Justice companies’ pattern of litigation grinds us all down

Ambrose Bierce defined litigation best.
“Litigation: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.”
For a second time this month Gov. Jim  Justice’s companies went into that machine with an agency of the federal government.
Unlike the legal clash with the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, this time  the governor’s businesses struck first.
As the DOJ prepared to sue the Justice family’s companies on account of the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) those companies sued the OSM.
Unlike the $4.7 million these companies owe MSHA for nearly 2,300 mine safety violation, no dollar value was attached to the 114  violations in dispute with OSM.
Nor was the exact nature of these violations known, though it’s probably safe to say some involve reclamation work.
The lawsuit by Justice’s companies against OSM, much like the response to the DOJ’s suit on behalf of MSHA, maintain politics is at the heart of both these lawsuits.
The governor and his family contend that in both these cases these agencies did an abrupt turnaround amid, up to then, progress toward a settlement.
We are not going to comment on the idea that nefarious political adversaries or other agencies in the federal government are behind these legal actions.
Nor will we now on the fact that this pattern of bad business practices did not just emerge yesterday.
What we are going to comment on are two aspects of this lawsuit against OSM, that should stick in the craw of every West Virginian.
One is the unnerving contention that OSM should weigh the risk of causing jobs to be lost if it enforces regulations and laws. We like to think anyone who owns a company providing such jobs should consider that long before violating regulations and laws.
A second point in the litigation against OSM is that another federal lawsuit will further damage the companies’ reputation. And here we thought those other federal subpoenas, unpaid taxes, vendors’ lawsuits and so on were hurting the bottom line.
But worse here is what does anyone think this is doing to West Virginia’s reputation?
We don’t need another West Virginia Day like last year’s when a state Supreme Court justice was indicted on 22 charges. Do we?
It’s apparent a lot of other shoes are going to drop before next year’s election cycle. And litigation is certainly going to  grind up some political ambitions in the process.
But to keep our state’s integrity whole we must refute the worst business practices of the governor’s companies.

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