Court filing seeking action against Powell withdrawn in “Kids for Cash” case

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | April 28th, 2016 8:48 pm

Attorneys representing juveniles and parents in the “Kids for Cash” case have withdrawn a court action filed earlier this week that asked a judge to order Robert J. Powell and the Powell Law Group to pay $33,643 required in a settlement agreement.

The original lawsuit claimed juveniles, their parents and guardians suffered harm at the hands of former county judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan and others who were involved in a $2.8 million kickback scheme connected to the construction of two for-profit, private juvenile detention centers and the placement of youths in the facilities.

Powell, a Hazleton area native who now resides in Florida, served time for failing to report a crime related to the kickback scheme.

The filing earlier this week said the “Powell defendants” still owe $33,643 dating back to December as part of a settlement in exchange for dismissal from the suit.

The attorneys sought additional interest and legal fees.

Attorney Stephen Stallings filed a memorandum in opposition on April 27, saying the plaintiffs’ attempt to force payment “ignores or glosses over” a prior agreement between both sides to remedy the alleged remaining balance before May 1.

“Contrary to the plaintiffs’ motion, there has been no deliberate breach of the master settlement agreement, there is no threat whatsoever of any shortfall in the settlement funds, and there has been no default under the agreement,” Stallings’ filing says.

Stallings said he has the $33,643 in escrow and was awaiting confirmation of the correct amount that must be paid in a telephonic hearing that was scheduled on April 28.

His filing said Powell paid $4.7 million in December believing that payment fulfilled his settlement obligation, and the plaintiffs did not provide notification that his payment amount was insufficient until April 6.

The plaintiffs’ filing was “wholly unnecessary and inconsistent with good faith efforts to meet and confer” and led to a “damaging” newspaper article, Stallings’ filing said.

As part of the settlement, Powell and the law firm he created may be required to pay up to $2.5 million more based on his net worth calculated by the end of 2016. Powell company Vision Holdings LLC also is part of the settlement.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.