Joel Schiavone ’58 is filing a civil lawsuit against Yale and John Maturo, Director of University Properties, seeking damages in excess of $15,000.
In the lawsuit, Schiavone, a Republican mayoral candidate and New Haven real estate developer, accuses University Properties of breaking into his company’s office, assaulting him and stealing several boxes of files. The suit comes despite the New Haven Police Department’s determination that there was no basis for criminal prosecution over the incident.
Yale officials said the accusations are unfounded.
“They’re so far from being close to true. Not only do I think there’s no validity, I know it,” Maturo said.
Neither Schiavone nor his spokesman, Charlie Harper, were available for comment Monday night.
This is the latest round in an increasingly messy public relations battle between Yale and Schiavone. On Feb. 12, Schiavone Management filed a lawsuit against Yale over properties the company manages on Chapel Street, and two days later the University fired the company as manager of its Broadway properties, which include the new Urban Outfitters building and Au Bon Pain.
That Thursday, Schiavone and his ex-wife Craig Schiavone, who is president of the management company, released a statement claiming that several Yale employees — including Maturo — forcibly entered Schiavone offices and proceeded to remove documents related to the Broadway properties, which the company had been managing without a contract.
Yale maintains Schiavone is only seeking to create the “public relations bloodbath” Craig Schiavone had promised in a letter she sent to University officials before filing the Feb. 12 lawsuit.
“This latest lawsuit is identical to [the Feb. 12 lawsuit] in that it is completely without merit,” said University spokesman Tom Conroy. “They threatened a ‘public relations bloodbath’ if we did not give them what they want, and that is what they are doing. The University will defend against it and prevail.”
Maturo said he is “appalled” the Schiavones named him personally in the lawsuit. Maturo and the University are named as co-defendants in the case.
“The fact that [Schiavone] would attempt to name someone individually is very aggressive and inappropriate,” he said. “Not only did I do nothing wrong, I was clearly acting on behalf of Yale and not on my own.”
There is “plenty of evidence” showing the University did not act improperly in taking the files, Maturo added.
He said University Properties received e-mail messages from Schiavone Management company employees Feb. 8 — well before the alleged seizure — in which the employees asked the University to remove 35 boxes of files related to the Broadway agreement.
“It’s hard to imagine how one week they could want us to remove the files, and then the next they don’t want us to,” Maturo said.
Schiavone also alleged that Yale is planning to terminate his company’s contract for managing Yale-owned properties on Chapel Street.
In a statement faxed to the Yale Daily News Monday, Schiavone claimed Yale will cite “safety issues, incompetence, part-time work by Craig Schiavone and a general dereliction of all duties.”
With eight and a half years remaining in the contract, Maturo said University Properties has “no plans” to terminate Schiavone Management’s contract for Chapel Street based on the lawsuits.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do, but I can tell you we are not using this for any kind of bargaining or leverage or whatever,” Maturo said.
Conroy added that Yale has always based its decisions about contractors on performance alone.
“If we were of the same bent of mind, we probably would have been sending out press releases all morning,” he said. “We are trying to make this as un-warlike as possible.”