(Civil Action No. 3179-51]

COMPLAINT 1. The plaintiffs, Benjamin D. Ritholz, Samuel J. Ritholz, Morris I. Ritholz, Fanny Ritholz, Sylvia Ritholz, Sophie Ritholz, Anna Bedno and Jacob Bedno, a partnership t/a Dr. Ritholz & Sons Co., are citizens of the United States and residents of Chicago, Illinois, and bring this action against the defendants, Lewis M. Kraskin, Rex B. Sheley, District of Columbia Board of Optometry, an agency of the Municipal Government of the District of Columbia, and District of Columbia Optometric Association, a corporation. The individual defendants are citizens of the United States and residents of the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Optometric Association is a corporation organized under the laws of the District of Columbia. This action arises under the provisions of Sections 15 and 26 of Title 15, USCA, and is for injunctive relief and for damages to compensate for injuries sustained by the plaintiffs in their business and property by reason of the commission by the defendants of acts forbidden by Section 3 of the Sherman Antitrust Act (Title 15, Section 3, USCA, as amended), and the Clayton Act as hereinafter more fully set forth. The plaintiffs, cause of action is also based upon upon the defendants' liability for malicious and wrongful injury to the plaintiffs' means of livelihood.

2. The plaintiffs are and have been engaged for many years in the business of manufacturing and selling eye glasses and contact lenses at prices and for fees considerably less than their competitors and they operate retail offices in several cities in the United States and Canada. Since about November 1950, they have operated a retail office in the Westory Building at 605—14th Street NW., in the District of Columbia, under the trade names of King Optical Company and D.C. Invisible Contact Lens Service.

3. The defendants Rex B. Sheley and Lewis H. Kraskin are President and Secretary-Treasurer respectively of the District of Columbia Board of Optometry, and the District of Columbia Board of Optometry is an agency of the Municipal Government of the District of Columbia, created by Title 2, Section 503, of the Code of Laws for the District of Columbia, its officers being appointed by the Board of Commissioners for the District of Columbia and said officers control, direct, and manage the policy and operations of the Board of Optometry of the District of Columbia, including the examination and rating of examination papers of applicants for licenses to practice optometry in the District of Columbia.

4. In the business of obtaining the patronage of purchasers of eye glasses and contact lenses in the City of Washington, District of Columbia, the plaintiffs customarily either employ or associate with themselves physicians or optometrists, licensed and authorized by the District of Columbia to examine and prescribe eye glasses and contact lenses for persons desiring and needing eye correction. The plaintiffs extensively advertise their services and facilities and their reduced prices. The defendants Lewis H. Kraskin and Res. B. Sheley, beginning on or about November 1950 and continuing thenceforth, combined and conspired between themselves and with other members of the District of Columbia Optometric Association in the District of Columbia, the names and identities of the others being at this time unknown to the plaintiffs, and they have continued to combine and conspire to unlawfully restrain trade and commerce within the District of Columbia and to eliminate the competition of the plaintiffs in the manufacture and sale of eye glasses and contact lenses and their purpose in so combining and conspiring has been to stifle the competition of the plaintiffs and to fix, maintain, and keep at a higher price level eye glasses and contact lenses sold within the District of Columbia and in furtherance of such unlawful combination and conspiracy the defendants actively instructed licensed optometrists to refrain from obtaining employment or association in any way with the plaintiffs at their office within the District of Columbia and that at meetings of the District of Columbia Optometric Association the usual order of business during the past ten months has provided for discussions in which the individual defendants sought suggestions and arranged to formulate means to injure the plaintiffs' business in the District of Columbia and their means of earning a livelihood therein.

5. The defendants Lewis H. Kraskin and Rex B. Sheley, District of Columbia Optometric Association, and the District of Columbia Board of Optometry acting throught its Secretary-Treasurer, Lewis H. Kraskin, and its president, Rex B. Sheley, and in furtherance of their unlawful conspiracy and combination and in order to stifle competition conferred with and discussed with optometrists, who had been contacted by the plantiffs for the purpose of associating such persons or undertaking to enter into an employment arrangement with them, and informed such persons that their licenses to practice optometry in the District of Columbia would be jeopardized and revoked, if they accepted association or employment with the plaintiffs. The defendants also informed certain persons who had successfully passed and were otherwise entitled to licenses to practice optometry in the District of Columbia that re-examination of such persons' papers would be made which might result in a change of grading of their papers so that they would not have passed said examination if such persons associated themselves with or accepted employment from the plaintiffs. The defendants also promised other persons, with whom the plaintiffs were seeking to arrange for their employment or association with them, to procure good jobs for such persons if they refrained from working for the plaintiffs. In furtherance of the course of conduct pursued by the defendants, on several occasions they caused an employee of the plaintiffs to be forcefully, wrongfully, and unjustly arrested and prosecuted in the Criminal Division of the Municipal Court, notwithstanding that the defendants well knew the employee so arrested had committed no offense and the purpose for the arrest, caused and directed by the defendants, was to embrass the plaintiffs and cause the plaintiffs unfavorable publicity and to harrass the plaintiffs and to frighten and intimidate optometrists from accepting employment or association with the plaintiffs in the conduct of the plaintiffs' business in the District of Columbia.

By reason of the wrongful conduct of the defendants and of the matters complained of herein the plaintiffs' business has been seriously impaired by reason of their inability to adequately and fully staff their said office in the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs have sustained and continue to sustain a considerable loss of business because of the conduct of the defendants and the persistence of the defendants in pursuing and continuing to pursue their course of harrassing the plaintiffs, of stifling competition, and of preventing persons from accepting employment or association with the plaintiffs. The conduct of the defendants have caused and will cause immediate and irreparable damage not adequately compensable by the payment of damages.

WHEREFORE the plaintiffs demand judgment as follows:

1. That a temporary and permanent injunction issue restraining and enjoining the defendants and each of them from interfering and unlawfully and wrongfully injuring the plaintiffs in their ability to earn their livelihood and from interfering with persons seeking to associate with or accepting employment from the plaintiffs.

2. That damages, both compensatory and punitive, be awarded the plaintiffs against the defendants and each of them.

3. That the plaintiffs recover treble damages for the injuries and damages which they have sustained to their business and property under the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Act.

4. That judgment be entered against the defendants in the sum of Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ($75,000.00) damages together with reasonable attorneys fees and costs and disbursements of this action. 5. And for such other and further relief as may appear appropriate and just.



Washington, D.C., February 1964. DEAR STUDENT: Because you attend a Washington area school, you are eligible for Sterling Optical's new student plan for the fitting of Contact Lenses.

The plan is simple: It is based on the fact that students in your age group


1. Most receptive to the idea of changing from spectacles to modern Contact Lenses, and

2. Most valuable to Sterling Optical in public relations manner. Because of these two factors, we have found it to be less time consuming to fit students with Contact Lenses. There is more psychological acceptance to Contact Lenses in people of your age group. This eliminates a time consuming factor which may be found in fitting other individuals.

Sterling's student plan offers a ten percent reduction to all students who come to Sterling Optical's Contact Lens information center in groups of three or more.

To qualify you need only make an appointment to visit Sterling's Contact Lens Department with two or more of your friends. You and your group will each be given a complete contact lens examination and all of your questions will be thoroughly answered. This is available with no cost or obligation. Should two or more members in your group decide to order Contact Lenses, the student reduction will be in effect.

To make arrangements for your Contact Lens examination, simply telephone and convenient appointments will be made for you.

Yours truly,


Washington, D.C., May 9, 1967. Mr. HORACE WHITE, Erecutive Director, Optometric Association of Virginia and District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.

DEAR MR. WHITE: In October, 1966, my 11-year old daughter was examined by Dr. Michael L. Cohen of 3509 South Jefferson Street, Leesburg Pike Plaza, Bailey's Crossroads, Virginia, and found to be suffering from astigmatism. Dr. Cohen prescribed and made corrective glasses for her. These glasses were very satisfactory and resulted in correction to normal vision.

In January, 1967, she broke the frames to these glasses. With the false belief that I could save money by having the lenses reset in frames by a discount optical company, I took her to Sterling Optical Company, Inc., 520 Tenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., where they fitted her with new frames in which they placed her old lenses. Shortly thereafter she complained that her glasses were no longer improving her vision. Thinking that perhaps she was suffering from a deterioration of her optical condition, I returned to Dr. Cohen and found that Sterling Optical had merely reset the lenses without regard to the prescription.

I am enclosing a copy of Dr. Cohen's letter describing his findings.

I feel fortunate that this occurred with my oldest daughter rather than with my youngest who would not have been able to communicate on recognizing the optical discomfort. You can be assured of my support in your attempts to obtain greater regulations on optical companies of this type. Sincerely yours,


BAILEY'S CROSSROADS, VA., April 28, 1967. Mr. MILES FISCHER, 611 North Pegram Street, Alexandria, Va.

DEAR MR. FISCHER: The discomfort and strain that Jenny has been suffering as of late, can be directly blamed on the improper optics of her correction, resulting from a frame replacement.

The discrepancies were due to astigmatic power being placed 19° off in the right eye and 15° off in the left. Jennies original ophthalmic measurement was 42/20, the replacement measured 42/19 decreasing the bridge size and displacing the optical center as prescribed.

It is my feeling that the lenses were placed in the first available frame without thought as to size or original prescription.

Sadly enough there are many people who can commiserate with you, due to this type of optical establishment. Sincerely,



GENTLEMEN: I need help! Two years ago, I received a pair of lenses from Vent-Air Contact Lenses Specialists. Unfortunately, I was unable to wear the lenses without a lot of discomfort and was never able to obtain wearing time of any length of time. I just recently discovered the reason.

I visited an optometrist who was astonished to discover the irregularity and defectiveness of the lenses which were prepared for me by Vent-Air. He sent them to another laboratory for their opinion, which is enclosed.

I am very disturbed to realize that Vent-Air would allow me to walk out of their office with such irregular lenses, which could have adversely affected my eyes.

I wrote to Vent-Air on 9 April and again on 5 May and requested a refund so that I could purchase a pair of lenses by a competent doctor. But, Vent-Air has avoided me and has refused to answer my letters.

I am not only concerned about my immediate problem of getting a new pair of properly fitted lenses, but also the fact that other people are being fitted by this doctor and they may not be as fortunate as I have been they may lose their sight. What can be done? Sincerely,



Washington, D.C. DEAR DR. NELSON: The lenses you sent in to be adjusted for Mrs. Madison are in such poor shape mechanically that no further modification could remedy their poor fit.

There are extensive lathe marks through the entire inside surface of both lenses and these cannot be eliminated.

The peripheral levels on the OD lenses are deeply gouged and are completely irregular.

We are sorry that we cannot repair them, and for the benefit of the patient are recommending a complete refit. Thank you for your patronage.



House of Representatives,

Washington, D.C., June 26, 1967. Mr. H. W. WHITE, Jr., Erecutive Director, Optometric Society of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.

DEAR MR. WHITE: As per our telephone conversation of this afternoon, I am forwarding a copy of my letter to Vent Air Contact Lens Specialists. I regret that our most pleasant conversation was in regard to such an unpleasant subject.

For your information, I have made an appointment for July 12 with Dr. Marvin Berlin as you suggested.

Thank you and please feel free to contact me at any time for further information. Very sincerely,




Washington, D.C., June 26, 1967. VENT AIR CONTACT LENS SPECIALISTS, Colorado Building, Washington, D.C. (Attention, Mr. Pierce.)

GENTLEMEN : The gross inefficiency and rudeness of everyone I encountered associated with Vent Air shall not go unremember or unreported. Not only did I find your advertisements misrepresentational, but I feel that your actions have reflected an immensely unprofessional attitude toward prospective patients and toward your work.

The following are a few examples upon which I shall be glad to elaborate at length:

(1) Telephone information I received was incorrect in that I was specifically informed that I would have new lenses by the end of June. I gave the telephone receptionist pertinent background information and assumed, because she was employed, that her information would be correct.

(2) I was repeatedly addressed as “Connie," a familiar term reserved only for my friends, rather than my correct business and legal name, "Mrs. Borkenhagen."

(3) For undisclosed reasons I was not accepted as a patient at Vent Air despite my patience with the rudeness encountered and despite my attempts to be cooperative.

(4) I found the strong preoccupation with immediate payment distasteful despite faultless credit references. I wondered at the time if that was not the major objective of the business, rather than adequate fitting of lenses.

(5) The telephone receptionist stated that I could not have received incorrect information because my husband made the appointment. I can understand her unwillingness to accept responsibility for a mistake, but that she must. I personally made the appointment; I am fully responsible for all my activities; and my husband's attendance at school precludes his making any appointments.

I am grossly insulted. I have never been treated discourteously to such a degree for most individuals respond to courtesy when it is extended. Your firm shall be slandered at every opportunity.


[From the Herald-Journal, Apr. 10, 1967) (An editorial, permission of the New York Post, Copyright 1967, New York

Post Corporation)


"In the blind rush to pass legislation on a wholesale basis, the New York State Assembly and Senate slipped through a bill on optical services that would hit more than half a million New Yorkers right between the eyes.

This bill would inhibit “third party” practice in furnishing eyeglasses to those who presently can get this service on a high-quality low-cost basis. The bill is pure special interest legislation, an exact replica of the onetime efforts of the AMA to block "third party” medicine in America. It would not improve the quality of optical service, since at the present time all such care is handled in "third party" practice by licensed optometrists. It would merely favor the private practitioner who can monopolize the practice at exorbitant rates and without quality supervision.

What is most scandalous is that this important measure was allowed to slide through without hearing, without debate, without any chance to be exposed to public view or review. In all good conscience, Gov. Rockefeller must veto this bill not only for its danger to the consumer but also because of the sly, secret way it was whisked past the eyes of the public."

We urge you to protect your own interests. Please write to Gov. Rockefeller and

urge him not to approve the legislation which would amend the law in the practice of Optometry


[From the Washington Post, Oct. 24, 1964]

EYE CLINIC FOR D.C. Poor OPENED BY OPTOMETRISTS The previously unpublicized operation of an eye clinic for the poor here was announced yesterday by District and nearby Maryland and Virginia optometrists.

Called the Optometric Center of the National Capital, Inc., the clinic at 421 4th st. nw., began accepting patients on Aug. 1, after months of planning, fund raising and gathering of equipment.

Jack H. Mericle, president of the nonprofit center, said the clinic offers eye examinations, needed prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses and other alleviation of vision problems and conducts basic research in non-medical eye problems.

The center is the eighth such facility in the Nation. Other are in New York City, Denver, Atlanta, Lansing, Newark, Richmond and Harrisburg.

Staffing the local center are 101 volunteer ontometrists in private practice in the Greater Washington area. Another 25 military optometry officers also are serving.

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