Ada-based Amway Corp. has won an important round in a legal struggle with Procter & Gamble over accusations that Amway spread false rumors that P&G was involved with Satanism.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver upheld this week a lower court's dismissal of Amway as a defendant in P&G's lawsuit. P&G, a leading consumer products producer, maintains that Amway and its distributors, which sell competing products, spread such rumors to hurt P&G's sales and thus benefit Amway.
Amway, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Alticor Inc., has long denied spreading any such rumors. It dismisses the alleged Satanism link as nothing more than a "persistent urban legend."
Devil-worship rumors began linking P&G's former crescent-shaped logo depicting a bearded man on the moon and stars to Satanism in the late 1970s.
The supposed satanic connection was further fueled by a rumor that the company's president had promoted devil-worshipping on a Phil Donahue show. No such show was ever taped.
The Monday ruling, by a unanimous three-judge panel, upheld a 2001 decision by a Utah federal district court dismissing Amway as a defendant in the case.
In a 25-page opinion, Judge Robert Henry criticized P&G, saying it had "unremittingly sought to relitigate and reassert previously adjudicated issues."
The court rejected each of the five issues P&G had appealed and chastised P&G several times for what it called vague and confusing legal arguments.
The judge said in his conclusion: "Throughout this and its related protracted and duplicative litigation, P&G has tried to evade the law of the case doctrine, and has squandered scarce judicial resources."
Said Michael Mohr, Amway's general counsel: "We are proud but not surprised that Amway has been completely vindicated in this ridiculous case. We never spread the rumor -- in fact, we spent years helping P&G fight it."
P&G spokeswoman Gretchen Muchnick said the company was disappointed with the decision. But she noted that litigation is still under way in Texas in which P&G is seeking damages from several Amway distributors and Amway itself for allegedly spreading the rumors. And, she said, "Since these lawsuits were filed, the rumors have essentially stopped."