A while back, loathsome mountaintop-mining outfit Massey Energy was hit with a $50 million judgment in a West Virginia court, in a ruling that they had illegally driven other area mining companies out of business. They appealed to the W. Va. Supreme Court, which overturned the ruling in a vote of 3-2.

Later, pictures turned up of loathsome Massey CEO Don Blankenship vacationing on the French Riviera with W. Va. Supreme Court justice Elliott “Spike” Maynard — one of those three votes — way back in 2006, as the case was being litigated.

They were both in Monte Carlo by coincidence, Massey claimed. They just got a few meals together! On three consecutive nights! With “two females apparently traveling with them as companions”! Oops.

Anyway, the W. Va. Supreme Court has now unanimously decided to rehear the case. Probably a good call.

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In other news I didn’t get around to mentioning at the time, a while back a judge hit Massey with a whopping $20 million in civil-penalty fines for pollution under the Clean Water Act. It was the largest such judgment ever, the result of a two-year EPA investigation that turned up more than 4,500 violations over seven years. In some cases Massey was discharging slurry that contained more than ten times the permitted levels of heavy metals and sediment. The company claimed it was settling not because it was guilty — no sir! — but simply because it wanted to protect its shareholders from the “uncertainties” of litigation. Mm-hm.

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