WV Supreme Court Agrees to Reconsider Reversal of Massey Verdict

By Jeffrey V. Mehalic
West Virginia Business Litigation

January 24, 2008

The Supreme Court of Appeals has voted 5-0 to rehear A.T. Massey Coal Company, Inc.’s appeal of the $50 million verdict [ http://www.wvbusinesslitigationblog.com/2007/10/articles/litigation/supreme-court-hears-masseys-appeal-of-50-million-verdict-today/ ] obtained in 2002 by Hugh Caperton and companies he operated. The Court originally ruled 3-2 in November to reverse the verdict [ http://www.wvbusinesslitigationblog.com/2007/11/articles/appellate-decisions/west-virginia-supreme-court-reverses-50-million-verdict-against-massey/ ]. The case will be reargued on March 12.

Circuit Court Judge Donald Cookman was appointed to replace Chief Justice Elliott E. “Spike” Maynard, after the Chief Justice recused himself [ http://www.wvbusinesslitigationblog.com/2008/01/articles/appellate-decisions/chief-justice-recuses-himself-from-massey-case-plaintiffs-renew-disqualification-motion-against-another-justice/ ] amid allegations that his personal friendship with Massey Energy Company chairman Don Blankenship would affect his ability to be impartial. Justice Brent Benjamin, who appointed Judge Cookman, rejected a request by the Harman companies that he recuse himself [ http://www.wvbusinesslitigationblog.com/2008/01/articles/appellate-decisions/west-virginia-supreme-court-justice-refuses-request-for-recusal/ ], based on Blankenship's involvement in his 2004 campaign.

Here is the Associated Press story [ http://www.wsaz.com/news/headlines/14245262.html ], which includes Massey’s statement about the Supreme Court's decision to reconsider the verdict.

Also, I need to correct my post last Saturday about Justice Benjamin's refusal to recuse himself. In his statement, he said, in part, that, "Simply conclusory accusations and assumptions are plainly insufficient to support a motion for disqualification[,]" not "simply accusatory accusations," as I wrote.

Posted at 4:27 PM

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