EAST LIVERPOOL - The city school board has voted against appealing an order by Municipal Court Judge Melissa Byers Emmerling in a small claims lawsuit filed against the district by a local resident who bought tickets to a concert that was never held.
In her October 22 ruling, Byers Emmerling found the district and concert promoter Terrence Smitherman jointly liable for refunding $170 in tickets to Guy Taylor of Pennsylvania Avenue. Taylor was seeking $3,000 in damages.
About 250 tickets were sold, bringing in $6,550 for the concert by rap artist Bow Wow.
The concert was canceled by Superintendent James Herring who said Smitherman had failed to abide by a contract for renting school facilities by not providing mandatory insurance coverage.
The judge, however, ruled that the contract did not specify such coverage was required, and there was no proof that Smitherman had ever been told he had a specific deadline by which to provide insurance.
Smitherman had not refunded money to ticket holders after the cancellation, saying he had spent the ticket sale money for preparations/promotion for the concert.
At the end of its regular meeting Monday, when the board prepared to enter executive session for personnel issues, Herring said he also wanted to discuss pending or imminent court action, which is allowed by law, providing the body's attorney is present.
Board member Richard Wolf pointed out to Herring that such a closed-door session could only be held with an attorney, and Herring said, "I do have correspondence from an attorney," but was told, "That doesn't count," by board member Robert Estell, who added, "If you have him on the phone, it counts."
Herring conceded, agreeing the executive session would be for a personnel matter only.
When the board returned about 40 minutes later, it was with an addendum to the agenda with a recommendation from Herring to appeal Byers Emmerling's decision to the Seventh District Court of Appeal.
Estell moved and board member Larry Walton seconded the motion, but Wolf said he would not support the recommendation, saying, "I see no point in us spending more money on an attorney. We lost the case in small claims court. If anyone is due money, and the court awarded it to them, it will undoubtedly be less than the attorney's fees."
In the voting, only Estell supported the motion, with Walton, Wolf and board President Janice Martin opposed. Board member Scott Dieringer was absent.
Treasurer Todd Puster was asked later the cost of the attorney who defended the district in the small claims suit, but he said the district has not yet been billed for those legal services.