Jersey Subs Inc. and one of its employees is suing Sodexo America LLC and one of its employees over claims of interfering with business and defamation of character.
Dana Papanicolas is a plaintiff in the suit, alongside Jersey Subs.
Lara Bealko is named as a defendant with Sodexo.
The suit, filed in Monongalia County Circuit Court on Sept. 13, asks for compensatory damages, punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney fees, costs and expenses, and other relief deemed necessary by the court.
The suit involves business operations at Milan Puskar Stadium during WVU home football games. It says Sodexo intentionally interfered with Jersey Subs by refusing to provide adequate equipment and by relocating it to a location that sold the same product. It also says Bealko made false and defamatory comments about Papanicolas.
According to the suit, in 2017, Sodexo relocated Jersey Subs to the opposite side of Milan Puskar Stadium after Jersey Subs subcontracted the same space it had from 2002-2016. The new location was directly next to a Sodexo-operated concession stand that sold Philly Cheesesteaks — the same product sold by Jersey Subs.
Jersey Subs provided its own grills during that time period and Sodexo provided adequate warming equipment, refrigeration and signs, the suit stated. Before the relocation, Bealko, a Sodexo manager, told Jersey Subs it would not be allowed to use its own equipment and would be required to use equipment provided by Sodexo.
The suit stated the equipment provided was inadequate because it had half of the cooking capacity of the equipment used previously. It also indicated that Bealko refused to provide adequate refrigeration, warming equipment and signage for the new location. Bealko also refused to provide signs near the old location to tell customers where Jersey Subs could be found.
The lack of signs caused customer confusion, and Sodexo’s refusal to provide adequate equipment led Jersey Subs to suffer well below average sales, the suit stated.
On Sept. 19, 2017, during a meeting with Jersey Subs to inquire about theft in a stand not operated by Jersey Subs, Bealko indicated that cleaning crews had previously stolen product from Sodexo and stated a subcontracted cleaning crew stole product on Sept. 16, the suit claimed.
She accused Papanicolas of assisting and viewing the theft and stated, “what type of adult watches and allows people to steal someone else’s property.” The suit stated she said these things in front of a third party, including saying she had video of Papanicolas helping in the theft.
Multiple requests by Jersey Subs to view the video were denied by Bealko for different reasons, the suit said.