Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bergez in contempt -- again

The long running saga regarding the "Great Glasses" chain may finally be coming to an end, with a judge finding Bruce Bergez and his wife in contempt of court, four years after a similar ruling and an injunction demanding the stores drop their "no prescription necessary" policy for dispensing eye wear and their claims a machine could generate a "prescription" without the hassle of going to an eye doctor.   Bergez now faces two years in prison, his wife one, based on what the judge rules next month -- oh, and there's the penalties that have accumulated since 2006, now totalling somewhere around $60 million.

In a last ditch effort to save his skin, Bergez told the court this week the law regarding the eye wear business was unclear, and therefore void for vagueness.   I'm familiar with this line being used to fight civil rights violations, but not to defend one's way of doing business.

Look, I'm all in favour of making a fair buck.   But the pertinent word is fair.   And the reason why we have the requirement that a patient see a physician, optometrist or ophthalmologist to get a prescription for glasses is not just to measure visual acuity but also to determine if there are early signs of disease, something machines can't always measure reliably if at all.   Maybe I'm a bit prejudicial here in the fact I am lucky enough to have a very good eye doctor, the same one for over twenty-five years, but I am quite sure that my father's eyesight was saved because of the careful "eye" (pardon the expression) of the same doctor who found my dad had cataracts.

Would a machine find that?   Not likely.   Matter of fact, some searching I did suggests that as a class 2 medical device, the system in question requires the use of a properly licensed and trained person.   Or the fact that the blogosphere is replete with horror stories about people who didn't get the proper prescription and in rare cases even ended up in the ER.   Not to mention many insurance companies refuse to reimburse payment for services from Great Glasses, even those with a proper prescription.

What really ticked me off, though, was a report earlier this week that the judge who issued a 2006 contempt order got a flyer from the company in the mail with a hand-scrawled note mocking the judge and the fact his order did not deter the chain from doing business.

The College of Opticians called Bergez "ungovernable" and pulled his license earlier this year. (PDF)

Ungovernable?   I find this guy just plain weird.

The sad part is that there are two young children involved.   They might end up wards of the state after all this if their parents do go to prison.   And who pays for their care?   I say it should be their parents, the Bergezes, that is if they have any money left after the government seizes the assets of the company and possibly their personal assets too.

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