Parties reach $2.5 million settlement in 'Kids for Cash' litigation

By Jon Campisi | Oct 21, 2013

Three companies that operated for-profit detention centers tied to the so-

called “Kids for Cash” scandal in northeastern Pennsylvania have agreed to settle for $2.5 million civil claims brought by children sent to the facilities and their parents.

The Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia announced last week that PA Child Care LLC, Western PA Child Care LLC and Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp. agreed to the proposed settlement with youngsters who were sent to the detention centers, located in both Pittston, Luzerne County and Emlenton, Butler County, by since-imprisoned former Luzerne County Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr.

Ciavarella, who at the time served as a family court judge overseeing juvenile cases, was sentenced to nearly three decades in state prison for his role in the scandal.

He had been convicted of racketeering and conspiracy.

A colleague, Michael T. Conahan, who previously served as the president judge of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, was sent to prison for more than 17 years in connection with his role in the juvenile justice scandal, the largest one of its kind in Pennsylvania history.

The two disgraced former judges and the three companies that operated the for-profit detention centers were defendants in the civil litigation, which named as plaintiffs thousands of juveniles who claim they received harsh punishments that didn’t fit their minor offenses.

The youngsters and their parents alleged that the judges took kickbacks in return for sending the kids to the privately operated corrections facilities.

The Juvenile Law Center stated in its Oct. 17 announcement that as part of the mutually-agreed upon settlement, the defendants, known collectively as the “Provider Parties,” have never been accused of failing to provide services that they were contracted to provide to any juvenile included in the settlement class.

The youngsters and their parents also acknowledge that any claims regarding the juveniles’ care and treatment while detained at the facilities in Luzerne and Pittston Counties are officially withdrawn, the Law Center stated.

The settlement, in which the defendants do not admit to any wrongdoing, liability or breach of duty, still must be approved by U.S. District Judge Richard Caputo, who sits in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

If the jurist approves of the settlement, the Provider Defendants will be released from any further liability.

Litigation against Ciavarella and Conahan, however, will continue, as it will against Robert Powell and his company, Vision Holdings, the settlement announcement notes.

Powell, a local attorney, is the owner of the three companies that ran the detention centers.

The juveniles and their parents were represented by the Juvenile Law Center in addition to attorneys Daniel Segal and Rebecca Santoro Melley of the firm Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller.

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