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YOUNGSTOWN Lawyer will ask judge to reduce cash verdict



Published: Sat, February 2, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defense lawyer was shocked by the huge award.

YOUNGSTOWN -- A judge will be asked to reconsider a nearly $2 million civil verdict handed down this week against Modern Builders Supply of Youngstown.

"We certainly feel that this award is unreasonable," said Atty. John O'Neil of Cleveland, who represents the company and said he's "exploring all avenues of appeal."

Modern Builders was sued in 1998 by James P. Poma of Hopkins Road, Boardman, for malicious prosecution. A jury in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court awarded Poma $1.8 million Thursday.

The suit also included allegations of slander and libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress and interference with a business relationship, which were dismissed by Judge Maureen A. Cronin before the trial.

"I'm shocked that a jury could find that Modern Builders acted inappropriately in this matter and I'm shocked at the size of the award," O'Neil said.

He said he's in the process of preparing a motion asking Judge Cronin to review the matter and reduce the award, which is allowed under Ohio law.

Background: Poma sued because he was falsely accused of telephoning a bomb threat to a Modern Builders plant at McClurg Road and Southern Boulevard, Boardman, in February 1998.

Boardman police investigated, identified him as the suspect and charged him with telephone harassment. He was acquitted by a jury in the Boardman area court in April 2000.

O'Neil said the police department, not the company, tapped and charged Poma. The department was originally named in the suit but was dismissed before the trial.




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