Below is a reposted article by Erik Mark from thetime-tribune.com. It reads..
Robert J. Powell, a key player in the kids-for-cash scandal, has reached a
$4.75 million settlement of a class-action suit with juveniles improperly jailed in a detention center he co-owned.
A settlement agreement in the six-year-old case was filed on Tuesday in U.S. Middle District Court in Scranton.
Powell, a former Drums-based lawyer, could be required to pay out more money to settle the suit, depending on his net worth after other legal actions he is involved in are completed, according to the terms of the agreement.
The settlement must still be approved by a federal judge before it becomes official.
Powell, 55, served an 18-month prison sentence after admitting he paid more than $700,000 in bribes to former Luzerne County judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan, who funneled juveniles to his detention center.
The scheme made national headlines and sent Powell, Ciavarella, Conahan and local developer Robert Mericle to prison.
The class-action suit filed against Powell and other kids-for-cash figures in 2009 previously resulted in a $17.75 million settlement with Mericle, who built the detention center and is serving a year in prison for failing to report a felony.
In the 25-page settlement agreement released Tuesday, Powell does not admit guilt.
“While denying any liability, the Powell defendants also consider it desirable that the actions be settled and ended so as to halt the substantial cost of litigation,” the agreement reads, in part.
The settlement class — those who qualify for a piece of the settlement money — includes all juveniles who appeared before Ciavarella between Jan. 1, 2003 and May 28, 2008 and were adjudicated delinquent or “placed,” according to the agreement.
It also includes parents of juveniles who were adjudicated delinquent or placed by Ciavarella, who suffered financial loss or “any loss of companionship and/or familial integrity” for which they have not been reimbursed.
The settlement makes provision for those who wish to opt out and pursue a separate claim against Powell.
The settlement money will be deposited into an escrow account at PNC Bank, according to the agreement. A first payment of $200,000 must be made within 30 days, while the remaining balance of the $4.75 million must be deposited by Dec. 21. Once the account is fully funded, the money will be distributed among the plaintiffs in the case, after subtracting attorneys’ fees.
The total monetary damages might increase, depending on Powell’s net worth as of Dec. 21, 2016, or 30 days after two legal actions Powell is involved in are settled and he receives all fees and expenses which he is awarded.
One of those actions is the settlement of Tronox, Inc. vs. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., in which Powell represented plaintiffs in an environmental contamination case involving a Kerr-McGee creosote plant near Avoca.
The other legal action concerns dueling lawsuits that Powell and his former business partner Gregory Zappala filed against each other.
Last month, Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo stayed two lawsuits between Powell and Zappala, pending settlement negotiations between them.
Powell and Zappala co-owned the for-profit juvenile detention centers to which Ciavarella and Conahan funneled children while taking $2.8 million in cash from Powell and Mericle.
Powell pleaded guilty in July 2009 to failing to report a felony and being an accessory to a crime. He was later sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and was permanently disbarred.
Marc Primo Pulisci is a Los Angeles based attorney fighting for the rights of consumers and employees like you.