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The Braille Monitor,  December 2001 EditionThis is a line.

Maxi-Aids Exposed Again: ILA Files Contempt-of-Court Motion

by Barbara Pierce

Independent Living Aids (ILA) has filed a motion in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York to show cause why Maxi-Aids and various members of the Zaretsky family, the owners of Maxi-Aids, should not be held in contempt of court. Both companies are distributors of products used by people with disabilities. Many of these are particularly useful to blind people. ILA alleges that Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys have violated the terms of an injunction issued against them on October 24, 1998, by the Honorable Arthur D. Spatt, the United States District Judge who presided over the trial of ILA vs. Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys during November and December of 1997. ILA has asked the Court to impose severe penalties and sanctions against the defendants for these violations.

To refresh the memories of our readers, ILA and its President Marvin Sandler filed an action against Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys in 1995, which came to trial in November of 1997. The trial lasted five weeks, and the jury made an award of $2,400,000.06 to ILA, which had proved the defendants guilty of copyright infringement, trademark infringement, false and misleading advertising, and unfair and deceptive business practices. (See the March, 1998, issue of the Braille Monitor for the in-depth report.) As part of its verdict, the jury said that the actions of Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys were willful, and it held the corporation and the Zaretskys personally liable. In 1998 Maxi-Aids filed a motion to have the verdict overturned and to have the amount of the award eliminated or reduced. Judge Spatt not only upheld the jury's verdict and the amount of the award but also tacked on $379,806.90 in costs, interest, and legal fees. On October 24, 1998, he issued a judgment in favor of ILA and against Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys for $2,779,806.96. As part of the judgment he also issued a permanent injunction prohibiting Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys from continuing to engage in the kind of behavior that had brought about the original lawsuit.

Among the various whereases and wherefores intrinsic to most legal documents, including this one, was a clause that has led to ILA's current motion against Maxi-Aids. In plain English it states that "Maxi-Aids, Inc., Mitchel Zaretsky, Elliot Zaretsky, and Pamela Zaretsky Stein. . . and their officers . . . and employees. . . are hereby enjoined and restrained from. . . engaging in any deceptive acts or practices in connection with the advertising or sale of their products."

Based on the injunctive paragraph above, ILA filed a motion for what it alleged were serious violations on the part of Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys. Its papers claimed that ILA had uncovered a successful attempt to circumvent a proposed debarment by the Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) by establishing a sham company called "Able-Vision." Even more serious, it claimed to have discovered an illegal scheme in which Maxi-Aids has been diverting Perkins Braillers from South Africa, where the Perkins School for the Blind had established a program for the charitably subsidized production of Braillers for sale to and use by blind people and organizations for the blind in developing countries. This program has been particularly important since Braillers in developing countries are typically used by many more than one person, unlike the way we in the U.S. use them most often.

As might be expected, in response to the ILA charges, Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys, through their own sworn affidavits and their attorney's affidavit and memorandum of law, pooh-poohed the claims that ILA made. The Maxi-Aids attorney dismissed the ILA allegations with the remark that Sandler and ILA were "blowing smoke . . . in an attempt to catch a fish." It is tempting to be diverted by the contemplation of the picture conjured up by this rather startling mixed metaphor. After reading the court papers, however, it appears that, if Sandler was attempting to catch a fish, he certainly seems to have caught a big one.

The entire set of documents reads like a mystery novel—indeed two novels, one devoted to each accusation. Deception and detective work appear throughout the saga. John Grisham could hardly have done better. It seems most helpful to present each of these issues in the actual words of both sides as taken from their sworn affidavits so that readers can draw their own conclusions. Because of the length and complexity of each matter, we will present the story of the diversion of Perkins Braillers this month and discuss the establishment of "Able-Vision" in an article to be published in the January issue. For clarity we will include some explanatory material to provide continuity but will reserve editorial comment until the end of each article. Here then is the story of the Perkins Braillers.

The Perkins Brailler
The Perkins Brailler

As background, readers should know that Perkins Braillers were developed by the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. They are marketed by the Howe Press Division of the Perkins School, and the domestic price in the USA is $640 each. This price applies to all customers, individuals and agencies alike. Perkins provides no discount price, no matter the quantity purchased.

In an effort to promote Braille literacy in developing countries, however, the Perkins School decided to offer a reduced price to blind people and agencies in those areas of the world. Accordingly Howe Press established a working relationship with the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCFB), whereby Perkins would supply component parts for assembly into Braillers by workers at SANCFB, and the resulting savings in labor costs would enable SANCFB to sell the Braillers at a significantly reduced price. Perkins also enlisted the aid of the Hilton Foundation, which generously offered a charitable grant of $100 per Brailler to reduce the price further to buyers in developing countries. The net result of these efforts was to bring the price of Braillers down to $375 each in developing countries, $265 per machine lower than the regular Howe Press price in the United States.

Elliot Zaretsky apparently found out about these lower-priced Braillers and tried to obtain them for sale by Maxi-Aids. He was rebuffed, and the director of SANCFB sent him a fax on September 1, 1997, advising him that these Braillers could not be sold in or shipped to the U.S.A. according to the guidelines established by the Perkins School. This did not deter Mr. Zaretsky, however, and his successful efforts to obtain these charitably subsidized Braillers through his own creative, one might almost say devious, methods became part of ILA's motion to have Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys held in contempt of court.

Sandler's papers seem well documented with exhibits to back each statement and reply. Sandler's submissions showed that at least 1,520 Braillers were diverted from availability to blind people in developing nations and sold instead in this country, resulting in a revenue loss of $402,800 to the Perkins School for the Blind, of which $152,000 was charitable subsidy grant money from the Hilton Foundation.

Documentary responses from the Zaretskys were accompanied by a number of exhibits such as testimonials and employee acknowledgements that appeared to be more filler than substance; at least they shed no particular light on the events and actions of Maxi-Aids. Here then are excerpts from Marvin Sandler's complaint, Elliot Zaretsky's response, and Sandler's reply, explaining what has been going on, all in their own words:

Marvin Sandler
Marvin Sandler

From Sandler's affidavit: "Documents have been obtained which indicate that Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys have been obtaining standard Perkins Braillers from The South African Council for the Blind in South Africa under the false misrepresentation that they were intended for "Third World" countries. By doing so, they have gotten the benefit of the reduced $375 price, including the $100 charitable grant, and have then diverted the machines to the United States, where they have been sold for full price. Thus charitable grant money from the Hilton/Perkins Foundation, intended for charitable purposes, has wound up in the Zaretskys' pockets."

Continuing from Sandler's affidavit: "Annexed hereto is a copy of a fax/letter from the Executive Director of the South African National Council for the Blind, dated as 1 September, 1997. The letter is a response to a communication from Elliot Zaretsky since it starts by referring to an order and advises that the order cannot be shipped to the United States."

From Zaretsky's response affidavit: "Prior to September of 1997 Maxi-Aids did purchase the alleged standard Perkins Braillers directly from the South African Council for the Blind and had them shipped directly to the United States, even paying for customs clearance. Howe Press, a subsidiary of the Perkins School for the Blind, knew about these purchases and never objected to me about these transactions. Maxi-Aids has been, and is continuing to do business with Howe Press."

Continuing from Zaretsky's response affidavit: "Since receiving this notification from the South African Council for the Blind, Maxi-Aids has found a company [in] South Africa who I believe purchases the Standard Perkins Braillers from the South African Council for the Blind and then sells them directly to Maxi-Aids. As far as I know, Howe Press is again aware of this arrangement and has not made any objection whatsoever either orally or in writing."

That's what Zaretsky said in his affidavit, but he was simply wrong. The Howe Press and Perkins School had objected strongly to Maxi-Aids's actions, and Sandler hit back hard by submitting a sworn affidavit from Kevin J. Lessard, Director of the Perkins School for the Blind.

From Kevin J. Lessard's affidavit: "Mr. Zaretsky's affidavit states that, prior to September 1997, Howe Press knew that Maxi-Aids, Inc. was purchasing Braillers from the SANCFB and never objected. This statement is false."

Continuing from Kevin J. Lessard's affidavit: "When my staff members informed me in late August 1997 that Maxi-Aids had placed an order with the SANCFB, I telephoned William Rowland, Executive Director of the SANCFB. I reiterated that pursuant to the SANCFB's agreement with Howe Press, the SANCFB was authorized to sell Perkins Braillers only to persons and entities in developing countries, for use by blind persons and entities in those developing countries. Accordingly, Mr. Rowland and I agreed that the SANCFB would cancel Maxi-Aids's pending order and inform Maxi-Aids that the SANCFB was not authorized to supply Perkins Braillers to persons or entities in the United States."

Continuing from Kevin J. Lessard's affidavit: "Around the same time I also telephoned Mr. Zaretsky. When I spoke with Mr. Zaretsky, I informed him that the Braillers assembled by the SANCFB are intended for sale only to persons and entities in developing countries, for use by blind persons in those developing countries. I also told Mr. Zaretsky that, if he and/or Maxi-Aids wanted to purchase standard Perkins Braillers, the Braillers would have to be purchased directly from Howe Press for $640."

Continuing from Kevin J. Lessard's affidavit: "Mr. Zaretsky's affidavit states that ‘Maxi-Aids has found a company [in] South Africa [which] I believe purchases the Standard Perkins Braillers from the South African Council for the Blind and then sells them directly to Maxi-Aids' and that ‘[a]s far as I know, Howe Press is aware of this arrangement and has not made any objection.' Perkins School and Howe Press are not aware of, and would not condone, any arrangement between Maxi-Aids and another entity concerning the purchase of Braillers from the SANCFB. As I stated above, I made it clear to Mr. Zaretsky that SANCFB-assembled Braillers are intended for sale only to individuals and/or entities in developing countries, for use by blind persons in those developing countries.

"Based on my conversation with Mr. Zaretsky and Mr. Rowland's letter to Mr. Zaretsky, I believe that Mr. Zaretsky is fully aware of the restrictions concerning the sale and distribution of SANCFB-assembled Braillers and knows that Perkins School and Howe Press would not approve of any arrangements by which Braillers assembled by the SANCFB are diverted to the United States and/or other non-developing countries."

Editor's Note: The reader will recall that Sandler's original motion papers, quoted above, complained that charitable grant money from the Hilton Foundation had wound up in the Zaretskys' pockets. Elliot Zaretsky's response and Kevin Lessard's reply follow:

From Elliot Zaretsky's response affidavit: "Maxi-Aids never received any of the complained-of rebates from the Hilton Hotels Corporation or the Hilton/Perkins Foundation and never made any representations. . . that the purchased Braillers were intended for ‘third world' countries."

From Kevin J. Lessard's reply affidavit: "Mr. Zaretsky's affidavit states that, although Maxi-Aids purchased Braillers assembled by the SANCFB, it never received the benefit of the subsidy provided to Perkins School by the Hilton Foundation. If Mr. Zaretsky has acquired SANCFB-assembled Braillers, however, he necessarily has received the benefit of the Hilton Foundation subsidy, since the price of the SANCFB-assembled Braillers incorporates this subsidy."

Continuing from Kevin J. Lessard's reply affidavit: "Mr. Zaretsky's affidavit evidences that Mr. Zaretsky has, for his own benefit, intentionally circumvented policies and requirements that have been established by Perkins School, Howe Press, and the Hilton Foundation for the purpose of benefiting blind persons in developing countries."

Readers should know that Mr. Lessard and the Perkins School and Howe Press have gone beyond mere rhetoric in an effort to stop Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys from continuing to divert Perkins Braillers from South Africa. They are now having the SANCFB put a metal plate on each subsidized Brailler to identify it as such, and they are screening all orders from developing countries for unusually large purchases. As a further indication of their anger at what Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys have done, the Howe Press has notified Maxi-Aids that for the present it will no longer do business with the company.

The intricacies of the scheme that Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys set up in an effort to get these charitably subsidized Braillers and their efforts to disguise what they were doing are worthy of discussion. Reading through these affidavits and the attached exhibits reveals just how much detective work was necessary to identify and expose the lengths to which Elliot Zaretsky went after being rebuffed by the SANCFB and personally told by Kevin Lessard that the subsidized Braillers were for sale only to individuals and entities in developing countries for use in those developing countries.

At one point Elliot Zaretsky incorporated a charity in New York State, using the exact name of a legitimate overseas charity. Mr. Zaretsky's charity, however, never filed registration papers with the Division of Charities in New York State, nor has it ever filed financial statements with the Division of Charities. Only time and further investigation will tell whether the establishment of this charity was part of the scheme to obtain subsidized Braillers. But let us return to the affidavits of Sandler and Zaretsky.

Readers will recall that Elliot Zaretsky, in his affidavit quoted above, said that "Maxi-Aids has found a company [in] South Africa who I believe purchases the Standard Perkins Braillers from the South African Council for the Blind, and then sells them directly to Maxi-Aids." He then went on to enclose an airway bill showing a shipment from a supplier in South Africa and stated, "Please note that the name and street number of the address of this company has been blacked out because I do not want to reveal this source to my competitor." He must have been stunned when he read Sandler's reply affidavit, which is quoted below.

From Sandler's reply affidavit: "He could have saved himself the trouble, since we already know the name of the company, and we have all the documents, including the one that he included as [his] exhibit. Mr. Zaretsky included only an airway bill, which is but one page of the story. The complete set of documents relating to this airway bill gives away the entire scheme, and I am enclosing all of the documents associated with Mr. Zaretsky's own exhibit, which he omitted from his exhibit.

Sandler then proceeded to show that the complete set of documents covered four invoices from SANCFB to agencies and organizations in Botswana, Mozambique, and Zambia. Each invoice carried a notation that the Braillers would be picked up in South Africa by the organization's own courier. It is hard to conceive that agencies and organizations in countries hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miles from South Africa would have couriers ready to take possession of the SANCFB Braillers. In any event, just a few days later, the Braillers were flown to New York, consigned to Maxi-Aids, as evidenced by the airway bill and customs-clearance document accompanying the invoices. It was clear that these Braillers never went to their supposed destinations but were picked up by the couriers and sent right to Maxi-Aids.

Although Elliot Zaretsky's sworn affidavit stated that Maxi-Aids "never made any representations. . .that the purchased Braillers were intended for developing countries," it is certain that somebody did. The Braillers certainly wound up in Maxi-Aids's hands within a very few days, so the involvement of Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys is all but impossible to doubt. Sandler supports his contention with additional invoices and shipping documents which show that a total of 1,520 Braillers had been diverted in exactly this way.

As a sidelight Sandler introduced an affidavit from Ms. Sarah A. McPhillips, the Office Manager of the Howe Press. Sandler had previously identified the serial numbers of eight Braillers that had been sold by Maxi-Aids to the Veterans Administration. In her affidavit Ms. McPhillips listed each Brailler by serial number and identified them as having been from shipments consigned to agencies and organizations in Lebanon, Tanzania, Botswana, and Kenya. All of these Braillers were shipped on the same day, and all of them wound up in Maxi-Aids' hands and were later sold to the VA. The VA had now become an unwitting accessory by providing a market for the diverted Braillers.

Sandler also included in his complaint a statement regarding one specific Brailler, which he obtained through an intermediary and which Ms. McPhillips identified as having been originally consigned to an agency in Kenya. The Brailler arrived in a box that had been cut open and then resealed so carefully that it was difficult to see that it had been tampered with. The cover of the instruction manual in the box, bearing the name, address, and phone number of the Howe Press, had been torn off, and a new cover, without this information, had been attached. On the outside of the box was a sticker that said "For Repair Call MAXIAIDS 1-800-522-6294."

Sandler contended that this was done as a part of the deception in order to prevent users from sending the machine back to the Howe Press for repairs, since the Howe Press would then have identified the machine by its serial number, which would have exposed the fact that Maxi-Aids was diverting subsidized Braillers. As far as we can tell, Elliot Zaretsky never answered this charge in his response affidavit.

Elliot Zaretsky concluded his defense of his activities in diverting Braillers by stating in his affidavit, "I would think that the purpose of a free market is to encourage exactly this kind of competition, where the consumer can only benefit from the resultant lower price, as would be the exact result of this claimed infraction." Sandler responded with the following statement in his reply affidavit:

From Sandler's reply affidavit: "The facts are otherwise. Maxi-Aids lists the Braillers in their catalog at exactly the same . . . price as my own catalog. The consumer does not get Mr. Zaretsky's "resultant lower price"—not even a single penny. The purpose and net result is to enrich Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys. These transactions and deceptive acts by the Defendants are driven by pure greed and exhibit an absolute disregard for moral and ethical behavior. To allow this conduct to go unpunished would not only encourage the Defendants to continue their nefarious and deceptive acts but is tantamount to giving them a license to steal from the Perkins School for the Blind, the Hilton/Perkins Foundation, and any other innocent organization whose products can be illegally obtained at a Third-World price."

There you have the saga of the Perkins Braillers to date. Just as this issue of the Braille Monitor was going to press, word came down that Judge Spatt had advised that he was going to deny ILA's motion because the Maxi-Aids lawyers had successfully attacked the basic injunction as being overly broad and therefore unenforceable. During a hearing on the matter, however, he had previously said, "The fault is mine, of course, that I signed an overbroad provision." This almost apologetic remark, letting the Zaretskys off the hook on a legal technicality, was followed by the statement, on the record, that  "ILA has presented a thorough and persuasive presentation that strongly suggests that the defendants are indeed improperly obtaining subsidized Braillers intended for use in developing countries and selling them at retail prices in the United States." We believe that the operative word is Judge Spatt's gentlemanly adverb "improperly." Throughout his affidavits Sandler used the word "illegally." Whichever term you prefer, both seem to rebut Elliot Zaretsky's claim that he has done nothing wrong.

Sandler and ILA have demonstrated with extensive documentation that Maxi-Aids and Elliot Zaretsky have actively pursued a campaign improperly (perhaps illegally) to obtain subsidized Braillers at a reduced price through misrepresentation and deception, despite being clearly told by the Director of the Perkins School for the Blind that this was against Perkins's policies. In doing so, the Zaretskys have pocketed up to $152,000 of charitably donated money from the Hilton Foundation.

When we called Marvin Sandler, he declined to comment, saying that the matter is far from over, and he is considering additional options. We then called Elliot Zaretsky, who also declined to speak for the record though he made arrangements for his attorney to send us a statement, which we agreed to print exactly as sent. With the lawyer's permission, we did try to bring the punctuation into conformity with generally accepted rules of grammar and Braille Monitor house style without altering sentence construction. Following is that statement in its entirety, including the text of the letterhead:

Maxi-Aids Logo
Maxi-Aids logo

 

 

Law Offices of

Michael D. Solomon, Esq.

2950 Hempstead Turnpike

Levittown, New York 11756-1960

(516) 579-6200

facsimile (516) 579-2909

Maxi-Aids Is Vindicated

Maxi-Aids and the family Zaretsky have just triumphantly withstood another round of allegations of wrongdoing brought by Marvin Sandler and Independent Living Aids (ILA) in the form of a motion for contempt against Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys for allegedly violating an injunctive order from Judge Spatt of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York that issued as a result of the previous lawsuit filed by Mr. Sandler and ILA, a competitor of Maxi-Aids. Though Maxi-Aids disagreed with this verdict rendered in that lawsuit, Maxi-Aids fully respected the terms of the judgment by settling the monetary award and has been diligently following the terms of this over-broad court injunction for more than two years. In its motion for contempt Mr. Sandler and ILA attempted to convince Judge Spatt that they had evidence that Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys were violating the injunctive provisions of the judgment. Maxi-Aids' vindication was total and complete. Judge Spatt refused to even consider the ILA claim and stated that he made a mistake in issuing an over-broad injunctive provision. Maxi-Aids, through its legal brief and arguments at a hearing in the District Court before Judge Spatt, proved that the injunction was overly expansive in its restrictive terms, and Judge Spatt had the injunctive order stricken from the record.

The Veterans Administration, as a result of the previous lawsuit, investigated Maxi-Aids and found it to be a reputable and responsible company. Maxi-Aids even worked closely with the Veterans Administration in an effort to improve its management and how the company was being run.

The bottom line is that Maxi-Aids combs the world to find the finest quality and the lowest possible prices for the specialty items it provides to physically challenged, visually and hearing impaired people. In addition the dedication that Maxi-Aids devotes to customer service is unparalleled. No stone is left unturned by Maxi-Aids when it comes to providing its customers with superior quality products at the lowest prices and best service in the industry, a reputation that has been built with care since 1986.

Maxi-Aids is committed to continue its mission of providing the most innovative and highest-quality specialty items that are truly affordable for people with special needs. This mission was formulated by Elliot Zaretsky, its founder, over fourteen years ago. Mr. Zaretsky, a registered pharmacist, was inspired to this mission when he was unable to locate the right specialty items for his son Harold, who was born deaf and who is now a co-owner of Maxi-Aids. Maxi-Aids takes great pride in being the best at what they do and pledges to insure that the needs of its customers will always be its utmost priority.

Michael D. Solomon, Esq.

Attorney for Maxi-Aids

There you have the Maxi-Aids statement. Although it claims that the denial of ILA's motion is a vindication, not a single word addresses the facts of the matter, and the statement reads more like a testimonial than a response. As a matter of fact, if anything, it is a testimonial to the cleverness of the lawyers in attacking the broadness of the injunction itself rather than trying to defend against the claims made by ILA. This effectively got Maxi-Aids off the hook through a legal technicality and spared the company from having to face and defend against the actual charges. It is worth repeating that, even while denying ILA's motion, Judge Spatt stated in open court that the ILA presentation was "thorough and persuasive."

We do feel compelled to comment on the statement that "Maxi-Aids combs the world to find . . . the lowest possible prices." As indicated by the documentation in ILA's papers, Maxi-Aids does indeed comb the world; it does obtain the lowest prices (whether legally or not). But at least in the case of the Perkins Braillers these lower prices are not passed on to the consumer; they go right into the Zaretskys’ pockets.

With respect to the Brailler  matter, we also talked with Kevin Lessard, Director of the Perkins School for the Blind, which has been deeply involved with the work of the Hilton Foundation helping blind people around the world. After confirming the accuracy of our understanding of the arrangements for producing Perkins Braillers at the Capetown not-for-profit workshop operated by the South African National Council for the Blind, Lessard said that he feels some uncertainty about how many Braillers have actually been diverted from developing countries to Maxi-Aids. He stressed, however, that Perkins is working hard to determine how many are involved so that Perkins can reimburse the Hilton Foundation its $100 per unit for those that have ended up in the U.S. To date they know of somewhat more than 200 of these.

Perkins is working with blindness organization leaders in Kenya, Lebanon, Tanzania, and Botswana, all countries from which Brailler orders came to SANCFB and later arrived at Maxi-Aids. So far Perkins has received good cooperation from these officials but has decided not to accept further orders from the four countries. From now on all orders from African countries will come to Perkins directly so that they can be checked before being passed along to SANCFB for completion. When asked directly whether Perkins was contemplating court action of its own, Lessard would say only that a range of options was being considered. He did, however, characterize the diversion of Braillers intended to reach children in the developing world to buyers in the United States as "outrageous."

So where do we go from here? The documents demonstrate what they demonstrate, and regardless of what Judge Spatt has decided on the technicalities of the case, based on Sandler's doggedness he is unlikely to cease his efforts to insist that the courts require fair competition in the blindness field. Moreover, there is an old saying to the effect that "Those who do not condemn an action or behavior condone it." We at the National Federation of the Blind yet again condemn what Maxi-Aids and Elliot Zaretsky have clearly done as reprehensible. We go on record as deploring the fact that up to 1,520 Braillers intended for use in the developing world to assist who knows how many blind people have been diverted to the American market at a profit of $265 each for Maxi-Aids.

For its own protection Perkins must now go to the time, trouble, and expense of having plates affixed to some of its Braillers and to expend energy in monitoring sales to make sure that its Braillers are not again improperly diverted to Maxi-Aids. This is an expense that takes time and money away from the basic mission of producing and getting Braillers into the hands of those who need them in developing countries. Perkins should not have to conduct its not-for-profit operations under the anxiety of having such a travesty occur again.

In passing one might also ask what problems will face the people and agencies that bought these imported Braillers from Maxi-Aids. Will Maxi-Aids be able to provide service when the Howe Press now refuses to do business with them? How will Maxi-Aids obtain the spare parts they need to repair these machines? Will the Howe Press provide warranty service at no charge for machines they did not sell? Only time will tell.

The National Federation of the Blind made its position clear seven years ago when Dr. Jernigan published a statement in the December, 1994, issue of the Braille Monitor that we had stopped buying anything at all from Maxi-Aids, even if its price was the lowest to be had, because we did not like its behavior or dealings. Each person who reads this article, knowing that a federal judge has stated in open court that ILA's presentation of Maxi-Aids's "improper" acquisition of these charitably subsidized Braillers is "thorough and persuasive," must act and then live with his or her own conscience.

It is fitting that the statement by the Maxi-Aids lawyer alluded to the Veterans Administration issue, which the Zaretskys also treat as a vindication. Although the statement claims that the VA "investigated Maxi-Aids and found it to be a reputable and responsible company," it omits the fact that for more than a year Maxi-Aids and the Zaretskys were under a proposed debarment and prohibited from doing business with the VA. Sandler and ILA claim that the proposed debarment was lifted at a time when the VA was unaware that the Zaretskys had established a sham company called "Able-Vision" as a device to evade the prohibition. Next month we will examine the presentations of both sides, in the words of the actual participants, so that our readers can judge for themselves.

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