YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A United States District Court judge has made several judgments in a lawsuit filed against the city of Youngstown for the demolition of a downtown building.

The historic building on Oak Hill Avenue was owned by Two Bridges, which is held by Ronald Eiselstein and Chris Prater. In 2020, the building that once housed Anthony’s on the River was torn down.

The demolition raised questions among city council members and also led to a dispute on who should pay the bill.

The owning company of the building filed a lawsuit against the city of Youngstown claiming it was not properly notified of the demolition and that its constitutional rights were violated.

Tuesday, Judge Benita Pearson filed two summary judgments.

Count 1

In count one, Two Bridges claimed that the city did not properly notify them of the demolition and that the city ordinance, which states the city does not need to provide notice, is unconstitutional because it conflicts with a state ordinance.

However, Judge Pearson ruled in favor of the city, claiming the state ordinance also states that there may be situations in which notice does not need to be given.

Count 2

Count two claims that Two Bridges’ 14th Amendment constitutional rights were violated.

The 14th Amendment states that “No State shall… deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

The judgment states, “Essentially, procedural due process contains the opportunity to be heard “at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner” with the most basic notice of the deprivation and an opportunity to meet it.”

Judge Pearson decided the court could not judge on either side of count two, “because there are genuine disputes,” therefore this count will go to trial.

Statutory immunity

The city of Youngstown claimed that under Ohio Revised Code §2744, the city is entitled to statutory immunity.

Under Ohio Revised Code §2744, municipalities have immunity for cases brought against them. However, Two Bridges countered back claiming this does not apply because another portion of the statute provides an exception.

The exception states specifically: “This chapter does not apply to, and shall not be construed to apply to, the following: …Civil claims based upon alleged violations of the constitution or statutes of the United States.”

Judge Pearson ruled in favor of Two Bridges, stating that the city cannot assert statutory immunity to protect it from Two Bridges’ federal constitutional claim.

A pre-trial was set for May 11. The trial is set for June 6.