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A federal lawsuit filed in Chicago this week alleges that Minneapolis-based Supervalu, Inc. engaged in “dirty tricks” to scuttle development of a Walmart store in the Chicago suburb of Mundelein, Ill.
The lawsuit was filed by Rubloff Development Group, Inc., a Rockford, Ill.-based real estate developer, against Supervalu, parent company of the Chicago-area Jewel supermarket chain, and Hingham, Mass.-based land-use consulting firm Saint Consulting Group, according to local press reports.
Rubloff claims to possess materials proving that the defendants orchestrated campaigns to defeat or delay its development of new Walmart stores. The lawsuit alleges that Supervalu “secretly retained” Saint “to harass and interfere” with Rubloff’s proposed developments to keep Walmart out of the area.
Through “unlawful conduct,” including “false statements and sham litigation,” Saint — at the behest of Supervalu — interfered with Rubloff’s projects, in some cases to the point where Walmart pulled out, the lawsuit further charges.
One of these projects was in Mundelein, expected to be finished in 2008 and generate profits exceeding $20 million. The lawsuit alleges that Supervalu’s interference ended up torpedoing leases with Walmart and several other major retailers.
Last May, Rubloff sent a letter to Supervalu saying that the developer had uncovered documents revealing a “dirty-tricks” campaign against the Mundelein project, the lawsuit says. In response, counsel for Saint threatened to sue Rubloff, charging wrongful possession of Saint’s allegedly confidential information related to the Mundelein development, according to local press reports.