Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Mansfield Law Director John A. Spon today announced that lawsuits have been filed against a negligent property owner and his company, whose homes fell into disrepair and were subsequently demolished by the City of Mansfield. The lawsuit seeks to reimburse the city for costs associated with two properties in Mansfield, which were recently demolished.
“The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has designated significant resources from the National Mortgage Settlement to combat the blight of abandoned houses across Ohio,” DeWine said. “However, not all abandoned properties are the result of the housing crisis or banking practices. There are occasionally egregious cases where negligent property owners have contributed to this problem and should be held liable for these demolition costs, instead of their neighbors and fellow taxpayers. These filings represent two such egregious cases.”
“These lawsuits represent a cooperative effort between the Attorney General’s Office and the Mansfield Law Director’s Office to recover publicly expended funds necessary to preserve the safety of our community," Spon said. "We are grateful to Attorney General Mike DeWine for his efforts in benefitting the City of Mansfield."
(NOTE: To read the lawsuits, scroll down to the bottom of this story and click on the links.)
A lawsuit was filed in Mansfield Municipal Court against Donald Graber, who owned a property at 187-189 West Second Street in Mansfield. A separate lawsuit was filed against McPherson Apartments, of which Graber is the sole partner, which owned property at 135-137 Willow Street. Despite being cited for code violations for several years, the owners took no action to address the violations or demolish the properties. After receiving notice that the properties needed to be demolished, the owners took no further action, and the responsibility for the demolitions ultimately fell on the City of Mansfield.
The lawsuits seek to collect the debt incurred by the City of Mansfield in demolishing the two properties, which totals $17,746.44.
DeWine has assisted several other Ohio cities in filing collections lawsuits against negligent property owners for demolition costs, including Dayton, Newark, Springfield, and Warren.
DeWine has worked with Mansfield and Richland County officials since he created the Demolition Grant Program in 2012. The Demolition Grant Program helps stabilize and improve communities by removing blighted and abandoned homes with funds from the National Mortgage Settlement reached in 2012. While an exact total of abandoned homes is not available, conservative estimates place the number of vacant and abandoned properties in Ohio in need of immediate demolition at 100,000. DeWine previously attended one such demolition in Mansfield.