Pittsburgh Post-Gazette DEC 24, 2021
A food service company this week sued the University of Pittsburgh, alleging the school owed the organization $7 million because sending students home amid the pandemic deprived them of revenue.
After telling the Sodexo company to continue stocking Pitt’s Oakland and Johnstown campuses with food and other inventory despite students leaving campus for the semester in March 2020, the company believed Pitt would compensate them for labor and materials costs of over $5.5 million.
Instead, those costs were incurred without any revenue from the on-campus food service to offset the charges, the lawsuit states.
They are suing Pitt for three counts of breach of contract, plus one count of unjust enrichment. A spokesman from the university declined to comment since the litigation is still pending.
According to the complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court on Thursday, Sodexo also signed a 2017 contract with Pitt to contribute to a renovation fund to improve the dining areas in the Oakland campus. Their contributions would total more than $4.8 million paid in three installments over three years.
But those efforts were halted after Pitt students shifted to online class in the spring of 2020, just as Sodexo was collecting funds for its final payment for the renovation effort.
“Sodexo’s revenue stream and its ability to accrue funds for improvements to UPitt’s dining services was almost entirely dependent on students residing on campus,” the lawsuit reads.
Initially, the university told the company to prepare for the student population to shelter in place. But when everyone was sent away from campus, the agreement between Sodexo and Pitt “was effectively discontinued and fundamentally altered.”
The company also claims the university owes it money for other expenses, such as $75,000 for an equipment fund, $23,186 in catering deposits and $106,198 in maintenance billing.
Sodexo and Pitt have been engaged in a contract since July 2007. The contract expired on June 30, 2020, after Pitt declined to extend the agreement, the suit says.
Mick Stinelli: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-1869; and on Twitter: @MickStinelli
First Published December 24, 2021, 3:37pmMICK STINELLI