Attorney General Lockyer Issues Statement on Ruling Against Pearle Vision and Pearle VisionCare
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer issued the following statement on today’s unanimous ruling by the California Supreme Court against Pearle Vision and Pearle VisionCare, one of the nation’s largest retail sellers of eyeglasses, rendering illegal the company’s current business structure.
“For decades Pearle Vision has flipped and twisted itself, trying to find a way through California law requiring economic independence between optometrists and those selling and dispensing lenses and frames. They thought they found a technical refuge but the court stripped away that shelter. Consumers have less protection when the firm selling eyewear also controls the doctor writing the prescription. Today’s ruling upholds Californians’ insistence that when it comes to their health, those with the credentials should make the decisions.”
The ruling in People v. Cole, S121724, clears the way for a consumer protection lawsuit filed by Lockyer in 2002 against Pearle Vision for alleged unlicenced practice of optometry, deceptive marketing and unfair business practices. This underlying complaint claims that Pearle Vision’s advertising falsely promoted that the company can and does provide optometric services, including eye exams, eye care, professional eye care advice and the services of optometrists. Additionally, the complaint alleges the defendants falsely told consumers that the optometrists located in or near Pearle Vision retail outlets were independent. In fact, the optometrists are controlled and financially subsidized by Pearle Vision, according to the complaint.
California law prohibits financial relationships between optometrists and retail eyeglass sellers, and also bars retailers from advertising or providing the services of optometrists.