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Mine Workers Demand Court Switch in Patriot Case

September 11, 2012
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[CHARLESTON, W. VA.] The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) today held a rally and march in central Charleston, calling for moving the Patriot Coal Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization case from federal court in New York City to the Southern District of West Virginia in Charleston.

"This is a case about coal and coal miners who live here in the coalfields," UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. "These active and retired members and their families are the people who will be most affected by this bankruptcy. We intend to do whatever it takes to protect the health care they earned."

As late as two months prior to the July 9 filing, Patriot had no business presence anywhere in New York. "No one has ever mined an ounce of coal in Manhattan," Roberts noted. "Setting up dummy corporations to cherry-pick a legal venue, like Patriot did, is morally wrong. This case belongs in Charleston, not Manhattan."

The rally and march coincided with a hearing held in the Manhattan court to consider the UMWA's motion to change venue to Charleston. That hearing was simulcast into the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse in Charleston. Attending the event were working and retired miners from northern and southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia, many of whom had also attended an Aug. 30 mass meeting of nearly 3,000 in Charleston to discuss the bankruptcy.

In comments filed Aug. 22, the U.S. Department of Justice's U.S. Trustee agreed with the union's contention that the case should be moved "in the interests of justice," noting that "as recently as six weeks before the bankruptcy filings, not a single Patriot company satisfied any of the requirements" for a New York venue.

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