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$1.2M judgment against Ohio Valley University in unpaid bills lawsuit

PARKERSBURG — A judge recently awarded more than $1.2 million to Ohio Valley University’s food vendor over unpaid bills.

The default judgment was issued Oct. 13 by Wood County Circuit Court Judge Jason Wharton in a lawsuit filed in July against the private school by Aladdin Food Management Services LLC.

According to court records, OVU never responded to the complaint, which said the university failed to make approximately $1,160,000 in payments to the company on an agreement signed in July 2014.

In September 2019, OVU’s chief financial officer submitted a written proposal for repaying the past-due amounts, the complaint said. In accordance with that, the school paid more than $200,000 that month.

Aladdin presented a repayment agreement in October 2019 incorporating terms of OVU’s proposal, the complaint says. But as the fall 2019 semester continued, the school fell behind on invoices, “ultimately failing to make $159,777.89 in payments,” it says.

On a conference call in December, the suit says, OVU officials verbally acknowledged and agreed to a revised repayment plan. But in February, it says, the school made only a partial payment. Aladdin has not received any other agreed-upon payments or payments for services rendered in the spring 2020 semester, the complaint says.

Wharton’s order says OVU is delinquent in its payments and owes the company $1,197,664.57, plus at least $15,109.70 in attorney fees and costs, for a total of $1,212,774.27.

OVU President Michael Ross said via email Friday that the school “acknowledge(s) our debt and fully intends to pay all of our debts.”

Ross said the debt was outstanding when he began his term as president and the school made “substantial payments” to reduce it in the fall and spring.

“Unfortunately, we could not reconcile the exact amount of debt before COVID-19,” he said. “In March (2020), the campus closed for the semester and Aladdin submitted their notice to leave as our provider. … We are optimistic we will be able to work with Aladdin on a resolution.”

OVU was placed on probation by its accrediting agency in June over concerns about its financial status and enrollment numbers. At the time, Ross said efforts were being made to address the university’s short- and long-term financial stability. A decision on the accreditation was planned for June 2022.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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