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The first of what's predicted to be a flood of class-action lawsuits against Microsoft was to be filed in California Superior Court in San Francisco, The New York Times reported. The suit alleges that the company overcharged buyers for its popular Windows software. Microsoft's vulnerability to private lawsuits was greatly inceased, analysts said, by a federal judge's ruling earlier this month that the company is a monopoly whose business practices have stifled innovation and harmed consumers. A spokesman said Microsoft would defend itself "aggressively, if necessary" against private antitrust suits.

Work stopped at 1,200 construction sites across Germany as the nation's second-largest builder, Philipp Holzmann AG, said it would file for bankruptcy protection. The announcement followed the collapse of negotiations aimed at persuading 20 major creditors to accept a $1.6 billion rescue plan. Holzmann said it no longer could pay its 28,000 employees and warned that the jobs of up to 40,000 others at partners and subcontractors also were at risk because of debts incurred by a management team that resigned en masse in 1997.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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