Juvenile Law Center

Juvenile and Criminal Justice

H.T. et al. v. Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr., et al.

Juvenile Law Center and pro bono co-counsel Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller filed a federal class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on behalf of the children and families of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, arguing that former Luzerne County juvenile court judge Mark A. Ciavarella's unlawful adjudications and placements and the attendant "kids-for-cash" corruption scheme caused significant harm, including emotional stress and financial suffering.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages under federal civil rights laws and the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act against the two Luzerne County judges at the center of the scandal; the former co-owner of the not-for-profit juvenile detention centers who paid substantial sums of money to the former judges as part of the "kids-for-cash" scandal; the developer who built the facilities and also paid approximately $2 million to the former judges; the facilities themselves; and various "shell" corporations set up to serve as pass-throughs for the money. This case has been consolidated with other lawsuits seeking similar relief for children and families victimized by the corruption scandal in Luzerne County.

The defendants filed a variety of motions to dismiss the case. Nearly all of the defendants' motions to dismiss were denied. Federal District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo determined that the former judges could not be sued based on a failure to train or supervise the assistant district attorneys who appeared in Ciavarella's courtroom. In December 2011, Juvenile Law Center announced a partial settlement for over $17 million between Robert K. Mericle and Mericle Construction, the developer, and counsel representing juveniles and parents of juveniles who appeared before former juvenile court judge Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr. On December 14, 2012, U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo gave final approval to the settlement. Find out more here. 

On October 16, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of a Settlement with the Provider Defendants. The $2.5 million settlement, which must receive court approval, is between defendants PA Child Care, LLC; Western PA Child Care, LLC; and Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp., and counsel representing the juvenile plaintiff and parents of juveniles who appeared before Ciavarella. Find updated information about that settlement here. 

On January 9, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment against Mark Ciavarella, finding that Ciavarella violated the constitutional rights of the children who appeared before him to an impartial tribunal, as guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Read more here.

The civil lawsuit is continuing against, among others, former judge Michael Conahan and Robert Powell.  


Pleadings

Motions for Summary Judgment

Memorandum and Order for Plaintiffs' and Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment - July 3, 2012

Memorandum for Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment of Liability on Impartial Tribunal Claims Against Defendant Ciavarella - January 9, 2014

 

Judicial Immunity Motions to Dismiss

Ciavarella Judicial Immunity Brief - July 27, 2009

Conahan Judicial and Legislative Immunity Motion - July 27, 2009

Plaintiffs' Brief in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (Judicial and Legislative Immunity) - September 10, 2009

Order on Motions to Dismiss on Immunity Grounds - November 20, 2009

 

Plaintiffs' First Motion to Amend the Class Action Complaint

Motion to Amend Master Class Action Complaint - August 27, 2009

Brief in Support of Motion to Amend Master Class Action Complaint - September 10, 2009

Defendants' Brief in Opposition to Motion to Amend Master Class Action Complaint - September 28, 2009

Class Plaintiffs' Reply Brief to Motion to Amend Master Class Action Complaint - October 13, 2009

Order Denying Motion to Amend Master Class Action Complaint - November 20, 2009

 

Plaintiffs' Second Motion to Amend the Class Action Complaint

Class Plaintiffs' Brief in Support of Second Motion to Amend the Master Class Action Complaint - December 30, 2009

Defendants' Brief in Opposition to Second Motion to Amend the Master Class Action Complaint - January 22, 2010

Class Plaintiffs' Reply Brief to Second Motion to Amend the Master Class Action Complaint - February 12, 2010

Order Denying Second Motion to Amend Class Action Complaint - March 1, 2010

 

Motions to Dismiss

Defendant Powell's Motion to Dismiss - March 22, 2010

Private Facility Defendants' Motion to Dismiss - March 22, 2010

Private Facility Defendants' Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss - March 22, 2010

Defendant Powell's Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss - March 22, 2010

Mericle Defendants' Motion to Dismiss - March 22, 2010

Mericle Defendants' Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss - March 22, 2010

Defendants' Joint Brief in Support of Motions to Dismiss - March 22, 2010

Defendant Luzerne County's Motion to Dismiss - April 1, 2010

Defendant Luzerne County's Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss - April 1, 2010

Plaintiffs' Brief in Opposition to Motions to Dismiss - May 10, 2010

Plaintiffs' Brief in Opposition to Luzerne County's Motion to Dismiss - May 10, 2010

Defendant Powell's Motion to Dismiss Reply Brief - June 1, 2010

Defendants' Joint Motion to Dismiss Reply Brief - June 1, 2010

Mericle Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Reply Brief - June 1, 2010

Order Granting Defendant Luzerne County's Motion to Dismiss - July 9, 2010

Order Regarding Motion to Dismiss - August 24, 2010

Details

Case Number
3:09 CV 357
Type
Direct
Date
February 26, 2009
Court
United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
State of Origin
Pennsylvania

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