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Justice-owned coal company found not guilty

BECKLEY, W.Va. — A Wyoming County jury returned a verdict Thursday clearing Mechel Bluestone coal company of responsibility for 16 cases of well water contamination in the Cedar Creek area, confirmed attorneys on the case.

The jury deliberated five hours after it was presented three weeks of maps, data and expert witnesses.

On Wednesday, plaintiff Paulette Blankenship said she feared it would be hard to get a verdict in coal country.

Plaintiffs’ Attorney David Barney Jr. said his firm has concerns beyond trying the case in the coal belt.

“We are concerned about undue influence on the jury. Trying a case in coal country is one thing, but we are concerned some things occurred that made the jury feel they had no other option but to render the verdict they did,” he said.

During closing arguments on Wednesday, United Mine Workers sat in the courtroom wearing shirts with the UMW insignia. The union has endorsed Mechel Bluestone owner Jim Justice for governor…

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