Hugh M. Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Company, Inc.
U.S. Supreme Court
June 8, 2009
Facts: Hugh Caperton, C.E.O. of Harman mining (here on labeled as Caperton), filed a lawsuit against A.T. Massey Coal Company (here on labeled as Massey) alleging that Massey fraudulently canceled a coal supply contract with Harman Mining, resulting in its going out of business. In August 2002, a Boone County,West Virginia jury found in favor of Caperton and awarded $50 million in damages. Massey went on to appeal to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. During the interlocutory period Don Blankenship, C.E.O. of A.T. Massey Coal Company was involved in a campaign for the election of State Supreme court candidate Brent Benjamin against incumbent Justice Warren McGraw. Blankenship invested over $3 million in Benjamin's campaign through a non-profit organization called "And For The Sake of The Kids". Mcgraw lost to Benjamin in November 2004. When the case came before the West Virginia Supreme Court in 2007 the court ruled in favor of Massey and overturned the $50 million verdict in a split 3 to 2 decision. Caperton sought rehearing and the parties moved for disqualification of three of the five justices who decided the appeal. Photos had surfaced of Justice Spike Maynard vacationing in the French Riviera while the case was pending. Justice Maynard recused himself after possible bias due to friendship was brought into argument. Next, Blankenship petitioned for Justice Larry Starcher's recusal after the two shared a public feud over Blankenship's role in the 2004 elections. Caperton petitioned for the recusal of Justice Benjamin because of Blankenship's monetary contributions to his election campaign. Justice Benjamin declined, but Caperton was given a rehearing. In April 2008, the court again ruled in favor of Massey with Benjamin again joining the 3-2 majority. Caperton filed a petition with the United States Supreme Court concerning Blankenship's contributions...
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