LOS ANGELES -- October 25 -- Desperate Proposition 64 proponents are claiming a legitimate consumer-protection lawsuit that forced Kwikset to stop falsely claiming their product was "made in the USA" is a so-called 'shakedown lawsuit,' said consumer advocates today.
Under Prop 64, false advertising claims could not be prosecuted by members of the public. The initiative would eliminate the lawsuit that forced Kwikset Corporation to stop violating state law by claiming its locksets were "Made in U.S.A." after the company closed an Anaheim factory, moved more than 12 percent of its workforce to Mexico, and assembled a critical lock component out of the country. Prop 64 would eliminate consumers' ability to bring suits like this to stop companies from lying about where their products are made.
"If Prop 64 passes, Made in the U.S.A. won't mean anything, because companies won't be accountable to the public when they lie about where their products are made," said Carmen Balber of Election Watchdog. "Companies that move American jobs abroad should not be able to hide behind the Made in America brand. Prop 64 proponents say they care about jobs, but allowing false advertising like this will lead to more American jobs going South of the border."
Prop 64 proponents claim that only a few pins and screws were made out of the country and the company should not have been penalized for saying the locks were "Made in U.S.A." In fact, the latch mechanism that is critical to the lock's function was assembled in Mexico. When the part was sold separately it was labeled "Made in Mexico," but when inserted into locksets the company claimed they were "All American Made." Other parts of the lockset were imported from Taiwan, including rivets, pins, support washers and springs, and still others from Canada and Malaysia. The suit is Benson vs. Kwikset.
On appeal, the California Attorney General submitted a 'friend of the court' brief in support of the case, and a justice in the suit noted: "By any measure, this action conferred a significant benefit on the public."
Proposition 64 would require anyone (except a government prosecutor) to have lost money or property in order to bring suit using the Unfair Business Competition law. Read more about consumer, environmental and public health protections threatened by Prop 64: http://www.electionwatchdog.org