A business strategy founded on a lot of ‘years of injustice’

You might say it takes one to know one.
A notable English lawyer and writer once said, “If someone tries to steal your watch, by all means fight them off.
If someone sues you for your watch, hand it over and be glad you got away so lightly.”
That’s the impression we get from the saga playing out in at least one federal courtroom over Gov. Jim Justice and his family’s business strategy.
Let’s be clear, it would take a wall-size cork bulletin board, if not a theater-size screen, to track the litigation trailing the governor in several states. Connecting the dots to his businesses’ delinquent fines, “slow-paid” bills, unpaid taxes, his alleged “shell” companies and this spring’s federal subpoenas for state documents is no simple feat.
In the latest chapter of this saga, attorneys for Justice recently requested a federal lawsuit to collect mine safety violation fines be dismissed because nine of the 23 companies cited in that litigation filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia were brought under headquarters in Raleigh County and their operations are in West Virginia.
That’s despite a separate lawsuit brought by Justice companies in March that listed all nine companies with headquarters in Roanoke, Va.
We’re unsure about the finer points of federal law on this case of jurisdiction. But this motion to dismiss goes to the heart of the obfuscation by the Justice businesses.
Using litigation to frustrate agencies and courts is nothing new and Justice’s companies did not invent it.
However, at times, we have to think these companies have worked this strategy down to a science.
Take just the fact that in a five-year period those 23 companies racked up 2,297 mine safety violations.
Which total $4.7 million in mine act penalties and interest, which these companies deny they are obligated to pay.
As noted, hundreds of mining operations’ response to such violations and fines follow this pattern.
But what aggrieves us about all this despite our governor’s role in it, is this has being going on for a long, long time.
In 2009, describing Justice’s companies, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis wrote, “they all exhibit the same attitude toward penalty assessments — an attitude of carelessness, indifference, and outright evasion.”
Other sources familiar with the longtime operation of Justice companies point to the same pattern of being among top mine delinquent debtors.
What’s worse is that this pattern penalizes those companies that play by the rules and pay their civil penalties in a timely fashion.
The longtime editor of an independent research publication put it best:
“It has just been years of injustice.”

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