A bankruptcy judge left the ownership dispute unresolved when the Boardman store was sold last fall.
THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN
By CYNTHIA VINARSKY
VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A long-standing family dispute between brothers who operate Rulli Bros. grocery stores in Boardman and Austintown appears to be headed for a jury trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Frank A. Rulli, who owns the Austintown Rulli Bros. corporation and bought the Boardman store building and real estate in November, filed a supplemental complaint against his brothers Anthony Rulli and Nick Rulli and requested a jury trial. His original lawsuit dates back about nine years.
At issue is the ownership of the corporation that operates the Rulli Bros. Market on South Avenue in Boardman and the assets of a real estate leasing partnership the brothers share.
The complaint asks the court to dissolve the brothers' two partnerships and to order Anthony and Nick Rulli to pay their brother Frank and the Rulli Bros. Inc. corporation more than $50,000 in compensatory damages, $1 million in punitive damages and $113,763 in rent.
A spokeswoman for Anthony Rulli referred a reporter to his attorney, Rick Zellers, who did not return a call.
In the complaint Frank Rulli accuses brothers Anthony and Nick Rulli of excluding him from the affairs of Rulli Bros. Inc., the corporation and partnership that runs the Boardman Rulli Bros. store. He argues his brothers have "planned, schemed, conspired" to violate their fiduciary duties and to "waste, dissipate and improperly use" assets of the corporation.
The lawsuit also alleges that Anthony and Nick Rulli, as partners with Frank Rulli in a real estate leasing business called The F.A.N. Co., have refused to collect fair market rent for the Boardman Rulli Bros. store.
The case is assigned to Judge Stephen A. Yarbrough.
Frank Rulli bought the Boardman store building and property for $825,000 at a real estate auction last October.
Judge William Bodoh of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Youngstown had ordered the property sold as part of a plan to reorganize the debts of Anthony Rulli and his wife, Karen.
The couple filed a personal Chapter 11 bankruptcy case in February 2000.
Proceeds from the property sale were to be divided equally among the three brothers, with Anthony's share to go to his creditors.
However, Judge Bodoh's order approving the sale stated that his court would not resolve any remaining dispute about ownership of the property.
He wrote that possession disputes would have to be resolved by another court because the bankruptcy court does not have jurisdiction over that matter.