleared the way for
notification of consumers. Mr. Sunshine of the law firm of
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in Washington told Bloomberg that
in the next few months, the judge would hold a fairness hearing,
appoint a special master to decide how to distribute the
settlement to potentially millions of consumers and decide on
fees for plaintiffs' attorneys.

According to Mr. Sunshine, notices will be published in
newspapers and on the Internet telling diamond-buyers of the
settlement. The special master will establish a mechanism for
dividing the cash settlement, he adds.

De Beers allegedly "monopolized the international diamond
business through its control of mines and a web of agreements"
with diamond suppliers, according to a statement issued by eight
plaintiffs' law firms. The company under the settlement though
did not admit to any wrongdoing.

The settlement though came as a surprise to some analysts. In an
interview with Bloomberg, John Meyer, a mining analyst at Numis
Securities in London said, "The fact that they are paying in a
class action suit is a surprise." Chaim Even-Zohar of the Tel
Aviv-based industry consultant Tacy Ltd., told Bloomberg in a
telephone interview, "I would have preferred a strong, robust
defense" instead of a settlement. He adds, "They are still
vulnerable."

However, John M. Majoras, an attorney at Jones Day in Washington
pointed out that the settlement is part of the company's
"ongoing cleanup of the antitrust mess" after its 1994
indictment in Columbus, Ohio. He told Bloomberg, "It appears
that they are trying to clean out the civil lawsuits and leave
themselves with the ability to move forward."

De Beers's guilty plea last year to a 1994 indictment in Ohio
opened the way for a possible return by the company to the U.S.
It had operated in the U.S. through intermediaries since shortly
after World War II.

From 1929, when Mr. Oppenheimer took over as chairman, to 2000,
De Beers bought the output of rivals to control diamond prices,
at times selling four of every five unpolished stones. De Beers
is 45 percent owned by Anglo American Plc, the second-biggest
mining company.

The settlement actually resolves two federal lawsuits pending
before Judge Chesler, one in state court in San Francisco and
one in state court in Maricopa County, Arizona, according to Mr.
Sunshine. In an e-mailed statement from London, De Beers told
Bloomberg that settling the cases would "bring an end to a
number of disputes" and allow it to pursue "global interests."

The suit is styled, "SULLIVAN et al v. DB INVESTMENTS, INC. et
al, Case No. 3:04-cv-02819-SRC-TJB," filed in the United States
District Court for the District of New Jersey, under Judge
Stanley R. Chesler with referral to Judge Tonianne J.
Bongiovanni. Representing the Plaintiff/s are, John A. Maher,
450 SPRINGFIELD AVE., SUMMIT, NJ 07901, Phone: (908) 277-2444,
E-mail: maherlaw@att.net.


DIGIMARC CORPORATION: Final Fairness Hearing Set April 26,2006
--------------------------------------------------------------
Final fairness hearing for the settlement of consolidated
securities class action filed against Digimarc Corporation,
certain of its officers and directors and certain underwriters
of the Company's initial public offering is set for April
26,2006 in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York.

Beginning in May 2001, a number of substantially identical class
action complaints alleging violations of the federal securities
laws were filed naming approximately 300 companies, including
the Company, certain of its officers and directors, and certain
as defendants. The complaints have since been consolidated into
a single action, and a consolidated amended complaint was filed
in April 2002.

The amended complaint alleges, among other things, that the
underwriters of the Company's initial public offering violated
securities laws by failing to disclose certain alleged
compensation arrangements (such as undisclosed commissions or
stock stabilization practices) in the Company's initial public
offering registration statement and by engaging in manipulative
practices to artificially inflate the price of the Company's
stock in the after-market subsequent to the Company's initial
public offering.

The Company and certain of its officers and directors are named
in the amended complaint pursuant to Section 11 of the
Securities Act of 1933, and Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 on the basis of an alleged
failure to disclose the underwriters' alleged compensation
arrangements and manipulative practices. The complaint seeks
unspecified damages.

The individual officer and director defendants entered into
tolling agreements and, pursuant to a court order dated October
9, 2002, were dismissed from the litigation without prejudice.
Furthermore, in July 2002, the Company and the other defendants
in the consolidated cases filed motions to dismiss the amended
complaint for failure to state a claim. The motion to dismiss
claims under Section 11 was denied as to virtually all the
defendants in the consolidated actions, including the Company.
The claims against the Company under Section 10(b), however,
were dismissed.

In June 2003, a committee of the Company's board of directors
conditionally approved a proposed partial settlement with the
plaintiffs in this matter. In June 2004, an agreement of
settlement was submitted to the court for preliminary approval.
The settlement would provide, among other things, a release of
the Company and of the individual defendants for the conduct
alleged in the amended complaint to be wrongful. The Company
would agree to undertake other responsibilities under the
partial settlement, including agreeing to assign away, not
assert, or release certain potential claims the Company may have
against its underwriters. Any direct financial impact of the
proposed settlement (other than defense costs incurred and
expensed prior to May 31, 2003) is expected to be borne by the
Company's insurers.  The court granted the preliminary approval
motion on February 15, 2005, subject to certain modifications.
On August 31, 2005, the court issued a preliminary order further
approving the modifications to the settlement and certifying the
settlement classes. The court also appointed the Notice
Administrator for the settlement and ordered that notice of the
settlement be distributed to all settlement class members
beginning on November 15, 2005 and completed by January 15,
2006. The settlement fairness hearing has been set for April 26,
2006.  Following the hearing, if the court determines that the
settlement is fair to the class members, the settlement will be
approved.

The suit is styled "IN RE LIBERATE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. INITIAL
PUBLIC OFFERING SECURITIES LITIGATION," filed in relation to "IN
RE INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING SECURITIES LITIGATION, Master File
No. 21 MC 92 (SAS)," both pending in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York, under Judge Shira
N. Scheindlin.  The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

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

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

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

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

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

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


DIGIMARC CORPORATION: OR Court Mulls Securities Suit Dismissal
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the District of Oregon has
yet to rule on Digimarc Corporation's motion to dismiss the
consolidated securities class action filed against it and
certain of its current and former directors.

Beginning in September 2004, three purported class action
lawsuits were commenced against the Company and certain of its
current and former directors and officers by or on behalf of
persons claiming to have purchased or otherwise acquired the
Company's securities during the period from April 17, 2002 to
July 28, 2004.  These lawsuits were filed in the United States
District Court for the District of Oregon and were consolidated
into one action for all purposes on December 16, 2004.

On May 16, 2005, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. The
complaint asserts claims under the federal securities laws,
specifically Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934, relating to the Company's announcement that it had
discovered errors in its accounting for software development
costs and project capitalization and other project cost
capitalization accounting practices, and that it likely would be
required to restate its previously reported financial statements
for full fiscal year 2003 and the first two quarters of 2004.
Specifically, the action alleges that the Company issued false
and misleading financial statements and created a misperception
regarding the profitability of the Company in order to inflate
the value of Company stock, which resulted in insider sales of
personal holdings at inflated values, and that the Company
maintained insufficient accounting controls, which created an
environment where improper accounting could be used to
manipulate financial results.  The complaint seeks unspecified
damages.

On June 15, 2005, the Company filed a motion to dismiss the
complaint. Plaintiffs filed a response on August 1, 2005. Due to
the inherent uncertainties of litigation and because the
lawsuits are still at a preliminary stage, the ultimate outcome
of the matter cannot be predicted.

The suit is styled "Garcia et al v. Digimarc Corporation et al.,
case no. 3:04-cv-01455-BR," filed in the United States District
Court for the District of Oregon, under Judge Anna J. Brown.  
Representing the plaintiffs are Gary M. Berne, Stoll Stoll Berne
Lokting & Shlachter, PC, 209 S.W. Oak Street, Fifth Floor,
Portland, OR 97204, Phone: (503) 227-1600, Fax: (503) 227-6840,
E-mail: gberne@ssbls.com; and Gary I. Grenley, Paul H.
Trinchero, Grenley Rotenberg Evans Bragg & Bodie PC, 1211 SW
Fifth Avenue, Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97204, Phone:
(503) 241-0570, Fax: (503) 241-0914, E-mail: ggrenley@grebb.com,
ptrinchero@grebb.com.  Representing the Company is Barnes H.
Ellis, Stoel Rives, LLP, 900 SW Fifth Avenue, Suite 2600,
Portland, OR 97204, Phone: (503) 294-9243, Fax: (503) 220-2480,
E-mail: bhellis@stoel.com.


DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Case Over Tax Assessments Heads to Court
--------------------------------------------------------------
Arguments are expected to begin soon in a class action lawsuit
that accuses the D.C. government of issuing standardized
property tax assessments to more than 45,000 homeowners back,
The Associated Press reports.

The case came about when homeowners in Cleveland Park discovered
that they were receiving identical tax increases. The city
wrongly used a formula to determine how much assessments should
rise or fall in a neighborhood, rather than looking at each
house individually, the suit argues.

The plaintiffs want refunds after a D.C. Superior Court judge
invalidated a third of the city's 2002 tax assessments in
September. Such a refund could cost the city as much as $44
million.

The Washington Examiner reports the city wants to reassess the
properties. D.C. chief financial officer Natwar Gandhi told
newspaper that the city would appeal the case.


EARTHLINK: CA Appeals Court Junks Agreement Arbitration Clause
--------------------------------------------------------------
An arbitration clause in an internet service provider's standard
service agreement is unconscionable because it requires
consumers to arbitrate relatively small claims in the company's
home state and prohibits class-wide claims, according to a
ruling by a California Court of Appeal, The Metropolitan News-
Enterprise reports.

The ruling by Division Four, which favors an EarthLink
subscriber and Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who attacked the
arbitration clause in an amicus brief, affirmed Los Angeles
Superior Court Judge Judith Chirlin's denial of the company's
petition to compel arbitration.

Ozgur Aral, the named plaintiff in the case, is seeking class
certification of an action charging Atlanta, Georgia-based
Earthlink with violating the Unfair Competition Law by charging
DSL subscriber fees from the date service is ordered, rather
than from the date the customer receives the equipment needed to
connect to the service.

A software engineer by profession, Mr. Aral claims that he was
charged for five weeks of service in 2003 that the did not
receive because his modem had not arrived. He brought suit on
behalf of all California customers who were similarly treated,
seeking an injunction against the practice and restitution of
all amounts unfairly obtained by EarthLink.

EarthLink responded to the complaint with a petition to compel
arbitration in Georgia. However, Judge Chirlin denied the
petition, holding that because the gravamen of the complaint was
a claim for injunctive relief that could not be awarded by an
arbitrator, the issues were not severable and the entire action
should be tried in court.

Though Justice Daniel Curry, writing for the Court of Appeal,
disagreed with the Judge Chirlin's reasoning, he did point out
that she was correct in denying the petition. According to him,
severance of non-arbitrable claims for injunctive relief from
those that seek monetary remedies, including restitution, is
appropriate where the arbitration agreement is otherwise
enforceable. Justice Curry though went on to conclude that the
EarthLink agreement could not be enforced.

In reaching that conclusion, Justice Curry rejected EarthLink's
contention that the Federal Arbitration Act requires that
challenges to the location of an arbitration be ruled on by the
arbitrator. The justice cited the recent ruling in Discover Bank
v. Superior Court (2005) 36 Cal.4th 148, which held that the FAA
does not preempt state law with respect to the determination of
whether an arbitration agreement violates fundamental public
policy. On the merits, the justice went on to state that the
plaintiff had established that both the forum clause and the
class waiver were unconscionable.

With respect to the latter the case, Justice Curry wrote,
"Although Mr. Aral did not allege fraud, the gravamen of the
complaint is that numerous consumers were cheated out of small
sums of money through deliberate behavior. Accepting these
allegations as true, as we must at this stage of the
proceedings, the class action waiver must be deemed
unconscionable under California law." The forum selection
clause, according to Justice Curry, is unenforceable under
traditional principles of contract law.

Justice Curry took issue with Net2Phone, Inc. v. Superior Court
(2003) 109 Cal.App.4th 583, in which a divided panel of the
district's Division Five upheld a forum selection clause in
Net2Phone's service agreement, requiring that customers litigate
disputes regarding the company's "telephony" service in New
Jersey. The court in that case acknowledged that the result
would likely be to kill the plaintiff's "private attorney
general" action, because New Jersey law only permits consumer
protection actions to be brought by injured parties or by the
state attorney general.

On that regard Justice Curry wrote, "Although we agree with the
dissent in Net2Phone that consumers with small monetary claims
are ill served by a consumer protection scheme that prohibits
private attorney general actions, we approach the problem from a
different perspective. We believe that a forum selection clause
that requires a consumer to travel 2,000 miles to recover a
small sum is not reasonable....Although both the California
Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court place a heavy
burden on the plaintiff who seeks to prove that a forum
selection clause is unreasonable, particularly where the alleged
unreasonableness is based on the additional expense and
inconvenience of litigating far from home, the burden was not
intended to be insurmountable."

The case, Aral v. EarthLink, Inc., B177146, was argued on appeal
by Christopher F. Robertson of Seyfarth Shaw for EarthLink and
Lawrence R. Cagney of Westrup Klick for Mr. Aral.


FOUNDRY NETWORKS: NY Court Approves Securities Suit Settlement
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Southern District of
New York granted preliminary approval to the settlement of the
consolidated securities class action filed against Foundry
Networks, Inc. and certain of its officers, styled "In re
Foundry Networks, Inc. Initial Public Offering Securities
Litigation, No. 01-CV-10640 (SAS)" related to "In re Initial
Public Offering Securities Litigation, No. 21 MC 92 (SAS)."

The case is brought purportedly on behalf of all persons who
purchased the Company's common stock from September 27, 1999
through December 6, 2000.  The operative amended complaint names
as defendants the Company and three of its officers (Foundry
Defendants), including its Chief Executive Officer and Chief
Financial Officer; and investment banking firms that served as
underwriters for the Company's initial public offering in
September 1999.

The amended complaint alleged violations of Sections 11 and
15 of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, on the grounds that the
registration statement for the initial public offering
(IPO) failed to disclose that the underwriters agreed to allow
certain customers to purchase shares in the IPO in exchange for
excess commissions to be paid to the underwriters, and the
underwriters arranged for certain customers to purchase
additional shares in the aftermarket at predetermined prices.  
The amended complaint also alleges that false or misleading
analyst reports were issued.

Similar allegations were made in lawsuits challenging over 300
other initial public offerings conducted in 1999 and 2000. The
cases were consolidated for pretrial purposes. On February 19,
2003, the Court ruled on all defendants' motions to dismiss.  In
ruling on motions to dismiss, the Court must treat the
allegations in the complaint as if they were true solely for
purposes of deciding the motions. The motion was denied as to
claims under the Securities Act of 1933 in the case involving
the Company. The same ruling was made in all but 10 of the other
cases. The Court dismissed the claims under Section 10(b) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against the Company and one of
the individual defendants and dismissed all of the Section 20(a)
"control person" claims.  The Court denied the motion to dismiss
the Section 10(b) claims against the Company's remaining
individual defendants on the basis that those defendants
allegedly sold its stock following the IPO, allegations found
sufficient purely for pleading purposes to allow those claims to
move forward.  A similar ruling was made with respect to 62
individual defendants in the other cases.

The Company accepted a settlement proposal presented to all
issuer defendants. Under the terms of this settlement,
plaintiffs will dismiss and release all claims against the
Foundry Defendants in exchange for a contingent payment by the
insurance companies collectively responsible for insuring the
issuers in all of the IPO cases and for the assignment or
surrender of control of certain claims the Company may have
against the underwriters. In September 2005, the court granted
preliminary approval to the terms of the settlement. The
settlement must still receive final approval from the court
following notice to class members and an opportunity for them
and others affected by the settlement to object.

The suit is styled "In re Foundry Networks, Inc. Initial Public
Offering Sec. Litigation," related to "In re Initial Public
Offering Securities Litigation, Master File No. 21 MC 92 (SAS),"
filed in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York under Judge Shira A. Scheindlin.  The
plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

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

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

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

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

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

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


GENERAL MOTORS: NY Mohawk Indians File Suit Over PCB Pollution
--------------------------------------------------------------
A class action lawsuit was launched on behalf of Mohawk Indians
near Massena, New York against General Motors Corporation and
Alcoa, The Newswatch 50 reports.

The suit alleges that for decades GM and Alcoa negligently
disposed of PCBs at their Massena facilities, contaminating the
air, surface water, ground water, sediments, soil, and fish and
wildlife. It also alleges that Mohawks living at Akwesasne, New
York were exposed to the PCBs via contaminated fish and
consumption of breast milk from mothers who were exposed.

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages of unspecified
amounts as well as the establishment of a trust fund to pay for
future medical monitoring, testing and treatment costs. The
Albany law firm of Dreyer Boyajian, LLP, represents the tribe in
the case.

For more details, contact Dreyer Boyajian, LLP, 75 Columbia St.,
Albany, NY 12210, Phone: (518) 463-7784 or (518) 463-4039, Fax:
(518) 463-4039, Web site: http://www.dreyerboyajian.com/.


ILLINOIS: Fairview Heights's Hotel Suit Removed to Federal Court
----------------------------------------------------------------
A class action lawsuit brought by the city of Fairview Heights
in St. Clair County Circuit Court, which claims that hotel
booking agents are pocketing excess sales tax, was removed to an
Illinois federal court, The Madison County Record reports.

The suit accuses companies that operate Internet travel sites of
charging consumers taxes based on retail room rates, while only
paying taxes on wholesale room rates and then pocketing the
difference. The suit, filed on October 5, 2005, states,
"Defendants have sold hotel rooms to the public and collected
taxes on those rooms, but failed to pay the taxes due and owing
to the City of Fairview Heights and other class members on these
transactions." Fairview Heights further claims that the
defendants are charging and collecting taxes from consumers that
are not being remitted to the appropriate municipal class
members. It also claims that in addition to the rental price of
the hotel rooms, the occupants are required to pay a transient
occupancy tax. Additionally, the city's complaint states that
the defendants contract with hotels for rooms and sell the rooms
to members of the public and charge and collect taxes from
occupants based on the marked up rooms rates, but only remit tax
amounts based on the lower negotiated rate, unlawfully retaining
the difference, an earlier Class Action Reporter story (October
12, 2005) reports.

According to the suit, "All taxing authorities in the State of
Illinois authorized to impose a tax upon persons engaging in the
business of renting, leasing or letting rooms in a hotel or
motel on the gross rental receipts from such renting, leasing or
letting," are eligible to join the class, an earlier Class
Action Reporter story (October 12, 2005) reports.

Kevin Hoerner of Becker, Paulson, Hoerner & Thompson of
Belleville, Paul Weiss and William Sweetnam of Freed & Weiss of
Chicago, Bradley Lakin and Richard Burke of the Lakin Law Firm
in Wood River, William Harte of Chicago and Karl Barth of Lovell
Mitchell & Barth in Seattle will represent Fairview Heights and
the class, an earlier Class Action Reporter story (October 12,
2005) reports.

Attorneys for Priceline.com, Orbitz, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Cheap
Tickets, Expedia, Travelnow.com, Travelocity.com, Travelweb,
LowestFare.com and Site 59.com removed the case last November
28. The attorneys along with the other defendants in the case
claim that the provisions enacted by the Class Action Fairness
Act apply to any civil action commenced on or after February 18,
therefore the suit brought by the city is subject to federal
jurisdiction. They also claim that since the case exceeds $5
million and at least one member of the proposed class is a
citizen of a different state, it should be taken out of St.
Clair County.

The case's defendants are:

     (1) Priceline.com,

     (2) Orbitz,

     (3) Hotels.com,

     (4) Hotwire,

     (5) Cheap Tickets,

     (6) Expedia,

     (7) Travelnow.com,

     (8) Travelocity.com,

     (9) Travelweb,

    (10) LowestFare.com and

    (11) Site 59.com

Russell Scott of Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale along with James
Karen and Deborah Sloan of Jones Day in Dallas represent
Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Expedia.com and TravelNow.com. Charles
Joley of Donovan, Rose, Nester, & Joley in Belleville with
Darrell Hieber of Los Angeles and Karen Valihura of Wilmington
Del., represent Priceline.com, Lowestfair.com and Travelweb LLC.
Troy Bozarth of the Burroughs Firm in Edwardsville and David
McDowell of Morrison & Forester in Los Angeles represent
Site59.com and Travelocity.com.

The suit is styled, "Fairview Heights v. Orbitz Inc et al, Case
No. 3:05-cv-00840-WDS-CJP," filed in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of Illinois under Judge William
D. Stiehl with referral Judge Clifford J. Proud. Representing
the Plaintiff/s are:

     (1) Richard J. Burke, Jr. and Bradley M. Lakin of Lakin Law
         Firm, Generally Admitted, 300 Evans Ave., P.O. Box 229,
         Wood River, IL 62095-0027, Phone: 618-254-1127, E-mail:
         richardb@lakinlaw.com and bradl@lakinlaw.com;

     (2) William J. Harte of Attorney at Law, Cook County, 111
         West Washington St., Suite 1100, Chicago, IL 60602,
         Phone: 312-726-5015;

     (3) Kevin T. Hoerner of Becker, Paulson et al., Generally
         Admitted, 5111 West Main St., Belleville, IL 62226,    
         Phone: 618-235-0020, E-mail: KTH@bphlaw.com; and

     (4) William Sweetnam and Paul M. Weiss of Freed & Weiss,
         LLC, Cook County, 111 West Washington St., Suite 1331,
         Chicago, IL 60602, Phone: 312-220-0000, E-mail:
         paul@freedweiss.com.

Representing the Defendants are:

     (i) Troy A. Bozarth of Burroughs, Hepler et al. -
         Edwardsville, Generally Admitted, 103 West Vandalia
         St., Suite 300, P.O. Box 510, Edwardsville, IL 62025-
         0510, Phone: 618-656-0184, E-mail:
         troy.bozarth@ilmolaw.com;

    (ii) Elizabeth B. Herrington of McDermott, Will et al. -
         Chicago, Cook County, 227 West Monroe St., Suite 4400,
         Chicago, IL 60606-5096, Phone: 312-984-7546;

   (iii) Charles L. Joley of Donovan, Rose et al., Generally
         Admitted, 8 East Washington St., Belleville, IL 62220,
         Phone: 618-235-2020, Fax: 618-235-9632, E-mail:
         cjoley@ilmoattorneys.com;

    (iv) Russell K. Scott of Greensfelder, Hemker et al. -
         Swansea, Generally Admitted, 12 Wolf Creek Drive, Suite
         100, Swansea, IL 62226, Phone: 618-257-7308, E-mail:
         rks@greensfelder.com; and

     (v) Robert H. Shultz, Jr. of Heyl, Royster et al. -
         Edwardsville, Generally Admitted, 103 West Vandalia
         St., P.O. Box 467, Edwardsville, IL 62025, Phone: 618-
         656-4646, E-mail: rshultz@hrva.com.


INTERNET CAPITAL: Final NY Suit Settlement Hearing Set Jan. 2006
----------------------------------------------------------------
Final fairness hearing for the settlement of the consolidated
securities class action filed against Internet Capital Group,
Inc., certain of its present and former directors and its
underwriters is set for January 9,2006 in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In May and June 2001, nine class action complaints were filed on
behalf of present and former stockholders of the Company.  The
complaints generally allege violations of Sections 11 and 12 of
the Securities Act of 1933 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated under the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, based on, among other things,
the dissemination of statements allegedly containing material
misstatements and/or omissions concerning the commissions
received by the underwriters of the initial public offering and
follow-on public offering of the Company as well as failure to
disclose the existence of purported agreements by the
underwriters with some of the purchasers in these offerings to
buy additional shares of the Company's stock subsequently in the
open market at pre-determined prices above the initial offering
prices. The plaintiffs seek for themselves and the alleged class
members an award of damages and litigation costs and expenses.

The claims in these cases have been consolidated for pre-trial
purposes (together with claims against other issuers and
underwriters) before one judge in the Southern District of New
York federal court.  In April 2002, a consolidated, amended
complaint was filed against these defendants which generally
alleges the same violations and also refers to alleged
misstatements or omissions that relate to the recommendations
regarding the Company's stock by analysts employed by the
underwriters.  In June and July 2002, defendants, including the
Company defendants, filed motions to dismiss plaintiffs'
complaints on numerous grounds.  The Company's motion was denied
in its entirety in an opinion dated February 19, 2003.  

In July 2003, a committee of the Company's Board of Directors
approved a proposed settlement with the plaintiffs in this
matter. The settlement would provide for, among other things, a
release of the Company and of the individual defendants (who had
been previously dismissed without prejudice) for the wrongful
conduct alleged in the amended complaint.  The Company would
agree to undertake other responsibilities under the partial
settlement, including agreeing to assign away, not assert, or
release certain potential claims the Company may have against
its underwriters. Any direct financial impact of the proposed
settlement is expected to be borne by the Company's insurers.
The complete terms of the proposed settlement is on file with
the Court. The Court overseeing the litigation granted
preliminary approval of the settlement in February 2005 subject
to a change in the terms to bar cross-claims by defendant
underwriters for contribution, but not for indemnification or
otherwise.

The parties to the settlement have now agreed on revised
language to effectuate the changes regarding
contribution/indemnification claims requested by the Court and
that language has been submitted to the Court.

The suit is styled "In re Internet Capital Group, Inc. Initial
Public Offering Sec. Litigation," related to "In re Initial
Public Offering Securities Litigation, Master File No. 21 MC 92
(SAS)," filed in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York under Judge Shira A. Scheindlin.  
The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

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

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

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

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

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

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


IPO SECURITIES LITIGATION: Settlement Hearing Set April 24, 2006
----------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Southern District of
New York will hold a fairness hearing for the proposed
settlement in the matter, "In re Initial Public Offering
Litigation, Case No. 21 MC 92 (SAS)."

The hearing will be held before the Honorable Shira Scheindlin
in the United States District Court, Southern District of New
York, 500 Pearl St., New York, NY 10007 at 10:00 a.m., on April
24, 2006 to determine whether the proposed settlement should be
approved by the Court as fair, reasonable, and adequate.

For more details, visit: http://www.iposecuritieslitigation.com/
OR contact In re IPO Litigation c/o The Garden City Group, Inc.,
Notice Administrator, P.O. Box 9000 #6239, Merrick, NY 11566-
9000, Phone: (800) 916-6946; Melvyn I. Weiss, Esq. of Milberg
Weiss Bershad & Schulman, LLP, Phone: (212) 594-5300; Stanley D.
Bernstein, Esq. of Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP, Phone:
(212) 779-1414; Richard S. Schiffrin, Esq. of Schiffrin &
Barroway, LLP, Phone: (610) 667-7706; Howard Sirota, Esq.
Sirota & Sirota, LLP, Phone: (212) 425-9055; Jules Brody, Esq    
Stull, Stull & Brody, Phone: (212) 687-7230; and Fred Taylor
Isquith, Esq. of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, LLP,
Phone: (212) 545-4600.


J2 GLOBAL: Faces Consumer Fraud, Breach of Contract Suit in CA
--------------------------------------------------------------
J2 Global Communications, Inc. faces a class action filed in the
Los Angeles Superior Court in California, challenging the
pricing policies applicable to the eFax service and, in
particular, the manner in which users are notified about the
terms and conditions of the pricing that applies to service once
the applicable free service threshold has been met.

The action includes purported claims for false advertising,
breach of contract, fraud and violations of Section 17200 of the
California Business & Profession Code. The lawsuit seeks damages
and injunctive relief.


MARTHA STEWART: Continues To Face Securities, Derivative Suits
--------------------------------------------------------------
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. continues to face
consolidated securities class action and the shareholder
derivative actions filed against it and certain of its officers
and directors.

On February 3, 2003, the Company was named as a defendant in a
Consolidated and Amended Class Action Complaint, filed in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York, by plaintiffs purporting to represent a class of persons
who purchased common stock in the Company between January 8,
2002 and October 2, 2002, styled "In re Martha Stewart Living
Omnimedia, Inc. Securities Litigation, 02-CV-6273 (JES)."  The
Consolidated Class Action Complaint also names Martha Stewart
and seven of the Company's other present or former officers
(Gregory R. Blatt, Sharon L. Patrick, and five other Company
officers (collectively, the "Individual Defendants")) as
defendants.  The action consolidates seven class actions
previously filed in the Southern District of New York, namely:

     (1) Semon v. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (filed
         August 6, 2002),

     (2) Rosen v. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (filed
         August 21, 2002),

     (3) MacKinnon v. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.
         (filed August 30, 2002),

     (4) Crnkovich v. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.
         (filed September 4, 2002),

     (5) Rahilly v. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (filed
         September 6, 2002),

     (6) Steele v. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (filed
         September 13, 2002), and

     (7) Hackbarth v Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.
         (filed September 18, 2002)

The claims in the Consolidated Class Action Complaint arise out
of Ms. Stewart's sale of 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems stock
on December 27, 2001. The plaintiffs assert violations of
Sections 10(b) (and rules promulgated thereunder), 20(a) and 20A
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The plaintiffs allege
that MSO, Ms. Stewart and the Individual Defendants made
statements about Ms. Stewart's sale that were materially false
and misleading. The plaintiffs allege that, as a result of these
false and misleading statements, the market price of the
Company's stock was inflated during the putative class periods
and dropped after the alleged falsity of the statements became
public.  The plaintiffs further allege that the Individual
Defendants traded MSO stock while in possession of material non-
public information.  The Consolidated Class Action Complaint
seeks certification as a class action, damages, attorneys' fees
and costs, and further relief as determined by the court.

On May 19, 2003, the Company's motion to dismiss the
Consolidated Class Action Complaint was denied, and discovery in
that action is ongoing.  By stipulation of the parties, and an
order of the court entered November 10, 2003, all claims
asserted in the Consolidated Class Action Complaint pursuant to
Section 20A (Insider Trading) of the Securities Exchange Act
against the Individual Defendants, and all remaining claims
against the Individual Defendants, other than Mr. Blatt and Ms.
Patrick, have been dismissed without prejudice.

The Company has also been named as a nominal defendant in four
derivative actions, all of which name Ms. Stewart, and certain
other officers and directors of the Company as defendants:

     (i) In re Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Shareholder
         Derivative Litigation (the "Shareholder Derivative
         Litigation")," filed on December 19, 2002 in New York
         State Supreme Court;

    (ii) Beam v. Stewart, initially filed on August 15, 2002 and
         amended on September 6, 2002, in Delaware Chancery
         Court;

   (iii) Richards v. Stewart, filed on November 1, 2002 in
         Connecticut Superior Court; and

    (iv) Sargent v. Martinez, filed on September 29, 2003 in the
         U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New
         York.

In re Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Shareholder
Derivative Litigation consolidates three previous derivative
complaints filed in New York State Supreme Court and Delaware
Chancery Court: "Beck v. Stewart," filed on August 13, 2002 in
New York State Supreme Court, "Kramer v. Stewart," filed on
August 20, 2002 in New York State Supreme Court, and "Alexis v.
Stewart," filed on October 3, 2002 in Delaware Chancery Court.
Sargent consolidates two derivative complaints previously filed
in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District Court of
New York: "Acosta v. Stewart," filed on October 10, 2002, and
"Sargent v. Martinez," filed on May 30, 2003.

On September 30, 2003, the Company's motion to dismiss the Beam
complaint was granted in its entirety. The plaintiffs in Beam
appealed the dismissal of the complaint to the Delaware Supreme
Court. On March 31, 2004, the Delaware Supreme Court, sitting en
banc, unanimously affirmed the dismissal of the Beam complaint.
The Sargent action had previously been stayed by order of the
court pending resolution of the Beam appeal by the Delaware
Supreme Court. On April 22, 2004, the court lifted that stay and
ordered the plaintiffs to respond to MSO's and the MSO
directors' previously filed motions to dismiss. By order dated
August 4, 2004, the Company's motion to dismiss the Sargent
complaint was granted in its entirety, and as to the issue of
plaintiffs' failure to make pre-suit demand, with prejudice. The
Sargent plaintiffs' time to appeal that dismissal has expired.
The Richards action had been stayed by agreement of the parties
pending resolution of the Beam appeal by the Delaware Supreme
Court. By motion filed June 4, 2004, the plaintiff in the
Richards action voluntarily sought an order dismissing the
Richards action with prejudice, and that dismissal with
prejudice was ordered by the court on June 9, 2004.  By
stipulation and order entered September 24, 2004, the parties to
the Shareholder Derivative Litigation agreed to the dismissal of
that action on the same terms as ordered by the Sargent Court in
dismissing the Sargent Action.


MBI DISTRIBUTING: Agrees To Halt Manufacture of Faulty Eye Drops
----------------------------------------------------------------
MBI Distributing, Inc. (MBI), also known as Molecular Biologics,
an OTC drug manufacturer of eye drops and other products, has
signed a consent decree that requires it to cease manufacturing
and distributing drugs until it corrects manufacturing
deficiencies and other violations at its Benicia, California
facility, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced
in a statement. The consent decree was submitted to the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern District of California by the
Department of Justice on behalf of FDA and is subject to
approval by the court.

MBI's product line includes eye drops sold under the brand names
Oxydrops, Bright Eyes, Bright Eyes II, Clarity Vision for Life,
Visitein, and Can-C, as well as several OTC pain relieving
drugs. These products are sold by retailers nationwide.

This action is a result of FDA having determined that the firm
has been manufacturing eye drops in a manner that does not
conform to FDA's current good manufacturing practice
requirements. The firm has not corrected violations noted during
inspections, despite Agency efforts to have the company achieve
compliance. Among other things, at FDA's most recent inspection,
the firm lacked manufacturing controls to ensure that its eye
drops were sterile.

FDA has also determined that two of the firm's eye drop brands,
Visitein and Clarity Vision for Life, are unapproved drugs. In
addition, three of the firm's OTC pain relieving drugs,
Biogesic, Bio-Ice, and Bio-Heat, do not provide adequate
warnings for their safe use.

Under the terms of the consent decree, MBI is enjoined from
producing and distributing drugs until the firm corrects the
manufacturing violations for its eye drops and its violations of
the marketing approval and labeling requirements of the Federal
Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The firm's poor manufacturing conditions have called into
question the safety of its eye drops,and the lack of necessary
warnings could undermine the ability of a consumer to safely use
the firm's pain relieving drugs listed above. FDA therefore
recommends that consumers, health care providers, and caregivers
dispose of the Oxydrops, Bright Eyes, Bright Eyes II, Clarity
Vision for Life, Visitein, and Can-C brands of eye drops and the
Biogesic, Bio-Ice, and Bio-Heat pain relieving drugs and report
any adverse events related to these products to MedWatch, the
FDA's voluntary reporting program at 1-800-FDA-1088; by FAX at
1-800-FDA-0178; by mail to MedWatch, Food and Drug
Administration, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD, 20857-9787; or
online at the Website: http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm.  


MERCK & CO.: First Federal Trial Over Vioxx Begins in TX Court
--------------------------------------------------------------
The first federal trial against Merck & Co. over injury
allegedly caused by Vioxx recently began and looks to set for a
speedy conclusion after the presiding judge said that he wanted
to wrap the case up in two weeks, The Pharma Times reports.

Evelyn, the widow of Richard Irvin, a 53-year-old man who died
of a heart attack after taking Vioxx for about a month to
relieve back pain brought the lawsuit. Her lawyers maintain that
Vioxx is the cause of her husband's heart attack. The case
before U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon of New Orleans,
Louisiana is in Houston, Texas rather than its original venue of
New Orleans because of damage by Hurricane Katrina.

In its opening comments, however, Merck's legal team reiterated
its position that there is no evidence that short-term use of
Vioxx raises the risk of a heart attack. Previously, the Merck
maintained that risk is elevated only in patients who take the
drug for at least 18 months. Underlying heart disease, not the
drug itself, is responsible for Mr. Irvin's death, the drug
maker claims.

Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck has been bombarded
with lawsuits around the world since it pulled the $2.5 billion-
a-year seller Vioxx from the market in September 30, 2004 after
an internal study found it doubled patients' risks of heart
attacks and strokes if taken for 18 months or longer. More than
20 million people took the drug worldwide before its withdrawal,
an earlier Class Action Reporter story (October 4, 2005)
reports.

Vioxx is the trade name for Rofecoxib, which is part of the
class of drugs called NSAIDs. It was touted as a pain and
inflammation reliever that did not cause ulcers or
gastrointestinal bleeding, a side effect of many such
medications. Merck previously said that it tested Vioxx on
nearly 10,000 patients during clinical trials and pulled the
drug as soon as the danger of its prolonged use became clear, an
earlier Class Action Reporter story (July 13, 2005) reports.

So far, the score sheet for Merck in its civil drug liability
trials concerning Vioxx reads, "won one, lost one." The firm
recently won a legal victory in the second Vioxx trial involving
a man who had taken the drug for around two months, wherein the
jury sided with the company.

In its verdict, the New Jersey jury found that Vioxx wasn't the
"proximate cause" of a man's heart attack, and promptly rejected
the contention by plaintiff Frederick Humeston that Merck failed
to adequately warn physicians about the product's potential
cardiovascular risks. In addition, jurors also disagreed with
the claim by Mr. Humeston that Merck had engaged in consumer
fraud in marketing Vioxx to doctors, an earlier Class Action
Reporter story (November 7, 2005) reports.

The case that the company lost involves Texas resident Carol
Ernst. In that case a Texas jury awarded damages totaling more
than $253 million to Mrs. Ernst after they found Merck guilty of
liability, negligence and malice over the sale of Vioxx. Mrs.
Ernst had sought compensation for the death of her husband
Robert, allegedly of arrhythmia, in 2001. Mr. Ernst, a produce
manager at a Wal-Mart near Fort Worth, who ran marathons and
worked as a personal trainer, took Vioxx for eight months to
alleviate pain in his hands until he died in his sleep. Mrs.
Ernst's lawsuit alleges that Merck & Co. knew of the dangers of
using Vioxx years before it recalled the drug. But, the Company
allegedly ignored those concerns in favor of aggressive
marketing for a multibillion-dollar seller, an earlier Class
Action Reporter story (July 27, 2005) reports. Although it was
ordered to pay $253 million the amount was subsequently cut to
$26 million because of state capping rules. The case has now
gone to appeal.

Analysts suggested the Vioxx litigation could cost Merck up to
$50 billion, since the company is now facing 6,400 individual
lawsuits, plus 160 class action suits.


MISSOURI: Judge Grants Certification to Inmate's Abortion Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Five weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state of
Missouri must let a pregnant inmate have an abortion, the
question over whether other state prisoners can get abortions on
demand is far from settled, The Associated Press reports.

U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple certified the woman's case
against the Department of Corrections as a class action lawsuit,
saying she, referred to in court documents only as Jane Roe,
will represent all current and future Missouri inmates wanting
abortions in seeking to overturn a state policy against helping
prisoners get the procedure. In his order, filed in Kansas City,
Judge Whipple said that three more inmates have requested
abortions since his initial ruling in October. Gov. Matt Blunt,
a Republican, appealed Judge Whipple's ruling to the U.S.
Supreme Court, which declined to intervene.

At issue in the case was the state's abandonment just this year
of a long-standing policy of providing transportation and guards
for inmates wanting abortions leaving an exception only if a
woman's life or health is in danger. The state cited costs and
security concerns.

Ms. Roe, serving a four-year sentence, said she discovered that
she was pregnant not long after being arrested during the summer
for probation violations in California. She challenged the
Missouri Department of Corrections' policy, arguing it was an
unconstitutional violation of her right to an abortion.

Judge Whipple agreed, approving a preliminary injunction against
the policy and ordering corrections officials to take her to a
St. Louis clinic for the procedure. Ms. Roe said she would pay
for the abortion itself but couldn't pay for the transportation
and guard salaries, estimated at $350.

Gov. Blunt's office spearheaded appeals of Judge Whipple's
ruling, denouncing what the governor called "an outrageous order
from an activist federal judge." After the Supreme Court's
decision to let the injunction stand, the inmate had an abortion
on October 20.

Recently, Gov. Blunt's office said it would continue defending
the department's abortion policy. Spokesman Spence Jackson told
The Associated Press, "We believe the decision to allow the
abortion was highly offensive to traditional Missouri values and
contrary to state law that prohibits the use of state dollars to
facilitate abortions."

The suit is styled, "Roe v. Crawford et al, Case No. 2:05-cv-
04333-DW," filed in the United States District Court for the
Western District Of Missouri under Judge Dean Whipple.
Representing the Plaintiff/s are:

     (1) Thomas Michael Blumenthal of Paule Camazine &
         Blumenthal, PC, 165 N. Meramec Ave., 6th Floor, St.
         Louis, MO 63105-3789, Phone: 314-727-2266, Fax: 314-
         727-2101, E-mail: tblumenthal@pcblawfirm.com;

     (2) Talcott Camp, Diana Kasdan, Jennifer Nevins and Chakshu
         Patel of American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, 125
         Broad St., 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004-2427, Phone:
         (212) 549-2632, Fax: (212) 549-2652, E-mail:
         tcamp@aclu.org, dkasdan@aclu.org, jnevins@aclu.org and
         cpatel@aclu.org; and

     (3) James G. Felakos of American Civil Liberties Union of
         Eastern Missouri, 4557 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, MO
         63108, Phone: (314) 361-3635, Fax: (314) 361-3135, E-
         mail: jim@aclu-em.org.

Representing the Defendant is Michael Pritchett, Missouri
Attorney General, P.O. Box 899, Jefferson City, MO 65102, Phone:
573-751-8864, Fax: (573) 751-9456, E-mail:
mike.pritchett@ago.mo.gov.


MONSANTO CO.: Moves To Transfer American Seed Lawsuit To E.D. MO
----------------------------------------------------------------
Monsanto Co. moved to transfer a class action filed by the
American Seed Company against it to the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

American Seed Company filed a purported class action against the
Company in the United States District Court for the District of
Delaware on July 26, 2005, supposedly on behalf of direct
purchasers of corn seed containing the Company's transgenic
traits.  American Seed moved to consolidate discovery and trial
of this matter with the Syngenta Antitrust Action.  

The Syngenta suit was filed on July 28, 2004 in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Delaware, alleging that the
Company has monopolized or attempted to monopolize markets for
glyphosate-tolerant corn seed, European corn borer-protected
corn seed and foundation corn seed.  Syngenta seeks an
unspecified amount of damages and injunctive relief.  On March
24, 2005, the District Court granted the Company's motion to
consolidate the Antitrust Action into and with the Shah case for
discovery. In July 2005, the Company filed counterclaims against
Syngenta, Syngenta Seeds, and affiliated companies for
misappropriation of property and false advertising. Trial of the
Antitrust Action has been set for January 7, 2007.

The Company opposed that motion and have moved to transfer the
case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri and to consolidate it with an action the Company
already have pending against American Seed for unpaid royalties.


MONSANTO CO.: MO Court Mulls Filing of Amended Antitrust Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri has yet to rule on plaintiffs' motion seeking
permission to file an amended class action against Monsanto
Company related to the Company's biotechnology trait products.

A group of farmers initially filed two purported class action
lawsuits, which were later consolidated in Missouri federal
court and styled "McIntosh v. Monsanto et al."  The suits were
initially filed against the former Monsanto Company by two
groups of farmers - one on December 14, 1999, in the United
States District Court for the District of Columbia, which
complaint was amended in March 2001 to add Pioneer Hi-Bred
International, Inc., Syngenta Seeds, Syngenta Crop Protection,
and Bayer CropScience as defendants; and the other 4on February
14, 2002, in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Illinois.  

The complaints included both tort allegations in connection with
the sale of genetically modified seed and allegations of
violations of antitrust laws, including allegations of a
conspiracy among defendants to fix seed prices in the United
States.  Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief in
addition to antitrust, treble, compensatory and punitive
damages, and attorneys' fees.

On September 22, 2003, the District Court for the Eastern
District of Missouri granted the Company's motion for summary
judgment on all tort claims and denied the plaintiffs' motion to
allow the tort claims to proceed as a class action.  On
September 30, 2003, the District Court denied the plaintiffs'
motion to allow their antitrust claims to proceed as a class
action, which decision was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Eighth Circuit on March 7, 2005. On June 30, 2005, the
plaintiffs filed a motion with the District Court seeking to
amend their complaint to seek certification of a class of
growers from only four states (Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and
Indiana) and restricted to only one crop (glyphosate tolerant
soybeans).  

Starting the week of March 7, 2004, after the claims of the
plaintiffs described above were denied class certification by
the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, a
series of purported class action cases were filed in 14
different state courts against the Company and Pioneer.  The
suits allege that the Company and Pioneer conspired to violate
various state competition and consumer protection laws by
allegedly fixing the price at which the Company's various
biotechnology traits would be sold and by artificially inflating
the prices of genetically modified seed and imposing excessive
technology fees, prohibiting the reuse of modified seed, or
requiring the use of specified herbicides with the seed. As a
result of an agreement between plaintiffs' counsel and the
defendants, all of these cases have been or are in the process
of being removed to federal court and transferred to the Eastern
District of Missouri, except for one case pending in state court
in Tennessee, which has different plaintiff's counsel. No trial
dates have been set for these matters.


ORTHO EVRA: FDA Approves Updated Labels For Contraceptive Patch
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Food and Drug Administration approved updated labeling for
the Ortho Evra contraceptive patch to warn healthcare providers
and patients that this product exposes women to higher levels of
estrogen than most birth control pills. Ortho Evra was the first
skin patch approved for birth control.

It is a weekly prescription patch that releases ethinyl
estradiol (an estrogen hormone) and norelgestromin (a progestin
hormone) through the skin into the blood stream. FDA advises
women to talk to their doctor or healthcare provider about
whether the patch is the right method of birth control for them.

Furthermore, women taking or considering using this product
should work with their health care providers to balance the
potential risks related to increased estrogen exposure against
the risk of pregnancy if they do not follow the daily regimen
associated with typical birth control pills. Because Ortho Evra
is a patch that is changed once a week, it decreases the chance
associated with typical birth control pills that a woman might
miss one or more daily doses.

The addition of this new warning is a result of FDA's and the
manufacturer's analysis directly comparing the levels for
estrogen and progestin hormones in users of Ortho Evra with
those in a typical birth control pill. In general, increased
estrogen exposure may increase the risk of blood clots. However,
it is not known whether women using Ortho Evra are at a greater
risk of experiencing these serious adverse events.

The new bolded warning specifically states that women who use
Ortho Evra are exposed to about 60 percent more total estrogen
in their blood than if they were taking a typical birth control
pill containing 35 micrograms of estrogen. However, the maximal
blood level of estrogen (peak blood levels) is about 25% lower
with Ortho Evra than with typical birth control pills. While the
estrogen level with the patch remains constant for one week
until the patch is removed, the peak blood levels with a daily
birth control pill rapidly declines to levels that are lower
than on the Orthro Evra.

FDA is continuing to monitor safety reports for the Ortho Evra
patch. The manufacturer, Ortho McNeil Pharmaceuticals is
conducting additional studies to compare the risk of developing
serious blood clots in women using Ortho Evra to the risk in
women using typical birth control pills that contain 35
micrograms of estrogen.

The new labeling information is available along with additional
information for healthcare providers and consumers online at:
www.fda.gov/cder/drug/infopage/orthoevra/default.htm.


PROVIDENCE HEALTH: Fitch Ratings Unaffected by Settlement in OR
---------------------------------------------------------------
Providence Health System recently settled a class action lawsuit
alleging that it participated in unfair billing practices by
charging uninsured patients higher rates than those charged to
patients with private insurance.

Fitch recently spoke with Providence's management team to
discuss the settlement. Providence estimates the worst-case
impact of the retroactive discount to be an approximately $1.0
million-$4.5 million reduction in net income in 2005, an amount
Fitch considers to be immaterial given Providence's operating
history and financial flexibility. Providence did not
acknowledge any wrongdoing and settled largely to avoid
substantial legal costs.

The suit alleges that the Oregon-based system contradicted its
stated mission of providing universal access to health care by
charging uninsured patients higher rates for the same services
than other patients. Similar lawsuits have been filed against
hundreds of hospitals in at least 27 states, alleging that tax-
exempt nonprofit hospitals charge higher prices to uninsured
patients than insured patients, an earlier Class Action Reporter
story (November 3, 2005) reports.

As part of the settlement, Providence is offering any uninsured
patient charged for care at any one of Providence's seven
hospitals in Oregon in the past four years a retroactive
reduction in the bill equal to a preferred provider rate. This
would equate to an 11%-32% discount depending on delivery area.
In addition, Providence will offer prospective discounts based
on a sliding scale to patients whose household income is 201%-
400% above the poverty level and free care to patients whose
income is less than 200% above the poverty level for the next
two years. Fitch considers the potential negative financial
impact of the retroactive discount to be relatively immaterial,
as most hospitals typically collect only a very small portion of
uninsured patients' bills. A sizable future increase in charity
care could be more problematic, although Fitch does not expect
any potential effect from the settlement to have a negative
impact on Providence's credit rating. The settlement applies
only to Providence's Oregon-based hospitals. There currently are
no other class-action lawsuits pending against Providence
hospitals located in other regions, and Providence has
implemented similar prospective discounts across the system.

A large influx of uninsured patients eligible to receive deep
discounts or free care under the settlement guidelines could
further impact profitability; however, management stated that
the discounts outlined under the settlement have been in effect
since the start of calendar-year 2005 with little to no impact
on profitability. Through the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2005,
Providence achieved a $182.8 million operating income, which was
well ahead of the $148.2 million operating income through the
same period in the prior year. Overall, Fitch views the
settlement as having a negligible impact to Providence's
financial profile.

Recently, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Marilyn Litzenberger
set June 23, 2006, as the target date for final approval of the
settlement. In the meantime, individuals or groups who object to
terms of settlement can ask to intervene in the case with
patient claims required to be filed by February 23, 2006, an
earlier Class Action Reporter story (November 15, 2005) reports.

For more details, call: 503-215-5282 (Portland area) or 1-866-
747-2455 (outside of Portland area), or visit:
http://www.providence.org/oregon/scruggs.htm.


SONICWALL INC.: Final Fairness Hearing Set in NY Next April
-----------------------------------------------------------
Final fairness hearing for the settlement of the consolidated
securities class action filed against SonicWALL, Inc., three of
its officers and directors and certain of the underwriters of
the Company's initial public offering (IPO) in November 1999 and
its follow-on offering in March 2000 is set for April 26,2006 in
the United States District Court for the Southern District of
New York.

On December 5, 2001, a securities class action complaint was
filed.  Similar complaints were filed in the same court against
numerous public companies that conducted IPOs of their common
stock since the mid-1990s.  All of these lawsuits were
consolidated for pretrial purposes before Judge Shira
Scheindlin.  On April 19, 2002, plaintiffs filed an amended
complaint.

The amended complaint alleges claims under the Securities Act of
1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and seeks damages
or rescission for misrepresentations or omissions in the
prospectuses relating to, among other things, the alleged
receipt of excessive and undisclosed commissions by the
underwriters in connection with the allocation of shares of
common stock in the Company's public offerings.  On July 15,
2002, the issuers filed an omnibus motion to dismiss for failure
to comply with applicable pleading standards.  On October 8,
2002, the Court entered an Order of Dismissal as to all of the
individual defendants in the SonicWALL IPO litigation, without
prejudice. On February 19, 2003, the Court denied the motion to
dismiss the Company's claims.

A tentative agreement has been reached with plaintiff's counsel
and the insurers for the settlement and release of claims
against the issuer defendants, including the Company, in
exchange for a guaranteed recovery to be paid by the issuer
defendants' insurance carriers and an assignment of certain
claims. Papers formalizing the settlement among the plaintiffs,
issuer defendants, including the Company, and insurers were
presented to the Court on June 14, 2004.  The settlement is
subject to a number of conditions, including approval of the
proposed settling parties and the Court. On July 14, 2004,
underwriter defendants filed with the Court a memorandum in
opposition to plaintiff's motion for preliminary approval of the
settlement with defendant issuers and individuals. Plaintiffs
and issuers subsequently filed papers with the Court in further
support of the settlement and addressing issues raised in the
underwriter's opposition.

On February 15, 2005 the Court granted preliminary approval
of the settlement, subject to the parties fulfilling certain
conditions. To address the concerns raised by the Court, the
parties submitted revised settlement documents that contained a
more limited `bar order' that would not preclude claims by the
underwriters for indemnification for an issuer pursuant to the
IPO underwriting agreement. On August31, 2005, the Court entered
an order confirming its preliminary approval of the settlement.
The Court has scheduled a hearing on the fairness of the
settlement to the shareholder class for April 24, 2006.

The suit is styled "In Re SonicWALL, Inc. Initial Public
Offering Securities Litigation, 01 Civ. 10941 (Sas)," filed in
relation to "IN RE INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING SECURITIES
LITIGATION, Master File No. 21 MC 92 (SAS)," both pending in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York, under Judge Shira N. Scheindlin.  The plaintiff firms in
this litigation are:

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

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

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

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

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

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


SONUS NETWORKS: MA Court Dismisses Securities Fraud Litigation
--------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the District of
Massachusetts dismissed the consolidated securities class action
filed against Sonus Networks, Inc., after the court heard the
plaintiffs' motion to substitute the lead plaintiff in the
litigation.

According to an earlier Class Action Reporter story (August
22,2005), Judge Mark Wolf decertified the suit said that he is
considering forcing the plaintiffs to cover Sonus's legal
expenses.  Judge Wolf dismissed the suit in which Daniel Higgins
sought to intervene as lead plaintiff, after original class
representative Andrew Scibelli withdrew following the revelation
of his conviction on a drug charge in 1991.

Beginning in July 2002, several purchasers of the Company's
common stock filed complaints against the Company, certain
officers and directors and a former officer under Sections 10(b)
and 20(a) and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  
The purchasers seek to represent a class of persons who
purchased the Company's common stock between December 11, 2000
and January 16, 2002, and seek unspecified monetary damages. The
Complaints were essentially identical and alleged that the
Company made false and misleading statements about its products
and business.  On March 3, 2003, the plaintiffs filed a
Consolidated Amended Complaint. On April 22, 2003, the Company
filed a motion to dismiss the Consolidated Amended Complaint on
various grounds. On May 11, 2004, the court held oral argument
on the motion, at the conclusion of which the court denied the
Company's motion to dismiss.  The plaintiffs filed a motion for
class certification on July 30, 2004, and Sonus filed its
opposition on September 10, 2004, to which the plaintiffs
replied on September 30, 2004.  On February 16, 2005, the court
certified the class and appointed a class representative.  On
March 9, 2005, the court appointed the law firm of Moulton &
Gans as lead counsel.  After the court requested additional
briefing on the adequacy of the class representative, the class
representative withdrew. Lead counsel filed a motion to
substitute a new plaintiff as the class representative.  On May
19, 2005, the court held a hearing on the motion and took the
matter under advisement.  On August 15, 2005, the court issued
an order decertifying the class and requiring the parties to
submit a joint report informing the court whether the cases have
been settled and whether defendants would be seeking to recover
attorney's fees from the plaintiffs. On September 30, 2005, the
plaintiffs filed motions to voluntarily dismiss their complaints
with prejudice.  On October 5, 2005, the court entered an order
dismissing the cases. On October 21, 2005, the defendants filed
a motion seeking the recovery of attorneys' fees from
plaintiffs.  The plaintiffs have until December 5, 2005 to
respond to the motion.

The suit is styled "In Re Sonus Networks Securities Litigation,
case no. 1:02-cv-11315-MLW," filed in the United States District
Court for the District of Massachusetts, under Judge Mark L.
Wolf.  Representing the plaintiffs are Robert J. Berg and
Michael S. Bigin, Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, LLP, 10 East
40th Street, 22nd Floor, New York, NY 10016, Phone:
212-779-1414; and Richard H. Weiss, Milberg, Weiss, Bershad,
Hynes & Lerach, One Penn Plaza, New York City, NY 10002, Phone:
212-594-5300, Fax: 212-868-1229.  Representing the Company are
Daniel W. Halston, J. Andrew Kent, Michelle D. Miller, James W.
Prendegrast, Jeffrey B. Rudman, Peter A. Spaeth, Wilmer Hale, 60
State Street, Boston, MA 02109, Phone: 617-526-6654, Fax:
617-526-5000, E-mail: daniel.halston@wilmerhale.com,
michelle.miller@wilmerhale.com, jeffrey.rudman@wilmerhale.com,  
peter.spaeth@wilmerhale.com  


SONUS NETWORKS: Asks MA Court To Dismiss Amended Securities Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Sonus Networks, Inc. asked the United States District Court for
the District of Massachusetts to dismiss the amended securities
class action filed against it and certain of its current
officers and directors.

Beginning in February 2004, a number of purported shareholder
class action complaints were filed in the United States District
Court for the District of Massachusetts against the Company and
certain of its current officers and directors.  On June 28,
2004, the court consolidated the claims.  On December 1, 2004,
the lead plaintiff filed a consolidated amended complaint.

The complaint asserts claims under the federal securities laws,
specifically Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934 and Sections 11, 12(a), and 15 of the Securities Act
of 1933, relating to the Company's restatement of its financial
results for 2001, 2002, and the first three quarters of 2003.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that the Company issued a
series of false or misleading statements to the market
concerning the Company's revenues, earnings and financial
condition. Plaintiffs contend that such statements caused the
Company's stock price to be artificially inflated. The complaint
seeks unspecified damages on behalf of a purported class of
purchasers of the Company's common stock during the period from
March 28, 2002, through March 26, 2004.

On January 28, 2005, the Company filed a motion to dismiss the
Section 10(b) and 12(a) claims and joined the motion to dismiss
the Section 11 claim filed by the individual defendants. On June
1, 2005, the court held a hearing on the motion and allowed the
plaintiff to file an amended complaint. In August 2005, the
plaintiff filed an amended complaint. On September 12, 2005, the
defendants filed motions to dismiss this Amended Complaint. The
Court has scheduled a hearing on the motions for December 10,
2005.


SONY BMG: Security Researcher Joins Legal Team in NY XCP Suit
-------------------------------------------------------------
Mark Russinovich, the security researcher whose examination of
XCP, or extended copy protection software included on many Sony
BMG music CDs sparked a public firestorm was hired as an expert
witness in a nationwide class action lawsuit against the
company, The Washington Post reports.

Mr. Russinovich of Sysinternals will be joining the legal team
led by New York attorney Scott Kamber, who filed a lawsuit
earlier this month against Sony BMG and First4Internet, the
British company that produced the anti-piracy software.

The suit, which could potentially include consumers in all 50
states, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of New York. The suit's two named plaintiffs are, James
Michaelson from Illinois and an Ori Edelstein from New Jersey.
The suit claims, "To date, over 3 million copies of XCP encoded
disks have been sold. It is probable that millions of consumers
have played these discs on their PC's and thus compromised their
systems without knowing it," an earlier Class Action Reporter
story (November 16, 2005) reports.  

Mr. Russinovich told The Washington Post that he opted to join
the suit because he "wanted to make sure that a message was sent
loud and clear to Sony and hopefully to the rest of the
industry. And if a technical expert is required to back up the
suit, then that's what I'm willing to do to make sure that
message gets driven home."

Mr. Kamber declined to elaborate on what Mr. Russinovich's role
would be, saying only that, "Mark has no peer with respect to
public credibility and expertise in the Windows operating
system. We believe that having him by our side in the litigation
gives us and the class confidence that we're going to represent
them with the best possible information."

Although billed by Sony BMG as common digital rights management
(DRM) software that is just for copy protection, it seems that
it is really much more. The XCP software utilizes "rootkit"
technology that hides the software from users. The software
creates a security risk for personal computers that allows
hackers to hide damaging programs in computers that have Sony
BMG's software in them. The software also secretly communicates
with Sony's servers and can be used to send information back to
the users' media player programs. The Sunncomm MediaMax software
used on some Sony BMG CDs actually installs itself before the
user is asked to agree to the terms of installation. For both
XCP and Sunncomm software, the terms of the End User License
Agreement (EULA) are asserted to be improper and without the
proper disclosures for what is actually occurring when a user
clicks on the button to "Agree" to its terms, an earlier Class
Action Reporter story (November 16, 2005) reports.

Aside from this case, Sony is also facing other suits related to
the rootkits. One of those suits was filed on November 1, 2005,
in Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles in California.
That suit is asking the court to prevent Sony from selling
additional CDs protected by the anti-piracy software. In
addition, the suit seeks monetary damages for California
consumers who purchased them, an earlier Class Action Reporter
story (November 10, 2005) reports.

The suit alleges that Sony's software violates at least three
California statutes, including the "Consumer Legal Remedies
Act," which governs unfair and/or deceptive trade acts; and the
"Consumer Protection against Computer Spyware Act," which
prohibits software that takes control over the user's computer
or misrepresents the user's ability or right to uninstall the
program. It also alleges that Sony's actions violate the
California Unfair Competition law, which allows public
prosecutors and private citizens to file lawsuits to protect
businesses and consumers from unfair business practices, an
earlier Class Action Reporter story (November 10, 2005) reports.   

Another suit, which was filed by the Electronic Frontier
Foundation (EFF), is demanding that the company further address
problems related to the controversial "rootkit"-style copy-
protection mechanism that it shipped on an estimated 24 million
music CDs. Filed in Los Angeles County Superior court, the suit
alleges that two different types of rootkit DRM (digital rights
management) software were installed on the computers of
"millions of unsuspecting music customers" when they played
affected CDs on devices running Microsoft Corporation's Windows
operating system. In its filing the EFF, which is joined by the
law firms of Green Welling, and Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller
Rudman and Robbins in the class action suit, claims that though
they laud Sony for taking initial steps to fix issues related to
one form of the rootkit, known as First4Internet XCP, a second
variation of the software, labeled as SunnComm MediaMax, was not
been addressed and affects 20 million of the involved music CDs,
an earlier Class Action Reporter story (November 23, 2005)
reports.  

The suit claims that the MediaMax software installs itself on
computers even when users choose not to run the application and
that it does not include any feature for deleting the program
entirely. The lawsuit claims that the rootkit software transmits
information on individual usage habits back to Sony BMG,
including details of what music people listen to, thus allowing
the company to spy on customers and track their habits. The EFF
also claims that when consumers repeatedly requested an
uninstaller for MediaMax they were eventually provided one, but
not before being forced to share even more personally
identifying information. It also contends in its suit that a
program designed to remove the DRM software from affected
machines creates additional security vulnerabilities, an earlier
Class Action Reporter story (November 23, 2005) reports.

The suit is styled, "Michaelson et al v. Sony BMG Music, Inc. et
al, Case No. 1:05-cv-09575-NRB," filed in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York. Under
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald. Representing the Plaintiff/s are,
Scott Adam Kamber of Kamber & Associates, LLC, 19 Fulton St.,
Suite 400, New York, NY 10038, Phone: (646)-441-7100, Fax:
(212)-202-6364, E-mail: skamber@kolaw.com.


SUPPORTSOFT INC.: Asks CA Court To Dismiss Amended Stock Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
SupportSoft, Inc. asked the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California to dismiss plaintiffs' first
amended consolidated securities class action filed against it,
its chief executive officer Radha R. Basu and its chief
financial officer Brian M. Beattie.

Between December 9, 2004 and January 21, 2005, several purported
securities class action suits were filed, and later consolidated
on March 22, 2005 as "In re SupportSoft, Inc. Securities
Litigation, Civil Action No.: c 04-5222 SI."  The consolidated
complaint alleges generally violations of certain federal
securities laws and seek unspecified damages on behalf of a
class of purchasers of the Company's common stock between
January 20, 2004 and October 1, 2004.  Plaintiffs allege, among
other things, that defendants made false and misleading
statements concerning the Company's business and guidance for
the third quarter 2004, purportedly violating Sections 10(b) and
20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5
promulgated thereunder.

On July 15, 2005, the Court granted our motion to dismiss the
Complaint with leave to amend the Complaint. The plaintiffs
filed their First Amended Complaint on August 19, 2005. On
September 23, 2005, the Company moved to dismiss the First
Amended Complaint and the hearing was held on November 18, 2005.

The suit is styled "Autumn Partners, LLC. v. Supportsoft, Inc.
et al., case no. 3:04-cv-05222-SI," filed in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of California, under
Judge Susan Illston.  Representing the plaintiffs is Peter A.
Binkow, Glancy & Binkow LLP, 1801 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 311
Los Angeles, CA 90067, Phone: 310-201-9150, Fax: 310-201-9160,
E-mail: pbinkow@glancylaw.com.  Representing the Company are
Sherry Hartel Haus, David L. Lansky, and Peri Nielsen, Wilson
Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, 650 Page Mill Rd, Palo Alto, CA
94304, Phone: (650) 493-9300, E-mail:
sherry.haus@wilmerhale.com, dlansky@wsgr.com, pnielsen@wsgr.com.


SUPPORTSOFT INC.: NY Settlement Fairness Hearing Set Jan. 2006
--------------------------------------------------------------
Final fairness hearing for the settlement of the consolidated
securities class action filed against SupportSoft, Inc. and two
of its officers is set for January 9,2006 in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In November 2001, a class action lawsuit was filed against the
Company and two of its officers, alleging that its registration
statement and prospectus dated July 18, 2000 for the issuance
and initial public offering of 4,250,000 shares of our common
stock contained material misrepresentations and/or omissions,
related to alleged inflated commissions received by the
underwriters of the offering.  The defendants named in the
lawsuit are SupportSoft, Radha Basu, Brian Beattie, Credit
Suisse First Boston Corporation, Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. and
FleetBoston Robertson Stephens Inc.  The lawsuit seeks
unspecified damages as well as interest, fees and costs.

Similar complaints have been filed against 55 underwriters and
more than 300 other companies and other individual officers and
directors of those companies.  All of the complaints against the
underwriters, issuers and individuals have been consolidated for
pre-trial purposes before U.S. District Court Judge Scheindlin
of the Southern District of New York.  On June 26, 2003, the
plaintiffs announced that a proposed settlement between the
issuer defendants and their directors and officers had been
reached.  As a result of the proposed settlement, which is
subject to court approval, the Company anticipates that its
insurance carrier will be responsible for any payments other
than attorneys' fees prior to June 1, 2003.

On September 2, 2003, plaintiffs' executive committee advised
the court that the lead plaintiff in the action against us was
unwilling to serve as a class representative, and sought leave
to seek a new class representative. On October 20, 2003, the
Company was notified that a new class representative would be
substituted into the case against the Company, but its attempts
to formally confirm this substitution have not been successful.
At a court conference on March 4, 2004, plaintiffs' executive
committee advised the court that the negotiators for plaintiffs
and issuers have agreed on the terms of the settlement.  During
mid-2004, the plaintiffs moved for preliminary approval of the
proposed settlement. After full briefing and argument, on
February 15, 2005, the court issued an opinion preliminarily
approving the proposed settlement, contingent upon modifications
being made to one aspect of the proposed settlement the proposed
"bar order."  At a further conference on April 13, 2005, the
court set a further schedule for submission of documents
concerning the form and substance of class notice, and
tentatively set a Rule 23 public hearing on the fairness of the
proposed settlement for January 9, 2006.

The suit is styled "In Re SupportSoft, Inc. Initial Public
Offering Securities Litigation," filed in relation to "IN RE
INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING SECURITIES LITIGATION, Master File No.
21 MC 92 (SAS)," both pending in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York, under Judge Shira
N. Scheindlin.  The plaintiff firms in this litigation are:

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

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

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

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

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

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


TOBACCO LITIGATION: FL High Court Junks Second-Hand Smoke Appeal
----------------------------------------------------------------
A Florida Supreme Court decision could clear the way for trials
on up to 3,000 claims by flight attendants against the tobacco
industry, The Associated Press reports.

Citing lack of jurisdiction, justices refused to consider an
appeal by tobacco companies against a $500,000 award to a former
TWA flight attendant. The woman has respiratory illnesses and
chronic sinusitis that she blames on second-hand smoke inhaled
while working in airliner cabins.

Previously, a Florida appeals court upheld the award to former
TWA attendant Lynn French, who blamed secondhand smoke on
airliners for her bronchitis and sinus disease. That ruling was
a test case interpreting a $349 million settlement reached in
1997 between the tobacco industry and nonsmoking attendants in a
class action lawsuit. The agreement resolved claims blaming
illnesses on exposure to in-flight smoke before smoking was
banned on domestic flights in 1990. In return for tobacco
concessions, the attendants agreed to drop all claims to
punitive damages, the bulk of the settlement money eventually
ended up in the creation of a foundation to research smoke-
related subjects, an earlier Class Action Reporter story
(December 27, 2004) reports.

Attorneys for the cigarette makers challenged the trial
mechanics in Ms. French's trial two years ago, and attendants
put their claims for compensatory damages on hold while waiting
for the ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeal. Ultimately,
the appeals court agreed with Ms. French's arguments in the case
and backed the $500,000 award set by the trial judge, who had
reduced the jury's original $5.5 million award, an earlier Class
Action Reporter story (December 27, 2004) reports.

In an unsigned opinion, the appeals court stated that the 1997
settlement of a class action lawsuit in 1991 was intended to
dispose of legal questions such as whether the industry had a
duty to warn attendants about the potential dangers of on-the-
job cigarette smoke. Under that settlement, juries must presume
that secondhand smoke causes several diseases. Attendants must
prove they suffer from one of them and their illness was caused
by their on-the-job exposure, "which of course is what their
treating physician will testify to," Marvin Weinstein, Ms.
French's attorney in the case explains, an earlier Class Action
Reporter story (December 27, 2004) reports.

The appeals court also wrote in its opinion that forcing
attendants to prove the harms of second-hand smoke exposure "a
thousand times over is an absurd result that we will not adopt.
Tobacco's position "defies logic." In addition, appeals court
also decided that cigarette makers Philip Morris, Lorillard, as
well as R.J. Reynolds and Brown & Williamson, which recently
merged into Reynolds American Inc., are jointly liable for the
verdict, striking down a decision by Circuit Judge Fredricka
Smith splitting the award based on their market share, an
earlier Class Action Reporter story (December 27, 2004) reports.

With the state Supreme Court's recent ruling a series of mini-
trials will decide whether individual flight attendants are
entitled to additional damages.


UNITED STATES: High Court Considers Limits to Abortion Protests
---------------------------------------------------------------
A 20-year-old legal battle over protests outside abortion
clinics recently returned to the Supreme Court for the third
time with anti-abortion groups arguing that they should be
allowed to demonstrate without fear of lawsuits and large
penalty judgments, The Associated Press reports.

About two years ago, the high court ruled that there was no
basis for using federal extortion and racketeering laws to ban
demonstrations. Subsequently, an appeals court ruled that a
nationwide injunction may be supported on other legal grounds,
and the protesters brought the case back to the Supreme Court.

In lively questioning, most of the justices, including new Chief
Justice John Roberts, seemed intent on finding a way to issue a
narrow ruling that would bring the case to a close. Justice John
Paul Stevens even appeared willing to concede the possibility
that the court in 2003 had "overlooked" four jury findings
involving threats of violence by the protesters and their
possible impact on the injunction.

However, Justices Antonin Scalia and David Souter questioned why
the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had not ended the case
with the high court's reversal and lifting of the injunction in
2003. Instead, the appeals court asked a trial judge to
determine whether the injunction could be supported by charges
that protesters made threats of violence absent a connection
with robbery or extortion.

Justice Stephen Breyer said that such an approach would create a
massive change in federal law covering crime and labor activity.
Such a change would "transform virtually every threat of
violence anywhere in the United States into a serious federal
crime," Judge Breyer said, "and at least would make a major
change in threats of violence on the picket line."

The legal battle began in 1986, when the National Organization
for Women filed a class action suit challenging tactics used by
the Pro-Life Action Network to block women from entering
abortion clinics. At the time, NOW's legal strategy was novel,
relying on civil provisions of the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act, which was used predominantly in
criminal cases against organized crime. The lawsuit also relied
on the Hobbs Act, a 55-year-old law banning extortion.

A federal judge issued a nationwide injunction against the anti-
abortion protesters after a Chicago jury found in 1998 that
demonstrators had engaged in a pattern of racketeering by
interfering with clinic operations, menacing doctors, assaulting
patients and damaging clinic property.

The Supreme Court ruled that because the protesters had not
extorted money or valuables from the clinics, there was no basis
for a racketeering violation or the injunction. However, the
appeals court found that the high court had not considered fully
four counts of making a threat of violence that might be enough
to support the ban.

Lisa Blatt, an assistant solicitor general, argued that no
defendant has ever been convicted of an act of violence under
the Hobbs Act that didn't relate to a robbery or extortion. The
cases involved in the fight are Scheidler v. NOW, 04-1244, and
Operation Rescue v. NOW, 04-1352.


WEALTH SYSTEMS: FTC Orders Refund Due To Fraud, Deceptive Trade
---------------------------------------------------------------
Two Internet-based companies and their principals are
permanently barred from misrepresenting any product or service,
and will pay refunds to their consumer victims to settle Federal
Trade Commission charges that their business practices violated
federal laws.

In a complaint filed in February 2005, the Commission alleged
that, in the course of marketing and selling Internet-based
business opportunities via direct mail and telemarketing, the
defendants, Wealth Systems, Inc., Ecommerce Network.com, LLC,
and their principals, Martin Wilson and Shane Roach, enticed
consumers to become what the defendants called "Web brokers."
The FTC's complaint alleges that the defendants claimed that
consumers could earn $20,000 to $50,000 "next year" by
purchasing "Web broker packages" priced from about $300 to
$1,400 or more. Consumers received a mailing with testimonials
from "Web brokers," one of whom claimed to have made "over
$300,000 in a little over a year."

According to the FTC, the defendants offered advertising
"coaches" and advertising packages costing "as low as two
dollars" to help purchasers. Once consumers purchased a Web
broker package, the advertising coaches allegedly used high-
pressure sales tactics to persuade consumers to buy advertising
services from them, stressing the need to spend as much money as
possible on advertising in order to make a profit. Some of the
advertising packages cost tens of thousands of dollars. The
defendants allegedly claimed that one person had earned more
than $12,000 in a month, and another person had invested only
$300 and was receiving his first earnings check for $680.

As alleged in the complaint, few, if any, consumers who
purchased the defendants' business opportunity and/or
advertising services made any money, and few consumers received
refunds. According to the Commission, consumers were not given
any pre-sale disclosure documents with information about Wealth
Systems, such as names, addresses, and telephone numbers of
Wealth Systems members and their earnings; or an earnings claim
document stating a reasonable basis for defendants' earnings
claims; or the number and percentage of prior purchasers who had
achieved results as good as or better than the represented
earnings.

The defendants allegedly violated the FTC Act and the FTC's
Franchise Rule in connection with the marketing of their
Internet-based business opportunities. Under the terms of the
stipulated order settling the Commission's charges, the
defendants may not misrepresent any fact affecting a consumer's
decision to purchase any product or service, or fail to disclose
details of any refund policy, before consumers pay. Regarding
sales subject to the Franchise Rule, the defendants may not fail
to:

     (1) provide a complete and accurate disclosure document,

     (2) have a reasonable basis for any earnings claim at the
         time the claim is made,

     (3) immediately disclose that material constituting a
         reasonable basis for any earnings claim is available to
         the consumer, or

     (4) provide an earnings claim document as the Rule
         requires

The order also prohibits the defendants from selling, renting,
or otherwise disclosing personal information about their
purchasers or prospective purchasers in connection with the
Wealth Systems business opportunity.

The defendants will pay approximately $80,000 for consumer
redress. A judgment of almost $15 million, representing the
amount of consumer injury, will be suspended due to defendants'
inability to pay. The judgment will be imposed if they are found
to have misrepresented their financial condition. The Commission
vote approving the consent agreement was 4-0. The FTC filed the
stipulated final order in the U.S. District Court for the
District of Arizona on November 10, 2005. It was entered on
November 14, 2005.

The stipulated final order stopping the defendants' allegedly
illegal conduct was a result of "Project Biz Opp Flop," a
criminal and civil crackdown on promoters of illegal business
opportunity and work-at-home schemes by the FTC, the U.S.
Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and
law enforcement agencies from 14 states. More than 200
operations were targeted for engaging in fraud and/or violating
consumer protection laws.

NOTE: The stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only
and does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law
violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by the
court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.

Copies of the complaint and stipulated final order are available
from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.govand from the FTC's  
Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue,
N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to
prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in
the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers
spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or
Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints),
or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call
toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint
form at http://www.ftc.gov.The FTC enters Internet,  
telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related
complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database
available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement
agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  For more details, contact
Mitch Katz, Office of Public Affairs by Phone: 202-326-2161;
Frank Dorman, Office of Public Affairs by Phone: 202-326-2674 or
contact Mary T. Benfield, Bureau of Consumer Protection,
Northwest Regional Office Phone: 206-220-4472 or visit the
Website: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/11/wealthsys.htm.


WET SEAL: Faces Consolidated First Amended Complaint in C.D. CA
---------------------------------------------------------------
The lead plaintiffs in the Wet Seal, Inc. (Nasdaq:WTSLA)
Consolidated Class Action filed a Consolidated First Amended
Class Action Complaint against, among others, the Company and
certain of its former officers and directors in the United
States District Court for the Central District of California.

The Consolidated First Amended Class Action Complaint, which
purports to be brought on behalf of all persons who purchased
the Company's publicly-traded securities between November 30,
2003 and August 19, 2004, alleges that the Company violated
Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule
10b-5 promulgated thereunder, as well as Section 20(a) of that
Act, by making false and misleading financial reports and
statements during the class period.

In September 2005, the United States District Court judge
presiding over the Consolidated Class Action granted the
Company's motion to dismiss against all the defendants in the
originally filed lawsuit, including the Company. At that time,
the judge granted plaintiffs leave to file an amended Complaint.
The Company intends to file a motion to dismiss the Consolidated
First Amended Class Action Complaint.

The suit is styled, "Alexander Vinokurov v. Wet Seal Inc et al,
Case No. 2:04-cv-07159-GAF-CT," filed in the United States
District Court for the Central District of California, under
Judge Gary A. Feess with referral to Judge Carolyn Turchin.

Representing the plaintiffs in this litigation are:

     (1) Barrack, Rodos & Bacine (San Diego), 402 West Broadway,
         San Diego, CA, 92101, Phone: 619.230.0800, Fax:
         619.230.1874, E-mail: info@barrack.com;

     (2) Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins (San
         Diego), 401 B Street, Suite 1700, San Diego, CA, 92101,
         Phone: 619.231.1058, Fax: 619.231.7423, E-mail:
         info@lerachlaw.com;

     (3) Michael M. Goldberg  of Glancy Binkow and Goldberg,
         1801 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 311, Los Angeles, CA
         90067, Phone: 310-201-9150;

     (4) Christopher Kim and Lisa J. Yang of Lim Ruger & Kim,
         1055 W. 7th St., Ste. 2800, Los Angeles, CA 90017,      
         Phone: 213-955-9500, E-mail:
         christopher.kim@lrklawyers.com and
         lisa.yang@lrklawyers.com;

     (5) Mel E. Lifshitz of Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, 10 E.
         40th St., 22nd Fl., New York, NY 10016, Phone: 212-779-
         1414; and

     (6) Brian J. Robbins and Marc M. Umeda of Robbins Umeda and
         Fink, 610 West Ash St., Suite 1800, San Diego, CA
         92101, Phone: 619-525-3990, Fax: 619-525-3991, E-mail:
         umeda@ruflaw.com.


Representing the Defendant/s are:

     (i) David F. Berry, Joan E. Lewis-Heard and Lawrence H.
         Nagler of Nagler & Associates, 2300 S. Sepulveda Blvd.,
         Los Angeles, CA 90064-1911, Phone: 310-473-1200, Fax:
         310-473-7144;

    (ii) Marlyn M. Gates and Charles M. Stern of Katten Muchin
         Zavis Rosenman, 2029 Century Pk. E, Ste. 2600, Los
         Angeles, CA 90067-3012, Phone: 310-788-4400, Fax: 310-
         788-4471, E-mail: charles.stern@kmzr.com;

   (iii) Seth A. Aronson and Amy J. Longo of O'Melveny & Myers,
         400 S. Hope St., 15th Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90071-2899,
         Phone: 213-430-6000, Fax: 949-823-6994, E-mail:
         saronson@omm.com; and

    (iv) Charles Avrith of Hughes Hubbard & Reed, 350 S. Grand
         Ave., 36th Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90071-3442, Phone: 213-
         613-2800.


ZHONE TECHNOLOGIES: NJ Court Refuses To Review Lawsuit Dismissal
----------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
refused plaintiffs motion seeking reconsideration of the partial
dismissal of the securities class action filed against Zhone
Technologies, Inc. and Tellium, Inc.  As a result of the
Company's merger with Tellium, Inc., it became a defendant in
the lawsuit.

On various dates between approximately December 10, 2002 and
February 27, 2003, numerous class-action securities complaints
were filed against Tellium.  On May 19, 2003, a consolidated
amended complaint representing all of the actions was filed.  
The complaint alleges, among other things, that Tellium and its
then-current directors and executive officers, and its
underwriters, violated the Securities Act of 1933 by making
false and misleading statements or omissions in its registration
statement prospectus relating to the securities offered in the
initial public offering.  The complaint further alleges that
these parties violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by
acting recklessly or intentionally in making the alleged
misstatements and/or omissions in connection with the sale of
Tellium stock.  The complaint seeks damages in an unspecified
amount, including compensatory damages, costs and expenses
incurred in connection with the actions and equitable
relief as may be permitted by law or equity.

On March 31, 2004, the Court granted Tellium's and the
underwriters' motions to dismiss the complaint and allowed the
plaintiffs to file a further amended complaint.  On May 14,
2004, the plaintiffs filed a second consolidated and amended
complaint.  On June 25, 2004, the Company, as Tellium's
successor-in-interest, and the underwriters again moved to
dismiss the complaint.  The motions to dismiss were fully
briefed.  On June 30, 2005, the Court issued its decision,
dismissing with prejudice the plaintiffs' claims under the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, but denying the motions to
dismiss with respect to the plaintiffs' claims under the
Securities Act of 1933. The plaintiffs moved for reconsideration
of that portion of the Court's June 30, 2005 decision dismissing
their claims under the Securities Exchange Act.

The suit is styled "ANITE GROUP PLC. v. ZHONE TECHNOLOGIES,
INC., case no. 2:05-cv-03357-WJM-RJH," filed in the United
States District Court in New Jersey under Judge William J.
Martini.  Representing the plaintiffs is Robert A. Magnanini,
BOIES, SCHILLER & FLEXNER, LLP, 150 John F. Kennedy Parkway, 4th
Floor, Short Hills, NJ 07078, Phone: (973) 218-1111, E-mail:
rmagnanini@bsfllp.com.



                         Asbestos Alert


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Chase Corp. Responds to Discovery Request
--------------------------------------------------------------
In its latest filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission,
Chase Corporation (AMEX: CCF) states that it is one of over 100
defendants in a pending Ohio personal injury lawsuit, which
alleges injury from exposure to asbestos contained in Chase
products.

The case's plaintiff issued discovery requests to Chase in
August 2005, to which the Company timely responded in September.
Since that time, the Ohio lawsuit has been inactive with respect
to Chase.

The Company had been a defendant in a Mississippi personal
injury lawsuit alleging injury from exposure to asbestos
contained in Chase products. However, the Company was dismissed
without prejudice from that lawsuit in June 2005.

Bridgewater, MA-based Chase Corporation manufactures tapes and
protective coatings used by the electronic, public utility, and
oil industries. The Company also provides circuit board
manufacturing services.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Study Reveals More Deaths in Kubota Factory
----------------------------------------------------------------
A study conducted by Japan's Nara Medical University stated that
the death rate from mesothelioma, a rare asbestos-related
cancer, was 18.1 times the national average among women living
within a 500-meter radius in Kubota Corporation's Amagasaki,
Hyogo Prefecture factory, The Yomiuri Shimbun reports.

The study, headed by professor Norio Kurumatani and done on the
Company's old Kanzaki factory, also indicated that the
mesothelioma death rate was 9.8 times the national average among
male residents living in the same area.

Delivered at a Japanese Society of Occupational Medicine and
Traumatology meeting in Osaka, the study further disclosed men
and women living in the Amagasaki area were 11.7 times more
likely to die from mesothelioma than the national average.

Of the victims' cases on file at Osaka's Kansai Occupational
Safety and Health Center in Chuo Ward, the researchers examined
85 cases, including 76 cases with mesothelioma deaths, which had
no records of the person working at a factory or other asbestos-
related facilities.

The 85 people had lived in the area for 1-1/2 years to 18-1/2
years, and their incubation periods for the disease ranged from
23 years to 48 years.  

Mr. Kurumatani said there were no other likely mesothelioma
sources than Kubota Corp.'s former factory, adding that it was
presumed that the development of mesothelioma among the
residents resulted from the dispersal of highly toxic blue
asbestos used in the former factory.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: UK Hotelier's Kin to Sue in Wrongful Death
---------------------------------------------------------------
The family of John Jackson, a retired Maghull hotelier who died
of industry-related mesothelioma within months of diagnosis,
considers suing the owners of Mr. Jackson's former place of
work, the Maghull & Aintree Star reports.

Mr. Jackson's firm Jackson Brothers rented the Stanley Street
Abattoir site as a base for a pet food business in the 1940s,
1950s, and 1960s.

Liverpool's Coroner's Court heard that the room they worked in
contained a large network of asbestos-lagged pipes.

Mr. Jackson's family is now searching for others who could
provide information about the building and the tenancy to come
forward and help them with a possible action against the
council.

Joan Jackson, 78-year-old Mr. Jackson's widow, said, "The
feeling you are left with is anger really, he was a very healthy
man, he was full of life and we were enjoying going on cruises
and making the most of his retirement."

Coroner Andre Rebello said, "I've no difficulty in concluding
Mr. Jackson died from an industrial disease. Mesothelioma can
have a 20 to 40-year incubation period."


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Aussie State Confronts New Wave of Victims
---------------------------------------------------------------
A report by the Department of Health in Western Australia
reveals that the state has confronted an alarming new wave of
asbestos disease victims, which include home handymen and
building workers, The West Australian reports.

These sufferers comprise skilled and unskilled workers in the
building industry and the do-it-yourself home handymen and
renovators who cut, drilled or disturbed asbestos in their homes
and breathed in its dangerous fibers.

The report showed that the growing number of people suffering
from mesothelioma, a rare cancer linked to asbestos exposure,
surpasses the number of sufferers who were exposed to blue
asbestos while working at the Witternoom mine between 1940 and
the 1960s.

Western Australia Cancer Registry figures indicate the Wittenoom
mine workers now account for only 16% of new cases compared with
20% from the building industry and 10% from home exposure.

The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia predicted the toll
would be even higher than that tipped by the official report for
2003, which has estimated that the 50 to 70 new cases of
mesothelioma each year would almost triple within a decade.
Society president Robert Vojakovic, a long-time campaigner for
the rights of people unwittingly exposed to asbestos, said he
believed mesothelioma victims would reach 300 to 400 new cases a
year.

Rosemary Vojakovic, Mr. Vojakovic's wife, who helps manage
support services for asbestos sufferers, said the society was
inundated with people diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases
without any occupational link.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Concerns Raised Over S. Africa Asbestos Ban
----------------------------------------------------------------
South Africa acts to ban the use of asbestos in a move that will
have devastating effects on neighboring Zimbabwe's asbestos
industry and the broader economy, The Herald reports.

The South African Government created environmental regulations,
docketed on November 4, which seek to ban the importation of
asbestos products into South Africa, except for purposes of
scientific study.

The regulations state, "No person may import asbestos or
asbestos containing materials to the Republic, or export
asbestos or asbestos containing materials from the Republic,
unless the purpose of such import or export is solely for use in
analysis or research which is not intended to develop a new use
for asbestos or asbestos containing material."

The regulations, however, do not bar asbestos entering South
Africa in transit. Concerned parties have up to 60 days to make
submissions to the South African authorities on the proposed
regulations. If the ban goes through, suppliers are given 120
days to dispose of their stocks.

The Zimbabwe National Chrysotile Taskforce has expressed concern
over the new regulations saying they not only fear heavy job
losses in Zimbabwe and South Africa but also losses in foreign
currency inflows for local companies involved in the asbestos
industry.

NCTF chairman and industry and international trade permanent
secretary Christian Katsande outlined the anticipated impact on
the local industry and the anticipated constraints it will
further impose on the already sickly Zimbabwean economy.

An estimated 10,000 Zimbabweans are employed in the asbestos or,
more specifically, the chrysotile mines and downstream
industries. South Africa estimated only less than 200 people are
employed in its asbestos industry.

Contributing more than US$60 million annually in exports to
Zimbabwe, chrysotile was used in the production of fiber cement
sheets, irrigation and water reticulation pipes, brake pads and
gaskets.

Zimbabwe has mined chrysotile asbestos for decades, and
according to previous and latest scientific research, the
fibrous mineral does not pose health risks if used responsibly.

Chrysotile is also mined in Canada, Brazil, Russia and China.

In the past, South African mines used to extract amphibole, or
blue and brown, types of asbestos, which have been
scientifically proven to cause respiratory-related diseases,
hence the worldwide ban.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Aussie MP Urges Passing of Compensation Law
----------------------------------------------------------------
Following the plea of a 42-year-old mother suffering from an
asbestos-linked illness, independent MP Nick Xenophon compels
the South Australian Government to push the dust diseases bill
through Parliament this week to compensate the families of
asbestos victims, ABC South East SA reports.

Mother of three Melissa Haylock, who has been diagnosed with
mesothelioma, said the bill should have been passed a long time
ago.

South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said the
Government will do all it can to see the bill into law by the
end of this week.

Mr. Xenophon said he would be bitterly disappointed if the
legislation is not passed this week because State Parliament has
only four sitting days left before the March election. However,
he said there is still enough time for the bill to be passed.

"The kids of a mum who dies in a car accident or becomes a
quadriplegic can be covered for the expenses of their mum's
services but in a case such as this, the kids won't be able to
claim after the death of their mother. It's a crazy, unjust
loophole and as MPs, we've got an obligation to fix it," Mr.
Xenophon said.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Hardie Shares Rise on NSW Compensation Deal
----------------------------------------------------------------
Shares of building products maker James Hardie Industries NV
surged on reaching a compromise with the New South Wales
Government for asbestos victims, Reuters reports.

The Company's shares, haunted this year by uncertainty over the
final agreement, rose 1.7% to AUD8.41 in late morning trade in a
wider market, which was down 0.7%.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index shed 30.3 points, or
0.65%, to 4,635.0, after ending just 6.4 points short of its
record-closing peak on Sept. 29. It set a record intra-day peak
of 4,680.1 last Tuesday.

"Looks like we are seeing a bit of profit taking around the
globe and that is getting represented in our market. Our market
is not far away from record highs and investors are respecting
those peak levels," Commonwealth Securities Chief Equities
Economist Craig James said.

New Zealand shares fell, the benchmark NZX-50 index down 20.45
points, or 0.62%, at 3,289.99. The top stock, Telecom Corp of
New Zealand Ltd, eased 0.3% to NZD5.79.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Hardie Reaches Delayed Deal With NSW Govt.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Building products manufacturer James Hardie Industries NV
declares it has reached a "substantial" agreement with the New
South Wales Government over a compensation package for
Australian asbestos victims.

Hardie has already agreed to compensate victims an estimated
AUD1.7 billion or up to AUD$4.5 billion over the next 40 years.

In a statement, the Company said, "While agreement is still to
be reached on the final wording of certain provisions of the
principal deed and related matters, it is not expected that
these are likely to prove to be impediments to final agreement
being reached on all issues."  

The statement from James Hardie said that negotiations reflected
the terms of the in-principle agreement signed on December 21,
2004. According to the agreement, its implementation is subject
to a number of conditions, including approval by James Hardie
shareholders and lenders, and the receipt of satisfactory tax
rulings or treatment.

New South Wales State Premier Morris Iemma said he expected a
deal to be successfully concluded by December 1. He refused to
declare the deal's be worth, but said the Government was happy
with it.

Mr. Iemma added that as part of the agreement, asbestos victims
would indemnify James Hardie directors from civil actions.
However, he said the corporate watchdog, the Australian
Securities and Investment Commission, could still take action
against directors and "that can involve criminal matters, it can
also involve civil matters."

Asbestos victims said they want to see some money before they'll
believe James Hardie Industries' claim it is close to signing a
compensation deal.

Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia President Barry Robson
said Hardie had sent out a similar statement 12 months ago. He
said Hardie only put out the statement because of pressure from
the NSW government, which pledged to introduce legislation
allowing victims access to compensation funds if the Company
didn't act.

The Company is still waiting for a final decision from the
Australian Government on whether it will allow the payments to
asbestos disease sufferers to be tax deductible, a key factor on
which the agreement hinges.

Hardie was forced to provide more funds after a State
Government-commissioned inquiry discovered in 2004 that the
Company misled the public in 2001 about money set aside for
asbestos disease sufferers and made the fund seven times too
small.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Marconi Corp. Subject to Ex-Employee Claims
----------------------------------------------------------------
Marconi Corporation PLC (NASDAQ: MRCIY) states that subsidiaries
like The English Electric Co Ltd, Associated Electrical
Industries Ltd, and several other Group companies are subject to
industrial injury claims from former employees, according to a
Securities and Exchange Commission report.

The Group currently defends about 200 cases, in which the
plaintiffs claim industrial deafness, pleural plaques,
asbestosis, mesothelioma, and vibration white finger.

Chester Street Insurance Holdings Limited (formerly Iron Trades
Insurance Holdings Limited), General Electric Company's
employer's liability insurer during the exposure period for
certain of these claims, is now insolvent and is being
administered through a scheme of arrangement.

For claims where the exposure was prior to 1972, 95% the
liability attaches to Group companies but a 5% contribution is
recoverable from the aforementioned scheme of arrangement. For
claims where the exposure was post 1972, the Financial Services
Compensation Scheme, a scheme established by the UK Financial
Services and Markets Act 2000, meets 95% of the liability for
uninsured or underinsured claims.

Marconi is one of 30 additional defendants named in an amended
complaint dated April 12, 2005 filed by George Held and Claire
Held in an action which is pending in the Supreme Court of the
State of New York, County of New York. The additional named
defendants join the original 33 defendants named in the
plaintiffs' original complaint filed on June 29, 2004.

The basis of the plaintiffs' claims appears to be the alleged
exposure by Mr. Held to allegedly unsafe and defective asbestos
and asbestos-containing products and materials. He seeks
compensatory and punitive damages totaling US$100 million
against each defendant. Mrs. Held seeks damages for loss of
consortium totaling US$5 million against each defendant. Marconi
is named as successor-in-interest to English Electric Limited
and has not been served.

Coventry, UK-based Marconi Corporation Plc provides
telecommunications equipment and services. Marconi's products
include wireless and broadband transmission systems, network
infrastructure goods, and enterprise networking equipment.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: JPN Schools Still Exposed to Asbestos Risk
---------------------------------------------------------------
According to inspection results released at a meeting of various
Japanese ministries, close to 500 schools and 28 hospital areas
can still expose students, patients and staff to cancer-causing
asbestos particles, The Asahi Shimbun reports.

According to the Education Ministry's report, 487 public and
private schools, which account for 0.9% of the schools surveyed,
carried the risk of exposing people to asbestos.

The Education Ministry cites that those facilities contain 933
risky rooms where students enter on a daily basis. The Ministry
said 6,271 facilities, or 4.6% of those inspected so far, were
using asbestos in some way.

Inspection results for about 90% of the more than 150,000
schools and other facilities surveyed were reflected in the
report. According to the survey, 771 facilities, or 0.6% of the
total, have areas containing asbestos.

Prefectural Governments conducted the Health Ministry's
inspections and other authorities on facilities built before
April 1997, including hospitals, social welfare offices and
public vocational training schools.

According to the Health Ministry, 324 hospitals, or 4.6% of
those that have responded to the survey so far, had areas deemed
potentially dangerous for asbestos exposure. Twenty-eight of
those areas were in hospital wards, reception rooms or hallways
where patients frequent.

Officials said the meeting representatives approved a bill for a
special measures law to compensate victims of asbestos. The bill
stipulates it would cover people killed by or who developed
asbestos-related diseases but did not receive compensation for
industrial accidents. In addition, they will be provided a
monthly JPY100,000 in medical allowances and a lump-sum of
JPY200,000 for funeral costs.

Officials said that since the inspections have not been
completed, the number of facilities with asbestos-contaminating
risk will likely increase.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Japan Affirms Asbestos Victims' Legislation
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Japanese Cabinet recently endorsed legislation to compensate
sufferers of asbestos-related health problems amid the rising
number of victims and criticisms that the Government was too
slow to ban the carcinogenic substance, The Associated Press
reports.


Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe did not elaborate on the
plan, but Kyodo News agency said the Government is considering
lump sum payments of JPY2.6 million (US$22,000) to any family
that has suffered a loss.

The proposed bill may hit a total of JPY27 billion. Benefits
would also apply to people not covered by industrial accident
insurance.

Under the proposal, which the Cabinet plans to submit in January
2006 when Parliament returns, the Environmental Restoration and
Conservation Agency will establish a relief fund financed by
central and local governments and private companies, Kyodo said.
Firms that used asbestos that caused health problems would be
required to pay extra.

Recent Government surveys pegged the number of people who have
died from asbestos-linked cancers at more than 500. Government
officials accepted their responsibility for failing to take
measures sooner, and agreed to set up a Government task force
specializing in hazardous chemicals.

As of September 2005, at least 42 factories across Japan still
manufactured asbestos products, according to the Environment
Ministry. A loophole still exists in the country's asbestos ban
that allows the material to be used when there are no
substitutes.

Asbestos-related health problems often occur decades after a
victim was exposed to asbestos. Many former employees are
ineligible for compensation under current laws.

Japan has trailed behind other industrialized nations in banning
asbestos, only prohibiting its most common form, white asbestos,
in October 2004.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Japan to Impose Payout Share to All Firms
--------------------------------------------------------------
Sources said that the Japanese Government plans to make
practically every firm, a total of 2.6 million, to contribute in
the national effort to compensate victims of asbestos-related
diseases, The Asahi Shimbun reports.

Companies that were never associated with asbestos, such as
financial entities or information technology firms, will also be
asked to pay.

The sources further said that Government officials face a tough
task in persuading business circles to go along with the plan.
One reason is that money from the accident insurance plan would
go to people not normally covered by it, for example, those who
happen to live near plants that used asbestos.

Beginning fiscal 2007, all firms that belong to the Government-
operated workers' accident compensation insurance program will
be asked to pitch in, which is aimed to bring around JPY10
billion a year until fiscal 2010.

The plan fuels the Government's earlier decision to offer more
than JPY70 billion, which is intended for medical expenses and
funerals, to families of people with asbestos-linked diseases
paid retroactively for sufferings from fiscal 1970 through
fiscal 2010.

Firms like Nichias Corporation, Kubota Corporation, and other
firms blamed for widespread asbestos diseases among employees
and residents near their factories will have to pay a relatively
large burden.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Hardie Funds May Not Flow Before March 2006
----------------------------------------------------------------
Despite the forthcoming signing of the asbestos compensation
fund between James Hardie Industries NV, the New South Wales
Government, and victims' representatives, funds from the
Netherlands-based Company may flow into Australia after March
2006, ABC News Online reports.

Peter Costello, the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia,
has ruled out giving Hardie tax breaks on compensation payments
to asbestos victims.

The Company will not move until the Federal Government makes an
agreement on the tax deductibility of payouts. Only then will
the Company order a lender assessment, prepare documents for
shareholders and call for an extraordinary general meeting to
approve the deal.

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Greg Combet cited
the complex new deal is much longer term. He said, "This deal
can potentially benefit people who are not yet born, who later
come into contact with asbestos and contract a disease."

Asbestos victim Bernie Banton, who has become the face of the
campaign to get compensation from Hardie, said it is not his
preferred option but he will stand with Hardie chairman Meredith
Hellicar and the board members when the deed is signed.

Mr. Banton, however, is not confident the Company will get final
approval and the payments set up by March 2006. He suggests it
is more likely to be June 2006.

The compensation foundation, which the building materials
Company left in Australia, is now in administration with enough
money for asbestos compensation payouts until mid-2006.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Kaiser Settles US$67 Mil Third Party Claim
---------------------------------------------------------------
In its September 2005 quarterly report to the Securities and
Exchange Commission, Kaiser Aluminum Corporation (OTC: KLUCQ)
disclosed that the Unsecured Creditors' Committee had recently
been negotiating with a third party that had asserted an average
US$67.0 million claim for damages against Kaiser Bauxite
Company, a debtor and wholly owned subsidiary of the Company,
arising from KBC's rejection of that party's bauxite supply
contract.

Pursuant to the settlement, among other things, the Company has
agreed to:

(a) Allow the third party an unsecured pre-petition claim in the
amount of US$42.1 million;

(b) Substantively consolidate KBC with certain of the other
debtors solely for the purpose of treating that claim, and any
other unsecured pre-petition claims of KBC, under the Plan; and

(c) Modify the Plan to implement the settlement.

In consideration of the settlement, the third party has, among
other things, agreed not object to the Plan.

The Plan settlement and modifications are subject to approval of
the Bankruptcy Court. The Company has requested that the
Bankruptcy Court consider the settlement and the modifications
at a hearing to be held in December 2005.

While the UCC, the Asbestos Claimants' Committee, the Asbestos
Future Claimants' Representative, the Silica and Coal Tar Pitch
Future Claimants' Representative and the Salaried Retirees'
Committee have all consented to the settlement and the
modifications, no assurances can be provided that the Bankruptcy
Court will approve the settlement and the modifications.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Aussie Unions Could Face up to AUD33T Fines
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Australian Council of Trade Unions says that workers joining
campaigns like the James Hardie Industries NV asbestos
compensation battle could be fined up to AUD33,000 under federal
workplace reforms, The Daily Telegraph reports.

ACTU secretary Greg Combet said new industrial relations laws
would make it difficult to mount campaigns such as the one waged
against Hardie.

Mr Combet said, "In the future, workers who support campaigns
like the one for James Hardie asbestos victims run the risk of
being prosecuted and fined by the Federal Government and its
Building Industry Taskforce."

The Netherlands-based building products Company is expected to
sign a deal worth up to AUD4.5 billion compensation deal for
victims.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Federal-Mogul to Hand T&N Workers GBP36 Mil
----------------------------------------------------------------
Federal-Mogul Corporation (OTC: FDMLQ) recently announced that
it would compensate GBP36 million to be shared among former
Turner & Newall Ltd workers from 1969 onwards, the Evening Post
reports.

Tom Carden, of the Ridings Asbestos Support and Awareness Group,
said, "The GBP36 million package will be among between people
who worked for Turner & Newall in other parts of the country."

Federal-Mogul is the parent Company of Turner & Newall, which
owned the JW Roberts asbestos factory in Armley, Leeds. The
factory pumped out asbestos dust, which covered the community
and left a legacy of asbestos-linked cancers among former
workers, their families, and people who lived nearby.

As JW Roberts closed in 1958, all Leeds residents and families
affected by asbestos-related illnesses must wait for another
compensation deal to be settled.

That package has been in the hands of administrators Kroll since
Federal-Mogul was declared bankrupt in 2001.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Release of Grace Sampling Documents Granted
----------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. government is required to produce documentation for its
asbestos sampling results at trial, held the District Court of
Montana in the suit against W.R. Grace Corporation and certain
employees.

On November 16, 2005, Chief District Judge Donald W. Molloy
handed down the ruling to release these documents material to
preparing the defense for the alleged Clean Air Act violation.
These include documents relating to collection and preparation
of samples, the identification and calibration of instruments,
the methodology and quality control procedures, and those
relating to chain of custody. However, Judge Molloy excluded the
documentation relating to facilities and general procedures used
in testing as they are not pertinent to the results.

W.R. Grace Corporation and certain current and former employees
were charged with a 10-count indictment including conspiracy and
fraud in violation of the Clean Air Act, wire fraud, and
obstruction of justice. These charges arose from Grace's
operation of a vermiculite mine near Libby, Montana. The
government claims that the defendants had a role in the release
and distribution throughout the Libby area of the hazardous
asbestos-contaminated vermiculite. These employees are Alan R.
Stringer, Henry A. Eschenbach, Jack W. Wolter, William J.
McCaig, Robert J. Bettacchi, O. Mario Favorito, Robert C. Walsh.

On August 3, 2005, the government produced a database of
sampling data from Libby compiled by a government contractor as
well as other sampling materials not previously produced.
Although the defendants conceded that the government was
responsive to their discovery request, they asked the Court to
require a full disclosure of all the information they requested.
                                     
The Court further ordered that these documents should be made
available no later than December 1, 2005.

William B. Jacobson, Laurence A. Urgenson, Kirkland & Ellis LLP,
Gary A. Winters, Mayer Brown Rowe Maw LLP, Washington, DC,
Charles E. McNeil, Stephen R. Brown, Jr., Kathleen L. Desoto,
Garlington, Lohn & Robinson PLLP, C.J. Johnson, Kalkstein Law
Firm, Missoula, MT, Tyler D. Mace, David S. Krakoff, Ronald F.
Waterman, Gough Shanahan Johnson Waterman, Palmer A. Hoovestal,
Hoovestal Kakuk & Fanning, Helena, MT, Elizabeth Van Doren Gray,
Sowell Gray Stepp & Lafitte, Columbia, SC, William A. Coates,
Roe Cassidy Coates & Price, Greenville, SC, Stephen A. Jonas,
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale Dorr, Boston, MA, Keith Strong
Dorsey & Whitney, PC, Great Falls, MT, represented the Company
and its employees.
  

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Phillips Suit v. Union Carbide Remanded
------------------------------------------------------------
Due to Union Carbide's failure to file its motion to dismiss
within the 60-day window, the Florida District Court of Appeal
reversed and remanded the asbestos-related suit brought by Jack
D. Phillips.

On July 16, 2003, Mr. Phillips sued 53 corporations, including
Union Carbide Corporation, on asbestos-related claims. The
complaint was served on the Company on December 4, 2003.

On May 21, 2004, Union Carbide Corporation moved to dismiss the
case based on forum non conveniens. Broward County Circuit Court
granted the motion and dismissed the suit with prejudice. Mr.
Phillips raised four issues on appeal but the Court addressed
only the issue of the timeliness of the motion.

Florida Rule of Civil Procedure states that a motion to dismiss
based on forum non conveniens should be served not later than 60
days after service of process on the moving party.

The motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens was not served
until May 21, 2004, well outside the sixty-day window for filing
such a motion. As a result, this Court concluded that the trial
court erred by not denying the motion to dismiss.

David A. Jagolinzer and James L. Ferraro of Ferraro &
Associates, P.A., Miami, represented Mr. Phillips.

Nathan M. Thompson and Evelyn M. Fletcher of Hawkins & Parnell,
LLP, Atlanta, GA, represented Union Carbide Corp., et al.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: GA Court Rules on Hall Suit in Favor of CSX
----------------------------------------------------------------
A release signed by an asbestos claimant frees his employer from
litigation, held the U.S. Southern District Court of Georgia,
Brunswick Division, in granting the summary judgment in favor of
CSX Transportation, Inc. on November 22, 2005.

Thomas Edward Hall sued the railroad company under the Federal
Employers Liability Act, seeking damages for asbestos-related
injuries.

From 1968 until 2000, Mr. Hall worked at CSX's repair facility
in Waycross, Georgia, as a laborer, machinist apprentice, and
machinist. During that time, he alleges that he was exposed to
asbestos and asbestos-containing materials at the workplace. As
a result, he filed the instant lawsuit in 1990.

Mr. Hall brought another occupational injury claim against CSX,
which was settled in August 1999. In settling this claim, he
executed a release in CSX's favor. In exchange for $25,000, he
agreed to release CSX from all claims, suits and causes of
action for all work injuries prior to the date of the release.
At the bottom of the agreement, Mr. Hall wrote that he "Read &
Understood This Release," and then signed his name.

Mr. Hall contended that the parties did not discuss his asbestos
claim when reaching the settlement in 1999, or intend for the
asbestos claim to be part of the 1999 release. However, the
Court considered this evidence inadmissible.

CSX argued that Mr. Hall released it from liability for all
occupational injury claims and from any legal proceedings, which
he was then litigating against CSX based upon his employment
there. CSX established that Mr. Hall has brought at least six
separate occupational injury claims against it during the past
fifteen years. Four of those suits were settled for an average
of over $40,000 each.


ASBESTOS LITIGATION: CA Court Reverses Ruling on Suit V. Carbide
----------------------------------------------------------------
Triable issues exist on the asbestos exposure suit brought by a
former employee and on whether Union Carbide manufactured the
asbestos, held the Second District Court of Appeal of California
in reversing the summary judgment ruling of the Superior Court
of Los Angeles County on November 28, 2005.

Denman Norris died of mesothelioma allegedly caused by exposure
to asbestos-tainted products while employed by Ameron.  His
wife, Susan Norris, and adult children, Daniel and Denise
Norris, pursued the case, citing wrongful death action, causes
of action for negligence, breach of warranty and strict
liability.  

Union Carbide and Plastics Company is alleged to have furnished
asbestos to Ameron which contaminated Mr. Norris ultimately
causing his death as a result of working as a laborer and later
as a production supervisor at Ameron.

Eleven other corporations and businesses were named in Norris'
wrongful death action. However, the only defendant/respondent in
this appeal is Carbide.
      
The Los Angeles County Superior Court requires plaintiffs in
asbestos injury cases to disclose all product identification
information and identify all witnesses who will support such
claims at trial. The only witness disclosed at the time Carbide
filed its summary judgment motion was Gerald Dagen, a former
employee who worked at the Company's purchasing department. He
testified that he recalled purchasing for the pipe division raw
asbestos, as well as asbestos that came in rolls, for use in
lining pipes. However, Carbide further argued that Mr. Dagen
could not associate any products or services with the name Union
Carbide and did not know whether any of the materials used in
the linings division contained asbestos.

On July 15, 2003, Carbide filed its motion for summary judgment,
supporting documentation and separate statement, arguing lack of
evidence that the deceased was ever exposed to any of Carbide's
asbestos fibers.  A few weeks after Carbide filed its summary
judgment motion, the Norrises filed and served an amended case
report listing additional witnesses.

On August 1, 2004, the Norrises served an amended case report
listing a number of product identification witnesses. In
opposition to Carbide's motion for summary judgment on September
17, 2003, the Norrises utilized the depositions of newly
identified witnesses, along with Ameron's records and discovery
responses.
      
In its reply, Carbide claimed the plaintiffs failed to dispute
any of the material facts submitted by Carbide in support of its
motion.  It argued that the Norrises admitted Ameron purchased
asbestos fiber from at least seven other suppliers and the
description of his employment and exposure originating from
Carbide remained unchanged from the testimony and responses to
discovery originally filed by Carbide before Norris served an
amended case report.

On October 2, 2003, the trial court granted Carbide's motion for
summary judgment. On October 10, 2003, Norris filed a
reconsideration motion.  Carbide opposed this reconsideration
motion and on November 6, 2003, this motion was denied.

Judgment for Carbide was filed on February 2, 2004, and notice
of entry of judgment was served on March 10, 2004.  

The Court ruled that based on a review of the record, there was
sufficient evidence to raise the issues of whether Mr. Norris
was exposed to asbestos during his three decades working at
Ameron's Brea facility and whether some of the asbestos which
infected him with mesothelioma was manufactured by Union
Carbide.  

Rose, Klein & Marias, Gregory Stamos, David A. Rosen and Arlyn
M. Latin for Susan Norris and the adult children.

McKenna Long & Aldridge, William J. Sayers, Farah S. Nicol and
Margaret I. Johnson stood for Union Carbide Corporation.


                 New Securities Fraud Cases

HELEN OF TROY LTD.: Dyer & Shuman Sets Lead Plaintiff Deadline
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Dyer & Shuman, LLP is encouraging persons who
purchased the common stock of Helen of Troy, Ltd. (NASDAQ: HELE)
between October 12, 2004 and October 21, 2005 ("Class Members"),
to contact Kip B. Shuman of Dyer & Shuman, LLP at 1-800-711-6483
or via email at KShuman@DyerShuman.com, or counsel of their
choice, concerning their rights and interests as potential class
members in the shareholder class action lawsuit recently filed
in the United States District Court for the Western District of
Texas against Helen of Troy, Ltd. The lawsuit alleges that Helen
of Troy, Ltd. violated federal securities laws by issuing
material misrepresentations to the market.

The firm reminds investors that they have until January 23, 2006
to file for lead plaintiff in the case.

For more details, contact Kip B. Shuman of Dyer & Shuman, LLP,
Phone: 1-800-711-6483, E-mail: KShuman@DyerShuman.com, Web site:
http://www.dyershuman.com.  


HELEN OF TROY LTD.: Federman & Sherwood Lodges Fraud Suit in TX
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Federman & Sherwood initiated a class action
lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the
Western District of Texas against HELEN OF TROY, LTD. (Nasdaq:
HELE).

The complaint alleges violations of federal securities laws,
Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
and Rule 10b-5, including allegations of issuing a series of
material misrepresentations to the market which had the effect
of artificially inflating the market price. The class period is
from October 12, 2004 through October 10, 2005.

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


HYDROFLO INC.: Dyer & Shuman Schedules Lead Plaintiff Deadline
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Dyer & Shuman, LLP is encouraging persons who
purchased the common stock of HydroFlo, Inc. (OTC BB: HYRF)
between July 18, 2005 and October 26, 2005 ("Class Members"), to
contact Kip B. Shuman of Dyer & Shuman, LLP at 1-800-711-6483 or
via email at KShuman@DyerShuman.com, or counsel of their choice,
concerning their rights and interests as potential class members
in the shareholder class action lawsuit recently filed in the
United States District Court for the Eastern District of North
Carolina against HydroFlo, Inc. The lawsuit alleges that
HydroFlo, Inc. violated federal securities laws by issuing
material misrepresentations to the market.

The firm reminds investors that they have until January 23, 2006
to file for lead plaintiff in the case.

For more details, contact Kip B. Shuman of Dyer & Shuman, LLP,
Phone: 1-800-711-6483, E-mail: KShuman@DyerShuman.com, Web site:
http://www.dyershuman.com.  


STONE ENERGY: Goldman Scarlato Lodges Securities Suit in W.D. LA
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Goldman Scarlato & Karon, P.C., initiated a
lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western
District of Louisiana, on behalf of persons who purchased or
otherwise acquired publicly traded securities of Stone Energy
Corp. ("Stone Energy" or the "Company") (NYSE:SGY) between June
17, 2005 and October 6, 2005, inclusive, (the "Class Period").
The lawsuit was filed against Stone Energy and certain officers
and directors ("Defendants").

The complaint alleges that Defendants violated the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934. Specifically, it is alleged that during
the Class Period, Defendants issued a number of positive
statements and filed quarterly financial reports with the SEC
describing the Company's improving financial performance. It is
alleged that these statements were false and misleading because
they failed to disclose or misrepresented that Stone Energy was
materially overstating its financial results as it was
overvaluing its oil reserves, through aggressive reserve
methodologies, that the Company lacked adequate internal
controls and could not accurately determine its financial
condition, and that as a result the value of its proven reserves
were materially overstated.

On October 6, 2005, Stone Energy announced that it was taking a
significant reserve revaluation, writing down the reserves
significantly. Shares of Stone Energy reacted dramatically to
the news, falling $7.93 per share, or approximately 14% to close
at $48.14 per share. Subsequently, on November 8, 2005, Stone
Energy announced that it would restate its financial statements
for the period from 2001 through and including 2004 and the
first six months of 2005.

For more details, contact Brian D. Penny, Esq. of The Law Firm
of Goldman Scarlato & Karon, P.C., Phone: 888-753-2796, E-mail:
info@gsk-law.com.


STONE ENERGY: Lerach Coughlin Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in LA
----------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins,
LLP, initiated a class action lawsuit in the United States
District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on behalf
of purchasers of Stone Energy Corporation ("Stone Energy" or
"the Company") (NYSE:SGY) common stock during the period between
June 17, 2005 and October 6, 2005 (the "Class Period").

The complaint charges Stone Energy and certain of its officers
and directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934. The Company engages in the acquisition, exploration,
development, operation, and production of oil and gas in the
Gulf of Mexico, various basins of the Rocky Mountains, and
Williston basin oil of North Dakota and Montana.

The Complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period,
defendants issued numerous positive statements and filed
quarterly reports with the SEC which described the Company's
increasing financial performance. These statements were
materially false and misleading because they failed to disclose
and misrepresented the following adverse facts, among others:

     (1) that Stone Energy was materially overstating its
         financial results by overvaluing its oil reserves
         through improper and aggressive reserve methodologies.
         As detailed herein, Stone Energy has now launched an
         internal investigation into its reserve practices and
         admitted that it overstated its oil reserves and that
         it will be restating its financial statements for 2001
         to 2004 and for the first six months of 2005;

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

     (3) that as a result of the foregoing, the values of the
         Company's proven reserves, assets and future net cash
         flows were materially overstated at all relevant times.

On October 6, 2005, Stone Energy shocked the market when it
issued a press release announcing that it intends to take a
significant reserve write-down, among other things. In response
to this announcement, the price of Stone Energy common stock
fell $7.93 per share or almost 14% to close at $48.14 per share,
on unusually heavy trading volume. Then, on November 8, 2005,
Stone Energy issued a press release announcing that it will
restate its financial statements for the periods from 2001 to
2004 and for the first six months of 2005.

For more details, contact Samuel H. Rudman or David A. Rosenfeld
of Lerach Coughlin, Phone: 800/449-4900 or 619/231-1058, E-mail:
wsl@lerachlaw.com, Web site:
http://www.lerachlaw.com/cases/stoneenergy/.  


STONE ENERGY: Schatz & Nobel Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in LA
---------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Schatz & Nobel, P.C. initiated a lawsuit seeking
class action status has been filed in the United States District
Court for the Western District of Louisiana on behalf of all
persons who purchased the common stock of Stone Energy
Corporation (NYSE:SGY) between June 17, 2005 and October 6,
2005, inclusive (the "Class Period").

The Complaint alleges defendants violated federal securities
laws by issuing a series of materially false statements.
Specifically, defendants failed to disclose and misrepresented
the following adverse facts:

     (1) that Stone Energy was materially overstating its
         financial results by overvaluing its oil reserves
         through improper and aggressive reserve methodologies.
         Stone Energy has now launched an internal investigation
         into its reserve practices and admitted that it
         overstated its oil reserves and that it will be
         restating its financial statements for 2001 to 2004 and
         for the first six months of 2005;

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

     (3) that as a result of the foregoing, the values of the
         Company's proven reserves, assets and future net cash
         flows were materially overstated at all relevant times.

On October 6, 2005, Stone Energy issued a press release
announcing that it intends to take a significant reserve write-
down, among other things. On this news, the price of Stone
Energy stock fell $7.93 per share or almost 14% to close at
$48.14 per share. Then, on November 8, 2005, Stone Energy issued
a press release announcing that it will restate its financial
statements for the periods from 2001 to 2004 and for the first
six months of 2005.

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


UNIVERSAL AMERICAN: Dyer & Shuman Sets Lead Plaintiff Deadline
--------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Dyer & Shuman, LLP is encouraging persons who
purchased the common stock of Universal American Financial
Corporation (NASDAQ: UHCO) between February 16, 2005 and October
28, 2005 ("Class Members"), to contact Kip B. Shuman of Dyer &
Shuman, LLP at 1-800-711-6483 or via email at
KShuman@DyerShuman.com, or counsel of their choice, concerning
their rights and interests as potential class members in the
shareholder class action lawsuit recently filed in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of New York
against Universal American Financial Corp. The lawsuit alleges
that Universal American Financial Corp. violated federal
securities laws by issuing material misrepresentations to the
market.

The firm reminds investors that they have until January 23, 2006
to file for lead plaintiff in the case.

For more details, contact Kip B. Shuman of Dyer & Shuman, LLP,
Phone: 1-800-711-6483, E-mail: KShuman@DyerShuman.com, Web site:
http://www.dyershuman.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
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firm for the term of the initial subscription or balance thereof
are $25 each.  For subscription information, contact Christopher
Beard at 240/629-3300.

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