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Michael Phelan
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Local Grocer Wins $16 M Against National Chain

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Richmond’s own Johnny Johnson won a $16 million verdict against grocery giant, Supervalue, Inc., the nation’s third largest grocery chain. The jury awarded $15.5 million for negligent misrepresentation and $500,000 for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Johnson started in the grocery business as a bag boy and worked his way up to manager. In the early 1990’s, Richfood, Inc. approached Johnson about a venture to open inner-city grocery stores.

With Richfood’s backing, Johnson bought four run-down stores in downtown Richmond, revamped them, and named the venture “Community Pride.” The story turned sour when Supervalue acquired Richfood. Johnson’s lawsuit accused Supervalue of intentionally driving him out of business because it wanted to replace Community Pride with its own Save-A-Lot stores. The loss of the business Johnson worked so hard to create caused him to suffer depression, anxiety, and physical illness. Kudos to Johnson and his legal team for fighting back and winning.