ACTION TAKEN ON WAL-MART LAWSUITS

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Lawsuits against Wal-Mart Stores here moved forward on two fronts last week, with the discounter gaining a victory in Florida and presenting written arguments in California.be certified as a class. The suit claims some employees were forced to work without pay during breaks and after hours.In California, Wal-Mart attorneys filed written arguments with a U.S. District Court appeals

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Lawsuits against Wal-Mart Stores here moved forward on two fronts last week, with the discounter gaining a victory in Florida and presenting written arguments in California.

be certified as a class. The suit claims some employees were forced to work without pay during breaks and after hours.

In California, Wal-Mart attorneys filed written arguments with a U.S. District Court appeals judge in San Francisco asking him to toss out a lower court ruling that gave class certification to 1.5 million female employees -- potentially the largest class-action lawsuit in history.

Wal-Mart said in the written arguments that a class action of such scope would be unmanageable, illegal and unfair to the retailer, as well as to some women who would unwittingly be included in the class action.

The court gave lawyers for the plaintiffs until Dec. 29 to file a response, with oral arguments scheduled for sometime early next year. If the class-action certification is denied, the case could be broken into several smaller suits, giving Wal-Mart more potential leverage in negotiating settlements, observers said.