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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    Energy Conglomerates Want Taxpayers to Fund A new Court so they can have their way

    Most of West Virginia's Supreme Court justices question the need for a midlevel appeals court, a proposal raised after they refused to hear two cases involving a combined $664 million in damages.

    The four justices cite the expected price tag of adding another layer to the state's judicial system.

    "A big concern is that West Virginia taxpayers could be responsible for tremendous costs associated with a new level of judges, clerks, administrators and facilities,'' Justice Brent Benjamin said.

    The others include Justice Larry Starcher, who had proposed setting up a three-judge court for workers' compensation and administrative appeals earlier in his term, and Justice Robin Davis.

    Noting that any such move would require legislation, Davis, Benjamin and Justice Joseph Albright also caution lawmakers not to pursue such a proposal as a reaction to the recently turned-down appeals.

    Unanimous votes last month rejected appeals of a $260 million judgment against Massey Energy and a $404 million verdict against NiSource and Chesapeake Energy. The outcomes prompted an outcry from those defendants, who vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Chesapeake has also blamed the refusal in its case, a class-action lawsuit filed by thousands of gas royalty holders, for its scuttling of plans to build a $35 million regional headquarters in Charleston.

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