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Food Lion, Inc. v. Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
194 F.3d 505 (1999)


Facts

Television producers working for Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. (ABC) (defendant) received a tip that Food Lion, Inc. (Food Lion) (plaintiff) grocery stores were mishandling meats. Lynne Dale and Susan Barnett (defendants) were ABC reporters. Dale and Barnett believed they could investigate the meat-mishandling claims by working inside a Food Lion location. Dale and Barnett fabricated resumes, references, and addresses to secure jobs in the deli and meat departments at Food Lions in South Carolina and North Carolina. While working at the Food Lions, Dale and Barnett secretly videotaped Food Lion employees in the meat department and collected 45 hours of footage. ABC aired the video footage, which showed Food Lion employees repackaging expired fish and grinding expired ground beef with fresh ground beef. Food Lion sued ABC and the reporters. Food Lion alleged that the reporters breached their duty of loyalty to Food Lion by investigating Food Lyon while acting as Food Lyon employees. At trial, the jury found Dale and Barnett liable for breach of the duty of loyalty. After trial, ABC, Dale and Barnett moved for judgment as a matter of law, and the motion was denied. ABC, Dale, and Barnett appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Michael, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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