23 May 2008

Appeal Refused in Record Verdict Gas Royalty Case

In an active day for the justices, West Virginia's Supreme Court has let stand a nearly $405 million verdict awarded in a Roane County class-action lawsuit, MetroNews reports.

In what may be a record verdict for the state, the judgment involves around 8,000 plaintiffs who sued over natural gas royalty payments. Punitive damages account for two-thirds of the verdict.

The defendants include NiSource. "President and CEO Robert C. Skaggs, Jr. said the company is surprised and disappointed with the West Virginia Court's decision not to hear its appeal," MetroNews reported.

"The Court's decision to not even address the substance of an appeal in a case of this significance, particularly in light of the $270 million in punitive damages awarded at the trial court level, is unprecedented and contrary to the most basic principles of fairness. We firmly believe in the merits of our position and will continue to vigorously pursue our arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court," he said in a statement.

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