Madison - St. Clair Record

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Church, reverend seek to transfer breach of contract suit to McLean County

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Nov 17, 2015


A church and its pastor seek to transfer a construction company’s lawsuit alleging the church violated an employment agreement in a dispute over repairs for a storm-damaged roof.

Ryan Construction Co. filed the lawsuit on Aug. 5 against Scott Underwood, Wayman African Methodist Church in Bloomington, Reverend Charles Orr, River City Roofing Co. Inc. and Church Mutual Insurance Co.

According to the complaint, Ryan Construction and its employee, Underwood, negotiated an insurance claim to repair Wayman’s roof for $343,569.24 in September 2014. However, Underwood was later terminated. Details were not provided regarding his termination.

The plaintiff alleges Underwood, now working for competitor River City Roofing, approached Orr to complete the repairs for less money than originally agreed to by Church Mutual so the difference could allegedly be retained by the church. As a result, Orr cancelled the original contract between the church and Ryan Construction, the suit states.

Orr filed a motion to transfer venue to McLean County on Sept. 18 through attorney Donald Jackson of Peoria.

He argues that any potential witnesses and supporting evidence are located in McLean County.

“Without the change of venue defendant Orr will experience considerable hardship and inconvenience in adequately preparing and presenting testimony in support of his [defense] to the complaint filed herein,” the motion states.

He also argues that the alleged incidents did not occur in Madison County and most of the parties are not residents of Madison County.

In a Sept. 18 affidavit, Orr states that the only connection to Madison County is the plaintiff’s Bethalto office maintained on or before Sept. 11, 2014.

Waymen African Methodist Episcopal Church filed a motion to quash service of process and also filed a motion to transfer to McLean County on Sept. 14 through attorneys Martin Morrissey and Jennifer Wagner of Reed, Armstrong, Mudge & Morrissey in Edwardsville.

In its motion to quash, the defendant argues that Orr was served the summons for the church, but Waymen is part of the larger African Methodist Episcopal Church incorporated in Pennsylvania.

“It is clear that service upon a clergy member is not service upon the church itself, when that church is incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation,” the motion states.

In its motion to transfer, the defendant argues that the site of the alleged contracted work was performed in McLean County.

A motion hearing is scheduled for Dec. 18 at 10 a.m. to address the defendants’ motion to quash service of process and motion to transfer venue.

Ryan Construction seeks damages of more than $50,000 and an injunction preventing Underwood from sharing proprietary information or approaching former clients.

The plaintiff is represented by David A. Schott of the Alton firm Hoagland, Fitzgerald & Pranaitis.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-988

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Organizations in this Story

Hoagland, Fitzgerald, & Pranaitis McLean County Reed, Armstrong Mudge & Morrissey

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