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Colaprete v. Morris

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District

September 9, 2013

RONALD S. COLAPRETE Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
MARTIN J. MORRIS, et al. Defendants-Appellees

Civil Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2012CV01088

For Plaintiff-Appellant ROY H. BATISTA.

For Defendant-Appellees JASON BING.

JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P. J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.

OPINION

Wise, J.

{¶1} Appellant Ronald S. Colaprete appeals the January 29, 2013, decision of the Stark County Common Pleas Court affirming the Magistrate's Decision.

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE

{¶2} The relevant facts are as follows:

{¶3} In 1996, Appellant Ronald Colaprete entered into an agreement with Appellee Paul Morris for the rental of two storage units (Unit 1 and Unit 2) owned by Appellees Paul Morris and Martin Morris. The storage units were located at the Morrises' rental facility on Harmont Ave. Although labeled as Unit 1 and Unit 2, the storage units were not physically separated and essentially comprised one large storage unit. The initial rental price for the storage units was $350.00 per month. By 2010, the rental price for the storage units had increased to $450.00 per month. Colaprete and Paul Morris entered into a written lease agreement for the storage units. However, neither party can produce a copy of such agreement.

{¶4} Throughout their business relationship, Colaprete would go for months without paying rent on Units 1 and 2, but would make large payments to satisfy any arrears and often advance payments on the units. This practice was accepted by Paul Morris until April 2011, when Colaprete was $3, 350.00 behind in rental payments.

{¶5} Paul Morris notified Colaprete that he needed to make his payments current or he would be locked out of the units. Upon his failure to make his rental payments current, Colaprete was locked out of Units 1 and 2 in April 2011.

{¶6} At the time of the lockout, Appellees took items, without Colaprete's permission, from Units 1 and 2 and sold them as scrap, for which they received $3, 054.00.

{¶7} Although Colaprete was locked out of Units it and 2, Colaprete continued to have items stored in these units until September, 2012.

{¶8} Colaprete did not make any rental payments for the continued storage of the items in Units t and 2.

{¶9} At the time he was locked out of Units 1 and 2, a 1978 Ford Thunderbird in excellent condition and a 1982 Lincoln Continental in above-average condition were stored in the units. The value of such vehicles was $7900.00 and $2550.00, respectively.

{¶10} On April 5, 2012, Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint against Defendants Martin J. Morris, Paul R. Morris, Morris Brothers, Non Ferrous and Morris Rentals. Colaprete's Complaint contained one count for conversion seeking $129, 226.61 in damages.

{¶11} On May 7, 2012, Defendant Morris Rentals filed an Answer and Counterclaim and all Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint.

{¶12} On June 11, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Response to the Motion to Dismiss.

{¶13} On June 12, 2012, the trial court denied the Motion to Dismiss.

{¶14} On July 19, 2012 the remaining Defendants filed their Answers.

{¶15} On August 13, 2012 the matter was for trial on September 24, 2012. Plaintiff at this point engaged counsel.

{¶16} On September 27, 2012, a bench trial commenced before a magistrate. At the trial, the magistrate heard testimony from Appellant Colaprete and ...


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