Suspended Saint Joseph's College Slapped With Vendor Lawsuit

August 2, 2018

More than a year after Saint Joseph’s College suspended operations, the financially strapped private college in Rensselaer, Ind., faces a lawsuit from one of its vendors.

The food service company Sodexo filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday accusing the college and its leaders of constructive fraud, fraudulent concealment and breach of contract, according to the Journal & Courier. Sodexo is seeking $1.3 million, plus punitive damages.

At issue is money Sodexo fronted the college in the summer of 2016 to pay for student center renovations. The company provided $1.35 million in exchange for an extended agreement under which it would manage and operate Saint Joseph’s food service until 2029.

The lawsuit alleges college leaders “knowingly and deliberately failed to disclose” facts when they requested that Sodexo fund the renovations, even though those leaders were aware of the college’s financial situation. The college has not paid Sodexo for outstanding invoices and bookstore inventory, the lawsuit says.

Saint Joseph’s announced in February 2017 that it would be suspending operations at the end of the semester. It drew sharp criticism from students, faculty and alumni unhappy with the way the college had navigated its tightening finances and communicated its situation.

Father Barry Fischer, rector for Saint Joseph’s, said in April of this year that the college hoped to resume operations by 2019 or 2020 after partnering with Marian University in Indianapolis.

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