(Jan. 10) KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A royal legal food fight between two foodservice distributors has prompted a longtime Midwestern foodservice wholesaler to file for bankruptcy.

Officials of Lady Baltimore Foods Inc., Kansas City, said Dec. 31 that the 56-year-old distributor took the action to end gridlock in its legal battle with U.S. Foodservice Inc., Columbia, Md., owned by Royal Ahold, the large retail grocery and foodservice conglomerate.

“We are essentially taking a ‘time out’ to protect our company while we resolve the legal issues and complete the sale to U.S. Foodservice,” the company’s board of directors and officers said in a statement.

“We regret that it came to this, but we believe this is the only way to break the gridlock and protect our company, employees, stockholders and vendors.”

Lady Baltimore Foods of Missouri Inc., Springfield, an affiliate, was also included in the Chapter 11 filing.

Ahold announced Sept. 12 that U.S. Foodservice bought many of Lady Baltimore’s assets. The sale marked the end of Lady Baltimore’s foodservice distribution.

Then U.S. Foodservice, in a complaint filed in an Atlanta federal court last month, accused the distributor of not delivering what it had promised.

According to news reports, Lady Baltimore owes about $2 million to various creditors. The Kansas City Star reported Lady Baltimore’s bankruptcy filing listed only unsecured debts owed to its 20 largest claimants.

Lady Baltimore had more than $200 million in sales to foodservice customers throughout Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Oklahoma.

Lady Baltimore officers were not available for comment