"Please bear in mind all of us who need your help in your decision," Bardle wrote.
Last month, when a New York hearing was video-streamed into Charleston, Chapman told lawyers she was not interested in hearing how many miners packed the courtroom to watch the hearing or gathered outside for a UMW rally.
Seeking to move the case to Charleston is part of the UMW's campaign to avoid having Patriot shed liabilities for retiree pensions and health-care benefits -- not to mention its union contract at several large active mines -- as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Patriot filed the case in July in New York, citing the location there of two subsidiaries that were formed only weeks before the filing.
Patriot employs about 2,000 active union members in West Virginia and Kentucky, and the company is currently responsible for more than 10,000 retirees and another 10,000 dependents, most of them in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.
Along with its union pension and health-care liabilities, Patriot cited environmental costs in its bankruptcy filing, specifically noting that the costs of treating selenium pollution could run into "hundreds of millions of dollars."
Last month, lawyers for Patriot and various citizen groups told U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers in Huntington that a deal on how to handle selenium liabilities had fallen through. Now, Patriot wants Chapman to issue an order exempting the selenium litigation from a bankruptcy-related hold on all Patriot lawsuits so the company can ask for more time to clean up its pollution.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.