A nonfiction legal thriller that traces the fourteen-year struggle of two lawyers to bring the most powerful coal baron in American history, Don Blankenship, to justice
Don Blankenship, head of Massey Energy since the early 1990s, ran an industry that provides nearly half of America's electric power. But wealth and influence weren't enough for Blankenship and his company, as they set about destroying corporate and personal rivals, challenging the Constitution, purchasing the West Virginia judiciary, and willfully disregarding safety standards in the company's mines—in which scores died unnecessarily.
As Blankenship hobnobbed with a West Virginia Supreme Court justice in France, his company polluted the drinking water of hundreds of citizens while he himself fostered baroque vendettas against anyone who dared challenge his sovereignty over coal mining country. Just about the only thing that stood in the way of Blankenship's tyranny over a state and an industry was a pair of odd-couple attorneys, Dave Fawcett and Bruce Stanley, who undertook a legal quest to bring justice to this corner of America. From the backwoods courtrooms of West Virginia they pursued their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and to a dramatic decision declaring that the wealthy and powerful are not entitled to purchase their own brand of law.
The Price of Justice is a story of corporate corruption so far-reaching and devastating it could have been written a hundred years ago by Ida Tarbell or Lincoln Steffens. And as Laurence Leamer demonstrates in this captivating tale, because it's true, it's scarier than fiction.
Leamer s newest (after King of the Night) is the riveting and compulsively readable tale of the epic battle between Don Blankenship, the man who essentially ran the West Virginia coal industry through his company Massey Energy, and two seemingly ordinary attorneys: Bruce Stanley and David Fawcett. The centerpiece of the story is a West Virginia mine owner whom Blankenship purposefully bankrupted, and on whose behalf Stanley and Fawcett won (in 2002) a $50 million dollar verdict that is still unpaid. In hopes of having the ruling overturned by the West Virginia Supreme Court, Blankenship sought to buy a seat on the court by contributing over $3 million to the successful campaign of a conservative judicial candidate. However, the U.S. Supreme Court eventually found that Blankenship s contributions were too much to allow the new West Virginia justice to hear the case. Leamer has produced a Shakespearean tale of greed, corporate irresponsibility, and personal hubris on the one hand, and idealism, commitment to justice, and personal sacrifice on the other. Blankenship is a villain for all time, and Stanley and Fawcett are lawyers who bring honor to their profession.