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Protect Consumers From False Reporting

September 03, 2003

"Protect a Consumer Ally" (editorial, Aug. 27) was unfair to Suzuki and consumers. There is another side to the story, as well as Suzuki's 7th Amendment constitutional right to a jury trial, that must be considered. Your editorial asserted that the U.S. Supreme Court should reverse the decision of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ordered Consumers Union to stand trial in Suzuki's product-disparagement case. With only a selected portion of the minority's dissenting opinion reported, readers were not given the other side of the story, as viewed by the majority of the Court of Appeals. In the written opinion of the majority, the court found that Suzuki's evidence supported the view that "CU rigged [the Samurai] test to achieve a predetermined result in order to serve its own pecuniary interests." The majority also found that "the evidence of [CU's] financial motive dovetails with the evidence of test rigging...."

In supporting Consumers Union's position that the Supreme Court should reverse the 9th Circuit and dismiss the suit without a hearing, The Times fails to make a critical distinction. The 1st Amendment protects honest reporting. It does not protect a media defendant, such as Consumers Union, when it rigs a test and then lies about that test to the American public for its own financial motive. Consequently, Suzuki's lawsuit against Consumers Union will not jeopardize truthful product reviews by the media.

The last few years have demonstrated that American institutions once thought to be beyond reproach need closer public scrutiny.

George F. Ball

Managing Counsel

American Suzuki

Motor Corp., Aliso Viejo

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