Arguments set in Massey appeal

Justin Anderson Jul. 15, 2009, 11:11am


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - Arguments have been set in the West Virginia Supreme Court for the third round of Massey Energy's appeal of a $50 million verdict against it.

Justices will hear arguments on Sept. 8 after the U.S. Supreme Court remanded the matter back to West Virginia, having ruled that Chief Justice Brent Benjamin should have stepped down from voting on the case.

The U.S. Supreme Court said last month that the $3 million Massey chief Don Blankenship spent on advertising against Benjamin's opponent in the 2004 general election, former Justice Warren McGraw, brought about the appearance of impropriety on Benjamin's part.

Hugh M. Caperton, operator of Harman Mining, had appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court after Benjamin repeatedly refused to step down from hearing the case despite Caperton's calls for him to do so.

The adverse verdict against Massey came from a case brought by Harman, claiming that Massey drove it into financial straits through fraud.

A Boone County jury in 2002 agreed with Harman.

But the state Supreme Court twice overturned the verdict in Massey's favor.

After the second ruling, Harman appealed the case to the highest court in the nation, which ruled 5-4 to remand the matter back to West Virginia.

Dissenters in the U.S. Supreme Court said the ruling opens the doors for litigants to go shopping for judges that they hope will be more sympathetic to their cases.

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