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RICHMOND, Va. -- Johnny Johnson, an ex-independent grocer here who claims that Supervalu was a major contributor to his company's demise, got his day in court yesterday before a jury in Richmond, Va. Circuit Court. The trial is scheduled to run for seven days.
Three years ago, Johnson filed a $25 million personal-injury lawsuit against Minneapolis-based Supervalu, just a month before his Community Pride chain of inner-city supermarkets officially closed down.
He alleges that Supervalu sabotaged his efforts to buy a Virginia Beach-based 18-outlet food chain that had just emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, according to a report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Johnson got his start bagging groceries at a Farm Fresh store, and worked his way up. In 1991, with encouragement and financial help from James E. Ukrop, chairman of Ukrop's Super Markets, he started Community Pride. Richfood Holdings Inc., now owned by Supervalu, floated loans to help. The first stores opened in 1992.