Plaintiffs line up against D&L energy company

WARREN – A Warren company that had been treating brine water collected in the cleanup of oilfield waste dumped into the Mahoning River has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the company where the dumping allegedly occurred.

In the suit filed last month in Trumbull Common Pleas Court, Patriot Water Treatment accuses D&L Energy of 2761 Salt Springs Road of paying only about half of its $103,008 invoice for water treatment Patriot provided in February. Patriot was hired to help treat water sucked out of storm sewers and Youngstown waterways after an employee of an affiliate company of D&L Energy was accused of dumping the waste down the drain.

“Despite repeated demands for full payment, defendant D&L Energy has failed to timely remit the unpaid balance,” the suit alleges. It claims D&L still owes $52,635. Patriot is seeking the money owed plus interest, costs and attorney fees.

D&L owner Ben Lupo, who also owns affiliate company Hardrock Excavating, is facing federal criminal charges on accusations that he ordered an employee to discharge the waste in a storm sewer. Lupo, 62, of Poland, and the employee, Michael Guesman, 34, of Cortland, are charged with violating the Federal Clean Water Act.

Lupo and Guesman remain free on bond. Both have pleaded innocent to the charges. Messages left seeking comment on the suits at D&L offices have not been returned.

The suit marks at least the third time in recent weeks that companies claiming they are owed more than $680,000 for work on the spill cleanup have filed suits for non-payment against Lupo and/or D&L Energy.

Tom’s Sewer & Drain Service and Heavy Duty Industrial Services, both at 2355 Watson Marshall Road, McDonald, filed a lawsuit last week in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. The companies also seek punitive damages.

In that case, defendants are listed as D&L and related companies Mohawk Oilfield Services, Mohawk Disposal Management and Hardrock Excavating, all at 2761 Salt Springs Road, along with D&L executive vice president Nicholas C. Paparodis and Ben and Holly Serensky Lupo, identified as the principal officers of the other entity companies.

The McDonald companies state in their lawsuit they were paid $107,000 for the first week of work on Feb. 13, but instead of being paid the remainder of the bill, the companies were promised by the Lupos payment from $30 million from recently sold off mineral rights in Trumbull County.

Paparodis also assured the companies were solvent since it owned injection wells in North Lima that it intended to sell.

Earlier this month Sunpro Inc., a company from North Canton, filed similar action in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, seeking more than $1 million for cleanup work. Sunpro said in that suit that it had been paid $175,000 for initial cleanup work.

The Mahoning suit states D&L’s lawyers told Sunpro on March 11 that D&L would file Chapter 11 bankruptcy and they would sell its interest in the North Lima wells before the bankruptcy filing, which would keep the sale out of the review of a bankruptcy trustee.

Sunpro was granted a motion for a temporary restraining order prohibiting D&L from selling its interest in the North Lima well and set a hearing for a preliminary injunction for this morning.