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Joseph Robert Grenga v. Youngstown State University

November 1, 2011

JOSEPH ROBERT GRENGA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
YOUNGSTOWN STATE UNIVERSITY,
DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Court of Claims of Ohio. (C.C. No. 2010-10033)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: French, J.

Cite as Grenga v. Youngstown State Univ.,

(REGULAR CALENDAR)

DECISION

{¶1} Plaintiff-appellant, Joseph Robert Grenga ("Grenga"), appeals the judgment of the Court of Claims of Ohio, which granted summary judgment in favor of defendant-appellee, Youngstown State University ("YSU"), on Grenga's claims of trespass and invasion of privacy. For the following reasons, we affirm.

{¶2} In early 2007, Gregory G. Morgione ("Morgione"), YSU's Associate General Counsel, was aware that the city of Youngstown (the "city") wanted to purchase property owned by Grenga, located at 128 West Rayen Avenue (the "property"), for the purpose of constructing a public road through the YSU campus. On or about March 8, 2007, Morgione and YSU employee James Mineo ("Mineo") accompanied city representatives during their inspection of the property. One of Grenga's employees met the city and YSU representatives, unlocked the front entrance to the property, and allowed them to inspect the property. In September 2007, the city adopted a resolution declaring the necessity of and its intention to appropriate the property, and, on January 29, 2008, the city filed a petition in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas to appropriate the property.

{¶3} Grenga commenced this action on August 18, 2010, by filing a complaint in the Court of Claims against the following defendants: (1) YSU; (2) Morgione, individually and in his capacity as YSU's General Counsel; (3) Mineo, individually and in his capacity as a YSU employee; (4) the Attorney General of Ohio ("Attorney General"); and (5) various John Does. Grenga alleged that the defendants entered upon his land without privilege or authority, in violation of R.C. 2911.21(A), on March 8 and April 10, 2007, and October 30, 2008, as well as on several other unknown dates. Grenga's complaint purports to allege claims of criminal and civil trespass, invasion of privacy, and illegal search, but also alleges violations of Grenga's rights to due process and equal protection under the Ohio and United States constitutions. In a Pre-Screening Entry, the trial court sua sponte dismissed Grenga's claims against Morgione, Mineo, and the John Doe defendants pursuant to R.C. 2743.02(E), which states that only the state may be a defendant in an original action in the Court of Claims.

{¶4} On August 31, 2010, YSU and the Attorney General filed a motion to dismiss Grenga's complaint, pursuant to Civ.R. 12(B)(1) and 12(B)(6), for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. They argued that the Court of Claims lacked jurisdiction to consider Grenga's constitutional and criminal claims, that Grenga's claims that accrued before August 18, 2008, were time-barred by the two-year statute of limitations set forth in R.C. 2743.16(A), and that the complaint set forth no factual allegations against the Attorney General. Grenga agreed to dismiss the Attorney General as a defendant, but otherwise opposed the motion to dismiss.

{¶5} On October 13, 2010, the trial court entered a partial dismissal. The court dismissed Grenga's constitutional and criminal claims for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and dismissed as time-barred all claims that accrued prior to August 18, 2008, two years before Grenga filed his complaint, pursuant to R.C. 2743.16(A). The trial court concluded, however, that the allegations in Grenga's complaint arguably stated claims for civil trespass and invasion of privacy. Thereafter, YSU filed its answer to Grenga's complaint.

{¶6} After the trial court's partial dismissal, Grenga moved the court for leave to file an amended complaint, although he neither identified the amendments he wished to make nor appended a copy of a proposed amended pleading to his motion. Grenga stated only that leave would not prejudice YSU and would further the policy of deciding cases on the merits. YSU opposed Grenga's motion for leave to amend his complaint.

{¶7} On November 8, 2010, YSU filed a motion for summary judgment, supported by an affidavit from Morgione. YSU argued that no YSU employees entered Grenga's property after March 8, 2007, more than two years before Grenga filed this action. In his affidavit, Morgione stated that he did not enter the property after March 8, 2007, while Grenga remained the owner, and he was unaware of any other YSU employee who subsequently entered onto the property on behalf of YSU while Grenga remained the owner. Accordingly, YSU argued that, as a matter of law, Grenga's claims arising from YSU employees entering upon his property were time-barred by the twoyear statute of limitations applicable to claims in the Court of Claims.

{¶8} Grenga opposed YSU's motion for summary judgment and, on December 2, 2010, filed his own motion for summary judgment. In opposition to YSU's motion, Grenga submitted his own affidavit, an affidavit of Fredrick Joseph Cannell, and a letter addressed to Grenga from the city's Deputy Law Director. The letter, dated January 14, 2009, informed Grenga that the city's appraiser, the County Auditor's appraiser, and their authorized representatives intended to enter the property for the purpose of appraising and documenting the property on January 19, 2009. In his affidavit, Grenga states that he believes Morgione and Mineo entered the property in January 2009, according to the January 14, 2009 letter. Grenga argued that Morgione's statement that he and Mineo accompanied city representatives during their inspection of the property demonstrates that they entered the building on or about January 19, 2009.

{¶9} On November 17, 2010, Grenga filed a Notice of Deemed Admissions and Motion for Default Judgment. Grenga argued that YSU failed to respond timely to requests for admissions and that the matters upon which he requested admissions were, therefore, deemed admitted pursuant to Civ.R. 36(A). Grenga also claimed that he was entitled to default judgment as a result of YSU's alleged failure to respond properly to his requests. YSU responded that it timely and appropriately answered Grenga's discovery requests when it mailed those answers on November 8, 2010, as evidenced by a notice of service filed with the court.

{ΒΆ10} On December 9, 2010, the trial court stayed this action, pending final disposition of a connected action in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas, but ordered ...


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