U.S. Supreme Court Stays Out of West Virginia Damages Case

December 3, 2008

The U.S. Supreme Court is refusing to enter a politically charged case from West Virginia, a major coal producing state, that involves a large punitive damages award and allegations of bias by a state judge.

In an order this week, the justices turned down coal giant Massey Energy Co.’s challenge to a $260 million jury verdict, which includes $100 million in punitive damages, in a dispute with Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Co.

The West Virginia Supreme Court already refused unanimously to review the award.

Massey wanted the U.S. high court to take the case because it alleges that one state justice, Larry Starcher, is biased against the company and its chief executive, Don Blankenship.

Separately, Massey and Blankenship are involved in another case that the high court has agreed to review, involving yet another state justice who was elected with the help of more than $3 million Blankenship spent on his behalf.

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