On November 30, 2011, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted the Motion to Dismiss filed by Elliott Greenleaf on behalf of Luzerne County, its Commissioners and its County officials. This was the final Order in a series of Orders issued by U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo that dismissed Luzerne County and its officials in complex and consolidated class actions and hundreds of individual actions.
In a series of complex procedural maneuvers, teams of experienced lawyers for the Plaintiffs asserted sophisticated legal theories against Luzerne County, its Commissioners, its Probation Department, its Officers and its District Attorneys.
In the final November 30, 2011 Opinion, in the cases consolidated under the caption Florence Wallace, et al. v. Robert J. Powell, et al, Judge Caputo dismissed the Plaintiffs’ final attempt to assert a claim against the Luzerne County Defendants, “This motion will be granted. In its ruling on plaintiffs’ leave to amend, this Court held that plaintiffs proposed second amended complaint failed to state any claims against [the] Luzerne County [Defendants] and denied the motion for leave to amend as to claims against these defendants. However, perhaps misunderstanding the Court’s ruling, plaintiffs submitted their second amended complaint with claims against these defendants. Since, as the Court has already held, plaintiffs have failed to any state claims against these defendants, their motion to dismiss will be granted.” Previously, in the related action Belanger v. Ciavarella, U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo found that the allegations lodged against a former Luzerne County Commissioner “remain in the hazy realm of innuendo, conjecture, and implication….” The Belanger plaintiffs’ lawyers alleged that a County Commissioner either participated in the conspiracy to pay kickbacks to two former Luzerne County judges — Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan — in return for placing juveniles in private, for-profit facilities, or, at a minimum, that the Commissioner “knew that something was improper, did nothing to address it and, in fact, actively worked to facilitate it.” Judge Caputo reasoned that the allegations against the former Commissioner “are too nebulous to state a claim for relief” and “provide no facts connecting any of the actions of the Luzerne County defendants to the underlying conspiracy in any meaningful way.”
After successfully stopping the plaintiffs from being allowed to amend their Complaint to assert these nebulous allegations, the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice reported that Elliott Greenleaf’s Managing Shareholder of its Wilkes-Barre and Scranton offices, John Dean, predicted on April 30, 2011 that the Court would grant the County’s Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. The Legal Intelligencer similarly reported on May 3, 2011 that “[t]he ruling is a victory for Luzerne County’s defense team led by attorney Timothy T. Myers of Elliott Greenleaf & Siedzikowski because the plaintiffs are unable to establish liability on the part of the county if they cannot establish that county officials shared responsibility for the scandal.” The November 30, 2011 Order now confirms and finalizes the victory.