CALIF. COURT UPHOLDS NIKE SUIT DISMISSAL

Byline: Vicki M. Young

NEW YORK — A California appellate court on Monday upheld a state trial court’s dismissal of a lawsuit in which Nike had been accused of disseminating inaccurate information about its overseas labor practices under the state’s false-advertising laws.
Justice Douglas Swager of the First District Court of Appeal, said in the court’s ruling that Nike’s defense of its image was “part of a public dialog on a matter of public concern within the core area of expression protected by the First Amendment.”
In 1998, Nike was the subject of media reports about sweatshop conditions in factories in Vietnam, China and Indonesia, where many of its third-party contractors are based.
The Beaverton, Ore.-based firm launched a media campaign denying any wrongdoing, asserting that the company guaranteed a “living wage” and other benefits.
Marc Kasky, director of institutional advancement at Fort Mason Foundation, a community cultural center, filed a lawsuit against Nike in April 1998, charging the firm with deceptive practices because the statements were meant to “entice consumers who do not want to purchase products made in sweatshops.”
A trial judge in San Francisco dismissed the suit in February 1999.
Philip H. Knight, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement, “We fully intend to continue improving factory working conditions around the world.” In the past two years, Nike said it has raised the age requirement for workers in the factories to 18 years, improved factory indoor air quality and increased wages over 66 percent for entry-level Indonesian footwear workers. An additional wage increase of 13.2 percent is set to be implemented on April 1.
Kasky was unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

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