Los Angeles Times

Albertsons sues Haggen stores

- By Shan Li shan. li@ latimes. com Twitter:@ ByShanLi

Supermarke­t giant Albertsons has sued Haggen, accusing the grocer of fraud in failing to paymore than $ 36 million as part of the sale of146 grocery stores.

Haggen, a Pacific Northwest chain, bought those stores from Albertsons and Safeway, which were forced by the Federal Trade Commission to sell them as part of amerger. Among the stores are 83 in California, mostly in the south.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal court in California, Albertsons says that Haggen refused to pay for $ 36 million of inventory at 32 stores it acquired. Nearly $ 5 million in inventory at an additional six stores will be past due Tuesday— bringing the total to more than $ 41 million, the complaint said.

Haggen waited until deals closed on all146 stores before notifying Albertsons that itwould not pay for the inventory, the lawsuit alleged. The reasons — related to unspecifie­d issues that Haggen says occurred during the acquisitio­n process— are “baseless,” the suit said.

“Haggen’s acts were fraudulent in nature and done with malice and a willful disregard for Albertsons’ rights,” the lawsuit said.

In a statement, Haggen said it notified Albertsons in June of Albertsons’ violations under the purchase agreement and possible further violations related to requiremen­ts of the Federal Trade Commission and various state attorneysg­eneral. Haggen declined to disclose those alleged violations.

By filing a lawsuit, Haggen said Albertsons appears to be trying to avoid “addressing its wrongful conduct.”

Haggen “had hoped that the parties could amicably address these issues,” the company said. “Haggen will mount a vigorous defense and aggressive­ly prosecute its countercla­ims.”

Haggen has had to cut staff hours and lay off workers as it struggles to make headway in the competitiv­e Southern California market.

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