In January 2011, Alpha Natural Resources bought Massey Energy for $7.1 billion, in the wake of Massey's Upper Big Branch tragedy that killed 29 miners in a mine explosion on the Raleigh-Boone county border.
Samantha Davison, an Alpha spokeswoman, said on Thursday, "We are obviously disappointed in the ruling released today. We are reviewing our options for further proceedings."
In its new ruling, the Virginia Supreme Court states the two lawsuits -- the one that won a $6 million verdict in 2001 and the ongoing lawsuit -- have different contents and raise different issues.
The Caperton-Harman case received national attention when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin should have recused himself in the Caperton case because of the appearance of impropriety.
Benjamin won his seat on the West Virginia Supreme Court in 2004 after Don Blankenship, then CEO of Massey, spent more than $3 million buying advertisements and sending out letters urging people to vote against Benjamin's opponent, incumbent Warren McGraw.
Two other West Virginia Supreme Court justices had already recused themselves - Spike Maynard, after photographs showing him and Blankenship vacationing on the French Riviera, and Larry Starcher, for negative public comments he made about Blankenship.
Bruce E. Stanley, Caperton's lawyer, said on Friday, "We are hopeful that Hugh Caperton will finally receive a full measure of justice for the diabolical wrongs committed against him.
"After 15 years of overcoming artificial legal roadblocks, perhaps the case will finally come to the rightful conclusion that a West Virginia jury overwhelmingly directed back in 2002. In any event, Hugh Caperton doesn't plan on stopping his fight short of the finish line," said Stanley, who works for ReedSmith, a law firm based in Pittsburgh.
The Virginia Supreme Court ordered the Buchanan County Circuit Court to proceed with the case based on the legal complaint filed ReedSmith lawyers based in Richmond, Va. back on Nov. 8, 2010.
In that complaint, Caperton's lawyers asked for $44.5 million in compensatory damages and $700,000 in punitive damages, in addition to interest, attorneys' fees and other costs.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.