In a news digest item [Financial, May 18] mentioning Amway's victory in a lawsuit filed by Procter & Gamble, a P&G spokesperson claimed the federal judge's dismissal of the suit was based on a "technicality." U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa Gilmore dismissed the case because it lacked merit.
To make a long story short, in 1995 a few Amway distributors innocently and unwittingly passed along a false, well-traveled rumor that P&G supports the Church of Satan. When Amway Corp. learned of this, it advised its distributors to immediately retract their statements and apologize, which they did. For the distributors' honest mistake, P&G decided to sue them and make them poster children in a campaign to kill the rumor. P&G did this despite Amway's 20-year history of helping P&G denounce the rumor.
For more than 20 years, P&G has been unable to determine the origin of the Satanism rumor. It has been passed along by church groups, college students and on the Internet. That Amway distributors from time to time become victims of this same rumor should come as no surprise given that there are 3 million of them worldwide. P&G had an ally in Amway, because it is not a part of this corporation's philosophy to tolerate rumor-mongering.
We believe P&G has unfairly singled out Amway as a scapegoat for its public relations problem, largely because it is a growing competitor in the home products industry. We are encouraged that two federal judges have now dismissed the case because of lack of evidence to support P&G's claims. We think it is particularly significant that the most recent dismissal came after a two-week trial during which the judge was able to evaluate all of the evidence.
P&G's aggressive public relations effort to stamp out this rumor is understandable. Filing unwarranted and abusive lawsuits while smearing the good name of a growing competitor is not. Amway prefers to compete in the marketplace and will continue to defend itself from P&G's false accusations during appeals.
Manager, Public Relations