Luzerne County Officials Take Steps to Settle Decade-Long Lawsuit

LUZERNE COUNTY -- Luzerne County officials took a step to settle a nearly decade-long lawsuit against Lackawanna County.

That suit was filed in 2010 over the sale of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders to the New York Yankees.

With a majority vote of seven to four, the Luzerne County Council made the decision to settle a seven-year lawsuit against Lackawanna County for $4 million.

“Lackawanna County has made a proposal, Luzerne County will be voting on that proposal tonight,” said Luzerne County Manager David Pedri. “And the goal is really to finally put this thing to bed. It's been kicked around for a long time and the citizens of northeastern Pennsylvania need to work together, not against each other.”

The lawsuit, filed in 2010, was over the sale of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders by the Lackawanna County Stadium Authority to the New York Yankees for $14.6 million.

Luzerne County cited a 1986 contract which stipulated that the county was owed half of the fair market value of the New York Yankees top minor league team if it was ever sold.

But Lackawanna County said it used those proceeds to match a grant to renovate the team's stadium, PNC Field, and felt Luzerne County was not entitled to those funds.

At a council meeting, members decided to accept an offer of $4 million for the sale of the team but county residents said half of the nearly $15 million sale price is closer to eight, not four.

“You're going to collect four million, you've already paid out $300,000. Okay, they're going to pickup of $10.6 million, what do you do, want to hold the empty bag all the time,” said Ed Chesnovitch.

“Don't crumble on this, the money is owed to us. Take them to court. Fight it out. Get the most you can for the people of this county, that's who you represent,” said Brian Shiner.

“We need every dollar we can get, especially with $8 million which is much more than $4 million and we could do twice the amount of damage and get rid of as much debt as we can,” said Gregory Wolovich. “I certainly believe that the people of this county deserve that $8 million and we should fight as hard as we can to make sure that our residents are given the money that they're owed.”

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