Judge Closes City’s Case Against Chill Can

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – After nearly three years of litigation, the city’s court battle with the owners of the failed Chill Can development is now closed.

According to a judgment entry filed May 8, Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen Sweeney affirmed two earlier rulings against M.J. Joseph Development Corp. awarding the city $733,480.80 in sanctions and another $1,500,000 in damages.

“The city has chosen not to go forward on seeking any other additional relief above and beyond those two awards,” court papers say. “Accordingly, all claims and counterclaims in this case are fully resolved.”

M.J. Joseph Development, of Irvine, Calif., and CEO Mitchell Joseph in October 2016 announced it would build an $18 million complex devoted to research and development of self-chilling beverage cans. However, just three empty buildings sit at the site after the city spent considerable money supporting the project.

The developer has since walked away from the project and any litigation against the company. Thus far, M.J. Joseph has not paid on the judgment, has ignored court rulings, and its attorneys have resigned.

In 2017, the city awarded the Chill Can project a $1.5 million development grant and spent another $733,480.80 in relocation, acquisition and demolition costs to clear 22 acres on the city’s East Side to make room for the project. In return, M.J. Joseph promised to create 237 jobs. According to city records, it technically created one position.

Anticipating court action, M.J. Joseph filed a complaint in June 2021 against the city, alleging the city did not have the authority to collect monetary damages or was entitled to the land. The city countersued for $2.8 million, demanding a refund of its development grant, relocation and acquisition expenses and computed lost income tax revenue.

A separate foreclosure case against the company remains open.

Last year, Columbus-based engineering firm MS Consultants filed a foreclosure action against M.J. Joseph’s property and buildings at the project site on the city’s East Side. MS Consultants filed a complaint in January 2023 seeking $322,907.80 from M.J. Joseph, arguing it was not paid for work it completed at the project site.

In March 2023, the court ordered M.J. Joseph Development Corp. to pay MS Consultants the full amount plus 18% interest. 

A second litigant, David Briskey of Sunbury, Ohio, joined in the foreclosure matter after a Franklin County court awarded him $2.582 million related to dealings with Mitchell Joseph and his companies. The money is related to loans Briskey tendered to M.J. Joseph Development and other Joseph entities through promissory notes or verbal agreements, court papers say.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.