By: Lawrence Leamer

This is a riveting story featuring two of my former law partners, Dave Fawcett and Bruce Stanley, in epic legal struggle against Don Blankenship, the head of Massey Energy and a powerful force in West Virginia politics.

While there are some side legal battles between the protagonists, the central courtroom drama involves a plaintiff, Hugh Mason Caperton, represented by Fawcett and Stanley, asserting that Blankenship had tortiously and fraudulently destroyed Caperton and his company. After obtaining a $50,000,000 verdict in a West Virginia trial court, Fawcett and Stanley seemed to have prevailed. Instead, the story really starts there.

Blankenship and Massey ultimately appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. Initially, it seemed that the trial court judgment would be upheld, but Fawcett and Stanley ignored the fact that an election to the Supreme Court was pending. Blankenship donated massive amounts of money to the candidate favorable to him and, in a great surprise, steals the election. The newly elected justice refuses to recuse himself from the Caperton case, and the court overturns the trial court’s judgment in favor of the plaintiff. I will not ruin the suspenseful drama except to say that the United States Supreme Court eventually becomes involved.

Although the conduct of Blankenship is, without question, outrageous, the author’s portrayal of the players is a bit too “black-and-white” for me. Nonetheless, I am proud of my former partners in their zealous representation of their client, and I think that you will share this opinion in reading a Grisham-like non-fiction thriller.

-- Bob Kopf