The former MVSD director's trial has been postponed to Feb. 19.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
WARREN -- The judge overseeing the civil lawsuit of Frank D. DeJute has denied the former Mahoning Valley Sanitary District board director's motion to dismiss the case, but did leave the door open for just that at a later date.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office filed separate $2.4 million lawsuits in 1998 against DeJute of Niles; Edward A. Flask of Poland, another former MVSD board director; and Gilbane Building Co. of Rhode Island, which served as construction manager on the water agency's $50 million capital improvement project.
The lawsuits contend DeJute and Flask improperly paid Gilbane for construction work not performed at the MVSD and that the two former directors improperly received health, retirement and life insurance benefits. A federal judge dismissed Gilbane's case, saying the payments from the MVSD were not illegal.
In the six-page motion filed today, visiting Judge Richard M. Markus wrote that DeJute "may have no responsibility or liability for MVSD payments to Gilbane that DeJute approved if a duly authorized MVSD contract required those payments."
Judge Markus wrote that if DeJute wants to assert that defense, he would have to amend his motion by Jan. 21 and then prove it at his trial. DeJute said he plans to do just that.
"A previous judgment in any court may bar a claim here which requires the plaintiff to prove the same issue," Judge Markus wrote.
Postponed: Also in today's motion, Judge Markus agreed to postpone DeJute's trial, which was to start Monday, to Feb. 19.
DeJute last week had requested a two-month delay to the start of the trial because his pregnant daughter, whose due date is Jan. 20, is the only person who can operate his trucking company business in his absence. DeJute, who is not a lawyer but is defending himself, wrote that his daughter, Gina Larney, was not expected to return to work until March.
During a telephone conference Wednesday with DeJute, the Ohio Attorney General's Office and Judge Markus, it was agreed that the civil trial would be pushed back to Feb. 19.
"I asked for a date after March 1 and the judge said he had booked the entire month of March to work every day in Cuyahoga County," DeJute said. "Apparently his time is worth more than mine and all the people my business serves."
The attorney general's office was reluctant to move the trial date, which has been changed numerous times, DeJute said. Judge Markus suggested during the conference that the trial could be held in April, but DeJute said he and the AG's office decided Feb. 19 would work.
The trial is expected to take about five days, DeJute said.