Warren, state sue to raze old St. Joe’s

WARREN – The city and Ohio’s attorney general sued a Florida company and its owners on Friday claiming they are responsible for the demolition of the former St. Joseph Riverside Hospital building as well as a smaller building on the same property that has already been torn down.

“The refusal of the owners of the former St. Joseph Riverside Hospital to maintain their property and demolish it after it had been condemned exhibits egregious neglect which must be addressed,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has assisted cities in collecting the costs of demolition from grossly negligent property owners, and I am pleased to partner with the City of Warren to help combat blight and make this neighborhood safer for Warren families.”

Warren Mayor Doug Franklin and Law Director Greg Hicks said they were pleased that the state has joined the legal fight over the Tod Avenue N.W. property.

The suit seeks reimbursement of $5,500 for the demolition of the smaller building since property owners, according to the suit, have ignored bills sent by the city. The city’s building and health departments both condemned the property last year.

Hicks said the suit also seeks to hold the company responsible for demolishing the larger hospital building, which he described as a multi-million dollar project.

The lawsuit was filed in Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas against Euro-American Finance Network Inc. and Ljubica Stefanovic, all of Leesburg, Fla., who own the former hospital property at 1300 and 1307 Tod Ave. N.W. The suit also named Slavoljub Stefanovic, president of Euro-American, and Ljubica’s husband, also of Leesburg, as a defendant. Despite being cited for code violations, the owner took no action to address the violations or demolish the property.

After receiving notice that the property needed to be demolished, the owners took no further action, according to the suit that was assigned to Judge W. Wyatt McKay.

The lawsuit seeks to order the demolition of the property, declare the defendants responsible for costs incurred by the city in demolishing the property, and reimburse the city for costs associated with the previous demolition of a separate structure and providing public safety services at the property. The lawsuit also seeks interest and costs associated with the lawsuit.