Equipment maker sues W.Va. billionaire’s firms

Associated Press


A coal-mine equipment maker and seven companies owned by West Virginia billionaire Jim Justice are involved in a legal dispute over payments.

Beckley-based Phillips Machine Services, which also rebuilds mine equipment, sued the Justice-owned companies last month in Raleigh County Circuit Court. Phillips and a Kentucky-based subsidiary, The Combs Group, allege that the companies owe them $1.1 million.

Justice filed a countersuit Friday seeking $7.5 million from the plaintiffs.

“It just involves services that we felt they should have done that they didn’t do,” Justice told the Charleston Gazette.

An attorney representing Phillips, Marc Weintraub, said that his client has no comment.

An Associated Press review of court records earlier this year found that since the beginning of 2012, there have been at least five lawsuits — one in federal court — that seek unpaid bills in the three Kentucky counties where Justice has mining operations. Two more actions in Tennessee federal court and two in Wise County, Va., filed since August of 2011 also sought unpaid bills or debts owed as part of a contract.

Justice told the newspaper that most of these lawsuits have been settled.

Among the largest of the bills that Phillips says it is owed is $270,000 for rebuilding two shuttle cars.

“Everybody will always get paid,” Justice said. “But I’m running 81 companies now, and you can’t commingle everything that they do.”

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