Then, in July 1997, Massey bought United. In August, Wellmore told Caperton it would drop its coal purchases from a minimum of 573,000 tons required under Harman's 10-year contract with Wellmore, to 205,707 tons.
The ensuing problems -- including private meetings when Caperton mistakenly revealed his difficulties and future mining plans to Blankenship -- ended up forcing Harman to declare bankruptcy in May 1998.
"The Price of Justice" focuses many chapters on the West Virginia Supreme Court, especially on the opinions and rulings issued by Justices Robin Davis, Brent Benjamin and Elliott "Spike" Maynard.
During the 2004 Supreme Court election, Blankenship contributed $3 million of his own money to buy television ads to help elect Brent Benjamin, a Republican, to a 12-year term. Benjamin ended up beating incumbent Warren McGraw, a Democrat.
That 2004 election, Leamer writes, "was not about ideas, not good versus evil, not liberalism versus conservatism. It was about money and power. If Benjamin won the election, he would be beholden to Blankenship and his contributions. If McGraw won, he would be beholden to certain trial lawyers."
When the "trial lawyers' organization filed its election report, it appears that two or three major donors may have given at least $500,000 apiece," Leamer states.
After winning the 2004 election, Benjamin voted against Massey in several cases. But, Leamer points out, "his was not the crucial vote" in any of these cases. Benjamin voted for Massey in the Harman case, before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled he had to recuse himself because of the money Blankenship spent to elect him.
The 2008 Supreme Court election saw new controversies, when Maynard was running for a second 12-year term.
Maynard, a guaranteed vote for Blankenship and Massey, withdrew from sitting on the ongoing Caperton case after photographs were published showing him and Blankenship on vacation, with their girlfriends, along the French Riviera. Those photographs also played a role in Maynard's losing the Democratic primary.
"The Price of Justice" discusses ongoing contacts -- widely considered to be unethical -- between Maynard and Blankenship when the Boone County verdict was being appealed to the state Supreme Court.
In November 2007, Charleston lawyer Scott Segal hosted a fundraiser at his home that raised more than $100,000 for Maynard. Segal is married to Robin Davis, another Supreme Court justice, who played a central role in the court's three votes against awarding damages to Caperton and Harman Mining.
In the wake of the April 2010 explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine on the Raleigh-Boone County border that killed 29 miners, Blankenship resigned and Massey Energy was sold to Alpha Natural Resources in January 2011.
Then Gov. Joe Manchin commissioned a study into the Upper Big Branch tragedy, chaired by J. Davitt McAteer, a former head of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.
That report, Leamer writes, "spoke about the Massey culture, which, as Fawcett saw it, had bankrupted such companies as Harman and Wheeling-Pitt, destroyed the environment, and killed its own employees and neighbors.
"The report also criticized the political climate in West Virginia, detailing how it supported Massey's behavior and was complicit in the Upper Big Branch tragedy."
Leamer will visit Southern West Virginia on Saturday, May 18, to talk about the book.
Accompanied by Bruce Stanley, Leamer will speak at Taylor Books, at 226 Capitol Street in downtown Charleston, at 2 p.m. Leamer and Stanley will then visit Chief Logan State Park, four miles north of Logan, at 6:30 p. m., for another program and free reception.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.