ShareThis Page
News

City officials say lawsuit was intended to embarrass them

| Thursday, July 20, 2006

Officials named individually in a contractor's lawsuit against Connellsville say the move was intended to "embarrass, harass, humiliate and demean" them.

In a suit filed May 12, Ritenour & Sons Construction Co. accuses Mayor Judy Reed and Councilmen David McIntire and Terry Bodes of breaching an agreement between the firm and the city.

They were sued in their capacity as city officials and individually. Ritenour & Sons is seeking $21,666 plus attorney fees and court costs.

Separate responses filed Friday by Reed, McIntire and Bodes with the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas say the lawsuit is "frivolous and vexatious in nature."

Although the responses were filed separately, they are identical in content.

The responses further allege that Ritenour & Sons failed to set forth evidence that Reed, McIntire or Bodes "acted in an individual capacity with regard to any matters" in the complaint.

And because of the lawsuit, all three have suffered "emotional distress and mental anguish, embarrassment, harassment and humiliation," the response alleges.

They also claim to have "suffered such mental and emotional distress that (their) ability to concentrate and work has been diminished and (their) enjoyment of life compromised."

Ritenour & Sons' primary claim is the city, along with Reed, McIntire and Bodes, failed to honor a "contract" council approved last year for the company to demolish a vacant downtown building.

The building, which housed the former Comfort Corner Shoe Store and several apartments, was heavily damaged by fire in February 2005.

The lawsuit says after Ritenour submitted a bid of $38,000 for the job, the city adopted a resolution Oct. 15, 2005, to accept the proposal.

But the city denies the claim, countering that acceptance of the bid was contingent upon review by then-solicitor Joseph Ferens, who never approved the bid and subsequently was replaced. The caveat was to settle how the project would be funded.

So, according to the city's response, a contract never existed.

The building's owner, Illinois-based mortgage company HSBC of North America, donated $30,000 to the city for the demolition, as well as the property, after the city accepted Ritenour & Sons' bid.

The city then hired another contractor, Rod Allen Demolition, and the work was completed in April 2006 for $26,000.

Bodes and McIntire were not on council when Ritenour's bid was accepted in October 2005. They were named in the lawsuit for voting at an April 2006 meeting along with Reed to perform an emergency demolition. Reed then hired Rod Allen.

The city's response was filed June 1. No counsel of record was recorded on the document, and counsel was not named on the Reed, McIntire or Bodes individual filings.

Gretchen Mundorff, a Connellsville attorney, is the city's solicitor. The city is seeking damages in the form of unspecified attorney's fees and costs.

Ritenour & Sons has 20 days from July 14 to file a response. A court date has not been set.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me