The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

View this profile on Instagram

The Torch (@sju_torch) • Instagram photos and videos

Photo Courtesy / Unsplash Solen Feyissa
Op-Ed: Maybe Banning TikTok Isn’t Such a Bad Thing
Elizabeth Kaufmann, Opinion Editor & Human Resources Manager Emerita • April 19, 2024
Photo Courtesy / YouTube Swae Lee
Swae Lee to Headline 2024 Stormin’ Loud
Olivia Seaman, Editor-in-Chief • April 18, 2024
Photo Courtesy / YouTube NPR Music
Chappell Roan: The People’s Pop Princess
Molly Downs, Culture Editor • April 18, 2024

SJU Files Motion to Dismiss $10M Bent Suit


The University last month asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit that accuses St. John’s of reneging on an oral agreement to keep an alumnus’ name on Bent Hall forever.

The motion, filed on March 28, asks for the complaint to be dismissed entirely.

Bruce R. Bent, an alumnus of St. John’s, said in his lawsuit, filed in January, that St. John’s “agreed to convey the naming rights to the Building, including prominent signage reflecting the naming rights throughout the Building” to him in 1981 in exchange for his $500,000 donation.

Previously, the building in question — home to the Peter J. Tobin College of Business — had signage attached to the front of it that said “Bent Hall.” Following major renovations to the building this past year, that signage was removed and replaced with the college’s name. However, “Bent Hall” is still written on the side of the building and the University maintains that the building itself is still named Bent Hall. Bent is suing for damages worth $9,896,000 according to court documents — he alleges that this is the present-day value of his original donation.

Joseph Oliva, a vice-president for administration and general counsel for St. John’s, submitted an affirmation in support of the lawsuit’s dismissal on behalf of the University last month. In it, he acknowledges Bent’s donation to the University, and that the building was named after him in recognition “of his pledge.”

“This was not a purchase of naming rights, but a tribute to Plaintiff, who was then described as a loyal alumnus and a talented member of the University’s Board of Trustees,” Oliva said, according to the document filed in March.

Additionally, Oliva said that an “exhaustive search” was conducted for a document granting Bent the naming rights. In the suit, Bent alleges that the naming rights to the building were confirmed to him in writing, in perpetuity. But in a statement to the Torch, Bent’s lawyer confirmed that the agreement was oral — not written.

“The agreement was oral, not written, as Mr. Bent trusted St. John’s to be true to its word,” his lawyer John Dellaportas said in January.

A copy of that Torch story has been submitted as evidence in the case.

Oliva said Bent acknowledged that there was “no written naming rights agreement” in a phone call between the two during the winter of 2016-17.

Brian Browne, a spokesperson for the University, said when the lawsuit was filed that Bent was presented an opportunity to be involved with the renovation of Bent Hall, but declined to do so.

“The only document that mentions a naming right granted in perpetuity is described as “a draft of a possible gift agreement,” which was created in 2016 as a possible settlement of the dispute that developed into this lawsuit,” Oliva said in his affirmation.

A decision is expected as early as next month.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Torch
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of St. John's University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Suzanne Ciechalski
Suzanne Ciechalski, Editor-in-Chief
Suzanne Ciechalski is a senior journalism major with a minor in government and politics. In her second year as EIC, she hopes to continue increasing the Torch’s editorial content by spanning coverage to include news within the local community outside of SJU, and breaking news. She also hopes to expand the Torch’s visibility by building on the paper’s online presence and by reaching out to students through stories, journalism workshops and other events. Before graduating, she hopes to instill an element of community service within the Torch by reaching out to local high schools about how the Torch can help them build on their current newspaper, or develop one. Suzanne has been with the Torch for three years, previously serving as the opinion editor and as a staff writer. Have any questions? Email Suzanne at [email protected]
Donate to The Torch
Our Goal

Comments (0)

We love comments and feedback, but we ask that you please be respectful in your responses.
All The Torch Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *