Monday, May 21, 2018
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Missed deadline imperils a jury trial for Finkbeiner

  • Missed-deadline-imperils-a-jury-trial-for-Finkbeiner-2


  • Missed-deadline-imperils-a-jury-trial-for-Finkbeiner


A $200 jury fee was not filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court in time for court personnel to prepare a jury pool for the civil case scheduled for Monday.

The trial is to decide the suit filed by John Skiadas and his wife, Georgette, against Mr. Finkbeiner and the city for an incident four years ago at the Erie Street Market.

Mr. Skiadas, owner of Pepe's Mexican Restaurant & Cantina, claims he was negligently injured when Mr. Finkbeiner made "unwelcome physical contact" with him during construction of his restaurant in the market.




Mr. Skiadas claimed stress from the incident caused him to suffer an angina attack that sent him to a hospital.

John Potts, an attorney representing the couple, submitted the money to the clerk of courts after 3 p.m., which is the deadline court staff need to summon an adequate number of jurors for pending trials.

"It was unquestionably late. That is why we have a problem," Mr. Potts said. "There is a jury demand by all parties, and all parties have requested that the jury trial go forward."

Judge Charles Wittenberg said after Monday's hearing he will decide whether to proceed with a jury trial or hear the case himself.

While only eight people are needed to seat a jury for a civil trial, a larger pool than usual was requested because of concerns that some potential jurors might be excused because of a conflict or know of the case or parties involved. A typical trial usually requires 18 to 22 potential jurors; the jury commissioner was asked to have 30 people available and, if necessary, bring in 30 more Tuesday.

Mr. Potts and an attorney for the city said they wanted the case tried before a jury instead of Judge Wittenberg. "It is a case that ought to only be decided by a jury," Mr. Potts said.

Mark Trimble, an attorney for the city's insurance carrier, agreed. "I would prefer a jury trial because I want the truth to come out and have the [jurors] make a decision based on the true facts of this case."

Whether it's a jury or judge, Judge Wittenberg said the case would begin Tuesday. He said seating a jury likely would push opening statements into late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

More than two dozen witnesses are expected to testify, including Mr. Finkbeiner, who was mayor from 1994 to 2002, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Skiadas and the physicians who treated the restaurateur after the altercation.

The couple is seeking an unspecified amount of damages in excess of $25,000 for physical and psychological injuries.

The altercation took place July 14, 2000, at Pepe's at the Market and began as an argument over delays in its opening.

Mr. Finkbeiner was charged with misdemeanor criminal coercion in Toledo Municipal Court, but the charge was dismissed in August, 2001, at the request of Mr. Skiadas.

In a deposition taken for the lawsuit, Mr. Finkbeiner testified he did not "in any way, shape, or form" have physical contact that day with Mr. Skiadas. Reached last night, Mr. Finkbeiner said he is eager for the trial. "I am looking forward to it. I have been for quite some time," he said.

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