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Epitope Sues to Rescind A&W Acquisition

    BEAVERTON, Ore., April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Epitope, Inc. (Nasdaq: EPTO)
announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the former owners of
Andrew & Williamson Sales, Co. (A&W), alleging fraud and breach of contract in
connection with A&W's distribution of frozen strawberries through the United
States Department of Agriculture (USDA) school lunch program.
    The frozen strawberries sold by A&W are believed to have been associated
with an outbreak of hepatitis A, a viral infection, among school children and
teachers in several Michigan schools. The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention associated the outbreak with strawberries that were grown in Mexico
and processed at the A&W plant in San Diego on three days in 1996: April 19
and May 7 and 8. A&W's former CEO certified on November 27, 1996, that the
berries were grown in the United States. Epitope acquired A&W's stock on
December 12, 1996.
    Epitope is cooperating fully with federal and state regulatory agencies on
a voluntary recall of the berries processed on April 19 and May 7 and 8, which
were sent to school lunch programs in several states.
    In its lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for
the District of Oregon, Epitope seeks $20 million in actual and punitive
damages and rescission of Epitope's purchase of A&W stock.  Epitope alleges
that the former owners of A&W defrauded Epitope in connection with the sale,
violated federal and state securities laws and breached contractual warranties
and representations by failing to disclose the false certification of the
origin of the strawberries sold to the USDA and by certifying that A&W was in
compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, that A&W was not subject
to liability for any past or continuing violation of any law, and that the
defendants knew of no conditions or liabilities that might have a material
adverse effect on A&W's business or financial condition.
    "Our first concern is to do everything we can to cooperate with the USDA,
FDA and others in protecting the public's well-being," said Epitope CEO Adolph
J. Ferro.  "Epitope is a company whose employees have devoted their careers to
finding new methods to improve the health and well-being of the public and we
are outraged by the false certification."
    Epitope, Inc. is a biotechnology company that develops and markets medical
diagnostic products through its Epitope Medical Products group.  Its Agritope
group is focused on the development and commercialization of novel
agricultural products using plant genetic engineering and other modern
methods.

Source: EPITOPE Inc.


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