In a related bit of legal maneuvering, Alpha lawyers have issued broad-ranging subpoenas to Hendryx and WVU, seeking a wide variety of documents, correspondence and data related to studies of mountaintop removal's health effects.
Court records show that Hendryx had agreed to serve as an expert witness in the case. But "after receiving the subpoenas, Hendryx told plaintiffs he was withdrawing as an expert witness," the environmental group lawyers disclosed in a court filing. One of his co-authors, Melissa Ahern of Washington State University, is scheduled to take his place as an expert witness for the citizen groups.
WVU lawyers filed a motion seeking to block the subpoenas, arguing that they seek confidential data about individuals who took part in the studies and seek such detailed information that responding would be "unduly burdensome."
"In the case at bar, defendant's subpoenas seek twenty different categories of documents, six of which contain subcategories with up to ten subcategories," WVU lawyers wrote. "The breadth and scope of the subpoenas, and the many, many hours necessary to compile such information, is an unreasonable burden to place upon these non-parties."
Alpha argues that it needs the information so they can fully understand and respond to the scientific basis for the studies.
"For example, it is relevant how Hendryx and his colleagues conducted surveys of residents, what data they used and how they analyzed that data, how they selected and rejected variables, how they responded to peer-review comments, etc., in order to evaluate the claims made by OVEC that rely on these articles," McLusky wrote. "Highland can only evaluate the claims made in these articles by having access to the data and documents requested in the subpoenas."
In a separate legal filing, environmental groups argue that much of the material being sought from Hendryx involves correspondence and other documents that, if made public, would interfere with the traditional anonymity of the scientific peer-review process.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.