Dragonetti action: To be or not to be

/ 12.Aug, 2014
Can a person take recourse to the Dragonetti Act when there has been no final termination of action in his favor despite his voluntary dismissal from civil action? The question is back in focus with one of the co-owners of juvenile detention facilities at the center of the “kids-for-cash” judicial scandal of Luzerne County knocking on the doors of the Supreme Court for being able to pursue Dragonetti actions against law firms that sued him. The supreme court will consider whether the voluntary dismissal of Zappala without prejudice at his request and insistence before the proceedings had progressed to any meaningful extent is sufficient to establish the proceeding terminated “in favor of” Zappala. Gregory R. Zappala, the co-owner of PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care, contended he had no involvement with his partner Robert Powell’s scheme to pay kickbacks to two Luzerne County judges in return for the judges sending juveniles to the two facilities. Jeffrey B. McCarron of Swartz Campbell, defense counsel for lawyers and their law firm sued by Powell said he was surprised that the Supreme Court granted the appeal given the lower court’s ruling was specific to the facts of this case and did not indicate a general rule precluding Dragonetti Act cases whenever there is an involuntary dismissal. Also, McCarron indicated Zappala likely cannot establish favorable termination even if the supreme court agrees with him now that there is a court approved settlement agreement and release negotiated by Zappala’s lawyers which specifically released Zappala and he was a member of the companies identified as providing the settlement payment. For more on this case, go to