Company sues D&L in cleanup dispute

YOUNGSTOWN – A North Canton company involved in the cleanup of an oilfield waste spill in a tributary of the Mahoning River sued D&L Energy on Friday, claiming that D&L broke its promise to pay for their services because of an impending Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

The complaint by Sunpro Inc. was filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court and assigned to Judge John Durkin.

D&L is owned by Benadict W. Lupo, 62, who was in federal court across the street Friday for a pretrial hearing in a criminal case where he is accused of directing the dumping of oilfield waste several times from D&L’s Salt Springs Road facility into a tributary of the Mahoning River.

State investigators, working on a tip, witnessed D&L employees dumping the waste on Jan. 31.

Lupo, of Poland, was not named in the suit. Instead, D&L’s president, Nicholas C. Paparodis, was named.

The suit states that Sunpro was asked to help clean up the waste after it was discovered and that D&L paid $175,000 up front and promised more payments – including using an anticipated $1.8 million in proceeds from its interest in a well in North Lima – to help pay for Sunpro’s services. The suit claims D&L assured Sunpro that it would pay Sunpro, and that D&L was solvent.

Because of those assurances, Sunpro performed services that cost more than $1 million, according to the suit.

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

Also according to the suit, Paparodis told Sunpro that Lupo needs at least $500,000 to defend himself against the federal charges, and that it would sell the well without clauses explaining Sunpro’s interests in the well.

Sunpro is seeking $1 million plus interest and punitive damages beyond $25,000.

Durkin 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 9:30 a.m. March 29.

A call to D&L was not returned.