A principal in the firm since 1989, Steve has been an active trial attorney for over 38 years. He has extensive and varied experience in substantive litigation and appeals, as well contract and real estate transactions. He was admitted to the practice of law in Ohio in 1973 and is also admitted to practice the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and United States Tax Court. He has represented clients in federal court and in state court in numerous counties throughout Ohio. Steve has also lectured attorneys on real estate transactions and new attorneys on ethics and practice. He is also the author of an article regarding preserving the record on appeal.
Steve attended Cedarville University and later transferred to Wright State University where he received his bachelor’s degree in history. He graduated from the University of Akron Law School in 1973. His law school career was interrupted so that he could serve extended active duty in the United State Army Reserve. While on active duty he was trained as a medic and received more specialized training following which he was assigned to the Valley Forge Army General Hospital (since razed), one of two Army hospitals in the United States at that time that treated soldiers who had suffered traumatic amputations in combat.
Steve has been a Summit County resident for over forty-two years. He has been involved in the community, in his church, as a board member of a local Christian elementary school, and as Secretary of Black Renaissance Ministries. He is an Akron Bar Foundation Fellow and has served the Akron Bar Association as a member of the Common Pleas and Appellate Courts Committee, where he was recognized as the outstanding committee chair, the Commission on Judicial Candidates, Federal Courts Committee, Law Office Technology Committee, Investigative Subcommittee of the Grievance Committee, where he also served as chairman, and the Real Estate Committee. He is also a member of the Ohio State Bar Association and its Litigation, Appellate and Real Property sections, as well as the Christian Legal Society.
Significant litigation examples include:
The accountant for a cardiology practice embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars over several years. The accountant deceased and Steve spent months tracing the embezzled funds to their destination. Steve filed suit against the ultimate beneficiary who entered a settlement days before trial.
An insurance agent embezzled $1,000,000 from a corporate pension fund and gambled away all of the money. Steve successfully sued the banks who had most recently cleared fraudulent signatures and endorsements on pension fund checks. After the insurance company whom the agent represented refused to respond to demands to take responsibility for its agent’s conduct, Steve filed suit. The insurance company soon settled. In the combined cases the $1,000,000 was recovered.
Steve defended a corporation sued for a form of defamation by a former employee. The case went to trial and the jury awarded the employee a verdict of $20.
A corporate vendor defrauded a company by accepting orders and payments for goods which the vendor then refused to deliver. Steve, representing the defrauded company, sued the vendor and one of its principals for fraud. The defendants settled after extensive discovery was conducted during which they concealed and refused to produce many documents.
The then Ohio Attorney General threatened a charitable social services organization, among many others in Ohio, with legal action claiming they were violating the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act in their advertising. Steve filed suit in federal court against the AG on civil rights and constitutional grounds, among others. The AG asked the judge to dismiss the case on three different federal abstention grounds, complex legal doctrines where the federal courts may refuse to exercise jurisdiction. After the judge ruled in favor of Steve’s client on those issues, the AG relented and agreed not to pursue any action against the organization.
The Ohio Tax Commissioner denied a church’s application for exemption from real estate taxes for 23 acres of property notwithstanding that the acreage was dedicated to charitable use. The exemption was inexplicably denied because the property was owned by a church. Steve appealed to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals which held the equivalent of a trial. The Board agreed with the Tax Commissioner. Steve then appealed the case to the Ohio Supreme Court which unanimously ruled in favor of the church finding the denial of the exemption to be unreasonable and unlawful.
An engineer’s two year consulting agreement was terminated prematurely and without grounds by a Fortune 100 company. The company claimed that the contract had not been signed by it and, therefore, it was unenforceable under the statute of frauds. Steve sued the company and obtained one of the earliest verdicts in Ohio based on the concept of promissory estoppel.
A township claimed ownership of a short segment of a street and a cul-de-sac located on a family’s property. Steve filed suit on behalf of the family to defeat the township’s claim. The Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in the family’s favor.
Steve has also represented: franchisors and franchisees in claims against each other; plaintiffs and defendants in real estate fraud claims; corporations defending against claims of preferential payments asserted in bankruptcy court; both corporate employers and employees in claimed trade secret violation and breach of non-competition agreement cases; companies accused of the defective manufacture of industrial machinery; corporations in contract disputes; and shareholders of a closely held corporations in inter-company conflict.
80% of Practice Devoted to Litigation
20% of Practice Devoted to Transactions
Areas Of Practice
- Business & Commercial Litigation
- Business Fraud Litigation
- Closely Held Company Shareholder Litigation
- Commercial Lease Litigation
- Real Estate Transaction Litigation
- Construction Defect Litigation
- Breach of Contract Litigation
- Zoning Litigation
- Defense of Bankruptcy Preference Claims
- Ohio, 1973
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Ohio, 1974
- U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, 2002
- U.S. Tax Court
- University of Akron School of Law, Akron, Ohio
- J.D. - 1973
- Wright State University, Dayton, OH
- B.A. - 1969
- Major: History
- Cedarville University
- Will the Appellate Record Trap Be Sprung on You?, Akron Bar Association Examiner, May, 2001
- Preferred Capital, Inc. v. Check Mate Priority Services, et al., 2008-Ohio-2657, 2008, Eighth District
- The Chapel v. Testa, 129 Ohio St.3d 21, 2011
- Maloney v. Patterson, 63 Ohio App.3d 405, 1989, Ninth District
- Summit County Crisis Pregnancy Center v. Fisher, 830 F. Supp. 1029 (U.S.D.C. Ohio 1993), 1993
- Crissman v. Board of Trustees of Cathedral of Tomorrow, 1990 WL 31796, 1990, Ninth District
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Akron (Summit County) Bar Association Foundation Fellow
- Akron Bar Association, Outstanding Committee Chair
- Akron Bar Association, Commission on Judicial Candidates
- Akron Bar Association, Common Pleas and Appellate Courts Committee, Former Chair
- Akron Bar Association, Federal Courts Committee
- Akron Bar Associations, Law Office Technology Committee
- Christian Legal Society
- Ohio State Bar Association, Litigation Section
- Ohio State Bar Association, Real Property Section