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Massey and Blankenship lose more decisions in Virginia court as Judge throws out "fishing expedition"

date: 
September 2, 2005

Fairfax County, Va. Judge Jane Marum Roush today ruled against Massey Energy and its CEO, Don Blankenship, thwarting their attempts to shore up their suit against the Charleston Gazette and the West Virginia Citizens for Justice.

"Don Blankenship and Massey Energy have now lost three out of three rounds in their attempt to silence the voices of West Virginians," said United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) President Cecil E. Roberts. "Their case against me and the UMWA was dismissed last week. Today they lost two more rounds, as their efforts to engage in a fishing expedition to drag the West Virginia Citizens for Justice (WVCJ) and the Charleston Gazette into a court they don't belong in were rebuffed."

Blankenship and Massey filed a defamation suit against the UMWA, Roberts, WVCJ and its head, West Virginia AFL-CIO President Ken Purdue, and the Gazette in Fairfax County, Va., in June. The UMWA's international headquarters are located in Fairfax County, but none of the other defendants are. WVCJ and the Gazette argued that any case against them should not have been filed in a Virginia court, since they had no ties to Virginia. Blankenship and Massey wanted to engage in discovery to see if there were any Virginia ties. Judge Roush denied their motion to do so.

"It's becoming more and more clear that this case never should have been filed," Roberts said. "Blankenship and Massey filed this case in a blatant effort to shut us all up and send a chill over the First Amendment rights of every West Virginian who may have a different view from Blankenship's. I can't speak for anyone else, but this union and this union leader have every intention of continuing to speak out on issues important to our members and working families in West Virginia."

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