After a full morning of jury selection involving a large number of 75 to 80 or more jurors, many of whom are disqualified for personal, professional or even family ties to the defendant or potential witnesses, a 10-person jury including three yet-to-be-named substitutes heard opening argument in the tort case “Warren Economic Development Authority” (EDA, WC EDA) v. Donald F. Poe/Earthright Energy (ERE) and defense counterclaim against the ‘EDA.
Plaintiff EDA is seeking $945,000 in unreimbursed payments for solar panel installation work that he claims was promised in writing without charge or was never approved or completed. The disputed work or non-work relates to contracts for the installation of solar panels at the EDA office complex on Kendrick Lane, at the nine school facilities of the Warren County Public School System, and at the Baugh Drive warehouse in the ‘EDA in the North Side Industrial Corridor.
As plaintiff’s co-attorney Karissa Kaseorg noted in her opening arguments, Poe’s Earthright Energy-Commercial LLC, through EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald, received a total of more than 1 $.2 million, but returned $343,000 of that total. That leaves a balance of $945,037.21 received under false pretences unreturned, Kaseorg told the jury.
However, in his opening statement, defense attorney William Ashwell used that $343,000 to argue that his client was acting in good faith in the series of solar installation contracts between EDA and the ERE. He pointed out that the money was returned by the defendants when they were told the Baugh Drive warehouse contract would not go through.
Ashwell also informed the jury that the defendants would seek a counterclaim of $27.3 million against the EDA. It was the amount of an aborted contract, an attorney for the contract plaintiff asserted that the EDA or its then-executive director had no authority to enter into, with the county public school system for the installation of system-wide solar panels.
Responding to the plaintiff’s somewhat briefer opening statement, defense attorney Ashwell described these opening statements as the “road map” or “theory” of each side of their respective cases to present to the jury throughout. of the week. And like in April Petty’s defense the previous week, Ashwell laid out a defense roadmap in which the multi-year $21 million financial scandal conspiracy that Jennifer McDonald allegedly orchestrated by the EDA positioned her client as a victim rather than a co-conspirator.
By contrast, again echoing his strategy of the previous week, in his opening statement, EDA’s attorney focused on presenting a paper trail of documents he told the jury that he supported his allegations of fraud, conversion, conspiracy, unjust enrichment and ultra vires, the latter being a legal term. for exceeding his authorized authority, against the defendants and their alleged co-conspirator McDonald.
These opening arguments began at 1:30 p.m. after a one-hour lunch break. At their conclusion at 2:45 p.m., Judge Bruce D. Albertson dismissed the jury with instructions to be ready for a 9 a.m. start to what will likely be several days of highly contested testimony and evidence presented to get through these different plaintiffs and defence. “roadmaps” civil liability.
Asked by the judge about the timing of his case, EDA lead counsel Cullen Seltzer named 10 witnesses the plaintiff plans to call in support of his case. He estimated that depending on the length of the cross-examinations, the EDA case could be over by 4:30 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. Defense attorney Ashwell told the court his case would likely take up most of Wednesday, with a possible postponement until Thursday. Before dismissing the jury, Judge Albertson told them to prepare for a few longer days in the evening to settle the case and reach a verdict this week.