Friday, July 1, 2011

Apothecary can stay open, for now

Litigation not ended by judge’s ruling

Express Staff Writer

Proprietors of Valley Apothecary breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday following a legal hearing that determined the week-old business could continue operations.

Plaintiff SuperValu had sought a court order preventing the drug store and pharmacy from conducting business while a lawsuit against co-owners Cathy Swink and Paula Shaffer is pending.

Fifth District Court Judge Robert Elgee denied the motion for preliminary injunction, thereby allowing the defendants to remain open for business.

Swink's attorney, Michael Christian, with Boise law firm Marcus, Christian, Hardee & Davies, said he was satisfied with the hearing's outcome.

"We think it was an appropriate decision," he said. "It allows them to keep their business open. It's not the end of the lawsuit."

The defendants both worked for SuperValu, which is the parent company of Albertsons and Sav-On. According to the complaint, Swink was in violation of a non-compete agreement that prohibited her from conducting business activities within 15 miles from the Sav-On pharmacy at 911 N. Main St. in Hailey. That location is 11 miles from Valley Apothecary.

In the motion for preliminary injunction, SuperValu asked the court to prevent the defendants from conducting business and from soliciting customers of Sav-On, the SuperValu-owned pharmacy in Hailey.

Shaffer said after the hearing that she was "extraordinarily relieved."

Swink said they were grateful for people's encouragement.

"The community has supported us so much," she said.

"A lot of people have walked in to say, 'We've been thinking about you,'" Shaffer added. "That's been heartwarming and encouraging."

The lawsuit against Swink and Shaffer, though, remains active.

Possible next steps include either party's asking the court for summary judgment—in which a judge rules that no factual issues need to be resolved and the matter can be decided as a matter of law—or the case could go to trial.

"I can't say with certainty what's going to happen next," Christian said, adding, "We'll obviously continue to pursue defense of the case and continue to bring it to a resolution as quickly as we can."

Steven Schossberger, an attorney who argued the case for SuperValu, did not return a call seeking comment by press time Thursday.

Rebecca Meany:

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