CHARLESTON — Nearly two dozen coal companies controlled by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and his children have agreed to pay roughly $5 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging they failed to pay mine safety fines.
Under the deal filed Wednesday in federal court in Roanoke, Virginia, the companies agreed to pay monthly installments of $102,442 totaling more than $4.9 million over the next four years, starting the first of this month.
Over a five-year period ending last May, federal Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors found 2,297 violations at Justice and family-owned mines in West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia, according to the initial complaint in a lawsuit filed last year by the federal government seeking $4.7 million.
That sum totaled fines plus more than $821,000 in additional fees for failure to pay the fines. The complaint listed companies controlled by the governor and his children James C. and Jillian Justice and based in offices in West Virginia, Virginia or Delaware.
The companies neither contested the fines nor responded when mine regulators sent two demand letters and the Treasury Department followed with demand letters of its own and hired third-party debt collectors, according to the federal suit.
Upon taking office in 2017, Justice said he would put his business interests, including coal mining, farming and resort operations, in the hands of his children so he could focus on being governor full time.
The companies named in the case were: Southern Coal Corp., A&G Coal Corp., Justice Coal of Alabama LLC, Black River Coal LLC, Chestnut Land Holdings LLC, Double Bonus Coal Co., Dynamic Energy Inc., Four Star Resources LLC, Frontier Coal Co. Inc., Infinity Energy Inc., Justice Energy Co. Inc., Justice Highwall Mining Inc., Kentucky Fuel Corp., Keystone Services Industries Inc., M&P Services Inc., Nine Mile Mining Co. Inc., NuFac Mining Co. Inc., Pay Car Mining Inc., Premium Coal Co. Inc., S and H Mining Inc., Sequoia Energy, Tams Management Inc. and Virginia Fuel Corp.