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McKelvey plans to offer common-sense settlement



Published: Fri, February 28, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The mayor said that even Allied knows the court award is far in excess of the gravel's value.

By ROGER G. SMITH

CITY HALL REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The city is considering a return to court to seek alternatives for satisfying a $3.5 million judgment.

That could mean a payment plan over several years or involve paying the whole debt, and more, theoretically -- in gravel.

The city can go back to the common pleas or appeals courts about paying the judgment, said Law Director John McNally IV.

That's despite the Ohio Supreme Court's decision last week not to review the case that produced the $2 million judgment. The cost adds up to $3.5 million with interest.

Allied Erecting & amp; Dismantling Co. on Poland Avenue won the case.

The case

At issue was ownership of gravel along the bed of the former Pittsburgh & amp; Lake Erie Railroad. In 1993, the city bought the property. Allied bought items such as rails and ties. Each side said it owned the gravel.

The 7th District Court of Appeals ultimately decided the city must pay the company for the gravel.

The city will ask the courts for a livable payment plan, said Mayor George M. McKelvey. The city can't pay the judgment this year "without significant damage to city services," he said.

McKelvey said first, the city will propose what he calls a common-sense settlement. He doesn't expect that Allied will accept, however.

The offer

Allied wants all its money now, McKelvey said. Instead, the city will offer Allied double the amount of gravel at issue in the lawsuit. Based on a jury's award of $2 million, the city's offer will amount to $4 million in gravel, he said.

Allied likely won't take such a deal, however, McKelvey said. That's because court testimony pegged the gravel's value about $100,000, he said.

Even Allied knows the court award is far in excess of the gravel's value, which is why the company won't accept such a deal, he said.

The appeals court should accept such a settlement, however, if it follows its own logic, McKelvey said.

The appeals court reinstated the $2 million award after a common pleas court judge set aside the jury's decision. If the appeals court believes the gravel is worth $2 million enough to reinstate the award, it must believe double the gravel is worth $4 million, he said.

A refusal just shows how outrageous the court decisions have been, McKelvey said.

"That just shows the absurdity of what happened here," he said. "Talk about injustice. Common sense didn't prevail here."




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