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California

Pearle Vision Subject of Lawsuit

February 15, 2002|From Bloomberg News

Cole National Corp.'s Pearle Vision faces a lawsuit by California's attorney general that claims the eyeglass retailer engages in the unlicensed practice of optometry and deceptive marketing.

Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer's office claims Pearle advertises that it provides optometric services such as eye exams with tag lines such as "The Doctor Is In." Pearle Vision is prohibited by state law from providing optometric services.

The suit, filed in San Diego County Superior Court, seeks to end the allegedly deceptive and misleading sales practices as well as Pearle Vision's practicing of optometry without a license. It also seeks refunds for illegally charged eye-dilation fees.

"We believe Pearle Vision is using improper arrangements with optometrists and deceptive promotions of low-cost eye exams to lure customers to Pearle Vision stores to boost eyeglass sales," Lockyer said.

California law bars retail eyeglass sellers from controlling or subsidizing optometrists to prevent patients from feeling pressured to purchase eyeglasses, Lockyer said.

A Cole National spokesman declined to comment.

Mayfield Heights, Ohio-based Cole has more than 2,100 optical stores in the U.S. Cole shares, fell 35 cents to close at $14.20 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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