Strollo Architects sues Youngstown Catholic Diocese for breach of contract

Strollo Architects submitted an invoice to the Diocese; but the Diocese said because construction didn't begin, no contract had been entered

Cardinal Mooney High School

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – One of the leading Youngstown architectural firms has sued, among others, the Bishop of the Youngstown Catholic Diocese over what officials with the firm contend are contract issues with a proposal to build a new Cardinal Mooney High School.

The lawsuit was filed February 25, 2016, in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court by Strollo Architects, Inc., located at 201 West Federal St. in Youngstown. The lawsuit lists three defendants: the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, Bishop George Murry, and Cardinal Mooney High School.

Strollo Architects lawsuit against Youngstown Catholic Diocese

“There was never any contractual agreement with Mr. Strollo or his firm,” Bishop Murry wrote in a statement. “The (Cardinal Mooney) Board’s understanding was that he would be compensated only if the necessary funds had been raised and a contract for the construction of a new school had been awarded to his firm. Since that did not occur, the current lawsuit is being contested.”

The lawsuit lists seven counts: breach of contract, promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment, ratification, negligent misrepresentation, alter ego, and implied contract. Strollo Architects is demanding judgements of $25,000 per count, for a total of $175,000.

The lawsuit claims that in March 2012, Gregg Strollo, a 1973 Cardinal Mooney graduate and a principal member of Strollo Architects, presented a conceptual plan for a new building which included a rough floor plan and renderings. The meeting was attended by “Diocesan clerical and lay leadership… presided over by Bishop Murry.”

At another meeting in September 2013, the Cardinal Mooney Board “unanimously voted to accept the Design/Build mode for the project” and to prepare “marketing materials.” According to the filing, Strollo Architects would be doing part of the work, and that “the vote by the Board to accept the Proposal constituted the execution of contract,” and that “at no time did (Strollo Architects) offer or promise to perform the Schematic Design work free of charge.”

The lawsuit outlines the work Strollo Architects did on the project, and that it “provided Marketing Materials to the Board, well within the 50 days promised.”

On May 6, 2014, the lawsuit states that “Bishop Murry…announced the Project was terminated due to failure to raise the funds.”

Strollo Architects submitted an invoice to the Diocese in Jan. 2015. In April, the lawsuit states, Strollo received a letter from the Diocese stating “because construction was never begun, it was the position of the Diocese that no contract had ever been entered” and that “all of (Strollo’s) time and effort had been donated.”

“Mr. Strollo’s firm submitted an invoice for professional services in excess of $350,000,” wrote the Bishop in his statement. “The Cardinal Mooney Board is frankly stunned by the invoice and by the current legal action.”

When contacted by text message, Gregg Strollo wrote that he was “not allowed” to comment “on strict orders from counsel.”

The case was assigned to Judge Shirley Christian. No trial date has been set.

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