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Chill-Can trial set for Oct. 2022

YOUNGSTOWN — The dueling lawsuits filed by the Chill Can property owner and the city are set to go to trial a little more than a year from now.

During a Tuesday telephone conference call, Magistrate Timothy G. Welsh of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court set the trial date for Oct. 17, 2022. R. Scott Krichbaum is the judge assigned to the cases.

Like all civil cases, Welsh sent the lawsuits to mediation. A final pretrial hearing is set for Aug. 23, 2022, with all amended pleadings filed no later than Dec. 22.

The city filed a $2.8 million breach-of-contract lawsuit June 17 contending M.J. Joseph Development Corp. failed to live up to its promises to develop the site on the East Side.

Knowing the city’s lawsuit was coming, M.J. Joseph and its sister company, Joseph Manufacturing Co. Inc., both run by Mitchell Joseph, filed a May 24 lawsuit against the city to stop it from reclaiming a $1.5 million water and wastewater grant. That suit also contends the city doesn’t have any legal rights to money, property and buildings.

Joseph had said the project, which broke ground in November 2016, would cost about $18.8 million and be in full operation by 2018 to produce the world’s only self-chilling beverage can.

In a March 29 certified letter, the city informed Joseph he had 60 days to construct a number of buildings and hire about 150 workers or it would file a lawsuit. The city followed through June 17with the lawsuit that was postponed because of the Joseph legal action.

The city lawsuit not only seeks to get back $1.5 million in water and wastewater funds given to the companies, but it seeks other money.

The lawsuit wants $414,948.09 it spent on acquiring 15 properties it bought for the project, which also include relocation expenses. It also lists $318,532.71 in demolition and abatement costs and an estimated $575,000 loss and counting in income tax revenue from the project’s failure.

City Law Director Jeff Limbian; Michael Durkin, the city’s superintendent of code enforcement and blight remediation; and Thomas Hull II, an attorney hired by the city for this case; toured the 21-acre site, both inside the three buildings and the exterior property, on Oct. 4.

Limbian said, as expected, the work at the property is incomplete with “empty shells” at two of the three buildings there.

City records from earlier this year listed two employees at the property. Two security officers were on site during the Oct. 4 tour by city representatives.

The business was to have employed 150 by now and eventually 237.

dskolnick@vindy.com

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