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Friday morning docket: Won battle, lost war

The winning party in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that established new recusal standards for state court judges was not a winner in the end.

Yesterday the West Virginia Supreme Court declined to reconsider a ruling overturning a $50 million verdict against Massey Energy in the case Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. The plaintiff in the case originally won the verdict on a claim that the company fraudulently usurped business contracts from its smaller competitor.

After the verdict, Massey’s CEO gave $3 million in direct and indirect contributions to the election campaign of an appellate judge hopeful. That amount was more than half the total spent in the campaign. That judge won, assumed a seat on the bench, and was ultimately the deciding vote overturning the $50 million verdict.

But in a 5-4 decision last year, the Supreme Court held that the judge’s failure to recuse himself violated the Due Process Clause.

Yesterday the plaintiff’s attorney Bruce Stanley told the Charleston Gazette that he wasn’t expecting to win the battle in the end, despite the high court victory. “We certainly are not surprised at the outcome, but rather only by the amount of time it took the Supreme Court to reach it,” Stanley said.

Here are more headlines to take you into the weekend:

I’m a what? Bankruptcy lawyers disagree on the impact of this week’s Supreme Court ruling that they are “debt relief agencies.” (Lawyers USA)

Help for women, or for trial lawyers? At a Senate hearing on legislation aimed at closing the gender pay gap, lawmakers, federal agents and experts spent much of the time discussing whether the bill would result in a flood of litigation if passed. (Lawyers USA)

Putting the ‘men’ in ‘harassment’: The number of sexual harassment claims filed by men has doubled in the past two decades, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports. (Lawyers USA)

Dangerous slings: The head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission warned that baby slings – the soft carriers used by parents to carry infants against their chests – are a suffocation risk, and several babies have already died. (Lawyers USA)

Big Mac attack: Want to know Supreme Court justices’ favorite McDonald’s food? (WSJ’s Law Blog)

Lawyer for ‘D.C. Madam’ suspended: Montgomery Blair Sibley had his law license suspended for three years by the D.C. Court of Appeals. (BLT Blog)

Impeached: The House of Representatives Thursday unanimously approved the four articles of impeachment against New Orleans Federal Judge Thomas Porteous. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

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