Bella Construction & Development alleges Monessen police chief's article in paper cost it business

By Carrie Bradon | Apr 23, 2019

PITTSBURGH – An Irwin construction company alleges it was financially harmed by a police chief's comments in a newspaper regarding hail damage companies.

Bella Construction & Development Inc. filed a complaint on April 5 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against the city of Monessen and Monessen Police Chief James Smith alleging violation of its constitutional rights.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff installs roofing, siding, gutters and other items and also provides damage inspections and repairs. The suit states in May 2018, a strong hail storm damaged many properties in Monessen and the plaintiff contracted with residents to provide damage inspections and repairs.

The suit states in July 2018, Smith wrote an article published in the Mon Valley Independent that advised city residents "not to 'sign any contracts or make an insurance claim' relating to 'hail damage companies soliciting in the city' without first being advised by the 'local police department.'”  

The plaintiff alleges it and the general public understood Smith's article "to be a reference to the plaintiff and alleged unsavory and/or illegal activities committed by the plaintiff," the suit states, and as a result, several previously contracted property owners dissolved their contracts.

The plaintiff alleges it suffered financial losses because of the allegedly false information in Smith's article.

The plaintiff is seeking all reasonable sums due, attorney fees and court costs. The plaintiff is represented by Joel S. Sansone, MAssimo A. Terzigni and Elizabeth A. Tuttle of the Law Offices of Joel Sansone in Pittsburgh.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania case number 2:19-CV-00390

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