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ALPO AWARDED MORE THAN $12 MILLION IN RALSTON SUIT OVER FALSE ADVERTISING

 ALPO AWARDED MORE THAN $12 MILLION IN
 RALSTON SUIT OVER FALSE ADVERTISING
 WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- A federal trial court in Washington today ordered Ralston Purina Company (NYSE: RAL) to pay ALPO Petfoods, Inc. $12.1 million in damages, the latest development in a five-year legal battle based on advertising claims surrounding both companies' puppy food products.
 The false advertising case against Ralston was initiated by ALPO in 1986, contesting Ralston's claims that research proved its Puppy Chow brand puppy food could help prevent or reduce the severity of canine hip dysplasia, a crippling disease feared by dog owned contained false statements.
 In July 1989, District Judge Stanley Sporkin found that the Ralston claims of its product's ability to protect dogs from canine hip dysplasia "severely disadvantaged Ralston's competitors," such as ALPO. The judge dismissed Ralston's defamation claim against ALPO, but did find that ALPO's advertising contained false statements. He noted, however, that the harm done to ALPO outweighed the harm done to Ralston and that Ralston had brought the charges against ALPO "to counteract the more serious charges leveled against it by ALPO."
 In his original decision, Sporkin had awarded ALPO $10.4 million in damages but found that Ralston was not entitled to damages, since ALPO's actions, in contrast to those of Ralston, "obviated the need to award Ralston any damages." Ralston appealed the judge's findings. A three- judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed Ralston's liability for false advertising in September of last year. It remanded the case back to Sporkin to reconsider the damage issues under a different standard than the one he had previously used.
 A new damages trial was held before Sporkin this summer. Today's decision is the result of that trial. Ralston has been ordered to pay ALPO more than $12.1 million in damages. ALPO will pay Ralston $53,400 in damages for promotional activities Ralston had undertaken to evaluate the effect on consumers and veterinarians of claims ALPO had made in its advertising. Ralston will receive another $797,000 in legal fees, since this issue had not been appealed by ALPO.
 ALPO is a subsidiary of Grand Metropolitan PLC (NYSE: GRM), a leading international food, drink and retailing company. Other U.S. subsidiaries include Pillsbury, Burger King, Carillon Importers, GrandMet Foodservice USA, Haagen-Dazs, Heublein, The Paddington Corporation, and Pearle Inc.
 ALPO was represented by the Washington firm of Leighton & Regnery.
 /delval/
 -0- 11/26/91
 /CONTACT: Judi Kroeger of Weightman Public Relations, 215-821-1299, for ALPO Petfoods/
 (RAL) CO: ALPO Petfoods, Inc.; Ralston Purina Company ST: Pennsylvania, Missouri IN: SU:


JS-CC -- PH051 -- 7488 11/26/91 16:40 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 26, 1991
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