On Monday, December 11, 2023, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy ruled that Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Alan Triggs is not disqualified from continuing to preside over an ongoing landlord dispute case between a former Over-the-Rhine restaurant and development organizations.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Judge Alan Triggs,” with case number 23-AP-167.
The case dates back several years and centers around claims between Panino, LLC and its owner against Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) and its subsidiary Cintrifuse Landlord, LLC. Both parties claim the other breached agreements related to the leased space that had housed Panino Restaurant in Over-the-Rhine.
Panino and its owner, represented by attorney Robert Croskery, have alleged breach of contract, abuse of process, fraudulent inducement, fraudulent omission, misrepresentation, and conspiracy against 3CDC and Cintrifuse. Judge Triggs previously granted summary judgment in favor of Cintrifuse Landlord, dismissing Panino’s claims. However, the appellate court reversed that ruling in 2022, finding genuine issues of material fact.
On October 30, 2023, the day a jury trial in the case was scheduled, Croskery accused Judge Triggs of bias during an off-the-record discussion. Croskery alleged the judge said he valued Panino’s case as worthless and believed he knew as much about the case as the attorneys. Judge Triggs denied these allegations. Croskery motioned for the judge to recuse himself but Judge Triggs declined.
Croskery then filed an affidavit of disqualification with the Ohio Supreme Court on October 31, arguing Judge Triggs was biased against his clients. In his response, Judge Triggs denied any bias or prejudice against the parties. He acknowledged expressing his legal view of the case but affirmed he would let a jury decide outstanding factual issues, as instructed by the appellate court.
On December 11, 2023, Chief Justice Kennedy issued a decision denying Croskery’s affidavit. In a 15-page ruling, she found Croskery did not provide sufficient evidence the judge expressed disdain or hostility requiring disqualification. Kennedy noted the judge’s views were previously known, and he successfully obtained a $70,000 settlement offer. She also determined his comments in the context of settlement discussions did not establish bias.
The case will now proceed before Judge Triggs, who had previously continued the trial pending the state high court’s review. He may now rule on pending motions, including one from Cintrifuse seeking sanctions against Panino and its attorney. A new trial date in the long-running landlord dispute case has yet to be scheduled.
Judge Triggs, a member of the Democratic Party, serves as a judge in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas General Division. He assumed office on February 10, 2021. His current term ends on February 9, 2027. His courtroom is located at 1000 Main Street, Room 485, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, and can be reached at 513-946-5841.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.