Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Former Ciavarella Case Being Litigated Back in Luzerne County

A case entitled Joseph v. The Scranton Times, No. 3816-Civil-2002 (Luz. Co. Dec. 13, 2010, Van Jura, J.), formerly handled by Mark A. Ciavarella when he was a Luzerne County Judge, is back at the trial court level and is being litigated now in front of Judge Joseph Van Jura.

The Citizens’ Voice matter stems from a verdict Ciavarella entered in favor of Joseph following a non-jury trial in 2006. The case centered on a series of articles the newspaper ran in 2001 regarding searches that were conducted at the home and business of Joseph and William “Billy” D’Elia. Joseph was never charged with any crime in connection with the searches. He filed suit against the newspaper, alleging the articles damaged his reputation.

You may recall that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court previously overturned Ciavarella's $3.5 million defamation verdict against The Citizens’ Voice newspaper and ordered a new trial, ruling there was a “pervasive appearance of impropriety” in how the case was assigned to and handled by former Luzerne County judge Mark Ciavarella.

On remand for a new trial, the case was assigned to Judge Van Jura in Luzerne County. With his December 13, 2010 Opinion and Order, Judge Van Jura addressed an Omnibus Motion for Summary Judgment filed on behalf of all of the Defendants.

After applying the facts to the law on a variety of defamation-type issues, the court granted the Defendants' Motion in part and denied it in part.

Anyone desiring a copy of this Opinion by Judge Van Jura, which contains thorough recitations of the law applicable to defamation actions, may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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