Attorneys for Chill-Can Say They’ve Complied With Document Requests

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Attorneys representing the M.J. Joseph Development Corp. say their client has complied with a court order to provide documents and information to the city’s attorneys related to the stalled Chill-Can project.

According to a court filing March 31, attorneys Brian Kopp and Justin Markota informed a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that their client has provided amended responses to interrogatories, document and admission requests that city attorneys say they asked for months ago.

The city is engaged in a legal battle with the developer over the Chill-Can project on the East Side — a proposed $20 million campus that was to bring 237 jobs to Youngstown by August 2021 and begin production of the world’s first self-chilling can.

Thus far, few jobs have been created. Three buildings at the site remain empty, and not a single can has been produced.

In March 2021, the city informed M.J. Joseph and its CEO, Mitchell Joseph, that the developer was in breach of two incentive agreements it signed with the city in 2017. Among the incentives were a $1.5 million development grant and property tax abatements awarded the project, under the condition that the developer meet certain benchmarks and create the number of jobs it promised.

The city threatened legal action to reclaim the incentives, land, and other expenses it committed to assist the project.

M.J. Joseph sued the city in April 2021, claiming it had no right to reclaim the incentives or the land according to the agreements, court papers show. The city countersued a month later and is seeking more than $2.8 million in damages.

In February 2022, the city filed a motion seeking sanctions against M.J. Joseph, alleging it had failed to produce documents instrumental in its case against the company. On March 9, the court ordered M.J. Joseph to deliver the requested material. A subsequent ruling gave M.J. Joseph Development until March 31 to produce the requested information.

These documents include communications, financial records, corporate documents, documentation of ownership, tax return information, and internal notes and records related to the Chill-Can project, the filing says.

During a Good Morning Youngstown breakfast earlier this week, Mayor Jamael Tito Brown held up a bottle of water provided by Trivium Packaging and quipped, “Can you make this chill for me? I’m kind of looking for someone to do that for me.”

The case is set for trial on Oct. 17, 2022.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.