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Food Lion Lawyers Accuse ABC Of Misconduct Regarding Videotapes

September 8, 1995

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) _ Lawyers for Food Lion Inc. have accused ABC News and its attorneys of misconduct for failing to disclose portions of videotapes used in an undercover investigation of the supermarket chain in 1992.

In a federal court hearing Thursday on its $30 million lawsuit against the network, Food Lion’s attorneys argued that to prepare for trial, the Salisbury, N.C.-based chain is entitled to all 55 hours of videotape materials used by ABC’s ``Prime Time Live″ to prepare its report.

The report accused the supermarket of unsanitary practices, including selling salads weeks after their expiration dates and selling spoiled meat treated with bleach and cheese that had been gnawed on by rats.

Food Lion is suing ABC for damages based on claims including fraud, trespass and misrepresentation.

The grocery chain claims ABC fraudulently gained employment with Food Lion for two reporters in the meat department. The reporters worked undercover and made the videotapes.

ABC’s lawyers admitted Thursday that portions of some video tapes had been omitted from the materials turned over to Food Lion. But they blamed those omissions on human error, not malevolent intent as the supermarket claims.

In one instance, they said, an ABC employee making a copy of a tape for Food Lion stopped when the video went black, not realizing there were more audio and video segments.

Food Lion attorney W. Andrew Copenhaver told the court he has learned that there were 94 minutes of hidden-camera videotape taken inside Food Lion stores but not disclosed by ABC.

In one instance, a Food Lion employee refuses to sell a customer a cake because it’s outdated.

During the hearing, the network’s lawyers said Food Lion’s lawsuit does not contend the report was false.

``We’re not afraid of these tapes _ they do not exonerate Food Lion,″ ABC attorney Randall Turk said.

Food Lion in July filed another suit against ABC, which seeks $100 million in damages based on claims the network owns the rights to the hidden camera videotape made by the undercover reporters.

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