Business
Yogurt company suing Loblaw for $20 million

Credits: QMI

JENNY YUEN | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO - Owners of a frozen yogurt firm who are suing Loblaw for $20-million accused the big Canadian grocery giant Tuesday of "deliberately" using a power drill to damage its company computer files.

YoPRO co-founder Amanda House posted a second YouTube video claiming Loblaw sabotaged a computer hard drive with a drill to destroy their sensitive partnership e-mails.

House accused Loblaw Cos. Ltd. executive chairman Galen Weston Jr. of failing to act on her complaints following an hour-long meeting Dec. 14.

"A key Loblaw computer containing e-mails relating to YoPRO was corrupted in April 2010 -- that's one month after we filed our lawsuit against them," House claimed.

"Loblaw then told us they purposefully put a drill through the hard drive of that computer and then had it discarded by a third-party company ... we have requested e-mails from Loblaw's server, but so far, have been unsuccessful," she alleged.

It was House's original YouTube video in December -- which garnered more than 226,000 hits -- that sparked the meeting with Weston. House and her partner Chris Delaney, 41, were told he would investigate and get back to them the following Monday. But House said they haven't heard a peep since.

At the centre of the controversy is protein-rich frozen yogurt bars that YoPRO claims Loblaw promised to carry in stores in 2008 and 2009.

Now the two founders of the now-halted business claim Loblaw's introduction of a "very similar" product last year means they misappropriated YoPRO's recipe.

Loblaw fired back at this claim in December, after House and Delaney met with Weston, saying their manufacturer's recipe was "inspired" by a House and Home article.

"YoPRO's claim that we misappropriated the recipe or process for the manufacturing of their product is completely without merit," the statement reads.

"The manufacturer of Loblaw's PC Greek yogurt is using the same process to make bars for the Company that it has used since the late 1990's -- years before YoPRO was introduced to Loblaw."

Loblaw, despite stating last month this case could be settled out of court, announced Tuesday "resolving this situation in the near future is unlikely," said spokesman Julija Hunter.

"We remain committed to mediation as an effective route to a settlement," she said. "We feel we have demonstrated a willingness to resolve the issue and have acted in a reasonable manner. Unfortunately, our view of the circumstances is very different to that of Ms. House and Mr. Delaney."

- With files with Maryam Shah

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