The receiver in charge of Fairview Memorial Park has asked a Delaware County Common Pleas Court judge to allow him to file an answer to Berlin Township’s latest claim to the cemetery.
In September, Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David M. Gormley filed a scheduling entry informing the parties in the ongoing legal dispute over Fairview Memorial Park, located at 5035 Columbus Pike, in Lewis Center, that the deadline for motions filed against the cemetery was Oct. 26, and the deadline to file any remaining cross-claim motions was Nov. 26.
The ongoing battle over Fairview is between A.C. Strip, a Columbus attorney who was appointed to be the receiver for the cemetery in May 2017 and has been trying to find a buyer for the cemetery ever since, and Berlin Township, who has been seeking control of the cemetery since April of this year.
In July, Berlin Township filed a motion asking that Gormley give the title of the cemetery to the township and prevent a sale that Strip was organizing. The motion states that Strip’s motion to sell an 8.32-acre parcel of the property to the Islamic Society of Central Ohio for $130,000 must be denied because the township has filed a cross-claim in court.
Strip responded to this motion on July 31 and opposed giving the title of the cemetery to the township for a variety of reasons, including that giving the cemetery to the township would rob the victims in the case of any recompense; that giving Berlin Township the title would prevent him and his legal team from being properly compensated; and arguing that Berlin Township only wants the cemetery now that Strip has “brought order out of total chaos.”
The township later argued that the receiver’s time, efforts, and resources would not have been expended if the cemetery had been transferred to them last fall.
On Nov. 26, the day of the deadline, the township filed a final motion for default judgment and asked that a hearing be set to discuss damages that would be granted as a result of the judgment.
Two days later, Strip filed a motion asking to be allowed to file an answer to Berlin Township’s motion.
“Upon discovering the filing of November 26, 2018 Motion for Default Judgment, and further reviewing the cross-claims previously made by Berlin Township, the Receiver now seeks to file an Answer simply to be sure that the prime issue before the Court is decided upon its merits and not by default,” Strip wrote in his motion.
Strip attached his answer to his motion and in it asks that Gormley dismiss the township’s cross-claims in whole and asked that the cemetery remain subject to his power as receiver.
“(Strip) prays that the Court dismiss the cross-claims asserted by Berlin Township in while, and tax the costs of the defense of the action as against the township,” Strip wrote. “Further, the Receiver prays that the Court find that the subject property should properly remain in the name of Defendant Fairview Memorial Park, Inc., subject to the power of the Receiver to convey same subject to this Court’s approval.”
Gormley has not yet responded to these motions.
The previous owners of the cemetery, Theodore and Arminda Martin, are currently serving prison terms after pleading guilty to multiple counts of theft for selling items at the cemetery but never delivering or ordering them.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.