Pa. judge throws out lawsuit against local sprawlbuster

  • Whole Foods -- the organics pioneer and Jeff Bezos-backed supermarket -- peered into its crystal milk jug and unveiled what it sees as the biggest food trends for 2018. (Jonathan Weiss/Dreamstime/TNS) Jonathan Weiss

Recorder Staff
Monday, January 01, 2018

GREENFIELD — A Pennsylvania judge has thrown out a lawsuit from a Whole Foods developer against a local big box opponent.

Two and a half years ago, nationally known big box opponent Al Norman of Greenfield was sued by a Whole Foods developer in Pennsylvania, who charged that Norman engaged in deceptive and unlawful efforts to block a Whole Foods from being built in Upper St. Clair, Pa., engaged in tortuous interference with business, commercial disparagement and civil conspiracy.

The developer charged that Norman, who advocates against big box chain store development around the country using the term Sprawlbuster, was paid by the Giant Eagle grocery chain to work with local residents in opposition to the Whole Foods development.

“This is over a town that I never went to. I’ve never physically been to this town, but this developer saw the word ‘Sprawl-Busters’ because there were people there that were using that phrase and I knew about them, but the only ones I talked to in this little town were the citizens, not the other supermarket,” Norman said. “The developer created a relationship between me and a supermarket chain that I had never spoken to.”

At the end of October, a judge in the court of common pleas in Allegheny County, Pa., ruled that the developer had presented “insufficient pleadings” on the charges against Norman, in essence removing Norman as a defendant in the case.