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Court Rules In Favor Of Jackson Kelly, Coal Company In Black Lung Case

Reported: Jan. 3, 2014 5:15 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 3, 2014 6:25 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va.. (Rick Lord) - West Virginia's biggest law firm won a big victory in court Friday.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Jackson Kelly and the coal company it was representing.

The case, surrounding black lung, drew national attention. The law firm was accused of withholding medical evidence. The court said while the firm's actions are "hardly admirable" the firm did not commit fraud.

Jackson Kelly released this statement about the decision:

"Jackson Kelly is pleased that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of our client, and held that our client had no obligation to turn over reports from non-testifying consultants. As the Court noted, under our legal system, parties on all sides of a dispute are entitled to effective representation. As the Court acknowledged, the federal black lung program is intended to be adversarial. We have always believed that the actions of our attorneys were lawful. For nearly 200 years, Jackson Kelly has represented clients across West Virginia and the nation, and we have always been known as strong and able advocates and we believe our conduct in this case was consistent with our duty to represent our client."

Allan Karlin, who represented Mary Fox, who filed the law suit on behalf of her deceased coal mining husband, released this statement:

"Although we are disappointed that the Court did not conclude that Jackson Kelly's conduct rose to the level of 'fraud upon the court,' a heightened legal standard for reopening older cases, we note that the Court did not endorse that firm's conduct nor did it consider or resolve the more important question as to whether the firm committed common law fraud. The fact remains: Jackson Kelly's own experts gave its attorneys reports that demonstrated Mr. Fox had Complicated Black Lung. Yet, those attorneys took advantage of Mr. Fox, a miner who could not get an attorney for his black lung claim, by ignoring the opinions of their hired experts and, instead, building a case against Mr. Fox on evidence they knew was misleading and unreliable. As a result, a miner suffering from Black Lung was forced to continue working in the mines until his illness became so bad he needed a lung transplant. We hope that Jackson Kelly will not continue to use these kind of tactics to defeat bona fide claims brought by seriously ill miners and that its attorneys will recognize that there are moral, ethical and legal codes that are more important than winning a case."

Mary Fox is also pursuing a civil case in state court in Raleigh County.



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