SAN ANTONIO -- A lawsuit filed by 13 independent food brokers against Albertson's, Boise, Idaho, and its in-house private-label broker has been scheduled to go to trial April 1 in Federal Court here.
The brokers, who formerly represented a variety of manufacturers' private-label lines to Albertson's, claim they lost business when Albertson's switched its private-label buying to Federated in late 1992. The complaint alleges tortious interference with the relationship between suppliers and their agents and violations of the Racketeering Influences and Corrupt Practices Act. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. According to Galen Watje, the plaintiffs' attorney, "The 13 brokers allege they were and are the victims of a scheme employed by Albertson's and Federated Foods to force their employers to fire them and pay their commissions to Federated to help Albertson's sell its products at retail. An Albertson's spokesman previously told SN, "We feel we have good and adequate defenses to all the allegations." Dave Dougherty, Federated president, told SN earlier this year that his company would defend the suit but declined further comment.