/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/110125.mbx              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

            Tuesday, January 25, 2011, Vol. 13, No. 17


APPLE INC: Appeal From Consumer Class Decertification Pending
APPLE INC: ATTM Antitrust Litigation Remains Stayed
APPLE INC: Awaits Final Court Approval of "Vogel" Suit Settlement
ASCENTIVE LLC: Accused in Pa. Suit of Defrauding Consumers
AURORA LOAN: May Face Class Action Over Foreclosures

AUX SABLE: Recalls 700 Rail Cars
BLOCKBUSTER INC: Bankr. Ct. Denies Video Renters' Class Claim
CINMAR LLC: Recalls 38,000 Frontgate Closet Ladders
CVS PHARMACIES: Class Action Notice Hearing Postponed to Jan. 26
IKEA HOME: Recalls 13,000 RUND Clear Glass Mugs

METAL WARE: Recalls 4,800 NESCO American Harvest Food Dehydrator
MGIC INVESTMENT: Defends RESPA Case in District of Columbia
MGIC INVESTMENT: Appeal From Class Suit Dismissal Pending
MISSION, B.C.: 74 Homeowners to Join Class Action Over Grow Ops
NATIONAL AUSTRALIA: Faces Shareholder Class Action

NEWBURG, NY: May Face Class Action Over Property Tax Increase
PNC BANK: Can Settle Overdraft Fee Class Action, Judge Rules
QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA: May Face Suit Over Dam Water Releases
RANDOM HOUSE: Sued in Ill. Over Missing Bonus Material in Book
ROYAL BANK: MBS Suit Denied Class-Action Certification

SYNGENTA CROP: Court Won't Review Decision on Privilege Matter
TARGET CORP: Wants to Change Attorneys in Airborne Class Action
TENNESSEE VALLEY: Magistrate Wants Court to Junk Class Action
TOYOTA MOTOR: To Settle Class Action Over Prius Headlights

* U.S. Securities Class Actions Up 4.8% in 2010, Study Shows


APPLE INC: Appeal From Consumer Class Decertification Pending
A court decision to decertify a consumer class of plaintiffs in
Branning et al. v. Apple Computer, Inc., is currently on appeal
with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, according to
the Company's Jan. 19, 2011 Form 10-Q filed with the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission for the quarter ended
December 25, 2010.

Plaintiffs originally filed this purported class action against
the Company on February 17, 2005, on behalf of putative classes of
consumers and resellers in the Santa Clara Superior Court.  In
general, the consumer plaintiffs allege that the Company "shorted"
the coverage provided under its warranties and AppleCare
Protection Plan extended service contracts and sold plaintiffs
used products that were represented to be new.  In general, the
reseller plaintiffs allege that the Company damaged their
businesses by opening the Apple retail stores and making
misrepresentations in connection with doing so.  The complaint
sought unspecified damages and other relief.  On December 2, 2010,
the plaintiff's motion to reconsider the decertification of a
consumer class was denied, and on December 13, 2010, the
plaintiff's motion to certify a class of Apple specialist
resellers was denied.  The matter is now on appeal at the Ninth

APPLE INC: ATTM Antitrust Litigation Remains Stayed
A consolidated class action lawsuit filed against Apple, Inc., and
AT&T Mobile remains stayed while the Supreme Court has yet to rule
on the enforceability of an arbitration clause in the AT&T
Mobility v. Conception case, according to Apple's Jan. 19, 2011
Form 10-Q filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
for the quarter ended December 25, 2010.

The lawsuit is a purported class action filed against the Company
and AT&T Mobility in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California.  The Consolidated Complaint
alleges that the Company and AT&T Mobility violated the federal
antitrust laws by monopolizing and/or attempting to monopolize the
"aftermarket for voice and data services" for the iPhone and that
the Company monopolized and/or attempted to monopolize the
"aftermarket for software applications for iPhones."  On July 8,
2010, the Court granted in part plaintiffs' motion for class
certification. The case is currently stayed until the Supreme
Court rules on the enforceability of the AT&T Mobility arbitration
clause in the AT&T Mobility v. Conception case.

APPLE INC: Awaits Final Court Approval of "Vogel" Suit Settlement
Apple, Inc., is awaiting final court approval of its settlement of
the class action lawsuit Vogel et al. v. Jobs et al., according to
the Company's Jan. 19, 2011 Form 10-Q filed with the Securities
and Exchange Commission for the quarter ended December 25, 2010.

On August 24, 2006, plaintiffs filed a purported shareholder class
action in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of California against the Company and certain current and
former officers and directors, alleging improper backdating of
stock option grants to maximize certain defendants' profits,
failing to properly account for those grants and issuing false
financial statements.  On June 27, 2008, plaintiffs filed another,
similar purported shareholder class action in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of California.  The
parties have reached a settlement and have obtained preliminary
court approval.

ASCENTIVE LLC: Accused in Pa. Suit of Defrauding Consumers
Dan McCue at Courthouse News Service reports that a federal class
action claims that Ascentive, a Philadelphia firm whose
commercials advertise "finallyfast.com" software that allegedly
speeds up slow computers, "has designed its software to defraud
consumers by deceiving them into paying fees to fix fabricated
and/or overstated computer problems."  The class action comes just
after the company agreed to pay Washington State $78,000 to settle
allegations of misleading advertising and billing practices.

"In essence, Ascentive falsely identifies computer problems and
characterizes them as 'severe' in an attempt to scare consumers
into purchasing its software," according to the Philadelphia class

In the Washington settlement, Ascentive did not admit to
wrongdoing, but agreed to ensure that its advertising and billing
practices are clearer for consumers, the Seattle Post-
Intelligencer reported on Jan. 4.

In the new class action, plaintiff Douglas Ledet says Ascentive
"engaged in a systematic pattern of fraud and deception through
the design of its software products and its advertising

"In the simplest terms, Ascentive always claims that a user has PC
errors, regardless of whether they exist of not," the class

Ascentive's most popular software package is PC SpeedScan Pro,
which it markets through a variety of Web sites, including
http://www.fastatlast.com, http://www.finallyfast.com,
http://www.finallyfastpc.com, http://www.pcfinallyfast.com,
http://www.scanyourpc.com, and http://www.escaneorapido.com

Its other software products include ActiveDefender, ActivePrivacy,
ActiveSpeed, PC ScanandSweep, RAMRocket, Spyware Striker Pro, and

Ascentive claims on its Web sites that its software can instantly
remove all computer errors and return a consumer's PC to its
original high performance.  But Mr. Ledet says "the motive behind
Ascentive's SpeedScan Pro software is far more sinister."

"Ascentive's modus operandi is to offer a 'free diagnosis' to
anyone who owns a computer.  Regardless of whether errors are
actually present on a consumer's PC, Ascentive's software
invariably indicates, in an extremely threatening manner, that
dozens of 'Severe' errors exist.  Ascentive then offers to remove
these fabricated errors, in exchange for $29.95," the complaint

Compounding the fraud, Mr. Ledet says, customers are made to
inadvertently sign up for a yearly recurring subscription service.

"Ascentive does not conspicuously disclose this information, and
Ascentive stifles consumer attempts to reverse these undesired
charges," the complaint states.

Mr. Ledet says Ascentive also surreptitiously installs an
additional application called the "'Ascentive Performance Center'
onto the consumer's PC."

"This application, installed without permission of the user, is
designed to conduct ongoing 'scans' of the consumer's PC and
recommend the purchase of additional software from Ascentive," the
complaint states.  "These recommendations are displayed in
exasperating excess, usually in the form of ominous 'pop-ups.'
These pop-up warnings supposedly alert the user about errors or
nefarious spyware that is on the consumer's PC and requires
immediate action by the consumer."

Mr. Ledet says "the Ascentive Performance Center is little more
than a marketing ploy by Ascentive to induce consumers to purchase
its other products."

In a particularly damning section of the complaint, Mr. Ledet
says: "Through his attorneys, plaintiff has employed independent
cyber security experts to investigate Ascentive's software.  The
results of these tests have further unmasked the fraud being
perpetrated by Ascentive.

"After a fresh installation of Windows 7 on a clean virtual PC,
never connected to the Internet, SpeedScan Pro detected twenty-two
(22) 'severe' errors on the pristine, unused PC.  After purchasing
the software and running the 'fix' for these errors, a subsequent
scan revealed that zero (0) errors existed on the PC.  However,
and illustrative of the fraud being committed by Ascentive, after
simply uninstalling and reinstalling SpeedScan Pro, Ascentive's
software then indicated that ten (10) additional errors existed on
the PC."

Mr. Ledet seeks statutory and punitive damages, declaratory and
injunctive relief for breach of contract, breach of express
warranties, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair
dealing, unjust enrichment, and violations of the Pennsylvania
Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

A copy of the Complaint in Ledet v Ascentive, LLC, Case No.
11-cv-_____ (E.D. Pa.), is available at:


The Plaintiff is represented by:

          David S. Senoff, Esq.
          Richard C. DeFrancesco, Esq.
          1500 Walnut Street, Suite 507
          Philadelphia, PA 19102
          Telephone: (215) 609-1350

               - and -

          Jay Edelson, Esq.
          William Gray, Esq.
          Ari J. Scharg, Esq.
          350 N. LaSalle St., Suite 1300
          Chicago, IL 60654
          Telephone: (312) 589-6370

AURORA LOAN: May Face Class Action Over Foreclosures
Sabrina Rodriguez, writing Eyewitness News, reports the Seattle-
based law firm Hagens Berman LLP is working on a class action
lawsuit against Littleton, Colo.-based mortgage company Aurora
Loan Services.

In October 2009, Eyewitness News did an investigation on Aurora.
At the time, Bakersfield homeowner Linda Harness said she had lost
her home to foreclosure even though she was on a program for a
home loan modification and followed the instructions she was

Almost a year and a half later, it looks like Aurora has done it
again; this time it's to childcare provider Mabel Burrell.

Despite the business, Ms. Burrell fell on some hard times and went
to her lender, Aurora, to get a home loan modification.  "They put
me in a 'workout program'," Ms. Burrell recalled, "And said if I
paid what they wanted me to pay they would consider me for the

Like Ms. Harness, Ms. Burrell said she did everything Aurora
asked.  "I had the hope that everything was okay as long as I did
what they asked. I had hope, but I guess not," said Ms. Burrell.
"Made my last payment called them and they told me the house was
sold the day before."

The experience is almost exactly like Ms. Harness'.  Since losing
her home Ms. Harness didn't give up fighting, and actually sued
Aurora for the payments she made during the modification.

She went to small claims court on August 18, 2010 and won her
case. However, Aurora still hasn't paid her.  "I'm still angry
they're getting away with it," said Ms. Harness.

While it may be shocking the two homeowners have similar stories,
they aren't alone.

"Many, many people have suffered the same fate at the hands of
Aurora," said attorney Tom Loeser, Esq.

The law firm has been contacted by hundreds of people throughout
the country who have lost their homes because of Aurora's actions.

According to Mr. Loeser, the case claims Aurora offers a special
agreement or forbearance or workout agreement to distressed
borrowers. "In the case of our plaintiffs," said Mr. Loeser, "They
keep paying until getting a notice to vacate, because it had been
sold in foreclosure."

The case is still in the beginning stages, and is not a class
action lawsuit just yet.  And they are still looking for more
people to join.

The case will take sometime to settle.  Meanwhile, Ms. Burrell is
focusing on moving, "Packing, find a place get settled."

The entire situation hasn't been easy.  "My stomach is burning, I
don't sleep well.  Doing a lot of praying right now for

Ms. Burrell has to be out of her home by January 28.

Eyewitness News also called and left messages for Aurora for a
comment about lawsuit, but have not heard back from them.

AUX SABLE: Recalls 700 Rail Cars
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with
Aux Sable Liquid Products, of Morris, Ill., announced a voluntary
recall of about 700 rail cars.  Consumers should stop using
recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Some of this propane does not have sufficient levels of the
odorant that is added to propane to help alert consumers to a gas
leak.  Failure to detect leaking gas can present fire, explosion
and thermal burn hazards to consumers.

No injuries or incidents have been reported.

This recall involves odorized propane gas delivered for storage
tanks or sold in portable cylinders between February 25, 2010 and
September 30, 2010.  If the storage tank has been refilled or if
the consumer has received additional propane since September 30,
2010, such propane is not included in this recall.  Pictures of
the recalled products are available at:


The recalled products were manufactured in the United States and
sold through Propane retailers in the following states:
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania,
Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia from February 25,
2010 through September 30, 2010.

Consumers in the affected states whose most recent propane gas
purchase or delivery was between February 25, 2010 and
September 30, 2010 should immediately contact Aux Sable to arrange
for a free inspection.  If there is insufficient odorant,
additional odorized propane or a replacement portable propane
cylinder will be provided free of charge.  For additional
information, contact Aux Sable toll-free at (866) 473-7612 any
time or visit the propane alert Web site at

BLOCKBUSTER INC: Bankr. Ct. Denies Video Renters' Class Claim
Bankruptcy Judge Burton R. Lifland denied the motion of certain
self-described "class representatives," Marc Cohen, Marc Perper
and Uwe Stueckrad, on behalf of themselves, plaintiffs and
putative class members in the action titled Cohen, et al v.
Blockbuster Entertainment Inc., Case No. 99-CH-2561, (Ill. Cir.
Ct., Cook Cty.), all others similarly situated, and the general
public, for an order applying Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23
to their proof of claim and certifying their proposed classes.

Judge Lifland said the Rule 23 Motion seeks what is essentially
the same relief previously sought and denied in the plaintiffs'
State Court Action over the course of their unsuccessful 11-year
litigation attempts.  The plaintiffs have alleged in the State
Court Action and in the Rule 23 Motion that they are part of two
certifiable classes of customers of the Debtors who were
unlawfully charged penalties when they breached oral rental
agreements by retaining rented videos beyond their return due
dates or failing to return the video inventory at all.  On
March 14, 2008, the Illinois Circuit Court rendered a decision in
the State Court Action decertifying the plaintiffs' classes.   On
March 30, 2010, two years after the decertification, the
plaintiffs filed an identical request before the Illinois Court,
which was pending as of the commencement of the Debtors' chapter
11 cases.

The plaintiffs filed their proposed class claim as a general
unsecured claim of "at least $2,000,000."  They additionally filed
individual proofs of claim for "at least $150.00," "at least
$340.00," and "at least $5.00" (Claim Nos. 1753, 1755, and 1756,
respectively).  The Debtors' schedules list the plaintiffs' claims
as contingent, unliquidated, disputed and of an undetermined
amount.  Objections to the Motion were filed by the Debtors and
the Creditors' Committee, who assert that the plaintiffs have
failed to meet the requirements for certification.

A copy of Judge Lifland's January 20, 2011 Bench Memorandum and
Decision is available at http://is.gd/sr3wwcfrom Leagle.com.

Cohen et al. is represented by:

         Heather D. McArn, Esq.
         919 Third Avenue
         New York, NY 10022-3908
         Telephone: (212) 891-1613
         Facsimile: (212) 909-0870
         E-mail: hmcarn@jenner.com

CINMAR LLC: Recalls 38,000 Frontgate Closet Ladders
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with
Cinmar LLC dba Frontgate of West Chester, Ohio, announced a
voluntary recall of about 38,000 Frontgate Closet Ladders.
Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless
otherwise instructed.

The ladders can unexpectedly break, posing a fall hazard to

Cinmar has received about 860 reports of the ladders breaking,
including 28 reports of injuries such as bruises and lacerations
to the knees, shins, ankles and feet.

This recall involves Frontgate foldaway closet two- and three-step
ladders.  The ladders are made of mahogany wood and designed for
use in walk-in closets.  Catalog item numbers included in the
recall are 11998 for the two-step and 11675, 11975, 30269, 37935
and 40645 for the three-step ladder.  Pictures of the recalled
products are available at:


The recalled products were manufactured in Indonesia and sold
through Frontgate stores in Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio, in
Frontgate and Sky Mall catalogs nationwide and on the Internet at
http://Frontgate.com/and http://Skymall.com/from December 2005
through July 2010 for about between $90 and $150.

CVS PHARMACIES: Class Action Notice Hearing Postponed to Jan. 26
Amelia Flood, writing for The Madison St. Clair Record, reports a
hearing in a St. Clair County class action case against CVS
Pharmacies was postponed on Wednesday, Jan. 26.

CVS attorney Robert Basset, Esq., told Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto
that class attorney Richard Burke, Esq., was unable to make it to
court on a hearing over how immune supplement buyers should be

Mr. Basset then asked Judge Cueto to push back the hearing.

Mr. Burke represents a class of Illinois customers who bought
CVS's version of the immune system supplement Airborne.

Lead plaintiff Iean Finley alleges he and other customers were
deceived when they bought CVS's product and that it did not boost
the immune system as claimed.

The suit is one of several immune system class actions that Burke
and his partners Paul Weiss and Kevin Hoerner filed in St. Clair
County two years ago.

Judge Cueto certified the Finley Illinois-only class in January

CVS has objected to the class notice Mr. Finley supplied claiming
it was too vague and that it sought to notify potential class
members who were already compensated by a Federal Trade Commission

Information on the next hearing date for the class notice issue is
not yet available in the case file.

The case is St. Clair case number 08-L-616.

IKEA HOME: Recalls 13,000 RUND Clear Glass Mugs
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with
IKEA Home Furnishings, of Conshohocken, Pa., announced a voluntary
recall of about 13,000  (an additional 115,000 were sold outside
the U.S., including 3,000 in Canada) RUND clear glass mugs.
Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless
otherwise instructed.

The inner walls of the double-walled glasses can break during use,
posing a laceration hazard to consumers.

IKEA has received one report of a laceration injury requiring
medical attention.  Eleven additional incidents have been reported
outside of the U.S., resulting in four reports of injuries.

This recall involves RUND clear glass mugs sold in sizes 4cl, 21cl
and 40cl.  The mug is handmade of double-walled glass. "Hand Made
Quality" is printed on a small transparent sticker on the side of
the mug.  Article numbers and supplier numbers listed below are
located on the package.  All sizes were sold in 2-packs. Article
and supplier numbers included in the recall are:

           Mug Size    Article Number   Supplier Number
           --------    --------------   ---------------

             4cl        301-551-37           16790
            21cl        301-496-79
            40cl        501-496-78

Pictures of the recalled products are available at:


The recalled products were manufactured in China and sold through
IKEA stores nationwide from October 2009 through March 2010 for
between $5 and $10.

Consumers should immediately stop using the RUND mugs and bring
them back to any IKEA store for a full refund.  For additional
information, contact IKEA toll-free at (888) 966-4532 anytime, or
visit the firm's Web site at http://www.ikea-usa.com/

METAL WARE: Recalls 4,800 NESCO American Harvest Food Dehydrator
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with
The Metal Ware Corporation, of Two Rivers, Wisc., announced a
voluntary recall of about 4,800 NESCO American Harvest
Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator.  Consumers should stop using
recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

A defective capacitor in the electronic control module can
overheat, posing a smoke and fire hazard.

NESCO received three reports of overheating resulting in smoke or
fire.  No injuries have been reported.

The recalled product includes a base with stackable trays to place
food.  The top of the unit houses the electronic control module.
Model number FD-1020 and production date codes: 09E 0610; 09E
0624; and 09E 0903 are molded into the underside of the
dehydrator's electronic control module.  Pictures of the recalled
products are available at:


The recalled products were manufactured in China and sold through
National mass merchandisers and retailers and online at
www.nesco.com and other websites from July 2009 to January 2011
for about $140.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled product and
contact NESCO for instructions on how to receive a free electronic
control module.  For more information, contact NESCO at (800) 726-
4457 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Central Time, Monday through
Friday or visit the firm's Web site at http://www.nesco.com/

MGIC INVESTMENT: Defends RESPA Case in District of Columbia
MGIC Investment Corporation is defending itself against a class
action lawsuit pending in the District of Columbia for violating
the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, according to the
Company's Jan. 19, 2011 Form 8-K filed with the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission.

Consumers are bringing a growing number of lawsuits against home
mortgage lenders and settlement service providers.  Seven mortgage
insurers, including MGIC, have been involved in litigation
alleging violations of the anti-referral fee provisions of the
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, which is commonly known as
RESPA, and the notice provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act,
which is commonly known as FCRA.  MGIC settled class action
litigation against it under RESPA in October 2003.  MGIC settled
the named plaintiffs' claims in litigation against it under FCRA
in December 2004 following denial of class certification in June
2004.  Since December 2006, class action litigation has been
brought against a number of large lenders alleging that their
captive mortgage reinsurance arrangements violated RESPA.  On
November 29, 2010, six mortgage insurers (including MGIC) and a
large mortgage lender (which was the plaintiffs' lender) were
named as defendants in a complaint, alleged to be a class action,
filed in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia.  The
complaint alleges various causes of action related to the captive
mortgage reinsurance arrangements of this mortgage lender,
including that the defendants violated RESPA by paying the
lender's captive reinsurer excessive premiums in relation to the
risk assumed by that captive.  The named plaintiffs' loan was not
insured by MGIC and it is the Company's understanding that it was
not reinsured by this mortgage lender's captive reinsurance
affiliates.  The Company intends to defend MGIC against this
complaint vigorously but it is unable to predict the outcome of
the litigation or its effect on it.  While the Company is only a
defendant in this RESPA case, there can be no assurance that the
Company will not be subject to future litigation under RESPA (or
FCRA) or that the outcome of any such litigation would not have a
material adverse effect on the Company.

MGIC INVESTMENT: Appeal From Class Suit Dismissal Pending
An appeal from a court's decision dismissing a class action
complaint against MGIC Investment Corporation is pending with the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, according to the
Company's Jan. 19, 2011 Form 8-K filed with the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission.

Five previously-filed purported class action complaints filed
against the Company and several of its executive officers were
consolidated in March 2009 in the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of Wisconsin and Fulton County Employees'
Retirement System was appointed as the lead plaintiff.  The lead
plaintiff filed a Consolidated Class Action Complaint on June 22,
2009.  Due in part to its length and structure, it is difficult to
summarize briefly the allegations in the Complaint but it appears
the allegations are that the Company and its officers named in the
Complaint violated the federal securities laws by misrepresenting
or failing to disclose material information about (i) loss
development in the Company's insurance in force, and (ii) C-BASS,
including its liquidity.  The Company's motion to dismiss the
Complaint was granted on February 18, 2010.  On March 18, 2010,
plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint.
Attached to this motion was a proposed Amended Complaint.  The
Amended Complaint alleged that the Company and two of its officers
named in the Amended Complaint violated the federal securities
laws by misrepresenting or failing to disclose material
information about C-BASS, including its liquidity, and by failing
to properly account for the Company's investment in C-BASS.  The
Amended Complaint also named two officers of C-BASS with respect
to the Amended Complaint's allegations regarding C-BASS.  The
purported class period covered by the Amended Complaint began on
February 6, 2007 and ended on August 13, 2007.  The Amended
Complaint sought damages based on purchases of the Company's stock
during this time period at prices that were allegedly inflated as
a result of the purported violations of federal securities laws.

On April 12, 2010, the Company filed a motion in opposition to
Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend its complaint.  On
December 8, 2010, the plaintiff's motion to file an amended
complaint was denied and the Complaint was dismissed with
prejudice.  On January 6, 2011, the plaintiff appealed the
February 18, 2010 and December 8, 2010 decisions to the United
States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  The Company is
unable to predict the outcome of these consolidated cases or
estimate its associated expenses or possible losses.  Other
lawsuits alleging violations of the securities laws could be
brought against the Company.

MISSION, B.C.: 74 Homeowners to Join Class Action Over Grow Ops
Sam Cooper, writing for Postmedia News, reports a controversial
bylaw that gives authorities in Mission, B.C., the power to fine
homeowners for the cost of searching their properties for
marijuana grow ops -- even if police find nothing -- is under
attack on two fronts.

A Mission municipal councilor is seeking to rescind the bylaw, and
74 residents have reportedly joined to file a class-action lawsuit
against the district.

As the Vancouver Province reported recently, a number of Mission
residents have complained that their homes were searched for pot
grow ops and they were slapped with fees and repair orders costing
upward of $10,000 -- all on questionable evidence.

On Jan. 18, Coun. Jenny Stevens asked that a motion to rescind the
bylaw be considered by Mission council on Monday, Jan. 24.

"I've become increasingly concerned about the bylaw to the point
I'm saying . . . are the negative consequences outweighing the
benefits?" said Ms. Stevens.

"If (dissent) is getting this vociferous, you need to look at the
beginning of the problem, which is this bylaw."

On Jan. 18, more than 100 bylaw critics attended an emotional
meeting in Mission's library to air concerns, said Mission
resident Stacy Gowanlock.

Mr. Gowanlock -- who said his house was searched in 2009 and hit
with thousands in fees and repair orders despite the fact that
he'd never grown marijuana in his home -- said 74 citizens at the
meeting signed onto the class-action lawsuit he is leading.

In mid-December, B.C Civil Liberties Association's Micheal Vonn
led a delegation to Mission's council, warning grounds for a
class-action suit are strong, and searches are "putting innocent
people under horrible duress."

On Jan. 19, Ms. Vonn said the BCCLA intends to join the class-
action suit -- a statement of claim is being drafted, and it is
expected to be filed soon.

"Our opinion is, fining people for imaginary grow ops does nothing
to increase safety in Mission," she said.

NATIONAL AUSTRALIA: Faces Shareholder Class Action
AAP reports National Australia Bank will vigorously defend a
shareholders' class action against it for allegedly failing to
disclose early enough the full extent of losses during the global
financial crisis, a NAB lawyer says.

Some 250 institutional and retail investors are seeking about $450
million worth of losses as part of the action headed by legal firm
Maurice Blackburn.

The bank announced on May 9, 2008, a $181 million charge on
collateralized debt obligations partly linked to risky US
sub-prime mortgages.

On July 25, 2008, the bank announced it had taken a further
$830 million charge, taking the total to more than $1 billion and
pushing the share price down 13.5%.

Maurice Blackburn principal Andrew Watson told a directions
hearing at the Victorian Supreme Court on Jan. 21 the bank should
have revealed information to shareholders earlier.

"As at January 1, 2008 there should have been an announcement to
disclose significant writedowns," Mr. Watson said.

"The CDO market was in freefall from 2007."

Outside the court, the lawyer acting for NAB, Geoff Healy, said
the bank was still waiting to see a statement of claim from
Maurice Blackburn.

"We will be vigorously defending the case," he told reporters.

Justice Tony Pagone adjourned the matter for a further preliminary
hearing on March 28.

NEWBURG, NY: May Face Class Action Over Property Tax Increase
Doyle Murphy, writing for Times Herald-Record, reports property
tax increases in the city of Newburgh will force so many people
from their homes that the taxes have become a violation of
constitutional rights, a tax lawyer told Newburgh property owners.

Attorney Ronald Cohen called this year's 71% tax increase
"irrational."  He predicted a federal judge would see it as a
"disguised condemnation" by the government -- raising taxes so
high people couldn't hope to pay them and then foreclosing on
their properties for unpaid taxes.  That's taking without just
compensation, and it will lead to the death of cities throughout
the Northeast, he said.

"As bad as things are, they will get that much worse," he said.

Mr. Cohen spoke on the invitation of a grass-roots group of
taxpayers calling itself the Newburgh Citizen Coalition.  About
125 people packed St. George's Church on Jan. 19, looking for ways
to fight the tax hike that was passed as part of the 2011 budget.

"We have to start from some point," said Hansel Tulloch, who
organized the meeting.  "We just have to start."

Mr. Cohen outlined a plan for a class-action lawsuit against the
city, Orange County, state and federal governments with a larger
goal of spreading the costs of basic services equitably across all
levels of government.  He argued the costs of services have been
unfairly passed from the top levels of government on down to the
local level, where there are inadequate resources.

The lawsuit would take two to three years, Mr. Cohen estimated.
He said he would cap his fee at $50,000 -- a price, he said, that
would be a fraction of the normal cost.  The bill would be shared
by those who agreed to join the suit.

The plan received a mixed reaction from the homeowners in the
audience, many of whom said they needed to figure out how to pay
bills now.

"Two to three years from now, those of us who are paying into this
to fight, we may have lost the battles in our own homes," said
resident Judy Kennedy.  She recommended pursuing short-term
strategies, as well as considering the long-term option proposed
by Mr. Cohen.

No decisions were made on Jan. 20.  Audience members signed in and
left their e-mail addresses with organizers to start building a

"I, myself, am not willing to lay down on this," Ms. Kennedy said.

PNC BANK: Can Settle Overdraft Fee Class Action, Judge Rules
Cameron Langford at Courthouse News Service reports that PNC Bank
may be able to settle a class action over unfair overdraft fees
for $12 million, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled.  A
customer who is suing the bank over the same fees in a separate
class action that is part of a Florida multidistrict litigation
case tried to unravel the proposed settlement, but the D.C. judge
rejected his arguments.

Clients of National City Bank, which merged into PNC in 2009,
filed a class action for deceptive business practices in
Washington on Feb. 17, 2010.  They claimed the bank misled
customers about their account balance, concealed its overdraft
policies and "reorder[ed] electronic debit transactions from the
highest dollar amount to lowest dollar amount so as to deplete the
customer's available funds as quickly as possible while maximizing
the number of overdraft fees collected," the latest order in the
case states.

A couple of months after filing, the Washington court was ordered
to transfer the case to the ongoing multidistrict litigation in
Florida's southern district.  Instead, the Washington plaintiffs
struck a settlement with the bank and the Florida court vacated
the transfer order.

Under the terms of the settlement, National City customers who
held an account during the class period and "incurred at least one
overdraft fee associated with at least one National City debit
card transaction that was not previously reversed, refunded or
returned" to them by the bank would be eligible for the class,
U.S. District Judge John Bates wrote.

Under the $12 million settlement, class members in Washington
would receive $36 for each eligible overdraft charge incurred
during any two calendar months, not necessarily consecutive,
between July 1, 2004, and August 15, 2010.  The bank would also
provide $500,000 to publish notice of the settlement, and
administer it.

The plaintiffs say $12 million is 17% to 24% of the best possible
recovery if the case went to trial.

Robert Matos, a former National City Bank customer who is the
named plaintiff in one of the overlapping class actions, objected
to the proposed Washington settlement, arguing that it might
affect the multidistrict litigation.

Mr. Matos questioned the adequacy of a $12 million settlement in
his objections, and Judge Bates agreed that, in light of a recent
similar overdrafts case against Wells Fargo that resulted in a
$203 million judgment against the bank, the parties should justify
how they reached the figure before he grants final approval.

Since the $12 million figure is "within the range of possible
approval," however, Judge Bates found it was sufficient for the
preliminary approval stage and overruled Mr. Matos' objection.

Judge Bates also rejected Mr. Matos' challenges to discovery in
the case and the allegedly arbitrary settlement allocation

He noted that formal discovery was unnecessary and that the
allocation proposal was perfectly fair.

"Limiting the recovery period to two months also prevents chronic
overdrafters, who had notice of National City Bank's overdraft
policies yet continued incurring overdraft fees anyway, from being
unfairly rewarded for their behavior," the ruling states.

Judge Bates also rejected the charge that the proposed settlement
employed an "unnecessary and unduly burdensome" claims process.
Matos had argued that the bank should be able to calculate and
reimburse customers for their individual share of damages without
requiring them to file a claim.

The judge also rejected allegations that the parties reached a
hasty settlement to avoid transferring the case to Florida, and
that the settlement will affect multidistrict litigation.

"The parties have repeatedly assured the court that the settlement
was deliberately drafted to prevent releasing the claims of PNC
customers who opened PNC accounts directly with PNC (rather than
through the merger of National City Bank into PNC)," Judge Bates

Release of claims against PNC will only apply to claims based on
accounts opened originally with National City and not affect the
Florida litigation, Judge Bates wrote.

The judge added that the proposed settlement is not ambiguous with
regard to the agreement not to sue.  That component of the
settlement will not take effect until he grants final approval,
the ruling states.

Judge Bates granted approval of the settlement and class
certification, but noted that he reserved the right to ultimately
reject any part of the settlement.

A copy of the Memorandum Opinion in Trombley, et al. v. National
City Bank, Case No. 10-cv-00232 (D.D.C.), is available at:


QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA: May Face Suit Over Dam Water Releases
Tuck Thompson and Mark Solomons, writing for The Courier-Mail,
report state dam operators face huge class-action lawsuits if they
were negligent in releasing water from Wivenhoe Dam and
contributing to flooding.

Legal experts on Jan. 20 said that the law allowed for insurance
companies or groups of householders with or without insurance to
sue Seqwater and its owner, the State Government.

Taxpayers or water users would ultimately have to pick up the tab
if payouts could not be covered by the dam's own insurers.

"We're certainly looking at that," Slater & Gordon lawyer
Damien Scattini told The Courier-Mail.

"It's been a topic of discussion here.  If it turns out that this
could have been avoided . . . we would say we would investigate."

Litigants were likely to wait for the outcome of the commission of
inquiry into the floods and use the evidence it produced before
launching any actions.

One legal expert said law firms would be "licking their chops"
waiting for the inquiry's findings.  "It's going to get pretty
messy.  An inquiry is a very neat way to get evidence," he said,
commenting that Premier Anna Bligh may have made a strategic error
by greasing the wheels for legal action against her own

While bodies such as rural fire brigades and the ambulance service
typically have statutory protections to limit liability, the
expert was unaware of any such protections for state dam
operators, who would likely have unlimited liability for claims
made under common law.

In August, the German city of Goerlitz launched a criminal
prosecution against the operators of the Witka Dam in neighboring
Poland after large quantities of water were sent downriver during
flooding in which nine people died.

Lawsuits were threatened in 2009 in the Philippines after dam
operators released a wall of water at the last minute during a

And in Canada, dam managers were put on trial on criminal charges
and their employer later forced to pay millions of dollars in
compensation after a release of water drowned a woman and her
child in a recreation area near Ottawa in 2002.

Seqwater on Jan. 20 said that all the water releases had been
carried out "by the book" to protect the integrity of the dam.

It would not comment on whether it had sought legal advice in
regard to its potential liabilities.

A Suncorp spokesman said there was "obviously" a need for a flood
inquiry and Suncorp would be a "willing participant."

He said it was too early to identify the participants or whether
negative inquiry findings would lead to legal action by Suncorp.

Australian Insurance Law Association president David McKenna of
Perth law firm Jarman McKenna said insurance companies and policy-
holders had a "right of recovery" if there was legal

Insurance companies have been successful in claims against
electrical providers whose negligence caused fires.

"The right exists.  It is up to the insurance companies whether
they want to pursue it," he said.

Even if they don't, flood victims can make claims for uninsured

Mr. McKenna rejected suggestions that insurance companies were not
paying claims or delaying processing claims because they were
waiting for the inquiry to absolve them of payouts.

"The two are totally separate issues," he said.

Insurance companies had a responsibility to pay if the claims met
the conditions of the policy regardless of the ultimate blame, he

Senior insurance industry sources on Jan. 20 indicated there were
no immediate plans for a lawsuit.

Seqwater is South East Queensland's bulk water supply provider.

RANDOM HOUSE: Sued in Ill. Over Missing Bonus Material in Book
Mario Aliano, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly
situated v. Timothy Ferriss and Random House, Inc., Case No. 2011-
CH-01939 (Ill. Cir. Ct., Cook Cty. January 14, 2011), asserts
claims for breach of warranty, violations of the Illinois Consumer
Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Illinois
Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and unjust enrichment, in
connection with the sale of a book entitled "The 4-Hour Body: An
Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming

Plaintiff Mariano Aliano purchased a copy of the book, and
claims he was injured as a result.  Mr. Aliano relates that
in a Web site run by the book's author Timothy Ferriss --
http://www.fourhourbody.com/-- Mr. Ferriss represents to
purchasers of the book that the book comprises not only the
printed material on 50 motivational topics related to the
prevention of fat gain, but also "Bonus Material" that can
purportedly be accessed (using passwords hidden in the book),
examples of which are: "Spot Reduction Revisited: Removing
Stubborn Thigh Fat", "Becoming Brad Pitt: Uses and Abuses of DNA",
and other entertaining material "that didn't make it in."

Mr. Aliano says, however, that at the time the book was published,
and continuing to date, no Bonus Material is available or
accessible and that Defendants knew this at all times that they
marketed, advertised, promoted, distributed and sold the book.
Mr. Aliano adds that the Defendants also knew that they were
unjustly retaining their customer's money, but continued to make
the false representations nevertheless.

Defendant Mr. Ferriss authored the book, and promotes, markets,
distributes and offers the book for sale throughout the entire
country, including in Illinois.

Defendant Random House is the publisher of the book.

A copy of the Complaint in Aliano v. Ferriss, et al., Case No.
11CH01939 (Ill. Cir. Ct., Cook Cty.), is available at:


The Plaintiff is represented by:

          Thomas A. Zimmerman, Jr., Esq.
          Adam M. Tamburelli, Esq.
          77 West Washington Street, Suite 1220
          Chicago, IL 60602
          Telephone: (312) 440-0020

ROYAL BANK: MBS Suit Denied Class-Action Certification
Adam Tempkin, writing for Reuters, reports a Federal District
Court judge in Manhattan on Jan. 18 denied class-action
certification in a mortgage-backed securities action brought by
investors against Royal Bank of Scotland.  Legal specialists say
that this is the first ruling on class certification among
multiple MBS actions pending in venues around the country.

The Plaintiffs in the case, titled New Jersey Carpenters Vacation
Fund, et al. v. The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Plc, et al.,
alleged that the investment bank made misleading statements and
omissions about residential mortgage-loan origination practices in
the offering documents for two MBS offerings from 2006 and 2007.
The plaintiffs sought certification of a class comprising
investors who purchased US$3.4 billion worth of securities via the
two transactions, which were issued off of the Haborview Mortgage
Loan Trust and Residential Accredit Loan Inc. trust.

Judge Harold Baer Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of New York denied class certification on two grounds.
First, the Court upheld the defense's so-called "affirmative
defense", which basically means that there was real evidence that
some of the investors had previous knowledge of the underwriting
guidelines and practices that were allegedly misstated in the
offering documents.  These investors bought the bonds anyway.  The
judge also says that certain investors in the class action had
more information than others regarding the underwriting
guidelines, based on when each investor bought the bonds.

Secondly, the Court held that class-action treatment would not be
a superior method for resolving investors' claims, where the
proposed class consisted of large, institutional and sophisticated
investors who could pursue their own claims on an individual
basis.  Moreover, some of those class members may actually have
competing interests in prosecuting the action.

While this is only a Federal District Court opinion, and will
likely not be a controlling precedent, legal experts say that the
judge's reasoning may influence class-certification motions for
MBS lawsuits pending across the country.  "The first decision out
of the box often guides the thinking of future courts, especially
where as here, I assume, most, if not all cases were brought in
the Southern District of New York, and as a result all judges are
in the same two buildings," said an attorney with experience in
securities class actions.

"In most securities class-action lawsuits, people assume a class
will be certified," said another attorney who spoke on condition
of anonymity.  "This decision shows that there are real standards
that have to be met in order for there to be a class-action
litigation; it's not just assumed.  Plaintiffs have the burden to
show that all elements are met."

Interestingly, legal experts say that Judge Baer said that the
plaintiffs actually met four important requirements for forming
a litigation class-action: commonality, typicality, adequacy,
and numerosity.  However, they were not able to prove so-called
predominance and superiority, which caused the judge to deny
certification of a litigation class.

While the plaintiffs failed to prove these last two standards for
the purposes of certifying a so-called "litigation class", there
is a lower burden to proving these prongs for a "classwide
settlement", which still may be possible despite the denial of a
litigation class, legal experts say.

"The standards that apply to certification of a settlement class
are more lenient than the standards that apply to a litigation
class," said the securities class-action attorney.

Judge Baer agreed with the defendants' contention that different
putative class members had different levels of knowledge regarding
the underwriting guidelines and practices, based on their
respective levels of sophistication and time of purchase.

While most of the evidence is confidential, the judge states that
several of the putative class members or their investment advisers
"are sophisticated investors with significant experience in asset-
backed securities."

"Among them, JP Morgan is alleged to have had knowledge regarding
originators' systematic disregard of underwriting guidelines in
another lawsuit brought by Intervenor-Plaintiff Iowa Public
Employees' Retirement System ("IPERS")," the opinion says. "For
Plaintiffs to take the position in this litigation that JPMorgan
had no such knowledge would, to say the least, present unique

The judge lists other sophisticated investment advisors to the
plaintiff, including Western Asset Management Company, as well as
other putative class members that would have had knowledge of
deteriorating underwriting guidelines, including Blackrock
Management, Ellington Management Group, and Fortress Investment

However, it is not clear from the Court's opinion whether the
investment advisors who knew about the lowered standards actually
advised their clients of what they knew.

SYNGENTA CROP: Court Won't Review Decision on Privilege Matter
Steve Korris, writing for The Madison St. Clair Record, reports
appellate judges won't review a decision granting free speech
privilege to groups whose documents Stephen Tillery of St. Louis
demanded in his class action against Syngenta Crop Protection

On Jan. 13, Fifth District judges denied Mr. Tillery leave to
appeal an order that Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder
signed in September.

Mr. Tillery, seeking damages for water contamination from weed
killer atrazine, argued the groups should file a privilege log
describing documents they refuse to produce.

Judge Crowder disagreed, and the Fifth District ratified her
decision without comment.

"To require those who received subpoenas to disclose that
information which they assert is protected by the First Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution will not be required by this court."
Judge Crowder wrote.

"Membership in associations and advocacy for laws and regulations
that affect the use of atrazine is a type of political and
economic association that is generally protected by the First

Mr. Tillery filed six suits against makers and sellers of atrazine
in 2004, proposing to certify Holiday Shores Sanitary District as
leader of class action in all six.

The cases languished for five years, but Mr. Tillery started
moving them forward after the New York Times ran an article
linking atrazine to water pollution.

The U.S. government considers atrazine safe at three parts per
billion, but Mr. Tillery seeks a court order declaring it unsafe
at any concentration.

Mr. Tillery added cities and private water suppliers as

In 2009, Crowder ordered Syngenta to show Mr. Tillery its
memberships in industry groups and identify their lobbyists.

Syngenta complied, and Mr. Tillery sent subpoenas to the groups
for membership lists, communications with members, and names of

The groups objected, and Judge Crowder partially sustained the
objections last September.

Judge Crowder ordered Illinois Fertilizer Chemical Association and
Chemical Industries Council of Illinois to produce specific
communications with Syngenta.

She ordered Heartland Institute, a non profit educational group,
to produce information on its relations with Syngenta, including
donations and instructions.

Syngenta consultant Don Coursey was ordered to produce information
from the period before Syngenta retained him.

Judge Crowder also ordered the Illinois Farm Bureau to produce
information relating to Syngenta.  But, she sustained Farm
Bureau's objection to any request seeking the sources any of its
reporters used in writing articles.

In October, Judge Crowder certified questions to the Fifth

She asked if the First Amendment bars discovery of communications
or donations between a defendant and a trade association.

She asked if it bars discovery of communications or donations
between a defendant and a lobbying organization.

She asked if it bars discovery of communications or donations
between a defendant and a non profit educational organization.

Mr. Tillery separately petitioned the Fifth District, arguing
Judge Crowder should have required privilege logs, but he didn't

Justices Bruce Stewart, Richard Goldenhersh and Melissa Chapman
denied his petition.

When the case returns to Madison County, Circuit Judge William
Mudge will preside.

Chief Judge Ann Callis assigned Judge Crowder almost exclusively
to asbestos cases.

As Tillery sues Syngenta in Madison County, he sues it in federal
court as well.

That suit, pending before District Judge Phil Gilbert of Benton,
includes claims against Swiss holding company Syngenta AG.

Syngenta AG moved last year to dismiss, challenging Judge
Gilbert's jurisdiction.

Mr. Tillery opposed the motion, filed 365 exhibits, and sealed his
brief and his exhibits.

On Jan. 18, he moved for oral argument on jurisdiction.

Syngenta AG opposed oral argument, telling Judge Gilbert he had
enough information to reach a decision.

TARGET CORP: Wants to Change Attorneys in Airborne Class Action
Amelia Flood, writing for The Madison St. Clair Record, reports
Target Corporation is moving to change attorneys in a St. Clair
County immune system supplement class action.

Target filed its motion asking to change attorneys in the suit
brought by lead plaintiff Brian Buehlhorn Dec. 10.

While the retailer is currently represented by Robert Basset,
Esq., of Williams, Venker, & Sanders LLC of St. Louis, the
defendant is now asking that Robert Shultz, Esq., of Heyl,
Royster, Voelker & Allen of Edwardsville and attorneys Sidley
Austin LLP of Chicago take over the case.

Mr. Buehlhorn claims that he and class members in several states
including Target's home state of Minnesota were duped when they
bought the store's version of the immune system booster Airborne.

Mr. Buehlhorn claims that the product did not work as claimed.

The suit is one of a number of immune system supplement class
actions that were filed in St. Clair County two years ago by the
team of Richard Burke, Paul Weiss and Kevin Hoerner.

Basset, Target's current attorney, also represents CVS Pharmacies
Inc. in a nearly identical immune supplement class action.

The motion does not specify the reason for the substitution of

The CVS class action in which Basset represents the defendant is
St. Clair case number 08-L-616.

In addition to Basset, attorneys Robert Phillips Jr., Esq., and
David Smith, Esq., of Reed Smith LLP of San Francisco and Chicago
would withdraw.

Kara McCall, Esq., Nathan Huey, Esq., and Christina Coleman, Esq.,
of the Sidley firm would join Mr. Shultz as Target's new legal

The case is St. Clair case number 08-L-667.

TENNESSEE VALLEY: Magistrate Wants Court to Junk Class Action
The Associated Press reports hundreds of people are suing the
Tennessee Valley Authority for damages from the utility's huge
coal ash spill in East Tennessee and a federal magistrate says the
suits should remain separate.

U.S. Magistrate Bruce Guyton has recommended that the court deny a
plaintiff lawyer request for class action status.

The federal court in Knoxville has previously ruled that TVA is
not liable for punitive damages and that the suits will be decided
from the bench, not by jurors, if they go to trial as now
scheduled in September.

TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci on Jan. 20 said that TVA is
pleased with the magistrate's recommendation against granting
class action status.

Attorneys for some of the 457 plaintiffs in 50 lawsuits did not
return telephone messages seeking comment on Jan. 20.

TOYOTA MOTOR: To Settle Class Action Over Prius Headlights
Ken Bensinger, writing for Los Angeles Times, reports Toyota Motor
Corp. has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit over headlights
in its 2006 to 2009 Prius hybrids that shut off without warning,
triggering at least 2,500 complaints from motorists.

Under the terms of the settlement, eligible Prius owners will be
reimbursed for their costs to fix failing headlight systems.  They
will also get their warranties for headlight problems extended to
five years or 50,000 miles, rather than the standard three years
or 36,000 miles.

Although there was no dollar figure connected to the settlement,
attorneys for plaintiffs estimated that the toll could run into
the tens of millions of dollars, based on the number of vehicles
potentially affected by the headlight problem.  Those attorneys
said that as many as 320,000 owners of Priuses with optional high
intensity discharge headlights may be covered by the agreement.

"Conservatively, there are tens of thousands of lights that were
replaced or repaired," said Eric Gibbs, Esq., a San Francisco
attorney representing the class.

In settling, the embattled Japanese automaker removes another
challenge from its hefty legal docket, but also adds to the
mounting costs of addressing its recent quality and safety issues.
Toyota still faces hundreds of lawsuits for other issues,
including sudden acceleration and rollover problems.

Judge Manuel Real of U.S. District Court in Los Angeles earlier
certified the class and gave preliminary approval of the
settlement.  Under its terms, eligible Prius owners will be
notified by mail starting next month and have 90 days thereafter
to register with the class.

By settling, Toyota avoids the risk of having a jury determine
that the headlight problem is in fact a defect, which could spur a
recall to replace all such headlights -- a potentially far more
costly solution.  Under the settlement, the automaker did not
admit any wrongdoing or liability.

"Toyota worked in good faith to resolve this matter in the
interest of customer satisfaction," spokesman Brian Lyons said in
a statement.  "We are pleased that all parties have reached an
amicable agreement."

To date, the automaker has not conceded that the 2006 to 2009
Prius hybrids have a defect in the lighting system, despite the
numerous complaints to regulators that the HID headlamps tend to
suddenly turn off, with both headlights going out simultaneously
in some cases, a potentially hazardous condition.

A small number of drivers have alleged that the condition caused
accidents or minor injuries.  National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration data do not reveal any deaths blamed on the

According to Mr. Lyons, 216,000 Prius hybrids were outfitted with
those headlights, out of a total of 620,000 sold in those model
years.  Because some vehicles were leased, and others sold
secondhand, the number of potential class members exceeds the
number of eligible vehicles.

A review of the NHTSA database shows that 49% of all complaints
about 2006 to 2009 Priuses were related to lighting, headlamps or
visibility. That far outnumbers complaints of sudden acceleration
or braking issues in the vehicles, both of which have led to

A NHTSA probe launched in April 2009 determined that there were
more than 2,250 complaints about failing headlamps lodged with the
agency or Toyota, and that Toyota had completed almost 28,000
warranty repairs of the HID system.

That investigation was dropped in August 2009 after Toyota said it
would initiate a "consumer service campaign" to address the issue.
Complaints of headlight failure have continued to come in,
however, with dozens lodged to NHTSA in the last few months, and
online forums brimming with discussions of the problem.

Beyond the safety risks of the headlight problem, many consumers
also complained that dealers refused to cover the costs of repair.
Instead, they were forced to pay for new headlights, or in many
cases a new onboard computer that controls the lighting system.

The costs of repairs varied, but typically ran between $250 and
$1,000, attorneys said.  One NHTSA complaint, for example, cites a
service manager charging $578 to replace both headlamps in a 2006
Prius, but notes the manager "wouldn't guarantee that would solve
the problem."

The settlement will allow consumers who have receipts for their
repairs, either at a Toyota dealership or elsewhere, to file for

"Anyone who had any bulb or computer failure will now be able to
get their money back," attorney Mr. Gibbs said.  "I think we
reached a pretty good settlement."

Mr. Gibbs said that during discovery in the case Toyota showed
evidence suggesting that the problem lay in the headlamps
themselves, rather than in the computer, or ECU, that controlled
them.  Toyota has since moved to a new bulb, which it claims does
not fail as readily as the previous model.

Toyota still faces hundreds of lawsuits for other issues,
including sudden acceleration and rollover problems.

Toyota has agreed to pay $10 million to settle one sudden
acceleration suit, involving a Lexus ES that crashed outside of
San Diego in 2009, killing four.  If other acceleration cases are
not settled, they could go to trial within the next year.

Attorney Mike Arias, also representing plaintiffs in the Prius
headlights class, said he was not convinced that the problem was
entirely due to the bulbs.  "I still think it's an ECU problem"
Mr. Arias said.  "We argued that the circuitry caused the headlamp

Toyota has repeatedly claimed that its vehicles have no electronic
defects.  Spokesman Mr. Lyons said the company no longer replaced
ECUs for headlamp failures, and that the new bulb appeared to fail
much less frequently.

* U.S. Securities Class Actions Up 4.8% in 2010, Study Shows
Margaret Cronin Fisk, writing for Bloomberg News, reports
securities class-action lawsuits in the U.S. rose 4.8% last year,
led by claims that companies violated disclosure rules in mergers
and acquisitions, a study found.

The lawsuits include M&A claims involving Novartis AG and Alcon
Inc.; BHP Billiton Ltd. and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc.;
Sanofi-Aventis SA and Genzyme Corp.; and buyouts involving J. Crew
Group Inc. and Del Monte Foods Co., according to Cornerstone
Research, which conducted the study with Stanford Law School's
Securities Class Action Clearinghouse.

Trends are cyclical and often driven by events, said John Gould,
Cornerstone's senior vice president in Boston.  This year, there
were no new suits filed over Ponzi schemes or auction-rate
securities, and lawsuits stemming from the credit crunch continued
to slide, according to the study released today.

"There's always something new," Mr. Gould said in an interview.
Filings have been driven by the 2001 collapse of Enron Corp. and
more recently by the credit crisis or options backdating, he said.
"M&A was the big one this year."

The number of investor lawsuits filed claiming securities law
violations in mergers and acquisitions climbed to 40 in 2010 from
7 in 2009, according to the study.

A 20% increase in M&A transactions is "insufficient" to explain
the almost six-fold rise in cases, Stanford Law Professor
Joseph Grundfest said in an interview.

'Sharp Increase'

"The sharp increase in federal litigation alleging disclosure
violations in M&A transactions suggests that plaintiffs' lawyers
are scrambling for new business as traditional fraud cases seem to
be on the decline," Mr. Grundfest, director of the Stanford,
California-based Clearinghouse, said in a statement.  "That was
the only explanation we were able to come up with," he said in the

The merger cases pushed the total securities fraud cases filed in
U.S. federal courts to 176 last year from 168 in 2009, according
to the study.  The 2010 level remains 9.7 percent below the annual
average of 195 filings between 1997 and 2009, according to the
study, which is based on an examination of federal court cases.
Securities class actions are cases in which plaintiffs proceed on
behalf of a group of similarly situated investors.

Traditional securities cases, often spurred by accounting
restatements or stock drops following bad news, continued to
decline, falling to 135 in 2010, from 144 the year before, the
researchers said.

BP, Toyota

Suits brought last year included claims against Toyota Motor
Corp., Boston Scientific Corp., Motorola Inc., BP Plc, Pfizer
Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Transocean Ltd., according to

"The core rate of these cases is pretty much at an all-time low,"
said Thomas A. Dubbs, Esq., an attorney at Labaton Sucharow LLP in
New York who represents investors in securities suits.  He
attributed the trend to securities law and regulatory reform,
including the Dodd-Frank Act, which revised laws governing the
U.S. financial industry.

Merger litigation has a "different function" from the typical
securities fraud claim, Mr. Dubbs said.

"The purpose of the traditional case is to get money back for a
defrauded investor," he said.  "The M&A case triggers a process to
get a judge involved to ensure that management is acting in the
best interest of the shareholders."

Investors also filed more securities claims against Chinese
companies in 2010, with these suits accounting for 43% of all
filings against foreign issuers, according to the study.

That reflects an "adjustment process," in part, as Chinese
companies conform to the different regulatory framework in the
U.S., Mr. Grundfest said.  "In others, there is outright fraud."


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.  Leah
Felisilda, Neil U. Lim, Rousel Elaine Fernandez, Joy A. Agravante,
Ronald Sy, Christopher Patalinghug, Frauline Abangan and Peter A.
Chapman, Editors.

Copyright 2011.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

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

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

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

                 * * *  End of Transmission  * * *