RICHMOND, Va. — Two top executives from Supervalu, Minneapolis, testified last week in a $25 million personal-injury lawsuit filed by a former retailer here, according to reports.
Jeff Noddle, chairman and chief executive officer, Supervalu, and Michael Jackson, president, said they sought to help local retailer Jonathan Johnson keep his Community Pride grocery chain in business. Johnson alleges that Supervalu, his wholesaler before Community Pride went out of business in 2004, in fact forced him to shutter his stores and caused him to suffer health problems.
“We had every reason to want to help him and make him grow,” Noddle testified in the trial, according to a report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
He said Supervalu had eliminated much of Johnson's debt and extended financing to the five-unit chain.
The suit alleges that Supervalu helped thwart Johnson's attempts to acquire another local chain, Camellia Food Stores, and has taken other actions that have caused Johnson to suffer from several illnesses, including high blood pressure, bleeding ulcers, shingles and depression.
Jackson testified that he had cautioned Johnson about his need to consolidate his existing operations in the Richmond market before expanding, the Times-Dispatch said.
In a prepared statement at the time the suit was filed, Supervalu said, “Mr. Johnson's allegations of wrongdoing are false and totally inconsistent with the way we have conducted business for over 150 years.”