Bryan Cohen Sep. 6, 2013, 7:02pm

MANSFIELD, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Mansfield Law Director John Spot announced lawsuits Thursday against an allegedly negligent property owner and his companies to recover demolition costs.

One lawsuit was filed against Donald Graber, the owner of a property located at 187-189 West Second Street in Mansfield. The other lawsuit was filed against McPherson Apartments, which Graber is the sole partner of, which owned a property at 135-137 Willow Street in Mansfield. Despite being cited for code violations over a period of several years, the owners allegedly took no action to address the violations or demolish the properties. The responsibility for demolishing the properties ultimately fell on the city of Mansfield.

"The Ohio attorney general's office has designated significant resources from the National Mortgage Settlement to combat the blight of abandoned houses across Ohio," DeWine said. "However, not all abandoned properties are the result of the housing crisis or banking practices. There are occasionally egregious cases where negligent property owners have contributed to this problem and should be held liable for these demolition costs, instead of their neighbors and fellow taxpayers. These filings represent two such egregious cases."

The lawsuits seek to collect a total of $17,746.44 from the defendants, which represents the debt incurred by the city of Mansfield in demolishing the two properties.

DeWine has helped several Ohio cities in filing collections lawsuits against negligent property owners for the costs of demolition, including Warren, Springfield, Newark and Dayton.

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