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WV Governor’s Coal Company Settles with BrickStreet Mutual in Payment Dispute

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The hits keep coming for West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and his coal companies.

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The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals last week agreed to dismiss an appeal brought by Justice’s Southern Coal Corp. against its workers’ compensation insurer, BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Co., after the two sides had reached a settlement in a long-running legal dispute.

The appeal came after the federal district court for the Western District of Virginia ordered Southern Coal to pay BrickStreet more than $500,000, plus penalties. The coal company, like a number of coal firms, has faced financial difficulties as coal consumption has dropped sharply, nationwide. It had filed suit against BrickStreet in 2019 over the insurer’s alleged underperformance.

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BrickStreet, the successor to the West Virginia state-run workers’ comp insurer, filed a counterclaim, arguing that Southern Coal had had failed to pay anything into a loss fund and had failed to reimburse the insurer for claims and expenses, per its contractual obligations.

The district judge in February dismissed Southern Coal’s arguments that it was out of business and was in no position to pay. The judge found the firm in civil contempt, ordering fines of $2,500 per day. Southern Coal appealed, but the parties agreed to a settlement before the 4th Circuit made a ruling in the case.

The terms of the settlement were not reported in court documents. In March, Southern Coal agreed to pay some $14,500 to help cover BrickStreet’s attorney fees, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

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Justice, who is term-limited for another term as governor but is now running for the U.S. Senate, and his family have been named in multiple legal actions over his coal and other companies. Justice’s companies also have been cited for being late in paying fines for unsafe working conditions at the coal mines in West Virginia, and his companies face many other debts, the New York Times reported.

A Virginia bank said earlier this year it had planned to auction off land at Justice’s famed resort, the Greenbrier Sporting Club, in order to recover more than $300 million on defaulted business loans.

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Top photo: Gov. Jim Justice in 2023. (AP Photo/Chris Jackson, File)

Topics
Virginia
West Virginia

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