I-TEAM: I-X Center says it’s not to blame for broken contracts

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Editor’s Note: Watch the video above for previous coverage on this story.

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team is tracking new developments in legal battles sparked by the sudden closing of the I-X Center, the City of Cleveland complex popular for hosting trade shows, carnivals, and more for 35 years.

The I-X Center has responded to one lawsuit arguing the Center can’t be blamed for closing, and it shouldn’t have to pay any money to organizations that say they had contracts to host shows there for years to come.

Last year, the I-X Center abruptly announced it was closing due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Since then, the Center has been hit with lawsuits on behalf of the annual car show and annual RV show as trade show organizers say they had contracts to hold events for years to come.

In a civil court filing, lawyers for the I-X Center blamed the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak.

The filing says, “In the fall of 2020, it was forced to shut down its major event hosting operations—it laid off the great majority of its workforce, paid all liabilities to its union’s pension fund, and returned all outstanding deposits for future shows. Simply stated, the pandemic forced the I-X Center Corp. out of the major event hosting business.”

The filing also says a clause in the contracts protects the I-X Center.  That argument says the clause “provides that the I-X Center Corp. ‘shall not be liable’ for any claim for loss, damage or expense arising out of or caused by Acts of God…acts of governmental authorities…national emergency…or any other cause beyond the direct control of [I-X Center Corp.].”

Finally, the I-X Center is asking a judge to rule the Center is not responsible for any losses of any organizations unable to hold events there in years to come.

However, a lawyer for the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association just fired off a letter to the I-X Center arguing not so fast. Attorney Joe Burke wrote,

“This constituted a unilateral termination of the contract with my client. The actions of the I-X Center Corporation since that date however demonstrate that it has not closed operations as represented…”

Since announcing it was closing, the I-X Center has leased out 700,000 square feet to GOJO-Industries for storage.

An I-X Center court filing says that is space that would not have been used for any trade shows.

The I-X Center lawyers also claim the Center had repeatedly asked the City for help and had not received any.

The I-TEAM recently requested internal City Hall emails concerning the I-X Center, and the City sent us almost all of the emails completely blacked out.

We considered those emails public record, the City claims they could be hidden since they involved legal matters.

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