P&G may now sue Amway over 'Satanic cult' rumors

Deseret News/October 1, 2001

Washington -- The U.S. Supreme Court let Procter & Gamble Co. pursue a lawsuit claiming Amway Corp. distributors spread false rumors linking the largest U.S. maker of household products to Satanic cults.

The court turned down Amway's appeal that said its distributors' statements shouldn't be considered commercial speech that would receive lesser protection under the Constitution's First Amendment.

A federal appeals court ruling that let Procter & Gamble pursue the case "would accord no protection to speech regarding matters of public importance and public figures if the speech is also commercial," Amway's appeal had argued.

Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble sued Amway and a number of its distributors in July 1997 in Houston. The suit claimed Amway distributors used a company electronic voice-mail system in 1995 to spread false rumors that Procter & Gamble was linked to the Church of Satan.

Procter & Gamble, maker of Tide laundry detergent and Crest toothpaste, has been dogged by such rumors for two decades. The company called the rumor a "complete fabrication" and said an economist it hired estimated that the company lost $49.5 million in sales of Tide, Crest and Pampers disposable diapers between March 1995 to August 1997 because of the rumor.

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