Motion questions relationship between Maynard, Blankenship

By Greg Collard

gcollard@wvpubcast.org

The attorney for a bankrupt coal company has filed a motion that asks if Chief Justice Spike Maynard dined with Massey CEO Don Blankenship a few weeks before ruling in favor of Massey.

In November, the court overturned a Boone County verdict and ruled 3 – 2 in Massey’s favor in a case that relieved the company of $76 million dollars in damages to a company called Harman Mining.

Harman Mining attorney Bruce Stanley says he’s been informed that Blankenship and Maynard ate dinner together on November 8th at a restaurant in Logan. The ruling in Massey’s favor was issued November 21st.

“As we read the law in West Virginia, any judge has an affirmative obligation to disclose to all parties the nature of relationships that he might have with other individuals who are involved in litigation pending before that judge or justice,” Stanley said. “I think he has a duty to disclose the nature of that relationship. If they’re having dinner meetings, are they discussing our case? I mean, we think that’s a legitimate question.” 

Stanley would not disclose his source. Harman Mining has filed a petition to rehear the case in which Massey is accused of illegally forcing Harman out of business. Stanley says Maynard should recuse himself if he did have dinner with Blankenship.Maynard was in court Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

A spokesman at Massey Energy did not return a call seeking confirmation of the dinner meeting.This isn’t the first time that Maynard has been asked to recuse himself after being seen eating dinner with Blankenship. In 2004, Charleston attorney Stuart Calwell asked Maynard not to be involved in a case that blamed coal companies for widespread flooding after he was seen eating dinner with Blankenship in Charleston.

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