CAR_Public/060209.mbx             C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

            Thursday, February 9, 2006, Vol. 8, No. 29

                            Headlines

ABS-CBN BROADCASTING: Suit Mulled Over Phil. TV Program Stampede
BIKE PRO: Recalls 50T Baby Walkers due to Injury Hazard
BLUE CROSS: Second Portion of $17.5M Settlement Set for Release
BOSTON SCIENTIFIC: Recalls Flextome Vein-Cutting Balloon Systems
BRIDGE TERMINAL: OOIDA Lease Agreements Suit Certified

CANADA: Wabamun Oil Spill Triggers Lawsuit, Another One Planned
CARIBOU COFFEE: Minn. Judge Certifies Managers' Overtime Lawsuit
GOLDMAN SACHS: Faces N.Y. Investor Lawsuits over Refco's IPO
ILLINOIS: O'Hare International Airport Strip Search Case Settled
ILLINOIS: Court Justice Karmeier Named in Misconduct Complaint

INDIANA: Environ Dept. Settles 8-Year Old Wage Lawsuit for $3M
INDIANA: Prosecutors Get Help from Antitrust Case Defendant
INDONESIA: Muslim Group Mulls Suit over "Blasphemous" Cartoons
KEMIRA CHEMICALS: Hydrogen Peroxide Business Under Investigation
MICROSOFT CORP: Minn. Schools Get Windfall from Antitrust Deal

NABOR WELL: Ordered to Pay $25.6M in Ventura Labor Arbitration
NEW ZEALAND: Attack to Prisoners Claims Act to Bring More Suits
PENNSYLVANIA: Mediation Fails, Pocono Fraud Moves Towards Trial
PURINA MILLS: Recalls Pellet Poultry Feeds Due to Excessive Salt
RELIANT ENERGY: April Approval Hearing of $512M Settlement Set

ROYAL DUTCH: Recategorisation Issues Remain in Europe, Calif.
SOUTH CAROLINA: H's Resort Condo Developer Violates HUD Law
STATE FARM: Miss. Senator Lodges Complaint over Katrina Damage
TARGET CORP: National Federation of the Blind Files Calif. Suit
UNITED STATES: Insurers Mull RESPA Reforms at "Mid-Winter Thaw"

VILLAGE LIFE: Could Face Fraud Lawsuit After Share Suspension

                New Securities Fraud Cases

APPLICA INC.: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in Fla.
APPLICA INC.: Federman & Sherwood Files Securities Suit in Fla.
JARDEN CORP.: Abraham Fruchter Lodges Securities Suit in N.Y.
JARDEN CORP.: Schatz & Nobel Files Securities Fraud Suit in N.Y.
SFBC INTERNATIONAL: Kaplan & Fox Lodges Securities Suit in N.J.

TAKE-TWO INTERACTIVE: Charles Piven Lodges N.Y. Securities Suit
TAKE-TWO INTERACTIVE: Federman & Sherwood Files N.Y. Stock Suit

* Securities Class Action Settlements in 2005 Up 17% to $3.5B

                          *********

ABS-CBN BROADCASTING: Suit Mulled Over Phil. TV Program Stampede
----------------------------------------------------------------
Network giant ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation could face a
class action from victims of Saturday's stampede that killed 74
people, and injured 627, The Philippine Star reports.

Anti-crime Watchdog, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption,
was approached by victims' relatives and survivors, who want to
seek damages from ABS-CBN, The Star reveals.

The VACC is now studying whether the victims are qualified to
seek compensation claims and file criminal and civil charges
against the broadcasting firm.

Troubled Company Reporter - Asia Pacific reports that the
stampede occurred when a crowd of over 25,000 surged towards a
gate at the Philsports Arena to get into the first anniversary
celebration of ABS-CBN's popular television game show,
"Wowowee".

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez told BusinessWorld
that ABS-CBN, game show host Willie Revillame, and the program's
organizers could be held liable for reckless imprudence
resulting to multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries
because they prepared the program and had control over the show.

Mr. Gonzalez said the families of the victims could reach an
amicable settlement to resolve the civil case, but not the
criminal charges. He affirmed that the victims' families have
the option to file a class action.

ABS-CBN Broadcasting or Alto Broadcasting System-Chronicle
Broadcasting Network -- http://www.abscbn-ir.com-- is a leading  
radio and television broadcasting network and multimedia company
in the Philippines. It was founded in 1953, and was the first
television station in the Philippines. The network's main
broadcast facilities are located at the ABS-CBN Broadcast Center
in Mother Ignacia St., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines.  
(Troubled Company Reporter - Asia Pacific, Vol.9, No.28)


BIKE PRO: Recalls 50T Baby Walkers due to Injury Hazard
--------------------------------------------------------
Bike Pro, Inc., of Pico Rivera, California, in cooperation with
the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, is voluntarily
recalling about 50,000 units of Baby Walkers.  Bike Pro
originally recalled these baby walkers on October 9, 2002.

The company said, the walkers can fit through a standard doorway
and are not designed to stop at the edge of a step.  Babies
using these walkers can be seriously injured or killed.  No
injuries or incidents, though, have been reported.

The recalled walkers are intended for babies 6 months and older.
The walkers are blue, green, pink and yellow.  They have musical
activity trays with various toys and themes including rockets
and a tank with an army print cloth seat, lights and a steering
wheel with a teddy bear cloth seat, and a monkey's face with a
teddy bear seat cloth. "Baby" and "BEBELOVE" are printed on
labels on some of the walkers.  Pictures of the recalled
products:

     (1) http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml06/06078.jpg

     (2) http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml06/06078.jpg

     (3) http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml06/06078.jpg

Manufactured in China, the walkers were sold at independent
discount stores in Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas,
Michigan, Missouri, and New York from January 2000 through
January 2006 for between $18 and $22.

Remedy: Consumers should stop using these walkers immediately
and return them to the store where purchased for a full refund.

For additional information, contact Bike Pro Inc. at (800) 261-
2559 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday.


BLUE CROSS: Second Portion of $17.5M Settlement Set for Release
---------------------------------------------------------------
The second round of payments in the $17.5 million class-action
settlement in a case involving Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode
Island will be sent out anytime this month, The Providence
Journal reports.

Peter N. Wasylyk, a lawyer for plaintiffs in the case told The
Providence Journal that he expects payments to be mailed in
about three weeks.  Thus, according to him, checks could go out
the week that begins Feb. 27.  "If we can get [them] out sooner,
we will," he adds.   Mr. Wasylyk also told The Providence
Journal that he expects that, altogether, about 26,000 checks
totaling $2.2 million will be distributed in the second round.

The first round of payments was held last year with checks going
out in late August.  A second round of payments, to essentially
complete the overall distribution, was originally scheduled for
November or December, but was delayed.

Mr. Wasylyk explains, "Administration of the first [round] took
much longer than we anticipated," adding that one reason is that
lawyers and others involved in the administration of the
settlement were bombarded with calls and letters from consumers
with questions arising from the case.  In addition, many checks
were returned, requiring address changes.

The lawsuits were filed in 1996 in U.S. District Court,
Providence, and state Superior Court.  They were consolidated in
July 2003, (Class Action Reporter, Jan. 14, 2005).

Plaintiffs alleged that the Company secretly negotiated
discounts for drugs and services, but billed patients for co-
payments based on undiscounted prices.  They also alleged that
the insurer made only partial payments on claims under the
company's Classic Blue plan, but did not forward the claims for
additional payments under Classic Blue's "major medical"
coverage.

In January 2005, the state's leading health insurer for 66
years, settled the class actions for $17.5 million, without
admitting any wrongdoing.  After legal and other expenses, about
$11.5 million, was made available for distribution.  

A company news release stated that under the settlement, the
Company does not admit fault, but does accept a permanent ban on
those practices, which "are no longer in place."  The Company
also explained in the news release that its settlement is a way
to "avoid the cost and uncertainties of trial and possible
appeals," and to expedite payments to the affected people.
Additionally, the Company stated that it does not expect this to
affect its reserves or increase rates or premiums, (Class Action
Reporter, Jan. 14, 2005).

The bulk of the payout, to be administered by Mr. Wasylyk, will
go to an estimated 115,000 former and current subscribers, who
will get $10 to $2,500, or an average of about $95 each.  Mr.
Wasylyk said: "Hopefully by summertime, the disbursements will
occur, but what's great about this settlement is that the class
members will receive the payment without a cumbersome claims
process."  They'll just get the checks automatically (Class
Action Reporter, Jan. 14, 2005).  


BOSTON SCIENTIFIC: Recalls Flextome Vein-Cutting Balloon Systems
----------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in cooperation with Boston
Scientific Corporation (3574 Ruffin Road, San Diego, California
92123-2597), is issuing a Class 1 recall for the Flextome
Cutting Balloon(R) Device Monorail(R) Delivery System.

The Flextome Cutting Balloon(R) system is used to open blocked
arteries or blood vessels.  It consists of a surgical balloon
with microsurgical blades attached to the sides.  The balloon is
inserted into the artery with a catheter, and then dilated.  
When the balloon expands, the microblades cut through fatty
deposits, widening the blocked artery.

The products are being recalled because the catheter shaft used
to place the balloon in the artery may separate during
withdrawal of the device from the patient.  If that happens, the
procedure may be prolonged, or more in-depth surgery may be
required to remove the broken-off piece from the artery.

The FDA comments that this product should no longer be used on
patients and should be returned to Boston Scientific.  It also
said that this action does not affect patients who have already
received treatment, because the problem occurs during the
procedure.

For more details, contact Abe Matthews, Vice President of
Regulatory Affairs, Boston Scientific Corporation, 3574 Ruffin
Road, San Diego, California 92123-2597, Phone: 858-254-7885, Web
site: http://researcharchives.com/t/s?51f.


BRIDGE TERMINAL: OOIDA Lease Agreements Suit Certified
------------------------------------------------------
Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh of the U.S. District Court for the
District of New Jersey certified as class action a lawsuit filed
by a driver's association against transportation firm Bridge
Terminal Transport Inc., according to Layover.com.

The Owner-Operator Independent Driver's Association (OOIDA) and
seven of its owner-operator members filed the case in June 2004
alleging that BTT violated federal truth-in-leasing regulations
by failing to disclose or properly document compensation
provisions in its lease agreements.  In addition, OOIDA has
accused BTT of unlawfully charging truckers for fuel and fuel-
related transaction fees, and illegally charging truckers for
insurance-related administration fees, according to the report.  

The class could include as many as 6,000 current and former
drivers who have been parties to lease agreements with BTT since
June 2000, the report said.

A pretrial conference in the BTT case is scheduled for April 21,
2006.  The OOIDA expects a trial date -- likely as early as this
summer -- to be set during the conference.

OOIDA, based in Grain Valley, Missouri -- http://www.ooida.com/
-- is comprised of more than 133,000 owner-operators,
professional drivers and small business truckers from all 50
states and Canada.  It also recently received class status for
its case against major motor carriers such as C.R. England and
Landstar.

BTT, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina --
http://www.bttinc.com/--is owned by the A.P. Moller-Maersk  
Group of Denmark, is one of the largest marine container haulers
in the United States.


CANADA: Wabamun Oil Spill Triggers Lawsuit, Another One Planned
---------------------------------------------------------------
A major oil spill near a popular resort lake in Edmonton,
Alberta, Canada triggered the filing of a multimillion-dollar
lawsuit by an aboriginal band that lived on the east shore for
hundreds of years, The Canadian Press reports.

The Paul First Nation is suing Canadian National Railway, as
well as the federal and Alberta governments, over a derailment
that fouled Lake Wabamun with toxic oil in August 2005.  Chief
Daniel Paul told The Canadian Press the band's 1,700 members
rely heavily on fish, ducks and geese from the lake, which
remained contaminated months after the spill.

At a recent news conference, Chief Paul said, "There's tar balls
everywhere.  There's still evidence of contamination
everywhere."  He points out, "That water was clear for centuries
and now we're dealing with a disaster."

The Company, the province and Environment Canada are all
refusing to comment on the lawsuit but say an extensive
assessment will be done before cleanup efforts resume in the
spring.  In an interview with The Canadian Press, Company
spokesman Jim Feeny said, "The matter is now before the courts,
so we are constrained in what we can say.  But I will observe
that CN has undertaken and continues to undertake very extensive
cleanup and remediation efforts on all sectors of the lake,
including that of the Paul First Nation."

The suit alleges that it took authorities 10 hours to notify the
band of the spill, which reached their shores only 30 minutes
after they were told about the derailment.  The band hired a
public relations consultant who organized the recent news
conference, which included a slide show of fish, wildlife and
vegetation covered with oil.  As the slide show was presented,
Chief Paul told reporters, "Oil continued to come ashore onto
our lands right up to the time of freeze-up and we don't know
what to expect when the ice has gone."

Chief Paul reiterates that the major concern is that oil will
seep into water wells and make people sick.  He adds, "We just
had eight wells tested last week again by Health Canada and we
haven't seen those results yet."

Robert Moyles, spokesman for Alberta's environment department,
told The Canadian press that cleanup efforts will continue once
the lake thaws.  He maintains, "We remain committed to working
with all the communities around the lake, including the Paul
band, to ensure the lake is properly cleaned up."  In the
meantime, Environment Canada spokeswoman Nancy Hnatiuk told The
Canadian Press that the department "will continue to be co-
operating fully with Alberta to ensure cleanup of the spill."

Chief Paul also told reporters that he plans to ensure that band
members are eventually tested for any toxic effects from the oil
spill, but he couldn't say who would pay for these tests.  His
Band's statement of claim calls for a large cash settlement from
the Company for damages to lands and resources as well as the
impact on the residents' way of life.  On the other hand, the
claim against the province alleges it failed to warn the band of
contamination from the spill.  None of these claims though have
been proven in court and thus will be subject to statements of
defense by all parties.  Additionally, the band is also seeking
damages from the federal government for allegedly failing to
protect their treaty rights and failing to enforce federal laws.

Some residents in the town of Wabamun are also planning a class
action against the Company over the derailment, which spilled
700,000 liters of fuel oil and pole-treating oil.  The Company
offered up to $5,000 cash to people living along the lake last
fall, but the offer was rejected.


CARIBOU COFFEE: Minn. Judge Certifies Managers' Overtime Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------------------
U.S. District Court Judge James R. Rosenbaum upheld a decision
by the U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel to
conditionally certify a class of hundreds of current and former
Caribou Coffee Store Managers in an overtime case.

In denying Caribou Coffee Company, Inc.'s appeal, Judge
Rosenbaum removed the final hurdle to permitting the attorneys
working on behalf of the class to begin notifying Store Managers
about the class action.  To date, several hundred notices have
been sent and almost 100 plaintiffs already have joined the
case.

The class action, first served on Caribou on May 25, 2005,
charges Caribou with wrongfully denying overtime pay due to
current and former Caribou store managers.  The lawsuit alleged
that Caribou violated Federal and State laws by misclassifying
its Store Manager positions as exempt from overtime compensation
in order to avoid paying overtime wages to hundreds of
employees.

The complaint also alleged that Store Managers worked over 40
hours per week and spent the majority of their time engaged in
non-managerial "barista" work, such as waiting on customers,
making various coffee drinks, serving the customers, and ringing
up the sales.  Consequently, according to the complaint, Store
Managers should have been paid overtime for all hours worked in
excess of 40 hours per week.

"The fact that many other managers are signing up for the case
demonstrates that I am not alone," said former manager and
current plaintiff, Daniel Williams-Goldberg.

"Certifying the class under the Fair Labor Standards Act and
notifying class members represents a critical step in the class
action process," stated one of the plaintiffs' attorneys,
Charles N. Nauen.  "As more and more current and former managers
join the case every day, we look forward to vigorously pursuing
their claims for overtime compensation."

Several other coffee chains, including Starbucks Corp., have
been sued for similar violations.

The managers are represented by Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P.
and Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP.  

Plaintiff's lawyer's contact: Charles N. Nauen of Lockridge
Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P., Phone: +1-612-339-6900, or Jon A.
Tostrud of Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP, Phone: 1-310-418-8262.


GOLDMAN SACHS: Faces N.Y. Investor Lawsuits over Refco's IPO
------------------------------------------------------------
U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said it and other
underwriters of Refco, Inc.'s August 2005 initial public
offering are subjects of a number of investor lawsuits, Reuters
reports.

The firm's annual 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange
Commission revealed that various suits seeking class action
status are pending at a federal court in Manhattan, New York.  
The suits allege violations of disclosure requirements and are
seeking damages.  Derivative lawsuits, which seek damages on
behalf of the Company, allege underwriters played a key role in
the failure of Refco's board to fulfill its fiduciary duties.  
The Company said the lawsuits also name Refco, Inc. and its
affiliates, some Refco officers and directors, majority investor
Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and outside auditor Grant Thornton as
defendants.

In addition, the Company said it and other lead underwriters of
the IPO are defendants in a complaint filed last month on behalf
of customers that owned securities in the custody of Refco.  
These suits allege the company and its bankers published false
and misleading information about Refco.

Separately, the Company said that a shareholder derivative
action was filed in New York on behalf of Goldman Sachs against
some of the firm's officers and directors.  According to the
firm's filing, the suits allege that certain individuals failed
to ensure adequate due diligence was conducted before the Refco
IPO.

In the filing, the Company also revealed that it and other Refco
IPO underwriters have received requests for information from
various government agencies and self-regulatory organizations.  
The Company said that it is cooperating with the requests.

Last fall, a flurry of lawsuits were filed against Refco on
behalf of shareholders who watched their stock plummet more than
70% after the futures and commodities broker's former chief
executive, Phillip Bennett, was charged with securities fraud.  
Soon after the public learned Mr. Bennett owned a company that
owed Refco $430 million.  The company filed for bankruptcy
protection in October.

Melvyn Weiss, a leading class-action lawyer, told Reuters in
October Refco's underwriters should be held liable for a
collapse that came just two months after a $583 million public
offering.  He argued underwriters failed to adequately conduct
assessment before the IPO.


ILLINOIS: O'Hare International Airport Strip Search Case Settled
----------------------------------------------------------------
About 87 women agreed to accept $1.9 million in compensation for
what they claimed were illegal pat-downs and strip searches at
Illinois' O'Hare International Airport, The Chicago Tribune
reports.

Judson Miner, an attorney for the plaintiffs, which filed the
federal lawsuit in 1997, told The Chicago Tribune that his
clients were African-American women whom customs agents pulled
out of line without cause and forced to submit to sometimes
humiliating searches.

Jacquelyn Jordan-Akinola, a graduate student from Chicago, told
The Chicago Tribune that she was strip-searched when she
returned from Jamaica in July 1997.  She also said that about 70
percent of the passengers on her flight were white, but when she
was steered into a line to be searched, she found herself among
all black women.  

"I was appalled," Ms. Jordan-Akinola says and added that, "It
was humiliating and disgusting. ... Why would I jeopardize my
career and reputation to smuggle some drugs?"  Commenting on the
compensation, she recently told The Chicago Tribune, "The money
wasn't really the issue with me. ... We were able to bring
attention" to the problem.

U.S. officials admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement,
according to a press statement from U.S. Atty. Patrick
Fitzgerald's office.  However, the office's statement said the
former U.S. Customs Service, now part of the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security, supervises agents more closely and is "doing
a better job of documenting its reasons for doing the
appropriate searches that are done."  Mr. Fitzgerald's office
added that federal agents don't need a court-issued warrant to
conduct searches at the airport, only a "reasonable suspicion"
that someone is carrying contraband.

Originally, the plaintiffs had hoped to bring the case as a
class action.  U.S. District Judge William Hart though turned
down their request.

The amount each woman received depended on the type of search
and other factors, according to Mr. Miner.  He added, "I think
our clients were quite happy ... on balance."

Female customs agents conducted the searches in the 1997
incident.  According to Mr. Miner, customs agents maintained
that they chose passengers to be searched based on factors such
as who seemed nervous or gave inconsistent answers to questions.
But he pointed out that those criteria were subjective and
unreliable and that the agents disproportionately searched black
women, yet "they virtually never found drugs."

The suit is styled, "Anderson, et al v. Cornejo, et al, Case No.
1:97-cv-07556," filed in the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois under Judge William T. Hart.  
Representing the Defendant/s are, Edward M. Fox of Ed Fox &
Associates, 300 West Adams St., Suite 330, Chicago, IL 60606,
Phone: (312) 345-8877, E-mail: efox@efox-law.com; and Judson
Hirsch Miner of Miner Barnhill & Galland, 14 West Erie Street,
Chicago, IL 60610, Phone: (312) 751-1170, E-mail:
jminer@lawmbg.com.  Representing the Defendant/s is Kenneth L.
Cunniff, Esq., 30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2900, Chicago, IL
60602-2511, Phone: (312) 917-8850, E-mail:
kencunniff@hotmail.com.


ILLINOIS: Court Justice Karmeier Named in Misconduct Complaint
--------------------------------------------------------------
Common Cause, BPI and Citizen Action/Illinois filed a request
for an investigation of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd A.
Karmeier concerning his participation in and decisive vote in
two cases constituting the first and second largest class action
judgments in the history of Illinois.

According to the complaint, Justice Karmeier can be viewed as
giving big business a nice return on their 2004 donations to his
election campaign raising serious issues of judicial impropriety
or at least the appearance thereof.  Unlike elected non-judicial
officials accused of accepting corporate contributions and then
directly benefiting the donors, whose conduct may have to await
indictment, an Illinois Supreme Court Justice or judge has an
affirmative obligation to recuse himself or herself from a case
in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be
questioned, the complaint says.

The complaint filed with the State of Illinois Judicial Inquiry
Board alleged that Justice Karmeier accepted millions of dollars
in donations for his 2004 election campaign and then cast the
deciding vote, which supported the position of the donors in two
pending cases decided in 2005.  The three complainants urged an
investigation into Justice Karmeier's conduct in Michael Avery
v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and Price v.
Philip Morris Incorporated.

According to the complaint, investigators will find that Justice
Karmeier was not only a candidate recruited and sponsored by big
business with business before the Illinois Supreme Court, but
also a judge who refused to recuse himself from the Avery case
despite a motion for recusal filed by the plaintiff.

The Avery case had reached the Court on October 2, 2002 after
the Illinois Appellate Court upheld a $1.05 billion verdict
against State Farm.  Almost a year later on September 16, 2003,
the Price case reached the Illinois Supreme Court on direct
appeal from the trial court judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.

During the election, Illinois State Board of Election disclosure
filings show that State Farm, its lawyers and its Amici and
their lawyers donated over $350,000 to Justice Karmeier.  In
addition, groups affiliated with State Farm gave over $1
million.  At the same time, the complaint alleges that Justice
Karmeier received millions of dollars from groups affiliated
with Philip Morris USA, its parent company -- Altria, Philip
Morris USA's lawyers, its Amici parties and their lawyers while
the Price case was pending on appeal before the Illinois Supreme
Court.  Before Election Day, Justice Karmeier had raised over
$4.8 million.

On November 4, 2004 -- in the most expensive judicial election
in United States history, Justice Karmeier won the open seat on
the Illinois Supreme Court.  He beat Appellate Judge Gordon Maag
who wrote the Avery Appellate Court opinion against State Farm
and participated in the Appellate Court proceedings on an appeal
of the amount of the bond in the Price case.

One day after the election, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, which
had endorsed Justice Karmeier, wondered if "it's payback time"
and whether Justice Karmeier might be tempted to "do favors for
the interests that lavished millions on his campaign."

For more information, contact: Todd Dietterle, State Chairman of
Common Cause Illinois, Phone: +1-312-332-1103; E. Hoy McConnell,
Executive Director of Business and Professional People For the
Public Interest, Phone: +1-312-759-8259; or William McNary, Co-
Director of Citizen Action, Illinois, Phone: +1-312-427-2114,
ext. 2.


INDIANA: Environ Dept. Settles 8-Year Old Wage Lawsuit for $3M
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has settled a class
action lawsuit filed in 1998 by current and former DNR
employees.

The state must pay $3 million to members of the class for
retroactive wages dating back to July 1, 1996.  The settlement
also calls for a $400,000 aggregate salary adjustment for
members of the class starting April 9.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has settled the
long-term class action lawsuit initiated by employees in 1998 in
connection with the application of Public Law 70.

"I am very pleased that we were able to reach a settlement with
the current and former DNR employees that were members of the
class," said DNR Director Kyle Hupfer. "This litigation had gone
on for far too long and bringing it to a fair and reasonable
conclusion allows the DNR to move forward with total focus on
fulfilling its mission."

Public Law 70 went into effect on July 1, 1996.  It called for a
survey of state government classification systems and salary
schedules for professional employees in the natural resource
professions from 9 states.  Based upon that survey, the State
Personnel Department was to prepare a classification system and
salary schedule for professional employees of the Indiana DNR.  
Public Law 70 expired by its own terms on July 1, 2001.

                      Case Background

The original class action was filed June 26, 1998 and the class
was certified on November 8, 1999.  The state has denied and
continues to deny any wrongdoing with respect to the application
of Public Law 70.

On November 5, 2003, the trial court granted the State's Motion
for Summary Judgment and dismissed the Plaintiffs' Complaint in
its entirety.  Plaintiffs filed their Notice of Appeal and on
December 17, 2004, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in
part, reversed in part, and remanded the case to the trial
court.  The State filed a Petition for Transfer to the Indiana
Supreme Court, which was stayed pending class action settlement
approval.  On February 2, 2006, the trial court entered a Final
Judgment and Order Approving Settlement Agreement and Dismissing
the Class Action with Prejudice.  The Court determined, after
hearing, that the Settlement was fair, reasonable and adequate.
The settlement was reached after years of extensive discovery,
as well as significant motion practice and appeal.

                        Settlement Terms

Terms of the settlement provide for a $3,000,000 payment to the
members of the class for retroactive wages for the period of
July 1, 1996 through June 30, 2005.  On a going forward basis,
the settlement calls for a $400,000 aggregate salary adjustment
for members of the class.  Both dollar amounts include
applicable attorney fees and applicable employee withholdings.

Allocation of the settlement amounts among the members of the
class was determined by the class, counsel for the class and the
expert retained by the class.  The going forward adjustment
takes effect on April 9, 2006, and will show up in class
members' paychecks beginning with the one covering that date.

"This litigation had been hanging over the heads of class
members/DNR employees and the state," said Mr. Hupfer. "This
settlement allows the DNR to have a level of certainty with
respect to fiscal management and allows the involved employees
to focus on their work without the continued distraction of a
lawsuit."


INDIANA: Prosecutors Get Help from Antitrust Case Defendant
-----------------------------------------------------------
Court documents in a civil price-fixing lawsuit pending in
Indiana revealed that one of the seven concrete firms named as
defendants is helping federal prosecutors gather evidence in a
related criminal investigation, The Indianapolis Business
Journal reports.

An attorney for one of the seven defendants in the civil case
said in the court filing that the 27 contractors and
construction firms bringing the suit have the "unique and
decisive advantage" of receiving documents and statements from a
cooperating individual who could receive amnesty from criminal
charges.  Documents though don't say which firm is serving as an
informant and prosecutors declined to comment.  Attorneys for
the concrete firms didn't return calls or simply said that they
didn't know who was helping investigators.

The Chicago, Illinois office of the U.S. Department of Justice
is leading a grand-jury investigation into whether companies
conspired to fix prices of ready-mix concrete in the
Indianapolis area.  That investigation triggered lawsuits by
contractors claiming they were forced to overpay for concrete
(Class Action Reporter, July 4, 2005).  Specifically, attorneys
for Cohen & Malad, LLP, in Indianapolis, Indiana and Susman
Godfrey LLP in Dallas, Texas sought class-action status on
behalf of contractors and construction companies that sued the
concrete firms in federal court in Indianapolis last year.  
According to a July 26, 2005 issue of the Class Action Reporter,
some of the firms that have filed suits against defendants are:

     (1) Van Valkenburg Builders of Avon;

     (2) Siniard Concrete Services of Bloomington;

     (3) Dan Grote of Crawfordsville;

     (4) Michael Reisert of Greenfield;

     (5) R. Shane Tharp of Indianapolis;

     (6) Boyle Construction Management of Indianapolis;
         
     (7) CWE Concrete Construction Inc.;

     (8) Kort Builders, Inc. and

     (9) Environ of Noblesville.

In June 2005, one of the defendants, Greenfield-based Irving
Materials Inc., pleaded guilty to criminal charges and accepted
a $29.2 million fine, the largest ever in a domestic antitrust
case.  Four of its executives including President Fred Irving
and his son, Vice President Price Irving were sentenced in
December to five months in prison for price fixing.  After
Irving Materials pleaded guilty, prosecutors said they colluded
with other concrete firms in the area with their executives
meeting behind an Indianapolis horse barn to set numbers.  

However, Robert Hammerle, a lawyer for Price Irving, told
Indianapolis Business Journal that prosecutors commonly offer
amnesty deals in an attempt to bolster their case by persuading
someone to come forward and admit involvement.  "The first
company in gets complete amnesty in exchange for [its] truthful
cooperation," according to Mr. Hammerle, who is not involved in
the civil case.  He adds, "The government's position is to
encourage a race to the door."

The existence of an informant was revealed in a motion filed
last December by Judy Woods, a lawyer for one of the civil
defendants, Fishers-based Builder's Concrete & Supply Inc.  In
that filing, she objected to an order by Judge Sarah Evans
Barker limiting discovery in the civil case until the criminal
investigation is complete.

In November, prosecutors had sought the order, arguing that
allowing unlimited discovery to continue would undermine the
grand jury's secret investigation.  The government argued the
defendants in the civil case could determine the scope and focus
of the criminal investigation and facilitate the destruction of
evidence by those who had not yet produced documents.  "Although
the government has conducted a substantial investigation to date
and additional criminal charges are expected soon," prosecutors
wrote, "it still has significant steps to take."

Henry Karlson, a professor at the Indiana University School of
Law in Indianapolis, told The Indianapolis Business Journal the
prosecutors' concerns might be well grounded.  Mr. Karlson said,
"Potential defendants will become fully aware of what's going on
before the grand jury and what the criminal liability might be."  
He adds, "There is always the potential for conflict in the
discovery stages of a civil case while a criminal case is under
investigation."

However, in her motion, Ms. Woods countered that the company
helping prosecutors already had cooperated with plaintiffs in
the civil case before Judge Barker limited discovery.  She
specifically wrote, "To the extent the plaintiffs in this civil
action have already had (or will have) access to such
information and documents (whether from a leniency candidate or
the government itself), it would be fundamentally unfair and
highly prejudicial to deny the same access to defendants in this
action."

The Department of Justice does not have to disclose the identity
of someone seeking amnesty unless ordered by a court. That
hasn't happened though, court documents revealed.

Judge Barker's order limits discovery in the civil case to
financial documents and financial statements.  In her motion
though, Ms. Woods argued that such records are more help to
plaintiffs in building their case than they are to defendants.

Typically, plaintiffs and defendants in a civil lawsuit would
gather information from the other side in a range of ways,
including, taking depositions, and submitting written questions.

The judge has not ruled on Ms. Woods' motion to reconsider or
clarify her order that limits discovery.  Plaintiffs have not
objected to the judge's order as well.

Richard Shevitz, chairman of Cohen & Malad's class-action group,
told The Indianapolis Business Journal that the civil case is
moving forward, despite the restriction on discovery.  A hearing
on whether to grant the suit class-action status is scheduled
for March 1, 2006.

"What we thought was promising was that the government did not
want a complete stay and chose to limit the discovery to certain
categories," Accoridng to Mr. Shevitz, who adds, "We can get our
hands on their business information.  At this juncture, that is
what we are most concerned with."

In addition, Mr. Shevitz told The Indianapolis Business Journal
that attorneys at Cohen & Malad and co-lead counsel Susman
Godfrey LLP conducted their own investigations to identify the
seven companies named in the suit.  The law firms continue to
gather information, he said, and might name additional
defendants.

Current defendants in the case are American Concrete Co. Inc.,
Beaver Gravel Corp., Carmel Concrete Products Co., Prairie
Material Sales Inc. and Shelby Gravel Inc., along with Irving
Materials and Builder's Concrete.  Mr. Hammerle pointed out
though that Irving Materials could be struck from the list of
potential amnesty candidates since company executives already
pleaded guilty.

The government sometimes will grant immunity to a second party,
in a move known as "amnesty plus," Mr. Hammerle said.  For those
left to face penalties, according to him, the results can be
"rather horrific," noting "you can literally drive a number of
companies out of the market."


INDONESIA: Muslim Group Mulls Suit over "Blasphemous" Cartoons
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Indonesian Muslim Forum (FUI) plans to file class action
against some countries, which they think have hurt Muslims'
feelings by publishing a controversial cartoon of the Prophet
Mohammed or by releasing hateful statements against Islam.

Although the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten made a public
apology regarding the "blasphemous" cartoons illustrating the
Prophet Mohammed, Islamic organizations in Indonesia are still
outraged.  They have staged protests in several cities over the
past three days.  The controversy ignited after other European
countries such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain re-ran the
cartoons, which were originally published in September.

According to FUI secretary Al Kahthtath, their legal experts are
examining the possibility of issuing a class action against
Denmark, Norway and France and also against the United States in
relation to President George W. Bush's State of the Union
speech, which is claimed to have sent a strong, negative message
against Islam.


KEMIRA CHEMICALS: Hydrogen Peroxide Business Under Investigation
----------------------------------------------------------------
Kemira Chemicals, Inc. has received a grand jury subpoena
seeking documents in connection with an investigation by the
U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division of its hydrogen
peroxide business in the U.S.  

Kemira Oyj and Kemira Chemicals, Inc. have recently been named
in class action lawsuits filed in U.S. federal and state courts
by direct and indirect purchasers of hydrogen peroxide and
persalts, the Finnish firm said at its October-December and 2005
full-year results.

In these civil actions it is alleged that U.S. plaintiffs
suffered damages resulting from a cartel among hydrogen peroxide
and persalts suppliers.  The existence of the European
Commission's investigation is relied upon in support of the
allegations, but Kemira Oyj and Kemira Chemicals, Inc. have not
been informed of any allegation that relates specifically to the
U.S. market.  Class actions have also been initiated in Canada
against Kemira Oyj, Kemira Chemicals, Inc. and Kemira Chemicals
Canada, Inc. alleging plaintiffs suffered damages resulting from
a cartel among hydrogen peroxide and persalts suppliers, the
statement said.

Kemira Oyj, Kemira Chemicals Inc. and Kemira Chemicals Canada,
Inc. have not been informed of any allegation that relates
specifically to the Canadian market, according to the company.

Kemira -- http://www.kemira.com-- is a chemicals Group with  
four business areas: pulp and paper chemicals, water treatment
chemicals, industrial chemicals and paints.


MICROSOFT CORP: Minn. Schools Get Windfall from Antitrust Deal
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Sauk Centre School District in Minnesota will receive
$74,014.48 from a 2004 settlement of a class action lawsuit that
alleged Microsoft Corporation overcharged consumers and
businesses for products sold over a specific period of time, The
Sauk Centre Herald reports.

The amount is part of the $55.2 million compensation that
schools statewide will receive in vouchers, according to a
statement released from Gov. Tim Pawlenty's office in January.  
Initially, the Company agreed to pay $174.5 million in vouchers
to businesses and consumers in Minnesota.  Schools in the state
could later claim what consumers did not.

In 2000, the Company faced a string of lawsuits for using its
market power to force customers to pay higher prices for its
Windows operating system.  Those federal cases were later
consolidated in the U.S. District Court for Maryland.  These
cases allege that the Company competed unfairly and unlawfully
monopolized alleged markets for operating systems and certain
software applications, and they seek to recover alleged
overcharges for these products, (Class Action Reporter, Feb. 6,
2006).

To date, courts have dismissed all claims for damages in cases
brought against the Company by indirect purchasers under federal
law and in 17 states.  Nine of those state court decisions have
been affirmed on appeal.  An appeal of one of those state
rulings is pending.  There was no appeal in four states.  Claims
under federal law brought on behalf of foreign purchasers have
been dismissed by the U.S. District Court in Maryland as have
all claims brought on behalf of consumers seeking injunctive
relief under federal law, (Class Action Reporter, Nov. 2, 2005).

The ruling on injunctive relief and the ruling dismissing the
federal claims of indirect purchasers are currently on appeal to
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, as is a ruling
denying certification of certain proposed classes of U.S. direct
purchasers.  Courts in eleven states have ruled that indirect
purchaser cases may proceed as class actions, while courts in
two states have denied class certification, (Class Action
Reporter, Nov. 2, 2005).

Statewide, 467 school districts and charter schools will receive
vouchers intended to supplement current technology budgets,
updating computer software and hardware and enhancing
professional development for teachers and staff.  

Sauk Centre School Superintendent Dan Brooks told The Sauk
Centre Herald, "The settlement will help us supplement the
considerable effort we have made in technology over the past few
years."  He explains that the district started paperwork on it
some months ago when Garry Nelson, the school's technology
coordinator, "sought input from staff as how best to supplement
hardware and software needs in the district in anticipation of
this settlement."  Mr. Brooks added, "We have a number of
purchase orders set to go, based on staff input."

Under the settlement, all of the products purchased must be from
approved lists, administered through a court process.

Mr. Brooks explained the money for each school district was
calculated using a complex formula, through this court
supervised process, which involved the number of free-reduced
students participating in the school lunch program.  The dollar
amounts individual schools will receive range from several
hundred dollars to $6.3 million.  In the area, the Albany School
District will receive $63,148.23, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa School
District $70,310.24, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle School District
$145,578.25 and Melrose School District $101,859.70.

Mr. Brooks told The Sauk Centre Herald that since this is a
voucher system, it might take some time to get reimbursed for
the purchases so they will be "metering out the purchase
orders."  He said, "It is anticipated that expenditures will
actually happen over the course of the next couple of years."  
Schools have until 2012 to use the vouchers.


NABOR WELL: Ordered to Pay $25.6M in Ventura Labor Arbitration
--------------------------------------------------------------
Retired Judge Richard Neal has ordered Nabor Industries Ltd.'s
well-servicing unit operations in California to pay $25.6
million in his interim arbitration ruling Monday, according to
The Associated Press.

Employees filed the suit in 2003 in Ventura County Superior
Court.  Nabors later asked that the case be settled through
binding arbitration, and Judge Neal conducted hearings for two
weeks in October 2005.

Judge Neal's ruling will give workers, who alleged Nabors Well
Services failed to allow employee lunch breaks or pay travel
costs, between $5,000 and $50,000 each, according to plaintiffs'
attorney Daniel Palay.  The amount will be distributed to 2,649
workers.  The ruling covers time worked between 1999 and 2003,
and also applies to workers who serviced rigs in Santa Maria,
Bakersfield, Long Beach and Los Angeles, Mr. Palay said.

Nabors also violated a separate California labor law requiring
employers to pay for travel time to work sites in certain
circumstances, according to Mr. Palay.  A 2000 California law
penalizes employers for not providing breaks to workers.  Los
Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks was ordered
last year to pay $4.75 million to 1,000 workers for missed
breaks and unpaid overtime.


NEW ZEALAND: Attack to Prisoners Claims Act to Bring More Suits
---------------------------------------------------------------
A new law limiting payouts for human rights cases filed by
prisoners in New Zealand stands to face challenge, according to
Stuff.co.nz.

Wellington lawyer Tony Ellis, who took a controversial illegal
behaviour-management regime (BMR) case in Auckland Prison, is
planning Supreme Court action this year to argue inmate rights,
the report said.

The potential suit stands to question the Prisoners and Victims
Claims Act that the New Zealand government introduced in June to
address public uproar over payouts to inmates for alleged human
rights breaches.  The Act was pushed through Parliament after
five inmates were awarded $130,000 in 2004 for harsh treatment
in an illegal BMR in Auckland Prison.  The act limits
compensation to "exceptional cases" and victims will have first
call on any compensation that is paid.

The challenge could see a flood of new claims, the report said.  
The Corrections Department already received $1 million in new
claims last year, the report said citing figures under the
Official Information Act.  


PENNSYLVANIA: Mediation Fails, Pocono Fraud Moves Towards Trial
---------------------------------------------------------------
The parties in more than 90 federal civil lawsuits alleging
home-sale fraud in the Poconos acknowledged in a joint status
report that mediation efforts failed, according to The Pocono
Record.

The latest turn of events mean that scores of individual cases
contending that Tannersville developer Gene Percudani, former
partner Gerald Powell and their companies used inflated
appraisals to sell homes for more than they were worth might be
headed to trial.  The suit also names suspended appraiser
Dominick Stranieri, Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp., and Chase
Vice President William Spaner.

However, U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner of Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania will have to decide what happens next.  David B.
Banks of Lafayette, one of several attorneys representing the
homebuyers told The Pocono Record, "Now the ball is in the
judge's court as to what we have to do.  We'd advise that it
move forward towards trial."

Mr. Percudani's attorney, Ernie Preate Jr. of Scranton said the
trial is the logical next step.  He said "I suspect the judge is
going to put us on a tight schedule and get the case ready for
trial.  Still, we have a lot more discovery to do, depositions
to take."

Approximately 16 months ago, the parties entered into mediation
with a retired chief U.S. District Court judge, Donald E.
Ziegler, as part of an effort to reach a "global" settlement of
all claims -- including a separate state attorney general's
civil suit against Mr. Preate, Mr. Powell and Mr. Stranieri
seeking $10 million in restitution and penalties.  But, in a
joint written status report, due to Judge Conner by Feb. 1,
stated that the parties were simply too far apart, despite
formal and informal discussions.

According to the statement, "Some of the parties engaged in
further discussions but failed to narrow their differences
sufficiently.  As a result, all of the parties agree that
further mediation would not be fruitful."

Chase isn't named in the state's suit, but was sued in the
private federal action.  Chase though denied any culpability,
saying Mr. Percudani duped them into buying mortgages he
originated, and the company has filed its own suit against him
and Mr. Stranieri.  In addition, Chase agreed in 2002 to re-
issue new mortgages to 200 homeowners that reduced what they
owed by up to $50,000 each, after an independent appraiser
determined the homes were sold far above their true market
value.

The federal civil suit was originally filed as a class action,
but Judge Conner ruled circumstances of each home sale were
unique, so the claims had to be adjudicated individually.  The
buyers' attorneys responded by filing a "mass action" in which
each transaction is to be decided on individual merits.

Neither side is certain how the cases will proceed if trials are
set, though one possibility is that scores of "mini trials" will
be held within the larger filing.  If so, it's possible that the
parties might negotiate an overall settlement after just a few
"mini trials," based on any prevailing trend in the outcomes.

For more details, contact Ernest D. Preate, Jr., Scranton
Electric Building, 507 Linden Street, Suite 600, Scranton,
Pennsylvania 18503, (Lackawanna Co.), Phone: 570-558-5970, Fax:
570-558-5973.


PURINA MILLS: Recalls Pellet Poultry Feeds Due to Excessive Salt
----------------------------------------------------------------
Purina Mills, LLC, is voluntarily recalling a specific lot of
488 bags of Purina Layena(R) Sunfresh Recipe(TM) Pellets poultry
feed.  The affected product was manufactured in 50-pound bags in
Spokane, Washington on January 3, 2006, and sold after that
date.  It was shipped to 15 retail dealers in Idaho, Montana,
Washington and Oregon.

The specific packages included in this limited recall have the
lot number 6JAN03SPK2 printed on the sewing strip of each bag.  
The Product Code is 61R3.  Product testing indicated some of
this lot contains excessive salt and as such does not meet
Purina Mills' quality standards.

Customers who have purchased Purina Layena Sunfresh Recipe
Pellets with the specified lot number are asked to return the
product to their dealer for replacement.

This voluntary recall does not include any other Purina Mills
products, or other lots of Purina Layena(R) Sunfresh Recipe(TM)
Pellets.

For more information, contact Purina Mill's Spokane Feed Plant
Customer Service Department.  Phone: (800) 456-0032 (toll free),
Monday - Friday, 7 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.


RELIANT ENERGY: April Approval Hearing of $512M Settlement Set
--------------------------------------------------------------
A proposed class action settlement between plaintiffs
representing business and residential consumers of electricity
in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada,
Oregon, Utah and Washington and defendants Reliant Energy, Inc.
and its affiliates is pending in the Superior Court of the State
of California, County of San Diego.

The class action for California residents is entitled Wholesale
Electricity Antitrust Cases I & II, JCCP 4204 & 4205 (the
"California Case").  The class action for residents of Arizona,
Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington
is entitled Egger, et al. v. Reliant Energy Inc., et al.,
("Egger") JCCP 4204-00009.

To see more information about the Settlement and consumer legal
rights, visit http://www.reliantenergysettlement.com,or call  
1-866-216- 0276.

The proposed Settlement includes all individuals and entities in
Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon,
Utah and Washington that purchased electricity for their home or
business (and not for resale or distribution) at any time
between July 1, 1998 and October 12, 2005.

Plaintiffs in the California Case allege that Reliant agreed
with other companies to create false shortages, and engaged in
other conduct, in order to raise the prices of wholesale
electricity.  Plaintiffs in Egger allege that the same
misconduct also resulted in higher wholesale electricity prices
in the Western States.  Reliant denies that it has done anything
wrong.

                        Settlement Terms

The Settlement provides approximately $512 million in cash and
other consideration.  Of this amount, $138.5 million will be
paid to the Attorneys General of California, Oregon and
Washington, including funds for the benefit of electricity
ratepayers.  Reliant will also give up over $299 million in
claims it has raised against the State of California and
California utility companies.

                        Opt-out Deadline

Class Members who do not wish to be included in the Settlement
Class or bound by the terms of the Settlement must exclude
themselves in writing on or before March 15, 2006.  The address
to which exclusion requests should be sent, and the information
required within the request, varies depending on the state in
which the energy consumer resides.  Complete information on how
Class Members can opt-out is available at
http://www.reliantenergysettlement.com.

                    Fairness Hearing Schedule
  
The Court has scheduled a Fairness Hearing for April 28, 2006,
in the courtroom of the Honorable Joan M. Lewis, Judge of the
San Diego County Superior Court at 330 W. Broadway, San Diego,
California 92101, to determine whether the settlement with
Reliant is fair, adequate, and reasonable and should be given
final approval.


ROYAL DUTCH: Recategorisation Issues Remain in Europe, Calif.
-------------------------------------------------------------
U.S. investigations and British proceedings relating to Royal
Dutch Shell plc's overstatement of proved reserves have all been
settled, the Hague, Netherlands firm said.

In a note to its fourth-quarter and year-end results, Royal
Dutch said:

The U.S. Department of Justice investigation and proceedings by
the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.K.
Financial Services Authority (FSA) with respect to Royal Dutch
Shell plc in regards of the recategorisation of Shell's proved
oil and gas reserves for periods prior to 2004, have all been
settled.

The Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) have
announced that their findings do not give rise to any further
actions at this time.  The class action against certain Shell
companies on behalf of employees participating in U.S. savings
plans under the US Employee Retirement Income Security Act
(ERISA) has been settled.  Shell also has reached a settlement
in the Derivative action case.

Pending in relation to the recategorisation issues are
investigations by Euronext Amsterdam and the California
Department of Corporations, and a securities class action in
U.S. courts.  

On January 6, 2006, certain Dutch pension funds, and German and
Luxembourgian institutional shareholders filed two new related
actions in the court in which the class action is pending.  With
respect to these pending actions and investigations, the
management cannot currently predict the manner and timing of the
resolution of these pending matters, is currently unable to
estimate the range of possible losses from such matters and does
not currently believe the resolution of these pending matters
will have a material impact on Royal Dutch Shell's financial
condition, although such resolutions could have a significant
effect on periodic results for the period in which they are
recognized.

                   Dutch Pension Funds Lawsuit

Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP of Heerleen, Netherlands is the lead
plaintiff in a class action lawsuit of 26 Dutch pension funds
against Royal Dutch Shell to recover losses linked to an
accounting scandal in which Shell overstated its oil and gas
reserves from 1997 to 2003, The Pensions & Investments reports
(Class Action Reporter, Jan. 11, 2006).

The securities fraud suit, filed by the $225 billion Dutch fund
in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, is believed to be the
first of its kind in the Netherlands.  The 26 pension funds
represent the majority of the Dutch labor force.

According to the lawsuit, filed on January 6, 2006, the group
collectively bought more than 200 million Shell shares between
1999 and 2005.  Court documents revealed that when Shell
disclosed that it had overstated reserves by several billion
barrels in early 2004, it lost about $16 billion in market
value.  Since then, the energy giant reduced its estimated
reserves four more times, resulting in an aggregate loss of more
than $25 billion in value to shareholders.

Shell spokeswoman Lisa Givert told The Pensions & Investments in
an e-mail statement that the Company plans to "rigorously defend
itself against the action."


SOUTH CAROLINA: H's Resort Condo Developer Violates HUD Law
-----------------------------------------------------------
The developer of the H's Resort condominium project in North
Myrtle Beach, Florida cites a federal law violation for his
cancellation of contracts to sell condos.

Harvey Graham Jr. in November cancelled contacts entered with at
least 60 people to buy units at H's Resort over the past two
years.  Mr. Graham's lawyer Henrietta Golding said the contracts
were canceled because they violated the federal Interstate Land
Sales Full Disclosure Act, which requires developers of large
real estate projects to register them with the Department of
Housing and Urban Development, according to Bradenton Herald.  

Developers must also give buyers a property report that includes
a summary of the project, its builders, finances and other
information.  The registration and property report must be
completed before any sales are made.  Violations carry a maximum
penalty of a $10,000 fine and five years in prison.

Ms. Golding said it is not clear what penalty the developer
might face or what effect the violation will have on the class
action lawsuit filed by prospective buyers.  Mr. Graham has
raised prices on the units by as much as 51%.  He wants to
resell the condos to be built at Second Avenue North and North
Ocean Boulevard, at the higher prices, but a circuit judge
prevented him because the lawsuit is still in the early stages.  
Judge Thomas Cooper Jr., though, said the HUD violation might
indeed give Graham a strong case for canceling the contracts.  
Construction has not started, according to the report.  

The buyers' lawsuit accuses Mr. Graham of fraud and breach of
contract.


STATE FARM: Miss. Senator Lodges Complaint over Katrina Damage
--------------------------------------------------------------
Senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who lost his home due to Hurricane
Katrina, initiated a lawsuit against insurance giant, State Farm
over its refusal to pay for replacing his house,
Consumeraffairs.com reports.

The Company has stonewalled Sen. Lott and other South
Mississippians that lost their homes on the grounds that their
homeowner's policies do not cover flood damage.  Though home
insurance typically does not cover floods, the homeless
Mississippians contend that it was wind and wind-driven water
that destroyed their homes.  Technically, wind damage is covered
by homeowner's policies.

Sen. Lott's lawsuit adds powerful political muscle to the
dispute.  The state's attorney general, Jim Hood, sued five
large insurers in September seeking to override the exclusions
and there are numerous individual and class action lawsuits
pending in the courts.

In a press statement, the former Senate major leader said,
"Today I have joined in a lawsuit against my longtime insurance
company because it will not honor my policy, nor those of
thousands of other South Mississippians, for coverage against
wind damage due to Hurricane Katrina."

The Company and other insurers though vehemently deny that they
are liable for the damages.  They even pointed out that the
lawsuits "threaten the foundation of the economy of the state"
by trying to undercut legal contracts.

While Republicans in Congress are quick to bash plaintiffs'
lawyers who file class action suits on behalf of consumers, Sen.
Lott had no trouble turning for legal help to his brother-in-
law, Richard Scruggs, a famous and enormously successful
plaintiffs' lawyer who has won huge judgments against tobacco
and asbestos companies, among others.  Sen. Lott and Mr. Scruggs
were neighbors along the Gulf Coast in Pascagoula and both lost
their homes in the storm.

The suit alleges that the Company wouldn't cover Mr. Lott's
total loss because it was caused by a "storm surge" from the
Gulf, rather than by wind.  It argues that the policy is
supposed to cover losses from "storm systems" and that damage
from storms typically includes not only wind but also storm
surges.


TARGET CORP: National Federation of the Blind Files Calif. Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
The National Federation of the Blind initiated a lawsuit in
Alameda County Superior Court against Target Corp., claiming
that the giant retail chain discriminates since its Web site is
inaccessible to blind customers, The Bay City News reports.

The lawsuit claims, "Target thus excludes the blind from full
and equal participation in the growing Internet economy that is
increasingly a fundamental part of daily life."  Specifically,
it charges that the alleged lack of access violates two
California laws, the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Disabled
Persons Act.

Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind,
told Bay City News that blind people gain access to the Internet
by using keyboards along with special software that translates
visual information into spoken words.  According to the suit,
the Company's Web site, Target.com, fails to include features
such as an invisible code embedded beneath images that would
enable blind customers to use the screen-reading software.  Mr.
Maurer argues, "Blind customers should have the same access to
Target's online service that Target offers its sighted
customers."

In addition to the national federation, the plaintiffs in the
case include the federation's California affiliate and a blind
person, Bruce Sexton, a student at the University of California
at Berkeley.  The lawsuit seeks to be certified as a class
action on behalf of all blind Californians who want to use the
Web site.

The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based discount retailer has 1,400
stores in 47 states, including 205 in California, and had
revenue of $47 billion in 2004, according to company
information.


UNITED STATES: Insurers Mull RESPA Reforms at "Mid-Winter Thaw"
---------------------------------------------------------------
Reform in the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act otherwise
known as RESPA is coming soon, however it won't look much like
the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) recently
failed effort to reform that law, The Inman News reports.

This was the consensus of panelists discussing RESPA and related
compliance issues at United General Title Insurance Co.'s "Mid-
Winter Thaw" conference on Mexico's Baja peninsula.  Enacted in
1974, RESPA provides for the advance disclosure of closing costs
and to prohibit kickbacks and excessive fees in the home-buying
process.

Back in 2004, intense opposition from most segments of the real
estate industry killed HUD's efforts to reform RESPA.  The
difference today, according to Philip Schulman, a partner in the
Washington, D.C., law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP, is that
HUD officials are listening to the feedback they received from
industry executives in a series of round table discussions last
year.  And what they heard, Mr. Schulman tells Inman News, is
that most of those groups don't want any part of the "bundled"
or guaranteed settlement services packages that represented half
of the two-pronged reform proposal HUD had proposed.

Mr. Schulman told The Inman News, "Industry trade groups made it
clear that they don't need bundling.  They said if it will work
and the market wants bundling, then the market will do it.  
There's no need for a rule that will shift power and money from
one side of the settlement services table to another."

Given that feedback, Mr. Schulman predicted, "Bundling will be
off the table in any proposed rule."  The focus, rather, he
expects, will be on improving the good faith estimate by
requiring more accurate estimates, closer to the actual closing
costs, and imposing penalties when the gaps are too large.  He
adds, "This is where the battle lines will be drawn in the next
six to eight months."

Kenneth Harney, a nationally syndicated real estate columnist
for the Washington Post, and managing director of the National
Real Estate Development Center, agreed, predicting that HUD's
new proposal, when it comes, will amount to "RESPA reform lite,"
the major change being a restructured good faith estimate "with
minimal tolerances."   He pointed out, "There may be some
regulatory relief along with it, but that will be about it."

Since agency officials invested so much time and effort in the
reform process, and promoted the bundling idea so heavily, they
will have to say something about that, according to Mr. Harney.  
His prediction: They will say the agency's reform effort
encouraged the industry to move in that direction on its own, so
that regulations are no longer necessary.  "They will salute the
industry and declare victory," he suggested.

While HUD has not said anything publicly about RESPA in recent
months, Mr. Harney told The Inman News that he has learned the
agency has sent its responses to the industry and the Bush
Administration comments about the last proposal, along with a
package of options, to the Office of Management and Budget
(OMB).  Indicating that HUD is getting closer to issuing a new
proposal, Mr. Harney pointed out, "That's very significant."

He expects OMB will respond quickly, after which HUD can
consider the comments, issue a policy statement indicating the
general direction of its reform plan, and then propose a new
rule before the end of this year.  "There is a distinct chance
of that happening," according to Mr. Harney.

Meanwhile, HUD recently intensified its enforcement efforts
targeting "sham" business arrangements that illegally skirt
RESPA's ban on referral fees, reported Robert Pratte, a partner
in the Minnesota law firm Briggs & Morgan and a specialist in
RESPA litigation.  Rattling off a series of recent settlement
agreements, with dollar amounts ranging from $80,000 to $40
million, he cautioned industry executives to pay close attention
to RESPA compliance.

Mr. Pratte told The Inman News that while RESPA enforcement
efforts are intensifying, the volume of RESPA class-action suits
has declined mainly because the plaintiffs' bar "made a big
mistake" when it shifted its focus from attacking technical
disclosure violations to challenging "yield spread premiums
(YSP)."  According to him, the shift represents "a core business
practice."

In earlier cases, lenders weighed the cost of settling the
litigation against the cost of the fight, Mr. Pratte said, with
the YSP suits, the cost of losing was "turning over the keys to
the shop.  So they fought to the death, and beat them to death.  
Nearly every one of these cases has disappeared."

However, according to Mr. Pratte, RESPA litigation hasn't
disappeared and the new cases, challenging various disclosure
issues, raise a key question: "How do you balance the push to
disclose every minute detail against the push to simplify the
closing settlement process, speed it up, and make it easier and
less costly?"


VILLAGE LIFE: Could Face Fraud Lawsuit After Share Suspension
-------------------------------------------------------------
Litigation financier IMF is planning to launch class action in
the federal court against Village Life Ltd. in behalf of
investors who lost money after buying shares in the firm's
flotation last year, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

IMF claims the retirement village operator in Milton Queensland,
Australia misled investors in the 2004 share offering.  Shares
in the company, which listed at $1.05 in 2003 and hit an all-
time high of $2.88 early last year, has been suspended at $0.35.  
The company recently warned it could post a first-half loss and
could need significant new capital to stay afloat.

Under International Financial Reporting Standards, its balance
sheet could show net liabilities, Village Life Managing Director
Stephen Lonie said.  He is not promising the company could
remain a going concern.

The firm failed to meet its target of filling 95% of its 81
retirement villages with enough residents to pay fees it pays to
the villages' owner, ING Real Estate Community Living Fund.  It
only achieved average occupancy rates of 84%.

Village Life Ltd. on the Net: http://www.villagelife.com.au/.


               New Securities Fraud Cases


APPLICA INC.: Charles Piven Lodges Securities Fraud Suit in Fla.
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a securities
class action on behalf of shareholders who purchased, converted,
exchanged or otherwise acquired the common stock of Applica
Incorporated (APN) between November 4, 2004 and April 28, 2005,
inclusive (the "Class Period").

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

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


APPLICA INC.: Federman & Sherwood Files Securities Suit in Fla.
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Federman & Sherwood initiated a class action lawsuit in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of
Florida against Applica Incorporated (APN).

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 November 4, 2004 through April 28, 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:
wfederman@aol.com, Web site: http://www.federmanlaw.com.


JARDEN CORP.: Abraham Fruchter Lodges Securities Suit in N.Y.
-------------------------------------------------------------
The law firm of Abraham Fruchter & Twersky, LLP, filed a class
action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York on behalf of all securities
purchasers of Jarden Corp. ("Jarden" or the "Company") (JAH)
from between June 29, 2005 and January 11, 2006, inclusive (the
"Class Period").

The Complaint alleges defendants violated federal securities
laws by issuing a series of materially false statements
regarding Jarden's financial condition. Specifically, defendants
failed to disclose the following:

     (1) that the merger between Jarden and Holmes was plagued
         by integration problems;

     (2) that the statements concerning growth from the Holmes
         acquisition were inherently unreliable because Holmes
         had no reasonable way to repeat its performance in 2005
         due to the loss of tens of million of dollars in
         revenue from a deal Holmes had with Procter & Gamble;
         and

     (3) that Jarden's statements concerning the Holmes
         acquisition were based on overly optimistic forecasts.

On January 12, 2006, prior to the opening of the market, Jarden
provided a business update for fiscal 2005 as well as its
outlook for fiscal 2006. Therein, the Company stated that
Holmes' profit margins and product mix were not what the market
had been led to expect. On this news, shares of Jarden fell
$3.37 per share, or 11%, to close at $27.05 per share on January
12, 2006.

For more details, contact Jack G. Fruchter, Esq. and Ximena
Skovron, Esq. of Abraham Fruchter & Twersky, LLP, One Penn
Plaza, New York, NY 10119, Phone: 1-800-440-986 or 1-212-279-
5050, Fax: (212) 279-3655, E-mail: jfruchter@aftlaw.com or
xskovron@aftlaw.com.


JARDEN CORP.: Schatz & Nobel Files Securities Fraud Suit in N.Y.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Schatz & Nobel, P.C., which has significant experience
representing investors in prosecuting claims of securities
fraud, announces that a lawsuit seeking class action status has
been filed in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York on behalf of all persons who purchased or
acquired the publicly traded securities of Jarden Corp.
("Jarden" or the "Company") (JAH) between June 29, 2005 and
January 11, 2006, inclusive, (the "Class Period"). Also included
are all those who acquired Jarden through its acquisition of
Holmes Group, Inc. ("Holmes").

The Complaint alleges defendants violated federal securities
laws by issuing a series of materially false statements
regarding Jarden's financial condition. Specifically, defendants
failed to disclose the following:

     (1) that the merger between Jarden and Holmes was plagued
         by integration problems;

     (2) that the statements concerning growth from the Holmes
         acquisition were inherently unreliable because Holmes
         had no reasonable way to repeat its performance in 2005
         due to the loss of tens of million of dollars in
         revenue from a deal Holmes had with Procter & Gamble;
         and

     (3) that Jarden's statements concerning the Holmes
         acquisition were based on overly optimistic forecasts.

On January 12, 2006, prior to the opening of the market, Jarden
provided a business update for fiscal 2005 as well as its
outlook for fiscal 2006.  Therein, the Company stated that
Holmes' profit margins and product mix were not what the market
had been led to expect.  On this news, shares of Jarden fell
$3.37 per share, or 11%, to close at $27.05 per share on January
12, 2006.

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


SFBC INTERNATIONAL: Kaplan & Fox Lodges Securities Suit in N.J.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer, LLP, initiated a class action suit in
the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
against SFBC International, Inc. ("SFBC" or the "Company")
(NASDAQ: SFCC) and certain of its officers and directors, on
behalf of all persons or entities who purchased the publicly
traded common stock of SFBC between August 4, 2003 and December
15, 2005 (the "Class Period").

The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants
violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities and Exchange
Act of 1934 by publicly issuing a series of false and misleading
statements regarding the Company's business and financial
prospects, thus causing SFBC's shares to trade at artificially
inflated prices.

In particular, the complaint alleges that the facts, known by
each of the defendants, but concealed from the investing public
during the Class Period, were as follows:

     (1) that, in order to insure that it had enough
         participants for its drug testing contracts, the
         Company provided inadequate disclosures in its consent
         forms regarding the dangers of particular tests to
         wrongfully induce participants, who were primarily low
         income, uneducated U.S. citizens or immigrants;

     (2) that the Company structured compensation payments to
         trial participants to assure its participants would not
         drop out of a drug testing trials or report
         uncomfortable or adverse reactions to a drug;

     (3) that the integrity of the Company's reviews of
         potential drug trials were compromised by conflicts of
         interest;

     (4) that the Company's financial results were achieved as a
         direct result of its engagement in such wrongful
         practices;

     (5) that the defendants concealed SFBC's unethical business
         practices so that it could continue to report strong
         revenue, earnings, and tout its ability to outperform
         competitors; and

     (6) that the defendants knew or recklessly disregarded the
         fact that if SFBC's improper and irregular business
         practices were discovered that it would have a material
         effect on the Company's financial health.

It is further alleged in the complaint that during the Class
Period, SFBC insiders sold more than $26 million worth of their
own shares at artificially inflated prices.

The complaint alleges that after the truth about SFBC began to
be revealed, SFBC's stock price declined from $41.49 per share
to $15.78 per share, a decline of approximately 62%. Since the
end of the Class Period, the Company's President and Chairman
reportedly resigned and the Company has reportedly received a
request from the SEC concerning the Company's former executives.

For more details, contact Frederic S. Fox, Joel B. Strauss,
Donald R. Hall, Jeffrey P. Campisi and Laurence D. King of
KAPLAN FOX & KILSHEIMER LLP, 805 Third Avenue, 22nd Floor, New
York, New York 10022, Phone: (800) 290-1952, (212) 687-1980 and
(415) 772-4700, Fax: (212) 687-7714 and 415-772-4707, E-mail:
mail@kaplanfox.com.


TAKE-TWO INTERACTIVE: Charles Piven Lodges N.Y. Securities Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Law Offices Of Charles J. Piven, P.A. initiated a securities
class action on behalf of shareholders who purchased, converted,
exchanged or otherwise acquired the common stock of Take-Two
Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO) between October 25,
2004 and January 27, 2006, inclusive (the "Class Period").

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

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


TAKE-TWO INTERACTIVE: Federman & Sherwood Files N.Y. Stock Suit
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Federman & Sherwood initiated a class action lawsuit was
filed in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York against Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.
(TTWO).

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 25, 2004 through January 27, 2006.  Plaintiff seeks
to recover damages on behalf of the Class.

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:
wfederman@aol.com, Web site: http://www.federmanlaw.com.


* Securities Class Action Settlements in 2005 Up 17% to $3.5B
-------------------------------------------------------------
Securities class action settlements reached unprecedented levels
in 2005, Cornerstone Research reports.  Excluding WorldCom's
over $6.1 billion settlement and Enron's $7.1 billion (and
counting) settlement, the total value of cases settled during
2005 grew to an all time high of $3.5 billion, surpassing 2004's
over $2.9 billion tally by more than 17%.

The annual study compares settlements in 2005 against earlier
settlements of cases filed since the passage of the Private
Securities Litigation Reform Act in December 1995.

The increase in the total value of cases settled in 2005 is due
to an almost 10% increase in the number of cases settled
compared to 2004 (124 vs. 113) and the average settlement size
($28.5 million in 2005 vs. $26.4 million in 2004), as well as
the number of "mega" settlements over $100 million (nine in
2005).

Most striking is the upward trend in the median (midpoint)
settlement amount, which is an indicator of the more typical
case.  In 2005, half of all settlements exceeded $7.5 million
whereas historically, through 2004, the median settlement amount
has been only $6.3 million -- a 19% increase.

"While in recent years we have been observing an increasing
number of very large settlements, never before have we observed
such a large single-year increase in the median settlement
amount," commented Dr. Laura Simmons, a principal in Cornerstone
Research's Washington, DC office and an author of the study.

Contributing to the increase may be a growing frequency of cases
involving accounting-related allegations, as well as
institutional investors serving as lead plaintiffs.  The
percentage of cases involving restatements of financial
statements grew to 40% in 2005, almost double the figure for
2004.

In addition, more than 35% of all 2005 settlements were
associated with an institutional investor lead plaintiff,
compared to only 20% for the prior year.  The median settlement
amount for all cases involving financial restatements is $7.5
million, compared to only $5.8 million for cases without
restatements.  Median settlements in all cases with an
institution as lead plaintiff are $10.7 million compared to only
$5.0 million for cases without an institutional lead plaintiff.  
Settlements are significantly higher for suits involving either
of these factors, even when other variables such as the size of
the case are considered.

"The association between institutional investor lead plaintiffs
and higher settlements may partially be attributable to
institutions choosing to participate in stronger cases rather
than a causal effect on settlement amounts, though in at least
one case this year an institutional lead plaintiff had a
significant influence on the settlement outcome," noted Ms.
Simmons.  Namely, in the WorldCom matter, outside directors
contributed funds from their personal assets to the settlement
fund, apparently at the demand of the lead plaintiff, the New
York State Common Retirement Fund.

By far, the most important determinant of settlements amounts is
"estimated damages."  Interestingly, while average "estimated
damages" remained at high levels, for the first time in post-
Reform Act history, they actually decreased slightly from the
prior year's average -- from $2.3 billion in 2004 to $2.2
billion in 2005.  For purposes of the study, "estimated damages"
are calculated based on a simplified version of a model often
used by plaintiffs to estimate the number of shares damaged and
the amount of alleged stock price inflation.

Some observers believe that lower damages may persist into
future years as a result of the 2005 unanimous landmark Supreme
Court decision in Dura Pharmaceuticals v. Broudo, where the
court ruled that plaintiffs must show a causal link between the
alleged misrepresentations and the subsequent actual losses
suffered by plaintiffs.

"The Supreme Court's decision in Dura is clearly the most
significant decision in many years affecting the calculation of
class action security damages," said Stanford Law School
Professor Joseph Grundfest, Director of the Stanford University
Securities Class Action Clearinghouse and former Commissioner of
the Securities and Exchange Commission.  

"It is now not enough for plaintiffs to prove that a fraud
caused them to pay too high a price for a stock: they also have
to prove that the fraud's disclosure, and not other intervening
factors, caused the stock's price to decline.  Dura will
therefore cut back on plaintiff damage awards in some cases, but
the decision's full impact is impossible to predict until we see
how the lower courts interpret the decision's language."

Analyzing 735 cases that have settled since the passage of the
Reform Act, the study found several other leading factors that
tend to influence settlement amounts. For example, when the SEC
also took action against the defendants in the form of an
administrative proceeding or litigation release, the median
settlement amount was $10.3 million vs. only $5.5 million when
the SEC did not take action.  

Even more significantly, in cases where corresponding derivative
actions (e.g., suits filed against officers and directors on
behalf of the defendant corporation) were filed, the median
settlement was $15 million vs. $5.1 million in cases without
derivative actions.  Companion derivative actions tend to be
associated with larger class action cases, as well as cases
involving accounting allegations, SEC actions, and institutions
serving as lead plaintiff.  However, even considering these
factors, they are still associated with higher class action
settlements.

Leading the charge in the actual number of settlements secured
were the law firms of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman &
Robbins and Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman (firms that
previously composed the now defunct Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes
& Lerach).  The two firms were responsible for securing more
than half of the settlements in 2005 -- 32% and 25%,
respectively.

Finally, while the Cornerstone study finds a significant
increase in settlement amounts in 2005, a report recently issued
by the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse
in cooperation with Cornerstone Research found decreases in 2005
in both the number of case filings, as well as the amount of
investor losses associated with case filings.  Since there is a
delay between case filings and case resolutions, these results
suggest -- along with the effects of the Dura decision --
potential lower settlement values in the future.

A full copy of Cornerstone Research's "Post-Reform Act
Securities Settlements: 2005 Review and Analysis" is available
at http://securities.cornerstone.com. Additionally, Dr. Simmons  
and Professor Grundfest are available for interviews.


                            *********


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

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

                            *********


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

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by
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Editors.

Copyright 2006.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

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