Mill Creek, former cafe operators, reach settlement in lawsuit

Staff report


Mill Creek MetroParks has reached a settlement with a couple who sued the park district and claimed it terminated their contract to operate a cafe at Fellows Riverside Gardens in retaliation for their decision to speak out against the park’s executive director.

The initial complaint filed in U.S. District Court by Patricia Tinkler and Mitchell Lynch of Friends Roastery asked for $2.2 million, but the parties have yet to submit the details of the settlement to the court.

The park board terminated Friends’ lease about a year and a half before it was set to expire.

The move came after Tinkler and Lynch criticized what they called the “dramatic upheavals” that followed the appointment of Aaron Young as the park district’s executive director.

Lynch said Young told him Friends had become detrimental to Mill Creek MetroParks and that they had had “three strikes.”

Those strikes allegedly included Lynch liking a Facebook post that criticized Young, and Tinkler telling someone the controversy around Young hurt their business.

The third strike occurred when Lynch told an intern he heard she had an affair with a park employee, the complaint said.

Judge Benita Y. Pearson of U.S. District Court in Youngstown, who presides over the case, ordered the parties to submit the terms of the settlement to the court by April 30.

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