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Family businessmen file lawsuits against each other

LISBON — Two Franklin Township businesses from the same family are the subject of dueling lawsuits filed in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court over leased property and mining rights.

The lawsuits filed on behalf of Summitcrest Holdings and Summitville Tile talk about the history of the businesses and how the property was split between brothers Fred H. Johnson II and Peter Johnson a generation ago. Now Summitville Tile is operated by David and Bruce Johnson, who are brothers, while Summitcrest Holdings is owned by Fred H. Johnson III.

The dispute hinges around leases of various land and whether Summitville Tile has the leases, rights and permits from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to mine certain parcels for clay and shale for their business. Additionally, the lawsuits make claims regarding whether mining activities are being properly conducted including if industrial waste and scrap dumping on the Summitcrest Holdings parcels. Finally, Summitcrest Holdings questions whether reclamation efforts are being properly done on some of the leased property.

Allegations in both of the lawsuits include breach of contract and trespassing accusation on the properties in question. The exhibits for the lawsuit include deed transactions of various tracts of the property, leases of mining rights and photographs, including satellite photographs.

At one point it was alleged the family dispute turned physical. The two owners of Summitville Tile claim their cousin, Fred H. Johnson III, also known as Sam, went onto leased property and ordered employees of Summitville Tile off the property in June. Then in July, it is alleged the same cousin drove his all-terrain vehicle in front of the truck of an independent contractor, to stop him from working on mining and reclaiming operations. Finally, it was alleged that Sam Johnson charged at David Johnson, knocking the phone he was using to record the incident from his hand, and proceeded to try to kick him before Bruce Johnson stepped in.

Summitcrest Holdings is seeking money for damages in excess of $25,000, a ruling on the validity of leases and an injunction against the allegedly unauthorized dumping of industrial waste. Summitville Tile also is requesting damages in excess of $25,000 for alleged interference of their business operations and trespassing, a temporary restraining order and injunction, as well as a declaration about the leases, including as to the reclamation of property and timetable involved in that.

Both Common Pleas Court judges Megan Bickerton and Scott Washam have filed a request for the lawsuits to be handled by a visiting judge.

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