Coal Tattoo

Caperton vs. Massey, redux


As my buddy Paul Nyden reported over the weekend, the rehearing of the big Hugh Caperton vs. Massey Energy case is set for an argument before the state Supreme Court on Tuesday, the day after the Labor Day holiday.

Of course, this rehearing comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that West Virginia’s Chief Justice, Brent Benjamin, should have recused himself from the case because Massey CEO Don Blankenship spent millions to bankroll Benjamin’s election to the court in 2004.

Sometimes lost in the political debates over Blankenship and Benjamin is the underlying case, which Nyden recounts in his most recent story:

Located near Grundy, Va., Harman Mining sold coal to LTV through a contract signed with Wellmore Coal and its parent company, United Coal. Massey acquired those companies on July 31, 1997.

Within weeks, Massey and Blankenship hijacked Harman’s contract and began sending coal to LTV from its own Boone County mines, according to Stanley’s July 28 motion to the West Virginia Supreme Court.

And, Nyden points out:

Four of the five state justices who will hear this case were not on the court when Massey appealed the Boone County verdict.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Acting Justice Davis named James O. Holliday, a retired Putnam County judge, to replace Benjamin on the case.

Other new justices include Margaret Workman and Menis Ketchum, who were elected to the state Supreme Court in 2008, and Thomas McHugh, a former Supreme Court justice chosen to replace Joseph Albright after his death earlier this year.

You can read briefs filed in the case by pointing your browser here,  and watch a Web cast of the argument here. The Supreme Court calendar says the argument will start at 2 p.m.