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Pearle Reacts to California Suit

July 26, 2002|Ronald D. White

Responding to a lawsuit filed by California in February, Pearle Vision Inc. and Pearle VisionCare Inc. opened a cross-complaint in San Diego Superior Court on Thursday against state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer and the director of the Department of Consumer Affairs.

The state lawsuit alleged that Pearle Vision, a subsidiary of Cleveland-based Cole National Corp., has engaged in the deceptive marketing of eye exams and in the unlicensed practice of optometry. At issue is whether Pearle Vision's practice of having in-house eye care performed by Pearle VisionCare Inc. for one-stop shopping purposes is a violation of state consumer protection laws.

"The laws as they were passed were intended to protect consumers so that people doing the exams would focus on proving quality eye care without having a financial interest to have eyeglasses sold, too," said Sandy Michioku, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

Pearle Vision's lawyers contend the state lawsuit is unconstitutional and a misuse of consumer protection laws that threatens the way Pearle and other similar chain stores do business in California.

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