Plaintiff in Spooky Nook civil suits files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The civil lawsuit against Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill has taken a new turn as the plaintiff filed for bankruptcy.

PCS & Build filed on March 25 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Ohio for Chapter 7, also known as liquidation bankruptcy, the most common type of bankruptcy.

This type of bankruptcy allows a person, or in this case a company, to wipe clean debts — though liens on the property would remain — and the bankruptcy process could take several months.

Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill is a $165 million transformational two-building, 1.2 million-square-foot mega-complex that has repurposed the former Champion Mill paper plant into the country’s largest indoor sports complex, which also features, among other amenities, a conference center and hotel. Last summer, thousands of people attended events most every weekend at Spooky Nook.

On Feb. 10, 2023, PCS &Build filed its first lawsuit against Spooky Nook, and its second lawsuit on July 12, 2023. Subsequently, 11 subcontractors filed suits against Spooky Nook for their work.

This initial civil suit mostly surrounds the catastrophic collapse of what was called Building 500, a field dome that was to be a pre-engineered metal building. On March 26, 2021, strong winds blew through Hamilton, leveling all the steel beams erected. No one was injured in the collapse, but neighbors told the Journal-News at the time it sounded like a bombing.

In the second suit, PCS & Build cites multiple issues related to the building on the east side of North B Street which houses the conference center and hotel, and the plaintiff wants the building to be sold at auction as they seek to recover a mechanic’s lien of nearly $3.96 million, plus fees and interest.

Overall, PCS is seeking nearly $15.9 million, according to the two suits, and 11 subcontractors are seeking a collective $6.4 million.

With a bankruptcy filing comes what’s known as an automatic stay, which is a provision that temporarily prevents creditors, collection agencies, government entities, and others from pursuing debtors for money that they are owed.

Though the impact of the bankruptcy filing on the lawsuits is uncertain ― it also impacts the suit against PCS & Build by investor Steve Coon, who’s developed many Hamilton properties in the past dozen years ― it will delay the cases as a bankruptcy case could take several months.

Spooky Nook Sports attorneys and the attorneys for several subcontractors either have filed or will file requests to be exempt from the automatic stay, according to court documents.

While the future of the case is unknown at this time, Spooky Nook plans to continue to pursue its claims against Nationwide, which served as PCS’s surety and guaranteed PCS’s performance and payments to subcontractors under the construction bonds it issued.

“The owners anticipate that the subcontractors and suppliers left unpaid by PCS will also pursue claims against Nationwide and the owners will continue to support this effort,” according to a statement from Spooky Nook.

The company also plans to seek recovery against PCS in bankruptcy.

“The owners were disappointed to learn from PCS’s bankruptcy disclosures of its lack of sufficient operating capital to meet its obligations to the owners, subcontractors, and suppliers at Spooky Nook, and that PCS owes significant amounts of money to contractors and suppliers on PCS projects unrelated to Spooky Nook,” according to the company. “The owners intend to assure that the investigatory tools available in the bankruptcy process are used efficiently and for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

PCS & Build’s attorney, Michael Frantz Jr. of Frantz Ward LLP, said he’s waiting for authorization from his client to comment on the new development in the civil case.

But the bankruptcy isn’t just impacting the civil suits, countersuits and subcontractors. It’s impacting those who have used PCS & Build for its contractor services, like Municipal Brew Works, which had a separate contract with PCS for their second location at Spooky Nook Champion Conference Center.

The contractor has yet to finish the walk-in cooler, said Municipal Brew Works co-owner Jim Goodman, adding they have not paid their last amount due and have submitted a claim with their insurance carrier.

“They’ve abandoned trying to make this right with us, so they’ve not been paid their last installment,” he said.

Goodman said their cooler “is a mess” as there is a lot of water damage and condensation from what they claim is poor design and construction. In a video shown to the Journal-News, the ceiling of the cooler is both cracked and bubbling in areas, and at times, water drains through the ceiling due to condensation build-up.

“We have the money set aside and ready to pay if they ever decide to complete our job,” Goodman said.

According to PCS’s accounts receivable document filed with its bankruptcy, that final payment is $38,441. The document also lists more than $5.8 million owed on projects from communities and businesses in Ohio and West Virginia, including the Spooky Nook project.

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