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Court again rejects P&G’s damage suit against Amway

Cincinnati Business Courier • Wednesday July 21, 2004

An appeals court in New Orleans on Monday rejected Procter & Gamble Co.’s second attempt to sue Amway over rumors linking the company with the Church of Satan and devil worship.

According to the Associated Press, the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans rejected P&G’s appeal of a Texas court’s dismissal of its damage suit.

In 2003, a similar ruling was made by a three-judge panel in Denver, which found that a federal judge in Utah was right to decide in 2001 that the rumors were not defamatory and that P&G had not made a case for specific damages from Amway, a Michigan-based seller of household products.

“A party gets only ‘one bite at the apple’ and is not allowed to take two bites simply because it attempts to take both at once,” Judge Jerry Smith wrote in this week’s decision.

The rumors about P&G’s supposed connection to satanism emerged in the late 1970s and centered on the company’s former crescent-shaped logo depicting a bearded man in the moon and stars. Another rumor was that a company president appeared on the Phil Donahue show and promoted satanism in an interview, which never actually occurred.

In 1995, an Amway distributor allegedly passed along the Donahue story in Amway’s common message system, and one subscriber sent the message along to P&G. Amway said it put a retraction on its message system and took other measures to stop the spread of the rumor.

P&G later named Amway as a defendant in a suit against the distributor. The company has sued 15 times to stop the rumors, eight of which involved Amway or its distributors.

“We respect the court’s judgment, but we are disappointed with the decision. We pursued the case because it’s wrong for anyone, Amway, its distributors and others, to spread false rumors about a company and its products in order to promote their own products. But importantly since these lawsuits were filed, the rumors have essentially stopped,” said P&G spokeswoman Jeannie Tharrington.

Cincinnati-based P&G manufactures and markets a variety of well-known consumer brands, including Tide, Downy, Charmin and Folgers.

Read the Cincinnati Business Courier online

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