Luzerne County, PA can not be liable in corruption scandal, judge rules

“A federal judge has ruled that Luzerne County cannot be held liable in the kids-for-cash corruption scandal that has led to criminal charges against two of the county’s ex-judges because no county officials with policymaking authority played any role in the alleged scheme. In an opinion handed down on Friday, US District Judge A. Richard Caputo concluded that Luzerne County must be dismissed from a spate of civil rights suits filed by juveniles who claim their custodial terms were tied to a bribery scheme in which former Judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. allegedly took payments in excess of $2.8 million in return for promising to sentence juvenile offenders to for-profit detention centers.” Under “the separation of powers in Pennsylvania government, Caputo found, county judges are always considered state actors, not county officials.” As reported in the The Legal Intelligencer (7/14, Duffy).

Other allegations in this scandal involved collusive selection of lawyers hearing underinsured motorists cases. At Liever, Hyman & Potter these are important cases for our clients injured in automobile accidents. When someone is severely injured we can often not only pursue money damages against the other driver’s insurance but also claim substantial pay ments from our own clients’ insurance policies based on the fact that the other driver did not have enough liability insurance. Make sure that your auto/truck/motorcycle policies have adequate underinsured motorist coverage (at least the same amount as your bodily injury liability coverage).

JOHN BADAL, auto, truck and motorcycle accident lawyer for more than 30 years with the personal injury law firm of Liever, Hyman & Potter, Reading, PA, serving Berks County and Schuylkill County.

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