Procter-Gamble Suit Vs. Amway Nixed
HOUSTON (AP) _ A lawsuit alleging that Amway distributors revived false rumors linking Procter & Gamble with satanic cults has been thrown out by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore dismissed the lawsuit Saturday, two weeks into its trial.
The lawsuit is one of several that Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble brought after rumors began circulating in 1981 that the company’s logo _ a bearded, crescent man-in-the-moon looking over a field of 13 stars _ was a symbol of Satanism.
The company alleged that Amway distributors, including several from the Houston area, revived the rumors in 1995, using a voice mail system to tell thousands of customers that part of Procter & Gamble’s profits go to satanic cults.
Elaine Plummer, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble, said the company plans to appeal the decision.
She said the judge threw out the lawsuit because a federal judge in Utah had dismissed a similar case in March against Amway. The Utah judge ruled the rumors were not defamatory and that Procter & Gamble hadn’t made a case for specific damages.
``We have been advised this is an error because the cases are different legally and factually,″ Plummer said. ``The (Houston) judge had already ruled that we had presented sufficient evidence of Amway’s liability and that our case could go to the jury. We look forward to a retrial of our case as soon as possible.″
But Amway Corp., based in Ada, Mich., said its distributors never spread the rumors.
``For years, Amway tried to work with Procter and Gamble to squelch this tall tale,″ said Michael Mohr, vice president and deputy general counsel for Amway. ``When the rumor refused to die, Procter and Gamble embarked on a corporate strategy to blame one of its competitors for a silly story that has been widely told among many groups throughout the country.″
The Procter & Gamble trademark originated in the mid-1800s, Plummer said. The 13 stars represent the 13 original colonies and the man-in-the-moon was a popular decorative symbol of the period.