NEW YORK -- A legal dispute between Red Apple Cos. here and Fleming Cos., Oklahoma City, over lease options on stores in Florida is scheduled to go to trial this summer in Dade County, Fla. The dispute -- a lawsuit by Fleming and a countersuit by Red Apple -- concerns stores of Florida Supermarkets, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that were operated by Red Apple and supplied by Fleming from 1985 to 1993. Red Apple sold the stores to Fleming in late 1993 under an asset purchase agreement that the retailer says covered nine store leases on which it controls the renewal options -- the point now in dispute. According to John Catsimatidis, chairman and president of Red Apple, Fleming's suit against his company has interfered with Red Apple's ability to complete a $33 million transaction with a third party for the sale of 13 parcels of real estate, including the nine leases. As a result, he said, he has countersued Fleming for damages of approximately $100 million for interfering with the transaction.
Red Apple operates supermarkets in metropolitan New York under the names Gristedes and Sloan's.
According to a Fleming official, "Fleming filed suit to enforce its lease options on the nine stores. We believe we have the right to litigate the breach concerning those leases, and that's what we're doing.
"We believe Red Apple's position is sensational, retaliatory and factually inaccurate, and we believe Fleming's position is meritorious and strong and that we will be successful in the suit."