Caperton asks W.Va. SC to reconsider $50M ruling

John O'Brien Dec. 2, 2009, 5:17pm


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - Faced with his third disappointing decision from the West Virginia Supreme Court, Harman Mining owner Hugh Caperton is asking the court to reconsider its latest.

Caperton filed a motion Wednesday asking the court reverse its recent 4-1 decision that overturned a $50 million Boone County verdict in his favor, according to The Associated Press. The case made national news when Caperton asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that Justice Brent Benjamin should not be allowed to hear it.

A 3-2 decision in 2007 in favor of Massey overturned the verdict before Caperton complained about the relationship between Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship and then-Justice Spike Maynard. The two had been photographed together in Monaco, where they claim they had been vacationing separately at the same time.

In March 2008, the justices (minus Maynard) again voted 3-2 in favor of Massey, and Caperton complained that Benjamin shouldn't have participated because Blankenship spent millions of dollars supporting his 2004 campaign.

The issue came before the U.S. Supreme Court in March, and it ruled in a 5-4 vote that Benjamin should have recused himself, setting the stage for a third decision.

That decision, like the other two, focused on a forum-selection clause in a coal supply contract between the two parties. It said all disputes arising from the contract must be brought in a county in Virginia.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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