CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Seven coal and fuel companies owned by Jim Justice, the owner of The Greenbrier resort, are being sued for allegedly not paying their bills.
Beckley-based Phillips Machine Services filed suit on Oct. 8, asking for a total of about $1.1 million from the Justice-owned companies. Phillips Machine Services makes and rebuilds equipment used in coal mines.
Justice filed a counter-suit on Friday, requesting $7.5 million. Raleigh County Circuit Court confirmed that a counter-suit was filed, but could not provide a copy or details of the suit on Friday afternoon.
"It just involves services that we felt they should have done that they didn't do," Justice said on Friday. "This is a dispute with, in all honesty, good friends, because we think a lot of these people."
The original lawsuit is the latest of a string of payment disputes involving Justice.
"Everybody will always get paid," Justice said. "But I'm running 81 companies now and you can't commingle everything that they do. You may have an agriculture company doing really good, but you can't run ag funds over here with XYZ and move XYZ to ABC."
With an estimated worth of $1.6 billion, Justice is often ranked as the richest person in West Virginia. Forbes magazine ranked him as the 342nd richest person in the country, as of September 2013. Justice bought The Greenbrier in 2009, saving it from bankruptcy.
The resort now has about 1,800 employees and an annual PGA tour golf tournament.
But Justice has been accused of not paying his debts several times in the last few years.
"Everyone in the coal business today is hurting," Justice said Friday. "The business is tough and everybody is doing everything they can possibly do to keep people employed and things moving along and get people paid."
In June, the Associated Press reported that at least nine lawsuits had been filed against Justice since the beginning of last year. Five of the suites were filed in Kentucky, two in Tennessee and two in Virginia. At least four of those suits, which sought more than $1 million, have been settled, the AP reported.
On Friday, Justice said that most of those disputes had been settled.