Judge Nails AWOL Ohio Campground Owners
Champaign County (Ohio) Municipal Court Judge Susan J. Fornof-Lippencott granted individual judgments totaling almost $25,000 during hearings on small claims cases filed against the owners of the Meadow Lake Resort near Urbana, Ohio, Friday (Aug. 7).
Mike and Kathleen Cahill, who appeared in court without legal representation, faced plaintiffs in 14 cases. The Cahills, who purchased the 40-acre, 235-site property for $500,000 in April last year from Meadow Lake Associates, abruptly left the premises at the end of May, and the plaintiffs filed for breach-of-contract and damages, according to the Urbana Daily Citizen.
"That's quite a number of cases," Fornof-Lippencott said.
She agreed with the Cahills' request to refund pro-rated seasonal fees instead of the full amount paid by campers in several cases.
"Have you refunded any money?" she asked the Cahills.
"No," Cahill replied.
"What would you like to say them?" she asked.
"We had a bad business," Cahill said. "Piling on the bills is just not appropriate."
Fornof-Lippencott denied the Cahills' claims that they should not be responsible for costs the plaintiffs incurred for removing recreational vehicles and site rental at other campgrounds, as well as their request for a continuance to file a counterclaim against one plaintiff.
"You have two days to file paper and you haven't," she said. "There will be no more continuances."
Owners Defense Collapses in Court
She also noted that even though the Cahills claimed the campground didn't close until June 21, campers didn't enjoy full use of the facilities, since the restrooms were nonfunctional and the water playground was closed after they left the grounds on May 29.
Fornof-Lippencott also admonished the Cahills for leaving the property unsupervised, with no communication to the campers.
"They didn't expect for you to be there just a short time and then take off to Florida," Fornof-Lippencott said.
"That is a misconception," Cahill replied. "We were still in the area monitoring the campground."
Ernest Kindoll disputed that the Cahills left local contact information for campers.
"They leave in the middle of the night, don't tell anybody and I still don't know where they are," he said.
The Cahills admitted that their permanent address is in Land O' Lakes, Fla.
"They weren't truthful with people, even the workers that were there," said Joe Bajdo. "He didn't explain to people what was going on. He didn't even try. He ignored the whole situation and let the health department take care of it. I think it's totally irresponsible."
The Champaign Health District revoked the Cahills' campground license on July 27 after they allegedly failed to remove recreational vehicles and abate violations observed by health inspectors during multiple visits in June and July.
Jeff Webb, environmental health supervisor for the Health District, suspended the license on July 9 after he found the power to 4739 Woodville Pike had been shut off by Pioneer Electric, leaving campers without electricity and running water. At that time, occupants of three sites were given orders to vacate the premises within 48 hours.
"In addition, this matter will be referred to the Champaign County Prosecutors' Office for possible civil or criminal penalties," Webb said.
"The prosecutor's office continues to actively monitor the unfortunate set of circumstances taking place at Meadow Lake," said Champaign County Prosecutor Nick Selvaggio on July 27. "We welcome any information that may help lead to a successful resolution of this matter or give peace to those involved."
Two more small claims cases are pending against the Cahills and will be heard Aug. 21. One case was dismissed at the request of the plaintiff. Both Cahills refused to comment after Friday's hearings.