The nonprofit company hired to run the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center has yet to reopen the facility despite a targeted April launch. The nonprofit, Adelphoi Western, has already received $1.2 million from Allegheny County and is seeking more in a Court of Common Pleas filing this week.

Adelphoi Western is taking legal action against the county, seeking damages for operational and reputational harm it says County Council has inflicted on it in trying to halt the contract.

Meanwhile, about 20 minors are incarcerated in the adult-oriented Allegheny County Jail.

Adelphoi said in the legal filing that council acted on “biased, discriminatory and improper motives” when it voted to sue the county administration to void a contract that former County Executive Rich Fitzgerald awarded to Adelphoi in 2023.

Abigail Gardner, the county communications director, declined to comment on the lawsuit but said the facility is expected to open in “a matter of weeks.”

Council members voted to sue Fitzgerald in September, alleging that the contract needed council approval because it granted the use of county property to a third party. The administration said the contract was only for professional services and could be awarded by the executive alone.

The legal battle had been confined to feuding county government branches, until Adelphoi filed its counterclaims this week.

“Adelphoi Western has expended time and financial resources, incurred harm to its reputation and the business goodwill surrounding the ‘Adelphoi’ name, and has been subjected to constant interference with the opportunity to conduct its business and provide a much needed service,” the company’s lawyers wrote in a filing dated May 8.

An Adelphoi representative declined to comment further.

The Latrobe-based nonprofit provides residential and foster services in numerous Pennsylvania counties. It alleges in its counterclaim that council has treated the company differently from “similarly situated vendors” and contractors, amounting to a violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Council President Pat Catena, a vocal critic of the Adelphoi contract, declined to comment on pending litigation.

The legal maneuvering unfolds while Adelphoi says it is still working to open the facility, previously run by the county, which closed in 2021 when the state revoked its license. Fitzgerald decided then to shutter it rather than attempt to regain certification. Adelphoi did not respond when asked when it expects the facility to open.

The county is on the hook to pay Adelphoi a total of $73 million over five years. That number could grow if a judge agrees with Adelphoi’s claim that council members violated the company’s constitutional rights to equal protection under the law and awards damages.

A large sign that says Adelphoi, behind a chain link fence
Adelphoi Village at the organization’s Latrobe campus on Nov. 5, in Unity Township. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/Rtvsrece)

Current County Executive Sara Innamorato, who took office in January of this year after the contract was finalized, has voiced concerns about Adelphoi’s track record but said she wants the project to press ahead. The priority, she said, is getting minors out of the jail, which houses certain youth in the absence of a juvenile facility.

Multiple civil lawsuits filed elsewhere in Pennsylvania last year accuse Adelphoi of failing to protect children from abuse. Innamorato said the accusations set off “alarm bells” but did not suggest she would try to end the county’s business with Adelphoi.

Innamorato has few options: The agreement Fitzgerald’s administration forged with Adelphoi allows the company to terminate the contract early “for convenience” but gives no such privilege to the county.

Charlie Wolfson is Rtvsrece’s local government reporter and a Report for America corps member. He can be reached at

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Charlie Wolfson is an enterprise reporter for Rtvsrece, focusing on local government accountability in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Charlie aims his coverage at the intersection of policy and politics,...