SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Price Chopper Supermarkets is suing Binghamton Giant Food Markets for $20 million for allegedly stealing trade secrets.
Neil Golub, the president and chief executive officer of Price Chopper, based here, confirmed the lawsuit last week with SN.
According to the complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court here, a surveillance tape caught Todd E. Hoover, who at the time was a salesman for the beverage distribution company AL George LLC, entering an “employees only” bottle supply closet at the Price Chopper's 10 Glenwood Ave. location in Binghamton, N.Y. Hoover then stuffed Price Chopper's advertising fliers down his pants and passed them on to his immediate superior, David J. Cannistra, in the store's parking lot, according to the lawsuit.
It is alleged that Cannistra then gave the fliers to August O. Kutchinski, director of operations for Giant Markets. Surveillance tapes show Hoover taking fliers seven times and transferring them to Cannistra six times during a six-month period ending in April, the lawsuit states.
“I'm sure there were favors for doing that,” Golub said about Hoover's actions.
Advertising fliers arrive at The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin and Price Chopper on Tuesdays for distribution on Sunday, Golub said. Hoover allegedly stole and transferred the fliers on Wednesday mornings. Giant Markets' advertising fliers can be revised Friday and possibly Saturday before distribution on Sunday, according to the lawsuit.
During the six months that this allegedly occurred, Golub said he noticed his competition lowering its prices or matching Price Chopper's prices in the Sunday advertising sections.
In the suit, Price Chopper asks for $5 million in compensatory damages for injury, $5 million in recovery of gains and profits from Giant, and $10 million in punitive damages.
Neither Giant co-owner Ron Akel nor AL George LLC were available for comment last week.
Weis Markets, based in Sunbury, Pa., agreed to acquire Giant Markets of Binghamton last month.