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N.Y. ATTORNEY GENERAL FAILS IN 5-YEAR LAWSUIT AGAINST GIANT MAIL ORDER FIRM; AGREES TO SETTLEMENT WITH NO FINES OR PENALTIES

 N.Y. ATTORNEY GENERAL FAILS IN 5-YEAR LAWSUIT AGAINST GIANT MAIL ORDER FIRM; AGREES TO SETTLEMENT WITH NO FINES OR PENALTIES
 NEW YORK, Jan. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- After five years of intensive litigation and the expenditure of huge amounts of taxpayer dollars, New York Attorney General Robert Abrams finally called it quits and agreed to settle with Raffoler, Ltd., one of America's largest mail order companies, Raffoler announced today.
 The settlement makes no finding of false advertising or wrongdoing, and seeks no fines or penalties. In addition, the company's ads and direct mail promotions will be allowed to continue running virtually unchanged, except for minor copy revisions (for example, changing "double eagle" to "dual eagle") and minor changes in fulfillment procedure (for example, stamping customer service address on the back of all checks before deposit).
 Most of the provisions of the settlement simply require the company to conform to advertising and fulfillment procedures which were already its standard practice. The company agreed to reimburse $175,000 to the Attorney General's office for some of the costs of the investigation simply to end this seemingly endless charade of a lawsuit.
 Stephen Brown, president of Raffoler, said, "When Mr. Abrams started his lawsuit 5 years ago, amid enormous publicity and fanfare, he claimed he had evidence of fraudulent advertising and extensive legal violations that would enable him to put Raffoler out of business. He also sought fines and penalties totalling millions of dollars. Signing the settlement today -- with no fines or penalties and no finding of fraudulent advertising or violation of law -- is a complete vindication of my company, an admission of defeat for Robert Abrams, and a waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money on a lawsuit of no merit."
 "Ever the publicity seeker," continued Brown, "Mr. Abrams' office has issued a press release that attempts to cast the settlement in terms favorable to his office. He claims that my company has given out sweepstakes prizes of little or no worth, when the truth is that we have awarded more than $32 million to prizewinners all over the United States.
 "Mr. Abrams's press release implies the settlement will 'force the company to reform its misleading and deceptive practices and honor requests for refunds more promptly.' This falsely rewrites history to make Mr. Abrams look good for his upcoming election campaign. The settlement simply agrees that our firm will adhere to practices which we have already been following.
 "Mr. Abrams's press release is the kind of 'deceptive and misleading' advertising (for himself) that, if he were a company, would result in severe fines and penalties.
 "The Attorney General's press release simply repeats the allegations of his original lawsuit -- which were untrue. That is why he had to terminate his lawsuit and settle with our company. If Mr. Abrams was able to substantiate even a fraction of those allegations -- we would indeed be out of business and subject to multi-million dollars fines, as he claimed was his goal when he began this lawsuit.
 "Shame on you, Mr. Abrams. You made a mistake and cost the taxpayers a fortune in wasted time and money. Do the honorable thing and admit it. Don't try to rewrite history with a phony press release.
 "As an owner of Raffoler, I am very pleased with the result. I feel this settlement is a complete vindication of the company."
 "Luckily we had the resources to defend our innocence. A smaller company might have knuckled under, because the cost of proving you didn't do anything wrong is enormous when you're fighting against a big powerful government bureaucracy -- especially one whose head is running for election and is embarrassed at having just wasted 5 years and a small fortune on a foolish and meritless lawsuit."
 Raffoler's attorney, Neil Moritt, said, "Interestingly enough, despite the intensity with which the Attorney General began this case, he ended up by reluctantly conceding that for the most part the company's products were worth the prices being charged for them.
 "That is shown by the fact that the company's best customers have always been repeat customers from our own mailing list, which is one of the most successful customer lists in the country."
 "The fact that there were no fines, no penalties, and no finding of any wrongdoing says it all," added Moritt.
 "For once, the system worked the way it's supposed to. It may have taken a little longer than we might have wished -- but it did work in the end. And that's what counts."
 -0- 1/16/92
 /CONTACT: Neil Moritt or Alan Hock of Raffoler, 516-489-7400/ CO: Raffoler, Ltd. ST: New York IN: SU:


JT -- NY100 -- 0787 01/16/92 19:32 EST
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 16, 1992
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