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The devil wears a bit thin Judge Alice M. Batchelder of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wants Procter & Gamble Co. and its rival in the cleanser market, Amway, to knock it off. Nothing the courts can do “will end the hatred these two corporate giants harbor for each other,” she predicted in an Oct. 8 opinion, so they may as well conserve judicial resources. P&G blames Amway for spreading an urban myth that’s eluded the butterfly nets for decades, namely that consumers should boycott P&G products because the company finances Devil worship. P&G has prevailed against some Amway distributors in suits for rumor-mongering, but has had its suits against the company itself thrown out. Before Batchelder’s panel was an Amway allegation that P&G, conspiring with a Web site editor, tried to evade defamation laws by posting the text of one of its complaints on the Internet. The trial court threw that out. Batchelder’s panel upheld the summary judgment, saying it saw no evidence of a conspiracy. Besides, the complaint was a public document whose publication is protected under Michigan’s fair reporting privilege. “Recitation of the extensive and hate-filled history between P&G and Amway would take a writing as long as both the Old and New Testaments,” observed Batchelder. “Although each side would likely argue, if given the chance, that its opponent was in the garden advising the serpent when Eve took her first bite of the apple, for our purposes we need only go back to the 1970s and Satan’s rumored more recent activity with soap products.” Going, going, gone An auction with $500,000 increments? The bankruptcy press called it bizarre when 11 bidders competed on Oct. 2 at the New York home office of Debevoise & Plimpton for the remains of tattered towel-and-bedding manufacturer Pillowtex Corp. The mood as described by Debevoise partner Richard F. Hahn was more Sotheby’s than Leroy VanDyke, with bidders decorously raising hands to up the ante. “I suppose the big difference with what goes on at the big auction houses was that we had to break frequently to resolve procedural disputes,” said Hahn. But, hey, what do you expect from 140 lawyers? Hahn, who represents Pillowtex, said the daylong auction was in keeping with the Bankruptcy Code requirement that one get the best possible price for a failed company’s creditors. Last July, when Kannapolis, N.C.-based Pillowtex filed bankruptcy, a group of liquidators called GGST LLC offered $56 million. That became the minimum bid. Things moved briskly up to $100 million, partly fueled by interest in Pillowtex’s Cannon and Royal Velvet brands. It came down to two bidders. A joint venture of PT Partners LLC and The Petters Co. bid $127.5 million, then lost out to a $128 million offer from GGST. The gavel didn’t fall, however, until Oct. 7, when the court approved it. Unwanted calls “Yes, we’re getting calls,” said a receptionist at U.S. Security Inc. who is scrupulously polite and only slightly exasperated. “We sure are.” U.S. Security, based in Oklahoma, is one of the named plaintiffs in the Direct Marketing Association’s roller-coaster lawsuit to quash the Federal Communications Commission’s phenomenally popular do-not-call list. When a Denver judge said the telemarketers had a First Amendment right to call the 51 million people who signed up asking to be left alone, a campaign started to circulate the plaintiffs’ phone numbers. “We get calls at our home from people we don’t necessarily want to talk to,” said U.S. Security President Rick Ratless. “I guess that’s one of the privileges of having a telephone.”

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