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Court Strips Grocer of |$16 Million Fraud Verdict

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - A grocery store owner did not prove that wholesaler SuperValu defrauded him by reneging on its promise to help fund the expansion of his business, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled.

Jonathan Johnson accused SuperValu of ruining his business by committing fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court agreed and awarded Johnson $16 million.

Johnson said he relied on SuperValu to fund the expansion of his business. A SuperValu official allegedly told Johnson that would happen if Johnson invested the $2 million consulting fee that SuperValu had paid him.

"If you put your money where your mouth is, we'll put our money where our mouth is," Johnson was allegedly told.

Judge Keenan overturned the decision, ruling that the fraud claims against SuperValu were improperly based on future promises.

"The instructions unequivocally informed the jury that a claim for constructive fraud may not be based on a promise of future action," the judge wrote.

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