NEW YORK -- ABC News last week followed through on its previously stated intentions to appeal the decision in the case brought against it by Food Lion, Salisbury, N.C., over a 1992 report on the network's "Prime Time Live" program.
The network said it stands behind its reporting of allegedly unsanitary food-handling practices at two Food Lion stores.
Earlier this year, ABC, its former parent company, Capital Cities, and two executives were ordered to pay $315,000 in punitive damages after a federal jury found them liable for fraud, trespass and breach of the duty of loyalty when two news producers under their authority misrepresented themselves in order to gain employment at Food Lion.
Once employed, the producers used hidden cameras to report on food-handling practices at Food Lion stores in North Carolina and South Carolina.
The jury had originally awarded Food Lion $5.5 million in damages, but U.S. District Judge N. Carlton Tilley reduced that amount to bring it more in line with legal precedents.
However, ABC News said last week in a prepared statement that it will "challenge the finding that its journalists committed fraud, trespass and a breach of loyalty as well as challenge the imposition of punitive damages.
"The reason for this action is clear and consistent with our position from the beginning of the trial through every development in the case. ABC believes that the journalists who went undercover to report the Prime Time Live story concerning Food Lion's unsanitary food-handling practices followed a great tradition in American journalism."
The case will be heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Richmond, Va.
A Food Lion spokeswoman said the chain has 14 days to respond to ABC's appeal, and the company may try to fight ABC's appeal.
The chain may also file its own appeal against some of Judge Tilley's rulings, the spokeswoman said. However, the deadline for a Food Lion appeal was not known. SN is a unit of ABC's Fairchild Publications here.