December 21, 2012
First "Kids for Cash" Settlement Approved
Last Friday, U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo gave final approval to a $17.75 million settlement in the Luzerne County, PA “kids for cash” cases with real estate developer Robert Mericle.
“While no amount of money can possibly restore what these children and families lost, this settlement validates their losses and will hopefully restore their faith in our justice system,” says Marsha Levick, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel at Juvenile Law Center.
The settlement provides basic benefits ranging from $500 to $5,000, depending upon where and how long a juvenile was incarcerated. The settlement also provides additional “enhanced” benefits for children who experienced more harm than others.
Basic settlement provisions are as follows:
Approximately $8 million has been set aside in an Enhanced Benefits Fund which will be distributed based upon a point system - awarding points to youth who can provide documentation or other proof they were harmed more severely. Any child who suffered psychological or emotional harm for which he or she received documented treatment will receive a certain number of EBF points, depending on the severity of the harm. A dollar value per point has not yet been determined because EBF points are still being calculated.
Juvenile Law Center was instrumental in exposing the scandal and spearheaded the effort to restore and protect the rights of Luzerne County youth.