24 July 2009

Judge Plans to Stay on Massey Case

A Mingo County Circuit judge has rejected as untrue or moot the various arguments raised by plaintiffs seeking his recusal from a mining pollution case against a subsidiary of Massey Energy Co., The Associated Press and others report.

Judge Michael Thornsbury said he's not friends with Massey CEO Don Blankenship, as the plaintiffs had alleged. They had also cited Thornsbury's choice of his business partner and former campaign manager to oversee a fund set up in the case, but the judge said the man turned down the post.

"Thornsbury also denied giving Massey preferential treatment, noting he compelled Blankenship to give a deposition in the case," the AP article said. "Nor has Blankenship contributed to his election campaign, Thornsbury said, although lawyers on both sides of the case have done so."

The Charleston Gazette quotes from Thornsbury's seven-page response to the recusal request. "This court has presided over hundreds of cases involving this defendant in the past thirteen years, including similar lawsuits involving hundreds of plaintiffs which proceeded to jury verdicts. This court has no relationship with the defendant which would necessitate recusal."

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