Food distributor seeks default judgment in Table 86 dispute

Court told owner evading lawsuit notice

January 8, 2020 Cranberry Local News

Howard Shiller

PITTSBURGH — A food distributor suing Hines Ward's Table 86 claims one owner “was evading” being served notice of the lawsuit.

In a Dec. 19 federal court filing, US Foods, which filed suit against the former restaurant for more than $150,000 in allegedly unpaid bills, told the court it had made more than a dozen attempts over 10 weeks to serve Howard Shiller, one of the restaurant's owners.

Ward, the former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, is not associated with the Cranberry Township restaurant, which licensed his name. It shut down in March.

US Foods filed that document in response to an order by U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti, who required the plaintiff to show cause that the court should not dismiss the case for US Foods' failure to prosecute.

Conti issued the order Dec. 12 because the case was filed June 19, but “no responsive pleadings” had been filed since beyond an amended complaint in September. In its response to the order, US Foods claimed it was unable to prosecute the case because it couldn't locate Shiller and was unable to serve process upon him.

The Federal Rules for Civil Procedure require a plaintiff to serve notice to a defendant or its representative of the lawsuit or to request a waiver of service.

“Service of the amended complaint on Howard Schiller (sic) was a challenge,” the plaintiff's filing states. “It appears that Mr. Schiller (sic) was evading service of the amended complaint.”

Shiller told the Eagle in a phone call Friday that he thought the claim was “pretty comical,” and would speak with his attorney about remedies.

“Are you kidding me? They said I'm evading?” Shiller said, laughing. “Did you know that I'm the one who called US Foods and told them I hadn't been served yet?”

Neither Kristen Moritz, an attorney representing US Foods, nor Sara Matheu, US Foods' director of media relations, returned phone calls seeking comment.

The filing states the process server attempted service at four different addresses, three of which were different units in the apartment building in which Shiller lives. The fourth address, at which Shiller resides, was attempted 10 times over a period of more than four weeks.

“In total, service of the amended complaint on Mr. Schiller (sic) required 15 attempts at four different addresses over a span of 10 weeks,” the filing states.

US Foods seeks a default judgment against the former restaurant for nearly $160,000 for violation of a distribution agreement and unpaid invoices.

Alex J. Weidenhof

Alex J. Weidenhof