Last updated: February 17. 2013 8:04AM - 171 Views

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SCRANTON – An attorney for real estate developer Robert Mericle has notified a judge Mericle does not intend to exercise his right to opt out of a $17.75 million settlement in the "kids for cash" case.

The decision clears the way for attorneys to continue to work to finalize the agreement for roughly 1,000 juveniles who have filed claims seeking a portion of the settlement.

Mericle was among numerous defendants who were named in lawsuits filed by juveniles who claimed they were improperly incarcerated by former Judge Mark Ciavarella at two juvenile detention centers that were built by Mericle.

Mericle reached a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs in December.

The agreement gave him the option to pull out of the deal, however, if too many juveniles chose not to take part in the settlement, which could expose him to additional liability.

In an Oct. 4 letter to U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo, Eric Kraeutler, Mericle's attorney, said he's been advised that just 14 juveniles have opted out of the settlement agreement. Based on that, Mericle has decided to go through with the settlement.

Caputo has scheduled a hearing for Nov. 15 to review the case to determine whether or not the settlement agreement should be approved.

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